10 Remarkable Facts About Animals Put In Human Perspective

We all know that our cat can jump high and our dog can smell well, but sometimes it’s hard to appreciate just how amazing their abilities really are. Putting the numbers into a human context can help us appreciate the superhuman capabilities of some of the animals we share our world with.

See Also: Top 10 Real Superpowers You Can Learn

10 Cats Jumping

Walking into your cat perched on top of a bookcase might be an everyday occurrence, and it can also make us forget just how amazing their jumping capability is. Most cats can make a vertical jump from a standstill to five times their own height. For the average, 6 foot-tall human, that means executing a standstill jump and clearing 30 feet. In other terms, that would make us capable of jumping to the roof of a 3-story building.[10]

9 Ants’ Carrying Power

Depending on the species of ant, these tiny creatures can carry anywhere from 10 to 50 times their own weight. While that might not sound impressive when you’re looking at such small creatures carrying leaves, blow that up to human proportions and it become truly astounding. If humans had the same muscle control and strength as an ant, that would mean an average, 180-pound man could carry anywhere between 1,800 and 9,000 pounds. And what do those numbers mean? On the low end, 1,800 pounds is about the same as a Clydesdale horse. And 9,000 pounds is about the same as three Volkswagen Beetles.[9]

8 A Monarch Butterfly’s Journey

The monarch butterfly might look delicate, but the North American monarch makes an epic journey every spring and fall. These hardy creatures travel up to 3,000 miles from their summer homes in the northern part of the United States to their winter home in Mexico. And all with a wing span of about 4 inches. To put this in human terms, the average stride of an adult is 32 inches. That’s 8 times the wing span of a butterfly, meaning a human would need to walk 24,000 miles to experience the length of the butterfly’s journey. That’s only a couple of hundred miles short of walking around the world at the equator.[8]

7 A Cats’ Purr

Most cats purr at a soft, comforting level, but the world’s record for the loudest purr is held by an English cat named Smokey. His purr has been recorded at a whopping 86.3 dB. To put this in perspective, a human breathes at about 10dB, and a normal speaking voice will register at about 60dB. Noises around 80-90dB that we’re more familiar with include hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, and many hand power tools.[7]

6 Breeding Like Rabbits

Start with one pregnant female rabbit. Keeping in mind that an average litter size for rabbits is 6 babies and a new mother can become pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth, the exponential estimate for rabbits produced not only from her but from her babies, and her babies’ babies, is astronomical. In the 7-year breeding lifespan of a rabbit, that means a single mother can – mathematically – be responsible for 95 billion little rabbits. For the sake of simple math, let’s say the human female’s fertile years are between the ages of 18 and 45 – 9 times the length of a rabbit’s. If we could reproduce like them, that would mean a staggering 855,000,000,000 offspring.[6]

5 An Elephant’s Trunk

An elephant uses his trunk like the ultimate multi-purpose tool. Not only can they pick things up with it, but it can manipulate objects and store several gallons of water. Bulbous appendages on the end of their trunks give them the fine motor skills needed to pick up and manipulate the smallest of objects. An elephant has roughly 100,000 muscles in their trunk alone that allows them this fine control. In comparison, the human body contains 34 muscles that control the fingers and thumb; only 17 of these are in the hand itself.[5]

4The Chicken’s Egg

Firstly, it doesn’t seem possible that an egg comes out of a relatively small bird. The Rhode Island Red, a common breed of chicken, weighs about 6.5 pounds at maturity. The size of the eggs vary, but they’re known for producing above average sized brown eggs – this means usually around 2.25 oz. Proportionately, this is the same as a 150 pound woman giving birth to a 3.25 pound baby. Still painful, but it doesn’t make a chicken’s life look quite so bad.[4]

3The Lion’s Share

In the wild, lions have to take their meals when they can get them. This means they need the ability to take full advantage of a major kill; in one sitting, an average, 300 pound male lion can consume up to 90 pounds of meat. That’s almost a third of their entire body weight, and it’s also like a 200 pound man eating 60 pounds of chicken fingers and french fries for dinner.[3]

2 Parrot’s Speech

All types of parrots have the capability to mimic and pronounce human speech, although that capability varies both between species and within individual members of each species. The African Grey parrot is one of the most prolific talkers, with some outstanding representatives. One bird in particular, named Alex, could correctly identify more than 50 objects and colors by name. At the end of his life, he was beginning to learn how to count and demonstrate that he not only knew the sequence of numbers, but that he understood what they meant. In comparison, the average human toddler will be about 2 years old when they start to use as many words, and will be about 3 before they understand the concept of numbers such as age.[2]

1 A Dog’s Nose

A dog’s nose is extremely sensitive, with its 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our measly 6 million. From their nose to their brain, their sense of smell works differently than ours, allowing them to separate different smells and process that information independently – resulting in a sense that is estimated to be (at least) 10,000 times better than ours. From search and rescue dogs to drug dogs, they’ve shown time and time again that they can use their amazing sense of smell to save countless lives. But how much better does that make their smell than ours? Since smell is difficult to measure, we’ll make a visual comparison. The human eye can detect a light source no brighter than a candle at 30 miles on a dark night. If our vision was as acute as a dog’s sense of smell, we would be able to see it 30,000 miles away. That’s the distance between Bangor, Maine and Los Angeles, California – 10 times.[1]

Debra Kelly

After having a number of odd jobs from shed-painter to grave-digger, Debra loves writing about the things no history class will teach. She spends much of her time distracted by her two cattle dogs.

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10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened This Week, And A Good Bye

In today’s hyperfast political environment, keeping on top of the news can seem a Herculean task. So we have been doing the hard work for you. Every Friday for two years, Listverse has rounded up the most essential stories from the week, from the world-changing, to the shocking, to the inspiring.

The week that took us into December got off to a tragic start when a terrorist attacked people with a knife on London Bridge, killing two. While the UK was in mourning, other stories were busy rocking the rest of the world. In France, the nation once again prepared for paralysis as Macron once again pushed unpopular reforms through. In Germany, there were fresh political convulsions, while political shenanigans in the US continued to rumble on. Are you ready to have your news-perceiving organ comprehensively blown for the last time? Wait . . . last time? Yup! An explanation follows the news. Read on.

10 Terrorism Returned to London Bridge

In June, 2017, armed attackers plowed a van into a crowd of people on London Bridge, before getting out and proceeding to stab dozens of bystanders. 8 people died in the carnage, while nearly 50 were injured.

We mention this, because last Friday, grim echoes of this event reverberated across the British capital. At around 14:00 local time, Usman Khan entered a building at the corner of the bridge and stabbed five people before being tackled by members of the public, and subsequently shot dead by police. Two of his victims later died of their wounds.

Khan’s identity is significant, as he’d previously been jailed for plotting to attack the London Stock Exchange in 2012, only to be released last year. In light of his attack, the UK is now conducting an urgent review into the 74 people convicted of terrorism offenses who are now outside jail.

Depressingly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson used the attack to try and make electoral hay, blaming the opposition Labour Party for Khan’s release. Labour has not been in power for 9 years – plenty of time, you’d think, for Johnson’s ruling Conservatives to repeal any laws they did not agree with.[1]

9 Ohio’s Legislature Produced an Impossibly Strict Abortion Bill

An ectopic pregnancy is an unfortunate biological screw-up whereby a fertilized egg will not implant in a woman’s uterus, but in her fallopian tube instead. At that point, the pregnancy becomes completely unviable, with the added bonus that it can severely injure or even kill the woman.

That’s the grim background you need to know for the new bill introduced in Ohio. As reported last Friday, it’s a strict anti-abortion bill, with one side-helping of utter insanity. According to the bill, doctors would be under a legal obligation to try and re-implant ectopic pregnancies in the uterus.

Those who failed to do so would face charges of murder. Now might be a good time to mention that this procedure does not exist, and is likely impossible with current medical technology.

To be fair, the bill stands no chance of becoming law. Even if it passes in Ohio, it would fall before the courts, which routinely rule such bills unconstitutional. Still, it’s a chilling look at the zeal that has gripped the extreme wing of the pro-life movement. If Roe V. Wade is overturned, expect to see more of this fanaticism.[2]

8 Germany’s Junior Ruling Party Elected Shocking New Leaders

Normally, German politics is about as interesting as watching paint that isn’t just drying, but has already dried and is now in a state of seemingly permanent stasis. “Safe, predictable, boring”, that’s been the mantra of post-war Germany. Then Saturday came along, and suddenly all that paint didn’t look quite so dry anymore. The junior partner in the ruling coalition, the SPD, announced the results of their leadership election. Rather than a safe pair of hands, the members had picked the candidates most likely to dynamite the government.

Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken are the very definition of obscure. What makes them stand out is their willingness to torpedo their coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU. Walter-Borjans ran on a platform of committing to more public spending, saying they’d be willing to pull the plug on the government if the CDU said no. Were that to happen, Berlin would be sent into a tailspin.

Notably, the pair beat current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, seen as an old-school pragmatist who was widely expected to win. It may be that the shocks that have upended politics elsewhere are finally reaching Germany’s governing parties.[3]

7 France Erupted in Protest (Again)

Is there anyone left in France that Macron hasn’t driven onto the streets at some point or another? Since he came to power, the populist centrist has faced down waves of strikes and protests, mostly notably the Yellow Vest movement that erupted a little over a year ago.

While things have calmed down since the heady days of late 2018, there’s still time for more paralysis. On Thursday, France’s public sector workers went on strike to protest pension reform. The result was the biggest such protest since 1995.

Hundreds of thousands have now taken to the streets, with many train and bus services grinding to a halt. Even the Eiffel Tower was closed down. At the same time, most teachers, health workers, firefighters, and many air traffic controllers are joining the strikes. Basically, the country is frozen, and may stay that way for some time.

Still, this isn’t the first time Macron has faced down mass protests. Each time he seems to survive. The smart money is he’ll survive these protests, too, but in today’s volatile environment, who can tell?[4]

6 Elon Musk’s Defamation Trial Began

One of the weirdest side-effects of Twitter has been how it can take what would normally be a feel-good story about, say, a bunch of Thai boys being rescued from an underwater cave, and turn it into a depressing news-slog. Case in point: the Elon Musk “pedo guy” tweet that resulted in a defamation trial starting this week.

Back in 2018, a teenage Thai soccer team were trapped in a cave that had flooded and in danger of drowning. The rescue operation gripped the world, including Elon Musk. At some point, the SpaceX and Tesla entrepreneur decided to build a sub that could rescue the boys. It didn’t work, and the boys were rescued manually. In the aftermath, rescue diver Vernon Unsworth said Musk should “stick his submarine where it hurts”. In return, Musk took to Twitter to call Unsworth a “pedo guy”.

As a result, Musk is now on trial for defaming Unsworth. What’s amazing about this case is that it actually got so far. Musk is a billionaire. He could have settled out of court with Unsworth thousands of times over. And its not like Unsworth has actually been accused of pedophilia and Musk is taking a stand to expose him. But here we are.[5]

5 Sudan Began Creeping Toward Democracy (Maybe)

If someone ever tells you protest doesn’t work, tell them to take a good, long look at the recent history of Sudan. A hardline Islamic dictatorship for decades, Sudan suddenly exploded in protests last December against the ruling party. Despite a brutal crackdown, the protests continued and, over 2019, a crazy story unfolded.

