Gods of Olympus, Aliens and The Bermuda Triangle – WIF Top Ten Mystery History

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****An all-time Top 10 WIF Post****


Top 10

Historical

Unsolved Mysteries

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Since the world began, we have been surrounded by mysteries. Some are solved by science, but others remain unexplained and might stay unsolved forever. Some are as ancient as humanity, but our fascination with them keeps them timeless. Here are ten such historical mysteries, to both entertain you and make you wonder.

10. The Fate of Hitler’s Stolen Wealth

hitlers-gold

This is supposedly the greatest and biggest cache ever: an unimaginable hoard of looted gold bars, jewelry, and foreign currency, with an estimated value of $4 billion. These stolen riches disappeared in the blink of an eye from the vaults of the German Reichsbank. In the decades after World War II, troves of looted valuables were found in Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, and Sweden, but they hardly compare in value to Hitler’s supposed hoard.

Groups all over the world are still hunting for his treasure, but even after all these years, the question remains: Where is the gold of Hitler? The only sure thing is that the mystery of the treasure remains unsolved, with all its rumors, speculations, and myths still entwined around it. One of the most popular beliefs is that Hitler himself buried it in a secret location somewhere in Deutschneudorf, Germany. Some treasure hunters believe that the plunder is lying at the bottom of Lake Toplitz in Austria, while others suggest that it’s stashed in banks around the world. The only certain thing is that, when there’s nothing but speculation about the location of a $4 billion treasure, it grows into a legend.

9. The Disappearance of the USS Cyclops

USS-Cyclops

The Bermuda Triangle is famous for mysterious disappearances that have taken place there over the years. Even though scientists are nowadays able to provide logical explanations for most of the disappearances in that area, some have never been explained, including the disappearance of the USS Cyclops, a Proteus-class collier of the US Navy.

During the First World War, the USS Cyclops was sent to Brazil to fuel British ships in the South Atlantic. Returning from Rio de Janeiro, she made a brief stop at the island of Barbados, then departed for Baltimore on the 4th of March, 1918. From that time forward, no one saw or heard anything about the Cyclops ever again. The crew and all 306 passengers vanished once and for all, and no trace of them or the ship has ever been found. It remains the single largest non-combat loss of life in U.S. Naval history. Even though American Naval authorities have tried for years to give a logical explanation, the disappearance remains an absolute mystery with many unanswered questions.

8. Locating the Remains of Christopher Columbus

columbus-purported-tomb

Christopher Columbus is probably the most famous explorer of all time, and we know pretty much everything about his life — except for one mystery: After his death in 1509, his remains continued to travel, and we don’t know where they ended up. Originally buried in the Spanish city of Vigiadolid, in 1537 his bones were transferred to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, in accordance with his wishes. But when the Spanish lost the region to the French in 1795, his remains were transferred to Cuba, where they stayed until the Spanish-American war. They were eventually returned to Seville, Spain, in 1898.

The Dominican Republic’s official version, however, claims that the remains of Columbus never left Hispaniola. In 1877, in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, a box was discovered bearing an inscription stating that the remains inside were those of the “glorious and eminent Cristobal Colon.” A DNA analysis conducted on the bones in Seville, and on those of Columbus’s brother Diego (who is buried in the same city) showed that the two samples matched perfectly. When researchers announced these findings in 2006, the controversy surrounding Columbus’s earthly remains should have come to a definitive end. However, the Dominican Republic openly challenges the results of the DNA testing, and for years has demanded a DNA analysis of the bones in Hispaniola, leaving open a window of doubt.

7. Secrets of the Phaistos Disc

Phaistos_Disc

The Minoan Civilization is considered by most historians to be the first organized Western civilization, and it has been named “the first link in the European chain.” The Phaistos Disc, which was discovered in 1908 by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the ancient city of Phaistos, gave hope to even the least optimistic among us that it would help us understand the Minoan civilization in more detail.

But the Phaistos Disc is a global conundrum that has kept its secrets hidden for thousands of years. Suggestions about what its inscription means include a hymn, a prayer, a geometric theorem for the calendar, and the narrative of a story. However, the global scientific community has not been able to confirm any of these. After decades of research, a diverse team of scientists intensively studying the Minoan language and the text of the Phaistos Disc may have come close to solving one of the biggest mysteries of archaeology, but so far the Disc remains an absolutely unsolved mystery.

6. The “Wow!” Signal

wow-signal

It lasted for 37 seconds, and it came from outer space — but what exactly was it?

On August 15, 1977, astronomer Jerry Ehman, working on a SETI project at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Perkins Observatory, glanced as usual at the prints generated by the radio telescope known as the “Big Ear,” but what he saw this time made him write “Wow!” on the printout. But what did he see exactly that caused such a reaction? According to him, it was the strongest, clearest, and most significant signal ever recorded, and a mystery that astronomers have been debating for decades.

That was thirty-six years ago, and still no one knows what caused the signal or where it came from exactly. The scientific world is unable to provide a clear explanation, strengthening the myth surrounding this case. Even skeptics now wonder if the signal could have been the first human contact with extraterrestrial life.

5. Genghis Khan’s Final Resting Place

genghis-khan-tomb

In 1206, Genghis Khan united the warring tribes of his region, becoming the leader of the Mongols and creating an empire that reached from China to Hungary. But the location of the tomb of the famous warrior has been a mystery since his death in 1227. According to legend, a group of his loyal followers buried him and then killed all the witnesses. All the soldiers and slaves who were present at the funeral were murdered, and horses trampled the burial site to destroy any traces of it. His loyal subjects are even said to have diverted a river to roll over his grave so it could never be detected.

However, the most likely scenario is that Khan was buried near his birthplace in the Khentii Aimag province of Mongolia. Over the years, a number of attempts to locate the tomb were barred by the authorities to prevent disturbing the locals or disrespecting the history of the area, but in 2004 a team of archaeologists discovered the palace of Genghis Khan. It is now speculated that the tomb lies nearby, but after nearly ten years of exploration and search, nothing has been found.

4. Pinpointing the Star of Bethlehem

star-of-bethlehem

For Christians, the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem is a faith-based event, and no further explanation is required. But for scientists and non-Christians, many questions remain. For nearly 2000 years, the bright star has been a mystery. Was it a miracle as the Christian religion teaches, a natural phenomenon, or maybe an alien spacecraft? St. John Chrysostom even suggested that it was not a star, but some unseen force that took this form.

The phenomenon has been the object of intense study for researchers, astronomers, historians, and archaeologists since antiquity. Modern scholars sometimes suggest that it was an unidentified flying object because, according to Scripture, it was visible constantly day and night and did not follow a course from east to west like other stars do. Some British researchers propose that the star of Bethlehem was a bright nova, like the one described by the Chinese in the spring of 5 BC. The great German astronomer Johannes Kepler argued that it was the conjunction of two planets forming a temporary “new star,” and Origen of antiquity (185-254 AD) claimed that it was a bright comet, as did the astronomer A. Stentzel in 1913. But no satisfactory scientific account has been provided to this day, and the mysterious star remains unexplained.

3. The Gods of Olympus Could Have Been Aliens

god-of-war

Is it possible that intelligent life forms visited Earth thousands of years ago, bringing with them technology that drastically affected the course of history and human evolution? If so, would people regard them as Gods? According to a few heretic and alternative historians and scientists, this is exactly what happened. “We modern humans, according to Hesiod, belong to the fifth faction created by Zeus, the iron race, a mixture of good and evil,” says Swiss author Erich Von Daniken.

