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Bizarre

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Humans have been sailing for millennia, but submarines as we know them today are a more recent innovation. It takes a brave soul to journey in one of these claustrophobic underwater vessels, surrounded on all sides by the crushing pressure of the sea.

We all know about the Yellow Submarine, but most people don’t know about the following tales of intrigue and mystery from deep underwater, and sometimes right at the surface. Ghosts, sea monsters, UFOs, and skeletons aren’t just for pirate ships, or spaceships for that matter. Submarines have their own stories of unexplained lore.

10 U-505

On October 24, 1943, U-505 was bombed with depth charges by British destroyers. In the midst of the attack, Peter Zschech, the commander of the sub, shot himself in the head in front of his crew in the control room.

In an account of the day’s events, a crewman named Hans Goebler notes that Zschech didn’t fully die by the gunshot and was making loud sounds after he shot himself, making it easier for the British to locate them by sonar. He then describes someone grabbing a pillow and placing it over Zschech’s mouth, to the dismay of the crew doctor, who protested, but two other crew members held the pillow firmly until Zschech was silent.[1]

Zschech’s second-in-command took over and led the crew through the attack, and everyone on board survived but Zschech. The entry from the logbook that day reads “Kommandant tot,” meaning “Commanding Officer dead.”

9 UB-65

Another German U-boat, this time from World War I, that had uncannily morbid luck was UB-65.

Before she set out to sea, a torpedo exploded, injuring several crewmen and killing the second officer, Lieutenant Richter. Soon after she left port, a lookout who was in the conning tower reported seeing Lieutenant Richter, returned to haunt the boat, standing on the deck. Maybe it was the long, lonely days at sea, but crewmen kept reporting sightings of him, and things got so bad that the higher-ups had to step in. The Imperial Navy ordered a pastor to kick the ghost out.[2]

In UB-65 ’s final stroke of terrible luck, an American submarine found the U-boat along the Irish coast. As the Americans prepared to attack, they were shocked to see UB-65 explode on its own before they fired. One American officer also reported seeing a silhouette on the deck wearing a German officer’s overcoat, with folded arms, standing sturdy while the boat sank.

8 UB-85

Who doesn’t love a good sea monster story? On April 30, 1918, the crew of the German U-boat UB-85 surrendered willingly to a British patrol boat as their sub sank. The Germans’ commanding officer, Captain Krech, had a strange story about why they didn’t resist: He said that the previous night, while UB-85 was surfaced, a “strange beast” had crashed out of the water and attached itself to the deck, its enormous weight nearly sinking the boat. The beast, according to Krech, had “large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull.” The crew started firing their sidearms at it, eventually hurting it enough to weaken its grip. The monster let go, but it left the deck so damaged that UB-85 couldn’t dive.[3]

In 2016, the wreck of UB-85 was discovered, bringing attention to what could have possibly happened back in 1918. Was it a sea monster, or something else?

Historians recently uncovered an interview with another crew member which tells us what might have really happened: Apparently, Krech had a heater installed in the officers’ quarters. The cables for this heater ran through a watertight hatch, making it vulnerable to flooding. It’s likely that Krech’s story is just a “sea monster sank my submarine” excuse for his own indiscretion, though believers still insist it was a kraken-like monster.

7 The H.L. Hunley

Picture this: It’s 2000, and you’re a diver going underwater to help pull out the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, the first combat submarine ever to sink an enemy warship. The submarine disappeared the same day it sank the USS Housatonic, on February 17, 1864.

When you get to peek inside the craft, you are struck by the sight of eight skeletons, each manning a respective submarine station, none of which appear to have been alarmed by sinking or have moved from their posts. What could have caused them to stay where they were, perfectly preserved in a strange image of action?

The answer scientists found is that the H.L. Hunley suffered from the explosion of its own torpedo, which was detonated by ramming the Housatonic, knocking them unconscious. Unable to guide the sub or do anything else, they remained at their stations, not to be discovered for 136 years.[4] The H.L. Hunley came to rest about 300 meters (1,000 ft) away from the wreck of the Housatonic.

6 USS Trepang

Submarines are the last place you would think you’d see a UFO. But in 2015, mysterious photographs published to the French magazine Top Secret showed just that: a cigar-shaped unidentified flying object.[5]

The photos were reportedly taken in March 1971 by an officer aboard the Trepang in the middle of the ocean between Iceland and Jan Mayen, a barely inhabited Norwegian island. At the time, the Trepang was conducting a routine expedition and apparently found the UFO by accident, as it was spotted through the periscope by officer John Klika.

A British UFO investigator named Nigel Watson has said that similar-looking cigar-shaped aircraft have been spotted and reported since 1896, and reports have come from all across the world. While he is skeptical of the authenticity of the photographs, we can dream, right?

5 Quester I

Have you ever seen the shipwrecks on Coney Island Creek in New York City? They look like skeletons could pop out at any moment. The most unusual of these ships is a submarine that has a rusty orangish-yellow conning tower sticking up. This submarine, called the Quester I, was built for a purpose that never ended up being fulfilled: to rescue treasure from a sunken ocean liner that lies under the Atlantic off the coast of Massachusetts, the Andrea Doria, which sank in 1956.

In the late 1960s, Jerry Bianco set about building a submarine that could submerge to the sunken ship and salvage the valuables. He painted the sub yellow not because of the famous Beatles song but because the yellow paint was the best deal he could find.

On October 19, 1970, after four years of hard work, the sub was lowered into Coney Island Creek. The crane operator wasn’t supposed to lower the sub entirely into the water, but he did. Bianco had only removed the ballast from one side as money-saving measure, so the sub ended up tipping on its side so much that Bianco’s investors lost faith in its ability to float, and it never left the creek. The Quester I still sits in the same spot today.[6]

4 K-219

On October 3, 1986, Soviet submarine K-129 was patrolling in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,100 kilometers (700 mi) northeast of Bermuda. An engineer noticed a leak from a plug in the torpedo room and tried to stop it. Water started rushing in. Eventually, a torpedo casing split, and the resulting explosion killed three crew members and started an enormous flood. One of the crewmen gave his life to enter the nuclear compartment to shut down the engine, and they were able to surface.

When the captain opened the hatch, however, he noticed something strange: There appeared to be two long scratch marks along the side of the submarine, but they hadn’t collided with anything along the way. The Soviet Navy suspected that the cause of the scratch and explosion was an American submarine patrolling nearby, the USS Augusta. The US Navy, to this day, denies that they attacked K-219.

