Tuesday, February 1, 2011

10 Bizarre Locations & Unsolved Mysteries

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The forest swastika was a patch of larch trees covering a 3,600 m2 (4,300sq yd) area of pine forest near Zernikow, Uckermark district, Brandenburg, in northeastern Germany. The trees are carefully arranged to look like a swastika. The object was probably created near the height of Hitler's power, in the 1930s. It is unclear how the trees came to be planted and arranged. However, it has been suggested that the object was laid out in 1937 by locals to prove their loyalty to Hitler after a businessman in the area was denounced and sent to a concentration camp by the Nazi Party for listening to the BBC. One source maintains it was planted by a warden, either out of support for the Hitler regime, or due to orders from state officials.
For a few weeks every year in the autumn and in the spring, the color of the larch leaves change, contrasting with the deep green of the pine forest. This makes the swastika highly visible from air. The object was not discovered for many decades, due to the scarcity of privately owned planes in the area. During the subsequent Communist period after World War II, Communist authorities reportedly knew of the swastikas existence but made no effort to remove it. However, in 1992 the reunified German government ordered an aerial survey of all state-owned land. The photographs were examined by forestry students, who immediately noticed the design.
In 1995, The Brandenburg state authorities became concerned about damage to the region's image and the possibility that the area would become a pilgrimage site for Nazi supporters, so they attempted to destroy the design by removing 43 of the 100 larch trees. However, the figure remained discernible with the remaining 57 trees as well as some trees which had regrown.
In 2000, German tabloids published aerial photographs showing the prominence of the swastika.  On December 1, 2001, 25 more larch trees were removed from the area and the image was largely obscured. In September of 2006, The New York Times reported that another forest swastika was found in Eki Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, on the edge of the Himalayas. This tree swastika is about 600 feet across. Many myths and legends have been formed surrounding the formation of this forest swastika, as it lies in Soviet territory.

9. What happened to Gloria Ramirez?
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Gloria Ramirez was a Riverside, California woman dubbed "the toxic lady" by the media after several Riverside General Hospital workers became ill after exposure to her body and blood. On the evening of February 19, 1994, Gloria Ramirez was brought into the emergency room by paramedics, suffering from the effects of advanced cervical cancer. She was extremely confused, and suffering from bradycardia and Cheyne-Stokes respiration. The medical staff injected her with Valium, Versed, and Ativan to sedate her, and agents such as lidocaine to stimulate her heartbeat.
When it became clear that Ramirez was not responding to treatment, the staff tried to defibrillate her heart with electricity; at that point several people saw an oily sheen covering Ramirez’s body. Others noticed a fruity, garlicky odor that they said was coming from her mouth. A registered nurse namedSusan Kane attempted to draw blood from Ramirez's arm, and noticed an ammonia-like smell coming from the tube. She passed the syringe to Julie Gorchynski, a medical resident who noticed manila-colored particles floating in the blood. At this point, multiple nurses began to faint.
The staff was then ordered to evacuate all emergency room patients to the parking lot outside the hospital.  A skeleton crew was called in to stabilize Ramirez. At 8:50, after forty five minutes of CPR and defibrillation, Gloria Ramirez was pronounced dead from kidney failure related to her cancer.
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After the exposure, Dr. Gorchynski spent two weeks in the intensive care unit with breathing problems.  She developed hepatitis and avascular necrosis in her knees. Livermore Labs postulated that Ramirez had been taking dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a solvent, as a home remedy for pain.  The idea was suggested that some unknown reaction had turned the DMSO into dimethyl sulfate, a poisonous gas.  However, they were unable to put forth any evidence supporting these claims.
The New Times Los Angeles conducted an investigative report on the incident and concluded that in all likelihood the fumes probably came from chemicals used to make the drug methamphetamine, and that someone in the hospital may have been illegally manufacturing it or a component of it near the time of Ramirez's death. These claims have no hard evidence.
The article also suggested that critical evidence disappeared from the scene that could have cost the county millions of dollars in damages.  No report indicating the true results of Gloria Ramirez autopsy has ever been released. Two months after Ramirez death, her badly decomposed body was released for an independent autopsy and burial.  The Ramirez family's pathologist was unable to determine a cause of death because her heart was missing, her other organs were cross-contaminated with fecal matter, and her body was too badly decomposed. Ten weeks after she died, Gloria Ramirez was buried in an unmarked grave at Olivewood Cemetery.