In April, long-term dictator Omar al-Bashir was deposed in a coup. In August, the transitional ruling junta began handing power to civilian administrators. And now this. Last Friday, it was reported that the civilian administration approved a law dissolving the ruling party. At the same time, laws regulating women’s dress and movements, and other aspects of Sharia Law, began to be scrubbed from the statute books. It could be that Sudan is finally on the path to democracy.

Still, there’s a long way to go yet. Free elections will need to be held, and Khartoum will need to avoid a repeat of Egypt; where the deposal of one dictator led first to a hardline Islamist civilian government, and then another dictator. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel.[6]

4 The UK’s NHS Election Leak Was Possibly Traced to Russia

So, this is an unexpected one. Last week, we briefly touched on secret documents brandished by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of the UK’s general election, claiming the NHS was for sale in secret post-Brexit trade talks with the US. Given the sensitivity over Britain’s National Health Service, it was a potentially election-changing moment. But it may have been something else, too.

This week, researchers at Oxford University, the Atlantic Council think tank, and Graphika analytics firm claimed to have traced the origins of the leak to something known as Secondary Infektion, an election-disrupting outfit working from Russia that’s thought to be aligned with the Kremlin. While no-one is accusing Corbyn of being in cahoots with Moscow, it now seems possible that his bombshell documents were part of a covert Russian campaign to disrupt Britain’s elections.

It might seem counterintuitive that the Kremlin would give secret help to the Labour Party, especially since far-right populist Boris Johnson would seem more like Putin’s type. But that’s assuming Putin has a direct agenda for electing certain people, rather than simply sowing chaos in nations he perceives as his enemies.[7]

3 Malaysia’s Former PM went on Trial for Corruption

Back in 2015, a British journalist was quietly handed a sheaf of documents. Inside were some explosive revelations. The then-Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, had been siphoning off billions from a national development fund known as 1MDB. It was possibly the biggest fraud in history, and triggered an investigation by Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency. When they appeared to get close to Najib’s fraud, he fired everyone investigating him, and appointed a new attorney-general who promptly cleared him.

But the case wouldn’t go away. In the 2018 election, a former PM declared he would run against Najib on the promise of investigating the 1MDB case. The May vote resulted in Najib’s ruling party losing power for the first time since 1957. In the aftermath, Najib was arrested.

This week, the former PM finally took the stand to defend himself at a sprawling corruption trial. While Najib continues to blame a financier who is currently in hiding, the charges are serious. If convicted on even one count, he could face 20 years in prison.[8]

2 A US Sailor Killed Two at Pearl Harbor

In the run up to December 7, Pearl Harbor usually appears in the news only to memorialize those killed in the Japanese strike in 1941; the deadliest attack on Americans prior to 9/11. This year, though, Pearl Harbor appeared in the news thanks to a much more modern tragedy. On Wednesday afternoon, a US sailor took a gun into the Naval facility and shot three civilian contractors. He then turned the gun on himself.

This appears to be the first shooting at a US Naval Facility since 2015, and the first in a long time committed by a serviceman. The most striking comparison is likely with the Fort Hood military base shooting in 2014 (not be confused with the much deadlier 2009 shooting at the same facility), in which an enraged soldier killed three other people before committing suicide. At time of writing, the Pearl Harbor shooter’s motive hasn’t been uncovered.

Aside from anything, the incident shows just how acute the problem of mass shootings has become in the USA. In mid-November, it was calculated that there had been more mass shootings in 2019 than there had been days. The events at Pearl Harbor add another number to that grim tally.[9]

1 Impeachment Rumbled On

Remember how at a certain time in the late 90s every single news show contained at least one image of Bill Clinton looking gaunt and gray as the impeachment sharks circled? Well, we’re basically at that stage now with Trump. As such, you can probably expect this story to sit at the #1 spot until it either resolves itself or we all die of politics fatigue. Pick your poison.

Anyway, impeachment news this week came in a one-two punch against the president. On Tuesday, Democrats released their 300-page impeachment report, which they said contained clear evidence that Trump actively sought foreign interference in the 2020 election. With the proceedings now moved from the investigation phase to the judging phase, this was followed by a panel of constitutional experts testifying on whether the president committed an impeachable offense. Rather predictably, the three experts chosen by the Democrats said “yes”, while the expert chosen by the Republicans said “no”. Quelle surprise.

At this stage, opinions on impeachment seem to be set along party lines, so don’t expect any great shifts. The likeliest outcome is now: Trump gets impeached, the trial moves to the Senate, the Senate acquits Trump. All that remains to be seen is the timing.[10]

+ The End Of The News

[From JFrater]: This news roundup marks the end of an era (since May 2017 in fact)! It is the final weekly news round up that Listverse will be presenting for the foreseeable future as we move towards a more general lineup of lists as we did during our early years. We seem to have reached a point in societal division where news is impossible to present without choosing sides and causing anguish for half of the readership.

You are either for or against impeachment. You are either a climate change alarmist or denier. You are pro or anti vaccination. You are in favor of, or against, the worldwide political protests. It is exhausting to be honest. Neither side will budge on their views no matter how reasonable the debate—so why debate at all? Let’s leave the news reporting to fake news sites (Fox News or CNN depending on which half of our splintered society you are in). Listverse is for learning and enjoyment and, frankly, the mainstream news is no longer able to provide either of those things.

I would like to thank Morris for the years of news updates but also for the general lists which were always excellent and enjoyed by all. I hope we will see some non-news content in the future from him.

Morris M.

Morris M. is Listverse’s official news human, trawling the depths of the media so you don’t have to. He avoids Facebook and Twitter like the plague.

10 Mind-Blowing Things that Happened this Week (11/29/19)

In today’s hyperfast political environment, keeping on top of the news can seem a Herculean task. So why not let us do the hard work for you? Every Friday, Listverse rounds up the most essential stories from the week, from the world-changing, to the shocking, to the inspiring.

This being Thanksgiving week, a significant chunk of this week’s news was viewed through a haze of turkey, alcohol, and/or blistering family arguments. But while America pigged out and remembered the past, the rest of the world kept right on careening toward the precipice marked “the future”. There were political earthquakes in Israel, actual earthquakes in the Balkans, and the possibility of the world’s newest nation being founded in the Pacific Ocean. Let’s do this thing.

10 Israel’s Prime Minister was Charged with Bribery

We briefly touched on this in last week’s column, but it’s such a huge story that it should probably get it’s own entry. So here it is. Last Thursday, Israel’s Attorney General announced he had reached a decision regarding the three pending cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for fraud, corruption, and bribery. “With a heavy heart,” he was going to officially charge the PM in all three cases. Netanyahu is now the first sitting PM in Israeli history to be accused of bribery.

To say Netanyahu reacted maturely would be to tell a lie so brazen even Keyser Soze would balk at it. The 70-year old claimed a coup was underway, attacked the integrity of the Israeli justice system, and tried to ignite a populist backlash against the rule of law. Hey, what else would you expect from a guy who reportedly tried to spark a war with Gaza this September in order to delay elections?

Netanyahu is a consummate political survivor who has weathered storms before. But are the winds finally shifting? On Sunday, his Likud Party announced a contest to replace him as leader, while one of his own former ministers has said he should step down. Are we witnessing the end of the Bibi era?[1]

9 Malta’s Government Teetered Towards Collapse

Within a four month period two years ago, the EU was shocked by the brazen murder of two anti-corruption journalists. In Malta, a car bomb killed blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia in October, 2017. The following February, Slovak investigative reporter Jan Kuciak was executed by gunshot in his home.

But while the two murders shared outward similarities (mafia links, the possible involvement of businessmen and politicians), the reactions were very different. In Slovakia, mass protests collapsed the government and led to an ongoing wave of arrests and anti-corruption purges at the highest levels. In Malta… nothing. The tainted government limped on, and PM Joseph Muscat even allowed – and participated in – a lawsuit against Caruana Galizia’s relatives for the “smears” she published. For a long time, it really seemed like accountability in Malta was falling behind a former Communist state.

Until now. In the aftermath of businessman Yorgen Fenech’s arrest last week, Maltese society has exploded. Three ministers linked to Fenech have been forced to resign from the government. There have been protests. The leader of the opposition has claimed Muscat’s government has been “hijacked by a criminal organization.” It could be we’re witnessing the first dominoes starting to topple.[2]

8Albania Suffered its Biggest Earthquake in Decades

One of the poorest nations in Europe, Albania also has the bad luck to sit atop a notorious faultline, where the Eurasian and African plates meet. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, these two issues combined to create disaster. At 4am, a 6.4 magnitude quake hit just outside the capital, Tirana, and near the second city of Durres. Buildings collapsed. Homes were leveled. At time of writing, the death toll from the quake’s destruction has hit over 30, with hundreds injured.

Bad as the quake itself was, rescue efforts were hampered by the state of Albania’s economy. Though not as backward as it was under the Communist regime of Enver Hoxha, Albania is poor. Within Europe, only Moldova and Ukraine could claim to be poorer. As such, the quake completely overwhelmed Albania’s emergency responders, exacerbating the situation.

Thankfully, the nation’s neighbors have chipped in, with Greece and Italy donating funds and search and rescue teams. Still, the quake is easily Albania’s biggest natural disaster in decades.[3]

7 Bougainville Voted on Whether to Become the World’s Newest Nation

A small-ish island off the coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Bougainville is an obscure region within an already obscure country. But it may soon have a hefty claim to fame. Last Friday, a two week process started whereby the island’s citizens will choose whether to secede from PNG. If, as seems likely, a “yes” vote is returned, Bougainville will become the world’s newest country.

Relations between PNG and Bougainville have been strained for a long time. In the 1990s, the two fought a civil war that killed as many as ten percent of Bougainville’s population. In 2001 a peace deal was finally agreed on the basis that PNG would allow a referendum on independence. After nearly two decades of foot-dragging, that referendum has finally arrived.

The challenges for the vote are legion. Bougainville is almost totally rural, with no island-wide communication network, and a population with a literacy rate of roughly 50 percent. As a result, staging the vote has involved years of preparation, treks by officials to remote villages, and interactive plays explaining the entire process of voting to villagers. Additionally, should the vote pass, there is no time limit to implementing the result. Experts have warned PNG could dither a decade before letting Bougainville leave.[4]

6 Samoa’s Deadly Measles Outbreak was Traced to Anti-Vaxxers

When the measles vaccine was first introduced in 1963, it was a literal lifesaver. Hundreds – mostly children – died each year in the US alone. After the vaccine appeared, mortality rates plummeted 80 percent. For people at the time who’d lost a loved one to measles, the idea that, one day, people would choose not to take this preventative miracle would’ve seemed absurd.

Yet, here we are in late 2019, and yet another measles outbreak has been traced back to the insane cult of anti-vax. This time, it’s Samoa in the crossfire, where nearly 40 have died in the latest outbreak. 35 of those dead were children below the age of 4. Note to anti-vaxxers: when your propaganda starts literally killing children, it’s probably time to stop.

