The Philippines’ new president is waging a drug war that has killed nearly 1,800 people

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The Philippines’ new president is waging a drug war that has killed nearly 1,800 people


Protesters gather at Rizal Park during a rally to oppose the burial of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. It was the biggest gathering so far since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the burial of Marcos with full military honors and with the opposition announcing its plan to file a petition with the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Protesters gather at Rizal Park during a rally to oppose the burial of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. It was the biggest gathering so far since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the burial of Marcos with full military honors and with the opposition announcing its plan to file a petition with the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

When the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, took office in June, he announced a sweeping crackdown on drug trafficking in the island nation.

In the seven weeks since, nearly 1,800 suspected drug dealers have been killed.

Under Duterte, 712 drug suspects had been killed in police operations since July 1, while 1,067 killings were carried out by vigilante groups during the same time-frame, National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa, told a Philippines senate committee on Monday, according to the New York Times.

Senators have been questioning police on the killings as part of joint hearings by the Senate’s committee on justice and human rights and the committee on public order and dangerous drugs. The senators also heard from witnesses accusing police of gunning down their family members for being involved in illegal drugs.

Senator Leila de Lima, the head of the Senate justice committee, said she’s concerned that some law enforcers and vigilantes are using the campaign against drugs to “commit murder with impunity” since many killings had not been carried out legally, AP reported.

“We want to know the truth behind the killings and violence. What really happened and why does this continue to happen?” de Lima said in Tagalog. “I’m not saying the killings and the use of lethal force have no legal basis, but too many have been killed for us to not be suspicious and to not question whether the rules of engagement are being followed.”

Between July 1 and August 15, 665 people were killed by police while another 899 were murdered by unknown killers, dela Rosa reported to the committee last week, according to the Washington Post — a drastically lower number than the one reported on Monday.

Police didn’t explain the sudden increase in deaths over the past week, but senators are expected to question them about the tally on Tuesday.


Relatives of slain people cover their faces as they attend a Senate hearing investigating drug-related killings at the Senate headquarters in Pasay city, metro Manila, Philippines August 22, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Thomson Reuters

Relatives of slain people attend a Senate hearing investigating drug-related killings at the Senate headquarters in Manila

The spate of killings has alarmed human rights groups including U.N.-appointed human rights experts, who have urged the country to stop the killings.

But Duterte’s foreign ministers later said the Philippines would not do so, and the president threatened to withdraw from the United Nations.

The Philippines’ foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay said his country is “certainly not leaving the U.N.,” CNN reported on Monday.

Duterte, known locally as “the Punisher,” campaigned on a pledge to rid the country of drug dealers and won a landslide presidential election in May. The 71-year-old leader has publicly advocated the killing of suspected drug dealers, urging citizens to kill criminals if they feel it’s necessary.

“Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal,” Duterte said in June, according to AP.

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, told the Times that Duterte’s brazen stance is indicative of outsized public expectations.

Duterte’s massive support in the Philippines “largely has to do with dissipated public trust in existing judicial institutions, a sense that the normal democratic processes are not coping with the magnitude of the crisis,” said Heydarian.

Duterte threatened to declare martial law in early August when the Philippines’ Supreme Court questioned his authority to oversee judges who’ve been accused of taking part in drug-dealing activities, Al Jazeera reported.

During Monday’s hearing, one of the witnesses, Harra Bertes, said policemen had beaten up, arrested, and killed her husband, a suspected drug dealer.

Police raided Bertes’ house, demanded the surrender of drugs that she did not have, and removed the underwear of her two-year-old daughter to search for illegal drugs, Bertes told the committee, according to

Bertes admitted that her husband was a drug dealer, but that he had been planning on surrendering to the authorities soon.

Approximately 600,000 suspected drug dealers or users have surrendered to the police since Duterte’s drug crackdown began, Philippines’ authorities said, according to the Times.


10 Incredible Slave Rebellions

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10 Incredible Slave Rebellions


In Django Unchained, villainous plantation owner Calvin Candie asks the film’s heroes, “I lived my whole life surrounded by black faces. Why don’t they kill us?” It’s a thought-provoking question. Why didn’t slaves fight back? Well, the truth is many did. We’ve already talked about how Nat Turner led the most famous slave revolt in US history, but there were other amazing uprisings across the Americas. From individual acts of resistance to full-scale rebellions, many slaves fought for freedom and human dignity.

10Isaac Burgan


Isaac Burgan was just a kid when he decided to fight back. Burgan grew up on a North Carolina plantation where his mother, Sylva, worked as a house slave. She took him along daily to the “Big House” where he learned how to read and write from the white kids. Soon, his increasing education made his owners nervous, but he calmed their fears by using his brain for the good of the farm. Thanks to his smarts, Isaac became an influential figure on the plantation, getting perks other slaves didn’t get.

