Singapore was the only country that gained independence against its own will

sgout_editedIn 1963, Singapore merged with the Federation of Malaya together with North Borneo and Sarawak to form Malaysia. It was not a happy, incident-free union. It ended the 144 year British rule of Singapore.

There were many ideological differences between Singapore and the federal government of Malaysia which led to distrust. It resulted in frequent disagreement within politics, economic, financial and social policies. Within a year racial tension increased dramatically. It was fueled by Federal policies of affirmative action, which granted special privileges to the Malays guaranteed under Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia. The Malays also enjoyed more financial and economic privileges. In 1964, racial riots broke out.

To prevent further bloodshed, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia on 7 August 1965 by a unanimous vote of the Parliament of Malaysia. Lee Kuan Yew tearfully announced Singapore’s sovereignty and independence by saying: “For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I have believed in merger and unity of the two territories.”

On that day Singapore became the only nation in modern history to gain independence against its own will. The new state became the Republic of Singapore, with the Yang di-Pertuan Negara becoming President.

Relatives of the Aztec ruler received payments from the Mexican Government until 1938

fall-of-the-aztecsThe Aztecs and other indigenous people of Mexico followed a system of hereditary aristocracy, which means that the title of chief or ruler was passed down from a father to his son at the time of the father’s death.

This system was still in place and practiced by the time the Spaniards arrived in Mexico. The Spaniards not only respected this tradition, but also added to it. This resulted in many unions between Spanish and Aztec nobility.

The heirs of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II were included in the descendants of the pre-Columbian elite who received these distinctions. Moctezuma II was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520. Under his rule, the Aztec Empire reached its maximal size.

The family of Moctezuma became known as Condes de Moctezuma, and the holders of this title still reside in Spain. They became part of the Spanish peerage in 1766 when they received a Grandeza, making them Spanish nobility.

A branch of the family on the female side still received an annual amount of about 500 Ducats from the Mexican government as part of a contract signed in the 16th century—all the way up until 1938! The contract also granted Mexico City access to water and lumber on the Moctezumas’ property.

The Aztecs and other indigenous people of Mexico followed a system of hereditary aristocracy, which means that the title of chief or ruler was passed down from a father to his son at the time of the father’s death.

This system was still in place and practiced by the time the Spaniards arrived in Mexico. The Spaniards not only respected this tradition, but also added to it. This resulted in many unions between Spanish and Aztec nobility.

The heirs of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II were included in the descendants of the pre-Columbian elite who received these distinctions. Moctezuma II was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520. Under his rule, the Aztec Empire reached its maximal size.

The family of Moctezuma became known as Condes de Moctezuma, and the holders of this title still reside in Spain. They became part of the Spanish peerage in 1766 when they received a Grandeza, making them Spanish nobility.

A branch of the family on the female side still received an annual amount of about 500 Ducats from the Mexican government as part of a contract signed in the 16th century—all the way up until 1938! The contract also granted Mexico City access to water and lumber on the Moctezumas’ property.

The Tsar Bomba, the largest nuke bomb

tsar bom explosionTsar Bomba the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Its October 30, 1961 test remains the most powerful artificial explosion in human history. It was also referred to as Kuz’kina Mat’ referring to Nikita Khrushchev’s promise to show the United States a “Kuz’kina Mat'” at the 1960 United Nations General Assembly. The famous Russian idiom, which has been problematic for translators, literally meaning “to show somebody Kuzka’s mother”, equates roughly with the English “We’ll show you!” Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb had the yield of 50 to 58 megatons of TNT (210 to 240 PJ). Only one bomb of this type was ever officially built and it was tested on October 30, 1961, in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, at Sukhoy Nos.

The remaining bomb casings are located at the Russian Atomic Weapon Museum.

Wooden houses within hundreds of miles of the explosion were destroyed and radio communication in the area was down for an hour.


