Robot awaits ‘compatriot’
The world’s first robot astronaut was pining for a conversation partner as he waited for Japanese spaceman Koichi Wakata aboard the International Space Station (ISS). “Mr Wakata, are you not here yet? I really want to see you soon,” the pint-sized android said in a message released by its project team in Japan on Wednesday. “Kirobo” — roughly the size of a chihuahua — left Earth on a cargo-carrying rocket and reached the space station on Aug. 10. Wakata along with Mikhail Tyurin of Russia and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio were aboard the Soyuz-FG rocket that set off from Kazakhstan yesterday for a six-hour journey to the ISS. Kirobo is programmed to communicate in Japanese and keep records of its conversations with Wakata.
Glitch leads to bargains
Shoppers looking for a bargain got some big ones, if only temporarily, at Walmart.com on Wednesday. A technical glitch on the Wal-Mart Stores Inc US Web site offered some items at a fraction of their actual retail price. Treadmills, which normally cost hundreds of dollars, were priced at US$33.16 and LCD computer monitors were offered for US$9. Ravi Jariwala, a spokesman for Walmart.com, said that the problem had been fixed and that the mistakenly priced orders would not be honored. “Given the wide discrepancy in pricing, we are notifying customers who ordered these items that their orders have been canceled and that they’ll be refunded in full,” Jariwala said in an e-mail. Walmart.com will also offer those shoppers a US$10 gift card.
Third navy officer arrested
Authorities arrested a third senior navy official on Wednesday in connection with a massive bribery scheme in Asia involving prostitutes and luxury travel. In a criminal complaint, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez is accused of accepting prostitutes, luxury travel and US$100,000 cash from a Malaysian contractor known in military circles as “Fat Leonard.” Prosecutors say Sanchez passed on classified and internal navy information to Leonard Francis’ company.
Man sues over anal probes
A New Mexico man has filed a lawsuit claiming police subjected him to repeated anal probes and enemas after a routine traffic stop because they suspected he was hiding drugs. David Eckert, 54, claims violations of his civil rights in the lawsuit, which was filed in US District Court in New Mexico in August, but not made public until this week, his lawyers said on Wednesday. “This suit is about stopping officers and doctors from subjecting people in their custody and control to unlawful sadistic medical procedures that violate the most intimate parts of the human body,” attorney Shannon Kennedy said. The legal action stems from Eckert’s treatment by police after he was pulled over for failing to come to a complete stop while exiting a parking lot in Deming, New Mexico. Officers suspected that he was hiding drugs in his anus, based on the way he was standing and the fact that a police dog alerted to his driver’s seat, and obtained a search warrant “to include but not limited to [plaintiff’s] anal cavity,” according to the lawsuit. Eckert was taken to a medical center where he was forced to undergo eight searches — including digital penetration of his anus, three enemas, two X-rays and a colonoscopy. Ultimately, no drugs were found, according to the complaint, which says that the Gila Regional Medical Center billed Eckert for the services it performed.