But Isaac’s clout couldn’t keep his mother safe. When she angered the bosses, the overseer decided it was time for a beating. Isaac heard her screaming as the whip tore at her back and was suddenly faced with the biggest decision of his young life. Should he stay out of it? Or save her? The choice was simple. Isaac picked up a heavy iron poker, walked up behind the overseer, and caved in the back of his head. Nobody messed with his mom.

After the overseer woke up with a splitting headache, Isaac received twice the beating his mother would have gotten. But Isaac survived and went on to live a happy, productive life. After the Civil War, Isaac earned a B.A., D.D., and LL.D. and became a pastor, teacher, and the president of Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas.


9Frederick Douglass


Frederick Douglass, one of the most influential abolitionists of the 19th century, toured both the US and Great Britain, speaking against slavery. He wrote a bestselling autobiography and served as a preacher, publisher, and politician. He met with Abraham Lincoln, promoted education, and championed equal rights for everyone. And when he was a teenager, he went toe-to-toe with one of the meanest slave owners in the South.

At 16, Douglass was rented out to Edward Covey, a notorious slave breaker who looked for any excuse to use his whip. He even hid in the grass to spy on his slaves in the hope he’d catch them taking a break. And when Douglass showed up, Covey planned on turning him into a mindless, obedient drone. He whipped Douglass at least once a week for the next six months, once beating him so hard that the stick he was using broke in half. Douglass didn’t even have time to heal from his wounds before Covey decided it was time for more punishment. And to Douglass’s horror, he found he was being “tamed.” Covey was crushing his spirit.

Things changed though when Douglass saw a ship in Chesapeake Bay. Inspired by the ship’s “freedom,” he vowed to become a free man. He tried running away to ask his old master for help, but the man just laughed and sent Douglass back to Covey—who was waiting. While Douglass was working in the barn one day, Covey sneaked up behind him with a rope, tying the teen’s legs together. Suddenly, Douglass reached his breaking point. He tried to jump away, but Covey held on, taking Douglass to the floor. But when Douglass regained his footing, he grabbed Covey’s throat and choked him so hard that the slaver started to bleed.

Covey was terrified. None of his slaves had ever fought back before. He called for help, and a white servant showed up with a rope. When he tried to tie Douglass’s free hand, Douglass landed a perfectly aimed kick into the man’s ribs. When a second guy showed up and saw what was happening, he decided he wasn’t getting paid enough and ran away. Desperate, Covey tried to reach a club outside the barn door, but Douglass grabbed him with both hands and hurled him to the ground, judo style. This battle between slave and racist went on for two brutal hours. Eventually, Douglass let Covey go . . . and Covey never touched him again. Douglass’s victory fueled his desire to escape, and in 1838, he finally did, beginning a new fight against slave owners everywhere.

81842 Cherokee Slave Revolt


Not all slave owners were wealthy white guys sipping juleps on cotton plantations. In an effort to become like white Americans, the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) became farmers, opened public schools, and started buying black people. After all, it was the American way.

The Cherokees owned over 4,000 slaves, and took 1,592 with them down the Trail of Tears. These slaves mostly belonged to mixed-race Cherokees who employed them as interpreters, servants, and farmhands. But as it turns out, Cherokee farmers weren’t any better than their white counterparts, so the slaves decided to fight back.

On November 15, 1842, Joseph Vann’s slaves were up bright and early, planning to take advantage of their master’s white ways. The Cherokees had given up their mud huts for log cabins and clapboard houses, and their new homes came equipped with doors. So while the Cherokees slept, the slaveslocked them in their houses and then stole horses, guns, and supplies. Their plan was to meet up with a band of Creek slaves and head to Mexico, which was closer than Canada and just as slave-free.

After the Cherokees finally broke down their doors, they organized a search party and caught up with the runaways on the open prairie. The slaves took shelter in a deep depression that provided cover from all sides and began firing at their pursuers. The gun battle lasted for two straight days before the Cherokees decided they needed backup and retreated. The slaves saddled up and continued south. Along the way, they rescued some Choctaw slaves from two bounty hunters, neither of whom would ever collect another bounty.

Unfortunately, the Cherokee National Council convened a meeting where they decided to send 87 members of the Cherokee Militia after the slaves. When the soldiers caught up with the runaways, they found a sad sight. The slaves had run out of supplies and were starving and too exhausted to fight back. Five were handed over to the military to stand trial for the murder of the slave hunters, and the rest were forced into hard labor.