8. What Really Happened During the Children's Crusade?
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The Children's Crusade is the name given to a variety of fictional and factual events that occurred in the year 1212. Many variations of the story exist, but the long-standing view is that the Crusade started when a young boy began preaching in France or Germany.  The boy proclaimed that he had been visited by Jesus and was told to lead a Crusade to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity. He performed a series of supposed miracles and gained a considerable following, including possibly as many as 30,000 children. The boy led his followers south towards the Mediterranean Sea, in the belief that the sea would part on their arrival, allowing him and his followers to march to Jerusalem, but this did not happen.
According to legend, some of the followers used free passage boats to travel to Tunisia, but the majority were sold into slavery or died in a shipwreck on San Pietro Island, off Sardinia. Many of the poor and elderly failed to reach the sea before dying or giving up from starvation and exhaustion. Modern scholarship has proclaimed that this long-standing view is more legend than fact. Historians have stated that there were actually two separate movements of people in 1212, in Germany and France.
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It has been suggested that these people were not primarily children, but multiple bands of "wandering poor". In the first movement Nicholas, a shepherd from Germany, led a group across the Alps and into Italy in the early spring of 1212. About 7,000 people arrived in Genoa in late August. However, events did not go as planned when the waters failed to part as promised, and the group broke up.
The second movement was led by a 12-year-old French shepherd boy named Stephen of Cloyes (a village near Chacircteaudun), who claimed in June of 1212 that he received a letter for the king of France from Jesus. His message attracted a crowd of over 30,000 and the boy went to Saint-Denis, where he was seen to work miracles. According to Peter Raedts, professor in Medieval History at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, there are 50 sources from the period that talk about the crusade, ranging from a few sentences to half a page. Hundreds of articles and films have been developed depicting and analyzing the events. It seems that everyone has a different opinion on the true events of the Children’s Crusade of 1212.

7. Why Are Human Feet Washing Ashore Canadian Beaches?
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Since August 2007, seven disarticulated (legless) human feet have been discovered in coastal British Columbia, Canada, and an eighth in nearby Washington, United States. The feet belong to five different men and one woman. The first foot was discovered on August 20, 2007, on Jedediah Island, by a girl visiting from Washington. The girl found the foot when she picked up a shoe and opened the sock. The foot was that of a man, and was found wearing a size 12 Adidas shoe. It is thought to have become disarticulated due to submerged decay. Six days later another foot was discovered by a couple on Gabriola Island.  It was waterlogged and appeared to have been taken ashore by an animal.
The third foot was discovered on February 8, 2008, on Valdes Island. It was also a man's right foot and was wearing a sneaker and a sock.  The fourth foot was discovered on May 22 on Kirkland Island, an island in the Fraser Delta between Richmond and Delta, British Columbia. The fifth foot was found on June 16, floating in water near Westham Island, part of Delta. Another foot was discovered on August 1, 2008, by a camper on a beach near Pysht, Washington.  It was covered in seaweed. The site of the discovery was less than 16 kilometers from the international border in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Two more feet were discovered on beaches in Richmond.
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In July 2008 it was announced that one foot had been identified by Vancouver police as belonging to a man who was depressed and probably committed suicide. His identity was withheld on request of his family. In June of 2008 a hoax foot was discovered on Tyee Spit near Campbell River on Vancouver Island. The hoax was a "skeletonized animal paw" which was put in a sock and shoe and then stuffed with dried seaweed.  The series of strange discoveries has been called astounding and is almost beyond explanation, as no other body parts have turned up. The discoveries have caused speculation that the feet may be those of people who died in a boating accident or a plane crash in the ocean.
Determining the origin of the feet is complicated because ocean currents may carry floating items long distances, and because currents in the Strait of Georgia may be unpredictable. The majority of the feet show no signs of foul play. However, finding feet and no other body parts has been deemed unusual.  Finding two feet washed ashore in the same general area has been given a statistical ratio of a million to one odds.  It is an anomaly.
The finding of a third foot made this case the first time that three such discoveries had been made in such a close vicinity. The fourth discovery caused speculation about human interference and, statistically, was called curious. After the fifth foot was discovered the story had begun to receive a lot of international media attention. With major headlines appearing in newspapers all over the world, the story has elicited much speculation about the origin of the mysterious feet.

