CHICAGO: A Chicago woman has been accused of keeping her mother’s dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.
Eva Bratcher, 69, appeared in court Thursday on charges of concealing her 96-year-old mother’s death and possessing a fraudulent identification card.
Regina Michalski’s body was discovered this week in a freezer in the garage near the apartment they had shared, police said. Investigators believe she died in March 2021. The cause won’t be determined until the body is thawed.
The allegations are “very disturbing,” Judge David Kelly said in setting a $20,000 bond for Bratcher.
Kelly turned down a defense lawyer’s request for a lower bond to get Bratcher out of jail.
She has past convictions for forgery, and investigators said they were trying to determine if Bratcher was collecting her late mother’s Social Security benefits, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Bratcher’s daughter, who lives in Kentucky, asked police to check the home after losing contact with her grandmother.
“What could go wrong? Apparently, everything,” Sabrina Watson said.
Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer
Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer
CHICAGO: A Chicago woman has been accused of keeping her mother’s dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.
Apple unveils sleek, $3,500 ‘Vision Pro’ goggles. Will they be what VR has been looking for?
- Headset will test the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination
CUPERTINO: Apple on Monday unveiled a long-rumored headset that will place its users between the virtual and real world, while also testing the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination.
After years of speculation, Apple CEO Tim Cook hailed the arrival of the sleek goggles — dubbed “Vision Pro” — at the the company’s annual developers conference held on a park-like campus in Cupertino, California, that Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs helped design.
“This marks the beginning of a journey that will bring a new dimension to powerful personal technology,” Cook told the crowd.
Although Apple executives provided an extensive preview of the headset’s capabilities during the final half hour of Monday’s event, consumers will have to wait before they can get their hands on the device and prepare to pay a hefty price to boot. Vision Pro will sell for $3,500 once it’s released in stores early next year.
The headset could become another milestone in Apple’s lore of releasing game-changing technology, even though the company hasn’t always been the first to try its hand at making a particular device.
Apple’s lineage of breakthroughs date back to a bow-tied Jobs peddling the first Mac in 1984 — a tradition that continued with the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, the iPad in 2010, the Apple Watch in 2014 and its AirPods in 2016.
The company emphasized that it drew upon its past decades of product design during the years it spent working on the Vision Pro, which Apple said involved more than 5,000 different patents. The goggles will be equipped with 12 cameras, six microphones and variety of sensors that will allow users to control it and various apps with just their eyes and hands. Apple also developed a technology to create three-dimensional digital version of each user to display during video conferencing.
If the new device turns out to be a niche product, it would leave Apple in the same bind as other major tech companies and startups that have tried selling headsets or glasses equipped with technology that either thrusts people into artificial worlds or projects digital images with scenery and things that are actually in front of them — a format known as “augmented reality.”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been describing these alternate three-dimensional realities as the “metaverse.” It’s a geeky concept that he tried to push into the mainstream by changing the name of his social networking company to Meta Platforms in 2021 and then pouring billions of dollars into improving the virtual technology.
But the metaverse largely remains a digital ghost town, although Meta’s virtual reality headset, the Quest, remains the top-selling device in a category that so far has mostly appealed to video game players looking for even more immersive experiences. Cook and other Apple executives avoided referring to the metaverse in their presentations, describing the Vision Pro as the company’s first leap into “spatial computing” instead.
The response to virtual, augmented and mixed reality has been decidedly ho-hum so far. Some of the gadgets deploying the technology have even been derisively mocked, with the most notable example being Google’s Internet-connected glasses released more than a decade ago.
After Google co-founder Sergey Brin initially drummed up excitement about the device by demonstrating an early model’s potential “wow factor” with a skydiving stunt staged during a San Francisco tech conference, consumers quickly became turned off to a product that allowed its users to surreptitiously take pictures and video. The backlash became so intense that people who wore the gear became known as “Glassholes,” leading Google to withdraw the product a few years after its debut.
Microsoft also has had limited success with HoloLens, a mixed-reality headset released in 2016, although the software maker earlier this year insisted it remains committed to the technology.
