On This Day in WND History

WND, which debuted in May of 1997, is now celebrating its 15th anniversary. In honor of that, here are some key events in the history of WND.

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February 1st

Flash! America gets 'busted' (2004)

As if Super Bowls needed more exposure, the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII provided millions of viewers with a clear shot of singer Janet Jackson's breast at the end of her performance with Justin Timberlake.

While Timberlake called the incident a "wardrobe malfunction," Jackson admitted the stunt had been planned.

"I am really sorry if I offended anyone. That was truly not my intention," she said. "The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals. ... It was not my intention that it go as far as it did."

FCC Chairman Michael Powell said he was outraged, explaining, "Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better."

Some in the advertising industry praised the Jackson episode as being "extremely successful."

"We love stunts at our agency, and she opened the door for more people to take risks," said James LaForce, partner in the New York public relations agency LaForce & Stevens.

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February 2nd

Did environmentalism bring down Columbia? (2003)

A NASA report, obtained by WND, revealed that the agency in 1997 identified problems following an earlier switch to "environmentally friendly" parts and materials to hold the external tank insulation in place during launch – the very insulation that damaged thermal tiles on Columbia's wing, causing the spacecraft to disintegrate on re-entry.

NASA investigators seven years before had noted that the damage on a returned shuttle followed changes in the methods of "foaming" the external tank.

"During the STS-87 mission, there was a change made on the external tank," said the report. "Because of NASA's goal to use environmentally friendly products, a new method of 'foaming' the external tank had been used for this mission and the STS-86 mission. It is suspected that large amounts of foam separated from the external tank and impacted the orbiter. This caused significant damage to the protective tiles of the orbiter."

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February 3rd

NBC halts Britney's crucifixion mockery (2006)

Reacting to pressure from Christian groups, NBC canceled an episode of "Will & Grace" that featured Britney Spears as a conservative who hosts a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's" on a Christian TV network.

In what was billed as "her first prime-time television episodic appearance," Spears was to appear as a sidekick to the regular character Jack, who hosts his own talk show on the homosexual network Out TV, which is bought by a Christian TV network.

But only a week after NBC was forced to pull its highly touted new show "The Book of Daniel" because of charges its portrayal of Jesus was blasphemous, the network backtracked on the Spears episode, scheduled to appear just before Good Friday.

In a memo to affiliates, NBC even rescinded its earlier description, saying "the information was mistakenly included in a press release describing an upcoming episode of 'Will and Grace' which, in fact, has yet to be written. The reference to 'Cruci-fixins' will not be in the show and the story line will not contain a Christian characterization at all."

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February 4th

Farah's 'Taking America Back' released in hardcover (2003)

WND Editor Joseph Farah's manifesto, "Taking America Back," that exposes the weaknesses in America's current system and offers practical solutions was released to popular acclaim on this day.

Full of practical steps every American can take, "Taking America Back" not only sounds the alarm, but shows how to win the war. "It's time to celebrate virtue and knowledge again," says Farah. "It's time to wake up your neighbors so they can once again smell the sweet aroma of freedom ... Let's take America back."

In "Taking America Back," Farah reveals how we as a nation have moved from freedom fighters to comfort lovers. He says that it's time to wake up and realize where our present state of affairs is taking us. It's time for Americans to choose the kind of country in which we want to live.

According to Farah, "The choice is simple: The world of standards and morality, of marriage, order, the rule of law, and accountability to God? Or the world of anything-goes, aberrant sexual behavior, doing-your-own-thing lifestyles, and moral codes that change with the speed of the latest public-opinion poll?"

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February 5th

Airport insecurity (2004)

A U.S. Customs Department whistleblower said airports were as insecure from terrorist attacks because of unauthorized ramp access as they were before 9-11.

Former Customs Agent Diane Kleiman confirmed what earlier WND reports showed – that ramps or the "back side" of major airports, including specifically New York's JFK, are wide open to penetration and have been used by alien and drug smugglers since Sept. 11, 2001.

"The method for smuggling the drugs into the country is the same as the method for smuggling surface-to-air missiles, firearms, biological, chemical or nuclear devices," Kleiman said in her report to the Justice Department.

"Today, when traveling on a plane, the public sees many people standing by the screening devices, and they are practically forced to strip naked," she wrote. "They get that warm, cozy feeling that the government has enacted safer mechanisms to protect them, which is the perception the government wants to give. But the fact is, the real security threats are on the ramps. And nothing has changed there to make it safer for the public, nor has the personnel changed. It's all a facade."

