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Yoda

From cheerleader to enemy of the state

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The long, flouncy curls from Judy Davis's cheerleader days are gone. Her straight blonde hair is now cut short. Large blue eyes stand out in a face pale without makeup. Her soft Southern drawl has an undertone of determination. "It's taken me awhile, but now I'm glad to be considered an "unsuitable influence". That was how the school board justified my firing. That and "deviating from the curriculum. It's like they were implying I was a deviant. And according to their norms, I am."

The twenty-nine-year-old was fired for teaching her high school students how US foreign policy has provoked terrorism. This struggle with her school board turned her from a Republican into a revolutionary for peace.

Stock Down

Wal-Mart Says February Sales "Total Disaster", Worst Monthly Start Since 2006; Stock Drops

Wal-Mart
© The Economic Collpase
Wal-Mart shares are plunging as the firm reports a 'total disaster' in its February sales. Bloomberg obtained internal emails that note:
"In case you haven't seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster," Jerry Murray, Wal-Mart's vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. "The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.... That points to our competitive landscape, which means everyone is suffering and probably worse than we are"
It gets better:
"We have to fight against the tougher economic environment to earn a bigger share of a smaller consumer spending pie"
Obviously in WMT speak, "tougher" is what Obama would call "much better and rapidly improving."

Things must not be serious over in Bentonville for this much truth to suddenly hit the tape.

One senior executive summed it up perfectly - "Well, we just had one of those weeks here at Walmart U.S. Where are all the customers? And where's their money?" The company notes the end of the payroll tax cut by Obama and asks "We need to stop the stupid."

Black Magic

Human skull, bones found in backyard altar in Los Angeles

Human Bones
© KSEE24 News
Los Angeles County Coroner's officials on Sunday were examining a human skull and bones found at a burned makeshift backyard altar at the home of a woman who police said practices Santería.

The discovery was made Sunday before 1 p.m. when the Pasadena Police Department responded to a report of a possible trespasser in the 800 block of North Oakland Avenue, police said.

Che Guevara

Rafael Correa re-elected for third term as president of Ecuador

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© Cecilia Puebla/EPA
Rafael Correa celebrates with his son, Miguel, daughter, Anne and wife Anne Malherbe in Quito, Ecuador, after the first results of the presidential elections.
Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has been elected to a third term in power.

The leftwing incumbent, who first took office in 2007 and was re-elected in 2009, won 58% of the vote, well ahead of his closest challenger, former banker Guillermo Lasso, with 24%.

A beaming Correa appeared on state TV hugging jubilant supporters at the Carondelet presidential palace less than an hour after polls closed. "This victory is yours. It belongs to our families, to our wife, to our friends, our neighbours, the entire nation," Correa said. "We are only here to serve you. Nothing for us. Everything for you, a people who have become dignified in being free."

Fireball 2

Russian scientists claim meteorite remains, meteor black market thrives

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© Press Service of the Ural Federal University/ Alexandra Khlopotova
The site of a meteorite hit in the Chelyabinsk Region. Small 0.5-1 cm pieces of black matter resembling rock were found around the ice hole caused by the meteorite.
Scientists have confirmed the extra-terrestrial origin of dozens of tiny fragments found near Chebarkul Lake in Russia's Chelyabinsk region. Local opportunists meanwhile began selling alleged pieces of the space rock in a bid to make a quick fortune.

­"We have just finished the research and confirm that the fragments found by our expedition in the area of Chebarkul Lake are meteorite by nature," Viktor Grohovsky of the Ural Federal University told RIA.

The space object exploded into at least seven large pieces and hundreds of small ones, researchers claimed. One of the big fragments fell into the Chebarkul Lake, and is believed to have formed an ice-hole 8 meters in diameter.

The team was not allowed to inspect the ice crater itself, but around the hole scientists collected several dozens small fragments of the rock about 0.5 - 1 centimeter in diameters which were sent for examination.

So far the researchers were able to confirm the samples' celestial origin out of the 53 small particles sampled.

"This is a stone meteorite, an ordinary chondrite. We have diagnosed all the common minerals found there- the metallic iron, and olivine, and sulfite," Grohovsky elaborated. The scientists at the "Nanotech" center evaluated that over eight percent of the mass of the examined samples consisted of these metals.

ice hole, Chabarkul, meteorite
© RIA Novosti
An ice hole in Lake Chabarkul, Chelyabinsk Region, where pieces of a meteorite could allegedly fall December 15.
The researchers aim to conduct further analysis before registering "Chebarkul Meteorite" in the international catalogue.

Earlier, a team of Emergency Ministry divers have examined the floor bed of the lake in search of the meteorite, but were unable to find anything resembling a big fragment of the rock, which is now rumored to further break-up upon impact.

Meanwhile, residents of the region are still speculating about the incident and putting forward their own theories on what really happened, RT producer Lida Vasilevskaya reported from Chelyabinsk.