7The 1811 Slave Rebellion


The last thing any racist wants to see is hundreds of armed slaves waving banners and beating drums while marching down the road, but that’s what happened in January 1811, when Charles Deslondes led the largest slave revolt in US history.

Sick of working on a Louisiana plantation, Deslondes organized a massive rebellion—which was no easy feat. Over several years, he secretly communicated with slaves across the Louisiana coast, holding meetings in fields, taverns, and at slave gatherings. He also had to overcome massive language barriers because many of his fellow slaves had come straight from Africa and Haiti. But finally, on January 8, 1811, Deslondes made his move. The slaves of the Woodland Plantation armed themselves with hoes, axes, and cane knives, hacked up their masters and marched west, where they met with slaves from a second plantation (led by two Ashanti warriors, no less). There were now 200–500 slaves on the warpath, burning every plantation they came across. And while they spared women and children, they made short work of the men.

This was every Southerner’s nightmare, and the roads to New Orleans were backed up for miles with whites running for their lives. The government sent the military to challenge Deslondes, and since the slaves had few guns, they had to retreat. They didn’t get far before they were trapped by a local militia. With nowhere to go, the slaves threw down, fighting valiantly with their farm tools, but in the end they were simply outgunned. The slaves who didn’t escape into the swamps were captured and executed. As he was the leader, Deslondes’s corpse was mutilated. Finally, the racists stuck the rebels’ heads on spikes and set them along the river from New Orleans to LePlace to serve as a warning to any slave thinking about fighting back.

6The Amistad Rebellion


In 1839, a group of Africans were kidnapped near Sierra Leone and sold to Spanish slavers—despite the fact that importing slaves from Africa was illegal in 1839. The slaves were taken to Cuba and loaded aboard the Amistad(Spanish for “friendship,” because what’s friendlier than a slave ship?). However, the Africans had no intention of going anywhere, especially after the Amistad’s cook told them the Spanish planned to eat them. As the ship sailed away from Cuba, 25-year-old Sengbhe Pieh, aka Cinque, used a long nail to open the lock on his collar and free his comrades. While the sailors battled a storm, the Africans found a supply of sugar cane knives and rushed the deck. The overwhelmed crew never had a chance. The rebels killed the captain and the cook and ordered two Spanish captives to sail towards Africa. The Spanish complied . . . during the day. At night, they turned the boat around, picked up the pace, and headed towards America.

Two months later, the Amistad arrived in New York where the slaves were seized by American troops. They then fought a much bigger foe than Spanish slavers: the American government. Cinque and his friends were tried for murder, and the case divided the nation. Abolitionists ran to the prisoners’ defense, while President Martin Van Buren took a pro-slavery stance in the hope of appeasing the Spanish government—and Southern voters. Secretary of State John Forsyth even ordered a ship to be ready the minute a guilty verdict was handed down. That way, the slaves could be whisked away to Cuba before having a chance to appeal.

However, things didn’t go as Van Buren had hoped. The judge ruled since it was illegal to take slaves from Africa, the Africans had been acting in self-defense and found them innocent. But Van Buren, a sore loser, ordered an appeal, and the case went to the Supreme Court. Cinque and his friends were defended by the staunch abolitionist, and former American President, John Quincy Adams, who argued the Africans had a right to freedom. In March 1841, the court ruled that the Africans could go home. After three long years, 35 of the survivors finally returned to Sierra Leone, where they established a settlement and sparked reforms which led to the country’s independence from Britain.

5Creole Slave Revolt


The Creole was a slave ship headed for New Orleans with a “cargo” of 135 slaves—but it would never make it to port, because there was a real-life Django on board. Madison Washington was the ship’s cook and a man who’d escaped from slavery once before. He’d fled to Canada, but returned to Virginia to rescue his wife, Susan. Unfortunately, he was captured and sold, but he had every intention of finishing his mission. As the Creole sailed through the Atlantic, Washington began making escape plans with 18 other slaves.

On the night of the rebellion, the chief mate suspected that something was going on. He confronted Washington, but the cook fought back, sparking the revolt. The rest of the slaves rushed their captors, and in the struggle, one slave and one slave owner were killed, and the captain was wounded. The slaves were now in control of the ship, and unlike the captives aboard theAmistad, these guys were experts in slave law, sailing, and geography. They knew their best chance was to sail for the Bahamas, a British colony where slavery was illegal. They also knew about navigation so they weren’t going to be fooled like the Amistad slaves. They ordered the crew to take them to the Bahamas or be thrown overboard. The sailors chose wisely.