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NASA probes 'electric zap' mystery photo (2003)

“Wow.” That was astronaut Tammy Jernigan’s stunned reaction last night when she viewed a photo of what appears to be space shuttle Columbia getting zapped by a purplish electrical bolt shortly before it disintegrated Saturday morning. Former astronaut Tammy Jernigan “It certainly appears very anomalous,” Jernigan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We sure will be very interested in taking a very hard look at this.” The photo was one of...

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February 6th

The mystery shuttle 'zap' photo that 'wowed' NASA (2003)

WND documented skyrocketing interest in an unreleased photograph purporting to show the space shuttle Columbia being "zapped" by some kind of purple electrical phenomenon.

WND subsequently learned the digital camera model which took the picture has been known to have its own color glitches.

"Wow."

That was veteran astronaut Tammy Jernigan's stunned reaction when she viewed the photo at the home of the San Francisco man who snapped the shuttle's re-entry into the atmosphere just before it disintegrated.

"It certainly appears very anomalous," Jernigan said. "We sure will be very interested in taking a very hard look at this."

"In the critical shot," reported the San Francisco Chronicle, "a glowing purple rope of light corkscrews down toward the plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts sharply toward it from below. As it merges with the plasma trail, the streak itself brightens for a distance, then fades."

"[The photos] clearly record an electrical discharge like a lightning bolt flashing past, and I was snapping the pictures almost exactly ... when the Columbia may have begun breaking up during re-entry," the photographer originally said.

To WND's knowledge, the mysterious photo has never been released to the public.

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February 7th

Hamas declares war – on Rotary Clubs (2006)

Following Hamas' stunning election victory in the Palestinian Authority, Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin documented how few – including journalists – have bothered to do something as simple as read the group's own charter to see what the Islamic Resistance Movement says about itself and its enemies.

For instance, Americans might be shocked to learn that Hamas believes the Rotary and Lions Clubs are "secret societies" that are part of the international Zionist conspiracy.

Referring to its enemies, Article 22 of the charter states: "They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests."

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February 8th

'Muhammad' and the pig squealer (2006)

WND reported how one of three especially inflammatory but undocumented Muhammad images distributed by a Danish imam as an example of an "anti-Muslim environment" in the European country turned out to be a poorly reproduced copy of an Associated Press photo taken at a French pig-squealing contest.

The weblog NeanderNews pointed out the image used by Imam Ahmad Abu Laban was a faxed copy of AP's Aug. 15, 2005, photo of Jacques Barrot competing at the annual French Pig-Squealing Championships in Trie-sur-Baise.

During February, Muslims throughout the world engaged in protests and deadly riots in response to 12 cartoons caricaturing Islam's prophet Muhammad published the previous September by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and three much more provocative images that Muslim leaders were unable to document.

One of those images of mysterious origin, which never were published, is from the AP photo. Another depicted Muhammad as a pedophile demon and a third had a praying Muslim being raped by a dog.

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February 9th

Arafat? 'Hang him,' said Cheney (2002)

In comments that were presumably never supposed to leave the White House briefing room, Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin ben Eliezer sparked a flurry of denials after revealing off-the-cuff remarks about Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat made by Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

"On the subject, Cheney was more extreme than me," ben Eliezer told the press. Ben Eliezer also said that when he had discussed Arafat with Rice, she had said that it was a waste of time dealing with him.

Yedioth Aharonot quoted ben Eliezer yesterday as saying: "The vice president told me: 'As far as I am concerned, you can even hang him," with regard to Arafat.

"It's a fantasy," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer of the Arafat quote, as the administration attempted to get the genie back in the bottle.

A chastised ben Eliezer called Rice and Cheney to apologize and changed his recollection, saying he had not attributed the hanging remark to the vice president.

"I also want to make clear that no White House official told me that it's a waste of time dealing with Arafat," ben Eliezer said, backtracking from his earlier comments.

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February 10th

G2 Bulletin debuts (2003)

After two years of planning and development, WorldNetDaily.com's founder and editor launched a new website – a subscription-based, online weekly intelligence newsletter utilizing sources of information he developed over 25 years as a journalist.

"Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin" includes regular sections on the global threat from Islamic terrorism, the Mideast, internal security, the Far East, Europe, intelligence briefings and important news backgrounders as well as top stories and breaking news.

"For many years I have wanted to have a forum like this for stories I come across that are not necessarily double-sourced for the standards of daily journalism, yet they are leads and reports that are very reliable and from very credible sources. My sources are in the Pentagon, on the scene in the Persian Gulf, in Afghanistan, in Israel, in the CIA, the NSA and, of course, military intelligence."

G2 means intelligence in military jargon, explained Farah.

