Off the Edge of the Map: Russia to Arm World Against Asteroid

Every once in a while (though it seems more frequently in this oft-strange world we live in) a story comes along that, while true, seems to be the work of Hollywood writers.

Case in point: Russia’s battle plan to save earth from an asteroid collision.

In this case – unlike virtually, every single Hollywood movie (…yawn…)- it won’t be the U.S.A. that saves the day. Russian scientists have stepped forward with a (vague) plan to send a spacecraft up to bump the asteroid off course.

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Off the Edge of the Map: Peru’s Fat Killers?

Just when you think the world can’t get any weirder, a story comes along to make you question absolutely everything.

Case in point: Peru’s alleged fat harvesting gang.

In mid-November Peruvian police warned the public of a gang of killers stalking people in the Peruvian jungle for three decades to harvest fat and sell it to the European cosmetics industry. Police named the gang pishtacos – based on traditional folklore of a tall, white male in a big hat who roams the countryside stealing the fat and eyes of unsuspecting travelers. According to the allegations the killers would cut off “victims’ heads, arms and legs, remove the organs, and then suspend the torsos from hooks above candles that warmed the flesh as the fat dripped into tubs below.” Police produced suspects who claimed a gallon of the human fat was worth $60,000. Sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel, right? Uber yucky….

But then the story got worse …. Within a week or two the cops’ allegations began to unravel as medical professionals and local journalists attacked the veracity of the claims.

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Systematic Failure: A Driver’s Education

A South Korean grandmother is celebrating the attainment of a dream. After 950 attempts, the 68-year old finally managed to pass the written exam for a driver’s license.

 It took Cha Sa-soon the better part of 5 years and $4,200 in application fees, but Cha reportedly told Reuters “don’t give up your dream, like me. Be strong and do your best.” Cha, who wants a vehicle so she can better sell vegetables, still has to pass the practical road test before getting an actual license.

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DRC Paraplegics Take On Social Stigma through Music

A group of disabled singers and musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo have banded together to challenge discrimination and stigma through music. Their refusal to accept the disdain of DRC society and impoverished, unfulfilled lives on the fringes is a testament to the human spirit.

 Ok, so that might sound cliché, but I mean it. Most of us pass through lives that would widely be considered mundane or “normal” – fretting over “normal” problems like paying the bills, little Billy’s school grades and mowing the lawn. These artists have taken a horrendous situation and turned it into a positive. How many of us “normal” folk can say that?

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Here chickie, chickie ….

Disturbing video captured by an animal rights activist who secured employment at an Iowa hatchery raises some serious questions over how we get our food supply.

 Honestly I barely made it to the one-minute mark of the 3:44-long Hatchery Horrors video – I just couldn’t get past the grinding machine.  I guess most of us are aware – dimly – that the meat and other food we buy at the store may come to us poisoned by actions we would normally find repulsive, but it’s different to actually see it.

 According to the group responsible for the video, Mercy for Animals, this one hatchery slaughters over 30 million male chicks every year. The males are killed because they cannot produce eggs and won’t grow fast enough to be sold profitably for meat. (The surviving females, the group and other advocates point out, will spend their lives in confinement under cruel conditions.) Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that those 30 million male chick deaths represent a fraction of the number ground up by the industry – it’s almost beyond imagining.

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Attention Shoppers: Beefcake in Aisle 1

File this one under “I must be getting old.”

Much as I hate to admit it publicly, no matter how hard I try to stick to the healthy household grocery list, I routinely impulse buy at the grocery store. It’s those “buy one, get one” offers on the junk food (especially Double-Stuff Oreos) – they just unlock the impulse reflex. It’s a test of self-discipline I routinely fail.

During my latest grocery shopping jaunt it wasn’t the Oreos, Doritos or donuts that prompted a reflex action, and I wasn’t buying – it was the beefcake, and the inspired reflex was to gag.

It was young man, maybe about 20, walking through the store shirtless wearing nothing but flip-flops, a pair of those shorts that sit down around the bottom of the butt and bright pair of blue underwear.  Yes, bright blue underwear, and no, I really didn’t need to know that… and neither did you.

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The better to see you with …

File this one under “too cute to pass up.”

An east German company has rolled out a line of contact lenses – for animals!!

 Giraffes, lions, rabbits, bear and owls are among the clients that can benefit from the new uber-specialized acrylic intraocular lenses. Since the product launch last year, S&V Technologies has reportedly had orders from San Diego’s Sea World, an Australian park and a Romanian zoo.

 The company even fielded a request to outfit brown bears at a preserve in China to help rejuvenate the animals’ sex drive.

 The lenses combat the indications of cataracts, which tend to affect animals more seriously than humans by causing complete blindness. Unlike human patients who place and remove their lenses frequently, these lenses are implanted.