Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

1. Duffy leaves Conservative caucus amid scandals

It’s been one hell of a bad week for Sen. Mike Duffy. Wednesday, it was revealed he had received a (questionably ethical) cash gift of $90,000 from Stephen Harper’s Chief of Staff Nigel Wright to pay back an expense scandal from 2012, and on Thursday, we found out Duffy had been claiming Senate expenses while on the campaign trail. So, it wasn’t any great surprise when Duffy announced last night he would be stepping down as a member of the Conservative caucus, which means, far from removing himself from politics entirely, Duffy has been forced to take a sort of political time-out in the Independent corner. [National Post]

2. Russia sends anti-ship missiles to Syria

Further exacerbating an already messy crisis, the New York Times has reported that Russia just finished sending Syria’s Bashar al-Assad a shipment of advanced anti-ship missiles. The missiles are powerful enough to help prevent foreign military involvement in the ongoing civil war, which is estimated to have killed 80,000 people and left more than 1.5 million refugees. This morning, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov made it clear to media that those critical of the move could go piss up a rope.

“We have not hidden that we supply weapons to Syria under signed contracts, without violating any international agreements, or our own legislation. And we most importantly supply anti-aircraft system, and it doesn’t create any imbalance of power in the region or any kind of advantages in the fight against the opposition.” [Atlantic, BBC]

3. Saudi religious leader says Twitter users are going to hell

Religious officials in Saudi Arabia are cracking down on social media users, targeting Twitter in particular, after rhetorical attacks on the Saudi establishment and tweets and photos of human rights activists on trial began to appear online. Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police, said anyone on social media sites “has lost this world and his afterlife”, though I’m suspicious he’s just being negative because his Twitter handle @SheikhAbdulLatifAbdulAzizalSheikh is just not working out. [BBC]

4. Electrical brain stimulation can improve math skills

A new study out of the University of Oxford has shown that test subjects who had their brains hooked up to mild electrical currents could learn math two to five times faster than those without the stimulation. They were also able to retain a 30 to 40 per cent performance boost six months later. Though Cohen Kadosh, the leader of the study, made it clear that you should “not try this at home”, I’m guessing a car battery and some jumper cables attached to your ears would probably do the trick*. [Wired]

*Neither myself nor the Spectator Tribune will be held responsible if you’re dumb enough to act upon any of my recommendations.

5. Smoking pot can help to stay thin

If you thought that math/electrical brain hack was cool, get ready to lose your shit. After sampling more than 4,600 adults, researchers at the University of Nebraska “found significant associations between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences.” They also found that pot smokers had higher levels of “good cholesterol” and that current smokers had insulin levels 16 per cent lower than non-smokers. So if you want to get thin, start smoking weed—worst case scenario, jail’s probably a pretty good place to lose weight. [Atlantic]

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