Going back to find a simpler place and time.
This issue of the tabloid Midnight was published today in 1965, and as you can see the cover touts a story about a girl who gave birth at age four. Her name is Nang Rwan and she's supposedly from the town of Naung-nga-yan, Burma (now Myanmar). Midnight scribes Leroy Hansen and David Lee tell readers that Rwan is a member of the Pa'O ethnic group, a people whose girls are known for early fertility, like ten years old. But fertility at four is extreme even for the Pa'O, which led village elders to consider her early period to be a gift from the gods. Because of this, even though everyone admits Rwan was raped, and this criminal still walks among them because they have no idea who did it, their belief is that the child is a god-king destined to lead the Pa'O to prosperity and happiness.
We'll just stop there for a moment and say we consider this all to be very unlikely. Not the rape and pregnancy part—distressingly, a confirmed list of youngest mothers contains girls who bore children at age five and up. No, the unlikely part is that Midnight claims to have caught wind of the pregnancy early on and were able to get to Burma to witness the birth. Hansen and Lee embarked on a “difficult” journey to reach the village and arrived as Nang was nearing full term. Once there, they met her in person, with the story informing readers, creepily: “Nang walked in, dressed in a flowing red robe embroidered with beads. We asked to see her alone and she undressed. With our own eyes we saw her body as mature as 16-year-old girl's and as pregnant as any mother imminently facing the birth of a baby.”
Thus the two Midnight writers were in the village for the big event, and report that the infant, which was a boy, was whisked away to be cared for various village midwives. Nang Rwan, once recovered, was displayed in the center of the hamlet while people trekked hundreds of miles to offer her gifts that made her the richest person in the region. But the elders never allow her near the golden child. She hears her baby cry in its special god hut but she can't see him or hold him. So while she's proud to have given birth to a deity, she's unhappy. Bittersweet indeed. But there's one problem with this whole Nang Hwan story. Actually, there are numerous problems, none of which we need to detail because you're having the same problems, we suspect. But the problem that concerns us in terms of veracity is that Nang Rwan isn't on that official list of world's youngest mothers we mentioned, which seems odd considering Midnight devotes two full pages to her and she should have been well known. But we were not able to confirm any of the tabloid's assertions outside the story itself. So as interesting and detailed and morbid as the tale is, we have to call it fiction. At least until further evidenced. See more from Midnight by clicking its keyword below.
A case of double trouble for wrongly convicted Kansas man.
Speaking of doubles, put this one in the amazing coincidences file. A Kansas man who spent seventeen years in prison was released Monday when a judge admitted that an exact double may have committed the crime for which he was jailed. Richard Jones, the man who was released, appears on the right in both mugshots, while an almost identical man appears on the left. This doppelgangbanger is an ex-convict who lived in Kansas City, Kansas in the vicinity of where several people were robbed at gunpoint in 1999, while Jones lived with his wife and kids across the state line in Kansas City, Missouri. Since Jones was convicted only on eyewitness identification by the victims, and there was no physical, DNA, or fingerprint evidence to link him to the crime, a judge ruled that there was sufficient cause to order his release.
Interestingly, after years of failed legal appeals it was Jones himself who broke the case by finally chatting with inmates in prison, who told him that he bore an uncanny resemblance to an ex-con named Ricky. Just over a year ago Jones contacted the Midwest Innocence Project, and they located a photo of this Ricky character, who it turned out had actually been questioned about the original robbery but had denied involvement. Why his interrogators failed to notice the resemblance to the accused is a mystery that is yet to be unravelled. Maybe Ricky had a perm that day. Anyway, photos were presented to one of the victims of the robbery, two eyewitnesses, and the prosecutor of the case, and none could tell the two men apart. Jones, who maintained his innocence all along, said, “When I saw the picture of my double it all made sense to me.”
