Archive | June, 2013

Current Event Cat of the Day: Presidential Palace Attack

Current Event Cat - Afghan Presidential Palace

Taliban militants stormed Afghanistan’s presidential palace in Kabul early Tuesday while reporters were present for a press event with President Hamid Karzai.

A gun battle quickly broke out in the presidential palace that left eight attackers and three guards dead, and sent the journalists scrambling for cover. Explosions and gunfire reportedly shook the city center and debris could be seen flying everywhere. The gun battle began near the east gate leading to the palace next to the Afghan Ministry of Defence and the former Ariana Hotel, which houses a CIA center.

The presidential palace is one of the most-heavily guarded areas in Kabul and thought to be the most secure. The palace is in a large fortified area of downtown Kabul that also includes the U.S. Embassy and the headquarters for the NATO-led coalition forces. Hamid Karzai was in the palace at the time of the attack but remained unharmed.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying “eight of our suicide bombers were able to reach the most secure area of Kabul.”

“The brave mujahedeen, with special tactics and help from inside, were able to reach their target with their weapons and cars.”

The attack ended after a two-hour showdown. The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force said Afghan National Security Forces had led the response efforts. Last week, Afghan forces assumed security responsibility for the whole of the country for the first time since the Taliban government was ousted in 2001. So far they’re not off to a great start… but they’ve certainly come a long way since 2007:

Via: CBC News & Current Event Cats

The Search for Edward Snowden Continues… And Other News

Where is Edward Snowden

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego Edward Snowden?

Nobody knows Edward Snowden’s current whereabouts for sure but word on the street is that he left Hong Kong on Sunday for Moscow and was then rumored to have boarded a flight to Havana, Cuba. The mystery deepened when then his seat was vacant on the Havana flight, raising the possibility that the Russian government had detained him. Obama is urging Putin to boot him out of Russia on a one-way flight back to the United States. But Putin’s never been one to follow orders so who knows where Snowden will go. His final/ideal destination is thought to be Ecuador, where he is reportedly seeking asylum.

For those who have been living under a rock in a wi-fi free zone, Edward Snowden has been charged with illegally disclosing classified documents about American surveillance programs. Since leaking the NSA documents, he has fled to countries that better value government transparency and freedom of speech: China, Russia, Cuba… wait a minute…  New York Times

Texas Abortion RallyThose sneaky Texans… Texas Republicans pushed through some anti-abortion legislation in the wee hours of the night. The abortion bill bans all procedures after 20 weeks and tightens restrictions on Texas clinics to the point where nearly all of them would be forced to close. The bill tentatively passed 97–33 at 3:20 a.m. after nearly 15 hours of debate. The final vote passed early Monday morning. The bill still has to head to the Senate where the Democrats are waiting to filibuster the crap out of it. If it can make it through the Senate, Governor Rick Perry said he will sign it into law, guaranteeing that all but five of the state’s abortion clinics will be forced to shut down in 2014. Raw Story

Coy MathisCoy Mathis, a transgender first grader from Colorado, has won a civil-rights case against her school district to use the girls’ bathroom, despite being born a boy. “Schools should not discriminate against their students, and we are thrilled that Coy can return to school and put this behind her,” Kathryn Mathis, Coy’s mother, said in a statement. “All we ever wanted was for Coy’s school to treat her the same as other little girls. We are extremely happy that she now will be treated equally.” Denver Post

Ruby the heart stealerFormer Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to seven years in jail and banned from public office for having sex with an underage prostitute. Berlusconi is known for many sex scandals (as well as tax scandals, corruption scandals – basically all types of scandals) but in this particular ruling Berlusconi was convicted of abusing his power and engaging in sex-for-hire with a 17-year-old Morocco girl known as “Ruby the Heart Stealer”. The ruling will not be implemented, however, until Berlusconi has had the opportunity to appeal. Both Berlusconi and “Ruby” deny the charges – both are under the impression that what happens at the bunga-bunga parties stays at the bunga-bunga parties. BBC News

Affirm ActionSometimes the Supreme Court just doesn’t want to deal with things. That’s what happened on Monday when the Supreme Court deferred ruling on the merits of affirmative action, choosing instead to send the case back down to a lower court for further review. The suit, Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin, argued that affirmative action policies of the University of Texas violated the equal protection rights of some white applicants. Abigail Noel sued the state university after her college application was rejected in 2008. She blamed her rejection on her race – arguing that less qualified minority candidates were accepted due to the schools policies. CNN

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Uzbekistan Bans Songs That Don’t Praise Uzbekistan

Gulnara Karimova uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has issued a nationwide ban on “meaningless” songs that fail to “praise the motherland”.

