10 of the World’s Most Overrated Cities

The urban environment is powerful and evocative, reflective of the people, places and times that saw the construction of specific communities. Cities can be iconic, but they can also be overrated. They say you should never meet your heroes, but in this list, you might come to the conclusion that it’s equally unwise to visit your favorite cities. They may not live up to your lofty expectations after all…

10. Paris

Paris may be iconic for its Eiffel Tower, culture, and architecture, and for being a romantic and meaningful place to get away. However, Paris is reputed to be overrated, so we’re going to check out the somewhat startling facts about this exceptionally famous French metropolis. Referred to as the City of Love or the City of Lights, Paris does have a variety of most famous human artifacts to appreciate or places to check out that are of historic or cultural fame and significance. Paris even has its own Disneyland. While seen as romantic and a place of love, Paris in fact might ironically be defined as a place to get lonely. Yes, there is much to appreciate architecturally and in the form of art and culture but Paris is well known as a place where bids for politeness do not constitute the highest priority in day to day life.

Paris has actually suffered the fate of being voted no less than Europe’s most overrated city,topping the list due to its unfriendliness. Visitors have often complained about unduly curt or unwelcoming treatment by locals. While Paris is a dream destination for foreign visitors around the world, it seems that becoming tired of serving foreigners without perfect French is an attitude clearly conveyed by enough Parisians. Apparently condescending attitudes and bluntness are ubiquitous in Paris to the point where visitors may not only feel disappointed but downright depressed. Finding that Paris does not measure up has created such severe symptoms as to be labelled as Paris Syndrome.

9. Rome

The Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. In iconic Rome, Italy, the list goes on, and there’s plenty to see for those interested in some more modern history too. The Vatican is also a stone’s throw away. While the famous ancient city does have remarkable architectural sites that are rich in history of religious, civic, and political significance, as well as being the scene of great conflict and drama, Rome itself is a place that one might say has seen better days in some regards. The ruins of ancient structures in Rome have been preserved for visitors but unfortunately, a number of modern amenities have come to resemble a less appealing version of what might be called another form of ruins.

Despite a steady injection of funds through tourist dollars, work to improve problematic transportation, sanitation, and municipal infrastructure shortcomings in Rome have lagged exceptionally. As money keeps coming in and the city remains crowded with tourists, a lack of efficiency and even strikes have left much to be desired, to put things mildly. Remarkably, sanitation problems, including garbage being left to the point of mass overflow, led to threats of European Union sanctions. Furthermore, visitors have complained about disreputable conduct from touts taking on the roles of taxi drivers, cash exchangers, and guides. Rome might attract millions of visitors yearly, but the city suffers some of Europe’s lowest repeat visit rates.

8. Sydney

The iconic Sydney Opera House of Sydney, Australia is so famous that one might say it is touted rather than simply promoted. Images of Sydney are also so curiously focused on the Down Under city’s famous opera house that you might make that image and the general character of the city synonymous in your imagination. However, the fact that the Sydney Opera House is such a focal point of the city’s depictions might hint, to the analytical mind, that perhaps this is the case because there is really little else that is all that remarkable in Sydney. Furthermore, the opera house itself is so overrated that the entire presentation begins to fall upon critical inspection.

The design of the opera house is the work of Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who won the contest to design it out of 233 contestants in 1956, with construction beginning in 1959 and lasting 14 years instead of the originally anticipated four years. Despite the fantastical appearance of the Sydney Opera House, the acoustics have presented many problems and it has not been the world star venue it was intended to become. With the acoustics of the opera house being widely criticized,makeshift solutions have often had to be sought due to some parts of the building being too big and others too small. The pit in the opera theatre has been identified as too small, causing acoustic difficulties, with the concert hall being overly large, causing sound to get lost. Interestingly, Australian music magazine Limelight gave the opera theatre the worst rating for acoustics out of 20 venues of significance, while giving 18th place to the concert hall.

7. London

London, England has a history going back to the Roman Empire with everything from sites of Royal interest at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben as a monument for the most die-hard clock fans, those infamous red double decker buses, and perhaps the odd unexploded German bomb lying somewhere waiting to be discovered, decades past the rabid fighting of World War II. The largest city in England and the United Kingdom, the capital of England suffers pollution in the Thames that was once so bad people were dying from it, and air pollution had the same effect by a different means of causing ill-health. Despite the mix of grandeur and squalor, visitors to London may find themselves disappointed by the crowding and also the lack of friendliness despite being surrounded by people, as London has the questionable distinction of being voted the second most unfriendly city worldwide.

Then there’s the sometimes garish and disjointed modern construction that has grown up in the city. While historic squalor and wartime damage have been definitive events in London’s history, visitors will be surprised by how iconic traditional buildings and perceptions of English culture and architecture in London are dwarfed by modern architecture. The skyline of London definitely appears rather random, with buildings in the financial district described in comparison to a cheese grater, a scalpel, and a walkie-talkie in some prominent examples.

6. New York City

New York City may not be the political capital of the United States but the grand city is certainly the de facto financial capital of America (and some might argue the world). With such iconic elements portrayed in popular culture, literature, news, movies, and daily discourse, New York occupies a larger than life place in the minds of the American public and further. Those who live there know what it is like, but first time travelers may be in for a disappointment upon actually arriving.

From 1785 to 1790, New York was actually America’s capital city. In recent history, the tragic 9/11 attacks represented the single worst incident to strike any North American city. While many cities are destinations for visitors, there has been a surprisingly significant level of effort — to the point of sacrificing comfort — just for the sake of living in New York City. Due to grand real estate costs, living in tiny, overpriced, and sometimes substandard accommodations has become commonplace. For visitors, sites such as the Empire State Building, Wall Street, and Statue of Liberty are certainly icons of great interest, but the actual city will produce a feeling of being dwarfed by two things. These are the enormity of the buildings, crowds, and traffic-jammed streets, and the enormity of the tab run up to stay in the city.

5. Shanghai

Shanghai is so well known that it has become an almost clichéd stand-in for popular imaginations of the People’s Republic of China. Yet while Shanghai is an important Chinese city with enormous economic, historical, and cultural significance, it is a city with a significant legacy of influence by Western culture and hotspots of past east and west conflict. Known for its modern towers, including the aptly named Shanghai Tower, and a myriad of modern architectural wonders, Shanghai is also defined by “The Bund” — a block of iconic European colonial buildings now repurposed for a variety of uses. Yes, Shanghai may feel too “westernized,” a valid perception based on the composition of the city by those seeking the “real China.” It certainly is the place to get coffee and hamburgers in China.

While modern architectural creations may define the Shanghainese skyline, the “waterline” of Shanghai is largely defined at its most famous points by these magnificent but undeniably foreign European buildings, the work of “Laowai” — or foreigners — in China. The foreign presence in China has been a tumultuous one, with many flashpoints relating to trade and attempts at colonization. So, why is Shanghai perhaps overrated as a place to experience China? While interesting, there are many other places, such as Xi’an in Shaanxi province, with the Terra Cotta Warriors close by, remote hill forests in Sichuan and incredibly spicy cuisine, ancient temples in Henan province, and of course the many access points to the Great Wall that more accurately reflect traditional Chinese culture over a more Westernized one.

4. Rio de Janeiro

Depicted in countless movies and artistic images, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is known for being located below the huge Christ the Redeemer art deco statue that contrasts with the extraordinary natural features of Rio de Janeiro combining steep hills, the sea, and perched buildings. The world famous statue constructed above the city is 98-feet tall with a 92-foot armspan, built on the 2,300-foot tall Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park. While famous for everything from car race hosting to nightlife and urban tourism, Rio de Janeiro is actually not so great to look at once you are down amongst the buildings, many of them generic in architectural form, lacking a sense of place, and often run down.

While Rio is often promoted as a center of culture, activity, and interest for travelers in search of a lively and exotic destination, the Brazilian city is becoming a hotbed of criminal activity. Crime rates have risen so drastically that violence is feared throughout the city, costing an immense number of tourism dollars. People are becoming smart enough to stay away from many parts of Rio much of the time, to the point where lost revenue in the year 2017 totaled an incredible $200 million.

3. Barcelona

Spain is both renowned for positive cultural aspects, notorious for being host to events with which many people do not approve (including bullfighting), and as the site of a brutal civil war in its 19th century history. With all of the complexity and intrigue of Spanish architecture and historic and modern culture, Barcelona is a famous destination that draws visitors globally every year, but something is clearly wrong when disappointment follows the arrival of the discerning traveler. What exactly is the problem with Barcelona? While the city is a cultural icon, the true Spanish cultural experience has unfortunately been, shall we say, diluted by the emergence of anextraordinary quantity of tourist traps replacing a quality experience.

At the same time, overcrowding of this already highly populated parcel of Spain is making additional visitors face immense challenges in simply getting around to see the place once they’ve arrived. Esteemed Spanish writer extraordinaire Miguel de Cervantes put the praise of Barcelona into the mouth of his fictional character Don Quixote, describing the city as nothing less than a “fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocator of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.”Yet the crowdedness of the city and tendency for many people to treat it as a short stop interestingly leads many people to be less responsible given that they will be in the area for a limited time, further adding to the aggravation many visitors experience.

2. Athens

Afforded near mythical status for being so ancient and the place where countless Greek Gods and Goddesses are described as having their origins, Athens is a richer place in history and culture than it is today in the flesh — or rather, in the brick and mortar. While the development of ancient democracy, philosophy, and faiths in a place where such famous humans such as Socrates and deities such as Zeus and Venus have their claim is bound to make Athens a revered site in popular imagination, there is much to disappoint, according to some visitors. The city of the Acropolis and other impressive architecture actually consists of vast arrays of run-down buildings that are often crowded together without very much shade in many areas. The Acropolis itself is known for being less spectacular and archeologically, architecturally, and historically pristine than is popularly imagined.

Try to get to it, and you could be turned back by heat due to the barren nature of the grounds where the ancient relics stand, and monumental levels of overcrowding. Add that to the sometimes suffocating air pollution that Athens experiences. Upon arrival at the Acropolis, thescaffolding significantly takes away from appreciation of the architecture, creating the feel of a construction site. While ancient people built the monumental sites expediently, modern repair works have taken decades and still remain underway, resulting in not only scaffolding but all manner of construction equipment anti-climactically lying about the grounds of the most iconic structures of Athens.

1. Amsterdam

World famous Amsterdam. This city is an active metropolitan area situated on flat land, including areas that have had to be reclaimed from the ocean. Subject to flooding, massive urban construction has required more than just a little engineering to be sustainable. Amsterdam may be geographically flat and lacking in mountains, but it has been viewed as a place of where people can get high in the drug use sense without fear of legal reprisals. So-called “coffeeshops”function more as marijuana lounges in Amsterdam, where use of the almost universally banned drug is tolerated by the authorities.