Alaskan ghost ship for 40 years

ourang-medanThe Baychimo was launched in 1914 in Gothenburg, Sweden, for the Hamburg. After World War I, she was transferred to The Great Britain as part of Germany’s reparations for shipping losses and was acquired by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1921. Renamed Baychimo and based in Scotland she completed nine successful voyages along the north coast of Canada, visiting trading posts and collecting pelts. On October 1, 1931, at the end of a trading run and loaded with a cargo of fur, the Baychimo became trapped in pack ice. The crew briefly abandoned the ship, traveling over a half-mile of ice to the town of Barrow to take shelter for two days, but the ship had broken free of the ice by the time the crew returned. The ship became mired again on October 8, more thoroughly this time, and on October 15 the Hudson’s Bay Company sent aircraft to retrieve 22 of the crew; 15 men remained behind. Intending to wait out the winter if necessary, they constructed a wooden shelter some distance away. On November 24 a powerful blizzard struck, and after it abated there was no sign of the Baychimo. Her captain decided she must have broken up during the storm and been sunk. A few days later, however, an Inuit seal hunter told him that he had seen the Baychimo about 72 km away from their position. The crewmen tracked the ship down, but deciding she was unlikely to survive the winter, they removed the most valuable furs from the hold to transport by air. The Baychimo was abandoned.

Surprisingly, the Baychimo did not sink, and over the next few decades she was sighted numerous times. People managed to board her several times, but each time they were either unequipped to salvage her or were driven away by bad weather. The last recorded sighting was by a group of Inuit in 1969, 38 years after she was abandoned. She was stuck fast in the pack ice of the Beaufort Sea between Point Barrow and Icy Cape, in the the northwestern Alaskan coast. The Baychimo’s ultimate fate is unknown and she is now presumed sunk.

The Korean admiral defeated 133 warships with only 13 ships

admiralyi2On April 13, 1592, the Imjin War broke out just as Yi had foreseen. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops attacked Korea while it was not prepared for war. Yi analyzed the war situation thoroughly upon the outbreak of the war, and went to battle on May 4, 1592, with full preparation. He defeated the Japanese forces by destroying 42 Japanese ships in the naval battles of Okpo, Happo and Jeokjinpo. He continued to have successive victories in the battles of Dangpo and Danghangpo in June, the battles of Hansando and Angolpo in July and throughout the battles of Busan in September. The overwhelming victories of Yi’s naval fleet boosted the morale of the Korean Navy, and led to Korean control of the south coast of Korea. Yi outmaneuvered the Japanese forces that had previously advanced northward through Seoul and Pyongyang attacking from the sea and land.

On August 15, 1593, Yi was appointed to Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Force of the South (Samdo Sugun Tongjesa in Korean) in recognition of his outstanding wartime service. By this time, Japanese forces were stuck in a quagmire due to the successive victories of the Korean Navy, the appearance of Korean militias (Uibyeong in Korean), and the intervention of the Chinese Army. Japan had no choice but to initiate tedious peace talks with Ming China that lasted for 45 months. The peace talks did not include Korea because of Korean opposition to peace negotiations with the invading forces of Japan.

During this period, Yi continued his best efforts to increase the fighting power of the Korean Navy by recruiting and training soldiers, building arms and battleships, reserving gunpowder, and securing provisions. At the same time, he conducted naval operations under the unfavorable conditions of infectious disease and a shortage of provisions. According to his war diary entries for March of 1594, he himself suffered from a disease. Yi commanded the war despite his ailing body. Additionally, he was able to successfully procure large amounts of food for the war by managing land called Dunjeon, fishing, and producing salt, which proved his notable management ability.

Unfortunately, despite all of his efforts and accomplishments, he became entangled in domestic political strife and was eventually deprived of his rank as Commander-in-Chief and escorted to Seoul as a criminal in February of 1597. He faced the threat of the death penalty after suffering from brutal torture, but was eventually released from prison thanks to the efforts of many people to spare his life. However, he was forced to serve in war as a commoner, which is referred to as the punishment of ‘Baegui Jonggun’ in Korean. What was worse, he lost his beloved mother at this time. However, the General who took the place of Yi as Commander-in-Chief, General Won Gyun, was utterly defeated and died at the battle of Chilcheollyang in July of 1597.

