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There's a country that will pay $300,000 per rhino horn to cure cancer and hangovers, and it's wiping out rhinos

Horned Rhinos
© AP Photo/United States Attorney's Office
Just some contraband luxury items.
It was in most respects a typical heist that happened in Dublin last month. Masked men, roughed-up security guards, $650,000 in stolen booty. But this wasn't art or jewelry that was stolen. The contraband, instead, was four rhinoceros heads. Or, more specifically, their horns.

And this wasn't the first time. A rhino-head heist spree swept Europe in 2011, as thieves raided museums and auctions houses in seven countries, prompting 30 investigations by Europol, 20 of which are ongoing. Similar heists have also been on the rise in Africa, as well as in the odd American backwater town. Meanwhile, an online business thrives as well - including one dealer on Facebook who only accepts bitcoin.

What is driving this "highly organized" crime ring?

If you guessed "China," you were wrong. The answer is Vietnam. The country's appetite for rhino horn is so great that it now fetches up to $100,000/kg, making it worth more than its weight in gold. (Horns average around 1-3 kg each, depending on the species.)

Arrow Down

'Green' energy kills American eagles

turbines
© George Frey/Getty Images/AFP
A car makes it's way up U.S. Highway 6 as several 2.1 mega watt wind powered turbines owned by Edison Mission Energy, sit a the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon November 24, 2008 in Spanish Fork, Utah. Each turbine is 300 feet tall, with three 150 foot blades.
Wind farms kill about 83,000 hunting birds each year, including hawks, falcons and eagles. Killing an American eagle is federal crime, but despite the mass die-offs, the Obama administration has never once fined or prosecuted a wind energy company.

At wind farms throughout the US, iconic and protected birds regularly fly into spinning turbines. The crippled bodies of eagles are often found at the base of the machines after being cut up by the quickly spinning blades.

These birds of prey were once included on the list of threatened and endangered species - and although they are no longer listed, their population is still significantly less than it was in the early 20thcentury. Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940, disturbing, killing or taking the birds or their eggs is a federal offense punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment and a $250,000 for an individual felony conviction, and $500,000 for a felony conviction of an organization.

The Obama administration has prosecuted oil companies when birds died in their waste pits and power companies when they were electrocuted, but has never once fined or prosecuted a wind farm.

Eye 2

Catholic professor claims she was targeted by IRS for speaking out against Obama policies

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© Franciscan University
Dr. Anne Hendershot
  • Noted professor and sociologist Dr. Anne Hendershott claims IRS may have targeted her with a 2010 audit
  • IRS demanded to know which groups paid her and seemed to want to know more about their backgrounds
  • Hendershott believes her articles critical of President Barack Obama's policies and George Soros' funding of liberal Catholic groups may have spawned the IRS audit
  • Audit was emotionally and financially expensive and scared the professor into silence
In the midst of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, individuals and groups, alike, are continuing to come forward with ever-startling allegations. On Wednesday, Dr. Anne Hendershott, a devout Catholic and a noted sociologist, professor and author, exclusively told TheBlaze that she believes she may have been one of the IRS's targets.

According to Hendershott, the IRS audited her in 2010 and demanded to know who was paying her. While they did not ask directly it seemed as though the agent wanted to know about the leanings of these particular organizations.

It all started with a phone call she received at her home in May of that year - a call during which Hendershott was told she would be audited. A letter that followed on May 19, 2010 solidified the IRS's request to meet her in person two months later in July. While IRS investigations are certainly not uncommon occurrences, the professor believes that the situation surrounding hers was more-than-curious.

"The IRS calls my house and says ... 'I just wanted to let you know that we're going to be auditing your business' and I said 'My businesses?' and he said, 'You know the expenses you take off for writing," the academic recalls.

Hendershott was surprised she was being audited on business grounds considering she does not operate an entrepreneurial endeavor in the traditional sense. In addition to her academic work, she told TheBlaze that she occasionally freelances for Catholic outlets and for the Wall Street Journal. But can this really be considered "business" activity?

Apple Green

Vegans accused of bullying agriculture students online

Image
The debate between vegan students and those that eat meat at Elk Grove High School has made its way onto Instagram and other social networks, and the words being used aren't all that pleasant.

"[One student] keeps posting about goats and sheep and pigs and dead pictures and them being slaughtered," said agriculture student Katie Velon.

The online allegations also include angry words for the schools Ag program, saying it "leads to the slaughtering of animals" and even describing how animals are drained of blood while their hearts are still beating.

But Ag students say they're proud of what they do and of what they're learning.

Crusader

Pope Francis elected after supernatural 'signs' in the Conclave, says Cardinal

Cardinal Christoph
© ANSA
The Cardinal said that as the papal Conclave began none of the Cardinals had known who would be chosen.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, who was himself widely tipped as a possible successor to Pope Benedict, said he had personally had two "strong signs" that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was "the chosen one" in the run up to vote.

