Anonymous Says It Hijacked KKK Twitter Accounts Over Ferguson Threats

On Sunday evening, the hacker collective known as Anonymous said it broke into two of the Ku Klux Klan’s Twitter accounts, @KuKluxKlanUSA and @YourKKKCentral, after a Missouri chapter of the hate group threatened protestors in Ferguson, Mo. ZDNet reported Monday.

The chapter recently distributed fliers threatening “lethal force” against what it described as “the terrorists masquerading as ‘peaceful protesters.'”

In response, hackers took over two KKK Twitter accounts, and soon those accounts sported the Anonymous logo. Inaugurating the hashtag, #OpKKK, the @KuKluxKlanUSA account promised to release a statement on Monday “regarding the seizing of this account.”

The compromised account also tweeted an image of a hooded Klansman hanging from a noose.

By Monday morning, the stakes were higher: A Twitter account associated with the hackers, @AnonCopWatch, began tweeting photos, and in some cases names, of people it said were KKK members.

Those tweets spawned another hashtag: #HoodsOff.

ZDNet says it received two unconfirmed statements from Anonymous affirming the takeover. The second message said that the hacker group was in possession of KKK members’ personal information:

Also…. we have compromised personal accounts (which give us more faces), tied up their phone lines and filled every voicemail and inbox with love. We have barely scratched the surface, keep that pencil out….

Twitter Conspiracy Theory Alleges Ferguson Robbery Footage Is Months Old


I was checking out Twitter when this unfolded…

TPM LiveWire

Ferguson police released a report Friday that stated Brown was the “primary suspect” in the robbery of some cigars from a convenience store that occurred minutes before he was shot. It included a number of stills taken from the store’s security camera.

The Twitter theory alleges that the timestamp on the footage is from June 9, 2014 — not August 9, 2014, when the robbery allegedly occurred. In TPM’s own review of online postings of the images, it appears that the timestamp could be simply an “8” instead of the “6” that the theory alleges.

Below are some examples of the theory being advanced on Twitter.

There are even some variations of the theory.

You can view the footage, as posted by CBS, below.

GOP Lawmaker Finds Dana Loesch’s Private Number to Complain About Tweet

Dana Loesch | Image via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

What the hell is this guy’s problem?

It appears the GOP relishes their ability to display double standards.  Had she done the same to him he wouldn’t overlook the INVASION OF PRIVACY.


The rules of Twitter are simple: you have 140 characters to connect, debate, and communicate with people you’ve never even met. But someone needs to explain to Ohio State Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) that the rules of Twitter doesnot mean you can call someone’s private phone number to complain about a tweet.

Talk show host Dana Loesch and her husband Chris were in the middle of vacation, and, like most people on vacation, found it hard to stay off Twitter. Chris soon found himself in a heated debate with Brenner and his wife over Glenn Beck’s announcement that he would deliver trucks of supplies and toys to 60,000 migrant children on the border. (For the record, the Brenners equated Beck’s act with amnesty towards illegal immigrants, while Chris simply said that the pundit was acting charitably as a private citizen.)

Yep; normal, run-of-the-mill Twitter debating. And then this happened:



It turned out that Brenner’s wife/smalltime conservative radio host Sara Marie Brenner, gave her husband the Loeschs’ number, and apparently saw nothing wrong with doing so:



It’s unclear how Brenner got Chris’s number, or whether the two of them were on close terms before this went down. Nor is it clear whether the Brenners realize how insane it is to call people they barely know on a private number because they didn’t like a tweet of theirs, as an observer pointed out:


We think that 99.8% of society would agree with him on that, vacation or no.

[Image via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons]

Wingnuts tell Ted Cruz to stop dragging his feet after he tweets Holder impeachment demand

attribution: REUTERS

Hey TFCers…wanna try your hand at captioning the above photo in the comments section?  This should be fun.  Submit as many entries as you care to…

Daily Kos

Sen. Ted “Calgary” Cruz has a new fundraising gimmick:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a resolution on Thursday calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal — and if he doesn’t do so, Cruz thinks he should be impeached.”If attorney general Eric Holder continues to refuse to appoint a special prosecutor, he should be impeached,” Cruz said on the Senate floor.

