• Day: September 11, 2018

  • 10 Daring Jewel Thieves Who Totally Got Away With Their Crimes – Listverse

    via 10 Daring Jewel Thieves Who Totally Got Away With Their Crimes – Listverse

    10 Daring Jewel Thieves Who Totally Got Away With Their Crimes

    WARD HAZELL 

     

    Jewel thieves have always been considered to be a cut above ordinary criminals. Perhaps it’s because they tend to rely on brains more than brawn. Defeating an impossible security system and getting into, and out of, a locked vault holds many of us in awe.

    And, of course, the jewel thief has long been a romantic figure in fiction. From A.J. Raffles, Edwardian gentleman and amateur safecracker, in the novels by E.W. Hornung to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant as the devilishly handsome cat burglar,[1] jewel thieves have always captured our imagination.

    Here are ten jewel thieves who totally got away with their crimes.

    10The Thief Who Brought Chocolate

    Photo credit: AP

    Antwerp in Belgium has been the diamond capital of the world since the 15th century. Most of the rough diamonds and around half of the cut diamonds in the world are traded through Antwerp. The district is protected by armed police and comprehensive CCTV, and it contains bank vaults with some of the most sophisticated security devices known to man.

    But no security can defeat the irresistible charm of the thief who stole a fortune in diamonds with chocolate. Carlos Hector Flomenbaum (not his real name) opened an account at Amro Bank, and for a year, he behaved like a perfect gentleman. He brought the bank staff chocolates whenever he visited to make regular deposits into his safety deposit box. So regular was Carlos that he was given a key to the vault so that he could access it 24 hours a day.[2]

    Which he did. Over a weekend in March 2007, Flomenbaum, who spoke English with an American accent, opened five safe deposit boxes. He was estimated to have stolen around €21 million worth of diamonds. Though embarrassed staff were able to describe the man to composite artists, he has never been caught.

    9The Blue Revolutionist

    Also known the Hope Diamond and on permanent display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, the French Blue diamond was stolen during the French Revolution. The diamond was said to have been 112 carats and a lustrous, deep blue.

    The history of the diamond is the history of jewel theft. Said to have originally been the eye in a statue of a Hindu god, the stone was supposedly stolen from a secret temple. Or, you know, it might have been mined in the 17th century in India by someone with a flair for marketing.

    The diamond was passed down through the French royal family and was finally owned by Marie Antoinette. On September 11, 1792, a mob of revolutionaries and thieves stole the crown jewels, including the French Blue.

    The French Blue was never seen again. However, in 1812 a similar, though smaller, diamond was sold to a British banker named Henry Philip Hope. The diamond was listed in his collection with no provenance, unusual for such a valuable diamond.

    Scientists who have examined the Hope Diamond are convinced that it was cut from the French Blue. But the identity of the Blue Revolutionist, or indeed any of the thieves of the diamond throughout its history, have never been discovered.[3]

    8The Pink Pearl Panther


    Joseph Grizzard was every inch the glamorous Edwardian jewel thief. He was rich and debonair and liked to taunt the police with his cleverness. Knowing that law enforcement suspected him of being involved in a diamond heist, he still arranged a dinner party for potential buyers. The police searched his premises while the guests were eating the first course, and Grizzard welcomed them in with a smile.

    The officers searched thoroughly but found nothing, to the amusement of Grizzard and his guests. As soon as they left, Grizzard returned to eating his soup and pulled a long string of diamonds from the bottom of the bowl. He was also rumored to serve punch from the Ascot Cup, which had been ordered to be made by King Edward VII before its theft from the famous racecourse.

    His final exploit should have been his crowning glory. In 1913, he masterminded the theft of a string of flawless pink pearls, worth around $18 million. The theft itself was worthy of a Sherlock Holmes novel. The pearls were sent through the post, which was considered to the safest way to transport them. The jewel case was placed inside a mailbag, alongside 300 other identical mailbags. At some point, Grizzard identified the bag, extracted it from the rest, removed the pearls, and, for no good reason, replaced them with a string of sugar cubes, decoupaged with newspaper.[4]

    The theft was only discovered after the package was delivered. And that would have been that if one of his accomplices hadn’t had loose lips. Grizzard was placed under surveillance, and, with the net closing in, the accomplice threw the necklace away. It was found by a piano maker who, assuming the pearls to be paste, gave one to a child for a marble before handing the rest into the police. Though Grizzard was finally arrested, his charm never left him. The detective in charge of his case, Alfred Ward, even visited him in prison and campaigned for his early release, which Grizzard got.