According to his book Odyssey of the Gods, the ancient Greek gods were in fact extraterrestrial beings with superior intelligence who visited Earth, bringing with them their advanced technology. They were not mythological creatures, but actual space aliens. Of course, none of these theories can be proven historically accurate, but as Von Daniken points out to his doubters, neither can Jesus’s divinity.

2. The Truth Behind Bimini Road

bimini-road

In 1968, under the seabed off the coast of Bimini Island in the Bahamas, divers discovered dozens of huge flat limestone blocks forming a perfectly straight highway one kilometer long – a formation unlikely to be created naturally. Many claim that the blocks are the ruins of an ancient civilization, while others are convinced that this is a unique natural phenomenon.

But none of these explanations can account for a prophecy made in the early decades of the 20th century. A famous prophet and healer of that time, Edgar Cayce, made a prediction in 1938: “Part of the ruins of Lost Atlantis will be discovered in the sea around the islands of Bimini … This will be done in 1968 or 1969.” Cayce’s prediction was indeed oddly – and creepily – accurate.

1. The Identity of the Babushka Lady

babushka-lady

In the films and photos recording the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy, an unknown woman can be seen in the crowd standing near the Kennedy limousine. She is seen wearing a brown coat and a scarf on her head, which gave her the nickname “the Babushka Lady.” In certain moments of the film, this woman seems to be holding a camera up to her eyes. After the shooting, while most people dispersed, the Babushka Lady remained there calmly recording the events. Shortly afterwards, she vanished in the crowds walking up Elm Street.

What makes the case even more bizarre is that although the FBI, through the press, asked this woman to produce her film, she never appeared. In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver claimed to be the Babushka Lady, but her story had many gaps and inaccuracies, and she is largely considered to be a con artist. Nobody knows who the woman with the babushka scarf was, or why she never delivered what she had recorded with her camera.


 Gods of Olympus, Aliens and The Bermuda Triangle

WIF History-001

WIF Top Ten Mystery History

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 97

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 97

…On November 3rd 2054, before the sun sets on Idaho, Chasin Hedley is declared a landslide winner and eventually becomes a beloved #52…

Lake Pend Oreille (Idaho) sunset by Chip Phillips

“What do we tell the “Bassett Hound”? She and her lapdogs are panicking bigtime. Election Day is next week and even the Republican candidate is screaming for answers,” Roy ponders.

“Then it is time we tilt things in our favor. Let’s have Francine go public with that “secret project” we’ve been working on.” The wheels are turning inside Gus’s head. “You guys remember “The Wrath of Khan” don’t you? Life created on a supposed lifeless planet by Kirk’s son – the Genesis Project. Why don’t we claim that we are behind the greening of Mars… nobody but the Chinese has seen the building, so who’s to call us a liar?”

“We need what’s-his-name, that retired Navy Seal to win the election, that’s for sure. Another four years of Bassett equals exactly no good years for us.”

Link to Wikipedia

“That would be Lt. Chasin Hedley! First it was your eyesight, then math and now your short-term memory; I am detecting a disturbing trend.”

“Trend-schmend. Aren’t you going to turn 40 next year?” Roy remembers adopting two orphaned teenagers nearly a quarter-century ago. “My love of this country and expectations for this planet is the only tendency I am aware of. If we give Chasin the scoop on Mars and stand behind him with the “facts”, old Harper Lea won’t know what hit her. Her campaign won’t have time to adjust!”

“Precisely.”

— And so went the Presidential Election of 2054. On November 3rd, before the sun sets on Idaho, Chasin Hedley is declared a landslide winner and eventually becomes a beloved #52, as it goes. The NASA version of Mars’ evolution was bought hook, line & sinker by the American public. Who else on Earth could prove differently? A very, very late October surprise that bleeds into November takes down Harper Lea Bassett, when every single poll had her leading, leading into that fateful week; Dewey beats Truman revisited.

For the folks at GLF it is a passing victory. Former Lieutenant Hedley is indeed a friend to NASA, as long as he agrees to keep war away from the “final frontier”. He is made aware of the sordid truths surrounding Mars, but the issue fades into the background. Out of sight, out of mind is the prescribed idiom of the day.

The citizens of the world who own a Ronco 3000 are few and far enough in between.

Only Gus McKinney and a couple Chinese astronauts have seen Mars close up.

Nada peep from the Chinese.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 97


page 98

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 88

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 88

…Like a cat on a hot tin roof, some 20 billion beings, as disparate as the birth of a star is to a black hole, are longing for the days of old…

… out where Eridanians fear to tread, a coalition of another sort is serves its purpose in the form sharing current events. There is currently no exchange of ambassadors between allied cultures, so traditional forms of communication are vital for the well-being of all concerned.

Seljuk is pleased to learn {from Eridanus} that their disruptor ray and force-field are being put to good use by Earth. They are grieved to hear the news about Princess Cerella’s kidnapping and her eventual medical emergency on Earth, of all places.. They are pleased to know that Ekcello and the rest of the Gifted have been restored to their former giftedness.

…as they say.

In all the news that is fit to print from Seljuk, leader and raconteur Chasonn has some news of his own to share; both bad and good variety.

The bad news is that a gigantic planetary refuge/ship has been launched by the Ÿ€Ð.

The good news is that the entire population were able to escape Ÿ€Ðian home world before it was rear-ended by a sister world.

More possible bad news: they are on a course for Earth.

More possible good news: Chasonn and his people are poised along a path that leads from Galaxy Sexta A to the Milky Way.

No news would be better news.

Chasonn is a peaceful sort on most days, but he has done some scouting of his own and by the looks of Collapsar Axis, nothing good can come of its plodding progression through this greater Great Expanse neighborhood. Of the major civilizations in this sector, Chasonn’s steadying influence has resulted in intergalactic concordance. Nothing bad ever happens over this way, until he lost those three major outposts. And even though no lives were lost, a security blanket has been yanked away from them.

Misplaced security is the common thread intertwining nearly all parties concerned lately. In no particular order, but curiously serendipitous nonetheless, you have the Seljuk incident, the Eridanus episode, the Ÿ€Ð displacement and Earth on pins and needles.

Like a cat on a hot tin roof, some 20 billion beings, as disparate as the birth of a star is to a black hole, are longing for the days of old, i.e. Stardate 2029 when:

  • Chasonn had worked selflessly to make the Triangulum Galaxy a model cluster of stars.
  • Ekcello had the Gifted right where they wanted to be.
  • Earth was poised to colonize Mars.
  • Life was good.

Two decades later, all these feet are being held to the fire.

So what gives?


THE NULL SOLUTION

Coals in a Fire – photo from Mongkol Chakritthakool (footprints added)

Episode 88


page 89

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 87

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 87

…I suspect the United States is attempting to monopolize Mars like they unsuccessfully tried to do with the moon…

Some things are better left unseen {like the Mars metamorphosis}.

The People’s Republic of China has been nosing around the subject of space travel, along with everybody else in the 1950s, but was never a serious contender in the race to the moon. Their focus was on population growth, or rather less of it.

Once the “one child” policy was firmly dictated, the China National Space Administration {CNSA} was formed in 1993. Up until the country filled to the brim with millionaires, China was more concerned with staking their part of a spatial claim and stratospheric spying than launching citizenry into space.

But the times they are a-changing. two pair of space boot tracks can be found {one new set seen removing the American flag} in the Sea of Tranquility, as well as the other five places on the Moon, not an insignificant feat. And recently they placed their dime-store version of Hubble out amongst Earth’s already crowded atmospheric rim. They claim to be watching stars form, but few believe it more than a veiled excuse to keep an eye on solar system goings on.

