Archive | July, 2014

Current Event Cat of the Day: MH17

Current EVent Cat - MH17

All 298 people on board flight MH17 died when it crashed over the pro-Russian rebel-held area in eastern Ukraine on July 17. The good news is that CNN will have enough material for the next 3-6 months. The bad news is… everything else.

Since the tragedy, the US and other nations are growing increasingly suspicious of Russian complicity in the crash.

Secretary of State John Kerry said “it’s pretty clear” the missile that downed the commercial jetliner came from “a system that was transferred from Russia.”

As for Vladimir Putin, he pointed his finger at the pro-Western government in Ukraine, arguing Ukraine’s crackdown on separatist rebels stoked tensions that led to the disaster.

“I believe that if military operations had not resumed in eastern Ukraine on June 28, this tragedy probably could have been avoided,” Putin said, referring to the end of a 10-day-old cease-fire.

Interesting theory. And how can you not trust a guy who kills his political rivals?

Putin’s involvement aside, there has also been international outcry over the way rebels have handled the whole situation. Pro-Russian rebels have delayed access to the site, allowed untrained volunteers to comb through the area, and even seized the remains of MH17 victims and stored them in train cars, much to the dismay of the international community.

John Kerry said on television on Sunday, “Drunken separatists have been piling bodies into trucks and removing them from the site. What’s happening is really grotesque and it is contrary to everything President Putin and Russia said they would do.”

Pro-Russian rebels have since allowed Dutch investigators to examine bodies from the crashed MH17 flight at a railway station in eastern Ukraine, but internatonal investigators are still being denied full access to the wreckage at the accident site.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting broke out between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian rebels on Monday – the first fight since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down. Ukrainian military tanks reportedly launched an assault in Donetsk in an attempt to break the separatists’ hold of the city.

All in all, you know it’s a rough situation when it’s eclipsing an onslaught of Israeli air strikes and a (mainly civilian) Palestinian death toll of 500.

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So Anthrax Shouldn’t Be Stored in Ziploc Bags…?

Ziploc Bags Anthrax

Ziploc bags: If they’re good enough for my ham sandwich, they must be good enough for anthrax!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has admitted to a dangerously lax culture in its laboratories, exposing employees to H5N1 bird flu and anthrax – which was sometimes stored in Ziploc bags.

The whole CDC/extreme negligence issue began last month when CDC employees failed to note that the anthrax they shipped to other labs last month was live. The lab was supposed to completely kill anthrax samples before sending them to two other CDC labs. But that didn’t happen. As a result, dozens of CDC workers were potentially exposed to dangerous anthrax bacteria – some of who were not examined until five days later.

Luckily no one got sick, but the agency decided it was time to conduct an internal investigation. In addition to an internal report, the CDC asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to conduct a parallel probe – because if the CDC couldn’t keep thorough track of their anthrax, they probably couldn’t conduct a thorough investigation.

APHIS found a long list of violations that the CDC didn’t catch, including transferring dangerous materials in Ziploc bags, storing anthrax in unlocked refrigerators in an unrestricted hallway, misplacing anthrax containers, and failing to decontaminate areas because workers “could not remember if they used expired bleach.”

A CDC spokesman said the agency is “carefully scrutinizing” the report. Hopefully more carefully than they handle anthrax….

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Maryland Vandals Say No To Illeagles and Yes To Illiteracy

No Illeagles

As the debate over what to do with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied undocumented Central American children rages on, folks in Maryland have decided to fight back by spray painting “NO ILLEAGLES HERE” on a building that was considered as a possible shelter for undocumented immigrant children.

The Obama administration is standing by its word to send unaccompanied minors back to where they came from, but for some folks in Maryland, it isn’t fast enough.

Last week the president asked Congress for $3.7 billion in federal funds to deal with the crisis and add more border patrol agents and judges to expedite deportations. And on Monday, the Obama administration sent back an initial wave of undocumented immigrants from Honduras – including children. The immigrants were deported from a U.S. detention center in New Mexico. Soon after they got the boot, Homeland Security announced that additional migrants will be returned to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the coming days and weeks.

Not good enough for Maryland. After word got out that a building in Westminster, Maryland was being considered as a facility to house some of the immigrant children who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to flee violence, economic collapse and instability in their home countries, anti-immigrant vandals emerged, scribbling “No illeagles here. No undocumented Democrats” on the one-story brick building.

