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April 9, 2014

Marijuana is respectable enough now that the premise of this newscast from the Onion News NetworkThe Onion's video news unit — is eminently plausible: The anchor and an expert are discussing a new medical study on the effects of pot. But of course this is The Onion. The segment's title gives you a pretty good sense of the joke: "New Marijuana Study Says Everyone Knows You're High And You'll Likely Be Stoned Forever."

The video stands up well on its own, but if you have 12 minutes (and you're not having a bad trip), Gawker has rounded up several of The Onion's follow-up newscasts in one video. Think of them as increasingly trippy variations on a theme, or as a really extended version of a good joke. Here's the original report. --Peter Weber

1:43 p.m. ET
iStock

For flamingos, standing on one leg might actually be easier than standing on two. A report published Wednesday in The Royal Society's Biology Letters revealed that flamingos might be built to stand on one leg, which would explain how they're able to do so while they sleep without toppling over.

When the researchers' bid to test flamingos' balance by walking over to the birds in a zoo and giving them "a little prod" was rejected, they turned to studying flamingo cadavers. To their surprise, they found out that while a dead flamingo can't stand on two legs, it can balance on one. When the researchers began studying live flamingos — which they had to watch until the birds dozed off — they found out flamingos' balance became better as they fell asleep.

That led researchers to realize that flamingos' fantastic balance might have something to do with their anatomy, specifically a built-in "stay mechanism." The Washington Post explained the phenomenon:

The bird's skeleton appears to be the key. As with humans, flamingos have two main joints on their leg. The one you can see, that bends backward, is not the knee. That's actually the bird’s ankle. Its knee, meanwhile, is hidden in bird's features at the fatter part of its body.

When the flamingo is ready to nod off, it lifts one leg and instinctively moves its body so its single foot isn't under its hip. Instead, it's centered directly under the carriage of bird. Meanwhile, pulling the other leg up forces the knee to bend, which the flamingo rests on. All the joints essentially snap into place.

[...] As the flamingo remains nearly perfectly still while sleeping, gravity does the rest, keeping the bird in place. [The Washington Post]

Though the researchers might be one step closer to figuring out how flamingos stand on one leg, the question of why remains a mystery. Flamingo studier Matt Anderson, of St. Joseph's University, pointed out to The Atlantic that if standing on one leg saved flamingos so much energy, "one would expect flamingos to employ the one-legged resting stance constantly." Becca Stanek

1:40 p.m. ET
Mark A. Leonesio/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

In addition to apparently giving Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte a pat on the back for the extrajudicial slaughter of thousands of small-time drug users and dealers, President Trump apparently made another major stumble during the leaders' April phone call: Revealing where our nuclear submarines are.

On Tuesday, a leaked transcript of their conversation revealed that Trump reassured Duterte that America has "a lot of firepower" near North Korea. "We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all," Trump said.

Defense officials were horrified. "We never talk about the subs!" three separate Pentagon officials told BuzzFeed News. While the U.S. announces the movements of aircraft carriers as a show of force — and because they're not very easy to hide — submarines "are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence," BuzzFeed News writes:

By announcing the presence of nuclear submarines, the president, some Pentagon officials privately explained, gives away the element of surprise — an irony given his repeated declarations during the campaign that the US announces far too many of its military plans when it comes to combating ISIS.

Moreover, some countries in the region, particularly China, seek to develop their anti-sub capability. Knowing that two US submarines are in the region could allow them to test their own military capabilities. [BuzzFeed News]

Additionally, it is unclear why Trump chose to volunteer the potentially sensitive information to Duterte, as the Philippines are not involved with the U.S. military on deescalating and deterring North Korean aggression. Following Trump's highly-criticized decision to share extraordinarily sensitive intelligence with the Russians "off script" earlier this month, his comments to Duterte are "likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information," Reuters reports. Jeva Lange

1:26 p.m. ET
Dave Thompson/Getty Images

U.K. police confirmed Wednesday that they are now investigating a "terror network" in connection to the attack Monday night in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people. "This is a network that we are investigating," Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police told journalists Wednesday. "There's an extensive investigation going on, and activity taking place across Greater Manchester as we speak."

Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old man who is believed to have exploded a suicide bomb at an Ariana Grande concert, was known to British intelligence and security agencies "up to a point," British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said. On Wednesday, police made a fifth arrest in connection to the incident.

