5 Crazy Recent News Stories That Didn't Get Enough Attention
Most people read the headlines of a couple of political stories shared by their most untrustworthy friend on Facebook and feel like they're pretty well-informed. But the daily large-scale dramas of the Trump administration, mass shootings, Russian agents being assassinated, and the world generally seeming like a montage of newscasts from a '50s sci-fi movie have overshadowed some utterly insane news that, in a different era, would have dominated headlines for weeks.
So here are five stories that have yet to receive the proper "Wait, what the fuck?!" reaction that they deserve.
The Government Said It Has Mysterious Alloys Recovered From UFOs
Two Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporters made public some fascinating footage captured by military pilots of an unidentified flying object zipping across the skies, making sharp turns and occasionally hovering like a helicopter, and all with no visible signs of propulsion. With the internet as it is, we should've been drowned in stories about how "Independence Day PREDICTED THE FUTURE" or whatever.
The footage is odd, for sure. But it only makes up like 0.5 percent of the craziness within the New York Times article it came from.
The article says that between 2007 and 2012, there was something called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program running out of the Pentagon, where at least one employee had the X-Files theme as their ringtone and their co-workers hated them for it. Their task was to investigate mysterious aerial phenomena. While there's a good chance they had a rubber stamp that read "It's just another damn drone from Walmart" so they wouldn't have to write it out all the time, the AATIP's creator, former Senator Harry Reid, fought to secure the program's findings, fearing that the United States would be helpless to defend itself from the technologies it discovered. That's the kind of shit you say to justify keeping Magneto in a plastic cell underground.
Luis Elizondo, the former head of the AATIP, referenced "the many accounts from the Navy and other services of unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapon platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities." And most of the program's $22 million budget over five years went to an aerospace technology company owned by a billionaire named Robert Bigelow, who 100 percent believes aliens have visited earth. And that brings us to the pant-shitting part:
"Under Mr. Bigelow's direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes."
Ah, OK. So. WHAT THE FUCK. Is it just a rash, or a headache, or are these people District 9-ing and morphing into a new species that should be shot in the head?
Live Science tried debunking some of the article's claims by asking scientists and professors what they thought about it. Their grand conclusion is that there is no way an alloy could be unidentified. Thanks, guys. Excellent observation. There's no way there are things out there that we don't know! is some shit-ass expertise. They didn't even try explaining the claim that the alloys are physically affecting people who interact with them. And it's hard to blame them. If I think about it for a second, my brain goes to scary places that make me want to hide under a bed and cry.
The whole article makes it seem like there are a lot of high-ranking government officials who are certain aliens are real, that they have visited us, and we should probably fear what they might try to do to us. So on a day-to-day basis, you should feel a tinge of anxiety about your career, the well-being of your children, whether democracy will hold in America, and maybe also aliens with their poisonous ship junk.
A Man Spent Years Building His Own Submarine, Then Allegedly Used It To Brutally Murder A Journalist
Every once in a while, a sensational murder case -- usually involving an attractive female victim -- will take over the country for months. This case is weirder than every one of those combined, and nobody cared.
Peter Madsen had been building his own 55-foot submarine for years. We even wrote about his efforts back in 2010. Kim Wall was a freelance journalist who was just another in a long line to document Peter's impressively productive waste of time. This sounds like the start of a quirky indie film.
But it's fuckin' not.
She set up an interview and two-hour test ride for August 10th, 2017. After the two hours were up, Wall's boyfriend got suspicious that he hadn't heard from her, so he called the police. Madsen was later rescued from his sinking submarine off the southern coast of Copenhagen -- without Wall. Unless your passenger reveals their true kraken form, it's weird to return to shore with fewer people than when you left. Madsen claimed that he dropped her off onshore hours earlier, which doesn't quite align with the fact that her torso was found at sea days later.
