Archive | March, 2014

German Police Hunt Flamingo Killer

James's Flamingo

German police are racing to catch a killer responsible for the death of 15 flamingos at the Frankfurt Zoo, where some of the creatures were beheaded as they slept.

The flamingo killer(s) struck twice over the course of two nights. Zoo workers found nine of the pink birds’ mutilated bodies on Friday and six more on Saturday – even after security was beefed up following the first attack. Some of the birds appeared to be stabbed to death while others had their heads cut or torn off. Unfortunately (for the birds), flamingos don’t normally cry out when they’re being assaulted, so the guards weren’t alerted to the attacks.

The zoo director announced on Monday that autopsies were underway to figure out how the Chilean flamingos, which were each worth around $1500, were killed. The birds appeared to have animal bite marks on them, most likely from a fox – a very sly fox. But the bite marks could have been made post-mortem, so the zoo is not ruling out a human killer at this point – especially since it’s unlikely that a knife-wielding fox caused the stab wounds found on some of the birds.

In 2007, three flamingos at the same zoo died in a similar manner. The seven-year-old case, in which three of the birds’ heads had been torn from their bodies and a fourth bird was strangled, is still unresolved. So what we’re looking at here is a serial flamingo killer: The Flamingo Fumigator?

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Putin to Revive Stalin-Era Soviet-Style Fitness Program, American Media to Put Western Propagandist Spin on Everything

 Putin Fitness Program

Russian President Vladimir Putin is using his leftover Sochi Olympics cash to kick-start a new nationwide fitness plan. But because anti-Russian sentiment is super popular these days, it’s being touted by Western media as an evil Stalinist, Soviet era plot to… improve the health of Russians?

On Monday, Putin launched a program to improve the physical fitness of Russians using funds from the Winter Olympics. The new plan pays homage to the one first introduced by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s called “Ready for Labor and Defense”. Ok, that name doesn’t exactly help their case… Russia doesn’t really need to advertise that it’s ready for defense. But the program itself is not as sinister as it sounds. While the modern version hasn’t been totally hashed out yet, the original version, known by the Russian initials GTO, required citizens to enter competitions in sports like running, jumping, skiing, swimming, and… grenade throwing. Ok, that doesn’t help either. But I’m sure the new version will leave out the grenade throwing competition.

Putin simply wants the unused Sochi money to go towards supporting sports venues and promoting healthy lifestyles among Russians. Speaking at a meeting with officials in the Kremlin on March 24, Putin said that reinstating the plan would “pay homage to our national historical traditions.”

While lots of countries have health and fitness promotion programs, Western media is choosing to focus on the Soviet style aspects of the Russian plan and link it to the era of brutal dictator Joseph Stalin. Headlines include: “Putin Is Reviving a Stalinist Fitness Program to Whip Russians Into Shape” and “Russian Olympic Cash To Restart Soviet-Style Fitness Program”

Apparently getting in shape is a communist ideal. Which I guess explains why Americans are so fat and lazy. Sorry – can’t exercise, not a communist!

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Current Event Cat of the Day: World Trade Center Base Jump Arrests

Current Event Cat - Base Jump World Trade Center

The four thrill-seekers who snuck up to the top of One World Trade Center back in September and base-jumped off were arrested Monday and charged with burglary, reckless endangerment, and jumping from a structure.

Three of the New York-area men, James Brady, Andrew Rossig, and Marko Markovich, climbed through a hole in the fence, snuck up the World Trade Center building, and parachuted down 1,300 feet while their other buddy, Kyle Hartwell, kept lookout.

Video footage of the early morning jump was found during a search of the men’s homes. The video shows the men deploying their parachutes and flying down to a secluded spot on a nearby highway. Watch it here!

NYPD and the Port Authority were less than impressed with the base jump stunt:

“These men violated the law and placed themselves, as well as others, in danger,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton. “These arrests should send a message to anyone thinking about misusing a landmark this way.”

“The Port Authority joins the NYPD in condemning this lawless and selfish act that clearly endangered the public,” Port Authority Chief Security Officer Joseph Dunne said in a statement. “It should be clear that the PAPD and NYPD will go to any length to bring those who defile the WTC site to justice.”

But the four friends maintain their base jump adventure was “very professional, very controlled” and “there was nothing haphazard or reckless about it”. Simply four friends pursuing their passion while at the same time pointing out gaping holes in the World Trade Center security.

“One of the first things my client said to me was that how surprised he was at how there was no security whatsoever — how easy it was to just walk right up there in something that the mayor has just recently described as the No. 1 terrorist target in the world,” the foursome’s lawyer said.