The irony is strong with this case. Consider: it was mere proximity to the thief that got Jones sent upstate, but it also turned out to be proximity that led to convicts in the same prison as Jones knowing of Ricky. If Jones had been sentenced to a different prison he'd still be behind bars, which, while he must be thrilled to be breathing the sweet air of freedom, is a thought we imagine keeps him up nights. But that's not the only irony here. Ricky will not be charged with a crime. How can he be? The victims and eyewitnesses can't be relied upon. Absent physical evidence, DNA, or fingerprints there's no way to be sure he was the perpetrator. It could have been Jones, his double. It wasn't. But technically, it could have been. The lesson here is crystal clear—if you hear of someone that looks like you, take the opportunity to commit a heinous crime and you'll get away scot-free.
Don't worry, dude. I got your back.
The BBC has an interesting report today about a man who has an elaborate full-back tattoo that, though it's attached to his body, he's sold to an art collector. Yeah, that's one's hard to wrap your head around. Let's put in another way. The man, Tim Steiner, earned $161,000 from German art collector Rik Reinking for rights to the piece. As part of the deal Steiner is required to sit shirtless in a gallery three times a year as a piece of living art, which isn't a bad way to make extra cash, we suppose. Especially when some of the exhibitions have occurred at the Louvre in Paris, Civita di Bagnoregio in Rome, the Art Farm in Beijing, and the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania.
And as befits all good art, the exhibitions will continue even posthumously. After Steiner shuffles off this mortal coil, Reinking takes full ownership of his skin, which will be removed so the tattoo can be framed and displayed. Some people, not surprisingly, have called the unusual arrangement ghoulish, but those people perhaps have no idea how strange modern art can get. Steiner, who sees himself as merely a temporary mounting for the tattoo, is happy, if not exactly eager, to be immortalized on museum walls. He considers tattooing the ultimate art form. “Painting on canvas is one thing,” he says, “painting on skin with needles is a whole other story.”
The creator of the piece, Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, would doubtless agree. He's known in inking circles, not only for tattooing humans, but also pigs, whose skins he peddles. So Steiner's sell-off of his ownhide isn't really new. The pigs may be getting the better deal, though. They get to root around in mud and slop to their heart's content until they die of old age. Steiner still presumably has to earn a living a somehow. He probably should have had the pigs' lawyer negotiate his agreement.
We like tattoo art, but this skinning business is obviously a practice that's legitimized by social status. Put someone's framed epidermis on your wall at home and you're anything from seriously weird to a psychopath/subject of a murder inquiry; hang it in a gallery and wine swilling upper crusty types call you a collector. But that's sort of an encapsulation of how the entire world works, isn't it? Rob an old lady at a cash machine and you're a thief; take away her pension and you're a politician. Heavy drug usage in the ghetto is a crime wave; heavy drug usage in suburbia is a public health problem. We can do this all day, but we'll move on.
Section of CIA trove of declassified material reveals research into psychic phenomena.
The Central Intelligence Agency has just published 800,000 formerly classified files online. The data dump, comprising some 13 million separate documents, isn't technically new. The files had been declassified years ago, but had only been available at the National Archives in Maryland, on only four computers tucked away at the back of the building which were accessible only during business hours. A freedom-of-information group called MuckRock sued the CIA and forced it to upload the collection, and the process took more than two years. Among the discoveries in the trove are documents related to the Stargate Project, which was tasked with examining psychic phenomena. A subset of those investigations involved celebrity paranormalist Uri Geller in 1973.
For those who don't know, Geller is a guy who used to show up on television programs like The Tonight Show and perform various paranormal tricks. His fame drew the roving gaze of the CIA, and they had him come in for a series of tests. No word on whether he had a choice in the matter. The testers ultimately reached the conclusion that Geller was legit, stating in the declassified dox that he had, “demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner.” How did they reach that conclusion? Through doubleblind experiments, one of which involved sealing Geller in a room, having a worker make a drawing, and asking Geller to recreate the drawing without having seen it. The images above and below show three of the original drawings, and Geller's eerily accurate renderings.
