Family Values. In South Carolina, Serena Caldwell, age 56 and Ericka Jones, age 27, two day-care workers working for a day-care nursery called Kids Unlimited located in the small town of Prosperity, allegedly “encouraged and directed fourteen 3 and 4 year-olds to fight each other and allowing the violence to proceed without correction”, according to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office. Jones and Caldwell are each charged with multiple counts of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”. Both have had their employment terminated. There were no serious injuries among the children (13 Nov).
Medical News. A man is launching a medical malpractice lawsuit after doctors at the University of Washington Medical Centre appeared to be unable to find his appendix and removing part of his lower colon instead. The patient, George Piano, nearly died of sepsis due to a now-leaking lower colon caused by the mishap. Piano’s personal injury lawyer said “I have never heard of [a surgeon] who was unable to locate an appendix.” There were four additional surgeries and multiple hospitalizations needed to repair the original botched operation, and more are on the way to try to reverse the ileostomy and to reconstruct his abdominal wall, according to a spokesman from the University of Washingon. (2 Nov)
Bad Judgement. A man in his 20s, while in the South Korean city of Jinju attacked a shop clerk with short hair, concluding she must be a feminist. Police say he was drunk and had been diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia. (6 Nov)
Government in Action. The Canadian Department of Natural Resources had commissioned KPMG at the cost of nearly $670,000 so that their consultants could advise them on how to save money on consultants. Professional outsourcing generally has cost the government north of 15 billion dollars across the federal public service, and the current government has been seeking efforts to rein in costs. No other government department had hired consultants for this. (8 Nov)
Labour News 700 Obamacare and Medicare call centre workers across seven states who were contracted out to a firm called Maximus, have staged a strike, and are asking for, among other things, affordable health care. But also on the agenda was to be paid a living wage somewhat more than the $16 per hour they currently get (the federal minimum wage). They also want improvements in working conditions. Maximus currently has a $6.6 billion dollar contract over 9 years with the federal government. Maximus is the largest federal contractor concerned with call centres, and has been accused of union-busting. President Biden has called on Maximus to honor unions and to start providing improvements in working and living conditions for their employees. (10 Nov)
Advances in Technology A factory robot programmed to handle boxes of food in the province of South Gyeonsang, South Korea, mistook a man for a box of bell peppers, and crushed him to death. The man, who was aged 40, was grabbed by the robot, which then pushed him on to a conveyor belt, crushing his face and chest. He later died in hospital. The man was testing the robot for defects in its sensors. The robot is mostly mechanical, and does not use AI, and would not be sophisticated enough to distinguish a box from a human. (9 Nov)
AI In the News. Bad news for lonely hearts: Forever Voices, an AI alternative to those who have been spurned by a person in real life, has now gone dark on their real-life paramours. 28 year-old owner John Heirich Meyer, who has had a history of mental health problems, shut down the service after he had been arrested for arson to his own apartment in Austin, Texas. There is now a Forever Voices subreddit for the digitally jilted. (22 Oct)
Crime and the Law. ALPHV/BlackCat, a Russia-based criminal ransomware group tried to threaten the US-based company MeridianLink with ransomware attacks. But when MeridianLink refused to pay, ALPHV/BlackCat filed a complaint with the American Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC), citing the SEC rule breached by chapter and verse, specifically citing Meridian’s failure to disclose BlackCat’s security breach to its customers. This is the first threat of its kind, a departure from the usual denial-of service attacks we see normally from bad actors like these. (16 Nov, 17 Nov)