10 Fascinating Examples of the Mandela Effect

Have you ever had a memory that turns out to be wrong, only to meet someone else who has the exact same false memory? How can that be possible? Did someone change reality when you were not looking, or did you accidentally jump into an alternate universe with small, but noticeable differences? Unfortunately, no (as far as we know). This phenomenon of collective misremembering is known as the Mandela Effect, and if you know where to look, it’s all around you. For instance, there’s a chance that you have vivid memories of the ten following events that didn’t actually happen.

10. Nelson Mandela’s “prison death”

The term “Mandela effect” was coined in 2010, when tons of people on the internet discovered that they had very clear memories of South Africa’s anti-Apartheid revolutionary, Nelson Mandela, dying in prison in the 1980s as a martyr to his cause. This was particularly weird because Mandela didn’t actually die until 2013, and in fact famously served as the country’s president from 1994 to 1999.

A paranormal consultant called Fiona Broome coined the term “Mandela effect” based on this collective misremembering, and her explanation was that this was a malfunction in our memory, not unlike a glitch in computer software. Others preferred to think that this was a remaining effect of history being changed by time travellers, and even insinuated that the whole thing was caused by interference from Satan and other dark spiritual forces. Psychologists, on the other hand, say that the phenomenon is a social version of “confabulation,”  the unconscious manufacture of misinterpreted or even completely fabricated memories that is relatively common in everyday life.

9. The turkey-eating portrait of King Henry VIII

What’s the first image you conjure when you picture King Henry VIII, Britain’s favorite portly serial-marriage enthusiast? Chances are that at least some of you are picturing the famous painting where he was eating a turkey leg, and perhaps seated at a banquet table. There’s just one problem: That picture is not real. There are plenty of homages to it in movies and printed media. Even The Simpsons has referred to it. But an actual painting of King Henry VIII, from his own era, just plain doesn’t exist.

There are plenty of theories as to what could have triggered this particular false group-memory, from obligatory reality-alteration ideas to an old black and white movie where the actor playing the king heartily devoured a fried chicken. One of the more reasonable-sounding theories says that it may be caused by our brains playing tricks on the legendary portrait by Hans Holber the Younger, where the king holds a brown glove in one hand and his other hand hovers near an ornate dagger. It’s easy to imagine a mischievous mind glancing at a picture of a reasonably well-fed man and interpreting either of these objects as a large drumstick.  

8. “Luke, I’m Your Father” is an iconic Star Wars quote that doesn’t actually exist

Darth Vader’s legendary line in The Empire Strikes Back is a plot twist to end all twists, and it remains one of the most iconic sentences in movie history: “No, I am your father.” Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Shouldn’t it be “Luke, I’m your father”?

Unfortunately, no. “No, I am your father” is the real line, despite the fact that it’s far less impressive and gives way less context than the famous, misremembered one. In fact, our brain’s nasty tendency to remember famous quotes as quotable as possible has led to a whole bunch of famous quotes that were never spoken aloud in their actual movies and TV shows. The closest Captain Kirk ever got to “Beam me up, Scotty” in the original Star Trek series was “Scotty, beam us up.” Dirty Harry never utters the question “Do you feel lucky, punk?”, and Hannibal Lecter doesn’t actually say “Hello, Clarice” at any point of Silence of the Lambs. Even Humphrey Bogart never says “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca — although Ingrid Bergman does say “Play it, Sam” at one point, Bogart’s actual quote is much longer and less memorable “You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!”

7. The color chartreuse

Chartreuse is a shade between green and yellow that emerged in the late 19th century and experienced its heyday in the fashion of the roaring 1920s. However, a small but significant percentage of population is gently losing its mind over the fact that they’ve always remembered chartreuse as a deep, earthy red, as evidenced by this Reddit thread and this article. Some seem to remember it as more of a pink or purple hue, but the red spectrum features prominently in these discussions. Many of these people say that they’ve unexpectedly and embarrassingly discovered the true color behind the name after starting a heated debate with someone, and swearing blind that their red version of chartreuse is the right one.

Seeing as the color gained its name from a green herbal liquor, It’s hard to determine just what makes a percentage of population associate it with shades of maroon and pink. It’s possible that the word “chartreuse” just sounds like it should be a hearty wine color, so that’s what some people’s brains choose to remember it as.  

6. The Berenstein Bears are actually called Berenstain Bears

Remember the “Berenstein Bears” children’s books? No, you don’t, because they don’t exist. The bears are — and have always been — actually called Berenstain Bears. This seems like an easy misnomer, in the way that a brain might lazily interpret the surname “Morelos” as a more common “Morales.” However, Mandela Effect enthusiasts have taken this one-letter difference and use it to throw around theories about alternate timestreams.

While the Berenstain Bears are actually named after the authors, Stan and Jan Berenstain, some people have put forward the idea that there are actually multiple parallel realities, and the fact that the bear family’s spelling has suddenly turned from “Berenstein” to “Berenstain” means that we’ve abruptly jumped into a different one than we used to be in. Of course, this theory ignores the fact that the name is simply so easy to misspell that even official bear merchandise sometimes gets it wrong, and even uses both spellings in the same label.

5. What happened to the Tiananmen Square man?

The Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989 was a tragic and powerful event, but the most enduring image of the day was one of nonviolent resistance: A picture of a single man carrying a bag and fearlessly standing in front of a column of tanks. Unfortunately, the moment after the photo was taken, the tanks pressed forward and ended his moment in the limelight with a small, sad splat.

Except that they didn’t. That’s the Mandela Effect at work, again. There are many theories about the Tank Man’s identity and eventual fate, but no one involved in or present at the event says that he was ran over (though, unfortunately, many others were less fortunate). On the contrary, he repeatedly moved to block the lead tank’s way, and once the tank finally shut its engines, he actually climbed it and had a brief conversation with the driver until bystanders (or the secret police, who knows) pulled him to safety.

Despite all this, there are people who vividly remember that the Tank Man was ran over, and even claim that they saw footage of the incident. There are even congressional records where politicians seemingly refer to the man being run over.

4. Lucian Staniak, the serial killer who wasn’t

If you Google Lucian Staniak, you’ll find many articles about his horrible deeds: He was an infamous Polish serial killer known as “Red Spider,” and his awful murders drew comparison to Jack the Ripper himself. There’s even a movie based on his murder spree in the 1960s. But despite all these people remembering the man and his terrible crimes, there’s one minor problem: For every source that will happily recount his multiple murders, there is another that bluntly states that the man who some call Poland’s most notorious murderer has never existed at all. So why do people remember him and even count him among the more notorious serial killers in history?

The common consensus among the “Staniak didn’t exist” crowd seems to be that he’s the brainchild of a “true” crime writer — possibly called Colin Wilson — who wrote the first account of Stasiak’s crimes, and apparently no one ever thought to check his facts. Still, it’s strange that it’s almost as difficult to find reliable information about the fictional Staniak’s origins as it is to find solid proof that he actually existed … though the fact that he’s a supposedly infamous killer and doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page does speak volumes.  

3. Billy Graham’s funeral

When evangelist Billy Graham died, it probably came as a surprise to many people. After all, they thought he had already died at least a decade ago, and even remembered watching his funeral on TV. Billy Graham’s televised funeral is one of the most prevalent cases of the Mandela Effect — possibly even more common than fake memories of Nelson Mandela’s death. Most people who remember seeing the funeral progression on their TV place it sometime in the 1990s or 2000s, and the opulent event and the subsequent media coverage was so breathtaking that they even remember discussing it with their friends. Of course, there was no funeral, let alone any media coverage. In fact, Graham was alive and well until his demise in 2018, and even then, the funeral was a fairly modest affair (Though they did offer a live stream).

Mandela Effect enthusiasts have offered several possible deaths that people might have mentally confused with that of Billy Graham, such as fellow evangelists Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps, Graham’s wife Ruth, or even Charlton Heston or Ted Kennedy.

2. C-3PO’s silver leg

Many Star Wars fans go through a very peculiar Mandela Effect where they suddenly notice that the golden protocol robot C-3PO isn’t totally golden — one of his legs is actually silver. It’s enough to make some people question their programming, especially because even the toys and postershave depicted the robot as completely gold-colored.

Unfortunately for conspiracy theory fans and alternate universe enthusiasts, this particular false memory has a simple explanation. Anthony Daniels, who plays the robot, explains that the leg was always silver (until The Force Awakens, where C-3PO is all gold save for a red left arm). However, it caused some trouble during filming, since it was so bright that it would reflect the gold leg and the desert sand, making it appear golden in many shots. In fact, the silver leg was so unnoticeable that one day, the production’s stills photographer came up to Daniels and asked why he was suddenly wearing a weird silver leg. This was a man who did nothing but taking pictures of the cast all day, and even he hadn’t noticed.

1. Shazaam, the movie that doesn’t exist

Shazaam is an obscure 1990s movie that featured the comedian Sinbad as a wacky genie of the lamp. A handful of people vividly remember seeing the film, and can even describe its plot, which is fairly unassuming except for one fact: Sinbad has never starred in a movie called Shazaam. No one has, because there is no such movie. There is a 1996 movie called Kazaam, with a very similar premise and starring Shaquille O’Neal as the genie, but the Shazaam believers insist that it’s a very different movie, and even remember thinking that Kazaam was a blatant ripoff of Shazaamwhen it first came out.   

As for Sinbad, he originally tried to shrug off the persistent rumor, and even promised on Twitterthat he’ll make a genie movie just so everyone can close this particular chapter in their lives. However, when he saw Shazaam referenced in an X-Files episode, he decided to stop fighting the story, because it had clearly become such a powerful pop culture phenomenon that it was pointless to resist. He has jokingly promised to own up to the movie if a copy ever surfaces — although he does note that if that happens, he will “trip out.”


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10 More Leaked or Declassified Government Secrets

We were going to put together a list of “things the government could be hiding from you,” as a kind of sober take on some of the more plausible conspiracy theories. But, having already done a list of things they actually hid from us, it would have been an underwhelming follow-up.

And for no good reason! There are plenty more disturbing and/or bizarre secrets our governments would have preferred to keep quiet.

10. Project Horizon

Back in the late 1950s, the US was lagging behind in the space race. In 1957, for example, the Soviets launched Sputnik—the first manmade satellite—into orbit, and Eisenhower’s America was crestfallen. Of course, it didn’t help that many now saw the US as basically defenseless against a Russian nuclear strike.

Their response? They made plans to fire a nuke at the moon.

It’s easy to see this as a kind of geopolitical temper tantrum, a toddler throwing his toys at the wall, but for the Air Force it was a “P.R. device.” Above all, it was a way “to impress the world with the prowess of the United States.” The flash of the detonation would be visible from Earth, said the experts, and, because of the negligible lunar atmosphere, the dust would fly off in all directions (as opposed to the usual mushroom cloud shape). It would also leave a gaping lunar crater, forever changing the face of the Moon.

Ultimately, the plan was shelved. But only when they came up with a “better” one. Documents declassified in 2014 revealed plans to build a base on the Moon. Outpost Horizon was to be a permanent, nuclear-powered, and completely self-sustaining installation, constructed by its inhabitants beneath the lunar surface. It would have air locks, living quarters, dining and rec rooms, a hospital, science labs and storage for explosives. It was, in other words, dangerously ahead of its time.

The 12 men expected to live up there by 1965 were to drink their own urine, grow plants in their poop, and look after chickens and fish. And, if anyone lost their mind, there was a solitary confinement room “for the complete isolation of psychiatric patients.”

The plan was finally abandoned when NASA took over the space program.

9. Acoustic Kitty

From missile-guiding pigeons to mine-detecting dolphins, animals have long been co-opted for war. As retrograde as it sounds now, behavioral conditioning to this end was at the forefront of  of military research back in the 1960s.

