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Invasion of the Robot Pants



Curses, Foiled Again and Again and Again—and Again
Since embarking on a life of crime in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1985, Jack Mannino, 44, has been thwarted repeatedly and spent most of his adult life in prison. “I never got away with anything,” he stated while testifying in federal court after pleading guilty to bank robbery and agreeing to testify against his former partner, Gary Fama, to get a lighter sentence. The pair stole $5,658 and sped away in reverse, blowing the transmission in Mannino’s new Lexus only two blocks from the bank. They fled, but, in addition to the car, registered in his name, Mannino left behind his wallet, containing his driver’s license and credit cards. After hearing his testimony, Fama’s attorney, Elizabeth Macedonio, commented, “You must be the worst criminal in the history of criminals.” (The New York Times)

Invasion of the Robot Pants
Samsung disclosed that it subjects its smartphones to stress tests that involve sprinkling rain on them, pressing their home button 20,000 times and using a robotic tush covered by pants to sit on the phones. (Samsung video release)

NASA demonstrated a robotic exoskeleton that’s worn over the legs, with a harness that reaches up the back and around the shoulders, like overalls. The 57-pound device is designed to help astronauts stay healthier in space by using it as an exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement. As the technology advances, NASA said the exoskeleton could benefit astronauts working on the surface of other planets by improving their ability to walk in a reduced-gravity environment. (NASA news release)

Holiday Follies
After the jumbo video screen at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium, home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football club, began displaying a burning Yule log, the fire department received frantic calls reporting “a very bright flame, in some cases the smell of smoke,” deputy fire chief Gerard Kay said. The log video was changed to a thank-you message to fans, Roughriders CEO Jim Hopson said, adding that before turning on the fireplace scene, “Someone jokingly said, ‘Y’know, I don’t know about that Yule log. Someone is going to think the stadium is on fire.’ Sure as heck, someone thought the stadium was on fire.” (CBC News)

Confetti used in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City contained shredded confidential police records from Long Island’s Nassau County Police Department. The paper strips included personal information, the identities of undercover detectives and details of Mitt Romney’s motorcade route to a debate in fall 2012. “There are phone numbers, addresses, more Social Security numbers, license plate numbers, and then we find all these incident reports from police,” parade-goer Ethan Finkelstein, 18, said. The records were reportedly brought to the parade by a department employee, who tossed the easily identifiable documents with his family during the parade. (New York’s WPIX-TV)

Identity Crisis
The Canada Border Services Agency warned motorists to expect delays at the border crossing in Emerson, Manitoba, because of “work refusals by several officers at this port of entry.” Some border agents refused to work after the CBSA ordered all agents to wear nametags. Agents at two Ontario crossings walked off the job for the same reason but returned to work wearing the nametags. The union representing the border guards said wearing nametags puts them at risk of retaliation from cross border crossers, but the CBSA pooh-poohed any safety risk. “Personalized name tags reflect our commitment to service excellence,” it explained, “and reinforce the professionalism and integrity for which CBSA officers are known.” (CBC News)

Next Nosh at Costco’s Toothpick Buffet
Caviar vending machines have shown up at three Los Angeles shopping malls. Called “caviar boutiques,” the machines also dispense truffles, escargot, Bellini cocktails and caviar accessories. (Los Angeles’s KTLA-TV)

The Florida sheriff’s office that investigated the disappearance of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony in 2008 overlooked evidence that someone in the Anthony home did a Google search for “fool-proof” suffocation methods on the day the girl was last seen alive. The victim’s mother, Casey Anthony, was tried for her daughter’s death but acquitted because jurors doubted prosecutors conclusively proved how Caylee died. Orange County Sheriff’s investigators missed the search after pulling 17 vague entries from the computer’s Internet Explorer browser, because they ignored the Mozilla Firefox browser that Anthony regularly used. It contained more than 1,200 entries, including the suffocation search. A computer expert for Anthony’s defense team did find the search before the trial, and lead defense attorney Jose Baez mentioned it in his subsequent book about the case. (Associated Press and Orlando’s WKMG-TV)

Such Ingrates
When elderly residents at a Boston public-housing project complained they were freezing because the new heating system, with preset energy-saving thermostats, wasn’t heating their apartments adequately, if at all, Housing Authority Administrator William McGonagle responded that 163 separate tests showed the complex met state code. “We’ve been through this at other elderly and disabled developments,” he said. “It takes time for them to get used to it.” (Boston Herald)

Father/Guru of the Year
Adam Maguire, 28, burned his children in their upper back and neck areas “in an attempt to show them pain compliance while meditating,” according to Houlton, Maine, Police Chief Butch Asselin. Maguire’s girlfriend told police the couple was teaching the children meditation to help with their ADHD and told them that when you clear your mind, you no longer feel pain. (Associated Press)

Food Threats
When Robert Nemeti, 24, tried to buy chocolate pudding at a British supermarket self-service checkout, his purchase was interrupted by the machine announcing he needed to show identification proving he was over 18. When a worker at the Southampton Tesco store came to check his ID, she said it was a health issue because the Cadbury Hot Chocolate Pudding would get hot when cooked “and you may burn yourself.” Tesco later called the ID request an error, explaining, “The self-service machines can be temperamental. The pudding should not be an age-restricted product.” (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Way to Go
A 56-year-old man was taking out the garbage at an apartment complex in Fife, Wash., when he dropped his keys down a storm drain. He tried to retrieve them by lifting the heavy grate and reaching in, police said, but was unable to get out and became lodged in the catch basin with his head underwater and his feet sticking out of the top. He died after being pulled out. (Seattle Times)

Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.

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