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Hate Crimes/Terror
For some, April Fool's Day means innocent fun. For others it appears to be an invitation to explore the dark corners of their twisted psyches. That's the only reason I can think of to explain why every April 1st stories like this one, featuring a woman who "pranked" her brother-in-law by calling him and telling him that her 1-year-old child wasn't breathing, appear in the news.
Categories: April Fools Day, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 08, 2009
Comments (2)
A slight over-reaction, perhaps. Two guys at a science park pranked a colleague on April 1st by moving his car. When the guy couldn't find his car, the science-park security force naturally thought it must be a terrorist threat and evacuated the entire building. [Chester Evening Leader]. Update: Here's a link that should work. Plus, this article (unlike the first one I linked to) makes clear that what actually happened is that the guys moved the car into a restricted parking lot, meant only for nuclear engineers, which is why the security got nervous.
Categories: April Fools Day, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 06, 2009
Comments (3)
Yesterday (Tuesday) there was a helicopter buzzing around in the sky outside my window for about half an hour. I was speculating what it might be: bank robbery, accident, men in black? No, turns out it was just a local, neighborhood hoax. (I live about 2 blocks from Helix High School in La Mesa, a San Diego suburb):

A report of an armed man at Helix High School that prompted a lockdown on the campus Tuesday was a student hoax, police said.
An investigation by school staff and the La Mesa Police Department determined that the student who reported seeing a man with a gun had fabricated the report, La Mesa police Lt. David Bond said Wednesday.
The school and two neighboring schools were locked down for about an hour while about 15 officers and and a police helicopter searched the campus and surrounding neighborhood.
It is not yet known why the student lied, Bond said.

This is the same school that can boast that, within the past two years, four teachers have been accused of sexual misconduct with students. Let's hear it for the La Mesa educational system!
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 18, 2008
Comments (5)
Recently the Delray Beach Public Library arranged an exhibition of photographs taken by 71-year-old Milt Goldstein. The pictures were taken immediately following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and showed rescue workers searching for victims. Goldstein told anyone willing to listen how he had gained access to ground zero by buying an NYPD hat and jacket from a vendor on Canal Street. Goldstein was offering to sell individual pictures for prices ranging from $200 to $350.

But it turned out that the pictures hadn't been taken by Goldstein. He had simply collected them together from sources such as the Associated Press, the military, and other government agencies. When Goldstein's hoax was exposed, the library cancelled the exhibition.

But it seems the news didn't reach Atlantic Ave magazine in time, which features an article by Milt Goldstein in its current issue. (pdf link to the magazine.) In the article, Goldstein writes:

I saw the second plane approach and I started to take pictures of the events that followed. The rest of my story is in my photos. I took a few pictures 3 days after the tragedy from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. I also took many more on the Saturday, immediately following the tragedy... It is only recently that I recovered my pictures from my daughter and decided to share them with others.

What he should have said was, "it is only recently that I downloaded the pictures from the internet..."

The thumbnail shows Goldstein posing with "his" pictures.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 24, 2008
Comments (5)
Visitors to New York's Coney Island amusement park now have the opportunity to try the "Waterboard Thrill Ride." As the sign outside proclaims, "It don't Gitmo better!" According to Reuters:

A man with a black hood pours water on the face of a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit strapped to a table... The scene using robotic dolls is an installation built by artist Steve Powers to criticize waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique the United States has admitted using on terrorism suspects, but that rights group say is torture...
The public can peek through window bars and feed a dollar into the slot to bring the robotic dolls into action.

It reminds me of the Abu Ghraib Prison Fantasy Camp, which was the creation of our very own Cranky Media Guy.

More broadly, it fits into the theme of Reality Tourism, other examples of which that I've posted about in the past include the "Khmer Rouge Experience Cafe" in Cambodia that served customers the watery gruel that people ate in the Killing Fields.

There's also "Communism: The Theme Park": An amusement park planned for outside Berlin where people could experience life under communism. As well as a nazi command post in Poland that was turned into a theme resort.

And last but not least: Croatian Club Med, where tourists who wanted to experience life in a hard-labor camp were issued convict uniforms and given the opportunity to pound large stones with a sledgehammer and haul the pieces on their back to quarries around the prison.
Categories: Art, Hate Crimes/Terror, Places
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 08, 2008
Comments (4)
Last week 28-year-old artist Yazmany Arboleda rented an empty storefront across the street from the New York Times building near Times Square to house his art exhibit. He then posted the title of the exhibit in the window: "The Assassination of Hillary Clinton / The Assassination of Barack Obama."

It didn't take long for the secret service to show up and haul him in for questioning. Arboleda pleaded innocence, insisting he was referring to character assassination (by the media), not the murder-type of assassination, and the secret service released him a few hours later.

Arboleda insists that what he did was not a hoax, and I'd agree. Seems more like a publicity stunt to me. But he did engage in some media hoaxing a few months ago. From mediabistro.com:

Earlier this year, Arboleda crafted elaborate press releases, exhibition websites (complete with PhotoShopped installation shots), and even fake Chelsea art galleries where his Clinton and Obama shows were allegedly installed and hastily censored (Michael Musto fell for it, as did the news team at a Univision affiliate).

So, if I have this straight, Arboleda first invented a hoax exhibit. But last week he opened the exhibit for real. Some of the works on display included a gigantic representation of a black penis, and lettering on the wall that asks "Would you have sex with her? Neither would Bill." Obviously he's not one for subtlety. (Thanks, Bob)
Categories: Art, Hate Crimes/Terror, Politics
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 09, 2008
Comments (1)
Eric writes: "Alex, please look into this one" -- Al-Qaeda's terrifying vision of a devastated America in the wake of a nuclear attack.