Yi-Sun-Sin-StatueImmediately upon the news of the disastrous defeat, Yi undertook a patrol through Korean coastal areas with his subordinates for a month in order to find solutions to recover the Korean Navy. He also reorganized the scattered soldiers and gathered weapons and supplies. On August 3, 1597, he was brought back to lead the navy upon receiving an official warrant of reappointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces of the South. By this time there were only 13 Panokseon battleships left under his command. With this small fleet, Yi faced 133 enemy ships at the battle of Myeongnyang. Despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered, he triumphed over the Japanese with his distinguished leadership, outstanding tactics, and knowledge of the geographical features of the region. This victory stopped Japan’s attempt to advance into the west sea that was spurred by its victory at the battle of Chilcheollyang. Sadly, Yi lost his third son due to his victory at Myeongnyang because the defeated Japanese forces raided his home in Asan and retaliated against his family. Afterwards, Yi concentrated all his efforts on rebuilding the navy, while moving his naval base to Gohado, and later to Gogeumdo Island. Jingbirok, a chronicle of the Imjin War by Yu Seong-ryong, recorded that Yi moved his base to Gogeumdo on February 17, 1598, with 8,000 soldiers and 53 battleships.

When the Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi died on August 18, 1598, Japanese forces rushed to withdraw from Korea. A combined Korean-Chinese fleet chased after the retreating Japanese army and had the last battle of the war off Noryang in November of 1598. Yi was killed by enemy fire during this battle. Mortally wounded and dying, he asked that no one be told about his death, concerned about its impact on the morale of his troops. The battle of Noryang was one of the biggest triumphs and most decisive battles that proved the patriotism and supremacy of the Korean Navy. Throughout the Imjin War, Admiral Yi Sun-sin was a preeminent warrior who was never defeated in at least 23 battles under his command for seven years. However, he was not just a brilliant commander, he was also a true leader who wholeheartedly loved his country and its people, and sacrificed himself to protect them. Hence, Koreans regard him as one of the greatest heroes of Korean history.

Mysterious swords


For hundreds of years, a mysterious sword had been embedded in the cliffs above the Notre Dame chapel in Rocamadour, France. The monks say it is Durandal, sword of the paladin Roland. According to legend, Roland hurled the holy blade into the side of the cliff to keep it from being captured by his enemies. Since the 12th century, the chapel has been a destination for sacred pilgrimages. In 2011, the sword was removed by the local municipality and given to the Cluny Museum in Paris for an exhibit.

The Kusanagi

According to legend, the “sword in the snake,” Kusanagi, was found in the body of an eight-headed serpent killed by the god of storms and seas. It’s part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan, icons of the ancient imperial family’s descent from the sun goddess––the symbols of their divine right to rule.

The Kusanagi is said to be housed in the Atsuta shrine in Nagano Prefecture, though it isn’t on public display and hasn’t been seen in centuries. The sword is occasionally brought out for imperial coronation ceremonies, but it’s always kept shrouded in wrappings. Even though it has never been seen, and is only recorded in collections of oral history and pseudohistorical documents, authorities have nevertheless succeeded in keeping the world guessing about the Kusanagi by never officially confirming and denying its existence.

The only official mention of the sword came after World War II—even though the late Emperor Hirohito disavowed any claim to his divinity, he was also recorded as having ordered the divine regalia’s keepers to “defend them at all costs.”

swordinstoneThe Sword In The Stone

While the Arthurian legend is mostly a product of folklore and myth, there is evidence that its sword in the stone tale might be very real. In a chapel in Monte Siepi, Italy lies an ancient sword embedded in stone that could be the key to deciphering the origin of the legend.

It’s believed that Saint Galgano was a 12th-century Tuscan knight whom Archangel Michael commanded to give up his sinful ways. Arguing that the task would be as difficult as cleaving stone, Galgano attempted to prove his point by breaking his sword on a nearby rock. Legend says his blade cut into the stone as if it were butter. The sword in the stone still rests where Galgano left it behind, along with his worldly ways.

After Saint Galgano was canonized, word of his holy sword spread quickly. The legend of Excalibur predates Galgano, but the addition of the sword in the stone arose shortly after Galgano’s time. It’s theorized that his sword was the true-life inspiration for Author’s sword in the stone.


King Charlemagne’s legendary sword, was said to change colors 30 times every day, and was so bright it outshone the sun. Since as early as 1271, two swords called Joyeuse have been part of French coronation ceremonies. But since both swords can’t be the famed Joyeuse, the mystery of which one is the true sword of the Holy Roman Emperor has lingered for centuries.

