The Weirdest Political Happenings of 2014

If Obama is a monkey then Kim Jong-Un is a… ?

We never saw these coming.

From a cyber world war stemming from a Seth Rogen movie to a Palin scuffle and arguments over therapy chickens, here are some of the most absurd (and bizarre) political stories that made it to the headlines this year.

A Seth Rogen movie caused a cyber world war

Who knew that a Seth Rogen movie would start a world war in the cyberspace? North Korea faced condemnation both in cyberspace and in real life after allegedly launching a string of cyber attacks against Sony Pictures— a move which was apparently provoked by the latter after producing a movie that painted the former’s leader in an unlikeable way. Obama vowed to retaliate and the whole of North Korea suffered severe internet outage that lasted for days.

Because of this, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un called US President Obama a ‘monkey’.

‘I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.’ – Michael Grimm

NY Rep. Michael Grimm bullied NY-1 reporter Michael Scotto high school jock-style.

“Let me be clear to you. You ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—ing balcony,” growled Grimm— to which Scotto asked, “Why? I just wanted to ask you…”

“No, no, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy,” Grimm angrily spat back.

The reason? After Obama’s State of the Union address, Scotto interviewed Grimm, which at first went just fine until the reporter couldn’t help himself anymore and started asking Grimm about the ongoing criminal probe on the congressman’s affairs.

That’s when Grimm snapped.

Chickens became a central issue to US Senatorial race

A dispute over four therapy chickens sparked national interest after Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley and his Holiday Lake neighbor decided to bicker over the winged animals. As expected, Republicans rushed to the neighbor’s side and what was originally a dispute between two neighbors became an unforgiving national issue.

The Palin family caught up in a bizarre brawl

It was not a good year for former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Palin and her family attended a birthday party and the next thing we know, each and every one of the family members got involved in a bizarre brawl. Palin’s children— daughters Bristol and Willow, her eldest son, Track and his father Todd (who ended up with a bloody nose), were all swept up in the scuffle.

 

School Employees Expecting to Receive Money Had Their Money Taken Instead

Looks like the Grinch has just paid these school employees a visit.

A bunch of school employees— actually, 1,300 of them— were expecting to receive money in their bank accounts the day after Christmas. They found money of the same amount withdrawn from their accounts instead.

Plymouth Public Schools employees were scheduled to receive their salaries Friday via direct deposit, but some of them ended up even finding themselves in debt after an error on the school payroll was unintentionally made by an employee.

An email was sent to the school employees Friday afternoon, where Dr. Gary E. Maestas, Plymouth Superintendent of Schools, said that the unfortunate incident was due to a human error, unintentionally committed by a payroll employee. Maestas told Plymouth Public Schools employees that they were already in the process of reversing the error with the help of the Plymouth Finance Director as well as its Town Treasurer.

Maestas said the error was expected to be corrected the same day, but several banks like Santander, Citizen’s Bank, and Bank of America declined to correct the error Friday, saying that the necessary corrections will instead be made the next banking day— Monday.

Plymouth Public Schools employees affected by the unfortunate error include 1,300 of the school’s workers— from the school’s cafeteria staff to its top-level administrators.

The affected employees were, expectedly, extremely angered by the incident— as not only were they not able to receive their salaries, but money of the equivalent amount were also forcibly taken from them.

“I can’t believe this was even possible. How can they take money out of your account without your permission?”, asked one teacher in an interview with the Old Colony.

The error caused on the school employees’ accounts sparked even more anger in a number of employees who were not immediately made aware of the situation. “I first heard from my bank, notification that my account was below a certain level. With my mortgage going out the first of the year and other bills to pay, I am essentially several thousand dollars in the red,” complained one teacher.

Town Manager Melissa Arrighi said that the reversal of the payroll error was not as easy as it ought to be, with hundreds of banks associated with the employees’ payroll accounts, corrections that need to be done could not be done as swiftly as everyone would want them.

The school employees were given assurance, however, that all the necessary corrections will be completed come Monday.

Stranger Hands $983 to Portland Man in Courtroom to Save Him from Being Convicted of a Felony

All hopes of a bright future for his family could have been crushed that very same day.

But it was his lucky day.

