Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

1. Syrian PM escapes assassination attempt

Syrian Prime Minster Wael Nader Al-Halqi has barely escaped an assassination attempt by rebel forces in Damascus. The improvised explosive was placed under a parked car and was detonated this morning as Al-Halqi’s convoy passed by on the street. Though the opposition has reported that a bodyguard was killed in the explosion, state television said “Doctor Wael al-Halqi is well and not hurt at all.” Al-Halqi was appointed prime minister of Syria by President Bashar al-Assad just over a year ago after former Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab defected to the opposition. [Al Jazeera, New York Times]

2. NY Times: C.I.A. has paid millions to President Karzai

The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has, over more than a decade, paid millions of dollars to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in an attempt to impact government decisions. Known as ‘ghost money’, the cash was delivered to Karzai in suitcases, backpacks, and even plastic shopping bags, because the real-life C.I.A. is way less badass than Hollywood would like us to believe. According to NY Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg, the plot didn’t really work—in fact, it may have backfired on the U.S.

“There is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.” [New York Times]

3. North American drivers are going electric

Tesla Motors Inc., a U.S.-based company that manufactures high-end electric cars, is reporting the highest sales of any rechargeable auto manufacturer in 2013. So far, the company’s sold at least 4,750 of their Model S, as compared to 4,421 Chevrolet Volt sales (a plug-in hybrid vehicle), and 3,695 Nissan Leaf sales. Tesla’s Model S can go almost 450 kilometres on a single charge, and the 85 kWh version has a top speed of over 200 km/h, which might help Canadians justify the $88,500 price tag. [Bloomberg]

4. Rolling Stones play 700-person club in L.A.

If you were one of 700 lucky people this last weekend, you got to watch the Rolling Stones play a show at the Echoplex for the modest price of $20. On Saturday morning, the Rolling Stones announced on their Twitter account that they’d be performing a surprise show that evening. The tickets were sold via lottery, and the band proceeded to play a 14-song set that included a variety of covers as well as classics like “Street Fighting Man” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. The show was part of the Rolling Stones’ celebration of 50 years in the music industry, which, to put in perspective, is longer than most elderly couples have been married. [Atlantic]

5. Scientists discover why mice hate cats

Have you ever noticed that when you finally decide to get a cat, your mouse problem disappears overnight? According to a recent study published in the science journal Nature, that’s because mice have something called the Taar gene, which helps them detect the presence of urine from cats and other predators. Long story short, if you desperately want to get rid of mice, find an old barn cat and let it pee all over your furniture—you won’t be disappointed with the results! [Nature]

Mark Schram grew up on a ranch in southwestern Manitoba and now writes out of Winnipeg. If you would like to offer him a job or ask him about how to pull a calf, you can contact him at