In fact, it’s apparently so easy to get up the World Trade Center that just last week a 16-year-old New Jersey boy snuck past security, climbed through a hole in a fence and made his way to the top of the building to take a few scenic pics.

Forget Homeland Security and all those TSA regulations. Just fix the damn hole in the fence.

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Russia Gets Booted Out of the G8… And Other News

G8 Turns to G7

The G7, formerly known as the G8, is meeting in the Netherlands on Monday to discuss how they can further shun Russia for annexing the formerly Ukrainian region of Crimea.

President Obama and rest of the leaders all agreed that Vladimir Putin should be excluded from the G8, effectively ending Russia’s 15-year participation in the diplomatic forum. Obviously this means that the planned summer G8 summit in Sochi will no longer take place in Russia. Instead, the G7 will be headed to Brussels in June to try and ward off Russia’s attempt to reunite the old Soviet gang under Kremlin rule. In retaliation for being kicked out of the G8 Club, Russia announced travel bans on 13 Canadian politicians, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper. There go Harper’s vacation plans to wintry Russia… now it’s back to the never ending Canadian winter. New York Times

Ebola Virus GuineaThe plot to the 1995 film Outbreak has hit the West African country of Guinea. An outbreak of the Ebola virus has so far left 59 people dead (out of 80 infected) in Guinea and is suspected to have spread to neighbouring Liberia. Health workers in Guinea are trying to contain the spread of the disease, which causes severe internal bleeding, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe hemorrhagic fever. “In Guinea, a country with a weak medical infrastructure, an outbreak like this can be devastating,” UNICEF said. There’s only one way to stop it: rewatch the movie Outbreak and copy whatever they did to stop the virus from spreading. I’m going to need a VCR and some bananas to lure monkeys. CBC News

Mudslide FloodsA mudslide (and not the good kind) has left 8 people dead in Washington State and 108 unaccounted for. After a month of heavy rains, a wall of mud and debris came sliding down, wiping out neighborhoods and a highway about 55 miles north of Seattle. Authorities in Oso, a remote community of about 180, and Darrington, a town of about 1,350, have been working tirelessly to find survivors. “Total devastation. I mean, it’s just unbelievable. It reminds me of what a tornado looks like when it’s touched the ground,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said. Maybe if they ask nicely they can trade their rain for some of California’s drought. CNN

Hawaii HookersHawaii cops want their hookers! Police officers in Honolulu are asking state lawmakers not to repeal a statute that allows them to have sex with prostitutes during the course of legitimate investigations. Police say they “need” to be able to have sex with hookers during investigations so that they can be caught in the act. Opponents say cops can do their investigations with their pants on and human trafficking experts say allowing cops full access to prostitutes can further traumatize sex workers, some of whom have reported being forced into sex with police officers to avoid arrest. Raw Story

sad-dogSpring is in the air in Detroit and so is the scent of rotting dog carcasses. Melting snow has revealed masses of dead dogs—at least 28 so far, according to the Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) and they say that is just the “tip of the iceberg.” “Because of the heavy snowfall in the month of January, a lot of these deceased bodies were discarded there because it was easier to cover them up. Also, it was an unusually cold month where a lot of dogs froze outside or were left to starve to death,” a DAWG board member said. Detroit BodyA number of dead dogs, mostly pit bulls and Mastiff mixes, were found at River Rouge Park, an apparently popular dumping ground for dogs killed in fights. But because it’s Detroit, the piles of melting snow have also revealed human bodiesCBS Local

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Iranian Leader: “Uncertain” if the Holocaust Really Happened

Iranian Leader Holocaust

To celebrate the Persian New Year on Friday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei decided to piss off a bunch of Jews by once again voicing his doubts about the existence of the Holocaust.

Speaking live from the northeastern city of Mashhad, Khamenei declared that “the Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and, if it happened, it’s uncertain how it happened.”

“In Europe no one dares to speak of the Holocaust, the crux of which is not clear if it is true, or if it were, how it was,” Khamenei, who has called the Holocaust a “myth” many times in the past, said.

Well, “not clear” is a bit of an improvement from “definitely never happened” – so, yay? Plus, President Hassan Rouhani, a self-described moderate, has adopted a somewhat softer line, going so far as to condemn “the massacre of the Jews by the Nazis” – a far cry from former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s stance on the Holocaust – or should I say “Holocaust”.

But the award for worst the worst Holocaust-related statement this week goes to Russian state television. According to Russian state television host Evelyn Zakamskaya, the Jews totally brought the Holocaust upon themselves.

Zakamskaya and her guest were discussing the Ukraine vs. Russia battle of Crimea. The Kremlin has justified Russian annexation of Crimea by saying that “neo-Nazi” and “fascist” elements have taken over in Kiev – which are apparently supported by the Jews.