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February 11th

WND watchdog forces Senate press reforms (2003)

A bitter 19-month fight by WND with the Senate Press Gallery for press credentials not only ended with the committee that runs the galleries in Congress backing down – the committee decided it was time to review the longstanding rules used to vet applicants for press credentials.

"I think the obvious trigger was the litigation of the WorldNetDaily application, which forced the committee to take a look at the rules," said Bloomberg News congressional correspondent William L. Roberts III, the outgoing chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, which gets its authority from Congress.

WND's legal team charged that the Standing Committee of Correspondents had violated the newssite's First Amendment rights by unfairly excluding it from covering Congress.

A document used internally by the committee to investigate WND later revealed that it was more concerned with the political nature of WND's content than its quantity. WND counsel Richard Ackerman of the U.S. Justice Foundation, who uncovered the document, charged the panel was engaging in "viewpoint-based discrimination."

The panel overturned its ruling against WND after legal action was threatened.

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February 12th

Whiz kid: Al Gore's iced-tea defense (2000)

Vice President Al Gore changed his answers during FBI interviews when confronted with documents in a fund-raising investigation and suggested he may have missed part of a meeting in which campaign-finance issues may have been discussed because he drank too much iced tea, FBI documents revealed.

Trying to explain parts of the meeting he said he didn't recall, Gore told the FBI he normally sits next to the president in such meetings and that the two sometimes consult while the meeting is going on, thereby missing the surrounding discussion.

"The Vice President also observed that he drank a lot of iced tea during meetings, which could have necessitated a restroom break," the FBI summary stated. "It was not uncommon for him, and for that matter the President, to excuse themselves from meetings to use the restroom."

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February 13th

Sabbath-breaking caused killer tsunami? (2005)

A Christian minister claimed the tsunami of Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004, killing at least 160,000 people, was direct result of "pleasure seekers" breaking God's Sabbath.

Rev. John MacLeod of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland wrote: "Possibly ... no event since Noah's flood has caused such loss of life by drowning as the recent Asian tsunami. That so many of our fellow creatures should have perished in so short a time, and in so awful a fashion, was a divine visitation that ought to make men tremble the world over."

He continued: "Some of the places most affected by the tsunami attracted pleasure-seekers from all over the world. It has to be noted that the wave arrived on the Lord's day, the day God set apart to be observed the world over as a holy resting from all employments and recreations that are lawful on other days."

MacLeod said: "To rule out the hand of God in this ... is to forget that He is in sovereign control of all events. If the sparrow falling to the ground is an event noted, and ordered, by Him, how much is this the case when the souls of so many thousands are parted from their bodies?"

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February 14th

The 'Digital Angel' from hell (2000)

WorldNetDaily broke the story of the plan for transceivers to be implanted in humans and monitored by global positioning satellites.

The new technology, currently used to locate lost pets, has been adapted for use in humans, allowing implant wearers to emit a homing beacon, have vital bodily functions monitored and confirm identity when making e-commerce transactions.

When implanted in the body, the device is powered electromagnetically through the movement of muscles, and can be activated either by the wearer or by the monitoring facility.

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February 15th

Texas towns invaded by Army in Operation Last Dance (1999)

Several bewildered Texas officials found themselves on the hot seat after their small rural towns were used for live-fire military exercises by the Night Stalkers, an elite group from the U.S. Army's Delta Force, in the unannounced Operation Last Dance.

Despite the 30-minute warning given by police – printed notices posted to residents' doors that did not disclose any details – most residents were shaken up by the simulated bombing runs, hovering black helicopters in the night, firing of live ammunition and explosives very close to innocent bystanders.

In the town of Kingsville, one of eight helicopters hit a telephone pole, starting a fire and horrifying residents who saw it happen. Fire officials said they had no warning the exercise would take place.

Asked the purpose of the exercise, Tomas Sanchez, Kingsville's Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinator, speculated the exercise involved a scenario that required military action because local police could not deal with civilians effectively.

"Martial law has been declared through presidential powers and war powers act, and some citizens have refused to give up their weapons. They have taken over two of the buildings in Kingsville. The police cannot handle it. So you call these guys in. They show up and they zap everybody, take all the weapons, and let the local P.D. clean it up," described Sanchez of the scenario the Night Stalkers were likely given.

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February 16th

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (2002)

WND reported that the nation's largest homosexual lobby group was sponsoring a conference for "female-to-male" "transgenders" that included sessions on "chest surgery" for young women who wanted to have their breasts removed in their quest to become "transmen."

The Human Rights Campaign – which has always cultivated a "mainstream" image – signed on as an official sponsor of the "True Spirit Conference," held in Washington, D.C. HRC spokesman Wayne Besen defended the "chest surgery" sessions on the Fox News Channel's debate show "Hannity & Colmes."

