This week three men escaped from a detention center in Quebec City using a helicopter. The helicopter flew in and briefly landed in the courtyard as three prisoners quickly boarded before taking back off. An investigation into how this happened so smoothly is ongoing.
You’re probably as shocked as I am to find out that helicopter prison escapes are still possible. A page on Wikipedia.com has listed all on-record prison break attempts around the world since 1971.
The United States saw a number of successful helicopter jailbreaks back in the 80s, but they’ve been rare since then, and we haven’t seen one since five prisoners escaped from a facility in Puerto Rico in 2002.
Unfortunately for Canada though, this is actually the second successful helicopter prison escape in just the last 15 months.
The most recent escape has prompted a massive manhunt that is still ongoing. According to CNN.com the authorities number one priority is locating the helicopter.
The three men are Yves Denis Yvon Lamontagne, 35, Denis Lefebvre, 53, and Serge Pomerleau, 49. The first two men were arrested at the same time for drug related charges, but little has been reported about the third suspect.
This story is just so bizarre that I couldn’t help but think about all of the famous on-screen prison breaks, like this helicopter escape by “Ice Cube” in the movie XXX State of the Union…
Starting at the beginning of this month, Maria Corina Machado and Leopoldo Lopez, two senior opposition figures have been calling for Venezuelans to take to the streets to protest the country’s worsening conditions and the government’s lack of action.
These worsening conditions include:
Runaway inflation- the inflation rate has risen by more than 50% in the past year
Food scarcity- basic food items like milk and harina pan, a type of corn flour used to make arepas (similar to flatbread), a Venezuelan staple
Continued rise in crime- when Hugo Chavez to power in 1998, the murder rate in Venezuela was 19 per 100,000, now it’s at 79 per 100,000, up from 73 per 100,000 just last year
Many opposition figures believe that Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, is simply a puppet of the Cuban government.
On February 12, Leopoldo Lopez, writing on a Venezuelan news site, said that,
“We need to vote but we also need to take to the streets, protest,”
calling for nationwide peaceful protests. However, those protests became violent when an armed group of vigilantes on motorcycles attacked anti-government demonstrators, leaving four dead.
Since then, the situation has quickly spiraled out of control, becoming increasingly violent with deaths on both sides.
As the demonstrations began gaining momentum, CONATEL, Venezuela’s telecommunications regulator, ordered the country’s cable stations to drop Colombian broadcaster NTN24, the only impartial news station left on Venezuelan TV.
In the last week, the government has blocked Facebook, Twitter and a number of other websites, censoring anything that they see as anti-government.
On Thursday, the government revoked CNN’s work permits and kicked the news organization out of the country for promoting “war propaganda”. President Maduro announced the move in front of a pro-government audience saying,
“Enough war propaganda. I do not accept war propaganda against Venezuela. If they do not rectify things, get out of Venezuela, CNN, get out.”
Later that day, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that the government-owned internet service provider CANTV had cut off traffic to San Cristóbal, the capital city of the state of Tachira, where much of the anti-government protest has been centered.
Marianne Díaz, a lawyer and founder of the activist group Acceso Libre, spoke with Vice about it:
“We know it was a government mandate because last night, President Maduro gave a speech (a mandatory broadcast in all radio and TV stations) where he (amongst many other things) threatened Tachira, saying he would ‘go all in’ and that we ‘would be surprised’ of what he would do, and then internet was cut and tanks went in.”
Russia has committed to extending asylum protections to Snowden. Edward Snowden was originally guaranteed protection by Russia for a year, as that year ended Russia made it clear to Snowden he did not have to worry about being sent away…
According to CNN the news about Edward Snowden’s extended asylum…
…came Friday (1/24/14) from Alexy Pushkov, a legislator who is head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Duma, Russia’s lower house. He spoke about Snowden at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.”
Snowden is bitter-sweet about the situation, on one hand he is happy to have an extended asylum but on the other hand he has stated publicly that he thinks going back to the United States would be the best solution for all parties. Unfortunately, that does not seem possible right now, Snowden wants Whistleblower’s protection but the US will not guarantee him that.
Snowden is upset that the U.S. government’s Whistleblower Protection Act doesn’t currently cover someone like him, a former government contractor. Edward Snowden elaborated, according to CNN…
There are so many holes in the laws, the protections they afford are so weak, and the processes for reporting they provide are so ineffective that they appear to be intended to discourage reporting of even the clearest wrongdoing,” he wrote. “… My case clearly demonstrates the need for comprehensive whistle-blower protection act reform.”
So as of now it seems Edward Snowden is still in a temporary position in Russia. What do you think about the situation? Do you think Snowden should come home and plea Guilty? Or do you think the US should grant him Whistleblower’s protection?
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that pollution from the manufacturing of American-bound products in China is responsible for between 12-24% of daily sulfate concentrations in the western US.
Don Wuebbles, who is a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Illinois, led the study. He said,
Pollution from China is having an effect in the U.S., and we need to recognize how that is affecting both our background ozone levels and also particulates that are reaching the West Coast.”
Strong westerly winds can send pollution from China across the ocean to the American west coast within a matter of days. The picture at the top is of Los Angeles on a particularly smoggy day.
About 21% of export-related pollution in China is from products headed for the US.
A Japanese team headed by Jiro Kondo of Waseda University recently discovered the tomb of an ancient beer-maker known as Khonso Em Heb.
The tomb was accidently discovered while the team was cleaning the courtyard of another tomb at the Thebes necropolis in the Egyptian city of Luxor. According to CNN:
“Khonso Em Heb — who apart from being a brewer, headed the royal storehouses during the pharaonic Ramesside period (1,292–1,069 BC) — making offerings to the gods.”
Egypt’s antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim described Khonso Em Heb as the chief “maker of beer for gods of the dead”. The tomb was decorated and colored magnificently and is being labeled as one of the most significant finds of recent times (by archeologists as well as beer enthusiasts).
“Alcohol in ancient Egypt was very important — not just in terms of daily consumption but also as an offering to deities. Beer, in particular was very important,”
says Poo Mun Chou, a leading Egyptologist and professor at Hong Kong’s Chinese University.
The favored brew of ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom was a 3,200-year-old barley beer.
Beer during the New Kingdom period is believed to have been around one-fifth to one-tenth the price of wine making it a very popular and accessible drink for people of all classes.
While this is still the case in modern society, the beer we drink now would hardly be comparable to this barley or millet-based beverage that was enjoyed in ancient times. Although the beer of modern times can be considered a close cousin to this beer, this beer was more primitive and they actually had to use a tube to extract the liquid from below which would have had a fermented layer of substance floating on the top of the jar.
The water in Charleston, West Virginia is flammable. Yes, I’m serious. Check out the video below:
The water is flammable because on Thursday, 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, a chemical used to clean coal, leaked from a storage tank belonging to Freedom Industries, which was located about a mile upriver from the West Virginia American Water plant.
State officials declared on Thursday that the water was unsafe for anything: no washing dishes or laundry, no teeth brushing, no bathing, and definitely no drinking.
Providing 300,000 people in parts of 9 different counties with bottled water is an incredible undertaking. We would like to first and foremost commend all of the service members who are helping aid the effort.
Firefighters as well as troops from the National Guard have been dispatched to help distribute water. Local police forces have cancelled off days to help maintain order and direct traffic in congested water distribution areas.
West Virginia’s governor Earl Ray Tomblin called for patience this morning (1/13/2014). Yesterday, he said,
I believe that we’re at a point where we can say that we see light at the end of the tunnel…Our team has been diligent in testing samples from throughout the affected area.”
A press conference to update residents is scheduled for midday today.