No word yet on whether he’ll accept donations in Canadian dollars, but whether or not he does, the gambit doesn’t seem to be playing all that well, at least on Twitter, where his attempts to make it go viral have been met with lackluster enthusiasm, getting just a few hundred retweets.

Still, the tweets back at him are nothing short of hilarious. For example:

@tedcruz WE aren’t the ones who are supposed to do that YOU ARE.

Actually, that’s a fair point. You can’t impeach someone on Twitter, so why is Ted Cruz wasting his time pretending that he can? Could it be that he’s secretly part of Obama’s conspiracy to destroy America? If not, he’d better act quickly to prove to his base that he’s got guts:

@tedcruz How long do we have too wait? Who starts the impeachment? Does the GOP have the guts?
— @bgholms

Indeed. How long does a teabagger have two weight around here? Because:

— @lbcxyz


@tedcruz JAIL OBAMA NOWWW #FastAndFurious #libya #benghazi #bergdahl #IRSscandal #VAScandal #BirthCertificate #obamacare #Iraq @johnboehner
— @lbcxyz

Yes. NOWWWWWWWW! And don’t stop there!

@griffisk @tedcruz Exactly! We better REMOVE a LOT more than 6 oBUMaRats in Senate this Nov. MAGIC # is 16. Maybe that will slow oBUMa down.
— @_patrick8778

Screw it, let’s just go for the whole enchilada (as long as it’s not an illegal enchilada):

@tedcruz Impeach the whole administration.
— @MalcolmL1

You gotta’ love wingnuts these days. They know what they want—Obama’s impeachment NOWWWWWW—and they aren’t afraid to push back on anyone who they think stands in their way, including Ted Cruz.


Someone Is Spilling ISIS’s Secrets on Twitter

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast

The terror group may be on a rampage in Iraq. But ISIS is being threatened from inside, it seems. And no one is sure who’s behind the tweets disclosing the group’s intimate details.

A mysterious Twitter account is trying to stop ISIS’s rise to power by spilling the terror group’s secrets online. For more than six months a series of tweets have detailed the alleged covert alliances and conspiratorial machinations behind the ascension of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, the Islamist group taking over large parts of Iraq. Taken together, the tweets form a slanted but valuable picture of ISIS and one of the only portraits of its leaders. Perhaps even more important, the account is still active, sending out tweets days ago about ISIS’s current strategy in Iraq and what it plans to do next.

Sitting over a keyboard somewhere, likely in a Syrian town now held by rebel forces, is @wikibaghdady, the leaker behind the anti-ISIS account. He may be a former ISIS member who defected to ISIS’s rivals in Syria, the al Qaeda-backed Al Nusra front, as some analysts have speculated. Or, “he” may actually be more than one person, with @wikibaghdady serving as the avatar for a group effort to undermine ISIS’s official story and knock it from its perch atop the jihadist movement. Whatever the case, @wikibaghdady has put ISIS in uncomfortable positions, revealing the true name of the group’s leader and a deeply controversial association.

The online gang fight goes back to Syria and the competition between jihadist groups there for turf, religious authority, and the spoils of war. So does the @wikibaghdady account; it too grew out of the fighting in Syria as a reaction to ISIS’s maximalist approach and the bloody in-fighting between Islamist factions there.

Brian Fishman, a fellow at The New America foundation and ISIS analyst who has been following the group for years, is cautious about @wikibaghdady’s claims but called the account, “at minimum a keen observer of events in Syria,” and “a key source of ideas that should be investigated through other means.” A similar assessment came from Hassan Hassan, an analyst at the Delma institute in Abu Dhabi and expert on radical groups in the region. “The account does seem to offer credible insider information about ISIS,” Hassan said, “but it is not wholly accurate…[and] should be taken with a pinch of salt.”

Despite the caveats, @wikibaghdady deserves closer examination—especially at a moment when ISIS’s next moves could lead to a wider conflagration and more carnage. And some of what @wikbaghdady tweeted months ago has already been borne out by facts on the ground. The leaker’s revelations about ISIS’s alliance with Saddam Hussein’s former party, the Baathists, were confirmed by the events of last week, for example. The rapid takeover of Iraqi cities was not a solo effort; the campaign relied on a cultivated network of partnerships between Sunni groups including, critically, ISIS’s pact with their ideological enemies, the Baathists—a repeated theme in @wikibaghdady’s tweets.

