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Top 10 Drug Lords

Offhand, drug lords make for a problematic top 10, as reliable data concerning their operations doesn’t exist, making their “achievements” impossible to verify and subject to all sorts of exaggeration and rumor. However, such legends and modern folklore also present the best criteria by which to rank these kings and queens of the black market; what follows is a list of the top 10 drug lords based on an amalgam of their influence, innovation, notoriety, and legend.


10.“Freeway” Ricky Ross

ricky ross 150x119 Top 10 Drug LordsCountry of operation: USA
Clients: The Western United States
Product: Crack cocaine

A major crack distributor during the 1980s, Ross’ operation is alleged to have purchased in excess of 400 kilos of cocaine a week while selling as much as $3 million of crack every day. As a result, some consider him to be solely responsible for the crack cocaine epidemic in the U.S., a claim flatly refuted in 1999 by the U.S. Department of Justice, who acknowledged the mammoth size of his operation, but dismissed any notion that Ross — or any one individual — could conceivably shoulder all the blame.

Downfall: In 1996, Ross was set up by his partner to sell 100 kilos of coke to an undercover DEA agent.

2008 status: Ricky Ross is currently incarcerated in the U.S.

9.Paul Lir Alexander, aka “The Baron of Cocaine”

paul lir alexander 150x150 Top 10 Drug LordsCountry of operation: Brazil
Clients: USA
Product: Cocaine

Some early aspects of Alexander’s story — namely his claims of having been trained by the Israeli Mossad — are highly suspect. What is known about him is that he became a major Brazilian coke trafficker before his luck ran out, and he also became a DEA informant. As an informant, he was instrumental in bringing down a number of major traffickers, or — to put it another way — he succeeded in eliminating many of his competitors, as Alexander did not bother to shut down his own operation while ratting out others.

Downfall: Alexander had a habit of double-crossing people, and the DEA didn’t appreciate that.

2008 status: Alexander is currently incarcerated in Brazil.

8.Santiago Luis Polanco Rodriguez, aka “Yayo”

Country of operation: USA
Clients: USA, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic
Product: Crack cocaine

Rodriguez brought crack to the masses by using a more traditional business model than is typically seen in the drug trade. His clever merchandising techniques included weekend discounts, the use of business cards, brand recognition, and distribution to dealers in glassine envelopes (the kind stamp collectors use). In the words of sociologist Robert Jackall, “One has to recognize his particular and peculiar genius even if one doesn’t honor it.”

Downfall: Rodriguez ditched a massive DEA dragnet in 1987, but non-drug-related trouble in the Dominican Republic earned him some prison time.

2008 status: Today, Rodriguez lives lavishly with his wife and children in the Dominican, beyond the reach of U.S. authorities.

7.Felix Mitchell, aka “The Cat”

sab felix mitchel Top 10 Drug Lords

Country of operation: USA
Clients: USA
Product: Heroin, crack cocaine

“Mob 69,” Mitchell’s massive, gang-controlled drug operation, was the first of its kind, and he controlled it in part with a brilliant bit of PR: Sponsoring local athletics and taking children on field trips to zoos and amusement parks. Yet, when he was thrown in prison, a new kind of inner-city violence was born: what had been a tightly controlled monopoly under Mitchell became an unstable battleground in his absence, replete with drive-bys and increased violence between competitors vying for his business.

Downfall: Mitchell’s notoriety made him a target for authorities, earning him a life sentence in Leavenworth.

2008 status: Mitchell was stabbed and killed less than two years into his sentence. His funeral was a spectacle: Rolls Royce limousines followed a horse-drawn carriage bringing his casket through crowded Oakland streets lined with thousands of mourners.

6.Carlos Lehder

carlos lehder 150x150 Top 10 Drug LordsCountry of operation: The Bahamas
Clients: USA
Product: Cocaine

Lehder made two significant contributions to the illegal drug trade: 1) He cofounded the Medellin Cartel, possibly  the  most profitable and violent drug cartel in history; 2) He revolutionized the transport and distribution business by upgrading from drug mules to prop planes, flying drugs from Colombia to the U.S. via the Bahamas. In one stroke, he increased volume exponentially; profits — in staggering numbers — inevitably followed.

Downfall: Lehder’s megalomania got the better of him. He commandeered an entire Bahamian island and transformed it into his own untouchable transport headquarters, where an estimated 300 kilos of coke arrived every hour.

2008 status: Lehder is currently incarcerated in the U.S.

5.Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha

jose gonzalo rodriguez gacha 150x150 Top 10 Drug LordsCountry of operation: Colombia
Clients: North, Central & South America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and possibly Asia.
Product: Cocaine

As a young man, Rodriguez was a hired gun for emerald-mine mobsters, working for notorious coke traffickers like Veronica Rivera de Vargas before moving up to become the Medellin Cartel’s No. 2 man behind Pablo Escobar. He would ultimately amass a fortune in the billions, drawing the attention of Forbes, which put him in their list of global billionaires in 1988.

Gacha was nothing if not tireless, always looking for new, creative trafficking routes from Mexico into the U.S. He is also credited with substantially raising the brutal profile of the Cartel by hiring foreign mercenaries to come to Columbia and train the cartel’s troops in such things as assassination and guerrilla warfare.

Downfall: Increasing violence on behalf of the Cartel, including multiple assassination orders direct from Rodriguez, led to a crackdown on Medellin in the late 1980s.

2008 status: Gacha died in 1989, following a gunfight with Colombian police.

4.Griselda Blanco, aka the “Cocaine Queen of Miami”

griselda blanco 150x150 Top 10 Drug LordsCountry of operation: USA
Clients: USA
Product: Cocaine

As the undisputed “Cocaine Queen of Miami,” the brutal, ruthless and probably psychotic Blanco proved a highly effective trafficker for the Medellin Cartel, amassing a personal fortune estimated at $500 million.

She also liked to wear haute couture fashions and loved to smoke crack, but her greatest passion — as well as the source of her enduring legend — was in ordering creative, cold-blooded assassinations, possibly as many as 200, including one failed attempt in which the hitman was instructed to use a bayonet.

Downfall: Blanco’s ruthlessness — which included the shooting death of a 2-year-old — gave DEA agents added incentive to hunt her down. In 1985, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trafficking.

Status: Released from prison in 2004 and immediately deported to Columbia, Blanco’s current whereabouts are unknown.

3.Khun Sa, aka “The Opium King”

khun sa 150x150 Top 10 Drug LordsCountry of operation: Burma (Myanmar)
Clients: Predominantly the USA
Product: Heroin (opium)

In the mid-1960s, Burmese warlord Khun Sa disappeared into the jungle with an army of 800 men and began to cultivate opium. An entire town sprung up around his operation, and at the height of his power, Khun Sa was the world’s most prolific heroin trafficker, producing as much as three quarters of the world’s supply and regularly running mule trains loaded with heroin through Thailand en route to the U.S. The DEA, which referred to him as a ruthless “Prince of Death,” desperately wanted to bring him to justice and continually offered Burmese officials as much as $2 million to hand him over.