At a pretrial hearing a couple of weeks later, Madsen testified that he buried Wall at sea after she was killed by a blow to the head from a 155-pound submarine hatch. Ah, the classic "She was murdered by the submarine, not me" defense. This did not hold up, as forensics found that her skull had no fractures and her throat had been either cut or strangled when she died. More of her body parts started washing up, and they concluded that her limbs had been forcibly removed with a saw and stuffed into plastic bags that were weighed down with metal pipes. She had also been stabbed 15 times.
Madsen's trial is underway, and maybe it's not getting any attention because everybody thinks they already know who did it? If so, doesn't the fact that a man allegedly spent years building a murder submarine specifically so he could do this seem worthy of notice? What in the hell does it take to capture the national imagination these days?
There Is Now Software That Can Put Any Real Person Into Porn Videos, Including You Or Your Mom, Or Both
The future is NOW. Sadly, it's only for creeps who want to jerk off to fake Scarlett Johansson porn. The technology that's making it possible is called Deepfake. It's an AI-driven software that can swap out a person's face in video footage with someone else's. Sometimes it's convincing, other times it looks like their heads are painfully phasing in and out of reality.
That's how you get Raiders Of The Lost Ark starring Nicolas Cage:
It's also how you ruin the joke of an SNL sketch starring Nicolas Cage:
But it's mostly for porn. And like all pursuits popular among sad lonely men, it was very popular on Reddit. Luckily, Reddit banned the Deepfakes subreddit not long after it was created -- a bold moral stance for a site that lures you in with memes and then knocks you out with a one-two punch of white supremacy and misogyny. Bans on other big platforms like Discord, Twitter, and even PornHub soon followed, even though the underlying technology still exists for free on the internet.
What's odd is that once it was banned across multiple sites, we reverted back to a pre-Deepfakes mindset, as if we don't all live in the prologue of a new world where Donald Trump's rumored pee tape might surface and the mere existence of Deepfakes would be enough for his supporters to call bullshit. We might one day look back at people on a subreddit putting Taylor Swift's face on a porn star as innocent compared to a future in which a murderer whose face was clearly captured by security footage gets off scot-free because of the plausible deniability of Deepfakes. It's a scary future where documented proof could be brushed away with a simple "That's not me, that's a fake -- a deep fake" *winks at camera*.
Also, it means literally every woman who posts her face to the internet will wind up in a fake porn video / sex tape at some point. So there's that, too.
A "Swatting" Prank Finally Got Someone Killed
You know what's a real gut-busting joke that always leaves audiences rolling in the aisles? When SWAT teams charge into innocent people's homes with shotguns and semiautomatic rifles drawn, intent on killing someone if it means stopping a hostage situation, all based on a tip obtained from a prank phone call. My sides! The sheer terror everyone involved must feel is making me pee a little!
If you don't think it's funny, then you're not one of the many teenagers who've performed this "prank" because they've yet to develop a tangible fear of how utterly screwed their lives will be if the 9-1-1 call is traced back to them. The targets tend to be Twitch streamers, since a SWAT team's entrance can turn an Overwatch stream into the drug raid scene from Goodfellas. Dozens of celebrities have also been swatted, like Miley Cyrus, Tom Cruise, and Clint Eastwood. Many of these people were lucky to not have been killed. SWAT teams have a long, horrific history of killing innocent people and/or their dogs during raids, in case you needed a cartoonishly ghoulish detail to further turn your stomach.
In an era when the media will drum up a moral panic over everything from violent video games to eating Tide Pods, you'd think this swatting thing would have been the subject of several congressional hearings by now. Especially since in December 2017, a swatting prank ended with someone dead, like every human who'd heard of swatting knew would eventually happen. Some random guys had placed a bet on the outcome of a Call Of Duty: WWII multiplayer match. An argument broke out, and one of the participants decided to get his just desserts by having a SWAT team sent to another person's house. You know, as one does. The target of the swatting gave a false address. It was the home of a guy named Andrew Finch.
