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Poachers slaughter 11-member Kenyan elephant family

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© Tony Karumba AFP/Getty Images
Elephants at the Amboseli game reserve, south of Kenyan capital Nairobi on Dec. 30, 2012.
Kenyan wildlife rangers on Tuesday were tracking a team of poachers who massacred a family of 11 elephants in what they said was the worst single such killings in the country in the past three decades.

"We have not lost as many elephants in a single incident since the early 1980s," said Patrick Omondi, head of the elephant programme at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). "This is a clear signal that things are getting worse."

The bullet-riddled corpses of the elephants - all with their tusks hacked off, and including a two-month old baby - were found Saturday in south-eastern Kenya's vast Tsavo East National Park.

"Our initial investigations show that the poachers numbered at least 10 and were armed with an assortment of guns," Omondi said, adding that the normal weapon of choice for poachers is an AK-47 assault rifle.

Rangers were tracking the poachers in "hot pursuit" but had so far not caught the gang, KWS said.

Attention

Who watched most porn in 2012? Here's the shocking answer!

© TheImproper
Congress may be gridlocked but the latest figures from the porn industry give new meaning to the old adage, greasing a politician's palm. Washington, D.C. ranked No. 1 for the most online porn videos viewed per person last year.

The figure takes into account population differences.

Now you know what all those pols and government workers are doing with your hard-earned tax dollars.

Pornhub.com, an online site that shows previews and snippets of adult videos of every stripe, released the figures today, gleaned from the viewing habits of people who visited last year.

Base on its tabulations, the District of Columbia, which includes Congress, the White House and most federal government offices, ranked No. 1 per capita with 14.18 porn videos watched.

With a population of 617,996, based on the latest U.S. census data, that works out to just over 8.7 million video views in gross terms.

V

Florida Atlantic University professor stirs controversy by disputing Newtown massacre

© Sun Sentinel
James Tracy
A communication professor known for conspiracy theories has stirred controversy at Florida Atlantic University with claims that last month's Newtown, Conn., school shootings did not happen as reported - or may not have happened at all.

Moreover, James Tracy asserts in radio interviews and on his memoryholeblog.com. that trained "crisis actors" may have been employed by the Obama administration in an effort to shape public opinion in favor of the event's true purpose: gun control.

"As documents relating to the Sandy Hook shooting continue to be assessed and interpreted by independent researchers, there is a growing awareness that the media coverage of the massacre of 26 children and adults was intended primarily for public consumption to further larger political ends," writes Tracy, a tenured associate professor of media history at FAU and a former union leader.

In another post, he says, "While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place - at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation's news media have described."

FAU is distancing itself from Tracy's views.

"James Tracy does not speak for the university. The website on which his post appeared is not affiliated with FAU in any way," said media director Lisa Metcalf.

Tracy said he knows he has sparked controversy on campus. In one of his courses, called "Culture of Conspiracy," Tracy said some students have expressed skepticism about his views.

"But I encourage that," said Tracy, 47, a faculty member for 10 years. "I want to get students to look at events in a more critical way."

Arrow Down

Swedish consumers get fake beef

Stockholm -- About 95.5 tons of pork cuts dyed to look like beef have been imported to Sweden, and about 70 ton of it have already been sold, official say.

The fake beef was imported into Sweden for two years and sold at grocery stores nationwide, The Local.se reported.

Tomas Narving, from the food wholesaler Svensk Cater, discovered the scam after receiving a complaint from a client over meat labeled as Argentinean tenderloin.

"When we examined the meat we found traces of syringes," said Narving.

A National Food Agency investigation confirmed the meat was pork that had been dyed pink to resemble beef.

The meat was imported from the Hungarian companies CKA Chark and Heat och Barterinvest.

"People should not eat meat that is mislabeled and that contains banned coloring agents," said Britt Carlsson of the Environmental Department in Karlstad in west central Sweden. "As far as I know the Board of Agriculture does not even approve of it being used as animal fodder."

Books

Ahead of 2014's soccer World Cup, Brazilian prostitutes sign up for free English classes

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© FELIPE DANA/AP
In Brazil, where prostitution is legal, sex workers in the city of Belo Horizonte are preparing for the upcoming soccer World Cup next year by signing up to learn English to better communicate with visitors from abroad.
Prostitutes in one of Brazil's biggest cities are beginning to sign up for free English classes ahead of this year's Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.

The president of the Association of Prostitutes of the city of Belo Horizonte says by telephone that 20 have already signed up for the courses and she expects at least 300 of the group's 4,000 members to follow suit. The association is organizing the classes and seeking volunteer teachers.