Downfall: In the mid-‘90s, allegedly concerned that officials would in fact turn him over to the U.S., Khun Sa surrendered to the Burmese government, which then steadfastly refused to extradite him.

Status: Khun Sa lived a luxurious life in Rangoon until his death in late 2007.

2.Amado Carrillo Fuentes, aka the ““Lord of the Skies”

amado carrillo fuentes 150x150 Top 10 Drug LordsCountry of operation: Mexico
Clients: USA, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.
Product: Cocaine

Fuentes learned the drug trade by working for Colombians during the cocaine boom, but his first brilliant move was to eschew cash payments. Instead of cash, Amado took his pay in coke and used it to develop his own distribution system. As Colombian cartels buckled under the crackdown of the late 1980s, Fuentes was turning the colossal Juarez Cartel in Mexico into a $30-million-a-day juggernaut — in large part due to his audacious decision to use a fleet of 727s to ship product from Peru, Bolivia and Colombia to Mexico. At his peak, he had Mexico’s top drug enforcement official on his payroll, and his own net worth was believed to be somewhere around $25 billion.

Downfall: Although a sophisticated and diplomatic businessman, Amado’s operation was so huge that he inevitably became the most wanted trafficker in the world.

Status: In 1997, plastic surgeons altering his appearance fatally botched the procedure; those surgeons were later discovered stuffed into oil drums.

1.Pablo Escobar

pablo escobar 150x150 Top 10 Drug LordsCountry of operation: Colombia
Clients: North, Central & South America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and possibly Asia.
Product: Cocaine

Pablo Escobar was not the most intelligent drug lord, nor was he the most organized or the most innovative. Simply put: He was the most ruthless, and this made all the difference. The head of the Medellin Cartel ran his empire with virtual impunity within Colombia, carrying out a campaign of violence against anyone who dared challenge it, resulting in the assassination of 30 judges, over 400 police officers, and the bombing of Avianca Flight 203 in the mistaken belief that Colombian presidential candidate Gaviria was on board (he wasn’t, but 107 civilians were). Estimates put the Medellin kill toll at over 3,000.

At its peak, Escobar’s cartel is believed to have controlled four-fifths of the world cocaine market, seeing an estimated annual revenue of $30 billion (roughly double the revenue for Oracle between Colombia and the U.S.).

Downfall: Anxious about being extradited to the U.S., Escobar brokered a sweetheart deal with the Colombian movement that put him in the most luxurious prison imaginable, but Escobar couldn’t stay out of trouble and soon he fled the prison.

Status: Pablo Escobar died in 1993 after being hunted down by Colombian and U.S. government forces.

The 25 Most Bizarre Travel Insurance Claims Ever

What links a tourist who lost 84 kilograms of Bombay mix on holiday with another who had his camera stolen by a monkey? Both are among the more unusual claims received by travel insurance companies. Times Money has trawled through the files of some of the UK’s biggest insurers to bring you the 25 most bizarre travel insurance claims ever. Here they are…

monkey 4 The 25 Most Bizarre Travel Insurance Claims Ever

1. One thing you don’t expect when you go on holiday is to be harassed by a monkey. One British traveller in Gibraltar, however, was so besieged by the attentions of an over-friendly primate that he asked his insurer to refund the cost of his trip. The insurer refused but did pay out for his camera, which the monkey had run off with one evening.

2. Monkeys also blighted the romantic getaway of a couple in Malaysia, who foolishly left the window to their chalet open during the day. They returned to find their underwear, clothing and belongings strewn across the resort and neighbouring rainforest. Luckily for the clothes-less couple, their insurer paid the claim.

3. One unlucky pensioner managed to lose his false teeth after throwing up over the side of a cruise ship on the choppy seas of the Bay of Biscay. Thankfully for the squeamish septuagenarian, his misplaced dentures were covered in his travel insurance policy under lost baggage, so his claim was paid.

4. Another unfortunate pensioner had to make an even more embarrassing travel claim after a stroll on the deck of a cruise ship went disastrously wrong. The poor gentlemen was chatting with friends when a strong gust of wind lifted his toupee off his head and blew it into the sea. He never got over the shame but at least his travel policy reimbursed the cost of his hairpiece.

5. It is all too easy to lose your sunglasses, or even your passport, on holiday. Less easy, you might think, to misplace 34 large bags of Bombay mix. Yet one holidaymaker claimed he had lost £300-worth of the spicy snack while in Europe. At roughly 89p for a 250g bag, the misplaced mix would have weighed a hefty 84 kilograms. Needless to say, his insurance company turned him down.

6. It is a good idea to keep your wallet secure at all times when you are away, as one careless Briton discovered to his cost in Israel. The holidaymaker accidentally dropped his wallet down a drain in Natanya. However, his claim wasn’t for his lost credit cards or cash. It was for hospital treatment after being stung by a poisonous scorpion while reaching down into the drain to get his possessions back. Thankfully, his travel insurance covered the cost of treatment.

7. A holidaymaker in Spain lost his camera after setting it down beside him on a park bench. The strap, hanging tantalisingly down over the edge of the seat, caught the attention of a passing dog, which grabbed it and ran off with the camera. His insurer paid for a new camera under accidental damage.

8. One family camping in a remote field in Wales had their peace disturbed when a parachutist from a nearby airbase missed his target and scored a direct hit, landing on their tent and destroying their camping equipment. Sadly, the family weren’t covered for accidental damage so their insurer didn’t reimburse them.

9. It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your children are playing on the beach and they think it would be fun to bury your camcorder worth £600. Thankfully, when this happened to a family in Cornwall, their insurer saw the funny side and refunded the cost.

10. Police in a holiday resort in France were on the lookout for a wrinkle-free burglar after a woman who had her cosmetics bag stolen from her hotel room admitted that she had transferred medical-strength haemorrhoid cream into an empty tub of moisturiser earlier in the holiday. Her claim for make-up, lotions and perfume was paid.

11. A holidaymaker who was refused entry to a plane at Manchester Airport had his travel-insurance claim for holiday cancellation declined after it emerged that he had actually booked a flight from Manchester, New Hampshire, USA.

12. Mis-reading your flight details is easy to do, usually necessitating a frantic rush to the departure gate. But one family that turned up late for their flight had no such panic. Their plane had departed the previous month. They were denied compensation from their travel insurer.

13. A holidaymaker who arrived in a ski resort only to find that there was not enough snow, claimed for the cost of the brand new skis she had bought before leaving the UK. Unsurprisingly, the insurer rejected her claim.