First, the spray paint is probably what’s making eagles sick in the first place. Second, your message to keep Spanish-speaking foreigners out of America might be a little more impactful if you yourself could speak English. Or is that ‘Murican speek?

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Sneaky Cubans Plant Hooker Story About Senator Menendez

Bob Menendez Cuba Hooker Story

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez is asking the Justice Department to pursue evidence obtained by U.S. investigators that the Cuban government concocted an elaborate plot to smear him with allegations that he canoodled with underage prostitutes.

Bob Menendez, one of Washington’s most ardent critics of the Castro regime, claimed that the hooker story published by The Daily Caller in 2012 was part of a Cuban plot to thwart his reelection campaign and his efforts to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But now he has some proof to back it up! U.S. intelligence believes the Cuban government was behind claims that New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez was soliciting underage prostitutes. The CIA has reportedly obtained “credible evidence” that Havana tried to plant the rumor that Menendez liked his hookers young in several U.S. and Latin American publications.

Word has it that pperatives from Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence created a fake tipster who told FBI agents (among others) he had information about Menendez participating in poolside sex parties with underage prostitutes while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

While most of the media treated the story with skepticism, the right-wing Daily Caller, founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, ran with it because… well, it was founded by an idiot.

“It is deeply disturbing that a foreign government whose intelligence service is an enemy of the United States might try to influence U.S. foreign policy by discrediting an elected official who is an opponent of the Cuban regime,” Menendez’s attorney said.

Since the story first ran, three Dominican women who claimed to have sex with Menendez for money have backtracked on their stories. Plus, the FBI was never able to verify the prostitution charges against him.

Oh well, I guess now we’re even for creating that fake Cuban Twitter network designed to stir up unrest and undermine the communist government in Cuba…

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Happy Fourth of July Chiraq!

Current Event Cat - CHicago Fourth of July

For those of you celebrating the Fourth of July in Chicago this year, those weren’t fireworks you heard – they were gunshots.

The Fourth of July weekend was a bloody one in Chicago, or Chiraq as it is *affectionately* referred to. In total, at least 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally, during the holiday weekend. So much for those strict gun controls…

The Fourth of July fireworks/gunshots kicked off on Thursday afternoon when two women were shot as they sat outside a two-flat within a block of Garfield Park. By Saturday morning the number had shot up to 36 people, including five who were shot by the police. But the most violent stretch of gun violence happened between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 3:30 a.m. Monday when four people were killed and at least another 26 wounded.

Most victims were in their late teens and 20s, although a 66-year-old woman was grazed in the head as she walked up the steps of her porch on the Far South Side. Many of the long weekend’s shootings occurred on the South Side, clustered in the notoriously gang-ridden neighborhoods of Englewood, Roseland, Gresham and West Pullman. So don’t worry – Reagan and the cats were safe. Although the cats may be suffering from some PTSD from the fireworks…

Ever since Chiraq was named the Murder Capital of America, the Chicago Police Department has been pursuing a wide range of strategies to stem the violence, much of which is gang-related. So far, nothing seems to be working

“Going into a holiday weekend like this, we obviously had a plan— [the] plan included putting hundreds of more officers on the streets at the times that we needed them and in the places we needed them,” said Chicago Police superintendent Garry McCarthy. “What were the results? The results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders unfortunately.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has made reducing violence a top priority for his administration, was likely equally disappointed in the holiday violence. For now, Emanuel has declined to comment on the weekend shootings – at least until he can find something to blame it on. Illegal gun proliferation? Gang culture? Insufficient police presence? Meh, just blame it on the NRA and move on.

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China: Less democracy and less Ramadan! And Other News…

China Ramadan

Not long after police arrested hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong for demanding more democracy, Beijing decided to crack down on Ramadan too.

Schools, government agencies, and local party organizations in the heavily Muslim northwest of China have been ordered not to take part in the fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. According to Chinese officials, the ban was aimed at “protecting students’ wellbeing” and preventing use of schools and government offices to promote religion. Unofficially, the Ramadan ban may have something to do with the tight security in Xianjiang following attacks that the government blames on violent Uighur Muslims with foreign terrorist ties. And to make sure everyone complies with the Ramadan fasting ban, government officials have apparently thrown parties and served food to test and see if Muslim residents are fasting. ABC News

