Monday 12/14/09

Human Interest News   —   Posted on December 14, 2009

By The Editors of  

Historical pork
So this is what Capitol Hill leaders meant when they advocated for stimulus funds for shovel-ready projects? Congress appears ready to direct a small part of the $787 billion earmarked for economic stimulus toward preserving an old gas station owned by the late “First Brother” Billy Carter. Last month the house approved a measure to incorporate Billy Carter’s Plains, Ga., gas station into the National Park Service operation that oversees historical sites in former President Jimmy Carter’s hometown. Lawmakers have floated a similar proposal in the Senate. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost the park service $17 million to restore and run the gas station and the town’s welcome center for the next five years.

Sermon time
Hundreds of Italian women were disappointed when what they believed to be a lavish party thrown by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi turned out to be a lecture on Islam. The women were recruited through a newspaper ad in an Italian paper while Qaddafi was in Rome for a UN conference. The ad said well-dressed (but not skimpily dressed) women ages 18 to 35 would be paid nearly $90 to show up for a special event with Col. Qaddafi. But instead of a lavish party, Qaddafi seated the women and lectured on Islam for two hours, attempting to convert the mostly Catholic crowd to his religion before sending each home with a copy of the Quran and a Qaddafi book of sayings.

TV exposure
For three years, Ronald Hunt of Los Angeles claimed that he was disabled. He collected about $150,000 in insurance benefits, even as he continued to work as an interior designer in California. The ruse worked-until an employee of the insurance company he was bilking saw him on a Home and Garden Television program and turned him in to authorities. Hunt pleaded guilty to two felony counts of fraud and was sentenced on Nov. 17 to 200 hours of community service and payment of $180,000 in restitution.

Photo negative
Nathalie Blanchard apparently testified against herself without realizing it. The 29-year-old Canadian says her insurance company cut off benefits she was receiving for her struggle with depression. The reason: The company discovered pictures on her Facebook that depicted her having a happy time during a beach vacation. Blanchard had been on paid sick leave from IBM in Quebec for a year when her insurer said the pictures of her having fun at a bar and posing in a bikini at a beach were evidence that she was no longer depressed.