Curses, Foiled Again
Brazilian fire officials had to rescue a prisoner who tried to crawl through a hole in the wall of a prison in Ceres but became trapped because he was too fat to fit through the opening. “The other prisoners tried to push him, but he stayed stuck in the wall,” fire department Lt. Tiago Costa said. “He started screaming in pain, and that was when the prison guards were alerted.” (London’s UKMetro) Police quickly identified Michael David Stoltenberg, 27, as the hit-and-run driver who fled on foot after rear-ending another vehicle in Salt Lake City because he left behind not only his wrecked car, registered in his name, but also his two children, ages 9 and 2. (The Salt Lake Tribune)
After frequent attacks on doctors, Indian hospitals started hiring well-built nightclub bouncers, bodyguards and wrestlers to keep order in emergency rooms and labor rooms. Relatives and friends often become agitated and go on rampages after patients die or are suspected of having been mistreated.
Thousands of attacks occur in Indian hospitals every year, according to Dr. Narendra Saini of the Indian Medical Association, who noted families feel especially cheated at expensive hospitals, explaining, “They expect their patient to live because that’s what they paid for.” (Associated Press)
Nearly three of every four shoppers accustomed to discounted prices at retail stores said they wouldn’t buy a given item without a discount of at least 50 percent. A survey by the consumer research firm America’s Research Group found that deep discounts eat away at already slim profits, but retailers have only themselves to blame, because discounting during a down economy has conditioned shoppers to expect it. Everyday pricing “takes some fun out of” shopping, Paco Underhill, who studies consumer behavior for Envirosell, explained. “Sales are just like heroin.” (Associated Press)
Police charged Mahmoud Yousef Hindi, 55, with killing one man and critically wounding another when he opened fire at a homeowners association meeting in Louisville, Ky., during a dispute about the height and direction of a fence around his house, as well as a recently constructed driveway. (Associated Press) Police in Winter Park, Fla., charged restaurant owner Quoc Trong Tran with shooting at a car occupied by two customers who complained about their meals. (Orlando’s WKMG-TV)
Sheriff’s deputies who stopped Patrick Townsend, 30, for driving without a seatbelt in Polk County, Fla., found 32.4 grams of methamphetamine in his boxer shorts. They said Townsend confessed to trafficking in the drug, boasting that he usually deals in kilos, not grams. Detective Justin Starr recorded the confessions, but when he stepped away and left the digital recorder on a desk, Townsend grabbed it, hid it in his armpit, asked to use the bathroom and flushed the recorder down the toilet. When he returned and saw Starr looking for the recorder, he reportedly told him, “Tighten up on your job, homie.” (Lakeland’s The Ledger)
What Could Go Wrong?
Following a Human Rights Watch report that killer robots could be deployed on battlefields within 20 years, the Department of Defense issued a directive stating that any future semi-au-tonomous weapons systems “must be designed such that, in the event of degraded or lost communication, the system does not autonomously select and engage individual targets or specific target groups that haven’t been previously selected by an authorized human operator.” The policy specifically exempts non-killing military robots, such as surveillance drones. (Britain’s Daily Mail) U.S. military drones overseas are crashing with increasing frequency, including at civilian airports. Air Force investigators blamed the mishaps on pilot error, mechanical failure, software glitches and poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers. U.S. drone crews in Djibouti, where five Predator drones have crashed, singled out Djiboutians as a factor, complaining they speak poor English, are “short-tempered” and are uncomfortable having Predators in their airspace. (The Washington Post) Britain’s Cambridge University is opening a center for leading academics to study the threats that robots pose to humanity. Other threats being studied are climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology. The co-founder of Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) is Lord Rees, whose 2003 book Our Final Century warned that the human species would wipe itself out by 2100. (Britain’s Daily Mail)
While Julian Schmidt, 14, was praying with two friends in Junction City, Ore., at a memorial site where a train ran over one of Schmidt’s relatives, an Amtrak train hit and killed Schmidt just feet from the site. (Eugene’s KVAL-TV)
News and Blues is compiled from the nation’s press. To contribute, submit original clippings, citing date and source, to Roland Sweet in care of The New Times.