Castor Conley bought a stolen 1993 Nissan pickup truck and sold it to someone who, in turn, sold it to a car-crushing scrap yard, according to police reports.

Conley was charged and was later on offered a plea bargain wherein he was to be sentenced with a misdemeanor instead of a felony, if he paid the sum of $983.

But Conley was running out of time.

On the very day he was due to come up with the sum, the prosecutor assigned to his case and his defense attorney, Lawrence Taylor, were discussing how it was a shame that Conley’s plea deal was about to go down the drain, likely together with his life– as he is inclined to lose both his job and his house loan if he would be convicted as a felon.

It was there that a stranger, not far from where the prosecutor and Conley’s lawyer were discussing his case, overheard about the bad situation that the 27-year-old dad found himself in. Colin Murphy is a civil attorney who specialized in business disputes. Conley’s case was scheduled 15 minutes ahead of the case he was handling, and was in the courtroom waiting for the case he was on to be called upon.

Murphy decided to save Conley’s life.

So the civil attorney, who Conley never met his entire life, stood up and spoke in the courtroom where Judge Stephen Bushong was presiding. He paid for the sum that would give Conley another shot at life.

“He handed a personal check to me that day. I had never seen or heard of him,” said Conley’s defense lawyer. “I’ve practiced for 22 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it, and I don’t expect to again.”

“All of us sometime in our lives have done something we would rather not have done. And the time will come when perhaps we are going to be held accountable. And I think at that point we would like to have somebody show us mercy,” said Murphy in an interview with The Oregonian, explaining why he decided to save Conley from the pit hole he was in.

Conley, a father to a 17-month-old child, only had one misdemeanor charge in his entire lifetime– a fourth degree assault from three years ago.

What Conley makes of his second chance is entirely up to him, but hopes are high that he will do good with it.

Obama Net Worth: Not As Good As You Think

As the commander and chief of the United States of America, President Obama stands at the forefront of the country. In this day and age a man is measured by the size of his wallet. So where does President Obama stand in regards to some of the past presidents of this country?

Middle of the Road

As the above title suggests he is right in the middle of all previous presidents with a net worth of 12 million (adjusted to 2010 inflation) dollars. That may seem like a lot to the majority of Americans but compared to the other presidents it’s actually not much. For example the wealthiest president was John F. Kennedy standing at a cool billion dollars, followed by the first president of the United States George Washington with 525 million. Compared to these numbers Obama isn’t even close. But how close is he to more contemporary presidents. George W. for example had a net worth of about 20 million, with his predecessor Bill Clinton clocking in at around 55 million. Actually you have to go all the way back to Jimmy Carter, with an estimated net worth of 7 million, before you find a president with a lower net worth. The only other presidents that come close are Ronald Reagan with 13 million and James K. Polk with 10 million.

The check is in the mail

What does this all mean to you and me? Absolutely nothing. By looking at the range of presidents from past to present, there are not any clear definable traits that show up on either end of the spectrum. You have some of the most revered presidents like Theodore Roosevelt with 125 million to Abraham Lincoln with less than 1 million. Again, looking at parties, there are still no real definable traits. Harry S. Truman, a democrat, with less than 1 million and considered one of the poorest presidents to Andrew Jackson, also a democrat, with 119 million. For the Republicans you have Herbert Hoover with 75 Million to Ulysses S. Grant with less than 1 million. Even the third party candidates do not show any correlation. For the Whig’s you have John Tyler with 51 Million to Millard Fillmore with 4 million. John Adams as a Federalist candidate had a net worth of 19 million to John Quincy Adams as a Democrat-Republican with 21 million.

I choose you!

With everything said and done, when it comes to presidents, their net worth has little to no play in how they do their job. When it comes to election time vote for the candidate; not their party, not their relatives, and especially not based on their net worth.

Kim Jong-Un to Make Amends with South Korea?

Guess who’s getting into the Christmas spirit?

Shortly after his country allegedly suffered a large-scale ‘cyber attack’– which, many believe, was carried out by Americans in retaliation to the infamous Sony Pictures hacking incident– North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has sought something unusual.