The I.Q. Zoo in Hot Springs, Arkansas was basically a front for such studies. On the one hand, it was a quirky visitor attraction—a place for the public to watch pigs playing the piano, chickens playing baseball, macaws riding bicycles, and reindeer operating a printing press (etc.). But on the other, it was a top secret facility for training animal spies—bug-planting ravens, mine-locating dogs, and the so-called Acoustic Kitty.

The idea for the latter was hatched while visually surveilling a target. Since cats could be seen freely wandering in and out of the target’s strategy sessions, the CIA thought of bugging one to listen in. But simply attaching a microphone wouldn’t do. Instead, researchers transformed a living cat into a $20 million radio transmitter. They ran a wire through the ear canal to instruments inside the rib cage and spiraled a super-thin antenna around the kitty’s tail. Using ultrasound cues, they could also direct the cat’s movements left, right, and straight on.

We don’t know if it was ever deployed. The fate of the project is murky. Some say the Acoustic Kitty was flattened by a taxi just seconds into its very first field test. Others say the implants were removed and the kitty lived a long and happy life. The CIA refuses to comment, although one declassified document does appear to suggest the impractical project was canceled.

Anyway, now that we can eavesdrop with lasers, it’s likely to be a thing of the past.

8. Mapimí Silent Zone

Usually when a country fires upon another, it’s considered an act of war. But America’s long-suffering neighbor to the south has been known to let it slide. On July 11, 1970, an ATHENA V-123-D rocket was fired at New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range, but it overshot the target and landed near old Mexico’s Bolsón de Mapimí instead—an important ecosystem 200 miles south of the border.

The clean-up operation (with the help of the Mexicans) was huge, requiring a brand new road just to get vehicles to the blast zone. Hundreds of tons of cobalt-57-contaminated soil were removed, the radioactive isotope having been added to the bomb to maximize fallout and civilian casualties.

Fortunately, the site had few if any humans. But the bomb could have hit just about anywhere. In a memo sent to Nixon, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger made it out to be an unforeseen blunder—attributable to the missile’s “abnormal re-entry into the atmosphere.” However, the ATHENA program had already been suspended in July 1968 following three consecutive flight failures. And funding had been slashed between 1966 and 1969, forcing the Air Force to cut corners with design. Although officials involved in the program expressed safety concerns, they presumptuously reasoned that “the public is willing to accept some risk if such tests appear necessary in the national interest.” Far from an unforeseen blunder, the military allowed for such incidents; it expected them.

Nowadays, the blast site is known as the Mapimí Silent Zone, or sometimes as the “Mexican Bermuda Triangle.” And it may be no coincidence that its renown as a UFO hotspot outweighs any memory of American hubris.

7. 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash

In our last list on this topic, we mentioned the 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash, a potentially apocalyptic “nuclear mishap” that you would’ve thought America had learned from. Unfortunately not. Almost seven years later to the day, on January 21, 1968, another nuclear-armed bomber hit the dust (or snow, as it happens), this time on overseas territory.

The aircraft has been circling Thule Air Base in northern Greenland as part of Operation Chrome Dome. (These missions kept bombers on continuous airborne alert between 1960 and 1968, each of them on standby to go and annihilate Moscow.) When a fire broke out in the navigator’s compartment, however, the plane lost electrical power and slammed into the ground just seven miles away from the base. Actually, it slammed through the ground, blasting through the ice into North Star Bay at a speed of 500 knots. Six of the crew of seven ejected and the aircraft was destroyed upon impact. Whatever was left was consumed by the fires of 200,000 pounds of jet fuel. The casings of its four 1.1-megaton H-bombs were also destroyed, scattering tiny fragments of highly radioactive tritium and plutonium across the crash site.

A major clean-up operation followed, involving scientists from Denmark and more than 70 federal agencies. And, while the major general in charge downplayed the extent of contamination, framing the incident as an “exciting” and “classic example of international cooperation,” many of those involved suffered ailments later on. Over the subsequent decades, hundreds of them contracted cancers and, of 500 Danes studied, only 20 were able to have children—several of which were born with deformities.

The US didn’t even have express permission to be flying nukes over Danish territory—much less deploying them on the ground (as documents declassified in the ’90s show they did).

But did the Air Force finally learn its lesson?

Kind of. Nuclear weapons were removed from all planes on airborne alert in the immediate aftermath of the incident. After all, it wasn’t just Goldsboro and Thule; there had been eight other nuclear-armed crashes. More recently, however, there has been talk of a return to Chrome Dome-style strategy.

6. 1953 Iranian coup d’état

Historically, the US and UK have controlled oil supplies in the Middle East. The Arabian-American Oil Company owned Saudi Arabia’s and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP) owned Iran’s. But all that changed in 1950.

When the US finally gave in to pressure to start sharing revenue with the locals, Iran expected Britain to follow suit. And when it didn’t, the Iranian PM Mohammad Mossadegh simply nationalized his country’s oil industry—depriving the UK of any share and securing (or so he thought) crucial funding for his program of liberal reforms.

In response, Britain conspired with the US to overthrow Mossadegh—the closest Iran has ever come to a truly democratic and socialist leader, and one who intended to abolish the monarchy. Although he saw the first attack coming and arrested those involved, the coup against him was ultimately successful. The status quo was restored and BP got a share of the oil. But such blatant interference by the US and UK earned them the nickname “the Great Satan.” And their 1953 coup d’état paved the way for the 1979 Islamic Revolution—the devastating transformation of a once progressive nation into the fundamentalist nightmare we see today.

5. British establishment pedophiles

In November 2014, London’s Metropolitan Police finally agreed to investigate historical claims of child sex abuse at the highest levels of government (and, more famously, in the media). These claims are mostly concentrated on the 1970s and ’80s—at a time when senior police officers and politicians, including Margaret Thatcher, are alleged to have blocked all inquiries. But the evidence has piled up in the shadows.

According to a prominent Member of Parliament (MP) in 2012, there is “clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10.” Indeed, one senior lawyer claims to have seen records of government funding for the Paedophile Information Exchange—a pro-pedophile activist group—during the 1970s.

Allegations from the victims are even more harrowing. Survivors claim to have been trafficked via care homes into violent orgies with high-ranking defense and intelligence officials, MPs, and others within the British establishment. Even former Prime Minister Ted Heath has been implicated. Allegedly a number of children were killed. One twelve-year-old boy was raped and strangled by a Conservative MP, says a witness, and another boy, a ten-year-old, was deliberately run over by a car. This was apparently a display of his rapist’s legal immunity.

Of course, much of this has yet to be proven. But declassified documents do suggest that investigations were blocked. And, while the Metropolitan Police have attempted to dismiss the claims, the Crown Prosecution Service admitted in 2015 there was enough evidence to prosecute at least one of the accused: Lord Greville Janner. But they refused to do so. Citing his “severe dementia” and advanced age of 86, they argued that it wouldn’t be “in the public interest.” This is ironic given that Janner himself had, back in 1997, criticized the British justice system for letting a similarly demented 86-year-old Nazi war criminal off the hook, fuming “I don’t care what bloody age they are.”

Janner died in 2015 and the public hearing for allegations against him has been scheduled for 2020Other investigations into British establishment pedophiles are ongoing.

4. JTRIG/HSOC

In August 2013, Brazilian journalist David Miranda was detained in the UK “under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.” But he wasn’t suspected of terrorism. What security officials really wanted to know was how much he knew about British surveillance programs, as well as those of the NSA. Furthermore, by imposing the full nine hours’ detention afforded them under the Terrorism Act, they hoped to send a warning to his husband, the American journalist Glenn Greenwald.

It didn’t work. Hours later, Greenwald released a statement of outraged defiance via the Guardian’s website, knowing that GCHQ (Britain’s state surveillance agency) would probably see it within minutes. The following year, he won the Public Service Pulitzer for bringing Edward Snowden’s NSA/Five Eyes (FVEY) revelations to light.

Thanks to Greenwald, Miranda, and of course Snowden among others, most of us are by now at least dimly aware that our governments are spying on us all. But their fear of the internet, and hence their need to control it, goes deeper than mass surveillance.

The Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) is a unit within GCHQ whose aim it is to sow discord and disinfo online. It seeks to influence or “game” online interactions (e.g. forums, comments sections) by applying theories of compliance and trust. In other words, it employs an army of trolls. Its partner-in-crime is the Human Science Operations Cell (HSOC), whose agents apparently refer to themselves as “magicians of persuasion.”

Unnervingly, JTRIG also targets individuals. But these targets needn’t be criminals or “terrorists.” Investigative journalists, political activists, and other inconvenient civilian subtypes—who, by virtue of their legal innocence, are rightly out of reach for law enforcement—can find their reputations and livelihoods suddenly destroyed by vicious rumors spread online or sent to their smartphone contacts.

As far as we know this happens all the time. And not just in Britain. These tactics are shared between each of the Five Eyes surveillance states: the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

3. Project MKUltra

During the 1950s and ’60s, LSD was revolutionizing psychotherapy (just as it probably will again). Hollywood stars like Cary Grant and Esther Williams attributed life-changing revelations, the overcoming of addictions, and the processing of childhood trauma to LSD-assisted therapy. Breakthroughs expected to take years were happening within a few hours. As Grant put it in an interview with Look magazine in 1959: “At last, I am close to happiness.”

But the CIA was more interested in weaponizing the psychedelic. Documents declassified in 1975 revealed a 20-year-long (1953-1973) human experimentation project, exploring, among other things, whether LSD could be used for mind control. Specifically, they wanted to be able to program people to carry out missions—or, as the CIA put it, “do our bidding”—against their will and without any regard for survival. Only rarely did participants consent, and even then they weren’t fully informed.

Electroshocks, sensory deprivation, and neurosurgery were also explored, and those subjected to the tests included prisoners, medical professionals, cancer patients, prostituteschildren, and animals. In the 1960s, for instance, the CIA “successfully” made remote-controlled dogs.

Of course, it’s hardly possible to go into much detail here—not least because CIA Director Richard Helms burned most of the records back in 1973. And the fact that “only” 20,000 documents remain, as a fraction of the original archive, gives a sense of its overall scale. But what’s interesting is that MKUltra began the very same year that America adopted the Nuremberg Code. This international standard for research ethics emphasized the necessity for informed consent and was expressly worded to prevent any repeat of Nazi-style human experimentation.

2. Operation Cauldron

During the Cold War, the British were taught to fear the Soviets. But their own government was more of a threat. Between 1953 and 1964, the UK’s chemical/biological warfare research unit, Porton Down, released 4,600 kilos of zinc cadmium sulphide—a potential carcinogen—from aircraft, ships, and trucks onto civilian populations in Wiltshire, Bedfordshire, and Norfolk. Then in 1964 they released Bacillus globigii—linked to food poisoning, eye infections, and sepsis—into the London Underground. They wanted to see how rapidly it spread through the Tube network.

Some might say the scientists weren’t aware of the risks, that in those days the research was lacking. But a number of them had “grave misgivings” about conducting the field trials. And none of them could have been in any doubt whatsoever as to the toxicity of Pasteurella [Yersiniapestis(the Black Death or bubonic plague), which they released off the coast of Scotland in 1952. This test staked the lives of thousands of Hebridean islanders on the plague being blown out to sea, and on the wind not simply changing direction. That was irresponsible enough. But when a fishing vessel unexpectedly appeared and passed through the cloud of live bacteria, the government’s response was even more disturbing. Instead of alerting and quarantining the trawler, they allowed it to dock on the mainland. In other words, Churchill’s post-war government was more prepared to risk an outbreak of plague than to come clean about having released it.

As it turned out, the fishermen hadn’t caught the Black Death. But they had been affected by a number of other agents leaking from the tanker that spread it. This led to hair loss for at least one of them.

The government didn’t learn from the test. After burning all but one of the documents pertaining to it, they simply relocated their research overseas. Churchill personally approved a plan to test bioweapons in the colonies instead. Bahamians were subjected to encephalomyelitis (a cause of fever, fatigue, and even death) and Nigerians were subjected to nerve gas. More than 14,000 British troops were also experimented on between 1945 and 1989.

