Top 10 Fraudulent Expeditions And Discoveries

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Top 10 Fraudulent Expeditions And Discoveries


Exploration has always been part of our history, whether across land, sea, or space. Amazing things have been found throughout the ages, but sometimes, those findings weren’t actually real. These “discoveries” may have been based on truth, but they became more exaggerated with each retelling. The pressure to discover the newest thing and gain fame could have caused explorers to tweak their stories a little. Here are ten of their tallest tales:

10The City Of Gold

Photo credit: Ancient Origins

Some of the earliest explorers of the Americas came from Spain. Hernan Cortes, one of the first Spanish explorers, found the Aztec capital, killed the natives, and stole their gold and silver. His discovery led to rumors of a huge, lost city, completely made of gold, somewhere on the continent. After hearing these stories, the Spanish king sent more explorers to the New World to find it.

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca learned about the seven cities of Cibola, which were supposed to contain fabulous riches, from some natives. Spanish governors sent several people to find these cities, but all they found were small villages. Spain lost interest when they couldn’t find gold, but stories like El Dorado and the Lost City of Z have endured for decades. However, archaeologists recently discovered that El Dorado wasn’t a city. Rather, it referred to an ancient ritual in which a new leader covered himself in gold dust and made gold offerings before taking the throne.

9The Giants Of South America

Photo credit: John Byron

Ferdinand Magellan, known as the first man to sail around the world, supposedly met a tribe of giants in present-day Argentina. Some very tall people have lived through history, but Magellan’s crew described the giants to be over 3 meters (10 ft) tall. Other explorers, like Sir Francis Drake and Commodore Byron, also claimed to have interacted with the giant natives.

Because the Bible describes a time when giants lived on the Earth, especially in the story of David and Goliath, many early historians argued that giants were real. People were more religious in those days, so it makes sense that early explorers would look for giants. Commodore Byron’s account in the 18th century is the last report of the giant Patagonians, so the story seems unlikely to be true. It is possible, though, that these explorers met a tribe of very tall people and exaggerated their actual height.

8The Fountain Of Youth

Aging is difficult for all of us, so it’s not surprising that tales of a magical fountain that grants youth have existed for so long. The earliest story of magical water comes from Herodotus, a Greek historian, who believed that the Macrobians had such a fountain. Alexander the Great also believed that he had found a river with healing water.

Possibly the most famous and misleading account of the search for the Fountain of Youth is that of Juan Ponce de Leon. He had heard from the natives that a Caribbean island called Bimini had a magical spring that could restore youth. Ponce de Leon did set sail with a crew to the island of Bimini, but he was probably more interested in finding gold, since none of his journals mentioned the fountain. When he didn’t find gold or magical water, he sailed northward and found Florida. Today, Bimini has a tourist attraction called the Fountain of Youth, but it’s really just a small spring with mineral water.


Christopher Columbus is known for “discovering” the New World, but some of his other finds are questionable. In 1492, he claimed he had seenmermaids in the water. John Smith of the Virginia Company also claimed to have seen mermaids, and both men said that the creatures were not as pretty as the paintings. Even if these men really saw something with a tail splashing around, it was most likely a manatee.

The earliest account of a mer-person is the Babylonian god Oannes, who was believed to be half-man and half-fish. Similar gods in Greek and Roman mythologies, as well as the Greek stories of Sirens, caused people to believe in mermaids. Even the Scottish and Welsh believed stories of women coming from the sea to marry men. Medieval texts listed mermaids alongside real sea creatures. With such strong belief in mer-people in those days, it makes sense that seagoing explorers would look for them.

6The Cat-Dog Of Bolivia

Photo credit: Jeremy Mallinson

When we think of mythical animals, our minds jump to Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, but not many of us have heard of the Bolivian “Mitla.” This animal was documented by Percy Fawcett, an adventurer and explorer known best for mapping the Amazon rain forest. Many of the creatures Fawcett described were real, like the anaconda, but the Mitla is still considered a myth.

Several people claim to have seen the Mitla, but there are no photos of the animal. It is described as a dog with cat-like features. Some say the creature is small and could be a relation to short-eared dogs. Others say the animal is large and more catlike. The confusing descriptions of the animal from various people make it clear that it probably doesn’t exist, but it hasn’t been proven fake yet.

5The Fake Bling Of Cartier

Photo credit: Theophile Hamel

Jacques Cartier was a Frenchman who was asked by King Francis I to find a way through Canada to Asia. After Cartier returned from Canada, the king was so happy with the report that in 1540, he sent the explorer with settlers to colonize the New World. This expedition didn’t go nearly as well.

