Crazy But True – WIF Conspiracies

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Crazy Conspiracies

That Turned Out

to be True

Conspiracy theories will always fire up the imaginations of even the most reasonable of us. It’s fascinating to imagine a bunch of people in a dark room, controlling actions from their chairs and encouraging events that change the course of the world, with no one truly being the wiser. Now, most conspiracy theories are flimsy nonsense that are obviously full of holes and not true at all. However, some conspiracy theories have more truth than most people would ever imagine. In some situations, there really was a group of people in a dark room conspiring to massively pull the wool over the eyes of others, in order to change the course of the world.

10. The US Government Once Planned A False Flag Operation Against Their Own People

When most people hear about the 9/11 conspiracy theories, they have very similar reactions. Most people believe that the amount of complexity and manpower required to pull off such an operation would have meant that we would have had far too many people snitching about what happened for the conspirators to ever get away with it. People also seem skeptical that the government would ever even consider something so horrific. However, while it seems like something out of a dark fantasy, the truth is that the United States government has, at the highest levels, planned similar operations in the past.

During the Kennedy years, the United States greatest threat were the Cubans led by Fidel Castro, and some in the government were looking for an excuse to start an actual ground war with the Cubans — something they wanted to get public support for both at home and around the world. It was to achieve this goal that the joint chiefs of staff at the time came up with a plan, and proposed it to JFK, to attack United States citizens and property (while pretending to be Cubans) as part of a false flag effort to gain support for a war. Kennedy was very angry and told them it was a terrible, immoral idea and that they were to shelve it and never bring it up again. However, while Kennedy did not want to play ball, that doesn’t mean there weren’t ever any presidents who would consider taking part in a similar plot.

9. President Woodrow Wilson’s Wife Ran The Presidency For Over A Year

During Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, he was considered a very hard working executive, whether you liked the man and his politics or not. He was regularly traveling the world in his attempts to get the United States involved in worldwide political alliances, and also engaged in speaking tours across the country. Unfortunately, his habits of hard work eventually caught up with him and nearing the end of his presidency, he suffered from a stroke. Many people at the time wondered if something was wrong, and if there might be a conspiracy to keep the extent of the president’s troubles from the public.

In fact, the government tried so hard to cover it up that his stroke and general ill health was not known for months. Even after that the true damage was never really spoken about to the press and not known for years later. Many people suspected that his health was indeed worse than the government was letting on, and that his wife was actually making most of the decisions — basically being the first woman president, in a way. While Edith claimed that she was nothing but a steward, historians who studied the time period in later years are certain that she practically was the chief executive of our country for well over a year. For those who still doubt her influence, keep in mind that while Edith Wilson was running the show, women finally gained the right to vote.

8. HAARP Is Not A Weather Control Device, But Massive Weather Control Has Been Attempted

Many people like to go on about HAARP, a government science project that many people were convinced had a lot more going on than actually met the eye. The government claimed it was simply testing radio waves and their effects on the ionosphere and other mundane things that aren’t really that interesting. Of course, conspiracy theorists were certain that something boring couldn’t actually be boring; it had to be hiding something actually interesting.

Of course, all evidence points to the government telling the truth in this case, and HAARP being nothing more than a rather mundane research project that was shut down when the research had run its course. However, that doesn’t mean weather control attempts have never been made, or that the governments of the world aren’t trying to understand the science behind it better. We know that during the Vietnam war, the United States government tried to seed the clouds around South Vietnam with various substances in the hopes it would increase rainfall and make the war effort harder for their enemies. It certainly doesn’t stretch the imagination that technology of that sort has improved over time, if the government has decided to continue researching it.

7. The United States Government Has Experimentally Poisoned US Cities Multiple Times

Many people will claim that the government is secretly poisoning you in one way or another, whether through chemtrails, fluoride, or some other insidious means. Now, evidence has shown that most of these theories are total hogwash; however, that doesn’t mean the United States government has never poisoned its own people. According to records that were released years after the fact, from the 1950s through the early 1970s, the United States government conducted nearly 300 bacterial weapon attacks on various US cities in order to understand the results.

One of the most famous of these was in San Francisco, where the government wanted to see if the fog would help spread a biological attack, and if an enemy could stage such an attack from the sea. They used hoses to release the bacteria, and according to their own data, it reached essentially everyone in the city and effectively spread out enough that if it were a harmful bacteria, the damage could be horrific. While the United States government used bacteria that they thought were mostly harmless, multiple people were proven to be hospitalized because of the attack, and at least one person died because of it. The United States secret experiments were deeply against the Nuremberg codes they had just recently agreed to, which makes the entire thing all the more irresponsible and immoral.

6. There Is Some Small Truth To The Beliefs People Have In Government Spraying Chemtrails

One of the most oft recurring conspiracy theories is the claim that the government (or governments) are spraying chemicals in the upper atmosphere in order to do all kinds of terrible things. Some people claim that the chemicals are to slowly make people stupider, while other people claim the earth has an overpopulation problem, and world governments are releasing anti-fertility drugs into the upper atmosphere. Of course, there is no evidence for any of this, and scientists and other engineers in the know will tell you that the trails you see from planes are not out of the ordinary. Even if planes were secretly releasing chemicals, it would be impossible to sample properly to prove it.

However, while there is no concerted effort to poison the atmosphere, and no known plan to ruin peoples’ fertility or anything of the sort, the fact is that governments of the world have strongly considered and researched geo-engineering solutions to our current climate change problem, and if they thought they had a workable idea, they would almost certainly attempt it — and they may or may not immediately tell the public about such an attempt. Even back in the days of Lyndon Johnson, scientists have been proposing dealing with climate problems with massive geo-engineering, either with satellites in orbit, particles laced in our upper atmosphere — which sounds similar to chemtrail theories — or any number of other crazy solutions. Of course, while we know governments have attempted at least somewhat massive geo-engineering in terms of making it rain, there is no hard evidence that massive attempts to push back environmental damage are at anything more than the research stage as of now.

