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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: 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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ISIS: Beheadings are Back… And Other News

ISIS Beheading

ISIS claims in a new video released Tuesday to have executed Steven Sotloff, the American journalist who was shown in last month’s video execution of James Foley.

In the last video, the terrorist group threatened Sotloff would be killed unless the U.S. stopped airstrikes in Iraq. Turns out, they weren’t messing around. Last week, the 31-year-old freelancer’s mother released a video plea to the group to spare her son. “As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over,” she said. Unfortunately for her, ISIS doesn’t appear to be human, so appealing to them as a mother was fruitless. Next up: a British national named David Cawthorne Haines, who ISIS threatened to execute after Sotloff’s beheading. But President Obama isn’t scared. Proclaiming the U.S “will not be intimidated” by the Islamist militants, Obama vowed that the U.S. will “degrade and destroy [ISIS] so that it is no longer a threat to Iraq, the region, and United States.” CNN

Hello KittyAnd in equally important news, it turns out Hello Kitty is not actually a cat. What!?! This is a cat-astrophe! Little girls and all of Japan were devastated to hear that the adorable little cartoon character is actually a human. Hello Kitty creator Sanrio confirmed that she’s actually a little girl who even has her own pet cat, Charmmy Kitty. Her real name is Kitty White, she has a twin sister and is perpetually in third grade. Plus, she lives in London — not Japan, despite the character’s identification with that country. I refuse to believe this. If she’s not a cat, why is she a cat? She has whiskers and cat ears. Third grader Brits don’t look like that. Case closed. People

ukraineCeasefire in Ukraine…. maybe. Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president (and the Chocolate King), declared Wednesday that a “lasting ceasefire” had been agreed on in eastern Ukraine following a phone call with Vladimir Putin. But not so fast… what does Russia have to say about this? Putin said that he and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had agreed on the broad outlines of a seven-point peace settlement that would at least temporarily freeze the conflict on the ground. Poroshenko then revised his statement to say, “The parties reached mutual understanding on the steps that will facilitate the establishment of peace.” Poroshenko said he would order a ceasefire on Friday, paving the way for implementation of a “stage-by-stage peace plan” for his country. The deal between Kiev and the pro-Russian separatists is conditional on one thing though: Ukraine, Russia and Europe’s OSCE security watchdog must all attend a meeting on Friday in Minsk. The rebels also said they were ready to declare a truce Friday if an agreement with Ukraine is reached. So hopefully no one skips the Minsk meeting… Washington Post

Ted Cruz and Rafael CruzTalk about embarrassing fathers! And embarrassing sons for that matter… Rafael Cruz, the father of Tea Party darling and anti-Canadian Sen. Ted Cruz, has made some Clive Bundy-like comments. The Conservative activist argued that African-Americans need to be “educated” to oppose minimum wage laws, saying that “the average black” does not understand that the mimimum wage is bad. “If we increase the minimum wage, Black unemployment will skyrocket,” Cruz said during a speech to the Western Williamson County Republican Club in Texas last month. “See, he understands it, but the average Black does not.” The elder Cruz then went on to sell black voters on the GOP, telling the audience about the time he told a black pastor that “every member of the Ku Klux Klan were Democrats from the South” and blacks “need to be educated” about this stuff. I don’t think that’s the best way to reach out to the African American community and expand the GOP’s base, but I guess that’s something the average Cruz doesn’t understand. Raw Story

McBrideTurns out you can’t always shoot an unarmed black teenager and get away with it. The white suburban Detroit homeowner accused of shooting 19-year-old Renisha McBride dead on his porch when she came looking for help after a car accident has been found ultra guilty. Theodore Wafer, 55, was sentenced to a mandatory two years for felony firearm usage followed by concurrent sentences of seven to 15 years for manslaughter and 15 to 30 years for second-degree murder. Translation: he will serve at least 17 years in prison before being eligible for parole. “I do not believe that you are a coldblooded murderer or that this case had anything to do with race,” Judge Dana M. Hathaway told Wafer as she handed down the sentence. “I do believe that you acted out of fear, but an unjustified fear has never been an excuse for taking someone’s life.” The Michigan man’s attorney has said he is remorseful and thought the intoxicated McBride was an intruder when he shot her through his screen door. Little did he know, intruders tend not to knock first. LA Times

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Day of Rage

Day of Rage

Palestinians declare a “day of rage” to coincide with the final Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. Israel responds with intensified attacks on Gaza. And there goes any hope for a ceasefire…

Last week, after 10,000 Palestinians protested on the West Bank, the Fatah political party called for Palestinians to have a day of rage in response to the shelling of a United Nations shelter that killed 16 people. Shells from Israeli tanks hit a UN school compound (where hundreds of Palestinians had come seeking shelter from the fighting) on Thursday in the Gaza Strip, leaving at least 15 dead and dozens more wounded.