In a statement on its website, Uzbekistan’s Culture and Sports Ministry has announced a ban on “meaningless” songs that fail to “praise the motherland.” Five pop acts in particular have been banned from performing live for failing to sing songs that praise the country. The performers had their licenses revoked by the national culture agency, Uzbeknavo, because their songs were deemed “meaningless from musical and lyrical standpoints” and “lack artistic value”. Ouch! Uzbeknavo is a tougher critic than Simon Cowell.

Says the ministry:

“Their songs do not conform to our nation’s cultural traditions, they contradict our moral heritage and mentality. We should not forget about our duty to praise our motherland, our people, and their happiness.”

Seven other performers were issued “harsh warnings” and given a tight deadline to get their acts together and eliminate what the ministry called their “creative shortcomings.”

Here’s one song idea to help them improve their shortcomings:

Uzbekistan greatest country in the world.

All other countries are run by little girls.

Uzbekistan number one exporter of potassium.

Other countries have inferior potassium!

Wait a minute… Kazakhstan is the number one exporter of potassium! Uzbekistan has nothing!

Are any pop stars free from the iron fist of authoritarian Uzbek President Islam Karimov? Just one: his daughter! Gulnara Karimova (aka Googoosha, aka Uzbekistan’s most hated person) is not subject to the performance ban. The “glamourous socialite”, who also moonlights as a fashion designer and a diplomat (?), is struggling to make something of her music career. Apparently things weren’t going so well so she needed her father to ban all other pop stars. Not a bad strategy…

But does her latest music video (featuring Gerard Depardieu) comply with the nation’s cultural traditions? If Uzbekistan’s cultural traditions involve a heavy dose of auto-tune and a half-naked man writhing in a chair, then yes!

According to Human Rights Watch, President Islam Karimov’s regime consistently ranks among the world’s most brutal and repressive dictatorships, with an “atrocious” human rights record that includes prison torture, persecution of religious believers and lack of free speech – and now lack of free lyrics.

Via: The Guardian

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Pakistani Actress Burned with Acid

Bushra Acid Attack

More troubling news out of Pakistan this weekend: Bushra Waiz, a young Pakistani actress, was left in critical condition after being attacked with acid while she slept at her family’s home.

The 18-year-old actress, also known as Shazia Aziz, was sleeping on Friday night when a man climbed a wall, entered the family home, and threw acid on her face. Bushra Waiz suffered burns on the right side of her face as well as her right leg, arm and eye. In total, about 33 percent of her face/body are severely burned but she is now in a “relatively stable” condition.

According to Bushra Waiz’s brother, Akhtar Waiz, the culprit was a TV producer named Shaukat Khan who wanted Waiz to marry him. According to Pakistan Today, Shaukat barged into the home around 3 a.m. and proposed to Waiz. When she refused, he threw acid into her face and fled the home, leaving the empty acid container behind. Someone doesn’t take rejection well…

The pair were also reportedly in a disputer over wages. Bushra was hired by Shaukat Khan to act in his stage dramas but then refused to pay her for her work. Sounds like he was pretty sh*tty husband material even before the acid attack.

Acid attacks are quite common in Pakistan – there were more than 150 reported cases in 2012 in the country. So I guess “acid thrown in face” isn’t really news in Pakistan, just your typical Monday. At least the women will get more use out of their niqabs. Maybe that was the plan all along…

Via: CNN

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Nanga Parbat

Current Event Cat - Pakistani Militants nanga Parbat

Pakistani gunmen killed 10 foreign tourists in a shooting spree on one of the world’s highest peaks, Nanga Parbat – also known as Killer Mountain.

Around 15 gunmen attacked the camp at around 11 p.m. on Saturday after abducting two local guides. The armed militants entered the base camp of Nanga Parbat in northern Pakistan disguised as policemen and opened fire on the tourists. Some tourists managed to flee but those who didn’t were shot dead. The attackers also beat up the Pakistanis who were accompanying the tourists, took their money and phones and tied them up.

