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Dec. 9, 2012: Unicorns Exist.


Although some of the details are still emerging, North Korea’s state-owned Korean Central News Agency first reported on November 29 that leading archaeologists had discovered the remains of a “unicorn lair” in Pyongyang, North Korea. The story indicated that the Academy of Social Sciences had “reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom.”

Their evidence: a rock carved with the words “Unicorn Lair.” That’s irrefutable!


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Nov. 18, 2012: Hamas Leader Killed in Air Strike

Let’s get straight into the big news item of the week. As you’re surely already aware, Israel has been fighting with Palestinian forces for many years, with consistent hostility between the two groups. Last week, for instance, southern Israel was being pummeled by rockets from Hamas, the terrorist organization which controls the Gaza Strip, in addition to a few stray shells from Syria. In a major turn of events, however, Israel’s most recent air strike, dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense, was a successful assassination of Hamas’ military commander, Ahmed Jabari.

The Wednesday attack further destroyed over 20 underground rocket launchers belonging to Hamas and the affiliated Islamic Jihad, which Israeli leaders hope will neutralize much of the long-range threat against their nation. Hamas, on the other hand, said that Israel “has opened the gates of hell,” and promised a vicious response. Hamas official Ismail al-Ashqar says that the organization plans to “burn Israeli cities” with attacks that may include suicide bombings similar to those employed by al Qaeda operatives.

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Nov. 11, 2012: President Barack Obama Wins Re-Election

The presidential election reached its conclusion late Tuesday night, with incumbent Barack Obama earning a second term in the Oval Office over challenger Mitt Romney. The result thrilled Obama’s supporters, who waited well past midnight to hear their candidate proclaim victory under the night sky in Chicago, reviving the inspirational rhetoric that drove voters in 2008. And it was a night of anguish for the Romney camp, with the team searching for an explanation — after all, if Romney had merely received as many votes as John McCain did in 2008, he would have won the election — and with Republicans astonishingly losing ground in the Senate when they hoped to instead overtake the left-wing majority.

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Aug. 12, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Running Mate is Paul Ryan

Well, it’s official. Mitt Romney has been consistently pressured by Republicans to put Paul Ryan on his presidential ticket, particularly given the skepticism many conservatives continue to show the moderate candidate. In a Virginia press conference yesterday morning, Romney made it official: his running mate is indeed Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

Ryan is well-known as a fiscal conservative determined to reduce taxes and slash government spending, so this move could help Romney invigorate the Republican base. That’s an especially significant move given that the party base has been Romney’s biggest problem. Looking at votes from the 2008 election, more Barack Obama voters than John McCain voters are switching parties this year, a party line shift that would seem to benefit Republicans, but Romney may yet have more trouble getting his party to go to the polls given his moderate stance on several key issues. For instance, the healthcare law he signed in Massachusetts, often dubbed “Romneycare,” closely resembled the highly controversial Obamacare that most Republicans have staunchly decried over the course of Obama’s presidency. (The real question is whether or not Romney still believes in universal health care despite his insistence that he would repeal Obamacare if elected.) The addition of a hardcore conservative may help Romney’s chances if it gets Republicans excited, but it also gives Democrats an easier right-wing target to attack. Given that Obama has been just as happy to mercilessly slam Romney as Romney has been to assault Obama on all fronts, it’s crucial for both sides to avoid giving other any easy openings.

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May 6, 2012: What’s the number one rule of a résumé?