And just because their own rover and satellite are neutered {like everyone else’s}, no one can accuse them of being blind. Just as Roy feared, someone else has noticed the monkey business going on-on the once barren Red Planet; right up their alley…

“We are going to send our finest astronauts to explore what is happening to Mars,” Zhai Zhigang III, the Comrade General of CNSA, is dying to know, {like everybody else}. “I suspect the United States is attempting to monopolize Mars like they unsuccessfully tried to do with the moon.” He cannot hide his resentment.

Keep in mind that the Chinese knockoff of deep-space travel is akin to their cheap vinyl version of a Coach handbag; it looks the same, but it’s not. SOL technology has eluded their most skilled hackers, spies and thieves. Fitted with their best nuclear propulsion, it will take 2 months, 23 days, seven hours and 10 minutes to reach Mars in the “Year of the Rooster”. Surely, they will crow loudly about thwarting those imperialistic space cowboy Americans. —

— 2 months, 23 days, seven hours and 10 minutes later, they encounter this:

我是如何与为何阻止你的方式

2 + 1 = 6

6  –  2 = 9

0  –  1 = 0

解决了什么和在哪里谁,你可以通过

or

Wǒ shì rúhé yǔ wéi hé zǔzhǐ nǐ de fāngshì

2 + 1 = 6

6  –  2 = 9

0  –  1 = 0

jiějuéle shénme hé zài nǎlǐ shuí, nǐ kěyǐ tōngguò

“Is this a cruel American joke?” The Chinese have always been good with numbers, but they soon find out that nothing adds up. “If we cannot gain the surface and find out what they have done or how they did it, we have wasted the Emperor’s time. Tell the commander of the mission that, ‘If you cannot solve the equations, you will return to Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in disgrace!’… and tell him I mean it.”

Never mind, that for the last four months, 11 days and too many minutes, those diabolical Americans have failed to solve the same numerical conundrum.

Do not tell them that however. Misery is best served dry, with a dash of frustration.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center

Episode 87


page 88

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 85

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 85

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

Fuzzy Math

Fuzzy Math by Sadie Benning

Pilot Gus McKinney will be on his own out in space, though in no uncertain terms is he to engage anyone/thing. “Go in, collect as much data as you can and get out – got it? Do not – no I forbid you to enter Mars atmosphere under any circumstances. Until we know exactly what is going down out there, we do not take chances.” —

NASA photo

— And so it is, with mission guidelines clearly understood, that Gus takes Stellar Explorer out for some old fashioned seat-of-the-pants fact-finding. Just like when man landed on the Moon the first time. The very reason astronaut Armstrong had to jump off the ladder of the lander is because NASA expected the moon dust to be 18” thick not 3. In the same way as good as he is at flying at the speed-of-light, the new/old Mars may hold some surprises.

“No surprises yet Crip,” Gus closes in on the Red Planet quicker than a starving man filing a plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“We show Lorgan on the dark side,” Fletcher Fitch reports, “oh wait…”

“… I see him,” he will be cautious this time, “and now I don’t. For a second there, I thought I saw a reflection of the United Nations… flags everywhere!”

“That old cow has been put to pasture years ago, Gussy.” Rancher/Prez Roy uses a Texas-sized analogy for the ineffective alliance {UN} of nations which the United States booted off its soil in 2025 unceremoniously, once political correctness was properly harnessed.

“Yeah, whatever, I saw what I saw and now I don’t. Nothing surprises me about that thing anymore.”

“Keep an eye on the alert screen just in case. SEx’s sensors ignore mirages.”

He is jolted by to a complete stop not long after the following message appears on the alert monitor:

I am the how & why that blocks your way

2 + 1 = 6

6 – 2 = 9

0 – 1 = 0

Solve the what where & who and you can pass through


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 85


page 86

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 82

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 82

…Jean-Luc uses the time away from Switzerland for a sabbatical of sorts, if one considers conversation about speed-of-light or missing cattle a retreat…

The whole Martian affair should not merit any guesswork, fruitless from such a distance, certainly for King Ranch residents Roy, Francine, Gus, Mindy and recent migrants, Princess Cerella and attending physician Jean-Luc Picard.

Babies Marscie & Joyner make for a full house on the Texas prairie. Joyner can talk before he can walk and Marscie usually cannot wait for naptime. She will stretch it out as long as she can for a little peace and quiet. It is not his English, rather the copious doses of olde language melodies. He doesn’t shut up.

Jean-Luc uses the time for a sabbatical of sorts, if one considers conversation about speed-of-light or missing cattle a retreat. He has managed to occasionally slip away to Texas Children’s Hospital to check out stateside medicine, the main purpose of which is to feed his fascination with nurses of the female persuasion. American women are so American and until he figures out that certain someone on the pediatric ICU floor, he will keep coming back.–

–“Do you know anything of the Star Trek entertainment franchise?” Back in the day, it was right in Roy’s wheelhouse. It acts as an icebreaker excuse to converse with Picard.

“A film may have crossed a device of mine in the past. It is quite amusing. Why do you ask?”

“Tell me your parents didn’t name you after a certain starship captain. It has bugged me ever since I agreed to take your call.”

“Mon pére et mére are bookworms not video aficionados. I am sorry to disappoint you, monsieur.”

Gus McKinney did not have the guts to ask before now, “No? That’s a good thing Jean-Luc. It just took us a while to get used to calling you by name. It just didn’t feel right.”

“My friends call me Locutus.”

It is hard to catch an astronaut off balance.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Related image

Episode 82


page 83

Tourist Attractions that No Longer Exist – WIF Forgotten Travel

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Forgotten Tourist

Attractions that

No Longer Exist

1. Wawoma Tree, Yosemite National Park

Back in 1881 a tunnel was carved through this 2,100-year old sequoia tree in Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park. By the late 1910s (when it’s likely this photograph was taken) the tree was popular with tourists, keen to be pictured driving right through the 234-foot (71.3m) high natural wonder. Even President Theodore Roosevelt visited in 1903.

2. Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Two mammoth Buddha statues – the tallest in the world, in fact – once looked out from a sandstone cliffside in Bamiyan. They were carved in the 6th century, with the tallest topping out at 180 feet (55m). But, in 2001, these Buddhist effigies were destroyed by the Taliban.

3. Duckbill Rock Formation, Oregon

Slide 6 of 39: Named, as you might have guessed, for its likeness to a duck’s bill, this rock formation once drew camera-wielding tourists to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. The sandstone hoodoo stood around seven-foot (2m) tall and, carved out over millennia, had most likely occupied its coastal spot for millions of years.

Named, as you might have guessed, for its likeness to a duck’s bill, this rock formation once drew camera-wielding tourists to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. The sandstone hoodoo stood around seven-foot (2m) tall and, carved out over millennia, had most likely occupied its coastal spot for millions of years.

4. Sutro Baths, San Francisco

Slide 8 of 39: If you picture San Francisco, attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island or Lombard Street might spring to mind. But did you know that the city was once home to the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment? The impressive complex included six saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, with capacity for 10,000 people.

If you picture San Francisco, attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island or Lombard Street might spring to mind. But did you know that the city was once home to the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment? The impressive complex included six saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, with capacity for 10,000 people.

5. Pink and White Terraces, Lake Rotomahana, New Zealand

Slide 10 of 39: Back in the mid-19th century, these gorgeous, naturally formed cascading pools attracted tourists from across the globe and were one of the biggest draws for those visiting the Southern Hemisphere. Often dubbed “the eighth wonder of the world”, they were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Tarawera back in 1886. Now their glory is captured only by a handful of paintings, like this one by English artist Charles Blomfield.

