Wednesday, April 27, 2011

7 Weird Micronations of the World

A micronation is a tiny, self-proclaimed sovereign state. Though they claim sovereignty and are often not interfered with by larger government entities, they are not recognized as official independent states (which sets them apart from microstates like The Vatican or Singapore.) There are any number of reasons someone may start a micronation: as a joke, as a form of art, for protest purposes, as a political or legal experiment, or even to conduct criminal activity. Often times a strange legal quirk (or outright loophole) gives these micronations a unique legal status. Some of them are hilarious. Some of them are interesting. Most of them are, in their own way, bizarre, unique, and strange.

1. Principality of Sealand
Size: 0.00055 km2
Population: 27 (2002 estimate)
Ruler: Michael Bates
Sealand is probably the world’s most well known micronation, and this is probably because the stories behind it are bizarre and truly intriguing. The site of Sealand is about 10 km off the coast of England, and was originally a World War II sea fort designed to deter German air raids. In 1967, Paddy Roy Bates occupied the sea fort (then called Knock John) and used it to run an off-shore pirate radio station. He and his family have claimed it as an independent sovereign nation, including issuing passports. Bates claimed that the nation was granted de facto statehood when Germany sent a diplomat there, and a 1968 UK court ruling stated that because of its location in international waters, it is outside of British jurisdiction. This is connected to what is perhaps the most fascinating event in Sealand’s history, which took place in 1978. While Bates was away, Alexander Achenbach, who refers to himself as the Prime Minister of Sealand, along with several German and Dutch compatriots, staged an armed takeover of the facility.
They held Bates’s son, Michael, hostage for several days, later releasing him in the Netherlands. Bates enlisted armed help to aid him in recapturing Sealand, and raided it from helicopters. He held Achenbach and the others as prisoners of war, and while the others were released, Achenbach was not. Since he held a Sealand passport, he was charged with treason against the micronation and was held unless he paid a hefty fine. When the British government would not help, Germany sent a diplomat to negotiate his release. From time to time, rather extreme things like this have happened at Sealand, including an instance in 1990 in which a British ship was fired upon with rifles from Sealand for passing too close and “invading Sealand territory”. It was notably in the news once more in 2007, when torrenting gurus The Pirate Bay attempted to buy it in reaction to harsher copyright restrictions in Sweden, its homebase.

2. Republic of Molossia
Size: 58 km2
Population: 2-3
Ruler: President Kevin Baugh
Molossia is headquartered just outside of Dayton, Nevada, and consists of President Kevin Baugh’s home, back and front yards, and two properties he purchased in Pennsylvania and California. He styles himself after a dictator, right down to the military uniform and big sunglasses, and his micronation has been described as “a hobby taken to the nth degree.” He also claims a spot in the Pacific Ocean and 49,881 square miles on Venus. Molossia pays taxes to the United States, but officially labels this as “foreign aid”. A variety of bizarre things are banned in Molossia, including: guns, walruses, catfish, onions (and onion-like vegetables), and anything from Texas except pop star Kelly Clarkson.

3. Principality of Hutt River
Size: 75 Km2
Population: Around 20 residents and 13,000-18,000 overseas citizens
Ruler: His Royal Highness Prince Leonard I
The Principality of Hutt River (formerly Hutt River Province) was founded by Leonard Casley in 1970. The micronation was formed when the five families owning farms in the Hutt River area became involved in a legal dispute with the government of Western Australia over wheat farming quotas. Essentially, the families had produced an amount of wheat that greatly exceeded what they were told they could legally sell under a new law (1,000 times the allowed amount, in the case of Casley himself).
In correspondence with the Governor, Casley was addressed as “The Administrator of the Hutt River Province”, legally entitling him to that title. He changed his title to “His Royal Highness Prince Leonard I” to take advantage of an old law stating that anyone interfering with a royal could be held for treason, and used this to justify seceding from Australia. In 1976, Australia Post stopped handling mail for the micronation, and repeated demands were made that the residents of Hutt River Province pay Australian taxes. Casley declared war on Australia as a result, and the mail began to run again (and the tax notices stopped coming.)

4. Other World Kingdom
Size: 0.02 km2
Population: Varies
Ruler: Her Royal Majesty Queen Patricia I
The Other World Kingdom is what happens when a BDSM and femdom resort in the Czech Republic declares itself a sovereign nation. It is a matriarchy, meaning that men are ruled by women, and below the queen (who is an absolute monarch) a various levels of nobility for women. The OWK’s stated purpose is to “get as many male creatures under the unlimited rule of Superior Women on as much territory as possible.” There are multiples classes for men as well, the lowest being slaves, who are stated to be “on the level of a normal farm animal.” The site, while small, consists of several buildings and outdoor areas, including multiple torture chambers. It retains its own passports, currency, police force, state flag, banners, and national anthem.

