The Spectacle Blog

Zoo Won’t Let de Blasio Hold Groundhog After He Killed One Last Year

By on 1.8.15 | 12:08PM

The NYPD isn't the only city organization that has lost complete confidence in the esteemed Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio.

After he dropped the groundhog during last year's Groundhog Day celebrations, the Staten Island Zoo has unequivocally banned De Blasio from holding or handling any more of their animals in a celebratory setting. 

Mayor de Blasio won’t be killing any more groundhogs — zoo handlers are forbidding the butter-fingered mayor from holding the critter at the annual shadow-sighting ceremony on Feb. 2, The Post has learned.

The ban came after The Post first revealed that the groundhog de Blasio fumbled and dropped last year died a week later of internal injuries — and then Staten Island Zoo officials covered up the death...

“No one will be allowed to touch the groundhog,” one zoo insider briefed on the new policy told The Post.

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Barbara Boxer Declares Retirement To Shorts-Wearing Grandson

By on 1.8.15 | 11:39AM

As expected, Sen. Barbara Boxer is declaring her retirement ahead of the 2016 cycle. After she finishes out her current term in Congress, the longtime Senator will be forced to turn her unexplained ire on Neiman Marcus personal shoppers instead of Army brigadier Generals.

She made the announcement this morning on her official website with a video of herself doing a serious media interview with her grandson Zach, who stands in for DC reporters, and who clearly felt no need to dress up for the occasion. 

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British Muslim Cleric Praises Charlie Hebdo Attacks

By on 1.8.15 | 9:36AM

Earlier today, Emily brought this op-ed written in USA Today by British Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary to my attention. In the piece, Choudary defends yesterday's attacks at Charlie Hebdo in Paris which resulted in the deaths of 10 journalists and two police officers. Choudary argues Charlie Hebdo brought the attacks upon themselves:

Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, "Whoever insults a Prophet kill him."

However, because the honor of the Prophet is something which all Muslims want to defend, many will take the law into their own hands, as we often see.

Within liberal democracies, freedom of expression has curtailments, such as laws against incitement and hatred.

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Night Falls in Paris

By on 1.7.15 | 4:53PM

As the day draws to a close in France, thousands upon thousands have gathered in the Place de la Republique to show outrage and solidarity in the face of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack. The crowds are carrying signs, chanting "Liberte," and are projecting the words, "Not Afraid" alongside Charlie Hebdo covers onto Republique's famous center monument. The protests have now gone on for five hours.

These photos are all from Sam Schechner's Twitter feed. Schechner is a tech correspondent for the Wall Street Journal currently stationed in Paris. 

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Charlie Hebdo Terrorists May Be Affiliated with Al Qaeda in Yemen

By on 1.7.15 | 4:20PM

As of this writing, the three people responsible (two gunmen and a getaway driver) for the terrorist attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo are still at large.

Witnesses say the terrorists spoke perfect French and claimed that they were with al Qaeda in Yemen.

Unlike the so-called "lone wolf" incidents such the shootings in Ottawa last October and the hostage situation last month in Sydney, this operation appears to have been carried out with more planning and sophistication. Indeed, the official magazine of al Qaeda in Yemen, Inspire, included Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier as part of its 2013 "Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam" list.

Of course, if the terrorists were fluent in French that means they were either born in France or emigrated there when they were very young.

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Slain Charlie Hebdo Editor’s Epitaph: “I Prefer to Die Standing Than Living on My Knees!”

By on 1.7.15 | 3:34PM

It could be said that the people who worked at Charlie Hebdo knew this day could come.

Charlie Hebdo's Editor Stephane Charbonnier (a.k.a. Charb) was among those killed today.

Amid the threats against Charlie Hebdo, Charb told his staff, "I prefer to die standing than living on my knees."

Clearly the people who worked at Charlie Hebdo lived and died by those words.

Je suis Charlie.

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National Zoo Panda Sees Snow for the First Time

By on 1.7.15 | 2:32PM

I don't want to demean the seriousness of today's other news and the discussion we're having about it, but maybe we could all use a little cuteness break today. Everything that's happened is very scary. I'm grateful that there are men and women who fight day in and day out on the front lines to protect me. I'm grateful I have commenters to remind me of that. And I'm grateful that the National Zoo has an adorable panda that likes to play in the snow.

So let's all drop everything and enjoy Bao Bao's first snow day. Because it's fantastic.

You may now resume your regularly scheduled news cycle.


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A Further Thought on the Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attacks & Where is Molly Norris Now?

By on 1.7.15 | 1:14PM

Emily has written a very thoughtful piece in reaction to the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo in Paris and I share her feelings of despondence.

Yet I must quibble with this particular sentence:

This isn't really terrorism, because that assumes that there isn't a larger plan other than to make people afraid and disrupt the casual way in which we go about our daily lives.

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The Charlie Hebdo Murders and Freedom of the Press

By on 1.7.15 | 11:27AM

Aaron wrote this morning about the horrific murder of twelve people at the headquarters of the French satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo, but I can't get it off my mind. It's bothering me in a way very few things really do: in a Columbia-law-students-refuse-to-take-their-finals-because-of-emotional-distress sort of way. Every day of my life, for almost ten years now, I've said something rude and uncouth on the Internet. My generation, of course, views this as practically a human right. And my audience, confrontational as it can be at times, has always been civil. Like yesterday, I can literally spend days of my life making fun of our elected leadership and the people who put them into power, and while I might get a nasty email every once in a while criticizing my grammar or my irrational hatred of Mike Huckabee, the biggest risk of my writing career is supposed to be carpal tunnel, not the potential to be gunned down by a cadre of Islamic fundamentalist lunatics.

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Terrorists Kill 12 at French Satirical Magazine; Shout “We Have Avenged the Prophet Muhammad!” - UPDATED

By on 1.7.15 | 9:01AM

A horrific terrorist attack has occurred in Paris at the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo resulting in a dozen deaths. Seven others have been injured and the attackers are still at large at this hour. Among the wounded is a police officer who exchanged fire with the assailants as they fled the scene. The terrorists shouted, "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!"

This is not the first time the offices of Charlie Hebdo have been attacked. In November 2011, their offices were firebombed right before they released a "Sharia edition" of their newspaper featuring Muhammad as a "guest editor." In 2006, Charlie Hebdo also published the infamous Danish cartoons which originally appeared the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Charlie Hebdo's last posting on its Twitter account featured a satirical picture of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

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