14. A man walking along the street in Greece became so transfixed by two bikini-clad girls that he walked straight into a glass-panelled bus shelter and broke his nose. He successfully claimed on his travel insurance for his hospital bills.

15. The fairytale wedding day for a British couple on a West Indian beach went up in smoke after the bride’s dress caught fire from a brick of coal that fell from the BBQ. The quick-thinking groom picked up his now blazing bride, ran along the beach and tossed her into the ocean. They were able to claim on their travel insurance policy for the ruined wedding outfits as they had taken out wedding cover before jetting off.

16. Another couple stayed in a Parisian hotel room infested with fleas. After two days of itching and scratching, the pair cut their trip short and returned home, where they hastily burnt all their clothes on a bonfire. However, their claims for replacement wardrobe were rejected.

17. A traveller who lost his bag on holiday claimed only for its contents: a bottle of water, a newspaper and a packet of mints. With an excess on his insurance policy of £50, his claim was rejected.

18. When you’re holidaying in the Black Forest, it’s not thieves that you need to watch out for. One family left the door to their chalet open and came home to find that their wallets and passports had been eaten by a greedy goat, who had also chomped through some sandwiches that had been sitting on the kitchen table. The family’s claim for cost of new passports and wallets was rejected.

19. Sometimes Dads don’t always know best. A resourceful father whisked his teenage daughter to a local hairdresser, after she frazzled her hair on the oven in their holiday apartment in Spain. The result was hardly the work of Mr Toni and Mr Guy, leaving the girl running in tears from the salon. The dad tried, but failed, to claim the cost of the disastrous haircut from his insurance policy.

20. A chilled-out traveller in Sri Lanka needed £400 worth of hospital treatment after a large, ripe coconut fell from a tree and landed squarely on her head while she was peacefully reading below. She was knocked out cold, which is hardly surprising. Fresh coconuts weigh roughly 2 kilograms, and the trees grow up to 30 metres tall. The coconut would have been falling at 53 miles per hour when it hit the poor woman on the skull. Her insurer covered her medical expenses.

21. Meanwhile Direct Line received a claim for two lost coconuts from a couple who returned home from a holiday in Mauritius. As a coconut costs just 69p (from your local Tesco), the claim was rejected. The couple’s excess on their policy meant they would have paid for the first £50 of the cost of any claim.

22. A customer submitted a claim for a “guitar made out of a pumpkin”. The slightly baffled staff at Direct Line were forced to reject the claim.

23. The clue was in neon lights above the door. A young party animal in Greece got badly burnt when she tried to order a cocktail in local hangout called “Fire Bar”. Ignoring the loud warning buzzer, and the disappearance of her fellow drinkers, she stood firmly at the bar waiting to be served when it suddenly became engulfed in flames. She received third degree burns to her hands, and successfully claimed £300 worth of medical expenses.

24. A British backpacker was chased down the street by an angry bull in Kerala, Southern India. It wasn’t clear from his claim whether he provoked the animal, but he did require £2,800 worth of hospital treatment after the attack, which was reimbursed by his travel insurer.

25. Finally, according to one long-serving insurance underwriter, there have been more Rolex Oyster watches, worth upwards of £1,000, recorded as lost in the Costa Del Sol in the Spain than have ever been manufactured.

Top 10 Bizarre Phobias

coulrophobia 9 Top 10 Bizarre Phobias

From Wikipedia: “A phobia is an irrational, persistent fear of certain situations, objects, activities, or persons. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. When the fear is beyond one’s control, or if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made.” Here are the top 10 Bizarre phobias!

1. Ithyphallophobia – Fear of Erections

2. Ephebophobia – Fear of Youths

3. Coulrophobia – Fear of Clowns

4. Ergasiophobia – Fear of Work

5. Gymnophobia – Fear of Nudity

6. Neophobia – Fear of Newness

7. Paraskavedekatriaphobia – Fear of Friday the 13th

8. Panphobia – Fear of Everything

9. Taphophobia – Fear of being Buried Alive

10. Pteronophobia – Fear of being Tickled by Feathers

Bonus: Luposlipaphobia

Source

What’s Inside Rome’s Ancient Catacombs

Corridor in the famous catacombs of Rome

inside catacombs Whats Inside Romes Ancient Catacombs

Catacombs such as these were carved over hundreds of years, beginning in the second century A.D., from soft rock beneath the outskirts of Rome. The labyrinthine corridors of these underground cemeteries cover hundreds of acres and house the remains of hundreds of thousands of Christians and Jews.

Rome’s famous catacombs were built mainly by Christians who could not afford aboveground burial plots. Christian landowners outside the city allowed access to their property for underground burials, and over several centuries, the catacombs spread through miles of subterranean passages like these.

A cross inlaid in the floor of a library marks the spot where Indiana Jones has to dig to access the ancient catacombs of Venice in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The catacombs, a network of dark and narrow underground tunnels and tombs, hold the secret that eventually leads Indy to the hideout of the Holy Grail.
Unfortunately, the dramatic scene is a narrative license. “There are no catacombs in Venice, as the town rises on wood piles in the middle of the saltwater Venetian Lagoon. There is no room for underground chambers or passages, and only a few buildings have a basement,” says Luigi Fozzati, head of the Archaeological Superintendence of Veneto.

In fact, Venice’s cemetery is located on a small island outside the town, and the oldest tombs of nobles and heads of state lie aboveground in churches.

Double gallery in the catacombs of Rome

rome ancient catacombs Whats Inside Romes Ancient Catacombs To find catacombs, go to Rome, home of some of the oldest and longest burial underground tunnels in the world. “Hundreds of kilometers of catacombs run underneath the town and its outskirts,” says Adriano Morabito, president of the association Roma Sotterranea (Underground Rome). “Some of the networks are well known and open to visitors, while others are still scarcely explored. Probably there are a number of lost catacombs, too.”

The oldest tunnels date back to the first century. “The Jewish community in Rome built them as cemeteries. Christian catacombs came a century later. They were not secret meeting places to survive persecutions, as historians thought in the past, but burial tunnels, like the Jewish ones,” Morabito explains. “They used to grow larger and larger around the tombs of saints because people asked to be buried near their religious leaders.”

All Christian catacombs in Rome are property of the Catholic Church, and no one is allowed to explore them without special permission from the Vatican. “It’s not so easy to get the permission. That’s one of the reasons there have been very few archaeological expeditions to less known tunnels in the last decades,” Morabito says.

The Legend of the Holy Grail

The aura of mystery surrounding the catacombs has fed legends for centuries. Recently, Alfredo Barbagallo, an amateur archaeologist, claimed that the Holy Grail could be hidden in Rome, in the catacomb underneath the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, near the tomb of St. Lawrence, a deacon martyred in A.D. 258.