The British military is now thought to have carried out more than 30,000 secret tests—and largely done away with the evidence.

1. Operation Gladio

After WWII, with the threat of Soviet expansion looming, the US/UK-led NATO set up a network of secret armies throughout Europe. Modeled on the guerilla resistance movements of the war years, these groups were totally unaccountable to citizens and often unknown to governments. In fact, it wasn’t until 1990 that European Parliament formally exposed and objected to their existence.

Their job was to undermine the Communists at all costs—and to keep doing so even if the Communists won. However, the Communists weren’t all that disliked. The Italian Communist Party, for instance, was a valued part of the mainstream—despite US efforts to destroy it. If Operation Gladio was to uphold Capitalism in Europe, therefore, it had to make people hate Communism. And it had to recruit the only people who hated it enough in the first place: Nazis.

NATO’s illegal foot soldiers carried out terrorist attacks across the continent and blamed them on the USSR. Civilians, including children, were brutally murdered at random, including at the 1980 Oktoberfest in Munich. It had to be at random and it had to involve children so that nobody nowhere felt safe. Eventually, NATO assumed, everyone would be so afraid of the Commies they would eagerly support previously unthinkable infringements of their hard-won civil liberties (such as mass surveillance).

It was unusual for the perpetrators to survive these attacks, or if they did they’d be unavailable for questioning. However, in 1984, the neo-Fascist Gladio operative Vincenzo Vinciguerra was brought to trial for a car bomb 12 years earlier. He freely admitted his guilt but said he was under the protection of NATO, and furthermore that he was one of many operatives. Among the few people to actually believe him was the Italian judge Felice Casson, whose subsequent digging around revealed NATO’s “strategy of tension.” This involved the execution of false-flag terror attacks to blame on fabricated enemies, paralyzing the masses with fear to manufacture consent for just about anything: mass surveillance, foreign wars, whatever.

This “strategy of tension” was also behind Operation Northwoods (mentioned in the previous list). And there’s absolutely no reason to believe it’s been taken off the table today. The “enemies” have simply changed.


10 Historical Figures We’ve Pretty Much Forgotten

When learning about history you often assume you are learning about the most important peoplein any given situation. But often, you learn either of those who took the credit, or even more commonly, those that history happened to credit more because their role, or just their personality, was more glamorous. Those easily identifiable figures need no special mention from us, but there are many in the shadows who have hardly been given their proper due, and gave us so much more than you can even imagine. In today’s article, we will give you 10 examples of just that…

10. Clarence Dally

In 1895 Wilhelm Roentgen discovered the x-ray, and many wanted to explore it further. While Thomas Edison explored the new x-ray’s with a fluoroscope a little bit, his assistant Clarence Dally wanted to use the strongest rays possible, and did constant tests on his own arm. After a few years, he started showing serious signs of cancer, but kept going, thinking it would heal over time. As he started to lose the use of his arm, he decided to use the other one instead, with predictable results. After a few years he had lost the use of both his arms, and in eight years he had died from his exposure to radiation poisoning.

Dally was not pushed to do this by Edison; he made his own choices. But Edison kept him on the payroll long after he could no longer work. Edison felt truly terrible about what had happened, and would no longer experiment or allow his scientists to experiment with x-rays. He felt that while they had good medical applications, they were dangerous outside the hands of a careful medical doctor, using them in specific settings. For his part, Dally his little known by most, but his sacrifice greatly advanced the early research in x-rays for medical use, and thus his contribution cannot be overstated.

9. Scipio Africanus

Scipio Africanus was a general for Rome during the Second Punic War, and was starting to get tired of constantly playing defense against Hannibal and his forces. The Second Punish War had been playing out for over a decade and he felt that a more aggressive option was needed, but the senate disagreed. In order to fulfill his plans, he put together a volunteer force to go attack Carthage, as the senate simply saw removing any of their own protection as too risky.

Scipio could not have been more successful. At one point, despite it being a bit shamefully against the rules of war, he surrounded and set fire to an enemy encampment during the night and managed to have his men kill almost everyone as they tried to escape from the blaze. His strategic decisions allowed his relatively smaller force to scare Carthage so much that they ordered Hannibal back from Rome to defend them — something that was a huge hidden victory in itself.

Then, despite a numerical disadvantage, Scipio used remarkable combat strategies (which could fit in their own article) to defeat Hannibal and his elephants. Unfortunately, despite being elected as first senator multiple times, he and his brother were eventually attacked on trumped up political charges in order to weaken their reputations, and Scipio went into exile for the rest of his life instead of dignifying the charges.

8. Squanto (And His People)

A lot of people know very well the popular story of Thanksgiving. The pilgrims that came over from Europe were having a really bad time getting crops to take in the soil, and generally doing pretty badly at wilderness survival on the new continent. With worries that they would have an awful harvest and be unable to survive the winter, things were looking pretty grim until Squanto came along. Squanto taught them how to properly prepare their crops, and in general to get ready for the harsh winter, and when fall came, the local indians were all invited to a feast to thank them for their help and celebrate the successful harvest.

However, the truth is that the popular story sugarcoats a lot of things to make European settlers look good. Squanto had already been captured as a slave and sold off to go live in Europe for a while, then gained his freedom and returned shortly before the pilgrims arrived. Unfortunately for Squanto, he came back to find that almost everyone he knew was wiped out from disease, which was why the pilgrims found it as easy as they did to settle in the New World to begin with. To make matters worse, not only was Squanto crucial in helping them, but while there may have been some natives at the feast, there is no evidence the settlers sent them any kind of magnanimous invitation.

7. Edith Wilson

Edith Wilson grew up in a small town in Virginia, and always wanted something more. Her first marriage ended in tragedy, losing both her husband and her baby, but she soon found love in Woodrow Wilson, who was 15 years her senior. They were married in 1915. However, in 1919, after spending months in Europe working on the Treaty of Versailles and then campaigning around the country in order to promote his new League of Nations proposal, he was quite exhausted by life, and had a stroke in early October of that year.

Despite losing much of the use of the left side of his body, Wilson remained president through the rest of his term, and the media was kept almost entirely in the dark as to how bad the president’s condition really was — in fact, the extent of his stroke was never reported while he was president. Edith Wilson stayed by his side, and decided what information would and would not come before him, and what decisions he would and would not be asked to make. For this reason, some have dubbed her as the “first woman president.” However, Edith always maintained that while she did decide what went before him, the decisions were always his own.

6. Tenzing Norgay

Today, climbing Mount Everest is almost seen as kind of a cliche, overrated endeavor. If you have enough money and you want to check something off a bucket list or do something to sound cool, you can spend a bunch of money to go up Everest. There are professional base camps, oxygen tanks and all sorts of other supplies and people around to help, and today it could not be any easier. In fact, at this point the mountain has had such overcrowding problems that experts worry poop buried underneath the snow could eventually be quite a big problem when the snow melts.

However, back in the beginning of the 1950s, no one had yet been recorded reaching the summit, and many were game to try. A Swiss expedition in 1951 came closer than anyone yet with the help of a sherpa named Tenzing Norgay, but they had to turn back before reaching the summit. Then, in 1952, Sir Edmund Hillary and a huge British expedition went to Everest to try to reach the top, and hired Norgay to help them. In the end Hillary, from New Zealand but representing Great Britain, managed to make it to the top with Norgay’s help. Today, most people haven’t heard Tenzing, but if not for his help, it is quite unlikely that Hillary would have ever reached the summit at all.

5. Ernest Lawrence

Today, when asked about the creation of the atomic bomb, most people will name drop J. Robert Oppenheimer, mainly because of his famous quote “I am now become death, destroyer of worlds.” It’s a really good quote, the kind that jumps off the pages of the history books and becomes embedded in the national consciousness. However, while Oppenheimer may have been incredibly quotable, he was not the only key scientist working on the project, and not even the only key physicist from the University of California at Berkeley. Ernest Lawrence, also a physicist and also hailing from Berkeley, was crucial to the success of the project.

Initially, it was his invention of the cyclotron (an early particle accelerator) that got him recognition, and as his research continued, he was asked to join the Manhattan Project. Essentially, he was a leading scientist when it came to our early work on isolating uranium isotopes and was so high up the chain that he was advised when we were planning our attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He had at first suggested a more military target, but was convinced otherwise. Despite the atrocious effects on the two annihilated Japanese cities, Lawrence never claimed to have any misgivings, and seemed entirely sure that further loss of life would have occurred if the bombs had not been dropped.

4. Upton Sinclair

Those of you who have heard of Upton Sinclair probably know him as that guy who wrote The Jungle, the classic story about people who have a horrible life working in meat packing factories in Chicago, and then pretty much all meet a grisly end. This story, set in the beginning of the 1900s, was fiction, but based on real life after Sinclair had actually gone to work at meat packing plants in Chicago and witnessed the brutal conditions the workers had to live with. While he was hoping people would be outraged at how their fellow man was treated, people were mostly just bothered because what he talked about was often rather gross. While he hoped to improve worker conditions, what he did do was influence the creation of early food inspection agencies.

However, he was also a politician who tried multiple times to run for governor of California on a Socialist platform. On his third run in 1934, he actually succeeded in winning the Democratic nomination for governor, but actually ended up losing his bid because some moderate Democrats voted for the other side, as they thought him too radical. His run was not without effect though, as several of his acolytes managed to win, and one ended up governor of California the next term.

3. Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy was born in 1843 in Ontario, Canada to black parents who had escaped from slavery through the underground railroad. After the Civil War ended and America started being very slightly less backwards than it was, his family moved to Detroit, although he was sent to Edinburgh, Scotland to finish his formal college education. When he returned, despite being trained as an engineer, he was only allowed to work in the boiler rooms of the trains at first, instead of working on fixing them and designing things as he was trained to do.

However, all this did was give him more time to think about how he could improve trains, and he made his first patent for an oil drip cup for trains that helped lubricate them more automatically, and it soon became a standard. Many people tried to knock off his invention because it was made of fairly simple parts, but apparently he did such a good job making them that many people would only use ones made by him — they had to be “the real McCoy.” Now, there are multiple people who have been claimed as the origin of the real McCoy phrase, but he is almost certainly at least one of the real McCoys. On top of that, he came up with another 56 inventions over his career as a creator, almost all having to do with railroads.

2. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

We all know Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote Frankenstein, but many have only watched an adaptation, and know little about the story’s creation or of the rest of her accomplishments as a writer. She was always in a position where she felt she had to perform to a level of excellence, as she was surrounded by talented writers, some of whom had already achieved far more than her. Her father was William Godwin, a man who was famous at the time for writing about politics and philosophy, and her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, a woman famous for her radical writings about women’s rights. Her husband, Percy Shelley, was also doing quite well as a literary figure, and soon she found herself in the company of Lord Byron himself.

During the summer of 1816, the Shelleys spent their days hanging out with Lord Byron and several other literary luminaries, talking about literature and swapping ideas. At one point, the story goes that he challenged everyone to write a ghost story after discussing old German horror stories. She took up the challenge, and originally wrote up Frankenstein as a short story in just a few weeks, and then refined it later into the famous novel we all know today.

However, she would probably like it today if more people were aware that she was more than just a fiction writer. While she did have other successful fiction novels, she was actually best known at the time for her contributions on travel writing, and for her full length biographies of famous people from multiple countries. That isn’t the type of writing, of course, that is usually remembered decades or centuries later, but it shows that she was capable of far more than just writing a fiction novel. In fact, the depth and breadth of her work went even as far as writing poetry, something that she usually left to her husband, the famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

1. Lewis Latimer

Lewis Latimer is hardly known by most people in America, but his contributions were extremely important. He was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848 to parents who had escaped from slavery in Virginia, and were helped by abolitionists to pay off the master who came to take them back. Lewis joined the Navy as a young man to fight in the Civil War for the Union, and received an honorable discharge in 1865. He tried to get a job at a patent firm and was first only allowed to be an office boy because of his race, but he impressed them with his drafting ability, and was soon made head draftsman. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell hired him to draft his patent for the telephone application, due to his burgeoning reputation, and he did it so fast and so well that Graham beat his rival to the punch by minutes. After that, he was picked up by the US Electric Lighting Company, a rival firm to Edison’s owned by Hiram Maxim. It was with this company that in 1881 he perfected the lightbulb created by Edison, finding a way to protect the filament better so it would last for days instead of hours.

