Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009

Las Vegas Glamour

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Dozens of people live in flood tunnels beneath luxury hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, according to a September dispatch for London’s The Sun. Some of them search for leftover change in casino slot machines, while others work odd jobs as they become available. The correspondent gained the trust of a few and photographed their living quarters, showing damp, dark places with scrounged-up appliances and furniture and even one makeshift shower rigged from a water cooler. "Amy," who has lived in the tunnels with her husband, "J.R.," for two years, said she loves the Vegas lifestyle, though she would eventually like to leave the tunnel. "Kathryn," who lives there with her boyfriend, also appears content for the moment, but notes unpleasant realities like the odor, venomous spiders and the periodic rush of water through their home, which threatens any valuables that aren’t stacked on crates.

Latest Religious Messages

  • David Cerullo, who came to prominence after purchasing the TV studios abandoned by televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, established one of the boldest of the many Christian "prosperity gospel" ministries—an enterprise that pays him an annual base salary of $1.52 million. Along with his father, semi-retired Pentecostal preacher Morris Cerullo, David assures followers that the more they give, the more God will return to them. In a recent TV spot, Morris, speaking first in tongues and then addressing the currently credit-challenged, said: "When you (donate), the windows of heaven are going to open for you." He also boasted about "debt cancellation” opportunities, with an on-screen message stating: "Call now with your $900 offering and receive God's debt cancellation!"
  • In September, a judge in Stuart, Fla., was about to sentence pastor Rodney McGill for real estate fraud when McGill addressed a courtroom prayer for his enemies: "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, for every witness called against me, I pray cancer in their lives, lupus, brain tumor, pancreatic cancer." The judge then sentenced McGill to 20 years in prison.

Questionable Judgments

A Tuesday night event featuring cheap drinks at the Attic bar in Newcastle, England, in early September offered a money-back guarantee at the end of the night to anyone who could still legally drive (as measured by the bar's breathalyzer). Also, the evening's most-alcohol-saturated customer would be allowed free entry to the event the following week. The Newcastle City Council soon convinced the bar that the event was a bad idea.

Bright Ideas

Four people in their early 20s were arrested in September in Bennington, Vt., after a Chili's restaurant burglar alarm sounded at 4:30 a.m. According to police, the four intended to remove and steal the large chili pepper on the restaurant's rooftop sign, using a hacksaw and power drill. However, they did not possess a battery-operated drill, so they had to string extension cords together in order to reach the nearest outlet they could find, which was 470 feet away—across a four-lane road and through a Home Depot parking lot.

Least Competent Criminals

Failure to Keep a Low Profile: (1) Angel DeLeon, 30, admitted to police in May that he was the one who had recently robbed the National Penn Bank in Reading, Pa., even though that wasn’t the reason for his arrest. DeLeon was originally arrested after a police officer saw him speed past with his radio blaring. DeLeon tried to escape the chasing officer but was caught. (2) Ricky Dale Ford was jailed in September in Conway, Ark., after being accused of escaping from jail and then stealing an all-terrain vehicle. While allegedly joy riding, Ford accidentally hit a beehive, and when police found him in nearby woods, he was "barely breathing," having been stung more than 100 times, one officer said.

Undignified Deaths

Ironies: (1) A 77-year-old woman in Heaton Mersey, England, who was described by friends as an enthusiastic shopper, lived in a home that was crammed to the ceiling with purchases. When the woman died of natural causes in January, rescuers made three passes through the clutter over the course of two days before locating her body under stacks of goods that had fallen on her. (2) A 45-year-old devout Catholic was killed recently in Vienna, Austria, shortly after a harrowing experience on a stuck elevator. The man had been so traumatized by the elevator incident that, following his rescue, he went straight to the Weinhaus Church to give thanks. However, as he approached the altar, an 850-pound stone pillar fell and crushed him.

Fetishes on Parade

In September, police in Bonney Lake, Wash., were seeking a man who allegedly had been hanging around the high school, trying to befriend male athletes. In the most recent incident, it was reported that the man tried to lure a boy to the library after offering to help with a college interview, but when the boy declined and walked away, the man jumped on his back and asked for a piggyback ride.

© 2009 Chuck Shepherd

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