Archive | September, 2013

Canada Introduces Medical Marijuana Program… And Other News

Medical Marijuana in Canada

Dazed and confused in Canada.

The Conservative government is launching a $1.3 billion dollar medical marijuana program, effectively becoming the world’s biggest pot dealer. Under the new plan, small-scale, homegrown medical marijuana is out and large-scale, big business medical marijuana is in – you know, to keep everything standardized, legal, and… profitable. There are currently 37,400 legitimate medical marijuana users in Canada but that number is projected to increase to as many as 450,000 people by 2024. Since the profit potential for medical marijuana is pretty big, over a hundred firms have already applied for producer and distributor status. Pot for everyone! (with a letter from their doctor….) Globe and Mail

Iran AirThat was quick. After chatting with Barack Obama over the phone, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is now looking into resuming direct flights between his country and the U.S – a first since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. While Iran’s immediate goal is to get this nuclear program deal under control, they also appear keen to expand communication with the west. That must have been one hell of a phone call. Associated Press

ClintonThe epically awful Princess Diana movie made it to theatres but the Hillary Clinton documentary will never see the light of day. The film’s director, Charles Ferfuson, announced that the Clinton doc is cancelled because he wasn’t able to obtain access to anyone with personal knowledge of the potential 2016 presidential candidate. Which loosely translates into: The Clintons threatened to destroy anyone who talked to him. According to Ferguson, when he approached people for interviews he found that “nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans — and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration.” Maybe try a Ted Cruz miniseries next? America loves a good train wreck! The Atlantic Wire

Saint PopeThe popes are about to get holier! In breaking news from the Vatican, Pope Francis has announced that Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints in April 2014. The double sainting will be the first in history – and is thought to be a way to unify Catholics. The two popes were as different as popes could be (so not that different); John Paul II is seen as a conservative, while John XXIII is seen as a hero for progressive Catholics. And how does a pope go about getting a sainthood? By performing at least two disease-curing miracles of course! Pope Benedict better get moving. BBC News

Train Ukraine SexHave you ever “failed to overcome your natural passion when walking home” from a party and decide to have sex on train tracks? Well, don’t do it again because a train might run you over. That’s what happened to a drunk thrill-seeking Ukrainian couple in the city of Zaporozhye on Saturday morning. According to the Ukraniaian Interior Ministry, the couple ‘wanted to experience an extreme sensation near the railroad tracks.’ Mission accomplished. The woman was killed instantly; her boyfriend survived but lost both of his legs. The Daily Mail

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In Saudi Arabia, Driving Causes Ovary Damage

Saudi woman driving 17/6/11

As activists continue to push for the Saudi ban on women drivers to be lifted, Saudi clerics must find creative new scare tactics to keep women off the roads.

One conservative Saudi cleric, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, is leading the way with his comment:

“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” Sheikh Lohaidan said, not citing any studies to back up his claims (spoiler alert: there aren’t any).

“That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees.”

As one of the 21 members of the Senior Council of Scholars, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan is able to advise the government and write religious edicts. The influential conservative is known for his opposition to reforms that increase freedoms for women, so it’s no surprise he’s against the latest campaign to lift the driving ban.

As of now, only men are permitted to acquire driving licenses in Saudi Arabia and women caught driving can be punished through fines and arrests (which isn’t too bad for Saudi Arabia, the land of beheading). Activists have been trying to end the Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules for decades now. The latest campaign, which has spread throughout the social media world, calls for women to defy the driving ban on October 26 – if, of course, they want to risk damaging their ovaries… from the severe beating Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan will give them when he catches them driving.

Via: NBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Government Shutdown

Current Event Cat - Shutdown

The U.S. government could shutdown on Tuesday if Congress can’t reach a deal on a temporary spending budget bill, costing more than 700,000 jobs and $200 million a day in the Washington area.

Looks like Senator Ted Cruz found something that was a bigger job killer than Obamacare: himself.

The Democrats and Republicans have been going back and forth on this bill – adding funding for Obamacare (Democrats), removing funding for Obamacare (Republicans), reciting children’s books for 21 hours for no reason (Ted Cruz), re-adding funding for Obamacare (Democrats), etc.

The political bickering isn’t just limited to Democrats vs. Republicans. Fighting has occurred within the Republican party as well, between those who hate Obamacare so much that they’d be willing to shutdown government and those who don’t hate it that much and realize that the economic and political consequences of a Republican-induced shutdown would probably be worse than requiring Americans get health insurance.

Congress has until midnight tonight to get their sh*t together and pass the temporary spending bill in order to avoid a shutdown and continue funding the federal government’s operations, employees, and services.