    7The Gardener


    In 1989, Thai gardener Kriangkrai Techamong was working for a Saudi princewhen he scaled the walls of the palace, climbed into the second floor window, and opened a safe with a screwdriver. It wasn’t the most sophisticated of crimes, though hiding his loot in the dust bag of his vacuum cleaner and wheeling it out the front door was pretty inspired. Techamong then parceled up the loot, which weighed an astonishing 91 kilograms (200 lb), and posted it home to Thailand before himself jumping on a plane. The haul reportedly included a rare 50-carat blue diamond the size of an egg.

    It was a simple plan, but the consequences of the theft were devastating. A Saudi businessman with links to the Saudi royal family, Mohammad al-Ruwaili, traveled to Thailand to investigate. He disappeared without trace, along with three Saudi diplomats who were shot in an execution-style killing. None of this was the work of the gardener.

    The stolen jewels were sold, it seems, for a fraction of their value, and soon appeared around the necks of the wives of prominent Thai politicians. Incensed, the Saudi authorities threatened sanctions, and some jewels were handed in to the Thai police, but most of what was returned to the Saudi royal family were fakes, which added insult to injury. Relations between the two countries have never recovered. The blue diamond has never been found.

    As for Kriangkrai Techamong, though he was convicted of the theft, he served only a short jail term, largely due to the number of prominent Thai people who benefited from his actions. He has since become a Buddhist monk.[5]

    6The Termites


    On March 6, 2010, a gang of thieves tied up a security guard at the Credit Lyonnais branch on Paris’s Avenue de l’Opera before tunneling through a series of cellar walls up to 76 centimeters (30 in) thick before reaching the vault and breaking open around 200 security deposit boxes.

    The building was lightly guarded due to ongoing construction work, which was intended to strengthen security systems. As they left the scene, they set fire to the vault, which triggered the anti-fire systems and flooded the building, removing any remaining any traces of evidence.[6]

    The value of the haul will never be known, but is estimated to be around €6 million. The robbers, nicknamed the Termites, have never been caught. However, two similar attacks on banks were foiled in the following weeks when the alarm systems were triggered by the vibrations of the drilling, and they narrowly escaped capture.

    5Men On Bikes

    Photo credit: Rick Treister

    On November 6, 2012, three motorbikes sped through the upper floors of a crowded shopping mall in London’s Brent Cross Shopping Centre. While the three drivers kept watch, their passengers smashed into a high-end jeweler’s store and grabbed £2 million worth of watches and jewelry before jumping back onto the bikes and speeding away before security guards had time to secure the exits.[7]

    Though the robbery happened in daylight in a busy shopping mall and was captured on film by CCTV and on the phones of numerous bystanders, the robbers got away clean and have never been caught. No one was hurt in the robbery, though one elderly gentleman was treated for shock at the scene.

    4The Window Breakers


    The Museon in the Hague, Netherlands, ran an exhibition during December 2002 which included necklaces, tiaras, and precious gems on loan from other museums and from private collections around the world, including jewels that were loaned by European royalty.

    The exhibition had a number of stringent security measures, including 24-hour security guards, surveillance cameras, infrared sensors, and reinforced glass display cases for the most valuable pieces, which, on the face of it, seemed quite sufficient. And yet, it seems the thieves got in by breaking a window.

    No one knows how they managed to avoid the security systems or why the guards weren’t alerted to the noise as the robbers broke into six of the 28 display cabinets.[8] The value of the haul was estimated at $5 million. It is believed that the more identifiable stones would have been recut and jewelry broken up immediately after the break-in. Neither the thieves nor the jewels have been heard of since.

    3The Oscar Nominees


    The Damiani showroom in Milan is one of the most exclusive jewelry stores in the world. In February 2008, thieves spent weeks tunneling over 9 meters (30 ft) into the cellar of the store from the building next door, which had been empty for construction work. Seven men came through the cellar wall, tied up staff, who were busy preparing the gems for a star-studded Academy Awards party, and made off with $20 million worth of jewelry in minutes. The thieves carried no weapons, wore police uniforms, and left by disappearing back into the tunnel. The burglars took advantage of the ongoing construction work to hide the sounds of their digging, which would have taken up to a month to complete.

