Uber to pay $10 million for misleading customers about its drivers

Uber logo 
By: Tanya Malhotra

(Scroll down for video) Uber has agreed to pay a fine of $10 million after being accused of misleading the public about the way it conducted background checks on its drivers, according to court documents in California.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced a $25 million settlement today with Uber Technologies Inc., over allegations the ride sharing company misled the public about background checks on its drivers.

“We are pleased that Uber has agreed to comply with state consumer laws,” District Attorney Lacey said.

“With this settlement, the ride sharing company has pledged to communicate honestly about its driver background checks and airport fees, which are important steps to protecting the residents of California,” Lacey added.

“The result we achieved today goes well beyond its impact on Uber,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.

“It sends a clear message to all businesses, and to startups in particular, that in the quest to quickly obtain market share, laws designed to protect consumers cannot be ignored. If a business acts like it is above the law, it will pay a heavy price,” Gascon added.

As part of the stipulated judgment approved today by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary Wiss, Uber agreed to pay a civil penalty of $10 million to Los Angeles and San Francisco counties within the next 60 days.

Uber will have to pay an additional $15 million civil penalty if the company does not comply with the terms of the settlement over the next two years.

The agreement follows a prior settlement reached with Lyft, Inc. Both companies are subject to a permanent injunction, barring them from making untrue or misleading statements about their background checks.

The injunction also requires Uber to ensure that its passenger fare calculation app meets accuracy standards set by the California Department of Agriculture’s Division of Measurement Standards.

In addition, Uber must receive approval from airports in California, to have its drivers drop off and pick up passengers, according to the agreement.

The company also can no longer charge an airport “toll” unless it or its drivers pay the entire fee to the airport. The company admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

Two actors slit their throats during play after prop razor turned out to be sharp

Razor (illustration) 
By: Feng Qian

(Scroll down for video) Police launched an investigation after two teenage actors were rushed to a hospital with wounds to their throats, police in New Zealand said.

Auckland police said that the incident unfolded on Wednesday night, during a high school musical playing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

At some point during the play, two 16-year-old students of the St. Kentigern College, cut their throats with a prop razor, which was very sharp.

Both students were rushed to a hospital after suffering serious injuries.

Stephen Cole, who is the principal of the school, said that the students were injured by a prop that was covered in foam and paper.

The razor was filed down and had been used during practice without incident. He called it an isolated incident, and said that the school was very upset with what happened.

When asked why a plastic razor wasn't used, Cole said that the prop had to be as real as possible.

Hoarder gets crushed to death after pile of garbage collapsed on top of him in middle of the night

Victim's home with mountains of trash 
By: Chan Yuan

A middle-aged man who suffered from Diogenes syndrome, was found dead in his own home after a pile of garbage collapsed on top of him in middle of the night, police in Spain said.

Alcabre police said that they have received a call on Wednesday, concerning the 51-year-old man.

A man of the Canary Islands, who identified himself as a friend of the hoarder, told police that he was concerned about the welfare of the 51 year old because he stopped communicating on WhatsApp and Facebook since Friday.

Police went to the man’s home located at 63 Garita Street, where they found mountains of trash. The victim who lived alone, was found trapped under three feet of trash.

The body was dug out by firefighters. The body had no signs of violence, and all signs point to dying as a result of being buried in the trash.

Father-in-law beats up bride at wedding for showing him her middle finger

Bride and father-in-law facing off at wedding 
By: Wayne Morin

A father-in-law in Russia, became extremely angry at the bride who showed him her middle finger during the wedding ceremony, according to a video uploaded to the Internet.

The video shows the moment the bride showed the middle finger to her father-in-law, causing a large brawl at the wedding.

The bride identified as Lena, is seen in a nice white gown before turning to the camera and raising her middle finger. At first, it seemed like the gesture was a joke accompanied with a cool smile and a wink.

However, the new father-in-law was not impressed and lunged at the bride within seconds.

One man can be heard saying to take the bride’s middle finger and cut it off on a plate before the father-in-law shouted at her to leave the room.

A woman is seen telling the bride to calm down while another woman told the father-in-law to just kill her.

Moments later, the father-in-law is heard saying that the wedding cost him a lot of money before he threw the bride down to the ground.

Lena was then taken away in tears. People who witnessed the scene, said that it appeared the wedding guests were under the influence of alcohol.

Man named Thomas Weed of Grass Valley comes to court with packages of marijuana

Thomas Edward Weed 
By: Mahesh Sarin

A man was arrested on a charge of marijuana possession after allegedly showing up to court with packages of marijuana in his car, police in California said.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office said that they have arrested 47-year-old Thomas Edward Weed of Grass Valley, after he was found to be in possession of numerous bags of marijuana outside the courthouse.

Weed was charged with drug possession, driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and a probation violation.

He was booked into the Placer County Jail, and his bail was set at $45,000.

According to the police, Weed was speeding in front of two officers outside the North Lake Tahoe Sheriff’s Station on Monday.