But as of now the ball is in the Senate’s court. At 2pm on Monday, the Senate will take up the House-approved spending bill, which delays implementing Obamacare for another year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already vowed to reject the House bill and its new amendments, saying “the American people will not be extorted by Tea Party anarchists” and any changes to Obamacare would be a deal-killer. So once again, they’ll take out the anti-Obamacare stuff and send it back to Congress. And this process will continue until the Republicans agree to it or until 12:01am when everything goes black.

And to make matters worse, the debt ceiling crisis is back and is far more worrisome than some temporary spending bill… but let’s just deal with one government showdown at a time.

Via: CNN & Current Event Cats

Obama and Rouhani Take Their Relationship to the Next Level… And Other News

Phone Relationship

President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took their pen pal relationship to the next level today and spoke ON THE PHONE.

Big step! I’m not even kidding – it’s the first time since 1979 that leaders of the two countries have been in direct contact. Also, it was very difficult to find a picture of Hassan Rouhani on the phone – so you know he doesn’t enter into a phone relationship with just anyone. Anyways, it sounds like everyone wants to nail down this nuke deal. Yesterday Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and foreign ministers from the U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany all gathered in the U.N. Security Council’s consultation chamber to discuss what to do about Iran’s nuclear program. If there’s one place to hold a discussion, it’s clearly the consultation chamber! Kerry said the talks went well but more work needs to be done and Zarif said the meeting was “very businesslike” and he was “satisfied”. Ok… so no more nuclear weapons? Haaretz

mcdonalds-healthy“Yum, I’ll have the McDonalds salad with a side of apples and a cold glass of 2% milk,” said no one ever. Despite the supposed lack of demand, McDonald’s is going to start promoting healthy alternatives to fries and sodas. The fast food company will begin offering fruit, salads and vegetables as sides and plans on only advertising water, milk, and juice with its Happy Meals. How Bloomberg of them. Business Insider

Bankrupt_Detroit_0Obama administration officials are off to Detroit today and if they don’t get caught in the crossfire of a gang fight, the administration plans to offer $300 million in federal and private aid to help the city get back on its feet two months after its historic Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. The money would be spent on rebuilding efforts, transit improvements, and bolstering the police force, but considering Detroit has $18 BILLION worth of debt, I don’t think it will be enough for a Motown comeback. New York Times

KKKThe Ku Klux Klan still exists? Yes – and they’re setting up shop in Gettysburg National Military Park. A Maryland-based KKK group has been granted a permit to hold a rally at the renowned Civil War battlefield. The white supremacist extravaganza will be held on the afternoon of October 5 – so clear your schedule. Park officials said US freedom of speech rules required them to make the site available to any group, even if their views are contrary to those of most Americans. The KKK does have one thing in common with the majority of Americans though – both disapprove of President Obama (albeit for different reasons…) Fox News

RomaFrom what I’ve gathered talking to Europeans, they have a love hate relationship with the Roma – in that they hate them and would love to see them kicked out of their gypsy camps. Well, the French, who are well known for their tolerance (of like-minded French people), have done just that. Police in the northern French town of Roubaix told the Roma to pack up their caravans and get the hell out. According to the mayor of Roubaix, the town requested their removal for reasons “security, hygiene and major inconvenience to local residents”. French Interior Minister Manuel Valls was quite pleased. He had earlier made comments that called for the Roma to be expelled, saying few Roma could ever integrate into French society and “the majority” should be sent “back to the borders”. But he’s not all bad – Valls is willing to offer them free flights (!) back to their countries of origin. BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Global Warming

Current Event Cat - Global Warming

Scientists have put out a new global warning about global warming. Spoiler alert: it exists!

According to a new landmark report from hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists, there is a 95 to 100 percent chance that humans have been the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s.

In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s previous assessment in 2007, they said it was “very likely” that global warming was man-made. The UN-sponsored panel has now upgraded to “extremely likely.”

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wrote in the report.

First, duh. Second, is this a thing we’re still debating? Apparently yes, because climate-change deniers have been out and about promoting the idea that because temperatures have risen at a slower pace in the past 15 years, humans are clearly not responsible for global warming.

The UN’s climate panel say that’s a bunch of baloney and a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends. And now they’ve got something no one can dispute: physical evidence – in the form of a report! The report is a 30-page synopsis of a larger, 900-page report that will be released next week on the physical science of climate change. The gist of the report is that humans are totally causing global warming and we have many things to look forward to:

  • a rise in sea levels of 26-82 cm by the end of century (goodbye Maldives!)
  • a rise in global average temperature by 0.3 to 4.8 degrees Celcius by the end of the century (have fun in Dubai!)
  • an increased urgency for emission cuts (I’m looking at you China…)

Climate activists said the report should spur governments to action, and for once the US seems to be on board. And I’m not just talking about crazy ole environmentalist Al Gore – here’s what John Kerry had to say:

This is yet another wakeup call: Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire,” the U.S. Secretary of State said. “Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or common sense should be willing to even contemplate.”