    Although at the time, Italian police said they expected arrests “rather quickly,” the theives have never been caught, and the jewels have never been recovered, possibly because of the rumors of involvement by the Sicilian Mafia.[9] Luckily, at the time of the heist, many of Damiani’s finest gems were gracing the necks of movie stars at the Oscars ceremony. And, proving there is no such thing as bad publicity, Damiani’s profits rose as a result of the coverage of the robbery.

    2The Baggage Handlers


    On February 25, 2005, two men dressed in the uniforms of the Dutch airline KLM walked into a high-security area at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. They held up a luggage truck that was loading diamonds on a flight to Antwerp. The thieves tied up the luggage staff. No one was hurt, and they stole the luggage truck to make their getaway.

    The details of the transport of the diamonds were highly secret, and policesuspected that the robbers must have had inside information, but no one was ever caught. The diamonds were valued at over €72 million, although around €30 million worth of gems were left in the getaway vehicle.[10]

    In January 2017, seven people were arrested on suspicion of money laundering, but to date, no one has ever been charged with the robbery, and it is unclear whether any of the seven were the original baggage thieves. Interestingly, an almost identical robbery occurred in 2013 at Brussels Airport, when thieves stole $50 million worth of diamonds.

    1The Gentleman Thief Of Cannes

    Photo credit: bogdan1971

    The Carlton Cannes hotel was once the setting for Hitchcock’s slick heist movie To Catch a Thief, a fact which must have seemed somewhat ironic in July 2013, when a lone thief managed to get away with over $130 million in jewels. Though the hotel staff swore that the doors to the terrace were locked, the thief still managed to somehow get through them.

    The hotel was the setting for an exhibition of Leviev jewels, and the masked thief, who seemed to know exactly where he was going, was lucky enough to pick the most opportune moment, just before the gems were loaded into their high-security glass cases. He encountered no hotel guests or visitors to the exhibition, although he did have to deal with three unarmed security guards in the exhibition room. The thief threatened them with a gun before seizing a briefcase full of jewels. The haul included 34 “exceptional” gems which were high-carat and had unblemished clarity, brilliant color, and masterful cutting.[11]

    The heist was over in 60 seconds. Three days later, a Cannes jewelry store was held up by a thief and his accomplice. While one of the robbers filled a holdall with watches and jewelry, the gunman apologized to one of the sales staff, saying, “Sorry, it’s the economic crisis.”

    While no one is sure whether the two robberies were committed by the same person, they do think that they may have been committed by members of the Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves, who are believed to have been involved in dozens of high-profile jewelry heists around the world. It may, or may not, be a coincidence that three days before the Carlton Cannes robbery, one of the alleged leaders of the Pink Panther gang, Milan Poparic, was broken out of jail. He was the third member of the gang to have escaped in two months.

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  • 10 Terrifying Times Vigilantes Murdered Innocent People – Listverse

    via 10 Terrifying Times Vigilantes Murdered Innocent People – Listverse

     

    Vigilantes often think that they’re good people who take the law into their own hands to punish criminals that law enforcement can’t (or won’t) touch. In their own minds, they’re the heroes, doing what needs to be done and standing up for the little guy when no one else will.

    The problem is that justice without due process can easily turn into plain violence, aimed at the nearest suspicious-looking person. And that’s when innocent people meet horrible fates. The victims in the following ten cases weren’t guilty of anything yet still paid for the misdeeds of others.

    10A Passing Electrician Is Lynched As A Thief

    Photo credit: kompas.com/Setyo Adi

    Muhammad al-Zahra was a 30-year-old Indonesian electric repair man from the suburbs of Jakarta. In 2017, a mob of angry men confronted him and accused him of being a thief. Even worse for al-Zahra, the items that he was accused of stealing were the amplifiers of a nearby prayer room. Although al-Zahra swore that he had done nothing wrong, the mob didn’t care. He was beaten to death on the spot, despite the fact that even his very last words were: “I’m not a thief.” Afterward, the mob set his body on fire and screamed triumphantly as it burned. Some sources say poor al-Zahra was still alive as he burned.[1]

    Fortunately, the attackers were caught. In court, they wept tears of regret and bowed their heads in shame. They couldn’t explain why they had treated al-Zahra so brutally. It is possible, however, that the incident is linked to the rise of vigilante culture in some parts of Indonesia: A lack of trust in the country’s police and justice system has led to people taking the law into their own hands. This sometimes leads to overkill, when mobs of citizens distribute swift and occasionally fatal justice to petty criminals.