These accomplishments got him a lot of recognition among scientists, despite how some people downplayed the achievements of black people at the time, and by 1884, he had been hired by Edison to come and work for him as a draftsman, and to be an expert witness when they needed him for patent cases in court. His expertise at the time was so respected that he oversaw the installation of electric lights in big cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Montreal, and he literally wrote the book on Incandescent Electric Lighting in 1890. After that, he continued to have a long and successful career working in various respects as a patent consultant, inventor, and even civil rights activist, before dying of old age in 1928. Few people may know of him today, but his inventions helped change the world, making it a truly brighter place to live in.

Top Ten Fascinating Facts about the Anglo-Saxons

Settlement in England

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The Anglo-Saxons were Germanic invaders who came from what is now the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. They were from the tribes known today as the Angles, Saxons, Frisians and Jutes and set up their own kingdoms in England. The Angles established themselves in the north and east, founding the kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia, the Jutes settled in Kent in the far southeast of England, the Saxons took the south of the country, naming their nations Wessex and Sussex. The Frisians made a home throughout the kingdoms of the other tribes, often working as traders.

Language

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The Anglo-Saxons spoke various Germanic dialects which eventually evolved into the language Old English, which is the direct ancestor of modern English. A quarter of all English words come from Old English, although these words are very commonly used for everyday objects for example day, night, light, yes, he, she, god, cold and rain. Even today the closest language to modern English is still Frisian, the language spoken in the north of the Netherlands by the descendants of the people who became the Anglo-Saxons in Britain.

Weekdays

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The Anglo-Saxons gave us the names for our days of the week. Names like Monday meaning “Moon-Day”. Tuesday was Tiw, the one-armed war-God’s Day and Wednesday, the day in honour of their chief God Woden, who was known as Odin to the Vikings. However the Viking God Thor was called Thunor in Old English, so Thursday is the only Viking based day of the week in the English language today. They also had names for the remaining days of the week, Friday was “Frigeday” for Frigg, the Anglo-Saxon name for Venus, Saturday was “Saternusdag” and Sunday was “Sunnandag”

Bad Neighbors

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Archaeologists still don’t know what happened to the people the Anglo-Saxons replaced. After the Romans left Britain in AD. 420, the Romano-Britons were invaded from the west by the Irish and the north by the Picts, leaving the British king Vortigern with a desperate choice. The British monk Gildas writes that he sent word to several European tribes, inviting the warrior brothers Hengist and Horsa to fight as mercenaries against the invaders. Though they proved victorious against the Picts, the mercenaries soon turned on their masters and began to drive out their hosts. Historians know that the Anglo-Saxons conquered the centre of the island, leaving the Celts Scotland in the north, Wales and Cornwall in the west and in the south across the channel, Brittany.

However scholars don’t know what happened to the millions of people living in the land the Anglo-Saxons took over in what is now England and southern Scotland. Gildas suggested that the Britons were slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands by the invaders. New DNA evidence shows that males from Central England are genetically very distinct from those living a few miles west in Wales, whereas compared with the modern Frisians, they are almost inseparable suggesting a complete wipe-out of the pre-Anglo-Saxon population.

Metal Workers

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As well as being bloodthirsty warriors, the Anglo-Saxons were skilled craftsmen and metal workers. Using gold and jewels from as far away as Persia, the Anglo-Saxons created beautiful artifacts such as this, the helmet found at Sutton Hoo in Surrey and the items found in the Staffordshire Hoard which was valued at £3.285 million after it was discovered in 2009.

King Arthur

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Knights, round tables and damsels in distress may in fact be thanks to the Anglo-Saxons. The legend of King Arthur can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon invasion when the Celtic Britons were being driven out of their ancient lands by the new invaders. The early form of the legend tells of a vision concerning a white and red dragon each representing the Saxons and the Britons. This red dragon is still on the Welsh flag today. Others tell us that Arthur was a British prince who stopped the Saxons at the siege of Mount Badon, near modern-day Bath. Whatever the truth behind it all, the stories of King Arthur and his knights are now timeless classics throughout the world.

Missionaries

When the Anglo-Saxons came to Britain they worshipped the old Germanic Gods like Woden, Thunor and Frigg, celebrating the harvests and the spring and summer solstices while conducting human and animal sacrifices. However this would change with the exiled Northumbrian King Oswald who sought refuge on Iona where he became a Christian. When he retook his kingdom from the Britons, the people there were forced to accept their ruler’s new religion, converting to Celtic Christianity which was brought to them by monks from Scotland and Ireland.

Soon all of England was Christian, but they did not stop there, instead choosing to return to Europe, the place their ancestors had come from. Many missionaries, especially from the northern kingdom of Northumbria travelled to the kingdoms of Frisia and Saxony to spread the gospel. While some were allowed to build churches and tend to congregations, others were less lucky like the monk Boniface who met his end at the hands of zealous pagans in the Frisian town of Dokkum where he was clubbed to death. At least his efforts made him a saint.

Creation of England

Empty fifteenth-century tomb of King Æthelstan at Malmesbury Abbey

Empty fifteenth-century tomb of King Æthelstan at Malmesbury Abbey

The Anglo-Saxons created the English nation. The word England is a compound of “Angle” and “land”, meaning “land of the Angles.” Before the arrival of the Vikings from Scandinavia, the Anglo-Saxons had lived in small kingdoms like Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex, without having a single king to rule over them all. However in AD. 865 the Vikings amassed a “Great Heathen Army” and took over the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms one by one, until only Wessex remained. A king Alfred fought against the invaders for decades, at one point even being forced to flee his capital at Winchester, and was forced to take refuge in the marshes of Somerset in the far west of England.

While fighting against the Vikings Alfred saw how weak the separate kingdoms had been and came up with the idea of one nation of “Englaland”, one nation with one king and under one god. Alfred’s kingdom remained free for the rest of his life, although it would be up to his grandson Athelstan who finally became king of England in AD. 925 after defeating the Vikings, the Scottish and the Cornish.

Mercenaries

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After being defeated by the Normans in 1066, many Anglo-Saxons left Britain and sailed to modern-day Constantinople to fight for the Byzantium Empire. The Varangian Guard was an elite military unit set up by the Byzantine Empire in 874 AD as a personal guard for Emperor Michael III. Initially the unit had been made up of Swedish Vikings who’d sailed down the rivers of Russia and Ukraine, but after the Norman Conquest increasing numbers of Anglo-Saxon Englishmen joined the elite unit to fight against the enemies of the Last Roman Empire in the east. In 1088, 235 English and Danish ships sailed to Byzantium to join the Varangian Guard, which soon changed its name to “Englinbarrangoi” or “Anglo-Varangian”.

The Last Anglo-Saxon King was Buried in 1984

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The last Anglo-Saxon king was buried in 1984. In AD. 975, a 15 year old named Edward was crowned king of England upon the death of his father Edgar. Edward was a bad-tempered young man and was murdered by his half-brother’s mother when visiting their household in 978. He was buried the year after in Shaftsbury Abbey but the grave was lost during the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th However it was rediscovered in 1931 and preserved in a bank vault until 1984 when the bones were reburied.

Top 10 Travel Highlights While Visiting Venice

Venice is a city unlike any other on earth, and if you’re only there for a couple of days it can tricky to know where to head to first! Following a recent trip, photographer Mark Lord has listed his top ten travel highlights from the city of water, romance and charm.

1. St Mark’s Square & the Doge’s Palace

This little area is at the heart of Venetian tourism- but trust me, its justified.

Standing in the centre of the square you can see Saint Mark’s Basilica to one end and the 14th century extension to the Doge’s Palace at the other. Each of the buildings on this square has been built with the finest materials of the time; from gold and intense blue ultramarine to the delicate marble traceries that define the Venetian gothic style. Just the other side of the Doge’s palace is the compact and detailed Bridge of Sighs.

Visit at dawn to capture the architecture in the morning light without the crowds, or return at night to see the square as the cafes and restaurants settle into their upcoming routine.

2. Riva Degli Schiavoni

This beautiful street follows the northerly bank of Canale Di San Marco and provides excellent views of Venice’s most grand buildings. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing stroll and some people watching. Riva degli Schiavoni connects with St Mark’s Square.

3. San Giorgio Maggiore

On the southern bank of the Canale Di San Marco, this island is named after the San Giorgio Maggiore, an icon of the Palladian architectural style. The island is visible from Riva degli Schiavoni, the Canale Di San Marco or you can travel across to see it directly.

4. Santa Maria del Salute

Santa Maria del Salute is a 17th century domed basilica built that epitomizes the baroque style of the time. The church was built in hopes of delivering the city after the Bubonic Plague had taken many of its residents, and the art inside the church is all inspired by the pestilence that wracked the city.

5. Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge is known for its central arched portico and iconic arched design. The earliest of the Venetian bridges, it was first erected in the 12th century- but the current bridge dates to 1591.

6. Rialto Market

A stunningly vibrant market packed to the brim with fresh mediterranean produce, that gives the Rialto bridge its name. A market has been held in this historic area since at least 1097, although the buildings were rebuilt after a 16th century fire.

7. Gondola, Of Course

The gondola is perhaps the most famous travel highlight of Venice, and is amazing for capturing photos! Save yourself a bit of stress and scope out your shots before with some journeys on the Vaporettos, which are water busses providing public transport. Alternately for €2 catch a Traghetti over the grand canal, the gondolas functional and undecorated predecessor.

8. The Back Streets Of San Marco Sestiere

Venice is is a city layered with years of the most gorgeous patina and palimpsest.

Wandering through the backstreets you can find the smallest details layered with years of history. I recommend venturing out in the golden hour to capture all this rich texture at its finest.

9. Burano

Burano is an impossibly charming fishing island 45 minutes ferry ride from Venice island. It’s home to charming and colourful little houses, not to mention the most sumptuous seafood you’ll eat. The evening light brings a deep intensity to this bright village and a quieter form of local nightlife.

10. Getting lost

Try walk around as much as you can, and build time into your day to become wonderfully sidetracked by something brilliant. With a subject as beautiful as Venice, spontaneity is sure to provide some excellent shots, so balance planned shoots with casual adventures. Plus, you get the additional bonus of avoiding tourist prices for your lunch and finding that unexpected and delicious little local spot!


10 Memorable Moments from Blair House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is one of the most famous addresses in the world, as it designates the location of the White House. Less well-known is 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is the site of Blair House, the place where foreign dignitaries stay when visiting the President of the United States. Quite a few memorable scenes have taken place there.

10. The Beginnings Of Blair House

Calling the building “Blair House” is a bit of a misnomer. Its official name is simply the President’s Guest House and Blair House is just one of four interconnected townhouses. Together, they form a single living quarters comprised of 110 rooms and measuring 70,000 square feet. However, most people and agencies simply refer to the entire complex as “Blair House,” and this includesthe U.S. State Department.

There is another small issue with the name. It is known as “Blair House” even today because it stayed with the Blair family for over a century. However, originally it belonged to U.S. Surgeon General Joseph Lovell, who built it around 1824. He sold it to newspaper publisher Francis Preston Blair in 1836. His family owned it until selling Blair House to the government in 1942.

9. The Kitchen Cabinet

Even before Blair House became the official President’s Guest House, there were major political moments taking place inside as the Blairs were frequently involved in the machinations of Washington. Montgomery Blair, for example, was Postmaster General under Abraham Lincoln and hosted the president regularly. His son, Gist Blair, maintained relationships with Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and FDR. Unsurprisingly, though, it was the patriarch of the Blair family who was the most influential.

