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Wed, 26 Jan 2022
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Bearded Austrian drag-queen wins Eurovision Song Contest

Bearded drag act Conchita Wurst, who secured Austria's first Eurovision win in 48 years, received a jubilant welcome home to Vienna on Sunday as she pledged to promote tolerance.

The singer, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, was greeted at the airport by more than 1,000 fans, some wearing painted beards and singing the winning anthem Rise Like a Phoenix.

The 25-year-old, whose participation in the contest had sparked controversy before the Copenhagen final on Saturday, secured victory with 290 points amid a Twitter storm.

As her victory was announced, Twitter activity spiked at 47,136 tweets per minute, with the Eurovision song contest generating 5,384,678 tweets in total.


What the... ?


Idiocracy! CNN map places Ukraine in Pakistan

The American news giant, CNN, has reshaped the world a bit in their live coverage of events in Ukraine. The eastern part of the European country got pinned miles and miles away from where it actually is - in Pakistan.

CNN was reporting Sunday about independence referendums in Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk while also using a map to indicate the country's geographical location. Apparently by mistake, the arrow with Ukrainian flag on top was pointing to Pakistan, South Asia.

The error was quickly spotted by sharp-eyed viewers, one of whom snapped the TV screen and published the image on Twitter. Quite predictably, the post has gone viral with hundreds of users retweeting the picture and marking it as "favorite".


American dream is dead for everyone but a happy few

$250 Million homes in Europe, $150 Million homes in the US, and as Bloomberg notes Million-dollar homes in the U.S. are selling at double their historical average while middle-class property demand stumbles, showing that the housing recovery is mirroring America's wealth divide. As CoreLogic notes, "the real estate market is the ultimate reflection of confidence, wealth and income," as purchases costing $1 million or more rose 7.8% in March, while sales of homes costing less than $250k plunged 12%, as "the same factors driving the income stagnation in the middle are driving the income momentum at the top." The luxury markets are indeed on fire as foreign (and domestic) super-wealth floods into real estate but as NewEdge's van Batenburg notes, echoing ur very words, "The American Dream is dead for everybody but the happy few who have enjoyed the tailwinds of the appreciating stock market."
Cartoon I tried to flip the house
© John Darkow

Bizarro Earth

Fracking well leak spills 1,600 gallons of oil drilling lubricant into an Ohio tributary

oil rig
© Shutterstock
About 1,600 gallons of oil-based lubricant leaked into an Ohio river tributary this week, after an equipment failure at an oil and gas well.

The rig site is located in southeastern Ohio near the town of Beverly, and is owned by PDC Energy Inc. One of the company's contractors is handling the cleanup, under the supervision of Ohio's Environmental Protection Agency. A spokesperson for PDC told the Associated Press that workers at the site noticed a build up in high pressure in the well, but were unable to contain it thanks to malfunctioning equipment at the well head.

That released the oil based fluid, called "mud," which is used to lubricate the equipment in the well bore during drilling. The mud reached a creek that serves as a tributary to the Muskingum River, and cleanup crews are using containment dams to prevent the fluid from spreading any further.

Both the sheriff and fire departments for Morgan County were called in following the leak, and PDC paid to relocate several nearby residents to ensure no one would be harmed if leaking natural gas led to an explosion. Officials said the spill was contained by Wednesday, though also added it could be harmful to marine life.

The well had been intended for hydraulic fracturing, but the fracking process hadn't yet begun when the leak occurred. PDC Energy has 15 active wells in Ohio and permits for 18 more, but this is the only reported spill the company has in the state. It did suffer a spill of fracking fluid at a Colorado well in February of 2013.

Bad Guys

Mentally unstable man seeks help, police suffocate him in his driveway


Aaron Torres
A man seeking help during a period of mental instability had his life ended shortly thereafter by police officers who sat on him so long in his driveway that he died of asphyxiation. The death was officially ruled a homicide, yet no one was ever charged.

The incident took place the morning of February 20th, 2012. Aaron Torres, 37, called 9-1-1 emergency services himself seeking help. Torres, who happened to be the transportation captain for the TV series "Hawaii Five-O," was suffering from a state of delirium caused by substance abuse.

At 4:27 a.m. a police dispatcher asked him if he needed assistance.

"Yeah, help...help...help, please," Torres responded. The response would not be as helpful as he may have anticipated.

Honolulu Police soon arrived, and rather than providing the medical assistance he had requested, officers were looking to arrest him.