North Korea is largely believed to be responsible for a series of cyber attacks on Sony Pictures, the entertainment giant behind the controversial movie entitled “The Interview”– a film about a US assassination attempt against the North Korean leader. The movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco supposedly angered Kim Jong-Un and his loyal followers.

An internet attack that reportedly hounded North Korea Monday, coupled with the Dallas Stars’ jumbotron trolling against the young leader may have possibly led the young Kim Jong-Un into feeling a little bullied.

In its Tuesday night game against the Toronto Raptors, the Dallas Stars mocked the almighty North Korean leader by putting him on Santa’s naughty list, displaying a picture of Kim Jong-Un on the Dallas Stars jumbotron with the caption “Naughty: Don’t worry. They’ll never see this. Their internet is down. Happy Holidays!”– in reference to the widespread, allegedly ‘inflicted’ internet outage in North Korea.

Kim Jong-Un and his followers have been widely accused of trying to impose censorship on Sony Pictures through the large-scale cyber attacks that nearly crippled the entertainment giant; making them constant subjects of internet ridicule as a consequence.

All the cyberbullying going on against Kim Jong-Un may have pushed the young leader further into desperation. It’s either that or he’s really gotten into the holiday spirit of giving and reconciliation– because the tough North Korean leader may have just reached out to its long-time enemy and expressed interest in taking steps that could eventually lead to reconciliation.

Reports say that the 33-year-old North Korean leader sent a letter to former South Korean first lady, Lee Hee-Ho. The troubled young leader reportedly expressed willingness to make ‘positive’ efforts to reunify the nation. Kim also reportedly thanked Lee for sending wreaths for his late father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, and highlighted Lee’s devotion to the Korean unification, along with her late husband ex-President Kim Dae-Jung.

World peace may not be as far-fetched as we’d always imagined, after all.

In related news, several theaters have vowed to screen “The Interview” tomorrow as an act of defiance against the purported North Korean attempts to silence the controversial film.

Cuban Spy Impregnated Wife In Havana While Serving Sentence in US Prison

It was like magic. Only it wasn’t.

Cubans were in shock while watching the return of Gerardo Hernandez on national television. Hernandez is the Cuban head spy who was among those recently swapped by the US for American prisoners held in the Republic of Cuba, which was part of the reconciliation process between the now-former rivaling countries.

The shock came shortly after seeing Hernandez reunite with his wife, Adriana Perez– who was VERY pregnant– on national television.

Cubans were startled and confused to see Perez in her late stages of pregnancy, knowing that her husband spent the past decade in a California state prison– more than 2,000 miles away from Havana where she never left.

Speculations were inevitably formed by confused Cubans, questioning the paternity of Perez’s unborn child; rumors spreading that she and her husband might have somehow managed a secret rendezvous while he was serving his sentence in the US prison.

After all, there could be no easy explanation for Perez’s pregnancy during her husband’s extended absence.

But what was just as shocking to know was the fact that the US government had something to do with Perez’s pregnancy. A report by CNN uncovered the mystery after talking to sources directly involved in the diplomatic efforts that led to the end of the Caribbean Cold War. Hernandez’s sperm was apparently collected in the US during the negotiations– as agreed upon by the American government and its Cuban counterpart– and Perez was then artificially inseminated with the collected sperm back in Havana.

The peculiar Cuban request that the US had agreed to is just one of the many closely guarded secrets that the American government has kept from the public during its negotiations with the Cuban government. To back the CNN sources’ claims, the US Justice Department confirmed their role in the bizarre mission of impregnating Hernandez’s wife, but gave no further details on the story. “We can confirm the United States facilitated Mrs. Hernandez’s request to have a baby with her husband,” said Justice Department Spokesman Brian Fallon. “In light of Mr. Hernandez’s two life sentences,” he added, “the request was passed along by Senator [Patrick] Leahy, who was seeking to improve the conditions for Mr. Gross while he was imprisoned in Cuba.”

Things didn’t make much sense until it was made clear that the deal was done in exchange for a guarantee that US contractor Alan Gross, who was also released as part of the prisoner swap made last week, would be living under better conditions in the Cuban facility where he was being held prison.

It, however, does not discount the fact that artificial insemination is still a very peculiar request to make.