The dead foreigners included three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two Chinese, one Lithuanian, one Nepalese and one… American!!

The Pakistani Taliban has already claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for a recent U.S. drone strike that killed the Taliban’s deputy leader, Waliur Rehman, on May 29.

“Our attacks on foreigners will continue to protest over drone strikes,” a spokesman for the militant group said, “By killing foreigners, we wanted to give a message to the world to play their role in bringing an end to the drone attacks.”

Pakistan’s mountainous north was considered relatively safe… until now. And Nanga Parbat was one of the main attractions in the country… until now. Long story short, the shootings aren’t great news for Pakistan’s struggling tourism industry. However, the tourists in question probably should have clued in after seeing the “Killer Mountain” sign. That and the large number of Islamic militant groups roaming the area.

Via: The Huffington Post & Current Event Cats

Courtney Stodden Gets Non-Padded Double D’s… And Other News

Courtney Stodden Boob Job

Teen bride, pop music “sensation” and porn iguana lookalike Courtney Stodden took a break from putting out hit singles such as “Don’t Put it On Me Girl” and “Reality” to go under the knife.

Filming the entire process, Courtney went from a C cup to a couple of double D’s. Courtney has long insisted her boobs were real – even going so far as to appear on the Dr. Drew show to prove that she doesn’t have implants. Instead she was known for using excessive padding to enhance her figure and create the illusion of double D’s (see picture below). PaddingI guess she finally realized the push up bras weren’t fooling anybody… But now the 18-year-old can finally throw away the all padding and show off what the surgeon gave her. The teen bride told E! News she “just loves” the way her shape looks and insists her grandfather father much older husband Doug Hutchison has nothing to do with her decision.

No one encouraged me, it was all me,” Courtney Stodden noted. “He was actually kind of against it at first and we got into little debates about it, but I won and here I am.

“My results are looking incredible and very sexy. Looking forward to slipping into a bikini. . .or out of it!”

I don’t know – those things look pretty painful… Huffington Post

North WestAccording to TMZ, who acquired/stole the newborn’s birth certificate from the Cedars-Sinair hospital in Los Angeles, the Kimye baby has a name. North West. Ugh. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West forgo the letter K and decided to go in another direction. Hopefully, for the sake of the child, this is just a temporary name, otherwise that’s the second problem the baby will have to deal with (the first problem being looking a female version on Kanye West with an ass the size of Texas). TMZ

PLaneA close call: A Delta Airlines Boeing 747 and a commuter jet came too close for comfort over New York City after the big plane missed its landing and soared into the air just after the smaller aircraft had taken off. The two planes came within 200ft vertically and half a mile (800m) horizontally from one another, which in layman’s terms is dangerously close. Chicago Tribune

Dog Meat FestivalLunchtime in China: featuring dog meat. Despite the objections of animal activists, the southern city of Yulin went ahead with a dog meat festival. The activists complained that many of the dogs were abducted strays and pets being slaughtered at unlicensed butcheries. But the city of Yulin argues that it’s a tradition and eating dog meat with lychee fruit on the summer solstice is good for health. Other have a different attitude: “Thousands of dogs will be eaten at a dog meat festival in Yulin,” wrote one Weibo (Chinese Twitter) user, Yu Jichun. “As long as such a festival still exists in China, this country can’t start talk about becoming civilized.” LA Times

Fritzl HouseNo one wants to live in a basement apartment – especially a basement apartment where Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter for 24-years and fathered seven children with her. As a result, the cramped, windowless dungeon will be filled in with cement and sealed off – as per the family’s request. The house, about 60 miles west of Vienna, will still go up for sale though once the basement is cemented off. Not sure who would want to buy it, but neighbours are calling for the house to be demolished so Amstetten is no longer seen as “Fritzl Town”. NBC News

Louie GohmertTexas Representative Louie Gohmert is sick and tired of poor people eating fancy food! The Republican congressman complained that Democrats had portrayed Republicans as evil because they supported a measure to cut nearly 2 million low-income people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – mainly impacting working families with children. Gohmert denied it was “evil” to cut food stamps because poor people used the program to purchase extravagant foods such as king crab legs. How does he know that? Because a couple of constituents told him they saw poor people buying crab. And that’s all the proof he needs to shut down the whole thing! No crab for anyone! The average US food stamp benefit is about $30 a week – about the same as a pound of king crab legs. So… he probably made this story up. But he didn’t stop there – Gohmert also argued that poor people are too fat, so they can’t possibly need food assistance:

“We don’t want anyone to go hungry, and from the amount of obesity in this country by people who we’re told do not have enough to eat, it does seem like we could have a debate about this issue without allegations about wanting to slap down or starve children.” Raw Story

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Flooding, Flooding, Everywhere!

