Today college football saw another upset, when Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State to kill their Big 12 championship and BCS bowl game hope.
The AP has the details of the game. But something just as dramatic happened off the field: Stillwater, Okla., where the game was played, and a large section of the state stretching south past Oklahoma City were shaken by a rare 4.5 magnitude earthquake.
Of course, the typical jokes were thrown around: Weatherstorm.net tweeted the earthquake had caused some real damage:
But SB Nation pointed out something funnier. Here's what ESPN's coverage looked like during the quake:
Just in the past few days:
- In Baton Rouge, La., joggers concerned about a recent attack on a runner are carrying pepper spray.
- In Missoula, Mont., a woman files a complaint against a man for pepper-spraying her golden retriever.
- In Denver, Colo., inmates say law enforcement officials have used pepper spray excessively.
Have you noticed? The acrid aroma of pepper spray is everywhere. Maybe it's time to pause and reflect on the suddenly prevalent repellant.
Pepper spray has become so commonplace in contemporary and chaotic America, it's even being marketed as a holiday gift. "It makes a great stocking stuffer," says Carlos Crespo, according to the Military Times. Crespo owns Rose Guardian, a company that offers stylish self-protection products to women. "It's not a typical gift. It's something that shows you care and it makes a difference, not like a blouse or something that will go into a closet and never get used."
Employed wisely, it can be an effective critter and creepster deterrent. Misused, it can mess somebody up. For the uninitiated, pepper spray — a concoction including chemicals and chili pepper extract — burns the eyes and the skin. Originally, it was used mostly by agents of the law. The FBI began carrying it in the 1980s. Use by local police escalated in the 1990s, often for crowd control.
Now pepper spray is available to just about everybody. Wal-Mart offers the VEXOR, a personal spray "designed to be used for self-defense in your home, RV or camper to stop intruders instantly." Rose Guardian sells little aerosol cans disguised as blush-on brushes and iPhone cases. Sprays labeled "Military Wife" and "Licensed Practical Nurse" — among others — are available. As is the pink Help Fight Breast Cancer! version.
Can Hello Kitty pepper spray be far behind?
Mixed With Tears
The irritating lachrymatory agent is featured in Peace, Love and Pepper Spray, a new coffee-table book about protest in America. The chapter on pepper spray features depictions of sprayings of a teacher in New York, college students in California, protesters in Washington and others.
"I only hope," author Amber Lyon writes in the introduction, "that the threat of pepper spray will never prevail over the voice of the American people."
Pepper spray may never prevail over the voice, but it can really do a number on the eyes. Ask someone who has been on the receiving end.
For Susanna Martin — a copy editor for a medical publisher in Philadelphia — the memory of being pepper sprayed is everlasting.
In the spring of 1995, Martin — then a college student — joined with thousands of protesters in and around City Hall Park in New York City. "We were planning to march on Wall Street," she says, "because we were angry that finance and real estate interests were getting heavy subsidies for transforming the city to meet their own needs while Mayor [Rudolph] Giuliani and Gov. [George] Pataki were making public higher education too expensive for low-income students."
The protesters "had decided not to negotiate with the police about our march route," Martin says, "because other marches had been denied permits to march on Wall Street and because we wanted to disrupt the functioning of the financial district."
The park was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of police. Order turned to disorder. Martin was pepper-sprayed in the face. "The pepper spray was wet," she says, "or at least it seemed to be wet because it was mixed with my tears."
The mist "stung my eyes something fierce," she says. "It hurt for a few hours, but I remember feeling better by about three or four hours later, when we were outside the police precinct waiting for our friends to be released."
What hurt the most, she recalls, "was being made physically helpless, which was terrifying."
The Protojournalist is an experiment in reporting. Abstract. Concrete. @NPRtpj
During an hour-long talk at the Brookings Saban Forum 2013, President Obama explained his calculations as it relates to peace in the Middle East and negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.
Obama took some hard questions posed by skeptical Israeli journalists Saturday, and he faced probing questions posed by moderator and media mogul Haim Saban, an Israeli-American supporter of Obama.
If you want to get an idea of how the president weighs complicated issues like the Israeli-Palestinian talks and the situation in Syria, you should give the whole talk a listen.
We'll point out two highlights:
— On Secret Talks With Iran: Obama did not deny reports that the U.S. held secret talks with Iran that ultimately led to the Geneva accord, which called for a six-month halt of some aspects of Iran's nuclear program.
"The truth is — without going into details — is that there weren't a lot of secret negotiations," Obama said. "Essentially what happened, and we were very clear and transparent about this, is that from the time I took office I said we would reach out to Iran and we would let them know we're prepared to open up a diplomatic channel."
Obama said the talks did not "get highly substantive" at first and the U.S. was just trying to feel out "how much room" the Iranians had "to get something done."
Once the talks became technical, "they converged" with the P5+1 talks that resulted in the Geneva accord.
Obama went on to question Israel's assumption that Iran's new, more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, was a continuation of Iran's hardline regime.
"I think that understates the shift in politics that took place in this election," Obama said. He continued:
"We have to not constantly assume that it's not possible for Iran, like any country, to change over time. It may not be likely. If you ask me what is the likelihood that we're able to arrive at the end state ... I wouldn't say that it's not more than 50-50, but we have to try."
— The Difference Between U.S. and Israel: On multiple occasions, Obama said the U.S. and Israel agree on the end goal: Iran should not attain a nuclear weapon. But he also said there are areas in which Israel and the U.S. have "significant tactical disagreements."
The Geneva deal is one of those. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, called the deal a "historic mistake."
Obama said the U.S. and Israel have made different calculations.
"I think what it comes down to is the perception potentially that if we just kept turning up the pressure, new sanctions, more sanctions, more military threats, that eventually Iran would cave," Obama said.
But, he added, history tells us that calculation "does not reflect an honest understanding of the Iranian people and the Iranian regime." More sanctions, more military threats, therefore, will only yield more of the same, he said.
Obama said Iran needs to be given a "dignified resolution" to this issue.
For the U.S. to present a door that serves its goal and purposes, but gives Iran an opportunity to re-enter the international community in a dignified way, Obama said, is "an opportunity that we should grant them."
Saying this was a "great homecoming," Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old Korean War veteran who had been held by North Korea for weeks, walked out of San Francisco International Airport with his wife on Saturday.
As we reported, Newman was deported by North Korea on Friday, days after he appeared on state TV reading an apology for alleged war crimes.
After clearing customs, Newman delivered a short statement in which he thanked the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang and the U.S. State Department.
"I'm tired but ready to be with my family now," Newman said. "Thank you all for the support we got and very much appreciate it."
Asked what he would do when he got home to Palo Alto, Newman said, "Probably take my shoes off."
Newman was on his way back from a tourist trip to the country in October, when North Korean authorities arrested him. At first, the country did not say why Newman was being detained, but later officials accused him of committing "indelible crimes against" the country in the past and during his current trip.
The U.S. called on North Korea to grant him amnesty and release him. Newman was finally released Friday, flying first to Beijing and then to San Francisco.
As the San Jose Mercury News reports, Vice President Joe Biden, who is in South Korea, spoke to Newman by phone and offered him a ride back home on Air Force Two. Newman declined.
The paper adds:
"Merrill and Lee Newman live in the Channing House retirement complex in Palo Alto, where residents tied yellow ribbons around the front pillars of the building. When his release was announced in the dining hall at dinner time Friday, the residents erupted in applause.
"Newman had told his neighbors before his trip that he simply wanted to return as a tourist to North Korea, where he was an Army infantry officer in 1953. His son, Jeffrey Newman, had said that the war had a 'profound, powerful impact' on him."