The Samoa outbreak started back in October, but it’s really hit the headlines this week as the tiny nation’s resources reached breaking point. Amazingly, soulless husks masquerading as social media influencers are continuing to target the country with anti-vaccine propaganda. Stay classy, guys.[5]

5 The New EU Commission Finally Formed

Like so much about the EU, the job of the commission is one that’s little understood outside political circles, and likely cared about even less. But its significance cannot be overstated. The European Commission is effectively the cabinet of the EU. It runs the continent on a day to day basis, proposing legislation, and making sure that legislation is respected in member states. It’s a body that influences the lives of 513 million people (451 million when – if – the UK finally leaves), and it’s just undergone a major change.

Following EU elections back in May, the term of the Commission headed by Jean Claude Juncker came to a close. After much wrangling in the fractured parliament, compromise candidate Ursula von der Leyen was chosen to replace him. This Wednesday – again, after much wrangling – Von der Leven’s team for the Commission was finally voted through. She will take up her new position formally on December 1.

The hard work begins almost immediately. The EU is having to deal with the loss of 13 percent of its population and its third largest economy as Brexit forges ahead. On top of that, the continent is more split than ever with the rise of the far-right on one hand, and hardcore leftwing parties on the other. How Von der Leven handles these challenges will set the future course of the world’s largest trading bloc.[6]

4 The UK Opposition Accused the Government of Selling the NHS

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is one of those peculiarly British institutions that everyone moans about, while simultaneously being ready to man the barricades and die for. Founded in the wake of WWII by the Labour government to provide free healthcare for the nation, it has remained largely under national ownership even as privatization has broken up nearly every other government monopoly.

But could all that change? As part of the ongoing UK election campaign, the Labour party revealed a leaked dossier this week that purported to show the NHS was on the table in post-Brexit trade talks with the US. It’s the sort of claim that could potentially blow the race wide open.

The documents relate to drug pricing and patents, a worrying trend to be sure, but not quite the fire sale the Labour Party sold it as. Still, with the NHS being a classic motivating factor for British voters, the claim could damage the Tories more than you’d expect. At least, Labour will hope that’s the case. Jeremy Corbyn’s leftwing party is currently trailing Boris Johnson’s Conservatives by anywhere between 11 and 19 points. At this stage, they’ll need a major upset to win. But, hey, the past few years have been all about major election upsets.[7]

3Australia Accused China of Trying to Install a Spy in its Parliament

On Sunday, Wang Liqiang sat down for an interview with Australian journalists. Over the next hour, he proceeded to unfurl a lurid tale of espionage, bribery, extortion, and possible murder that wouldn’t seem out of place in a late night thriller. According to Liqiang, he’s a former worker for Chinese intelligence who was intimately involved in a plot to embed a spy within Australia’s parliament. There was even a candidate: luxury car dealer Bo “Nick” Zhao, who was found dead in a motel room in March.

The plan was apparently for Zhao to become a candidate for the Liberal Party, use Chinese funds to make an impact, and then get elected into Parliament. This would be easier than it perhaps seems. According to security analysts, newly-elected MPs aren’t screened in such a way that would pick up spy connections. Infiltrating Australia’s parliament would be worryingly easy.

In response, Chinese media released a video purporting to show Wang Liqiang confessing in court to committing fraud in 2016, and claimed the man was an unemployed fantasist. It remains to be seen who is telling the truth.[8]

2Iraq’s Unrest Turned Deadly (Again)

Chile. Hong Kong. Iran. Bolivia. Lebanon. The list of places experiencing mass protests against their governments seems to be growing ever longer, with more and more nations being shaken by political tremors.

This week, Iraq rejoined the list. After intense protests in October resulted in the deaths of 149 people, violence returned to the streets on Wednesday. In Najaf, protestors torched the Iranian consulate, with those inside only just managing to escape. The following day, separate protests in Nasiriya flew out of control, resulting in a minimum of 13 killed by security forces. The violence may presage an even bigger flare up.

Like many across the planet, those in Iraq are demonstrating for less corruption and better living conditions. And, like many governments across the planet, Iraq’s has responded with force. People have been beaten, injured by tear gas cannisters, and fired at with live rounds. Although Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi has offered to resign, no replacement who can command a majority in parliament has been found.[9]

1 Impeachment Star Witness was Accused of Harassment

Another week, another twist in the ongoing saga of Donald Trump’s impeachment. Just last week, former US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, was in the news for dropping a bombshell about Trump’s alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine over investigating Joe Biden’s son. This week, it’s Sondland himself who is news.

On Wednesday, the magazine Portland Monthly published tales from three women who accused Sondland of harassing them. The accusations range from the one-time hotelier exposing himself, to retaliating against them professionally when they refused to sleep with him.

To call this story complicated would be to underestimate all the conflicting motivations and counterclaims flying back and forth. One of the named women in the story is the owner of the magazine doing the reporting, although she has said she did not interfere editorially. Perhaps as a result of this, Sondland has declared the entire thing is a politically-motivated hit job, designed to discredit by association his damaging testimony against Trump.

So, is this all a rightwing smear campaign? Or is Sondland the one cynically using liberal dislike of Trump to shield himself from the consequences of being a predator? Coming at the nexus of several movements in US politics – the impeachment proceedings, #MeToo, the #MeToo backlash, the Democratic primary – the story is perhaps the most-2019 thing we’ve yet covered. One thing’s for sure: whatever the truth, people will likely choose what they want to believe and tune everything else out.[10]

Morris M.

Morris M. is Listverse’s official news human, trawling the depths of the media so you don’t have to. He avoids Facebook and Twitter like the plague.

10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened This Week (11/22/19)

In today’s hyperfast political environment, keeping on top of the news can seem a Herculean task. So why not let us do the hard work for you? Every Friday, Listverse rounds up the most essential stories from the week, from the world-changing, to the shocking, to the inspiring.

SEE ALSO: 10 Mind-Blowing Things That Happened Last Week (11/15/19)

In this second week of our rebooted, renamed news column, the airwaves once again found themselves groaning under the weight of the dreaded I-word. Yep, impeachment was big news again, as it probably will continue to be for the foreseeable future. You can scroll down to the bottom to find out just what shenanigans were happening on Capitol Hill. But first, we’re gonna be discussing the continuing protests in Hong Kong, Israel’s continuing inability to form a government, and the bizarre way rich and powerful idiots continue to defend Jeffery Epstein in car crash TV interviews. Ready to gracefully dive into the Olympic-sized swimming pool of news? Let’s go.

10 Israel Once Again Failed to Form a Government

Are you a Brit tearing their hair out at the endless paralysis and repeat elections Brexit is causing? Just be glad you’re not an Israeli voter! Back in April, an early election failed to return a workable government. So a snap election was called for September. That, too, failed to produce a clear winner.

After incumbent PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to cobble together a coalition broke down, the baton was passed to Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White alliance, and holder of the most seats in the Knesset. He was given three weeks under Israeli law to form a government. Late Wednesday night, that time limit expired. Although the next attempt goes to the Knesset, it seems unlikely that will result in a government. Israel is almost certainly headed for its third election within twelve months.

But will another election solve anything? Israeli politics is so fractured, and so many parties are refusing to work with other parties, that its hard to see how the math could work. Things have further been complicated by Israel’s attorney general last night finally charging Netanyahu with bribery and corruption.[1]

9 Prince Andrew Gave a Car Crash Interview on Jeffery Epstein

You all know Jeffrey Epstein, the hyper-connected billionaire sex trafficker and child abuser who committed suicide after his recent arrest (or did he? See below). But nobody apparently knew him like Britain’s Prince Andrew. After criticism for his connections to Epstein – including allegedly sleeping with a minor Epstein trafficked for him – the Prince finally sat down for a BBC interview to try and clear his name. To call it a car crash would be to do a disservice to freeway pileups.

At the bare minimum, you’d expect a guy who’d been super close friends with a convicted sex offender to offer a heartfelt apology to Epstein’s victims. Prince Andrew didn’t even do that. Instead, he dodged questions about why he attended Epstein’s 2010 release party; told the interviewer that his main fault was being too honorable towards his friends; claimed he couldn’t have had sex with an underage girl because he was eating pizza at the time; and declared an injury from the Falklands War meant he was incapable of sweating.

The backlash was as swift as it was predictable. Charities and companies severed ties with the Prince, who was withdrawn from his official palace duties.[2]

8We Discovered the FBI are Investigating Epstein’s Death as a “Criminal Enterprise”

Sticking with the rich and powerful’s favorite sex offender for a moment, this was also the week we learned the FBI are now investigating Epstein’s death as the result of a possible “criminal enterprise”. The statement came courtesy of Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although she also said she had no evidence Epstein’s death was “was anything other than a suicide,” it was still a clear sign that not everyone is satisfied with the official narrative.

The story goes like this: on the night of August 9, Epstein was left alone in his cell. The guards were meant to check on him every thirty minutes, but instead apparently fell asleep. Epstein wasn’t monitored for three hours, during which time the cameras outside his cell malfunctioned. He was found dead the next morning, in what was later ruled a suicide.

Epstein was a guy connected to many, many powerful people. And not just Prince Andrew powerful. He was friends with both Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. Perhaps unsurprisingly, quite a few people now think he was murdered to keep him from spilling the beans. We’ll see what the FBI investigation concludes.[3]

7 Sweden Dropped its Rape Case into Julian Assange

In 2012, Julian Assange fled into the Ecuadorian embassy in London to escape a Swedish arrest warrant for rape. At the time, Assange claimed he was afraid complying with the warrant would end with him being extradited to America for leaking classified government material. This April, his time in the embassy ended unceremoniously when Ecuador dropped his protections and he was dragged out by London police.

Since then, Assange has been sitting in a London jail, serving 50 weeks for breaching bail conditions, both the Swedish and American extradition orders hanging over him. This week, Sweden abruptly dropped their charges against Assange. While that sounds like good news for the Wikileaks co-founder, it also means he might wind up in a US court even sooner than anticipated.

When dropping the case, Swedish prosecutors were very clear that they still believe Assange committed the crime, and that it’s only the deterioration of evidence over time that makes the case not worth pursuing.[4]

6 Malta Finally Arrested the Alleged Mastermind Behind a Journalist’s Murder

On October 16, 2017, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia got inside her car and started driving. Seconds later, an explosion engulfed the vehicle. At the time of her death, Galizia had been uncovering corruption within both the Maltese government and business communities.

The car bomb that killed Galizia triggered outrage in Malta, but a slow response from the police. Authorities were accused of dragging their feet, lest someone powerful be implicated in Galizia’s murder. Finally, after intense international pressure, the assassination’s so-called “middleman” was arrested. He was offered immunity from prosecution in return for naming the mastermind. It seems likely he took it. This week prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech was arrested on his luxury yacht. We may know soon if he ordered the hit.

Fenech owns 17 Black, a company Galizia had accused of facilitating bribes to Maltese politicians. His arrest echoes the fate of Slovak businessman Marián Ko?ner, who was recently charged with ordering the notorious 2018 murder of journalist Jan Kuciak. Both men deny the allegations.[5]

5 Bolivia Plunged Further into Chaos

Just last week, we told you how Bolivia’s indigenous leftwing leader, Evo Morales, had fled the country following mass protests over recent election irregularities. But rather than calm things down, his exit only seems to have fanned the flames. Bolivia has spent the last week in a state of chaos, as Morales supporters have blocked roads and clashed with police. At time of writing, the death toll of the protests stands at 31, with the unrest showing no signs of abating.

