QUIRKY WORLD ... Crime pays: $9k a year to stay out of trouble

USA: They say crime doesn’t pay, but that might not be entirely true in the District of Columbia as lawmakers look for ways to discourage people from becoming repeat offenders.
QUIRKY WORLD ... Crime pays: $9k a year to stay out of trouble

The DC Council voted unanimously to approve a bill that includes a proposal to pay residents a stipend not to commit crimes. It’s based on an experiment in Richmond, California, that advocates say has contributed to deep reductions in crime there.

Under the bill, city officials would identify up to 200 people a year who are considered at risk of either committing or becoming victims of violent crime.

Those people would be directed to participate in behavioural therapy. If they fulfill those obligations and stay out of trouble, they would be paid.

The bill doesn’t specify the value of the stipends, but participants in the California programme receive up to $9,000 per year.

Council member Kenyan McDuffie, a Democrat who wrote the legislation, said it was part of a comprehensive approach to reducing violent crime in the city, which experienced a 54% increase in homicides last year.

Homicides and violent crime are still down significantly since the 2000s, and even more so since the early 1990s when the District was dubbed the nation’s “murder capital”.

McDuffie argued that spending $9,000 a year in stipends “pales in comparison” to the cost of someone being victimised, along with the costs of incarcerating the offender.

“I want to prevent violent crime — particularly gun violence — by addressing the root causes and creating opportunities for people, particularly those individuals who are at the highest risks of offending,” McDuffie, a former prosecutor, said in a letter to constituents last week.

In Richmond, 79% of “fellows” participating have not been suspected of involvement in any gun crimes since signing up, and 84% have not been injured by gunfire, the programme’s executive director, DeVone Boggan, said in a report to the Council.

Race for vino

MOLDOVA: Runners have taken part in a 10k race around one of the country’s largest wine cellars.

About 200 people limbered up for the underground Wine Run event in the town of Cricova, the Pro TV channel reports.

Participants wore head torches to help them navigate the darker sections of the tunnels, but even the winner found the conditions tricky. While some participants found being 100m underground disorientating, for others the lack of fresh air was a challenge.

“You could smell the wine,” one runner told Jurnal TV. “This makes the things a little bit more complicated — it is more difficult to breathe.”

Did you see it coming?

USA: Police in Tucson, Arizona, said pranksters convinced employees at a fast food restaurant to smash windows by pretending to be a fire-suppression company.

The employees received a call saying that the gas levels were high and that the building needed to be evacuated. The prankster also convinced employees to smash every window of the building to prevent it from exploding.

Police say the call was illegal because it resulted in criminal damage. Tucson police are investigating.

Beat goes on

USA: The beat goes on near the Wine On Third bistro, Niagara Falls, New York. And on and on and on and on.

What sounds like a marching band rendition of the University of Iowa fight song plays on a grating loop all evening, every evening from a vacant building across the street from the restaurant.

Why remains anyone’s guess, even after a flurry of media attention last week had theories flying.

The spirited serenade seemed to begin just as the restaurant began using its newly expanded patio for the summer crowd, which includes tourists to the city’s namesake Niagara Falls, according to Wine On Third barman Eamon Weber. The timing, from 3-11pm seven days a week, spans the restaurant’s busiest hours.

Room to improve

USA: A student at Emerson College in Boston says he is facing disciplinary action after renting out his dorm room on Airbnb.

Jack Worth told The Boston Globe he rented the room in early January to three guests on three separate nights. The 19-year-old says the listing was online for two weeks before school officials asked him to remove it.

School officials say an attempt to sub-let a dorm room would violate the school’s housing policies. An Airbnb spokesman says all hosts are asked to follow local regulations when renting a room.

Unfortunate name

INDIA: The rapidly-spreading zika virus has an unlikely victim — Indian carmaker Tata Motors.

The carmaker said it had decided to rename its soon-to-be-launched hatchback Zica, short for Zippy Car, after the mosquito-borne virus was declared an international health emergency.

Tata Motors, part of the Tata Group, one of India’s largest conglomerates, said it would decide on a new name for the hatchback after a few weeks.

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