5. The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln Was Not Just One Crazy Actor Acting Alone

Now, folks at the time of Lincoln’s assassination may or may not have immediately known or guessed that many different people were involved, however, most people today tend to not be aware of the scale of the plot. Many people today believe that the assassination of a president like JFK could not have been pulled off by one lone wolf, but don’t give much thought to the common belief held by most people that John Wilkes Booth acted alone when killing President Lincoln.

The truth is, though, assassinating a president is very hard work and Booth had a lot of help. There were several co-conspirators involved and they all had a role to play. If they had succeeded, they could have sowed horrific chaos in the highest levels of the United States government. The thing was, it was a much bigger conspiracy than most people know, and included most of his important cabinet members. One man was supposed to kill Vice President Johnson, but lost his nerve, and another man attempted to kill the Secretary of War, William Seward, but failed in his attempt. Booth also would likely not have managed to escape without help, as he had co-conspirators helping him along to freedom as well, after he murdered the president.

4. During Vietnam The US Government Fabricated An Attack To Gain Support For War

Many people consider the idea of the government actually lying to get us into war as unthinkable, and some are still convinced that the Bush administration was only mistaken when it came to Iraq, WMDs, and that country’s involvement in 9/11. People simply don’t like to believe that their government would lie to them just so they could start a violent conflict in another part of the world, or amp up one that was already ongoing. However, back during the days of the Vietnam War, that is exactly what happened.

There was an incident with a US ship called the Maddox, which supposedly reported a torpedo attack from the Vietnamese, which led to further involvement by the US in Vietnam. The truth, however, is that the entire thing was a total fabrication, designed from beginning to end in order to get us further into the war. The Johnson administration actually sent the Maddox to perform covert attacks for the express purpose of egging the enemy on to attack them, so they could get more support for war. On top of that, the torpedo was a false signal and the Maddox quickly told the higher ups it was a false alarm, but the top brass still used it as an excuse for more war funding.

3. The US Government Deliberately Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition To Discourage Use

Prohibition was one of the strangest eras in the history of the United States. People who were convinced drinking was the worst thing ever pushed super hard to ruin everyone’s fun, and they succeeded for a time, but not before doing untold damage because they couldn’t mind their own business. The ban on one of the most popular things to ever exist in the history of the world backfired rather spectacularly, giving rise to all new organized crime groups, some of which took decades to break up to the state they are today. For a long time, the black market on drugs was very organized.

Of course, the government wasn’t happy with people not only openly flouting the law whenever possible, but also empowering criminal enterprises. So, the United States government went to great length to poison a bunch of alcohol that they knew would be making its way onto the black market, in order to make people less likely to drink it. This program adulterated the alcohol, making it unfit to drink and causing people to get sick, and some to even go blind. It would be many years after before the government admitted to their role in sickening people who dared drink some booze while it was illegal. While it sounds like an absurd conspiracy out of a very bad movie, it was a reality during prohibition and added countless deaths and hospital visits to those already caused by alcohol that was accidentally poisonous.

2. Joseph McCarthy’s Methods Were Wrong, But He Was More Right Than People Realize

Joseph McCarthy is considered to be one of the most wrong people who was ever wrong in politics, according to most of America. He is (in)famous for constantly and consistently decrying an incredible amount of people as Russian spies, and angrily grilling them in front of the senate. His paranoia about Russian agents was legendary, and his scorched earth tactics earned him the ire of the nation, and the senate, who eventually decided to censure him in 1954.

However, while McCarthy’s methods were almost certainly over the top, and put a lot of innocent people unnecessarily through the ringer, the truth was that his paranoia may have been more justified than many people realize. Historical proof shows that the administrations of Truman and FDR were full of Russian spies, that the communist party in America was funded by Moscow, and there were indeed several high profile Russian agents that were caught around that time period, including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. McCarthy may have gone about things almost entirely wrong, but his fears were not entirely without justification.

1. The MLB May Have Changed The Baseballs For The 2017 World Series

Baseball has always had a bit of a problem when it comes to exciting crowds, and also tends to have a bit of a trust problem with its fans. For baseball nuts, it’s really exciting to see a pitcher pitch a perfect game, for example, but the sport is boring for a general audience. This means that if the MLB wants more people to tune into games, they need to make sure that more home runs happen, because it excites people’s passions and keeps their butts in the seats. When the steroid scandal first broke, it turned out the rabbit hole went far deeper than anyone thought, and it turned out that the MLB knew more than they were letting on and were trying to cover things up, because viewership was up.

More recently, things have become rather suspicious once again. The steroid era was starting to end and pitchers were getting control again — this meant not as much excitement, so something had to be done. The 2017 World Series set a record for having the most home runs in any World Series ever played, and players from both teams are 100% convinced that the balls used were significantly different. Both teams claimed that the balls were noticeably slicker, and this meant pitchers found it much harder to achieve proper control, which means more home runs. While the MLB officially denied it, they officially denied knowledge of the steroid issue as well, and with both teams agreeing there was a major difference, it’s hard to believe the MLB’s denials in this situation.


Crazy But True –

WIF Conspiracies

Rare Can’t-Miss Photos – WIF Photography

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Rare Pictures

You Should See

With the almost insane amount of pictures taken on a daily basis around the world these days, it’s quite hard to say that there’s such a thing as a rare one. That same thing certainly doesn’t apply for past photos. But regardless of whether they’re past or present, there are some rare pictures out there that you should definitely see. And that’s because, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, unless you’re standing in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to subtly flex so you can impress strangers on Instagram.

 10. Maradona’s Hand of God

It was on June 22 during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico that history was written, and past injustices were avenged – or so the Argentinians say. It was Argentina facing England in the quarter-finals and tensions were running high among the 115,000 fans in the stadium. It was only four years earlier that the two countries were again engaged, but in a totally different way. That was during the Falkland War, fought over the islands in the South Atlantic – a short, but brutal conflict that ended with Argentina’s defeat. So, as you can imagine, the match was for far more than just the chance at the title. Luckily for Argentina, however, they were playing their greatest footballer ever – Diego Armando Maradona.

