Virginia gunman was a 'powder keg' waiting to go 'BOOM'

WDBJ TV weatherman Leo Hirshbrunner views the memorial at the gate of WDBJ's television studios on Aug. 27, 2015, in Roanoke, Va.

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"He just wanted to be on TV and to do a good job," recalled a veteran news anchorwoman and former co-worker of Vesper Flanagan's. "Well, now he is on TV, but in the worst possible way."

CBS affiliate WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia, held a moment of silence Thursday morning exactly 24 hours after 41-year-old Vesper Flanagan apparently shot and killed two television journalists while they were on the air conducting an interview. Flanagan was a former employee at WDBJ and had previously sued for wrongful termination. 

After the attack, video of the shooting was posted on Flanagan's Facebook page, and a 23-page fax sent to ABC News that said Flanagan had been discriminated against for being black and being gay. He described himself as a "human powder keg" spurred to action by the mass shooting of black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. Hours later, he crashed his car and shot himself in the head. He died at the hospital. 

Today, more details are pouring in about the victims of the shooting — 24-year-old Alison Parker and Adam Ward, 27, who were a reporting team. Parker on camera; Ward behind it. They have been described as "special people" and both at the start of exciting new chapters in their personal lives. Parker had just moved in with her boyfriend of nine months. Ward was engaged to be married. Both of their partners also worked at WDBJ. 

Flanagan's family has apologized for the shooting and people from the gunman's past remember him as a "different person."

Andy Parker, Alison Parker's father, has said he is going to do "whatever it takes to get gun legislation — to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes and background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns."

Want to know:

The civil services exam in India is insane.

Nevermind the fact that it consists of more than 27 hours of testing, or that only .002 percent of those who registered to take the test will actually become service officers. Nevermind that it is recommended a person study for 12 hours a day for at least 18 months in order to master the answers to such pointed questions as: “In which decade was the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) founded?” What?  

What makes the grueling testing process so utterly remarkable is that no one really cares about the jobs at the end of it. Most people don't even know what those jobs entail. According to Sahil Grover, an MPhil student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, “more than 90 percent of the aspirants know nothing about the services” to which they are applying. They just want to pass the test. That's it. “The only idea is, this is a prestigious exam, once you make it through everyone would start respecting you,” Grover said.

Given how uninformed civil servants appear to be about their jobs — and the fact that they are rarely held accountable for their decisions — it is perhaps unsurprising that they are said to be as much a part of India's problems as corrupt politicians.

Strange but true:

We have all been there. That morning you log onto Facebook and immediately regret a photo posted the night before. Often these photos are from parties. Sometimes they involve unfortunate angles or inopportune chewing. More infrequently, they cost you $600.

For Amirbek Isayev, that last part came true. Isayev had the audacity to turn 25 in Tajikstan where birthday parties are a problem — so much so in fact that there is a law against them. Not only did Isayev turn 25, but he actually went out for cake, stopped by a bar to join some friends for a drink, and stood idly by while two of those so-called friends smeared his face with cake. As if that wasn't enough, he posted photos of the whole affair on Facebook!

It's that last bit that got him in trouble. The photos drew the ire of Tajik authorities, who found Isayev guilty of violating the 2007 ban on public birthday celebrations and fined him about $600 — or four times the average monthly salary in the impoverished country. 

The law “on regulation of traditions, celebrations and rituals” is aimed at reducing the financial burden on Tajik families who’ve been prone to outdo themselves over a range of celebrations. It stipulates that birthday parties must be celebrated at home among family. It says nothing (that we know of) about smearing cake on anyone's face.