Mondo Bizarro Feb 24 2012
UNFRIENDLY SKIES
Nobody knows what it was, but they tried like hell to kill it.

This photo appeared in the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers this month in 1942 after West Coast anti-aircraft batteries opened up on a mysterious aerial object supposedly seen hovering in the skies above L.A. The object was sighted in the early morning of February 25 and fired upon for about two hours. The next day Army spokesmen said the barrage had been the result of a false alarm caused by war hysteria, which leaves you to wonder what sort of non-existent object could be pinned by multiple searchlights as it moved across the sky.

Another official explanation was that the object was a weather balloon, which of course raises a completely different question, namely, how did more than 2,000 exploding artillery shells fail to bring down something so flimsy? These shells caused three deaths on the ground, and they weren’t even aimed there. UFO aficionados, of course, say it was an alien craft. That’s debatable, not for any scientific reason, but based on simple logic. Consider: we puny humans have already made major advances in stealth tech, yet we think we’d be able to detect an alien craft that came from the gulfs of space to observe us? That’s called pure hubris, and we don’t subscribe.

So that leaves one other explanation. It was a deliberate Army drill involving a weather balloon, an exercise designed to test anti-aircraft capabilities, shock Los Angeles residents and thus gauge the potential for mass panic, and ram home the idea to the masses that the Japanese were lurking out there somewhere. In order to believe this scenario one has to assume the anti-aircraft gunners had the shittiest aim in the historyof hurled projectiles, however the three obvious benefits we’ve listed for conducting such a drill make this by far the most logical scenario. Of course in the end, we weren’t there, so we’re only speculating about this obscure historical event. Others have different theories, and some even have eyewitness accounts. If you’re inclined, you can read one of those here. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 16
1964—China Detonates Nuke
At the Lop Nur test site located between the Taklamakan and Kuruktag deserts, the People's Republic of China detonates its first nuclear weapon, codenamed 596 after the month of June 1959, which is when the program was initiated.
1996—Handgun Ban in the UK
In response to a mass shooting in Dunblane, Scotland that kills 16 children, the British Conservative government announces a law to ban all handguns, with the exception .22 caliber target pistols. When Labor takes power several months later, they extend the ban to all handguns.
October 15
1945—Laval Executed
Pierre Laval, who was the premier of Vichy, France, which had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, is shot by a firing squad for treason. In subsequent years it emerges that Laval may have considered himself a patriot whose goal was to publicly submit to the Germans while doing everything possible behind the scenes to thwart them. In at least one respect he may have succeeded: fifty percent of French Jews survived the war, whereas in other territories about ninety percent perished.
1966—Black Panthers Form
In the U.S., in Oakland, California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther political party. The Panthers are active in American politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually legal troubles combined with a schism over the direction of the party lead to its dissolution.
October 14
1962—Cuban Missile Crisis Begins
A U-2 spy plane flight over the island of Cuba produces photographs of Soviet nuclear missiles being installed. Though American missiles have been installed near Russia, the U.S. decides that no such weapons will be tolerated in Cuba. The resultant standoff brings the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. The crisis finally ends with a secret deal in which the U.S. removes its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing the Cuban weapons.
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