Reviving the dead: celebrity CGI and holograms

One of the simple facts of life is that we all die, but in 2018 it seems like that too is off-limits for some of the world’s A-list celebrities. With hologram technology and CGI becoming more advanced, it is possible for dead singing icons and actors to be portrayed on stage and screen. From Tupac Shakur to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and more topically Prince, it seems as if these talented individuals will continue to live on, but perhaps more realistically than is ethically correct.

The Super Bowl saw Justin Timberlake, one of the most talented performers of his generation, take to the stage for the half-time show. TMZ had reported days previously that he was going to use a hologram of Prince so that the two could perform together onstage at Prince’s home of Minneapolis, where the Super Bowl was taking place. It was set to be an homage to the late singer who died in 2016. However, as anybody who watched the half-time show could tell, Prince’s hologram made no appearance.

Continue reading

How a trip to North Korea ended in a coma for one American tourist

North Korea is one of modern day’s greatest mysteries. Nobody in the state is allowed to leave, and those who attempt to leave are often caught and sent to prison camps. Those who wish to enter the country for tourism purposes are given strict guidelines and are told where they can and cannot go. Activities which may be considered tame in Europe and America could be considered extreme over there, and the consequences of such activities can be devastating.

Otto Warmbier was one such tourist who was brave enough to venture to North Korea, despite hostility with the United States in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. From Cincinnati in Ohio and a student of economics in the University of Virginia, he was in Hong Kong for a study abroad program. He decided to visit North Korea on a guided tour, and organised it through a China-based company called Young Pioneer Tours, which boasts of providing “budget travel to destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from.”

Otto Warmbier being escorted in North Korea

Continue reading

The boy who remembers his life as a WWII pilot

While reincarnation is a belief held by primarily Asian religions such ass Hinduism and Jainism, there have been claims all over the world from people of different faiths that they are in fact reincarnated. While a lot of these stories have plenty of faults in them, the story of James Leininger is one that is undeniably convincing.

Born in 1998, at just two years of age, James began to have nightmares where he would shout “Airplane crash! Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” This occurred three or four times a week according to his parents Bruce and Andrea Leininger. He also showed an interest in airplanes. When James and his mother were once at a shop, she picked up a toy plane and said, “There’s even a bomb at the bottom,” to which James responded “That’s not a bomb, Mommy. That’s a drop tank.” Most adults do not know what a drop tank is, let alone a toddler. Continue reading

The U.S. Government tried to use cats to spy on the Soviets

The title of this blog post may sound like something out of an episode of Rick and Morty or an awful parody of a James Bond movie, but it is true. In the 1966, at the height of the Cold War, a CIA project code named ‘Acoustic Kitty’ began with the sole aim of training cats to spy on individuals.

Can we even trust cats today?

For this ridiculous plan to work, cats would have to be biologically altered, which is exactly what the Directorate of Science and Technology did. Former C.I.A. officer Victor Marchetti told The Telegraph in 2001 (when the documents were declassified) that Project Acoustic Kitty was a gruesome creation: “They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that.”

Marchetti also said that the first live trial was a disaster, and the cost is thought to have been more than $10 million. Once the first cat was trained and doctored, he explained what happened:

“They took it out to a park and put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead.”

Continue reading

Podcast: DNA evidence and false confessions

DNA evidence and false confessions are two of the most interesting aspects of any documentary crime series that airs today. Unfortunately, there are cases of criminal injustice occurring on a daily basis in every jurisdiction around the world.

Dr. Brian Farrell of the Iowa Innocence Project held a seminar in NUI Galway last month to shed some light on the use of DNA evidence and forced confessions in the American justice system. I went along to find out what he had to say.

Listen to the podcast below:

Zach Witman's socks after the murder of his brother Greg

A perplexing case of fratricide: the murder of Greg Witman

The murder of Greg Witman has been a case which has fascinated me ever since listening to the podcast Serial. While only mentioned in one episode by the presenter, it really struck me as being deeply upsetting and traumatic for the family. Why? Greg was thirteen at the time and his older brother Zach, who was fifteen, was prosecuted for his murder.

Let’s take a look at a simplified timeline:

  • On October 2, 1998, in New Freedom, Pennsylvania, Greg arrives home from school at 3:10 pm. Zach had remained at home that day because he felt unwell. Their parents were at work.
  • Greg’s friend calls the Witman home asking for him at 3:15 pm. Zach answers the phone upstairs and tells her that Greg had not yet come home, which he believed to be true. It was a short conversation.
  • Zach hears a thud and goes downstairs to find his brother in the laundry room with stab wounds to his back and neck. He calls 911 at 3:17 pm. He is ordered by police to move his brother’s body, and tells the operator that he can see inside his brother’s throat.
  • Emergency responders arrive at 3:25 pm, followed by police five minutes later.
  • Zach is charged with first-degree murder on October 10.

Here are some things that don’t add up:

1) Zach and Greg’s relationship

Zach and Greg

Continue reading

Moon landing murders?

We’ve all grown up to believe that humanity landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 with Neil Armstrong saying the famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” However, as with all things which mark an important historical moment, there are some things that could be classified as suspicious. This post will not look at the more obvious/ridiculous conspiracies, but will instead look at the deaths of two men years before the landing which may raise an eyebrow.

Gus Grissom

Gus Grissom in his spacesuit

Continue reading