Magic Leap, a startup that stirred excitement with previews of a mixed-reality technology that could conjure the spectacle of a whale breaching through a gymnasium floor, had so much trouble marketing its first headset to consumers in 2018 that it has since shifted its focus to industrial, health care and emergency uses.
Daniel Diez, Magic Leap’s chief transformation officer, said there are four major questions Apple’s goggles will have to answer: “What can people do with it? What does this thing look and feel like? Is it comfortable to wear? And how much is it going to cost?”
The anticipation that Apple’s goggles are going to sell for several thousand dollars already has dampened expectations for the product. Although he expects Apple’s goggles to boast “jaw dropping” technology, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said he expects the company to sell just 150,000 units during the device’s first year on the market — a mere speck in the company’s portfolio. By comparison, Apple sells more than 200 million of its marquee iPhones a year. But the iPhone wasn’t an immediate sensation, with sales of fewer than 12 million units in its first full year on the market.
Since 2016, the average annual shipments of virtual- and augmented-reality devices have averaged 8.6 million units, according to the research firm CCS Insight. The firm expects sales to remain sluggish this year, with a sales projection of about 11 million of the devices before gradually climbing to 67 million in 2026.
Before taking the wraps of its new goggles, Apple kicked off the event by announcing that the latest models of two high-end computer lines, the Mac Studio and Mac Pro, will be powered by a company-designed chip that has already been available in less expensive Macs.
The Mac Studio will sell for $2,000 and the Mac Pro will be priced at $7,000. As it typically does at this conference, Apple provided a peek at the next iPhone operating system, iOS 17. That software, which will include more personalization and location-sharing tools for phone calls and texting, is expected to be released as a free update in September.
Nepali guide rescues climber from Everest death zone
Katmandu: A Nepali guide abandoned his client’s Everest summit bid to rescue a Malaysian climber in a deadly mountaineering season that has seen at least twelve deaths.
Gelje Sherpa was guiding a Chinese client to the 8,849-meter (29,032-feet) peak and planned to assist him to paraglide down.
Instead, only a few hundred meters from the summit, they came across a lone man clinging to a rope and shivering in the area known as the “death zone.”
The area above 8,000 meters has earned its name because of its thin air, freezing temperatures and low oxygen levels that heighten the risk of altitude sickness. It is also notorious for its difficult terrain.
“When I found him in that state, my heart did not let me leave him there,” Sherpa told AFP.
Many other climbers had walked past the man that day, but he declined to criticize them.
“It is a place where you have to think of your survival first,” he said.
Sherpa told his client — who will have paid at least $45,000 to attempt Everest, including a permit fee of $11,000 — to return without a summit.
“When I decided to go down, my client did not agree at first. Of course, he was there after spending a lot of money, it must have been his dream for years and he had to find time to come here to climb.
“He got angry and said he wanted to go to the summit.
“I had to scold him and tell him that he has to descend because he was my responsibility and I couldn’t send him to the summit on his own. He got upset.”
He explained that he wanted to take the sick man down the mountain.
“Then he realized that by ‘rescue’ I meant that I wanted to save him. He understood and then he apologized later.”
Sherpa, 30, fitted the ailing climber with his supplemental oxygen supply, improving some of his symptoms, but he was still unable to walk.
The rocky uneven terrain meant that Sherpa, who is about 1.6 meters tall (five feet and three inches) and weighs 55 kilograms, had to carry the Malaysian in some sections.
“It is a very difficult task to carry someone and bring them down from there. But some sections are very rocky, I couldn’t drag him,” said Sherpa.
“If I did that, he could have broken his bones, he was already not doing well.”
Sherpa hauled the man down nearly 700 meters for almost six hours to Camp 4 by himself.
“I’ve been a part of many search and rescue missions, but this was very challenging,” he said.
Joined by another guide, the pair wrapped the climber in sleeping mats and secured him with ropes, dragging him on snowy slopes and carrying him on their backs when necessary.
Finally, they arrived at Camp 3 at 7,162 meters (23,500 feet) and a helicopter using a long line lifted the stricken climber down to the base camp.
Sherpa was not able to meet the Malaysian climber again but received a message thanking him.