Solution? Declare a day of rage and a fire a slew of rockets into Israel.

Isreali response? More air strikes!

After the so called day of rage, Israel intensified its bombardment of Gaza and warned of a long conflict ahead. Sixty airstrikes were carried out Tuesday targeting sites associated with Hamas, including one that hit the Gaza Strip’s only power plant. The power facility was forced to shut down, leaving Gazans, many of whom have been living with just a few hours of electrical supplies for the last three weeks, in a tricky situation. Hamas’ Al-Aqsa satellite-TV station was also damaged in the air strikes, along with government buildings and the home of a top Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

Palestinian officials now say 1,156 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the since the most recent fighting broke out on July 8 – and another 6,700 have been injured. Israel has lost 53 soldiers, three civilians, and shows no signs of stopping.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahau declared Monday: “We will continue to act aggressively and responsibly until the mission is completed to protect our citizens, soldiers, and children.”

The rest of Israel agrees. Recent polls say almost 90% of Israelis are in favour of the Gaza offensive.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry is desperately pushing for a ceasefire that both sides will agree on. Yeah, he’s going to be working on that one for a while…

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Iraq: Back in the News! (Not in a Good Way)

ISIS Mosul Iraq

Eleven years, thousands of lives, and $1.7 trillion later, Iraq is… still a hot mess.

Iraq is quickly spiraling out of government control and into the hands of insurgents who are snatching up cities, robbing banks, and attacking oil refineries left, right, and center.

But who are these insurgents making a mockery of US nation-building? None other than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al-Qaeda offshoot whose goal is to create a hardline Islamic state crossing over the borders of Syria and Iraq.

The group has already taken control of Iraq’s second city Mosul, and is advancing on the capital, Baghdad. Iraq’s speaker of parliament Osama Nujaifi said the insurgents controlled all key institutions in Mosul, including the airport and prisons.

“Everything is fallen. It’s a crisis,” he admitted. “Having these terrorist groups control a city in the heart of Iraq threatens not only Iraq but the entire region.”

But capturing Mosul wasn’t enough for ISIS, who joins Boko Haram on the short list of groups that even al-Qaeda condemns. Continuing their sweep through Iraq, the Islamic ISIS militants launched an attack on Iraq’s biggest oil refinery north of Baghdad. The Beiji refinery produces roughly a quarter of Iraq’s oil output – and a threat to oil is a big threat indeed. Time to call in the big guns!

Iraq has formally called on the United States to launch air strikes against the militants.

“We have a request from the Iraqi government for air power,” confirmed top US military commander Gen Martin Dempsey.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president would “continue to consult with his national security team in the days to come.”

While President Barack Obama is mulling over what to do about the latest crisis in Iraq, Senate leader Harry Reid has already made it clear that he does not “support in any way” getting American troops involved in the Iraqi “civil war”.

Sigh… it’s times like these when America may begin to doubt trading tyranny for absolute chaos. Where’s Saddam Hussein when you need him? Oh yeah… the execution.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Not So Friendly Fire

Not so Friendly Fire

Five Americans troops were accidentally killed by an airstrike in southern Afghanistan in one of the worst friendly fire cases involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14-year war.

The not so friendly fire incident took place on Monday night in Zabul province, where Afghan troops were conducting security operations. When the group was attacked by enemy forces, they called for air support. Instead they got ambushed by a different kind of enemy – Nato forces. The Nato aircraft accidentally struck the location of the U.S. soldiers, killing five of them and at least one Afghan soldier.

“Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” a statement from international forces in Kabul said.

While friendly fire incidents are not as few and far between as they should be, Monday’s case is among the most serious in Afghanistan, where Nato-led troops have been battling Taliban and other various insurgents since 2001.

