Vladimir Putin hasn't proven to be the biggest hit with Russians of late, so what's a hockey star/fake archaeologist/shirtless horseman/whale hunter/virgin lover to do? Most politicians might kiss a baby, but Putin opted for the logical alternative: The Russian president yesterday suited up like a bird and glided across the sky, heroically leading six endangered Siberian cranes on an Arctic odyssey to their winter feeding grounds. No, really. The New York Times can't make this stuff up.
Dubbed "the Flight of Hope," Putin indeed piloted a motorized glider with the endangered birds following willingly along. “For cranes, the parent is a man in a white robe,” says a game preserve official. “They don’t remember a particular person. They remember the white robe and hood, or on the ultralight, a white helmet—and a special beak that is worn on the head.” Special beak, eh? The Internet lit up with chortles over Putin's latest: “For the flock to recognize him as a leader he stuffed three feathers in his rear," scoffed one widely circulated tweet. (In more political Putin news, Reuters has a look at an interview today in which he praises "honest" President Obama, blasts "mistaken" Mitt Romney, and suggests the rest of the world re-evaluate its stance on Syria.)