JOhn SchindlerNSA Defender: Sorry about the dick pic… John Schindler, a conservative pundit who once worked as an NSA officer, was busted last week for being a serial sexter. The married Navy War College professor (and prominent defender of the National Security Agency) sent some sexy messages accompanied by dick pics to a Twitter follower. Once word got out, Schindler and his wife abruptly shut down their social media accounts and Schindler posted an apology on his blog. “My actions showed poor judgment and were inexcusable. The only person to blame is me, and I take full responsibility,” he writes. “Unfortunately, I must also emphasize an important point. At no time did I break the law, nor am I being accused of doing so.” Now, since this is a private matter and not the general public’s business, I won’t link to the dick pic – BUT since Mr. NSA doesn’t believe in privacy, here it is. Huffington Post

Nazi Baby JewishTurns out Germany’s ideal Aryan baby was naz so ideal after all. The winner of a contest in Nazi Germany to find the most beautiful Aryan baby has been revealed to be Jewish. The image was allegedly selected by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels himself, and appeared on the cover of the Nazi family magazine Sonne ins Hause. In 1935 popular photographer Hans Ballin, submitted the photo knowing full well the baby was Jewish. “I wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous,” Ballin told the contest winner’s family when they confronted him. Mission accomplished? Fox News

Town For SaleFor sale: Swett, North Dakota. If you’ve got $400,000 lying around and love trailer parks, listen up: Lance Benson, the sole owner of Swett, an unincorporated hamlet in Bennett County about two hours southeast of Rapid City, is putting the whole town up for sale. For the low, low price of $400k you can own the local Swett bar, a workshop, three trailers, a single house, and 6.16 acres of prime prairie real estate. With a population of two, Swett, North Dakota boasts a few lovely ramshackle buildings along U.S. Highway 18. But its prize possession is the Swett Tavern, a well known gathering place for a small army of local cowboys and wheatgrowers. So far no one is biting, but it’s safe to say the first order of business for the new owners will be a name change. Rapid City Journal

Crack FordRob Ford is out of rehab but his mouth is still getting him into trouble. The disgraced Toronto mayor has now told Canadian media he was “born an alcoholic” and had used “every drug you can probably think of”. In a television interview three days after he returned from rehab, Ford admitted he used “the full gamut” when it came to drugs. He later backtracked a bit (most likely after speaking with his publicist) and specifically denied using heroin. But he did confirm using marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms in addition to crack. Ford also (finally) admitted that the photo of him with a glass pipe that circulated in April was indeed a picture of his smoking crack. Ford said his “disease” would not prevent him from running for re-election in October – relapse or no replapse. “I can only take it one day at a time,” said Ford. “I know I didn’t drink yesterday, and I haven’t drank today.” And that’s as far back as his memory goes. CBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Guns With No Target

Current Event Cat - Target Guns

Joining the ranks of Starbucks and Chipotle, Target is “respectfully” requesting that shoppers not bring guns into its stores.

After photos of pro-gun activists carrying assault weapons in the baby clothes section of a Texas Target store surfaced and staffers found a loaded handgun in the toy section of a South Carolina location, Target decided it might be time to re-think their gun policy.

“Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so,” Target CEO John Mulligan wrote in a statement on the company’s corporate blog. “But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target — even in communities where it is permitted by law.

Noting that Target has been the subject to numerous “open carry” protests in recent weeks, Mulligan says guns are at odds with the retail giant’s family atmosphere.

“This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create,” he said.

Not to mention that having dozens of barely literate gun nuts waving around assault weapons in the children’s aisle probably had a negative impact on sales… Who would have known? Everybody, I guess…

As logical as not having loaded guns near children is, Target’s announcement still caused a fair bit of backlash from angry gun activists – mainly on Target’s website.

“This is just to shut up the anti gunners. Going back to Target with my gun today and tomorrow and whatever days I want,” one commenter raged.

“Being that it is a request, I say to Target: No, I will not give up my rights to your request and will continue to conceal carry when on your premises while I am out and about. In other words: No, make me stop,” another said.

“I’m sorry that Target was put in this position. They will no longer get any money from me. I refuse to shop at a store that does not want me to have the tools to protect my son.”

Yes, a gun-free Target is a death trap for children. Fortunately for them, there’s always Wal-Mart.

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Hobby Lobby Religiously Objects to Contraception… Viagra & Vasectomies Are Okay Though

Hobby Lobby

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday that for-profit employers (Hobby Lobby) with religious objections (definitely Hobby Lobby) can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare.

Hobby Lobby, a craft store chain owned by evangelical Christians, had some beef with the Obamacare stipulation that employers must provide health insurance coverage for contraception. The owners of Hobby Lobby challenged this provision, arguing that it violated their religious freedom.