Especially for the Cuban government.

Couple Nearly Died Thinking There’s No Way Out of Their Mazda 3 Without Transponder Key

If New Zealand couple Brian and Mollieanne Smith died that day, it would have been the dumbest way to go.

His wife passed out and he was barely breathing after being stuck in the car for 13 hours. What the couple didn’t realize was that they were just a touch of a button away from getting themselves out.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith spent hours struggling to break out of their new Mazda 3 hatchback after realizing they didn’t have the car’s transponder with them.

The new Mazda 3 is a keyless car with a transponder– where drivers can lock, unlock, and start their cars with a touch of a button.

What the Smiths didn’t realize was that despite the car’s advanced features, it still comes with the traditional manual locking and unlocking mechanism which passengers can control from the inside of the car with, well, just a touch of a button.

Lock/Unlock Button for the new Mazda 3 is VISIBLE inside the car
Lock/Unlock Button for the new Mazda 3 is VISIBLE inside the car

So instead of honking the horn endlessly to catch their neighbors’ attention, and instead of trying to break the car’s windows by uselessly pounding on them with a car jack for many hours– which they did– they could have just simply pressed the ‘unlock’ button from the inside of the car.

They could have avoided the unnecessary near-death experience and the three-day hospitalization altogether.

The Smiths’ neighbors found them in the morning of the following day, and were immediately taken to Alexandra’s Dunstan Hospital. Emergency services told the couple that if they stayed inside the car for half an hour more, they could have been dead by then.

Realizing their dumb mistake, Mr. Smith said in an interview, “Once I found out how simple it was to unlock it I kicked myself that I did not find the way out … I had this mind-set that I did not have the transponder [so I could not get out].”

The Smiths blamed the salesman who sold them the car, saying that he made it seem like there was no way they could get out of their new Mazda 3 without its transponder.

General Manager for Mazda New Zealand, Glenn Harris, said that it was an industry first– that someone was trapped inside a keyless car. Harris also added that the incident did not stem from a flaw with the new Mazda 3.

“It’s not a design flaw with the car … what we have said to the network is, with new technologies, don’t forget to show customers how to use them in their entirety [and] how to override them. There is always a manual process to override them.”

As for the Smiths, they now know that they could get out of their car anytime they want to.

Man who couldn’t even move his arms faces gun possession charge

UPDATE: Marcus Hubbard was released from jail without bail.

Seriously.

A 28-year-old disabled man who couldn’t even move his arms has been charged for ‘illegally possessing a gun’ and has been in jail since August.

Marcus Hubbard was riding in a car with three other men when they were pulled over by police officers after running a red light in Trenton, New Jersey. It was then that the officers reportedly found a handgun in the back pocket of one of the car’s seats. The handgun was allegedly stolen from Anchorage in Alaska.

Although the officers were fully aware that Hubbard is a cripple who could not even, at the very least, move his arms– authorities still went ahead and charged him for illegally possessing a gun– which, we believe, is something that would require actual moving human arms in order to use or possess.

Hubbard does not even have one single working arm.

According to Hubbard’s defense lawyer, Caroline Turner, the prosecutors were misstating the laws that apply to constructive possession. Turner said that the prosecution was interpreting the law in such a way where anyone can be charged with gun possession– without the actual physical possession of the firearm– if they can, and/or intend to, exert efforts to control the weapon, either by themselves or through someone else.

What the prosecution was trying to say was that even though they know for a fact that Hubbard has no use and control over his arms to physically hold the firearm in question, they believe that he either intended to exert effort to have control over it or he intended to command someone else to use the weapon on his behalf.

At this point, it is still difficult to imagine that someone who could not even move his arms would even have the audacity to want a weapon that would require them, much less intend to command someone into using it for his purpose.

Hubbard has a spine condition that stemmed from a car accident which left him unable to move both of his arms. He is also suspected to have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Turner said the case against Hubbard “shocks the conscience”.

“How could (he be) held for four months on a gun charge? He cannot move his arms. They are useless to him,” the defense lawyer said during a hearing.

A state judge decided to lower the bail for Hubbard, which was originally set to $100,000, to $35,000.

