5 Recent News Stories Which Wound Up Having Bizarre Twists
Hope you didn't get your news by checking social media this morning because everything you saw there is wrong. Oh, people thought it was accurate at the time, as did a decent percentage of the robots who populate the web and get smarter by the day, but these stories keep evolving, revealing layer after layer of weirdness.
Did you pick up, for instance, on the fact that ...
That Trump Supporter Who "Lost His Arms Fighting Overseas" Did Not
When you're pulling for a politician, you want to represent them as a man-of-the-people who loves the public he serves, especially if he has a reputation for the exact opposite. You can see then why Trump fans leaped on the following photo, supposedly of the president touching a vet who lost both arms in combat:
First off, let's point out that even if this photo is exactly what the caption says, that's no reason to get excited. Sure, if a politician somehow refused to touch an amputee out of disgust, that would be hot trash, but the opposite isn't a sign of good character. Politicians reach out to supporters at rallies because they are politicians, not because of empathy. This story makes as much sense as circulating a photo of Joe Biden kissing a fan's baby and saying, "See, this is proof Biden will heal the nation's children." If anything, Trump touching an amputee's face ties neatly into his germaphobic hated of shaking hands. ... germaphobia that's been somewhat called into question by his recent practices.
But wait. That man with no arms? He didn't lose those arms fighting. His name is Henry Stevenson, Trump really did touch the guy's face at a January 2016 rally, but he was born without arms instead of losing them in combat. Also, Stevenson's not a vet -- at least, if he is, he didn't make any mention of it in his GoFundMe that raised money for his bionic arms when he was 23 and just looking for basic independence. Not everyone who wears a camo baseball cap is a veteran.
Vet or not, it's still a mildly feel-good story for Stevenson, who appreciated getting the prosthetics autographed by the president. It becomes a problem though when the campaign spins this as proof of Trump being good for the military. Like when Trump himself confirms the false story on Twitter and tens of thousands of people spread it from there:
Worse is Trump using the photo in a campaign spot touting how much he'll care for veterans. But, to be fair, the picture wasn't his first choice. Initially, he used stock images of Russian soldiers. That is not the only time he made that mistake.
But the truth about "Bubba" Stevenson isn't the weirdest revelation about a Trump supporter right now ...
Osama Bin Laden's Niece Is A Trump Supporter ... Who's Also Really Into QAnon
Noor bin Ladin is not much like her late uncle. For starters, she spells her name "Ladin" instead of "Laden" -- though, that's just how her dad always spelled it instead of an attempt to distance herself from Osama (which would be a change that's breathtaking in its laziness). She has lived in Switzerland all her life, other than a brief stint in London for law school. She in no way supports the goals of Al-Qaeda and, in fact, recently released a statement honoring 9/11 first responders. Oh, and while Osama bin Laden was not what you'd call good friends with America's Republican Party, his niece is very much a fan of Donald Trump.
The above photo makes her look uncannily like Laura Loomer, current Republican congressional nominee and noted Islamaphobe who has said she wants more migrants to die. Though Noor would probably be fine with that comparison as she enthusiastically endorses Loomer. Not despite the Islamaphobia. Because of it. She says politicians must do more to fight Islamic terrorism, which is one reason she supports Trump. She talks more about this in an open letter where she bafflingly identifies as American ... despite never having lived in America.
Noor gave an interview saying Trump is the right president because he's equipped to fight terrorism. This is surprising to hear because 1) for the first time in decades, terrorism is barely a talking point in this election (Trump used to promise to protect America from Muslims but now mostly promises to protect it from Democrats), and 2) oh yeah, she's Osama bin Laden's niece. We haven't seen any election ads proclaiming, "Bin Laden's niece endorses Trump, says another 9/11 is coming," but we expect to any day now.
In case you're imagining that maybe Noor faced lots of discrimination because of her Bin Laden connection and has overcorrected, she claims to have never received anything of the kind. But she says she does receive discrimination now ... for walking around in Trump gear.
Now take your eyes off the MAGA hat and Trump onesie, and you'll see the real bombshell from that tweet: Osama's niece is a QAnon follower. That includes taking the oath to support the nonsensical cause. But would you believe that this isn't even the strangest case of someone connected with Bin Laden falling for QAnon?
QAnon Has Claimed The Guy Who Hunted (And Now Cheers For) Osama Bin Laden
People into QAnon are what we'd consider the far low end of the spectrum of "people who have any clue what the heck is going on." In the middle of that spectrum are normal people, and on the far high end, you'd assume are intelligence agents, who probably know too much. So, when you hear that QAnon followers are winning elections, that's terrible but understandable -- nuts vote. But it's baffling when you hear ex-CIA officers spouting stuff like this:
First off, Michael: QAnon isn't a man, it's the whole theory -- Q is the man; get your completely-bullshit-facts straight. But somewhat more significantly: This QAnon sermon comes to us from Michael Scheuer, who worked for the CIA for over two decades, including heading the unit in charge of tracking Bin Laden. Of course, he ran the Bin Laden unit before 9/11, so you might say he didn't do a great job of it, but the post-9/11 unit (which kept Scheuer on, though no longer in charge) didn't do much better. Either way, he was an important guy.