Back in the mid-19th century, these gorgeous, naturally formed cascading pools attracted tourists from across the globe and were one of the biggest draws for those visiting the Southern Hemisphere. Often dubbed “the eighth wonder of the world”, they were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Tarawera back in 1886. Now their glory is captured only by a handful of paintings, like this one by English artist Charles Blomfield.

6. Vidámpark, Budapest, Hungary

Slide 14 of 39: While it may not possess stunning architecture or natural beauty, this former amusement park was an institution for thrill-seekers. The attraction offered several historic rides, including the City Wave Roller, a wooden roller coaster built in 1922, and a carousel built in 1906.

While it may not possess stunning architecture or natural beauty, this former amusement park was an institution for thrill-seekers. The attraction offered several historic rides, including the City Wave Roller, a wooden roller coaster built in 1922, and a carousel built in 1906.

7. Guaíra Falls, Paraguay/Brazil

Slide 16 of 39: Thirty-seven years ago, on the border between Paraguay and Brazil, there lay one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. Comprising a series of 18 falls, with the tallest 130-feet (40m) high, this natural wonder attracted tourists from across the globe, who were captivated by its immense power and beauty.

Thirty-seven years ago, on the border between Paraguay and Brazil, there lay one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. Comprising a series of 18 falls, with the tallest 130-feet (40m) high, this natural wonder attracted tourists from across the globe, who were captivated by its immense power and beauty.

8. West Pier, Brighton, UK

Slide 18 of 39: Today, Brighton’s Palace Pier is a beloved attraction in this seaside town, but just along the coastline you’ll find the skeletal remains of an older pier. Opened in 1866, during the Victorian boom for seaside vacations, the West Pier featured a concert hall, funfair and tearoom and was extremely popular in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Today, Brighton’s Palace Pier is a beloved attraction in this seaside town, but just along the coastline you’ll find the skeletal remains of an older pier. Opened in 1866, during the Victorian boom for seaside vacations, the West Pier featured a concert hall, funfair and tearoom and was extremely popular in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

9. Porcelain Tower, Nanjing, China

Slide 20 of 39: If you’ve ever smashed a piece of porcelain crockery, you might think that a 260-foot (79m) tower made from the stuff is not the smartest idea. Yet, surprisingly, this architectural gem lasted for around 400 years, from the 14th to 19th centuries, before being destroyed by rebels. In its day, it showcased a traditional pagoda style, adorned with colorful Buddhist imagery and lit up by lanterns at night.

If you’ve ever smashed a piece of porcelain crockery, you might think that a 260-foot (79m) tower made from the stuff is not the smartest idea. Yet, surprisingly, this architectural gem lasted for around 400 years, from the 14th to 19th centuries, before being destroyed by rebels. In its day, it showcased a traditional pagoda style, adorned with colorful Buddhist imagery and lit up by lanterns at night.

10. The Hippodrome Theatre, New York City

Slide 22 of 39: If you had walked down to 1120 6th Avenue in New York one hundred years ago, you’d have been greeted by the sight of this spectacular theater. The giant 5,697-seat Hippodrome was the brainchild of entrepreneurs Frederick Thompson and Elmer Scipio Dundy, who enticed new middle-class customers with lower ticket prices and made theater accessible for all.

If you had walked down to 1120 6th Avenue in New York one hundred years ago, you’d have been greeted by the sight of this spectacular theater. The giant 5,697-seat Hippodrome was the brainchild of entrepreneurs Frederick Thompson and Elmer Scipio Dundy, who enticed new middle-class customers with lower ticket prices and made theater accessible for all.

11. Jeffrey Pine, Yosemite

Slide 24 of 39: Yes, it’s just a tree – but it’s possibly one of the most photographed trees ever, after landscape photographer Ansel Adams brought it to fame back in 1940. With its dramatic, keeled-over shape, the tree became a popular photo stop for visitors to Yosemite National Park, and it showed the effects of more than 400 years of windy weather.

Yes, it’s just a tree – but it’s possibly one of the most photographed trees ever, after landscape photographer Ansel Adams brought it to fame back in 1940. With its dramatic, keeled-over shape, the tree became a popular photo stop for visitors to Yosemite National Park, and it showed the effects of more than 400 years of windy weather.

12. Love Locks Bridge, Paris

Slide 26 of 39: This quirky tradition saw tourists flocking to the City of Love to express their amor by signing theirs and their partner's names on padlocks, before attaching them to the Pont des Arts over the River Seine. The practice became so popular that at one point the bridge contained one million padlocks weighing around 45 tons.

This quirky tradition saw tourists flocking to the City of Love to express their amor by signing theirs and their partner’s names on padlocks, before attaching them to the Pont des Arts over the River Seine. The practice became so popular that at one point the bridge contained one million padlocks weighing around 45 tons.

13. Penn Station, New York City

Slide 30 of 39: The former Penn Station, opened in 1910, was a striking sight: designed in the Beaux Arts style, it featured pink granite, vaulted glass windows, giant stone pillars and archways. Unfortunately, like many grand buildings, it cost a hefty sum to maintain, so in 1962 it was demolished – despite the backlash from many New Yorkers.

The former Penn Station, opened in 1910, was a striking sight: designed in the Beaux Arts style, it featured pink granite, vaulted glass windows, giant stone pillars and archways. Unfortunately, like many grand buildings, it cost a hefty sum to maintain, so in 1962 it was demolished – despite the backlash from many New Yorkers.

14. Royal Opera House, Valletta, Malta

Slide 32 of 39: When Valletta’s Royal Opera House was built in the 1860s, it was a neo-classical jewel drawing big-name Maltese and international artists, as well as up-and-coming acts. Sadly, though, its life was short. In the 1870s, the venue was ravaged by fire and its interior was badly damaged. 

When Valletta’s Royal Opera House was built in the 1860s, it was a neo-classical jewel drawing big-name Maltese and international artists, as well as up-and-coming acts. Sadly, though, its life was short. In the 1870s, the venue was ravaged by fire and its interior was badly damaged.

15. The Azure Window, Gozo, Malta

Slide 36 of 39: You might recognize this stunning natural formation – it’s been featured in Game of Thrones, The Count of Monte Cristo and Clash of Titans, as well as on many an Instagram feed. The arch was formed by the collapse of a coastal cave, probably in the 19th century, and was a popular spot for photographs.

You might recognize this stunning natural formation – it’s been featured in Game of ThronesThe Count of Monte Cristo and Clash of Titans, as well as on many an Instagram feed. The arch was formed by the collapse of a coastal cave, probably in the 19th century, and was a popular spot for photographs.

16. Crystal Palace, London, UK

Slide 38 of 39: Once a Victorian masterpiece, this impressive glass and steel structure was built in 1851 in London’s Hyde Park – it was later moved to Penge Place, in the south of the capital, where it remained for 82 years. In the palace's heyday, its grounds were home to a mind-boggling array of delights: a roller coaster, festivals, cricket matches and even a garden complete with model dinosaurs.

Once a Victorian masterpiece, this impressive glass and steel structure was built in 1851 in London’s Hyde Park – it was later moved to Penge Place, in the south of the capital, where it remained for 82 years. In the palace’s heyday, its grounds were home to a mind-boggling array of delights: a roller coaster, festivals, cricket matches and even a garden complete with model dinosaurs.