In 2010, Soviet captain Nikolai Tushin gave an interview about what he believes collided with K-219 instead: an unidentified underwater object called a “Quacker,” called that because of the sound it makes, a cross between a duck quack and a frog croak. These odd sounds started to be noticed by sonar operators during the Cold War, likely because of the advances made in sonar during that time.[7] If a Quacker is responsible, it can still visit K-219 at the bottom of the sea today.

3 U-166

Most people know about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, but less known is the German U-boat patrol in the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to sink American merchant ships right on their home shore.

One of the 17 U-boats in this German fleet was U-166. In 1942, it spotted a steam passenger ship called the Robert E. Lee, and the unsuspecting passengers on board thought they saw a shark streaming toward them underwater until a torpedo struck the ship and sent her sinking to the bottom of the ocean. While survivors clung to lifeboats, the US Navy’s PC-566 dropped a depth charge on the U-boat, never finding out whether they had successfully hit it. Coast Guard planes also spotted and bombed another U-boat, but once they returned to base, they were told that the matter was classified and never found out whether they had made a hit in either case.

It was only in 2001, upon a petroleum survey’s discovery of a U-boat near where the Robert E. Lee sank, that historians found the answer: The U-166 was sank by the first attack.[8] Both the Robert E. Lee and U-166 now sit at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, an eerie reminder of a German attack incredibly close to American soil during World War II, less than 80 kilometers (50 mi) south of the Mississippi River Delta.

2 The Surcouf

At the time it was launched in 1929, the Surcouf was the largest submarine in the world, built to rival the ever more advanced U-boats put out by the German Navy. When Germany invaded France, the Allies were fearful that they would also seize control of French submarines. The Surcouf was ordered to Plymouth, England, and the French crewmen didn’t exactly enjoy being boarded by their historical foe, despite being on the same side, and there was a fight onboard which resulted in four deaths.

Tension didn’t exactly stop after the fight. Each side of the French forces believed the other was secretly working for the Germans, and the British even suggested that some French ships attacked British ships. Eventually, the Surcouf was ordered to the Pacific and stopped in Bermuda to refuel. In February 1942, she disappeared in the Caribbean off the coast of Panama and was never heard from again.

One theory is that the sub collided with an American merchant ship, which reported striking something in the water. Some people credit the loss of the Surcouf to the Bermuda Triangle, years before it would become infamous.[9] Whatever happened, neither the remains of the Surcouf nor her crew have ever been found.

1 U-537

The Germans had some strange military initiatives in World War II, but perhaps one of the most unusual was the scientific outpost they created in the Arctic Circle. Since the Allies occupied the westernmost areas, they were much better able to predict the weather for their naval strategies. That was until Germany decided to set up a weather outlet of their own. This weather station was delivered by U-537, which was outfitted to be able to install the equipment on the northern shore of Labrador.[10]

The submarine persisted north despite pretty intense obstacles: It hit an iceberg and sustained major damage, rendering it unable to submerge. The Germans, however, managed to reach their destination and set up their weather station. They disguised their setup as much as possible, making up a fake Canadian name for their equipment and strewing American cigarette packs around to make it seem like it was an Allied station. On its way back to its port in occupied France, U-537 was attacked three times by Canadian planes but managed to escape.

Louise enjoys coffee, dogs, and people-watching.


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General Knowledge

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Given that these swimsuits are a common sight on beaches around the world, it is easy to assume that the bikini was simply invented and then slipped seamlessly into mainstream usage. But that is certainly not the case.

Not only can the origins of this thoroughly modern outfit be traced back much further than we might expect, the road to its current status was a long and bumpy one. This list details some of the obscure facts about the bikini’s creation and development.

10 They Were Wearing Them In Ancient Times

The bikini is commonly considered to have been invented in France shortly after the end of World War II. But we have clear evidence that bikini-like costumes existed long before this.

All the way back in 5600 BC, artists in the ancient settlement called Catalhoyuk—which was located in the southern part of Anatolia—were producing work that showed their goddess wearing an outfit that looks like a bikini. Furthermore, paintings and urns dating back to ancient Greece in 1400 BC clearly show women dressed in two-piece outfits that are a forerunner of the bikinis worn today. They were taking part in sporting or athletic activities.

A prototype of the bikini was also a feature of ancient Rome. Sicily’s Villa Romana del Casale contains a mosaic artwork called “Coronation of the Winner” that shows women in costumes that are almost identical to the bikini of today. These women were playing handball, running, and throwing the discus.[1]

9 They Were Featured In Ancient Literature As Well

Visual examples are not the only evidence that the bikini or similar items of clothing go back a long way. There are also a number of references to such garments throughout ancient literature.

Ovid, one of the three major Latin poets, writes about the potential for a woman to conceal love letters inside a top that he describes as looking like a strip of cloth worn around the chest area. That certainly sounds a lot like a bikini top.

Martial, a second Latin poet who came from Hispania and lived between AD 86 and AD 103, wrote a satirical piece of poetry about a rather butch female athlete. He describes her as eating, drinking, vomiting, and possibly having sex with other women while wearing an outfit that clearly mirrors what we would consider a bikini.

Another piece by Martial includes a mention of a prostitute called Chione wearing a bikini to a bathhouse.[2] Ironically, given how risque the costume was considered when it was introduced during the 1940s, it is portrayed in this satire as being an example of an immodest woman trying to conceal her true nature—as most women would have been naked when visiting the bathhouse and a prostitute would frequently be naked in front of others.

8 They Were Previewed On The Silver Screen

Most people know that movie stars helped to popularize the bikini. The French actress and sex symbol Brigitte Bardot was famously photographed in one during the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, which caused sales of the swimsuit to skyrocket almost immediately in France.

Fewer people know that clothing almost identical to the modern bikini had appeared on the actual screen two decades earlier in a number of movies made during the legendary 1930s Hollywood era. This was before the National Legion of Decency’s production code (and strict adherence to the Hays Code) came into force.

The great Busby Berkeley musical Gold Diggers of 1933 features dancers wearing bikini-style, two-piece swimsuits made of coins,[3] while chorus girls are in skimpy, two-piece bathing outfits in the following year’s Fashions of 1934. Pre-Code Hollywood is often celebrated for its daring and progressiveness, and this is another example of it being far ahead of its time.

7 The War Helped Bring Them About

The bikini as we know it today did not achieve mainstream acceptance in the US until the 1960s. But the process was kick-started 20 years earlier when more modest two-piece swimsuits hit beaches in America with a little help from World War II.