Furthermore, red light district activities draw more than a fair share of visitors, since prostitution is legal. However, a variety of issues, as well as a simple lack of interest when it comes to more standard comforts, render Amsterdam a place that is not just overrated but leaving something to be desired when it comes to mainstream human comforts. Amsterdam’s food is lagging behind the attention given to the marijuana focused “coffeeshops,” being monotonous and simple for the most part, while the architecture of the coastal city is less than spectacular in many instances, with exceptionally plain construction defining much of the municipal jurisdiction.

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10 Outrageous Adventures of “Florida Woman”

In Florida, the “Sunshine Law” makes it possible for public records in the government to be accessible to anyone. This means that journalists can get access every single time someone has been arrested in the state. Because of that, we get to hear all of the most ridiculous stories that may never make it into the news in any other state.

Here at TopTenz, we have already done a list on Florida Man, who is basically the world’s worst superhero. With all things being equal, there are also plenty of stories starring Florida Woman, proving that there are plenty of ladies going on misadventures in the Sunshine State.

10. Florida Woman Smears Bananas Over Patron’s Cars at Trump’s Country Club

When Donald Trump became President of the United States in November 2016, conservatives across the country rejoiced, while the reaction from the left was… less enthusiastic. There were plenty of people who couldn’t believe that it was actually happening, and it caused a pretty major rift among Americans almost overnight. Some people reacted in sadness, listening to “Sounds of Silence” on repeat. Others were angry, and ready to start a revolution right then and there.

This seems to be the case for 48-year-old Florida resident Kelly Weidman. Well, we’re not sure you can really call it a “revolution” but it was… well, it was… something. In January 2017, her rage had already been bubbling up for a few months, and she was ready to take her fight to the streets. Weidman showed up at Trump’s private country club and resort, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach. She walked through the front door, and opened every computer in the lobby to word documents just so she could type out profanity about Donald Trump. Then, she took bunches of bananas from the breakfast bar and smeared them all over the luxury cars in the parking lot. It didn’t take long for her to be detained by security.

9. Florida Woman Holds Up A Postal Truck and Rides Off On a Tricycle

On December 28, 2018, a 52-year-old woman named Leida Crisostom was done with her Christmas break, and she was ready for some action. But instead of try trying to relax and prepare for New Years Eve, Crisostom rode around Collier County on a tricycle, ready to cause some trouble. She was yelling and pointing a gun at unsuspecting victims. Instead of trying to commit grand theft auto to upgrade her ride, she pointed a gun at a postal worker, and demanded to take one of the packages from the truck. The victim gave her the box, which is all she could fit in the basket, and she slowly pedaled away.

Witnesses called the police (and presumably described the situation as hilarious), and she was caught soon after. Not only was her transportation the same as a 2-year-old’s, but turns out her gun was a toy, too. She was arrested and charged with armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Crisostom told the police that she was the one true God, and that she could hear holy voices in her head telling her to do these things.

8. Florida Woman Shoplifts Seven Lobsters Down Her Pants

A woman named Nicole Reed was grocery shopping at a Publix in DeLand. She went to the seafood counter and ordered seven lobster tails. After the clerk handed her the seafood, she snuck down the baby aisle and started stuffing the crustaceans down her pants. (Funny, we would have guessed they were crabs…)

Every move she made was caught on the security cameras, and Publix employees immediately called the police. She took plenty of time adjusting the lobsters inside her pants to make sure they would all fit before she casually walked out of the store. Reed was caught by the police, who were already waiting for her by the time she got outside. Those seven lobster tails retailed for $12 each, so she got away with $84 worth of food. She planned to trade it on the black market for a prescription painkiller called Dilaudid. This was Reed’s sixth time getting arrested for similar crimes, so she was sent to Volusia County Jail.

7. Florida Woman Doesn’t Get Her McFlurry… So She Set a Car On Fire.

Sometimes, a sweet tooth can really get the best of us, and no amount of willpower can stop us from eating dessert. At 12:30 a.m. on March 19, 2014, a couple was going through the drive-thru of a 24-hour McDonald’s in Jacksonville. The woman wanted to order a McFlurry, but her boyfriend cut her off, refusing to purchase it for her, presumably because he didn’t want her to get fat. They both got into an argument over the ice cream while the McDonald’s employees awkwardly listened to their disagreement. It was soon after this moment when the drive-thru employee heard the woman say, “I’m going to blow it up.”

This mystery woman stepped out of the car, grabbed a gas tank from the trunk, and pulled matches out of her pocket. She doused the car in gasoline and set the 1994 El Dorado on fire. Security camera footage shows that the flames were huge, and employees scrambled to call 9-1-1 and gather buckets of water in an attempt to save the couple from being burned to a crisp. The woman walked away from the scene, while her boyfriend presumably began driving the car out of the McDonald’s parking lot while it was still on fire. By the time the employees were outside with their buckets of water, the car was already gone. Neither of them were ever caught by the police, so no one knows their true identities. The real moral to this story? Never keep a woman from her sweets.

6. Florida Woman Marries a Ferris Wheel

Most of us have fond childhood memories of summer vacation at the amusement park. But for one Florida woman named Linda Ducharme, her love went beyond what most people could ever feel for a ride. When she was a teenager, Ducharme had a part-time job operating a ferris wheel that she lovingly nicknamed “Bruce.” As an adult, she traveled back to her hometown, and wanted to see what had happened to her favorite ride. She was shocked to discover that Bruce had been torn down, and its metal pieces had rusted over the years.

“I carry pizza to him. Bruce smells pizza, and there is the love of his life returning for him… I ate the pizza with him, was able to have some intimate moments with him, and it felt like I had never left him.” Indeed, she wanted to buy Bruce the Ferris Wheel and restore him to his former glory. But she went one step further and legally married the amusement park ride. During a televised interview on TLC, she claims that even though Bruce is an inanimate object, their relationship is very similar to what any other man and woman experience. We’re not sure we want to hear any details about the honeymoon.

5. Florida Woman Pulled a Knife on the Man Who Complained About Her Farts

Everybody farts. Women are usually raised to try their best to conceal their flatulence, because women passing gas in public is seen as unladylike, even though they get gassy just as often as men. But for one woman in Dania Beach, she wasn’t going to let the patriarchy get her down. She was going to fart as loud as she wanted, and not care what anyone had to say about it.

Shanetta Yvette Wilson was standing in line at a dollar store when she ripped a very loud and smelly fart. Instead of laughing, or politely ignoring that it ever happened, the man standing behind her started to complain, telling Wilson that she was disgusting. She pulled a knife out of her pocket and lunged at the man, saying that she was going to gut him like a fish. Wilson was detained, and arrested for aggravated assault. Presumably the assault was the knife thing, and not the fart thing.

4. Florida Woman Arrested For Riding A Manatee Like a Horse

One of the popular activities that people enjoy doing on a visit to Florida is to swim with dolphins. During these visits, people are encouraged to hold on to a dolphin’s fin and take a ride with them through the water. Tourists are practically trained to feel as if it’s perfectly acceptable for them to play with the sea life. For a woman named Ana Gutierrez, she would get the shock of her life when police arrested her for riding on the back of a wild manatee.

It turns out that even touching a manatee is illegal under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, and it is punishable by a $500 fine or 60 days in jail. There are usually signs posted around the beaches warning not to touch the animals. But according to the St. Petersburg police, there are plenty of tourists witnessed feeding, touching, and riding manatees every single day. 

So… why did witnesses call the police on Gutierrez? It’s because she’s a Cuban immigrant. On the day that she was riding a manatee, someone on the beach took photos of Gutierrez, and immediately called the police. When the sheriff approached Gutierrez and her family, she was taken in for questioning. Gutierrez could only speak Spanish, so she may not have understood that she was supposed to appear for a later court date. When she missed her trial, there was now a warrant out for her arrest.

The police showed up to Gutierrez’s job at a Sears department store, where she worked as a cleaning lady. They asked her to step outside, and arrested her in front of the building while her co-workers watched. This was so humiliating, she felt as though she could never go back to work again. According to Fox News, she is the one and only person who has ever served time for violating the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.

3. Florida Woman Arrested in Her Booby-Trapped Home

Living alone can be frightening for a woman. If you watch the news, or listen to literally anyepisode of the My Favorite Murder podcast, you’ll know that single ladies have a real reason to fear for their safety. While it’s understandable for someone to want to get a dog, or maybe put up a security camera, Florida woman Nickcole Dykema took it to the next level. She would not settle for less than 3,714 swords, knives, and daggers set up around her mobile home like booby traps.

Dykema got in trouble for carrying around a concealed firearm with the proper permit, and in 2015, she had violated her parole. Police officers were knocking on her door in attempt to take her into custody. When she opened the front door, she lunged at the officers with a katana. She was arrested for assaulting a police officer, and more investigators were called in to remove the weapons from her property.

There were knives covering the home from floor to ceiling, with axes and knives even hanging from the roof, ready to be tripped off by wires. Dykema decorated the house with Halloween props of fake severed heads, limbs, and blood. Even though they came prepared for the booby traps, several officers were still injured as they tried to maneuver through the home.

2. Florida Woman Calls 9-11 To Tattle On Her Drug Dealer For Not Delivering Weed

When you’re high, you don’t always do or say the smartest things. And unfortunately for 19-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident Daneshia Heller, no one was around to take her cell phone away before she made a really bad decision. Her drug dealer never showed up to deliver her weed. If she paid them ahead of time, they had technically stolen money from her, so she thought it was a good idea to call 9-1-1 and report them. While there are plenty of debates over the legalization of marijuana in the United States, it was still very much illegal in 2015, when this story took place. This phone call gave the police probable cause to search her home.

Heller was high on flakka, which is also known as “bath salts.” It became famous as “the zombie drug” because of wild rumors it had caused users to go so crazy they began eating people’s faces, like a scene out of The Walking Dead. When the police found a bag of the drugs in her pocket, it was enough to arrest her for possession of narcotics.

1. Florida Woman Caught Stealing In A “Won’t Be Caught” T-Shirt

Some people are incredibly confident in themselves for absolutely no reason, and there is probably no better example of this than an incident that took place in Tampa. Two women stole $1,500 in perfume and cologne from a beauty supply store called Ulta. The security camera snapped a photo of the suspects, and one of the women was wearing a t-shirt that said “Won’t Be Caught.”

Detective Larry McKinnon was outraged at the audacity of her t-shirt, and told the local news, “We’d like to prove with the community’s help that she is not untouchable, that she will be caught, and she will be placed where she deserves to be and that’s behind bars.”

Funny enough, though, she was right. Even though their faces were clearly visible in the security footage, and they even knew what kind of car she drove, the two suspects were never turned in to the police. Since this happened in March 2015, it’s not very likely that we will ever see these Florida women behind bars.


10 Powerful Intelligence Agencies from Around the World

The human desire to stir things up and uncover secrets is so innate and part of our DNA that of course mankind decided to create entire organizations with that single purpose. Truth be told, it’s a good thing they exist; these agencies have derailed countless plots to do their home countries harm. But we’re also fascinated by the more sinister, clandestine activities they conduct. Here’s a history of spy outfits from around the globe… 

10. Mossad (Israel)

Formed just after the dust settled from World War II, Israel’s foreign intelligence gathering organization was initially called the Institute for Coordination. Things did not get off to a great start for the intelligence agency: it took a year just to get organized enough to be functional, and immediately after that, bungled operations led to several of its officers being arrested. It was when Isser Harel took over Mossad in 1952 that it really found its footing. In 1960, Mossad carried out the South American mission that captured notorious Nazi-on-the-run Adolf Eichmann.

