Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tunnels Under Jackson Hole, Wyoming

JH Weekly [Jackson Hole, WY]
23 February 2011

Tunnel Hunting

By Benjamin R. Bombard

[...] Over the course of several weeks, in a quest to prove or disprove the myth of Jackson’s tunnels, I was granted access to the basements of numerous downtown businesses and conducted dozens of interviews with business owners, employees and longtime residents. [...]

Cafe Bans TSA Agents

[This is a popular story among bloggers which originates, I think, from Elliott's blog. Unlike rumors of businesses refusing to service uniformed military personnel, this report isn't generating patriotic outrage. On the contrary, most of the comments on the blogs I've looked at support the unnamed cafe owner and vilify the Transportation Security Administration. -- bc] [Blog by Christopher Elliott]

Business bans TSA agents - will more follow?

February 19, 2011

KC McLawson works for a cafe near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and since the body-scan and patdown controversy last November, her boss has taken extraordinary measures to ensure the TSA knows of his displeasure.

"We have posted signs on our doors basically saying that they aren't allowed to come into our business," she says. "We have the right to refuse service to anyone." [...]
Seattle Weekly [WA]
23 February 2011
Sea-Tac "Anti-TSA Cafe" Story Sounds Like a Hoax
By Curtis Cartier

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Solar-powered Houses Endanger Firefighters

South Australian Country Fire Service

[Page links to pdf of the following media release. -- bc]

Fire services dispel solar power myth

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

South Australia’s fire services have moved to correct a growing assumption about house fires at properties where solar power is installed.

An urban myth has evolved, with many members of the public showing concern that fire services might allow houses with solar power supply to burn to the ground due to a risk to firefighters. [...]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Women Kidnapped by Gangs (UAE)

Emirates 24/7 [Dubai, UAE]
15 February 2011

Kidnapping rumours untrue: Al Mazina

By Staff

Dubai Police has rejected rumours of kidnapping women in UAE in general and in Dubai in particular.

Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazina, Deputy Commander-In-Chief of Dubai Police, denied rumours circulated via mobile phones and BlackBerry, claiming that there is a gang kidnapping women and exploiting them. [...]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Child Abduction Rumor (Kuwait)

Arab Times [Kuwait]
13 February 2011

Police reject ‘rumours’ woman expert in abductions on streets

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 12: Rumors about an Egyptian woman in her 50s who allegedly escaped from a prison in Egypt and arrived in Kuwait were doing rounds over the past few days, but a security source said they are just baseless rumors, reports Al-Anba daily.

Owners of BlackBerry sets were receiving these rumors as text messages. The messages said the woman specialized in kidnapping children and came to Kuwait to carry out her business. [...]

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mexican Gangs Robbing Walmart Shoppers

The Charlotte Observer [NC]
11 February 2011

Attention shoppers: That e-mail is a hoax

Staff Writer

RALEIGH Rumors spread by e-mail can be like gnats: When you try to swat them away, more seem to appear.

Raleigh police have been swatting all week, trying to quell an e-mail hoax that "gangs from Mexico" have been robbing shoppers by gunpoint in Walmart parking lots across Raleigh. [...]

[...] To many, the e-mail messages apparently seemed plausible. The original note, signed by a woman named Linda McDaniel, described a church friend's robbery at gunpoint at a Walmart on New Hope Church Road. She then shared more information and tips from the Raleigh police officer who allegedly responded.

In the hoax, the writer describes more than 100 such robberies at a single Walmart in Raleigh and dozens more at another location. She said police didn't alert people because that "would be racial profiling." [...]

Poisoned Food Served to Students (Nigeria)

Nigerian Tribune
11 February 2011

Commotion in Ibadan over rumour of laced akara for students
It is baseless – Govt

Written by Tolu Olamiriki, Adebayo Waheed and Abiodun Awolaja

IBADAN, the Oyo State capital, was, on Thursday, thrown into confusion following the rumour that some politicians in the state had served pieces of bean cake (akara), noodles and cooked rice allegedly laced with juju to some students in public schools in the city.

The rumour confused parents and guardians in the city, as they stormed a majority of the schools to make sure that their children and wards were safe. [...]

The Nation [Nigeria]
11 February 2011

Akala’s men accused of serving suspected poisoned food

Bisi Oladele and Tayo Johnson, Ibadan

There was panic in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital yesterday, following the death of a pupil after allegedly eating poisoned bean cake (akara).

Parents rushed to their children’s school to fetch them following the rumour.

The food was alleged to have been served by agents of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala. [...]

Vanguard [Nigeria]
10 February 2011

Food poisoning scare causes stampede in Ibadan


IBADAN — THERE was stampede in some parts of Ibadan metropolis Thursday, over rumours of poisoned food being distributed to some pupils. [...]