It’s a catchy name for a jihadi leaker—@wikibaghdady—an obvious nod to the de jure politics of radical transparency and an easy handle to remember for the account’s 36,100 followers. But whoever is behind the tweets isn’t motivated by an allegiance to truth, or the idea that it can be liberated and spoken to power. Like a mafisoso complaining that his fellow hitman failed to play by the rules, it’s not the murders that bother @wikibaghdady but the way they are carried out. The account’s criticisms focus on ISIS’s inner workings, the deceptions and cynical deals it used to engineer its rise. But along with the expose of internal politics, it also questions the purity of ISIS’s Islamist ideology and challenges the group’s religious authority.

Whoever @wikibaghdady is, two things about him are clear: He’s a fellow Islamist who has a beef with ISIS, and he’s someone close to the group, providing the kind of details that only come from intimacy. That doesn’t make him some kind of hero, but if snitches had to be saints, the NYPD would shut down tomorrow. Wikibaghdady isn’t outing secrets to curb ISIS’s wanton slaughter. He’s a fellow jihadi playing dirty politics against members of his own cohort.

@Wikibaghdady began on December 10, 2013 with a first tweet marked “urgent” that promised to “reveal the secrets of the organization of the State of Iraq and the Sham.” Building on the staged drama of the moment, the first tweet ended with “Coming soon.”

Most of @wikibaghdady’s secret history of ISIS is a straightforward chronicle of purported facts about the group, presented as a series of questions, posed and then answered by the account. But pulling back the curtain and exposing ISIS’s inner workings, @wikibaghdady claims that ISIS is an elaborate fraud, pretenders to the Caliphate.

Whoever wikibaghdady is, two things about him are clear: He’s a fellow Islamist whose beef with ISIS has nothing to do with group’s brutality; and he’s someone close to the group, providing the kind of details that only come from intimacy.

In the days and months after that first tweet, the account delivered a continuous stream of information about ISIS. First, the leaker outed the true identity of ISIS’s shadowy leader known, at that time, only by his assumed name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The biographical details that followed fit with the available record and have been confirmed by subsequent reports on Baghdadi—that his real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Bou Badri bin Armoush, and he was born not in Baghdad but Samarra.

The names of the other leaders on Baghdadi’s ISIS council, the details of the organization’s structure, its financial schemes and plans for the future followed. In just under a thousand published tweets, the account has provided valuable if unreliable details on ISIS evolution.

A Twitter intrigue may seem trivial measured against mass graves in Iraq and the prospects of a regional civil war but it’s significant for two reasons. First, with so little known about ISIS and its leader Baghdadi, even accounts from self-interested parties can add valuable pieces to the puzzle.

Secondly, Twitter has become an important tool for the jihadist financing and recruitment efforts, as J.M. Berger, an expert in extremist groups and their online strategies, has noted. While Twitter has been a powerful platform for ISIS to spread its message to fanboys and potential recruits, the medium can also expose ISIS vulnerabilities and provide its enemies with a means to exploit them. Along with the eager celebrants that ISIS’s gruesome photostream attracts, Twitter has opened the group up to attacks and created a significant new front for inter-jihadi disputes. With ISIS working hard to hide its secrets and push propaganda as fact, leakers may turn out to be an increasingly important source of information about it and other extremist groups.

Perhaps the most significant charge @wikibaghdady made—and the one that now seems most prophetic, after the group took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city—is that ISIS’s inner chamber of power, hidden by Baghdadi’s public front, is led by a former Baathist and colonel in Saddam’s army called Haji Bakr. According to @wikibaghdady, it was Bakr who engineered Baghdadi’s rise to power after ISIS’s former leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, was killed in 2010 by a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in Tikrit.

That Baathist connection resurfaced last week after ISIS’ Iraq offensive and has proven to be a critical aspect of the group’s strategy and a cornerstone of its current ability to take and hold ground.

Last week, on June 13, the @wikibaghdadi account claimed a “Meeting between ISIS and Naqshbandi Army near al-Qayara area south of Mosul had taken place with representatives from Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and Baghdadi.”