But Mossad’s claim to history came after the tragic hostage situation that arose during the Munich Olympics in 1972. Israeli athletes at the Games were massacred, and the events were broadcast live on TV for the world to see. Mossad discovered the Arab terrorists responsible and carried out a brutal series of executions that were depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie Munich. Oh, and if you doubt the brute power that Mossad wielded, the name of the mission to hunt down the terrorists was dubbed “Operation Wrath of God.”

9. CIA (United States)

You didn’t think you’d get very far into clandestine intelligence agencies without this one, did you? Officially founded in 1947, and with President Eisenhower’s building up in the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency, run from Langley, Virginia, has been in most of the greatest hits of espionage history.

The Bay of Pigs event in Cuba was a landmark happening during the Cold War-era 1960s. The CIA supported Cuban exiles who were to overthrow Fidel Castro’s communist regime. It failed miserably. Just after that botched coup, the CIA somewhat redeemed itself by using then-state-of-the-art technology to discover Russian nukes nearby.

The CIA did considerable work during the Vietnam War, as well. They undertook Project Tiger, which dropped South Vietnam fighters into the north to gather intelligence. Also during this time, however, were the operations known as the “Family Jewels.” These covert ops were usually illegal, ranging from illegal surveillance to straight up murder of foreign officials. Since then, things have been a little less rambunctious, though they did have some part in the Iran Contra debacle of the 1980s, as well as some responsibility for failure to take terrorist attacks in the US seriously, pre-9/11.

8. MI6 (Great Britain)

MI6 isn’t just an organization that constantly disavows super-agent Ethan Hunt. They are a very real British government entity with quite a history. The first British intelligence organization, which MI6 gets its roots from, was founded in 1569, but its present form came around 1912, just before World War I broke out.

The 1930s and ’40s gained MI6 a reputation for being one the top spy agencies in the world, and they surely had a major part in training US agents once America entered the Second World War. Post WWII, MI6 had to shake off numerous infiltrations by Russian double agents, and by the ’80s and ’90s, had become a much more open, re-prioritized agency. Not to say they had lost their teeth; indeed, they still tracked and took down all sorts of evil folks, from war crime perpetrators to participants in the Libyan Civil War. And if you have any doubts as to the debonaire style of spy that inhabits MI6, check out their headquarters in the above photo.

7. BND (Germany)

Founded during the Cold War in 1956, the Federal Intelligence Service (known in German as Bundesnachrichtendienst) is the largest agency of its kind in the world. Boasting 300 locations in the country, and over 6,500 employees, the organization spent its formative years like many other similar agencies: spying on the Russians. They did specialize in Middle East affairs, and in 1967 predicted the outbreak of the Six-Day War almost to the hour.

When the aforementioned terrorist attacks occurred at the Munich Olympics in 1972, the BND took the matters to heart, and began to truly build up their counter-terrorism capabilities–they almost single-handedly stopped an attack in India a few years back. But they are still spies at heart, and not always the most virtuous kind. In 2005 it was revealed that the BND was surveilling many German journalists. They are even reported to be storing 220 million sets of metadata culled from phone surveillance worlwide, and WikiLeaks is often sharing tons of data that they discover the BND is holding/hiding.

6. KGB (Russia)

Ah, the granddaddy of them all. Mother Russia’s notoriously-clandestine secret spy agency has been depicted in all sorts of media, most recently in The Americans. From 1954 until the USSR dissolved in 1991, the KGB had probably the most legendary reputation on this list, and for good reason.

Being the super secret organization in the most super secret region of the Cold War, much of what the KGB conducted is still classified to this day. At first, they specialized in espionage, and getting into the US and delving deep into their secrets. Early in the Cold War, the Soviets even got a spy ring into the Los Alamos facility where Americans were developing the atomic bombs. They infiltrated elections in Bangladesh in the 1970s, then again in Afghanistan later that decade.

In 1991, the head of the KGB, Vladimir Kryuchkov, and several others took the bold move to actually attempt to overthrow the government of the Soviet Union. The coup failed, and the country fell into chaos, dissolving and splintering, much like the KGB would.

5. ISI (Pakistan)

Speaking of the Afghan-Soviet Union relationship, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan had a huge role in that during the late ’70s and early ’80s. The ISI took the sides of the Afghan fighters clashing against the Soviets, and even worked closely with the CIA to train and fund them. That didn’t turn out to bite anyone in America eventually, right?

Once the Soviet Union fell in the early 1990s, the ISI provided all sorts of support to the emerging Taliban group, during Afghanistan’s Civil War. But the ISI doesn’t just meddle in Afghan wars. In contrast to some of the agencies here, the ISI recruits civilians as well as those in the armed forces. But the organization is not without its own far-reaching scandals. As mentioned before, the ISI worked with the Taliban, but it wasn’t until recently that we knew just how deeply they were connected. The ISI reportedly tampers with the elections of its own country, and were accused of taking money illegally from bank owners in Pakistan. Even Pakistani citizens that helped the CIA capture Osama bin Laden were detained by the ISI and imprisoned.

4. NSA (United States)

If the CIA is America’s big, hulking secret child, the National Security Agency is like its smaller, even sneakier brother. The NSA can be traced back to 1917, when the First World War showed just how badly good intelligence was needed. The agency (then called the Cipher Bureau) spent its infancy becoming incredibly adept at intercepting messages and telegrams going in and out of the United States.

The Cipher Bureau would soon morph into the Signal Intelligence Service. The expansion of the Japanese empire in the 1930s helped the agency expand itself, especially in its Pacific operations. And that was helpful after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. The SIS would crack all sorts of codes and keep Japan on their feet, but their intel wasn’t always perfect, even when they expanded into the NSA that we know today. Later in the 1960s, faulty information from the Gulf of Tonkin would lasso the United States into the Vietnam War. The NSA also came under scrutiny during the Watergate scandal. And they have a long history of surveilling famous civil rights leaders and political opponents like Jane Fonda and Martin Luther King, Jr.

3. MSS (China)

China has a long history of spy capers and espionage just like everyone else on this list, but their best-known and most powerful agency has only been around since 1983. The Ministry of State Security may also be the most secretive in the world.

Computer hacking is one of the more prevalent ways of spying that is being used in this age, and the MSS has a large hand in that. In 2018, the US Justice Department caught two hackers who were acting on behalf of the MSS, who had stolen state secrets from a dozen countries. Another recent event saw a senior official in the MSS arrested in Belgium for stealing trade secrets from US aviation and aerospace companies.

The MSS is akin to a cross between the FBI and the CIA, as it conducts operations both domestic and foreign in the name of national security. The MSS has no official website or any list of contacts, and it’s even thought that China’s rapid economic growth can be attributed in part to the MSS and their keen ability to steal intellectual property from other nations.

2. Direccion de Inteligencia (Cuba)

Formed shortly after the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960s, the Direccion de Inteligencia has also been closely linked to the KGB, and were basically trained by them. Not surprising, since the Soviet Union held nukes on the island for some time. But it was a rocky relationship at times, too. Though the Soviets had personnel and facilities based in Cuba, their desire to have more of a say in the operations of the native Cuban agency led to some pushback.

The Direccion de Inteligencia has a long history of aiding leftist movements in other countries like Nicaragua, Chile, and Venezuela. The scope of the DI’s operations is somewhat staggering, considering the economic base of Cuba isn’t very impressive. Recently, it was revealed that Cuba and the DI had been sending weapons to North Korea for refurbishment.

It turns out that Cuba is just good at espionage. Intelligence experts rank the DI’s officials as some of the best in the world, and with the agency’s close ties to other countries like Iran and North Korea, its investment in gleaning intelligence from the world’s superpowers is not just attractive to radical governments.

1. OSS (United States)

A precursor to America’s CIA, the OSS had a very short life as an agency, spanning three years from 1942-1945, but they packed some work into that time. The activities of Germany during World War II were a main focus, and something the Office of Strategic Services excelled at. At its height, the OSS employed 24,000 workers, and the war provided many locations for the Americans to gain intel on their foreign enemies.

Some of the names that worked for the OSS were celebrity chef Julia Child, film director John Ford, and Major League Baseball player Moe Berg, and eventually the OSS was so spread out into the world that over 7,500 agents operated overseas. Again, the outbreak of world war provides so much work potential. The identities of OSS personnel were kept secret upon the agency’s dissolution in 1945, after Harry Truman took office, and were not revealed until 2008. The CIA would begin its life two year later in 1947, but America had already taken its baby steps in the intelligence world, and so was quite prepared.

10 Infamous Crimes from the Dark History of London

There is a lot of blood and violence in London’s history. At one point in time, arguably the most famous killer in history, Jack the Ripper, prowled the city’s streets in search of new victims. Yet he is just one of the many ruthless criminals who lived (and killed) in London.

10. Murder At The Blind Beggar

If you are in Whitechapel and you fancy a pint, you can head on over to the Blind Beggar. The pub has a rich history and traces its origins to a centuries-old inn, but it is inexorably linked to London’s notorious mobsters, the Kray Twins. The Blind Beggar is the place where Ronnie Kray gunned down George Cornell in plain view.

On March 9, 1966, Cornell went to the pub to have a drink. Some time later, Kray and an associate named John Barrie arrived at the Blind Beggar. Allegedly, Cornell only had time to sarcastically say “Well, just look who’s here” before Ronnie walked up to him, pulled out a 9mm Luger and shot him once in the forehead. Barrie fired a few warning shots into the ceiling before the two exited the pub and left in a car waiting outside.

Ronnie Kray was convicted in 1969 of Cornell’s death and sentenced to life in prison. As to the motive, the victim was a member of the Richardson Gang, rivals embroiled in a turf war with the Firm led by the Kray Twins. However, Ronnie particularly loathed Cornell. A few months before the murder, their gangs got into a fight at a Christmas party after Cornell called Kray a “fat poof.”

9. The Assassination Of Spencer Perceval

Spencer Perceval might not be among the most famous politicians in UK history, but he has the ignoble distinction of being the only British Prime Minister who was assassinated while in office.

Born in 1762, Perceval became Prime Minister in 1809. His government faced a few crises such as the disastrous Walcheren Campaign to the Netherlands and the riots of the Luddites. On May 11, 1812, he was in the lobby of the House of Commons in London when he was approached by a man named John Bellingham who shot him fatally through the heart.

Bellingham made little attempt to conceal his crime or escape. In fact, some accounts say that he went and sat back down in the same chair by the fireplace where he waited for the Prime Minister to arrive.

Bellingham was a merchant who was falsely imprisoned in Russia. The British Embassy did nothing to help him and the government refused his request for compensation when he was released. He considered that he had “sufficient justification” for his actions. Bellingham’s defense team tried to argue that he was insane, but he was found guilty and hanged a week after Perceval’s death.