When they arrived in the Bahamas, all the slaves were freed except for Washington and his 18 conspirators, who were tried for mutiny. Fortunately, they were found not guilty and released. While the incident led the American government to create the Negro Seaman Act of 1842, which made life harder for black sailors, the story had a happy ending for Madison Washington. In a cliche straight from a Hollywood movie, it turned out that, unbeknownst to Washington, his wife had been a slave aboard the Creole the entire time, and the two were finally reunited.


4Wesley Harris


The amazing adventure of Wesley Harris began in 1853, when Wesley’s overseer tried to beat him. Wesley didn’t care for beatings so he took the whip away and beat the overseer instead. Obviously, this kind of behavior wasn’t tolerated, and his owner decided to sell him. However, Wesley had different plans. He teamed up with Craven Matterson and his two brothers, stole a cache of weapons, and made a run for Canada.

All was going according to plan until the group was spotted by a farmer, but the guy seemed friendly and spoke like a Quaker, a religious group whichhated slavery. He agreed to hide them in his barn and even fixed them breakfast. But he still gave Wesley a bad feeling, and his suspicions were confirmed a few hours later when the farmer returned with seven armed men. When the posse demanded the slaves come along quietly, Wesley said they’d have to take him dead or crippled.

Suddenly, things got crazy. One of the Mattersons pulled out a pistol and shot the backstabbing farmer. Then Wesley drew his own gun and emptied the cylinder, wounding at least one officer. Out of bullets, he pulled out a giant sword and hacked his way to the barn door. Men were falling left and right until one of the slave hunters blasted Wesley with a shotgun. The men surrounded Wesley and beat him with their guns before tying him up. Craven Matterson, who’d been fighting as well, was also beaten and bound. The other two Mattersons never moved.

Sadly, the Mattersons were taken to town and sold, but Wesley had lost too much blood to travel. The slavers decided to imprison him on the second story of a tavern until he was healthy enough to walk. Two weeks later, Wesley was conscious and planning a second escape. With outside help, he acquired three nails, which he stuck under his windowsill. He then tied a stolen rope to the nails and lowered himself to the ground using his one good arm. Wesley quietly made his way to a prearranged spot, where a friend gave him a horse and he galloped off to freedom in Canada.



If there was one thing more difficult than being a black slave in the American South, it was being a black female slave in the American South. In addition to the hard work and brutal beatings, they had to constantly worry about sexual assault. Celia, a slave girl from Missouri, knew all about this threat. She’d been repeatedly raped by her owner, Robert Newsom, over a span of five years, beginning when she was 14.

The situation grew worse when Celia started sleeping with a slave named George. After discovering she was pregnant with his child, George demanded Celia end her “relationship” with Newsom, or he’d stop seeing her. Terrified, Celia asked Newsom’s daughters to help. When that didn’t work, she begged Newsom to leave her alone while she was pregnant, but he ignored her and continued his assaults. With no choice left, Celia knew what she had to do.

The next time Newsom showed up, Celia was ready. When he entered her cabin, Celia ran to a corner where she’d hidden a heavy club, and when Newsom came at her, she bashed in his head. Newsom dropped to the floor, and Celia hit him hard one last time, killing him. She then disposed of the evidence by burning Newsom in her fireplace. She hid the large bones under her hearthstones, and then in a move so calculated it would send shivers up an assassin’s spine, she paid Newsom’s grandson to empty her fireplace.

The next day, Newsom’s family began to worry about his disappearance. When they couldn’t find him, everyone suspected George of foul play. But when they questioned him, George hinted that Celia was the culprit. Celia was interrogated and threatened for hours, and while she first denied the charges, she eventually admitted what she’d done. She was put on trial for first-degree murder. The biased judge ordered the white, male jury to find her guilty of murder or innocent of the whole thing. Self-defense was not an option. In one of the great miscarriages of justice, Celia was found guilty and hanged on December 21, 1855.

2Gaspar Yanga


If you visit Yanga, Veracruz, you’ll see a statue of a tall, imposing African witha machete in hand. He’s known throughout Mexico as the “First Liberator of the Americas,” but the locals call him El Yanga. His real name is Gaspar Yanga, and he was the leader of one of the greatest slave rebellions in North America.

Legend has it that Yanga (born 1545) was actually West African royaltybefore he was captured and brought to Mexico. In Mexico, he was put to work in the blistering heat of a Veracruz plantation, but he wasn’t content to spend his days hacking sugarcane. Instead, he rallied his fellow slaves and led them on a great escape into the mountains near Cordoba. There, Yanga and his band of black and Indian runaways formed a community dedicated to keeping slaves in and the Spanish out. They plundered caravans traveling to Mexico City, taking goods and weapons, and when they got lonely, they raided nearby towns, capturing local women.