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is a mythic figure among many of Iraq’s Sunnis. A high-ranking commander in the Iraqi army before the American invasion, al-Douri became the leader of Iraq’s banned Baath party after Hussein was executed in 2007. He managed to evade capture by American and Iraqi forces and has been in hiding pretty much since then. Since his disappearance, sightings of al-Douri have been reported in Mosul but he has never resurfaced publicly. Now, al-Douri appears to have resurfaced leading the The Naqshbandi Army, the former Baathist officers who form a cornerstone of the Sunni coalition in Mosul that includes ISIS.

After al-Douri’s hiding out for years  in Mosul, cultivating the underground Sunni insurgent force, reports about al-Douri suddenly started popping up in the last week. Despite the rhetoric about the ISIS takeover of Iraq, it’s clear that the group’s rapid advance owed much to its alliance with other Sunni groups, including the Baathist Naqshbandis led by al-Douri.

But @wikibaghdady goes further than just positing the alliance between ISIS and Baathist forces. The account claims, as Hassan’s translation below shows, that the two groups struck a deal which will place the Baathists in control of a new ruling coalition.

@Wikibaghdady’s claims are so significant because Islamists and Arab nationalists are, by and large, sworn enemies. For absolutists like ISIS and al Qaeda, corrupt Arab regimes and their sacrilegious leaders are supposed to be the first against the wall—along with religious apostates.

The Naqshbandi order, whose authority @wikibaghdady claims ISIS has ascented to, manages to be both Islamist and nationalist, as they are Baathists and adherents of Sufism, the minority Muslim denomination that ISIS and other fundamentalist groups consider heretical. Yet @wikibaghdady has claimed not only that ISIS is currently allied with The Naqshbandi, but that The Naqshbandi will be in charge once the fighting is over.

An alliance between ISIS and Iraqi Baathists can be explained away as matter of necessity, a tactical commitment that can be broken once the fighting is over. (In the past, nationalist and Islamist groups have cooperated; and some Baathists like Haji Bakr have later become Islamists.) But a governing coalition led publicly by a prominent Baathist like al-Douri would be much harder, if not impossible, for ISIS to square with its own espoused principles and justify to the global jihadi audience, whose support could tip the balance of power toward their rival Islamist groups.

Hassan, who has been studying the ISIS-Baathist alliance, said, “I believe there was an initial understanding between representatives of Douri and representatives of Baghdadi to share power in Sunni areas. But any such understanding soon collapsed, and we started to see ISIS trying to dominate the areas and reign supreme.” There is an unbridgeable gulf between the groups because “ISIS considers that Baathists follow an un-Islamic ideology,” Hassan said. And the natural conflicts between ISIS and the Baathists “are too deep for any such alliance to last.”

Fishman, the New America analyst, said “there is a lot of evidence that ISIS has cooperated with the Naqshabandi Army in Iraq, which implies some agreement between al-Baghdadi and al-Douri.” But, he added, “it is one thing to build a military alliance and another to have a shared vision for governance. I don’t think this alliance will last as constructed. I don’t think ISIS will subsume itself to the Naqshabandi’s. There’s plenty of evidence ISIS is declaring itself in areas it controls.”

In claiming that ISIS would bow to another group, @wikibaghdady appears to have overplayed the propaganda hand. But if recent history is a guide, that won’t stop him – or them – from dishing out new dirt on the Islamists who have captured their own nascent state and the attention of the world.

Quitter Queen says ‘no’ to Twitter diplomacy from her Facebook Fortress of Derpitude

Sarah Palin speaks to Fox News (Screen-shot)


The headline says it all about Sarah (“Half-term governor”) Palin.  Love it…

The Raw Story

When we last saw Sarah Palin,  — Half-Term Governor of The Northern Territories, Mother of GED Students, Destroyer of Words — she was fresh off of a featured speaker gig at the NRA’s annual Blood Frenzy Circle Jerk. Depending upon your point of view, her speech went over boffo or she put her Naughty Monkey-shod slingback in it when she proudly said that she would like to to throw a Baby Jesus shower for each and every swarthy type she could get her  hands on when they are not full of grifted rube bucks.

This did not sit well with the churchgoing folks who set about calling her a blasphemer and woman of ill will.  It’s almost as if they didn’t know her already.