Since the war began, there have been more than a dozen instances of airstrikes or friendly fires on allies and fellow coalition troops.  One of the worst friendly fire incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter which decided to drop a bomb on a group of troops during a night firing exercise in Kandahar. But the Americans have had their fair share of casualties too – perhaps the most famous resulting in the death of NFL player Pat Tillman in 2004.

Still, five in one strike is quite a lot – the U.S. must be pretty upset.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

As for the Afghan casualty? Meh.

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Assad: Amnesty for Some! And Other News

Assad Amnesty

Less than a week after winning another 7 year term in Syria’s “democratic election”, Bashar al-Assad declared a general amnesty for all prisoners within the country.

Syria’s pro-government Al Ikhbariya television station announced Assad would commute some death sentences to life imprisonment, reduce jail terms for many offences and cancel some others altogether. The decree would also give foreigners who entered the country “to join a terrorist group or perpetrate a terrorist act” an amnesty option if they surrendered to authorities within a month. Kidnappers who free their hostages and army deserters would also be covered by the decree. Of course, Assad also insisted the Syrian government had no idea how those chemical weapons wound up in a Damascus suburb… so who knows if he’ll stand by his decree. As for the tens of thousands of jailed opposition supporters, there’s been no word yet on whether or not the amnesty will apply to them – but they probably shouldn’t hold their breath… unless they’re being water boarded in prison. Reuters

Oldest ManThe world’s oldest man is no longer. Alexander Imich, the oldest known man on earth, died at the age of 111 Sunday in his Manhattan home. Born February 4, 1903, Imich came to the U.S. after fleeing a Nazi invasion of his native Poland. The retired chemist and parapsychologist lived on New York’s Upper West Side until his death and attributed his long life to never drinking alcohol and a healthy dose of swimming and gymnastics. Guinness is now investigating the claim that 111-year-old Sakari Momoi of Japan is the new world’s oldest man. But neither come close to the world’s oldest woman – 116-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan. Well, they actually came pretty close. Fox News

bergdahl swapObama is sticking by his swap! Speaking at a press conference in Brussels Thursday, President Obama strongly defended his decision to swap five members of the Taliban for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. A national controversy has erupted over whether or not Obama paid too high a price, but according to the president, “no man left behind” trumps “we do not negotiate with terrorists”. “We saw an opportunity and we seized it and I make no apologies for that,” Obama said. “It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind — no matter what,” John Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran, told CNN. As for the 28-year-old former captive, he’s not doing so hot. He is reportedly suffering from disorders affecting his skin after surviving five years of harsh treatment at the hands of his Taliban captors. Word on the street (the New York Times…) says the Taliban kept him in a metal cage in the dark for weeks after he tried to escape. He is also struggling with emotional issues and has yet to contact his parents. And to make matters worse (for Bergdahl), the soldier’s former comrades have charged he was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after deserting his post – an accusation that conservative Republicans and crazed pundits have pounced on. An alleged traitor coming back to America in exchange for FIVE dangerous terrorists?!? Maybe he would be better off back in the Taliban’s metal cage… Raw Story

Thailand HappinessThere’s nothing like putting a positive spin on a military coup! The military junta that seized power in Thailand last month isn’t ready to relinquish power but they are ready to boost national levels of happiness. The army has launched an official campaign that involves free concerts, food, female dancers, and horses for petting (?) in order to “return happiness” to the country after a decade of political upheaval. And what better way to usher in a new wave of happiness than with a happiness song. The song, Return Happiness to Thailand, features such reassuring lyrics as “we offer to take care and protect you with our hearts” and “give us a little more time”. The lovely ballad was penned by the army chief himself, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha and has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube, making the song far more popular with the Bangkok crowd than the General himself. Raw Story

Las Vegas ShootingShootings, shootings, shootings! A few days after 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra gave in to his “fascination with mass shootings” by shooting up Seattle Pacific University, three people, including two police officers, were killed in a Las Vegas shooting spree. The violence began at a Las Vegas pizza restaurant and ended at a nearby Walmart, where the two alleged gunmen—a married couple believed to be in their twenties—killed a woman in the store and then committed suicide. Witnesses told police the shooters said: “This is a revolution” during their attack. As for the motive, there appears to be a white-supremacy connection to the attacks. Investigators reportedly found white-supremacist and swastika-laden paraphernalia in the couple’s apartment and according to neighbors the couple had a reputation for spouting racist, anti-government views. Strangely enough, the two officers killed in the attack were white. BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Pakistani Taliban Attack

Current Event Cat - Karachi Airport Pakistani Taliban

The Pakistani Taliban are at it again, this time claiming responsibility for the bloody attacks on Karachi’s airport that killed least 24 people, including 10 members of their organization.