Now let’s see if the US government has any common sense…. oh dear.

Via: New York Times & Current Event Cats

Rob Ford and Obama Have the Same Approval Rating… And Other News

Approval Rating

Good news for Rob Ford but bad news for President Obama.

Rob Ford’s approval rating are improving! The “possibly a crackhead” mayor now has an approval rating of 49 percent, up from 44 percent in August. On the flip side, President Obama’s approval rating has sunk to 49 percent. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 49 percent of respondents disapprove of the president’s job performance and only 30 percent expressing belief that Obama cares “a lot” about their needs and problems. On the bright side, he’s still more popular than Ted Cruz. The majority of Americans are against the Republicans’ effort to stop funding for Obama’s health-care program. New York Times

Stacey RamboldAnd here we thought India was bad at lenient rape sentences! Admitted rapist and former Montana high school teacher, Stacey Rambold, is expected to be released today after completing his 30-day prison sentence. 30 days? Even Paris Hilton was at least sentenced to 45! The former (thank god) high school teacher was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl in 2008. The girl in question later committed suicide while the case was still pending. But it’s all good because the judge initially ruled that she was “older than her chronological age” so the rape wasn’t that bad. As punishment for raping the “Benjamin Button Teen”, Rambold promised to complete a sex-offender-treatment program, avoid contact with minors, and spend 30 days in prison. ABC News

Missing Bodies CostaIt took over a year and a 19-hour salvage operation but the two missing bodies from the Costa Concordia cruise liner that capsized after striking rocks off the coast of Italy are no longer missing. The bodies of an Indian man and an Italian woman were recovered after being submerged for 20 months under the weight of the 114,500 tonne vessel. Although they were presumed dead long ago, their families will finally have some closure. I wouldn’t recommend an open-casket though. CBC News

BBJIf you think musician censorship in Uzbekistan is bad, you are… correct. But Tunisia is no creative haven either. Tunisian Rapper Ahmed Ben Ahmed, aka Klay BBJ, has been sentenced to six months in jail for insulting the authorities in his songs. Along with fellow rapper Weld El 15, he was found guilty of insulting the police at a concert in the resort of Hammamet. His partner in crime Weld El 15 has been in trouble with the law before. He was given a two-year sentence in June for his song The Police Are Dogs but was released in July after his sentence got suspended. After hearing about his latest conviction, he split town and has been on the run since. Maybe he should write a song about the ordeal? The Tunis Times

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Kenya is on a “White Widow” Hunt

White Widow Passport

The hunt is on for Samantha Lewthwaite, a fugitive known as the “White Widow” who is wanted for her involvement in the Kenyan shopping mall attack.

Interpol has issued a worldwide arrest notice for the notorious “white widow” at the request of Kenyan authorities. The 29-year-old Muslim convert is best known for being the wife (and now widow…) of Jermaine Lindsay who was one of four suicide bombers that participated in the 2005 London bombings that killed 52 commuters.

Lewthwaite originally criticized her late husband and condemned the attacks — but later apparently had a change of heart and embraced the jihadi cause (or was just a good liar).

Since there is no concrete evidence linking her to last week’s terrorist attack on the upscale shopping mall, the Interpol statement said Lewthwaite is wanted on charges of possessing explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony in December 2011. The white widow, who has been using a fake South African passport under the name Natalie Faye Webb, was supposedly planning attacks in touristy regions along the coast of Kenya.

While authorities are unsure about the extent of her involvement in the Kenya attack, the Briton has been linked with Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab. Add that to the fact that her late husband was a suicide bomber and several witnesses saw a white woman shooting at them and she’s looking pretty suspicious… White Widow Cat

So if you see anyone who looks like this: (roughly….)

Please notify Interpol.

Via: Associated Press

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Qatar 2022 World Cup Organizers Have Modern Day Slaves

Qatar Slaves

People from a rich Middle Eastern country treating migrant workers as slaves?? Yeah, I can believe it.

The Guardian reported that Nepalese workers in Qatar “face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery”. Apparently these slaves are dying at a rate of almost one per day – mainly young men succumbing to heart attacks after working round the clock in 45 degree weather.

The investigation also found that forced labour was used in some World Cup projects, passports and IDs were confiscated, salaries delayed/not paid for several months, and no access to free drinking water.

“We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us,” said one Nepalese migrant who is working on the construction of the 90,000-seater stadium that will host the World Cup final. “I’m angry about how this company is treating us, but we’re helpless. I regret coming here, but what to do? We were compelled to come just to make a living, but we’ve had no luck.”

To make matters worse, almost all migrant workers owe huge amounts of money to recruitment agents in Nepal who got them their job.  So when you combine debts with non-payment of wages and confiscation of documents, it becomes a little like modern-day slavery.