5. Waveland
Size: 784 km2
Population: 0
Ruler: Greenpeace
The geographical site of Waveland is more properly referred to as Rockall, a rocky, uninhabited island near the United Kingdom. Its ownership is disputed by the United Kingdom, Iceland, Ireland, and Denmark. In 1997, the environmentalist organization Greenpeace briefly occupied the island in order to protest oil drilling in the area, declaring it the sovereign new state of Waveland, and offered citizenship to anyone who would take their pledge of allegiance. Since the United Kingdom claims it as its own territory, and since Greenpeace is free to move and operate in the United Kingdom, the UK government had no problem with Greenpeace’s actions and, for the most part, simply ignored them. The protest continued until 1999, when the organization financially backing the project went under. Now, all that remains is a solar-powered beacon to help ships avoid hitting the island.

6. Grand Duchy of Westarctica
Size: 1,610,000 km2
Population: 0, usually
Ruler: Jon-Lawrence Langer, Grand Duke of Westarctica
Westarctica is a wild stretch of Western Antarctica, unclaimed until 2001, when an American by the name of Travis McHenry founded it via a supposed loophole in the Antarctic Treaty, a set of agreements regarding how the international community treats Antarctica. Essentially, the Antarctic Treaty prohibits countries from claiming territory in Western Antarctica, but it does not specifically prohibit individuals from doing so. McHenry claimed his territory, then founded a country. As micronational leaders often do, he sent letters to various world governments informing them of this, but was quietly ignored. Antarctica has no native human population, and as such Westarctica has no year-round citizens. However, some research facilities have been stationed there, and the micronation both prints stamps and mints coins, which are available to collectors for purchase. In 2005, McHenry tried to annex both the Balleny Islands and Peter I Island to grow Westarctica, but nobody really took it seriously – the land already belong to New Zealand and Norway, anyways.

7. Kingdom of Talossa
Size: 13 km2 , plus a large stretch of Antarctica.
Population: 120
Ruler: King John I
14-year-old Wisconsin native Robert Madison founded the Kingdom of Talossa in 1979, initially claiming only his bedroom. As he grew up, he claimed more territory, eventually including a large part of Milwaukee’s East Side and two islands in Antarctica and France. Talossa developed in obscurity throughout Madison’s teen years, but was featured in notable publications like The New York Times and Wired, and subsequently appeared in newspapers and magazines world-wide. Most of Talossa’s “citizens” (more accurately “members”, perhaps) came to know Talossa through Madison’s website. Eventually, some of Talossa’s citizens became frustrated with Madison, suggesting that he had become autocratic and generally intolerable in his actions as leader, which included trumping up false charges of domestic abuse against one of his citizens. About 20 citizens seceded from the micronation, starting their own micronation called The Republic of Talossa. The most recent leader, John Woolley, was chosen in 2007, so this one is still going strong.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

4 Amazing Garbage Islands

Garbage is generally not associated with plantations, greenery, sports parks, thriving coral reefs, vast mangrove plantations & rare bird species. But here are some exceptions: 

1. Thilafushi, Maldives
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Thilafushi is situated to the west of Malé, and is located between Kaafu Atoll's Giraavaru and Gulhifalhu of the Maldives. It is geographically part of the Vaadhoo channel. Thilafushi received its first garbage from Malé on the January 7, 1992. Working started with just 1 landing craft, 4 heavy load trucks, 2 excavators & a single wheel loader.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

10 Weirdest & Most Wonderful Spots in the U.S.

1. Salton Sea, California
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It’s an unexpected sight: California’s largest lake in the middle of its biggest desert. After the Colorado River flooded in 1905, it took 1500 workers and half a million tons of rock to put the river back on course. With no natural outlet, the artificial Salton Sea is here to stay. Its surface is 220ft below sea level and its waters 30% saltier than the Pacific. 
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Another unusual sight near the lake’s eastern shore is Salvation Mountain, a 100ft-high hill of concrete and hand-mixed adobe, covered with acrylic paint. With the motto ‘God Never Fails,’ it’s the vision of folk artist Leonard Knight. 

2. Cadillac Ranch, Texas
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In 1974 the late, local eccentric millionaire Stanley Marsh planted 10 Cadillacs (vintage 1949 to 1963) headlights down in a deserted stretch of dirt outside Amarillo – and then moved them further out in 1997 because of town encroachment. The reason? He said he constructed what has come to be known as Cadillac Ranch (I-40 between exits 60 & 62) in a salute to Route 66, using cars he considered to represent the golden age of car travel. The accepted practice today is to leave your own mark on the art by drawing on the cars. Bring spray paint in case other visitors haven’t left any around. Occasionally the cars get a makeover, like when they were all painted pink in honor of breast-cancer awareness. As cool as it sounds, there’s a sort of forlorn feel to the place. 

3. World’s Largest Ball of Twine, Minnesota
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There’s much ado about which ball of twine actually holds the record these days. But why not pay your respects to the original that started all the fuss? Behold the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Darwin, 62 miles west of Minneapolis on US 12. To be specific, it’s the ‘Largest Built by One Person’ – Francis A Johnson wrapped the 17,400lb whopper on his farm over the course of 29 years. Gawk at it in the town gazebo.
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Better yet, visit the museum beside it and buy your own twine ball starter kit in the gift shop.

