Nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the casualties resulting from the invasion of Japan. To the present date, all the American military casualties of the sixty years following the end of World War II—including the Korean and Vietnam Wars—have not exceeded that number. In 2003, there were still 120,000 of these Purple Heart medals in stock. There are so many in surplus that combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan were able to keep Purple Hearts on-hand for immediate award to wounded soldiers on the field.
Between 1845 and 1855 Ireland lost a third of its population—1 million people died from starvation and disease and 2 million emigrated. The decimation of the potato crop in the 1840s brought on the danger of mass starvation, but it was Britain's calculated response that perpetuated the tragedy.
Contrary to popular opinion, the conditions of a famine did not truly exist in Ireland during this time. During the ten year period, researchers have estimated that the island produced enough food to feed 18 million people, more than double its population at the time. English protestant landowners had access to a varied diet and the Irish economy as a whole remained a profitable exporter of grain, pork, beef and fish.
The problem for the Irish people was that they had limited access to these native food resources. British penal law, first instituted in 1695, made it illegal for Irish Catholics to own land, apply for fishing or hunting licenses or to enter trades or professions. This forced the Irish to remain as sharecropping farmers subsisting on small rented farms owned by English Protestants. They relied almost exclusively on the sale of potatoes to pay rent to their landlords and buy food.
When a devastating water mold (phytophthora infestans) struck the potato harvest in 1845, the Irish were deprived of their only cash-crop. Many tried to eat the rotten potatoes and fell ill to cholera and typhus. Landlords evicted the starving tenants, or sent them to workhouses where overcrowding and poor conditions led to more starvation, sickness, and ultimately death. More sympathetic landlords paid the passage for their tenants to emigrate to America, Canada, and Australia. Ship owners took advantage of the situation and wedged hundreds of diseased and desperate Irish into ships that were hardly sea-worthy. These ships became known as "coffin ships" as more than one-third of the passengers died on the voyage.
The belief that the famine was God’s intention guided much of Britain’s policy in their management of the crisis. They viewed the crop failures as “a Visitation of Providence, an expression of divine displeasure” with Ireland and its mostly Catholic peasant population.
The British government in Ireland, led by Sir Charles Trevelyan, was far more concerned with modernizing the Irish economy and reforming its people’s “aboriginal” nature than with saving lives. Trevelyn described the famine as an "effective mechanism for reducing surplus population" and that "the real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people".
Trevelyan and other leading British officials had a direct hand in filling newspapers with the idea that the famine was the result of a flaw in the Irish character. Punch, a satirical magazine, regularly portrayed 'Paddy’ as a simian in a tailcoat and a derby, engaged in plotting murder, battening on the labour of the English workingman, and generally living a life of indolent treason. The result of such dehumanizing propaganda was to make unreasonable policy seem more reasonable and just.
Trevelyan never expressed remorse for his policies even after the full scope (approximately 1 million lives) of the Irish famine became known.
Sources: John Kelly's 'The Graves are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People' and Tim Pat Coogan's 'The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy'
We are chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the staple of news, celebrity gossip, New Age mysticism and pop psychology. The spectacle of wrestling provides a psychological window into what has happened to our society. The story line of today's Professional Wrestling has evolved to fit a new era. Rather than vilify strange foreigners it now focuses on the petty personal dramas and family disfunction that has accompanied the American social breakdown. There are no more ‘good guys’ and 'bad guys’-only self indulgent individuals.
From Chris Hedges' 2009 book 'Empire of Illusion'
Herman Mudgett, better known as H. H. Holmes, was an American serial killer, con artist, and bigamist in the 19th century. He confessed to 27 murders, but is commonly said to have killed as many as 200 people.
A graduate of the University of Michigan’s medical school, Dr. H.H. Holmes moved to Chicago to pursue a career in pharmaceuticals. While in Chicago during the summer of 1886, Holmes came across Dr. E.S. Holton’s drugstore at the corner of S. Wallace and W. 63rd Street, in the neighborhood of Englewood. Holton was suffering from cancer while his wife minded the store. Through his charm, Holmes got a job there and then manipulated her into selling him the store. They agreed she could still live in the upstairs apartment even after Holton died. Once Holton died, Mrs. Holton mysteriously disappeared and Holmes told people she was visiting relatives in California. As people started asking questions about her return, he told them she enjoyed California so much that she decided to live there.
Holmes purchased a lot across from the drugstore, where he built his three-story, block-long “Castle"—as it was dubbed by those in the neighborhood. It was opened as a hotel for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, with part of the structure used as commercial space. The ground floor of the Castle contained Holmes’s own relocated drugstore and various shops, while the upper two floors contained his personal office and a maze of over one hundred windowless rooms with doorways opening to brick walls, oddly angled hallways, stairways to nowhere, doors openable only from the outside, and a host of other strange and labyrinthine constructions. Holmes repeatedly changed builders during the construction of the Castle so only he fully understood the design of the house, thus decreasing the chance of being reported to the police.
After the completion of the hotel, Holmes selected mostly female victims from among his employees (many of whom were required as a condition of employment to take out life insurance policies for which Holmes would pay the premiums but also be the beneficiary), lovers and hotel guests, torturing and killing them. Some were locked in soundproof bedrooms fitted with gas lines that let him asphyxiate them at any time. Some victims were locked in a huge soundproof bank vault near his office where they were left to suffocate. The victims’ bodies were dropped by secret chute to the basement, where some were meticulously dissected, stripped of flesh, crafted into skeleton models, and then sold to medical schools. Holmes also cremated some of the bodies or placed them in lime pits for destruction. Holmes had two giant furnaces as well as pits of acid, bottles of various poisons, and even a stretching rack. Through the connections he had gained in medical school, he sold skeletons and organs with little difficulty.
