Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

1. North Korea sentences U.S. man to 15 years of hard labour

Pae Jun-ho, a 44-year-old U.S. citizen who was arrested after entering North Korea as a tourist, has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labour on the charge of “hostile acts” against the North Korean government. Though Pae’s “crime” sounds quite dramatic, South Korean activists say his sentence may be the result of something as simple as taking pictures of starving orphans. The U.S. has called on North Korea to release Pae immediately—if that demand fails (which it likely will), I think it might be time for Ben Affleck to make a fake/real Argo sequel. [BBC, New York Times]

2. Salesman of fake bomb detectors given 10 years in prison

James McCormick of the U.K. has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling tens of millions of dollars worth of fake bomb detectors to 20 countries throughout the Middle East and Far East. McCormick claimed the bomb detectors could find guns, ammunition, drugs, truffles, human bodies, and even contraband ivory at distances up to a kilometre—underground, through walls, underwater, or even from airplanes three miles high, which maybe should have set off some alarm bells.

Sentencing McCormick in proper old-timey British fashion, Judge Richard Hone said, “The device was useless, the profit outrageous, and your culpability as a fraudster has to be considered to be of the highest order.” [BBC]

3. Classmates of Boston bomber arrested

Boston police said yesterday that three friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been arrested for making false statements to authorities and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Though police haven’t said whether the three friends were aware of the Tsarnaev brothers’ plot beforehand, once they knew Dzhokhar was a suspect, two of the men went to his dorm-room and tried to get rid of evidence linking Dzhokhar to the crime, later lying about their actions. All three men will face up to five years in prison. [New York Times]

4. North Dakota has way more oil than previously thought

New data compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that North Dakota has three times as much oil as previously estimated. With 7.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the North Dakota oil boom won’t be slowing down anytime soon. The Atlantic Wire helpfully pointed out that 7.4 billion barrels is “roughly the same amount of oil as would fit in 1.9 trillion cans of soda,” because citizens of the United States of America like their oil so much they’ll drink it out of soda cans. [Atlantic]

5. College Humor pays stupid man for his stupid prize

I’m not even going to pretend you absolutely need to know this—I just really like this story. Henry Gribbholm, an idiot from New Hamphire, has been bailed out by College Humor after losing all his safekeepings on a carnival game. Gribbholm was playing a game where you throw balls into a tub in the hopes of winning an Xbox Kinect. When he failed to win with his initial $300, Gribbholm grabbed another $2,300 hundred dollars of savings from home, which he proceeded to lose on the game as well (keep in mind an Xbox Kinect is only worth $110). After a brief dispute with the carnival vendor, Gribbholm was reimbursed with $600 and a big banana with dreadlocks. When College Humor heard about the story, they started a campaign to buy Gribbholm’s banana for $2,600 if they got 26,000 likes on their post of the story. The post is currently sitting at 27,000 likes. [Daily Dot]

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