Surprisingly the 25-year-old pregnant woman who was beaten to death by her family for marrying against the family’s wishes was not the worst thing to happen in Pakistan this month. Never one to be outdone by angry family members throwing bricks at a pregnant woman in the name of “honor”, the Pakistani Taliban decided to step up their game and attack the country’s busiest airport.

On Sunday night, Taliban militants launched a violent assault on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi complete with rocket-launchers, suicide vests, and grenades. Gunmen disguised as police guards stormed the international terminal, set off explosions and opened fire with machine-guns and rocket launchers, triggering a gun battle with police.

“They were well-trained. Their plan was very well thought out,” Qaim Ali Shah, chief minister of Sindh province, said.

Well not that well-trained… At the end of the six-hour assault, all ten attackers were dead and no planes had been hijacked.

After Pakistani officials reclaimed control of the airport, the Pakistani Taliban was quick to claim responsibility for the attack.

A spokesman for the group, Shahidullah Shahid, said the aim of Monday’s assault had been to hijack an aircraft, and was “a message to the Pakistan government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages”.

Needless to say, the prospects for continued government-led peace talks with the Taliban are not looking so hot.

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Syrian Rebels Bid Farewell to Bloodstained Homs… And Other News

Homs Withdraw

Well, they had a good run… I guess. With just a month to go until Syria’s election, the rebels evacuated their last stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs.

The Homs withdrawal marks the end of three years of resistance in the central city where the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad first began. The rebels had held control of Homs since 2011, but over the past two years government forces gradually regained control by subjecting the city to continuous siege and bombardment. “We ate grass and leaves until there was nothing left for us to eat,” said opposition activist Abu Yassin al-Homsi, who was preparing to leave Homs. “We kept urging the international community to lift the siege but there was no response,” he added. The abandonment of the bloodstained city is seen as a major symbolic victory for Assad, who is excited to be running for a third presidential term and even more excited that the democratic process is extremely corrupt in his favour. BBC News

Rob Ford Mayor RehabRob Ford is loving rehab! “I feel great. Rehab is amazing. It reminds me of football camp. Kind of like the Washington Redskins camp I went to as a kid,” Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor told the Toronto Sun. Ford also inisisted that he, NOT his brother Doug, will be running for mayor in the October election. “Of course, I am coming back and I am going to kick butt,” he said. Pending any new crack videos, of course… Ford — who is on the city payroll during his “leave of absence” — still wouldn’t divulge the name of the rehab facility he is in or even if it’s in Canada. Hmmm… are we sure he’s just not just up north at his family’s cottage? The Toronto Sun

Indonesia ShariaIf you still don’t believe introducing Sharia law in Brunei is the greatest thing since sliced bread, here’s a heartwarming story for you: A 25-year-old Indonesian widow who was allegedly gang-raped by eight men after they found her having sex with a married man will face nine strokes of a cane for violating religious law. Once the affair was uncovered, a group of eight men beat up the man, gang-raped the woman, and then covered the couple in raw sewage before turning them over to Islamic police. Despite their ordeal, the head of the town’s Islamic sharia law office, Ibrahim Latif, said the man and woman still face up to nine lashes of the cane in public over the affair. “We want the couple to be caned for violating sharia law on adultery,” he said, adding that the rapists would also be brought to justice, but first the Islamic police have to concentrate on those slutty consenting adults. The Guardian

anti-semitic NYPDMaybe this is part of the reason #myNYPD failed so miserably? A former New York City police officer was arrested and charged with committing a hate crime after he was caught on surveillance video vandalizing buildings in a largely Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn community with anti-Semitic messages. 36-year-old Michael Setiawan was picked up before dawn on Sunday after police received a 911 call about some mysterious swastikas, courtesy of Setiawan’s Saturday night anti-Semetic graffiti spree. The former cop, who’s been off the force since 2007, faces 19 counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime. New York’s finest! Huffington Post

