Foreign affairs

The Daily Show studies Russian expansionist aggression... in Brooklyn

April 10, 2014

On Wednesday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart recapped the recent unrest in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia protesters have taken over a town hall and declared it an independent republic. Russia is threatening to intervene, but the recap is mostly prelude to Samantha Bee's segment on the threat Russia poses outside of Ukraine. Her token expert, an earnest former White House Russia expert named Andrew Weiss, assured Bee that while Russia's neighbors should be nervous, the odds that Russia will attack the U.S. are about one in a trillion. Bee, unconvinced, visited the closest place in America to Crimea — Brighton Beach. --Peter Weber

nature

Extremely rare red fox makes an appearance at Yosemite

12:45am ET

For the first time in a century, the Sierra Nevada red fox was spotted in Yosemite National Park.

The rare animal — there are less than 50 in North America — was photographed by motion-sensitive cameras on Dec. 13 and Jan. 4, and Yosemite officials are now trying to figure out if the same fox was spotted twice. "The chance of running into them is very unusual," park spokeswoman Kari Cobb told the Los Angeles Times.

The red fox is one of 14 mammals protected by the state of California, and since sightings are so rare, not much is known about the animal beyond the fact that it's shy and burrows in soil and logs at 6,000 feet elevation. This is the first time one has been seen at the park since 1915, and Cobb is taking that as a good sign, thinking it might mean they will be able to "make a comeback."

Things that make you go hmmm

Rachel Maddow questions America's 'creepy, totally dependent relationship' with Saudi Arabia

12:17am ET

The roster of American officials, from President Obama on down, who went to Saudi King Abdullah's funeral is astounding, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow told David Letterman on Wednesday night's Late Show. Letterman, wading into foreign policy, noted that America's relationship with Saudi Arabia is confusing: "They know we don't like them, and we know they don't like us, but we pretend we're best buddies."

"It's a very awkward thing," Maddow agreed, citing a public beheading the day before Obama arrived and the fact that Saudi women aren't allowed to drive. "And we never bring up these things, because we've got this creepy, totally dependent relationship with them, that we just agree to not discuss." Next up on Letterman, how to best handle post-Soviet Russia? —Peter Weber

vandals ruin everything

Access restricted at famous New Orleans cemetery due to vandalism

January 28, 2015
Facebook.com/StLouisCemetery1

Want to get into St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans? Unless you're with an official escort, have ties to someone buried there, or are a member of the spirit world, the oldest cemetery in the city is off limits.

Vandals have long targeted the above-ground plots at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which dates back to the 1700s and is owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. But lately, more and more people have been defacing the cemetery's most famous attraction, the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Last year, someone came after hours and painted the tomb pink, and while it's been a longstanding tradition to mark Xs on the grave for good luck, over the past few months the practice has picked up dramatically.

"It became apparent that we needed to take some action to protect the sanctity of the space, as well as the historic nature of the cemetery," Sarah McDonald, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, told Reuters. Starting in March, tour operators will have to register with the archdiocese and pay $40 for one visit or $4,500 for an annual pass, and visitors will have to go through them to get past the gates. The money brought in will go toward paying for more security.

unbelievable

Jewish community leader arrested, interrogated at Auschwitz

January 28, 2015
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The head of Rome's Jewish community found himself arrested Tuesday night at Auschwitz, the same concentration camp where his grandparents were murdered during the Holocaust.

Riccardo Pacifici was at Auschwitz for the 70th anniversary of its liberation, and while filming a live segment with the Italian show Matrix found that the gates to the camp had been closed. Pacifici, Jewish community spokesman Fabio Perugia, Matrix host David Parenzo, and two technicians spent an hour in the freezing cold, shouting for help and trying to get the attention of guards on security cameras, Haaretz reports. Finally, they decided to escape through an open window in the box office, which triggered an alarm.

Guards and Polish police officers quickly arrived and detained the group, questioning them onsite until 2:30 a.m. They were then moved to a station for further questioning, made difficult by language barriers, and finally released hours later once the Italian foreign ministry became involved. Pacifici told the Italian newspaper La Stampa that he was "astounded" by how they were treated. "They interrogated us until 6 in the morning — two Jews who had been locked inside the Auschwitz camp, where I lost some of my family," he said. "It's a shock. Our only crime was that we tried to get out through the window."

inquests

Woman killed during Sydney siege hit by police bullet ricochet

January 28, 2015
Don Arnold/Getty Images

A woman taken hostage during the siege at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney on Dec. 16 was killed by fragments from a police bullet or bullets, a coroner's representative said during an inquest into the event.