So Sarah laid low for a few days after telling those namby-pamby turn-the-other-cheek fake Christians to ‘buck up or stay in the truck‘:

If some overly sensitive wusses took offense, remember the First Amendment doesn’t give you a right not to be offended. Perhaps hypocritical folks who only want Freedom of Speech to apply to those who agree with their liberal agenda might want to consider that the evil terrorists who were the brunt of my one-liner would be the first to strip away ALL our rights if given the chance.

Why do Christians hate America?

Many is the time I have asked myself that.

But now Sarah is back and talking trash about that #BringBackOurGirls thing that was a ‘thing’ about a week ago. Sure, she’s late to the party, but if you’re a Palin gal, ‘better late than never’ is more than something you say  once every month.

Dictating to someone with college level fancy type readin’ and cipherin’ skills, Sarah is hootin’ and hollerin’on her ShoutyFace internet hangout, once again  explaining what she would do if everyone in America suffered blunt head trauma and then  mass-elected her President and she had to deal with terrorists who weren’t close enough to dunk like an Oreo.

Short version: track them down and kill them like they were a baby wolf fleeing a low-flying Piper Cub full of drunken ‘sportsmen.’

More importantly she wants President Nobummer to quit Twittertwatting executive orders because that is no way to be an executive, which she briefly was before she up and quit-ed-ed.

Diplomacy via Twitter is the lazy, ineffectual, naïve, and insulting way for America’s leaders to deal with major national and international issues. It’s embarrassing.

Sarah is speaking of Michelle Obama’s tweet holding a #BringBackOurGirls sign and we have to assume that she thought Michelle Obama was Barack Obama because, everyone knows, all of those black people look alike or something.  Of course, Sarah disregards the fact that the US governmenthas already been providing help to Nigeria which icoincidentally is in Africa which Sarah thinks is a country. But Sarah is on a roll, so …. blabber on, dumb lady:

And what is the Obama administration’s weapon of choice in this battle for these young girls’ lives? Hashtagging tweets on social media! I kinda-sorta doubt a tweet will intimidate the kidnappers much. So, if you’re going to jump in and do something about these Islamic terrorists at all, then do it right, do it firmly, and kick their ass.

Lock and load, America! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! These colors don’t run!

Unless they are faced with an ethics investigation.

Or they hate working.

Or Katie Couric is stopping by to give a pop quiz.

So, hey Barry Bammer Coward Girly President Man, stop hiding behind those social media Twitter skirts  that you are totally not tweeting or Sarah Palin will have her scrivener scriven some more words together for her Facebook Wall of Sick Burns.

I, on the other hand, have no such limitations, so: #ShutUpDumbLady

Here’s The History Of NYPD Abuse That Turned Its PR Campaign Into A Twitter Assault



Apparently, it was not the response the NYPD was expecting.  Well done Twitterverse, well done…

Think Progress

The New York Police Department may be showing early signs of reforming its practices, but it still hasn’t come to terms with its image. In a PR gaffe that was seemingly predictable to everyone but the NYPD, the Department put out a call on Twitter for constituents to send positive photos about the Department’s work under the hashtag #myNYPD.

Tweeters documented a litany of alleged encounters that ended with detached retinas, a young black boy with a scarred face, and countless instances of beatings caught on camera:

The campaign had gone so awry by morning that the New York Daily News splashed the headline “Bash Tag” across its front page Wednesday morning.

But even now that Mayor Bill de Blasio has cut back on the rampant stop-and-frisks, Muslim spying, and brutality that became synonymous with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYPD, the department doesn’t seem to have shed the attitude that prompted NYPD Chief Ray Kelly to declare last year, “You might read something snarky on Twitter, but I could take you right now to 125th Street in Harlem and young men will stop me for my picture and give me a very favorable and friendly greeting.”

And while one of the NYPD’s biggest mistakes was failing to realize that Twitter is an inherently inhospitable forum for glowing public relations, it’s worth taking a look back at the patterns of systemic abuse that underlie the outrage:

Targeting young black and Hispanic men. The NYPD’s systematic campaign against the city’s young minority men is not just evidenced by statistics that show they stopped more young black men in 2011 than there are young black men in the city. The federal judge who ruled the police department’s stop-and-frisk program unconstitutional also found that the department explicitly targeted Hispanic and black men between the ages of 14 and 20 as “the right people,” and established de facto stop quotas that fueled the pervasive tactic.