Zakamskaya was responding to her guest, who said it was “strange” that Jewish organizations support the Ukrainian protest movement.

“They do not realize that they are, with their own hands, closer to the second Holocaust?” the guest said, insinuating that the protesters were right-wing extremists.

To that, Zakamskaya responded: “They also advanced the first [Holocaust.]”

Huh. Who knew Russia had their own version of Fox News?

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Malaysia Airlines Mystery Solved! Kind of…

Malaysia PM Razak

The prime minister of Malaysia has announced that missing flight MH370 “almost certainly” crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, and that no one on board survived.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said the Indian Ocean crash scenario was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight. The data analysis determined that the aircraft was lost in a remote area of the Indian Ocean west of Perth, Australia.

The firms “have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth,” Razak said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

All 227 passengers on flight MH370 are presumed to have gone down with the flight.

The grieving families of those aboard the missing flight were notified via a text message, saying:

“We have to assume beyond reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived. We must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean.”

You would think that kind of news would warrant a phone call… but whatever.

Meanwhile, many questions remained unanswered – such as “why did the plane go down?” and “where the hell is all the debris?

The answer to question #2 may be “near Australia”. While searching for missing flight in the southern Indian Ocean, an Australian airplane crew says they have spotted two objects — the first grey or green and circular, the second orange and rectangular – but it’s still unclear if they were part of the aircraft. So the mystery isn’t totally solved yet, but at least the families have some kind of closure – even if it was sent via text message. 

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Current Event Cat: Fallen Syrian Military Jet

Current Event Cat - Turkey Syrian Military Jet

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently mistook a Syrian military jet for the Twitter Bird and allowed his country’s armed forces to shoot it down.

Twitter BirdArguing that the Syrian military jet/possible Twitter Bird sighting violated Turkey’s airspace, Turkish fighter jets took down the Syrian aircraft on Sunday in a move that definitely won’t ease any tensions between two countries already in disagreement over Syria’s civil war and their opinions of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

The jet takedown happened in an area where the Syrian government has been at war with rebel groups over control of a border crossing. The plane was hit by a missile from one of two Turkish F-16s flying an air patrol in the area while the Syrian military jet was pursuing gunmen near the border. Luckily the pilot safely ejected himself from the aircraft, and parachuted down to safety/a war zone.

A spokesman for Syria’s military confirmed the incident, denouncing it as a “blatant aggression,” but Erdogan told Syria “our response will be heavy if you violate our airspace.” Tough love.

Turkey denies any wrongdoing, saying the Syrian MiG-23 entered Turkey’s airspace after ignoring four warnings to turn back. And this isn’t the first time that the Turkish military has shot down a Syrian aircraft near the border. They took down a Syrian military helicopter back in September. Although to be fair, Syria shot down a Turkish military plane in 2012 – so they kind of had it coming.

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Ding Dong Fred Phelps is Dead… And Other News

Fred Phelps Dead

Fred Phelps, founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, is dead.

Fred Phelps’ son Timothy announced the good news to a Kansas television station on Thursday, a week after it was reported he was excommunicated last August and currently on his death bed. Phelps was best known for protesting funerals of American soldiers with signs saying “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for 9/11.” The church, made up mostly of his family, joined him in his inflammatory anti-gay, anti-everything funeral protests. No word yet on if the family will picket Fred Phelps’ funeral, but given the number of people who want to piss on his grave, they might as well cut out the middle man and make his tombstone a urinal. BBC News

EstoniaSeems like Russia is trying to get the old Soviet gang back together. Russia has “expressed concern” about Estonia’s treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, setting off alarm bells in the Baltic state. Comparing the language policy in the Estonia with a supposed push in Ukraine to stop the use of Russian, a Moscow diplomat signaled his concern for Estonia’s Russian minority. No word yet on if Putin wants to annex Estonia too, but given that the seizure of the Crimean peninsula was under the guise of protecting fellow Russians, Estonia might want to start thinking about beefing up their military – or adjusting to Russian life. Meanwhile, President Obama unveiled new sanctions against Russian officials and a bank, declaring, “This is not our preferred outcome. These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy. However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.” Don’t tell him about this Estonia thing then… Reuters 

Romney ObamaNow’s not the time for “I told you so”, Romney. Mitt Romney, the failed presidential candidate and notorious 1 percenter, is calling Obama out for “failed leadership”. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Romney blasted Obama’s policy towards Russia, North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan – basically every country – and his “terrible timing” in handling international crises. “President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed,” Romney wrote. What would Romney have done differently? Everything! Because changing outcomes is super easy in hindsight. Wall Street Journal