Following the World’s Fair, with creditors closing in and the economy in a general slump, Holmes left Chicago. He reappeared in Fort Worth, Texas, where he had inherited property from two railroad heiress sisters, to one of whom he had promised marriage and both of whom he murdered. There he sought to construct another castle along the lines of his Chicago operation. However, he soon abandoned this project, finding the law enforcement climate in Texas inhospitable. In July 1894, Holmes was arrested and briefly incarcerated for the first time, for a horse swindle that ended in St. Louis. He was promptly bailed out, but while in jail, he struck up a conversation with a convicted train robber named Marion Hedgepeth, who put him in touch with a con-artist associate named Benjamin Pitezel.
Holmes and Pitezel concocted a plan to bilk an insurance company out of $10,000 by taking out a policy on Pitezel and then faking his death. The scheme, which was to take place in Philadelphia, was that Pitezel should set himself up as an inventor, under the name B. F. Perry, and then be killed and disfigured in a lab explosion. Holmes was to find an appropriate cadaver to play the role of Pitezel. Holmes then killed Pitezel. Forensic evidence presented at Holmes’s later trial showed that chloroform was administered after Pitezel’s death, presumably to fake suicide.
Holmes proceeded to collect on the policy on the basis of the genuine Pitezel corpse. He then went on to manipulate Pitezel’s wife into allowing three of her five children (Alice, Nellie and Howard) to stay in his custody. He traveled with the children through the northern United States and into Canada, eventually killing all three of them.
In 1894, the police were tipped off by his former cellmate, Marion Hedgepeth, whom Holmes had neglected to pay off as promised for his help setting up the insurance scheme. Holmes’s murder spree finally ended when he was arrested in Boston on November 17, 1894, after being tracked there from Philadelphia. He was held on an outstanding warrant for horse theft in Texas, as the authorities had little more than suspicions at this point and Holmes appeared poised to flee the country, in the company of his unsuspecting third wife. After the custodian for the Castle informed police that he was never allowed to clean the upper floors, police began a thorough investigation over the course of the next month, uncovering Holmes’ efficient methods of committing murders and then disposing of the corpses.
The number of his victims has been estimated to be between 100 and 200, based upon missing persons reports of the time as well as the testimony of Holmes’s neighbors who reported seeing him accompany unidentified young women into his hotel—young women whom they never saw exit. The discrepancy in numbers can perhaps best be attributed to the fact that a great many people came to Chicago to see the World’s Fair but, for one reason or another, never returned home.
H. H. Holmes was executed on May 7, 1896, nine days before his 35th birthday.
The slow loris is the world’s only poisonous primate. Its venom is stored in an elbow patch: the loris will suck in the poison from the patch, then mix it around in its mouth before delivering a toxic bite. So, when illegal traders catch them and sell them on, they usually remove the hapless creatures’ teeth - with wire cutters.
If they are lucky enough to be returned to the wild, most lorises will survive on a subsistence diet of tree sap. Occasionally, they do attempt to hunt geckos and birds, but it can be a challenge without their teeth. The standard technique is to sneak up on a bird, grab them and then strangle them with their hands and feet. The only difficulty in this strategy is actually eating their prey, a phase of the hunt that is often abandoned.
Northern James Calloway was an American actor on Sesame Street for 18 years. He was primarily known for playing the character David (wearing a hat in the above photo) but also voiced various Muppets including Same Sound Brown. Despite continued popularity, the responsibilities of his role eventually led to a serious decline in his mental health, and eventually his death.
In his early thirties, having worked on Sesame Street his entire professional career, Calloway began to exhibit signs of bipolar disorder which led to a severe nervous breakdown. On the morning of September 19, 1980 in Nashville, he attacked the marketing director of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center Mary Stagaman with an iron rod, resulting in life threatening injuries. He then fled into the suburbs of Nashville where he was arrested after hiding out in a couple’s garage, screaming “Help! I’m David from Sesame Street and they’re trying to kill me!”
Despite this incident, Calloway continued to work on Sesame Street. In 1982, his character David graciously abandoned his dreams of becoming a lawyer to takeover Hooper's Store, following the death of Mr. Hooper.
The death of Mr. Hooper was not originally scripted, but came as a result of the unexpected death of actor Will Lee, who had portrayed the beloved character since the show's first episode. Originally, the producers toyed with the idea of telling viewers that Mr. Hooper had retired to Florida, but ultimately, after consulting with numerous child psychologists, decided that they could use the episode to deal with the issue of death on Sesame Street.
Despite their success in crafting a poignant and accessible 'Death Episode' the show's producers, were tragically unprepared to guide Mr. Hooper's replacement, Northern Calloway, away from his own untimely demise.
Calloway’s final years on the show were marked by periods of declining health and ability, punctuated by episodes of erratic behavior. By 1987, executive producer Dulcy Singer became increasingly doubtful about Calloway's future with the show. As a result, the writers gradually and quietly ended the relationship that the character of David had with Maria Figueroa, which had been in the storyline for several years. Maria soon began a romance with Luis Rodriguez, which resulted in their Sesame Street marriage in May 1988. Eventually, in the spring of 1989, Calloway was dismissed from Sesame Street, following an on-set fight with Danny Epstein. His final appearance was in the 20th season finale, which aired May 19, 1989.
Shortly after leaving Sesame Street, Calloway was admitted to the Stony Lodge psychiatric facility in Ossining, New York. Calloway died after going into cardiac arrest during a violent altercation with a staff physician shortly thereafter. He was pronounced dead at the age of 41. A coroner’s report listed Calloway’s official cause of death as exhaustive psychosis. On the next season of Sesame Street it was explained that Calloway's character David had moved to a farm to take care of his grandmother.