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Current Event Cat of the Day: Midterm Time!

Current EVent Cat Midterm Senate

Americans are voting in midterm elections today and while dozens of governors and congressmen are standing for election, the biggest prize of the 2014 midterms is the control of the Senate.

The Republicans, who already control the House of Representatives, need to gain just six seats to win control of America’s upper chamber for the first time since 2006.

Recent polls indicate a Republican victory as President Obama’s popularity rate has failed to climb much above 40% – but it’s still anyone’s game. In fact, the results could be so close that the longest and most expensive midterm election cycle to date could become even longer and more expensive with multiple runoffs. Runoffs are looking probably in two competitive states – Louisiana and Georgia – and several more races are so close that absentee and provisional ballots may determine the winner.

But Democrats haven’t given up all hope, insisting their ability to rally their supporters ahead of elections could still give them the advantage.

“Grab everybody you know, get them out to vote, don’t stay home, don’t let somebody else choose your future for you,” Obama said during a campaign rally on Sunday.

Still, the administration is mentally preparing itself for the likelihood of GOP control in both the House and Senate. Anticipating a less than friendly Congress (and possibly Senate), Obama and his staff are mapping possible compromises with Republicans on issues like trade, taxes, and infrastructure. White House aides also say the president will continue to use executive authority to further Democratic policy priorities on climate change, immigration, energy, gay rights, and the economy after the election.

Reagan’s prediction: The Republicans will take the House and the Senate and the American government will experience two years of gridlock and obstructionism. So pretty much business as usual…

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Current Event Cat of the Day: French Town Bans Clowns

Current Event Cat - France Clowns

Amid France’s bizarre crisis of pranksters dressed up as scary clowns terrorizing its citizens, one town in France has banned all clown costumes for anyone over 13 on Halloween and for a month afterward.

The phenomenon of dressing up as an evil clown and terrifying passers-by has spread across France in recent weeks. These evil clowns are causing all sorts of problems on the streets, scaring children and the general population, sometimes while armed with pistols, knives, or bats, and sometimes beating people up. A clown posse? That’s insane!

Last weekend, according to Agence France Presse, more than a dozen teenagers were arrested while dressed as clowns in the Mediterranean port town of Agde. They were reported to have pistols, knives and baseball bats. And in Montpellier, a man who assaulted a stranger with an iron bar while dressed as a clown was recently sentenced to four months in prison. The man later admitted that he was drunk and inspired by clown prank videos on YouTube. 

As a result of the recent clown terror, the village of Vendargues in southern France has put into place a ban on anyone wearing a clown costume. Mayor Pierre Dudieuzere said the ban is to “avoid any disruption… by evil clowns.. It’s about protecting children by preventing any ill-intentioned clowns from mixing with residents.” So if you see any “strange clowns” on the street, call the police – they can pack up to 200 of them in a squad car.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Gunman/men Attack Canada’s Capital

Current Event Cat - Canada Attack Gunman

What is going on in Canada?! Two days after two military officers were run over in Quebec, a gunman (or possibly gunmen) attacked Canada’s capital, wounding and killing a Canadian soldier and opening fire inside the nation’s parliament.

The gunman fatally shot a soldier who was standing guard at the National War Memorial then ran into the nearby parliament building and opened fire.

MPs and other witnesses reported several shots fired inside Parliament, but no one was seriously injured – except for the gunman. Police say the shooter was killed inside after exchanging fire with police – but that’s not the end of that. Police believe that there may be more than one assailant on the loose.

“The indications are there is more than one gunman. There may be several,” Canadian MP Marc Garneau said, adding he and fellow politicians were evacuated from the area.

And for those Stephen Harper fans out there, don’t worry – his director of communications tweeted that the Prime Minister “is safe and has left Parliament Hill”. Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau are also reported safe, but no one cares.

In the meantime, downtown Ottawa is on lockdown as police search for the other gunman. The nearby University of Ottawa has been placed on lockdown, as well as all local police buildings and the US Embassy.

