Fake Bomb Scare

Fake_bombAn MIT student wearing what turned out to be a fake bomb was arrested at gunpoint Friday at Logan International Airport and later claimed it was artwork, officials said.  Star Simpson, 19, had a computer circuit board and wiring in plain view over a black hooded sweatshirt she was wearing, said State Police Maj. Scott Pare, the commanding officer at the airport. 

“She said that it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day,” Pare said at a news conference. “She claims that it was just art, and that she was proud of the art and she wanted to display it.”  Simpson was charged with disturbing the peace and possessing a hoax device. A not guilty plea was entered for her and she was released on $750 bail.

During the hearing, Simpson smiled as she entered wearing a T-shirt and sandals. After she posted bail, she left in a taxi with a man who identified himself as her boyfriend, but neither would answer more questions from reporters.  Prosecutor Wayne Margolis had requested $5,000 bail, saying Simpson showed a total disregard for the situation she was in — an airport after the 2001 terrorist attacks.  She definately should have thought more about this one and is lucky she wasn’t shot dead.

Ross Schreiber, who was appointed to represent Simpson, said she was not a risk to flee, was a good student with no prior convictions and she cooperated with authorities.  He said she had gone to the airport to meet her boyfriend. “She was there for legitimate purposes,” Schreiber said.

Simpson was “extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used,” Pare said. “She’s lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.”  Simpson is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology sophomore from Hawaii, officials said.  The battery-powered rectangular device had nine flashing lights, and Simpson had Play-Doh in her hands, Pare said.

The phrases “Socket to me” and “Course VI” were written on the back of her sweatshirt, which authorities displayed to the media. Course VI appears to refer to MIT’s major of electrical engineering and computer science.  Simpson was a member of MIT’s swimming and diving team in 2006, according to the team’s Web site, which lists her hometown as Kihei, Hawaii. MIT spokeswoman Patti Richards said aside from confirming she was a student, the school did not have any comment.

She was arrested about 8 a.m. outside Terminal C, home to United Airlines, Jet Blue and other carriers.  A Massachusetts Port Authority staffer manning an information booth in the terminal became suspicious when Simpson — wearing the device — approached to ask about an incoming flight, Pare said. Simpson then walked outside, and the staffer notified a nearby trooper.  The trooper, joined by others with submachine guns, confronted her at a traffic island in front of the terminal.  “She was immediately told to stop, to raise her hands and not to make any movement, so we could observe all her movements to see if she was trying to trip any type of device,” Pare said. “Had she not followed the protocol, we might have used deadly force.”

Pare said Simpson took a subway to the airport, but he was not sure if she had the device on at that time.   The major praised the booth attendant, but said the incident is a reminder of the terrorism threat confronting the civil aviation system. Two of the four passenger jets hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, took off from Logan.   The city was the focus of a major security scare Jan. 31 when dozens of battery-powered devices were discovered in various locations. Bomb squads were deployed and some transportation links were closed temporarily. They turned out to be a promotion for the Cartoon Network.

 

Earn a Degree on YouTube!

And here is yet another intersting internet based story.  It’s a dream-come-true for web addicts: you can now earn a college credit for watching YouTube.  Pitzer College began offering what may be the first course about the video-sharing site this fall . About 35 students meet in a classroom but work mostly online, where they view YouTube content and post their comments.

Class lessons also are posted and students are encouraged to post videos. One class member, for instance, posted a 1:36-minute video of himself juggling. Alexandra Juhasz, a media studies professor at the liberal arts college, said she was “underwhelmed” by the content on YouTube but set up the course, “Learning from YouTube,” to explore the role of the popular site.

Class members control most of the class content and YouTube watchers from around the world are encouraged to comment, Juhasz said.   She hopes the course will raise serious issues about YouTube, such as the role of “corporate-sponsored democratic media expression.”   YouTube is “a phenomenon that should be studied,” student Darren Grose said. “You can learn a lot about American culture and just Internet culture in general.”  I gotta get me one of those weird and strange degrees.

Gaming to Death

Here is a weird internet gaming story.  A man in southern China appears to have died of exhaustion after a three-day Internet gaming binge, state media said Monday.  The 30-year-old man fainted at a cybercafe in the city of Guangzhou on Saturday afternoon after he had been playing games online for three days, the Beijing News reported.   Paramedics tried to revive him but failed and he was declared dead at the cafe, it said.

China has 140 million Internet users, second only to the United States. It is one of the world’s biggest markets for online games, with tens of millions of players, many of whom hunker down for hours in front of computers in public Internet cafes.