He said only divine intervention could explain the speed with which the Argentine Cardinal - who did not feature on any of the main lists of likely candidates compiled by Vatican experts - was elected.

Speaking to an Anglican conference in London, he also said the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, had a "strange similarity" to the new Pope.

He said that the two elections were a "little miracle" and a "sign from the Lord" that the two churches should work towards closer unity.

Addressing an audience of 5,000 people in the Royal Albert Hall, at a conference organised by the prominent Holy Trinity Brompton church in west London, he said that he was certain that on the evening of March 12, as the papal Conclave began, none of the Cardinals had known who would be chosen.

Bizarro Earth

Murder is our national sport

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© AP/Danny Johnston, File
A television camera mounted on the ceiling of a witness room is pointed toward a prison death chamber.
Murder is our national sport. We murder tens of thousands with our industrial killing machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. We murder thousands more from the skies over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with our pilotless drones. We murder each other with reckless abandon. And, as if we were not drenched in enough human blood, we murder prisoners - most of them poor people of color who have been locked up for more than a decade. The United States believes in regeneration through violence. We have carried out blood baths on foreign soil and on our own land for generations in the vain quest of a better world. And the worse it gets, the deeper our empire sinks under the weight of its own decay and depravity, the more we kill.

There are parts of the nation where the electorate, or at least the white electorate, routinely and knowingly puts murderers into political office. Murder is a sign of strength. Murder is a symbol of resolve. Murder means law and order. Murder keeps us safe. Strap the criminal into the gurney. Plunge the needles into veins. Haul away the corpse. It is our Christian duty. God Bless America! And one of the next on the list to be murdered in Florida - a state that has decided, under its new and cynically named "Timely Justice Act," that it needs to accelerate its execution rate - is William Van Poyck. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. June 12 at Florida State Prison. He is a writer who has spent years exposing the cruelty of our system of mass incarceration. On June 12, if Gov. Rick Scott has his way, Van Poyck will write no more. And that is exactly how our political class of murderers wants it.

"Only God can judge," Matt Gaetz, a Republican who sponsored the Timely Justice Act in the Florida House of Representatives, said during the debate. "But we sure can set up the meeting."

Van Poyck, 58, knows what is coming. He has seen it many times before. He chronicles existence on death row in his blog, posted by his sister, Lisa Van Poyck, at deathrowdiary.blogspot.com, where there is a petition to Gov. Scott asking for a reprieve.

Bizarro Earth

Angelina Jolie says cancer risk led her to have double mastectomy

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© Amy Sancetta/AP
Angelina Jolie says that she has had a preventive double mastectomy after learning she carried a gene that made it extremely likely she would get breast cancer.

The Oscar-winning actress and partner to Brad Pitt made the announcement in the form of an op-ed she authored for Tuesday's New York Times under the headline, "My Medical Choice." She writes that between early February and late April she completed three months of surgical procedures to remove both breasts.

Jolie, 37, writes that she made the choice with thoughts of her six children after watching her own mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, die too young from cancer.

"My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56," Jolie writes. "She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was."

She writes that, "They have asked if the same could happen to me."

Jolie said that after genetic testing she learned she carries the "faulty" BRCA1 gene and had an 87 per cent chance of getting the disease herself.

Attention

Autistic teenager gets fingers blown off from bomb built by bullies

Some unidentified teens allegedly threw a small bomb, disguised as golf ball, at Michael Boggan on Friday afternoon (video below).

As Michael picked the ball up, it exploded.

The homemade bomb injured his legs and blew away most of his fingers.

Michael's mother, Rebecca Boggan, wants the main teen prankster to be charged with attempted murder.

Megaphone

Uganda priest ostracized for publicizing sexual abuse

The Catholic Church suspends Anthony Musaala indefinitely for shining a light on what he calls an open secret: Sex abuse is a problem in Africa too.

He is a celebrity across eastern and central Africa, a gospel music star known to many as the "Dancing Priest." But for years he also was a keeper of painful secrets - his own and many others'.

In going public, Anthony Musaala has forced the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda to confront a problem it had insisted didn't exist. And he may stir a debate far beyond Africa's most Catholic of countries.

The Ugandan priest has been suspended indefinitely by the archbishop of Kampala for exposing what he calls an open secret: Sex abuse in the Catholic Church is a problem in Africa as well as in Western Europe and North America.

Star of David

Peddling pigeon-blood wart 'cure'

Pigeon
© New York Post
Eye of newt, toe of frog - and blood of pigeon?

A recent ad in the Brooklyn-based, Yiddish-language Di Tzeitung newspaper boasts a use for the city's most ubiquitous bird as a cure for warts.

The ad recommends that the bird blood be poured onto the offensive skin growth, left for an hour and then washed off. In two or three weeks, "with God's help, there is no memory thereof."

The woman who placed the ad told The Post her daughter had a wart on her hand that disappeared after the treatment.

"I did this to help people," she said. "You go to the market, you buy a pigeon, and the blood goes on the wart. That's it."