The person who initiated the swatting hired an intermediary to do it for them, Tyler Barriss. He was essentially a swatting hitman with a reputation for calling in swats on behalf of people who don't want to get caught doing it themselves. And his Twitter handle was "SWauTistic," because he's a professional who believes in discretion. Barriss called the Wichita police and reported that someone at Finch's house had shot their own father in the head and was holding their mother hostage. When Finch answered the knock at his door, a Wichita SWAT officer immediately pulled the trigger. Finch was unarmed and nonviolent. His friends say he didn't even play video games.
Barriss has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm, and interference with a law enforcement officer. Finch's mother is suing the Wichita Police Department. And even with a cop's itchy trigger finger, there's no denying that if Barriss had instead called and asked if Fincher's refrigerator was running, he would still be alive today.
Swatting has become a dangerous trend which, unlike the aforementioned Tide Pod eating, is actually happening and is actually harming people. California State Senator Ted Lieu, New Jersey State Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, and Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark have all proposed anti-swatting legislation -- all three have been swatted in response.
A Scandal Involving Cops Forcing Nude Photos From A Teenage Boy Ended In Suicide
Before I get into it, just know this story deals with the sexual molestation of a minor. So it's not going to be as rip-roaringly funny as swatting.
17-year-old Trey Sims sent a video of his penis to his 15-year-old girlfriend. In the state of Virginia, this paradoxically made him the creator and victim of child pornography. The detective assigned to the case, David E. Abbott, obtained a warrant to take pictures of Sims' penis to match it with the penis in the video, as if the police have a dick pic database that analyzes head-to-balls distance and pubic hair density to find a perfect match. Of course, all of this is necessary, since it's so difficult to identify a dick when it doesn't have a tattoo or a peg leg. Why that warrant wasn't contested from the start is a mystery.
Another mystery is why, at one point, Abbott decided to start taking pictures of Sims' penis with his personal cellphone.
Detective Abbot deemed the pictures insufficient, because somehow Sims couldn't get erect with cops recording him masturbating. Which they had asked him to do, you know, so the pics would match the ones he was accused of sending. Wait, who is this law supposed to protect, again? Anyway, Abbot asked for a second state-sponsored permission slip to photograph a teenager's erect penis. Abbott also threatened to force feed Sims erectile dysfunction pills, because he was determined to get a picture of a kid's erect penis come hell or high water, goddamn it.
It was granted, but then halted after Sims' lawyers made a big deal about the first dick pic photo shoot in the media, claiming the police had infringed upon Sims' Fourth Amendment rights. That's the one that prevents the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures, in essence calling James Madison an idiot for not foreseeing the need to include a line about the sovereignty of teenage dicks in the Constitution.
Charges against Sims were eventually dropped after he served probation. And with that out of the way, it was time to sue Abbott. But the focal point of the lawsuit shifted from Abbott to Claiborne T. Richardson II, the guy who approved both warrants. This shift happened after Abbott shot himself in his goddamned front yard right before county police officers were going to arrest him on suspicion of molesting boys when he was a youth hockey coach. I just want to reiterate here that this story was barely a blip on the national media's radar.
Sims' lawsuit was thrown out when a judge said that Richardson and Abbott were immune, since the Fourth Amendment surprisingly makes no mention of cops taking pictures of a teen's penis. Everyone up and down the chain kept coming up with creative interpretations of the law to protect a dead detective who killed himself to avoid charges of molesting a minor. The common argument was that Abbott was just following orders. But he was the one who asked for the warrant. Has your head exploded yet?
After four years of this shit, the Fourth Circuit Court sided with Sims, finally deciding that teenage penises are in fact covered by the Fourth Amendment. See? Everything is fine. Nothing to see here.
Luis' brain feels funny after he played with unknown alloys. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
A previous version of the column stated that Andrew Finch was playing Call of Duty and had been directly involved in the online argument before he was swatted. That was incorrect. The text has been changed to reflect that.
Uhhh ... have a stress ball or several.
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For more stories you should have heard about but probably didn't, check out 29 Pieces Of Good News That Got Choked Out By Trump Stories and 7 Pieces Of Good News About Huge Stories (No One Told You).
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