Six minutes into the second half and the man-legend himself was in the penalty area with the ball flying towards him. The English goalkeeper was charging forward to punch the ball away, only for Maradona to somehow head it over him and into the goal. The crowd went wild! After the match, however, he jokingly commented that the goal was “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” As you can see in the photo, he wasn’t a particularly tall player, only 5-foot-4, and so he made use of his left hand so he could reach it. Just in case you’re unaware, unless you’re the goalie using your hands in soccer (or football, if you like) is very illegal. And almost everyone, his teammates included, saw it, with the exception of the referee. Maradona later said that “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them: ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it.” That goal later became known as the Hand of God.

And to make matters even worse for the English, only four minutes later Maradona scored another goal, voted in 2002 as the Goal of the Century. The match ended 2-1 for Argentina, and they went on the win the World Cup. After the England match Maradona said that “Although we had said before the game that football had nothing to do with the Falklands war, we knew they had killed a lot of Argentine boys there, killed them like little birds. And this was revenge.”

9. The Night Prohibition Ended

It’s somewhat amazing and funny to see a group of grown men and women looking like a bunch of kids who just turned 21. And it’s not like most of those people in the photo weren’t drinking any alcohol throughout the Prohibition Era, but they could now do it legally. Soon after the end of WWI, Congress passed the 18th Amendment into law, prohibiting the sale and manufacture of alcohol all throughout the United States. Originally intended to crack down on crime, drunkenness and lewd behavior, Prohibition ended up doing the exact opposite in most respects.

While alcohol consumption did fall by nearly 70% during the early years, it nevertheless gave rise to organized crime. The years that followed weren’t called The Roaring Twenties for nothing, you know. Underground speakeasy lounges opened up all over the place, and the country experienced a high rise in smuggling and bootlegging. It is estimated that around 10,000 people died of alcohol poisoning during the Prohibition Era from bootleg whiskey and tainted gin. The government even poisoned alcohol in order to scare potential drinkers. Some grape growers, who didn’t replace their vineyards with orchards, opted instead for manufacturing juice concentrates to be sold in brick form. Consumers would dissolve those bricks in water and get grape juice. But there was a clear warning on the label to not leave the solution to ferment for 21 days or it would otherwise turn into wine. And a good thing the warning was there, too – you know, for the consumer’s safety.

It was during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency that the 18th Amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933, as a way to raise taxes during the Great Depression that began several years earlier. Some states maintained the ban on alcohol many years after 1933, with Mississippi being the last to start legally selling alcohol again in 1966. But some counties spread throughout 10 states still ban it to this day. One such county is incidentally the one where Jack Daniel’s whiskey is produced.

8. What Does an Upside-down Iceberg Look Like?

As most of us know, icebergs only show about 10 percent of their actual size, with the rest being submerged underwater. And that upper part that we normally see is heavily weathered by the elements and is always covered in snow. But as filmmaker Alex Cornellwould come to see on a trip to Antarctica in 2014, the underbelly of an iceberg is even more incredible than its upper part. It has a stunning aqua-green color with different shades of blue and green pressed in different layers. And not to mention the liquid water that flows through it “almost like an ant colony,” as Cornell described it. The reason the iceberg has that amazing color is because the ice is ancient. Over many thousands of years, as snow piles on the ice, the one at the bottom forces all the air pockets out. In this state, heavily compacted ice absorbs a tiny amount of red light, giving it this bluish tint. And to see something like this is rare, even in iceberg country.

But as one of the scientists present on the ship said, this phenomenon could happen more often as time goes on. In the past, the ice sheets would extend for miles out to sea, and when icebergs did break off, they did it more calmly. But with the more recent increases in temperature, that no longer happens and the ice breaks off almost immediately after it no longer touches land. “Like squirting toothpaste out of a tube. A little bit of toothpaste comes out the tube, then it breaks off, and a little bit more comes out the tube, then it breaks off. So you get these really thin pieces of ice that flip over right when they’ve broken off,” explains Justin Burton, an assistant professor at Emory University.

7. Too Revealing?

Back in the 1920s lady beach goers were being arrested by the police for wearing swimsuits that were too revealing. But were these bathing suits too revealing? The short answer is… yes. Kind of. For the time. When looking at past events, it’s easy for us to judge them by our present standards, but as any good historian can tell you, you shouldn’t. Analyzing history based on our current views of the world is known as presentism and should be avoided if you really want to understand the events that happened back then. By looking at things through our present-day lens, we basically remove that particular event out of its own context and we end up judging those people for things that didn’t belong in their time or way of thinking.

In this photo, two women were being arrested by the police on July 12, 1922 for defying a Chicago edict that forbade “abbreviated bathing suits.” At the same time in New York, 20 female special deputies known as “Sheriffettes” were patrolling the beaches looking for ‘too much skin.’ In 1921, a woman was arrested in Atlantic City for wearing her stockings rolled down below the knees. When a police officer demanded that she roll them back up, she refused and ended up punching him in the eye. But looking at the broader picture,women’s bathing suits in the early 1900s were made out of wool, incredibly cumbersome, and had high necks, long sleeves, skirts, and pants. Not even men were allowed to be bare-chested, with the authorities saying that they didn’t want “gorillas on our beaches.” So, these suits could have easily been considered as “abbreviated” back then.

In any case, in 1908 came film star Annette Kellerman who got arrested on a beach in Massachusetts for wearing a one-piece body suit that showed her neck and arms. She brought it back from England and it was somewhat similar to men’s swimsuits at the time. By the 1930s and with the arrival of new clothing materials such as nylon and latex, swimsuits lost their sleeves and began hugging the body more. They also had shoulder straps that could be lowered for tanning.

