A Meth Pipe Shattered in a North Dakota Woman’s Vagina
What started as your plain old, run-of-the-mill car accident resulted in a woman being arrested while pieces of glass from a shattered meth pipe were stuck up her vagina. In North Dakota, 26-year-old Jeana Marie Smart rear-ended another driver on the road. When law enforcement officers responded to the scene, Jeana was arrested “after a warrant check revealed that she had failed to appear in court on a pending narcotics and drug paraphernalia case,” according to the police report.
The officer transporting her, Michael Benton, spotted blood on the backseat of his patrol car. Being the curious man that he is, he decided to inquire about the red stain as opposed to just doing what most people would do, which is naturally assume that it’s menstrual blood and not bring it up because that’s a really awkward conversation to have.
Floridians Are Losing Their Minds on Synthetic Cannabis
The rumors are floating among bystanders in downtown St. Petersburg, where a body lies motionless on the sidewalk, covered by a plastic sheet. Was it over a stolen lighter? Or was it a bicycle? It doesn’t matter. Kenneth Robert Sprankle finally snapped. Just like he said he would.
On the afternoon of September 24, Sprankle “borrowed” a red and yellow firefighter’s axe from a fire engine responding to an alarm at the Princess Martha Apartments. He started his evening by smoking spice, grabbing the axe, and wandering through downtown. Surveillance video caught Sprankle clutching the axe across his waist as he walked purposefully through the frame, seemingly oblivious to concerned onlookers trailing him from a safe distance. Witnesses recalled seeing him in an agitated state, wandering around nearby Williams Park with the axe for nearly three hours. Nobody bothered reporting him to police until things began to unwind, and Sprankle began yelling incomprehensible threats and chasing terrified citizens down bustling sidewalks.
St. Petersburg police quickly responded to an emergency call. The small group fleeing his erratic pursuit rounded a corner and ran past the officers. Moments later, Sprankle followed, axe raised menacingly. His world was closing in. Ignoring repeated orders to drop the axe, he charged. As Sprankle closed the distance, axe held high, veteran officer Damien Schmidt leveled a pistol at his chest and fired.
Five shots later, Ken Sprankle’s body crumpled to the sidewalk. The holes in his chest were fatal. He was 27.
How Remote Islands Are Coping with Typhoon Haiyan’s Devastation
Across the Leyte Gulf from the Filipino city of Tacloban, where Typhoon Haiyan killed upwards of 10,000 people, lies the island of Eastern Samar. It was once an under-the-radar tourist destination—its idyllic beaches lined with surf shacks. Today, the island and its largest city, Guiuan, are in shambles, having faced what was perhaps the largest storm in recorded history head on.
Haiyan’s eye passed just miles south of Guiuan early last Friday morning, sending 200-mile winds and a 20-foot storm surge onto its coast. I drove from Tacloban to Guiuan this week to see how this remote community of fishernmen and banana farmers is coping with the catastrophe of a lifetime.
Guiuan is a city made up of 60 barangays, or sub-villages, where around 70,000 people live. According to Kitchy Bayan, secretary to the mayor, there have been 85 reported deaths, 24 missing, and 482 injured. These figures are much smaller than reported deaths in Tacloban, but the numbers don’t include information from the island barangays that are now completely isolated because the storm destroyed the only means of transportation—boats. There is still no electricity across Samar and mobile phone service has yet to be restored. For those who are known to have perished, the end came quickly.
The Unhappy Fate of Ghanaian Witches
In Ghana, witches are real. At least, enough people believe they are for accusations of sorcery to be a serious thing. The lucky ones wind up in one of the country’s six “witch camps,” where village chieftains offer them safety from persecution, but even those (which hold around 800 women) are hardly idyllic sanctuaries. Here’s what happens when women are branded witches:
A woman is generally accused of witchcraft by her family or neighbors after someone contracts a disease, suffers a tragic death, or, sometimes, just has a bad dream. Awabu, a woman in the Gambaga camp, told us her daughter-in-law called her a witch after she dreamed Awabu was chasing her with a knife. A 2012 survey from the nonprofit ActionAid reported that more than 70 percent of the women in one camp were widows.