The latest attack comes two days after a radicalized Muslim struck two Canadian soldiers with his car in Quebec, killing one of them. Earlier on Wednesday, the Canadian government raised its terror threat alert from low to medium reportedly in response to an increase in online “general chatter” from radical groups including Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Details are still developing but I think it’s safe to say that “Dead Canadian Soldier” and “Wounded MP” can now join “Rob Ford’s Tumor” on the list of Canada’s Top Taboo Halloween Costumes.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: NHL Suspends Player for Domestic Abuse

Current Event Cat Domestic Abuse NHL

Turns out the NFL doesn’t own the rights to domestic abuse – hockey players can be violent too.

The NHL indefinitely suspended Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov after he was arrested for domestic violence on Monday morning.

According to TMZ, the woman who was allegedly attacked by the L.A. Kings star was injured so badly, she was rushed to the hospital. Voynov, who accompanied her to the hospital, was arrested shortly after staffers called authorities to report him as the suspected attacker.

Not wanting to pull a Ray Rice, the NHL took a stronger stance on domestic abuse charges than they have in the past. Last season, when Colorodo Avalanche player Semyon Varlamov was charged with second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault charges, he was allowed to keep travelling and playing with the team.

But the NHL’s response still wasn’t that strong. Although Slava Voynov will remain suspended until the league completes a formal investigation, he will continued to be paid during this suspension.

“These developments are of great concern to our organization,” the Kings said in a statement. “We support the NHL’s decision to suspend Slava Voynov indefinitely during this process, and we will continue to take appropriate action as the legal proceedings and the investigation by the NHL take their course.”

There have been 9 NHL players arrested since 2011 – not bad compared to the NFL, but still not great.

2014 – Slava Voynov – Domestic violence

2014 – Claude Giroux – Groping a cop

2014 – Ryan Malone – DUI, drug possession

2013 – Semyon Varlamov – Domestic violence

2012 – Ben Eager – Bar fight

2012 – Ondrej Pavelec – DUI

2011 – Dustin Byfuglien – Drinking while boating

2011 – Sean Avery – Pushing a cop

2011 – Nikolay Zherdev – Domestic violence

Now I’m not saying there’s a correlation between Russians and domestic violence… but there’s a definite correlation between Russians and domestic violence.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Texas Hospital Botches Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Opps Texas Hospital

Nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas are making some scandalous accusations about how the facility treated the first Ebola case in the United States.

On Tuesday, several anonymous nurses spoke to reporters in a conference call organized by National Nurses United and complained that the hospital’s sloppy Ebola protocols left workers and hospital systems prone to contamination. One nurse said Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, languished for hours in a room with other patients upon arrival and that officials resisted isolating him. “Oh, you’re coming from Liberia and your temperature is 103? Well just sit over here in this crowded waiting room for a few hours!”

Others accused the hospital of providing nurses with flimsy protective gear while they were dealing with Duncan’s highly contagious blood, vomit, and feces. Plus, Duncan’s lab samples were sent through the hospital’s pneumatic tubes, which nurses say could’ve contaminated the entire system.

Based on this testimony, it was no surprise when the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed Wednesday that a second health-care worker who treated Duncan has tested positive for Ebola.

The latest infected nurse reported a fever on Tuesday and was immediately isolated – but not before she flew to Cleveland and back. Although this was the day before she felt sick and people with Ebola are not contagious until they exhibit symptoms, the CDC wants to contact all 132 passengers “because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness.”

CDC Director Thomas Frieden said that the nurse should not have been traveling on a commercial airline (no kidding) and admitted that the Dallas hospital was still learning how to cope with the Ebola crisis (again, no kidding).

“I wish we had put a [rapid response team] on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed,” Frieden said. “That might have prevented this infection.”

The infected health-care worker will soon be transferred from the Dallas hospital to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, because clearly Dallas didn’t handle the first case all too well.

On a lighter Ebola note, yelling “I have Ebola” on a plane can lead to trouble of the “I have a bomb” variety. A man on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to the Dominican Republic reportedly sneezed and joked that he had Ebola. Big mistake. Flight attendants reported the incident and when the plane landed, passengers were told to stay on the plane as crews in hazmat suits came onto the aircraft and whisked away the Ebola joker despite his insistence that “I ain’t from Africa!”

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Rockefeller Family Denounces Oil

Green Energy Rockefeller

The Rockefeller family, whose legendary fortune was made by oil, announced that its $860 million philanthropic foundation is joining the divestment movement and abandoning fossil fuels.

