A Pennsylvania mother of seven died in a jail cell where she was serving a two-day sentence for her children’s absence from school, drawing complaints from the judge that sent her there about a broken system that punishes impoverished parents.
Eileen DiNino, 55, of Reading, was found dead in a jail cell Saturday, halfway through a 48-hour sentence that would have erased about $2,000 in fines and court costs. The debt had accrued since 1999, and involved several of her seven children, most recently her boys at a vocational high school.
‘‘Did something happen? Was she scared to death?’’ said District Judge Dean R. Patton, who reluctantly sent DiNino to the Berks County jail Friday after she failed to pay the debt for four years. He described her as ‘‘a lost soul,’’ and questioned Pennsylvanian laws that criminalize such lapses as truancy or failing to pay a trash bill.
‘‘This lady didn’t need to be there,’’ Patton said. ‘‘We don’t do debtors prisons anymore. That went out 100 years ago.’’
Joe Silver in Ars Technica:
Wisconsin resident Tanya Weyker was involved in a serious car crash with Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joseph Quiles’ vehicle in February of last year. Quiles rolled through a stop sign and “T-boned” her car, breaking her neck and wrecking her vehicle. Ever since, the 25-year-old woman has been trying to regain a semblance of her former life.
To add insult to injury, until quite recently, Weyker was facing drunken driving charges stemming solely from Quiles’ testimony at the time of the crash. Quiles arrested Weyker after the accident, claiming that she appeared intoxicated. The officer could not administer field sobriety tests due to the serious nature of Weyker’s injuries. All the while, there was undiscovered surveillance footage that showed the officer caused the crash.
A new study from psychologists at the University of Chicago and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona finds that people using a foreign language take a relatively utilitarian approach to moral dilemmas, making decisions based on assessments of what’s best for the common good. That pattern holds even when the utilitarian choice would produce an emotionally difficult outcome, such as sacrificing one life so others could live.
The Swiftboating of Apple
The numbers are in: a jury has awarded Apple $119.6 million in damages in its lawsuit against Samsung, a lot lower than the $2.2 billion that Apple had asked for. The jury did find that Samsung had infringed on three of Apple’s patents (it also found that Apple had infringed on one of Samsung’s patents, awarding the latter $158,000).
Commenting on this, John Gruber writes:
It’s hard to see how anything related to this verdict would give Samsung pause before copying Apple in the future. The financial penalty was a mere pittance, and in terms of public perception, they clearly had no shame to begin with.
That said, I still don’t think Apple has any regrets about pursuing this case. It’s about the message it sends to all competitors, not just Samsung: We are irrationally protective of our work, and if you wrong us, we will go after you.
Gruber seems to be suggesting that while this verdict might not impact Samsung (financially or in terms of public perception), it might scare other competitors. Of course Samsung is the only real competitor Apple has at this point, but perhaps Gruber is right and future, smaller players might think twice.
The bigger lesson, I feel, for Apple is that if they want to “go after” Samsung or others, the courts may not be the best venue. As Samsung, and now Amazon, mock Apple and its users, the company has stuck to running high-minded ads outling the benefits of Apple products, much as John Kerry did while his campaign went down in swift-boating flames.
Worse, courtesy of these lawsuits, we now know that Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller was actually so impressed by the mildly humourous content-less Samsung ad below (and a Wall Street Journal piece questioning Apple’s “cool”ness) that he sent out panic stricken email to his advertisers.
This is the ad:
And this is Schiller’s thoughts on it:
I watched the Samsung pre-superbowl ad that launched today. It’s pretty good and I can’t help but think these guys are feeling it (like an athlete who can’t miss because they are in a zone) while we struggle to nail a compelling brief on iPhone. That’s sad because we have much better products.
If Apple wants to spend “every last penny” to “right the wrong” of Samsung, it seems to make better sense to worry about Samsung’s attack ads, not their milquetoast attempts at humour.
From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States.