Twitter Ban in TurkeyNo more Twitter in Turkey. Twitter users in Turkey report (not through Twitter) that the social media site has been blocked in the country, just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “wipe out” the social network. Erdogan held a rally on Thursday to drum up some support ahead of March 30 local elections, telling his supporters: “We will wipe out Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says.” Umm.. that’s probably not the best way to drum up support, but apparently Erdogan is really angry that leaked phone conversations revealing his corruption are being spread via Twitter. So instead of banning phones (or corruption), he went with banning Twitter. Next up: Facebook and YouTube. AFP

NigelledImagine waking up and realizing you are being raped by your MP? A man in his early 20s claims he woke up to find 56-year-old British MP Nigel Evans on top of him as he lay “in shock”. The man apparently followed the MP into his bed after a dinner party and got under the covers with him but repeatedly brushed off his sexual advances. When he awoke, “I felt Nigel on top of me, trying to force himself into me. I was face down.” The former deputy speaker denies the charge, but considering the alleged victim was warned by colleagues he would “get Nigelled” before going to the MP’s home, Evans must “Nigel” people a lot. BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Texas Affluenza Brat

Current Event Cat - Affluenza Brat

Ethan Couch, the Texas brat who was famously diagnosed with “affluenza” after killing four people in a car wreck, is finally putting his money where his mouth is. The family of the Texas teen has apparently reached settlements with some of the families of his victims.

Ethan Couch’s drunk driving case made headlines last year after a defense “expert” claimed Couch was a victim of “affluenza” – the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy. Poor Ethan was coddled into a sense of irresponsibility, causing the 16-year-old to pop some prescription pills, drink a bunch of alcohol, and then ram his truck into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stopped, killing all four of them and critically inuring his two passengers. If only rich pampered kids could tell right from wrong!

The judge took pity on the boozed-up brat and gave Couch 10 years’ probation and a treatment program – much less than the 20 years prison Couch could have gotten.  If only he was a poor black kid with drug-addicted parents who never taught him right from wrong – then he would definitely be in jail for 20 years. Just kidding, it’s Texas. He would totally have gotten the death penalty.

Despite a less than satisfactory sentence, Ethan Couch’s family has now coughed up cash to some of his victims’ families in a civil lawsuit. So far, the families of victims Hollie and Shelby Boyles and Breanna Mitchell have finalized their cases against Ethan’s father, Fred Couch, and his company. The Boyleses, along with youth pastor Brian Jennings, 41, stopped along the side of the road to help Mitchell, 24, after she blew out a tire last summer.

The remaining lawsuits on behalf of Pastor Brian Jennings, who was killed, and Couch’s passengers who were injured are still being worked out. Considering the wealthy Texas tycoons make a reported $10 million per year, the remaining victims are probably looking for a hefty payout – which is great because the less money the Couch family has, the less likely their idiot son will blame his poor choices on affluenza.

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Did Pakistan Know Where Osama Bin Laden Was Hiding Out?

Osama Compound Pakistan

When Osama bin Laden was discovered to be hiding in a three-story house less than a mile away from a Military Academy in Abbottabad, Pakistan and not some hidden cave in the mountains, everyone thought either Pakistan must have known about it or Pakistani intelligence is… less than intelligent.

Pakistan has long denied they knew about Osama’s whereabouts and the U.S. has corroborated this story. But in a new article in The New York Times Magazine, Carlotta Gall, who spent more than a decade reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Times, suggests otherwise. Apparently documents collected from Osama bin Laden’s house in Pakistan and the word of an anonymous Pakistani official both contradict the official story from Pakistan and the U.S. that Pakistani military officials were unaware that Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad. According to the report, the chief of Pakistan’s intelligence service, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, “knew of Osama’s whereabouts,” according to its source, and the U.S. has “direct evidence” that Pasha knew where bin Laden was.

Carlotta Gall says that documents from bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound contained correspondence between the terrorist and other militant leaders, indicating they were protected by Pakistan’s intelligence service. Bin Laden often traveled in convoys in plain sight to visit fellow terrorists and he was “always knowingly waved through any security checkpoints.”

The U.S. still maintains that Pakistan had no idea where bin Laden was hiding out.

“AS US officials have said, we have no reason to believe that anyone in the highest levels of the government knew about the location of bin Laden. That continues to be true,” White House National Security Council spokesperson said when asked about the news report.

Pakistan would have made an official response too, but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is currently dealing with a cat/peacock situation. After finding the remains of a peacock and a very full cat on the lawn of his residence, Sharif interrogated the 21 officers guarding his home. 18 were cleared of any wrongdoing but three were suspended for negligence (aka not stopping the cat from eating his peacock). You know what… maybe they didn’t know about Osama bin Laden after all. Too many peacock crises to deal with.

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