Cult

Staten Island couple says Allstate short-changed them, put home in ad

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© Seth Wenig/AP Photo
Sheila and Dominic Traina hug in front of their home which was demolished during Superstorm Sandy in Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 2, 2012.
A Staten Island couple said their insurance company short-changed them after superstorm Sandy destroyed their home, and then used their house in a commercial.

In October, Sheila Traina, 64, and her husband, Dominic, 66, had evacuated their home in New Dorp Beach in response to warnings from local authorities about the storm.

Traina said a neighbor who had stayed behind called and told them the wind had knocked the roof off their two-story home but their insurer, Allstate, said the damage to their home was due to flooding.

"He said the house came down before the storm, came down and water finished it off," Traina said of her neighbor.

Allstate told her it was storm surge that caused the damage, she said.

Eye 1

Savage killing, sex at heart of Arizona murder trial

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© AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace
Defendant, Jodi Arias, right, talks with her defense team during the prosecution's opening statements in the trial of Arias in Maricopa County court in Phoenix on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. Arias is charged in the murder of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander.
The photographs present a chilling portrait of sex and death.

A nude Jodi Arias on Travis Alexander's bed. A naked Alexander in the shower. Then minutes later, an image of Alexander stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times in the heart, back, hands and torso, shot in the head, his throat slit from ear to ear.

Other evidence has stacked up since the June 2008 attack in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix. A bloody palm print; wildly conflicting stories; and, finally, a confession.

The evidence - including time-stamped photos from the day police say Alexander died - is being presented at a trial in Phoenix that's been dominated by the torrid affair, sex, jealousy and a defendant whose only chance at acquittal is to convince a jury she's the victim.

There's no question who killed the 30-year-old businessman and motivational speaker. Arias admits she stabbed and shot him, but claims she was defending herself against an abusive lover.

Alexander "lunged at Jodi in anger," her attorney, Jennifer Willmott, told jurors.

"Jodi's life was in danger. He knocked her to the ground in the bathroom where there was a struggle," Willmott said. "If she did not have to defend herself, she would not be here."

Evil Rays

Jason Zwick pleads no contest to child rape

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© AP Photo
Jason Zwick, 30, has pleaded no contest to one count of child rape.
A western Ohio man pleaded no contest Tuesday to one count of child rape just before his trial was scheduled to begin.

Jason Zwick, 30, made the plea in in Miami County. Common Pleas Judge Christopher Gee pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to 10 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors dropped two other charges that Zwick had raped the 10-year-old adopted son of a Troy man who has pleaded guilty to raping three boys in his care. The boy's adoptive father, who will serve 60 years to life in prison as part of his plea agreement, was expected to testify against Zwick, as was the boy, now 11.

Zwick's attorney had unsuccessfully sought to delay the trial. He wasn't available immediately for comment.

Zwick's plea means he doesn't contest the charge against him, without admitting guilt. Anthony Kendall, an assistant county prosecutor, said prosecutors expect him to appeal, but believe they are on solid ground.

Gee also sentenced Zwick to pay a $20,000 fine, and regularly report his whereabouts as a sex offender to law enforcement if he becomes free.

USA

Man arrested for attempting to place American flag atop storm-ravaged roller coaster

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© STEVE NESIUS/REUTERS
The remnants of the Seaside Heights roller coaster have been off-limits since Hurricane Sandy drove it out to sea.
The amusement park ride has been partially submerged since Hurricane Sandy and is still awaiting demolition.

Police have apprehended a man who apparently climbed the New Jersey roller coaster that was swept into the ocean during Superstorm Sandy and unfurled an American flag.

The man walked from the top of the coaster and hopped into a police boat Tuesday. He was handcuffed, walked through the surf and escorted to a police car on the beach in Seaside Heights.

News 12-New Jersey says Christopher Angelo told the channel he wanted to raise awareness for shore recovery.

Health

Seven die in Peru copter crash

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© AFP
A helicopter used by an oil and mining company crashed into a commercial building in a village in northern Peru, killing at least seven people, including five Americans
A helicopter used by an oil and mining company crashed into a commercial building in a village in northern Peru on Monday, killing at least seven people, including five Americans, an official said.

The accident occurred at 2:57 pm (1957 GMT) in the village of San Juan, in the northern jungle region of Ucayali, and police and specialists investigators were looking ino the cause, local prosecutor Marcos Ochoa told Peru's RPP radio.

"There are seven dead, including five Americans and two Peruvians," Ochoa said after villagers reported seeing the helicopter exploding and splitting in two as it hit the ground.