Tourist Attractions that

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WIF Forgotten Travel

SuperVolcano Handbook – WIF Geology

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Terrifying (Dormant)

Super Volcanoes

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A supervolcano is defined as having the capacity to produce an eruption so big that it can eject around 240 cubic miles of volcanic material in the form of molten rock, hot gases, and ash. That’s roughly one thousand times more than the largest volcanic eruption ever recorded in modern human history. Supervolcanoes are formed when a momentous volume of super-heated magma rises from deep underground, but is unable to penetrate the Earth’s crust and creates a huge, high-pressure pool several miles beneath the surface. As time passes, pressures rise and this massive pool of magma grows, until a mega eruption takes place.

 These kinds of eruptions have taken place in the past, and will do so again. It is estimated that such a blast takes place somewhere around the globe every 50 to 60 thousand years or so, with the last one going off 74,000 years ago, in Indonesia. So far, 40 supervolcanoes have been discovered, with seven of them still active. Not even with today’s technology are we able to stop any of these volcanoes from erupting, and the best thing we can do right now is to monitor them, learn as much as we can, and prepare for their aftermath.
cal·de·ra
/kalˈderə,kôlˈderə,kalˈdirə/        noun
  1. a large volcanic crater, especially one formed by a major eruption leading to the collapse of the mouth of the volcano.

10. The Apocalyptic Eruption of a Supervolcano

We have to make a couple of things clear right from the beginning. For starters, we know relatively little about how supervolcanoes are formed, and we know even less about what sets one off. However, recent geologic studies have shown us that super volcanoes are not like other ordinary volcanoes, especially when it comes to the causes that make them erupt. While an ordinary volcano is triggered by internal mechanisms, like magma pressure building up over time and eventually punching through the rock, a supervolcano is triggered by the above Earth’s crust which, due to the huge size of the magma chamber below, becomes highly unstable and forms cracks and faults. Through these faults, the magma can generate an unstoppable chain reaction that would lead to a devastating and inevitable explosion, the likes of which can extinguish most life on the planet. Because of this fact, it’s far more difficult to estimate when a supervolcano will erupt.

One such ancient eruption took place around the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs. Coinciding with another cataclysmic event (the meteor that struck the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago), the area of what is now known as the Deccan Traps in central India was the site of a huge volcanic eruption. Even before India slammed into the Asian continent, one of the largest volcanic structures made its presence felt for nearly 30,000 years. It now consists of more than 6,500 feet of flat-lying basalt lava flows, covering an area of roughly 200,000 square miles (almost the size of the Washington and Oregon combined). It’s estimated that the original area was three times that size, but shrank due to erosion and plate tectonics. The present volume of volcanic material is somewhere around 122,835 cubic miles, as compared to the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, which spewed out only around 0.24 cubic miles of lava.

An even larger and more destructive event occurred some 235 million years ago in what’s now Siberia, which triggered the Great Dying event, where 75% of all land life and 95% of marine life went extinct. But the largest volcanic eruption in Earth’s past 300 million years took place underwater, and began 125 million years ago. It created a plateau 19 miles thick and 750,000 square miles wide (1% of the Earth’s surface), called Ontong Java, north of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It released about 24 million cubic miles of lava, and was 100 million times more powerful than the Mount St. Helens eruption.

9. The Hellish Pyroclastic Flows That Soon Follow

Immediately following a volcanic eruption, an equally, if not deadlier event takes place. This is a pyroclastic flow, which instantly killed many of the people in the ancient Roman town of Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted. When a volcano goes off, besides the eruption column that forms above the crater, another, deadlier ash-cloud surge flows down the slopes in all directions and at incredibly high speeds (up to 450 mph). This is a fluidized mixture of solid and semi-solid fragments of rock, ash and incredibly hot expanding gases which act similarly to a snow avalanche. Everything that is caught in this flow will be killed instantaneously as temperatures inside it can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find yourself on a path of one of these pyroclastic flows, there is absolutely nowhere to run or anywhere to hide. The gases are so toxic, they wreck the lungs almost instantaneously, while the water inside tissue is simply boiled off.

In a supervolcano, the ash in a pyroclastic flow would be so hot that it would turn into lava once it touched back onto the ground. This would lead to lava flows hundreds of miles away from the volcano itself. Because of the extremely high speeds an “avalanche” like this usually travels, a phenomenon known as “viscous heating” takes place. Basically, the force moving these solid volcanic materials through the air adds to their overall temperature, making them even hotter and thus turning them into lava midair. Any life found in the vicinity, but not caught in this hurricane of incandescent materials hurtling towards them, would be killed by the poisonous gases that are released after the pyroclastic flow dies off. The area engulfed by the flow would be covered by up to 700 feet of debris.

8. A Volcanic Winter is Coming!

Now you may be inclined to believe that, even though huge and deadly, supervolcanoes would wreak havoc on a local level. But this could not be further from the truth. While the popular image of volcanic destruction is that of molten rock engulfing everything in its path, far greater devastation takes place high in the air. A supervolcanic eruption column can rise up to 15 miles and the ash, which is dispersed by winds, can blanket the skies for years to come. The toxic gases react in the stratosphere, blocking out solar radiation and drastically cooling the atmosphere below. The resulting volcanic winter, along with other effects like acid rain, can affect the whole planet, disrupting natural cycles and annihilating plant life, on which other organisms, like us humans, depend.

In just several days after the blast, the skies would be dark and deadly, with fallout reaching distances of 1,750 miles from the volcano. Five hundred miles away, ash could settle up to 3 feet deep. Within this zone, movement would be impossible, roads invisible, air travel grounded and people outdoors would not be able to see where they were going, and would probably suffocate. Wet ash would collapse rooftops, short circuit power lines, and clog car engines and power station reservoirs. Nuclear power plants would be forced to close and lawlessness could take over.

Those living in the path of the ash cloud would need to protect themselves with masks and visors. This is because volcanic ash is in fact rock which has been blown apart into tiny pieces and transformed into minute shards of glass with jagged edges. In its fine powder form, this ash is easily inhaled into the lungs, and people and animals can suffer a slow and painful death caused by the rare Marie’s disease. As the lungs fail, the skeletal system goes out of control, rapidly depositing new bone on top of old. This will affect people living even one thousand miles away and within a month of the eruption.

A simulation conducted on what happened during the last time Yellowstone erupted, some 640,000 years ago, showed that in one month’s time, the cloud of fine ash and dust covered the entire Northern Hemisphere and within 18 months the average worldwide temperature dropped by 10 degrees C. As a result, sea ice rapidly grew in the Arctic, reflecting even more of the sun’s rays. This in turn led to a severe rainfall decline, and oceans and land areas retaining more CO2. All of these factors lead to a drop in biological productivity, with food supplies lasting just mere weeks in some areas. According to the analysis, it took roughly 20 years for the planet to recover to its pre-eruption period. So, if the blast and pyroclastic flow of a super volcano can kill millions of people (depending on where it is situated), the volcanic winter that follows will most likely kill billions all over the globe.

7. Aira Caldera, Kyushu, Japan

Now that you have an idea of what a supervolcano is and what devastating effects it can have, we’ll be talking about the seven such active volcanoes we currently know about. The first one is the Aira Caldera, located in southern Japan on the island of Kyushu. At first glance, the Sakura-jima volcano, at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay, looks like any other ordinary volcano. Even though it’s been in near continuous eruption since 1955, and threatening the nearby city of Kagoshima (population of 500,000 people), Sakura-jima doesn’t really stand out from the many volcanoes that dot the Pacific Ring of Fire.

This is highly misleading, as Sakura-jima is just the tip of a much larger and far more dangerous volcano. The fact that it’s positioned on an island in the middle of a bay is the first clue. This is because Kagoshima Bay itself is in fact the infamous Aira Caldera. A caldera, as opposed to a volcanic crater, is a huge depression in the ground which formed after a previous supervolcanic eruption. As the magma chamber emptied, the ground above sank in and partially filled the hole left behind. This caldera in particular formed after a huge eruption about 22,000 years ago, with Sakura-jima beginning to sprout 9,000 years later. Today this volcano acts as a mere vent for the much larger, 150 square mile caldera it sits on. When this supervolcano last erupted, it spewed out roughly 14 cubic miles of material.