6. Where Did the Cambodian Jungle Girl Come From?
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The so-called Cambodian jungle girl is a Cambodian woman who emerged from the jungle in Ratanakiri province, Cambodia on January 13, 2007. The woman’s story became internationally known after emerging filthy, naked and scared from the dense jungle in a remote area of northeastern Cambodia. She was discovered after a villager noticed food missing from a lunch box. He staked out the area, spotted the woman, gathered some friends and caught her. Other reports have indicated that a naked man was seen with the woman and ran away when challenged. Some stories have him carrying a sword and some villagers believe he was a jungle spirit. The story was covered in most media as one of a feral child who lived in the jungle for most of her life. After hearing about the incident, 45-year-old Sal Lou, who belongs to the Pnong ethnic minority and works as a village policeman in Oyadao village, traveled to the area and claimed that the woman was his long-lost daughter named Rochom P'ngieng. He last saw his daughter when she was eight-years-old, in 1988, when she was lost in the jungle while tending to water buffalo near the border to Vietnam. Her six-year-old sister was lost on the same day and has never been found.
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Sal Lou identified the girl based on a scar on her arm, supposedly from a knife accident that occurred prior to the girl's disappearance. DNA testing was once scheduled, but the family later withdrew consent and the DNA tests never took place. The woman is officially recognized as Rochom P’ngieng, and lives under the care of Sal Lou.  Stories have been published that suggest that the woman’s deep scars on her left wrist and ankle are characteristic of someone who has been held in captivity. They also claim that the woman’s feet do not look as if she had lived in the jungle for a long time.
One week after being discovered, she experienced difficulties adjusting to civilized life. Local police reported that the woman was only able to say three words, “father,” "mother," and "stomachache". A Spanish psychologist who visited the girl reported that she made some sounds and smiled in response to a game involving toy animals and a mirror, but did not speak any recognizable language. When the woman is thirsty or hungry, she points at her mouth. She prefers to crawl rather than walk upright. Her family has to constantly watch over the woman to assure that she does not run back to the jungle. She has escaped on two separate occasions, but always returns to the village.
In October 2009, the Agence France Press reported that the woman had refused to eat rice for a month and was admitted to a hospital, where a nervous condition was diagnosed.  Her legal guardian said that she hadn't adjusted, couldn't speak, and was always trying to remove her clothes and run away. In December 2009, her father reported that she was eating again, was generally improving, and had started to understand and use some words of their native language.

5. What Happened to Frederick Valentich?
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Frederick Valentich was an Australian pilot who was active during the 1970s. On October 21, 1978 Valentich submitted a flight plan indicating that he was traveling from Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne, to King Island in Bass Strait. At the time of the flight, visibility was good and winds were light. He was flying a Cessna 182-L, with a cruising speed of around 256 km/h (160 mph). Approximately 45 minutes after departing from Moorabbin, Valentich contacted Flight Service Officer Steve Robey and reported seeing a large unidentified aircraft at his altitude. He was told that no aircraft was in his vicinity. Valentich reported that he could see a large unknown craft which appeared to be illuminated by four bright landing lights.
He then stated that the aircraft was approaching him from the east and voiced the opinion that the other pilot might be purposefully playing games with him. Frederick continued to report that the object was long, but that it was traveling too fast for him to describe in more detail.  After several minutes, he stated that he was experiencing engine problems. There was brief silence and then Frederick Valentich spoke his last words, "it is hovering and it's not an aircraft". This was followed by 17 seconds of unidentified noise, described as being "metallic, scraping sounds,” then all contact was lost.  A four day search was undertaken, but no signs of the plane or Frederick Valentich were ever seen again.
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The Department of Transport investigation concluded that the reason for the disappearance could not be determined. The report of the UFO sighting in Australia attracted significant press attention.  On the night Frederick Valentich disappeared, a large number of people reported seeing strange green lights and unidentified flying objects in the sky. During Valentich's final recorded transmission to the Melbourne Service Unit, 17 seconds of unexplained noise was recorded. Scientific tests have been conducted on these sound frequencies and professionals have received strange and mixed results. The true resting place of Frederick Valentich is still unknown.

