Monthly Archive: September 2014

The CIA Snitched On Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, world renowned for his imprisonment in South Africa as a political prisoner for 27 years and his ascendancy to president later in life, spent his entire life fighting the corrupt regime which tormented him and thousands of his fellow citizens for decades. More than anything else, his long imprisonment is what led to his fame and international respect. What many do not know is that his initial capture and arrest in 1962 was orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Goofy CIA Plan To Capture A Sunken Soviet Sub

Of all the wild schemes concocted by the CIA during the Cold War, Project AZORIAN might be the wildest. After a Soviet submarine sank in the Pacific Ocean, the spy agency decided to bring it back to America . . . with the help of a giant claw. By the time the mission was over, the CIA had teamed up with one of America’s richest men, been foiled by petty thieves, and had invented one of the most enigmatic and irritating phrases in bureaucratic history.

The Vindictive Mrs. Prodgers, Terror Of London

In the late 1880s, London cab drivers were always on the lookout for Mrs. Giacometti Prodgers (as she always insisted on being referred to by her full and proper name). During a 20-year period, she took more than 50 cab drivers to court over fee technicalities, suing them when they tried to collect a full fare after she requested they stop just short of her destination. She was so hated she was immortalized in song and in skit form, and burned in effigy on Bonfire Night.

The (Forgiven) Japanese Pilot Who Bombed Oregon In World War II

With only a handful of exceptions, few groups have ever attacked the United States on its own soil. In fact, most people probably believe the only aerial assault on the American mainland occurred on September 11, 2001. However, in 1942, the Japanese military ordered a pilot named Nobuo Fujita to bomb the town of Brookings, Oregon. While the mission was a spectacular failure, the bombings sparked a strange story of friendship between the citizens of Brookings and the pilot who tried to destroy their town.

The Hollywood Couple Who Starred In A Soviet Movie (And Didn’t Know It)

Hollywood couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks appeared in a 1927 movie made and set in Stalin-era USSR. That isn’t odd. What is odd is that Pickford never knew they were in the film until many years later. If you’re thinking their roles were confined to an inconsequential cameo appearance, you’d be wrong. Mary Pickford’s part is central to the entire plot. Her final scene, in which she embraces and kisses the Soviet leading man, actually lends the movie its title: A Kiss From Mary Pickford.

The Romanian Woman Who Secretly Voiced Western Movies

In the 1980s, Romanian cinema and TV were heavily censored by the Communist Party. However, people still watched illegal VHS tapes on outrageously expensive VCRs. Of course, most of these movies were in English, but fortunately, they were all dubbed by one woman. Her name was Irina Margareta Nistor, and she eventually became the best-known voice in Romania.

The Largest Beaver Dam In The World

Beavers are the engineers of the animal kingdom whose work is seemingly never done. Their dams and lodges can grow to enormous proportions, capable of transforming major tracts of land and creating entire ecosystems for fish, frogs, and other wildlife. Average-size beaver dams are impressive, but even they are dwarfed by the 850-meter-long (2,800 ft) dam discovered in Canada. The rodents started building the structure in the 1970s, and it has grown to become the world’s largest beaver dam.

How The British Stole Their Way Into The Tea Business

For years, England got their tea from China. With the end of the Opium Wars, though, one of their major trade venues had been shut down. They needed another way to get tea, and they needed to know China’s secrets to do it. They sent in Robert Fortune, a Scottish botanist, to tour tea factories, discover just how it was prepared, and steal some seeds—which Europeans had never seen. It worked, and he brought tea seeds to India to start their rise to the top of the tea-producing world, after he found that the compounds the Chinese were applying to tea to turn it green was a slow-acting poison.