Archive | December, 2013

Current Event Cat of the Day: Bitcoin Tanks

Current Event Cat - Bitcoin Sinks

Bitcoin holders everywhere are scrambling to find their local suicide hotline number – and not just because the Christmas season is here and they are alone yet again, but because the price of Bitcoin has tanked.

The price of Bitcoin has plummeted by 50 percent since late November after China ordered third-party payment agencies to stop any “custody, trading and other services” related to the virtual currency.

The Chinese crackdown on domestic Bitcoin trading sent the price of the virtual currency on a downwards spiral. But don’t say the Chinese didn’t warn you: the Chinese central bank cautioned bitcoiners earlier this month that Bitcoins don’t have any legal status or monetary equivalent and shouldn’t be used as currency. The Chinese were very worried that the cyber currency, which is created, distributed and authenticated independently of any bank or government, could pose a viable alternative to China’s tightly controlled yuan.

And so the biggest Bitcoin exchange in China announced on Wednesday, just two weeks after China’s central bank said the country’s banks and payments systems were barred from handling the virtual currency, that “due to the reasons that everyone knows, BTC China has to temporarily stop its yuan account recharging functions.”

For those bitcoiners who lost out, just remember that the first rule of investment is to never invest money you can’t afford to lose. And the second rule of investment is to steer clear of Bitcoin no matter what those sneaky Winklevoss twins tell you.


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Dennis Rodman Heads to North Korea for Some More Basketball Diplomacy

Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman watch a basketball game in Pyongyang

Not even the recent purge/execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle could put a damper on the blossoming friendship between the North Korean leader and the washed up basketball star.

Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea for the third time on Thursday to train the national team and engage in some basketball diplomacy. The aging star and his documentary crew are scheduled to spend four days in the communist country helping to train a team of North Korean basketball players for a January exhibition in Pyongyang.

The January 8 exhibition is a very important one because it will celebrate the birthday of North Korean leader and Dennis Rodman bestie, Kim Jong-un. The match between North Korea and a group of ex-NBA players will certainly be an exciting one – the losing side gets purged. And a word of warning to the audience – you’d better clap until your hands are raw, because half-hearted clapping is grounds for execution in North Korea.

But Dennis Rodman doesn’t care. The ex-NBA player told reporters he doesn’t fear for his safety in North Korea.

“I mean, whatever his uncle has done, and whoever’s done anything in North Korea, I have no control over that. I mean, these things have been going on for years and years and years,” he told Reuters news agency.

“I’m just going over there to do a basketball game and have some fun,” he added.

While Rodman refused to talk politics with Kim Jong-un, including asking for American Kenneth Bae’s release, he reiterated his hope that basketball diplomacy would bring the feuding nations together.

“I hope this is going to engage American people, especially Obama, to just to try to talk to them,” he said.

The response from the U.S?

Dennis Rodman is not a representative of the US government in his trip to North Korea,” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday.

“We need to focus on what’s really important here when it comes to North Korea… the brutality of the North Korean regime he’s going to meet.”

Maybe the U.S. will luck out on this trip and Rodman will quietly disappear… like Kim Jong-un’s uncle.

Via: BBC News

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How to Avoid a Final Exam at Harvard? Call in a Bomb Threat! And Other News…

Harvard Building Evacuations

A Harvard student is accused of emailing in a bomb threat to avoid taking a final exam.

I thought Harvard students were supposed to be smart? Apparently not. Eldo Kim, 20, was charged Tuesday for making a bomb threat that shut down four buildings and caused Harvard to cancel some finals on Monday. A stressed-out Kim allegedly sent emails to two campus officials, the police and the Crimson, with the subject line “bombs placed around campus”. Kim was scheduled to take an exam at 9 a.m. at Emerson Hall, one the buildings he listed as a target in the email. Kim avoided taking his final but may face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Hamilton Spectator

Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot member Nadezhda TolokonnikovaIs Putin becoming a softie? The Russian government’s human rights record has come under fire lately for being… not the best… but a new amnesty bill may be a step in the right direction. The amnesty bill, which passed unanimously in the State Duma, could allow for members of the Pussy Riot band and the 30 Greenpeace activists arrested for protesting against Arctic oil drilling to be released early. The law, which has been backed by lawmakers in its final draft, helps mark the 20th anniversary of Russia’s constitution. AFP

more snowdenDespite Edward Snowden’s proposed deal to help Brazil investigate NSA spying in exchange for his asylum, Brazil denies any plans to take in the fugitive leaker. Even though the NSA monitored Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s email and cellphone, the Brazilian government says it has no interest in investigating the mass surveillance programs Snowden revealed. Looks like it’s goodbye sunny Rio de Janiero and hello to another cold, dark, snowed-in Moscow winter for Snowden. Reuters