Morales’ supporters claim the president’s removal was part of a right wing coup orchestrated by the opposition. While this conveniently overlooks Morales apparently rigging recent elections, it’s worth noting that the interim government has already overstepped its bounds. Under Bolivian law, the interim government is just there to call fresh elections and ensure they’re properly run. Instead, president Jeanine Anez has taken a chopper to Bolivia’s foreign policy and purged many of Morales’ appointees. No-one is playing fair, it seems.

Bolivia is now facing chronic shortages due to roadblocks, and the potential for the situation to deteriorate. Things haven’t been helped by Morales repeatedly hinting he’ll return from exile to lead his supporters.[6]

4 Hong Kong Also Plunged Further into Chaos

Another week, another flotilla of bad news from Hong Kong. After months of pro-democracy protests paralyzing the territory, things escalated to dangerous new heights as the weekend. On Sunday, protestors barricaded themselves inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University. When police tried to clear them, they responded with petrol bombs. So the police unleashed teargas and rubber bullets and laid siege to the campus. At time of writing, the siege is still ongoing.

The siege is the most dramatic incident in a half-year of dramatic incidents. Protestors who tried to escape the University have been beaten back with water cannons, leading to insane scenes like dozens of students trying to abseil 8 meters from a bridge onto a glass-strewn road where motorbikes waited to speed them away. Others have attempted to crawl out through sewers. Most, however, have been caught by the police. 400 have been arrested. They face charges of rioting and 10 years in prison.

At the heart of the standoff is the protestors’ fear of police, who they accuse of brutality and torture. This means simply surrendering isn’t seen as an option. With only a few dozen students still holding out inside the university, it’s only a matter of time before the siege is broken.[7]

3 Iran’s Plunge Redefined Notions of Chaos

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” So says Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker in the smash hit film of the same name. Perhaps one of the reasons the film has been such a smash is because we can all relate: it really does seem to be getting crazier. As protests continued to shake Bolivia, Hong Kong, and Chile (see last week), yet another country found itself paralyzed by demonstrations. After the government hiked fuel prices, Iran exploded. Just as in other countries, the authorities’ response soon turned dangerous.

Almost from the moment the protests ignited last Friday, Tehran shut down the internet and sent armed soldiers out onto the streets. While the combined death toll of the protests in Bolivia (31), Chile (19), and Hong Kong (2 – excluding suicides) is comfortably under 60, in Iran it has already exceeded 100. Groups like Amnesty claim Iranian authorities have fired live rounds indiscriminately into crowds in the worst Iranian crackdown since 2008.

Tehran has now claimed “victory” against the protestors, but it’s a Pyrrhic victory at best. The scale of violence this week in Iran shows that a) people are MEGA pissed, b) the authorities are scared, and c) the Iranian regime may not last much longer.[8]

2 Roger Stone was Convicted of Lying to Congress

Remember the Mueller investigation? Remember how it was all meant to be a big “nothingburger”? Well, the fallout from it is still ongoing, and still taking down plenty of people. Last Friday, it was the turn of former Trump advisor Roger Stone. Stone stood accused of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice, pretty much all of it relating to Wikileaks’ publishing of sensitive Democrat emails during the 2016 election. After two days’ deliberation, a jury convicted him on all counts. He now faces years in prison.

During the 2016 campaign, it came to Stone’s attention that Wikileaks had compromising emails from the Democrat party. He attempted to coordinate with the website to find out when they would be releasing them, and then subsequently lied about it before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in September, 2017. It’s further been alleged that his reason for lying was to protect Trump.

The trial itself was a huge embarrassment for the president. Former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates testified under oath that Trump and Stone had discussed the Wikileaks emails on the phone – something the president has denied under oath.[9]

1 Yet Another Bombshell Blew Up the Impeachment Inquiry

And so here we are again, at the big story of the 2019 fall-winter season: impeachment. Just last week, we told you about William Taylor’s bombshell testimony that Trump was overheard demanding a quid pro quo from Ukraine, with military aid being withheld until Kyiv opened an investigation into Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden’s son.

This week, another rhetorical artillery shell landed in the form of testimony from Gordon Sondland, the former hotelier and Trump friend turned US ambassador to the EU. In answer to the question “was there a quid pro quo?” Sondland responded: “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.” He then went on to implicate numerous officials, including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, vice president Mike Pence, and secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. Per Sondland: “everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”

As bombshells go, they don’t come bigger or shellier than that. In Sondland’s telling, everyone around Trump was quietly colluding to let the president’s reelection prospects dictate foreign policy. Worryingly for the president, this testimony isn’t coming from a nevertrumper or a disgruntled careerist ambassador, but one of his handpicked Washington outsiders. If things keep going on like this, expect to see more impeachment stuff occupying the #1 spot.[10]

Morris M.

Morris M. is Listverse’s official news human, trawling the depths of the media so you don’t have to. He avoids Facebook and Twitter like the plague.

60 Stunning Images Of South Asia

It is very easy for us in the west to ignore life in remote places. We are, particularly these days, so focussed on our social media driven adrenaline shots (and sometimes our jobs I guess) that we simply have no time to pause. It seems the more technology frees up our time, the less of that time we seem to be able to find.

See Also: 60 Stunning Images of The Middle East That Will Make You Forget Its Violent Past

In September I compiled a list of stunning images of the Middle East (linked right above this paragraph) and a reader (“Aman” to be exact) asked for a list on South Asia. Unlike the Middle East which is dominated by Islam, South Asia is a real hodge podge of religions, peoples, and environments. Nevertheless, it still manages to sometimes attract something of a bad name for itself due to unrest in the region (I’m looking at you Pakistan and India!)

But that aside, it is also a magical region of the Asian continent filled with some of the greatest wonders known to man—both natural and manmade. This list looks at a bunch of them, whilst giving a little background on each country. There are actually only eight nations in South Asia, so I have split the two biggest into two items each to give us a total of ten. They are ordered by size: smallest to largest.

10 Maldives

Pictured: Male City, Maldives Resort, Huvafen Fushi, Raffles Maldives, Radisson Blue, Hurawalhi Resort Restaurant

Maldives is the smallest Muslim country in the world. It was part of the British commonwealth from 1982 to 2016 when it withdrew because of criticisms about its bad record with human rights and political corruption. It has a small population of only 390,000 people (Maldivians) descended from the earliest settlers most likely from India and Sri Lanka. The name of the country means Necklace Island.

9 Bhutan

Pictured: Paro Taktsang, Punakha Dzong, Dochula Pass, Thimphu Chorten, Phobjikha Valley x2

First off, if you want to visit the beautiful sights above, you can’t without lots of money. Bhutan is virtually shut to tourists except through expensive state-run tours costing upwards of $250 a day. The name Bhutan means thunder dragon and the same appears on their national flag. Bhutan has a king (Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck) and an elected parliament. The dominant religion is Buddhism with Hinduism a distant second. The country has banned all public use (including sale) of tobacco products and Internet and TV was made legal in 1999. Homosexuality is illegal. Perhaps unique in the world, Bhutan has an official dress code for its citizens which allows easy recognition of social class.

8 Sri Lanka

Pictured: Yala National Park, Dambulla Cave Temple, Sigiriya Fortress, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala Buddha, Polonnaruwa

Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon until it became a republic in 1972. Its recent history has been rather dominated by a 26 year civil war which ended in 2009 when the government forces won against the Tamil Tigers. 70 percent of Sri Lankans are Buddhist with Hinduism second and Roman Catholicism comprising around 7% of the population of roughly 21 million people. Sri Lanka is the oldest continuously Buddhist nation in the world. The government is a semi-presidential republic.

7 Nepal

Pictured: Pokhara, Langtang Valley x2, Nar Phu Valley Trek, Durbar Square, Kathmandu x2

Nepal, the only country with a non-quadrilateral shaped flag, is mostly Hindu with a population of 28 million. It is home to eight of the tallest mountains in the world (including Mount Everest, the highest spot on Earth). The country is, by election, Communist in that its current president (Bidhya Devi Bhandari) was the leader of the Communist party up to her election in 2015.

6 Bangladesh

Pictured: Ratargul Swamp, Paharpur Vihara, Gaur, Barisal Floating Market, Shiva Temple Puthia, Rajbari Palace

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries on earth with a population of 161 million people in an area of 147,570 square kilometres (56,980 square miles). It is the world’s fourth largest Muslim majority nation. Bangladesh is plagued with many problems: genocide, child slavery, terrorism, corruption, and severe pollution due to it being exempt from all international requirements for climate change due to being so impoverished.

5 Afghanistan

Pictured: Mazar-I-Sharif Mosque, Band-I-Amir, Wakhan Corridor, Bamyan, Minaret of Jam, Kabul

Afghanistan is 99.7% Muslim and ranks as one of the worst for terrorism, child labor, and general human misery. Homosexuality is punishable by death and nearly half of journalist deaths (which is common there) were perpetrated by the government. There are a few Western anchors who might want to consider that next time they clutch pearls over being criticized by politicians and independent media in the US. Up to 16% of the nation’s wealth comes from the Opium industry. Fortunately many of the citizens who fled war are beginning to return and they are bringing much needed business development to the country. Perhaps its future will be less bleak as a consequence. Afghanistan’s national sport is Buzkashi in which men on horseback have to score a goal with a goat’s carcass.

4 Pakistan—Nature

Pictured: Hunza Valley, Neelum Valley, Swat, Concordia, Fairy Meadows, Shimshal Lake

Like its neighbor, India, Pakistan is a nuclear power. Conflict between the two nations is ongoing due to religious and cultural differences, with Pakistan being largely Muslim and India Hindu. It is a nation bereft with problems of illiteracy, poverty, terrorism, and corruption. Nevertheless, it is also home (unbeknownst to many) to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. Pakistan has a population of 200 million people and has a constitutional republican form of government.

3 Pakistan—Man

Pictured: Pakistan Monument, Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Faisal Mosque, Noor Mahal, Katas Raj Temple

2 India—Nature

Pictured: Loktak Lake, Valley of Flowers, Jaisalmer Sand Dunes, Great Rann of Kutch, Lonar Crater Lake, Borra Caves

India must be considered one of the richest in the world in terms of cultural color and diversity. Its pagan religion is filled with golden icons, exotic animals, epic tales, and mystical wonders. India is home to both the wettest place on earth (Mawsynram) due to the highest rainfall, and the 17th largest desert, the Thar desert. India’s food is as diverse as its landscape with offerings of highly spiced curries to wonderfully subtle sweets. Entire lists could be dedicated to the beautiful locations in this wonderfully mysterious far away land.

1 India—Man

Pictured: Khajuraho Monuments, Jaisalmer City, Akshardham Temple, Taj Mahal, Golden Temple, Meenakshi Amman Temple

Jamie Frater

Jamie is the owner and chief-editor of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and collecting oddities. He is fascinated with all things historic, creepy, and bizarre.

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10 Essential News Stories That Mattered This Week (11/15/19)

In today’s hyperfast political environment, keeping on top of the news can seem a Herculean task. So why not let us do the hard work for you? Every Friday, Listverse rounds up the most essential stories from the week, from the world-changing, to the shocking, to the inspiring.

After a six month hiatus, Morris M. returns to guide you through the miasma of media noise in search of the elusive beast we call “news”. This week – in our first retitled reboot of the sorely-missed “Mind-Blowing Things that Happened this Week” column – we’re journeying to Bolivia to watch the president flee into exile; wading into the Hong Kong protests to try and make sense of it all; and checking in on the UK as windbag of the people Nigel Farage does a deal with the devil. Strap yourselves in for a bumpy ride.