6. Two Unlikely Partners in Crime

In November 2016, the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center posted several photos of a coyote and a badger working together for their common good. Interspecies collaboration is uncommon in nature, but not unheard of. And when it does happen, it’s usually between prey animals trying to increase their chances of survival, and not between the predators themselves. But in what can only be described as ‘synergy at its finest’, here we have two different predators working together to catch food for themselves. Even though the two were also spotted hunting alone, they do team up on occasion – and most often so during summer.

On the one hand, we have the coyote, who is an excellent runner and can catch prey trying to escape. But if that prey has a burrow in which to hide, then it’s game over for the coyote. Luckily, his friend the badger is an excellent digger, so if that happens and the prey runs into a hole, he then takes over the operation and gets the job done. While studying the pair, the researchers have come to the conclusion that by working together, not only do the two have a greater chance of actually catching something, but they also spend a lot less energy in doing so. So, maybe there’s a lesson in there for all of us on the merits of teamwork and cooperation.

5. The Day Sweden Switched Lanes

It wasn’t that long ago that the Swedes were driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, so on the 3rd of September, 1967, they changed it to the right side… literally. This day came to be known as H Day, where the “H” stands for “Högertrafik” – the Swedish word for “right traffic.” Now, even though the photo gives the impression that everything was in chaos, it actually wasn’t as bad as it looks. Four years before the switch happened, the Swedish government appointed a special committee to oversee the transition. They implemented an extensive education program, they advertised the change on milk cartons and even on women’s underwear. Several days before H Day, they put out over 130,000 reminder signs, as well as flyers on people’s windshields. During the night in question, the traffic was shut down for several hours across the country, over 360,000 road signs were changed, and the drivers were then instructed to change lanes once everything was in place. Only 157 minor accidents were reported on H Day with only 32 personal injuries.

The reason for the change was logical, even though many people didn’t really want it in the first place. For starters, most other European countries, Sweden’s neighbors included, were driving on the right-hand side already. Secondly, most cars in Sweden were imported from the United States and they already had left-side driver seats. In the early days, this mismatch of left-side steering wheel and left-hand roads proved to be an advantage for the Swedes because they had more to worry about with the poor conditions of the side of the roads than oncoming traffic, but by the 1960s this was no longer a problem. And lastly, the country witnessed a tripling of the number of cars in ten years and they were expecting to double again by 1975. So, they decided to make the switch before that happened. The change also brought with it a steep drop in road accidents, particularly during overtaking, or those involving pedestrians. The insurance claims also went down by as much as 40%.

4. The 110 Million-Year-Old Statue

When discovered, most dinosaur fossils look just like a pile of rocks, and only a trained eye can distinguish one for what it actually is. And in the vast majority of cases, these fossils are no more than mere fragments or partial skeletons. But back in 2011, every paleontologist’s wet dream came true when this 2,500-pound dinosaur fossil was unearthed in Canada’s Millennium Mine in Alberta. The fossil was so well preserved it even bears the tile-like plates and parts of its skin. This not only helped scientists have a far more detailed look at an actual dinosaur, but it also offered information regarding its color. Because, believe it or not, we still don’t know what color dinosaurs were, and all depictions we see of them are only based on informed speculation. Nevertheless, this dinosaur seems to have had a reddish or reddish-brown color, which was in contrast to its light colored horns.

When alive, this nodosaur stretched more than 18 feet long and weighed close to 3,000 pounds. The herbivore sported a tough, thorny armor on its back and two 20-inch-long spikes coming out of its shoulders, somewhat similar to bull horns. It is estimated to have lived sometime between 112 to 110 million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous period, and most likely suffered a tragic end. Paleontologists speculate that it was swept out to sea, possibly during a flash flood, and once it sank to the bottom, minerals quickly infiltrated its skin and bones, turning the dinosaur into stone. Some pebble-like masses found inside the carapace were, most likely, the dinosaur’s last meal. Today, the statue-like fossil is at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Canada.

3. 41 Klansmen and a Ferris Wheel

This photo was taken in Cañon City, a small mining town in central Colorado, on April 27, 1926. One interesting thing about it is that it wasn’t until 1991, when it was donated to the Royal Gorge Museum & History Center in Cañon City, someone else (other than those Klansmen in the photo and some of their friends and family) had the chance to see it. And it took another 12 years before the photo somehow made it from the museum’s archives to the internet in 2003. The reason this is interesting is because the local newspaper ran a story called “Klansmen pose for picture on merry-go-round” without actually adding the picture. But regardless of the fact that it took this photo decades before people could actually see it, it nevertheless represents a somewhat crucial point in American history. And a hopelessly inaccurate newspaper headline, because geez, that’s totally not a merry-go-round.

That year was the KKK’s zenith in power, popularity, and influence over the country. By the mid-’20s the Klan had somewhere between 4 to 5 million members, or about 15% of the country’s entire eligible population. And what’s more, Cañon City was the Klan’s capital back then. The state’s governor was a Klansmen, the senator was openly endorsed by the KKK, the mayor of Denver had links with them, and the town’s Baptist Reverend, Fred Arnold, was the actual Grand Dragon. Now, even though their attire is identical, and the bigoted beliefs are similar, the 1920s version of the KKK was notably different than the Klan that emerged during the 1960s in the South.

For starters, the old-school Klansmen focused their attention on Catholics more than black people; they strongly supported Prohibition, and mostly used intimidation rather than actual violence to deter new immigrants. The end of WWI saw a great deal of immigration, mainly from Italy and other Southern European states, and the Protestants were afraid to lose their jobs because of them. But two years after this photo was taken, the Klan would all but disappear. In 1928, the Reverend Grand Dragon died unexpectedly, and with no succession plan in place, the KKK lost most of its influence in both politics and the general population.

