8 Things You Need To Know This AM — Oct 16 2015

Photo: Geoffrey Robinson/Rex/REX USA
Oscar Pistorius will be transferred to house arrest after spending only one year in prison.

After serving just a fifth of his sentence for the “accidental” death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, former paralympian Oscar Pistorius will be released from Pretoria Central Prison and allowed to serve out the rest of his time under “correctional supervision” at home. According to a statement released by the parole board on the terms of his release, Pistorius must continue attending a psychotherapist and cannot possess a firearm. The double amputee will remain under house arrest until October 20, 2019. (CNN)

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President Obama halted the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and announced that some 5,500 will remain through 2017.

In a reversal of his own policy, President Obama has decided to maintain the current number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2016, at which point forces will be scaled back to around 5,500 troops. “While America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures,” Obama announced. “I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again.” According to the president’s new plan, the contingent of 5,550 troops will be dispersed across four strategic areas, Kabul, Bagram, Jalalabad, and Kandahar, in order to “give us the presence and the reach our forces require to achieve their mission.” (New York Times)

Airbnb will offer one contest winner the chance to spend Halloween night among the dead in the Paris catacombs, an underground ossuary that has more space and light than most NYC apartments.

Whenever you lay you down to sleep, do you pray to the Lord asking for your abode to change into a palace of creep? If so, you should stop whatever it is you’re doing (Seriously — what are you doing?) and begin writing an essay about your bravery for Airbnb’s new Halloween-themed competition. After midnight on October 20, two winners will be chosen to spend the night in a pop-up bedroom beneath the streets of Paris, smack dab in the middle of one of the catacombs’ serpentine tunnels. Along with a chance to sleep in the “world’s largest grave,” the intrepid guests will receive a private concert and a visit from a storyteller “guaranteed to produce nightmares.” Honestly, the scariest thing about this Airbnb is that it doesn’t come with Wi-Fi. (BBC News)

A Danish zoo is getting lots of flack for dissecting a lion — in front of kids.

Denmark doesn't quite coddle its kids the way we do. Today, a zoo gathered a bunch of school kids to watch it hack apart a one-year-old lion, pulling out its organs and sawing off its head, as part of an anatomy lesson. The Odense Zoo had culled the lion to avoid inbreeding among its population. The move has offended people around the world, except for the Danish, who seem to think it's pretty ordinary. (ABC News)

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will plead guilty to paying hush money to cover up prior sexual misconduct.

Illinois Republican and former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has negotiated a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to charges that he attempted to pay $3.5 million in hush money to an “Individual A.” The transactions are believed to have been an effort to conceal “prior misconduct” from Hastert’s time as a Chicago high school teacher and wrestling coach. In June, the politician plead guilty to charges of avoiding federal currency reporting and lying to FBI agents about the millions in structured bank payments. (Chicago Tribune)

An Amsterdam music festival allows attendants to bring up to five tabs of ecstasy.

Amsterdam Dance Event, a four-day electronic music festival that takes place in multiple venues across the city and is currently in its 19th year, somehow convinced the Netherlands to turn a blind eye to its more illicit shenanigans and temporarily expand drug decriminalization policies. Over the course of the festival, attendants will not be detained or charged for possessing anywhere up to five ecstasy pills. The decision was reached after last year’s festival saw three different drug-related deaths. But it’s not all irresponsibly popping Molly and sweating — festival officials have invested in onsite medical personnel and testing kits. Plus, a city drug testing center will stay open later to ensure users know what they are taking. (NME)

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Police discover find a woman who they thought was murdered in 1973. She's alive and well.

Pennsylvania state investigators just found Betsey Langjahr, 42 years after they discovered a poorly concealed body in the woods and theorized it was a runaway teen. Except, Langjahr is alive, has a son, and had no idea that anyone thought she was dead. Although authorities never found definitive proof of the identity of the 1973 body, their prime suspected victim was Betsy Langjahr, a young girl who disappeared from a nearby “home for troubled youth.” State Trooper Nathan Trate only recently poked into the cold case and brought the search for Langjahr to the media. A call from Langjahr’s son confirmed that the body isn’t Langjahr and that the once-missing teen is living a quiet life elsewhere. (Washington Post)

A D.C. church is protesting a proposed new bike lane by claiming it would infringe upon its constitutional “rights of religious freedom.

We wonder if Mike Huckabee is preparing to throw another “Eye of the Tiger”-blasting rally for a D.C. church. The United House of Prayer feels its religious freedom is being compromised by the District Department of Transportation’s proposal to create a bike lane near the its entrance. The increase in “fixies” and eco-friendly millennials “would place an extreme burden” on the church by disrupting parking and creating further traffic congestion. In a letter, the United House of Prayer writes that the plan seems “to be part of a recent pattern and practice of targeting historically African-American churches with restrictive parking regulations and extremely stringent enforcement to drive them out of the District.” (Time)
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