    9The Vigilante Vampire Hunters Of Malawi


    In 2017, the country of Malawi started having troubles with vampires—or rather, with the people hunting them. Several vigilante mobs started stalking the country, searching for vampiric villains who drank blood as part of their black magic rituals. Whoever the vigilantes thought were vampires were stoned (or stoned and burned) to death. The mobs even set up roadblocks to screen possible bloodsuckers.

    By October 24, the mobs had already killed nine people, and over 200 people had been arrested for participating in the vigilante movement. The situation had gotten so out of hand that the United Nations and the US Embassy declared parts of the country as no-go zones.

    This is not the first vampire mob panic in the country—the last one was in 2002. It’s not clear what starts these vampire-hunting frenzies. Some suggest it is the result of the poor education standards in rural areas, combined with the country’s widespread belief in witchcraft. Others say that at least the latest vampire rumors may have spread to Malawi from neighboring countries.[2]

    8The Mysterious Lynching Of Hardel Haynes


    Hardel Haynes is the second electrician to appear on this list, and he suffered the same fate as Muhammad al-Zahra. Haynes lived in Guyana, where it was not uncommon for vigilante citizens to capture and beat up thieves and other criminals. In response to this, local law enforcement instructed that any criminal captured by the citizens should be delivered to the police, preferably without injuries. Unfortunately for Haynes, this instruction came in the aftermath of the police mishandling his case.

    In 2008, the badly injured Hardel Haynes was dropped in front of a Guyanese police station. Haynes’s wife happened to be a special constable attached to the Ministry of Home Affairs. When she found out about the situation, she had a difficult time finding out what her husband’s status was and where he was at all. The police station didn’t even pick up the phone at first. When she tried her husband’s cell phone, a man identifying himself as a police officer answered and told her to call the station. When she finally got through, people treated her rudely and refused to answer her questions directly. They said they couldn’t get the badly injured Haynes to a hospital because they didn’t have a car available. They said they hadn’t arrested the people who left him there because they didn’t have enough manpower. Occasionally, they hung up on her.

    Haynes was eventually taken to a nearby hospital, where he died. A local newspaper later found out that the person who had left Haynes at the station was a retired senior police officer himself.

    All of this may seem like a conspiracy: Clearly, the retired high-ranking officer beat up Haynes, and the other cops were covering his tracks. However, that’s not what really happened.[3] Haynes had actually been riding his bicycle home late in the night. He was suddenly jumped by a mob of men who had mistaken him for a burglar who had stolen their neighbor’s TV. Two members of the mob were eventually charged with manslaughter. The retired police officer happened to be part of the neighbor mob, but he was not a killer—he was actually the one who told the others that they should get Haynes to the police.

    7Whatsapp Vigilante Attacks


    Social media rumors can be unpleasant, but they don’t usually end in tragedy and loss of life. In 2017, Central India became an exception to this rule, thanks to rumors circulating on WhatsApp. The malicious message came in the form of a viral video that showed a motorcycle rider abducting a child and warned of strangers who were abducting children in the area. In reality, the video was a clip from a Pakistani child safety awareness film, but that didn’t matter.[4] As hysteria increased, angry crowds started forming. Mobs swelled to more than 500 people within hours. That’s when the killing started.

    In two separate mob attacks, a total of seven “child abductors” were ruthlessly beaten to death. Sometimes, the police were present but merely looked on. At least one of the incidents was filmed and put on YouTube, possibly because someone thought that a campaign of terror that starts with a viral video needs to end with a viral video.

    The seven mob victims were all completely innocent passersby who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrongest possible time. There were no records of child abductions in the area, and the police promptly started investigating who was behind the WhatsApp messages.

    They soon found that it’s very difficult to fight social media and debunk popular rumors: Just one month later, a similar child abduction mob killed two men whose only crime was stopping in their village to ask for directions.