The feud was somewhat rekindled in 1997 when two of their descendants, Roger Percival and Henry Bellingham, both politicians, battled for the same parliamentary seat representing North West Norfolk.

8. The Finchley Baby Farmers

Baby farming was a relatively common practice a hundred years ago which took place throughout Britain. People who had undesired, usually illegitimate children they didn’t want to raise would leave them with a baby farmer in exchange for money.

This convention was rife with abuse. Once the baby farmers had the money there was little incentive for them to do the job they promised. They knew that most parents who used their service wanted nothing to do with their offspring and would never check up on them again. There are multiple cases where the children died from neglect and, in rare instances, even murder.

At first glance, Amelia Sach offered a tantalizing service at her nursing home in Finchley, North London. People who brought their unwanted babies to Claymore House not only thought they would be looked after, but also adopted by wealthy families. However, the only thing those children received was an injection of chlorodyne, usually administered by Sach’s partner-in-crime Annie Walters.

The murderous duo was caught in late 1902 when Walters’ landlord, also a policeman, became suspicious of his tenant’s activities. Police followed her and eventually caught her trying to dispose of a body. Walters soon implicated Sach and both were hanged on February 3, 1903.

7. The London Burkers

During the early 19th century, there was a keen interest in Britain in the study of anatomy. This created a huge demand for bodies for dissection. However, according to the law of the time, only the corpses of executed murderers could be used for this purpose. This led to the appearance of so-called resurrection men – body snatchers who dug up fresh corpses and sold them to medical schools willing to look the other way.

Sometimes, these resurrection men didn’t want to wait around for people to die so they created their own bodies. The most infamous case is that of Burke and Hare, two men who killed 16 people in 1828 in Edinburgh and sold them for dissection. They were so infamous that the practice itself became known as burking.

London had its own gang of burkers headed by John Bishop. In 1831, they tried to sell the corpse of a 14-year-old boy to the King’s College School of Anatomy. However, upon inspection, surgeon Richard Partridge noticed several disturbing characteristics: the body had never been buried, it was abnormally rigid, and had a cut on the head which bled onto the chest. He alerted the authorities and delayed the burkers until police arrived.

Bishop and an accomplice named Thomas Williams were found guilty of the murder of the child who became simply known as “the Italian boy.” They confessed to drugging him with rum and laudanum and then drowning him in a well. They also admitted to doing the same thing to another boy and a homeless woman. They were hanged on December 5, 1831.

6. The Camden Town Murder

On September 11, 1907 railway worker Bertram Shaw returned to his home in Camden Town to find the naked body of his wife, Emily Dimmock. She had been murdered and her throat slit from ear to ear.

The violence of the crime made it a national story, but a twist revealed during the investigationturned it into a front page sensation. Unbeknownst to her husband, Emily worked as a prostitute named Phyllis. The husband was cleared of involvement, but this new detail suggested that one of her clients could be the murderer.

Police arrested a glassware designer named Robert Wood (that’s him, pictured above). Emily was last seen alive in a pub in his presence and a postcard written by Wood suggested he was a customer. At trial, he admitted to being intimate with Dimmock, but denied any part in her murder. Wood was defended by formidable barrister Sir Edward Marshall Hall who got him acquitted. Other clients of Dimmock were investigated but they all had alibis and her murder remains a mystery to this day.

Emily’s case was further publicized by artist Walter Sickert who did a group of four paintingsbased on the crime. He had previously done one on Jack the Ripper. In fact, a few modern ripperologists put Sickert forward as a suspect in the Ripper Murders.

5. Ruth Ellis

No trip through London’s seedy history would be complete without a stop at The Magdala in Hampstead. The pub might be closed now, but everyone still remembers it as the place where Ruth Ellis killed her lover and then became the last woman executed in Britain.

The 28-year-old nightclub hostess was dating a racing driver named David Blakely. They had a fierce relationship which often became violent. Ruth had recently suffered a miscarriage after being punched in the stomach by Blakely.

On April 10, 1955 Blakely went drinking at the Magdala with a friend named Clive Gunnell. Ellis waited for him outside the pub. When David came out, he initially ignored Ellis and walked right by her. That’s when she pulled out a Smith & Wesson and started firing. The first shot missed. The second hit Blakely in the back and he collapsed on the pavement. Ellis walked up to him and fired three more times at close range. She then stood next to the body in shock until an off-duty policeman arrived and arrested her.

Her trial was short but sensational. Ruth sealed her fate during testimony when she said “It is obvious when I shot him I intended to kill him.” After a brief deliberation, the jury found her guilty and she was sentenced to death. Ruth Ellis hanged on July 13.

4. The London Cellar Murder

Dr. Crippen might be remembered as one of London’s most infamous murderers, but modern developments suggest he might not have been a killer at all.

In 1910, Cora Crippen disappeared. Her husband was Hawley Harvey Crippen, a homeopath from Michigan. Initially, he claimed that Cora had died, but he later admitted to authorities that, in fact, his wife had left him and returned to America. Whether or not Scotland Yard believed his story is hard to say, but Crippen decided not to stick around and find out. He fled England and went to mainland Europe with his mistress, Ethel Le Neve. From there, the duo boarded the SS Montroseto Canada.

While Crippen was on the run, police searched his home in Camden more thoroughly and found a human torso buried in the cellar. This turned the good doctor into the most notorious man in Britain. He was so well-known, in fact, that even in disguise he couldn’t travel without being recognized. Captain Henry George Kendall of the SS Montrose spotted Crippen and alerted Scotland Yard. They took a faster ship and arrested him before they reached Canada.

The remains found in the cellar were badly decomposed, but were tentatively confirmed as belonging to Cora based on a piece of scar tissue consistent with her medical history. Crippen was found guilty and hanged on November 23.

Almost a hundred years later, a forensic team from Michigan State University claimed mitochondrial DNA evidence indicated the remains belonged to a man. Their results have proven controversial and are yet to be widely accepted by the scientific community.

3. The Battersea Mystery

Fifteen years before Jack the Ripper started his infamous killing spree, someone else was murdering women in London and cutting up their bodies. It became known as the Battersea Mystery because that was the area where police found the first piece of a dismembered corpse on September 5, 1873.

Subsequent parts started showing up around the city until an almost complete body could be reconstructed. However, authorities were still unable to identify the victim. Despite a large reward of £200 and a promise of a free pardon for any accomplice, the case was never solved. A year later, another dismembered body was recovered from the Thames. This one also remains unidentified to this day and a link with the previous victim has never been established.

Medical journal The Lancet published a detailed rundown of all the mutilations performed on the first body. They stressed that everything was done neatly and dexterously and nothing was hacked off. The skill on display showed that the perpetrator had medical knowledge. At the same time, the publication thoroughly dismissed the idea that the whole thing was a morbid hoax by medical students.

2. The Houndsditch Murders

In January 1911, the East End of London saw a massive gunfight between a combined police and army force and two Latvian revolutionaries. This shocking episode is known as the Siege of Sidney Street and is also notable for the presence of then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill. However, it was preceded by a much bloodier event which resulted in one of the largest losses of police life in the history of peacetime London.

In December 1910, the gang of Latvians wanted to rob a jewelry store in Houndsditch. For this, they rented two properties which backed into the building. Their plan was to bring all the equipment they needed at the rentals and then break through the wall of the shop at night.

The noise disturbed a neighbor who then alerted a constable named Piper. He investigated the scene and became immediately suspicious, so he left to get reinforcements. Six constables and sergeants returned at the rental buildings. They outnumbered the robbers, but the police were carrying truncheons while the criminals were armed with pistols. A fight ensued and five of the officers were shot. Sergeant Tucker died instantly while Sergeant Bentley and Constable Choate died in hospital. Two others were wounded, but survived. All of the robbers managed to escape. The investigation into the killings led to the aforementioned siege.

1. The Thames Torso Murders

How many people did Jack the Ripper kill? Five victims are typically ascribed to him, but there are plenty of people who think that Saucy Jack was far more prolific. There is another series of crimes which took place between 1887 and 1889 known as the Thames Torso Murders. Various parts of four dismembered women were found in the River Thames and the surrounding areas. Were these also the work of the Ripper or an equally-sadistic killer active at the same time?

Officially, there is no evidence to suggest that the torso murders were committed by Jack. This was speculation from the newspapers as police considered them separate cases. Only one of the victims was ever identified – a prostitute named Elizabeth Jackson.

Like the Battersea Mystery, there were some who thought this was just a medical school prank. This idea was dismissed as the bodies kept appearing. The medical men who examined the remains agreed that the killer had some practical knowledge of anatomy, but lacked the skill of a surgeon. They opined that he could be a butcher or a knacker.

If the murderer was, indeed, a different person, then he had a longer and more gruesome killing spree than Jack. Even though he started first, it’s curious that he was still completely overshadowed by the Ripper.

10 More Outrageously Dumb Darwin Award Winners

Here on TopTenz, we’ve covered the Darwin Awards once before. Of course, one list is hardly enough to contain the world’s stupidity. In case this is the first time you’ve heard of it, the Darwin Awards are based on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. In nature, there is survival of the fittest, and this extends to the human race.

Every year, folks on the internet gather a collection of incidents where people have died or made themselves infertile by doing incredibly stupid things. They are declared winners of a Darwin Award, guaranteeing that they will never pass on their genes to the next generation.

10. Thief Gets Instant Karma

Just a few days before Christmas 2005, a couple was out on a date in Bloemfontein, South Africa on a Saturday night. A thief approached them in the dark. He was holding a knife, and demanding to take their money. This criminal stole the woman’s purse and started running away. The man was so focused on escaping that he jumped over a fence… which just so happened to be the wall to the zoo. When he landed, he found himself inside of the tiger’s den.

The next morning, the thief’s body was found inside of the den. Since the tiger had been well-fed, it didn’t feel the need to eat the man. But just like most cats who finally catch their prey, the tiger had killed the thief in the middle of the night. We can imagine that it must have been purring loudly for its job well done chlorinating the gene pool by the time the security guards came to recover the body.

9. Missionary Dies Trying to Teach Murderous Tribe About Jesus

For hundreds of years, missionary groups have taken it upon themselves to bring Christianity to native populations — whether those populations wanted it or not. Even after all this time, there are still some untouched tribes that have miraculously survived with virtually zero interaction with the outside world, like the Sentinelese tribe on the Andaman Islands off the coast of India. The tribe has lived on that island for tens of thousands of years, and was briefly colonized by Great Britain. Since then, the majority of their population was wiped out, and there are only believed to be about 50 to 150 people left alive. Once India gained its independence, the island was left alone so that the natives could live in peace.

Tourists have been instructed that it’s strictly forbidden to attempt to come in contact with this tribe, because of the potential to infect them with disease from the outside world. Even taking pictures from a boat is punishable for up to 3 years in prison. The tribe has been known to attack outsiders, because they must have grown up hearing stories of foreign men who came to enslave their people. But we should all know by now that there is nothing that can stop the irrational overconfidence and entitlement of a Millennial.