The Joyeuse residing in the Louvre has suffered heavy modification over its considerable lifetime. The oldest section is the pommel, which recent tests place sometime between the 10th and 11th centuries. Since Charlemagne died in 813, this puts it just outside the Holy Roman Emperor’s lifetime.

The other contender is the “saber of Charlemagne” housed in the Imperial Treasury in Vienna. It is unknown how the sword became part of the French Imperial Regalia, but the saber is dated to the early 10th century—closer than the Joyeuse, but still just after the time of Charlemagne’s legendary sword. The saber was probably fashioned by Hungarian swordsmiths, which opened the door for additional legends of it being the famed “sword of Attila,” which was said to have been given to Attila the Hun by Mars, the god of war. Sadly, this isn’t really historically plausible either.

Giotto_St_Peter_cuts_off_ear_of_Malchus_John_18-10St. Peter’s Sword

There are several legends about the sword used by Saint Peter when he cut off the ear of the servant to the high priest in the garden of Gethsemane. English lore has it brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea along with the Holy Grail. In 968, however, a sword was brought to Poland by Bishop Jordan—a sword which he claimed was the actual sword of St. Peter. The Bishop’s sword, considered the true relic, remained in Poland and was eventually moved to the Archdiocese Museum in Poznan.

Did the mysterious sword belong to Saint Peter? There are claims that the sword could have been made in the Eastern borderlands of the Roman Empire in the first century, but there is little evidence to substantiate them except the (perhaps misplaced) faith of those who want to believe the sword is a genuine relic. The sword in Poland is a falchion—a type of sword likely not in use during Saint Peter’s time. Metallurgy tests have also dated it to long after the saint’s death.

The Wallace Sword

Legend has it that William Wallace––the titular character of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart––used human skin for his sword’s scabbard, hilt, and belt. The flesh’s donor was said to have been Hugh de Cressingham, treasurer of Scotland, whom Wallace had flayed after defeating him in the battle of Stirling Bridge.

One version of the legend speaks of Wallace using one strip of Cressingham for his sword belt. Other accounts say Wallace and his men used Cressingham’s skin for saddle girths. The legend spread even further when King James IV sent the Wallace sword to have its scabbard, belt, and pommel replaced with something more befitting a sword of such stature. The sword as it is now, in the National Wallace Monument, bears the replacement parts.

Did Wallace have a Frankensword? While Cressingham was most definitely flayed, accounts have Wallace using the unfortunate tax collector’s skin only for his sword belt, not the actual sword. The story also came from the English side, and was likely embellished to make the Scottish hero look like a barbarian. Still, we can certainly understand Wallace’s grudge against tax collectors. It might not be a stretch to say he used the skin from one to decorate his sword. As with many legends, the truth has been lost to time.

7sword1The Seven-Branched Sword

In 1945, a mysterious sword was found in Japan’s Isonokami shrine. The sword was of exceedingly unusual make, with six protrusions branching out from its sides (the tip is considered its seventh). The sword was in poor condition, but a faded inscription could be made out along the blade. The exact translation has been questioned numerous times, but what is clear is that the sword was a gift from a Korean king to a Japanese monarch.

This matched a sword found in the Nihon Shoki, a folklore-infused historical document cataloging the early history of Japan. If this was the same seven-branched sword given to a semi-mythical shaman empress, Jingu, it would serve as an important keystone marking where legend became fact.

The dating on the blade matched reliable sources in China, Korea, and Japan. The Isonokami shrine itself was also mentioned in other documents dating from the time of the Nihon Shoki, so the sword could well have been left there since ancient times. Scholars now believe the seven-branched sword is the actual sword from the legend, giving the shaman empress Jingu an authentic place in history.

More information You can find here

US President fought 103 duels to defend his wife’s honor

ralph-eleaser-whiteside-earl-andrew-jackson-4Jackson met Rachel after her first husband, Colonel Lewis Robards, left her to get a divorce. They fell in love and quickly married.

Robards returned two years later without ever having obtained a divorce. Rachel quickly divorced her first husband and then legally married Jackson. This remained a sore point for Jackson who deeply resented attacks on his wife’s honor.