10 Bolivia’s President Fled into Exile

Not so long ago, Evo Morales was an international darling. Bolivia’s first indigenous president, he came to power on a wave of popular support, then used his constitutionally-mandated two terms to improve the lives of his nation’s poorest.

Then Morales’ second term ended and he decided he wanted another. And another. Following a constitutional amendment in 2016, Morales finally ran for his fourth term this year. When he was declared victor following widespread voting irregularities, Bolivians decided they’d had enough. The streets exploded in weeks of protests and rioting that only ended when Morales resigned on Sunday. He has since fled into exile in Mexico, along with most of his cabinet.

In the aftermath of Morales’ flight, opposition senator Jeanine Áñez has assumed the presidency, becoming Bolivia’s first female leader. She now has 90 days to call fresh elections. Quite what shape the post-Morales years will take will be the burning question hovering over the ballot box.[1]

9 Brazil’s Former President was Released from Jail

Sticking south of the border for a moment, the weekend also saw another major story involving a Latin American leader. But while the news for Morales was 100 percent bad, the news for Brazil’s ex-president Lula was nearly all good. After being jailed for 12 years some 18 months ago on corruption charges, the leftist firebrand was freed on Friday following a Supreme Court ruling (LINK 2).

The jailing of Lula was a massive turning point in modern Brazilian history. At the point judge Sérgio Moro slammed his gavel down, Lula was preparing for a presidential run, and was the firm favorite to win. Instead, he was locked away, and rightwing populist Jair Bolsonaro was given a clear run at the presidency. The fact that Bolsonaro subsequently made judge Moro his justice minister meant it was all sorts of easy for Lula’s lawyers to argue his conviction was political. Hence his now being a free man.

The re-emergence of Lula throws Brazilian politics into a spin. Although other charges are still pending against him, he’s perhaps the only figure on the left with a popular movement to equal Bolsonaro’s rightist one. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.[2]

8 Chile’s Violent Protests Continued

On October 14, a fare hike for the Santiago metro in Chile exploded into nationwide protests against inequality and pampered elites. When the protestors refused to disperse after the fare rise was reversed, the police responded with extreme violence. This, in turn, led to widespread riots and the normally-stable nation turning into a very unstable battleground.

This week, the news coming out of Chile just got grimmer and grimmer. A New York Times video report found an “epidemic” of protestors being blinded by police. At the same time, a separate report from Chile’s human rights institute declared that 20 had been killed in the protests so far, and over 2,000 wounded, included 1,000 who’d been shot.

But by far the worst news related to the nearly 300 civilians who claim to have been tortured by the police and military. In Chile, allegations of police torture carry weighty memories of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, when 40,000 were kidnapped and brutalized by the security forces. Hopefully, we’re not witnessing a return to a much darker time.[3]

7 Spain Held its Second Useless Election in a Year

After three entries in Latin America, it’s time to head north to yet another Spanish-speaking nation (yeah, Brazil doesn’t speak Spanish. No, we’re not letting it affect this otherwise smooth transition). This time, we’re looking at Spain itself, where the country went to the polls on Sunday, following a previous election in April that failed to return a workable government. So people once again voted. And, once again, everyone lost.

Socialist Worker’s Party leader Pedro Sánchez called the election after winning the April vote, but falling short of enough seats to form a government. His calculation had been that voters would give him enough of a boost to propel him across the finishing line. Instead, his party lost three seats for a total of 120, painfully far short of the 176 needed for a majority. Still, it didn’t look too good for his rightwing rivals, either. The conservative People’s Party grabbed 22 extra seats, but still languished in second with a total of 88. About the only party able to celebrate was the far-right Vox which came third with 52 seats, a 28 seat increase.

Sánchez has now signed a coalition agreement with the populist party Unidas Podemos. However, this still leaves him 21 seats short of a majority. The smart money is on Spain having yet another election within a year.[4]

6Venice Drowned

As a city built atop a lagoon, Venice is no stranger to flooding. But there’s regular flooding, and then there’s whatever the heck happened this week. Following atrocious weather on Tuesday, the water level started rising in Venice. By the time it stopped, the waters had risen 187cm, the second worst flood the city has ever experienced.

The result was a city that was basically drowning. Historic plazas were flooded, while centuries’ old buildings sustained heavy damage. Images were broadcast around the world of people forced to walk across precarious wooden walkways to avoid the floodwaters. Despite this, at least two deaths have so far been recorded.

The waters still didn’t reach the heights of the infamous 1966 flood, but they came close. The mayor of the city has blamed climate change for the disaster. If that’s the case, we can probably expect more floods like this in the future.[5]

5 Australia Burned

While Venice sank below the waves, down in the southern hemisphere, Australia watched in horror as flames consumed swathes of the east coast. Over the course of the last week and a bit, huge wildfires ripped through the bush, engulfing suburbs and surrounding isolated towns. As firefighters battled to stop the multiple blazes, some 300 homes were turned to ash, and at least four people killed. The worst part? That the worst is yet to come.

Parts of Australia are currently suffering under a spell of extremely dry weather that has turbocharged the ability of bushfires to spread. On Tuesday, things got so bad that the greater Sydney area was issued with its first “catastrophic” fire warning in history. Unfortunately, with temperatures due to soar again this weekend, its thought the fires could get worse.

As in Venice, many – such as a group of former fire chiefs – have blamed climate change for the current catastrophe. The government of Scott Morrison disagrees.[6]

4 We Spotted a Hyperfast Star Being Ejected from our Galaxy

Ahh, space. Both the final frontier, and a reliable escape from the stream of disasters endlessly afflicting Earth. This week, the major news from the heavens involved scientists detecting a superfast star escaping our galaxy at 1,700km per second (by way of comparison, a bullet might max out at a mere 1.5km per second). But the story of this star wasn’t a peaceful one. It’s current trajectory was the result of an almost unimaginable disaster.

The star, S5-HVS1, is thought to have been part of a binary system that wandered too close to the galactic center. This is an issue, because at the center of the galaxy is a great, big black hole. At some point, S5-HVS1’s partner star was pulled into the black hole, and the force was enough to slingshot S5-HVS1 away at mind-melting speeds.

This is the first proof we’ve ever found of something known as the Hills mechanism, which posits a method by which stars can be ejected from the Milky Way by black holes. As for S5-HVS1 itself, it is now doomed to forever wander the empty spaces between the galaxies until it finally burns itself out.[7]

3 The UK’s Brexit Party Threw the Tories an Election Lifeline

“Brexit party to contest more than 600 seats” blared the headlines on November 4. That day, professional pub bore Nigel Farage eagerly declared that his brand new political party would fight nearly every seat in the upcoming UK general election. In reference to the idea of standing down his prospective MPs to give the Conservative Party a clear run in Leave-voting areas, he declared “What kind of conceited arrogance is this?”

Well, a week is a long time in politics, and breathtaking hypocrisy never dies. On November 11, Farage made a new speech so tonally different that to listen to it was to experience the audio equivalent of whiplash. The Brexit Party would no longer be contesting 317 seats across Britain. The reason? Um… to give the Conservative Party a clear run.

The pact is the result of the wild unpredictability of the UK’s first winter election in decades. Farage clearly sees a Boris Johnson win as the best way to secure a hard Brexit. Still, his decision caused anger in some quarters – not least among some of his own party, who accused him of betrayal.[8]

2 Hong Kong’s Protests Flared Up Again

Since August, 2019, Hong Kong has been in the grip of mass protests originally triggered by an extradition treaty with China and Taiwan, but since grown to encompass a much broader fight for democracy. Since the protests are still ongoing, and since this column has been on hiatus since they began, now seems as good a time as any to cover them.

After months of clashes and destruction of property, the protests in recent weeks have focused on several university campuses, where protestors have built fortifications and effectively taken over the buildings. On Tuesday, the Chinese University of Hong Kong was the site of the worst violence since the protests began with police unleashing a hail of over 1,500 tear gas cannisters. For their part, the protestors are reported to be stocking up on petrol bombs. In China, state media has taken to warning Hong Kong that it’s on “the edge of doom”.

With the violence showing no signs of abating, many expats and international students are now fleeing the territory. At the same time, the economy is reportedly taking a battering as tourists stay away.[9]

1 The First Day of Impeachment Hearings Dropped a Bombshell

And so they’ve finally arrived. The first public impeachment proceedings since Bill Clinton sat in the White House. When this column last signed off (under its older, less sexy name), barely any Democrats were willing to even whisper the “I” word in public.

But times change and scandals involving Ukraine explode out of nowhere. So it was that, this Wednesday, the first public hearings of Donald Trump’s impeachment were held. Barely had the cameras begun rolling than the first bombshell was dropped.

During his testimony, former top US diplomat to Ukraine William Taylor declared that one of his aides had overheard a phone conversation between Trump and EU ambassador Gordon Sondland. Reportedly, this involved Trump fretting about Ukraine opening in investigation into Hunter Biden, a quid pro quo the president allegedly demanded in return for restarting military aid. Taylor claims that Sondland subsequently told his aide “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden” than Ukraine.

At this stage, every day seems to bring more bad news for Trump, and adds to the whiff of scandal completely engulfing him. While it seems very unlikely the Senate will actually convict him, the emergence of more details like this could damage his reputation. Expect to see more from these hearings in future columns. Ah! It sure is wonderful to be back.[10]

Morris M.

Morris M. is Listverse’s official news human, trawling the depths of the media so you don’t have to. He avoids Facebook and Twitter like the plague.

Top 10 Deadliest Spiders

Deadliest spiders are a subject that you would think we would have covered long ago, but believe it or not, Listverse has never ranked spiders in this way. We have covered deadly snakes and other venomous creatures, but venomous spiders have be long ignored. Until today.

Before we begin let’s just quickly clear up one point of confusion: spiders are (usually) venomous not poisonous. For something to be poisonous it must be harmful through being eaten. To be venomous, a thing must be harmful by injecting venom—via fangs in the bulk of cases with deadly spiders. Now, on with the list!

SEE ALSO: 10 Fascinating Mysteries Involving Spiders

Across the globe, most people can agree that spiders are critters they want nothing to do with. A fear of spiders, otherwise known as arachnophobia, is one of the most widespread fears people have, and there’s a good reason for it.

Most of our fears don’t stem from irrational places; they come from evolving on a dangerous planet. Even though most spiders are harmless to humans, there are several species capable of killing you with a bite or two, and it’s because of these ten that arachnophobia is anything but irrational.

10 Whistling Tarantula—Selenocosmia Crassipes

Selenocosmia Crassipes - whistling TarantulaAustralia has its own species of Tarantulas, some of which are known as whistling or barking tarantulas due to the hissing sound they make when provoked.[1] Their venom is not fatal to humans, but it does pack a punch, thanks to the 1 cm fangs that deliver it. While they don’t pose a fatal risk to adult humans, a bite from one will kill a large dog in under 30 minutes. If they do strike a full-sized adult with full envenomation, you can expect to vomit your guts out for as long as six to eight hours.[2]

Their bites are particularly painful because of the long fangs, and the bite can result in swelling, which can extend from the bite mark to other nearby extremities. A researcher in Queensland was bitten by one in 2010, and they described their experience, “The pain was so intense that sleep that night was impossible. Fifteen hours post-bite, the adjoining finger, and upper hand were also swollen and painful.”[3] While you won’t die if you’re bitten, you should seek immediate medical attention should a bite occur.