Indian DiplomatIndia is appalled at the U.S. treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York – and if India is appalled, then it must be some pretty bad treatment. The U.S. arrested and detained an Indian consular official in New York on visa fraud charges. The diplomat allegedly falsified visa documents for a maid and then failed to pay her minimum wage. So… is India upset that there’s a minimum wage in the U.S? Perhaps, but they’re also angry that 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade was held in a cell with other females and strip-searched following her arrest – a standard procedure according to U.S. Marshalls. To retaliate for the “degrading” treatment of its diplomat, the Indian government has hit America where it hurts: duty free alcohol. India has instituted a freeze on duty-free alcohol and food imports for U.S. embassy staff.  CNN

Orlando the Guide DogA loyal guide dog attempted to save his owner by jumping onto New York City subway tracks. The dog’s owner, Cecil Williams, 61, fell onto the tracks (not because he was blind, but because he fainted) just as a train was approaching. Orlando the dog began barking frantically and then jumped down to try to pull him out. Unfortunately, he’s a dog so he couldn’t pull a heavy unconscious man out of the subway pit. But fortunately the train passed over top of them and neither was seriously hurt. “The dog saved my life,” Williams said as Orlando sat next to him by his hospital bed. Whatever – Little Reagan the cat would totally jump on the tracks for me… if there was catnip down there. CBC 

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Dangerous Levels of Smog Makes China More Humorous

Shanghai Smog Prob

China’s pollution problem (or smog prob) is getting so bad that the Chinese are fleeing to the moon to get away from it.

Those who can’t flee to the moon, can still rely on eccentric millionaire Chen Guangbiao, to solve their smog probs. Guangbiao is selling cans of fresh air collected and compressed from the outer regions of China. The cans cost 80 cents and can be inhaled or slowly sipped. Either Guangbiao is obsessed with the movie Spaceballs or he’s trying to highlight the dangerous conditions of air pollution in the country – by producing thousands of aluminum cans.

The hazardous levels of smog paint a gloomy picture for the future of China but if you look really closely through the smog, you can see the faint outline of a silver lining. China’s national broadcaster has identified six benefits of the country’s smog problem:

1)   It has made people more united, because smog is a common enemy everywhere in China.

2)   It has made people more equal, because both the rich and the poor have to inhale the same polluted air.

3)   It has made the Chinese more clear-headed as to the price that the nation has to pay for becoming the “world’s factory.”

4)   It has made the Chinese more humorous. Sarcasm abounds when it comes to the topic of smog, and “that sense of humor is the source of strength for defeating the smog.”

5)   It has made the Chinese more knowledgeable, as people become educated on concepts like PM 2.5, important historical events like the London Great Smog of 1952, and even English words like “haze” and “smog.”

6)   It may be beneficial for military defense. “If smog has enveloped the target, [a cruise missile battle] may fail as it cannot discover or identify the target. Of course, this is a good thing for the defense side. During the Kosovo war, the Yugoslav army tried to avoid NATO bombing by artificially creating smog through burning scrap tires.”

Yes, ignore all environmental regulations, because humour is all China needs to defeat the smog. Problem solved, next crisis please.

Via: Forbes

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Russia Dangles a $15 Billion Carrot in Front of the Ukraine

ukraine Yanukovich $15 billion

Amid growing tensions surrounding Ukraine’s rejection of a popular EU deal, Russia has decided to sweeten the pot by dangling a $15 billion carrot in front of President Viktor Yanukovich’s face.

To entice the Ukraine into rejecting the calls of the protesters and signing a deal with Russia instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin made Yanukovich an offer he couldn’t refuse: $15 billion in loans and a hefty discount on natural gas prices. The offer was seen as giving the cash-strapped country an economic lifeline and apparently it worked; Yanukovich signed the Russian aid agreement in defiance of the mass protests in the capital, which called for closer ties to the EU and loosened ties to Russia.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has told ministers in Kiev that the package from Russia would provide stability and prevent the bankruptcy of the country.

“Today I can firmly announce that the crisis moment has passed,” the prime minister, Mykola Azarov said. “We have a new and firm perspective of confidence. We will maintain social and financial stability. Now, nothing threatens the financial and economic stability of Ukraine.”