“He wrote me ‘You saved my life, you are god to me’,” Sherpa said.
Nepali guides, usually ethnic Sherpas from the valleys around Everest, are considered the backbone of the climbing industry and bear huge risks to carry equipment and food, fix ropes and repair ladders.
Sherpa’s video of the rescue two weeks ago has been liked on his Instagram more than 35,000 times and shared widely over social media, many applauding his selfless decision.
“As a guide you feel a sense of responsibility for others on the mountain and you have to make tough decisions,” said Ang Norbu Sherpa, president of Nepal National Mountain Guide Association.
“What he has done is commendable.”
Nepal issued a record 478 permits for Everest to foreign climbers this season and about 600 climbers and guides reached the top.
Twelve climbers have been confirmed dead, and five more are still missing.
Gelje Sherpa has reached the world’s highest point six times and did not regret his decision to turn back that day.
“People just focus on the summit, but everyone can do that,” he said. “To bring someone from higher than 8,000 meters is a lot more difficult than to summit.”
Little Amal, a 12-foot puppet of a Syrian refugee, will travel the US
- The puppet of the 10-year-old girl will visit the US Capitol, Boston Common, Joshua Tree National Park and the Edmund Pettus Bridge among other sites
- Little Amal was created by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, who made the award-winning puppets for the hit show “War Horse”
NEW YORK: Little Amal, a 12-foot (3.7-meter) puppet of a Syrian refugee, will journey across the United States this fall, visiting key places in America’s history to raise awareness about immigration and migration.
The puppet of the 10-year-old girl will visit the US Capitol, Boston Common, Joshua Tree National Park and the Edmund Pettus Bridge among other sites during a trek which starts in Boston on Sept. 7 and ends Nov. 5 along the US-Mexico border.
“There is something in the act of welcoming a stranger which redefines you,” says Amir Nizar Zuabi, the artistic director. “I think that’s part of what we’re trying to create when walking into places that have a beautiful, complicated, defining history.”
Stops are also planned for Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, the Tennessee cities of Nashville and Memphis, New Orleans, the Texas cities of Austin, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso, as well as the California cities of Los Angeles and San Diego.
“Obviously there’s a lot of specific points in our American history that we felt that we needed to address and that’s the reason why we’re starting in Boston,” says Enrico Dau Yang Wey, lead puppeteer and co-associate artistic director. “The reason why we’re finishing in San Diego is that there’s just such a thin line between the United States and Mexico.”
Little Amal demands empathy, the puppet of a vulnerable, naive girl who is in a strange place after surviving a long ordeal alone.
“She’s just a symbol of millions of children,” says Zuabi. “Just having a community breathe together and walk with Amal for a stretch in the streets becomes a very, very meaningful act.”
Organizers are reaching out to community artists and leaders at each of the 35 stops — including places revered in Civil Rights Movement history like Selma, Alabama, and recent scenes of gun violence like Uvalde, Texas — to create more than 100 special events anchored by each place visited.
“We work very closely with our local partners and try and understand what is the story they’re trying to tell and try to co-create an event that resonates in this place to this community,” says Zuabi. “I think that’s part of why this project becomes so emotional for many people.”
Little Amal was created by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, who made the award-winning puppets for the hit show “War Horse.” She requires four puppeteers at each visit, three to move her head and limbs and one to collect items people give her. A total of nine puppeteers will make the coast-to-coast trek with Little Amal.
“A lot of the ways we think about refugees, about immigrants, about migration, are formed and informed in American,” says Zuabi. “In a way, that’s a discussion we want to join and learn and listen.”
Last year, the puppet made a 17-day circuit through every corner of New York City, including joining a reading of the book “Julián Is a Mermaid” at the Brooklyn Public Library and a drum circle in Harlem. This June, she will be in Toronto.
The puppet completed a 5,000-mile (8,050-kilometer) trek across Europe in 2021, from the Syrian-Turkish border to northwest England, traveling through 12 countries — including greeting refugees from Ukraine at a Polish train station and stopping at refugee camps in Greece — and meeting with Pope Francis.
Wey describes Little Amal as a “miraculous thing that pulls people together suddenly” to create a “collective sense of empathy and a collective sense of awe.”