Peter LaBarbera, senior policy analyst for the Culture & Family Institute of Concerned Women for America, confronted Besen, "There's actually a doctor coming from New York who is talking about 'breast reconstruction' – chopping off the breasts of these girls because they want to become men. We think that's dangerous. How can you justify teaching that as normal in the schools?"

Besen replied, "First of all, we're very proud of supporting this type of conference. As Peter said, there are doctors and medical professionals there to deal with this particular issue. He ought to get educated on it."

Organizers boasted that at least two doctors would be on hand at True Spirit to discuss "top" (breast removal) and "bottom" (creation of a makeshift "penis" from a vagina) surgery.

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February 17th

No talking to God here (2005)

When Jesus stood on the Temple Mount nearly 2,000 years ago, he cited the prophet Isaiah by saying his Father's house was to be a house of prayer for all nations. But that was then and this is now.

WND reported on tough regulations, imposed by Islamic authorities at the holy site against Jews and Christians, forbidding non-Muslims to pray, carry Bibles or – in some instances – anything written in Hebrew.

Even appearing to pray can bring down the authorities, noted one Jewish tour guide who told of a Jewish woman who was detained the previous summer for putting her head down while sitting on a bench.

"It was a hot day and she just wanted to rest for a few minutes. The Wafq started screaming and the police arrested her. She told me she was held for six hours and had to sign documents stating she would never again return to the Temple Mount."

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February 18th

Who's your daddy? (2006)

Thirty percent of men named as fathers in disputed paternity cases are getting ripped off, one paternity fraud expert told WND.

As the nation experiences an unprecedented increase in unwed motherhood, more men are finding themselves named as "fathers," for purposes of child support, simply because of their ability to pay, say several recent studies. Indeed, in some cases, men who have been able to prove they have no biological link to a child had still been ordered to provide court-ordered support.

DNA testing isn't always the answer say experts critical of the way tests are conducted and analyzed.

"Despite testing facility claims of a 99 percent accuracy rate, all men are at risk, whether it's through a wrong paternity judgment or paternity fraud," said Darrin Bush, developer of PaternityTestFlaw.com. "There is a chance that a man can be determined to be the father of a child even if he never had relations with the mother. The deck appears to be stacked against men."

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February 19th

Citibank forces gun withdrawal (2000)

WorldNetDaily broke the story of how Citibank stopped serving "businesses that deal in weapons" – a policy that was reversed shortly after exposure.

The global financial giant shot down its "longstanding" policy due to intense public pressure and a threatened boycott following WND's reports.

A spokesman said Citibank "decided that moving forward the practice of assessing a small business account will apply uniformly in small businesses," including those "engaged in the manufacture or sale of small firearms."

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February 20th

'J.R.' vs. 'W' (2003)

The man best known for playing a notorious Texas oilman on television said President George W. Bush is a sad but dangerous figure with little education.

Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing in the popular CBS series "Dallas," said while both Bush and J.R. came from the Texas oil industry, the president was not smart enough to be like J.R.

"J.R. was so smart he always found a way to win without violence ... he ruined his enemies financially or socially," said Hagman.

The former actor, who also played an astronaut in the 1960s TV series "I Dream of Jeannie," called Bush a "sad figure: not too well educated, who doesn't get out of America much. He's leading the country towards fascism."

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February 21st

Farah gets 'Googlebombed' (2005)

WND editor Joseph Farah documented how he was personally the victim of a Google bomb, an attempt to influence the ranking of a given site in results returned by the Google search engine.

"Don't worry, it doesn't hurt. I didn't feel a thing," Farah noted, as he revealed a Joel Pelletier painting lumping so-called conservative characters together.

"Pelletier admits it took him six months to study and paint this band of conspirators, which includes yours truly, as well as George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch, Ann Coulter and close to 120 others. Why?

"Because 'all Americans need to know what is going on – the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy that Hillary Clinton warned about is real, they think they can do no wrong with God on their side, and they are here on this painting,' the artist hyperventilates."

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February 22nd

Poor young whites top hate-crime victims (2006)

WND brought to light a Justice Department report largely unreported by the press and containing some surprising numbers about "hate crimes."

While race is, by far, the No. 1 factor cited as the reason for hate crimes, blacks are slightly less likely to be victims and far more likely to be perpetrators, statistics collected from between July 2000 and December 2003.

About 56 percent of hate crimes were motivated, at least in part, by racial hatred, according to the study, and most were accompanied by violence.

While nine in 10,000 whites and nine in 10,000 Hispanics are victimized by hate crimes, only seven in 10,000 blacks are targets, according to the report.