Weed then parked in front of the courthouse, taking up two spaces. Police caught up with Weed in a courtroom. He was led back to his car for a search.

Officers found packages of marijuana, hash, scales and other drug paraphernalia. Weed was under the influence of meth at the time of his arrest.

Man calls police because his mother yelled at him for smoking all her meth

Nicholas Johnson 
By: Tanya Malhotra

A man was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct after allegedly yelling at cursing his mother in front of police officers, police in South Carolina said.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said that they have arrested 27-year-old Nicholas Johnson, after being accused of calling the police because his mother yelled at him for smoking all her meth.

Johnson was charged with one count of disorderly conduct.

According to the police, Johnson called 911 to report that his mother went crazy and was yelling at him for using up all her meth.

Police officers who arrived at the home, were greeted by Johnson, who was cursing and yelling at his mother. After calming down, Johnson told officers that he finished his mother’s stash of meth an hour ago.

While talking with the police, Johnson again began to scream and curse his mother, who was standing on the porch of the house.

After he ignored police officer’s warnings to stop cursing, he was arrested for disorderly conduct.

Family learns they buried an empty box after police found dead body in funeral owner’s vehicle during drunk driving arrest

Thomas Claude Clock III 
By: Feng Qian

(Scroll down for video) A family is devastated after learning that a funeral owner gave them an empty box to bury at a cemetery, police in Michigan said.

Detroit police said that they have arrested 60-year-old Thomas Claude Clock III, the owner of the Clock Funeral Home of White Lake, after being accused of drunk driving and fraud.

Clock was charged with common-law fraud, attempted larceny and practicing mortuary services without a license. He was also charged with driving under the influence.

Clock was booked into jail, and his bail was set at $500,000.

According to the police, Clock was pulled over after police suspected that he was driving under the influence. During a search of his vehicle, police found a dead body.

Clock told the family of Helen Anthony, that there was no hole to bury her remains because employees of the Fruitland Township are not working due to a holiday.

Clock then told the family to use a hole digger to make a hole in the ground. The family proceeded to dig a hole and bury the box presented to them by Clock.

After Clock's arrest, the family learned that the box was empty as Anthony’s body was found in his vehicle.

Clock also faces a second charge of fraud for allegedly deceiving the parents of a child in the belief that they buried the ashes of their son.

Investigators found the remains of the baby in the funeral home during a search. They dug up the box located in the Fruitland Cemetery, and found that it was empty.

11-year-old boy shoots himself in the behind with his father’s gun

Boy holding gun (illustration) 
By: Chan Yuan

(Scroll down for video) A father was arrested on a charge of child neglect after his son shot himself in the behind when he was home alone, police in Michigan said.

Detroit police said that the incident unfolded around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, in the child’s home located in the 3900 block of W. Vernor Highway.

According to the police investigation, the father of the 11-year-old boy went to work, and he left the boy home alone with access to a gun.

The boy found the gun and shot himself in the behind. The boy was taken to the Children's Hospital, where he is said to be in stable condition.

The father told investigators that he kept the gun at home for protection, but he faces a charge of child neglect for leaving the boy alone with it.

The boy was placed in the custody of the state.

Husband gets 2 years prison for treating his wife as a slave

Woman in handcuffs (illustration) 
By: Wayne Morin

(Scroll down for video) A husband was arrested on a charge of holding a person in servitude after treating his wife as his slave, according to police in the United Kingdom.

Now, 34-year-old Safraz Ahmed of Woolwich, has been sentenced to serve two years in prison after being convicted of holding a person in servitude contrary to Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

It is believed to be the first case in England, where a husband has been convicted of this charge relating to his wife.

According to the police investigation, Ahmed and the victim were involved in an arranged marriage, which they both agreed to and welcomed.

They were married in Pakistan in 2006, where the victim remained to complete her studies before joining her husband in the country in 2012.

Upon arrival, the victim soon realized that she would not be part of the loving family she had expected. Instead, she was kept in servitude.

Her freedom was completely taken away, and she was subjected to physical and psychological abuse.

As tradition dictates, the victim came to the country with wedding jewelry, but the pieces were taken from her and not returned despite repeated requests.

This was a way of exploiting and controlling her. By depriving her of her personal belongings, she became completely financially dependent on her husband.

She was responsible for keeping the house clean and doing all the chores that her husband demanded.

She was not allowed outside unaccompanied, and when she was alone at home, she was called every ten minutes to make sure the she was not using the phone.

She described her husband’s behavior towards her as physical and mental torture.

Social workers charged with child abuse for leaving boy with abusive parents until he was killed

Gabriel Fernandez 
By: Mahesh Sarin

(Scroll down for video) Four social workers were arrested on a charge for child abuse after allegedly leaving a boy with his abusive parents until he was killed, police in California said.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that they have charged 31-year-old Stefanie Rodriguez, 66-year-old Patricia Clement, 37-year-old Kevin Bom, and 61-year-old Gregory Merritt, with child abuse and falsifying public records.