Since then, he's gone off the deep end, to the point that former colleagues all roll their eyes and refer to him as the weirdo they don't like to talk about. Remember how we joked earlier about Democrats having replaced terrorists as the nation's great threat? Scheuer very much believes that, calling for the country to hold a lottery to elect loyal citizens for firing squads who'll kill Democratic politicians and journalists (as well as kill any police officer who supports budget reallocation). Scheuer also says that Kyle Rittenhouse, charged with committing murder in Kenosha, gave the nation a "gift" by killing "Democrat-terrorist attackers," and we need more militias to follow his example.
If all that just sounds like someone who's extremely right-wing, the real gem in Scheuer's current writings is his views on Bin Laden. He now admires the man. Not for being a wily adversary or a successful fugitive, but for his ability to inspire loyalty in millions ... and his willingness to speak his mind, much like Ron Paul. In reality, "willingness to speak your mind" is admirable when the truth may cost you, but it's a quality not in short supply and takes no courage when the man doing the speaking is holding the gun.
Maybe Scheuer came around on Bin Laden in 2007, when the terrorist leader released a video referencing Imperial Hubris. That's the anti-Bush tell-all that Scheuer wrote, originally anonymously. "If you want to understand what's going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us," said Bin Laden, "then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard." Writers vary widely in their views and affiliations, but they all share one thing: They get really happy when you plug their book.
Howard Dean's Brother Was Executed In Vietnam ... But Might've Been CIA?
At the start of September, something unprecedented happened: The public heard Trump allegedly said bad stuff, people thought this would end him, and nothing came of it. This time, his comments were apparently about skipping military cemeteries because dead soldiers are losers. Among the many people criticizing the president was former DNC chair and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean:
Many shared this tweet and wished the Dean family well for Howard's dead brother, Vietnam veteran Charles. Except, Charles Dean was never in the military. And in fact Howard Dean never exactly said he was -- this case of Twitter users assuming someone's a vet didn't come with any deception -- and the true story of what happened is weirder than plain army combat.
Charles Dean opposed the war but went to to Southeast Asia anyway in 1972, saying he wanted to travel and see a contact in the Peace Corps. Guerrillas in Laos spotted him rafting with a camera and thought he was a spy. They took him into custody, and the Dean family (and the US government) spent the next couple years trying to get him free. It didn't work. Charles was soon presumably dead, but his status would remain unconfirmed for another 30 years when the military finally learned the guerrillas executed him in 1974.
Now here's the part that had the Dean family puzzled all those years. The military designated Dean as POW-MIA -- a prisoner of war missing in action. You aren't supposed to do that when a civilian gets captured, so this set people wondering if maybe those Lao captors weren't paranoid after all, and possibly Charles really was a spy. He was not, says the US government. But his parents believe he was with the CIA, who maintains his cover even today. Howard himself says he doesn't believe that and also says we'll never know the truth.
When Howard Dean learned they'd finally identified his brother's remains, it was November 2003, and he was running for president. It was just two months from the most famous moment of his life -- that time he made the mistake of briefly expressing excitement during his rally. Instead of becoming a meme for six hours before being discarded, his yell at that rally ended his political career because 2004 was a simpler time.
The Billionaire Art Thief Was Actually Poisoned By A Call Girl
We've talked about nothing but politics today, so you shouldn't be surprised that we're ending on Ukraine. That's right; we're covering the exact story you're thinking of: the billionaire playboy murdered by a brony orgy Ukrainian sex assassin.
To set this up, let's flash back to 2012. Thieves broke into Rotterdam's Kunsthal museum and made off with $65 million worth of Picassos, Monets, Matisses, and more. No guards saw them because no guards were on the premises. The thieves bypassed the automated security system so smoothly that authorities swore they had to have someone on the inside. Meanwhile, investigators suspected that someone big had to be behind the heist, and their eyes turned toward billionaire Romanian art collector Constantin Dinescu. Dinescu supposedly had a mansion with secret rooms, which contained both illicitly attained art and his supersuit.
The mission to tie Dinescu to the theft progressed for a bit, with undercover cops reaching out to Dinescu claiming to have the paintings he asked for, but then Dinescu cut communications short. Apparently now free from justice, he lived out the happy life of a billionaire in his sixties who could do whatever he wanted. Right up until his death this past August 15. He had fallen ill in his mansion, said the official story at first. Then new details emerged.
Dinescu actually first fell ill outside a sex club -- a sex club that featured "virgin ponies." Here, we assume you want some clarification. Unfortunately, with none of the original reporting in English, we can't elaborate on this specific point, and honestly, we don't really want to. What we do know is Dinescu often hired multiple women to service him at his sex clubs, and it's currently suspected that his favorite professional, a Ukrainian call girl, poisoned him before going missing.
Could this murder have had anything to do with Dinescu's illegal art collection? Could be, say investigators. For a long time, the popular story was that one of the 2012 heist thieves' mothers burned all the paintings to protect her son before they could reach the buyer, but then one of the Picassos turned up in a Romanian forest. So, maybe she burned some blank canvasses to throw detectives off the scent. But then, whoops, it turned out that the Picasso was a fake and was planted by two Dutchmen to promote their own work.
Whether or not he ever received the most famous art pieces associated with him, Dinescu was a very wealthy man, and someone had a reason to kill him. Police continue to hunt for the missing call girl, will probably soon search his home's secret rooms, and all will surely die thanks to his fiendish booby traps. Compared to that, succumbing to poison at the age of 69, in the company of two sex sorceresses, while just having ridden a six-year-old American Shetland, is, as deaths go, according to Romania's national police chief, "Nice."
Top image: XPlayer2x/Wiki Commons