Best Facts of the Week - Page 10

Find out how Mao Zedong's campaign to kill grain-eating sparrows in 1958 contributed to the death by starvation of 30 million people

In 1958 the Chinese leader, Mao Zedong, declared war. He decided there were four things he had had enough of: Mosquitoes, flies, rats and sparrows.

He was informed by his scientists that one sparrow eats about 4.5kg of grain each year. They said that according to those calculations, for every million sparrows killed there would be grain (and therefore food) for 60,000 people.

With only that information and a stubborn unwillingness to listen to anything else, he launched the Great Sparrow Campaign in which all citizens were expected to participate and kill as many sparrows as possible.

On 13 December 1958 alone, 194,432 sparrows were killed! Hundreds of millions were killed during the duration of the campaign and the sparrow almost became extinct in China.

What the scientists failed to mention, was that sparrows eat insects like locusts, and that locusts do much more harm than sparrows can. With no sparrows in sight, the locusts did indeed move in and had free reign.

Suddenly Mao Zedong realized what an eco-system was and hurriedly imported sparrows from the Soviet Union, but it was too late. The overflow of insects contributed to the Great Chinese Famine (1958-1961) in which approximately 30 million people starved to death!


When Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer he got a man acquitted of murder by showing an almanac depicting the phases of the moon, to the jury!

In 1858 Abraham Lincoln defended a friend’s son in court.

The young man, William “Duff” Armstrong was accused of murdering James Preston Metzker just before midnight on 29 August 1957.

Jack Armstrong, Lincoln’s friend and Duff’s father, had just passed away and Abraham offered his services without pay to help Jack’s widow during the difficult time she found herself in.

During the trial Armstrong was accused of murdering Metzker with a slung-shot – a maritime tool which consisted of a rope with a heavy weight on one end that was used to cast a line from one place to another.

The principal witness for the prosecution, Charles Allen, claimed that he witnessed Duff killing Preston from 150 feet away.

When Lincoln asked Allen how he could identify Armstrong at such a distance just before midnight in the dark, Allen said, "By the light of the Moon."

Lincoln must have anticipated his response, because he produced an almanac and paged to August 1957. Using the almanac he proved to the jury that the moon was in its first quarter and, at the exact time Allen claimed to have witnessed the murder, the moon was about to set!

The jury agreed with Lincoln that the moon could not possibly have produced enough light for Charles to clearly identify the killer at such a distance, and Duff Armstrong was acquitted!


In Indonesia Manta Rays are worth 2000 times more alive than dead and Indonesia's ocean is now the largest sanctuary for manta rays in the world

Indonesia has been the world’s largest fishery for rays and sharks for almost 30 years.

A dead manta ray is worth $40-$500 in Indonesia. Manta ray tourism, however, can bring in $1 million during the life span of a single ray! Mantas can live to become 50 years old and can travel in groups of up to 50.

The Indonesian government did the math, figuring a ray is worth 2000 times more alive than when it is dead!

This prompted the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to ban fishing and export of mantas in 2014. Indonesia’s 2.2 million square miles of ocean is now the largest sanctuary for manta rays in the world.

This could not have come at a better time for mantra rays whose population has declined in the last ten years and the ray is now listed as “Vulnerable to Extinction" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Manta products are mostly sold in the Guangzhou region in southern China as part of a scam, proclaiming the gills can cure everything from chickenpox to cancer and infertility.

But it has no curative properties and are not considered a formal component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, they are not even recognized by traditional medicine practitioners!


Some awesome lists!

Dr. Pepper is like the free agent of sodas!

Free agents in the sports world are always exciting to watch as they get teams to fight over their career.

Turns out there are similar “free agents” in the soda world, as well.

Dr. Pepper, a personal favorite beverage of many all over the world, has an incredibly unique and unidentifiable flavor, with a hint of cherry and cola.

It dates all the way back to the 1880s by Charles Alderton in Texas. The name allegedly comes from a partner's formula book that was titled “D Peppers Pepsin Bitters.”

The soda is also unique in the fact that it isn't owned by either of the major soft drink companies, PepsiCo or the Coca-Cola Company. Because of this, you may find it everywhere, or it may be difficult to find.

Many restaurants and resellers will promote beverages from one company or the other, but because of Dr. Pepper's “free agent” status, it can show up alongside a Diet Coke or a Wild Cherry Pepsi.


How do you make kids choose broccoli over chocolate? Elmo!

Never underestimate the power of Sesame Street.

The program that has been teaching children their “A, B, Cs” and “1, 2, 3s” for decades continues to spread its influence, this time with better eating choices.

Turns out, when given a choice between chocolate and broccoli, children will tend to choose the broccoli—as long as Elmo is involved.

Initially, when given the option between a delectable chocolate bar and the less appetizing broccoli, four out of five children chose the chocolate (I want to meet the 1 in five that chose the vegetable!).

Luckily, taxpayer dollars weren't wasted on trying to crack that mystery.

But when the researchers put a sticker of Elmo on the broccoli, suddenly the results skewed to be about half and half.

A lot of schools have already discovered this little marketing secret and will put up posters with childhood favorites such as Spongebob and Sesame Street characters promoting the healthy choices.

When Spongebob tries to sell kids on green beans, 37 percent more boys and 17 percent more girls will choose the them. Still, a chocolate bar is tough to pass up!



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