    6The Tourist Who Was In The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time


    Sebastian Judalet was a French bus driver and a father of one. In 2013, he went on a trip to Nosy Be, an island near Madagascar that he loved and often visited. He was probably expecting a relaxing holiday on an island paradise. Instead, he ended up in the middle of a nightmare when a crowd of several hundred locals surrounded him. They suspected that Judalet was the pedophile who had recently murdered and mutilated a eight-year-old local boy, and they were out for justice.

    The moments of confusion and blind panic that led to Judalet’s death were actually caught on tape.[5] “I am the victim of a conspiracy,” Judalet can be heard to cry as members of the crowd accuse and interrogate him. “I do not like children, absolutely not, and I don’t like people who have sex with children.” This comment may have sealed his doom, as a vigilante next asks him: “So you don’t like children?” A tearful Judalet responds: “I love children, yes, I have a little girl. I’m telling the truth, strictly the truth.” That was enough for the mob to come to a conclusion: They dragged poor Judalet to a nearby beach, where he was stripped naked, beaten, and burned alive. He pleaded innocence to his final breath. Two other equally innocent men shared his fate.

    5Mob Mistakes Two Innocent Bystanders For Terrorists

    Photo credit: Reuters/Mohsin Raza

    In 2015, a Taliban-associated splinter terrorist group called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar sent two suicide bombers to attack Lahore, Pakistan. The bombers targeted two local churches in brutal attacks that killed 17 people and injured 80. Understandably, the locals were panicked and furious in the aftermath of the explosions. However, with the bombers dead and nowhere to target their fury, the younger members of the population formed a mob and started to search for people they felt were responsible for the attack.[6]

    The mob soon found two completely innocent bystanders who they decided to blame. They confronted garment worker Babar Noman and glass cutter Mohammad Saleem, beat them unconscious, and dragged them through the crowds. Then, their prone bodies were covered with wood that the mob had found in a nearby shop. The poor, innocent men were set on fire and burned while hundreds of men looked on and cheered.

    You might wonder why the police didn’t stop the brutality. After all, they must have been present on the scene of terrorist attacks.

    Well, they were. They were just so heavily outnumbered that they had no choice but to look on as the men were brutally murdered.

    4The Man Who Was Found Innocent Nearly A Century Later

    The year was 1906. Ed Johnson, a young African American man from Chattanooga, Tennessee, stood under a metal girder of the Walnut Street Bridge with a noose around his neck. He faced the town-sized mob of white men, women, and children and said: “God bless you all. I am innocent.” Then, they hanged him and riddled his body with bullets.

    Johnson had been sentenced to death for raping a white woman. However, an air of suspicion lingered around the case. The victim could never identify Johnson properly, and a member of the all-white jury openly threatened him with violence. As a result, the Supreme Court felt that the verdict didn’t hold water and issued a stay on Johnson’s execution so that he could file an appeal for what was clearly a violation of his right to a fair trial. The residents of Chattanooga disagreed and took matters into their own hands.

    It would be an understatement to say that the Supreme Court didn’t like this blatant disregard of their orders. They were so angry that they started the first and only criminal court case in their history, against the town’s sheriff, members of law enforcement, and assorted mob members. Several of them were found guilty of contempt of court.

    As for poor Ed Johnson, he was an innocent victim of the time’s unfortunate habit of solving crimes by locating an African American man and quickly sentencing him. However, his official vindication didn’t come immediately. It wasn’t until 2000 that two (white) lawyers who had researched his case successfully cleared his name in court.[7]

    3The Rumor That Took Bijan Ebrahimi’s Life

    The story of 44-year-old Bijan Ebrahimi is a textbook example of an ugly rumor with even uglier consequences.[8] Ebrahimi lived in Bristol, UK. The people who knew him vouched that he was a gentle, caring man who lived for his garden. There was only one thing that annoyed him: Local kids who kept attacking his hanging baskets. So he devised a plan. He started taking pictures of the mischievous children as they attacked his precious garden. His intention was to take the photos to the police as evidence. Unfortunately, before he could do that, someone saw him with a camera . . . and told the police that Ebrahimi had been taking pictures of children.