Yanga and his band of “cimarrones” lived in the mountains for 40 years before the Spanish got sick of him. In 1609, they sent 550 troops, all heavily armed, into the mountains to capture those pesky slaves. But Yanga and his men were waiting for them, armed mostly with rocks, machetes, and bows. First, Yanga tried to be diplomatic and make a deal, but when the Spanish burned his village to the ground, the runaways took to the jungle. The Spanish made the mistake of following them into the forest and were assaulted left and right by stones and arrows. Eventually, the Spanish grew tired of guerrilla warfare and agreed to negotiate. In exchange for their loyalty and an annual tribute, Yanga and his community were granted freedom and the right to form their own settlement. In 1618, the rebels formed the town of San Lorenzo de Los Negros, and today it’s known simply as Yanga.

1The Haitian Revolution


The Haitian Revolution pitted a ragtag bunch of slaves against three European powerhouses—and the slaves won. It was also the most successful slave revolt in history, resulting in Haiti becoming the second free nation in the Americas and the first modern country run by people of African descent. It also helped double the size of the United States. And it hadnothing to do with the devil.

Haiti was once the French colony of Saint Domingue, which produced 40 percent of the world’s sugar and 60 percent of its coffee—thanks to its giant slave population. The working conditions on Saint Domingue were so bad that most slaves were imported from Africa because too many of them died to keep the island populated. Nevertheless, by the 1800s, 90 percent of the island was made up of slaves, and they’d heard about the recent French Revolution. The slaves liked the idea of liberty, so in 1791 they staged their own revolt. They were led by a natural-born general named Toussaint Louverture, who, despite having no military experience, successfully fought off the French.

In addition to battling slaves, the French were also warring with England and Spain so they had a lot to worry about. Realizing they couldn’t beat all three forces, the French freed the slaves in 1794. Louverture then allied with the French and helped beat the British and the Spanish. After the war, Louverture renamed Saint Domingue as Haiti, declared himself ruler, and passed a new constitution, but things weren’t over yet.

When Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, he wanted to rebuild the French empire. To do that, he needed cash, and to get cash, he needed Haitian sugar. The Haitians were afraid Napoleon was planning to re-institute slavery, so when 80,000 troops showed up, they were prepared. After a year and a half of fierce guerrilla warfare, Haitian bullets and yellow fever had taken out thousands of Frenchmen. This defeat caused Napoleon to give up on his American colonies. He left Haiti and sold the Louisiana Territory to Thomas Jefferson. Haiti then declared its independence, and while it’s since struggled with poverty and natural disasters, those rebel slaves were true heroes who changed the world.

Nolan Moore was once bitten on the foot by an alligator, but he survived to become an ESL teacher. He hopes to avoid future alligator encounters and one day make it as a writer.

10 Truly Disgusting Facts About Ancient Roman Life

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10 Truly Disgusting Facts About Ancient Roman Life


Ancient Rome holds a mythic place in our imaginations. It’s the land of historical epics like Ben-Hur and Gladiator, where men in golden armor ride chariots and emperors are fed grapes in reclining chairs.

Real life in Rome, though, was quite a bit less glamorous. In a time before modern sanitation and medicine, getting through an average day was a difficult task—and far more disgusting than you could ever imagine.

10People Washed Their Mouths Out With Urine


Photo credit: Ciencia Historica

In ancient Rome, pee was such big business that the government had special taxes in place just for urine sales. There were people who made their living just from collecting urine. Some would gather it at public urinals. Others went door-to-door with a big vat and asked people to fill it up.

The ways they used it are the last ones you’d expect. For example, they’d clean their clothes in pee. Workers would fill a tub full of clothing and pee, and then one poor soul would be sent in to stomp all over the clothing to wash it out.

Which is nothing compared to how they cleaned their teeth. In some areas, people used urine as a mouthwash, which they claimed kept their teeth shining white. In fact, there’s a Roman poem that survives today in which a poet mocks his clean-toothed enemy by saying, “The fact that your teeth are so polished just shows you’re the more full of piss.”


9You Shared a Sponge After Pooping


Photo credit: The Privy Counsel

Rome has been praised for its advances in plumbing. Their cities had public toilets and full sewage systems, something that later societies wouldn’t share for centuries. That might sound like a tragic loss of an advanced technology, but as it turns out, there was a pretty good reason nobody else used Roman plumbing.

The public toilets were disgusting. Archaeologists believe they were rarely, if ever, cleaned because they have been found to be filled with parasites. In fact, Romans going to the bathroom would carry special combs designed to shave out lice.

The worst part came when you finished. Each public toilet, which was shared with dozens of other people, would have a single sponge on a stick that you used to wipe yourself. The sponge would never get cleaned—and you shared it with everybody else there.