Well, the hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for Yanukovich’s resignation and closer ties with the EU might threaten some stability, but whatever – the Ukraine got $15 billion! But in exchange for what?

Ukraine’s opposition has demanded to know what Ukraine offered Russia in return. Putin insisted that the financial assistance was not “tied to any conditions”, not even the condition that Ukraine must join a Moscow-led customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Although with a $15 billion gift, they’ll pretty much have to…

Via: The New York Times

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From Facebook to Faceplant: Tourist Falls Off Pier While Checking Facebook

Facebook Pier Faceplant

A Taiwanese tourist had to be rescued by police after accidentally walking off a pier in Melbourne while checking her Facebook page on her phone.

The woman was walking along a bay in Melbourne on Monday night when she got distracted by her Facebook newsfeed and tumbled into the chilly waters (chilly by Australian standards…) A concerned witness quickly alerted the police who then rescued her in a speedboat after about 20 minutes. After all, Taiwanese tourists aren’t a priority – especially Darwin award-winning ones.

“She was still out in the water laying on her back in a floating position because she told us later that she couldn’t swim,” Senior Constable Dean Kelly of the water police said.

Yes, Facebook can be a death trap – especially when walking on a pier and especially when you can’t swim.

“With Facebook, or social media in general as far as we’re concerned, if you’re anywhere near the water just pay attention,” Kelly said. “Especially if you can’t swim.”

Wise words Constable Kelly.

The water police found the tourist floating only 20 metres from the pier, still clutching her mobile phone. Who needs their hands free for swimming when they could be taking some drowning selfies?

Via: The Guardian

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Obama’s Sochi Snub

Current Event Cat - Sochi

U.S. President Barack Obama announced that neither he nor Joe Biden will be attending the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. But he will send along a few gay delegates – just to stick it to Putin and his anti-gay laws.

Obama’s absence from the Sochi Olympics is a clear sign that the U.S. is concerned over human rights in Russia, especially the country’s anti-LGBT laws. The Sochi Games will mark the first time since 2000 that the U.S. will not send a president, former president, first lady or vice-president to the Games.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will go in Obama and Biden’s place, along with a few choice delegates including Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, two openly LGBT athletes. Take that Russia!

White House spokesman Shin Inouye said the delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States” and that Obama “knows they will showcase to the world the best of America — diversity, determination and teamwork.” Can you add a few more diversities in there?

Obama claims his schedule doesn’t allow him to travel to Sochi, but Gay rights groups viewed the announcement as a strong statement.

“It’s hard to look at this delegation without seeing it as a criticism of Putin’s anti-gay laws. … What it’s doing is showing the true power of the Olympics, the ability to move people, to change people’s minds and open them up to new ways of thinking. The delegation is shining a light on the values of the Olympics,” said Andre Banks, the executive director of All Out.

And U.S. officials aren’t the only ones snubbing Sochi. German President Joachim Gauck and French President Francois Hollande announced earlier that they will not attend the Sochi Games. Although maybe it’s less about Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws and more about not wanting to endure a cold, dark Russian winter.

Via: Buzzfeed

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South Sudan Gets Violent… And Other News

South Sudan

Get out of South Sudan!! The U.S. embassy tweeted to all American citizens (all three of them?) living/vacationing in South Sudan.

Fighting has returned to the angry south, leaving 66 plus people dead after an attempted coup went horribly wrong. South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s security forces took the coup led by supporters of his former vice president, Riek Machar, and shut it down. The arch political rivals, who are both from different ethnic groups (obvs), have clashed in the past and divisions in the army have been simmering for quite some time. Details of the claimed coup remain sketchy, because… well, it’s South Sudan and they don’t have the best cell reception. I’m not kidding – that’s the reason. Al Jazeera

heli crashNATO hawk down! Six NATO troops, all American, died in an aircraft crash in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday. NATO officials say it was not a suspected militant strike and that the crash is still under investigation. But the Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the deaths, saying, via Twittter of course, that its fighters shot down a helicopter over Zabul province. The crash was the single deadliest incident of the year for the NATO mission in Afghanistan – but it still doesn’t come close to the loss of life in that Yemen wedding drone attack… CNN