Well, we’ve got a tech-heavy post this week, but that’s only because there are so many big stories involving the technology world. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

It only took new Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson four months to get shareholders calling for his dismissal. And what was the grave offense which put him in such hot water? Something any college graduate should know better than to do: padding his résumé. Yahoo! stocks have been plunging since the revelation the struggling internet giant’s head embellished his resume, adding a second bachelor’s degree in computer science when the only one he actually earned was in accounting. One of the company’s top shareholders, hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb, caught the false statement and immediately began prodding Yahoo! to fire Thompson. As Loeb argued, allowing Thompson to remain with the company would make Yahoo! as a whole look as though it endorsed dishonesty, calling the veracity of its own official filings into question. In contrast, Yahoo! representatives have been working to downplay the incident, saying that they would review the “inadvertent error.” Apparently the “inadvertent error” has already been featured in a number of other documents, including a report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and several of Thompson’s past employers’ websites. Thompson has been doing little to help matters, sending company employees a vague, unapologetic E-mail on Friday:

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Apr. 29, 2012: Perfection

Well, sports fans, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s baseball season. And if you haven’t been watching some of the early clashes to start the year, you’ve got some catching up to do. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the new owners of Albert Pujols’ contract, also own the third-worst record in baseball: 7-14. No one expected them to trail their division rivals, the Texas Rangers (16-5), by nine games at this point in the season. Apparently spending $254 million to acquire Pujols, arguably the best player of this generation, hasn’t helped the franchise. We’re not yet a month into the season, and the Angels have already released veteran Bobby Abreu from the team, calling up prospect Mike Trout in the hope that shaking up the team chemistry a bit will catalyze success. But Pujols is undoubtedly the bigger story, as the $254 million dollar man is hitting only .226 with no home runs, four RBIs, and a paltry .310 slugging percentage through 21 games. Those are numbers you expect from a mediocre catcher, not the man widely hailed as the game’s greatest. Perhaps Pujols just needs time to adjust to the challenges of a new league, but after tremendous pre-season hype, Angels fans are tired of waiting for Albert to be King Albert again.

It ought to be noted that Pujols’ former clan, the St. Louis Cardinals, holds a 14-7 record, along with a four game division lead over the Cincinnati Reds. Pujols wasn’t the only one who departed after the Cardinals’ World Series win last year; he joined longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan and manager Tony La Russa, both of whom retired at the end of 2011, in bidding farewell. But while the team has an entirely new look, the redbirds are still winning. The Angels still aren’t.

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April 22, 2012: This post ends with a chess story. Deal with it.

While Newt Gingrich is still scrapping for votes amidst communication problems and tremendous debt, Ron Paul’s supporters are flooding the mass media’s E-mail inboxes with spam, and former candidate Rick Santorum’s last set of anti-Mitt Romney mailers are just now reaching voters, the primary campaign is effectively over, so the presumptive Republican nominee Romney and the incumbent Barack Obama have squarely focused their attention on winning this November’s general election. Obama has returned to court younger voters, a key demographic that helped him win the 2008 election, to paint Republicans as an obstacle to an affordable college education. Romney, on the other hand, is focusing more directly on the economy, telling Latino voters that the faltering economy and high unemployment rates throughout the later years of Obama’s presidency show that he has failed them. Obama’s winning the fundraising battle thus far, with over $104 million in available campaign funds, although one may have expected the early lead given that Romney has been forced to pour much of his own funds into the Republican primaries. Still, reports that Obama raised $53 million in March alone, a $8 million increase from his February total, are quite impressive. Since most national head-to-head polls have Obama holding a single-digit lead over Romney, it falls on the challenger to catch up to the incumbent.

In entertainment news, on Friday, Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross resigned from his position as the film studio’s top executive. Ross was highly successful when he led the Disney Channel, but stirred controversy at the film studio when he forced out many longtime executives and hired an outsider to run the marketing department. But the biggest blow against Ross was probably the big-budget, low-income John Carter, whose box office failings contributed to a $200 million write-down for the company. (Ross’ other major flop, Mars Needs Moms, cost $150 million to make and grossed only $39 million worldwide.) Apparently Ross spoke negatively about John Carter and blamed Pixar Animation Studios for its low quality, prompting Pixar executives to turn on Ross, whose abundant self-confidence amidst his less-than-brilliant tenure had already alienated many within the company. It may be little surprise, then, that Ross was fired, given that he had no one left to support him when he was on the chopping block.

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