According to a legend, Pope Sixtus II entrusted the Holy Grail to Lawrence to save it from the persecution of Emperor Valerian. The deacon put the chalice in a safe place—and perhaps even sent it to Spain—before being killed. Barbagallo thinks the Grail never left Rome and is currently buried in a tunnel under the basilica dedicated to St. Lawrence.

Vatican authorities denied permission to open the catacomb and look for the chalice. “There isn’t any solid evidence behind Barbagallo’s claims,” says Vincenzo Fiocchi Nicolai, rector of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology.

Adriano Morabito agrees. “We don’t expect any great discovery from Roman catacombs. Early Christians didn’t use to bury objects with the dead. As for now we only found inscriptions and human remains.”

100w advertising festival

The annual International Advertising Festival 100W (100 watts) is being carried out in Sweden for 18 years now. This year’s opening was scheduled for 27 October. Agency Lowe Brindfors encouraged advertisers to participate, with the help of an advertising campaign “Awarding effective advertising”.

The creative idea is the impact of advertising, which prompted people to buy such goods, which they absolutely do not need – such as blind people have bought LCD TV, and bald – hair dryer.

click on images to enlarge

Strange and mysterious sounds from the earth

If you listen closely, you’ll find that the earth is full of sounds.  Some are things that you hear every day, some are truly remarkable and some sounds hail from origins completely unknown.  What follows here is a list of “sonic mysteries” for your pleasure – many of them include audio.

1. The Bloop

250px bloop Strange and mysterious sounds from the earth At various times during the summer of 1997, an ultra-low frequency sound that rose rapidly in frequency over about one minute was detected at 50 degrees S, 100 degrees W.   The sound was detected by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array (which was U.S. Navy equipment originally designed to detect Soviet submarines), and was loud enough to be heard on multiple sensors, up to 5000km apart.  Scientists dubbed it the “Bloop” (not to be confused with the “Boing “.)

Although the sound matches the profile of a living animal, it is much louder than any known creature can produce.  Any creature that could produce such a sound would have to be many times larger than the largest whale.

You can hear a very short recording of the sound here .  The recording is short because it’s been sped up 16x to make it audible to you and I.

Some people link the Bloop to Cthulhu , a mythical creature from an H.P. Lovecraft story as the noise originated from an area near the mythical sunken city of R’lyeh from the same story.

The Bloop also makes an appearance in the game promoting the movie Cloverfield, and was also seen in the movie “The Loch”, coming from a giant eel.

A 2001 album by Dntel (”Life is full of possibilities “) uses the bloop as a repeating sample through the piece.

The actual origination of the sound is not known and remains a mystery to this day although it is suspected to be biological in origin.

2. The Hum

The hum is the name of a phenomenon that is generally given to mysterious low frequency humming or rumbling.  It is typically heard by many people at a time (but not others), and can come and go or it can be constant.  There are many famous Hums, most notably the Taos Hum and the Bristol Hum.

The Hum is usually difficult to record, and it’s often difficult to localize the source of the hum (perhaps due to the low frequency, as low frequency sounds are harder to localize).

Hums have been detected (or reported) all over the world, but most appear in Europe and South America.  The Hum is more often heard indoors, and some people hear it more faintly than others.  Here is a recording of the Auckland Hum.

The Taos Hum has been featured on the X-Files and Unsolved Mysteries.  The source of some Hums have been identified – for example, a pair of fans in a cooling tower at a DaimlerChrysler casting plant was emitting a 36 Hz tone that caused a Hum over the entire city of Kokomo, Indiana.  Other Hums remain a mystery.  Some possible explanations Include geological events, pulsed microwaves and electromagnetic waves from meteors.  Tinnitus might explain some cases as well.

A creditable scientific hypothesis from 2005 suggests the Hum is caused by the tensor tympani muscle (a muscle in the inner ear) trembling in the eardrums of individuals. on the eardrums of affected individuals by the tensor tympani muscle trembling.  There is a website by the “Interest Group for Research of the Hum Nuisance” (unfortunately in German) describing this theory.

3.The Hell Hole

(You can decide for yourself on this one…) More than forty years ago, researchers in the Soviet Union began an ambitious drilling project whose goal was to penetrate the Earth’s upper crust and sample the warm, mysterious area where the crust and mantle intermingle– the Mohorovičić discontinuity, or “Moho.”

hellhole Strange and mysterious sounds from the earthThis type of drilling was completely new and the technology didn’t exist to go that deep, so the Russians had to invent a completely new way of drilling to be able to do it. Unfortunately, the Russians never reached their goal, and many of the Earth’s secrets were left undiscovered, however The Kola Superdeep Borehole is still a scientifically useful site, and research there is ongoing.

When drilling stopped in 1994, the hole was over seven miles deep, making it by far the deepest hole ever drilled by humans. The last of the cores to be plucked from from the borehole was dated to be about 2.7 billion years old.  Although the Kona hole was the deepest hole ever drilled (until this one) , seven miles was still very short of the 20-80km required to penetrate  the earth’s crust.

Like all newfangled science stories, some Genesis freaks have decided that the intent of the project was not real scientific research as they were told – rather this simple experiment was actually an attempt to drill to hell… and that they were successful! The story has (and still does) made its rounds on Christian circles via tracts, preaching and radio broadcasts.

The story varies, but here are the basics:

1.  After going only a few miles down, the drill began to spin wildly.

2.  A ‘Doctor Azzakov’ is quoted as stating authoritatively that it has been shown that the earth is hollow.

3.  Immensely high temperatures were experienced, much higher than expected at that depth. Usually 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit or 1,100 degrees Celsius is quoted.

4.  Microphones were lowered into the hole (to ‘listen to the earth’s movement’). Human screams were heard—hordes of ‘tortured souls’.

5.  Many of the scientists have quit the project in fear and/or have become total nervous wrecks.

Of course, these “facts” are not quite true:

a) If the earth was largely hollow, it would clearly be evident from seismic studies, as well as from orbital/gravitational considerations, but this is not the case.

b) Far from being a ‘fiery inferno’, the temperature increased by one degree Celsius every 100 meters to 3,000 meters, then by 2.5 degrees every 100 meters thereafter. At 10,000 meters, it was only 180 degrees.

The story of course is based on a factual borehole, and creation geologists have had a field day with the shaky “facts” – using the story to prove that yes, hell exists and they’ve been right all along.

hell2 Strange and mysterious sounds from the earthHere’s the “quote” that has been making it’s way through evangelical circles:

“We lowered a microphone, designed to detect the sounds of plate movements down the shaft. But instead of plate movements we heard a human voice screaming in pain! At first we thought the sound was coming from our own equipment.”

“But when we made adjustments our worst suspicions were confirmed. The screams weren’t those of a single human, they were the screams of millions of humans!”

Oh, you wanted to HEAR the screams from hell?  But of course!  Listen to it here (mirror ) .