Even with Iroquois guides, Cartier upset the natives. Between the angry tribes and the freezing winter blocking his way west, Cartier had to turn back. He managed to find what he thought were gold and diamonds in Quebec, so he hightailed it back to France, stranding the colonists in Newfoundland. After the king discovered that the “gold” and “diamonds” were worthless and that the colonists had abandoned the colony, Cartier wasn’t asked to go on any more trips.

4The Demon Tree Of Madagascar

Photo credit: Enigmas

Two explorers, Chase Salmon Osborn and Captain V. de la Motte Hurst, mounted expeditions to Madagascar in the early 20th century with the hope of finding a tree that was known to eat people. The men had probably read about it the myraid magazines and newspapers that reprinted the story from the original in the New York World. The natives of Madagascar encouraged the explorers, telling them that the trees really did exist.

Sadly, these men were on a wild goose chase. The story was written by Edmund Spencer, a reporter at the New York World. Spencer cleverly wrote the story to look like an interview with an explorer who had watched the tree eat a young girl, but the explorer and the tree did not exist. The story was written for entertainment, but many people took it seriously, even to the point of traveling to Madagascar to search for the tree.

3Ancient Egyptians . . . In Arizona?

In 1909, the Phoenix Gazette ran stories about G.E. Kinkaid, an explorer who journeyed into the Grand Canyon and found a large underground settlement with Egyptian or Asian artifacts. The story led people to wonder if settlers from the Middle East or Asia could have come to Arizona thousands of years ago. The articles stated that he found mummies, glyphs, statues, and weapons that looked nothing like the other artifacts in the Grand Canyon.

What gives us pause, however, is the fact that the two stories in the Gazettewere the only times the Egyptian settlement was ever mentioned. Nowadays, the area where Kinkaid supposedly found the settlement is owned by the US government, so nobody can search there. However, John Wesley Powell and his team explored the Grand Canyon thoroughly before Kinkaid and did not describe any Asian or Egyptian relics in their findings.For these reasons, it’s difficult to know whether Kinkaid made the discovery of a lifetime or told the world’s biggest lie.

2Crocker Land

The quest to reach the North Pole sparked some interesting discoveries, but none of them could match Robert Peary’s claim to have found an entire continent. In 1906, several months after failing to reach the North Pole, he said he had found a large landmass near Ellesmere Island. Peary called it “Crocker Land” after George Crocker, the man who funded Peary’s travels.

Several people believed his story because Peary was one of the only people who had explored the Arctic. Also, ocean current patterns of the time indicated that a large landmass could be there. However, once people could fly over the area, Crocker Land was found to be a crock. The currents separate at the Beaufort Gyre, a sort of whirlpool in the ocean in the same place as the fake continent. Some people theorize that Peary may have seen a mirage, but the landmass was most likely made up because Peary had failed to get to the North Pole.

1Pyramids In Antarctica

Photo credit: AI Powers

A group of unnamed people recently claimed to have discovered pyramids in Antarctica, complete with three pictures as proof. After these pictures were mostly proven wrong, Vincente Fuentes of Spain brought the story back with new images of the pyramids from Google Earth, showing them from a different angle. Most scientists believe, however, that the pyramids are either plowed banks of snow, ice packs, or plain old mountains.

According to Eric Rignot, an Earth science professor, the pyramids are most likely mountains. Believers argue that a pyramid-shaped mountain is impossible, but Rignot explains that the pyramid shape can be achieved through a process known as freeze-thaw erosion. The pyramids are also part of a mountain range. Besides, freezing temperatures and no farmland make it highly unlikely that any civilization could have survived in Antarctica.

Brittiany West is a writer, adventurer, and self-published author. Check out her writings on


Read about more wildly inaccurate claims made through history on Top 10 Bizarre Hoaxes In History and 10 Great Hoaxes of the Twentieth Century.


10 More Things Found Living Inside Of People

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10 More Things Found Living Inside Of People


The human body is a pretty amazing thing. The average adult human has 640 muscles, 206 bones, 12 organs, and so much more that all grows from a tiny, microscopic blob inside someone else. But while the human body can grow some incredible things, including other humans, doctors occasionally find some very unexpected things growing in there as well. Below are just ten examples of some of the terrifying and unexpected things found growing inside of humans.


There are a lot of different potential causes to a swollen eye: allergies,infection, getting a little too fresh with the wrong person. While a swollen eye is not the most worrying of symptoms, it can be quite annoying and inconvenient. So when a 17-year-old Peruvian boy noticed his eye had been slowly swelling for a few weeks, he went to the doctor to find out why.