Jackson fought 103 duels, many nominally over his wife’s honor. Charles Dickinson, the only man Jackson ever killed in a duel, had been goaded into angering Jackson by Jackson’s political opponents. Nominally fought over a horse-racing debt and an insult to his wife on May 30, 1806, Dickinson shot Jackson in the ribs before Jackson returned the fatal shot. The bullet that struck Jackson was so close to his heart that it could never be safely removed. Jackson was wounded so often during these frequent duels that some said he “rattled like a bag of marbles.” He was in a considerable amount of pain for the rest of his life as a result of his ‘battle wounds’ and periodically coughed up blood.

Jackson had been wounded so frequently in duels that it was said he “rattled like a bag of marbles.” At times he would cough up blood, and he experienced considerable pain from his wounds for the rest of his life.

Rachel died of an unknown cause two months prior to Jackson taking office as president. Jackson blamed John Quincy Adams for Rachel’s death because the marital scandal was brought up in the election of 1828. He felt that this had hastened her death and never forgave Adams for it.

In 1913 it was legal to mail children

In 1913 it was legal to mail children. With stamps attached to their clothing, children rode trains to their destinations, accompanied by letter carriers. One newspaper reported it cost fifty-three cents for parents to mail their daughter to her grandparents for a family visit. As news stories and photos popped up around the country, it didn’t take long to get a law on the books making it illegal to send children through the mail.

QZ3MuBv.jpg (513×431)

[not actuall photos]

Sending packages via the U.S. Parcel Post Service began on January 1, 1913. Regulations stated that packages could not weigh more than 50 pounds but did not necessarily preclude the sending of children. On February 19, 1914, the parents of four-year-old May Pierstorff mailed her from Grangeville, Idaho to her grandparents in Lewiston, Idaho. Mailing May apparently was cheaper than buying her a train ticket. The little girl wore her 53-cents worth of postal stamps on her jacket as she traveled in the train’s mail compartment.

After hearing of examples such as May, the Postmaster General issued a regulation against sending children by mail. The picture on the right in this post was meant as a humorous image to the end of such practice.


Secret historical meaning of Mercedes – Benz logo

437208_715484_2820_3787_13989_CL0436The Mercedes-Benz logo is trademarked by the three-point star, which you will find on all Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It is said that the logo is supposed to symbolize Daimler’s ambition of universal motorization–“on land, on water and in the air.”

The name Mercedes-Benz was derived from combining the name of Jellinek’s daughter Mercedes and Carl Benz’s former company, Benz & Cie.

Jellinek originally had created a car in 1900 called Mercedes. When he joined forces with Daimler’s DMG (Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft) and Benz’s company, they came to be known as Mercedes-Benz.

The logo originally was a four-point star. In 1909, both a three-point and a four-point star were registered as company trademarks and legally protected; however, since 1910, only the three-point star has been used.

While in use since 1910, there have been many variations of the Mercedes-Benz logo. These variations include: a circle around the logo; the words “Mercedes-Benz” embedded in a circle around the logo; and a raised three-point star without a circle around it.

More information You can find here.

The most spiritual events and legends of 19th century


The “Bell Witch” terrorized family and frightened the fearless Andrew Jackson

A malicious spirit first appeared on the farm of the Bell family in northern Tennesse in 1817. The spirit was persistent and nasty, so much so that it was credited with actually killing the patriarch of the Bell family.

The weird events began in 1817 when a farmer, John Bell, saw a strange creature hunched down in a corn row. Bell assumed he was looking at some unknown type of large dog. The beast stared at Bell, who fired a gun at it. The animal ran off.

A few days later another family member spotted a bird on a fence post. He wanted to shoot at what he thought was a turkey, and was startled when the bird took off, flying over him and revealing that it was an extraordinarily large animal.

Other sightings of weird animals continued, with the strange black dog often showing up. And then peculiar noises began in the Bell house late at night. When lamps were lit the noises would stop.

John Bell began to be afflicted with odd symptoms, such as the occasional swelling of his tongue which made it impossible for him to eat. He finally told a friend about the strange events on his farm, and his friend and his wife came to investigate. As the visitors slept at the Bell farm the spirit came into their room and pulled the covers from their bed.

