Japan Takes Us Closer to the Day the Machines Take Over
Scientists in Japan have unveiled what they claim is the first news anchor android. She's even got sense of humor to match her language skills. The new "Kodomoroid" - an amalgamation of the Japanese word "kodomo" (child) and "android" - delivered news of an earthquake and an FBI raid to reporters in Tokyo. She even poked fun at her creator, telling robotics professor Hiroshi Ishiguro: "You're starting to look like a robot!" Further blurring the line between humans and machines, the mechanical newscaster performed tongue-twisters, to the amazement of her human counterparts. Ishiguro told reporters, "This will give us important feedback as we explore the question of what is human. We want robots to become increasingly clever." (Ananova)
Voter Fraud Caught with DNA!
Apparently Robert Monroe of Wisconsin really wanted his vote in the 2012 presidential election to count. So much so that he allegedly cast an in-person absentee ballot in Shorewood on Nov. 1 then rented a car and drove some 250 miles to Lebanon, Ind., five days later, using his driver's license from that state (he owns a home there) to do so. And that's not all: When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker faced a recall vote, Monroe voted five times, per a criminal complaint. He's now been charged with voter fraud after allegedly voting multiple times in a series of elections. He got caught after investigators tested DNA on absentee ballot envelopes, finding Monroe's DNA on envelopes that appeared to be from others. The official complaint says he cast votes under his son's name and that of his girlfriend's son. Each of his 13 felony charges carries up to 18 months in prison. Monroe has claimed that he has no memory of the elections, and that his Attention Deficit and Obsessive Compulsive medications weaken his mental sharpness. (WISN)
No Fly List is Unconstitutional?
In today's world, international travel isn't a "mere convenience or luxury," but "a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," a federal judge has decided, striking down the government's post-9/11 no-fly list procedures as unconstitutional. The judge ordered the government to revise its procedures to include a way to disclose how a person ended up on the list and to give them a way to challenge the designation. Around 20,000 people are on the list, including 500 American citizens. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by 13 Muslim Americans -- including four US military veterans -- who were never charged with a crime, deny any links to terrorism, and say they only learned they were on the list when they attempted to board flights. The ACLU hailed the ruling, saying, "We hope this serves as a wake-up call for the government to fix its broken watch-list system, which has swept up so many innocent people." (USA Today)
Pro Tip: Don't Facebook While Burglarizing!
They always tell you no Facebooking at work. Especially if you're a burglar! Minnesota police say 26-year-old Nicholas Wig broke into a home and stole money, credit cards, and other valuables. He might have gotten away with it except that when homeowner, James Wood, surveyed the damage later that night, he noticed that his burglar had left behind some wet jeans and shoes (it was raining) and that his computer had been used. Turns out Wig had logged into Facebook under his account, but forgot to log back out. Wood says he posted something to the page about its user being a thief and left his phone number. To his surprise, he got a text and replied, 'You left a few things at my house last night, how can I get them back to you?" They arranged an exchange, and Wood called police as soon as he saw Wig, whose photo he recognized from Facebook, on his street. Cops charged him with second-degree burglary. (ABC News)
Life, Liberty and the Right to Criticize Your Sorry Butt!
Imagine a world where people could say only nice things at your local town meeting -- by law! That's how things were in the small town of Ruidoso, New Mexico until U.S. District Judge James Browning struck down the law saying it was unconstitutional. The law actually banned speakers at its meetings from saying anything negative about Ruidoso's government or its employees. Browning ruled that while government meetings can impose some reasonable restrictions on speech to keep meetings orderly and moving, they can't suppress a speaker's opinion. (Albuquerque Journal)
Toddler Catches Babysitter Burglar!
A 4-year-old Ferndale, Washington, girl foiled an alleged robbery plot by her 17-year-old babysitter. Police said the girl's babysitter, who is not being named because she is a minor, planned a false home invasion in order to steal things from the residence. Her alleged accomplices included her 16-year-old boyfriend, and 18-year-old Ruben Benjamin. When officers arrived at the apartment, the babysitter allegedly told police that two armed black men had entered the residence and stolen things including a video game system, laptops, and Abby's iPod and piggy bank. Investigators said the babysitter even tried pinning the crime on a black neighbor, who was taken in for questioning. But when officers spoke to Abby, the little girl told them that the robbers were white, not black, and that they had ordered the little girl out of the house in order to steal. A short time later, police said the babysitter admitted to the crime and she and her alleged accomplices were all arrested. (Huffington Post)
What the What?
Northwestern University's journalism school has a very low tolerance for spelling errors -- at least those made by students. They're so strict on their students that any paper turned in with a spelling error gets an automatic F! No kidding. So image their shock when they found out that dozens of diplomas handed out last Saturday to graduating seniors had spelling errors! Basically they misspelled the word Integrated. The school plans to give new diplomas to the 30-ish students with erroneous ones. (Chicago Sun Times)