In November 2018, a 26-year-old American man named John Allen Chau paid fishermen to bring him to the Andaman Islands, even though he knew this was dangerous and illegal. He even took a selfie and posted a picture of himself on his way to the island, and posted it on Instagram. His goal was to preach Christianity to these natives, even though they couldn’t speak the same language. When the fishermen came to pick him up, the tribe had shot John multiple times with their arrows, and they used a robe to drag his body to the beach so that the fishermen couldn’t retrieve his body. The fishermen were all arrested for illegally transporting Chau to the island, but since the laws of the outside world do not apply to the Sentinelese people, no one is going to be held accountable for his death.

8. Segway All The Way

Remember Segways? When they were first invented, some people believed that they would be the way of the future, but today the only people who seem to use the upright transportation devices are mall cops. When they first premiered, Segway claimed that their cross-country model was going to revolutionize the way people explore the great outdoors on their commute to work. Of course, since they cost thousands of dollars, there is a very limited amount of people who would ever buy one of those things.

One of these customers was a millionaire named Jimi Heselden. He had amassed his fortune by selling defense items, essentially profiting from the spoils of war. But he wasn’t just a Segway customer — he bought the company in 2010. That same year, he couldn’t even be bothered to go for a normal walk like a peasant. He was riding his Segway around the countryside of West Yorkshire, when he somehow lost control of the vehicle, and ended up going straight into the Leeds River. Now, the real question is: If he knew the Segway was out of control, why didn’t he just jump off? We may never know.

7. Man Steals From Hotdog Vendor, And Loses His Own

This next story is an example of how someone doesn’t necessarily have to die in order to win a Darwin Award, and that the universe must enjoy a bit of irony. On Halloween 2017, a 19-year-old man named Terrion Pouncy held a Chicago hot dog vendor at gunpoint, demanding to take all of the cash he had in his cart, and his wallet. No word on whether he also demanded a snack, but if he did, considering this was Chicago, we can rest assured he didn’t ask for any ketchup like some cretin.

Pouncy chose an awful time to try to rob the cook, because the victim was in the middle of holding a pan of hot grease. He dropped the pan in order to reach for the money, and it ended up splashing boiling hot grease all over Pouncy. During this confusion, Pouncy accidently set off the gun while it was pointed at his own… er, “hot dog.” During the commotion, the vendor was able to jump on Pouncy, and he was later caught by the police. He was rushed to the hospital, so while he is still alive, there is a good chance he won’t ever be able to have kids.

6. Man Dies While Trying to Steal Wheels

It was a cold, dark December night in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2017, when a thief attempted to steal expensive tires off of a van. In the darkness, he cut open a wire fence and rigged up the van with cinder blocks. Almost anyone would know that this is a terrible idea, but this man continued on with the plan — at least, until the van collapsed on top of him while he was laying under it.

The next morning at 8:50 a.m., the police found the body of this unidentified man crushed under the van. Based on the tools and tires surrounding him, it was obvious to them what had happened, but the police were not able to figure out who he was.

5. The Worst Kind of New Years Resolution

On December 31, 2010, thousands of people were gathered for New Years Eve in Moscow’s Red Square getting ready to countdown for the beginning of 2011. A woman who was part of a terrorist group was strapped with a suicide belt bomb, and they were using a brand new cell phone as a detonator. Their plan was for the woman to walk into the middle of the crowd, hide the bomb, and then they were going to text the phone at midnight to set off the explosion. This would have killed hundreds of people, at the very least.

On her way to Red Square, though, the cell phone company sent a generic “happy holidays” message to the new phone number. This set off the bomb early, making the unnamed woman the one and only victim. Two of her accomplices were witnessed running away from the explosion. When they were caught, they were identified as being part of a radical Islamic group that was responsible for setting off a bomb at an airport a few days prior.

4. The Kiss of Death

In 2017, a man named Anthony Powell was serving a life sentence in the Oregon State Penitentiary for killing his father-in-law by stabbing him to death. He was high on meth at the time, and clearly, he hadn’t learned his lesson. While he was in jail, he met a woman named Melissa Ann Blair online. She was a fellow drug addict who just so happened to have a thing for convicts.

When Blair visited Powell in the visitor’s room, they exchanged a passionate kiss. Unbeknownst to the guards, Blair was passing seven small balloons filled with meth into Powell’s mouth. He swallowed these regurgitated balloons, planning to pass them later when he got back to his cell. The felon must not have thought this plan through very clearly, though, because the balloons ended up rupturing on the way down, and he died of an overdose. Blair was arrested and found guilty of committing a drug conspiracy.

3. A Prickly Predicament

In Southern Arizona, there is a breed of cactus called “saguaros” that are iconic fixtures of the Old West. Some of these plants can live as long as 300 years, and they can grow as high as 60 feet. There are laws protecting these endangered cacti, but that doesn’t stop bored and stupid young men from “cactus plugging,” which is where they use these saguaros as target practice. The goal is to bring guns and ammunition out into the desert so they can riddle a cactus with so many bullets holes it falls to the ground.

In 1982, a man named David Grundman was cactus plugging with his roommate, James Joseph Suchocki. The two men were laughing and destroying these hundred-year-old plants one by one. He must not have judged the distance of one of these extra large saguaros, because the cactus came straight down on top of him, and impaled his body with spikes. He died almost instantly.

2. The Danger Zone

There is a stereotype that stock brokers are high-strung, pumped up on a never-ending fuel of caffeine and adrenaline. This was especially true back in the 1980s and ’90s. One only has to watch The Wolf of Wall Street to know that it was commonplace for stock brokers to do lines of cocaine in their office to help keep them awake and motivated to do their trades.

While we don’t know the ins and outs of his personal life, Jack Sullivan was one of these successful brokers who made a killing working on Wall Street. After becoming a millionaire, he decided to retire in his 40s and move to San Francisco with his wife. One Sunday morning in 1996, he woke up and went on a run at the Lincoln Park Golf Course. His wife, Catherine, said that he had a habit of carrying a tape recorder with him so that he could talk about all of his brilliant business ideas while he went on his run. Unfortunately for Sullivan, he was a little too absorbed in himself, instead of being aware of his surroundings. He ran full-speed off the side of a cliff known as Eagle’s Point overlook, and died at just 49-years-old.

1. The Sympathy Vote

In 1979, a man named Nitaro Ito was running for the Japanese House of Representatives. He was afraid that he wouldn’t actually win the election, so he concocted a plan to gain sympathy from the voters, and also make his competition look bad in the process.

He wanted to pretend that he had been attacked by a gang of thugs. Without even pointing any fingers, this would have begun a conspiracy theory that these men were hired by his competitors and sent to kill him. In order to make this a convincing story, he had to stab himself, of course, so that he would have some kind of proof that an attack actually happened. He decided to grab a huge kitchen knife and lunge it into his own leg. Unfortunately for him, Ito hit a major artery, and he died before election day.

The 10 Least Corrupt Nations in the World

We humans absolutely ruin every chance to be great that we have, don’t we? We build great nations capable of remarkable advances, and then completely blow it all on bribery and corruption. The temptation must be brutal. How can you continue to monitor the health of your society when there’s a little devil tapping on your shoulder?

But there’s hope! It’s not always bleak in this world of ours. There are countries where leaders ARE dedicated to doing the right thing, and do not give up their morals at the first whiff of personal gain. Here are the top countries in the world that believe in the greater good. (In case you’re wondering, the United States came in at #18 in the “least corrupt” category; not too shabby, America!)

10. Iceland

As we continue down this list, you’ll notice a trend of places in the great white north, which means that it’s probably simply too cold in the upper Northern Hemisphere to be super corrupt. If there is a weakness in the country, it seems to exist somewhere in the political field, with charges of nepotism and other unethical relationships taking place. Overall, since the global financial crisis of 2008, Iceland’s boat of morality has taken on a bit of water. Still, to occupy the number ten place on this list, you’re still doing better than most.

Newish Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir has noticed this slip in integrity, and seems to be addressing all of these issues that have cropped up in the last decade. That’s why she is bringing together the two major conservative parties in Iceland (Jakobsdottir is quite liberal) that had hands in recent scandals and is forming a coalition to restore faith in the political system and to hold those embroiled in scandals accountable. Whether it works to raise Iceland up in the rankings remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a bold new approach in Iceland that maybe other countries could take note of: having both sides actually work together, instead of acting like petulant children.

9. Australia

With its neighbor New Zealand (spoiler!) ranking so high on this list, it’s nice to see that Australia has also followed suit, behaving by proxy in a way. The country has been falling in the rankings a bit in the last few years, however, even though the country has a pretty positive record of global and domestic activity to curb corruption.

Media outlets, unions, and the political parties of Australia are viewed as the areas where the country needs the most work in stemming the tide of corruption. But that’s based on polling the people of Australia, and may not represent the actual facts; in truth, worldwide faith in those establishments has been on a downward trend in the last decade or two.

In actuality, and especially in relativity to most other countries in the world, regulations are by and large transparent and legitimate, the independent judiciary system is mostly just, and bribery among public services is rare. If anyone is up to funny business, it’s the police: one case in the state of Victoria involved officers participating in drug trafficking, and border officers were accused to assisting in drug movement in another.

8. Germany

At this point on the list, we find that while these countries are in good shape mostly, there are more and more cracks appearing. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not quite like living in a third world country where money changes hands illegally to make almost anything happen. But we’re finding where the work needs to be done.

Germany still has a very strong level of integrity across the board, generally speaking. Foreign bribery has been a major facet of corruption that the German government has taken aim at, ramping up their efforts to fight those kinds of practices. Even the German president wasn’t immune from efforts to fight corruption: in 2012, President Christian Wulff was accused of taking part in a shady home loan, and was basically removed from office.

The relationships between the government and the very-important car manufacturers in Germany is something that anti-corruption officials will need to watch very closely as well. The Volkswagen scandal of recent years brought to light some need to police car emissions and the ways that the government hasn’t gone far enough to bring their country’s legendary carmakers into the fold, ethically speaking.

7. United Kingdom

The country as a whole places great importance on the high esteem and ethical standards of their public services, so they must put their money where their mouths are to make it onto this list. And the tenure of Prime Minister Theresa May has boosted the country’s ranking even more, especially with the adopting of a legitimate Anti-Corruption Strategy. To that end, the National Crime Agency was founded in the UK in 2013, with a special interest in decreasing organized crime and its tentacles that travel everywhere from human trafficking to cyber crime. Anti-corruption task forces were absorbed into that agency, drawing ire from many who probably were doing corrupty things.

The Brexit fiasco, which involved the UK leaving the European Union, probably doesn’t bode well for this country remaining on this list, however. Because of leaving the coziness and warmth of the European Trade Union, the UK will probably be doing more business with countries on the other end of the corruption spectrum.

Still, one branch of government that is committed to fighting corruption, the extremely English-named Serious Fraud Office, has been absolutely crushing it when it comes to exposing corrupt acts in business by everyone from Guinness to a multi-billion dollar Barclay’s bank scandal.