They were booked into jail, and bail was set at $155,000 each.

If convicted, each suspect faces up to 10 years in prison. The four social workers were accused of being responsible for the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.

The social workers minimized the significance of the physical, mental and emotional injuries that Fernandez suffered at the hands of his parents, a court was told.

The social workers allowed the vulnerable boy to remain at home and continue to be abused.

Prosecutors said that these social workers were criminally negligent and performed their legal duties with willful disregard for Fernandez’s well being.

Rodriguez, Clement, Bom, and Merritt, worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and had a legal duty to protect Fernandez from the time the case was opened until he was declared dead.

He died from multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns over his body.

Rodriguez and Clement are accused of falsifying reports that should have documented signs of Fernandez’s escalating physical abuse and the family’s lapsed participation in efforts to provide help to maintain the family.

Prosecutors allege that Bom and Merritt knew or should have known that they were approving false reports that conflicted with the evidence of Fernandez’s deteriorating physical well being as contained in the child’s case file, allowing him to remain at home until his death.

The parents, Pearl Fernandez and Isauro Aguirre, were charged with murder.

Artist creates stunning night dress from thousands of Walgreens sleeping pill prescriptions after suffering from insomnia

Night dress made of sleeping pill prescriptions 
By: Tanya Malhotra

A stunning, floor-length night dress made out of 2,000 Walgreens prescription labels for sleeping pills is the latest creation of a Minnesota artist, whose previous works include a life-size wedding dress made from thousands of canceled postage stamps.

“Dreaming of Sleep” is the title of the new work by Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, an artist from St. Paul, who specializes in making handmade paper garments.

Rasmussen uses materials including cotton, tissue paper and scanned prescriptions custom-printed on peel-and-stick wallpaper by Spoonflower.com, a custom fabric and wallpaper website.

The inspiration for it came to Rasmussen in a dream, but derives before that from her own reliance on sleeping pills.

“I’m an insomniac,” she said. “About three years ago, after a particularly restless night, I finally fell asleep in the early morning hours. When I reached a few fleeting moments of sleep, I dreamed about sleeping peacefully. Shortly thereafter, the alarm clock woke me and I wrote ‘dreaming of sleep’ on a pad of paper next to the bed.

“Sadly, a satisfying night’s sleep for me generally requires medication. Dreaming of Sleep is a self-portrait that illustrates my dependence on those staples of the pharmaceutical industry.”

It took Rasmussen, 47, four months and four eight-foot rolls of custom wallpaper to make the four-foot tall nightgown. It involved her cutting and stitching some 2,000 replicas of sleeping pill prescription labels.

“I then integrated a secret note to myself into the hem and completed the work,” she said.

Rasmussen calls the nightdress a “sculptural object,” designed for exhibiting rather than wearing. “Although I made it my size, the structure has no give,” she said. “I can't wear it without damaging it.”

Rasmussen describes herself as “an artist who creates mixed media and handmade paper garments.” She exhibits in galleries and museums internationally.

She has created other unusual garments in the past. The most similar to her latest work was a life-sized wedding dress called Mail Order Bride that she made in 2007 out of thousands of canceled postage stamps, collected from around the world over eight years. It was designed as a comment on the mail-order bride business and its growth in the Internet age.

Rasmussen is also a full professor of studio arts at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she teaches textile design and shares her enthusiasm for harnessing the latest high-tech innovations.

Woman hires hit man to murder her mother who asked a court for custody of her grandchildren

Holly Ramos 
By: Feng Qian

A woman was arrested on a charge of attempted murder after hiring a hit man to kill her mother who petitioned a court for custody of her grandchildren, police in California said.

Now, 43-year-old Holly Ramos of Los Angeles, has been sentenced to serve at least 31 years in prison after being convicted of two counts of forgery and one count each of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree commercial burglary and grand theft of labor.

Her husband and co-defendant, Frank Haverly, was found guilty of three felony counts, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and first-degree robbery.

He was sentenced to serve at least 31 years in prison. The third defendant, Keith Phillips, was convicted of first degree robbery and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to the police investigation, Ramos stole money from her mother.

Eventually, the mother discovered that Ramos was forging checks from her savings account, taking approximately $40,000 in over a month.

Additionally, the mother petitioned for custody of Ramos’ children subsequent to her arrest on drug possession and child endangerment charges.

Haverly and Ramos engaged in multiple conversations alluding to their plans to remove the victim from their lives. Haverly and Ramos then hired Phillips to kill Ramos’ mother.

Phillips armed himself with a bat concealed in a briefcase, and gloves, and went to the victim’s home under the guise of being a social worker from the Monterey County Child Protective Services to do a home inspection.

He gave his real name and provided personal family information that only Ramos and Haverly knew.

During the tour of the victim’s home and when her back was turned, Phillips struck the victim on her head twice, exposing her skull and causing excessive bleeding.

In the course of fleeing the home, Phillips stole the victim’s purse and the fraud report she made against her daughter.