2. Two Afghan Medical Students and Their Teacher

When looking at this photo of two female medical students listening to their female professor as they’re examining a plaster mold, Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be the first place that comes to mind, does it? But back in the mid-1950s, ’60s and early ’70s, the country was going through a period of relative peace and prosperity, spared for a brief moment in time from the many internal conflicts and foreign interventions that had plagued it for decades before, and have since. These two decades in Afghanistan’s history saw the biggest strides made by its people towards a more liberal and westernized way of life.

The country remained neutral during WWII and didn’t align with either of the two superpowers during the Cold War that followed. It nevertheless was the beneficiary of aid from both the US and the Soviet Union, who were trying to ‘court’ it to their side. Modern buildings began to spring up all throughout Kabul and burqas became optional for a while. If Afghanistan would have been allowed several more decades of social and economic stability, it would have been unrecognizable by comparison to today’s actual look. Unfortunately, however, things were not to last. Foreign pressure, military coups, subsequent invasions, and ensuing civil wars have made Afghanistan into what it is today – and the war still wages on. If anything, this photo shows what peace, even if it’s short lived, does to people.

1. Savage Capitalism

The buffalo, America’s most iconic animal (second only to the bald eagle) was nearly hunted to extinction by the late 19th century. Once, more than 60 million head strong, their numbers were reduced to only 100 by the early 1880s. The reasons for its systematic extermination were, first and foremost, industrialization and expansion. The Great Plains Indian tribes, most notably the Comanche, were standing in the way of the Americans’ expansion for decades and the best way to deal with them was to deprive them of their main source of food, which was the buffalo. Up until the 1860s, the Indians were hunting them at about a rate of 280,000 head per year – which was around the maximum of the sustainability limit the buffalo population could provide. But in the winter of 1872 to 1873 alone, more than 1.5 million hides were shipped out East. The motivation for this government-endorsed mass killing was the many factories springing up on the East Coast and the ever increasing need for industrial belts, and other everyday leather products.

Hunters were paid $3.50 ($110 today) per hide and could singlehandedly kill an entire herd in mere hours. They would choose a vantage point farther away and then shoot them one by one until all of them were dead. People were even doing it from trains traveling to and from the East and West Coasts, so as to entertain themselves. Many Indians were in on it too, even to the bitter end. And once the proud beasts were all dead, they were skinned and their carcasses left to rot where they fell. Once whitened under the scorching sun, the bones were collected and sent to be turned into fertilizer for the now buffalo and Indian-free Great Plains.

But Mother Nature had a rather ironic way of returning the favor to the savage capitalists. There was a delicate balance struck between the many buffalo herds and the Great Plains themselves, put there by countless eons of coevolution. And when the buffalo were all gone, and together with the intensive agriculture that followed, the topsoil slowly began to erode, leading to the devastating Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Many people died of dust pneumonia, malnutrition, and other complications. America then saw the greatest mass migration in its history, with over 2.5 million people moving to other places, and at a time when the country was already going through the Great Depression no less. Some scientists now fear that with the current climate trends, another Dust Bowl may be looming just over the horizon.


Rare Can’t-Miss Photos

– WIF Photography

Prohibition Side Effects – WIF Into History

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Crazy Ways Prohibition

Influenced America

However, not only did prohibition have many ridiculous or unwanted side effects – apart from well known things like the increase in organized crime – it was also more of a joke rule in the first place. The law had a lot of different loopholes that people happily abused, giving birth to brand new industries and forcing liquor manufacturers to go to very creative lengths to stay in business.

10. Bootlegging Gave Birth to NASCAR Racing

nascar

While most people associate NASCAR solidly with the American South, many people don’t realize that, while it did originate in the region, it wasn’t just a Southern sport – it was a booze inspired sport. In the South, from Georgia to Virginia, many young men had decided to take up bootlegging both to make money and to make sure that they and their friends had a steady supply of booze. These young men would soup up their cars to be as fast and maneuverable as possible, and practice all kinds of crazy moves in order to be able to evade law enforcement when necessary. As they became more obsessed with the best cars and being the best drivers, they started to race each other for fun, and in time it became a full blown sport.

Some people still think that the involvement was only minimal, but recent research has shown that the roots of NASCAR are essentially soaked in booze. The founder of NASCAR was a good friend of nearly everyone in the early racing days, most of whom were bootleggers before they started racing. Investigation of many of the people in the early days before official NASCAR found that even the mechanics were involved indirectly in the bootlegging business; they may not have run it, but they worked on the cars of the people who did. NASCAR is inspired by the real life struggles of booze smugglers in the American South, many of whom really did have past problems with law enforcement that initially made public life as an entertainer difficult. However, despite those hiccups in the past, NASCAR has gone on to become a nationally accepted sport and most people have forgotten its booze fueled origins.

9. Government Showed its Willingness to Go to Insane Lengths to Enforce Rules

raid

While many people feel that the government’s experiment in banning alcohol was ludicrous, most people would stop short of accusing them of callously causing the poisoning of their own citizens. However, like all governments, you never know when they are going to do something completely untrustworthy. People were violating the law whenever possibly, circumventing it entirely with loopholes if they could, and if that didn’t work, they would buy it from illegal black market vendors. These vendors were often stealing alcohol meant for industrial use and selling it to the public. This may sound instantly dangerous now, but at the time the alcohol made for industry wasn’t denatured the way it is now – until the government decided to take drastic action. They decided to put in additives that made industrial alcoholsuper dangerous to drink.

Many people started to die as soon as the experiment began. The government felt that if people died because of drinking, then the general public would be less likely to imbibe. While the alcohol was being stolen and sold illegally, they knew full well what the consequences of this experiment would be and gladly waited it out to see the results. Unfortunately, estimates today suggest that as many as 10,000 people died because the government wanted to make sure that their citizens weren’t misbehaving and flouting the rules set out for them. As a consequence, organized crime saw a huge rise that has never really flattened out since, and many people will never trust their government again.