4. Is General Butt Naked Rehabilitated?
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Joshua Blahyi, also known as General Butt Naked, is a Liberian man that was originally a tribal priest before becoming a Liberian warlord.  During the early 1990s, Blahyi was a fiercely violent and eccentric leader on the side of Roosevelt Johnson in the First Liberian Civil War. He is a member of the Sarpo clan, which make up 20% of the Krahn tribe in Liberia. At age 11, he claims that the Devil called him on the telephone, commanding him to lead a revolution. The Krahn elders later appointed Blahyi as high priest, a position that would later lead him to become the spiritual advisor to Liberian President Samuel Doe.
After the First Liberian Civil War began, Joshua Blahyi took a commanding role. He has said that he led his troops into battle completely naked except for shoes and a gun, which has given him the nickname General Butt Naked. Apparently, he believed that his nakedness was a source of protection from bullets. Blahyi now claims he would regularly sacrifice a human victim before battle, saying, "Usually it was a small child, someone whose fresh blood would satisfy the devil. He explained to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sometimes I would enter under the water where children were playing. I would dive under the water, grab one, carry him under and break his neck. Sometimes I'd cause accidents. Sometimes I'd just slaughter them".
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Blahyi claimed to a South African Star reporter that he "met Satan regularly and talked to him" and that from the age of 11 to 25 he took part in monthly human sacrifices. In his account of a typical battle Blahyi stated, "So, before leading my troops into battle, we would get drunk and drugged up, sacrifice a local teenager, drink their blood, then strip down to our shoes and go into battle wearing colorful wigs and carrying dainty purses we'd looted from civilians. We'd slaughter anyone we saw, chop their heads off and use them as soccer balls. He has also claimed that he had "magical powers that made him invisible" and a "special power" to capture a town single handedly, and then call to his troops afterwards to "clean up".
Blahyi's rampage ended in 1996, when the civil war in Liberia was coming to an end. In 1997, he traveled to the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana. It was at the camp, he recounts, that he made confession at a Church for his sins and had his life saved. After the war, Blahyi worked as a preacher and would often times encounter relatives of his victims. Joshua Blahyi has been quoted as saying "I feel very bad, so bad,” but he insists it was satanic powers that possessed him in the past and he cannot be held responsible. Today, Blahyi is the President of the End Time Train Evangelistic Ministries Inc., with Headquarters in Liberia.  He is married and has three children. It has been estimated that between1980 and 1996 Blahyi and his men were responsible for the deaths of more than 20,000 people.

3. What Causes Dancing Mania?
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Dancing mania is a social phenomenon that occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 18th centuries. During an outbreak of dancing mania, groups of people, sometimes thousands at a time, would dance uncontrollably and bizarrely. Many strange incidents of dancing mania have been recorded. During these events, men, women, and children dance through the streets of towns or cities, sometimes foaming at the mouth until they collapse and die from fatigue. One of the first major outbreaks of the mania occurred in Aachen, Germany, on June 24, 1374.
During the event, the populace danced wildly through the streets, screaming of visions and hallucinations, and even continued to writhe and twist after they were too exhausted to stand. The phenomenon is well-documented in contemporary writings. During the initial outbreaks of the mania, religious ceremonies were often held in an attempt to exorcise the demons believed to be causing the dancing. No real consensus exists as to what caused the mania. However, some cases, especially the one in Aachen, may have been caused by ergot poisoning, or ergotism, known in the Middle Ages as St. Anthony's Fire.
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One of the most infamous cases of dancing mania was the dancing plague of 1518, which occurred in Strasbourg, France, then part of the Holy Roman Empire. In July of 1518 a woman named Frau Troffea began to dance wildly through the streets of Strasbourg. Within a week, 34 others had joined her, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers. Most of these people eventually died from a heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion. Historical documents have made it clear that the people in Strasbourg danced, but it remains unclear as to why they willfully danced to their deaths.
However, as the dancing plague worsened, concerned nobles sought the advice of local physicians, who ruled out astrological and supernatural causes, they announced that the plague was a natural disease caused by "hot blood". Instead of providing help, authorities encouraged more dancing because they believed that the people would only recover if they danced continually night and day. To increase the effectiveness of the cure, authorities even paid for musicians to provide music for the dancers.