Torres "was saying there was no reason to arrest him and the officers were indicating they were going to arrest him for something," a family lawsuit alleged.

Aaron's sister Tassa Torres came outside after hearing the early-morning dispute. She witnessed what came next.


San Francisco: Gentrification and the suburbanization of poverty

Hudson and Asregadoo discuss the ways in which "tech capitalism" is turning San Francisco into a playground for the very rich - as those who are not wealthy get pushed out to the suburbs.

San Francisco is a top tourist destination for travelers around the world. The picturesque views, the wonderful restaurants, the progressive politics and a kind of left-libertarian cultural openness make it a fairly unique place. Many have remarked that San Francisco reminds them of European cities. However, if San Francisco has European qualities, they are not confined to positive characteristics. Indeed, with the second tech boom reaching a fever pitch, rents in the city are skyrocketing; evictions are up and many residents are being pushed from their urban neighborhoods to the suburbs. The process of gentrification of not just whole neighborhoods, but the entire city is remaking the Bay Area in a way that resembles the core/periphery geography of some European cities. That is to say, the wealthy and upwardly mobile live and work in the core (with San Francisco being the epicenter) while the poor, working class and middle class get pushed to suburban cities in the periphery.


Christians denounce Sarah Palin for water-boarding comparison to baptism

© Raw Story
Faithful America, a large online community of Christians, has launched an effort to publicly denounce former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin after she mocked one of the religion's most important rituals by comparing it to waterboarding.

Speaking at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention last week, Palin had explained how things would be different if she were president.

"They obviously have information on plots to carry out jihad," Palin said of terrorists. "Oh, but you can't offend them, can't make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists."

By Tuesday, Faithful America had already reached its goal of 15,000 signatures on a petition condemning Palin for the remarks.

Light Saber

Belgrade: March in support of Russian people in Ukraine - 'We remember Kosovo'

serbia march support russia
More than a thousand people walked along the streets of Belgrade in support of the Russian people and referenda in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Demonstrators carried flags of Russia and Serbia, a photo of Vladimir Putin and Tsar Nicholas, carrying the slogan "Glory to Russia" as well as flags of Donetsk, Odessa, Lugansk and Kharkov. In front of the Temple of Saint Sava, Milica Djurdjevic, spokesman for the "Srpski Sabor Zavetnici", organizers of the march of support, recalled the glorious history of the two nations. She pointed out that despite the fact that the Belgrade authorities fell under the influence of their mentors in the West, who are asking Serbia to turn its back on the Russian Federation, the Serbian people will never forget the historic alliance between the Serbs and Russians.


UK so high on cocaine that users have 'contaminated tap water'- drug still glamorous to older generation

coke in UK water
© AFP Photo / Anne-Christine Poujoulat
Experts from the drinking water inspectorate found that cocaine use in Britain is now so high it has contaminated the drinking water supply, even after it has gone through intensive purification treatments, UK media reports.

Scientists found supplies of drinking water contained traces of benzoylecgonine, the metabolized form of the drug after it has been processed by the human body. Benzoylecgonine is the same compound used for urine-based tests for cocaine, the Sunday Times reports.

The findings are an eye-opening indication of how widely the drug is used in Britain.

"We have near the highest level of cocaine use in western Europe. It has also been getting cheaper and cheaper at the same time as its use has been going up," Steve Rolles, from the drug policy think-tank Transform, told the Sunday Times.

Nearly 700,000 people aged 16-59 are estimated to take cocaine every year in Britain, and there are around 180,000 addicted users of crack cocaine, according to the charity DrugScope.


India debate spectator self-immolates, grabs politician

Indian bystanders attempt to douse the blaze during an election television debate in in Sultanpur, a town about 160 kilometres from the city of Lucknow.
An election debate on Indian television was disrupted by a young man, who doused himself in gasoline, lit it and rushed to embrace a local politician taking part in the show. He later died in hospital, while his victim is fighting for life.

The horrific incident happened on Monday night in Sultanpur in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, about 140km from state capital, Lucknow. The debate show was being recorded for Doordarshan TV in a park and was attended by some 150 spectators.

"This man suddenly came on the stage, poured petrol on himself and set himself on fire before tightly hugging one of the political guests," local photographer Pankaj Kumar Gupta said.

The politician victim of the bizarre attack, Kamruzzama Fauji of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), suffered 75 percent burns, Indian media reported. He is in a private hospital in Lucknow in a critical condition.