8. It Helped Walgreens Become a Powerhouse

walgreens

As we have mentioned, before the law had fully taken effect, people were already searching for loopholes, and luckily there were a lot of them. One of the biggest loopholes is one taken advantage of today by stoners hoping to get a legal high. They go get a prescription from a doctor, and then go to a “pharmacy” to have the prescription for their booze filled. While a traditional pharmacy may not always have the booze in stock, one man had a set of convenience stores with a pharmacy inside, and his name was Charles Walgreen. Initially, he only had 20 stores from which he ran his business, but in just a few short years, he expanded to 525 stores. While some of this can be attributed to other good business decisions that he made, there is no doubt that booze was mostly responsible for such a huge and sudden explosion of growth.

Walgreen claimed that it was his new milkshakes that allowed him to make so much money (side note: this is believed to be the first time someone claimed his milkshake brings all the boys to the yard), however, we would point out that Walgreens still have pharmacies and in some localities they sell beer, but you don’t see milkshake machines in them anymore. However, perhaps some of Walgreen’s denial has to do with how much unwanted attention and annoyance being one of the only purveyors of booze could be in that day and age. He remarked that he feared having fires, because when the firemenshowed up, a case of booze was usually missing from the back afterwards. Whether he was being entirely serious or not, it is clear that Walgreen was willing to sell it and get rich from the profits, but he was never entirely comfortable with the fact that he built his drugstore empire selling prescription booze.

7. Basically Everyone was Openly Flouting the Law

malt extract

When prohibition began, many people were basically going through a form of shock. Being without their precious booze was simply unacceptable and they would not allow it to be taken from them. However, some people found the idea of going to a doctor to get a prescription to be somewhat shameful or below them, and many people didn’t like the idea of openly breaking the lawby buying alcohol from black market vendors. What this left them with is the option to make their own booze at home and hope that it worked out well, and didn’t end up poisoning them. There were also many companies who were left in a bad position: they had equipment and supplies for making wine and beer, but they couldn’t make it or sell it.

Then, the wine and beer manufacturers figured out a perfect way to meet these people both ways, and fulfill the letter of the law while allowing the enterprising and law conscious to safely make their own booze at home, and keep the major vendors in business. To this end, wine companies sold special “wine bricks,” and beer manufacturers sold a special malt extract that could easily make homemade beer. These packages usually came with instructions that came about as close as you possibly can to actually saying “wink wink, nudge nudge” on an actual package without doing so, telling you in detail what not to do if you don’t want your concentrated extract to turn into delicious booze. It seems like today such an open violation of the law would not be allowed, but in prohibition era America, this was a perfectly acceptable way to avoid the restrictions and buy excellent booze supplies to produce your own at home.

6. Many Counties Still Completely Prohibit Alcohol Sales

modern day prohibition

In 1933, the 21st amendment was ratified and, finally, booze was free to flow from every tap in every bar in the country again. It was a joyous day for many, and allegedly Franklin Delano Roosevelt drank a dirty martini to celebrate the occasion, and then stated that what America needed was a drink. Before long the need to buy possibly dangerous booze, or consort with criminals to get it, was a thing of the past. However, for some parts of the country, the nightmare was not yet over. While the amendment did allow once again for the sale and manufacture of booze, it actually did nothing to prevent states from making their own rules in that regard. During the prohibition era, many states in the Bible Belt had managed to pick up steam and put in their own extra state rules prohibiting alcohol. Many counties across the country had also put together their own patchwork rules.

When prohibition officially ended, many of the Southern states actually didn’t lift their bans at first, and Mississippi was the last one to finally come limping across the finish line in 1966, roughly 30 years after the end of federal prohibition. While that was the end of the last statewide ban, there are still200 counties in the United States, mostly in the South, that completely prohibit the sale of alcohol within their borders. Not only that, but there are countless more counties that have a mix of laws that make them at least partly dry, having various levels of restriction on alcohol sales. The truth is that prohibition never really ended, because states and counties have always had the power to make their own laws as they see fit. It’s simply no longer illegal for states to allow people to buy and sell booze, but that doesn’t mean they have to allow it, either.

5. It Allowed for Jazz to Flourish

jazz

Many people don’t realize it, but the original rise of jazz music can actually be attributed largely in part to the prohibition era. Now, we aren’t suggesting that jazz was inspired by booze, the way some people suggest that certain types of music are inspired by psychedelia like marijuana. It wasn’t the booze itself that directly helped jazz, or even so much the lack of it, but rather the culture that sprang up around a world where you weren’t allowed to go to a local liquor store and just buy some beer.

It was the 1920s, and along with city life being more common, people were also looking for a way to get a drink when they needed. They also wanted to enjoy the socialization of being in a bar, like back when drinking was legal. This need was filled by speakeasies, the establishments that spread like wildfire in the prohibition era, wherein you would say a secret code to be allowed access and then buy booze and enjoy some form of entertainment.Jazz became a popular form of music for speakeasies, and it also allowed many jazz musicians to make connections that helped them greatly with their future careers. Unfortunately, the rise of jazz music was often associated with crime as well, since many a jazz musician befriended gangsters involved in the business. Sometimes this was to the benefit of the musician, but sometimes they ended up with extremely dangerous enemies.

4. It Empowered and Emboldened the KKK

KKK

Many people don’t realize that the beginnings of the prohibition movement and a large part of its enforcement were the work of a hooded group of hoodlums who like to refer to themselves as the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan felt that most drinkers were actually Catholics, Irish, or immigrants – or worse, Irish Catholic immigrants – and felt that taking away drinking would be a good way to punish them for existing. They began working well before the 1900s on pushing for a nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol, and began insinuating themselves whenever possible with legitimate groups. They did their best to associate themselves with the Anti-Saloon League, in order to bolster their own image, even though the Anti-Saloon League liked to claim publicly that they had no involvement with the KKK.

