March 25, 2014

People do all kinds of stupid, crazy things, but what kind of a monster sneaks into a zoo and beheads sleeping flamingos? Officials at Germany's Frankfurt Zoo want to know rather urgently, after discovering 15 dead Chilean flamingos late last week, several of them with severed necks. The attacks happened Thursday and Friday nights, and police and zookeepers are flummoxed. Three flamingos were killed at the same zoo in 2007, and that case was never solved.

"Who would do such a thing?" asked Germany's Die Welt on Monday. "Psychopaths? Was it a completely out-of-order test of courage among young people? Or was it Satanists?" The stab wounds in some birds point to a human culprit, though zoo director Manfred Niekisch says bite marks suggest foxes may have been involved — or bitten the animals after they were already dead. An oddly chilling factoid from the Associated Press: "Flamingos don't normally cry for help when attacked." --Peter Weber

10:46 a.m. ET

NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch on Thursday attacked the "legacy media" for supposedly profiting off of mass shootings.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, Loesch warned her crowd she was going to make "controversial" remarks. She then stooped over the microphone and spoke slowly, pausing in between each word: "Many in legacy media love mass shootings." As the crowd applauded, Loesch looked directly at the journalists in the back of the room and said, "You guys love it."

"Now I'm not saying that you love the tragedy," she continued, "but I am saying you love the ratings." She added: "Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you." Loesch noted that her choice to highlight "crying white mothers" was intentional, because "there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend and you don't see town halls for them, do you?" Loesch on Wednesday night attended a CNN town hall with the survivors of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed by a teenager with a semiautomatic rifle.

"Where's the CNN town hall for Chicago? Where's the CNN town hall for sanctuary cities?" she asked. Watch her remarks (which start at 0:20) below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:40 a.m. ET

A woman chased down a purse-snatcher in Edmonton, Canada, last week, only to take the would-be thief out to coffee after catching up to him, CBC reports.

Tess Aboughoushe cornered the man in an alley after she heard a woman calling "stop, thief, he took my wallet!" Aboughoushe was surprised to find the thief crying when she caught him: "He came out from behind the dumpster and says, in a conciliatory way, 'Here is the wallet, I can't do this anymore, I'm sorry, just take it, take it,'" she said.

After returning the wallet, Aboughoushe took the desperate thief out for coffee and pointed him in the direction of the local library, where he could get help from social workers on staff. "He said, 'I've never done anything like this before. I just really need the money' … I wanted to show him some compassion," she said. Jeva Lange

9:44 a.m. ET

A teenaged survivor of last week's school shooting sat out CNN's gun control town hall Wednesday night, claiming the network tried to feed him lines.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Colton Haab told Miami's ABC affiliate WPLG-TV that he did not go to the event — which was specifically centered around the attack at his Parkland, Florida, school — because CNN tried to control what he would say. "CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions, and it ended up being all scripted," Haab said.

Haab said his rejected question focused on the possibility of hiring veterans as armed security guards at high schools, an idea that President Trump supports. But CNN pushed back on Haab's claim of censorship, saying that Haab and his father elected beforehand not to participate in the town hall and told the network as much. A spokesperson for CNN also told The Hill: "CNN did not provide or script questions for anyone in last night's town hall, nor have we ever."

Watch WPLG-TV's interview with Haab (starting at 1:01) below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

8:49 a.m. ET

President Trump's national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, might soon be back in the military, half a dozen defense and administration officials told CNN.

Trump and McMaster's strained relationship was not helped this weekend by the president's public criticism of the three-star general. "General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC, and the Dems," Trump tweeted. One Republican insider explained that the tension between the pair comes from a difference in "personality and style."

The White House would be in an awkward spot trying to oust McMaster, though, because of the turnover in the position already: Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is notably at the heart of the ongoing Russia investigation. Although Pentagon officials are reportedly looking for a possible four-star military job for McMaster that could be viewed as a promotion, "some defense officials caution that the president could also go as far as not to offer him a fourth star and force him to retire," CNN writes.

While the reports could be nothing more than rumors, a person with knowledge of the situation summed up McMaster's standing: "He is safe until he's not." Jeva Lange

8:34 a.m. ET

President Trump announced Thursday his support for stricter gun laws after last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and teachers dead. Trump said he would push for "comprehensive background checks with an emphasis on mental health," as well as support raising the minimum age for purchasing firearms to 21 and ending bump stock sales.

"Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue," he added.

Earlier in the morning, Trump reiterated his controversial plan to arm "only the best" teachers, claiming "if a potential 'sicko shooter' knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school." Jeva Lange

8:22 a.m. ET

NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch represented her organization at the CNN town hall in Florida Wednesday night, and she wasn't terribly popular with Parkland survivors in the audience. Student Emma Gonzalez asked Loesch if she believed "it should be harder to obtain the semiautomatic weapons and modifications to make them fully automatic," and Loesch talked mental health.

"I don't believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm, ever," she said. "This individual is nuts," and no NRA member supports allowing "people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others getting their hands on a firearm." (She may want to check with her boss, Chris Cox, or mental health experts.) Eventually, Gonzalez had to interrupt Loesch and repeat her question. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel jumped in, too. "You just told this group of people that you're standing up for them," he said. "You are not standing up for them until you say, 'I want less weapons.'"

Scott also argued that "we do need to have some gun control reform — 18-year-olds should never have a rifle," earning pushback from Loesch. "If you're old enough to vote, you're old enough to drive a car, old enough to serve your country, I think that you are old enough — if," she said, "if you are not a danger to yourself or others." She did not explain who would determine mental fitness or what threats merit losing gun privileges. "You're absolutely not the litmus test for how law enforcement should follow up," Scott said.

Loesch also sparred with slain teacher Scott Beigel's mother and an AP history teacher. Peter Weber

8:04 a.m. ET

President Trump suggested a controversial solution to America's gun violence crisis during a listening session with survivors and family of survivors on Wednesday. "If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly," the president said. "I really believe if these cowards knew that the school was well guarded … I think they wouldn't go into the school to start off with."

On Thursday, Trump backed off the proposal, only to reiterate it again:

Trump faced pushback immediately from Sandy Hook parents in the room for the proposal, the Hartford Courant reports. Mark Barden, who lost his son Daniel in the 2012 attack, told the president: "A deranged sociopath on his way to commit an act of murder in a school, knowing the outcome is going to be suicide, is not going to care if there's somebody there with a gun. That's their plan anyway." Jeva Lange

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