With the US at war in 1942 and needing uniforms for the 16 million men and women who were fighting for their country, the nation’s War Production Board forced civilian clothing manufacturers to reduce the amount of fabric they used. The actual regulation with such an impact on our culture was L-85.[4]

It did not only apply to those who made swimwear, but it did lead those manufacturers to come up with a smart solution to the problem. They devised two-piece costumes as a way of complying with L-85. The exposed midriff meant less fabric was needed.

The following year, further fabric rationing saw women’s swimsuits become even briefer. By this time, two-piece swimsuits were common in publicity photos of Hollywood actresses like Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner. This made women more comfortable with them.

6 The Name Has Dark Associations

The man who is credited with the creation of the bikini is Louis Reard, an engineer from France, with the grand launch of his invention taking place on July 5, 1946. This period just after World War II was when the atomic bomb was undergoing testing by US scientists. The chosen site for a lot of these deadly tests was the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Reard’s unveiling of his controversially skimpy new bathing suit took place just days after one of these deadly bomb tests. Clearly, the issue was on his mind as he chose to name his garment after the test location.[5]

The inspiration for the design was Reard witnessing Saint-Tropez sunbathers trying to increase their tanning areas by rolling up parts of their swimsuits. But the name he chose suggests that he was not oblivious to events in the wider world. To be fair to Reard, the launch of the bikini created shock waves around the globe, so maybe it wasn’t such an odd choice.

5 Reard Had A Rival

While Reard claimed a place in the history books, it could have been a lot different as there was another man during the same period who had similar ideas. Jacques Heim was a fashion designer from France who ran a shop in Cannes that sold swimwear.

In May 1946, two whole months before Reard launched his creation, Heim debuted a new two-piece swimming costume. He gave it the name Atome, which means “atom” in French. He emphasized its skimpiness by comparing it to the tiniest known particle of matter.

Given that he got there first, why didn’t Heim go down in history as the man who came up with the bikini?

He brought in skywriters to advertise his creation as the smallest female bathing suit ever, only for Reard to do the same a few weeks later. By wittily stating that it had “split the Atome,” Reard’s ad pointed out that his creation was even scantier than his rival’s.[6]

Ultimately, Reard was the man who took the plaudits due to a combination of his more radical, eye-catching design and his chosen name, Bikini, resonating with the public in a way that Atome did not.

4 Resistance To Them Was Fierce

The bikini attracted a fierce backlash when it first appeared. The design was considered so scandalous that no professional model was prepared to wear one for its official launch. Reard had to pay 19-year-old Micheline Bernardini, who worked as a nude dancer at the Casino de Paris, to model it.[7]

The press conference also produced outrage from the journalists who were present due to the exposure of Bernardini’s belly button. In fact, the bikini was instantly banned in a number of places, including France, Italy, and Spain. The swimsuit was also greeted with disapproval in the US.

An attempt was made to bring it into the mainstream through the Miss World competition of 1951. But when winner Kiki Hakansson of Sweden received her prize wearing a bikini, religious groups caused such a fuss that the organizers of Miss World and other beauty pageants banned the costume.

3 They Were A Lot More Practical Than Some Of Their Precursors

The advent of the bikini must have come as a great relief to many women considering the impractical things they had to wear on the beach in earlier eras. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a strong emphasis on female modesty when swimming. Women had to wear full-body costumes—complete with stockings—that were made of materials like wool or flannel.

Aside from being extremely uncomfortable in hot weather, these garments were unsuitable for actual bathing because the wool retained water. As soon as a woman spent any time swimming, the suit would become heavy, shapeless, and baggy. Drying it was also incredibly difficult.[8]

The bikini represented the endpoint of a move toward focusing on practicality when creating swimwear for women. That movement was started by Australian professional swimmer Annette Kellerman who had previously endured a 1907 arrest at a Massachusetts beach for wearing a formfitting, one-piece costume with bare legs.

2 There Are Lots Of Different Types Of Bikini These Days

It took a long time for this type of swimsuit to become socially acceptable. But once it happened, the bikini went on to spawn multiple variants of the original.

One of the first was the string bikini. It is believed to have been unintentionally created by Rose de Primallio, a fashion model from Brazil, after she was left with a minimal amount of fabric to make an outfit for a shoot. However, PR man Glen Tororich and his model wife, Brandi Perret-DuJon, officially launched this swimsuit at the grand opening of a shopping mall in New Orleans during 1974.

The monokini, which was created in the mid-1960s by Rudi Gernreich, was initially a swimsuit with a tight bottom half and two thin strings that left a woman’s breasts exposed. (Other versions have been created as well.) For obvious reasons, this has remained a more niche variant, just as with Gernreich’s obscure pubikini.

Another version that reduces the material is the microkini, which pushes exposure to the absolute limit permitted in most countries. The tankini, which first appeared in the late 1990s, works on the principle of concealing more by combining bikini bottoms with a tank top. Meanwhile, the skirtini reverses this by featuring standard bikini tops and skirt bottoms.

Finally, the controversial burkini covers the entire body and was specifically designed by Australian Aheda Zanetti for Muslim women to wear at the beach.[9] This outfit was banned in various parts of France during 2016, although the ban was overturned on appeal.

1 But You Couldn’t Afford The Most Expensive One

While the swimsuits just discussed could be worn by anyone bold enough, some bikinis are definitely beyond the financial reach of ordinary people. One example created in 1977 was made of platinum, cost nearly $10,000, and was worn by Miss United Kingdom at that year’s Miss World Contest. At the time, it was the most expensive bikini ever made.

In 2006, it was overtaken by a creation from fashion designer Susan Rosen that cost a staggering $30 million and was made entirely of flawless 150-carat diamonds. This sounds as uncomfortable to wear as it would be unaffordable for most.[10]

However, there is always the “bling-kini.” Made by fashion design firm Pistol Panties in 2009, the bling-kini has a covering of 5,000 Swarovski crystals and would only set the buyer back £2,000.

I am a freelance writer who has written jokes and sketches for BBC radio comedy shows. I have also written and directed short films as part of the groups Ensemble and Wardlaw Films.


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Science

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Crimes are committed every single day, including murder, theft, and assault. People break into homes and cause countless problems for others. And that’s what we think of when it comes to crimes—people.

But as we’re going to learn, humans aren’t the only culprits. Some of the same crimes for which people have been responsible have also been carried out by animals. Here are 10 of these cases.

10 The Bear Who Stole A Car, Crashed It, And Relieved Itself

Bears have been known to steal food from homes, terrorize towns, and even break in on some occasions. But this story most likely takes the cake.