However, while they claimed this as a matter of public image, some of their leadership was also decidedly anti-immigrant as well, and there is some reason to believe that there was some overlap in group membership despite official protests. Klan members were also known for working as vigilantes to attempt to stamp out drinking as much as their fascist little hearts could manage. They would tip off the police, get into shootouts, raid buildings, and generally hurt people because they enjoyed it. The Klan even admitted that the prohibition movement and their activism during it gave them a hugemembership spike, and at least at the time, it increased their prestige in the world and normalized them to a certain degree. Some communities, or even policemen, were turning a blind eye and essentially allowing the Klan to get away with being vigilantes, because they secretly approved of what they were doing. As we all know, however, this spike in popularity was short lived and they are now the farthest out of fringe hate groups.

3. Modern Cruise Lines Were Inspired by Booze Cruises

booze cruise

As we have mentioned, before prohibition officially began, people were already doing their best to think of ways to circumvent the law – and many enterprising businesspeople were already trying to find ways to profit from the new restrictions. Some of them, like Al Capone, made a fortune selling bootleg booze, but other people decided that they wanted to profit off it in a completely legitimate and long-term way. To this end they came up with something called a “booze cruise,” which was pretty much exactly what it sounded like. A bunch of rich people would board a really nice boat, it would go out on a route that went just far enough away from shore that you could sell alcohol as much as you want, and then sell drinks to the passengers and just cruise back and forth, making a mockery of the law.

While it can’t be said to be the only contributing factor, it is likely that this was one of the major contributors to the popularity and existence of modern cruises today. At the time, despite the Great Depression, cruise ships were making a profit due to the ability to buy booze on board, and they are still popular today, in a very similar form. After all, most modern cruises are essentially just an extended route and an excuse to drink lots of fine alcoholic drinks while being away from any annoying responsibilities. Also, while the farcical booze cruises have mainly been replaced by longer, more scenic cruises, there still exist a different form of booze cruise in Europe today, where people take a short cruise across the water to take advantage of lower liquor prices in other European countries.

2. Temperance Paved the Way for the Suffrage Movement

suffrage

It may be a rather surprising fact to some, but the women’s suffrage movement actually benefited greatly from the temperance movement. At the time, many people felt that drinking in the USA and public drunkenness were more prevalent than, for the sake of comparison, how many today view Russia, and wanted to do something about what they saw as the decay of the moral fabric of society. While banning alcohol may have been misguided, a huge part of the movement was led by a group called the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, or WCTU. This group of women was instrumental in bringing about the banning of the sale of alcohol, and in doing so actually gave a start to the careers of multiple female activists. Two of the more famous members of the group were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frances Willard, who went on to be very important in the women’s suffrage movement a short while later.

This was actually not the very beginning of the suffrage movement. Many historians say that the abolitionist movement was the first time a major group of women got together to fight politically for something they believed in. However, it is a certainty that the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was also a huge step for women’s suffrage as well. Many scholars contend that suffrage would have occurred much later without it, because the movement allowed women of the generation to band together and learn to bring their political power to bear as a movement. Ironically, shortly after women’s suffrage became the law of the land, the next generation of women had much more progressive ideals and were perfectly fine with legal drinking.

1. Banning Booze Led to Huge Growth in the Candy Industry

candy

If you’ve ever researched trying to quit anything, you may have come across the concept of addiction switching. The theory is that if you quit one vice you will likely end up replacing it with another, perhaps without even realizing it. Many smokers deal with this when, after they decide to quit cigarettes, they find themselves eating massive amounts of sweets and putting on weight.

Many Americans found themselves with a similar problem when prohibition took effect – many people simply ended up turning their addiction to booze into an addiction to sugary foods, especially cheap and easy to acquire candy. While there were certainly some other factors involved in the candy industry’s growth, there can be no doubt that the banning of booze was a huge contributor to the spike in candy sales.

One newspaper from the early 1920s stated that in pool halls, where people were once able to drink booze, they essentially wanted something that come close to mimicking the habit and started turning to candy. Pool halls were apparently going through large amounts of candy on a regular basis after prohibition. The article explains that, where candy was once considered for women, the desperation to find a replacement for their previous addiction had led men to abandon that belief. If nothing else, despite all of the trouble it caused, prohibition made eating candy socially acceptable for men.

Prohibition Side Effects

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– WIF Into History

Democracy Downfalls – You Can’t Please Everyone

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Ongoing Issues in

the United States

The Progressive Era in the United States, which lasted from about 1890 to 1920, was a period of incredible political change. It’s the time when things such as women’s suffrage, reproductive rights, and general social and economic justice were fought for, and won. Labor reform and increased wages took hold, and the movement eventually won a number of important concessions, from the elimination of child labor to the establishment of the 40-hour workweek, but not every battle ended in conclusive success. Many of the same points raised more than a century ago remain hot-button topics even today.

10. Health Care

obamacare

As demonstrated by The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare,” health care is still a highly contentious issue in the U.S. However, the country’s history with universal healthcare goes back all the way to 1915. Observing that the loss of wages as a result of illness or injury was a major cause of poverty, the American Association for Labor Legislation proposed a system of compulsory health insurance designed to protect workers against lost wages and medical costs in the event that they become temporarily unable to work.

Modeled on existing healthcare systems in Germany and England, the AALL plan enjoyed considerable support from workers and the suffrage movement. Although the plan’s test run as legislation passed in the New York Senate, the bill died in committee thanks to the efforts of state congressman Thaddeus Sweet. Americans are still searching for ways to take care of themselves and their families, but it still doesn’t appear a universally accepted system is any closer now than it has been in the previous century.

9. Reproductive Rights

reproductiverights

The idea that women have the right to control whether or not they have children did not begin with Roe v. Wade, but rather started to gain traction in the Progressive Era. As late as the 1870s, new legislation banning contraceptives, as well as literature advocating their use, still passed into law in some states with the express intent of restricting access to birth control.