According to the Hobby Lobbies, life begins at conception and any contraceptives such as Plan B, Next Choice, or Ella, that would prevent a woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg that could be fertilized after unprotected sex, is tantamount to murder (despite the general scientific consensus that the contraceptives are not equivalent to abortion.) Oh, and they also object to long-term birth control methods such as IUDs, which can cost women up to $1,000. Anyways, Hobby Lobby complained all the way up to the Supreme Court and, for some reason, five old men on the Supreme Court took their side.

The court’s four more liberal justices called it a decision of “startling breadth” and expressed concern that the majority decision could open the door to other corporations seeking to withhold coverage for other medical procedures at odds with firm religious beliefs.

Hillary Clinton also expressed her dissent, calling the Hobby Lobby case “deeply disturbing.”

“It’s the first time that our court has said that a closely held corporation has the rights of a person when it comes to religious freedom, which means the corporation’s … [‘closely held’] employers can impose their religious beliefs on their employees, and, of course, denying women the right to contraceptives as part of a health care plan is exactly that,” she said. “I find it deeply disturbing that we are going in that direction.”

“It’s very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who need contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer’s health care plan because her employer doesn’t think she should be using contraception,” Clinton said.

Despite the disagreement over the ruling, the craft store is now free to drop contraceptives from its workers’ health insurance plans. Viagra is still up for grabs though. Hobby Lobby has made no indication that it plans to limit men’s access to penis pills and pumps. Well, I guess curing erectile dysfunction encourages procreation… but what about vasectomies? Hobby Lobby doesn’t personally object to covering vasectomies for men… much like it doesn’t personally object to buying the majority of its products from China, which effectively has a government-mandated forced abortion policy and where Christians are persecuted regularly…

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Cannibal Cop Will Be Home for Dinner…

Cannibal Cop

‘Cannibal Cop’ Gilberto Valle got a little taste of freedom on Tuesday after a federal judge in New York overturned his conviction, citing insufficient evidence for the charge that he plotted to cook, eat, rape, and murder women.

Judge Paul Gardephe decided the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Cannibal Cop “entered into a genuine agreement to kidnap a woman, or that he specifically intended to commit a kidnapping”.

Gardephe wrote in his reversal that “the evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play.”

Without enough evidence to support to the Cannibal Cop’s March 2013 conviction, Gilberto Valle was acquitted of the conspiracy to kidnap charge. However, Gardephe did uphold Valle’s second count of illegally using NYPD databases look up women’s personal information, but since Valle had already served 18 months of his life sentence, he’s basically free – as long as he stays in his mother’s house and away from the computer.

“I want to take the opportunity to apologize to everyone who’s been hurt, shocked and offended by my infantile actions,” a beaming Valle, 30, told a throng of media in his first public statements since his 2012 arrest.

He also thanked his family, his lawyers, and even the staff and inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

He did not thank his wife, Kathleen Mangan, who testified against him after finding disturbing photos on their shared computer, chat exerts from the website, and thousands of emails detailing his plans to kidnap, kill and eat young women – including her. Needless to say, they are not on good terms.

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European Court: French Veil Ban Stays

French Veil Ban

The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a ban by France on wearing the Muslim full-face veil – the niqab.

The French law that everybody must show their face in public or face a 150 euro fine came into effect under former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who declared that religious face veils were “not welcome” within France and vowed to uphold France’s secular values.

Three year later, while Sarkozy was off dealing with his own problems/corruption allegations, the debate over face veils came back into the limelight when a 24-year-old French woman, who argued that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and expression, brought her case to court.

Unfortunately (for her and the other estimated 2,000 women in France who wear the full veils), the European Court of Human Rights agreed with France’s “fit in or f*ck off” policy and upheld the ban, arguing that the ban was not an anti-Muslim religious issue, but a face concealing issue.

“While the court was aware that the disputed ban mainly affected certain Muslim women, it nevertheless noted that there was no restriction on the freedom to wear in public any item of clothing which did not have the effect of concealing the face and that the ban was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face,” the court said in a statement.

A court statement also said the ruling “took into account the state’s submission that the face played a significant role in social interaction”.

But there are still some ways to get around the ban. Exemptions from the ban on public face concealment include motorcycle helmets, sports related face covering, carnival masks, and face masks for health reasons. Face masks for health reasons? Like covering the facial deformities of burn victims? I hope the pro-veilers don’t resort to this…

In related news, acid sales in France have risen 400% this week…

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