Four Pests Campaign

AskReddit had a post about what was one of the largest mistakes in history and somebody volunteered Mao Zedong’s Four Pests Campaign. I’ll let Wikipedia take it from here:

The campaign against the “Four Pests” was initiated in 1958 as a hygiene campaign by Mao Zedong, who identified the need to exterminate mosquitoes, flies, rats, and sparrows. Sparrows – mainly the Eurasian tree sparrow[1][2] – were included on the list because they ate grain seeds, robbing the people of the fruits of their labour. The masses of China were mobilized to eradicate the birds, and citizens took to banging pots and pans or beating drums to scare the birds from landing, forcing them to fly until they fell from the sky in exhaustion. Sparrow nests were torn down, eggs were broken, and nestlings were killed.[1][3] Sparrows and other birds were shot down from the sky, resulting in the near-extinction of the birds in China.[4] Non-material rewards and recognition were offered to schools, work units and government agencies in accordance with the volume of pests they had killed.

Some sparrows found refuge in the extraterritorial premises of various diplomatic missions in China. The personnel of the Polish embassy in Beijing denied the Chinese request of entering the premises of the embassy to scare away the sparrows who were hiding there and as a result the embassy was surrounded by people with drums. After two days of constant drumming, the Poles had to use shovels to clear the embassy of dead sparrows. [5]

By April 1960, Chinese leaders realized that sparrows ate a large amount of insects, as well as grains.[3][2] Rather than being increased, rice yields after the campaign were substantially decreased.[1][2] Mao ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows, replacing them with bed bugs in the ongoing campaign against the Four Pests.[3] By this time, however, it was too late. With no sparrows to eat them, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and compounding the ecological problems already caused by the Great Leap Forward, including widespread deforestation and misuse of poisons and pesticides.[1] Ecological imbalance is credited with exacerbating the Great Chinese Famine, in which 20–45 million people died of starvation.

Por una Cabeza

The song used in movies during just about any tango scene is about gambling:

“Por una Cabeza” is a tango song with music and lyrics written in 1935 by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera respectively.[1]

The name is a Spanish horse-racing phrase meaning “by a head”, which refers to a horse winning a race by the length of one head. The lyrics speak of a compulsive horse-track gambler who compares his addiction for horses with his attraction to women.

Alfredo Le Pera was a Brazilian from São Paulo, a much Italian-influenced area in Brazil. Le Pera and Gardel died in an airplane crash in Medellín, (Colombia), on June 24, 1935.

Eugene Lazowski, The Polish Schindler

From Wikipedia:

Dr. Eugene Lazowski born Eugeniusz S?awomir ?azowski (1913, Cz?stochowa, Poland – December 16, 2006, Eugene, Oregon, United States) was a Polish medical doctor who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust by creating a fake epidemic which played on German phobias about hygiene. By doing this, he risked the German death penalty, which was applied to Poles who helped Jews in the Holocaust.

During World War II ?azowski served as a Polish Army Second Lieutenant on a Red Cross train, then as a military doctor of the Polish resistance Home Army. Thanks to a medical discovery by his friend, Dr Stanis?aw Matulewicz, ?azowski created a fake outbreak of epidemic typhus, a dangerous infectious disease. He spread it in and around the town of Rozwadów (now a district of Stalowa Wola), which the Germans then quarantined. This saved an estimated 8,000 Polish Jews from certain death in German concentration camps during the Holocaust. ?azowski did this in utmost secrecy because he, like all Poles, were under the threat of execution by the Germans if they helped Jews. In 1958, Lazowski emigrated to the United States on a scholarship from Rockefeller Foundation and in 1976 became professor of Pediatrics at the State University of Illinois. He wrote a memoir entitled Prywatna wojna (My Private War) reprinted several times, as well as over a hundred scientific dissertations.

(via Reddit)

The Wicked Bible

From Wikipedia:

The Wicked Bible, sometimes called Adulterous Bible or Sinners’ Bible, is a term referring to the Bible published in 1631 by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, which was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. The name is derived from a mistake made by the compositors: in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14), the word not in the sentence “Thou shalt not commit adultery” was omitted, thus changing the sentence into “Thou shalt commit adultery”. This blunder was spread in a number of copies. About a year later, the publishers of the Wicked Bible were called to the Star Chamber and fined £300 (£43,586 as of 2015)[1] and deprived of their printing license.[2] The fact that this edition of the Bible contained such a flagrant mistake outraged Charles I and George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said then:

I knew the time when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the best, but now the paper is nought, the composers boys, and the correctors unlearned.[3]

The Youngest Person Executed in the United States

From Wikipedia:

The execution of George Stinney was carried out at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia, South Carolina, on June 16, 1944. At 7:30 p.m., Stinney walked to the execution chamber with a Bible under his arm. Standing 5’1″ and weighing just over 90 pounds, he was small for his age, which presented difficulties in securing him to the frame holding the electrodes. Neither did the state’s adult-sized face-mask fit Stinney; his convulsing exposed his face to witnesses as the mask slipped free. Stinney was declared dead within four minutes of the initial electrocution From the time of the murders until Stinney’s execution, eighty one days had passed.

McDonalds Monopoly Fraud

From Wikipedia:

In 2000, the US promotion was halted after fraud was uncovered. A subcontracting company called Simon Marketing (a then-subsidiary of Cyrk), which had been hired by McDonald’s to organize and promote the game, failed to recognize a flaw in its procedures, and the chief of security, Jerome P. Jacobson,[1] was able to remove the “most expensive” game pieces, which he then passed to associates who would redeem them and share the proceeds. The associates “won” almost all of the top prizes between 1995 and 2000, including McDonald’s giveaways that did not have the Monopoly theme. The associates “netted” over $24 million. The scheme was uncovered when one of the participants informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation on its ringleaders. While the fraud was perpetrated without McDonald’s knowledge, the McDonald’s Corporation voluntarily attempted to rectify the situation by issuing payouts to new (legitimate) winners, awarding five $1 million annuity prizes, and fifty $100,000 prizes over a five-day period.

(via Reddit)