Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

1. Disturbing details emerge in Cleveland kidnapping

Only two days after three missing women and a six-year-old girl were rescued from a Cleveland home, Cleveland police are releasing the horrific details about what the women were put through by the three Castro brothers responsible. Michelle Knight, the oldest of the victims, said each of the women were kept in separate rooms, where Police Chief Michael McGrath said they were restrained with ropes and chains. Cleveland police are facing some harsh criticism for not acting sooner on calls from neighbours—one call came from three neighbourhood women who said they had seen the three brothers forcing three naked young girls to crawl around the backyard on dog leashes.

If you’re thinking of looking much deeper into this story, you’ll probably want to follow up by looking at these pictures of a cuddly quokka. [FOX, USA Today]

2. Internet is shut off in Syria

Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m., CST, internet traffic in Syria dropped to absolute zero. At this point, responsibility for the shutdown consists of he-said, she-said claims, with Bashar al-Assad’s government blaming the rebels and vice versa. The last blackout was in November 2012 when Syria’s internet was down for three days. Although cellphones and landlines are still working, the web has played a significant role in allowing activists to communicate from the midst of the fighting. [BBC]

3. U.S. honeybee population drops by 31 per cent

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported that between late 2012 and early 2013, beekeepers lost 31 per cent of their colonies, a 9.2 per cent jump from last winter’s losses. Dennis vanEngelstorp, the researcher who led the survey, said the U.S. is “getting closer and closer to the point where we don’t have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands.”

Though no one seems to be sure who or what exactly is responsible for the massive decline in bee populations, a recent study in Europe has led the European Union to ban farmers from using neonicotinoids, a chemical commonly found in pesticides. [Wired]

4. Anonymous attack thousands of random websites

Yesterday, in a coordinated online attack codenamed #OpUSA, members of the hacktivist group Anonymous took down or defaced a grand total of more than 2,500 websites, according to the Twitter account @AnonymousWWN. Though some Pentagon, FBI, and White House sites were taken down, many of the targeted sites were seemingly innocent, such as Cake Create, a specialty cake store in London. Supposedly, the attacks were a response to U.S. involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Many members of the leaderless group were not in approval of #OpUSA—according to one hacker, “…these attacks are being carried out by Muslim extremists and we are asking all domestic Anons not to participate in this OpUSA.” [Death and Taxes, Daily Dot]

5. Paleontologists discover oldest North American dinosaur

Researchers at the University of Toronto have said that fossils discovered in southern Alberta’s Milk River Formation belong to Acrotholus audeti, a species of bone-headed dinosaur. Acrotholus, which walked the earth 85 million years ago, weighed approximately 40 kg (88 lbs) and had a skull covered in 4 inches of bone. Researchers suspect the hard dome was used to headbutt other dinosaurs in combat, making Acrotholus audeti the likeliest ancestor of Zinedine Zidane. [BBC]

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