Francis Preston Blair was a confidant and supporter of Andrew Jackson and played an important role in helping him win the 1828 election. He was a part of Jackson’s so-called “Kitchen Cabinet,” an unofficial group of advisers. He received frequent visits from President Jackson at Blair House.

The role of the Kitchen Cabinet grew significantly following the Petticoat Affair, which started in 1829. Basically, Jackson’s actual Cabinet became split between support for his Secretary of War, John Eaton, and his Vice President, John C. Calhoun, following a rift between the politicians’ wives. The issue was resolved in 1831 when Martin Van Buren, Secretary of State and another member of the Kitchen Cabinet, resigned his position. This gave Jackson a reason to re-order the Presidential Cabinet and get rid of all the Calhoun supporters.

8. Churchill’s Visits to Washington

At the beginning of 1942, the State Department began leasing Blair House in order to accommodate foreign dignitaries. By the end of the same year, President Franklin Roosevelt persuaded the government to allow $150,000 in spending in order to purchase the townhouse outright and turn it into the presidential guest house.

Officially, this was done in order to deal with overcrowding at the White House. Up until that point, it was customary for the president’s guests to spend their first night at the White House and then relocate to a hotel or embassy for the rest of their stay. However, during World War II, there were numerous politicians, diplomats, advisers, heads of state, and generals prowling the halls of the White House and extra accommodations were necessary.

Chief among them was Winston Churchill, who made frequent visits to the White House at this time. He exhibited a sense of familiarity which may have irked Eleanor Roosevelt a bit. He had a habit of wandering the corridors at odd hours dressed in his nightgown. Unofficially, Eleanor is the one who convinced her husband that a guest house was needed. According to Franklin Roosevelt Jr., he recalls one morning when his mother ran into Churchill at 3 a.m. Cigar in hand, the Prime Minister was headed towards FDR’s bedroom to wake him up for a conversation. Mrs. Roosevelt persuaded him to wait until breakfast.

7. Boris Yeltsin Visits Blair House

Considering the high profiles of the diplomats who usually stay at Blair House, the Secret Serviceis there to ensure the safety of the guests. However, despite strict protocols in place, some dignitaries still prefer to do their own thing. In 1995, for example, the Secret Service was twice outmaneuvered by a drunk, naked Boris Yeltsin.

The Russian President was staying at Blair House during a visit to Bill Clinton. As he was known to do, Yeltsin enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages. In the middle of the night, he snuck out of the house dressed only in his underwear. Secret Service agents went looking for him and found the nude president walking down Pennsylvania Avenue trying to hail a cab. As he later explained, Yeltsin got hungry and went out looking for pizza.

The very next night, the Russian President managed to elude his security detail again. This time, the end result was a bit more serious and could have caused an international incident. Somehow, Yeltsin ended up in the basement of Blair House. A building guard spotted him and mistook him for a drunken intruder. He wanted to take him down but Secret Service agents arrived in time to prevent the president from getting tackled.

6. Is Blair House Haunted?

Many people believe that the White House is haunted by the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. He usually sticks to the Lincoln Bedroom which the president used as his office in his lifetime. Multiple persons, including other presidents and their wives, claim to have felt his presence in there. Others say they looked through the window of the bedroom and saw Lincoln either sitting in bed or at the edge of the bed putting his boots on.

Not to be outdone, the Blair House is allegedly haunted by its own former president. The ghost of Woodrow Wilson still roams the halls of the townhouse. This is according to multiple witnesses including Harry Truman who stayed at Blair House in the 1940s while the White House was being renovated. Typically, Wilson returned from the great beyond to have a sit in a rocking chair.

The 28th President of the United States is quite a busy apparition. Some say that he also haunts the Woodrow Wilson House which would make more sense since he actually died in there. Again, people have reported sightings of the president lounging in a rocking chair.

5. A Wedding At Blair House

With all the different kinds of events that took place at Blair House, it is only fitting that the site was also the location of a wedding.

William T. Sherman was one of the most renowned generals of the Union Army during the American Civil War. He earned both recognition for his military command as well as scorn for the eagerness of his scorched earth policy against Confederate states.

General Sherman tied the knot with Eleanor Boyle Ewing in 1850 and the two had their wedding ceremony at Blair House. President Zachary Taylor was in attendance alongside other prominent politicians. Ellen was Sherman’s foster sister. Her father, Thomas Ewing, first Secretary of the Interior, took in William when he was nine years old after his own father died unexpectedly.

4. Obama Got Turned Away

Besides functioning as the presidential guest house, it is also tradition for presidents-elect to spend the days leading up to their inauguration at Blair House. Things did not work out so well for Barack Obama, who wanted to move into Blair House early prior to his 2009 inauguration.

Presidents-elect typically only stay in the townhouse for a short while before Inauguration Day on January 20. However, Obama wanted his girls to start school in Washington soon after the Christmas holiday. He made a request to the Bush administration to relocate to Blair House at the start of January.

His request was denied. The official response said that it was unavailable. Media outlets reported that it was already booked for Australian Prime Minister John Howard to move into Blair House on January 12. In the end, Barack Obama went to the nearby Hay-Adams Hotel and then transferred to Blair House on January 15.

3. Historically Significant

In 1935, the United States Congress enacted the Historic Sites Act. Its main goal was to organize all the parks and monuments that fell under the purview of the National Park Service. However, it also made it the duty of the government to preserve any sites, buildings, and objects that held some kind of significant historical value.

In 1937, an Advisory Board deemed Blair House to be nationally significant, although it stopped short of declaring it a national historic site. This designation did not come easy. In fact, during the prior decades, owner Gist Blair had to fight hard to prevent the government from razing his beloved home.

In 1916, a federal Public Buildings Commission wanted to level the buildings around Lafayette Square to free up terrain for government use. Their initiative was put on hold due to World War I, but was revived in the 1920s. During the early 1930s, Gist became friends with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and even had him for dinner at Blair House. The president was interested in developing some kind of plan to maintain historic sources throughout the country which, eventually, turned into the aforementioned Historic Sites Act.

Blair made his way to the Advisory Board in 1939 and used his home as the prototype for the first official markers for recognized historical buildings.

2. General Lee At Blair House

Right at the start of the American Civil War, a private meeting at Blair House could have significantly altered the course of the conflict.

General Robert E. Lee was the man who commanded the Army of the Confederacy. While Jefferson Davis might have been the President, it was Lee who generally received the praise for the various military successes of the Southern states.

Before he joined the Confederacy, Lee was a Cavalry Colonel and already enjoyed quite a celebrated reputation. In fact, Lincoln wanted to give him a prominent position in the Union Army. At the behest of the president, Lee went to Blair House and met with Francis Preston Blair, who offered him the command of the defense of the capital.

General Lee declined because he knew his native state of Virginia would soon secede from the Union and he felt it was his duty to take up arms for its protection. He switched sides and joined the Confederacy even though he opposed secession and realized the war would be devastating for both sides regardless of who won.

1. Assassins At Blair House

The most dramatic moment in the history of Blair House occurred On November 1, 1950, when Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Harry Truman.

Truman actually spent most of his second term living in Blair House. The White House underwent massive reconstruction between 1949 and 1952. The President became a target for Grisello Torresola and Oscar Collazo, two members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, also known as the “Independistas.”

Nationalistic riots had recently taken place throughout Puerto Rico which were suppressed using the military. The two would-be assassins wanted to attract as much global attention as possible to the efforts of Puerto Ricans fighting for independence. They believed this would best be achieved by killing the president.

They reasoned that Blair House would have much less stringent security than the White House. They were, in fact, correct, but it was still strong enough to foil their assassination attempt. The nationalists simply walked up to the front steps of the townhouse and started shooting. Secret Service agents and police quickly returned fire and Torresola was gunned down on the spot. An agent named Leslie Coffelt was killed in the line of duty.

Collazo was arrested and sentenced to death, although Truman later commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. Two years later, the president actually held a referendum on a new constitution for Puerto Rico. People voted almost 82 percent in favor of staying a “Free Associated State.”


10 Notorious Australian Outlaws

The Wild West of the United States sets the stage for famous gunslinger films, but Australia is a land where convicts were exiled, creating the opportunity for new lives of crime to get established. Today, we profile the most notorious (and some lesser known) colorful miscreants in Australian history…

10. “Mad Dog” Daniel Morgan

With a short and violent career, “Mad Dog” Daniel Morgan, born in 1830 in New South Wales, was an unpredictable outlaw. Unlike many bushrangers who became folk heroes, this madman of Australia behaved more like a war criminal. Ranging across Victoria, the widely despised Morganended up with a bounty of a thousand pounds on his life. He hated the police so much that he injured a man’s wife badly by forcing her into a fire just because the man was too friendly to law enforcement for Morgan’s liking.

“Mad Dog” was known for taking hostages. In one case, he made Chinese hostages sing for his entertainment due to his curiosity over the foreign language, then shot one in the arm. In another situation, he let a female hostage go free because he was so impressed at her gumption when she out and out slapped him across the face. This incident would be his last, for soon after letting the hostage go, she summoned help, which came as a combined force of police and armed neighbors of the victims. Morgan appeared with three hostages, but was soon shot to death. Beheaded after death, he became the subject of phrenological study after a death mask was fashioned from his face.

9. “Captain Thunderbolt” Frederick Wordsworth Ward

The longest free roaming bushranger in Australia’s history, “Captain Thunderbolt” Frederick Wordsworth Ward, upheld better conduct than most bushrangers, earning him the nickname “the Gentleman Bushranger.” Born in 1835 in New South Wales, the somewhat respected outlaw was the son of convict Michael Ward and the youngest of the 10 children Ward senior had with his wife Sophia. After being sentenced to the harsh prison conditions on Cockatoo Island for his role in theft, namely receiving stolen horses, Ward faced 10 years but was released early on account of his model behavior.

Ward became involved with a woman named Mary Ann Bugg, who was of partially of Aboriginal Australian heritage, and the couple had two children. However, the conditions of his release were broken when he failed to return for his quarterly muster, a requirement comparable to parole. Therefore, he was returned to Cockatoo Island to serve out the remainder of his sentence in full, plus three years for riding a stolen horse. His escape from Cockatoo Island included a chase where he was shot in the leg but survived. In the end, “Captain Thunderbolt” was fatally shot at Kentucky Creek on May 25, 1870.  The outlaw’s death was only the beginning of the legends.

8. Alexander Pearce

Originally sent to Australia for stealing shoes, Alexander Pearce was a bushranger with one creepy backstory. Pearce became a notorious cannibal bushranger in Australia following his humble start as a petty criminal. Born in 1790 in Ireland’s County Monaghan, Pearce ended up in what is now Tasmania (then called Van Diemen’s Land) following his 1819 sentence. He began a string of crimes in his new location of exile before being arrested again and sent to the Macquarie Harbor Penal Colony on tiny Sarah Island. After Pearce and seven more convicts escaped the colony, conditions were tough.

Starvation tough, in fact. Survival became increasingly difficult until, reportedly, the escaped men began to kill and devour each other. By alliance, brute force, and by luck, Pearce ended up being the sole survivor of the hungry massacre until his recapture. Body parts were found in his pockets, and Pearce was to be Tasmania’s first person to confess to cannibalism. Before being hanged at the Hobart Town Gaol on July 19, 1824, Pearce is said to have described cannibalism in the following glowing terms: “Man’s flesh is delicious. It tastes far better than fish or pork.”

7. Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read

A more modern outlaw in contrast to the rest of these accounts, Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read was one of the most violent men in Australia’s history, carrying out gangland killings and torture that would have branded him a war criminal had he been in a nation’s armed forces. In addition to his acts of violence in Australia’s underworld that including cutting or burning off the toes of his enemies and allegedly murdering targets, Read was also a children’s book author.