Geller made a nice career for himself finding hidden objects, bending spoons, and reproducing hidden sketches, but the really interesting part is he may have been a spy. In 2013, a BBC documentary titled The Secret Life of Uri Geller–Psychic Spy? claimed Geller worked for the CIA, was recruited by Mossad, and performed such missions as using only the power of his mind to erase floppy discs carried by KGB agents. Geller allegedly spent years in Mexico working as security for President José López Portillo, and the aforementioned documentary suggests he was also involved in some capacity in the famed Israeli hostage rescue in Entebbe, Uganda in 1976. It may take a few more CIA declassifications before we get to the bottom of all that.
Geller is still around at age seventy (looking about fifty, which might the most convincing evidence yet of his paranormal ability) and he still appears in news reports for antics such as purchasing Lamb Island, off the eastern coast of Scotland, which was the site of many witch trials, and for building a 12 foot-tall statue of a gorilla made from40,000 metal spoons. We aren't believers in psychic ability or any form of the paranormal. And we won't be unless we see evidence proving these realms exist. But the CIA said Geller was the real deal, so that's worth something. Of course, they also said Iraq had a nuclear weapons program, so maybe their opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.
Unexplainable interest in Eva Braun artifacts maybe not such a mystery after all.
Once again demonstrating that people with an overabundance of money will buy anything, a private bidder yesterday purchased a pair of Eva Braun's panties at auction. Yes—Eva Braun. Yes—panties. The sale took place in the English town of Malvern, at Philip Serrell Auctioneers & Valuers, and along with the monogrammed fascist frillies, which you see above, were sold a gold ring, a red lipstick, and a silver lipstick holder, all once possessed by Braun. But it was the undies that fetched the top price, going for £2,900, or about $3,600. That's a lot of money for panties. But according to a representative of the auction house, “an array” of prospective buyers offered bids on the item, pushing the price more than seven times higher than expected.
Now that the buyer has the undies, you're doubtless wondering what he plans to do with them (and you just know it's a "he" we're dealing with, by the way). He could display them at home, maybe frame them. Or he could tuck them safely away for later resale at a profit. He could even donate them to Munich's Pinakothek art museums, which collect such items. But he'll do none of those things. Nope. He's going to wear them.
You're thinking that's crazy. You're thinking, okay, it may be a good way to appreciate a pair of fine panties, but doesn't rapid depreciation generally follow getting nutsack on a historical artifact? And you'd be right, normally. But the buyer knows something about Eva Braun's panties you don't. In fact, all the rich auction attendees who bid on them knew the same thing, which is why they competed with each other. Eva's panties are magic.
Once you wear them—and you must wear them for the magic to work—you instantly possess the ability to see worth in anyone. Which means the winner of the auction will have something special to help him navigate the fraught world of one percenters in which he moves. When he meets up with Martin Shkreli, instead of dismissing pharma bro as an obvious genetic misfire, he'll say, “Oh, he's really a teddybear once you get to know him.” Rupert Murdoch? “That guy's actually okay. He's a cheeky one, ole Murdo.” Bill Cosby? “Oh, he's harmless. You should see his soft jazz collection.” Eva's panties magically let the wearer see the worst monsters in the world as not all bad, which could be useful on election day. They even work when you look in a mirror. Suddenly your sad rationalizations seem totally sound.
But there's more. If the wearer combines the panties with the lipstick and ring he or she will actually have sex with and marry the absolute worst person in the world. And he or she will do it even if it means utter isolation from friends, family, and anything that even resembles real life. And they'll stay loyal even after it becomes obvious their mate is dragging themstraight to doom. Unfortunately, said doom could destroy the valuable panties along with the wearer, but guess what? There are other pairs. One turned up in Ohio just last year. And another was sold in Maryland. Others surely exist, so if you want to waltz blithely through the rarefied world of vulture capitalists, sexual predators, and corrupt politicians, now you know how to do it. And if you navigate this world cleverly, in time maybe one day people will need Eva's panties just to tolerate you.