A family in Colorado woke up at 5:00 AM to find out that a bear had entered their car during the night. While looking for food, the animal got stuck, accidentally released the gear, and crashed the car into their neighbor’s mailbox. Additionally, before leaving, the bear left a thoughtful gift in the form of its own poop.

Thankfully, no one was hurt. However, the car was damaged, leaving the back window completely shattered and its radio and steering wheel practically torn out. The family was certainly extremely surprised by what had happened but mostly took it in good humor.

Nevertheless, the car was crashed and the mailbox practically destroyed. Therefore, the bear had committed damage of property and car theft.[1]

9 The Rooster Who Stabbed Someone

Cockfighting isn’t something to be taken lightly as it’s animal cruelty and illegal in the United States. Yet this incident took place in California and has also claimed a man’s life.

Thirty-five-year-old Jose Luis Ochoa attended an illegal cockfighting event where he was stabbed in the right calf by a rooster with a knife attached to its leg. It’s common for cockfighting roosters to have razor-sharp knives and other objects in fights. However, no one has been murdered or even seriously injured by one, so this shocked people.

The man was taken to a hospital, but it was too late. He died two hours afterward.[2]

8 The Chimp Who Violently Attacked A Young Woman

In November 1973, an experiment titled Project Nim had begun with the birth of a chimpanzee, Nim, who was torn from his mother. Researchers sent him to live with a human family in an attempt to raise Nim the same way as a human child.

The chimp was taught sign language, and everything was going great until an incident when a young female volunteer thought that Nim was trying to give her a hug. But what happened was tragically (and terrifyingly) different.

The chimp lunged toward the woman and proceeded to pierce her mouth using his fangs. As the woman was holding her hand on her bleeding cheek, the young chimp reportedly signaled “I’m sorry” repeatedly in sign language.

While the young woman was okay in the end, this case put a dark twist on the experiment already questioned by some.[3]

7 The Emu Chased By The Police

As anyone from Australia can probably confirm, emus aren’t to be taken lightly, either. However, this one committed a rather funny and innocent crime. After it had escaped from its owner, this 1.2-meter (4 ft) emu was seen running through a town during rush hour, trying to break into homes to avoid getting caught.

The police officers were a little frightened by the bird as it was quite large and fast, not to mention that dealing with birds gone wild wasn’t exactly an everyday occurrence in their jobs.

A woman was asked if she could let the bird into her lounge, but she didn’t believe it to be the best idea. Nonetheless, the emu was successfully caught at 8:00 AM and returned to its owner.[4]

6 Fish-Stealing Sperm Whales

Rather than this being a crime committed by one specific animal, it’s apparently a common occurrence according to Alaskan fishermen. The sperm whales seem to target fishing boats as easy food sources by using an intelligent technique which involves getting the fish off the hooks and swiping them into the water.

This theft has become quite a nuisance to the fishermen, but it’s not likely that it will change anytime soon.[5]

The engine sound of the boat is said to attract the animals, who hunt using sound. They peacefully swim next to the boats, waiting for their moment to strike. They’re certainly clever, so we’d argue that they deserve some snacks.

5 The Unsuccessful Slow Thief

A sloth, generally considered slow and lazy, managed to sneak its way into a closed restaurant. Looking for a quick snack in the night, it cleverly maneuvered through the place at first. However, this slow robber was caught as it fell toward the floor, alerting the cafe’s security after landing.[6]

Although some monkeys have previously been spotted in the restaurant during the day, this still surprised the owner, who found the incident quite funny.

4 The Cat Burglar

Cats are usually considered to be less innocent than their canine counterparts. Still, it’s not normally expected that a cat would have a growing pile of money taken from others.[7]

Sir Whines-A-Lot, the cat in question, has apparently snatched money from people through a small gap in an office door where his owner works. What most likely started as a game of people waving dollar bills at the kitty quickly grew bigger to the surprise of his owner, who decided to donate the money to the homeless.

3 The Evidence-Stealing Crow

Crows are much smarter than some people are aware of. Still, it caught everyone by surprise when a crow named Canuck flew toward the ground to steal a knife, which was crime scene evidence from a Vancouver case that reportedly involved more than 20 police officers.[8]

Canuck turned out to be the pet of someone living nearby. The bird had grown up in the company of humans but had developed quite the mischievous streak of engaging in pranks and humorous behavior. In this case, the crow might have caused more trouble than ever before.

2 The Dog Who Shot His Owner

A man from Iowa spent what started as a normal day playing on the couch with his dog, Balew, before an unfortunate accident occurred. During that playtime, the dog disabled the safety of the man’s gun and then stepped on the trigger, shooting his owner in the leg.

The man later referred to his dog as a “big wuss” to the press, saying that the dog had lain down near him crying because the poor pooch knew he had done something wrong. Thankfully, in the end, everyone was okay.[9]

1 The Monkey Who Kidnapped And Murdered A Child

This might easily be the most serious case on the list. It involves a monkey kidnapping and later murdering a child in India. Reportedly, it has been fairly common for local monkeys to steal food and cause problems, but this was the first time that they took someone.

According to the child’s mother, the newborn was sleeping when the monkey grabbed and carried the boy away. Sadly, the monkey was too fast for the mother to catch. Later, the child was found dead behind the home where the monkey must have dropped him.[10]

Just a hobbyist writer who’s incredibly curious and loves interesting bits of info!


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Bizarre

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In mid-2018, Chris Martin was having his UK home renovated when he discovered a World War II bunker in his back garden. The two-room concrete bunker found at the Middlesbrough home was large enough to hold up to 50 people. Martin plans to turn the bunker into an office or wine cellar.

He isn’t the first person to make an amazing discovery in his backyard. People have been finding strange items and treasures on their properties for years, including a stolen vehicle, a bag of cash, ancient fossils, and even mysterious objects. Here is a list of 10 fascinating discoveries in ordinary yards.

10 Stolen Ferrari

In 1978, children were playing in their Los Angeles yard and digging in the mud when they touched something unusual under the ground. The children flagged down a sheriff’s car nearby and told him about the strange object they had found.

The sheriff came back with some help and made an odd discovery. They unearthed a green 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS worth about $18,000 when it was brand-new. It was a mystery to authorities how the vehicle could have ended up there.

The car was purchased by Rosendo Cruz in October 1974, and it was stolen on December 7. The police couldn’t figure out what had happened to the Ferrari, but the insurance company decided to reimburse Cruz for the vehicle anyway. It remains a mystery as to who placed the car in the yard.