8Toilets Regularly Exploded


Photo credit: Following Hadrian

When you entered a Roman toilet, there was a very real risk you would die.

The first problem was that creatures living in the sewage system would crawl up and bite people while they did their business. Worse than that, though, was the methane buildup—which sometimes got so bad that it would ignite and explode underneath you.

Toilets were so dangerous that people resorted to magic to try to stay alive. Magical spells meant to keep demons at bay have been found on the walls of bathrooms. Some, though, came pre-equipped with statues of Fortuna, the goddess of luck, guarding them. People would pray to Fortuna before stepping inside.


7Gladiator Blood Was Used As Medicine


Photo credit:

Roman medicine also had its fair share of eccentricities.

Several Roman authors report people gathering the blood of dead gladiators and selling it as a medicine. The Romans apparently believed that gladiator blood had the power to cure epilepsy and would drink it as a cure. And that was just the civilized approach—others would pull out the gladiators’ liversand eat them raw.

This was so popular that when Rome banned gladiatorial combat, people kept the treatment going by drinking the blood of decapitated prisoners. Strangely, some Roman physicians actually report that this treatment worked. They claim to have seen people who drank human blood recover from their epileptic fits.

6Women Rubbed Dead Skin Cells Of Gladiators On Their Faces


Photo credit: Abroad In The Yard

The gladiators who lost became medicine for epileptics while the winners became aphrodisiacs. In Roman times, soap was hard to come by, so athletes cleaned themselves by covering their bodies in oil and scraping the dead skin cells off with a tool called a strigil.

Usually, the dead skin cells were just discarded—but not if you were a gladiator. Their sweat and skin scrapings were put into a bottle and sold to women as an aphrodisiac. Often, this was worked into a facial cream. Women would rub the cream all over their faces, hoping the dead skin cells of a gladiator would make them irresistible to men.

5Pompeii Was Filled With Obscene Art


Photo credit: TripAdvisor

The volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii left it wonderfully preserved for archaeologists. When they got their first look at it, though, the archaeologists found things that were so obscene that they hid them from public view.

Pompeii was filled with art that was so filthy that it was locked in a secret room for hundreds of years before anyone was allowed to look at it. The town was full of the craziest erotic artwork you’ll ever see—for example, the statue of Pan sexually assaulting a goat.

On top of that, the town was filled with prostitutes, which gave even the street tiles their own special little touch of obscenity. To this day, you can walk through Pompeii and see a sight Romans would enjoy every day—a penis carved into the road with the tip pointing the way to the nearest brothel.


4Dangerous Places Had Drawings Of Penises For Good Luck


Photo credit: BuzzFeed

Penises were pretty popular in Rome. They didn’t share our skittishness toward the male member. Instead, they displayed them proudly. Sometimes, they even wore them around their necks.

It was a fairly common Roman fashion choice for boys to walk around wearing copper penises on necklaces. This was about more than looking good. According to Roman writings, these would “prevent harm from coming” to the people who wore them.

They didn’t stop there, either. Good luck penises were also drawn on dangerous places to keep travelers safe. Sharp curves and rickety bridges in Rome often had a penis drawn on them to grant good luck to every passerby.

3Romans Hold The First Recorded Mooning


Photo credit:

Rome holds the unique distinction of recording the first mooning in history. Flavius Josephus, a Jewish priest, wrote the first description of a mooning while describing a riot in Jerusalem.

During Passover, Roman soldiers were sent to stand outside of Jerusalem to keep watch in case the people revolted. They were meant to keep the peace, but one soldier did a little bit more. In Josephus’s own words, the soldier lifted “up the back of his garments, turned his face away, and with his bottom to them, crouched in a shameless way and released at them a foul-smelling sound where they were offering sacrifice.”

The Jews were furious. First, they demanded that the soldier be punished, and then they started hurtling rocks at the Roman soldiers. Soon a full-on riot broke out in Jerusalem—and a gesture that would live on for thousands of years was born.

2Romans Vomited So They Could Keep Eating


Photo credit: Expo Milano 2015

Romans took excess to new levels. According to Seneca, Romans at banquets would eat until they couldn’t anymore—and then vomit so that they could keep eating.

Some people threw up into bowls that they kept around the table, but others didn’t let themselves get so caught up in the formalities. In some homes, people would just throw up right there on the floor and go back to eating.

The slaves are the people you really need to feel sorry for, though. Their jobs were terrible. In the words of Seneca: “When we recline at a banquet, one [slave] wipes up the spittle; another, situated beneath, collects the leavings[vomit] of the drunks.”