6. Netherlands

Continuing the trend of “northern European countries that just kind of have their stuff together,” the Netherlands holds the number 6 spot due to strong existing social structures like independent court systems, business codes of conduct, and an overall culture of trust. Doesn’t that sound nice?

Some corruption tried to rear its ugly head in the police departments in the country, but the government quickly got involved to study and try to shut down any wrongdoings. Another case emerged involving Swedish telecom giant Telia and Netherlands government officials. Bribes were taken, and accounting books were cooked. The Netherland slapped the Rotterdam-based subsidiaries of the company to the tune of $274 million. In other words, they’re not fooling around.

Basically, the country as a whole has measures in place to combat the first signs of corruption in their systems, and they monitor them frequently, and punish brutally when it happens.

5. Canada

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, since Canada’s always been that really cool neighbor to the north of the U.S. There are very clear regulations for organizations wishing to do business in Canada, and the court systems are clean and efficient. The police are among the most reliable in the entire world. It’s the reason why Canada is the highest-ranking country in all of the Americas, North and South.

But corruption is trying to once again gain traction in Canada. Bribery is also still a problem. So, how to tackle this? Canada’s Access to Information Act has been woefully inept, and the government has starting investigating further, seeking ways that transparency country-wide can be more achievable. Also, in 2006, Canada launched the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, which gives those looking so expose wrongdoing in the government a confidential process to tell their stories. Let’s hope that living upstairs from America doesn’t let any more bad habits rub off on them.

4. Singapore

Singapore might be one of those small countries that you never exactly know where in the world it’s located (hint: it’s near Malaysia, south of Vietnam), but it’s making quite a name for itself, and is a model country for curbing corruption, especially in an area of the world that is fraught with it. Singapore is rather small, with a population of just over 5 million people, and that could be why corruption cases are easier to uncover and to enforce, but that’s not the whole story.

A little-talked about reason for fewer instances of corruption is the nature of the country of Singapore itself. The fact that it carried over a lot of ideas when it was under colonial rule from Great Britain led to inherent ways of fighting corruption. There was clear meritocracy in promoting civil servants, and corruption itself was an offense all the way back in 1871, so all these ideas of curbing corruption were baked into Singapore right from the start. It’s also one thing to be corrupt in the government, but still get away with it in the private sector. Singapore has addressed that as well, issuing swift and stern punishment in a high-profile shipping inspection case, an industry that is obviously important with Singapore’s geographical location.

3. Finland

Scandinavia has a pretty sterling record when it comes to cleanliness, in a moral way. But not too far away, a Nordic country has elevated itself into that kind of rare company. Maybe it’s something in that Baltic water.

A solid score of 85 shines a positive light upon the Finnish people. Not bad considering that 6 billion people worldwide live in a country that’s deemed to be more corrupt than not.

Finland’s judicial system is of particular note. There’s hardly ever any cases of citizens making payments to judges, and businesses in the country have a huge rate of trust in their court systems. The judges themselves are very confident in their work, reporting very little pressure, and faith that they are promoted based on merit rather than extraneous factors.

Another reason for very sparse corruption is that the country itself has a genuine freeness when it comes to openness and respect for free media and journalism. Access to information is extremely important and constitutionally guaranteed.

2. Denmark

Holding a top-4 spot in the lowest-corrupted-countries rankings since 1995, Denmark is on a winning streak of overall morality that seems to be a distinctly-Scandinavian trait. Bribes between public officials for services or benefits are virtually nonexistent, which is almost abnormally wholesome. In a comprehensive study of corruption worldwide, countries were assessed and given a score between 0 and 100. The worldwide average was a shameful 43, indicating systemic corruption on almost every level.

Denmark, however, is one of the good boys in the world’s classroom; they have been at a 90 or higher for several years running. Achieving that takes a whole lot of diligence, which Denmark has taken on by ratifying all sorts of international anti-corruption initiatives. Some of those even go so far as to deny foreign officials visiting Denmark any kinds of gifts, extravagant meals, travel expenses, etc., that could sway them in any way. And any foreign companies that engage in any kind of bribery are treated just as if they were on Danish soil. These guys mean business.

1. New Zealand

A perennial leader in ethics, New Zealand prides itself on transparency in business and politics, as well as in the judicial system. Perhaps the possibility of a 14-year jail sentence for bribery and such contributes to that. Public officials are also prohibited from accepting gifts, which undoubtedly helps with dipping into the proverbial cookie jar for fear of being exposed.

The police systems are also on the up-and-up, for the most part. There’s independent organizations in place to report and to expose police corruption, when it does occur. Starting a business is shockingly easy in New Zealand, and can be accomplished as quickly as half a day, thanks to a transparent regulatory system and the ease of foreign investing and transactions. There’s also legislation directly aimed at corruption due to organized crime and its footholds in money laundering, bribery and drugs: the penalties are stiff, to say the least.

10 Astonishing Physical Anthropology Facts

10. Melanesians Can Have Blonde Hair

Blondism in humans is frequently imagined as being inextricably linked to a Germanic, Nordic, and Northern Slavic groups. While the genetic mechanism by which this particular form of little known blondism arises is completely different than the genes for blondism in “white people,” Melanesians can have dark, melanin filled skin but display contrasting light blonde, curly hair. A recessive mutation creates the contrast. Melanesians with blond hair are seen in photographs from the Solomon Islands of Melanesia.

In Melanesia, we see a region where humans living near Asian countries have traits similar to the native peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 10 percent of the native people of the Solomon Islands, who are indeed among the darkest skinned people on the planet, also have blonde hair. Research into the phenomenon (and associated genetic mutations) is believed to have the ability to challenge Euro-centric worldviews on human natural history.

9. Neanderthal and Denisovan Hybridization Influences Us

Caucasians, East Asians, and pretty much anyone outside of Sub-Saharan Africa will test positive for the presence of Neanderthal DNA. The amount of Neanderthal DNA amongst populations and individuals will vary, of course. Wow! Who so doesn’t have Neanderthal DNA? Indigenous populations of Africa south of the Sahara Desert were “shielded” from the influx of Neanderthal DNA before the species died out. Thus, being of entirely Sub-Saharan descent generally means being 100 percent Homo Sapiens.

So, this means while the people of Sub-Saharan Africa have been subject to racism, they are in fact the least genetically diluted representatives of Homo sapiens living on the Earth. East Asian populations and Caucasian populations contain up to two percent Neanderthal DNA on average (some individuals having more, some less), whileEast Asian populations and Melanesians contain some members with varying degrees of Denisovan DNA. In the case of Melanesians, the percentage of Denisovan DNA is highest, ranging from three to five percent of Melanesian genomes. Genetic analysis is slowly providing key pieces of the multi-species influence in human history.

8. Breath-Holding Bajau People

Animals evolve to be optimally matched to their living environment. Humans are no exception. The Bajau people of Southeast Asian home regions are “sea nomads” with diving superpowers provided by significantly increased growth of their spleens. The enlarged spleen of Bajau people is a prime case of natural selection altering the characteristics of a living species.

While the existence of the larger spleens in this population was an especially dramatic example of human trait evolution, detailed research measures were required to gain an objective insight into the phenomenon at hand. A comparative genomic study was conducted which showed changes in the PDE10A gene, lending the Bajau people the ability to grow a larger spleen. This beneficial trait was gained as a result of natural selection giving the advantage in thriving and passing on genes to those individuals bearing the characteristics of increased spleen size and subsequent increase in oxygenated red blood cells that could be carried. Selection pressures changed the BDKRB2 gene as noted in the study, improving dive reflex performance in the Bajau.

7. Red Hair Hassles

Red hair, a coloring rare in its percentage of the global population, is not only dramatic but biologically associated with traits that reduce effectiveness of anesthetics in redheads. Modern anesthetics are a great innovation, yet they may not work as well on the naturally red-haired portion of the world population. Anecdotal reports have long claimed that red-haired people were less responsive to anesthetics.

Based on this concern, an objective scientific investigation of the matter showed statistically significant results in anesthetic requirements in redheads compared to the general population arising from genetic differences. Red haired patients were found to require 19 percent more anesthetic to achieve proper pain relief results in the course of this research project. This finding that nearly one in five red-haired patients are in need of a greater amount of anesthetic goes far beyond the statistical significance threshold. Red hair may be the subject of various myths, but the correlation between the intense color and the potential for intense pain is a matter of scientific reality.

6. First Nation Asian Origins

The First Nations people of the New World with all of their cultural diversity were mistakenly called “Indians” after being confused with the native people of the Indian subcontinent in Asia. The truth is that First Nations tribes share a common ancestry with the East Asian ethnic groupings with strong genetic links to people from Siberia, China, Japan, Mongolia, and Korea rather than having any link to the Indian subcontinent.

Researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Natural History Museum of Denmark sequenced the genome infant remains dated back to approximately 11,500 years located in central Alaska and named the specimen USR1. Native Americans called her Xach’itee’aanenh T’eede Gaay, meaning Sunrise Child-girl. Genetic evaluation of the remains indicated that the direct ancestors of First Nations split away from their East Asian common ancestors approximately 25,000 to 36,000 years ago. The First Nations of Canada and the Alaska Natives rank closest in relation to their East Asian ancestors compared to tribes farther south that have further diverged.

5. Dark Skin Confers Environmental Advantages


Dark skin has long been judged by the prejudiced. For example, Christoph Meiners, the German scientist who established the concept of the “Caucasian Race.” In his favoring of paler peoples, Meiners looked down on the more melanised majority of the global human population, even calling southern Europeans within his Caucasian category such as Italians “dirty whites.”

Yet what such researchers did not understand was that the hotter and sunnier the climate, the darker the skin the better, because darker skin is actually an adaptive advantage in such environments. In colder, darker climates, skin gets lighter, as humans give up melanin just like marine mammals give up limbs. But in hotter places, the risk of skin cancer goes up if you are from a skin tone group that originates from places more sheltered from the sun. The fact that dark skin is such an advantage is why it was retained in human populations that need it. Nature is so smart!

4. Human Penises are Unusual

The human penis might be taken for granted, but the penis of Homo sapiens is actually unusual by primate standards. Humans rely on blood flow to create a hydraulic erection, while other mammals typically have a penis bone for mating. The rapid nature of human sexual intercourse explains the lack of a penis bone in humans. Our species only takes an average of two minutes from the time the penis is inserted to the time that ejaculation takes place. Er… sorry, ladies.

Animal species facing high competition for mates have significant chance of mating with a female, only to have that female mate with another male. Prolonged sexual activity, aided with the presence of a baculum is thought to reduce the chance of the female being fertilized by another male soon after mating with the first male. In species with reduced sexual competition dynamics, the baculum bone is shorter and less developed. Humans spend little time mating, reducing evolutionary pressure for lengthy copulation and with it, the need for a baculum.

3. We Pay the Price for Brains

Human intelligence means big brains that come at a price in childbirth. Having a baby can be a joyous life event, but it is undeniably painful at the point at which birth occurs, in the time leading up to birth, and for a while afterwards. While the hips could evolve to become wider, it appears that natural selection pressures to do so have not been strong enough to create a significant change, while human brain development makes for a baby with a substantially sized head (compared to other species) that is admittedly challenging to birth.