4. Mistpouffers

In some places in the world, people have reported long successions of enormously loud booming noises.  They are called different things in different areas of the world –  “Guns of the Seneca” (near Seneca Lake in New York), “Barisal guns ” (in Bangladesh), “uminari” (in Japan), “fog guns,” “lake guns,” and many other terms. These terms all describe a sound or sounds that resemble distant cannon fire, and are usually heard near large bodies of water.  Often times they are accompanied by a long rumble that is strong enough to shake plates and pictures.

There have been many proposed theories about where these sounds come from, however most are not very satisfying.  Since these sounds have been reported for centuries means that the most obvious explanation, artillery tests , are pretty much ruled out.  Earthquakes and volcanoes could produce these sounds and rumbles, however the sounds have not been directly connected to any seismic activity, which is fairly well measured.

Some have speculated that undersea activity (perhaps seismic) creates great bubbles of released gas which floats to the surface and creates huge “ocean farts”, however it is a stretch to think that these bubbles could produce a sound strong enough to create the distant-gunfire sound of Mistpouffers.  Meteorite impacts have also been bandied about as a possible explanation (see here for actual meteor sounds) as have tidal waves .

thor Strange and mysterious sounds from the earth It has also been speculated that these noises happen everywhere and that ambient noise from communities simply make them harder to hear.  Sound travels farther over water than over land, and so the sounds are more easily heard in remote, quiet areas close to bodies of water.

Of course the latest theory is rather boring – that the sounds are made by thunder or other explosions very far away, and the sounds simply travels a very, very long way because atmospheric and topographic conditions happen to be “just so”.  This would explain why no storms or other activity are present in the area and yet the sounds are still heard.

Some people still believe that the sounds are made from alien spacecraft, God, or Thor’s hammer banging on nails while trying to fix the roof over the heavens…. however there is another theory:

A Web page describing the many tourist attractions of the Cayuga Lake area mentions the “Guns of the Seneca.” it also says  “At the southern end, you’ll find the booming city of Ithaca…”  Well, that it. What people are hearing is obviously the sound of Ithaca booming.

5. Slow Down

slowdown Strange and mysterious sounds from the earth Slow down was recorded in the Pacific Ocean on May 19,1997.   It was recorded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration located around 15 degrees S 115, degrees W.

It is called the Slow Down because the sound slowly decreases in frequency over the span of about 7 minutes.  It was detected using the same hydrophone array as the Bloop, and was loud enough to be detected on multiple sensors 2000km apart.

Here is a recording of the sound, sped up by 16 times.

Some people believe that this sound has been made by a giant squid or other large sea creature, however this theory doesn’t stand up to scientific reason, as squids likey  with tdo not have the capability of producing their beaks ese sounds.

The real source of the Slow Down sound remains completely unknown.  This signal and anything like it has not been heard before or since.

6. The WOW!

No discussion of mysterious sounds would be complete without this one, although it’s not a sound from earth – it’s from space.  You can also debate whether or not it’s actually technically a sound at all, but I’m presenting it here just because it’s interesting.

wow Strange and mysterious sounds from the earthOn August 15, 1977 a SETI scientist working at the Big Ear radio telescope of the Ohio State University noticed a very strong signal that lasted for 72 seconds.  The type of signal resembled signals that are non-terrestrial and non-solar system in origin.

Because the signal was so remarkable, The scientists circled the data on the computer printout and wrote the word “WOW!” beside it. Ever since then, it’s been called the “Wow!” signal.

Since the signal was discovered, scientists from all over have tried to locate it again, however it has never been seen since.

It has been theorized by some people that the signal may have come from extraterrestrial life, however others remain skeptical.

More information on the Wow can be found here by the person who discovered it.

Top 10: Modern Mysteries

Mysteries tap the imagination, fuel speculation and invite the attention of conspiracy theorists. While there are numerous ancient mysteries, they don’t excite us the same way these top 10 modern mysteries do; perhaps because we can relate to them easier if they’re closer to our own time. It is that ability to relate, to feel some connection,  that not only feeds the mystery, but — accurately or not — also seems to hint that a solution is within reach.

Thus, our criteria for our top 10 modern mysteries does not necessarily concern unsolved mysteries, but the enduring public fascination with the mystery itself as well as the implications of the possible answers (even if conventional wisdom suggests the mystery has more than adequately been solved).

Number 10

What happened to the Carroll A. Deering?

On January 31, 1921, the schooner Carroll A. Deering was spotted having run aground off the coast of North Carolina. When rescue ships finally reached her, they found nothing short of a ghost ship to rival the Mary Celeste, which suffered a similar fate 50 years earlier. The Deering’s entire crew was missing. Evidence in the galley suggested that food was being prepared for the following day, yet nothing was found of the crew; none of their personal effects and nothing relating to the schooner itself, such as the ship logs.

Speculation has pointed to the paranormal, notably to the fact that she was in the region that is today known as the Bermuda Triangle. Alternative theories have come forward as well, including one that is a sign of its times: that it was part of a communist plot spearheaded by Russia to seize U.S. ships.

Number 9

313j top 10 list1 Top 10: Modern MysteriesWho was D.B. Cooper?

How hard is it to dislike this guy? On November 21, 1971, in Portland, Oregon, a man calling himself Dan Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727 en route to Seattle by discreetly flashing a bomb to the stewardess and handing her a note. On landing, as the other passengers disembarked without any clue of Cooper’s intentions, authorities met his demands of $200,000 in cash and a set of parachutes. The 727 then took off following Cooper’s instructions and, shortly thereafter, he leapt from the plane into a stormy night.

Since then, few clues have surfaced concerning the crime. A boy found some of Cooper’s cash along a riverbank and, recently, the FBI thought his parachute had been found, but it turned out not to be the case. One man emerged as a suspect after he died, since on his death bed he told his wife, “I’m D.B. Cooper.”  She told the Discovery Channel’s Unsolved History that his confession, true or not, had ruined her life. If Cooper died in the jump, which the FBI contends, his remains won’t be found as Mount St. Helens covered the region with ash in 1980.

Number 8

Is the Riemann hypothesis true?

The Riemann hypothesis is not as well-known as other mysteries for at least one good reason: it has no catchy made-for-TV nickname. There’s so much to like about
E = mc2,” no wonder it swept the world. Riemann, on the other hand, sounds like this: “The real part of any non-trivial zero of the Riemann zeta function is ½.”

The curious thing about this hypothesis is that not only do most mathematicians believe it to be fact despite the lack of a comprehensive solution, a number of other complex mathematical problems have been solved on the basis that the Riemann is true. Right now, $1 million awaits the person who can prove the hypothesis. While a proof would be tantalizing, the more fascinating outcome would be if it were proven to be false.

Number 7

Who killed the Black Dahlia?