1Charioteers Drank An Energy Drink Made Of Goat Dung


Romans didn’t have Band-Aids, so they found another way to patch up wounds. According to Pliny the Elder, people in Rome patched up their scrapes and wounds with goat dung. Pliny wrote that the best goat dung was collected during the spring and dried but that fresh goat dung would do the trick “in an emergency.”

That’s an attractive image, but it’s hardly the worst way Romans used goat dung. Charioteers drank it for energy. They either boiled goat dung in vinegar or ground it into a power and mixed it into their drinks. They drank it for a little boost when they were exhausted.

This wasn’t even a poor man’s solution. According to Pliny, nobody loved to drink goat dung more than Emperor Nero himself.

Mark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

IS struggles to retain grip as it loses ground in Iraq

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IS struggles to retain grip as it loses ground in Iraq

IS struggles to retain grip as it loses ground in Iraq

In this August 17, 2016 photo, men wait outside a fenced area at the Dibaga Camp for displaced people, where newcomers are interrogated before being allowed to stay, in Hajj Ali, northern Iraq. As the Islamic State group loses ground in Iraq, the militants are showing strains in their rule over areas they still control, growing more brutal, killing deserters and relying on younger recruits, according to residents. The accounts pointed to the difficulties the extremist group is facing as Iraqi forces backed by the United States prepare for an assault on Mosul. (AP Photo/Alice Martins)

DIBAGA CAMP, Iraq (AP) — As the Islamic State group loses ground in Iraq, the militants are showing strains in their rule over areas they still control, growing more brutal, killing deserters and relying on younger and younger recruits, according to residents who fled battleground territories.

The accounts point to the difficulties the extremist group faces as Iraqi forces, backed by the United States, prepare for an assault on Mosul, the largest city still in the militants’ hands. For months, Iraqi troops, militias and Kurdish fighters have been clawing back territory town by town, making their way toward the northern city.

In the latest areas recaptured, Iraqi troops over the past month took a clump of villages near a key military base south of Mosul that they plan to use as a hub for the assault. Residents of the communities, which lie strung along bends in the Tigris River, say that in the preceding weeks, the militants ruling them had seemed to be scrambling to keep control.

In Qayara, which is the main town in the area and remains in IS hands, beheadings and extrajudicial killings that previously were occasional became commonplace in a hunt for spies and deserters, said Jarjis Muhammad Hajaj, who was among thousands of residents who fled fighting in the area and now live in the Dibaga Camp for displaced people in Kurdish-run territory.

“They started making raids on houses, arresting people and beheading them,” he said.

Hajaj said the group’s fighters appeared increasingly nervous as they watched news of IS loses elsewhere.

Their ranks also appeared to turn more to younger, less experienced men. At one point, almost all the militants guarding the streets were teenagers, he said. That, Hajaj said, was when he thought, “They’re collapsing. They’re finished.”

The reliance on younger fighters in smaller communities could be a sign of overstretched manpower as the group’s more veteran militants redeploy to Mosul or to neighboring Syria. Other factors could also be in play, like difficulties in finding new recruits and the effect of desertions, which Kurdish officials have said are on the rise.

Fighters as young as 13 or 14 were patrolling in the village of Awsaja on the other side of the river, said one resident, who asked to be identified by his nickname Abu Saleh for fear of reprisals against his family in areas still under IS rule. He said the militants killed seven people for trying to flee the village, displaying their bodies on a bridge as an example to others.

As Iraqi troops moved on Awsaja, the militants seemed confused on how to respond.

At one point, some IS fighters decided to retreat and ordered all the residents to come with them as human shields, Abu Saleh said. But that prompted an argument with others in the group who were remaining in the village to fight and wanted the residents to stay for their protection, said the 50-year-old psychologist, who fled with other residents and is now also in Dibaga Camp. Iraqi forces succeeded in retaking Awsaja in mid-July.

The area has been under IS rule for two years, ever since the Sunni militants overran much of western and northern Iraq, joining it to the territory they control in neighboring Syria in a self-declared “caliphate.”

Though the group has been notorious for atrocities and its brutality in enforcing its radical vision of Islamic Shariah law, many in these Sunni-dominated regions of Iraq initially welcomed their rule. The Sunnis had long bristled under the rule by majority Shiites who lead the government in Baghdad. At first, IS provided them services the central government had neglected.

“When they first came, they gave the people money and food. And you know, the people are poor, they took it,” said Sabha Khal Salih, a mother of two in the village of Hajj Ali, near Qayara. Young unemployed men joined the militants’ ranks, she said.

But as time went on, living conditions deteriorated, in part because IS-held territories were cut off economically from the rest of Iraq. Also, the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign has strained IS’s resources and prompted it to lash out against anyone it suspects of spying.