The Nation [Nigeria]
12 February 2011

Eight arrested over food poison scare in Ibadan

Bisi Oladele, Ibadan

Eight men were on Thursday arrested in Ogbere Onilanta area of Ibadan, Oyo State capital, in connection with the stampede caused by the rumour of poisoned food allegedly served by agents of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala to school children.

Although residents of the community protested at the palace of the Olubadan of Ibadan on Thursday evening, alleging that policemen raided their children at Elekuro High School, Ogbere, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Adisa Bolanta, said eight adults were arrested for vandalising a car belonging to a woman conveying food to a school to serve teachers at a meeting. [...]
Vanguard [Nigeria]
12 February 2011
25 students protest alleged food poison, arrested
By Ola Ajayi

Daily Independent [Nigeria]
11 February 2011

Poison scare: Oyo bans food vendors in schools

By Oladele Ogunsola Correspondent, Ibadan

Following Thursday’s wild allegation of food poisoning in public schools that rocked the entire Ibadan, Oyo State capital, the state government on Friday came down heavily on food vendors and promotional activities by food companies as it placed an indefinite ban on their activities in the state. [...]
The Nation [Nigeria]
14 February 2011
Oyo NUT urges parents to ignore ritual food rumour
Oseheye Okwuofu, Ibadan

Vanguard [Nigeria]
15 February 2011

How food poisoning caused chaos in Ibadan


[...] Further investigation revealed that there was a film entitled ”Asiri Nla” (Top secret) being sold, where somebody claimed a former president and a governor in the South-West in pursuit of political victory in April 2011 were asked to provide 200 people for sacrifice.

This film was the one that actually fuelled the fear of many parents thinking that the ritualists were at work to get those people for the politicians. [...]
Daily Independent [Nigeria]
17 February 2011
Food poison scare in Ibadan (1)
By Oladele Ogunsola, Correspondent, Ibadan

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Electrical Bananas

In John McMillan's Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America (Oxford University Press, 2011), there is a chapter called " 'Electrical Bananas': The Underground Press and the Great Banana Hoax of 1967"(pp. 66-81), which examines the belief that one could get stoned by smoking dried banana peels. His original article on this topic in The Believer can be viewed at or downloaded from McMillan's website .

John McMillan, "Electrical Bananas: An Epistemological Inquiry into the Great Banana Hoax of 1967." The Believer (June/July 2005), 18-26.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"No one can predict a flying cow"

New York Times Magazine
16 January 2011

The Will to Drill


[...] There is an element of uncertainty in every complicated engineering endeavor. “In July 2003, in the Pacific, a Japanese fishing boat was sunk by a flying cow,” Robert Bea told me. Bea is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading scholar of risk; he also spent many years working in research and management at Shell. The cow, it turned out, was part of an illegal cattle shipment bound from Anchorage to Russia; as the plane approached its destination the smugglers became nervous about their cargo and began shoving it out of the plane. “No risk analysis can ever be complete. No one can predict a flying cow.” [...]

New York Times
5 February 2011


An article on Jan. 16 about drilling for oil off the coast of Angola erroneously reported a story about cows falling from planes, as an example of risks in any engineering endeavor. No cows, smuggled or otherwise, ever fell from a plane into a Japanese fishing rig. The story is an urban legend, and versions of it have been reported in Scotland, Germany, Russia and other locations.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Super Bowl Whores

Dallas Morning News [Texas]
1 August 2010

Prostitutes will invade Dallas-Fort Worth for Super Bowl

By Scott Goldstein/Dallas Morning News

Editor's note this story first appeared Nov. 4, 2009

Dallas police say they expect the number of prostitutes in the region to sharply rise for the 2011 Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

At the National Prostitute Diversion Conference in November, Sgt. Louis Felini said between 50,000 and 100,000 prostitutes could be in the metroplex for the Super Bowl. Felini noted that there is no way to truly predict the number of women who will come to the area for the purpose of prostitution. [...]

Dallas Observer [Texas]
27 January 2011

The Super Bowl Prostitute Myth: 100,000 Hookers Won't Be Showing Up in Dallas

By Pete Kotz

The alarm bells reached peak decibel in November, when Dallas Police Sergeant Louis Felini told the The Dallas Morning News that between 50,000 and 100,000 prostitutes could descend on the metroplex for the Super Bowl. The call to outrage had sounded.

His estimate was astonishing. At the higher figure, it meant that every man, woman and child holding a ticket would have their own personal hooker, from the vice presidential wing of FedEx to Little Timmy from Green Bay. [...]