NewsQuirks 710

Curses, Foiled Again

Police in Edmonton, Alberta, arrested two youths who accosted a pizza delivery man and demanded the four pizzas and cash that he was carrying. The robbers, ages 17 and 18, then decided to take his car instead. Their getaway was thwarted because they didn't know how to drive a standard transmission. "It was a toss-up between pizzas and the car, and they knew how to operate pizzas," Edmonton Police representative Wes Bellmore said, adding that the suspects were apprehended after officers arriving on the scene spotted one of them entering the home where the pizzas were to be delivered.

Support Group

Thailand's health ministry announced it is dispatching a troupe of dancers to show women how to boost their bust sizes. Thai women who have been bombarded by media images of big-busted women often feel inadequate and resort to wearing ill-fitting brassieres, according to Pennapa Subcharoen, deputy director-general of the ministry's department of traditional medicine.

"Many women are not aware that wearing an appropriate size of bra and regularly taking bosom-firming dance can make their wish come true," she said. "So we are training 12 pairs of instructors to teach women how to take care of their breasts, and we plan to launch them on Valentine's Day nationwide." Pennapa added that each dance team would consist of one small-chested instructor and one large-chested instructor.

Worth the Risk

Increased cellphone use has led to more car accidents, but the value users place on being able to call from the road roughly equals the accidents' cost, according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. The center's study concluded that the yearly cost of accidents caused by cellphones, including medical bills and property damage, equals $43 billion. This figure is virtually the same as researchers arrived at for the value that drivers placed on the benefits of having cellphones, such as security and peace of mind, increased productivity, privacy and quicker crime and accident reporting.

First Things First

Minnesota resident Tyler Bratsch, 25, was sentenced to a year in jail after he admitted visiting pornographic, sports and music Internet sites and checking e-mail instead of watching his 13-month-old son, who drowned while taking a bath unattended.

Police in Placentia, Calif., charged Janet Chen, 31, with leaving her two young children home alone for nearly three weeks while she went to North Carolina to visit a man whom she met on the Internet. Officers, who discovered Chen's 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son after neighbors reported hearing them crying inside the apartment, said the children had been living on frozen meals, Bagel Bites and cold cereal. Chen told investigators that she had a falling out with the man but slept in her rental car for the next week rather than come home because she didn't want to pay for a new airline ticket.

Are We There Yet?

Glen and Eleanor Milligan, both 78, left their home in Stark County, Ohio, for a one-hour drive to a relative's home. When they didn't arrive, their family reported them missing. Twenty-eight hours later, Cleveland police investigating reports of a suspicious car on the city's southeast side discovered it was the missing Milligans. "They kept driving around the same neighborhood over and over again," Stark County Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Maskaluk said. "He thought he was still in Canton, Ohio."

Dorothy Woodman, 80, headed out Monday evening for a shopping trip to Washington, D.C., about 15 minutes from her home in McLean, Va. While driving home, she made a wrong turn, drove all night and wound up 250 miles away in Baden, Pa. A man at a gas station directed Woodman to a motel, where several employees offered to drive her home. She declined and decided to drive herself home. She got lost again. Tuesday afternoon, she found herself in Edgeworth, Pa. She flagged down Edgeworth resident Nancy Merrill, who noticed she seemed exhausted and drove her to the police station. She spent the night at a motel, then made the five-hour trip home Wednesday afternoon in a limousine hired by her son.

After a Greyhound bus ran into heavy traffic outside Philadelphia, the driver began taking several alternate routes looking for less congested roads. When several passengers questioned whether he knew what he was doing, the annoyed driver yelled back at them, "I'm taking you to the Taliban." The remark prompted some passengers to call police on their cellphones. Within moments, according to the Bucks County Courier Times, 18 police cars surrounded the bus and pulled it over outside Marlboro, N.J. Officers pointed their guns at the bus and ordered everyone off, then took the unidentified driver for questioning. The 30 passengers were allowed to resume their trip several hours later.

Lucky...Not

Paul Smith, 37, survived his van rolling down an embankment outside Moosic, Pa. After climbing back to the highway and walking a half-mile along the shoulder, however, he was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Francofollies

A group of French chefs, writers and media celebrities announced it would petition Pope John Paul II to remove gluttony from the list of seven deadly sins. Members of the Association for the Gourmand Issue explained that the question is essentially linguistic. The word for gluttony, "la gourmandise," meant eating to excess when it was added to the French version of the Roman Catholic Church's seven sins, but today it connotes conviviality and good living. The association wants to replace it with another word, "gloutonnerie," which it said translates gluttony more accurately.

Hoping to wipe out France Telecom's $70 billion debt, union officials representing workers for the state-controlled firm in the Alsace region began selling mops for a dollar each.

A 42-year-old French motorist who drove through a police roadblock, triggering a high-speed chase that ended in a crash, told officers in Marseilles that he was being "chased by Martians." A breathalyzer test for alcohol proved negative.

Rite of Passage

The Rev. Filip Velisavljevic, the pastor of a Serbian Orthodox church in Lebanon, Pa., shot himself in the foot during a struggle with Frederick Pantelich, the church's incoming council president. "He threatened to shoot me," Pantelich said, explaining that he was trying to wrestle a semiautomatic pistol away from Velisavljevic when it fired.

When Guns Are Outlawed

Police in Calhoun County, Ark., charged Joseph D. Jefferson, 29, with bludgeoning his wife to death with a bowling ball.

Compiled from the nation's press by Roland Sweet. Submit 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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