Abu Abdullatif, who worked in a clinic in Awsaja, said over the past three months, the militants became even more intrusive in enforcing their rules, even peeking into homes to see if women were properly covered there and imposing fines “just to get the money.” Over time, he said, the food rations that IS distributed to the poor grew smaller, until finally they were giving only a few kilograms of flour — though members of the group continued to receive full rations.

Fearing residents were trying to escape, IS fighters strictly questioned — and sometimes demanded fees from — anyone trying to cross the river to markets in Qayara, he said, also speaking on condition he be identified by his nickname because he feared for the safety of relatives.

The group’s fear of informants has fueled a crackdown in Mosul itself. This month, IS released a video titled “deterring the traitors,” where six young men are shown being killed on a city street. In the video, the narration accused the men of being “the eyes of America,” suggesting they were spies.

U.S. and Iraqi officials say the final assault on Mosul is still weeks away as forces fight to retake territory around the city. From the Qayara military base, Iraqi troops are still some 70 kilometers (40 miles) from the city.

The towns and villages around Qayara recaptured from IS are still too close to the front lines and too rife with booby-traps and explosives for residents to return. When Iraqi forces retook the area, many of the IS fighters changed into civilian clothes and disappeared into the surrounding desert.

Hajaj, the Qayara resident, said people in the area will never allow them to regain a foothold.

“Now we know who they are, we will never let them return,” he said.


Associated Press Writers Salar Salim in Dibaga Camp, Iraq, and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected to show that Qayara and the villages in the area are near the Tigris River, not the Euphrates.

Iraq forces launch push to retake town south of Mosul

After retaking Fallujah in June, Iraqi security forces are focused on Mosul, the Islamic State group's de facto capital in the country

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After retaking Fallujah in June, Iraqi security forces are focused on Mosul, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital in the country (AFP Photo/Sabah Arar)

Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) – Iraqi special forces led an operation on Tuesday aimed at retaking the jihadist-held town of Qayyarah, a key staging base for operations to attack Mosul, military sources said.

Qayyarah lies on the western bank of the Tigris river, about 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Mosul, the Islamic State group’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

With the clock ticking down on what Iraq expects to be its biggest anti-IS operation yet, the UN warned of population displacement on a scale not seen in years.

“The operation started at dawn with the participation of Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) and army forces,” Brigadier General Firas Bashar told AFP.

US-led coalition aircraft provided support, said Bashar, the spokesman for the operations command in Nineveh, the province in which Qayyarah and Mosul are located.

“The operation is ongoing and currently achieving its goals,” CTS spokesman Sabah al-Noman said.

“Qayyarah will be cleared and the operation wrapped up quickly, bolstering our plans… for the final battle to liberate Mosul,” he told AFP.

He said Iraqi forces had been working with armed residents inside the town for this offensive, a rare occurrence.

“There has been coordination with groups of armed residents inside,” Noman said, declining to provide further details.

Iraqi forces have spent weeks positioning themselves around the town, which is expected to be used as a launchpad for a broader operation against Mosul in the coming weeks or months.

– ‘Insufficient camps’ –

The United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) said that 200,000 Iraqis had already been forced to flee their homes this year and warned that Mosul could trigger an unprecedented crisis.

“Worse is yet to come,” the UNHCR representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, said. “We predict that it could result in massive displacement on a scale not seen globally in many years.”

Nearly 3.4 million people have already been displaced in Iraq since the start of 2014.

Mosul is Iraq’s second city and had an estimated population of around two million before IS took it over in June 2014 in an offensive that sparked large-scale displacement.

Accurate numbers for the population remaining in the city are hard to come by but the UN and other officials have said that up to one million civilians may still be living under IS rule in the Mosul area.

“We are building new camps and pre-positioning emergency relief kits to ensure people fleeing get rapid assistance,” Geddo said.

“But even with the best-laid plans, there will be insufficient camps for all families needing shelter and we need to prepare other options,” he added.

Saleh al-Juburi, the mayor of Qayyarah district, said around 15,000 civilians were believed to be trapped under IS rule in the Qayyarah area.

“There are plans to bring food and medical supplies to those who are still in their homes and did not manage to escape Qayyarah,” he told AFP.

“We will distribute this aid immediately after the liberation of the town.”

Juburi said CTS forces were making quick progress in Qayyarah and had already retaken key landmarks in the town hours after the launch of the operation.

“Most of the Daesh (IS) fighters have been killed or have fled,” he said.

After retaking Fallujah, west of Baghdad, in June, the main focus of Iraqi security forces is Mosul, which is IS’s de facto capital in Iraq.

The Iraqi authorities and the aid community, including the UN, came under criticism for failing to cope with the much smaller influx of people displaced from Fallujah.