Released from Pentridge Prison in Melbourne in November of 1991 under a shroud of secrecywhen his sentence for arson, criminal property destruction, and shooting a drug dealer ended, this “urban bushranger” diversified his portfolio, developing a side business of selling paintings. Interestingly, he has swung between dismissive comments about Ned Kelly (who was also imprisoned at Pentridge), describing him as overrated, and also hailed the notorious bushranger as a folk hero like many do. When it comes to “Chopper’s” paintings, Ned Kelly often appears, albeit with the type of tattoos sported by the painter himself. The works of the outlaw painter can fetch high prices at over 6,000 Australian dollars each. A movie about the notorious criminal, who died in 2013, was released in 2000 starring erstwhile “Hulk” Eric Bana. 

6. “Bold Jack” John Donohoe

A folk hero for his bravado against the law, “Bold Jack” John Donohoe was Irish born but transported to Australia after being convicted for ‘intent to commit a felony’. Once in Australia, “Bold Jack” and two associates robbed multiple bull teams hauling goods along the road between Windsor and Sydney. All three were rather harshly sentenced to death for their property crimes — not once, but twice. Bold Jack wasn’t having any of it, escaping from his captors and fleeing for his life. For the following two and a half years, the outlaw survivalist became Australia’s most famous bushranger.

He did not cower as stayed one step ahead of the law, but continued his exploits with his gang of assorted bushrangers dedicated to plundering and wilderness survival. A reward had been put up, but with little result. By September 1830, a combined force of soldiers and police officers caught Bold Jack and his gang at the outskirts of Cambelltown. Donohoe taunted the police during the confrontation, using highly insulting language. Eventually, he was fatally shot by Trooper Muggleston. After his death, the legend lived on, with art completed in his honor and folk songs written about his short life.

5. Harry Power

Harry Johnson, known by the alias Harry Power, was an Irishman well known to the police for petty crimes until he got a 14-year sentence at Pentridge Prison for stealing a horse. He is known for being something of an outlaw mentor to Ned Kelly, whom he visited when Kelly was a boy, but also as a “gently ruthless” bushranger. By that we mean he took what he wanted and ran to freedom but, importantly, he never ended a human life. The gruff looking man was quite clever, with exceptionally humorous aspects to his most daring escapes. With regard to that 14-year sentence for stealing a horse, Harry Power was just not up for it so he escaped in a cart piled with garbage.

Later, when three young men encountered the outlaw and declared their intention to arrest Harry Power… without realizing they were talking to Harry Power. The wanted man pretended to be desperately terrified of this rogue bushranger. To throw them further off the truth that their quarry was standing right before them, Power requested that they protect him from this lawless man. Joining them, he soon robbed them of everything they had — weapons, clothes, and all — and sent them home in the nude. Power was sentenced to another 14 years in Pentridge when he stole a golden watch, then hired an agent to tell the owner he could have it back at triple its original price. Unfortunately for Power, the agent lead police straight to him. After his release, Power took jobs including gameskeeping and ship duties, but was penniless upon his death in 1891.

4. John Anderson

Known in his day as “Black Jack,” John Anderson was a brutal yet often charismatic outlaw was African-American but became Australia’s only known pirate. He is known for robberies backed with death threats, killing Aboriginals and enslaving tribe member women. The pirate might be considered something of a coastal “bushranger,” original hailing from Massachusetts, where he worked as a whaler. He took a trip to Australia on the ship The Vigilant, arriving in 1826 in what is currently known as Albany in Western Australia.

Quickly blamed for the death of a ship’s crewman from a different vessel in a store, Black Jack fled, stole a boat with several crew members, and got to the Recherche Archipelago. There they settled and hunted seals, selling their skins, and also pillaged ships loaded with supplies on their way to Hobart and Sydney. Black Jack is described in court records dating to 1835 as a “master of a sealing boat” who took money from sailors who would be murdered if they refused to give up their currency. It is believed that John Anderson was slain by his crew members, with his body and buried treasure hidden in the elaborate limestone cave systems of Middle Island, the settling place of the pirate gang.

3. Joseph Bolitho Johns, AKA “Moondyne Joe”

Joseph Bolitho Johns was born in England in 1826, living until 1900 was the best known outlaw of Western Australia. The notorious English convict was better known as “Moondyne Joe,” named after the Avon Valley, a remote region of the Darling Range that was called “Moondyne” by the Aboriginal Australians. The crime that got him arrested in 1848 was not huge — stealing about two days worth of meat and bread from a house — but Johns’s attitude toward the judge was significant, to say the least. The punishment was equally grand, with four years served in an English prison followed by a ticket to Western Australia.

After arrival he was granted conditional parole, with work as a horse trapper soon to follow. However, nothing had changed and the fledgling bushranger stole a horse, was arrested, then escaped on the same horse that was being held as evidence (albeit fitted with riding gear stolen from the judge himself). The following years saw repeat offenses, followed by either good behavior or a baffling escape. A special escape-proof cell was set up, but the tricky bushranger got away from that lockup as well. While paroled later on, Moondyne Joe married a widow and stayed on the straight and narrow before running afoul of the law yet again 20 years later. He got old for a bushranger, dying of dementia at 74.

2. Martin Cash

Martin Cash was originally from Ireland, where he committed the crime of housebreaking, for which he received a seven-year sentence. Cash’s personal claim was that his crime actually involved shooting a man in the rear when the man was kissing Cash’s own mistress. Upon being sent to Australia for his misdeed, he became known for his exceptional escape skills and also for marrying a female convict. Cash obtained a ticket of leave, but was soon arrested again, being sentenced to seven more years for theft. He escaped an incredible three times from Port Arthur, but was returned with four years of additional sentencing after being on the lam for two years after one of his escapes. Then, Cash made another escape, going with two bushrangers who helped him avoid prison guards.

Stealing from residences and inns gave the small gang a reasonable living, while their non-violent methods of extracting bounty added to their reputation — so much so that when Cash visited Hobart Town and was soon caught, public pressure helped his death sentence for slaying a pursuer be commuted to transportation for life, with 10 years at Norfolk Island. In 1854, Cash was allowed to marry County Clare convict Mary Bennett. Cash was renowned for hat making. In 1856, he was conditionally pardoned and traveled to New Zealand for four years. Upon his return, he recruited a writer to prepare his biography.

1. Edward “Ned” Kelly

The most notorious gunman in Australian history, Ned Kelly needs no introduction. Still, no list about Australian outlaws would be complete without Ned, so let’s profile some lesser known facts about the man in the metal mask. Born in 1855 and executed in 1880, Ned came from a large family. His father was a livestock thief from Ireland who married his employer’s daughter, with whom he had eight children. The notorious Ned was one of their three boys. The family of his mother was under investigation for livestock thefts, and soon Ned was not only working but helping to encroach on land and eventually steal livestock. Visits from police stoked the perception of police persecution held by the Kelly family. While Ned was an honorable boy, even saving the life of another young boy, in adulthood he strayed significantly, allegedly assaulting a Chinese man and spending a few days in jail over the incident.

When his alcoholic father died, Kelly joined his new stepfather in nefarious activities, ultimately spending three years in prison for accepting a stolen horse from an accomplice. After an unconfirmed claim that Ned Kelly had shot and injured a police officer, Kelly and his gang were classified as wanted outlaws and put up for reward, ending up on the run across Australia’s outback. In an ensuing shootout, the bushranger killed a police officer named Thomas Lonigan, then another, and even took a police station captive with his gang. A wild showdown ensued when the Kelly Gang confronted their pursuers in terrifying and medieval-looking armor fashioned out of ploughshares. After gang members killed a police informant and besieged a train station,60 people were taken hostage at the Glenrowan Inn, which was set on fire by police after the hostages were released. The gang was also under the influence of alcohol, causing them to attack recklessly. Upon capture after being shot in the legs following his escape from the fire, Kelly was sentenced to death for police murder.


10 Daring Heists (That Actually Worked)

Like all workers, bank robbers are adapting to a changing culture. According to Albert Samaha’s 2014 article for The Village Voice, “How Bank Robbery Trends have Shifted in America over the Years,” only one-third of the bank robbers who committed robberies in 2000 used guns. Since contemporary tellers are instructed to comply with robbers’ demands in order to ensure their own safety, using a gun is an unnecessary legal and physical risk for the robber. In 2011, 58% of robbers committed a robbery by passing the teller a note wherein he or she demanded cash. The techniques used for bank robberies vary, but some robberies are stunning by any standard.

10. The John Dillinger Gang at the Central National Bank of Greencastle (Greencastle, Indiana)

By the time the John Dillinger Gang’s black Studebaker pulled up in front of the now defunct Central National Bank of Greencastle on October 23, 1933, the gang had already successfully completed six of the thirteen robberies it committed from 1933 to 1934. In 1934, Dillinger would become the first criminal declared Public Enemy Number One by the FBI, then led by J. Edgar Hoover. Glamorous and (sometimes) gentlemanly, Dillinger was christened “Robin Hood” by the American press, because he stole from the banks that had failed the American people during the Great Depression.

At the Central National Bank of Greencastle, Harry Copeland waited outside the bank while John Dillinger, Harry Pierpont, who became Dillinger’s mentor while Dillinger was serving a prison sentence for his first attempted robbery, and Charley Makely entered. From the door, Harry Pierpont walked up to the fourth bank teller from the left, Ward Mayhal. Pierpont asked Mayhal for change for a twenty dollar bill. Mayhal was filling out paperwork so, without looking up, he told Pierpont to go to the next window. Sensing Pierpont hadn’t moved, Mayhal looked up. He was staring directly into the barrel of Pierpont’s sawed-off shotgun.

While Charley Makely aimed a shotgun at the bank lobby, John Dillinger leaped over the counter and demanded that the teller open the bank vault. While Dillinger emptied the cash drawers, Pierpont emptied the money from the vault into a large white sack. Historians say the John Dillinger Gang stole roughly $74,000 in cash and bonds (the equivalent of $1,419,178.78 in 2019) without firing a gunshot. Dilinger claimed he stole $ 32,000 (the equivalent of $613,698.93 in 2019).

9. Jason Lee Robinson at the Capitol Bank (Aventura, Florida)

What distinguishes Mr. Robinson from other contemporary robbers isn’t how much money he stole, but the literal length he went to to steal it. After his release from a Pikeville, Kentucky jail in November 2018, he brazenly violated his parole officer’s order that he not leave the state. In three weeks, he traveled over 3,000 miles to commit seven robberies in six states: Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, and Utah. The police and the press nicknamed him, “The Traveling Bandit” because he traveled so far, often in disguise. Robert J. Louden, professor emeritus of criminal justice and homeland security at Georgian Court University said Robinson’s technique was smart because he was media savvy. His large target area for robberies prevented the police from tracking him, and he was active in so many states that no local media outlets consistently covered his crimes.

Robinson was apprehended on January 29, 2019. This wasn’t because he neglected to take precautions. It was because a security camera on the site of his first robbery caught him taking them. On December 28, 2018, Robinson walked into the Capitol Bank in Aventura, Florida, wearing shades and a wig. He passed a note to the bank teller wherein he both demanded cash and indicated he was armed. The bank teller opened the safe and gave $1,900 to Robinson, but he also pulled a silent security alarm. Though Robinson escaped, police reviewed surveillance video of the man running into an alley behind a Kosher Kingdom supermarket. Once there, he changed clothes, putting on a dark blue sweatshirt reading “STRAIGHT OUTTA DALLAS.” When he raised his arms while removing his shirt and putting on his sweatshirt, police were able to see the designs of the tattoos he had on both arms. Searching potential suspects for those tattoo designs enabled police to identify and arrest him.

8. Casey Layne Liberty and Daniel T. Begin at The Andover Bank (Conneaut, Ohio)

Casey Layne Liberty and Daniel T. Begin successfully robbed four banks in northeastern Ohio, starting with the Andover Bank in Conneaut, Ohio. Liberty always entered the bank, passed the teller a note demanding cash, and emptied the bank vault. Then she ran outside to a getaway car driven by Begin. The couple’s daring heists yielded little profit.

The two used all of the money they seized to buy drugs, food, and hotel rooms. Both robbers were apprehended in 2017, after an informant who saw Begin in his getaway car identified his tattoosfor police. The money has not been recovered.

