It turns out that it is usually safer for a person having a heart attack to be in an ambulance headed to a hospital than to already be a patient in a hospital, according to a study by University of North Carolina researchers. It takes longer, on average, for non-ER hospital staff to comply with hospital protocols in ordering and evaluating tests (nearly three hours, according to the study) than it does for ER (and ambulance) staff, who treat every case of cardiac symptoms as life-threatening. Overall, according to a February Wall Street Journal report, the study found the mortality rate for heart-attack victims treated in emergency rooms is 4 percent, compared with 40 percent for patients stricken while already admitted for other reasons.

The continuing crisis

The man hospitalized in fair condition in January after being rammed from behind by a car while on his bicycle happened to be Darryl Isaacs, 50, one of the most advertised personal-injury lawyers in Louisville, Ky. Isaacs calls himself the "Heavy Hitter" and the "Kentucky Hammer" for his aggressiveness on behalf of, among other clients, victims of traffic collisions. The (soon-to-be-poorer) driver told police the sun got in his eyes.

While nearly all Americans enjoy low gasoline prices, residents of sea-locked Alaskan towns (Barrow, Kotzebue, Nome, Ketchikan) are still paying hefty prices ($7 a gallon, according to one January report on Alaska Dispatch News). Though the price in Anchorage and Fairbanks resembles that in the rest of America, unconnected towns can be supplied only during a four-month breather from icy sea conditions and thus received their final winter shipments last summer. The price the supplier was forced to pay then dictates pump prices until around May or June.

Suspicions confirmed

The last McDonald's burger to be sold in Iceland before the chain abandoned the country in 2009 has been on open display at the National Museum of Iceland and was recently moved to the Bus Hostel in Reykjavik, "still in good condition," according to the hostel manager. "Some people have even stolen some of the fries."

Harvard University medical researcher Mark Shrime documented recently how easily made-up research can wind up in reputable-sounding academic journals — by submitting an article composed by random-generating text software, supposedly about "the surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals" (and authored by "Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles"). Of 37 journals, 17 quickly accepted it, some feigning actually having read it, with the only catch being that Shrime would have to pay a standard $500 fee for publication. Shrime warned that some of the journals have titles dangerously close to highly respected journals and cautions journalist (and reader) skepticism.

Least competent criminals

Two men remain at large after stealing an ATM from Casino Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, in January. They had smashed through glass front doors, unbolted the machine, put it on a dolly and rolled it to a waiting car (though it briefly toppled over onto one of the culprits). Managers told police the ATM was empty, disabled and scheduled to be moved to another location later that day. A Calgary police officer expressed bemusement at the city's recent ATM smash-and-grab epidemic, since the machines are hard to unbolt, hard to open and emptied several times a day. "It's a very ineffective way to make a living."

Police in Champaign, Ill., charged Clayton Dial, 23, with robbery on New Year's night, for carrying a pellet gun into the Kamakura Japanese restaurant and demanding money from the hostess. However, he fled quickly when chef Tetsuji Miwa walked over, holding his large sushi knife. "He saw the blade," Miwa said later, and "started running." (Miwa and two co-workers gave chase and held him for police.)

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