Several cities have clinics to treat what Chineese psychiatrists have dubbed “Internet addiction” in users, many of them children and teenagers, who play online games or surf the web for days at a time.  They don’t eat and sometimes they even wear adult diapers or use chemical toliets so they don’t have to take breaks.   Ewwww, gross!

Weird News Shorts for this Week

Here is some really strange – odd – weird news shorts from around the world.

-A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of having posted a video of himself on YouTube driving at speeds of more than 140 mph.

Real estate billionaire Leona Helmsley left $12 million in her will for her dog Trouble but cut out two of her four grandchildren entirely.  I love that one.

-China’s Shaolin Temple, the cradle of Chinese kung fu, is demanding an apology from an Internet user who said its monks had once been beaten in unarmed combat by a Japanese ninja, Chinese media reported.

-Hungry visitors to next summer’s Beijing Olympics won’t have to choose between “steamed crap” and “virgin chicken” if Chinese authorities succeed in ridding restaurant menus of mangled English translations.

Weird News Today

Here are a few weird news headlines from around the world.

-A Chinese couple tried to name their baby “@”, claiming the character used in e-mail addresses echoed their love for the child.  The unusual name stands out especially in Chinese, which has no alphabet and instead uses tens of thousands of multi-stroke characters to represent words.

-A U.S. judge appealed his $54 million (27 million pounds) lawsuit on Tuesday against the dry-cleaning shop that misplaced his trousers, shrugging off legal setbacks and international ridicule.

Judge Roy Pearson filed a notice of appeal with the District of Columbia Superior Court, indicating that he won’t abandon the crusade that has turned him into a symbol of America’s lawsuit-happy legal culture.

Pearson asked his neighbourhood dry cleaners to pay him $1,150 when they misplaced a pair of trousers he brought in for a $10.50 alteration in May 2005. The owners of Custom Cleaners said they located the garment a few days later, but Pearson said the pair they offered him was not his.

Claiming that the shop’s “satisfaction guaranteed” sign misled customers who, like him, were dissatisfied with their experience, Pearson sought $1,500 for every day that Custom Cleaners displayed the sign over a four-year period, multiplied by the three members of the Chung family, who owned the business.

He also sought $15,000 to rent a car to take his clothes to another cleaner for 10 years.  Talk about abuse of power, only in the US.

-A South African man shot three weeks ago was told to “walk the pain off” and is still trying to persuade hospitals to remove the bullet lodged in his side.

The bullet passed through his elbow and entered his body just above the hip, missed his vital organs and stopped beneath the skin on the opposite side of his body, the Star said.

Mashiane told the paper he was turned away by one private hospital because he could not afford the bills while a public hospital took X-rays and kept him in for observation before patching him up and sending him home with painkillers.  When he returned a doctor told him to “walk the pain off.”

Free Poker Decks for Inmates

poker_cards

Here is something weird, strange and quite interesting.  Poker cards to help solve cold-cases!

On July 24, 2007, Florida’s 93,000 state inmates started getting one of two decks that between them highlight 104 of the state’s most troubling unsolved murder and missing persons cases.  It is an effort to get inmates talking and gossiping about these cases, hoping it will lead to getting some of them solved.

These are of course inspired by the now famous most-wanted deck of Saddam Husien and other fugitives issued to U.S. troops shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. 

For the state program, authorities printed 85,000 decks featuring the first 52 cases, and started handing them out Tuesday to inmates at Wakulla Correctional Institution in the Panhandle town of Crawfordville.  In a few weeks, 15,000 decks with 52 different cases will be distributed.

The King of Spades in one deck is Tiffany Sessions, a 20-year-old UoF sophomore who disappeared on Feb. 9, 1989. The Queen of Diamonds in that deck is 12-year-old Jennifer Odom, a girl whose body was found on Feb. 25, 1993, six days after she disappeared.

Sessions’ card features her smiling face. Odom’s card has a picture of a sweat shirt and her book bag because authorities didn’t want to give the state’s sex offenders pictures of children.

The state attorney general’s Crime Stoppers Fund is paying the $75,000 cost of the program — about $68,000 to produce the cards and $7,000 for rewards, an agency spokeswoman said. The Polk County deck was produced with help from the local Crime Stoppers program.

Odd News Shorts from Around the World

Here is some little tidbits of weird news from around the world:

– In Palermo, Italy a teacher who forced a pupil to write “I am a retard” 100 times was acquitted by an Italian court on Wednesday of abuse charges.

– In Ottawa, Canadan Canadians will install surveillance cameras around the National War Memorial in Ottawa after three youths urinated on the base of the monument late on the July 1 Canada Day holiday last year.

– In Seoul, Korea one of South Korea’s top banks has rolled out a new credit card for Protestant clergy that will give them breaks on Bible purchases and allow them to gather bonus points they can turn into donations for their churches.