Jeremy Gormly said that 38-year-old lawyer Katrina Dawson was struck by six fragments and one hit a major blood vessel, Reuters reports. "She lost consciousness quickly and died shortly afterwards," he said. Police stormed into the cafe after gunman Man Haron Monis shot the cafe's manager, 34-year-old Tori Johnson; Gormly said that a police marksman saw Monis execute Johnson, and that Monis was then was killed instantly by several police bullets and bullet fragments to the body and head.

The inquest is taking place at the same time as a government inquiry into how Monis was able to get a gun and why he was granted bail while facing charges as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.

down to the wire

New ISIS audio gives Jordan until sunset Thursday for prisoner swap

January 28, 2015

In a new audio message posted Wednesday, a person purported to be ISIS hostage and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto says that if Jordan does not bring a failed suicide bomber to the Turkish border by sunset Thursday, a Jordanian fighter pilot held by the group will be executed.

ISIS had previously said it would kill Goto and the pilot, Mu'ath al-Kasaesbeh, unless Jordan releases Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman who was put in prison for her involvement in a 2005 botched suicide attack that targeted a hotel in Amman, NBC News reports. The latest message only mentions al-Kasaesbeh's fate, and not Goto's.

Al-Kasaesbeh was captured in December when his jet crashed near Raqqa, Syria, and Jordan's information minister said earlier on Wednesday that the country is willing to swap al-Rishawi for its pilot. Although NBC News says it cannot verify the authenticity of the new recording, posted on an ISIS internet forum, it said it does sound similar to previous messages.

justice is served

Friendship Nine cleared 54 years after anti-segregation sit-in

January 28, 2015

On Jan. 31, 1961, nine African-American men protesting segregation held a sit-in at a Rock Hill, South Carolina, dining counter, and were dragged out and arrested. On Wednesday, almost 54 years later to the date, their misdemeanor trespassing charges have been vacated and local authorities are offering up heartfelt apologies.

"We cannot rewrite history, but we can right history," Judge John C. Hayes III, chief administrative judge for South Carolina's 16th Judicial Circuit, said. "Now, as to the Friendship Nine, is the time and opportunity to do so. Now is the time to recognize that justice is not temporal, but is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow."

The men — dubbed the Friendship Nine, as most attended the now-closed Friendship College — decided against paying their fine for trespassing and were sentenced to 30 days of labor in a county prison camp, The New York Times reports. Their choice also inspired other activists to protest and accept jail time. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was at the courthouse, and said it was time for the Friendship Nine to be recognized for what they did. "This is a monumental day for not just civil rights, but human rights and human dignity," she said.

your health

Study: Beauty products may cause early menopause

January 28, 2015
iStock

A woman's use of products like fragrance, cosmetics, and hairspray could mean she hits menopause years sooner than she would have naturally, according to a new study in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study, which TIME calls one of the most comprehensive studies of factors that disrupt menopause, looked at 31,575 women between 1999 and 2008. The Washington University in St. Louis researchers found on average, the women with the highest levels of designated chemicals experienced menopause 1.9 to 3.8 years earlier than the other women studied.

Certain chemicals are thought to disrupt reproductive hormones, like estrogen. More extensive research would need to be done to solidify the link between beauty products and menopause.

Business

CEO of McDonald's stepping down

January 28, 2015
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

McDonald's CEO Don Thompson announced Wednesday he is retiring, effective March 1.

"It's tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything," he said in a statement. The 25-year veteran of the company will be replaced by Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook. After the news was announced, McDonald's stock went up three percent to $91.50. Last quarter, profits were down 21 percent to $1.13 per share, missing estimates of $1.23 per share, and revenue fell 7 percent, Forbes reports.

survey says

Survey: 3 in 5 Americans support Charlie Hebdo

January 28, 2015
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Three in five Americans who heard of the recent terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo support the French satirical magazine's cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

Those surveyed by Pew Research who supported the publication cited reasons like press freedom, harmlessness, and a belief that all religions get lampooned. Opponents of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons, numbering 28 percent, argued for respect for religious beliefs, offensive images, and their possibility of provoking violence. The remaining participants familiar with the news didn't take a side.

Overall, out of 1,003 adults surveyed, 75 percent were familiar with the attack. Check out the full report here.

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