The discovery of the grossly mutilated body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles, on January 15, 1947, set off the biggest homicide investigation in the Southland, one that continues to baffle everyone who takes a look at the case even today. Short’s body had been drained of blood and cut in two, and her killer had morbidly given her the Glasgow smile: He cut her mouth from ear to ear.

The list of suspects is long, and any one of them can sound convincing; that is, if the argument is presented without a rebuttal, which is generally when they tend to fall apart. One notable suspect, Dr. George Hodel (now deceased like virtually all the suspects), has an unlikely man promoting his guilt: Hodel’s son and former LAPD homicide detective Steve Hodel. The case remains unsolved, and has inspired numerous books and movies, along with endless speculation. Physical evidence is scant, meaning this mystery is unlikely to ever be solved.

Number 6

Where is Jimmy Hoffa’s body?

On July 30, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa, the former head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, had been out of prison for about four years. President Nixon had commuted his original 13-year sentence on attempted bribery to time-served, provided he stay away from unions until his prison time would have ended in 1980.

On that late July day, Hoffa, who was in the process of regaining union control in spite of Nixon’s restriction, got into a car in the Machus Red Fox restaurant parking lot in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. He hasn’t been seen since. The mystery has less to do with who killed him — the mob seems like the safest bet — than the location of his body. It has become something of a cultural landmark, a metaphor for the best hiding spot of all time.

Number 5

What causes the Taos Hum?

The Taos Hum is perhaps the best-known among a handful of very low-frequency “humming” sounds that people have reported hearing in various parts of the world, including the UK, North America and New Zealand. Questions persist about its origins, that maybe it’s paranormal or that it may be the sound of the universe expanding.

Curiously, the most sensitive acoustic devices — far more sensitive than the clumsy human ear — typically fail to pick up a note of humming. While local investigators have succeeded in tracing the source in some cases. For instance, the Kokomo Hum in Kokomo, Indiana, proved to be coming from a Chrysler plant. Could it be that it’s just all in our heads? After all, the regional “hums” and the symptoms reported by sufferers are so varied and often so contradictory that the source of the noise may be our imaginations.

Number 4

Who was the Zodiac Killer?

America did not invent the serial killer, but she has perfected him. And nowhere is this frightening perfection better brought to fruition than with the Zodiac Killer, the scourge of Bay Area detectives since the 1960s.

Remarkably, all confirmed Zodiac killings occurred in a 10-month span, between December 1968 and October 1969, yet his ability to outfox the police — as well as countless armchair detectives –has inspired movies, TV shows, novels, music, and practically his own shelf in the true-crime section at book stores. One of the ciphers he sent to police over three decades ago has still not been solved. Most recently, DNA evidence retrieved from licked envelopes sent by the Zodiac only heightened the mystery, when results ruled out a long-time favorite suspect in the case.

Number 3

What is pulling the universe apart?

Credible cosmologists and astrophysicists tell us that there is conclusive evidence that the universe is expanding — but they can not say why. The most prominent explanation for this theory is that there is a force at work that seems to be operating contrary to the force of gravity. Lacking a definitive explanation, they nonetheless gave it a tantalizing name: dark energy.

Dark energy, they believe, is the dominating force in our universe, representing a shocking two-thirds of its entire composition. In fact, they go a step further and suggest that another 30% of the universe is composed of dark matter, a concept as poorly understood as dark energy. Not quite getting this? It’s OK. Even those who proposed this don’t get it any better than you.

Number 2

What really happened at Area 51?

UFO buffs have gathered at the edges of Area 51 in Nevada for years, hoping to catch a glimpse of the alien spacecraft alleged to be docked at the sprawling, secretive government site. No one has done more to fuel speculation — as well as to remind people to consider individual credibility — than Bob Lazar.

As Bob told it in 1989, the U.S. government had nine UFO spacecraft at Area 51, and they needed some brilliant physicists to come in and “reverse engineer” them (read: figure out how they work). Lazar, a self-proclaimed physicist who by day ran a one-hour photo lab, got the nod and a top-level security clearance. Unfortunately, he had to show off the UFO to friends and got caught.

While it is well-known that the government developed top secret military technology there — including the likes of the F-117 Stealth Fighter and the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber — it is supremely unlikely that Area 51 ever held a UFO. Nonetheless, a cottage industry was born around Area 51, much of it thanks to conspiracy theorists with no concern for the government’s official line on the incident.

Number 1

Was the JFK assassination a conspiracy?

The assassination of President Kennedy lands at No. 1 not because it is one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time, but because of its unmatched cultural impact. For many people — who were alive at the time and who were not born yet — President Kennedy represented something truly larger than life. Consequently it was, and still remains, nearly impossible for them to imagine a giant like JFK being killed by a loser with a scope and a view.

Among the many testaments to this is the remarkably desperate diligence of conspiracy theorists, who can ignore 2,999 pages of declassified CIA documents and focus on a single line from page 3,000, and build a complicated theory of a mob hit or a Cuban connection.
The inability to accept the theory of a lone gunman, and the ability to believe in any other scenario despite the lack of even a trace of conclusive evidence, is the greater mystery here because it hints at something mysterious, remarkably fragile and even endearing about the human psyche.

5 Things You Didn’t Know about AK-47

ak 47 5 Things You Didnt Know about AK 47Guns have always been a fascinating topic in America. From who’s using them to what model, make and brand they are, guns have become a staple in our modern society. Now, whether that’s a sad or thrilling fact, we’ve decided to let our readers in on some interesting facts about one of America’s most loved (and hated) assault rifles: the AK-47.

With a new book on the market entitled AK-47: The Story of the People’s Gun, Michael Hodges is an expert on this particular weapon, and we got Hodges to let us in on a few little-known facts about the AK-47 while researching his work.

1- The inventor of the AK-47 did not profit from the gun

Although by some estimates there are 100 million AK-47-style assault rifles in circulation around the world, the gun’s inventor, Mikhail Kalashnikov, did not become rich (unlike Eugene Stoner, the inventor of the American M16 assault rifle, who died a wealthy man). Communist states had no patents, and until its collapse in 1991, Kalashnikov was simply an employee of the Soviet Union. “I invented a weapon to save the motherland, to save the state from fascism,” he said. “My career has been dedicated to my country.”

Despite that country awarding him the Hero of Socialist Labor medal and many other accolades, this particular Socialist hero, who just happened to change the world, started life as an enemy of the Soviet Union. Kalashnikov narrowly escaped being shot by Stalin’s special police after his family was denounced as Kulaks in 1932, and exiled to Siberia. Kalashnikov escaped again when a Panzer shell blew him from his tank in 1941, as the Soviets fought desperately to halt the Nazi advance on Moscow.