The report says 38 percent of all those reporting hate crimes said the attacker was black, and in 90 percent of those cases, the victim believed the offender's motive was racial. In incidents involving white attackers, only 30 percent attribute the hate crime to race, while 20 percent attributed it to ethnicity.

The report says 40 percent of white hate crime victims were attacked by blacks, adding, "The small number of black hate crime victims precludes analysis of the race of persons who victimized them."

"It's an astounding report," said Jack Levin, a leading hate crime expert at Northeastern University. "It's not necessarily completely accurate, but I would trust these data before I trusted the voluntary law enforcement reports to the FBI."

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February 23rd

'Chappaquiddick Kid' off hook with college (2006)

He was only 20 years old, but Paul Trost, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., was incensed over something that happened 17 years before he was born and he wasn't about to let Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., begin his speech without reminding him.

"Remember Chappaquiddick!" he shouted, referring to the controversial drowing death of Kennedy passenger Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969.

It was the introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., that set Trost off.

"Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said.

Despite warnings from campus police of disciplinary action, the college told WND, "The matter is now dropped."

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February 24th

WND readers help war hero's widow get house back (2003)

Generous WND readers, veterans and neighbors rallied to the call to save the home of Lois Leonard, 70, a Vietnam War hero's widow, from the mortgage company after WND publicized her plight.

Fund-raising efforts collected approximately $55,000 to pay off the finance company after Leonard fell behind on payments.

"Once you get behind, with medical bills and all it's hard to catch up," Leonard told WND. The widow suffered from diabetes, severe asthma and chronic bronchitis. She had been unable to work and raised the couple's five children on the fixed income of her husband's military benefits and disability payments.

Leonard reclaimed her home of 35 years on Feb. 28, the anniversary of her husband's valorous death in Vietnam.

Army Sergeant First Class Matthew Leonard was one of 20 black Americans to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

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February 25th

Group trains volunteers to stalk Minutemen's kids (2006)

A group that ran government-funded day-labor hiring centers got tired of opponents of illegal immigration monitoring their activities, so they decided to kick it up a notch by training volunteers to stalk the children of members of the Minuteman group.

"We are going to target them in a specific way," said Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland, who was training volunteers to photograph the the Minutemen who stood across the street from his facility.

"Then we are going to picket their houses, and the schools of their kids, and go to their work," he said. "If they are going to do this to us, we are going to respond in the same way, to let people know their neighbors are extremists, that they are anti-immigrant. They are going to hear from us."

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February 26th

WND ranked in Top 9 (2000)

Top9.com ranked WorldNetDaily for the third consecutive month in the top nine most-read news sources on the World Wide Web, putting WND just 1,000 readers behind the government-subsidized National Public Radio's NPR.org.

Characterizing itself as "the first Internet Ranking Search Directory to be based on scientific market research data," Top9's list of top non-newspaper news sources ranked by viewership: MSNBC.com, CNN.com, ABCnews.com, CNBC.com, FOXnews.com, BBC.com, 4news.com, NPR.com and WorldNetDaily.com.

The service also ranked WND as the 3,821st largest website in the world and the 39th largest news service of any kind based on unique visitors and the 20th largest based on pageviews, with more than 6.2 million pages served.

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February 27th

The wack job at the Washington Post (2000)

On this date, Washington Post staffer Marc Fisher interviewed WND editor Joseph Farah about another WorldNetDaily scoop – Jane Fonda's conversion to Christianity. In his story, "When Barbarella Met Jesus," Fisher writes: "This is one of those Internet specials, a report that originated on a wacky Web site and found its way onto page one of the Washington Times before flying all over the infotainment universe." Farah responded in a column, noting, "Wacky Web site? ... Wacky, indeed. At least we get our facts right, Marc, old buddy. 'One of those Internet specials,' he writes. What does he mean by that? Wasn't it one of those 'Internet specials' that got the president of the United States impeached a year ago?"
February 28th

Udderly ridiculous: 'Spy chips' in livestock (2004)

A U.S. lawmaker introduced a bill to require the government to track livestock from birth to slaughter.

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., wanted the Department of Agriculture to establish a nationwide livestock-identification system.

The company she had in mind for the project is Digital Angel Corporation, originally formed to produce implantable tracking systems for humans.

"The safety of our food supply is critical to our families," said McCollum. "This technology will allow the Department of Agriculture to track an incidence of 'mad cow' or other diseases in livestock like chronic wasting disease discovered in the United States within 48 hours. We are fortunate to have a pioneer in this important technology right in my home town of South Saint Paul, Minnesota."

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