And to make matters even worse (for Qatar’s reputation), this is in sharp contrast to what is happening in the lead up to the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Brazil is taking men who, in their previous jobs, worked in conditions that were classified as slave labour and is employing them to work on World Cup construction. The whole thing is part of a state-sponsored program that trains former “slaves” in construction skills and helps them adjust to the regular workforce.

Qatar – what do you have to say for yourself?

The Qatar 2022 World Cup organizers say they are “appalled” by the findings of the migrant workers investigation and insists that  “the health, safety, well-being and dignity of every worker … is of the utmost importance.”

Fifa called for an immediate investigation into the deaths of dozens of Nepalese workers and the mistreatment of migrant workers in general.

The 2022 World Cup is already under scrutiny because of concerns about the effects Qatar’s disgusting summer heat could have on soccer players. If 20-year-old migrant workers/slaves are dropping dead left right and center, who knows what could happen to the precious athletes…

Via: The Guardian

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Charles Taylor

Current Event Cat - Charles Taylor

Liberia’s former president and war-crimes pro, Charles Taylor, did not get the “get out of jail free” pass he was hoping for. Instead an international appeals court in the Netherlands upheld his 50-year sentence for aiding war crimes in Sierra Leone.

The UN-backed court in The Hague ruled that his convictions had been proved beyond doubt but his lawyers had argued that there were legal errors during his trial. However, when you’re found guilty of terrorism, rape, sex slavery, murder and the use of child soldiers, legal errors in your trial don’t seem like that big of a deal.

Charles Taylor, 65, was arrested in 2006 and found guilty last year. But the former head of state has always insisted he is innocent and it was totally the rebels’ fault. He claims his only contact with the rebels was to urge them to stop fighting. The judge disagreed.

The presiding trial judge described Charles Taylor as responsible for “aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history.

Taylor also used Sierra Leone’s diamonds to fuel the civil war and award himself millions of dollars worth of blood diamonds. So at the very least, he helped contribute to the making of a Hollywood movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. That would sound better on his resume than “in jail for war crimes.”

Via: CNN & Current Event Cats

Pakistani Earthquake Kills Hundreds But Creates New Island… And Other News

Pakistan EarthQuake

Powerful earthquake packs a punch in Pakistan.

Hundreds are dead and hundreds more injured in Pakistan’s remote southwest province of Balochistan after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday.  The killer quake flattened entire villages and was so strong that it was felt as far away as Delhi and Dubai. But on the bright side, Pakistan got a new island out of it. After the earthquake struck, an island, about 200m long and 100m wide, appeared the coast near the port of Gwadar. But don’t try to visit the island yet – it’s still emitting some pretty heavy gas. BBC News

Mall AttackThe Kenyan mall attack is over but investigators are still trying to sort things out. The death toll from the attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi and the four-day siege that followed is expected to rise. Militants from the al Qaeda-linked network al-Shabab said Wednesday that 137 hostages had been killed – but no one knows if that’s true or not. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said 67 people died including six security personnel – but no one knows if that’s true or not either. Police are also still piecing together who exactly these al-Shabab gunmen were. Five of them were killed in the four-day standoff and another 11 have been arrested. Some reports suggest that a British woman (perhaps the “white widow” of a London 7/7 bomber) and two or three American citizens may have been involved, but again, no one knows if that’s true or not. To sum up: there are still questions. CBC News

Ted Cruz SmileAfter 21 hours of Dr. Seuss stories, Duck Dynasty quotes, and Obama rages, Senator Ted Cruz can finally go to the bathroom. The Texas Republican was forced to end his faux-filibuster marathon speech at noon when the Senate got together to vote on the House bill to fund the government but defund Obamacare. Cruz’s speech had no effect on the vote, and was probably just a stunt to get some campaign money from his tea-party base. The Senate is expected ignore Cruz and return the funding for Obamacare that the Republicans took out of the bill. #KeepCruzing Wall Street Journal

MacArthurThe MacArthur Genius Grant Winners have been announced but The Sun Herald definitely won’t be receiving one. The newspaper accidently published the list of this year’s “genius” grant recipients early, despite the fact that the caption under the photo read “hold for release at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.” Mistake aside, two dozen scientists, scholars, artists and other genius-like people will receive $625,000 over the course of the next five years to spend on whatever their little hearts desire. The prize money, which is meant to promote creative development, not reward past work, used to be $500,000 but was increased to take inflation into account. Now if only they could do that with the minimum wage… Washington Post

Aaron Alexis in ActionThe FBI has released a video of the Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. The video shows the shooter entering a building, loading his rifle, and searching nearly empty office space for more victims. According to the FBI, Alexis was under the “delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by electro-magnetic waves.” He had also sawed messages on his shotgun: “End to the torment,” “Not what y’all say,” and “Better off this way.” So yeah, he was a bit delusional. CNN

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