    The police took Ebrahimi in for questioning, and the local rumor mill immediately started spinning. Several neighbors were already chanting “Pedo! Pedo!” at Ebrahimi as he was taken away. The cops soon realized that he had done nothing wrong and released him, but the home he returned to was now a hostile place. Everyone in the neighborhood believed that the unemployed, disabled man was a child abuser. What’s worse, some of his neighbors were so furious that they were prepared to do something about it. Only two days after the incident, Ebrahimi’s 24-year-old neighbor Lee James (right above) attacked him at night. He beat Ebrahimi unconscious and dragged the helpless man into the street with his friend, Stephen Norely (left above). Then, he doused Ebrahimi in alcohol and burned him to death.

    A subsequent investigation found that Ebrahimi had been harassed before, and both the council and the police had repeatedly sided with his abusers.

    2The Mass Lynching Of Italian Americans

    Photo credit: E. Benjamin Andrews

    The history of the United States features many cases of mob brutality and lynchings. One of the most surprising targets of these hate crimes was an ethnic group that most people today don’t even think of as anything other than white: Italian immigrants. In the late 19th century, however, they were so hated that the victims of one of the largest mass lynchings in US history were Italian Americans.

    In 1891, New Orleans police chief David Hennessy was murdered. Nine Italian immigrants were arrested and put on trial for the crime. The court found them not guilty, which didn’t please the outraged people of New Orleans. Soon after the verdict, a furious mob attacked the jail and dragged all nine men away, together with two other Italians who were held there for entirely different reasons. All 11 men were brutally lynched. Although the Los Angeles Chinese Massacre of 1871 had a higher body count (18 victims), the New Orleans attack was just the tip of the iceberg for the unfortunate Italian American population.

    The attack sparked a huge torrent of hatred. There were mass arrests of Italians in the New Orleans area and nationwide attacks against them. Worst of all, the media narrative completely agreed with the attackers. The New York Times described the victims of the original mob attack as “sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins.” Meanwhile, the paper saw the people who murdered them as heroes, arguing that “lynch law was the only course open to the people of New Orleans.”[9] Future president Theodore Roosevelt felt that the lynchings were “a rather good thing.” Perhaps worst of all: John Parker, who helped organize the mob, later became the governor of Louisiana, despite openly spewing hate against Italians as late as 1911.

    1The Lynching Victim Who Became A Symbol For The Civil Rights Movement

    Photo credit: Time

    In 1955, a 14-year-old African American boy named Emmett Till left his native Chicago and traveled to Mississippi to spend the summer with his cousins. He never returned home.

    On August 4, Till and his cousins wrapped up a hard day of picking cotton, and Till decided to buy bubblegum at a store owned by Roy and Carolyn Bryant, a 20-something white couple. Carolyn was tending to the store alone when Till went in. Exactly what happened next is a mystery to this day. Carolyn Bryant claimed that Till flirted with her on a dare, but the details of her story kept changing. Till’s own cousin says that he heard Till whistle after Carolyn, but that’s about it.[10] What we do know, however, is that Carolyn Bryant soon came out of the store, toward her car, where she kept her gun. Being from a comparatively safe Chicago neighborhood, Till didn’t realize the danger he was in, but his local cousins knew better and drove him away.

    Unfortunately, danger followed. Four days later, Roy Bryant and his half-brother arrived at the door of the house Till was staying in. Announcing that they were looking for “the boy who did the talking,” they forced their way in at gunpoint and dragged Till into the night. His lifeless body was found three days later. It was so badly mutilated that they could only recognize him by the signet ring on his finger. His killers were found not guilty. Protected by double jeopardy, they happily smoked cigars and posed for photographs while boasting about the murder.

    Till’s mother was understandably furious and wanted the world to see what had happened to her boy. She had Till’s remains returned to Chicago, where she arranged a massive open-coffin funeral. She left Till’s mangled, unembalmed body on display for four days. During that time, over 100,000 people came to see it, often leaving in tears.

    Fortunately, many of them were also determined to make sure that no one else would have to suffer poor Emmett Till’s fate. In the end, the case touched so many people that Reverend Jesse Jackson later called it the “Big Bang” of the Civil Rights Movement.

    +Brazil’s Vigilante Epidemic


    In Brazil, lynch mobs are so common that they are described as an epidemic. According to a report by The Guardian, such mobs killed 173 people in 2016 alone.[11] The accusations that led to their deaths varied from child assault to misdemeanors as petty as stealing a bicycle or even a mere pair of sandals.