The car was eventually purchased from the insurance company for about $7,000 by a mechanic who restored much of the vehicle. The Dino remains unlisted on any Dino registry.[1] But hopefully, someone is out there taking it for a joyous spin down some winding roads.

9 1,000-Year-Old Human Remains

Ali Erturk was building a trout pond in his Utah backyard for his father when he came across something unusual. The 14-year-old boy thought he had found an animal bone. But after continuing to dig, he realized that the bones might have belonged to a human. Erturk discovered the first bone about 2 meters (6 ft) below the surface.

After the police arrived, they quickly realized that the bones were incredibly old and referred the case to the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts. The department workers soon determined that the bones belonged to a Native American who had lived over 1,000 years ago.

Humans have occupied this area of Utah for over 10,000 years. The department gets multiple calls a year that are similar to this one.[2]

8 $10 Million Worth Of Gold Coins

A Northern California couple stumbled across something rare as they were walking their dog. Buried in the shadow of a tree was $10 million in gold coins. There were over 1,400 coins dating from 1847–1894. They were also in rare mint condition. The face value of the coins only added up to $27,000, but they were so rare that they were worth much more. The couple knew that they were about to be rich.

Some experts believed that the coins were stolen, but the robbery could never be proven. The couple remained anonymous and decided to auction off the collection. The first coin to sell was an 1874 $20 double eagle that brought in $15,000. An 1866-S No Motto $20 gold piece was valued at more than $1 million. The entire collection was estimated to be worth over $11 million.[3]

7 Mysterious Crystal Object

In Kitchener, Ontario, two sisters were digging in their backyard for worms for an upcoming fishing trip when they discovered a large, transparent, shiny object with a bluish hue. Some believed that it was part of a meteorite that had fallen just a month earlier, but nobody could seem to identify it. The family hoped that the object had a high value and could be sold.[4]

A local gem and mineral expert didn’t know what it was, so the piece was sent to the University of Waterloo for further testing. The curator of the school’s Earth sciences museum was finally able to identify the object, but it wasn’t anything special. It was a type of glass sold in various colors that was used as a garden ornament.

After the object was identified, it was sent back to the two sisters.

6 Mammoth Bone

A family in rural Iowa went out to pick blackberries, but they returned with more than just a bucketful of berries. The family had discovered a 1.2-meter-long (4 ft) mammoth femur.

This was just the beginning of what would be found on their property. The father took the massive bone to the University of Iowa to have it identified. The university’s Museum of Natural History continued the excavation and found several other bones on the property.[5]

The team of excavators has found parts of at least three woolly mammoths, although none of them is complete. The crew found several bones, teeth, and tusks belonging to the creatures. After examining the discovery, scientists have determined that the woolly mammoth bones are about 13,000 to 14,000 years old.

5 World War II Explosives

About 75–100 people in a Southern California neighborhood were evacuated after authorities discovered several World War II–era explosives in the backyard of an abandoned home. The house was once owned by a World War II veteran who had died months before the discovery, but it is not clear if he was the owner of the explosives. The house had been vacant after his death, and transients had taken over the property.[6]

After searching the yard and home, authorities found several grenades, mortar rounds, rusty artillery shells, bullets, and more. Many of the devices were duds, but authorities were concerned about some of the ammunition. Most of the explosives were transported to another location for safe disposal, and nearby residents had to wait many hours to return to their homes.

4 Cursed Money

In 2011, Wayne Sabaj found a nylon bag with $150,000 stashed in his Illinois backyard garden. The carpenter, who had been unemployed for two years, was picking broccoli when he discovered the cash.

He turned the money over to authorities, and they told him that he could keep the cash if it was not claimed by the end of 2012. Eventually, his 87-year-old neighbor, Delores Johnson, and a liquor store stepped in to claim the money.[7]

Johnson suffered from dementia, but she told her daughter that she got rid of the money because it was cursed. Johnson died before she could claim the bulk of the money, but it would later go to her daughter.

Due to a diabetic problem, Sabaj died just 10 days before receiving his smaller portion of the money. Sabaj’s father went into cardiac arrest after finding out about his son’s death, but he was awarded the amount that Sabaj would have received. Mrs. Johnson may have been right about the money being cursed after all.

3 Rusty Old Safe

A New York couple always noticed a piece of metal under some trees in their backyard, but they thought that it was just an electrical box or cable. A landscaping crew at their home discovered that it was actually an old rusty safe.

Inside the safe, they found wet money and lots of jewelry in plastic bags. There were dozens of rings (including an engagement ring), diamonds, and other jewelry. There was also a piece of paper with their neighbor’s address.

The couple went to the neighbor and asked if they had ever been robbed. They replied that their safe had been stolen the night after Christmas 2011. They even knew that the safe contained cash and jewelry that was worth about $52,000.

The couple returned the safe to their neighbor. When the couple was asked why they didn’t just keep it for themselves, they replied, “It wasn’t even a question. It wasn’t ours.”[8]

2 Whale Fossil

Gary Johnson first discovered a half-ton whale fossil when he was a teenager exploring the creek behind his family’s home in Southern California. A local museum passed on adding it to their collection back then. In 2014, 53-year-old Johnson contacted the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County about the fossil after another sperm whale fossil was recovered at a nearby school.

A paleontologist from the Natural History Museum claimed that the baleen whale fossil was around 16–17 million years old. Only about 20 baleen fossils are known to exist.

The fossil was lodged in a 450-kilogram (1,000 lb) rock, and it was hoisted from a ravine by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Their search-and-rescue team used the fossil recovery as a training mission, but they typically rescue motorists and hikers who have careened off the roadway onto the steep and rugged hills.[9]

1 Cold War Bomb Shelter

John Sims discovered a Cold War–era fallout shelter underneath the lawn of his Tucson, Arizona, home. He uncovered the shelter after receiving a tip from a previous owner of the home.

Sims started digging shallow holes in the backyard, but he began to believe that the shelter had either collapsed or was under a bricked-in corner of the yard. After hiring a consultant with metal detectors who found where to dig, Sims hit the metal cap that covered the entrance of the shelter.

He discovered that the shelter was from 1961 and had been built by Whitaker Pools. Made of concrete with a domed fiberglass ceiling, the bunker could be entered by walking down a spiral staircase. It led to a large room that was emptied of any furniture.[10]

The shelter appeared to have been deliberately closed off after the Cold War. Between the 1960s and 1980s, 18 intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads were deployed in the desert around Tucson, making the city no stranger to the Cold War. Sims plans to restore the bunker to its original glory.