The announcement came just in time for the United Nations climate change summit which starts today in New York City. The summit is part of a broadening divestment initiative in which people commit to selling shares of energy stocks. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has already eliminated investments involving coal and tar sands, and now, along with a coalition of other philanthropists, are pledging to rid themselves of more than $50 billion in fossil fuel assets.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund director Stephen Heintz said the move to divest from fossil fuels would be in line with oil tycoon John D Rockefeller’s wishes.

“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” Heintz said in a statement.

The Rockefellers’ decision to sell investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy, also coincided with the People’s Climate March, where hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets in more than 2,000 locations worldwide. An estimated 300,000 people, including Al Gore, Ban Ki Moon, and Bill de Blasio, marched for urgent action on climate change and curbs on carbon emissions in New York. The slightly less popular “Flood Wall Street” protests got underway the next day, with nearly one thousand demonstrators hitting Wall Street to protest the financial sector’s role in promoting investments in planet-polluting industries.

Perhaps the Rockefellers were just looking to avoid the wrath of the thousands of environmental activists. Or, more likely, the oil baron heirs are simply interested in controlling green energy the same way they controlled oil back in the day. There’s nothing quite like making a huge profit while appearing ultra philanthropic!

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Al Qaeda Feels Left Out

 al Qaeda Cat

With all eyes on ISIS, al Qaeda is feeling left out of the terrorism game.

In response to a U.S. assessment that the original Islamic terrorist organization is in decline, al Qaeda issued a defiant online message Sunday, dismissing the U.S. State Department’s annual terrorism report as “lies”.

In its annual terrorism report published in April, the U.S. State Department said:

“As a result of both ongoing worldwide efforts against the organization and senior leadership losses, AQ core’s leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks and direct its followers.”

While the report notes that the group has expanded horizontally, with global affiliates grabbing territory and harassing Western-backed governments in Somalia, Algeria and Yemen, al Qaeda was not impressed with U.S. trying to downplay their presence.

“Whatever slip-ups or errors (regional branches)…may have committed are limited in number in the midst of mountains of good deeds and successes,” said Hossam Abdul Raouf, an Egyptian veteran of the militant group, adding that the organization was expanding across the world.

“How then can al Qaeda have shrunken greatly and lost many of its senior leaders at a time when it is expanding horizontally and opening new fronts dependent on it?” Raouf asked.

Noticeably absent from Raouf’s statement was any mention of the ultra-hardline Islamic State group, it’s archrival for the leadership of global jihad. Counter-terrorism experts say the aging al Qaeda leadership is struggling to compete with ISIS for young recruits.

ISIS, who broke away from al Qaeda in 2013 over its expansion into Syria, has everything young recruits are looking for in a terrorist organization: publicized beheadings of western journalists (and now aid workers), mass executions of innocent civilians, crucifixions, stonings, burying victims alive, ethnic cleansing – the works! Al Qaeda just can’t compete with this level of savagery.

Luckily for al Qaeda, thirty countries have pledged to help Iraq fight Islamic State (IS) militants “by all means necessary”. Even the Arab countries are pitching in! Following a conference in Paris to discuss strategy on how to combat the jihadists, several Arab nations have offered to carry out air strikes against the group in Iraq and Syria. And a few days before, ten Arab countries issued a communiqué with the U.S. endorsing efforts to “destroy” ISIS.

So don’t worry, al Qaeda. You’ll have your title as the world’s worst terrorist organization back soon enough. Unless Boko Haram has anything to do with it…

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Rob Ford Quits Mayoral Race

Current Event Cat - Ford Quits Mayoral Race

Torontonians will no longer have to struggle with the decision of whether Ford more years of terrible leadership is worth Ford more years of hilarious crack stories. Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford has officially withdrawn his name from the Toronto mayoral race – but surprisingly not because of his alcoholism and crack use.

In light of the pseudo-mayor’s recent health problems, Ford’s campaign pulled a surprise move on Friday just before the 2 p.m. candidate deadline and submitted paperwork to take his name off the ballot for the Oct. 27 vote.