Accused witches have no way to prove their innocence, so they are beaten, tortured, banned from their villages, and sometimes lynched or even burned to death.
If they are banished or flee, like Awabu, the women find a way to the camps, some of which were established over 100 years ago. (One, in the village of Gnani, also accommodates male witches, a.k.a. wizards.) Once at the camp, a priest will perform a ceremony to determine a witch’s guilt or innocence by throwing a sacrificed chicken at her feet.
A Woman Was Denied a Marriage License Her Fiancé Can’t Say “I Do.”
A couple residing in the Winnebago County, Illinois was denied the right to get married. Colette Purifoy has been with her partner John Morris for 38 years now. They have children together and have been seeking a marriage license for the past six months. What’s stopping them? In the eyes of the law, John is unable to give his consent due to brain damage.
A few years ago, John checked into OSF St. Anthony’s Hospital in Rockford, Illinois for what he thought would be simple surgery. Due to a complication that occurred while he was being anesthetized, John’s brain was starved of oxygen, resulting in permanent physical damage. Today he is in a vegetative state, in need of constant live-in care.
Moments before he was to go under the knife, John proposed to Colette for a second time. And, for the second time, she said yes.
The future these two had in mind after John’s surgery was to finally have a big wedding. They didn’t see the tragedy that was ahead, and now John is incapable of physically saying the words “I do.” He cannot leave his home, or sign his name on a sheet of paper. Because of this, he is denied the right to marry the woman he has been with for nearly 40 years. The legal relationship these two now share is that of guardian and ward.
Syrian Rebels Are Killing Each Other for Control
"Watch out—there are snipers on this street," warned the ISIS fighter as my driver stopped next to him and eight other heavily armed men who were preparing to head into battle. ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, is an offshoot of al Qaeda currently operating on the battlegrounds of Syria.
He wouldn’t have guessed it, but we were all trying to reach the same place—the front line outside the headquarters of yet another of the militant groups fighting in Syria, Ahfad al-Rasul. This organization is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army and had declared war on ISIS just a few hours earlier, for control of the provincial capital of Raqqa.
This was my third visit to the city in the four months since it had been “liberated,” as Syrians tend to refer to areas where rebels have managed to expel government troops.The battle against Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Raqqa had only lasted for about a week—a sharp contrast to the fighting in Aleppo, where gunfights and shelling have continued for over a year since the conflict began.
Once rebels take control of an area, it is now standard procedure for the regime to respond by bombarding it with indiscriminate air strikes in the hope of killing swathes of anti-Assad fighters. But back in April, just weeks after the liberation, cheerful residents seemed to greet the inevitable trail of destruction as a good thing—a sign of the progress the rebels were making.
Recently, however, the tension has risen considerably in Raqqa and the atmosphere has completely changed, as the rebel resistance continues to splinter, pitting many groups who once fought side by side against Assad against each other. The original celebration of freedom has given way to fear and uncertainty.
A number of civil movements—both religious and secular—have also been trying to establish themselves in a bid to influence the future of the city and eventually the country. A group named Haqna, Arabic for “Our Right”, is one of the organizations leading the charge. Its logo, a hand making a V sign, the index finger marked with election ink, is spray-painted all over the city. Mostly made up of young local activists, Haqna is aiming to educate the population about their civil rights and the importance of elections.
People Are Now Crowdfunding Their Funerals Online
The new frontier for online fundraising arguably has the single steadiest revenue source in the world: Funerals.
It would cost about $10,000 to bury your dead ass right now. I’m talking to you, 18- to 35-year-olds. With VICE’s readership being what it is (it’s been a good year), someone reading this will drop dead pretty soon, statistically speaking. If you die penniless, your family could and should consider going the crowdfunding route on Giveforward
, or Graceful Goodbye
That $10,000 is just an average figure for a simple American funeral
. It assumes you’ll be embalmed, rested in a lined casket, placed in a room for people to visit, grieved over at a modest ceremony at a funeral home, driven to the cemetery in a hearse, lowered into the ground, buried, and have a few flowers placed next to your humble, flat headstone. Funeral directors get $6,600 of that, and the rest goes to the cemetery.