I’m just another bearded guy trying to write my way through life. Visit me at www.MDavidScott.com.


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General Knowledge

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The ancient Romans are well-known for keeping an abundance of written records about their society. Sometimes, it almost seems as though we know more about them than we do about ourselves.

Of course, World History and History of Western Civilization courses and textbooks always cover the history of the Romans. After all, so much of modern society and politics mirrors their achievements. However, some facts never seem to come up in class, many of which are quite strange. Some even border on the fantastical.

10 The Romans Closely Guarded Books That Foretold Events To Come

Locked away from prying eyes were books written in spidery Greek that spoke of the future of Rome and her citizens, including its inevitable end. These tomes were kept within the Temple of Jupiter where only the most skilled interpreter was permitted to trace his gnarled finger across the faded lines to determine what was to happen and how best to prevent it.

Legend has it that an old lady approached King Tarquin way back when Rome was still ruled by Etruscan kings. She offered him nine books at an absurd price, which he promptly refused with a hearty “Harrumph!”

She proceeded to burn three of the books and then returned with the remaining six, still demanding the same price. Once again, he refused. But this time, he began to question what he was turning down.

When she returned with three books after burning three more, he quickly bought the tomes. Upon perusing the battered manuscripts, it was apparent that they were books of prophecy for they told of Rome’s imminent rise and fall.

Many associated the old lady with a sibyl who had foretold the fall of Troy. From that day forward, the books were kept secret and closely guarded, only to be brought out when Rome was in peril and in need of answers.[1]

9 Crassus’s Fire Brigade Was The Most Corrupt Fire Department Ever

Rome’s First Triumvirate consisted of three very powerful men: Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Pompey, and Marcus Crassus. Due to the overwhelming shadow of Caesar and Pompey, Crassus tends to fall by the wayside in most history classes. This is a shame because he was a veritable misanthrope whose avarice and lack of humanity were legendary.

One of the lesser-known stories about him concerns his fire brigade. After all, what great municipality would be complete without emergency units to respond to catastrophes such as a raging fire threatening to engulf one’s home?

Except this unit would arrive on the scene only to refuse their services until the owner sold his property cheap to Crassus. Imagine seeing your home lit up like a bonfire, just begging to be doused by the firefighters standing not 5 meters (15 ft) away, and your only options are to let it all burn away or sell it for far less than it’s worth.[2]

8 The Publicani Were Basically The Mafia Of Ancient Rome

Ah, the tax collector. What a thankless occupation. Especially if your sole purpose in life is to bleed others dry while you reap the benefits. Believe it or not, tax collectors today are far more benevolent than their ancient counterparts.

During the second century BC, Roman businessmen called the publicani dominated the ancient world. Arriving at newly conquered provinces, they would engage in tax farming with many of the hapless provincials. As has been the wont of the upper 1 percent throughout human history, they absolutely adored squeezing as much money as they could out of the poor and downright stomping on the poorest of the poor.

The wealth amassed by the publicani led them to control trade, banking, and shipping. They became notorious for their brutal tactics as they strong-armed Easterners (including the Greeks, who were Easterners to the Romans). The publicani would collect a tax called the decuma (10 percent harvest tax), much of which went to the Roman government.[3]

As a portion of this wealth found its way into the pockets of Roman politicians, the actions of the publicani were largely tolerated, even if they were tacitly condemned.

7 A Man Infiltrated A Festival Exclusively For Women

It’s December. Pine trees are in your house, carols are in the air, and specials such as Charlie Brown and the Grinch are on TV. You guessed it. It’s the festival of the Good Goddess.

This was a time in ancient Rome when the women would gather together to celebrate the rites of the goddess while the men hid away. Men were not permitted to partake in this festival. Even statues of men were to be veiled.

However, that did not stop Publius Clodius Pulcher from dissembling as a flute girl (or a harpist, according to some accounts) and creepily surveying the multitude of ladies in his midst. Of course, the women grew suspicious of the flute girl whom none recognized.

Their suspicions were duly confirmed when the woman, once questioned, answered in a deep voice that smacked of masculinity. Naturally, the rites were suspended, a trial was held, and Clodius was left to nurse his irreparably damaged reputation.[4]

6 King Mithridates Grew Up In The Wild And Was Immune To Poison

Although technically not Roman, King Mithridates VI of Pontus played an enormous role in the history of Rome. He was one of the greatest threats to the Roman State, easily rivaling the likes of Hannibal of Carthage.

As a child, Mithridates was maliciously persecuted by his mother. Forced to take refuge in a forest, he lived there for seven years, where he battled wild beasts and subsisted on deer. He also developed a fascination with toxicology, repeatedly ingesting sublethal doses of poisons until he became immune to them.

Unfortunately, this strategy backfired when he was blockaded in his bedroom by sympathizers of Pompey. Mithridates’s attempt at suicide by poison failed, and he was forced to ask one of his loyal guards to take a blade and run him through.[5]

5 Sergius Orata Invented The ‘Hanging Baths’

Much like today, many wealthy city dwellers in the ancient world vacationed at resorts to escape the poor. For the Romans, Puteoli was the place to be. They quickly bought up property so that those awful poor people would never be able to set foot in that region.

A resourceful entrepreneur named Sergius Orata was renowned for his oyster beds. He served up the tastiest oysters this side of the Rubicon. However, he was also known for a popular invention called balneae pensiles (“hanging baths”).

Interestingly, they are called “hanging baths” due to a literal translation of the Latin words. But to this day, historians cannot agree on what they were actually meant to be. Some have argued that these were hot showers, while others believe that they were underfloor central heating systems.

The first argument doesn’t work because balneae means “baths,” not “showers.” The second explanation also seems unlikely because there was already a term for such a system: “hypocaust.”[6]

So, what were they exactly? Showers? Baths? Hypocausts?

4 Emperor Caligula Appointed His Horse As A Member Of The Senate

According to the historian Suetonius, Emperor Caligula adored his horse Incitatus. In fact, he loved that animal so much that he named the steed as a member of the Senate.

Was this a sign of madness?[7]

Well, many scholars have argued that this was done to insult and humiliate senators and other elites. Caligula’s relatively brief reign was characterized by a feud between himself and the Roman Senate and efforts by the emperor to enhance his power within the empire. By bestowing a high public office on his horse, Caligula made it clear to his underlings that their work was so meaningless that an animal could do it.

