NewsQuirks 700

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Jackson, Miss., charged Caleb Laforrest Pete, 41, with robbing a bank and bringing along his 3-year-old son. After leaving the bank with a duffel bag full of money, Pete prodded the boy to keep up, but the youngster slowed him down long enough for passersby to notice him hop into a waiting cab to make his getaway. Police quickly caught up with the cab, which was also carrying Pete's wife and their 5-month-old daughter.

Medium Is the Message

Stray dogs are being used as mobile billboards in the Russian city of Penza. The Molodoy Leninets newspaper reported that shopkeepers lure the animals with cutlets or sausages, then spray-paint them with their shop logo and the goods they stock. Workers of rival stores often catch each other's dogs and repaint them in their own colors.

Huge rocks in the Indian Himalayas are being defaced by hand-painted advertisements. New Scientist magazine reported that some 300 ads are visible along a 35-mile stretch of the Manali-Rohtang Pass, touting a variety of international and local products, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, a Punjab-based publisher and a local car repair shop. Scientists fear the paints are destroying the existing rich diversity of microflora and fauna on the rocks, but they point out that removing the paints with thinners could do more harm than good. Local officials said there is no law against the ads, which businesses see as a cost-effective marketing strategy.

Number One with a Bullet

Marcos Vinicius dos Santos, 27, the vocalist for the Brazilian rock group ACC, held a gun on the disc jockey at a radio station in Porto Alegre and forced him to play the group's debut album, "Phases of Life." The incident ended after about 70 minutes when dos Santos surrendered to police, who had evacuated the offices at Atlantida FM.

Witness Protection Program

A man who witnessed the slaying of two friends in Arapahoe County, Colo., was left beaten and bloodied after a jail deputy overlooked a court order and placed him in a cell with the suspect. A judge, concerned about potential violence, had prohibited all contact between witness, Martin Brewer, 21, who had been arrested for a probation violation, and the suspect, Edward Brown, 21, who is serving life sentences for two fatal shootings. "It was an error on the part of one of our deputies," Sheriff Grayson Robinson told the Rocky Mountain News.

The August incident was the second of its kind in six months. In February, a 16-year-old girl was placed in an Arapahoe County jail cell with a serial rape suspect.

Scapegoating

Theodore Maher, 44, admitted setting a fire that killed two people in Monaco but insisted that the deaths would have been averted if police had not blocked firefighters from trying to rescue the victims.

Kung-Fu Fighting

After several officers of Hong Kong's Food and Environmental Hygiene Department were attacked while trying to ticket litterbugs, the government offered a voluntary three-day course in Japanese aikido to sharpen the officers' self-defense skills. "We will be providing coaches," a government representative said, "and we hope all our enforcement officers will join the classes."

Los Angeles police arrested Tyrone Jermaine Hogan, 20, after a series of crimes that ended when he tried to carjack a vehicle carrying a judo club from Florida International University. The co-ed team was sightseeing when Hogan jumped into their minivan at a gas station. The students piled on the suspect and hit him several times, then put him in a body hold. "He was detained, to say the least," police Sgt. Alan Hamilton said, explaining that a bloodied Hogan was treated at the scene before being taken to police headquarters.

Bad Seed

Sidney Trimble, 42, pleaded guilty to holding his 68-year-old mother at knifepoint and forcing her to withdraw money from her bank account. A teller at a bank drive-through window in Largo, Fla., noticed Edith Trimble acting strangely and saw her turn toward her and mouth the words, "Call the police." Officers arrived moments later and arrested Trimble.

Second-Amendment Follies

John Matson, 55, died after being shot in a hog-butchering accident in Frazee, Minn. According to the Becker County sheriff's office, when one of the men doing the butchering shot the hog with a .22-caliber rifle, the animal fell backward but then jumped forward, knocking the shooter down and causing the rifle to discharge.

Sky-High Antics

Weeks after introducing its newest planes, the $200 million Airbus A340-600, Virgin Airlines said it is having to replace plastic tables intended for changing diapers in its "mother and baby room" because passengers have broken them while having sex on them. "Those determined to join the Mile High Club will do so despite the lack of comforts," a Virgin representative said.

Overreaction

Egyptian newspapers reported that a woman set fire to her Cairo apartment after arguing with her husband because he refused to buy dried fruit and nuts to eat during the holy month of Ramadan. The blaze caused an estimated $6,500 worth of damage before firefighters brought it under control.

D'oh

A German driver who got out of his car on a hill to relieve himself forgot to apply the parking brake, and the car rolled down the hill and into a river. "At first he tried to claim his car was stolen, but the police immediately found this wasn't the case," Birgit Hoehn of the Leipzig police said, adding, "He can expect a fine for parking on the sidewalk and not securing the car properly."

A man and a woman heading to an anti-war rally in San Francisco were critically injured when they stuck their heads through the sunroof of the vehicle they were riding in and hit the top of a low tunnel. "It sounded like a gunshot," said Warren Deming, 47, one of the other passengers in the former school bus. "It was a very loud impact."

More Fallout from the Wright Bros.

After a new airport opened in Munich, Germany, children's scores on reading and memory tests improved near the old airport and went down near the new one, according to a study reported in the journal Psychological Science. After a Montana couple built a home directly in the flight path of a private airstrip, they filed a lawsuit in Park County District Court charging airport owner Duane Hodgkinson with harassing them. "Hodgkinson and his planes have continued to 'buzz' within 100 feet of the home, at all hours of the day, and numerous times daily," according to the suit by Brian and Chris Markey.
Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22

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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