7. Well dressed woman at Charter One Bank (Toledo, Ohio)

In the aughts, a new profession is practicing gender equality: bank robbing. In 2012, one in ten bank robberies were committed by women. This trend is partially due to the changes in bank robberies themselves. As previously noted, most contemporary robbers don’t use guns or physical force. Forensic sociologist Rosemary Erickson says female bank robbers usually have more practical motivations than their male counterparts. They rob banks because they cannot meet their families’ needs, not because they desire prestige or profit.

In 2011, a short, slim, well dressed black woman wearing a shoulder length light brown wig and dark colored high heels entered a Charter One Bank in Toledo, Ohio. Though she was armed with a knife, she never used it. She handed the teller a note demanding money and accepted an undisclosed amount of cash. The woman ran out of the bank, but she eventually climbed into a gold sport utility vehicle. Police suspect the same woman committed another robbery in Toledo, Ohio. She has not been charged, because she was still at large as of 2012.

6. Boyne Lester Johnson at the Imperial Bank of Canada (Ottawa, Canada)

In 1958, young, dapper bank teller Boyne Lester Johnson robbed his place of work. The press was fascinated by the fugitive’s stylish appearance. In his wanted poster, Johnson was wearing a white tuxedo and a black bow tie. Along with his height and weight, the poster included thisdescription: “[N]eat dresser, nightclub habitué, a champagne drinker, enjoys female companionship.”

Johnson was never caught, but he was found when he returned to the scene of his crime. By 2018, the former bank had moved out of the building, and the Riviera restaurant was in its place. On August 10 of that year, Johnson delighted the restaurant staff by stopping by the Riviera for a drink.

5. The James Gang at The Ocobock Brothers’ Bank (Coryden, Iowa)

The James Gang, led by brothers Jesse and Frank James, exploited the sociocultural and socioeconomic instability caused by the American Civil War for their personal gain, robbing banks and trains and eluding capture for fifteen years. In June of 1871, the James Gang arrived in Coryden, Iowa. When the James Gang arrived, anti-war, anti-succession politician and activist Henry Clay Dean was delivering a speech at a Methodist Church. Dean was a respected orator and, as the James Gang suspected, his speech was well attended.

As a result, many public spaces, including the Ocobock Brothers’ Bank, were nearly empty. The gang’s $6,000 heist might have gone unnoticed by most of the town, had the gang not chosen to enter the Methodist church where Dean was speaking and taunt the audience by waving the money at the crowd.

4. Nanette Perkins at Chase Bank (West Valley City, Utah)

Despite her casual attire, Nanette Perkins was very efficient at her chosen profession: robbing banks. In 2017, Perkins robbed five banks in two days, beginning with Chase Bank in West Valley City, Utah. At each bank, she handed the teller a note demanding money. She never produced a weapon. Perkins taunted the banks’ surveillance cameras. She made no attempt to disguise her appearance. Apart from her prescription glasses, Perkins wore a blue bandanna wrapped around her head. In many of the robberies, she wore pajama bottoms.

She successfully stole roughly $9,000, but she agreed to return a portion of the money as part of her plea agreement when she was finally apprehended in 2018.

3. Albert Spaggiari at Société Générale (Nice, France)

In July 1976, after two months of drilling through the city sewer system in Nice, France, 13 robbers crawled through the sewers and entered the bank vaults of the Société Générale from underground. Over six days, they emptied three hundred seventy coffers of gold, jewelry, and cash. Their haul was worth 50 million francs (the equivalent of roughly 24 million pounds in 2019). As the gang was fleeing, the rising sewer waters flooded the bank. Police arrested the gang’s ringleader, Albert Spaggiari, who claimed he based his heist on a heist in a novel.

Some members of the gang were successfully arrested and convicted. Spaggiari, however, escaped. When he was led to trial, he jumped out of a 20-foot window in the judge’s office. He mounted a waiting motorcycle, which took him to a Rolls Royce. His getaway driver drove to Paris, with Spaggiari in the trunk of the car. Spaggiari never returned to France.

2. Dennis K. and others (various international banks)

Due to contemporary technological advances, it’s possible to rob a bank without even entering one. Dennis K., who was given that nickname by the Spanish police who apprehended him, and his cohorts robbed several international banks from late 2013 until K. was apprehended in 2018. How did these robbers visit so many banks in so many countries without getting caught?

Well, they didn’t. The robbers designed two types of malware, Anunak and Carbanak, and uploaded them onto the digital systems of bank ATMs around the world. Later, the robbers adapted the security testing program, Colbalt Strike, into malware. Dennis K. didn’t go into banks; he made bank ATMs release money directly to him. In less than five years, these cyber criminals made roughly $2.1 billion. Dennis K. has been apprehended, but the money has not been recovered.

1. Colonel Thomas Blood in the Tower of London (London, England)

Irishman Thomas Blood knew how to exploit political strife for personal gain. He supported King Charles I of England until Charles was beheaded in 1649. During the English Civil War, he abandoned the Cavaliers (the king’s men) when their defeat was imminent. By the end of the war, he was a favorite of the Roundheads’ puritanical leader, Oliver Cromwell, who was named Lord Protector of England after his victory on the battlefield. When Charles II, son of Charles I, returned to England in 1660 to be crowned the country’s rightful ruler, Blood fled to Ireland. There, he joined two plots to seize Dublin Castle. When the second one failed, he fled to Holland.

Desiring riches, Blood returned to England. On May 9, 1671, he stole the royal Crown Jewels. Posing as a parson, Blood convinced the Keeper of the Jewels, Talbot Edwards, to let him see the underground vault in the Tower of London where the jewels were kept. Once Edwards unlocked the door, Blood clubbed Edwards’ head with a mallet and stabbed him with a sword. While the Keeper of the Jewels was unconscious, Blood flattened the crown with a mallet and put it into a bag, stuffed the orb down his breeches, and tried unsuccessfully to cut the scepter in half so that it, too, could be placed inside the bag. His heist was successful, but he was apprehended while trying to shoot one of the palace guards.

Blood demanded to be brought before the king, who was charmed by his roguish impertinence, especially when he devalued the Jewels’ worth. When King Charles asked, “What if I should give you your life?” Blood answered, “I would endeavor to deserve it, Sir.” Blood was given his life. The king also awarded the former Cromwell loyalist a tract of land in Ireland worth 500 pounds per year. Since Blood, no one has attempted to steal the Crown Jewels.


10 Notoriously Bad Decisions by Political Leaders

Throughout history there have been a lot of amazing leaders. Some of them led from the front, even charging into battle, and others simply made incredible decisions that saved countless lives and led to a prosperous kingdom. Some did both. However, there have also been leaders who are known more for their blunders, and even some great leaders who made mistakes so bad that it sometimes overshadows their otherwise excellent accomplishments and reputation. In today’s article, we will go over 10 situations where leaders were presented with a few options… and chose very, very poorly.

10. Chamberlain’s Appeasement Of Hitler Was A Great Betrayal Of The Czech People

While many people know of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler, it is still an important example to include, and plenty of people could use a refresher on the details. Hitler’s Germany had been getting increasingly aggressive for years, and no one in Europe really wanted a war. Neither France nor Great Britain wanted to pay for it with money or blood. So, they were looking to find a way through to peace despite the fact that Hitler wanted nothing more than to be as aggressive as possible with the rest of the world.

In 1936 he marched in and took the Rhineland, and Chamberlain felt it best not to do anything about it, as most of the British public felt this was mostly in Germany’s backyard. Then, Hitler had his people stir things up in the Sudetenland, an area of then-Czechoslovakia that was mostly ethnic Germans. In 1938 he used it as an excuse to invade, and without the consent of the Czech people, France and Great Britain signed the Munich agreement in 1938, giving Hitler the Sudetenland. That also gave him a huge amount of Czech resources, and he quickly had control of the entire country. While the Czech people felt betrayed, Chamberlain came back claiming he had achieved “peace in our time.” One year later, the Germans marched into Poland and Chamberlain had to declare war. He was ousted not long after.

9. President Trump Meeting Multiple Times With Kim Jong-un Defies Historical Precedent

When President Donald Trump decided to meet with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, many around the world were concerned (for a lot of good reasons), but also hopeful that something good might come from it. Regardless of how you feel about him — as all presidents are controversial — the world was hoping the two leaders could come together and make a substantial deal. Unfortunately this was not to be the case, as the the first meeting ended amicably but the agreement didn’t amount to the North Koreans doing anything besides committing to tone down their nuclear ambitions, which is very ambiguous and ultimately turned out to be pretty meaningless.

In return for these vague platitudes, Trump halted some planned military exercises in South Korea, risking upsetting the longstanding relationship that the United States has with that nation. Some think meeting with the leader at all and starting a relationship was a win, but presidents from both parties for years refused to meet with either him or his father. They felt it would give him false legitimacy, considering the brutal way the North Korean people are treated (not to mention the nation’s nuclear ambitions). Now, the president has met with him again, and this time came away without even a token deal.

8. China Bans Winnie The Pooh Because He Is Used To Insult Their Leader

Chinese people have long found ways to get around censorship by using symbols, or other clever plays on words, in order to get their meaning across in a way that will both avoid automatic censorship and also likely avoid special attention from the authorities. In fact, Chinese people are used to taking in stride their countries absurd censorship, but it was taken to a particularly ridiculous extreme recently, when ruler for life Xi Jinping decided that Winnie the Pooh and all related characters needed to be banned from the internet.

Apparently, people were comparing him to Pooh in order to poke fun at him, and using some of the other characters to represent other living people. This decision is silly, obviously, because it both makes Xi Jinping look petty, stupid, and weak to the entire world (seriously, banning Winnie the freaking Pooh?), but it also accomplishes nothing, as those determined to avoid censors will just get even sneakier and harder to catch. You can’t ban every image or cartoon character, and unless you intend to shut down the internet entirely, you are never going to shut down sly comparisons.

7. The Tsar Put All Of His Faith In Rasputin And Allowed Him To Influence His Decisions

Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra are well known for being the last rulers of Russia before the communist period started, and also for the movie about their lost daughter who managed to survive the assassination attempt — unfortunately, princess Anastasia was indeed gunned down with the rest of her family when the Bolsheviks assassinated them on July 17, 1918. Regardless, the family is famous around the world, but was somewhat infamous in Russia during their time, due to their relationship with the crazed mystic Grigori Rasputin.

Reams of articles have been written about the man himself, and you could pack books upon books with information on just how much of an oddball he was. Now, today this is a source of amusement for most people. But back in Tsarist Russia, he had great influence on the court and it was no laughing matter. See, their son Alexei had hemophilia and was often ill. Rasputin managed to regularly make him feel better using dubious healing methods, and before long he was basically a more trusted advisor than anyone else in the court. The Tsar giving the smelly, crazy monk so much influence led to great resentment and certainly made it easier to oust him from his position, and then remove his position (and him) entirely from the face of the Earth.

6. FDR Attempted To Pack The Supreme Court

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is one of the most hotly-debated presidents of all-time, and for good reason. On the one hand he saw the country through World War II, oversaw the New Deal, and was president for a whopping 13 years after being elected for a fourth term. On the other hand, he pulverized precedent by running for president so many times, and constantly pushed the power of the executive in order to both get involved in World War II as early as possible in clandestine ways, and to get the New Deal going whenever possible, even if a stubborn Congress or courts wanted to get in his way.

It was the judiciary that drew his particular ire, as several of his programs were struck down by the Supreme Court, and he felt frustrated and stymied by their votes. Feeling that the trick was to get more Democrats sympathetic to him on the Supreme Court, he proposed adding more seats, which he would have been able to appoint since he was president. To his shock, his “court packing” plan was considered so offensive to the Constitution that members of both parties refused to go along with it, and he took a huge hit in popularity with the public.