3 The Romans Worshiped Gods Of Excrement

Sterculius was the Roman god of manure and fertilizer. He was merely one of a seemingly countless number of god-spirits that early Romans believed had to be bribed and worshiped if all aspects of life were to proceed smoothly.

This included prayers to Cloacina, the sewer goddess, as well as Crepitus, the god of toilets. Cloacina was the patron goddess of the main drain of the city of Rome, which was known as the Cloaca Maxima.[8]

The Romans came to regard Cloacina in a variety of other ways. For example, they eventually referred to her as the goddess of purity, the goddess of filth, and the protector of sexual intercourse in marriage. Over the ages, she came to be affiliated with Venus, the goddess of beauty and love, and gradually became known to many as the Venus Cloacina.

2 Handful Of Women Were Accused Of Mass Murder By Poisoning

The subject of poisons and poisoning is often broached in Roman literature. The crime of poisoning seems to have occurred much more often in ancient than in modern times. The first record of this type of offense in Rome tells of a high mortality. Although this likely resulted from a pestilence, it was attributed to poisoning.

After many prominent citizens had perished from the same ailment, a slave girl informed the curule aediles (formal magistrates) that the sudden spike in fatalities was due to the poisons prepared and administered by the Roman matrons. Twenty matrons, including patrician ladies, were discovered in the act of brewing poisons, which they argued were salutary.

How did the authorities prove their guilt?

By forcing the women to drink their own concoctions. In the end, they all perished from their own brews. Following this, 170 more were found guilty of the same offense.

Was this some form of ancient terrorism? Who were these women, and what was their motive? Well, some argue that the deaths were caused by a pestilence, not by poisoning. Unfortunately, we may never learn the truth.[9]

1 Rome Was Ruled By A Transsexual Emperor

Although Emperor Elagabalus is well-known by historians, most people have never heard of him. Not surprisingly, most schools that teach ancient Roman history will avoid this subject as it features an emperor who was transsexual.

The topic of Elagabalus’s genitalia occurs often in many accounts of him. Sources maintain that Elagabalus was circumcised as required by the priestly profession. There are claims that his penis was infibulated.

According to the Roman historian and statesman Dio Cassius, Elagabalus desired castration, though not for the sake of religion. In fact, according to Cassius, this was done for the sake of “effeminacy.”

Many historians today interpret this to mean that the young emperor was transsexual. Although initially supported by the Roman army, Elagabalus was despised by the powerful men of the Senate. In the end, Elagabalus was murdered and his mutilated corpse was dragged through the streets, ultimately to be tossed into the Tiber.[10]


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Science

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Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most significant, unusual, or just plain old mind-blowing stories each week.

This was the week when the dream of a new, post-Mugabe society finally seemed to die in Zimbabwe. Following last year’s coup, new elections deteriorated into the sort of violence and painful crackdown that the old regime specialized in. More on this sad story below, along with a look at the week’s other great controversies—from 3-D printed gun technologies to the US trial of the year.

10 Zimbabwe’s Elections Ended In A Brutal Crackdown

It was meant to be the moment that Zimbabwe finally stepped out from Robert Mugabe’s long shadow. On Monday, Zimbabweans went to the polls in the first elections in 16 years to feature international observers.

At first, things seemed to be progressing well. The African Union declared the elections mostly free and fair despite some clear media bias. As the results came in, both the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition MDC claimed victory but also said that they’d abide by the final count. Sadly, that last part was just wishful thinking.

On Wednesday, Mugabe’s old party, Zanu-PF, were announced as the winners. Immediately, Harare exploded into violence. Opposition protesters flooded the streets, claiming the poll was rigged. The army responded the only way that the army in Zimbabwe ever does at election time: It opened fire. The resulting skirmishes devastated the city center and killed three people.[1]

It wasn’t meant to be this way. The 2018 elections were meant to be the moment that Zimbabwe turned over a new leaf and opened itself up to the outside world. But with the government now vowing to crack down harder, it looks like, sadly, Zimbabwe’s revolutionary dream was only ever that: a dream.

9 A Plan To Release A 3-D Printable Gun Caused Chaos

At the last minute on Tuesday, a federal judge blocked the website DEFCAD.org from going back online. Or at least, the judge tried to. DEFCAD had actually gone live a few hours before it was meant to, resulting in a flurry of panicked headlines. The reason for this? DEFCAD is a website for downloading and 3-D printing your own guns.

If you’re thinking “this is an old story,” you’re right. DEFCAD first went live in 2013. It was taken down after the State Department threatened to prosecute for breaking US firearms export laws, but DEFCAD responded by suing, saying the printing blueprints were protected by the First Amendment. The Trump administration settled with the site in June, allowing it to return online. Until the judge blocked it.[2]

There are fears that DEFCAD will allow criminals to print untraceable firearms or those that can bypass metal detectors. At the moment, printed guns are notoriously unreliable, but that may not be the case in five years. Essentially, the court battle we’re about to see is a fight about what the First and Second Amendments mean in the digital age. The outcome will have far-reaching consequences.

8 The Swedish Crown Jewels Were Stolen In Broad Daylight

If you think all great heists involve Danny Ocean levels of planning and subterfuge, think again. This week, two men pulled off one of the biggest robberies in Swedish history, stealing some of the crown jewels.

Their plan was almost hilariously simple. They walked into a cathedral where the jewels were being displayed, smashed the glass, grabbed the jewels, and rode to the nearest lake on bikes before jumping on jet skis and jetting off into infamy.

The jewels dated from around 1611 and included an orb used at King Karl IX’s funeral. They were as priceless as crown jewels tend to be, which is what makes the ease with which they were stolen so bizarre. There are Walmarts that are harder to steal from than that.

Still, the Swedish police remained oddly upbeat about the whole thing. As the jewels are so distinctive, they’ll be impossible to sell.[3]

7 We Experienced The Longest Lunar Eclipse Of The Century (But Not In America)

For fans of incredible natural phenomena, there was only one story worth caring about in the last seven days. The longest lunar eclipse (aka a “blood Moon”) of the 21st century took place on the night of July 27. It lasted an incredible 1 hour and 45 minutes, during which time the Moon turned an evil red and Mars became brightly visible in the sky. It was like looking upon a scene from the Apocalypse . . . or at least it was if you didn’t live in North America.

The map of the eclipse’s route was like a gigantic middle finger to North America. Nearly every single country on Earth got to witness the blood Moon, with the exception of some Pacific island states, the US, Mexico, Cuba, and Canada.