    The only common thread is that just an accusation is enough for a crowd to turn into judge, jury, and executioner. What’s more, as many as 57 percent of Brazilians agree that “a good criminal is a dead criminal.” Poor neighborhoods have been known to bear graffiti that says: “You steal, you die.” This reactive attitude makes it extremely likely that innocent people have been killed by the mobs.

    Researchers have looked into Brazil’s tendency to deal vigilante justice wholesale. It appears to be a symptom of the extremely difficult period that the country is currently going through: Within just a few years, Brazil has seen the impeachment of a president, a Zika virus epidemic, the most massive corruption scandal in the country’s history, and, as a cherry on top of the terror cake, the worst economic recession in 80 years. According to Cesar Barreira, head of the Violence Studies Lab at the University of Ceara, the fear and hopelessness this creates is fertile ground for vigilante mobs: “A lynching is a communal act in response to a sense of impotence. It’s a hunt for an infection inside a social group.”

    In Brazil’s case, it doesn’t hurt the mobs that vigilante justice isn’t written in the country’s penal code. As such, official data does not exist, and the government doesn’t really keep tabs on mob violence as a widespread phenomenon.

  • 10 Lesser-Known Weird Facts About The Avocado – Listverse

    via 10 Lesser-Known Weird Facts About The Avocado – Listverse

    10 Lesser-Known Weird Facts About The Avocado

    MARIE KOPE 

     

    The avocado is potentially both the most loved and the most hated fruit of our time. (Yes, fruit—for those who may be late to the avo-craze. Technically, it’s a big berry with one large seed inside that’s known as a pit or stone. Bottom line, it’s not a vegetable.)

    We love it on our toast, and we love it smashed with onions and cilantro on our tacos. But we sure hate it when we’ve had 18 conversations about avocados this week and it’s only Monday.

    The average consumption of avocados in the US is projected to reach up to 22.7 million kilograms (50 million lb) per week by 2019. With that many avocados moving around us, there is a lot of talk about what they can do. Read on to discover more crazy and fascinating facts about this popular fruit.

    10Avocados Are Poisonous

    The avocado contains a fungicidal toxin called persin that is completely harmless to humans. However, it is poisonous for many other animals. So, as much as we enjoy guacamole, we should not share it with our animal friends.

    Persin—and therefore, avocado—is poisonous to birds, rabbits, cows, goats, horses, pigs, sheep, and fish. Avocado pits were even mixed with cheese to kill rodents according to a South American folk recipe for rat poison.[1]

    Rumors that avocados are poisonous for dogs have led to various studies of the effects on our furry pals. Unfortunately, the evidence has been inconclusive and conflicting.

    Some reports claim that dogs and cats have upset stomachs after consuming persin, and others see no serious illnesses that result from eating it. Although modern research suggests that dogs can eat avocados and that their toxicity is a myth, the pits could be a choking hazard for your pet.

    9They Belong In The Bathroom

    It sounds a little gross, but lathering your hair in a mash of avocado can actually help your hair grow. As this superfood contains a lot of fatty amino acids, it can coat strands of your hair and really lock in moisture. Moisture retention will help smooth and soften your dry hair, which is good for keeping your hair strong and able to grow fast and healthy.

    A variety of vitamins and minerals—such as copper, iron, and vitamins A, D, and E—are found in avocados and assist with hair growth. A healthy scalp is also important for hair growth. Avocados can soothe and stimulate dry scalps, keeping them nice and hydrated.

    If you want to prevent hair loss or help your hair to grow long, shiny, and soft, keep avocados in your kitchen . . . and your bathroom.[2]

    8They Have A Long History

    Although it seems logical that the avocado’s popularity occurred because it’s photogenic (thank you, Instagram), a long history led to our obsession with the green fruit. We all have to thank Rudolph Hass and his children, who created a new variety of avocado, the Hass avocado, in the early 1900s.

    Mr. Hass grew the new avocado in his own backyard. Before this, it was enjoyed by many in Central and South America but not so much in the United States. It was referred to as ahuacate, which was too hard for Americans to pronounce and did not market well to them.[3]

    The Hass variety of the avocado—one of over 400—is smaller and has thicker skin than other types, is easier for farmers to cultivate, and has a good, nutty flavor. Mr. Hass’s high-quality avocado trees became more accepted throughout the decades. This allowed prices to decrease, which increased demand for the fruit.

