Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends

Joshua Lee
5 min read
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Dateline: Michigan

cat won the race for mayor in Omena, Mich., last week, defeating 13 dogs, a peacock and a goat. According to Detroit Free Press, Omena is an unincorporated village with a population of about 300. The Omena Historical Society reportedly began holding elections for village council around 10 years ago. The only stipulation is that candidates must be animals currently living in the village to run in the election. This year’s winner of the title of mayor was a cat named Sweet Tart. The runner-up—elected vice mayor—was dog Diablo Shapiro, and puppy Punkin Anderson Harder was named second vice mayor. In what might be construed as a controversial move, the committee in charge of the election created a new title, special assistant for fowl affairs, to bestow upon a chicken named Penny and appointed a goat called Harley to the office of press secretary. The positions are reportedly ceremonial for the most part, however Mayor Sweet Tart will be expected to appear at meetings with the mayors of neighboring towns and social functions. Council members will remain in office for three-year terms. Voters were required to pay $1 to participate in the elections. Proceeds went to support the historical society. The mayor has yet to comment on the race.

Dateline: Colombia

A police drug-sniffing dog has been transferred to a new post after a drug gang placed a bounty on her head.
BBC reports that Sombra, a police German shepherd who has gained notoriety for finding a record amount of drugs in her career, was moved from her usual beat in Turbo in the Urabá region of Colombia—a strategically critical area with sea access—to the country’s largest airport in Bogotá. Police officials say the transfer was made because the dog’s life is in danger. According to reports, Colombia’s most influential drug gang, the Urabeños, are offering a bounty of 200m-pesos ($70,000) for the dog’s assassination. Sombra became a target of the gang after sniffing out nearly 10 tons of their cocaine earlier this year. Officials decided to move the dog to Bogotá, because it is believed to be outside the gang’s sphere of influence. Sombra has not been removed from active duty, but extra officers will now be patrolling with the German Shepherd and her handler to mitigate any danger. In 2012, the gang reportedly passed out leaflets offering $500 to anyone who killed a police officer. A police spokesperson told reporters the high value of Sombra’s bounty reflects the damage the dog did to Urabeños’ profits this year.

Dateline: United Kingdom

A retired art teacher is requesting that his neighbors stop trying to have sex with his hedge. According to the
BBC, Keith Tyssen of Sheffield, England, has been maintaining a hedge sculpture of a reclining nude woman in front of his home since 2000. He told reporters that the hedge has become the target of pranksters over the years, and he is often woken up during the night to find passing revelers going through the motions of having sex with it. “I’ve been awakened many times—mainly by men and sometimes also by women messing about with her and making a lot of hysterical noises,” he said. Tyssen says he has to make regular repairs to the hedge because of the damage done to it by those he calls “lowlifes.” He has considered putting up a sign or installing an alarm system to discourage further incidents. The hedge has been maintained by Tyssen for nearly 40 years and has carried a number of shapes, including a monster and a Greek god.

Dateline: United States

Amazon’s facial recognition software incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress with mugshots. Last week, the ACLU
released the results of a test it conducted to evaluate the accuracy of “Rekognition,” a facial recognition AI developed by Amazon and sold to a number of law enforcement organizations. As part of the test, the group compared the photos of all 535 members of Congress to a database of 25,000 publicly available arrest photos using Rekognition’s default settings. According to the results, 28 lawmakers were mistakenly identified as people who had committed a crime. Legislators who were incorrectly matched to mugshots included Republicans and Democrats, but people of color were disproportionately represented. According to the press release, people of color make up around 20 percent of Congress, but people of color made up 40 percent of those mismatched by the AI. Among those mismatched were six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis. The ACLU is asking that Congress join it in calling for law enforcement to halt use of the software. A number of lawmakers who were misidentified by Rekognition sent letters to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, inquiring about the software’s efficacy.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.

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