Japanese scientists believe that a volcanic eruption big enough to disrupt the whole country has a 1% chance of happening in the next 100 years. With the many tremors that take place around Kagoshima Bay on a daily basis, the Aira Caldera is among the top on that list. If it were to erupt today, lava and pyroclastic flows, as well as ash clouds, could engulf areas where 5 million people currently live. Another 120 million people would be severely affected by ash fallout, which makes up pretty much the whole of Japan.

6. Taupo Caldera, North Island, New Zealand

Lying beneath the surface of one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth sits the Taupo supervolcano. Located on the North Island in New Zealand, this caldera is currently covered by the country’s largest lake, Lake Taupo. This volcano began forming some 300,000 years ago, with the present caldera coming into existence around 25,000 BC, in what is called the Oruanui Eruption. It ejected somewhere around 288 cubic miles of volcanic material to the surface when it erupted. Today the magma chamber is situated some 5 miles beneath the surface, and is responsible for the largest eruption in the past 5,000 years.

This last major eruption at Lake Taupo took place around 200 AD from vents near Horomatangi Reefs (now submerged). The eruption plume reached heights of 30 miles into the air, well into the stratosphere. The pyroclastic flows that followed engulfed the surrounding area, 55 miles in all directions. This was the largest such event in recorded history, with the Kaimanawa mountains climbing one mile in a matter of minutes. The lake itself was blocked at its mouth, raising the water levels by 112 feet. This natural dam eventually broke out in a huge flood, the effects of which can be traced for over 125 miles downstream, and which include boulder beds and buried forests. It is quite possible that this eruption was the cause for the red sunsets the ancient Romans and Chinese recorded at that time.

5. Toba Caldera, Sumatra, Indonesia

The Toba caldera in Indonesia is responsible for producing the largest volcanic eruption in the past 2 million years. It is also the largest at 18 by 60 miles, which makes a total surface area of over 1000 square miles. This caldera probably formed in stages after eruptions occurred about 840,000, 700,000, and 75,000 years ago. This last one was the largest, spewing out a whopping 670 cubic miles of lava, ash and gas. Pyroclastic flows covered an area of at least 7,700 square miles, with the island of Samosir being engulfed by a thick, 1,800 foot blanket of tuff (pyroclastic debris). The resulting ash from the eruption covered an area at least 1.54 million square miles, and reached distances some 4,350 miles away.

Many scientists believe that this Young Toba Tuff eruption from 75,000 years ago put an incredible strain on the early human population still living in East Africa. So much so that it created a bottleneck from which only a mere couple of thousand people managed to survive. While this close call with extinction humanity faced back then actually happened, recent discoveries seem to point out that Toba wasn’t the main contributor. Archaeological investigations indicate that East Africa’s climate wasn’t so severely affected by the blast and its aftermath as to kill off almost all of humanity. What did it, however, is still a matter of debate. Nevertheless, it seems that the volcanic winter that ensued dropped Earth’s climate by at least 5 degrees C. and may have triggered a new ice age.

4. Valles Caldera, New Mexico, United States

Despite a very green, tranquil and inviting landscape present in New Mexico’s Valles Caldera National Reserve, the presence of hot springs, gas seeps and occasional tremors indicate a disturbing presence hiding underground. The volcanic caldera found there is relatively small compared to others here on this list, but at 14 square miles, it’s quite a hike to walk it from one end to the other. It’s also not the first here, as it collapsed over and buried the older Toledo caldera, which in turn covered previous ones.

This volcano had two mega eruptions in the past 2 million years, one 1.7 and the other 1.2 million years ago, piling up to 150 cubic miles debris and spewing ash as far away as Iowa. The last eruption here took place roughly 50 to 60,000 years ago, but this blast was far smaller in comparison. Though unlikely to erupt in the near future, the Valles Caldera lies above the intersection of the Rio Grande rift and the Jemez lineament, and its volcanic activity is due to tectonic movement along this crossroads. This makes this particular volcano highly unpredictable and hard to pinpoint a future eruption. With nearly 40 deep wells that have resulted in extensive subsurface data, the Valles caldera is the best explored caldera complex in the United States.

3. Campi Flegrei Caldera, Naples, Italy

Everybody knows that the residents of the city of Naples in Italy have always lived in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, which completely wiped off the map the town of Pompeii in 79 AD. What most people don’t know, however, is that on the other side of the city rests a 13 square mile caldera known as Campi Flegrei (burning fields). This caldera makes part of the city’s westernmost outskirts, as well as the Gulf of Pozzuoli. This volcano went through two major eruptions in the past, 47,000 and 36,000 years ago, with smaller periods of activity at relatively regular intervals of roughly 4,000 years. Two eruptions have occurred in recent history, one in 1158 at Solfatara and the other in 1538, which formed the Monte Nuovo cinder cone we see today.

More recently however, back in 2013, a series of earthquakes put the residents of Naples in a state of unrest. Satellite imagery has indicated that the land on top the seemingly dormant caldera had risen by 1 inch in the course of a month, with some regions raising as much as 4 inches. Since the land hasn’t yet receded back to its original state, scientists believe that the chamber beneath the city has filled with about 148 million cubic feet of magma. This is not nearly enough magma to be a major cause for concern, as a super eruption needs a lot more in order to occur. Nevertheless, volcanologists need to keep a very close eye on Campi Flegrei, as these tremors can cause major faults throughout the city of Naples. But if it ever erupts to its full potential, all life in Europe could be lost.

2. Long Valley Caldera, California, United States

Close to the Nevada state line, in east-central California, lays the 200 square mile Long Valley caldera, just south of Mono Lake. The biggest eruption that occurred here took place some 760,000 years ago and unleashed around 3,000 times more lava and other volcanic material than Mount St. Helens in 1980. The ash that ensued reached as far away as Nebraska and the ground above the magma chamber dropped by approximately one mile. What is most worrisome here is that in 1980, after a swarm of earthquakes, roughly half of the caldera had risen by about 10 inches. Ten years later, CO2 and other poisonous gases began to seep through the ground, killing off trees and other vegetation in the Mammoth Mountain part of the caldera.

What sets aside the Long Valley caldera from all others is the fact that, as volcanologists like to put it, this volcano has a split personality. By this they mean that this supervolcano can generate two distinct types of eruptions at once. The first style is a gloppy, not very explosive lava called basalt that poses little blast danger unless it contacts groundwater or snow. The other is richer in glass, called silicic magma, which tends to be more explosive in nature. The official prognosis puts an eruption on any given year at less than 1%, which is somewhat equal to the San Andreas Fault letting loose another magnitude 8 earthquake like the one that destroyed San Francisco in 1906 on any given day.

1. Yellowstone Caldera, Wyoming, United States

Unbeknownst to many tourists who visit Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is the fact that they are actually walking on probably humanity’s biggest natural threat. Several miles beneath their feet lies the largest pocket of magma we currently know about. It is estimated that there’s enough magma in there to fill the Grand Canyon to the brim, eleven times over. The entire national park and the surrounding area form the huge caldera. The caldera is about 1,500 square miles and can fit the entire city of Tokyo in its perimeter.