2- The AK-47 is the perfect weapon for children

The AK-47 can be stripped in under a minute and cleaned quickly in almost any climatic condition. Even if it isn’t cleaned, an AK-47 is still more likely to fire than any of its rivals given similar treatment on the battlefield. With only eight moving parts the AK-47 is cheap to manufacture and easy to use — so easy in fact that children can be taught how to properly handle this weapon in a single hour. Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal picked up his first AK-47 when he was 9 years old. A fully loaded AK-47 weighs four kilograms: “I don’t know how I lifted the AK when I was tired. It was so heavy,” he remembers. “We only had a few AKs but we weren’t scared, it was like a game with toy guns. When the fighting starts you can put the gun down and run away, or pull the trigger. Once you’ve done that you are hooked; it makes you think that no one can touch you. Once you’ve fired an AK-47 you become brave.”

3- America may have given bin Laden his first AK-47

Since 1998, Osama bin Laden has regularly included an AK-47 in the propaganda videos he releases after terrorist outrages. Consequently, the gun has come to represent the global jihad, and AK-47 is an integral part of the regime at fundamentalist camps, as far apart as the English home counties and the jungles of the Philippines.

These groups and their adherents are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and America — yet it is highly likely that it was Israel and America that inadvertently put an AK-47 into bin Laden’s hands. When the Israel Defense Forces invaded Lebanon in 1982 to “crush” the Palestinian Liberation Organization they captured thousands of AK-47s.These guns found their way, via the CIA and the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, to the Mujahadeen resisting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It is probable that amongst them would have been the AK-47 that equips bin Laden.

4- The AK-47 is the U.S. army’s most resilient enemy

U.S. forces first came into large-scale contact with the AK-47 during the Vietnam War. Their own M16s malfunctioned in the heat and damp of the jungle, but the Chinese-supplied AK-47s used by the communists continued to fire. Consequently, thousands of GIs picked up AK-47s from fallen Viet Cong guerrillas. This led Americans to open fire on their own side because they presumed the distinctive pop-pop-pop sound of an AK-47 revealed an enemy position. So many GIs threw away their guns in favor of AK-47s that a House of Representatives hearing in 1971 discovered that the U.S. Army attempted to stop the media reporting the phenomenon. Today, nearly 40 years later, in the sand and heat of Iraq, American soldiers are once again giving up their own U.S.-manufactured weapons in favor of the AK-47.

5- The AK-47 is the weapon of choice for U.S. mass murderers

On January 17, 1989, Patrick Purdey walked into the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, armed with a Chinese-manufactured AK-47. It was fitted with a barrel magazine holding 75 rounds — both of which he bought legally over a gun-shop counter. When he walked out again five children were dead and 29 were injured. In December 1997, Arturo Reyes Torres entered his former place of work, the Caltrans Maintenance Yard, with an AK-47, killed four and wounded two. There are many more examples of AK-47 murders in the U.S. The online Urban Dictionary defines “Columbine” like so: “The constant bullying of the preppies and jocks has caused him to pick up his AK-47 and go Columbine on everyone.”

Ironically, the Columbine killers did not use AK-47s, but it doesn’t matter; in America gun crime is now perceived as AK crime.

rifle-ing through history

From the killing grounds of Sadr City to the murderous barrios of Bogotá, from the battlefields of Somalia to the ghettos of the United States, the AK-47 dominates the world. Invented by a Russian tank commander at the end of World War II, by rights it should be in the dustbin of history. However, such was the genius of his design that 60 years later — for millions of unfortunate people around the world, and scores of countries wracked by conflict — Mikhail Kalashnikov’s iconic assault rifle is both the present and, tragically, the future.

To learn even more about the AK-47, check out Michael Hodges’ book, AK-47: The Story of the People’s Gun.

SOURCE

Disturbing photos from Brazilian Prison

As you might know from time to time we put some serious stuff in our issues! Today is not an exception. Below are some photos of the Brazilian prison that leave a mixed impression. On the one hand, the photos are quite professional and therefore interesting to look at. On the other, the reality they depict is very sad!

There are serious issues in regard to abuses of human rights in Brazil. Brazil had a remarkably poor record during the dictatorship of the 1960s, and still has many problems today. These include the use of police brutality, corruption, torture and summary executions by civil and military police and prison authorities. In the recent years, the 1992 Carandiru Massacre is considered the major violation of the human rights in Brazil.

Prisoner violence

Brazil’s prisons are overcrowded and unhealthy, there are now over 300,000 inmates. Beatings, torture and killings by prison guards occur throughout the prison system. Children are abused in the juvenile justice system. According to the Ministry of Justice 13,489 under 18s are in detention. Humans are producing waste, and then smothering other human beings face in their feces until suffocated and dead.

Prison overcrowding results in a prominent occurrence of prison violence and murder as well as frequent revolts and escapes. In order to deal with these problems, prison administrations often divide prison populations according to gang affiliation. According to Global Justice, there have been claims of gang affiliation being assigned.

Living space, food, and cleanliness conditions are inhumane and bribery for privileges and transfers is rampant.

In December 2007, a case of prison gang rape in Pará brought media attention to the condition of human rights in the Brazil prison system.

Summary executions and police violence

Police violence is one of the most internationally recognized human rights abuses in Brazil. The problem of urban violence focuses on the perpetual struggle between police and residents of high crime favelas such as the areas portrayed in City of God. Police response in many parts of Brazil is extremely violent, including summary execution and torture of suspects. According to Global Justice, in 2003, the police killed 1,195 people in the State of Rio de Janeiro alone. In the same year 45 police officers were killed. Police violence is often reacted to by local communities and trafficking groups with demonstrations and violent resistance, causing escalation and multiplying victims. Unofficial estimates show there are over 3000 deaths annually from police violence in Brazil, according to Human Rights Watch. There are constant complaints of racism, abuses, torture, executions and disappearances. Not all states record police killings or keep accurate statistics.

Torture

Torture in Brazil is widespread and systematic according to the ex-UN Special Rapporteur. Occurrence of police torture accompanies murder or effecting intimidation and extortion. Torture has also been widely reported in detention centers and mental institutions.

Agrarian violence and oppression

The agrarian struggle in Brazil is manifold, touching on the topics of deforestation, dam building, eviction, squatting, and wildlife smuggling. The enormous Landless Workers’ Movement in Brazil involves large and migrating homeless populations. Landowners resort to assassins and death squads to drive and intimidate landless populations from their land. Other cases of agrarian human rights violations involve government takings, such as for various hydroelectric operations across Brazil. Wealthy international corporations have enormous bargaining power and often refuse to remunerate displaced populations upon the flooding of their ancestral homes. Further agrarian violence arises from smugglers of exotic animals, wood, and other minerals from extracting contraband from forest or agrarian areas.

Slave Labor and Labor Exploitation

Slavery and labor situations like depression era company towns still exist in remote areas in Brazil like the Amazon (A fictional portrayal of such a town occurs in The Rundown).