According to the Daily Mail article, a computer-generated image of what Washington DC would look like after a nuclear attack was recently posted on an Islamic extremist website. Simultaneously, there have been rumors circulating suggesting that "the FBI was warning that an Al Qaeda video was about to be released urging militants to use weapons of mass destruction to attack the West."



Turns out that the FBI hasn't issued such a warning. Nor is the picture of Washington in ruins an Al-Qaeda creation. It's actually a piece of concept art that was used to promote the game Fallout 3, from Bethesda Softworks. Shacknews.com reports:

The artwork was released as part of Bethesda's early promotional campaigns for Fallout 3, which takes place in and around the Washington, D.C. area decades after a nuclear catastrophe. The image appeared on the Daily Mail's website under the headline "Al-Qaeda's terrifying vision of a devastated America in the wake of a nuclear attack."...
The image also appeared on the Australian news outlet News.com.au, citing terror watchdog organization SITE Intel as having released the image "which reportedly appeared on an Islamist forum."
Though several members of the press have since pointed out the gaffe, neither the Daily Mail nor News.com.au have updated their stories with corrections or retractions of the claim.

What occurs to me, when I look at the picture, is how unlikely it is that the Capitol Building would survive a nuclear attack. Growing up in DC, I always heard that the one building in the city most likely to survive a nuclear bomb would be the National Cathedral since its walls are massively thick.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 02, 2008
Comments (12)
Survivor Tale of Woe
A contestant on the TV show Survivor:China may have lied about losing her job as a janitor at an Elementary School. If I still watched Survivor I might care more about this, but I haven't seen it in years.

Princeton Hoax Exposed
A student at Princeton who was a member of an anti-sex club claimed he was beaten up by horny liberals who were enraged by his "brave stand against promiscuity." Turns out he beat himself up. Figures.

Gold Pills
Offered for sale at the New Store Museum. "Pure gold passes straight through the body and ends up in your stool resulting in sparkly shit!" Cranky Media Guy thinks this has to be a joke. But I bet it's real. After all, all it involves is putting some gold leaf, which isn't that expensive, in a pill. It doesn't even need FDA approval.
Categories: Entertainment, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 19, 2007
Comments (16)
This is weird:
An east London electrician accused of having terror ties claimed he was not attending training camps but hunting for the Loch Ness Monster during a trip to Scotland with other terror suspects, the Scottish Daily Record reported Saturday.

Kader Ahmed, 20, was up in the Loch Ness area with a group organized by preacher Mohammed Hamid. I wonder if they went on the Nessie Hunter cruise with that boat captain who sounded like Sean Connery?
Categories: Cryptozoology, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 18, 2007
Comments (1)
Among the many difficulties American troops are encountering in Iraq (I won't get all political here by listing them), one is a little bit more bizarre than others. It seems that some Iraqis believe that American soldiers carry poison-tipped bullets and eat babies. Kinda tough to win hearts and minds when you're dealing with people who think you dine on infants, I would imagine. I wondered if this story itself was a hoax until I followed the link I found and saw that it lead to Stars and Stripes, the newspaper of the U.S. Army. Again, I'm not being political here, I'm just saying that I think Stars and Stripes is a more credible source for something like this than, say, Ananova. Anyway, it's a weird one for sure.

American troops eat babies?
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Hate Crimes/Terror, Mass Delusion, Military, Urban Legends
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jul 10, 2007
Comments (17)
Sixty-nine elementary students from Scales Elementary School got quite a scare during a recent field trip to Fall Creek Falls. Their teachers told them that a gunman was on the loose in the area:
The students were told to lie on the floor or crawl underneath tables and keep quiet. The lights went out, and about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said. Some held hands and shook.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ ” Shay said Saturday afternoon as she recounted the incident. “At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out. (A teacher) told us, ‘We just got a call that there’s been a random shooting.’ I was freaked out.
As the students lay cowering on the floor, a man in a hooded sweatshirt pulled on a locked door, trying to get into the room. But here's the punchline -- it turned out that the threat was just a prank. And the pranksters were none other than the teachers, who were trying to make the kids think about what it would be like to be in a real situation like that. Two of the school employees responsible for the prank have now been suspended.

I can understand why it might be useful to stage a fake drill for an emergency such as a fire, but the logic of staging fake terror attacks escapes me. After all, what if someone were to fight back? Nevertheless, this is not the first time we've seen a situation like this. Back in August 2004 I posted about a fake terrorism drill that took place in a government office in Carter County, Tennessee, in which the local Emergency Management Director secretly arranged for armed intruders to burst into the office, fire shots in the air, and take hostages... prompting the workers to panic and run for cover.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Tue May 15, 2007
Comments (16)
image Peace Bomb
Colin Barnett thought a good way to promote his art might be to place one of his vases outside the National Gallery of Victoria with the phrase "Peace Bomb" written on it. The police disagreed, and now Barnett is spending three months behind bars. I guess his publicity stunt backfired.

Fake Snakes
"Austrian officials fed up with motorists stopping to urinate by the roadside have put up fake snake warnings to scare them into using toilets... Of course there are no snakes but they don’t know that." So what happens when the Austrian authorities really want to warn people about snakes? No one will believe them.

Taiwan Hostage Hoax
Two Taiwanese MPs reported that students had been taken hostage at National Taiwan University. The police arrive, only to discover it was all a hoax. the MPs just wanted to test the police response time.
Categories: Animals, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 20, 2007
Comments (2)
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