The U.K. on Tuesday increased its terrorist threat level to "critical," the highest possible level, for the first time in a decade. The designation means a terror attack is considered "imminent" and allows for up to 3,800 military personnel to be deployed instead of police officers at public events. Becca Stanek

12:23 p.m. ET

To briefly recap: Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in Washington, D.C., in July 2016 in what was likely a botched robbery attempt. Democrats definitely did not assassinate him for leaking info to WikiLeaks, although conspiracy theorists and Fox News host Sean Hannity seem to believe that is the case. Rich's grieving family asked Fox News to stop spreading the false narrative, saying "the conspiracy theories surrounding [Rich's] death cause us unbearable pain," and the network responded by issuing a not-very-apologetic retraction. Hannity said Tuesday that after speaking to Rich's family, "for now I am not discussing this matter at this time."

During all of this, progressive watchdog Media Matters posted a list Tuesday of Sean Hannity's advertisers, calling him "a professional propagandist for President Donald Trump, as well as a bigot, a sexist, and a conspiracy theorist."

Then this happened:

And in case anything wasn't CLEAR:

By Wednesday morning, Hannity was still going, claiming that "liberal fascism" is trying to get him fired. "TODAY, George Soros and Hillary Clinton-supported Media Matters is targeting all of my advertisers to try to get me fired," he raged. "Spoke to many advertisers. They are being inundated with emails to stop advertising on my show. This is Soros/Clinton/Brock liberal fascism."

"DO NOT give up on Sean Hannity," one supporter with the username "TrumpGirlStrong" tweeted in response. "He's not giving up on #SethRich."

Hannity replied:

Stay tuned, indeed. Jeva Lange

12:18 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump apparently thinks former FBI Director James Comey is a "nut job," but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) begs to differ. When asked at an Axios Q&A session Wednesday morning whether he agreed with Trump's assessment of the FBI director he fired — which the president reportedly uttered while meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office — Ryan made clear that he didn't.

"Yeah, I don't agree with that, and he's not," Ryan said, defending Comey against the president's charge.

Ryan said that he thinks Comey was put in an "impossible position," but "served his country ably." "I like Jim Comey," Ryan said, a far cry from Trump's depiction of Comey as a "grandstander" and a "showboat."

Despite his departures from Trump on Comey, Ryan reiterated that he still has confidence in the president. Becca Stanek

11:30 a.m. ET

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) suggested Wednesday in an interview with CNN that the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak could have been an "insider job." "There's still some question as to whether the intrusion at the DNC server was an insider job, or whether or not it was the Russians," Farenthold said.

When pressed for evidence to back his claim, Farenthold cited "stuff circulating on the internet." He didn't specify what "stuff."

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia was behind the cyberattacks throughout the 2016 presidential election, including the DNC hack:

Watch Farenthold's full interview below. His comments about the "insider job" start around the 3:20 mark. Becca Stanek

11:27 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Newsmakers

Tommy Arthur, a 75-year-old Alabama inmate sentenced to death in 1983 for murder, is facing his eighth execution date Thursday evening. Seven times before — in 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2016 — he's been slated to sit down for his last meal, only for his execution to be delayed after his legal team won appeals.

Arthur has been accused of two murders: He served five years for the second-degree murder of his wife's sister, but he's maintained his innocence in the 1982 murder of Troy Wicker, for which he was sentenced to death. Arthur's lawyer has argued that "neither a fingerprint or a weapon, nor any other physical evidence" ties Arthur to the murder.

Arthur's case has become a flash point for people on all sides of the death penalty, The New York Times reported. "People who simply want the execution are unhappy because of the passage of time," said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "People who oppose the death penalty are unhappy because they don't want Tommy Arthur executed. People who want fairness are unhappy because, despite the length of time this case has been in the courts, the process has never been fair."

Arthur said his oldest daughter "came to six execution dates, and the stress of her father about to be killed was so traumatic it damaged her heart." She did not come to his seventh execution date and she was not originally planning to come to his eighth, scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. Arthur isn't bothering with requesting a last meal either. "I don't believe in that last meal baloney — I never have the appetite. When they're trying to kill you, you're not hungry," he said.

Arthur's lawyers are fighting for another delay, but The New York Times reported that Arthur "allowed that his case might be near its end." On Friday, the day after Arthur's eighth execution date, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is slated to sign a measure that would shorten death penalty appeals. Becca Stanek

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