Flooding in India

First there was mass flooding in central Europe, then India, and now… Calgary?

After wreaking havoc in Germany, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic the floodwaters in central Europe have dropped and clean up crews are in damage-control mode.

Over in India, things aren’t looking so sunny. The death toll from flooding and landslides following heavy monsoon rains in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand has risen to nearly 600. The state’s Chief Minister, Vijay Bahuguna, said 556 bodies had been seen floating or buried in “slush”, and that the army was working to recover them. Rescuers also found 40 bodies floating down the River Ganges near Haridwar, a Hindu holy city.

34,000 people have been evacuated so far in Uttarakhand and another 50,000 are still stranded in the region. It’s kind of hard to leave when the roads and bridges were washed away by the floods. But the air force has been dropping paratroopers, food, and medicine for people trapped in the  towns and villages that are now cut off and soldiers are working on reopening roads.

And then there’s Calgary. Torrential rains and widespread flooding in southern Alberta have ripped out roads, cut off communities and forced about 100,000 people to evacuate their homes in Calgary. Flooding in CalgaryBut unlike in India, where bodies were found floating down the river, only one person has been reported missing and Calgarians are watching their cars, couches and refrigerators float away.

A Canmore resident described waking up to the rumbling sound of the creek near his house:

“At first it was just intense, pretty powerful, amazing thing to watch. As daylight came, it just got bigger and bigger and wider and wider, and it’s still getting bigger and bigger and wider and wider.

“All you can hear is like boulders and trees. I watched a refrigerator go by, I watched a shed go by, I watched couches go by. It’s insane.”

Better than dead bodies though!

Via: CBC News 

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

Current Event Cat - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called her top cabinet members for an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the country’s most widespread protests in two decades.

The protests began more than a week ago over transport fare rises, but have since grown to include government corruption and the cost of next year’s football World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. As of Friday about a million protesters were believed to be in the streets of 80 cities clashing with police as they rally against corruption and public transport. Brazilians get really upset about public transportation – so much so that several cities have already cancelled the scheduled transit fare hikes. But like in Turkey with Gezi Park, the protests are not just about the transit fares any more.

So far the death total is only at one: a man was killed when a driver—angry that the demonstrations had made it impossible to drive through São Paulo—plunged straight into a crowd of protesters with his car in the ultimate act of road rage.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s emergency meeting to discuss the situation will include top Cabinet members and hopefully a lot of coffee. Until now, Rousseff was largely silent about the whoe thing, perhaps hoping it would sort itself out. Her response – or lack of one – has been criticized by the Brazilian media.

“Dilma Rousseff and (Brasilia Gov.) Agnelo Queiroz are the epitome of Brazilian rulers,” wrote political commentator Fernando Rodrigues in the country’s biggest newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo.

“They embody the perplexity and the lack of leadership capabilities of several parties’ politicians vis-a-vis the new phenomena of protests without leaders or defined proposals. … It seems they are just waiting and hoping the tsunami will end.”

Hopefully the emergency meeting will productive – otherwise the Confederations Cup could be cancelled!!

Via: Current Event Cats & The Associated Press

Paula Deen is a Not-So-Accidental Racist… And Other News

Paula Deen

Celebrity cook/butter lover Paula Deen doesn’t use the n-word… anymore.

And she’s not a racist – she just really wants a dream wedding where “little n*ggers” wear white suits and tap dance around while serving the guests. A former employee is suing Paula Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers, alleging that Bubba sexually harassed her and both sibling threw n-words around like they were bars of butter going into her high calorie recipes. In a deposition related to a trial, Paula Deen admitted that she has used the word before – but it was a long time ago. When asked if she ever used it in a joke she replied:

“Yes, of course. It’s just what they are — they’re jokes…most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks…I can’t determine what offends another person.”

