In December, thieves in Wicklow, Ireland, raided a convent's field at the Dominican Farm and Ecology Center, stripping it of its entire crop of Brussels sprouts. A nun at the farm said the sisters were devastated to miss out on the lucrative market for high-end Christmas dinners.
The French social security agency URSSAF initiated an enforcement action in December against the Mamm-Kounifl music bar in the town of Locmiquélic for underpaying employee contributions — in that the tavern encourages customers to bus their own tables and thus reduces its need to hire more servers. The owner denied he was trying to save money. "It's our trademark. We want the customer to feel comfortable, a bit like he's at home."
The continuing crisis
Nelson Thabo Modupe threatened a lawsuit in January against South Africa's Eskom electric utility unless the company paid him $22.3 million for "saving" the firm that amount during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Modupe reasoned that he had joined the Zion Christian Church just before the event and had prayed ("successfully") to God to spare the utility from blackouts and power reductions during the matches (which would have cost Eskom millions more). Modupe said he would accept a partnership in the company as a compromise.
Tyler Smith, 23, was charged in December with violating the city animal care ordinance in Greenville, S.C., after a photograph was posted on Facebook of his father's dog being lowered by rope from the second-story balcony of an apartment. According to the posting, it was time for the dog to make a call of nature, but it was raining, and Smith preferred not to go downstairs with him.
In the United States, 3 million are infected with hepatitis C (as are millions more overseas), but a recent drug, Sovaldi, completely cures it with 84 daily doses. However, its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, has determined that a fair U.S. price for the drug should be $1,000 per pill ($84,000 for the total treatment). Shouldn't Gilead reduce the price once it has recouped its expensive investment, asked an NPR reporter in December? "That's very unlikely we would do that," said Gilead's Gregg Alton, but "I appreciate the thought." (According to NPR, Gilead "developed" Sovaldi merely by buying Sovaldi's actual developer for $11 billion. At $84,000 per patient, Gilead would "recoup" that investment from the first 150,000 customers, leaving 2.85 million more U.S. patients to pay $84,000 each, for an income of $239 billion.)
Least competent criminals
Jerry Pancoast, 42, was arrested on at least four charges after a high-speed chase through Iowa's Polk and Jasper counties in January following an alleged shoplifting of tweezers and an eyebrow pencil — not even taken by Pancoast but by his companion. Pancoast drove at 100 miles per hour, even on deflated tires and three rims that eventually caused his truck to catch on fire. The episode started as "a simple theft case," said the arresting officer, until Pancoast abruptly took off. He later explained that he panicked because he knew there were already arrest warrants against him — but a subsequent search turned up none.
Following the early January winter storm in East Kingston, N.H., emergency crews came to the aid of a 12-year-old girl who had a "what would happen" moment and tried to lick a metal flagpole in her front yard.
Police in the Los Angeles suburb of Harbor City were searching in February for the man suspected of stealing surveillance cameras from a home; he apparently failed to distinguish between the camera (which he took with him) and the recording unit (which remained in the home and captured his face clearly as he removed the camera).
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