Aiming to “instill fear” in residents. The administration that thought stop-and-frisk was the answer to everything developed its reputation in part through a campaign of fear. One state senator testified at the trial on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program that New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said his goal was to “instill fear” in young minority men. In one incident, an officer admitted during the trial that he told a 13-year-old to stop “crying like a girl” as he handcuffed and detained him.

Inflicting disproportionate violence. In September, NYPD officers shot two innocent bystanders when they were aiming for a mentally ill man, who they were purportedly intending to subdue with gunshots. Prosecutors later charged the mentally ill man for the injuries to the bystanders. In January, an 84-year-old man was left bloodied and hospitalizedafter he was allegedly beaten by police over a jaywalking stop. And during Occupy Wall Street Protests, officers reportedly used violence “without apparent need or justification” 130 times.

Labeling entire mosques terror cells so it could spy on abuse. One of the greatest reforms of the new NYPD under Mayor Bill de Blasio was disbanding the NYPD’s Demographics Unit, which engaged in pervasive spying of the Muslim community after 9/11. But the unit existed until just six days ago, and among its major accomplishments werelabeling entire mosques terror cells without any evidence of wrongdoing, and paying a 19-year-old informant to “bait” Muslims into criminal activity.

Over-zealous policing. While the vast majority of the rampant police stops under the Bloomberg administration resulted in no arrest at all, the most common reason for arrest was for marijuana, even though public possession of marijuana was already decriminalized in New York. The program intended to thwart gun violence snagged very few guns. And other prominent arrests included a 7-year-old who alleged stole $5 from an elementary school classmate, a street artist thrown to the ground for touching the sidewalk, and a real estate broker arrested for being a “smart ass.”

Arrest for documenting abuse. As evidenced by the most recent campaign, the only reason the public knows about many of the most egregious NYPD incidents is because they were documented by photos or recordings. But many individuals have reported arrests and even beatings by NYPD officer for trying to exercise their First Amendment right to record the police. The department even circulated a “wanted” poster for a couple that was legally recording stop-and-frisks.

10 things you need to know today: April 3, 2014

A soldier watches over media before a press conference about a shooting at Fort Hood Military Base in Texas.

A soldier watches over media before a press conference about a shooting at Fort Hood Military Base in Texas. (Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)


The Week

Another tragic shooting devastates Fort Hood, the U.S. secretly tried to build a “Cuban Twitter,” and more

1. Four dead and 16 injured in Fort Hood shooting
Four people, including the gunman, died in a shooting rampage at Ft. Hood Army base in Texas on Wednesday. Sixteen people — three of whom remain in critical condition — were also injured. Army officials say the shooting spree lasted 20 minutes before Specialist Ivan Lopez turned his privately owned weapon, a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson, on himself. An Iraq war veteran, Lopez was undergoing diagnosis for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time of the shooting. [CNN]


2. Egypt vows to pass anti-terrorism laws after bombings
Just a few hours after three explosions killed two people in Cairo, government officials in Egypt said the country would pass legislation aimed at confronting terrorism. The announcement was made by a high-level security committee that included the prime minister. Details on the new law were scant, but Egyptian cabinet members will have a chance to weigh in on the bill. [Reuters]


3. AP: U.S. built ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir political unrest
The United States government built a Twitter-like service in Cuba to stir political unrest and help uncap the country’s strict control of information, according to the Associated Press. The text messaging service, called ZunZuneo, started in 2010 and amassed a following of 40,000 Cubans, who had no idea it was “created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.” The Americans behind ZunZeneo hoped to inject political messages that would produce protests and create a “Cuban Spring.” ZunZuneo suddenly disappeared in mid-2012 when funding ran out. [Associated Press]


4. Ebola virus spreads in Guinea
An unprecedented Ebola epidemic continues to cause widespread panic in the West African country of Guinea, where foreign mining companies have shut down operations and pulled out international staff. More than 80 people have died and 134 have been infected by the hemorrhagic fever so far. Health officials say the lethal infectious disease has reached Guinea’s densely populated capital, Conakry, where more than two million people live. [Reuters]


