The First Use of Forensic Science to Resolve a Murder

sickle

Sun Tzu’s text the “Washing Away of Wrongs”, written in 1235 A.D., is the first text which records forensic analysis being used to resolve a criminal case. The murder of a farmer prompted a local judge to demand that everyone in the village lay down their sickle before him. While every cythe appeared to be clean, the judge watched for insects as he understood that insects would be attracted to and by consequence fly around within proximity of a blade with fresh blood still attached to it, even if the blood was physically removed to the point at which it could no longer be observed by the human eye. This innovative technique allowed the judge to figure out which member of the community committed the homicide with forensic certainty

The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 in London, England

Spanish-Flu

At the end of World War I, soldiers coming back to London, England from the Western Front brought with them a particularly infectious version of influenza referred to as the “Spanish Flu”. Exact metrics are unknown because of poor data collection during the early 20th century but an estimated 50,000,000 (50 million) deaths occurred, 3x as many people than that which died during the entire span of World War I. Spanish Flu had its most devastating blitzkrieg upon London in the autumn of 1918, as thousands civilians and soldiers, weakened from 4.5 years of war, became ill within a few short days of Armistice Day. Spanish Flu works quickly to destroy the lungs of healthy victims, with those who contracted the pathogen feeling fine in the morning and often found dead, later that same evening. In 1918, 320 people died of Spanish Flu in London, but during 1919, Spanish Flu had a resurgence and exploded in severity with 16,000 – 23,000 people killed, a surge which caused a shortage of gravediggers and coffins, classifying Spanish Flu as the worst epidemic in living memory. The Spanish Flu outbreak came to an end in May of 1919 once enough of the British population had experienced the infection and either been killed or having survived, becoming immune to the point that the disease could no longer be passed through hosts efficiently enough to continue its spread

The Development of Modern Institutionalized Psychological Torture as a Means of Interrogation

interrogation

In the 1950’s, Scottish psychiatrist Ewen Cameron started experimenting upon his own patients which ushered in the modern age of the psychological techniques leveraged by governments to extract information from high value targets and low level targets alike. In 1951, the U.S., the U.K., and Canada began developing the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape program, abbreviated as “SERE” (pronounced “sear”) designed for when domestic soldiers became captured by enemy forces (e.g. aircraft shot down over enemy lines) as well as techniques which could be used against captured Soviets. This research became dominant within Canadian universities for almost a decade, with researchers beginning similar psychiatric experiments within psychiatric hospitals in the U.K. In the U.S. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency dominated most research and had over 160 secret projects within 80 institutions, comprising a total of $25,000,000 ($25 million) allocated for human experimentation. This project was code named “MK Ultra”. In 1963, many of Cameron’s psychological experiments were codified for the first time and compiled within the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide, a book which is now declassified and freely available online. The term “kubark” is a cryptonym, the name for the Central Intelligence Agency itself. This content became the foundation for the method of psychological interrogation and psychological torture which the Central Intelligence Agency disseminated across the U.S. intelligence community and worldwide among allies for 30 years after its initial release. Since the 1950’s, confirmed cases backed by evidence and testimony of these techniques of torture being used have been recognized or admitted to by governments in 28 nation states including Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Borneo, Brazil, British Guyana, British Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Cuba, the UK, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lithuania, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, Vienna, and Yemen

Whilst I rarely if ever will submit an opinion upon this blog, I feel that it is important to state that the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide is now declassified and been made public. To educate yourself so that these techniques cannot be used against you, click here to read the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide

The Ancient History of Damascus Steel

Damascus-steel-swordDamascus, Syria, the birthplace of Damascus steel was prized in the ancient world for its durability but unbeknownst to the craftspeople who forged Damascus steel, the region from which the iron ore was taken had naturally occurring nickel which meant that Damascus metalsmiths had composite steel 3000 years before the rest of the world as the idea to mix different kinds of metals had not yet been invented. Damascus steel was shatter resistant and could be sharpened to become sharper than any other type of steel. Having first encountered it during the Crusades of the 11th century, European forgers attempted for centuries to recreate what their Middle Eastern counterparts had already perfected

The Abhorrent and Racist U.S. “Loyalty Examination” of World War II Designed for Japanese Immigrants and Japanese American Citizens

U.S.-Japanese-loyalty-examination

The U.S. War Relocation Authority created a supposed “loyalty examination” which was provided to young Nisei Japanese males of draftable age. The term “Nisei” means “second generation” in Japanese. Question 27 asked “are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?” and Question 28 asked “will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?”. These questions were met with confusion and resentment within the population of Japanese and Japanese American internment prisoners of war. A yes answer was designed to prove unwavering loyalty whilst answering no was designed to entrap and prove malintent towards the U.S.. Some detainees answered no to both questions which lead to the term the “no-no boys”, a slanderous term designed to segregate Japanese and Japanese American citizens from their American counterparts. Question 27 was at its most fundamental roots designed to ask if a person was willing to serve in the U.S. military and Question 28 was designed to ask whether a person swore allegiance to Japan or not. Many prisoners did not know how to answer these questions, including both immigrants and American born citizens of Japanese descent. Those who were unsure and answered “I don’t know” or something similar to this with a cross out and the answer yes written in afterwards, were denied early clearance from detention and were subject to possibly being relocated. Those who passed were often permitted to leave detention upon the promise and agreement that they would not return to the west coast

