As of January 2018, the world is surely an interesting place indeed. Amid Donald Trump’s genocidal tweets, fake Hawaii missile threats, a U.S. government shutdown and anti-regime protests threatening Iran’s political stability, people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are still hunting witches.
According to the Diplomat, “real life witch-hunts that end in torture or murder are so commonplace they rarely make the evening news.” This reality persists despite the fact that, since 2013, witch-hunting is supposed to attract the death penalty after a 20-year-old woman accused of witchcraft was burnt alive on a busy street corner as hundreds of people looked on. The Diplomat reports that the majority of these incidents go uninvestigated by police.
Sanguma, or sorcery, still continues to plague PNG to this day. To some people in PNG, any death that cannot be explained by old age can be believed to have a malevolent agent behind it. It would be reminiscent of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, were it not for the fact that some people have been uploading photos of witch-burning onto social media.
In 2016, the Guardian detailed an account of one man in PNG who recounted the tale of his own “death”, which led to the torture of four women who had been accused of killing him. One woman died and two were exiled after the ordeal.
“She came and ate my heart while I was still sitting in the house,” the man says as quoted by the Guardian. “I felt so cold and shivering that I went and lay down at the doorway to the room.
“And I called out ‘Sande, Sande’ and passed out. That was the end. I died like any other dying person.”
At the end of 2017, the Huffington Post reported that a U.S. missionary by the name of Anton Lutz has dedicated much of his life trying to save women and girls from being tortured and murdered in their communities after being accused of witchcraft. Lutz allegedly saved a six-year-old girl accused of sorcery from being tortured by a group of men and she subsequently made a very narrow escape with her life.
“Someone has to do something. If we can convince people to allow the women to be released to hospital without police going in with guns to do it, that’s probably OK. I mean, the police need to arrest perpetrators, but it’s not up to me to tell the police whom to arrest,” Lutz told the Huffington Post.
The girl’s mother, Kepari Leniata, is the same woman who was burned alive in public in 2013 referred to above, which prompted the death penalty. Not surprisingly, witchcraft allegedly runs in the family.
But as the Diplomat explains, the resulting experience was no joke for the accused. From the Diplomat:
“The drama began when a man fell ill at a remote village in Enga Province in the highlands of PNG. It could have been HIV/AIDS or just an upset stomach. But his sickness was diagnosed as kaikai lewa (to eat the heart), where a witch uses black magic to secretly remove and eat the victim’s heart to gain their virility. As the daughter of a woman who’d been accused of the same crime, the six-year-old girl was fingered as the prime suspect. So a group of villagers took her, stripped her naked, and tortured her for days, using hot knives to remove the skin from her back and buttocks.”
But why would these beliefs persist even in the technological age?
“A few years ago, I was in bed with my wife when my legs started vibrating violently,” says Joseph Suwamaru, an educator in the capital Port Moresby, as quoted by the Diplomat. “My wife tried to hold them down and it was transferred to her body like a possession. I started yelling ‘In the name of God I command you to leave this house!’ and it did.”
He adds: “It’s difficult for me to believe this nonsense. I have two masters degrees and a Ph.D. but I’m caught between two worlds.”
If anything, the technological age has had a more backwards effect in spreading these particular beliefs. While people in the rural areas were traditionally cut off from the major cities until the last 30 years or so, witch-hunt inspired attacks have now spread from these remote areas into the larger towns and cities where the problem barely existed before.
According to the Diplomat, a 20-year long study by the Australian National University of 1,440 cases of torture and 600 killings found less than one percent of perpetrators were successfully prosecuted.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.