5. Court denies Sandusky sex abuse appeal
Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach convicted of sexually abusing at least 10 boys, lost his appeal to have his 45-count conviction overturned. The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court rejected Sandusky’s claims that his lawyers weren’t given enough time to prepare, and that prosecutors improperly referenced his decision not to testify at his 2012 trial. The 70-year-old is serving a sentence of at least 30 years. [TIME]


6. Los Alamos restarts nuclear-waste shipments
With the peak of wildfire season nearly upon us, Los Alamos National Laboratory has started shipping nuclear waste to a commercial dump site in west Texas. The waste shipments had stopped in February after a truck fire and radiation leak shut down the federal government’s storage facility in southeastern New Mexico. [Fox News]


7. Mississippi passes ‘religious freedom bill’
Lawmakers in Mississippi passed a bill that would allow its citizens to dispute laws that they say are in direct conflict with their religious beliefs. Proponents argue that the bill is narrow in focus and won’t result in any discrimination, but detractors say the measure would make it easier to undermine anti-discrimination statutes. The bill would also add “In God we trust” to the state seal. [Los Angeles Times]


8. Putins finalize divorce after 30 years of marriage
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, are officially divorced. The pair was married for 30 years before deciding to call it quits last June. The Putins, who have two adult daughters, say the split is a mutual decision. [USA Today]


9. Washington state mudslide death toll climbs
Recovery workers scouring the wreckage left in the wake of the Washington state mudslide have been able to expand their search area now that the floodwaters have receded. The crews have uncovered more remains, bringing the official death toll up to 29. Twenty people are still missing. [The Guardian]


10. Amazon wades into the television market
After years of dominating the online retail space, Amazon has now set its sights on a new goal: cornering the television market. The internet behemoth announced that it will be selling a device called Amazon Fire TV, which will allow users to watch Amazon’s video library on their TVs. The move puts the company in direct competition with Roku, Google, and Apple. [New York Times]

10 things you need to know today: March 21, 2014

Pro-Russia soldiers march outside a Ukrainian military base in Crimea. 

Pro-Russia soldiers march outside a Ukrainian military base in Crimea. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The Week

Obama slaps tougher sanctions on Russia, Turkey bans Twitter, and more

1. U.S. strengthens sanctions against Russia over Crimea crisis
President Obama on Thursday announced new economic sanctions against Russian leaders. Obama threatened stiffer penalties if the government of President Vladimir Putin does not stop escalating the crisis in Crimea by massing troops on Ukraine’s border. The Putin administration responded by banning nine American officials, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, from entering Russia. [Los Angeles TimesNBC News]

2. Turkish leader declares war on Twitter
Twitter users in Turkey ran into widespread disruptions on Thursday after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “eradicate” the microblogging site. Erdogan has been trying to block embarrassing social media leaks on a corruption investigation involving four former cabinet ministers. Hashtags such as “#DictatorErdogan” and “#TurkeyBlockedTwitter” promptly became the site’s top trends worldwide. [CNN]

3. Military court spares general prison in sexual misconduct case
Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair avoided prison time in his sexual assault case and got a $20,000 fine instead. As part of a plea deal, Sinclair admitted to an affair with one subordinate and inappropriate relationships with two others. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the charge that he sexual assaulted a former lover. “The system worked,” Sinclair said. The accuser’s attorney, Jamie Barnett, called the light sentence a “travesty.” [The Washington Post]

4. Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps dies
Pastor Fred Phelps — founder of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church — has died of natural causes at age 84, the church said Thursday. The small church has become notorious for picketing military funerals and other public events and calling the deaths of soldiers and even children killed in school shootings punishment for the nation’s acceptance of homosexuality. The church accused the media of “gleefully anticipating” Phelps’ death. [CNN]

5. Study paints a bleak picture for the long-term unemployed
Only 11 percent of the long-term unemployed will ever find another steady full-time job, according to a new report by three Princeton University economists. There are now 3.8 million Americans who have been out of work six months or more. That number has tripled since the recession began in late 2007, but has fallen since peaking at 6.8 million in 2010 as many stopped looking and left the labor force. [The Associated Press]

6. Nearly every major bank weathers Fed stress tests
Just one of the nation’s 30 biggest banks would be in danger of going under in a severe recession, according to the first round of the Federal Reserve’s annual stress tests. Zions Bancorporation of Salt Lake City was identified as the lone institution that might wind up on the brink, but only under the most extreme of three economic scenarios. Collectively, the banks are in better shape than five years ago. [Los Angeles Times]