I’m Being Cyberbullied by Corey Feldman
As some of you may have seen, I recently wrote an article about attending Corey Feldman’s birthday party. Corey told me that I was only allowed to write about the party if he had final approval on my article. I was slightly disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to go and just make fun of the thing, but agreed anyway because I felt that, no matter how I presented it, a post about Corey Feldman charging people $250 to attend a birthday party at his house could be nothing but hilarious.
The day after the party, I sent Corey the article (including the photos) and he said it was a “great article!” but he wasn’t too happy with the pictures. In an email, he told me, “there’s a bunch w the only old woman I allowed into the party.”
However, after seeing a wider selection of images, Corey said, “Obviously it’s your mag and U can do as U wish.” So I ran it.
Unsurprisingly, once it was posted people made fun of him and the party. There is no possible spin you can put on a $250 per-head birthday party thrown by a former child star in an unfurnished, beige McMansion in the suburbs, surrounded by women in their underwear and “happy 22nd birthday” signage, to make it seem anything other than utterly bleak and miserable.
When he realized people were making fun of him, Corey had a full-blown Twitter meltdown. He either tweeted or retweeted about me and the party roughly 500 times.
Despite many of the tweets containing untrue statements about me (and one with my personal phone number), I felt it was best to ignore them, because, honestly, I feel sort of bad for the guy. It must be hard to be in a place where your life is so grim that an honest representation of it can go viral because of its patheticness.
But then on Monday he sent out a press release accusing me of “bullying” him. The press release read, in part:
Last month, he released his new single Ascension Millennium on YouTube, which has received mixed reviews and controversy from the public and media. A personal birthday party he also hosted was met with strong criticism online; criticism Feldman strongly feels is cyber bullying.
“Unfortunately, we have grown into a society whose belief system holds to bring down rather than to build up. Bullying is present in schools, homes, professional environments and online (cyber bullying), and here is a case no different from just that. I can take criticism, but what people are saying online as of late is far beyond that,” said Feldman. It takes a lot of balls to put yourself out there in the hot seat, so I encourage everyone to not be afraid of what others will say or think. Move forward and ignore the haters,” he added.
Unsurprisingly, antibullying experts weren’t too psyched about Corey using a serious issue to promote his new book/movie/album/party.
This Palestinian Taxidermist’s Stuffed Animal Zoo Is Heartbreaking
OK sure, so somebody stuffed Napoleon’s horse, but in general, no one pays too much attention to the animal victims of war. No one except Dr. Sami Khader, that is.
Dr. Khader lives in the Palestinian city of Qalqilya. It’s a place that’s seen its fair share of hate. Since 2003, the 40,000 or so people who live there have been encircled by the walls of theinfamous Israeli West Bank Barrier. It’s also home to Palestine’s only zoo, where Dr. Khader is the resident veterinarian and director.
Scattered around his room are plastic soda bottles of various sizes that serve as mobile terrariums for the doctors’ creatures. On the table two snakes are curled up at the base of their bottles, on the floor a scorpion paces back and forth in its container and a soda bottle pokes out of the doctor’s leather bag, though I can’t see what creature is living in that. Maybe it’s just a Coke. All the animals were either found by the doctor or dropped in by the Qalqilya townspeople, and scattered among the living are skeletons, pinned insects and a stuffed bobcat.
Dr Sami Khader, director, resident veterinarian, and self-taught taxidermist at Qalqilya’s zoo.
“Do you want to hold it?” Dr. Khader asks, gesturing to a snake on the desk. He casually describes being bitten by another snake recently, by a species that could, apparently, have killed him in an hour had it not been for a delayed shot of antivenom.
“It was a very stupid day,” recalls Dr. Khader. “I was giving a lecture at a school and I brought some snakes to show the kids. It was dark and I reached into the wrong container. Usually I pick the snake up by its head, but this day I chose the wrong snake and I was bitten. I acted like nothing happened. I finished the presentation then went to the hospital.”
I’m not here to gawk at snakes in bottles, though, I’m here to see an exhibition of stuffed animals that Dr. Khader has created from the beasts that were killed in the Second Intifada, the four-year period of fighting that claimed the lives of 4,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis.
It is probably worth mentioning at this point that Dr. Khader appears to be an entirely self-taught taxidermist.