9 Yellow Sac Spider—Cheiracanthium Inclusum

Cheiracanthium Inclusum Yellow Sac spider
Yellow Sac Spiders are widely distributed spiders ranging in size from only 3 to 15 mm. You’ve probably seen them numerous times over the years and not given them much thought due to their size, but size rarely matters when it comes to spider bites. A Yellow Sac Spider’s venom contains a cytotoxin, which is a nasty substance that impairs call functions, often leading to cellular death. You will immediately know if one bites, as their bites are incredibly painful.[4]

The good news about a Yellow Sac Spider bite is that it’s not going to kill you.[5] You may wish you were dead when the pain hits, but there have never been any reported deaths. These spiders will aggressively defend their territory, and the last thing you want to do is threaten one of their egg sacs. Their venom does cause limited necrosis of the skin in the area where a bit occurs, which often results in a misdiagnosis of a Brown Recluse bite. Some species of Cheiracanthium’s bite is more severe than others, but the most common are C. inclusum and C. mildei.

8 Brown Recluse Spider—Loxosceles Reclusa

Loxosceles Reclusa Brown recluse spider
The Brown Recluse Spider is one of the most feared spiders in the civilized world due to the nature of its venom. While bites from a Brown Recluse will likely not result in the death of a person, it will cause the death of tissue, as its venom is highly necrotic. Much like a rattlesnake bite, the venom of a Brown Recluse will course through your veins at the site of the bite, resulting in the death of the tissue at the bite location.[6] One of the problems with a bite is that it may not be initially felt, nor will it always be immediately painful. The resulting symptoms can be misidentified as a result.

The severity of the necrosis varies, and not all bites result in tissue death. Only 37% of bites will cause skin tissue to die. A small percentage of people may experience hemolysis — the bursting of red blood vessels.[7] The fear of necrosis is what makes these spiders particularly scary to humans, and they are all over the central and southern United States, though they are rarely aggressive. Untreated bites can result in large portions of skin becoming gangrenous.

7 Redback Spider—Latrodectus Hasseltii

Latrodectus Hasseltii redback spider
The Redback Spider, sometimes called the Australian Black Widow, is often mistaken for a Black Widow thanks to the similar coloring and red mark found on the backs of females. They are highly venomous with a cocktail of different types of neurotoxins that deliver a staggeringly high amount of pain in humans.[8] Fortunately, they don’t often strike with full venomization, preferring to hold back some of their precious venom for prey animals. If a Redback Spider were to deliver its full load in a bite, it would likely result in death.

That being said, there have been no known deaths attributed to these spiders since the invention of its antivenom in 1956. Before that time, a bite could result in death, which would likely be the same today were it not possible to get the antivenom in time. The dangerous symptoms from a bite include nausea, excessive sweating near the bite, muscle weakness, and vomiting. These spiders aren’t particularly shy, and they will strike a person if they feel threatened, which is what happened to one unfortunate Australian man who encountered one while sitting on a toilet.[9]

6 Brown Widow Spider—Latrodectus Geometricus

Latrodectus Geometricus brown widow spider
The Brown Widow Spider is an incredibly dangerous cousin to the more familiar Black Widow. These lovely little beasts carry a particularly dangerous neurotoxin in their venom, which can result in a condition named after the spider’s bite called Latrodectism.[10] The Brown Widow Spider’s venom is more toxic than its famous cousin, but thanks to its stingy nature, it doesn’t completely envenomize humans with a bite.[11] These spiders are particularly shy, and will only bite a person who disturbs them, or if they feel threatened.

That being said, a bite from a Brown Widow spider is going to hurt. A lot. There have been no recorded deaths from their bite, but the pain from a single bite has been described as being hit with something “like a sledgehammer.”[12] The venom will cause immediate pain and muscle contractions, and if left untreated in a particularly sensitive location, the bite can result in spinal or cerebral paralysis. Their distribution has become cosmopolitan, and they are found throughout the developed world.

5 Six-Eyed Sand Spider—Sicarius Hahni

Sicarius Hahni six-eyed sand spider
The Six-Eyed Sand Spider is a relative of Recluse Spiders, though it is only found in the deserts of southern Africa. The spiders are excellent at camouflage thanks to their being covered by tiny hairs called setae.[13] The hairs pick up sand particles to create a sort of ghillie suit it wears as it buries itself under the sand. It sits there, patiently waiting for prey to come along so it can ambush and kill it quickly. These spiders rarely attack humans, but if they do, the bite could be dangerous.

Most bites do not result in envenomation since they prefer to store that for food they can actually eat. That’s a good thing, seeing as their venom contains a cryotoxin capable of destroying tissue and even organs. A bite with full envenomation would likely lead to hemorrhaging followed by liver and kidney failure. Death would come soon after, and there is no antivenom.[14] Fortunately, there are no recorded cases of these shy critters envenoming a bite in humans, but from what we understand of their venom, that’s a good thing.

4 Black Widow Spider—Latrodectus Mactans

Black Widow Spiders are some of the most notorious arachnids on the planet, and their level of danger can be seen in how much they have invaded our popular culture. The term “Black Widow” has been used to describe a woman who kills her husband(s) while Marvel Comics opted to name a deadly assassin after the little buggers. They are found throughout North America, Central America, Africa, and the West Indies, so there’s a good chance one is crawling up your back right now.

National Geographic[15] lists them as the most venomous spider in North America with a venom that is 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake. A bite from a Black Widow will result in a small pricking of the skin, but don’t let the size of the mark fool you; there’s a dangerous amount of venom coursing through your veins, which can cause severe muscle cramping, nausea, and paralysis of the diaphragm, which can result in difficulty breathing.[16] A bite can theoretically kill infants and the elderly, but no recorded cases of this happening are known.

3 Chilean Recluse Spider—Loxosceles Laeta

Brown Recluse spiders are often feared for their necrotizing venom, but they pale in comparison to their Chilean cousins. The Chilean Recluse Spider is considered to be the most dangerous of all the Recluse Spiders, and their bite can cause some serious damage or even death. Fortunately, like most Recluse spiders, they don’t often interact with humans and will only bite if they feel threatened. Their venom contains a dermonecrotic agent,[17] which kills off skin tissue in the area of the bite. When a bite is serious enough, it can cause deadlier issues.

In about 4% of cases, the venom caused a series of failures resulting in death. This can happen if the bite consists of a particularly large amount of venom, or if it hits an area near the heart or kidneys. Renal failure is the most common severe reaction to a bite with full envenomation, but these are incredibly rare. Their venom is 15 times more toxic than some species of cobra, and as much as 10 times more potent than sulfuric acid.[18]

2 Sydney Funnel Web Spider—Atrax Robustus

Atrax Robustus funnel web spider
While Australia may be known for its larger, more toothy animals, there is one spider that stands as the most dangerous of them all in the land down under. The Sydney Funnel Web Spider is listed by Guinness World Records as being the “most venomous”[19] spider in terms of toxicity to humans. While a lethal dose of venom is currently unknown, the spider’s lethality to the crab-earing macaque has been noted as 0.2 milligrams per kilogram. An average venom yield from a male Sydney Funnel Web Spider is 176 milligrams.[20]

The venom of the Sydney Funnel Web Spider is particularly harmful to primates, which includes humans. The venom contains a compound called δ-atracotoxin, which inhibits a primate’s nervous system, and when they bite, they don’t hold anything back. Snakes typically reserve their venom and don’t deliver it all with a strike, but spiders are far less conservative. They issue a full envenomation with a bite, and there have been numerous deaths[21] attributed to the Sydney Funnel Web Spider prior to the creation of an antivenom in 1991.[22][23]

1 Brazilian Wandering Spider—Phoneutria Fera

Phoneutria Fera Brazilian wandering spider

While many of the spiders on this list are dangerous, the one spider most feared around the world is the Brazilian Wandering Spider.[24] They are different from most spiders in that they hunt their prey instead of setting up a trap using webbing, and its prey sometimes includes humans. Granted, it doesn’t bite humans to eat them, but it probably could if it wanted to. They like to hide inside bunches of bananas where they await a passing prey animal . . . or human who attempts to harvest some bananas.

If a bite occurs, death will follow in less than an hour if left untreated. Fortunately, they don’t often envenomize their bites with people, preferring to save it for their actual prey. There are some unusual side effects of Brazilian Wandering Spider bites aside from tachycardia, nausea, blurred vision, hypothermia, and death; males may experience a painful erection, which will last for hours. If the embarrassment doesn’t kill them, not treating the bite certainly will, so if you ever find one of these spiders lurking in some bananas,[25] avoid it at all costs.

About The Author: Jonathan is a graphic artist, illustrator, and writer. He is a Retired Soldier and enjoys researching and writing about history, science, theology, and many other subjects.

10 Real Countries Straight Out Of The Handmaid’s Tale [DISTURBING]

[WARNING: This list contains disturbing images.] The Handmaid’s Tale – the book and the show – has helped return authoritarianism and women’s rights to the public stage, as well as influencing some pretty weird protest attire around the world. It portrays a fictional world named “Gilead” technologically similar to ours, but due to past events, it is now run by a totalitarian theocratic government. Women are subdued and divided among various classes, including the ‘Handmaids’, whose sole purpose is to bear kids for infertile couples.

SEE ALSO: 10 Horrific Acts That Are Legal In Some Countries

The 1985 novel was inspired by many events in history, including the rise of radical Islam in Iran and other parts of the Middle East around that time, persecution of witches in the 17th century, and the resurgence of the Christian right in various parts of the United States in the ’70s and ’80s.

Surprisingly, a lot of that social commentary is still quite relevant today. Many parts of the modern world are as bad – and on occasion much worse – than the fictional world depicted in the show. Here are ten such places.

10 Republic of El Salvador

Lately it’s the United States in the news for its restrictions on abortion laws, though it’s far from being the worst-case scenario. Even if there are some states trying their best to include cases of rape and incest in the ban, it’s still far from becoming a widespread reality.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case in many countries around the world, the most restrictive of them being El Salvador. There has been a total ban on abortion since 1998 without any exceptions, as well as restricted access to contraceptives. Women are regularly sent to jail for homicide charges in cases of abortion, sometimes even in cases of miscarriage.

El Salvador is also one of the worst countries in the world for gender violence. According to some reports, around sixty seven percent of women in El Salvador have experienced violence of some kind.[1]

9 Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been going through near-consistent conflict since the Rwandan genocide. While the war among the neighboring nations is largely over, many active rebel groups exist in the region. Because of ethnic tensions, many of those groups actively target rival civilian populations.

The primary target of many of those pogroms are women, who have – owing to the genocidal nature of the conflict—gone through violence ever since the conflict first broke out. Aid workers regularly report cases of forced pregnancies, intentional spreading of STDs, and widespread rape.

The fighters aren’t the only culprits, however. Cases of sexual violence in DR Congo are generally on the rise, too, perpetrated by regular civilians. The country’s lax legal system and ongoing conflict make the situation even more dire for civilians, especially women.[2]

8 Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Revolution in Iran and how it affected women’s rights in the post-revolution era massively influenced the novel, as Atwood would have been in the process of working on it when it was happening. Overnight, Iran turned into a theocratic state based on Islamic law. Many freedoms people took for granted were now taken away, though the strictest of the new laws were imposed on women.