7. Pistorius is selling his house to pay his lawyers
Oscar Pistorius’ lawyer said Thursday that the Paralympian sprinter is raising money to pay his legal bills by selling the Pretoria house where he shot and killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. The double-amputee track star reportedly is paying his legal team $9,000 a day to defend him against a murder charge for the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting. Bidding on the house is starting at $459,000. [Agence France-Presse]

8. Former Naval Academy athlete found not guilty of sexual assault
A military judge acquitted former United States Naval Academy football player Joshua Tate on charges that he sexually assaulted a fellow midshipman when she was too drunk to consent. Both defense and prosecution lawyers said the case showed the military justice system for handling rape cases was broken. Tate resigned from the Naval Academy late Thursday to avoid expulsion on a lesser charge of making false statements. [The New York Times]

9. New photos do not change the story of Kurt Cobain’s death
Seattle police on Thursday released new photos of the scene of Kurt Cobain’s death nearly 20 years ago, but the previously unseen pictures didn’t change the conclusion that the Nirvana frontman committed suicide. The images, showing mostly drug paraphernalia, contained “nothing Earth-shattering,” a police spokeswoman said. The pictures came from several rolls of undeveloped film found by a cold-case detective. []

10. NCAA upset eliminates most contenders for Buffett’s $1 billion prize
A flurry of upsets on the first full day of March Madness knocked out 95 percent of the people hoping to win $1 billion from investing genius Warren Buffett for picking a perfect bracket in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Dayton’s upset of No. 6 seed Ohio State knocked out 83 percent. Then Harvard upset Cincinnati, and North Dakota State shocked Oklahoma, leaving about five percent of picks still perfect. [The Associated Press]

Cracker Barrel Comes To Its Senses And Remembers Who Eats There

I love Wonkette’s posts but this one is EXCEPTIONALLY funny…


Handling the fallout from a celebrity kerfuffle is supposed to be sort of predictable. A sportsball player has an affair or announces he’s in favor of death camps, and all the product licensing deals vanish overnight. That’s how the script is supposed to go. But the poor corporate overlords at Cracker Barrel badly misjudged just how much their clientele would respond to the homophobic, racist comments of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. Instead of being put off by his announcement that homosexuals are hellbound and the blacks were much happier under Jim Crow, they ate that shit up, and turned the guy into a bona fide Culture Wars martyr. Hickmerica therefore did not care for Cracker Barrel’s decision Friday to remove some Duck Dynasty products from its stores, and so an instant Twitter shitstorm ensued, and a “Boycott Cracker Barrel” page on faceplace got thousands of “likes” within hours, which is how Americans vote today. Cracker Barrel’s initial statement that it operates “within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people” but acknowledging that it had “removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests” simply proved that Cracker Barrel, as one discussion thread on Ann Coulter’s official website put it, chose “gays over Christians.”

Great American Mike Huckabee called for a boycott, because Jesus:

“Cracker Barrel has decided it wanted to be the first big corporate sponsor to distance itself from Phil Robertson and in doing so, it has decided it doesn’t want ‘his kind,’ in their stores,” Huckabee said on Facebook. “Well, I’m ‘his kind,’ so they won’t be seeing me at their tables in the future.”

He added: “If it’s his Christian beliefs that make them uncomfortable, then we all need to know.”

Happily, the honchos at the BarrelPlex quickly recognized the error of their ways, and returned all the merch to the shelves, issuing an apology to the butthurt masses to make it absolutely clear that they can continue to stuff their gullets with lard without worrying that the corporation didn’t share their prejudices.

“When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done.

“You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong.”

Still, the company’s willingness to briefly treat Robinson as if he’d said something offensive left some good Christians wary, such as this nice lady quoted in a story on Christian Post:

“Cracker Barrel. Was it the almighty dollar that changed your mind? Because now that you opened this can of worms, most Christians want to know exactly where you stand on the issue of homosexuality.”

It is expected that the possibility of backlash is slim, since any potential gay boycott of Cracker Barrel is likely to have as much impact on the company’s bottom line as a tea party boycott of Ebony magazine.

[Fox News / USA Today / Daily Caller]