4. Meteor Crater, Arizona 
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The second most impressive hole in Arizona was formed by a fiery meteor that screamed into the atmosphere about 50,000 years ago, when giant sloths lived in these parts. Meteor Crater, 40 miles east of Flagstaff, is an out-of-this-world site for those with a thimbleful of imagination. Nearly a mile across and 600ft deep, there are lookout points around the crater’s edge but no hiking to the bottom.

5. Coral Castle, Florida
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This favored stop in Homestead is one man’s kitschy do-it-yourself testament to lost love: Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin dug up over 2.2 million tons of coral rock to build this mock castle. 
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Its engineering was once a bit of mystery, especially since the broken-hearted Romeo worked secretively at night without using any mortar. Some claim that the marvel has unusual electromagnetic properties. 

6. Lucy the Margate Elephant, New Jersey
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Drive around the beach communities just south of Atlantic City and something massive, gray and kitsch will stop you in your tracks: Lucy the Margate Elephant,a 65ft-high wooden pachyderm constructed in 1881 as a developer’s truly weird scheme to attract land buyers to the area. It was variously used as a hotel, beach cottage, private mansion and last, a tavern, but rowdy patrons almost destroyed her. Now recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, Lucy is open for tours during summer, starting every half hour, weather permitting.

7. Wall Drug, South Dakota
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A tourist trap par excellence, this drugstore in South Dakota is famous for its roadside billboards that start advertising ‘free ice water’ several states away but it’s a surprisingly worthy stop. They really do have 5¢ coffee, free ice water and enough diversions and come-ons to warm the heart of schlock-lovers everywhere.
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 Don’t miss the animatronic dinosaurs.

8. Marfa, Texas
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Whether you're visiting to see the Marfa Mystery Lights - unexplained lights that dance on the nighttime horizon, or the art installation piece, "Prada Marfa"- a full-size, non-functioning Prada store that sits in the middle of the West Texas, or just to meet the colorful locals, the small town of Marfa, Texas has no shortage of weird and wonderful delights to gawk at and partake in.

9. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
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Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system known in the world, with over 390 miles of passageways. It became a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, and an international Biosphere Reserve on September 26.

10. Dr. Evermor's Forevertron, Baraboo, WI
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Built in the 1980s, is the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world, standing 50 ft. (15,2 m.) high and 120 ft. (36,5 m.) wide, and weighing 300 tons. It is housed in Dr. Evermore's Art Park on Highway 12, in the town of Sumpter, in Sauk County, Wisconsin, United States.

The sculpture incorporates two Thomas Edison dynamos from the 1880s, lightning rods, high-voltage components from 1920s power plants, scrap from the nearby Badger Army Ammunition Plant, and the decontamination chamber from the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Its fictional creator, Dr. Evermor, was born Tom Every in Brooklyn, Wisconsin and is a former demolition expert who spent decades collecting antique machinery for the sculpture and the surrounding fiction that justifies it. According to Every, Dr. Evermor is a Victorian inventor who designed the Forevertron to launch himself, "into the heavens on a magnetic lightning force beam." The Forevertron, despite its size and weight, was designed to be relocatable to a different site—the sculpture is built in sections that are connected by bolts and pins.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Top 8 Weirdest Natural Disasters

It seems people just do not understand climate change. Some have no respect whatsoever for nature, others are so narrow minded they believe that the powers of nature are a hoax to promote green policies. In dedication to them here are the top 9 most weird natural disasters. If they did not believe in the devastating powers of Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, or Haitian Earthquake, (which has caused thousands of losses of life) then they will sure think these where photo­-shopped hoaxes. Hoping for new regulations on Climate Change, Carbon Emissions and environmental regulation, here are the tope ten weirdest and strangest natural disasters.

8. Meteorites - Falling Stones 
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Objects such as meteorites that impact on the ground can be considered the most unexpected. They have shaped history. They can cause floods, heat waves, wild fires, and cover the sky or cause crust movement. They are material of constant study. Objects that came from the sky have their marks in the Earth and in different planets. Some theories say they where what led the extinction of dinosaurs. Scientists also say, water on Earth came from Icy Comets. In a Chinese record there is information that states that 10,000 people were k*lled in Shanxi Province in 1490 by a hail of "falling stones“.

Monday, April 4, 2011

7 Stunning Oil Platforms

An oil platform is a large structure used to house machinery & men who drill or produce oil & natural gas from the ocean bed. These platforms may be attached to the ocean floor that consists of an artificial island or may be floating, depending upon the circumstances.

Draugen Platform, Norway 
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Draugen is an oil field in the Norwegian Sea at a sea depth of 250 metres. The field has been developed with a concrete fixed facility and integrated topside. Stabilised oil is stored in tanks in the base of the facility. Two pipelines transport the oil from the facility to a floating loading buoy. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Countries With Unusual and Unique Capitals

There are more than 200 countries in the world. Let’s learn more about the capitals of this long list of nations of the world.

South Africa - Country with 3 Capitals

1. Bloemfontein – is the judicial capital of South Africa
2. Cape Town - is the legislative capital of South Africa
3. Pretoria - is the executive (administrative) and de facto national capital of South Africa.
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