Monday, January 02, 2012

Just the Facts?: North Korea's 'Giant Man' -- Bird Deaths 2nd Time Around -- Child Sacrificed



North Korea's Giant Man Spotted At Kim Jong Il Funeral Procession

In a sea of indistinguishable onlookers clad in black with their backs turned to the camera, one man stood out at Kim Jong Il's funeral.

The Associated Press released a photo of the procession in North Korea, and a hawk-eyed Reddit contributor was quick to point out an anomaly in the otherwise uniform crowd of mourners. In the photo above, one man appears to be nearly twice as tall as the gentlemen on his left and right.

Who is this giant? Could it be Ri "Michael" Myung Hun -- North Korea's national basketball star -- as some commenters have suggested? Thanks to North Korea's strictly controlled and photoshop-happy media, rumors are certain to abound, and we may never know for sure.

Likely due to a lower standard of living and malnutrition in the North, some studies show a growing discrepancy between the average height of North and South Koreans since the peninsula was split in two. With North Koreans clocking in at about 2 inches shorter on average, the massive mourner stands out even more next to his North Korean compatriots.

On Wednesday, Kim Jong Il's youngest son -- the new "supreme leader" of North Korea, Kim Jong Un -- led an elaborate funeral, and North Korean citizens across the country bowed their heads for 3 minutes of silence to pay tribute to the fallen dictator.

While the mystery man may have been relegated to the back row, chances are he still got a great view of the deceased Dear Leader's funeral procession. - THP

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Saudi Arabia arrests foreigner for celebrating New Year with balloons

A foreign resident in Saudi Arabia was arrested by the country’s religious police on New Year’s Eve for displaying balloons to celebrate the New Year.

The man – described as an Arab expatriate living in the country – was arrested as he was walking though the streets in violation of the ban of celebrating the New Year in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom.

In December, Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah, the country’s top Muslim cleric, deemed celebrations of the New Year, birthdays and marriage anniversary un-Islamic.

The arrest highlights the ongoing conservatism in the country, and comes after religious police have been cracking down on citizens for breaking “un-Islamic” laws in the country.

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Thousands of blackbirds fall to their death in Arkansas town for second New Year's Eve in a row

Ancient Mayan legend says that 2012 will bring the end of the world. A small Arkansas town might have shown the first example of that as approximately 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead from the sky last night in the early hours of the new year. As if the incident was not strange enough, it is the second time in two years that the birds have fallen as the calendar year changes.

'I thought the Mayor was messing with me when he called me,' said Milton McCullar, the street department supervisor in Beebe, Arkansas. 'He got me up at 4:00 in the morning and told me we had birds falling out of he sky.' Mr McCullar said. Given the amount of birds and the condensed time and location of their deaths, there has to be some commonality behind the bizarre event, but scientists remain baffled.

The fact that the birds were even flying in the middle of the night makes no sense because that is not something that they are trained to do. 'Most of these birds don’t see any better at night than you or I do. They aren’t adapted to see at night like owls so if they went off from their perches at night they're blind at night just like you would be' said Dr Kevin McGowan, an ornithologist from Cornell University.

Initially, last year's deaths were blamed on celebratory fireworks, with people thinking that the birds were startled to death. A flash hail storm or massive lightning strikes were all discussed as possibilities as well. All three theories have been debunked, however, as the weather was calm in Arkansas last night and police even imposed an impromptu firework ban in an effort to prevent it from happening again. - dailymail

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Child sacrificed, liver offered to gods: Indian police

A seven-year-old Indian girl was murdered in a tribal sacrifice and her liver offered to the gods to improve crop growth, police in the central state of Chhattisgarh said on Sunday.

The body of Lalita Tati was found in October one week after her family reported her missing.

"A seven-year-old girl was sacrificed by two persons superstitiously believing that the act would give a better harvest," Narayan Das, the police chief of Bijapur district, told AFP by telephone.

The two men was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of killing the girl and offering her liver to the gods in a grisly tribal ceremony. Police said the men had confessed to the crime.

The girl was murdered in a jungle district of Chhattisgarh that is a stronghold of rebel Maoists who have tapped into disaffection among local tribal groups.

Human sacrifices occasionally make headlines in deeply religious and superstitious India, and usually occur in poor areas where some people revere practitioners of black magic.

Two suspected child sacrifices were reported in Chhattisgarh in 2010, while in the same year the decapitated body of a factory worker was found in a temple in the eastern state of West Bengal.

The victims are often ritually killed by witchdoctors to appease gods, spirits or deities.

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