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Famous assassins: where are they now?

Name: Mark David Chapman
Crime: Video didn't kill this radio star; Mark David Chapman did. On December 8, 1980 he fatally shot John Lennon in front of the singer's New York city apartment building (the Dakota, also famously the location for Roman Polanski's creepfest Rosemary's Baby)
Where are they now? Attica. Yesterday its parole board denied him his freedom a fourth time, noting the "bizarre nature" of his crime. (Also, Chapman is regularly flooded with hate mail in prison, and it's thought that releasing him would essentially constitute a death sentence.)
Mark's lit picks: After the shooting, he calmly seated himself on the sidewalk and began reading The Catcher in the Rye. (He was arrested "without incident.") Echoing Catcher's protagonist, Holden Caulfield, he famously accused Lennon of being a "phoney."

john-hinckley.jpgName: John Hinckley, Jr.
Crime: The near-assassination of then-president Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, outside a Washington hotel.
John's favorite movie: 1976's Taxi Driver, about a man plotting the assassination of a political candidate. But Hinckley claims he wasn't just imitating the film's psycho-killer protagonist, Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro), instead he had developed a serious obsession with co-star Jodie Foster. After creepily stalking her on and off for years, he decided the best way to impress her would be to kill a sitting president, thus making himself an historical figure, and -- to his mind, at least -- her equal.
Where are they now? Hinckley was judged not guilty by reason of insanity, sparking nationwide anger and prompting several states to rewrite the rules of their insanity pleas. He's been chillin' like a villain at St. Elizabeth's Mental Hospital in D.C. for the last 25 years, and recently has been judged safe enough to be allowed supervised trips outside the hospital to visit his elderly parents. He was disciplined after one such trip in 2000, however, after smuggling Foster-related materials back into the hostpial.
Fun facts: Hinckley was reportedly inspired by celebrity-killer Mark David Chapman, to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance.

Sirhan_Sirhan.gifName: Sirhan Sirhan
Crime: The murder of Robert F. Kennedy in the kitchen of Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968.
What made him do it? God knows. Though the Palestinian-born Sirhan cited Kennedy's support for Israel's 1967 Six-Day War, he obsessively rants that "Kennedy must die" in diary entries which predate that event. As is seemingly true of most high-profile crimes these days, some believe the CIA was involved, claiming that Sirhan was brainwashed by their top-secret MKULTRA mind-control program, and under hypnosis at the time of the shooting. (Sirhan claims that he has complete memory blackout of the event, and even hypnosis therapy has not been able to elicit any details of the killing from him.)
Where are they now: the Corcoran State Prison in California, along with Charles Manson and serial machete-killer Juan Vellejo Corona.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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