Monthly Archive: August 2015

The Muslim Prince Who Became An American Slave

Before he was captured while leading his father’s army home from battle, 26-year-old Abdul-Rahman Ibrahim ibn Sori was a married Muslim prince in Africa. Within a year, he was sold into slavery in America. Even when recognized by an American doctor who had known Sori in Africa, his owner, Thomas Foster, refused to free Sori. President John Quincy Adams would later help to free Sori, 40 years after he was enslaved. However, Sori was unable to secure the release of all his enslaved children, and he died of a fever before he could return to his native village.

The Holocaust Survivor Saving Christians From ISIS

In 1938, 19-year-old George Weidenfeld boarded the train from his hometown of Vienna for the last time. A Jewish teenager, Weidenfeld was fleeing from the expanding Nazi state, with its horrors of shootings, ghettos, and death camps. Granted an escape route thanks to the efforts of the Quakers and Plymouth Brethren, Weidenfeld never forgot the debt he owed Christianity. Fast-forward to 2015, and George (now Lord) Weidenfeld finally got a chance to repay that debt, setting up a fund specifically to save Christians fleeing the genocidal wrath of ISIS.

The Mysterious Numbers Station Formerly Known As UVB-76

Although their purpose has never been confirmed, unlicensed “numbers stations” have been broadcasting on shortwave AM radio since at least the Cold War. Unlike digital communications that leave a record, these low-tech transmissions are perfect for sending unbreakable, encrypted messages to spies who don’t want to be tracked. One of the most eerie stations, formerly known as “UVB-76,” transmitted beeps and buzzes continuously from Russia for years, almost completely unchanged throughout decades of Russian political upheaval. Then suddenly in 2010, silence. After a few months of unpredictable broadcasts, the station’s call sign was changed to MDZhB and the eerie broadcasts continued.

The Tunnel 57 Escape Plan That Actually (Somehow) Worked

During the 30 years that the Berlin Wall effectively imprisoned East Germans, only about 300 people managed to escape through underground tunnels to West Germany. In 1964, a group of West German college students planted themselves in an abandoned bakery and dug for five months until they accidentally emerged in an outhouse on the East German side. The East German police were alerted to their plan but not before 57 people managed to escape to the West German side in just two days. Despite the enormous risks, Tunnel 57 was the most successful tunnel escape in the history of the Berlin Wall.

The Nazis’ Olympic Torch Relay And The Prankster Who Protested It

In 1956, college student Barry Larkin made a fake torch (out of a chair leg and some burning underwear) and jumped into the Olympic relay. He picked up a police escort before he handed the torch off to the mayor of Sydney, who nearly started his Olympic speech holding a flaming plum pudding can on a stick. He pulled this prank in protest of the continuation of a ceremony that had been started only two decades before, by Nazi Germany, as propaganda for the Third Reich and symbolic of the torch they believed they were carrying from ancient civilizations to the present.

The B-25 Bomber That Crashed In Pittsburgh 60 Years Ago (And Is Still Missing)

In 1956, a B-25 Mitchell bomber flying from Nevada to Harrisburg crashed into the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. Two of the six crew members died in the river. Despite many searches, no one has ever found the plane, fueling conspiracy theories about the purpose of the flight and whether the federal government secretly removed the plane from the water in the dead of night.

The Deadly Riots To Stop Grave-Robbing In 18th-Century New York

In April 1788, New Yorkers rioted against New York Hospital doctors and medical students who were practicing on cadavers that had been robbed from graves. The riot left up to 20 people dead and propelled the living to form “Dead Guard Men” groups to protect the dead in cemeteries. There were at least 17 similar riots over grave-robbing and dissections between the mid-18th and the mid-19th centuries. In the 21st century, dead bodies have become big business. Even bodies donated to medical schools have sometimes been stolen, stripped for parts like a car and illegally sold for personal profit.

GMOs Are Actually Thousands Of Years Old

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been a hot topic of debate ever since we developed the technology to muck about with our food on a genetic level. It’s nothing new, though, and researchers have found that if it wasn’t for Mother Nature’s own experiments with using bacteria to alter the genes of the sweet potato, we might not have one of our Thanksgiving Day favorites. Corn was genetically altered with generations of selective breeding, too, but whether or not that means we should be interfering with nature is still up for debate.

The Anesthesiologist Who May Have The Cure For SIDS

As many as 4,000 US infants die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) each year. David Rubens, a 52-year-old anesthesiologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, believes that SIDS is linked to an inner-ear problem, causing a baby to have a hard time waking up and repositioning himself if he can’t breathe properly. Earlier research showed that SIDS babies had trouble hearing three separate sound frequencies in their right ears. Some autopsies revealed serious ear damage. Rubens believes that a hearing test for every baby within two days of birth may be the answer.

The Difference Between Ethnic Cleansing And Genocide

When we hear of one group of people targeting another based on something like race, nationality or religion, the terms “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” are often tossed around to mean the same thing. To be specific, the end goal of genocide is complete destruction of a particular group, while ethnic cleansing is an expulsion of the group from a certain area, often encouraged by violence. While ethnic cleansing technically isn’t usually a crime (although the behaviors it describes are), genocide is. Not everyone wants to keep them separate, while others argue that treating them both the same is lessening the severity of genocide.