“Debt slavery” (where workers are forced to work in order to pay an ever-increasing debt) still exists in some rural areas, though it is illegal and the government actively fights against it

The “debt slavery” is particularly worryingly in large sugar cane farms, since sugar cane is a raw material for Ethanol, a product that the Brazilian government is currently actively encouraging the production and research.

Indigenous violence

As deforestation companies move in to take advantage of the large area of space the Amazon offers, indigenous tribes that live in the forest are attacked or subject to violence. Drugs and diseases are introduced into the tribes because of the people moving in on the terrain. In order to protect the land that is rightly theirs, many indigenous people attack the new arrivals – who fight back – which leads to violence and deaths.

Impunity

In line with the military government’s negotiated impunity upon the return of Brazil to democracy, impunity continues to derail human rights prosecution. Police and prison violence is often covered up or ignored by authorities. Police officers who are imprisoned often serve in privileged security positions inside Brazilian prisons. Brazilian politics are also rife with impunity, continued through dismissal of overzealous officials and pointed bureaucratic oversight.

Violence against human rights defenders

Many human rights defenders who have arisen to oppose human rights violations and their families and friends suffer violence and persecution across Brazil. Telephone death threats are prominent and often followed through by ambush or assassination. Government officials, attorneys, union leaders and even religious leaders have often been targeted, as with Antonio Fernandez Saenz affair. The danger of human rights defense entered the world press with the murder of Dorothy Stang in 2005 and Chico Mendes in 1998.

Sources: Human Rights Watch, Global Justice, Pastoral Land Commission

Most Bizarre Experiments Of All Time

20]  Heartbeat At Death

heartatdeath Most Bizarre Experiments Of All TimeOn October 31, 1938, John Deering took a last drag on his cigarette, sat down in a chair, and allowed a prison guard to place a black hood over his head and pin a target to his chest. Next the guard attached electronic sensors to Deering’s wrists.

Deering had volunteered to participate in an experiment, the first of its kind, to have his heartbeat recorded as he was shot through the chest by a firing squad. The prison physician, Dr. Stephen Besley, figured that since Deering was being executed anyway, science might as well benefit from the event. Perhaps some valuable information about the effect of fear on the heart could be learned.

The electrocardiogram immediately disclosed that, despite Deering’s calm exterior, his heart was beating like a jackhammer at 120 beats per minute. The sheriff gave the order to fire, and Deering’s heartbeat raced up to 180 beats per minute. Then four bullets ripped into his chest, knocking him back in his chair. One bullet bore directly into the right side of his heart. For four seconds his heart spasmed. A moment later it spasmed again. Then the rhythm gradually declined until, 15.4 seconds after the first shot, Deering’s heart stopped.

The next day Dr. Besley offered the press a eulogy of sorts for Deering: “He put on a good front. The electrocardiograph film shows his bold demeanor hid the actual emotions pounding within him. He was scared to death.” [Read more…]

Coulrophobia: Are You Afraid of Clowns?

Did you find Heath Ledger as The Joker scary? Then perhaps you suffer from coulrophobia, the abnormal fear of clowns. Join a self-confessed coulrophobic for a look at these guys and see if you are too. Like you don’t already know.

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Why do so many people find clowns scary?  Only last year the Bestival Festival on the Isle of Wight in the UK had to rethink its plans.  Each year there is a theme and they thought they would follow up their successful cowboy theme with one based around clowns.  They had so many phone calls from adult ticket holders complaining that they would no longer be able to come because of their fear of clowns that the organizers had to rethink the theme.

So why is it that so many people are afraid of clowns?  I am certainly no exception.  One of my earliest memories is a visit to the circus where – sat on the ringside row, I watched the clowns make their entrance.  They circled around the ring, laughing and jolly and one made a beeline for me, eager it seemed to shake my hands.  The resulting hysteria almost, so my mother maintained for years, brought the house down.  It seems that I was pretty much the most entertaining feature of the show.

Maternal lack of sympathy aside – as well as a lasting embarrassment throughout my childhood and teen years – why did I as a toddler find clowning about so terrifying?  Was it that my burgeoning ability to process the facial features of others was put in to a form of panic-struck overdrive by the sight of so many exaggerated and colorful beings? Was it that the skin tone and facial appearance of the clowns threw me off kilter and – at some primal level at least – made me do the only thing I could which was, of course, to scream my head off?

Bring in the clowns?  Blame the buggers!  Even before psychology was an ‘ology’ people instinctively knew what made others tick.  The clowning tradition did not evolve purely with entertainment in mind and so it might not be any surprise that a lot of adults as well as children find the distorted features of clowns more than a little disturbing.  Many people even form an early fear of that arch-clown, Santa Claus.  The thrill of fear can leave lasting memories and performers have been quick to use this through the centuries.  However, when does a simple aversion become a phobia?

Why fear these harmless entertainers?  I wasn’t a particularly sensitive child (unless it suited me, so I am told).  Was it because I saw myself in their anarchic actions?  Did they represent, however subconsciously, unreason and out of control nature which I somehow recognized?  Was I afraid of their casual violence towards each other and fearful that it would extend to me? Were they a mirror to my soul?  Or was I just a wee wuss?

However you look at it, by the nineteen eighties the condition was so widespread that a word had to be coined for it – and what an odd word it is.  Like all phobias it has its origins in Greek and the ‘coul’ part comes from the Greek for limb.  It is a rather odd choice of words but the Greeks themselves had no equivalent to a clown so the real origin of the word comes from kolobathristes which is a stilt walker.  Strange, but true.

When something is taken out of its usual context it can sometimes create a reaction that others may feel is disproportionate?  I was lucky in many ways that McDonalds did not open one of its ‘restaurants’ in my home town until I was in my mid-teens.  With all the rationality associated with teenage boys I found the presence of a certain Ronald McDonald completely unnerving.  My mother had always told me not to talk to strange men and this man was, indeed, most peculiar.

Seeing the clown outside of a circus could have been what predicated by pubescent panic.  Lon Chaney, famous for his portrayal of The Phantom of The Opera among others said ‘There is nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight’ and I for one am inclined to agree with that sentiment.  So, when a clown is seen where it simply doesn’t belong it is, perhaps, quite human to have a negative reaction.  After all, if Lon Chaney was spooked by them, who can blame me?

Significantly, a study at a UK hospital has gone some way to prove this theory.  Around two hundred and fifty children were polled and all of them said that they found the visual representations of clowns around the hospital were scary.  Yes, that’s right; every single respondent said that they were unhappy with the presence of clown images in the institution.  Rather than encouraging a happy space the clowns were actually frightening the children.

So, what do we do about the clowns?  Do we send them away?  Most psychologists will tell you that the occasional scare can be good for the system.  A great deal of the population will not even believe that coulrophobia is a real condition.  If you are not convinced that people are truly scared of clowns, take a look at this clip.

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