Yellowstone has been active for a very long period of time and has erupted on different sites, as North America moved over it on its tectonic journey west. Its last three eruptions took place 2.1 million years ago, 1.2 million years ago and 640,000 years ago and were about 6,000, 700 and 2,500 times larger than the St. Helens eruption, respectively. Last time it erupted, it released around 600 square miles of lava on the continent and covered most of the present-day United States in a thick layer of ash. Looking at the pattern of previous eruptions, it looks like Yellowstone could be preparing itself for a new one. However, volcanologists believe that it’s not quite there yet. Nevertheless, the grounds of the caldera have been rising and falling for thousands of years, which clearly indicate that the volcano is still brewing. If and when it finally decides to blow, it is fairly possible that all of the above mentioned catastrophes will happen. Most of the country would be covered in ash, with three feet of ash falling more than 500 miles away, as far as Denver.

A volcanic winter will probably ensue and it could last for up to 20 or more years, lowering overall temperatures by at least 11 degrees C. Together with the humongous amount of poisonous gases like CO2, the planet will then begin to warm up exponentially, similar to the Great Dying event of 235 million years ago. As the planet and oceans back then began to heat up, the vast quantities of methane hydrate (30 trillion tons), which lie frozen on the ocean floor even to this day, began to surface and heat up the planet by another 5 degrees in a positive feedback cycle.

The most frightening thing here, and far more probable than an imminent super eruption, is that what that ancient volcano managed to do in some 500,000 years, in terms of CO2 production and an initial warming of the planet, we humans can achieve in maybe two centuries. One of which has already passed.


SuperVolcano Handbook

WIF Geology

Human Trafficking – WIF Atrocities Spotlight

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Worst Countries

for

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the most despicable crimes that one person can commit against another, and it is sadly way too common. The FBI says that it is the third biggest criminal activity. Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, which is modern day slavery, and according to the United Nations, about 20 percent of victims are children. It’s also a global problem and countries in every region of the world are affected by it; this includes first world countries.

 Often, people who are desperate for work or food can either be tricked or even kidnapped into slavery. Then, through force or coercion, they are made slaves who work for little or no pay. This work includes forced labor, domestic servitude, and prostitution, to name just a few.

The most comprehensive study on human trafficking is the annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), which is published every year by the American Department of Justice. The reports go back to 2001 and they have a three tier rating system. The worst countries are Tier 3, which are “Countries whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.” Currently, every single one of these countries are Tier 3, and have a history of being Tier 3.

10. Algeria

Algeria is the largest country in Africa, and because of its location, it’s a hotbed for human trafficking. It’s a North African country and is the gateway to Europe for migrants from Mali, Niger, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, and Nigeria. It’s common for people to voluntarily enter Algeria so they can take a boat to Europe. However, many times after entering Algeria their journey to Europe is thwarted; usually they run out of money, or their money is stolen. Being in a foreign country with no money means that these people are sometimes left with no choice but to work as sex workers, laborers, domestic servants, or they are forced to beg until they collect enough money to pay traffickers to get them to Europe.

Another possibility is that they are brought into Algeria by traffickers, and then owe a debt that needs to be paid before they can continue on to Europe. The problem is that it’s very hard to get out of debt because they don’t make a legal wage, while interest on the debt always makes the debt larger. Or the employer could give them a place to live and food to eat, and that adds to the debt, essentially making them slaves.

For years, Algeria denied that they had a human trafficking problem, despite being a Tier 2 or 3 country on the Department of Justice’s Trafficking In Persons report (TOP) since 2004. It wasn’t until 2015 that they acknowledged the problem, and in December of that year, the Algerian government rolled out a plan on how to deal with human trafficking. However, in the year that followed, no one was convicted of human trafficking related crimes.

9. Venezuela

Since 2002, Venezuela has drifted between Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3 on the TIP report, which is like hovering between a D- versus an F. However, things got really bad in 2015 when the Venezuelan economy had a downturn. When it did, the rates of human trafficking tripled.

Among the people who are trafficked out of the country, 55 percent are adults, 26 percent are young girls, and 19 percent are young boys. Often, they are lured into trafficking by the promise of high paying jobs. Instead, they are sent to countries in the Caribbean, where they are forced into the sex trade or domestic servitude.

The main reason that Venezuela is constantly on the bottom of the list when it comes to worst countries for human trafficking is because they do very little to combat it. They have strict laws surrounding it, but it’s rare if anyone is prosecuted under the laws. Since 2013, only three people have been convicted under the human trafficking laws in Venezuela. Unless the government cracks down on human trafficking, it will continue to be a plague on the country.

8. Sudan and South Sudan

Two civil wars between Muslims, who live in northern Sudan, and Christians and Animists, who live in the south, led to South Sudan gaining its independence in 2011. When South Sudan seceded, they were debt free and it was a middle income country because they exported oil. However, within just five years, thanks to corruption, South Sudan is now impoverished and the 16th poorest country in the world. Sudan is a little better off, but it’s still the 52nd poorest country. Both countries also have a horrible problem with human trafficking.

Both countries are source and destination countries for human trafficking, and Sudan is also a transit country. People are brought into countries by Sudanese and South Sudanese employers, especially those who own restaurants, construction companies, and hotels. They lure people from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the promise of work and then enslave them.

A big market in both countries is child slaves. Children, as young as 10, are used for a whole series of jobs, including construction, market vending, shoe shining, car washing, rock breaking, brick making, delivery cart pulling, and begging. Girls are also subject to sex work in restaurants, hotels, and brothels.

7. Belarus

Belarus is a country in Eastern Europe that is landlocked between Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Latvia. It is different than many of the other countries on this list, because in a lot of countries, human trafficking is usually controlled by organized crime syndicates. However, in Belarus, it is state-sponsored.

There are several ways the Belarus government can enslave people. One is through a 2015 presidential decree that makes unemployed people pay a fee to the state or they are forced to do community service. If you’re unemployed, there is a good chance you can’t pay the fee, so this leads to community service, meaning unemployed people are forced to work for the government without being paid.

Another presidential decree ordered that workers in the wood processing industry would be given bonuses every month. However, if they resigned, then they would have to pay back the bonuses. If they don’t repay the bonuses, the courts can force them to continue to work in the industry while being watched by law enforcement.

A third decree that is troubling to the DOJ and the UN is that alcoholics and drug addicts can be detained for 12 to 18 months in something called “medical labor centers.” At these centers, people are forced to work, and if they don’t, they can be locked into solitary confinement.

Other laws in Belarus that show the systematic use of human trafficking is that high school and university students are forced to work on farms without pay. Parents who had their paternal rights taken away are subject to compulsory labor, and the government keeps 70 percent of their wages. Finally, government workers and private businesses are forced to work occasionally on Saturdays and then donate all their earnings on those days to state projects. If they don’t, they can face fines, or lose their business licenses or government contracts.

Due to the conditions in Belarus, people try to leave the country, making it a source country for human traffickers, while others are lured there with the promise of work and then they are subjected to forced labor.

6. North Korea

North Korea has one of the most unique human trafficking situations in the world. One reason is that it is almost exclusively a source country for people to be trafficked out of. That’s because of how terrible the conditions are in the country, which includes forced labor camps that house 80,000 to 120,000 people – many of whom have not been charged with a crime. This means that North Koreans fleeing the country can be highly susceptible to human traffickers.

Another way that North Korea is unique in the human trafficking industry is that they also deploy 110,000 to 120,000 forced laborers to 20 to 40 other countries. This apparently makes the Kim Jong-Un regime anywhere from $150 million to $2.3 billion a year. However, the workers only receive 10 percent of their pay after they return to North Korea, usually after a three year stint.

One of these countries that rent slaves is Qatar, who are preparing their country for World Cup 2022.

