NewsQuirks 966

Mensa Rejects of the Week

Police arrested Daniel Villafane, 24, in West Rockhill, Pa., after they found 2 pounds of marijuana in his car. Officers initiated the search only because they responded to reports that Villafane and his girlfriend, Evelyn Torres, 24, were having sex on the car in a neighbor's driveway around 7 a.m. Villafane told police they were traveling from Allentown to Philadelphia when they stopped for their impromptu tryst.

Josh Stevens, 16, died while riding in a friend's car when he suddenly pulled the emergency hand brake as a joke, causing the car to swerve into oncoming traffic and collide with another car.

Federal authorities arrested Utah auto mechanic Kevin S. Jackson, 51, for trying to cheat financial institutions by redeeming a counterfeit Federal Reserve bearer bond dated 1934 that showed a face value of $100 million. With interest, it was supposedly worth $200, according to Jackson. Authorities pointed out that no denomination greater than $1 million has ever been printed.

Nasad Alesky, 35, was riding between subway cars in New York City around 2:30 a.m. when he decided to climb onto the roof of the moving train and go "subway surfing." Police said that Alesky was critically hurt when he hit his head on an overhead tunnel beam, tumbled to the tracks and was run over by the wheels of the train.

An unidentified man in his 20s or 30s was siphoning gasoline from a mini-van with an electric shop vacuum, then pouring it into another mini-van when an electric spark from the appliance ignited fumes in the first van's gas tank. Fire Marshal Joel Kuhnhenn of Woodinville, Wash., said that flames quickly leaped to the open gas tanks of the two vehicles, causing intense heat that shattered their windows, then spreading inside them. Noting that both vehicles were destroyed and a Chevy Malibu parked nearby was damaged, Kuhnhenn declared, "This was an accident waiting to happen."

Lest We Forget

After a morning headlight parade in Sydney, Australia, to honor Sept. 11 victims, the National Roads and Motorists Association reported receiving at least 400 calls from drivers heading home from work that evening whose batteries were dead from leaving their lights on all day.

Also this Sept. 11, German security officials at Berlin's Tegel airport detained a passenger aboard a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt when he emerged from the lavatory. "He was on the toilet for quite some time," Lufthansa representative Thomas Jachnow said. "That was enough reason to alert the federal border police."

Pavlov's Pig

The New Jersey medical company Transneuronix has developed an electric shock device intended to control appetites. The implant zaps the stomach with a tiny 10-milliampere current for 2 seconds, 12 times a minute, slowing down peristalsis to control hunger and restricting the amount of food that enters and leaves the stomach. The company said that the device can be left on all the time or switched on whenever a patient feels the urge to binge.

Slightest Provocations

Police charged Kevin E. French, 45, of Horseheads, N.Y., with shooting his neighbor Nicholas Lanzillotto, 53, because he was upset over how often Lanzillotto mowed his lawn. In fact, State Police Investigator Jeffrey Gotschall noted, Lanzillotto was on a riding lawnmower when French shot him in the head.

Twins, Chris and Gary Sullivan, 16, and their brother, Charles R. "Bobby" Call, 21, told police in Kettering, Ohio, that they strangled their mother to death because she complained about not getting a bacon cheeseburger with the milkshake that Gary Sullivan brought her from Wendy's. Chris Sullivan said the day after his mother's death that the brothers were "all so sick" of Kathy Call's screaming fits.

Robert M. Luttrell Jr., 18, of Frederick County, Va., admitted fatally shooting his friend, Travis Hott, 13, after the two argued over whether to watch Cinemax on television or switch to the news to check on the weather report.

Verona Smith, 35, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., was charged with stabbing her roommate during a dispute over Internet use. According to the police report, Kay Lyons, 25, was trying to connect to the Internet when Smith pulled the cord out of the wall in Lyons's room because Smith had been waiting for a phone call.

Also in Hilton Head Island, authorities accused Troy Lamont Chisolm, 21, of shooting Tyrone Robinson, 25, in the back shortly after 6 a.m. at Chisolm's home while the two men argued over the last bottle of beer.

Police charged Lorenzo Barrios, 37, with murdering Odon Perez Sanchez, 40, during a quarrel over when they should return home from fishing at a pond in Highland Park, Ill. According to Lake County Assistant State's Atty. Matthew Chancey, Barrios said he wanted to leave, but Sanchez didn't, so "they started calling each other names, and the fight started." Barrios then "held the victim's head under water until the victim stopped moving."

Homeland Security

The Border Patrol disclosed that drivers for a Mexican smuggling ring have been thwarting authorities by driving on the wrong side of California's Interstate 5 at high speeds at night with their lights out. William Veal, Border Patrol chief in San Diego, said that the smugglers' vehicles are modified with reinforced bumpers and high-powered headlights, which blind drivers of oncoming cars. To defeat spike strips, tires are filled with a gel designed to repair flat tires. Veal said his agency didn't learn about the tactic, which has been used at least 16 times within the past year, until a head-on collision in June killed six persons.

No Easy Rider

After Everett Harbour, 61, won the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle given away by the Illinois State Lottery, the Pawnee resident also became the first person to crash his prize bike into a tree and end up in a coma. "It's so ironic," said Harbour's daughter, Janet Smith, 32. "Something good that happens can turn into something so horrible."

About to turn 60, Jim Zimmerman bought a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle. After the dealer delivered the bike to Zimmerman's home in Saginaw, Mich., he climbed aboard to go for his first ride. Ten seconds later, he struck a neighbor's utility trailer at 40 mph, breaking several ribs.

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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