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A Verdict, safe internet, and an OOPART: Today, Feb. 13

 

Today is Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day aims to not only create a safer internet but also a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. Safer Internet Day aims to reach out to children and young people, parents and caregivers, teachers, educators and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians, to encourage everyone to play their part in creating a better internet. By celebrating the positive power of the internet, the 2018 Safer Internet Day theme of “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you” encourages everyone to join the global movement, to participate, to make the most of the internet’s potential to bring people together.

In the United States, Safer Internet Day U.S. campaign began in 2013.  It is celebrated around the world in 100 countries and is a growing collaboration between U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the European Commission as well as support from Ask.fm, Comcast NBC Universal, Facebook, Google, LifeLock, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Symantec, Trend Micro, Twitter, and Yahoo.

For more information visit SaferInternetDayUS.org or ConnectSafely.org.



Today in history: February 13, 1935 Bruno Hauptmann Found Guilty

On March 1, 1932, a baby was kidnapped from his family home in Highfields, New Jersey. The child was the son of famed aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, the first man to have flown solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

A nanny had put the young boy in his crib at approximately 7:30 PM, and at 9:30 PM, Charles Lindbergh reported hearing a sound like slats of a crate being broken. He assumed it had come from the kitchen. At 10 PM it was discovered that the child was gone, his window left open with the remnants of a home-made ladder resting on the lawn outside. There was a note in an envelope left on the window sill demanding a $50,000 ransom.

Police arrived within 20 minutes and conducted an extensive search of the home and its surrounding area. After midnight, a fingerprint expert examined the ransom note and ladder; no usable fingerprints or footprints were found, leading experts to conclude that the kidnapper(s) wore gloves and had some type of cloth on the soles of their shoes. No adult fingerprints were found in the baby's room, including in areas witnesses admitted to touching, such as the window, but the baby's fingerprints were found.

On March 6 a second note arrived, upping the demand to $70,000. During this time, John F. Condon—a well-known Bronx personality and retired school teacher wrote a letter to the Bronx Home News, offering $1,000 if the kidnapper would turn the child over to a Catholic priest. Condon received a letter reportedly written by the kidnappers. It authorized Condon to be their intermediary with Lindbergh. Lindbergh accepted the letter as genuine.

After several contacts through the mail and newspaper classified ads and one shadowy midnight meeting in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, the kidnappers sent the child’s pajamas as proof, which Lindbergh identified as belonging to his son.
A new ad was put in the paper:  "Money is ready. No cops. No secret service. I come alone, like last time." On April 1 a letter was received saying it was time for the ransom to be delivered. The ransom was packaged in a wooden box that was custom-made in the hope that it would later be identified.

The ransom money included a number of gold certificates – gold certificates were about to be withdrawn from circulation, and it was hoped this would draw attention to anyone who was spending them. The bills were not marked but their serial numbers were recorded

On April 2, Condon was given a note by an unknown cab driver. Condon met the shadowy figure he had spoken to in the cemetery and told him that they had been able to raise only $50,000. The man accepted the money and gave Condon a note saying that the child was in the care of two innocent women.

On May 12, the boy’s body was discovered. Over the next several months, police worked hard to find the killer. At first their investigation was centered on the family and house staff, but they soon discovered that the ransom money was being spent predominantly along the Lexington Avenue Subway. Further, a bank teller reported one of the gold certificate bills from the ransom. A break came in the form of a car license tag number pencilled into the bill’s margin. This led police to a gas station in the Bronx, where the attendant recognized the bill, and said he had written the plate down because of the suspicious nature of the customer’s behavior.

Police traced the license to Richard Bruno Hauptmann, a German immigrant who lived nearby. On his person was found one of the $20 gold certificate bills, and in his garage was over $14,000 of the ransom money. He was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder.

He was dubbed “The Most Hated Man In The World” at the start of his trial, which was sensationalized with the title “The Trial of the Century”. The evidence was presented, and on this date in 1935, Hauptmann was found guilty of capital murder, and immediately sentenced to death in the electric chair.
The sentence was carried out after several failed appeals on April 3, 1936.



Weird History: The Coso Artifact is Found, february 13, 1961

The Coso Artifact is what is known as an “Out of Place Artifact”, or something found in a place that it is impossible for it to be. The Coso Artifact is an object claimed by its discoverers to be a spark plug found encased in a lump of hard clay or rock on February 13, 1961, by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell while they were prospecting for geodes near the town of Olancha, California.

Mikesell claims that while prospecting the group came across an object encrusted with shell fossils. It was collected, and later as they were cutting into the section of rock, a diamond saw blade was destroyed upon hitting something inside. After removing the rest of the outer case of rock, the artifact was discovered. This is where the story gets sketchy.

In a letter written to the Desert Magazine of Outdoor Southwest a reader stated that a trained geologist had dated the nodule as at least 500,000 years old and contained a man-made object. The identity of the alleged trained geologist and means of geologic dating were never clarified, nor the findings ever published in any known journal. Furthermore, at the time it was reported the Coso artifact as having been dated as being 500,000 years old, there was no known method, including the use of guide fossils, by which either the artifact or concretion could have been dated as being this old. The nodule surrounding the spark plug may have accreted in a matter of years or decades.

A subsequent investigation by experts and with help of members of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, suggested that the artifact is a 1920s Champion spark plug. Chad Windham, President of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, identified the Coso artifact as a 1920s-era Champion spark plug, which was widely used in the Ford Model T and Model A engines. Other spark plug collectors concurred with his assessment.

Of the original discoverers, one has passed away, another is unable to be located, and the third won’t talk to anyone about it. The whereabouts of the artifact itself is unknown since 2008.

While it is almost certain that the Coso artifact is not what it was claimed to have been, there are other Out of Place Artifacts that are not so easily explained. Tickle your curiosity by looking up the Antikythera Mechanism, or the Baghdad Battery.

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