But that’s not the end of the Fords. Rob Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, is replacing him in the Toronto mayoral race. Essentially, Toronto is now facing it’s worst possible nightmare: a healthier, more sober, more aggressive Ford running for mayor. But luckily, Doug doesn’t have the same kind of “star quality” or cult following that his brother did. Back in May, a Forum Research poll suggested that Doug Ford would fare considerably worse in the mayoral race than his brother, who was polling in second place, behind John Tory but ahead of Olivia Chow, when stomach pain sent him to the hospital Wednesday.

As for the fate of Rob Ford, the crack-addict is currently holed up in Mt. Sinai Hospital with what doctors are calling an abdominal tumour.

Doug Ford told the Toronto Sun that the mayor could be facing “a surgery and chemotherapy and could be on his back for six to eight weeks” and his brother “is in for the fight of his life.”

And unlike the fight for the mayoral seat, this is one fight where crack use and drunken stupors won’t improve your chances of success.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: War on ISIS

Current Event Cat - ISIS Airstrikes

Watch out ISIS, eleven years, thousands of lives, and $1.7 trillion later, we’re going back in! But to a lesser extent…

In his address to the nation, President Obama outlined a multi-phase plan for combating IS (the militants formerly known as ISIS), saying the country would lead a “broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.”

The multi-phase plan can be summed up as follows:

Phase One: Airstrikes galore

Phase Two: Train the Iraqi military (for a while)

Phase Three: Deal with Syria

But the President was quick to stress that the U.S. efforts against Islamic State will not, I repeat NOT, escalate to a full-blown war. While he admitted airstrikes alone would not defeat IS, Obama said, “the boots on the ground have to be Iraqi.”

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. While the U.S. will send 475 service members to Iraq, they will “not have a combat mission,” but rather, provide intelligence, training, and equipment.

“We will not be dragged into another ground war,” said Obama. “We cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves.”

Judging from the current state of the Iraqi military, this war will be going on for a while…

Luckily this time around, the U.S has a few allies (and more evidence to support their claim that ISIS is evil than they had to support the theory that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling WMDs). Already, France has agreed to support airstrikes and ten Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, have agreed to rally with the US in tackling the threat posed by the jihadists.

So far the U.S. has conducted more than 150 airstrikes in Iraq in an effort to halt IS’s advances and they aren’t afraid to head into Syria. While the U.S has refrained from seeking the help of Syrian President/Dictator Bashar al-Assad in the fight against Islamic State, Obama made it clear in his speech that the U.S. “will not hesitate” to go into Syria if need be.

“If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” Obama said.

As for congressional approval, Obama isn’t too worried. Although the President said he has the “authority to address the threat” posed by ISIS, he “welcomes congressional support to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.” Obama has also asked Congress to allocate $5 billion for counterrorism funding, which may end up being a bigger fight than the one against IS in Iraq.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Trump Entertainment Files for Bankruptcy

Current Event Cat - Trump Entertainment

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., which operates two casinos in Atlantic City, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware on Tuesday.

Clearly Trump Entertainment has been investing too much money in finding Obama’s “real” birth certificate, because this is the third time the entire company has gone into bankruptcy. The company, founded by Donald Trump, listed assets and liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million in its bankruptcy petition in a Delaware court. As a result of recent financial losses, the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino is set to shut down on September 16, and the famous Atlantic City Taj Mahal hotel may be closed by November of this year.

Turns out the casino industry in Atlantic City is in rough shape. Growing competition from new rivals in the northeastern United States and a fall in disposable income has led to three casinos closing in less than a month and 8,300 people losing their Atlantic City jobs.

But before you get too excited about Donald Trump being one of them, Trump is no longer associated with the company. Donald and Ivanka Trump resigned from the board of Trump Entertainment in February 2009 and the Comb Over King has filed a lawsuit demanding that his name be stripped from the casinos – the first time Trump has ever wanted his name removed from a building.

“Mr. Trump brilliantly left Atlantic City more than 7 years ago and has not been back,” The Trump Organization Executive Vice President Michael Cohen said in a statement. “Mr. Trump has absolutely nothing to do with Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. and is currently in a lawsuit seeking to have his name taken off the buildings.”

Yes, it was a brilliant move to leave Atlantic City back in 2009. Otherwise the good Trump name might be associated with tacky buildings and bankruptcy…

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