According to legend, the haunting spirit continued making noises at night, and finally began to speak to the family in a strange voice. The spirit, which was given the name Kate, would argue with family members, though it was said to be friendly to some of them.

A book was published about the Bell Witch in the late 1800s claimed that some locals believed the spirit was benevolent and was sent to help the family. But the spirit began to show a violent and malicious side.

According to some versions of the story, the Bell Witch would stick pins in family members and throw them violently to the ground. And John Bell was attacked and beaten one day by an invisible foe.

The fame of the spirit grew in Tennessee, and supposedly Andrew Jackson, who was not yet president but was revered as a fearless war hero, heard of the weird events and came to put an end to it. The Bell Witch greeted his arrival with a great commotion, throwing dishes at Jackson and not letting anyone at the farm sleep that night. Jackson supposedly said he’d “rather fight the British again” than face the Bell Witch and departed the farm quickly the next morning.

In 1820, just three years after the spirit arrived at the Bell farm, John Bell was found quite ill, next to a vial of some strange liquid. He soon died, apparently poisoned. His family members gave some of the liquid to a cat, which also died. His family believed the spirit had forced Bell to drink the poison.

The Bell Witch apparently left the farm after John Bell’s death, though some people report strange happenings in the vicinity to this day.

seancebwThe Fox Sisters

Maggie and Kate Fox, two young sisters in a village in western New York State, began to hear noises supposedly caused by spirit visitors in the spring of 1848. Within a few years the girls were nationally known and “spiritualism” was sweeping the nation.

The incidents in Hydesville, New York, began when the family of John Fox, a blacksmith, started to hear weird noises in the old house they had bought. The bizarre rapping in the walls seemed to focus on the bedrooms of young Maggie and Kate. The girls challenged the “spirit” to communicate with them.

According to Maggie and Kate, the spirit was that of a traveling peddler who had been murdered on the premises years earlier. The dead peddler kept communicating with the girls, and before long other spirits joined in.

The story about the Fox sister and their connection to the spirit world spread into the community. The sisters appeared in a theater in Rochester, New York, and charged admission for a demonstration of their communications with spirits. These events became known as the “Rochester rappings” or “Rochester knockings.”

houdini_lincoln_smallAbraham Lincoln saw a vision in a mirror

On election night 1860 Abraham Lincoln returned home after receiving good news over the telegraph and celebrating with friends. Exhausted, he collapsed on a sofa. When he awoke in the morning he had a strange vision which would later prey on his mind.

One of his assistants recounted Lincoln’s telling of what happened in an article published in Harper’s Monthly magazine in July 1865, a few months after Lincoln’s death.

Lincoln recalled glancing across the room at a looking glass on a bureau. “Looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected, nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished.

“On lying down again, I saw it a second time — plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted away, and I went off and, in the excitement of the hour, forgot all about it — nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened.”

Lincoln tried to repeat the “optical illusion,” but was unable to replicate it. According to people who worked with Lincoln during his presidency, the weird vision stuck in his mind to the point where he tried to reproduce the circumstances in the White House, but couldn’t.

When Lincoln told his wife about the weird thing he’d seen in the mirror, Mary Lincoln had a dire interpretation. As Lincoln told the story, “She thought it was ‘a sign’ that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.”

Years after seeing the spooky vision of himself and a his pale double in the mirror, Lincoln had a nightmare in which he visited the lower level of the White House, which was decorated for a funeral. He asked whose funeral, and was told the president had been murdered. Within weeks Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater.

ETtrainwreck4A decapitated train conductor

One famous ghost train which used to appear in the American Midwest was apparently an apparition of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train. Some witnesses said the train was draped in black, as Lincoln’s had been, but it was manned by skeletons.

Railroading in the 19th century could be dangerous, and dramatic accidents led to some chilling ghost stories, such as the tale of the headless conductor.

As the legend goes, one dark and foggy night in 1867, a railroad conductor of the Atlantic Coast Railroad named Joe Baldwin stepped between two cars of a parked train at Maco, North Carolina. Before he could complete his dangerous task of coupling the cars together, the train suddenly moved and poor Joe Baldwin was decapitated.

In one version of the story, Joe Baldwin’s last act was to swing a lantern to warn other people to keep their distance from the shifting cars.