The physiological challenges of childbirth have spawned significant scientific theorization, one observation being that while wider hips could develop, a compromise is already made by humans being born at a still very neotenous stage preventing further complications from large brain size. Infants are in a helpless state when born, with much more development required than in many other mammals. A similar parallel is seen in birds, as in helpless baby robins versus ready to go quail chicks or ducklings. Despite the difficulty of birth, human babies are born before further development can take place that would tremendously increase difficulties.

2. Amazing East Asian Adaptations

People of East Asian ethnic origin possess fascinating traits rooted in genetics. Human genetic research conducted with mouse models showed that a genetic mutation known the EDAR gene with a 30,000-year-old history originated in what is now China. The gene was modeled in a research project by placing the gene into a mouse genome, causing mice to exhibit the traits associated with this gene in humans.

This EDAR gene is responsible for a cluster of distinctive traits including numerous sweat glands, which may have helped early humans in parts of Asia to mitigate excess body heat in humid conditions. The EDAR gene also gives specific anterior indentation in the incisor teeth, compact breast development in women, and the thickest and strongest hair shafts of all human hair types. The sturdy hair of humans of East Asian genetic origin boasts round follicles and immense strength to the point where it is favored in the market for authentic human hair wigs.

1. Humans Genetics are Shaped by Malaria

As humans, our genetic makeup has been altered by abnormalities in our gene pool responding to the threat of the malaria pathogen. There are three significant abnormalities, or polymorphisms affecting hemoglobin in humans around the world including sickle cell anemia (best known from African populations), a form of thalassemia that causes anemia in some Mediterranean populations, plus a different thalassemia in some regions of Asia that protects against malaria. Interestingly, these abnormalities are only present where malaria is known to occur.

Research conducted in Papua New Guinea showed that a disorder called alpha thalassemia causes those affected to have red blood cells of an unusually minute size compared to typical individuals. As a result, those with the condition have their hemoglobin distributed across a greater cell count. Despite causing mild anemia, the condition lends valuable resistance to malaria. In the occurrence of conditions like alpha thalassemia, we see a prime example of natural selection at work on traits in the global human population.

Traveling Like a Boss: Ten Tips to Traveling With a Clear Conscience

Yes! You’re finally doing it! You’re going on vacation. Whether it’s your once-a-year getaway or a once in a lifetime opportunity, you are finally taking the break you’ve needed for so long. To ensure that you have the greatest time possible on your trip, run through this quick checklist of things you need to do before you go. Happy travels!

Trendy Traveler’s Tip #1: Get someone to look after your house

Arrange for someone you trust to take in your mail, packages, or anything else that might accumulate outside your door while you’re away. Nothing says ‘please break into my home!’ more than a pile of newspapers gathering on your welcome mat like a nest of mice! You can even have your friend come and stay in your home while you’re away or at least check in on the place every night.

Trendy Traveler’s Tip #2: Hire or ask someone to keep things alive

You might be able to go a few days without drinking water, but your prized petunias probably can’t. Ask your friend or hire someone to come over and water any house plants, a well-cared for lawn, or other flora that you regularly care for. If you have pets, this is even more important. Tabitha the tabby or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough the Doberman pinscher need regular loving, and, even more so, daily food staples. So, make sure someone is available to feed, walk, and care for your four-legged friends while you’re away. If you don’t know someone who fits the bill, you can take them to a pet clinic that offers these services.

Trendy Traveler’s Tip #3: Tie up loose ends at work

The last thing you really need when you finally take that well-deserved vacation is to get interrupted by an irate client, an unaware manager, or a co-worker who just has one quick question. Take care of any open assignments before you leave, forward a copy of any important files or documents that co-workers might need access to while you’re gone, set your IM and other collaboration apps to Away or Unavailable, and set an away message as an automatic email response. Now, the only thing left is to be strong enough to not check your work email while you’re away!

Trendy Traveler’s Tip #4: Clean up your act!

Unless you want to see all that R&R fly right out the window the minute you walk through the door, you’d better make sure your home is clean before you leave. Not saying you have to do your entire spring cleaning before you go away, but it’s a good idea to cover the basics. Clean out the fridge, scrub down the bathrooms and kitchen, check that there’s no wet or really dirty laundry that can’t wait till you get back, and take out the garbage, so you aren’t greeted by some unpleasant aromas or visitors upon your return.

Trendy Traveler’s Tip #5: Make sure you’re covered monetarily

There are many schools of thought regarding how to pay for items while you’re traveling. Some hold that cash is the best option because you can get a lower price from the locals when you’re talking dollars. Others maintain that traveler’s checks work best because they’re universal. But the most tried and true method for payment whether you’re traveling internationally or locally is still the credit card.

For one thing, you have a record of every transaction, so nothing sketchy can pass under the radar. Plus, if you lose your card or it gets stolen, you don’t lose out on anything. The credit card company cancels it immediately, and any fraudulent charges are covered by the company. With a travel credit card, you also rack up major points that you can redeem for free airfare, hotel rooms, and other goodies, so you’re getting paid while you’re on vacation. Finally, plastic has an almost unlimited budget, and the last thing you want to hear when you’re on vacation is, ‘sorry you don’t have enough cash for that.’ Bottom line, don’t travel without a travel card.

Trendy Traveler’s Tip #6: Unplug fire hazards

What’s worse than coming home to a mess? Coming home to no home! Unfortunately, it happens more often than you’d think. Homeowners go away on vacation, a fire breaks out, and bye bye bedroom. To reduce the risk of fire outbreak while you’re gone, unplug all electronics that don’t have to be kept plugged in. Things like televisions, routers, computers, power cords, and even appliances like washer/dryers can all be left unplugged while you’re gone. This’ll also earn you a lower electricity bill at the end of the month.

10 Horrible Violations of the Rules of War

The phrase “all is fair in love and war” hasn’t really stood the test of time. As warfare has become more advanced and deadly, the nations of the world have come together to outlaw certain practices to spare innocent human life. After World War I, the League of Nations established the Geneva Protocols which outlawed the use of asphyxiating, poisonous, or any other gases in war.

And yet despite this international agreement, in the lead up to World War II, Italy, Japan, and Spain used chemical weapons. After World War II, the Geneva Conventions established basic rights for wartime prisoners (civilians and military personnel). It also established protections for civilians living in war-torn areas. And again, despite these protections, nations have broken these agreements again and again…

10. Halabja Chemical Attack

On March 16, 1988, Saddam Hussein’s regime committed one of the most heinous acts in the modern era. The attack took place during the final stages of the Iran-Iraq War. The Kurds, an ethnic minority in the northern part of Iraq had aligned themselves with Iran. Hussein’s regime had had longstanding difficulty reining in the Kurdish minority and decided to use the opportunity to not only end the war, but strike fear into the hearts of the insurgents. A genocidal campaign was carried out named the “Al Anfal Campaign,” which translates to spoils of war.

While the campaign against the Kurds took place over multiple years, the chemical attack was brief but catastrophic. Survivors remember hearing the sound of bombs dropping, then seeing clouds of white, black, and then yellow smoke rising nearly 150 feet in the air. Some remember it as a sweet smell of apples, then something similar to eggs. Soon, birds fell from the sky. Then other animals started to die, and then human beings. All in all, The attack killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people and injured 7,000 to 10,000 more, most of them civilians.

9. My Lai Massacre

One of the most disgusting acts committed by members of the American military took place during the Vietnam War. With the Cold War in full effect, the United States deemed it necessary to combat the rise of communism in Southeast Asia. The war in Vietnam had begun in 1955 and lasted 20 years, and saw nearly 41,000 American soldiers killed in action (more than 58,000 American deaths were reported overall). However, the war also saw as many as 2 million Vietnamese on both sides die as a result of the conflict. The My Lai massacre took place on March 16, 1968. As a result of a cover-up, it took the American public over a year to learn what had transpired. The massacre was one of the major catalysts for the growth of the anti-war movement that swept the nation. More than 500 people were slaughtered including women and children, and young girls were raped and mutilated.

The slaughter took place in a small village in  Quang Ngai province, which was believed to be a stronghold of the VietCong. In March of 1968, Charlie Company received word that the VietCong had taken a neighboring village and were sent on a search and destroy mission. Army commanders had told the soldiers of Charlie Company that all found in the region should be considered VietCong; however, when they arrived at the village, it was comprised of mostly women, children, and elderly men. After searching the village, only a handful of guns were found, but none were fired at Charlie Company. Lieutenant William Calley ordered his soldiers to round the villagers into groups. Despite some protests, Calley — along with his men — began firing on the villagers, killing mothers who shielded their children. Huts were set ablaze and those who tried to run away were shot down. Of the 500 people killed, 182 of them were women — 17 of which were pregnant — and 173 children, including 56 infants.

8. Second Italo-Ethiopian War

Although the League of Nations was meant to bring about an era of collective security, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia quickly demonstrated that nations will always be self-interested. The Italian defeat to Ethiopia, during the scramble for Africa, was devastating and caused the downfall of its imperialist government. When Benito Mussolini came to power, he hoped to restore the prestige of Italy while also expanding Italy’s empire in East Africa. The war began on October 3, 1935 when Italian forces crossed into present day Ethiopia. Chemical weapons were not used until Ethiopia launched its “Christmas offensive,” which blunted an Italian offensive while also cutting communication and supply lines.

In December 1935, Italian planes dropped tear gas grenades and asphyxiating gas over a northeastern part of the country. Italian forces even went so far as to use sulphur mustard air bombs. Historians have found that the Italian forces dropped more than 4,000 bombs filled with sulphur mustard, resulting in roughly 15,000 casualties. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia would go on to make a speech about the failures of the League of Nations and collective security. He warned that if Ethiopia, a member of the League, could be invaded without a response, what would deter invasions of European countries? History would prove him right.

7. Nanjing Massacre

During the second Sino-Japanese War, soldiers of the Imperial Japanese army killed over 200,000 Chinese citizens and unarmed combatants. The Japanese invasion of Shanghai was met with strong resistance, leading to a war of attrition where both sides eventually engaged in hand to hand combat. With the help of a naval bombardment, the Japanese took Shanghai and proceeded to march to the then capital of China, Nanjing. The Chinese realized that the city would fall and decided that military personnel would fall back from the city instead of guarding it. They left the city’s defense to mostly untrained fighting aged men. The result was a catastrophe. The Japanese destroyed the city, raping and killing as they went.

A journalist who traveled with the Japanese army recounted a competition between two soldiers as to who would kill 100 people first. More than 20,000 women were raped, according to an international military tribunal, and most were killed after the act. Japanese soldiers would mutilate their bodies, leaving bayonets or baboo in their victims’ vaginas. There were even cases of Chinese soldiers being disemboweled, with the Japanese roasting his heart and liver and eating them. There was eventually a sliver of justice as five officers were convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging. However, it did nothing to bring back the lives of the thousands lost.

