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Leather Retort

Claim:   Three animal rights activists went missing after protesting the use of leather at a motorcycle gang rally.

Example:   [GlossyNews, 2010]

I would like to know if the following story is true. I’m very skeptical. Someone posted it on a biker blog I read.


Activists Missing After Declaring “War on Leather” at Motorcycle Rally

Local and state police scoured the hills outside rural Johnstown, Pennsylvania, after reports of three animal rights activists going missing after attempting to protest the wearing of leather at a large motorcycle gang rally this weekend. Two others, previously reported missing, were discovered by fast food workers “duct taped inside several fast food restaurant dumpsters,” according to police officials.

[Rest of article here.]

Origins:   Even those who don’t particularly follow the animal rights movement are generally aware of some of the publicity stunts that organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have engaged in to call attention to their cause, such as attempting to elicit sympathy for fish by rebranding them as “sea kittens,” protesting a dog show while dressed in Ku Klux Klan outfits, producing a racy “Vegetarians Have Better Sex” commercial for the 2009 Super Bowl, and engaging in street tableaux garbed in bloody furs.

Against this background, it’s probably not surprising that some readers would take at face value the article referenced above, which describes a group of animal rights activists who decided to stage a protest against the use of leather at a motorcycle gang rally, and for their efforts ended up being duct-taped inside restaurant Dumpsters or force-fed hamburgers by annoyed bikers:

The organizer said a group of concerned animal rights activist groups, “growing tired of throwing fake blood and shouting profanities at older women wearing leather or fur coats,” decided to protest the annual motorcycle club event “in a hope to show them our outrage at their wanton use of leather in their clothing and motor bike seats.” “In fact,” said the organizer, “motorcycle gangs are one of the biggest abusers of wearing leather, and we decided it was high time that we let them know that we disagree with them using it … ergo, they should stop.”

According to witnesses, protesters arrived at the event in a vintage 1960’s era Volkswagen van and began to pelt the gang members with balloons filled with red colored water, simulating blood, and shouting “you’re murderers” to passers by.

Many readers who encountered this tale out of its original context via e-mail forwards and web site repostings did take it at face value, but it was nothing but a bit of satire which was published on The Spoof! web site on 3 January 2010 and (in slightly different form) on the Glossy News web site four days later. (The former site included a disclaimer noting that “The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious,” while the latter site describes itself as “an accredited online satirical publication.”)

The spoof spread so widely that the local newspaper in the town where the fictitious story was set, the Johnstown [Pennsylvania] Tribune-Democrat, received numerous inquiries asking why it hadn’t covered the incident:

Our newsroom has received dozens of inquiries about the story.

“Aren’t you going to look into this?” one caller asked.

Another accused us of hiding the truth to protect the rally.

Lisa Rager, executive director of the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which plans and organizes the [annual “Thunder in the Valley” motorcycle] rally, said this was not the first tall Thunder tale she’d heard.

“Believe me, we’ve heard many different rumors,” she said. “But I have to say, this is probably the most interesting one.”

Rager hopes not many people took the story seriously.

Last updated:   15 September 2013

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2013 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the logo are registered service marks of

Dad wears short shorts to teach daughter lesson in modesty

A Utah dad wanted to show his distaste for his teenage daughter’s inappropriate clothing by going out for family dinner in a pair of short shorts.

Mother lies, tells daughter she isn’t her real mom

A mother in China lied to her daughter from a young age, telling her she wasn’t her real mother to get her to stop acting spoiled and arrogant.

Kill a Pit Bull Day

Claim:   This Halloween has been designated as “National Kill a Pitbull Day.”

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, September 2012]


Don’t plan on your 4 legged friends walking around with you on Halloween this year.


October 31 (Halloween Night) is trying to become National “Kill A Pitt Bull Day”

Not only is pit bulls part of this “Holiday”. Any breed is fair game. Especially any look alike breeds.


Terry Jordan

I’m here by announcing October 31 National kill a pitbull day. After you take the kids trick or treating keep your costume on round up some friends and kill as many pibulls as you can before midnight. Baseball bats, knives, bricks and poisons (a hotdog soaked in radiator fluid works well) are all suitable tools. Their owners like brag about their high threshold for pain. So don’t worry them suffering they can take it. So remember to spread the word!