The Reason Why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is Practiced World Wide

Brazillian-jiu-jitsu

Brazilian jiu jitsu is the only martial art in which differing styles are encouraged. With karate, taekwondo, judo etc., instructors expect students to learn the techniques provided and to memorize them so that they become reflex. Brazilian jiu jitsu teaches students the fundamentals of the sport but also encourages active experimentation so that new techniques and forms can emerge. This has caused jiu jitsu to become world renowned as the style of choice for many mixed martial arts fighters because of its versatility and application across various different fighting styles. The term “jiu jitsu” means “gentle skill” in Japanese, despite the athletic pursuit technically being a Korean fighting style, and is derived from the Japanese term “jū” which means “gentle” in Japanese and the term “jutsu” which means “skill” in Japanese

The Etymology of Guatemala and Traditional Guatemalan Fishing Techniques

Guatemala

The term “Guatemala” comes from the Nahuatl term “Cuauhtēmallān” which means “place of many trees”, a derivative of the K’iche’ Mayan language term for “many trees”. In Guatemala, those who fish commonly do so by using a technique not seen in many other places. People who fish slap the water with the horizontal edge of their machete to stun fish who are swimming nearby. Once stunned, the fish is caught and brought out of the water so that it can be cleaned and consumed

Facebook’s Corporate Practices Regarding Questionable or Offensive Content

Facebook

Due to the fact that Facebook is an advertising organization, first and foremost, Facebook’s directors have strived to setup and implement infrastructure which has been specifically designed to keep people logged into Facebook for as long as possible. Facebook has discovered that a single person with fringe or extreme ideologies, can often provoke dozens of others, which in turn leads to even more engagement with more people, therefore generating greater advertising revenue. Offensive and disturbing content is an example of material which Facebook publicly denounces but internally welcomes as it keeps people signed in and conversing. Every second spent on Facebook is another chance to see a new or repeat advertisement. Unless streamed live, videos of child abuse in the U.S. typically go unreported to law enforcement and are rarely removed from Facebook unless requested to do so by an intervening law enforcement agency. Facebook has implemented a corporate policy in which users and moderators can flag content as disturbing so that users under 18 cannot view said content which is designed to be a reasonable intervention to maintaining a degree of control over the way content is shared, but Facebook purposefully allows questionable content because it provokes discussion and sharing between Facebook users. Censorship is purported as the main reason by Facebook as to why content of this nature is justified, but the true reason is most likely directly correlated to advertising revenue as the more the company earns, the higher its internal value becomes and the higher its internal value becomes, the more investors want to invest in it, which feeds back into a feedback loop causing an even higher valuation of the company. Facebook employs full time experts (e.g. psychologists etc.) to continuously moderate and review policies of acceptable terms of use. Facebook uses the accronym “MAD” which stands for “marked as disturbing” to classify content which many rational adults would argue should be removed. Fortunately, one of Facebook’s policies state that “if a parent or guardian views a video of their child in circumstances which they object to, they have the ability to request and/or demand Facebook moderators to remove the content”. Facebook moderators are forced to follow this corporate policy, however this request must come only from a parent or guardian of the child who is actively participating within the video or image in question. Fortunately, high priority issues (e.g. self-harm and suicide etc.) are sent to a specialized queue in which intervention has a turn around time of 24 hours, but all other flagged content which falls outside of this classification has a turn around time of approximately 5 days which is 5x longer than the standard response time for most technology companies 5x longer than the target Facebook has aimed to achieve. Priority queue material is not always removed however, with many cases involving helpful resources (e.g. digital ebooks, audiobooks, and telephone helpline phone numbers etc.) being sent to the content creator and/or person(s) found within the material, with the actual content itself remaining available for users to view. Facebook argues that removing content flagged as an immediate priority would mean that friends, family, and loved ones would not be aware of the issue (e.g. suicide) affecting the person(s) depicted and therefore would not allow for helpful intervention, rationalizing the distribution of content like this as a means of not only starting an open dialog between affected people, but also allowing them to be put in touch with the resource(s) they need. Facebook’s User Agreement states that no user under 13 years of age is permitted to use Facebook’s services however age violations are only investigated if other Facebook users report another user as being underage. Content which is racist or biased against a particular ethnicity is left available for consumption so long as these critics castigate immigration policy, and not any specific person or group. Highly popular Facebook pages are shielded from these removal policies to a degree and are also protected from ordinary content moderators removing content, only having material able to be removed if senior moderators flag it to be placed into a queue so that it can once again be reviewed by even higher ranking Facebook moderators. Surprisingly, some Facebook pages, particularly the high traffic ones tens of thousands or millions of followers, are afforded the same protection status as that of government and news organization Facebook pages

Edward “Blackbeard” Thatch’s Ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge

Edward-Thatch-Blackbeard

Edward Thatch, commonly referred to as “Blackbeard”, was most likely born in Bristol, England. Thatch’s ship was christened “the Queen Anne’s Revenge” and was originally a French ship sailing under the name “La Concorde”. When captured, Blackbeard freed the crew of La Concorde unharmed but took the ship as plundered loot found upon the high seas