6. Congo Wars

While the other war crimes on our list deal with two nations, Congo is remarkable in that the heinous acts were committed against fellow citizens. A nation rich with natural resources, the Congo has struggled to unify after its independence. Several civil wars have been fought with various groups vying for control of mineral rich areas.

Congolese soldiers have used rape as a form of warfare, terrorizing women and their communities and leading many to abandon their property. A 2011 study found that 1.8 million women have been raped in the Congo and that 12% of women had been raped at least once in the country. The Congo is believed to be the worst place in the world to be a woman. The most depressing fact about the Congo is that the conflict seems to simply be ongoing, with no end in sight.  

5. No Gun Ri Massacre

The Korean War is often forgotten, as is the violence and death that led to the establishment of North and South Korea. Nearly five million people died, half of whom were civilians, accounting for 10% of Korea’s pre-war population. In addition, nearly 40,000 Americans died, and another 100,000 were wounded. On July 26, 1950, the highest level of US command in South Korea ordered “that all Korean civilians traveling and moving around the country must be stopped.”Army leaders were fearful that North Korean guerilla troops were disguising themselves as peasants, and moving across battle lines.  

Despite the military’s order, US soldiers in central South Korea ordered hundreds of civilians from their villages to the south, fearing a North Korean invasion. As the civilians marched south, members of the US 7th Cavalry regiment dug in near No Gun Ri. When the civilians approached, US Cavalrymen were instructed to “fire on everything, kill ’em all.” Over a three day period, hundreds of South Korean civilians were killed. According to survivors, a nearby stream was running red with blood. Estimates range that anywhere from 100 to 300 civilians were killed. Like the My Lai Massacre, the actions of US soldiers was hidden for many years. It took five decades for the facts to emerge, which included testimony from survivors and numerous US soldiers.

4. East Timor Genocide

For nearly 500 years, East Timor was controlled by the Portuguese. However, in 1974, a coup in Portugal left the East Timorese with the opportunity for independence. In 1976, the Portuguese decided to leave East Timor. Just nine days after they left, the country was invaded and annexed by Indonesia.

The Indonesian government was fearful of a leftist government taking power, or the possibility for other regions of Indonesia to align themselves with the East Timorese. Indonesia would occupy East Timor for 24 years, where they systematically murdered men, women, and children. Rape was also a common practice to terrorize the women of East Timor. More than 200,000 Timorese died from famine, disease and fighting as a result of the Indonesia occupation.

3. Bosnian Genocide

Probably one of the most well known violations of international law occurred during the Bosnian Genocide. After the fall of the Soviet Union, nations in the Eastern bloc began to declare their independence. In April 1992, the government of the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia.

A multi-ethnic state, the first elections in the country resulted in a coalition along ethnic lines. That did not sit well with Bosnian Serb forces. With the support of the Yugoslav army, the Serbs perpetrated ethnic cleansing and atrocious crimes against Bosnian Muslims and Croatian civilians. The Serbs, who are Christian, killed more than 100,000 people, 80% of whom were Muslim. It has been called the worst act of genocide since Nazi Germany.

2. Batang Kali Massacre

After the Geneva Conventions and the establishment of basic human rights for non-combatants, British soldiers broke international law by murdering 24 unarmed citizens. With the Japanese defeat in World War II, the British returned to Malaya to reclaim their former colony. However, many liberation fighters who had mobilized during the Japanese occupation had not disbanded.

The guerrilla outfit began targeting British commercial outfits and assassinating British landowners. As a result of increasing hostilities, the British declared a state of emergency, which began an undeclared 12 year war. In December 1948, 7th Platoon, G Company, 2nd Scots Guard rounded up civilians near a rubber plantation. The men were separated from the women and children. There was only one male survivor, Chong Hong, who lived only because he fainted as the automatic weapons killed his fellow countrymen and was presumed dead

1. “Euthanasia” in Nazi Germany

One of the least reported facets of the Nazis’ perverted ideology was their mass murder of fellow German citizens who were mentally and physically handicapped. We’ve decided to include this program of “euthanasia” because it was part in parcel of the Nazi sentiment during World War II. They were a race of perfection and purity, and anything that was believed to not be consistent with that notion needed to be eradicated.

The most troubling aspect of their program was the cooperation of doctors and midwives who were asked to report children who displayed signs of mental or physical disabilities. The program led to the murder of more than 70,000 German citizens, mostly children, at the hands of their own government.


10 Most Expensive Data Breaches – And A Simple Trick to Protect Your Website

There’s no doubt that cybercrime has become “mainstream” – we hear about it more and more often on the news, and hackers don’t spare even the biggest, and what would seem to be, the most secure, companies. In the first half of 2018 alone, over 4.5 billion records were stolen, what gives a staggering number of 291 records every second.

The real costs of a data breach are hard to estimate – depending on the case, the expenses might include the cost of covering the losses, prevention, settlement, and fines imposed by the government. Even small data breaches, caused by data leaks from unsecured websites – the majority of which could be prevented by a simple SSL certificate (if your website still doesn’t have one, you can get an affordable SSL at Hostinger) – can cost small businesses thousands of dollars effectively ruining them.

But that’s still far from the most expensive data breaches in history, the cost of which often amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars – far exceeding the recent average, estimated to be at $3.86 million. What were they? Here are the top 10 most expensive ones.

10. Veterans Administration – $100 to $500 million

Number 10 in the list is quite unusual as it had little to do with the Internet or hackers forcing their way through the elaborate corporate security systems. All it took to steal the data of 26.5 million people was a hard drive with unencrypted records, which was taken home by one of the Veteran Affairs analysts and later stolen during a burglary.

The data stolen included Social Security numbers and disability ratings of active-duty military personnel, National Guard, members of the Reserves, and veterans. The cost of the theft, estimated to be around $100 to $500 million, includes the expenses necessary to cover the losses and prevent this from happening in the future. One of the things that drove up the cost is the fact that Veteran Affairs failed to inform about the breach until May 22 – over two weeks after the incident!

9. Uber – $148 million

Source: Pixabay

2016 was definitely not the best year for Uber, the widely popular ride-hailing service operating in almost 800 metropolitan areas around the world. The company was affected by a data breach, which revealed the details of over 57 million riders and drivers (including 600,000 US driver license numbers).

Unfortunately, if that wasn’t the worst thing that happened, instead of informing the affected people, Uber tried to cover up the whole incident, paying the hackers $100,000 to delete the data. The company was fined $148 million for its negligence and the subsequent cover-up.

8. Sony Playstation Network – $171 million to $2 billion

Five years earlier, in 2011, Sony PlayStation network suffered a hacking incident of similar scale, allowing hackers to access personal data of 77 million people with the accounts on its PlayStation Network. The data included names, addresses, birthdates, usernames, passwords, security questions, and other personal information of both adults and children who had their parents create accounts for them.

While the cost of the breach itself was estimated at $171 million, it does not include the potential impact on revenue and lawsuits, including those already filed by numerous American and Canadian law films, which, could amount to around $2 billion.

7. Marriott – $200 million to $1 billion

Just as in the case of Sony PlayStation network, almost all data breaches in this list have additional hidden costs such as brand reputation, trust, and unrealized revenue that will affect the company for years after the breach. A great example of this is the Marriott data breach, which affected around 500 million guests, and which is one of the largest data breaches in history in terms of the amount of data stolen.

While the costs between direct fines and court related expenses are estimated at around $200 million, the extra costs, such as percentage fines imposed on company revenue, the expenses on notifying customers, and data monitoring services could quickly amount to around $1 billion.

6. TJX – $256 million

An interesting example of how far the estimations can be from the reality is the 2007 TJX data breach, which cost this multinational off-price department store corporation $256 million – what was over 10 times more than the original estimate.

One of the reasons of the rising cost was the fact that the company initially underestimated the number of stolen credit card numbers, which quickly rose from the initial 40 million to 100 million, what forced the company to spend more money to cover additional settlement costs.

5. Epsilon – $270 million to 4 billion

The 2011 data breach at an email marketing services company Epsilon was at the time so enormous, that some industry experts called it the hack of the century. One of the reasons for this catchy name was the fact that the company processed email details of customers of all the major banks, as well as retail and hotel chains – including thousands of A-list clients.

The cost of the breach amounted to $225 million in liabilities, followed by an estimated $45 million in lost business ($270 million total), however it is estimated that the total cost can run as high as $4 billion – it all depends on how the hackers use the acquired email addresses.

4. Equifax – $439 million to 4 billion

2017 was without a doubt not a good year for Equifax, the US consumer credit reporting agency. In March, the company suffered a major security breach, followed by an attack between mid-May and end of July, which resulted in unauthorized access to data of around 145.5 million American and 15.2 million UK customers.

The immediate cost of the breach, including security upgrades, legal fees, and free identity theft services for consumers totaled around $449 million. But experts estimate that the final immediate cost will quickly rise to $600 million if not more, and the Wall Street reaction to the breach reduced the company valuation by $4 billion.

3. Yahoo! – $470 million to ??

Source: Pixabay

Over the past few years the Sunnyvale company suffered three major data breaches – the biggest of which happened in 2013, when all 3 billion accounts were compromised. If that wasn’t enough, the breach was followed in 2014 by another one which gave hackers access to 500 million accounts.

While the accurate costs are hard to estimate for such big amounts of data stolen, the breaches knocked about $350 million off of the Yahoo’s sale price. On top of that, it is known that Yahoo was asked to pay $85 million settlement and agreed to pay $35 million penalty to SEC – all of which gives us a round number of $470 million . But the real costs were most likely into billions.

2. Exactis – More than Equifax

The exact numbers for the Exactis data breach are not yet known as the bridge happened in 2018, and the real legal battle is probably yet to happen. But, considering that it is already called a much more complex and costly data breach than that of Equifax, we can easily say that the initial costs may surpass $500 million. What makes our estimate so high?

The records leaked from Exactis included 200 million US consumers and 110 million business contacts. And, considering that some of the data was reportedly accumulated without any consent or knowledge of the data subjects, the settlement costs alone could be massive.

1. U.S Office of Personnel Management – $500 million to a few billion

Source: Pixabay legal

Even though the 2014 data breach affected “only” 21 million people (if you compare it with Equifax, Exactis or Yahoo, that number looks really low), the 1 billion estimate is probably still less than what the real cost will be.

A year after the breach, the government issued a contract for $500 million to provide credit monitoring to the people affected. This does not include the costs of infrastructure modernization (estimated to amount to around $100 million), security updates, staff training, data migration and encryption. In fact, the government agency, may spend as much as a few billions of dollars over the next few years as a result of the breach.

What makes data breaches so widespread and cost so much? One of the reasons is negligence – employees often underestimate the real value of data they’re working with. Another reason is the rising cost of data, which has become more valuable than ever before. And it’s relatively easy for hackers to gain unauthorized access to it. Especially considering that many businesses are still lacking sound security policies and fail to secure their data enough.

While as a small online business, you don’t have to worry about such a huge amount of damage, you should still do everything you can to protect your customers. And the easiest way of doing that is getting an SSL certificate, which encrypts the connection between your site and the browser, creating the most important layer of security.