Origins:   This announcement entreating adults to return to the streets to murder pit bulls and other “look alike” dogs after tucking their exhausted little trick-or treaters to bed spread via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in mid-September 2012.

It was all a hoax; no one was organizing a “National Kill a Pit Bull Day” for Halloween, or for any other date.

The “National Kill a Pitbull Day” messages were part of an anonymous

prank aimed at Slater, Missouri, councilman Terry Jordan, who earlier in 2012 was instrumental in developing a pet animal ordinance for that city. Although the final version of Jordan’s legislation altered the original focus upon the pit bull breed into a non-breed specific vicious dog ordinance, early drafts had singled out pit bulls. Jordan thereby drew the ire of local pit bull lovers, one of whom apparently decided to exact revenge by spreading word that Jordan was sponsoring a “National Kill a Pitbull Day” scheduled for Halloween 2012.

After the “National Kill a Pitbull Day” hoax hit the Internet, Councilman Jordan was besieged with outraged phone calls, many threatening him and his family. “Our Terry has been inundated and the city has been inundated with threats and calls. Well, Terry didn’t do this,” Mayor Stephen Allegri said. The Slater Police Department, Slater City Hall, and Terry Jordan’s business were also hit by outraged phone calls prompted by the Internet post.

Jordan was horrified by the hoax and has never suggested violence against pit bulls.

Similar rumors about the killing of pit bulls on Halloween have been circulated anew in September 2013, but there’s no evidence such rumors are anything but the resurrection of last year’s hoax. Such rumors feed upon the long-lived legend that cats are routinely sacrificed by Satanic cults on Halloween, which in turn prompts many cat owners to keep their feline friends locked up for that night and numerous animal rescue groups to eschew placing black cats with new owners during the month of October.

Barbara “animal housed” Mikkelson

Last updated:   13 September 2013

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2013 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the logo are registered service marks of

Love Bugs

Claim:   “Love bugs” are the result of a genetic experiment gone wrong at the University of Florida.

[Collected on the Internet, 2002]

Love Bugs are actually man-made. Scientists were genetically engineering females of a species of insect that would mate with the male mosquito, but be sterile and produce no offspring. Unfortunately, they accidentally also created a male Love Bug, and a pair somehow escaped into the wild. Since the bugs had no natural predators, their numbers quickly exploded
into the millions.

[Collected on the Internet, 1995]

Back when I was a student at Florida State, I was told that love bugs were accidentally released from a biological experiment station at the University of Florida.

[Collected on the Internet, 1998]

Supposedly, the lovebug was “created” in a lab at UF by crossing a fly and a mosquito in an attempt to create an enemy for mosquito larva. It supposedly got loose and now populates the whole southern US.

Origins:   The “love bug,” a fly in the Bibionidae family (also known as the honeymoon fly, telephone bug, double-headed bug, united bug, and March fly), is a nuisance any Florida motorist is unhappily more than passingly familiar with. Though these bugs neither bite nor sting, at certain times of the year their sheer numbers transform these innocuous insects into airborne hordes seemingly determined to devil anyone fool enough to take to the road. The adults splatter on windshields, lights, grills, and radiators of motor vehicles, and their dried remains are hard to remove. Suicidal pairs of love bugs have been known to cause overheating of motors when large numbers of them are drawn into the cooling systems of liquid-cooled engines. Unlike other bugs, something particular to them adversely affects the paint jobs on cars, pitting and etching the paint if their mortal remains are left on vehicles for more than 48 hours.

Every May and September these sex-crazed critters become an annoyance bordering on intolerable as the air teems with mating pairs. But the “love bugs” haven’t always been part of the Floridian landscape, thus we’ve seen an abundance of “mad scientist” stories about how the state came to be infested with them. (Love bugs are not solely a Floridian plague; they range throughout the Gulf states and into Mexico and Central America, as well as up into Georgia and South Carolina. But they seem

particularly enamored of Florida.)