For one, capital punishment by stoning was now a prescribed punishment for adultery by law. Scores of people – mostly women – were executed that way till the Iranian authorities decided that maybe it was too much. While it’s no longer recommended by the country’s laws, it remains a possible method of execution in the books. Sexual violence against women is also a big problem in Iran, which is made worse by laws that overwhelmingly favor the male perpetrators.

Iran is also a peculiar country in the way that it also has a growing section of activists pushing back against its most restrictive laws, unlike most other countries on this list. Unfortunately, it remains a totalitarian state, and many of those activists are at risk of being arrested or even tortured.[3]

7 Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Pakistan is usually grouped among the other conflict-ridden Middle Eastern countries in popular imagination, though things are quite different there. It’s actually a functioning democracy, with a culture that’s more South Asian than near or middle Eastern.

However, conditions for civilians in many parts of Pakistan – especially for women – are bad. Even if the laws exist to deal with cases of sexual violence, deeply patriarchal attitudes and a lack of governance in many of its border regions make it rather difficult to live there. Honor killings are a regular part of many rural regions in the country, and sexual violence is rampant-yet-underreported. While women have the right to vote, Pakistan has the lowest female participation in elections across the world.

While none of its other South Asian counterparts – India and Bangladesh – have a particularly stellar record on women’s rights, Pakistan is in an especially terrible situation. A bad economy, near-consistent conflict in the north-western regions, lack of governance across big parts of its territory and rise of radical Islamism in its rural areas have made it one of the worst countries for women.

It’s not all bad, though, as there’s also a growing section of activists and NGOs willing to work for change, particularly in its more urban areas. The systematic patriarchy and dysfunctional legal system, however, make it a rather uphill battle.[4]

6 Malaysia

Malaysia comes across as one of those south-east Asian countries with awesome beaches and a thriving nightlife, and it absolutely is! For the travelers, Malaysia can indeed be quite a destination to check off your bucket list. Unfortunately, it’s also kind of an authoritarian state for its Muslim residents, with overly restrictive laws most of us wouldn’t even have heard of.

In its more Islamic areas, you can’t miss the Friday prayers three weeks in a row, and a violation would send you to jail for six months. Drinking alcohol is punished using a variety of methods depending on the seriousness of the crime, which we’re just assuming is the degree of how drunk the person was. They still have caning as a punishment, and unsurprisingly, many of the caning victims end up being women (two women were caned for making out in a car in 2018).[5]

5 Federative Republic of Brazil

When the average person thinks about Brazil, they imagine party buses and all-night beach festivals. Those who’ve seen their share of the Internet (and Brazilians, of course), know that it’s also one of the most crime-ridden countries in the world. Many of its cities feature on the list of the most violent cities, with violence only growing in recent times.

There’s also a widespread problem of crime against women. We’re not just talking about domestic violence and rape – though there’s quite a bit of that, too – but outright murders in broad daylight. According to a Guardian report, four women were killed every day in 2019 at the time of the report. Most of those cases graduate from domestic violence, and a lax legal system and lack of redressal by local authorities make it even worse for the victims.[6]

4 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is like one of the who’s who of repressing women’s rights. If there was a hall of fame for not letting women do what they want, Saudi Arabia would have a special section dedicated to it. While some recent news stories (like women being ‘allowed’ to drive) point towards change, the general attitude towards women in the religious monarchy remains repressive.

While many of the more regressive laws – like women above 21 not being allowed to leave the house unaccompanied by a male – have been abolished, men still have a lot of legal avenues to just do whatever they want anyway. Women still have little agency in the eyes of the law, and have to go through a lot of hurdles to make their cases heard. Sexual violence in the country may not just go unpunished, but the victims may just be accused of adultery according to Islamic law and put to the sword. And yes, to the literal sword, as beheading remains the most popular method of execution in the country with the highest rate of executions in the world.[7]

3 Federal Republic of Somalia

Somalia is one of those countries we seldom hear about. In the middle of a civil war ongoing since (at least) the 80s, it’s going through every conceivable human rights crisis you can think of. From widespread disease outbreaks to wartime violence to apparently pirates, there’s simply too much to even keep track of.

To say that conditions in Somalia are similar to the Handmaid’s Tale would be an understatement, as it’s probably much worse. It’s one of the countries still big on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) – or female circumcision – and many cases don’t even get reported. There’s consistent threat of sexual violence in many parts of the country. If that wasn’t enough, getting stoned to death was a possibility till surprisingly recently, too.

The situation is made even worse by the ongoing conflict, as there’s no central authority in many parts of the country.[8]

2 Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been a battleground for wars it had nothing to do with for quite some time now. Regardless, it has also been a tribalistic society with separate clans that like to do their own thing, even if many attempts to unify it have been made. Many of its regions – especially the ones down south – are still under Taliban’s control.

Afghanistan has also seen some of the most authoritative governments in recent history, like when Taliban ruled over almost all of the country between 1996 – 2001. Public beheadings and stonings were commonplace, and women had to adhere to a strict code of conduct in their public as well as private lives. It wasn’t just women; basic liberties were curtailed for almost everyone.

While most of that is gone now – as Afghanistan has a central government in place – conflict is still ongoing in many of its regions, and sexual violence in many of those areas remains widespread. Taliban still holds some territory and is actively fighting against the government, so that era may not be completely behind us yet.[9]

1 Republic of the Sudan

Sudan was, until recently, ruled by Omar al-Bashir – an authoritarian ruler who was in power for close to 30 years. A hardcore believer in violence, Bashir’s rule was marked by violent reprisals of political and religious opponents, mass rape and pillage of civilian areas by the army and sectarian violence. It was overthrown in a massive rebellion with the army’s support, though things haven’t been better for the people.

While the situation was much worse during Bashir’s rule—women could be taken to the cops if someone found their clothes too enticing—targeted sexual violence is still commonplace in many parts of the country. Rape is often used as a tool to suppress local populations, and the violence is only getting worse. There’s, of course, the usual getting stoned to death for adultery, too.

While there is a military government, it’s accused of human rights abuses of its own, and doesn’t hold much sway in vast swathes of the country. Sudan is still very much in the middle of conflict, as many parts of the country are held by many different actors.[10]

About The Author: You can check out Himanshu’s stuff at Cracked (www.cracked.com/members/RudeRidingRomeo/) and Screen Rant (https://screenrant.com/author/hshar/), or get in touch with him for writing gigs ([email protected]).

Himanshu Sharma

Himanshu has written for sites like Cracked, Screen Rant, The Gamer and Forbes. He could be found shouting obscenities at strangers on Twitter, or trying his hand at amateur art on Instagram.

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Top 10 Things You Probably Get Wrong About Pit Bulls

Pit bulls are one of the most misunderstood dogs, with many people seeing them as nothing more than violent, child-maiming monsters. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth and, just like any other dog, the environment and the owners have the most influence on how a dog turns out.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Banned Dog Breeds

10 They Don’t Have Locking Jaws

One of the more persistent myths about pit bulls is they have some sort of special mechanism within their jaws which makes it so they never let go of their target. However, this is irrevocably false; they do have strong, well developed muscles in their jaw, as well as a large skull, but their grip can still be broken if you know what you’re doing. Responsible owners of pit bulls should be aware of what is called a break stick; it’s inserted behind the back teeth of a dog’s mouth and then twisted, prying open their jaws.

One of the main reasons for this myth is that pit bulls have a particular biting style, which derives from their breeding history. (They’re partially descended from terriers.) When they see prey, whether it’s another dog or a rabbit, pit bulls will latch on with their teeth, preferring to shake the captured animal around, rather than release and bite again.[1]

9 Their Ancestors Were Bred For Dog Fighting

You can blame 19th century England for this one. They were originally bred to combine various dog breeds, including the bulldog and a number of different terrier breeds, to find a great balance of enthusiasm and stamina. Eventually, due to their unique blend of qualities, pit bulls were used in bear-baiting, a “sport” in which one or more dogs would fight a bear for the amusement of a crowd, and other dangerous activities.

Once governments began to wise up and ban these kinds of horrific displays of animal cruelty, people began to arrange dog fights, since they were quicker and easier to set up. The swift and agile dogs that fighters preferred were the ancestors of what we call pit bulls today. (One of the reasons they are still popular with dog fighters today.)[2]

8 Their Bite Is Not The Strongest Among Dogs

The strength of a pit bull’s bite is another common myth thrown around by the uneducated, with numbers as high as 2,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) being casually remarked. (For comparison, a lion has 600 pounds of bite force.) However, that figure may just be confusion on the media’s part since it comes from a study that is actually talking in Newtons, another form of force measurement. (2,000 Newtons is equivalent to about 450 pounds of bite force.)

For a television special in 2007, Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic performed a study of dog bites, measuring the strength of three separate dogs: German Shepherd, Rottweiler and pit bull. His results showed that the Rottweiler had the strongest, coming in at 325 pounds, and the pit bull was the lowest, only getting up to 235 pounds. Later research showed that the size and shape of a dog’s skull had the most effect on their bite force, with mastiffs having nearly as strong a bite as a lion.[3]

7 They Actually Have Quite A Relaxed Attitude

The American Temperament Test Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to evaluating all breeds of dogs, in order to find out which ones have the best assortment of traits, such as aggressiveness and friendliness. As of today, the pit bull, or American pit bull terrier as it’s properly known, has a passing percentage of 86.8%; which is greater than some of the more popular breeds, such as the golden retriever or German shepherd.

In addition, studies have shown that small to medium-sized dogs, such as collies and spaniels, are much more likely to be aggressive towards people. Pit bulls have never been shown to be disproportionately dangerous, with the unreliability of the public being able to distinguish the breed of dog which bit them playing a large factor in the supposed increase in pit bull attacks.

One of the most damning pieces of evidence is the fact that the national media reports pit bull attacks at a much larger rate and for a longer period of time than attacks by other breeds. In fact, various studies have shown that pit bulls account for a small portion of dog attacks, with other breeds, especially Labradors, coming out ahead.[4]

6 They Used To Be Extremely Popular

In the early 1900s, a pit bull was the most common dog selected to be a family pet, perfect as a “nanny dog”, thanks to its friendly nature and loyalty. (That friendliness is one reason pit bulls don’t normally make good guard dogs; they have a tendency to look at an intruder as a new friend, rather than a danger.) In fact, for much of their history, pit bulls were considered non-aggressive.

Their ancestors were also very popular among the English before making their way across the pond. Known as “the Butcher’s Dog”, they were often used to herd cows by biting their noses and pulling them to the right area as the butchers brought them to market. Unfortunately, that trait, which made them effective herders, also made them great fighters when the sport of bear or bull baiting evolved.[5]

5 They Make Great Therapy Dogs

Challenging the preconceived notions of many in the world, especially the US, pit bulls have become highly-sought after as therapy dogs. These animals perform a variety of functions, such as helping their “patients” get some much needed exercise, but they are mainly there to provide emotional support. People report feeling happier if they’re around friendly dogs, even if they’re strangers; this is especially true of kids, who often form emotional bonds with therapy dogs, especially after particularly tragic events.