It’s not all bad news, though. The next total solar eclipse to hit North America is already less than six months away, and that one will hit everywhere but Australia. Until then, North American nature lovers can take some solace from the fact that the skies in the UK and parts of Northern Europe completely clouded over prior to the eclipse.[4]

6 India Stripped Four Million Of Their Citizenship

Assam is a troubled state in India that borders Bangladesh. During the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence, millions of refugees flooded the place, often lacking basic identification. In 1985, an agreement was signed, allowing those who arrived prior to the war’s start to stay in Assam permanently. Those who arrived as refugees would have to go.

However, the law was never really enforced and Assam has long been a hub for illegal immigration. When Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party came to power, that all changed. An Indian citizenship list was compiled for Assam to decide who could stay and who should be deported. This week, a draft of that list was published. Over four million residents of Assam were missing. The assumption is that they will now be deported.[5]

Aside from effectively declaring four million people illegals, the list was controversial because of perceived anti-Muslim bias. Modi himself said that Hindus who fled Bangladesh after the war started should be allowed to remain, while Muslims would have to leave. This is a big problem for Assam, a tinderbox state with a reputation for ethnic violence. Only six years ago, race riots killed 80 people.

5 Germany Freed Its Only Suspect In A Neo-Nazi Bombing

In July 2000, a bomb exploded at a Dusseldorf station, targeting Jewish immigrants. Twelve people were injured, and a pregnant woman caught in the blast lost her unborn child. It was one of Germany’s most infamous neo-Nazi bombings, thanks to a 17-year investigation that turned up nothing.

It was only last year that anyone was charged. A suspect known as Ralf S was arrested after a former prisoner came forward, saying Ralf had boasted to him about carrying out the bombing when they shared a cell in 2014.

This week, though, the trial of Ralf S collapsed. Although he was recorded claiming responsibility for the attack, too many witnesses backed out at the last moment. Unable to tell if his boasts were genuine or just the work of an egomaniac, the court freed him.[6]

The failure of the case is particularly pertinent in the wake of the recent NSU terrorism trial. In that case—which involved the murder of nine immigrants and a policewoman—German intelligence repeatedly failed to spot warning signs of right-wing terrorism. With another neo-Nazi attack now unsolved, questions are already being raised about the country’s ability to deal with homegrown extremism.

4 A US House Race Transformed Into A Bizarre Argument Over Bigfoot Erotica

File this one under “weird but (unfortunately) true.”

In Virginia, a heated race is currently on for the 5th Congressional District’s House of Representatives seat. This week, that already hot race got one heck of a lot steamier in the worst way possible. Over the weekend, Democratic candidate Leslie Cockburn publicly accused her Republican rival, Denver Riggleman, of being “a devotee of Bigfoot erotica.”

Politicians making up outlandish claims about their rivals is nothing new. There’s a great old story about Lyndon Johnson spreading rumors that one of his opponents liked his hogs just a little too much. What’s different is that Cockburn apparently had some evidence to back up her claim. Riggleman’s Instagram feed included a picture he’d posted of his own head photoshopped onto the body of a Bigfoot with an enormous wang.

While Riggleman really is a Bigfoot fan, he strenuously denies Cockburn’s allegations.[7] Still, the whole thing is something of a sad indictment of the state of US politics. In some countries, candidates argue about issues. In Virginia, they argue about Bigfoot porn.

3 North Korea Finally Returned 55 US War Dead

It was perhaps the biggest PR win yet that President Trump has had from his successful summit with Kim Jong Un in June. Last Friday, North Korea announced that it would be returning the remains of 55 dead US servicemen from the 1950–53 Korean War. On Wednesday, a formal handing-over ceremony took place and the bodies were repatriated.[8] The move was seen as a goodwill gesture by Kim toward continued denuclearization talks.

Impressive as the ceremony was, it was still marred by the usual bouts of weirdness you get with any story involving the DPRK. In this case, it was Pyongyang’s bizarre decision to only return one dog tag alongside the 55 bodies. At least the bodies are likely to belong to Americans. In 2011, North Korea handed over the remains of what it said was a British pilot . . . only for doctors to discover that the bones belonged to a dead animal.

Hopefully, this is another step on the long road toward a nuclear-free Korea, but who can say for sure? Just before the return ceremony, US intelligence indicated that North Korea might be restarting its ICBM program.

2 Armenia Arrested Its Former President

This year has been a whirlwind one for the tiny Caucasus nation of Armenia. In spring, a one-man protest against a presidential power grab ballooned into peaceful mass demonstrations which may have involved a third of the entire population. The president resigned, the government collapsed, and anti-corruption protest leader Nikol Pashinyan was swept into power, all without a single shot being fired.

Now, the effects of Armenia’s velvet revolution are being felt. This week, security services arrested former president Robert Kocharian for orchestrating a crackdown in 2008 that killed 10 people. He is now the third high-ranking member of the previous government to be arrested for the crackdown, indicating that Pashinyan is serious about ending Armenia’s culture of impunity for the rich and powerful.[9]

As with everything in the former Soviet Union, though, the success of this drive depends on Moscow. Russia’s foreign minister has already condemned the arrests, calling them politically motivated. With Pashinyan having sworn to maintain good relations with the Kremlin, it may be that he’s forced to backtrack on these latest moves.

1 Paul Manafort’s Trial Began

One of the interesting things about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is that he was empowered to prosecute any crimes he uncovered, even ones unrelated to the Russia investigation. And while the Russia investigation itself has yet to bear fruit, Mueller has uncovered a slew of unrelated crimes.

The biggest of these likely involves Paul Manafort, a one-time Trump adviser who is now charged with money laundering, witness tampering, tax evasion, and violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[10]

This week, Manafort’s first trial finally began in Virginia. It’s expected to last three weeks, after which Manafort will face another trial on different charges in the District of Columbia. (Usually, trials in separate jurisdictions are rolled into one, but the Sixth Amendment allows a defendant to demand a trial in each area where he is accused of committing crimes. Manafort evidently invoked this right.)

The two trials will be watched closely for evidence of how Mueller’s team intends to go after its targets in later cases. Many are also wondering whether President Trump may pardon his erstwhile adviser, if needed. Sources say that Manafort is banking on the White House freeing him if he’s convicted. Since Trump has yet to signal a decision either way on the matter, this all remains simply guesswork.


Morris M.

Morris is a freelance writer and newly-qualified teacher, still naively hoping to make a difference in his students’ lives. You can send your helpful and less-than-helpful comments to his email, or visit some of the other websites that inexplicably hire him.

Read More: Urban Ghosts


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