2. Who was John Titor?
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John Titor is the name that was used on several Internet bulletin boards during 2000 and 2001 by a person claiming to be a time traveler from the year 2036. In these posts, numerous predictions were made about occurrences in the near future, starting with events in 2004. The person described a drastically changed future in which the United States had broken into five smaller regions, the environment and infrastructure had been devastated by a nuclear attack, and most other world powers had been destroyed. The first post appeared on the Time Travel Institute forums on November 2, 2000, under the name TimeTravel_0.
The original posts discussed time travel in general, the first one being a "six part" description of what a time machine would need to work and responses to questions about how such a machine would be created. The information was extremely accurate and was written by someone familiar with scientific theory. The time machine was described as a "stationary mass, temporal displacement unit powered by two top-spin, dual positive singularities, producing a "standard off-set Tipler sinusoid.
Other posts were even more specific, indicating that the time machine held two magnetic housing units for the dual micro singularities, an electron injection manifold to alter mass and gravity micro singularities, a cooling and X-ray venting system, gravity sensors, four main cesium clocks, and three main computer units. Claims were made that the "Everett-Wheeler model of quantum physics" was correct. This model, better known as the many-worlds interpretation, states that every possible outcome of a quantum decision actually occurs in a separate universe.
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The name "John Titor" was not introduced until January 2001, when TimeTravel_0 began posting at the Art Bell BBS Forums. He began answering questions and started to reveal a more complex picture of his future. He sometimes talked about current events; for instance, in an early post John Titor stated that "The breakthrough that will allow for time travel technology will occur within a year or so (2001) when CERN brings their larger facility online.” CERN is also known as the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world's argest particle physics laboratory.  The Titor posts ended in late March of 2001. Eventually, a number of his threads became corrupted, but many of the posts had been saved on subscribers' hard drives and were copied to various websites.
In his online postings, John Titor claimed to be an American soldier from the year 2036, based in Hillsborough County, Florida, who was assigned to a governmental time-travel project. Purportedly, Titor had been sent back to 1975 to retrieve an IBM 5100 computer which he said was needed to "debug" various legacy computer programs in 2036. This is a clear reference to the UNIX 2038 timeout error. In the year 2038, a problem similar to the Y2K bug may cause some computer software to fail.
The problem affects all software and systems that store time as a signed 32-bit integer, and interprets the number of seconds since Thursday, January 1, 1970. The latest time that can be represented this way is 03:14:07 on Tuesday, January 19, 2038. Time beyond this moment will "wrap around" and be stored internally as a negative number, which these systems will interpret as a date in 1901 rather than 2038.
Titor claimed to be on a stopover in the year 2000 for "personal reasons" to collect pictures lostin the (future) civil war and to visit his family. He was also trying to alert anyone who would listen about the threat of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (mad cow) Disease spreading through beef products and about the possibility of civil war within the United States. Titor also expressed an interest in unexplained mysteries such as UFOs. The most immediate of Titor's predictions was of an upcoming civil war in the United States having to do with "order and rights". He described it as beginning in 2004, with civil unrest surrounding the United States presidential election.
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Titor claimed that as a 13-year old, in 2011, he fought with the "Fighting Diamondbacks", a shotgun infantry unit of Florida, for at least four years. According to his claims, as a result of the war, the United States splits into five regions based on various factors and differing military objectives. According to Titor, this civil war will end in 2015 with a brief, but intense, World War III. In 2015, Russia launches a nuclear strike against the major cities in the United States, China, and Europe. The United States counter attacks. The U.S. cities are destroyed along with the American Federal Empire. The European Union and China were also destroyed.
Titor refers to the exchange as "N Day". Washington D.C. and Jacksonville, Florida are specifically mentioned as being hit. After the war, Omaha, Nebraska is the nation's new capital city. He is vague as to the exact motivations and causes for World War III. At one point he characterized hostilities as being led by "border clashes and overpopulation, but also points to the present conflict between Arabs and Jews as a harbinger of World War III. His assertion that CERN would discover the basis for time travel with the creation of miniature black holes about half a year after his departure did not occur and has never been reported.
Civil war was not even remotely close to breaking out after the 2004 presidential election, with no further conflict in 2008 in the way Titor described. Titor also claimed that there would be no international Olympic Games after 2004, which is clearly not true. He claimed that he was sent back to obtain an IBM 5100 because it could translate several types of computer code. According to IBM engineer Bob Dubke, Titor's statements regarding the IBM 5100's little-known ability to emulate and debug mainframe systems were correct. This information was not publicly available in 2000 or 2001 when Titor made his declaration. The true identity of John Titor remains a mystery.

1. Why Do People Commit Suicide in Aokigahara Forest?
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Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a 35 km2 forest that lies at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest contains a number of rocky and icy caverns. Over the years, Aokigahara has become a popular place for tourism and human suicide. In fact, it is the world's second most popular suicide location after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Numerous signs have been posted in the forest urging people to reconsider their actions.
In 2002, 78 dead bodies were found in Aokigahara. The majority of the victims end their lives by means of hanging.  Since the 1950s, more than 500 people have lost their lives in the forest, mostly suicides. In 2003, the rate climbed to 100 people, and in recent years the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara's association with suicide.
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In 1970, several Japanese police, volunteers, and attendant journalists began an annual dead body search in the forest. Aside from the individuals intending to die there, the dense forest and rugged inaccessibility has attracted thrill seekers, who will often times stumble upon the dead.  Many criminals have been known to visit the area in hopes of stealing from the bodies. The forest has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology and is thought to be haunted.
Due to the wind-blocking density of the trees, and an absence of wildlife, the forest is known for being eerily quiet. The number of suicides in Aokigahara is often times attributed to the 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai by Seichō Matsumoto, which ends with two lovers committing suicide in the forest.  However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara dates from before the novel's publication, and the place has long been associated with death.

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