This changed in the early 20th century when the suffrage movement began to demand access to safe and legal birth control. Although today it’s certainly not illegal to walk down to Walgreens (you’re welcome for the plug, and take that, CVS!) and pick up a pack of condoms, the status and security of access to women’s reproductive health is a point of constant debate among social conservatives and liberals.

8. Immigration Reform

immigration

Immigration reform enjoyed widespread support during the progressive era, but the reforms that passed weren’t really of the sort that we would typically consider “progressive” today. In fact, immigration reform at the turn of the century was generally of a more aggressively nativist and racist persuasion.

Out of fear that new immigrants, largely from Eastern Europe and Asia, would steal American jobs and overwhelm the country, immigration laws passed between 1917 and 1924 severely curtailed access to new arrivals, restricting or even outright banning immigration by certain ethnic groups. While we have since largely accepted Eastern European and Asian people into American society, the contemporary anti-immigrant sentiment directed at people from Latin America is very comparable to attitudes common a century ago. Sadly, despite America being considered a cultural melting pot, many citizens still find themselves in uproar over the topic.

7. Fighting Trusts and the Robber Barons

robberbaron

Trust-busting was really the hallmark of the Progressive Era. In response to massive corporate conglomeration and trust formation in the late 19th century, which concentrated huge amounts of power in the hands of a small group of individuals (known as “captains of industry,” or more derisively as “robber barons”), progressives demanded government intervention to break up the big trusts.

Progressive Era presidents like Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson enacted plenty of antitrust law, but that body of regulatory law largely unraveledin successive decades, opening the door for everything from widespread mergers and liquidations in the 80s and 90s to the collapse of the housing market in 2007 and 2008.

6. Alcohol and Drug Abuse

prohibition

The 18th Amendment took effect in 1920, instituting alcohol prohibition throughout the US. Less than 15 years later, the 21st Amendment repealed prohibition, acknowledging that “the noble experiment” was ultimately a terrible idea.

Despite the failure of alcohol prohibition, the DEA and the Justice Department have yet to even consider ending the prohibition of other intoxicants like marijuana, and although support for legalizing pot is rapidly growing nationwide (including limited legalization in states like Washington and Colorado), our approach to addiction remains generally geared toward criminalizing and incarcerating users. Where alcohol prohibition gave us gangsters like Al Capone, marijuana prohibition continues to funnel untold billions of dollars into the pockets of drug cartels each year.

5. Providing a Living Wage

minimumwage

The U.S. did not institute a federal minimum wage until 1938, and the average pay for a railroad worker around the turn of the century was about $0.10 per hour. One of the major struggles of the Progressive Era and the labor movement was the fight for a living wage for workers, but what once seemed plausible has again fallen out of reach for many people.

According to an MIT study on contemporary living standards in the U.S., the federal minimum wage is roughly two-thirds of what is necessary to earn a comfortable living. By their calculations, three members of a four-person household would need to work roughly 68 hours a week at minimum wage in order to provide a sufficient standard of living.

4. The Role of the Federal Government

capitol

Many of these contentious issues can ultimately be traced back to a core ideological debate – the role of the federal government in the lives of Americans. The constitutional role of the government was a matter of intense discussion before the U.S. even had a constitution; however, it was during the Progressive Era that the discussion started to take on its modern shape.

With the Civil War several decades in the past, American national identity was clearly codified by the turn of the 20th Century, and many people felt that the national government should take a more “hands on” approach in the administration and regulation of the country, as was practiced in other modern nation states. At the same time, many other individuals held the exact opposite sentiment – that the government had already grossly overstepped its boundaries. The debate over how much power the federal government should hold and what they should or should not be providing for us seeps into nearly every discussion in modern politics, from healthcare and drug policy, to the environment and civil liberties.

3. Protecting the Environment

environment

Popular legend holds Teddy Roosevelt as America’s first great conservationist. Well-known as an outdoorsman, he greatly expanded the national park system, campaigned for the protection of at-risk animals and even serves as the namesake of the ever-popular teddy bear. Not all of Roosevelt’s fellow statesmen shared his concern for nature, though – commercial interests such as timber and oil companies were furious at Roosevelt’s practice of setting aside land as protected forests, and there are many modern day parallels.

Timber and oil companies want access to old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest and the Florida Coast respectively, politicians debate renewable energy subsidies versus extending existing subsidies to oil companies, and opponents of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) fight to keep gas companies out of their towns. Above all though, the Keystone XL pipeline stands as the most high-profile environmental issue of the last decade. Progressive conservationists warn that the pipeline will be an environmental disaster with little real payoff, while pro-business conservatives write off the dangers as negligible.

2. Gender Equality

genderequality

Discussions of cross-demographic equality and privilege in society reached a new threshold of prominence recently, and while many people look toward an increasingly egalitarian society, it is also worth looking back to evaluate our progress over the last century.

The suffrage movement represented a major constituency within the greater Progressive Era. Though the suffragettes won the right to vote in 1920, the movement lobbied for much more than just that one right –many worked alongside organized labor to fight for better conditions for both male and female workers, as well as greater and more secure employment opportunities and better pay for women. Things are very different than they were a century ago, but the still nagging gaps in pay and job security attest to the limitations of that progress.

1. Public Education

education

While many states already had compulsory public education systems by the beginning of the 20th Century, the progressive movement aimed to bring about a new level of standardization to public education in the U.S. Guided by Frederick Taylor’s idea of scientific management, commonly known as “Taylorism,” progressives advocated new schooling models designed to eliminate waste and make schools more efficient and centrally managed.

The current debate over Common Core education in schools strongly echoes the goals of this movement. Proponents of the new national education standards argue that it will set clearly defined and measureable standards for what students in the U.S. should know, while opponents argue that Common Core is wasteful, allows less flexibility in dealing with individual students’ needs, and is merely an exercise in big government further overstepping its boundaries.

Democracy Downfalls

– You Can’t Please Everyone