Fact challenged tabloid may have predicted presidential assassination plot.
Midnight claims in this issue published today in 1968 that a conspiracy was afoot to assassinate Richard Nixon during his presidential campaign, but with mid-century tabloids the question is always: Is this true? We found no mention of the plot anywhere, though Midnight is pretty authoritative in its assertions, claiming three men were involved, two of whom were in FBI custody, with the third having been picked up by Mexican police in Tijuana. But authoritative or not, the paper got this one wrong.
Weirdly, though, there may have been a plot to kill Nixon in 1968, but a week after the above Midnight hit newsstands. Though the episode is little remembered today, a man of Yemeni origin named Ahmed Rageh Namer was arrested along with his two sons Hussein and Abdo on November 12—a full eight days after Midnight made its arrest claims—and charged with conspiracy to assassinate Nixon, who had won the presidential election the previous Tuesday. You can see Namer under arrest in the photo just below.
The evidence against him and his sons was scant—an informant claimed the father possessed two rifles, had asked him join him in the killing, and had offered him money to do so. This was back before the word of a shady informant could get a person thrown in a black pit in Guantanamo for ten years, so the Namers actually got a trial and their defense lawyer of course shredded the case. All three men were acquitted in July of 1969.
But how weird is it that Midnight would fabricate an assassination story a week before the FBI uncovered what they thought was an actual assassination plot? Maybe Namer read Midnight and got the idea. Nah... he was probably just innocent in the first place. But still, how odd. Sometimes history is stranger than fiction. Elsewhere in the issue you get a bit of Hollywood gossip and a pretty cool photo of Maureen Arthur and another of Carmen Dene, below. See more Midnight at our tabloid index.
Police have their work cut out for them.
The photo above—which we maybe should have warned you about in advance, but whatever—shows a human heart that was found in Norwalk, Ohio yesterday, leaving police wondering whether it was evidence of a crime. Actually, a crime was clearly committed—littering. But police are wondering if perhaps some major felony might also have occurred—murder, manslaughter, and improper disposal of a body top the list.
The heart was found discarded in a Ziploc bag like so much stew meat—probably could have warned you about that photo too, er, sorry—and while intact, had a pronounced odor of putrefaction. Have a look at that work surface in the top photo, by the way. Try not to think of that next time you go to your supermarket butcher. When our kitchen cutting board gets that scored and stained we generally replace it, but maybe budgets are tight in Norwalk.
Random organ discoveries aren't a new thing in the U.S. Several years back we talked about a heart found in a Michigan car wash, a potential crime that went unsolved, as far as we know. You can see that write-up at this link—warning, photo of random discarded human organ. Norwalk police decided to go public today with their discovery in the hopes of generating leads. Within hours hundreds of area wives had called in to report that their husbands were missing hearts.
Sightings of bizarrely garbed figures have South Carolina residents baffled and worried.
A rash of scary clown sightings have occurred in the U.S. in the last week in the state of South Carolina, mainly in Greenville and Spartanburg counties. The encounters have varied from clowns attempting to lure children into the woods, to a pair of citizens chasing two clowns into a waiting car driven by a third clown. The photo above is an actual shot made by a man in Greenville, which he posted to Twitter with the caption, “Just spotted a major freak behind Fleetwood Apts.” The building happens to be ground zero for some of the clown sightings.
The favored explanation online for all this weirdness is that it's a publicity stunt for the new Rob Zombie horror movie 31. If that's the case, we've done our part for Rob by sharing the promotional poster just below. But assuming these sightings are publicity stunts, doesn't that seem like a very serious risk to take? American cops are trigger happy, and it isn't glitter and confetti that comes out of their guns. Let's say instead of a clown getting ventilated, though, he was arrested. For what, we aren't sure, since it isn't illegal to offer kids candy, which is what reports say one of the clowns did—but whatever, clown gets arrested. All the suspect would have to say is, “I'm a clown, it's true, but not that clown.”