The prosecutors on Hubbard’s case acknowledged that he has no use for both of his arms, but still insisted that he could still be guilty of the charge filed against him.

Parliament member caught favoriting porn on Twitter

A member of the parliament in the United Kingdom was caught favoriting porn on Twitter.

But as expected, the aging politician said that he is clueless about how and why the racy photo ended up on his Twitter favorites list, insisting that he had never favorited such a thing.

No one believes him, of course.

A high-profile politician from the UK’s Labour Party was red-faced after people noticed that one of the tweets he favorited on his official Twitter account was a pornographic photo of a woman that had a caption that said “J’adore Moi”.

Labour Party MP Vernon Coaker was quick to deny that he had favorited the controversial porn tweet consciously, but had not elaborated on whether or not he was indeed voluntarily browsing pornographic materials on the social media, or if the image had just come up on his Twitter client by accident.

Despite his denial, however, the porn incident should lower Croaker’s ranking on “the most boring MPs” on Twitter, where he recently ranked ninth– right before his Twitter porn scandal went mainstream. A spokesperson for the Westminster MP suggested that the porn-favoriting stint on Twitter could be a subtle attempt by Coaker to shed off his boring image on the social media. But Coaker’s spokesperson was quick to say that the parliament member does not have any idea how the porn material ended up on his Twitter favorites. According to his spokesperson, “Vernon hadn’t a clue how it happened. It’s a bit embarrassing and unfortunate.”

There seems to be something about Twitter porn and British politicians. Coaker is not the first member of the British parliament to find himself in the middle of a Twitter porn scandal. Tory MP for Lincoln Karl McCartney was also caught with a pornographic image on his Twitter favorites list.

While Croaker said he had no idea how the porn material ended up on his favorites, McCartney had an even worse excuse.

The 46-year-old politician blamed his Twitter porn incident on an error of some sort, or hacking, claiming that he is not at all fond of using Twitter’s ‘favorite’ button. What makes his alibi weak, however, is the fact that he had 55 other favorites which included news and political messages; and that ALL of these favorites were deleted shortly after his Twitter porn scandal was outed.

So nobody believed him either.

Needless to say, Croaker and McCartney had people’s eyes rolling all over the place when they came up with their lame excuses.

Tribes Can Use and Sell Marijuana if They Want to, Says Justice Department

In an effort to open doors (or so they say) for what could potentially be very lucrative (at the same time highly controversial) businesses for Native Americans, the Justice Department said that the tribes can grow, sell, and use marijuana if they want to– even in the states where they are deemed illegal.

Potheads can now go on wishing they were Native Americans.

But of course there are federal guidelines that need to be followed.

Unlike potheads, however, most of the Native American tribes are not likely eager for this law to be exercised. A long history of drug and alcohol abuse in the tribes are more inclined to hold them back from taking advantage of this new decision from the Justice Department.

A few of the tribes, however, are likely to see this decision a welcome thought. Some of the tribes have made big enough money by operating casinos and outlet malls, and this could well be seen as a very welcome opportunity for the tribes to venture into the very lucrative marijuana business– making potheads even greener with envy.

But if the tribes decide that they don’t want pot on their lands, the federal government says they will be more than happy to implement the decision on these lands.

If they decide otherwise, there are eight federal guidelines that need to be followed. Some of which prohibit selling pot to minors, as well as transporting them to places where pot is declared illegal.

This is despite the fact that they are allowed to grow, sell, and use pot even in the states where marijuana is still illegal.

President Barack Obama’s former advisor on drug issues, Kevin A. Sabet, called the memorandum issued by the Justice Department an “extremely troubling development”.

Sabet is a known opponent of marijuana legalization.

“It once again sends a message that we really don’t care about federal drug laws,” he said.

“Native Americans and their families suffer disproportionately from addiction compared to other groups. The last thing they want is another commercialized industry that targets them for greater use.”

Exactly which tribes and how many of them would want to take advantage of this new memorandum remains to be seen, but the move by the Justice Department is expected to spark violent reactions from anti-marijuana legalization advocates, as well as states who oppose the sale of marijuana, especially those with Native American reservations.

But for the moment, potheads can just go on wishing they were born as Native Americans.