"No, it definitely wasn't a meteor. I don't know what it was, but not that," one local stated. "It was a stage for a missile. For sure!" another claimed.

A rock estimated to weigh around 7,000 tons and be traveling at 40,000mph exploded over the Urals Mountains on Friday, scattering debris for miles and injuring some 1,240 people, including 299 children.

Heart

Chavez makes surprise return from Cuba

Hugo Chavez
© Reuters
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez smiles in between his daughters, Rosa Virginia (R) and Maria while recovering from cancer surgery in Havana in this photograph released by the Ministry of Information on February 15, 2013.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba on Monday more than two months after surgery for cancer that has jeopardized his 14-year rule of the South American OPEC member.

The 58-year-old socialist leader underwent a six-hour operation in Cuba on December 11. He had not been seen or heard in public since then until photos were published of him on Friday.

"We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland. Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment," Chavez said via Twitter after flying in.

There had been speculation Chavez was unwell enough to travel despite wanting to return for continued treatment for the disease he was first diagnosed with in mid-2011.

Better Earth

Thousands gather in Washington to protest Keystone pipeline

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© Reuters / Richard Clement
Demonstrators carry a replica of a pipeline during a march against the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington, February 17, 2013.
Thousands of people have gathered in Washington today to urge U.S. President Barack Obama to make good on his recent promises to combat climate change.

TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline project is the rally's most popular whipping boy.

Organizers are billing the protest, held at the foot of the Washington Monument, as the biggest climate protest in American history.

Protesters formed a human pipeline and many waved signs and chanted slogans against Keystone XL.

Thousands have spilled onto the National Mall despite chilly temperatures and brisk winds.

Among them: Canadian tribal leaders, movie stars, Americans with ties to Canada and even a group of nuns.

Speakers included prominent environmentalists like Bill McKibben, head of 350.org, who was arrested last week at a similar protest outside the White House.

The U.S. government is reviewing the Keystone proposal, which would ship bitumen from Alberta to the U.S. gulf coast.

Source: The Canadian Press

Bell

Woman marries her twin sister's convicted killer, claiming he is an innocent man

  • Victor Cingolani, Johana Casas

    Killer: Victor Cingolani (right) has married Edith Casas, twin sister of Johana (right) who he murdered
    Victor Cingolani is serving 13 years in jail for the murder of Johana Casas
  • He married Johana's sister Edith yesterday in the city where she was shot
  • Angry crowd outside the register office pelted Edith with stones and eggs
  • Cingolani was rushed out of the back door to his cell wearing a disguise
  • The wedding had been delayed by a judge for physiological tests on Edith
An Argentine woman was confronted by an angry crowd when she married her twin sister's killer on Valentine's Day.

Edith Casas, 22, wed Victor Cingolani yesterday in a ceremony taking place less than a year into the groom's 13-year sentence for the murder of model Johana Casas.

The bride was pelted with stones and eggs as she emerged from the register office, while her husband, disguised in sunglasses and a beret, was rushed out of the back door to his cell.

The couple married in Pico Truncade in southern Argentina, the same city where Johana was shot twice in the head days before her 20th birthday in July 2010.

Her body was found on the outskirts of the city, which lies around 1,200 miles from the capital Buenos Aires, and Cingolani, an ex-boyfriend, was convicted of murder in June last year.

Sheriff

Man tased outside Target trying to steal Justin Bieber Valentines

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© Milford Patch
A Grafton man was arrested by Milford Police Tuesday after he fled the store with these items. Credit Courtesy Milford Police
Milford - An alleged shoplifter was hit with a stun gun as he tried to escape from Target in Milford, according to police.

Milford Patch reports that man, identified as Michael Pete Harding, 50, of Grafton was trying to swipe a shopping cart full of items that included several cases of Red Bull, Tide detergent, and packages of Justin Bieber valentines.

Police believe he planned to resell the items.

While Harding was in the store, Target's store security recognized him as having shoplifted from the store in the past, so they called police.

An officer was waiting for him as he tried to run out the doors.

"He pushed the cart at me and then ran off to my left," the officer told the Patch.

The officer was able to chase down Harding.

Harding allegedly tried to punch the officer, and was hit with a stun gun in response.

He's charged with larceny over $250 and resisting arrest.

Handcuffs

Teenager arrested after home invasion, kidnapping in Quebec

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Canada, Quebec - A 16-year-old Ottawa boy was interrogated Saturday night about his potential involvement with a home invasion and kidnapping of a senior couple at gunpoint in west Quebec overnight.

Quebec Provincial Police said two male suspects forced the couple out of their cottage in Bouchette, QC, near Maniwaki and used the couple's car to drive them to a barn in L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, near Pembroke.

The barn was more than two hours away from the couple's cottage.

Police said the suspects then tied the couple up.

Police said both suspects wore a scarf around their face and one of them had a handgun.

Both suspects spoke English, according to police.

Police said the couple managed to untie themselves and escape from the barn when the suspects fled. They then flagged down a passing motorist who contacted police.