“Every time it’s different and every time you learn a little bit more. It’s one of those things where we learn on the job,” he adds. “I have to get a new pair of walking boots.”
Air New Zealand asks passengers to weigh in before their flights
- Month-long survey for pilots can better know the weight and balance of their planes before takeoff
- Health statistics show New Zealanders are becoming heavier
WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s national airline is asking passengers to step on the scales before they board international flights.
Air New Zealand says it wants to weigh 10,000 passengers during a month-long survey so pilots can better know the weight and balance of their planes before takeoff.
But the numbers from the scales won’t be flashing up for all to see. There will be no visible display anywhere, the airline promised, and the weigh-in data will remain anonymous even to airline staff.
“We weigh everything that goes on the aircraft — from the cargo to the meals onboard, to the luggage in the hold,” said Alastair James, a load control improvement specialist for the airline, in a statement. “For customers, crew and cabin bags, we use average weights, which we get from doing this survey.”
Indeed the numbers are required by the nation’s industry watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority.
Under the authority’s rules, airlines have various options to estimate passenger weight. One option is to periodically carry out surveys like Air New Zealand is doing to establish an average weight. Another option is to accept a standard weight set by the authority.
Currently, the authority’s designated weight for people 13 and over is 86 kilograms, which includes carry-on luggage. The authority last changed the average passenger weight in 2004, increasing it from 77 kilograms.
Health statistics show New Zealanders are becoming heavier. The latest national health survey put the adult obesity rate at 34 percent, up from 31 percent a year earlier. Childhood obesity rates increased to 13 percent, up from 10 percent a year earlier.
Customers on Air New Zealand domestic flights were asked to weigh in a couple of years ago.
James said there was nothing for passengers to fear by stepping on the scales.
“It’s simple, it’s voluntary, and by weighing in, you’ll be helping us to fly you safely and efficiently, every time,” he said.
The airline said the survey began this week and will run through July 2.
Nepal celebrates 70 years since first Everest summit
- Top Nepali climbers, including the record holder for most Everest ascents Kami Rita Sherpa, were honoured in a ceremony
KHUMJUNG: The sons of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa led celebrations in Nepal on Monday to mark the 70th anniversary of the historic first ascent of Everest.
The scaling of the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) peak on May 29, 1953, changed mountaineering forever and made the New Zealander and his Nepalese guide household names.
"In a whole lot of ways, it was not just Ed Hilary and Tenzing Norgay that reached the summit of Mount Everest, it was all of humanity," Peter Hillary said at a school founded by his father in the remote village of Khumjung at 3,790 metres.
"Suddenly, all of us could go," he said.
And gone they have. In the past seven decades, more than 6,000 climbers have climbed the world's highest mountain, according to the Himalayan Database.
It remains dangerous, with more than 300 losing their lives in the same period, including 12 this year. Five others are missing, putting 2023 on course to be a record deadly year.
As well as supporting tourism, the rapid growth in the climbing industry has raised revenue for Nepal, which today charges foreigners an Everest permit fee of $11,000.
Family members of both the climbers joined locals and officials at the school on Monday morning to inaugurate the Sir Edmund Hillary Visitors Centre, housed in the original building that opened in 1961.
Butter lamps were lit in front of a photograph of Hillary and Tenzing, and their sons, Peter Hillary and Jamling Norgay, cut a red ribbon to open the doors to the centre.
A renovated museum is also being opened in Tenzing Norgay's name in Namche Bazaar, the largest tourist hub in the trek to the Everest base camp.
In Kathmandu, officials and hundreds from the mountaineering community joined a rally with celebratory banners.
Top Nepali climbers, including the record holder for most Everest ascents Kami Rita Sherpa, were honoured in a ceremony.
Sanu Sherpa, the only person to climb the world's 14 highest peaks twice, called on the government to support the Nepali guides, who bear huge risks to carry equipment and food, fix ropes and repair ladders.
"The government has not done much for the Sherpa. I think it would be of great help and we would be happy if the government helps educate children of those climbers who died on mountains," Sherpa told AFP.