5. Russia

By surface area, Russia is the biggest country in the world, and is home to 140 million people. It is also the only G8 country that is a Tier 3 country when it comes to human trafficking.

It’s believed that anywhere from 5 to 12 million migrants are working in Russia in conditions that are close to slavery, if not outright slavery. This includes working in underground garment factories, being public transport drivers, and working in construction and agriculture. Also, women and children are forced into prostitution.

How it usually works in Russia is that wages are withheld, or come extremely late. This makes the migrants incur a debt that is impossible to get out of. Employers will also take away migrant workers’ passports, so they can’t leave.

One reason that human trafficking in Russia is such a problem is because of corruption within the Russian government. There are allegations that Russian officials facilitate the entry of migrants into the country for exploitation, and other officials receive bribes to not investigate human trafficking crimes.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Russian government is also directly involved in human trafficking. In the last entry, we talked about how North Korea deploys workers to other countries for slave labor. One of those countries that “lease” North Korean slaves is Russia. In a state-to-state agreement, 20,000 North Korean workers every year are sent to Russia to work in different industries, especially logging.

Since the Russian government is benefiting from human trafficking, don’t expect Russia to move up any tiers on the TIP report any time soon.

4. Syria

Something that helps human trafficking flourish is instability in a country, which makes Syria one of the worst places for human trafficking. Of course, the source of their instability is the most devastating war of the 21st century, so far.

The civil war got its start in March 2011, after 15 boys between the ages of 10 and 15 were brutally tortured, one to the point of death, for writing graffiti supporting the Arab Spring. This led to protests, and to quash the protests, President Bashar al-Assad’s government ordered hundreds of protesters to be killed and imprisoned. This led to defections in the army, and the defectors organized rebellion forces to bring down the Assad government. The war, which is still ongoing, displaced half of Syria’s population, which is 12 million people. Four million were able to flee the country, but 7.6 million are still displaced inside Syria.

People fleeing from dangers, like a civil war, create ideal conditions for human trafficking because traffickers are parasites that thrive on desperation. It makes victims easy to lure into slavery. Imagine if your home was destroyed by a missile, and the only thing you had were the clothes on your back? Not even the government can help you, because they could have been the ones that fired the missile at your home. What choice do you have when someone comes up to you and says that they can help?

Unfortunately, this is a reality for many Syrians who were forced to flee their homes. Once in the custody of the traffickers, the people, especially women and girls, are shipped out to neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, where they are forced into prostitution, labor, and domestic servitude.

What makes the human trafficking situation so much worse in Syria is that it is also a destination country. During the civil war, the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was able to seize two areas of the war torn country. Women and children are trafficked into these two areas. The woman and girls are forced into marriages with ISIL fighters, where they become domestic slaves and face abuse and sexual violence. Boys as young as 6-years-old are used in warfare. Sometimes they are sent to school and taught how to use weapons or they are trained to be suicide bombers. Others are used as human shields and executioners; ISIL has been known to get Syrian children to behead Syrian soldiers.

Besides ISIL, other armed groups, like Ahrar Al-Sham, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and Kurdish forces control different areas of the country, and they also traffick in women and children. Needless to say, the situation in Syria is horrifying. Until there is peace, human trafficking in the country will be impossible to stop.

3. Yemen

As we mentioned in the opening, based on the DOJ’s TIP report, the worst offenders of human trafficking are considered Tier 3. However, there is another category called “special cases.” They’re “special” because the countries are so unstable that it’s hard to get any real figures to understand the true scope of the human trafficking problem.

The first of those countries is Yemen, which is an Arab country found at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. For the past five decades, there have been several civil wars in Yemen. In 2011, the country became more tumultuous after President Ali Abdallah Saleh stepped down after being injured in a rocket attack. The hope was that his resignation would end the civil unrest, but it didn’t work and in March 2015, civil war broke out between forces that are loyal to the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, which is internationally recognized, and forces that are loyal to the Houthi rebel movement. Added to the mix is that ISIL and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), an Al-Qaeda franchise, both control areas of the country.

Before the civil war, Libya had a terrible track record for human trafficking as a destination and transit country for migrants from the Horn of Africa. It was also known as a sex tourist area for people from the Gulf. Child labor was also fairly common, as there were 1.7 million children under the age of 14 who were subject to forced labor.

Experts believe a lot of those activities are still going on, but they have no official data because of how unstable the country is. What they do know is that, due to the conflict, over 3 million people have been displaced, and much like in the case of Syria, human traffickers prey upon those displaced people.

Children are particularly hard hit in Yemen. Boys are forced to be laborers, work in shops, or beg, while both boys and girls are shipped to Saudi Arabia, where they are forced to work as prostitutes. Boys, sometimes as young as 10, are also used as soldiers by government forces (yes, the same one that is internationally backed), the Houthi rebel forces, and the AQAP.

2. Libya

The second special case is Libya, which is found in northern Africa between Algeria and Egypt. Libya is an oil rich country that was controlled by dictator Muammar Gaddafi before a civil war led to Gaddafi being ousted and killed in 2011. However, even before his downfall, Libya was a magnet for human traffickers because of its position between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, and because Gaddafi’s regime profited from trafficking.

However, after Gaddafi’s ousting, no real government has taken its place and different areas of the country are controlled by different armed groups. This includes ISIL and Al-Qaeda, and has led to an explosion of human trafficking. It’s the second biggest industry in Libya, just behind oil.

Many people are detained on their way from Africa to Europe and held for ransom. During detainment, people are held in overcrowded centers where they’re tortured, arbitrarily murdered, and sexually assaulted. The conditions are so horrendous that before women head to Libya, they take contraceptives to avoid getting pregnant by rapists. Sometimes these detention centers are state-sponsored, while others are controlled by militias.

Besides the horrid detention centers, like many other countries on this list, men are forced to become laborers, women and girls are forced into the sex trade, and boys are recruited by militia groups. Unfortunately, until Libya starts to get some stability, their nightmarish human trafficking problem will only get worse.

1. Somalia

If you were hoping that “special cases” were just temporary designations for a country because something horrible and unforeseeable happened that would dramatically increase the amount of human trafficking, like a natural disaster, war, or genocide, and the label would go away once that issue was dealt with… well, the African country of Somalia should demystify any notions of that. In 2016, Somalia was labeled a special case for a 14thconsecutive year.

Somalia is at the tip of the Horn of Africa and is one of the poorest countries in the world. A lot of problems in the country stem back to 1991, when President Mohamed Siad Barre, who assumed power in 1969 after a military coup, was ousted. After that, the country fell into anarchy. Different areas of the country were controlled by warlords who ruled over clans. Since then, there have been attempts at peace, but the war is still ongoing 26 years later. A new government was finally elected in 2012, after 21 years without a central government, and they have been slowly moving towards stability. However, the government doesn’t have much control over the six states that make up the country. Also, Al-Shabaab (a terrorist organization) controls some rural areas of the country.

Of course, since Somalia had the same amount of laws as the world of The Walking Dead for over two decades, human trafficking has been pretty rampant there. It’s hard to verify any of the trafficking problems, but it’s believed that men, women, and children are used for forced labor, domestic servitude, and the sex trade. Things are so bleak in the country that sometimes parents are forced to give their children up to traffickers.

Child soldiers are also quite common, as the Somali government uses them, as do two states. To be fair, the Somali government doesn’t issue birth certificates, so it’s hard to verify ages. However, Al-Shabaab has been known to recruit neglected children and use them as soldiers, assassins, suicide bombers, to plant roadside bombs and other explosives, and finally, as human shields during incursions.


Human Trafficking

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