Absent fingerprints (“No prints, sir, he must have worn gloves.”), shoe prints (“The casts are finished, sir—he wore size 37.”) or DNA (best not to think about that), only an admission of guilt could connect the arrested clown to the previous clowns. Or maybe police could stage a line-up. Of clowns. Bring in a tearful witness. “Yes, officer it was the one on the far left. I'm sure of it. I'll never forget *sob* his big red nose.”
Our guess is that these sightings are one of those instances of bizarro cultural programming, like the one that causes UFO or Bigfoot sightings. Rogue clowns have been reported lately not just in South Carolina, but in Ohio, Wisconsin, California, and even jolly old England. For our part, we hope the sightings simply stop. We don't need to get to the bottom of them. If they're real, we don't want to know who (doubtless one or more smug white guys, though) figured it was a perfectly fine idea to dress in a weird costume and terrify bystanders—this in a country where people wearing nothing more than dark skin end up shot for jaywalking. Which raises the question: if a clown were to be shot, would it be tragic, tragicomic, or just plain comical? Guess it depends on how you feel about them.
Cryptid hunters gather for weekend of fundraising and wild speculation.
Today marks the beginning of The Weird Weekend, one of the largest annual gatherings of cryptid aficionados and animal investigators in the world. For the seventeenth year Nessie nuts, Bigfoot boosters, and chupacabra champions descend on North Devon, England, to discuss the existence of hypothesized and legendary creatures.
This year's speakers include punk rock star Steve Ignorant on the hidden history of Punch and Judy, Richard Freeman, director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, on his recent expedition to Tasmania in search of the thylacine or Tasmanian wolf, and Lars Thomas from Denmark, on the Vikings' pantheon of mythical—or were they?—creatures. The weekend informs the public and serves the dual purpose of raising funds for the CFZ, which conducts searches for mystery animals.
We would absolutely love to go to this event, but we just got back from vacation. Maybe you're stuck at home too. Try this. Go to your nearest bar and order:
A chupacabra: Jack Daniel's, Chartreuse herbal liqueur, José Cuervo, Blue Curaçao, and grenadine.
A Jersey Devil: cranberry juice, apple cider, and Applejack brandy.
A devil dog: José Cuervo and grapefruit juice.
A Loch Ness Monster: Midori, Bailey's, and Jägermeister.
A bat beast: gold rum and Monster Energy drink.
A frozen Yeti: raspberry vodka, orange rum, Blue Curaçao, triple sec, grapefruit juice, and of course lots of ice.
Drink all of those and you'll discover there's a cryptid in your stomach. Have your camera ready when it emerges.
Why, it's relativity, my dear.
It's Happening was a blaxploitation tabloid, which made it a unique player on the market. However, the stories inside were the same as those you'd find in other tabs. Here you see the paper jump on the forced sex bandwagon with a cover from today in 1970 informing readers that a man raped his own wife, who was his daughter, who was his granddaughter. Try to wrap your head around that one. The story is that an orphaned girl passes her much younger sister off as her daughter in order to make her a legal dependent, and the fake-but-legally-recognized daughter later marries an older man she has no idea is her biological father. Thus she's the man's daughter by blood and granddaughter by law. The rape triggers the investigation that brings all this to light. The tale is, of course, bad fiction passed off as news. We have several full issues of It's Happening inside the website, and you can find those at our tabloid index here. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1944—G.I. Bill Goes into Effect
U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Servicemen's Readjustment Act into law. Commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, or simply G.I. Bill, the grants toward college and vocational education, generous unemployment benefits, and low interest home and business loans the Bill provided to nearly ten million military veterans was one of the largest factors involved in building the vast American middle class of the 1950s and 1960s.
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
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