5. Truman Tried To Declare An Emergency Just To Get His Way

President Harry S. Truman had used some executive powers to control the price of certain things, like steel, that were necessary for war. This was done so the prices wouldn’t go too high, but it had consequences, as the steel companies felt they weren’t getting as much profit as they wanted, nor were they able to give their workers raises. Before long, a strike was looking inevitable, as Truman would not budge and raise the price caps on steel, and the steel companies would not pay more otherwise. Truman could have used the Taft-Hartley Act to end a strike for 80 days in an emergency, but much of his base was union and he didn’t want to anger them. So, he declared an emergency on April 8, 1952 and tried to seize steel production.

Only slightly more than a month later, on May 12, it reached the Supreme Court and they ruled against Truman 6-3, saying that such a drastic action would have to come from an act of Congress. Truman’s attempt to increase the power of the executive failed, and he only made himself look politically weaker by trying — and then failing — to do so.

4. Hannibal Being Called Back To Carthage Was Rome’s Salvation (And Carthage’s Downfall)

During the Second Punic War, General Hannibal of Carthage was getting closer and closer to Rome’s doorstep. Many feared the worst: that he would soon reach Rome and attack and invade. They didn’t want to move any troops from defensive positions, even if it meant a loss by slow attrition. However, some leaders like, General Scipio, felt that this was the wrong way to go about it. The way he saw it, it was about time to take the fight back to the enemy. Otherwise, in his estimation, they would lose by being worn down. He put together a very sizable volunteer force and marched toward Carthage, inflicting heavy losses on the way.

When he started getting realistically close to Carthaginian capital, they were so worried that they called Hannibal all the way back from his campaign to come and defend the city. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of the worst mistakes in history. Historians now say Hannibal was so close he likely could have won and taken Rome if he stuck around, and then he could have theoretically forced Scipio to back off and sue for peace. Instead, his hasty retreat ended his campaign, and was not enough to beat Scipio due to the fact that Scipio’s forces were already well prepared and in strategic positions, fresh, ready to go. Hannibal, on the other hand, came rushing back, and his men and elephants hardly had a lot of time to rest on the way.

3. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Emergency Manager Rerouting Flint Michigan’s Water Supply

We all know that Flint, Michigan has a serious ongoing problem with its water supply, especially with lead contamination, but many do not know the full story. Part of the problem was that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gave a lot of power to people called “emergency managers,” who he put in charge of cities to try to radically reshape them. Oftentimes these people could go over the city council, which allowed them to make disastrous decisions. Back in 2014 they were looking to switch their water supply for cost reasons.

Emergency Manager Darnell Earley chose the Flint River as the water source, and soon residents were finding lead in their drinking water. However, many people think that the issue is that the water from the Flint River is bad to drink, and while this is true, it’s also not the reason for the lead contamination. The truth is that the water from the river was not badly lead contaminated, but the emergency manager ignored signs that the water was corrosive. This corrosion badly damaged the pipes, which led to lead in the drinking water. Now, changing the water source isn’t enough anymore. The city’s entire water pipe infrastructure is horribly damaged, and is going to cost a fortune to repair.

2. Prime Minister David Cameron Called Brexit Vote, Then Resigned After Disastrous Results

Former Prime Minister David Cameron will probably not go down in history with the shiniest legacy. He’s the man responsible for calling the Brexit vote — the vote to decide whether the UK would stay with the European Union or not, if you’ve been living under a rock — and then, when the vote succeeded, resigned in shock and disgrace at the outcome. He had agreed to call a referendum based on election results and claimed to be fulfilling a promise, but he also thought that people would never vote to leave. He was wrong.

Unfortunately, the vote did succeed, and now the UK has found themselves in a bloody mess where MPs are digging in their heels on the Irish backstop issue. The EU, in the meantime, is making it clear there won’t be any more negotiations or changes to the deal. At this point, the UK could soon simply drop out without a proper deal if they don’t figure something out before the fast approaching deadline, all because the former prime minister wanted to pull a political stunt and make a point.

1. President Harry S. Truman’s Decision To Drop The Atomic Bombs On Japan

President Truman appears twice on this list because he made some pretty colossal mistakes. His biggest mistake of all (as more and more people are beginning to admit), even more-so than abusing the power presidents have to declare a national emergency, was his decision in 1945 to approve the use of the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While he was goaded on by advisers who claimed that it was the best way to prevent a loss of life, the decision was his to make, and his alone.

Whether he thought it was right with the information he had at the time or not, the truth of the matter is that most experts now believe the justification about the atomic bomb is really more of an excuse, and that Stalin entering the war, as well as the Japanese people having little left to fight with at that point, meant surrender would have been coming very soon regardless, and that the eventual surrender had little if anything to do with the atomic bomb anyway.

To make matters worse, it also created an atmosphere of global paranoia that still exists to this day, and helped create the tension and fear that led to the Cold War. If the atomic bomb had not been dropped on a civilian city, we may never have had the true fear of it that we do in our collective consciousness.


10 Hardcore Facts & Legends Concealed in Ninja History

Ninjas became a pop culture staple by the late 20th century. Like the Shaolin monks, they were practically able to defy physics with how well-trained and deadly they were. For decades, movies portrayed them as superhuman killers while insisting there was something with spiritual depth about their practices. As a result, all sorts of misconceptions have been mixed in with ninja lore. Not only has this distorted our view of them, it’s covered up some great stories that are at least worth movies.

10. Kunoichi

Since women weren’t allowed to serve as samurai, if a woman in feudal Japan wanted to provide military service to her clan, serving as a ninja was a much better bet. This was particularly true as women were much more likely to be invited into castles and fortresses than unfamiliar men. To make it even more uncomfortable for potential assassination targets, it was their usual practice to wait a bit before the hit.

They tended to receive all the same training that their male counterparts did and actually had a slightly wider array of weapons. Female ninjas often used blades concealed inside fans or a particularly unnerving weapon called the neko-te, or “cat’s claw.” It was a small blade (less than three inches long) attached to a leather ring worn on a finger. If that doesn’t sound that intimidating, consider that the tips of these claws were usually poisoned.

9. Actually Chinese

Although there is inevitably murkiness to the activities and origins of ninjitsu, it appears that it does not come from the country so many of us associate with it. All the core principles that we associate with them were written in China almost a millennium before there is any evidence that ninjas were being used in Japan. Sun Tzu includes information on the five types of spies in his seminal classic The Art of War in the fifth century BC.

As it happens, his thoughts on the matter were much harsher than Japanese ninja doctrine, recommending that anyone who just knew all the active ninja agents for a clan should be put to death, whether or not there was evidence that the person intended to provide the information to the enemy. The most important event as far as spreading the practice to Japan was the collapse of the Tang Dynasty in the tenth century, which caused many military experts and scholars to flee China for the relatively peaceful island nation.

8. Magician Ninja

Many ninjas would disguise themselves as street performers as part of their covert operations. The legend of 16th century shinobi Kato Danzo has him seemingly going about it the opposite way. He began as a street magician performing an act where he would appear to swallow an ox. One time someone called him on how he did it, and Danzo responded by one upping the previous trick, doing one where he made flowers seem to bloom instantly from scattered seeds. This was enough to get him an audience with the Kenshin clan, although you’d think such a public figure would not a very good spy or assassin.

He was given a test to steal a very well-protected and treasured sword. He got through an array of guards and swiped his objective but made the mistake of taking a maid with him, which led to him not getting the job. He then made his final mistake by then trying to get a job with the rival province of Zia. There, he was suspected of being a double agent. After Danzo attempted a burglary to make up for it, he was put to death. Despite his failure to become a government operative, Danzo’s show still contributed to the folklore that ninjas have supernatural powers.

7. Dressed & Armed for Concealment

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Despite how often you see it in fiction, ninjas didn’t have special black ninja uniforms that concealed their faces or anything of the kind. Part of the whole point of being a secret agent is to be as subtle, or frankly boring, as possible to avoid attention, so a highly stylized costume is the last thing you want. They much more reasonably dressed like farmers, in no small part because they worked in areas where that all there was to wear.

Also, rather than employing flashy, suspicious swords, they tended to use sickles because that was something a farmer was likely to have. Personally, we here at Top

6. Ninja Were Not Dishonorable Compared to Samurai

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There’s a notion that because samurai were supposed to be so honorable with their Bushido Code and all that, ninjas were basically the ones that had to do the dirty fighting so the esteemed samurai could keep their hands clean. Combat doctrine for the two groups was the same. It was more that ninjas needed to maintain a low profile while samurai were the public face of war.

While, naturally, that meant there were slightly fewer chances for advancement when it came to reaching the very highest class of society, since they had to keep at least some of their operations secret, it did not mean that ninja were considered secondary, inherently disgraceful soldiers. In fact, many ninjas were simply esteemed rank and file samurai without a separate designation of any kind. And at the end of the day, it was surely better for the nation of Japan in many cases that a single person be killed in their sleep than hundreds, if not thousands, be killed on the battlefield or in prolonged campaigns.

5. Security Systems

With trained assassins being a fact of life in times of war, the powerful people that were bound to be targets weren’t just going to hire extra guards and leave it at that. Traps were installed that went far beyond mere trip wires. Holes were installed in walls to allow guards to monitor areas faster. Secret weapon compartments were hidden for emergency defense. To make shinobi louder, gravel was spread on the ground outside castles.

Even inside floors were rigged to be extra susceptible to squeaking from the softest footfall. The very design of castles was made more complicated and difficult to traverse in hopes of confusing or at least slowing down potential assassins. Little wonder daimyos like Oda Nobunaga were sometimes able to survive numerous attempts, and you’ll soon understand why he was such a desirable target.

4. Scaffolding, Ferris Wheels, and Gliders

The times that ninjas got to use more elaborate equipment was during sieges on castles and fortresses. You’d imagine that if a ninja needed to scale a wall on a castle at night, he or she would probably rely on a rope and grappling hook. Some opted for much more elaborate setups because they had to bring up groups of ninjas at once (more on an instance of this later). During one siege, ninjas at night silently assembled improvised scaffolding. Other times a device called a yagura was brought out which basically functioned like a crude ferris wheel that bring up ninjas so quickly that it was described as a “stream.”

When they got up on the wall, many used effectively a crude cloth parachute to drop down, a device which they called a “human eagle.” Building on these advancements in gliding, ninjas operating at night would use kite-like devices called yami doko to drop grenades over walls, although the lack of light meant it was invariably highly inaccurate and the small, weak payloads meant these objects were more useful for scaring the enemy than hurting them. During the day these were effectively worthless because archers had little trouble shooting them down.

3. Ninja Purge

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In the late 1500s two Japanese lords, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Oda Nobunaga, began to try and kill off all ninjas in Japan. It was part of a campaign to fully unify the country, as ninjas were likely a voice of dissent as they weren’t as loyal to any specific regime as the samurai were. It wasn’t just the ninjas; Buddhists, Christians, and European immigrants were also targeted. Ninjas were not merely arrested and executed but often tortured.

The culmination of this was a mass slaughter in the town of Iga in 1581, but the conflict went on for decades, including incidents like Ishikawa Goemon being boiled alive for a failed attempt on Toyotomi and two attempts to shoot Nobunaga, which involved three ninjas missing him but killing seven people standing near him. Although they hardly killed off all the ninjas, they definitely were severely weakened as a military force and never really recovered.

2. First Recorded Japanese Ninja was a Thirteen Year-Old

The first person that Japanese records name as being a ninja wasn’t a government or military agent in any way. He certainly wasn’t motivated by philosophy or anything of the kind. He was a child named Hino Kumawaka, and he was motivated to assassinate his target for utterly personal reasons. In 1330 his father had been exiled to the horrible island of Sado and sentenced to death. Kumawaka pleaded with the local governor to see his father, but was told he could not. As soon as his father was killed, Hino vowed to kill the governor and his son and then commit suicide. He couldn’t get near the target with how well the governor lit his room, so Kumawaka was said to have let moths into the room to douse the governor’s light.

When it came time to commit suicide after he’d fled the scene of the murder, he decided it was better “to live a useful life than d