WAR ON TOURISM
American tourism organizations estimate that the U.S. has lost approximately $94 billion and 194,000 jobs thanks to a downturn in tourism due to the difficulties many face entering the country since 2001. A recent poll of international travelers found that 70 percent fear U.S. border officials more than they fear terrorists or criminals, and 65 percent worry that they will be detained for some minor error in filling out their forms. The U.S. was also voted the world's most unfriendly destination for foreign travelers due to the hassles and intimidation most tourists face as they try to enter the country. (New Zealand Herald)
PEARLS BEFORE COMMUTERS
A writer for the Washington Post recently decided to try a social experiment to find out if commuters in a subway station would recognize musical genius if performed by a master virtuoso in the guise of an ordinary busker. So the trap was set: Joshua Bell, one of the world's greatest violinists, along with his $3.5 million instrument crafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1713, played 43 minutes of masterpieces in a Washington metro station on a typical Friday morning. The results were depressingly predictable. Of the 1,097 people who rushed by, only seven stopped to listen to the music for more than one minute. Another 27 tossed some money in his violin case, and the rest were completely oblivious to the spark of beauty interrupting their otherwise dull day.
WATCH OUT FOR THE GRIM REPO MAN
OK, let's pretend you've just been told that you have some kind of terminal disease and you've only got about a year to live. As much as you probably want to max out your credit cards and go absolutely ape-shit during the time you have left, you might first want to spend a few more weeks getting a second opinion. Otherwise you might end up like John Brandrick, the 62-year-old U.K. man who now faces bankruptcy after a wrong diagnosis of pancreatic cancer caused him to blow his life savings over the last 12 months. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?), it turns out Brandrick is basically healthy, and the end is nowhere in sight. "We have nothing at all," he told reporters. "It's put me and my family through hell." (Daily Mail)
IT'S BETTER TO FADE AWAY THAN TO BURN OUT
The land of the sideshow freaks (and I mean that in the best possible way) has another new attraction. Reports out of India claim that crowds are flocking to a remote village in Jharkhand state in order to catch a glimpse of a 103-year-old man who has been lying in his grave for the past six years waiting to die. After his wife died in the late 1990s, Basanta Roy dug his own grave near hers, and now spends his time lying in his grave, waiting to join her. (Reuters)
THE NOT-QUITE-PERFECT MURDER
Police in Rio de Janeiro had no trouble pressing charges in an attempted murder after finding an 11-step blueprint for the "perfect murder" written up on the accused laptop. According to the would-be killer's to-do list, the plan was supposed to go down like this: 1) Arrive at his flat at 3:15 p.m.; 2) Ask if he is alone and wants to have a beer; 3) Put on gloves; 4) Hit him, wipe him out and remove his clothes; 5) Tie him up with tape; 6) Check for bank cards, cheques and computer archives; 7) After removing everything, turn off the computer; 8) Put towel over mouth to keep him quiet; 9) Break his neck with a monkey wrench and put pills in his mouth; 10) Lock the back door, using gloves; 11) Depart at 7:30 p.m. That was the plan, anyway ... but of course, it was ditched after step 1, when the man tried to choke his victim and throw him out of the sixth-floor window. (The Daily Mail)
PULL UP A TOMBSTONE AND STAY AWHILE
This week's tale of instant karma comes from the town of Merrillville, Ind., where a drunk and stupid 22-year-old man decided to vandalize the local graveyard by toppling over the headstones. Did I mention he was drunk and stupid? Because a few hours later, he had to be pulled out from under a 1,000-pound tombstone, which had crushed his legs and knocked him unconscious. The five officers who were needed to rescue him from his little mishap then went on to charge him with criminal trespassing, mischief and public intoxication. He'll also have to pay for the $8,400 in damages he caused. (AP) :
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