For those who have everything
October 28, 2012

Scratch a chore off the fall to-do list without the normal fuss. Simply "set the iRobot Looj 330 ($300) at one end of a gutter and watch it brush away debris at 500 RPM." Made by the same company that gave the world the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, this gadget needs just five minutes to clear a 30-foot stretch of dirt and leaf clutter. The waterproof machine can even operate in damp gutters and be cleaned up with a quick spray from the hose. The detachable handle doubles as a remote control. Source: Better Homes and Gardens The Week Staff

the robot did it
8:24 p.m. ET
John MacDougall/Getty Images

A man was killed by a robot earlier this week at one of Volkswagen's German production plants.

The 22-year-old died Monday at the Baunatel plant about 62 miles north of Frankfurt, Volkswagen spokesman Heiko Hillwig said. The man was setting up the stationary robot with another team member when it grabbed and crushed him against a metal plate. Hillwig said the initial investigation points to human error as opposed to a problem with the robot, which is programmed to do different production tasks. The robot ordinarily operated in an area of the plant where it grabbed auto parts and manipulated them, The Associated Press reports.

A German news agency, dpa, is reporting that prosecutors are considering whether to press charges, and if so, against whom. The other contractor who was at the scene was not injured. Catherine Garcia

Baltimore
8:04 p.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Baltimore Police Department will install video cameras inside all of its vans, more than two months after the death of Freddie Gray.

Gray died in April, one week after he sustained severe injuries in the back of a police van. There was a camera inside the van, but it was meant for surveillance and wasn't working, Time reports. Gray's death sparked riots across Baltimore, and in addition to adding the cameras to record inside the vans, the Baltimore Police Department plans to review its riot gear, since some failed to work during the protests. By 2019, the department also plans to outfit every officer with a body camera. Catherine Garcia

beating the drought
7:31 p.m. ET
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

In California, residential water use dropped a whopping 28.9 percent in May, the State Resource Control Board said Wednesday.

That was a major increase over the 13.6 percent water savings in April, compared to April 2013. "My first response is almost disbelief," Mark Gold of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability told the Los Angeles Times. "It is such an incredible number. These results are beyond encouraging; they're heartening. They make you realize that as a whole, people in urban areas are making the sacrifices necessary to get through this unprecedented drought."

On April 1, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) ordered a mandatory 25 percent cut in urban water use due to the drought. "The numbers tell us that more Californians are stepping up to help us make their communities more water secure, which is welcome news in the face of this dire drought," State Water Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said in a statement. "That said, we need all Californians to step up — and keep it up — as if we don’t know when it will rain and snow again, because we don't. If the drought continues beyond this year, we'll all be glad we did." Catherine Garcia

scary
6:44 p.m. ET
Facebook.com/CapeHatterasNS

A man swimming off Ocracoke Island in North Carolina was pulled underwater by a gray shark on Wednesday and bit several times, authorities said.

The 68-year-old was in waist-deep water about 30 feet from the beach when a gray shark between 6 to 7 feet long pulled him under and bit his rib cage, hands, lower left leg, and hip, Reuters reports. The man was with his adult son, who was not injured. He was able to swim to shore, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Park Service said on Facebook, and was stabilized on the beach before being flown to a hospital.

The incident follows two attacks Saturday off North Carolina's Outer Banks, and back to back attacks June 14 within two miles of each other on Oak Island. Catherine Garcia

smoke weed every day?
5:01 p.m. ET

"Smoke weed every Wednesday" could become a new mantra for members of Indiana's First Church of Cannabis, which held its first formal service today.

Indiana made waves a few months ago when it passed a controversial version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), banning state and local laws that could "substantially burden" religious freedom. Critics of RFRA were concerned it would permit discrimination against the LGBT community, using religion as justification. Though the legislation was later amended to prevent such occurrences, Bill Levin, founder and "Grand Poobah and Minister of Love," created the First Church of Cannabis as a way to test the law.

"Of course I'm going to test this law," said Levin, a religious smoker himself, in an interview with U.S. News. "We're building a church with the cornerstone of love, the way religions are supposed to be built.”

In the middle of Wednesday afternoon, when plenty of attendees apparently had time on their hands, the church held its first-ever service. The proceedings had many things a regular church-goer would expect — including a performance of "Amazing Grace", a collection, and even a sermon — though there were, of course, some eccentric flourishes (church leaders took shots of "Kool Aid" at one point).

Though there were no illegal substances permitted during the service, I think it's safe to say they were there in spirit. Read more at Mashable. Stephanie Talmadge

Guacpocalypse Now
3:36 p.m. ET

Some things in this life are unforgivable. Peas in guacamole is one of them.

Um... how about no?

Following the offending tweet from The New York Times, the internet has responded in the only way it knows how: with collective outrage.

Even the Texas GOP weighed in, calling The New York Times' suggestion a "war on Texas" (never mind that pretty much everything is a war on Texas):

Many others, however, were similarly offended.

Uh, Minnesotan grape salad instead, anyone? Jeva Lange

what's in a name
3:20 p.m. ET
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Sorry, Redskins: No name change, no new stadium. The Obama administration is really putting its foot down, and plans to block Washington, D.C. authorities from building a new stadium for the city's football team because of the controversy surrounding the racist origins of its name. And because the land where city leaders and Redskins officials want to move the new stadium is the property of the National Park Service (NPS), they're in a bit of a pickle.

Right now, the team plays out in suburban Maryland, but officials have been discussing the possibility of bringing the team back into D.C. to play at the 54-year-old Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, which is two miles east of the Capitol. Officials were hoping to demolish the old stadium, where the Redskins played from 1991 to 1996, and replace it with a brand new one.

Obama has previously said that he wishes the team's name were changed, and the Patent and Trademark office has canceled the team's trademark. However, the Redskins might once again scrape by unchanged and get their stadium. While NPS explicitly said it would not support the stadium's construction, it did say that those in favor of the stadium are "nonetheless free to pursue legislation that would authorize the construction." Moreover, with Obama's limited time left in office, blocking a pass on the football stadium likely isn't a top priority. Becca Stanek

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