Deputy QuilesSpeaking of sketchy cops, a totally sober Wisconsin woman was charged with drunk driving after a sheriff’s deputy crashed into her car. 25-year-old Tanya Weyker broke her neck in the accident and after being questioned by the police in her injured state, Deputy Joseph Quiles (who caused the accident) decided to charge her with drunk driving – even though her injuries prevented her from taking a breathalyzer. Even though subsequent blood tests showed Tanya Weyker was sober and surveillance video proved the officer was at fault, the charges remained pending for more than five months and the county sent letters threatening legal action if she didn’t pay for damage to the deputy’s squad car. Despite receiving only very minor injuries in the crash, Deputy Quiles filed for permanent disability shortly after the accident – most likely for some kind of inability to tell the truth. Raw Story

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Not One, But Two Afghan Landslides… And Other News

Afghan Landslides

Afghanistan can’t seem to catch a break. First the Soviets, then the Taliban, then some other stuff… and now a monster landslide.

After a landslide swallowed hundreds of homes in the Argo district of Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan, rescuers struggled to help dig out the buried residents, using shovels and bare hands to recover the missing. Then tragedy struck again. A second landslide hit, consuming the hundreds of rescuers from nearby villages. The governor’s office said at least 2,000 people died in the slides. As for those missing, they are presumed dead. “That will be their cemetery,” said Mohammed Karim Kahlili, one of Afghanistan’s two vice presidents. “It is not possible to bring out any bodies.” President Hamid Karzai declared a national day of mourning, saying there was “no hope” for most of those buried and declaring the landslide a “human tragedy.” CNN

brett-hulseyRepublicans decided to stop hogging all the bad ideas for once and let Democrat Rep. Brett Hulsey have his day in the spotlight. The Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate announced Thursday that he will hand out Ku Klux Klan hoods – or what he calls “Republican Party hats” – at the state GOP convention on the weekend. The long-shot candidate (and even longer shot now) showed off his homemade white hoods that he stitched together using $1 curtain material and his daughter’s sewing machine inside the press room at the state Capitol. Hulsey’s crazy antics were quickly denounced by both sides of the spectrum as “completely unacceptable and totally inappropriate.” But Husley says he was simply trying to call attention to what he says are “racist” policies by Republicans, such as ending record-keeping on racial profiling by police, cutting back on income eligibility limits for Medicaid, and voting changes. He has a point, but this is also the guy who he threatened to have someone dress up in a chicken suit and show up at one of the Democratic frontrunner’s events because, according to him, she’s afraid of facing him in a debate… so he’s a little out there. MSNBC

Camels MERSThanks a lot camels! After a new study suggested that camels may be behind the recent deadly surge in cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the virus has officially arrived in the United States. A man from Indiana was hospitalized last week with the first U.S. case of the mysterious camel virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East. The man is said to be doing well and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it’s closely monitoring the case. MERS has infected at least 400 people and killed over 100 in the two years since it first surfaced – but the camels remain unharmed. While humans fall victim to SARS-like symptoms, camels do not appear to be damaged by the virus. So far no one has figured out how humans are contracting it, but I’m pretty not at all sure it’s from camel spit. CBC News

South Korea FerryThe death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has jumped to 260, with 42 people still missing – and that’s not even including the vice principal who was so racked with guilt he hung himself or South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won’s career after he resigned in response to the ferry crash. “When I saw the people’s sadness and fury, I thought it was natural for me to step down with an apology,” Chung said in a nationally televised conference. Also, South Korean President Park Geun-hye certainly didn’t want to step down, so someone had to be fired over the tragedy. But if anyone should be fired, it’s probably the ship’s crew who told the students to stay in their cabins below deck while the ferry was sinking even though they themselves had already begun to evacuate. Instead of being fired, three crew members, including the 69-year-old captain, were arrested and charged with crimes relating to negligence – which is kind of worse than getting fired. CNN

Gene Robinson DivorceFirst they wanted gay marriage, now they want gay divorce! The world’s first openly gay bishop announced that he and his partner of over 25 years are getting divorced. Gene Robinson’s openly gay life ignited a controversy back in 2003 when he was elected as a bishop, prompting conservative Episcopalians in the US to break away and causing intense debate in the worldwide Anglican church. Now, after four years of legalized marriage and 21 years of fake marriage, the couple has called it quits. But they at least comforted by the fact that they can get divorced just like any old straight couple. “It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples.” Robinson said. And now Gene’s struggle with the church was all for nothing… except he’s still openly gay, just divorced… which might be worse?  USA Today

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