Truth is, Mother Nature is far more to be feared than any mad scientist and is far more capricious. In this case, she inspired some of her children to migrate to a new area, and in doing so prompted the creation of a number of rumors which attempt to explain why these critters came to take up residence in places where they weren’t found before.

Love bugs are not the result of a genetic cloning experiment gone wrong, nor were they unwittingly loosed from a research facility charged with studying exotic insects. They also weren’t bio-engineered as a natural solution to the mosquito problem. (Love bugs do not eat mosquitos: the adults do not eat at all, and larvae feed on decaying plant material.) These overly amorous critters are native to Central America; the best guess as to how they came to these United States places them as undiscovered stowaways who arrived by ship in Galveston or New Orleans around 1920. They migrated into Florida in 1947 from Louisiana, looked around, liked what they saw, and decided to stay. Their natural capacity for reproduction took care of the rest.

Barbara “it’s a bug’s life” Mikkelson

Additional information:

Last updated:   13 September 2013

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2013 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the logo are registered service marks of

Top 10 Chinese Knockoffs

There’s a term in China for knockoff products, they’re called Shanzhai – and they look nearly as good as the real thing. We all know about fake iPhones and other Apple products, these have been a fixture in the country’s bustling electronics markets for years. But there’s a lot more.

Let’s play spot the difference with this fake Mercedes and real Mercedes.

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Or these Nike sneakers.

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However, some Shanzhai makers are not that subtle.

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Check out this quick video of the top 10 Chinese knockoffs.

0 Top 10 Chinese Knockoffs picture


Australian-Chinese New Yorker. Carmen is the host for Off the Great Wall, a YouTube Channel with funny and educational videos about China and Asia. She is also a major foodie. Youtube Channel

Felon barred from having gun accidentally shoots himself

Photo: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Photo: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (September 13, 2013)

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot … err, make that leg.

Mark Cruz, a convicted felon who is outlawed from possessing a gun, accidentally shot himself in the leg when his .22-calibur pistol fell out of his pocket and discharged after hitting the ground, according to a report from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The 28-year-old Wimauma man, who deputies say was uncooperative while being treated at a hospital, refused to tell them where he disposed the gun, only telling them he tossed it in some unnamed lake, according to the report.

After being released from the hospital, Cruz was taken to the slammer and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, and destroying physical evidence.

Cruz was released from prison in October 2012 after serving time on a drug traficking charge, Florida Department of Corrections records show.

More FloriDUH

NASA photo shows frog photobombing LADEE launch

It was no doubt the biggest leap this frog ever made.

The ghosts caught on film

Cemetery ghost baby: Visiting the grave of her daughter in a cemetery in Queensland in 1947 a woman named Mrs Andrews took this picture of what she thought was a bare grave. She was shocked to see, when she got the film developed that there seemed to be the figure of a child sitting on the grave. Mrs Andrews didn’t recognise the child and her own daughter died at the age of 17, much older than the apparent age of this infant. A paranormal investigator in the late 1990s, Tony Healy, visited the site and discovered the graves of two baby girls. –Burden’s judgment: FAKE. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

FRIDAY the 13th means black cats, bad luck, superstitions and … ghosts.

On this auspicious day we thought we’d bring you some of the best-known ghost images of all time.


Back Seat Ghost: Mr and Mrs Chinnery were visiting the grave of Mabel Chimmery’s mother one day in 1959. Mabel, before walking back to the car, took an impromptu photo of her husband who was sitting alone in the car. Or so he thought. Upon getting the film developed Mabel realised there was another figure in the car, sitting in the back seat, which happened to look a lot like her late mother! — Burden’s judgment: TOO CLOSE TO CALL. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

These are some of the most famous ghost pictures of all time. In a time before Photoshop and digital manipulation these are the pictures that had experts stumped.

Are they real or are they fake? Is that really a ghostly spectre appearing beyond the grave or is it just a smudge on the film?

