NewsQuirks 674

Curses, Foiled Again

After a man robbed a bank in Walnut Creek, Ill., he escaped but left behind his $3,000 custom-made racing bike. Noting that the same suspect had repeatedly escaped by stripping down from his street clothes into cycling gear and pedaling away, authorities asked the company that made the bike to post photos of it and the suspect on the Internet. Two members of Chicago's bicycle-racing community called and identified the suspect. FBI agents arrested Thomas Justice, 31, at his parents' house in Walnut Creek and said they suspect him of committing more than 30 other bank robberies across the country.

Election Follies

A Miami nursing home asked the National Labor Relations Board to throw out the results of the union vote, saying that voodoo may have scared the facility's predominantly Haitian-American work force into voting to organize. Workers at Mount Sinai-St. Francis Nursing and Rehabilitation Center testified that they saw lines of pennies, half-empty water cups and a union supporter twisting black beads in her hands before the vote, which was 49 to 37 in favor of unionizing.

When Bernard Lindell Sr., 47, of Hopewell, Va., stepped into the voting booth on May 7 to cast his ballot for city council, he flipped open the slot for a write-in candidate and saw his name, in his handwriting, in the slot. He complained to the Hopewell Electoral Board that the vote was from the November 2001 state elections and wasn't counted. The Electoral Board called the error regrettable but said the missing vote had no effect on the election's outcome. "They took my rights away," Lindell insisted. "I deserve more than just an apology."

Way to Go

Rass "Ralph" Rodgers, 56, a stroke patient at a nursing home in Bridgetown, Mo., died when a backup generator running a breathing machine failed after several storm-related power outages. "We can't believe what has happened," said Rodgers' pastor, the Rev. B.T. Rice. "We thought he was getting better."

Police in West Palm Beach, Fla., said that Vidal Meneses, 33, took his own life with a gas-powered chain saw. Investigators found the Stihl chain saw that had cut halfway through Meneses's neck from behind was still in his hands with the switch locked open.

The Honeymoon Is Over

Police in Columbus, Ohio, charged Christina Combs, 29, with trying to kill her husband of three weeks by drugging his soft drink at a Taco Bell restaurant. The California couple were visiting relatives when David Combs, 26, reacted violently to the drink and drove himself and his wife to a hospital, where tests showed he had been drugged with a narcotic. "He knew something was definitely wrong," police Sgt. Stan Latta told the Columbus Dispatch. "We believe she had tried something like this just a few days ago in another jurisdiction. She was arrested and has confessed. It looks like the motive was of a personal nature."

The Criminal Mind

Canadian Robert Moisescu pleaded guilty to robbing a bank in Champlain, N.Y., but objected to the seven-year sentence that his lawyer negotiated. "Taking into account my Canadian criminal record -- at current exchange rates -- is only worth 62 percent of an American criminal record," Moisescu wrote to Clinton County Court Judge Patrick McGill. "Seven years Canadian is worth only four years in American."

Drinking-Class Heroes

Richard M. Schenk, 42, hoped to avoid jail time for a drunken-driving offense by applying to a probationary program for first-time offenders in York, Pa. When he appeared at York County Common Pleas Court, a prosecutor and a sheriff's deputy reported smelling alcohol on his breath, so Judge Penny L. Blackwell ordered a breathalyzer test. She said Schenk registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.197 -- almost twice Pennsylvania's legal limit for driving.

When Jose Casas-Ruiz, 23, died in a single-car accident in Bloomington, Ill., a coroner's jury ruled that his death was accidental but avoidable because he was legally drunk at the time. After the verdict and two months after his death, Casas-Ruiz was ticketed for driving under the influence.

Slightest Provocations

Authorities in Polk County, Fla., accused Emmett Carter, 60, of stabbing his brother to death during an argument. A sheriff's representative said the incident occurred when the two fought after victim Daniel Carter, 39, threw a paper airplane that hit Emmett and caused him to spill his coffee.

When Paul Peyton III, 29, complained to a hair salon in Post Falls, Idaho, about a haircut he had gotten at another of the company's salons in Coeur d'Alene and demanded his money back, he was told the company doesn't refund money but that another beautician would cut his hair. Unsatisfied with the second haircut, he again demanded his money back. According to Kootenai County prosecutors, when he was refused, he drove his truck onto the sidewalk in front of the salon in Post Falls and tried to ram it.

Great Escape

Scott Brimble escaped from Washington's Okanogan County Jail by using dental floss and toothpaste, which is an abrasive, to weaken wire mesh surrounding the exercise yard, where he had been taken after complaining of claustrophobia. Sheriff Mike Murray said that Brimble then pried apart the mesh and fled.

All in the Family

A jury in Akron, Ohio, found Narda Goff, 43, guilty of helping her husband impregnate her teen-age daughter with a syringe. Goff, infertile after a hysterectomy, started recording the girl's menstrual cycle in 1998, then inseminated her with the sperm of John Goff. The girl, who is now 19, testified that her stepfather threatened to kill her mother if she declined to allow the insemination, adding that her mother gave her a home pregnancy test on Christmas Eve 1998 and presented the positive results to her stepfather "as a present." Paternity tests revealed that John Goff is the father of the baby boy born to the daughter in September 1999.

Love Fails to Conquer All

When authorities in Calcutta denied permission for a special area where people could publicly display affection without police harassment, the Lovers' Organization for Voluntary Exhibition, announced a protest march on the mayor's office. The kissing and hugging rally fizzled, however, when only about 30 people showed up, and they fled when several police vans arrived.

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.
ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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