In the weeks following the accident people began seeing a lantern — but no man — moving along the nearby tracks. Witnesses said the lantern hovered above the ground about three feet, and bobbed as if being held by someone looking for something.

The eerie sight, according to veteran railroaders, was the dead conductor, Joe Baldwin, looking for his head.

The lantern sightings kept appearing on dark nights, and engineers of oncoming trains would see the light and bring their locomotives to a stop, thinking they were seeing the light of an oncoming train.

Sometimes people said they saw two lanterns, which were said to be Joe’s head and body, vainly looking for each other for all eternity.

The spooky sightings became known as “The Maco Lights.” According to legend, in the late 1880s President Grover Cleveland passed through the area and heard the story. When he returned to Washington he began regaling people with the tale of Joe Baldwin and his lantern. The story spread and became a popular legend.

Reports of the “Maco Lights” continued well into the 20th century, with the last sighting said to be in 1977.

Chernobyl was operating till 21st century

chernobylIn 1986, Ukraine’s Chernobyl plant suffered the worst nuclear accident in history when a power runaway event wrecked reactor 4, leading to a hydrogen explosion that destroyed the reactor building and exposed the core of the ruined reactor. Work on constructing two more RBMK 1000 units at the site came to an immediate halt.

The three remaining reactors continued to operate for some years, reactor number 2 was shut down in 1991, unit 1 in 1996 and unit 3 in 2000. Their contribution to Ukraine’s electricity supply was only recently replaced by the start-up of Khmelnitsky 2 and Rovno 4 in late 2004.

Several major projects are underway at the contaminated site. Most important is the work to isolate the dangerous remains of unit 4 from the environment. Toward that end, a $1 billion international project will see a New Safe Confinement constructed over the decaying Object Shelter erected in the disaster’s immediate aftermath by Soviet authorities. Groundwork is underway to prepare for the construction of a massive arch structure which will cover unit 4’s reactor building and its section of the shared turbine hall.

At the other units, more conventional decommissioning activities are in progress. The first batch of Чернобыльская-атомная-электростанцияdismantled equipment from the turbine hall of unit 1 was sent to the Kompleks waste handling facility at the start of April, over 30 months after work began. Only outdoor equipment has been dismantled so far, this providing a relatively simple introduction to the decommissioning of contaminated plant equipment. In addition, preliminary work has been done towards dismantling the insides of the turbine hall.

Around 10 t of equipment from unit 1 is shipped off site each day, and at that rate, work could be complete by 2020.

Defuelling of units 1 and 3 began in December 2005. Unit 1 was defuelled by the end of November 2005.

Hugo Boss made uniforms for Nazis

hugo bossBefore Hugo Boss A.G. became known for classic men’s suits and flashy ties, the clothing manufacturer made uniforms for the Nazis.

The company said it had become aware of the dealings with the Nazis after the name of its founder, Hugo Boss, who died in 1948, appeared on a list of dormant accounts released by Swiss bankers.

The company had not determined what kind of account Mr. Boss might have had in Switzerland. She added that Hugo Boss was considering hiring a historian to look into its past, something that other concerns, including the Allianz insurance company and the German railroad, have done.

In the 1930’s, when the company began making Nazi uniforms, it was a family-run business that manufactured police and postal uniforms.

The Nazis awarded contracts to thousands of companies to produce the black uniforms, worn by SS units, the brown shirts worn by SA storm troopers and the black-and-brown uniforms of the Hitler Youth, according to Eckhard Trox, a military uniform expert at the museum in Ludenscheid.

”Of course my father belonged to the Nazi Party,” Siegfried Boss, 83, said in the latest issue of the Austrian news weekly Profil. ”But who didn’t belong back then? The whole industry worked for the Nazi Army.”

Hugo Boss founded the textile factory in 1923. He joined the Nazi Party in 1931, and two years later, began manufacturing Nazi uniforms. Production continued throughout the war, and the company brought forced laborers from Poland and France to its factory to increase output in the later years.

After Hugo Boss’s death, the factory returned to making uniforms for postal and police workers. It produced its first men’s suits in the 1950’s, but did not focus exclusively on men’s fashion until the early 1970’s.

A majority of the company stock was sold to the Italian group Marzotto in 1993.