    Also contributing to its popularity was the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which brought more Latin Americans and their love for avocados to the United States. Now, thanks to marketing efforts and low prices, Mr. Hass’s avocado is in such high demand that our entire continent is experiencing shortages.

    7They Are An Aphrodisiac Legend

    Long ago, the avocado was enjoyed by many in Central and South America. They called it ahuacate, which means “testicle” in Aztec. If you’ve never thought of it before, you now realize that the shape of the avocado is somewhat phallic. As a result, the avocado was a legendary aphrodisiac.[4]

    Obviously, this was bad for the fruit’s marketing efforts in the early 20th century. Back then, most Americans were not inclined to purchase a fruit that had become so associated with being an aphrodisiac, legend or not. The current name was devised by California farmers and significantly improved the fruit’s appeal over the following years.

    6When We Think Avocado, We Should Think Cartel

    Photo credit: BBC

    The Michoacan region of Mexico has the perfect conditions for growing avocados. The hot, rich soil produces more than half of the avocados served throughout the world. The large sales of this fruit make up 90 percent of the area’s revenue.

    Over the last few years, many stories of the cartel kidnapping farmers and extorting landowners have gone beyond the cocaine trade to include the avocado business. Avocado farmers who have refused to give up part of their profits have found their lives threatened and their crops burned down. A report in 2014 even stated that an infamous gang made $152 million a year from frightened farmers in this area.[5]

    5It’s Actually An Alligator Pear, See It?

    The avocado has an awesome nickname which is almost never used. According to legend, an early English word for the avocado was “avogado pear.” This most likely was a translation mishap or came from someone who didn’t know what to call it.[6]

    This name led to “alligator pear.” Although an accident, the nickname suits the fruit very well. Shaped like a pear, the avocado has skin that resembles that of a reptile, specifically an alligator.

    4They Ripen Around Companions

    Photo credit: thrillist.com

    If you really need your avocado ripe and ready to eat, there is a way to speed up the process. Some fruits—such as apples, bananas, apricots, nectarines, and plums—produce ethylene gas, which is a ripening agent.

    Put your avocados inside a paper bag with any of these fruits, and the gaswill cause the avocado (and the other fruits involved) to ripen much faster. It is important to keep an eye on the fruit because it could be ready for consumption the next day.

    Furthermore, the paper-bag-and-fruit methods can potentially alter the taste of the avocado. Depending on how you are using it, this could be either good or bad.[7]

    3A Multimillionaire Told Us To Stop Eating Them

    Why did a multimillionaire tell us that we had to stop eating avocados? Because if we spend our money on them, we won’t be able to afford a house.

    According to a study by HSBC, only 35 percent of millennials in the United States in 2017 were homeowners, with most of the others saying that they hadn’t saved enough to put down a deposit. During a 60 Minutes interview, property tycoon Tim Gurner, then 35, said that unnecessary spending on avocados is a big reason why people can’t afford a house.[8]

    Although lifestyle expectations are continuously changing and prices of homes seem to keep rising, this may be something we need to think about!

    2Avocado Is Butter

    Photo credit: medicalnewstoday.com

    Healthy bakers have discovered that avocados can be used as a butterreplacement in almost all muffin and cake recipes. While it may require a little bit of math to measure out the perfect amount, the benefits could be worth the trouble.

    Butter has a lot of calories and unhealthy fat. Avocados slice the number of calories from butter by more than half when used in baked goods. There are only about 109 calories in half an avocado.[9]

    Even though it may change the taste a little, the trade-off adds protein and lowers cholesterol and saturated fat levels.

    1Avocados May Have Antiaging Benefits

    The avocado is considered a superfood because it contains numerous vitamins. It also has “good fats,” some protein, and antioxidants. Vitamins A and E, both found in avocados, help to keep skin nourished and moisturized and may assist with keeping cells healthy and young.

    When we add avocados to our diet, we may be delaying the natural aging process of our cells. Eating avocados or using them as a face mask by mixing them with honey, yogurt, or oatmeal can give your skin a youthful glow.[10]