Zimmerman PaintingGeorge Zimmerman: Neighborhood watchdog, black teen murderer, collector of domestic violence charges, and now painter. His resume is filling up! The notorious Florida man is selling his first-ever painted work on eBay: a U.S. flag painted in multiple shades of blue, with the words “God, One Nation, with Liberty and Justice for All,” stamped in white letters on the flag. Zimmerman says, “I found a creative, way to express myself, my emotions and the symbols that represent my experiences. My art work allows me to reflect, providing a therapeutic outlet and allows me to remain indoors 🙂” Well, I’m happy that he’s staying indoors and I appreciate the smiley face, but I’m skeptical about the “creative way to express myself.” Judging from the current bid of nearly $100,000, I’d say it was more about the money, and less about the creativity. After all, he does have quite a few legal bills piling up. Raw Story

Kim Jong-il DeathaversaryHappy Kim Jong-il death-iversary! North Koreans celebrated/mourned the second anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s sudden death with purges and commemorative ceremonies. The ceremonies come only a week after Kim Jong-un’s uncle, the brother in law of Kim Jong-il, was purged from the party and then executed – partly for only “half-heartedly” clapping. So North Koreans made sure they clapped until their hands bled as they laid flowers and celebrated the life of their beloved former leader. BBC News

Lots of CatsGuys can be crazy cat ladies too: police report that a Japanese man stole nearly $200,000 over a year-long burglary spree because he wanted to feed his 128 cats gourmet cat food. I totally get it. The “cat burglar” broke into 32 homes to steal money and jewelry to satisfy his cats’ expensive tastes. Forty-eight-year-old Mamoru Demizu had one cat in his home and kept another 20 in some kind of cat warehouse. The remaining 107 cats were strays that he just couldn’t say no to. Demizu says he feels “happiest when he rubs his cheek against cats.” Gawker

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Contest Winning Grandpa Dies Before Cashing in on his Hooker Threesome

Grandpa Laid

Johnny Orris, the 86-year-old winner of Howard Stern’s “Get My Grandpa Laid” competition, died on Thursday after choking on a piece of steak, only hours before he was supposed to redeem his prize.

Orris’ grandson, Ed, nominated his grandpa for the Howard Stern competition, a promotion for Johnny Knoxville’s movie Bad Grandpa. Johnny Orris ended up winning the steamy prize – a night with two hookers at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, where prostitution is legal.

Unfortunately Johnny choked to death on a piece of steak at a Lake Tahoe resort right before his night of hooker delight. Orris’ grandson tried using the Heimlich maneuver several times but was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.

“This is the saddest day in Bunny Ranch history,” owner Dennis Hof told TMZ, “(Johnny Orris) was in frail health and had a hard time chewing and his muscles went soft to the point where he couldn’t spit it up.”

Even the hookers were upset.

The hookers were upset, they were crying. They were actually looking forward to hanging out with Johnny,” Howard Stern said on his show.

“I was not aware he was dead until 6 a.m. when they woke me up,” Caressa Kisses, one of the hookers, said. “I kept asking for him. I said, ‘Where is he? Where is he?’… I was in shock. I cried my eyes out. It was horrible. I thought it was a sick joke.”

Kisses also claimed Orris only wanted to shower with her and cuddle through the night – probably because he knew if he couldn’t even chew properly, the chances of him getting it up were pretty slim.

Johnny’s 49-year-old grandson, Ed, took the news the hardest.

“The guy was so full of life,” Ed said, adding that his grandpa had been looking forward to the night for months.

Despite his mourning, Ed still opted to cash in his grandpa’s prize and spent the night with a different, slightly less traumatized hooker.

Via: Reno Gazette-Journal

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There’s Nothing Like a Free Gun to Help You Forget Your Family Was Killed in a Drone Attack

Yemen Drone Attack

Authorities in Yemen have given the families of drone attack victims $150,000 and a hundred guns to make up for their loss.

Last week, missiles fired by an American drone killed 15 people on their way to a wedding in central Yemen after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy.

“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital,” one security official said, adding that at least five more were injured during the Thursday attack.

Innocent wedding guests, al Qaeda terrorists – a drone can’t tell the difference! But the growing number of civilian deaths via drone attack may start to undermine U.S. efforts to turn the public against the militants…

To compensate the families of the American drone attack victims, Yemeni authorities offered $150,000 and one hundred guns on recommendation from the Mediation Committee. In exchange for opening the streets and burying the victims, families also received two cars, two daggers and two Kalashnikov pieces, the common “blood price” in tribal tradition.

$150k, a bunch of guns, and a strong desire for revenge? Sounds like the perfect terrorist starter kit. 

Via: National Yemen

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