This portrait of “The Brown Lady” ghost is arguably the most famous and well-regarded ghost photograph ever taken. The ghost is thought to be that of Lady Dorothy Townshend, wife of Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount of Raynham, residents of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England in the early 1700s. This famous photo was taken in September, 1936 by Captain Provand and Indre Shira, two photographers who were assigned to photograph Raynham Hall for Country Life magazine. The figure has been seen many times on the staircase, carrying a lantern, grinning and appearing to have her eyes gouged out. –Burden’s judgment: PROBABLY FAKE. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

We asked Rick Burden, founder of the Ghost Hunters of Australia website and the Down Under Spirit Team, about whether he thought they were the real deal.

Based on the Gold Coast, Burden’s team of 12 undertake psychic investigations where they can do anything from house “cleanings” (not the kind that involves the mop and bucket), spirit removals, possession removals or a combination of all three. They offer advice and help with anything paranormal-related for those that come in contact with something they can’t quite explain.

This photograph of the Combermere Abbey library was taken in 1891 by Sybell Corbet. The faint outline of a man can be seen sitting in the chair on the left. It is believed that this is Lord Combermere himself. Interestingly though at the time Sybell Corbet took the above photo, Combermere’s funeral was taking place some four miles away. –Burden’s judgment: FAKE. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Just like in the Hollywood classic Ghostbusters Burden and his team will help rid you of your ghost problem as quickly as they can or if not they’ll tell you where your local ghost hunter is. They’ll even take a look at that weird blur in the background of that picture you took that time to see if it’s a ghost. Fielding at least one call or request for help a week Burden’s team will either offer their own help or put you in touch with a similar team closer to you.

The Watcher: This image, taken in 1959 in Alice Springs, seems to capture what looks like a female figure looking out from behind the scrub wearing a long white gown. Is she holding binoculars? Or is it just a trick of light? Perhaps a double exposure accidentally printed onto one image? –Burden’s judgment: TOO CLOSE TO CALL. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

The most common problem Burden and his team come across in the field is when people accidentally bring back “entities” when they incorrectly use an ouija board or stage a seance.

How exactly does Burden ‘catch’ a ghost?

This photograph was taken in 1963 by Reverend K.F. Lord at Newby Church in North Yorkshire, England. He claims that the room was empty of people when he took the photo. Alarmingly it looks like a tall shrouded figure standing in front of the alter. Supposedly the photo has been scrutinised by photo experts who say the image is not the result of a double exposure. –Burden’s judgment: PROBABLY FAKE Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Using equipment such as full spectrum cameras, shadow detectors, vibration detectors, sound recorders, laser grid pens and electro magnetic field detectors allow the team to detect and confront an apparition.

When it comes down to it Burden is surprised there aren’t more ghosts captured on camera: “My opinion on this, is that we may not quite yet have the true correct technology to capture the paranormal on a regular basis.

“I believe we have the partial technology, which is why the paranormal can be intermittently captured, but not the full, true technology to do it on a regular basis.”

This picture, taken in 2008, was taken by photographer Neil Sandbach, at a farm in England while scouting locations for a couple about to get married. He was shocked to discover what looks like a figure standing in a spot that he was quite sure was empty when he took the picture. The owners of the farm have admitted they’d seen the figure of a child dressed in nightclothes on several occasions around the barn. –Burden’s judgment: POSSIBLE FAKE Picture: Source: Supplied

When analysing ghost pictures, however, Burden admits: “It can also be almost impossible to prove to people that a captured image is real.”

But there are ways to cut down the obvious fakes from the rest using digital technology.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways that an image can be altered or tampered with these days, and we tend to get a lot of people that think they are funny by sending us obviously faked images and wasting our time.

“We just focus on helping those that are legitimate, and legitimately need help.”

Need help with a ghostly problem? Check out Burden’s extensive listing of Ghost Hunters in your area.

This image taken in the early 1900s of a beautiful antique cabinet was taken by a respected furniture dealer at the time. The photographer was at a loss to explain the transparent hand that appears to rest on top of the bureau. Perhaps a former owner reluctant to let it go? –Burden’s judgment: FAKE. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

North Carolina man attempts to cross Atlantic with 370 party balloons

Jonathan Trappe is either on the world’s best ever flight of fancy or he’s reached the heights of lunacy.