And when asked about her dream wedding quote, Paula Deen admits that she got the idea from a restaurant she had been to:

“The whole entire waiter staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive. That restaurant represented a certain era in America…after the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War…It was not only black men, it was black women…I would say they were slaves.”

See – not an ounce of racism there – just good old fashioned Southern fun. Huffington Post

AbusedBad news for women: a third of them have been abused. The first major study of violence against women reveals that one third of women globally are affected by domestic or sexual violence by a partner. The World Health Organization report is based on studies from 1983 – 2010 from 81 countries. Violence is especially high in Sub-Saharan Central Africa where two-thirds of women have been victimized. Other places to steer clear of include the Middle East (obvs) and Southeast Asia. Another interesting fact: 40 percent of women killed worldwide were murdered by their partner. Keep one eye open tonight ladies. NBC News

Brazil Gone WildTurkey who? There’s a fresh wave of violence in Brazil as police and protesters clash at anti-government rallies throughout the country. In Rio more than 300,000 people are out and about protesting increased transportation fares, government corruption, general hatred for polticians, and general hatred of public transport. Police are responding with tear gas and rubber bullets as the crowds marched around city hall.  In the north-eastern city of Salvador, protesters were dispersed with tear gas ahead of an international football match and in Brasilia, the capital, demonstrators started a small fire at the entrance to the foreign ministry and were driven back by police using rubber bullets and tear gas. More clashes occurred in Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre, and pretty much everywhere. How bad has the protesting gotten? So bad that President Dilma Rousseff announced she was cancelling a visit abroad. BBC News

Palestinian PMWell that was fast… The new Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah quit after only two weeks on the job. Was it the long hours? The bad pay? Or an “infringement on his authority”? Hint: it was the last one. It’s unclear whether President Mahmoud Abbas will accept the resignation, but the sources said Abbas most likely wouldn’t and would instead find a way to resolve the conflict. So Hamdallah quits over a disagreement about his authority and then gets told he’s not the one with the authority to make that call? He’s going to be one disgruntled Prime Minister. LA Times

French AccentCar crashes can give you French accents – true story. Eight years ago an Australian woman was in a serious car crash that left her with a broken back and jaw. When she recovered, she realized she had developed a French accent. Leanne Rowe is now unable to speak with her original Aussie accent and is apparently so ashsamed of it she has become a “recluse.” “I am not French,” Rowe told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday. “It makes me so angry because I am Australian.” And Rowe isn’t crazy (well, she‘s kind of crazy for being a recluse but that’s beside the point) – apparently foreign accent syndrome is an extremely rare condition in which brain injuries change a person’s speech patterns, giving them a different accent. CNN

Beckham StampedeDavid Beckham can cause quite a stir but this time he’s caused a stampede. At least seven people were injured in a stampede in China, which happened when the football star David Beckham arrived at Shanghai Tongji University. A thousand fans rushed towards him, pushing through a police barricade, but apparently seven of them didn’t quite make it. The soccer star was there to meet members of the university team as part of a seven-day promotional tour for China’s top football league. The event, however, was cancelled in light of the stampede. BBC News

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Alan Chambers Could Not Pray Away the Gay

Alan Chambers

Alan Chambers, the president of a prominent U.S Christian Group, Exodus International, announced that the organization is shutting down after more than three decades of trying to cure homosexuality. Quitters!

Florida-based Exodus International announced that it will be closing its doors on Thursday and beginning a new ministry that would work with other churches to create “safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities.” The organization’s president, Alan Chambers, also apologized for the years of pain caused to the LGBT community.

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, president of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”

He went on to apologize directly to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people saying he was “sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized patients”.

“I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite – or worse… I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.”

Weirdly enough, Chambers says he still believes homosexuality is a sin and he cannot apologize for his “deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries [he sees] in scripture surrounding sex.”

But in a sexy twist, Chamber also revealed that he himself is still gay. Chambers had always presented himself as a success case for Exodus’ methods. He claimed he left the gay life in his teens and is now married with two adopted children (of course they’re adopted… ). But now Chamber admits that throughout his life he has struggled to hide his “ongoing same-sex attractions.” So much for praying away the gay!

“I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today,” he wrote. “They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.”

The apology coincides with California’s battle to ban “conversion therapy” of gay people. In October of 2012, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law banning gay “conversion” therapy for minors – but the law in still in appeals and only applies to licensed therapists, not ministers.

Via: USA Today 

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