People who run therapy programs understand that pit bulls have a bad reputation but their easy-going temperament and tolerance of people make them excellent candidates. Again, this is great news for those dealing with kids, as they can sometimes be a little rough with animals. In fact: the 2013 American Hero Dog (an award given by the American Human Society) went to a pit bull named Elle, who works as a therapy dog.[6]

4 They’re The Subject Of Many Unfair Laws

Thanks to the many misconceptions about them, pit bulls are targeted more than any other dog, by lawmakers responding to the uneducated public and their fears. (A person is smart; people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals.) Studies, including the most comprehensive dog bite study since the 1970s, have shown that no breed of dog is more or less likely to be involved in an attack, with a number of other factors, including the environment in which the dog is kept, as better indicators of why an attack occurred.

In addition, a number of studies have shown that laws designed to ban specific breeds fail to accomplish their purported goals of public safety. In fact, the kinds of people who would raise pit bulls irresponsibly will still get them; they just won’t get them checked by a vet, making them more dangerous to society than they would have been. Also, the owner’s identity remains a mystery, leaving law enforcement in the dark about who to go after.[7]

3 They Don’t Attack Without Warning

A common thread in most pit bull attack stories, as well as some of those involving other breeds, is the fact that the victim or witnesses often claim the dog attacked without warning. This is unequivocally false as pit bulls, as well as all other dogs, will give a warning before they attempt to bite someone. Unfortunately, the signs can be subtle, or even mistaken for playfulness.

There’s also an onus on the owner to make sure not to put their pit bull in a potentially stressful environment, whether it’s the first time the dog has been around children, strangers or other dogs. Pit bulls will give off clues that they are wary of a situation, usually one in which they have little to no experience. There is normally an escalating sequence of events which lead up to biting, with growling almost always preempting it.[8]

2 Pit Bulls Trained To Fight Can Be Rehabilitated

Most people assume the old adage “Once a fighter, always a fighter” when thinking about pit bulls unlucky enough to have been raised to fight other dogs. Their reputation precedes them, making potential owners wary of them, fearing unprovoked attacks in the future. However, numerous stories, including one of the most infamous dog fighting rings involving NFL player Michael Vick, easily prove that these dogs can go on to lead happy, normal lives.

Granted, it is of the utmost importance that the people involved with the rehab or adoption of any ex-dog fighters are aware of their new dog’s past but it doesn’t mean they have to be immediately euthanized. One of the reasons that it is usually not an issue is that the pit bulls are not trained to attack humans, they’re trained to attack dogs; many of them are actually quite friendly towards people.[9]

1 They Can Feel Pain

Contrary to popular belief, which paints pit bulls as monsters unable to feel anything, they actually have a sense of pain, just like every other dog. However, just like those other dogs, pit bulls do have the ability to block out that feeling, if they’re focused enough. Thanks to the years of breeding designed to help them become more effective fighters, pit bulls have an extremely high tolerance for pain.

Unfortunately, for law-abiding citizens who just want to raise a healthy pit bull, this makes for quite the danger. Though it makes them more tolerant of rough children, it is also possible to injure a pit bull, even seriously, and not realize because the dog won’t indicate it outwardly. This is one reason that pain-based training, such as chokes or shock collars, are not ideal when dealing with pit bulls.[10]

+ Pit Bull Isn’t Technically A Breed

“Pit bull” isn’t actually a breed of dog; it encompasses American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers, as well as the various mixes of those breeds. When most people think of a pit bull, they’re thinking of an American pit bull terrier.[11]

Top 10 Most Horrifyingly Painful Venoms

Snakes, spiders and bugs, oh my! Many things in nature have evolved—as a way to protect themselves or to hunt—that nasty, evil fluid we call venom.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Animals You didn’t know were Venomous

Be it in their mouths, their butts, or their claws, so many creatures from invertebrates right up to things that may or may not be a mammal have developed the ability to inject us with venom that can do anything from rot our skin to liquefy our organs with a single dose!

Those unlucky enough to receive a bite or a sting from venomous creatures can suffer anything from a little swelling to death, and every extravagant, showy horror in between. None of us are truly safe from the hollow fangs of natures wrath, and since the only options for coping with this knowledge are endless terrified screaming or developing a definitely healthy and not at all concerning fascination with nature’s most morbid aspects, I vote we do the latter, and jump right into learning about the 10 most horrific, painful venoms nature has in store for the unsuspecting.

10 Brown Recluse Spider Venom

There’s a tale I heard when I was a child about the Brown Recluse spider that goes something like this: a little girl has her hair done up at the salon in intricate, looping braids. One day she starts complaining of headaches, which get so bad that she can’t stop crying, so her mother takes her to the emergency room to get her something for the pain and find the cause of her headaches.

The doctors begin to undo her braids to see if there is a physical cause, and, according to the legend, her whole scalp come off in their hands! The doctor, shocked and horrified, drops the scalp and hair on the floor, and a colony of Brown Recluse spiders pour out of the braids, having been living in her hair the whole time and biting her scalp, causing it to rot away.

While this story is nothing more than an urban legend, the effects of the Brown Recluse spider’s bite are quite real.

Their venom contain’s a protein that cause your tissue to turn against itself and rot from the inside out, starting at the area around the bite. Once the rot has started (2-3 days after the bite) the only option is to cut out the rotted area, sterilize the wound, and get a skin graft.[1]

9 Cobra Venom

Cobras are funny looking little snakes. What’s not funny or adorable, however, is what their venom can do to you. Firstly, the Cobra doesn’t even have to bite you in order to envenom your poor, mortal body. A Cobra in good health and a bad mood can instead spit their venom into your eyes from up to 6 and a half feet away! The venom doesn’t just blind you when it hits your eyes, it also hurts!

Even worse, if it gets into your bloodstream (either from the spitting or through a traditional bite), you have maybe 30 minutes to get help or you’ll die of suffocation. Cobra venom, it turns out, has a novel method of killing the poor unfortunate soul stricken with it: the venom binds itself to the receptors in charge of moving your diaphragm (the muscle that moves your lungs), basically preventing it from receiving orders from your brain to move. If as little as 1/3rd of the receptors are compromised, you stop breathing…and die choking.[2]

8 Stonefish Venom

Did you know that there are fish that can kill you, painfully? Not sharks or anything with teeth, I’m talking about a simple, lowly, kind of ugly fish that creeps along the ocean floor known simply as the Stonefish because it, well, looks like a stone.

Mistaking it for a rock is exactly what this crime against nature wants you to do, of course, so that it can sting you to death with its horrible spines. Should you, by chance, step on one of these, you’re in for an excruciating death out there in the deep blue sea.

Stonefish venom, through a mechanism scientists apparently don’t fully understand yet, releases a protein into your blood stream that is similar to Cobra venom. However, the Stonefish not only suffocates you by shutting down your lungs, it also causes intense pain, seizures, extreme muscle spasms, heart damage, and then paralysis.[3]

7 Lionfish Venom

Although not as deadly as the Stonefish, the Lionfish will still attempt to wring a few gallons of tears out of its victims. Depending on how many spines they stab into you, these beautiful but oh-so-mean fish will leave you in pain, sweating heavily, struggling to breathe and, if you’re really unlucky . . . suffering temporary paralysis.

And then you drown![4]

6 Crown Of Thorns Seastar Venom

If you were to find yourself stuck by the many terrible and sharp spikes of the Crown Of Thorns (which have been recorded as being able to puncture diving suits and gloves) you will experience immediate debilitating pain, followed by significant bleeding and swelling.

While normally the symptoms resolve themselves in anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours, if you’re unlucky enough to get a heavy dose of the venom you could be in for numbness, throwing up, a severe headache and, in very rare cases paralysis.[5]

5 Arizona Bark Scorpion Venom

Caught somewhere between a crab and a spider, with just enough snake thrown in to keep things fresh, Scorpions scuttled right out of man’s nightmares and into the waking world to terrorize us.

The Arizona Bark Scorpion is the worst of the worst, both in looks and in venom. While most scorpions are harmless to humans besides causing a little bit of pain and a welt, the Arizona Bark Scorpion, should it decide to use its venom on you, can do you a great deal more damage.

The venom of an Arizona Bark Scorpion can cause severe pain, swelling, numbness, frothing at the mouth, and difficulty breathing, as well as convulsions, twitching, and sometimes suffocation.[6]

4 Gila Monster Venom

Although Gila Monster venom is comparatively mild, the way it’s delivered is horrific. Unlike the common venomous snake, Gila Monsters don’t posses hypodermic teeth. Instead, the venom drips through grooves in their terrible little lizard fangs.

In order to really get that toxic spit into your system, the Gila Monster not only bites, it chews on whatever part of you it latches onto, often flopping back and forth to tear the wound so it can really smear the venom around. The venom itself is also incredibly painful, and there’s no known antidote for it.

It has never caused a fatality in a human, but you’re definitely going to suffer.[7]

3 Black Widow Venom

Surprisingly enough, the Black Widow spider is actually very docile, for a horrid little murder bug. In order to get a bite from this strangely pretty creature, you have to really provoke it. When you do, however, you’re in for a very, very bad time.

The Black Widow has some of the most potent venom in the arachnid world, in concentrations high enough to kill a healthy adult human with a single bite, and the way it kills is positively horrifying.

The bite releases a toxin into the blood, and from there the nervous system, that completely hijacks your nerves. Within minutes of a bite, you no longer have control of your body, and you get to experience first hand what rigor mortis is like as your muscles repeatedly clamp down in painful, seemingly never-ending waves of full body cramps that can last up to 24 hours even with treatment,

You can recover, of course, if you get medical help in a timely manner, but those unlucky few who don’t: die a horrible, horrible death.[8]

2 Tarantula Hawk Venom

The Tarantula Hawk is a frightening hulking beast of a bug. It was given its name because it hunts and eats (and lays eggs in) tarantulas.

The real terror, however, comes not from what they can do to other bugs, but from what they can do to you. While their venom isn’t deadly, it is so painful that a single sting can incapacitate a man. According to Justin Schmidt, the worlds foremost expert on painful bug bites and stings (he allowed himself to be stung or bit by just about everything and recorded the results) the only thing you can do if one of these stings you is lay on the ground and scream until its over.[9]

1 Platypus Venom

What on God’s green earth is the Platypus doing with its biology? It has hair, but also a beak. It lays eggs but also produces milk (despite having no nipples). And if all of that wasn’t enough, these Frankenstein animals have half-inch spurs on their tiny little feet that produce venom.

Not just any old venom, either, but the most long lasting and painful venom in the animal kingdom!

According to people who have been spurred by an angry platypus, the pain is immediate, completely devastating, and unending. Worse yet, no painkiller can be used against it. Not even morphine can stop the pain, nothing works to stop it except the complete deadening of the affected area.

The muscles in the area will wither away, and you’ll find yourself shivering, sweating, and throwing up from the pain and the venom. Worst of all is that this excruciating pain lasts for up to 3 months. You’ll suffer, vomit, and be crippled by pain every day for 90 long, long days.

You won’t die…but you’re going to wish you had.[10]

About The Author: Deana is, as of writing this list, trembling in sheer terror of the horrific things nature is capable of producing to hurt us.

Deana J. Samuels

Deana Samuels is a freelance writer who will write anything for money, enjoys good food and learning interesting facts. She also has far too many plush toys for a grown woman with bills and responsibilities.

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