The cause of the boy’s swelling turned out to be a 3 cm (1.2 inch) botfly larva that was growing inside his eye. Dermatobia hominis, or the human botfly, is implanted into humans by infected mosquitos, where it lives and grows for eight weeks before emerging. They are usually harmless but can occur essentially anywhere on the body, as it is our body heat that insulates them. In the case of the Peruvian boy, doctors were able to remove the whole larva by using basil leaves to tempt it to poke its head out, before seizing it with a pair of tweezers. The boy was awake for this uncomfortable procedure, which you can watch here.

9Aural Myiasis

As horrifying as the thought of a maggot wriggling around inside your body is, it pales in comparison to the thought of hundreds of maggots wriggling around inside you. That is the situation a man from India found himself in when he went to visit Dr. Vikram Yadav. The man, who remains unnamed, visited Dr. Yadav complaining of a buzzing sound in his ear. When Yadav looked inside, he saw a throbbing white mass, which he identified as amaggot infestation.

The maggots were most likely laid there by a fly when the patient was sleeping. To get them out, Dr. Yadav first suffocated them, which caused them to make for the exit. When they got near enough, he removed them one by one, and used anti-parasitic medication to prevent any more eggs from hatching. But if you think this man was an unfortunate, rare case, think again. Maggots in the ear are not uncommon in poor, elderly, or infirm people, and the situation is common enough to even have its own medical term: aural myiasis.

8Something on Your Mind

Headaches can be caused by any number of benign things, from drinking too much caffeine to staring at a computer screen for too long. But as you have probably already guessed, there was a much more sinister cause for the 50-year-old Chinese man in this case.

The unnamed man checked himself into a hospital in the UK after experiencing incessant headaches. When the usual tests turned up nothing, he was given an MRI. Although doctors did notice an abnormality, they could not find anything until a full four years later, at which point they informed the man that he had a tapeworm swimming around his brain the whole time.

The tapeworm, eventually identified as Spirometra erinaceieuropaei, is a rare type of tapeworm from Asia that is seldom found in humans. As it moved through the man’s brain, it triggered different elements of his mind, leading to symptoms that included not only the headaches, but also seizures,strange smells, and random flashbacks. It was eventually removed surgically, and the man’s symptoms disappeared.

7Dandy’s Little Girl

Children grow a lot in their first few years of life, but doctors in China were shocked to find out just what one 16-month-old patient was growing. The girl, named only as Ranran, was brought to a Beijing hospital after her parents noticed that she was continually crying and scratching at her ear. Her mother had seen an object inside the ear canal but was unable to remove it herself.

After examining the strange mass in the little girl’s ear, doctors realized that she had a fully-grown dandelion inside her. Her parents said that a seed had fallen in there about four months ago, but they did not take any notice until she began crying. Doctors theorized that the warm, humid environment made it possible for the plant to grow, and they were able to safely remove it before it caused any permanent damage.

6Did You Try Nuking It?

One morning in 2014, Hendrik Helmer woke up to a stabbing pain in his ear. Since he was from Australia, Helmer naturally assumed that a spider had crawled in there while he was asleep. With that in mind, he did what any Australian would do, and tried to ignore it. When the pain not only failed to subside but got worse over the next few hours, he decided to take action.

Initially, he tried to drown the beast with water. When that failed, he decided a vacuum might be able to suck it out, which just made the creature squirm around more inside him. With all his reasonable options exhausted, Helmer decided to try a last-ditch attempt and go to the hospital.

When the doctor examined Helmer, she could see that there was something alive inside, but could not quite make out what. In a short procedure, she poured olive oil into the man’s ear, which usually drives animals out of the ear canal. In this case, the creature appears to have drowned, allowing the doctor to remove it, and finally reveal that a 2 cm (0.79 inch) cockroach was the culprit behind all of Helmer’s pain. Helmer was relatively unfazed by his ordeal, although several of his friends began sleeping with earphones.

5(See Appendix)

Getting your appendix out is one of the most common surgeries in the world. Being so ubiquitous means the procedure has advanced significantly over the past few years, reaching a stage where only a tiny scar can be seen afterward. Unfortunately, for one Australian tourist traveling through Indonesia, this was enough of an opening for a spider to burrow inside him.

While in Bali, Dylan Maxwell got bitten by a bug. While this did not seem like a big deal at first, Maxwell visited a medical center after a red line slowly grew from his belly button, going all the way up his torso and above his nipples. They gave him antihistamines for an insect bite and sent him on his way. When he returned, they ran further tests and realized that he had a spider inside him. The spider was not removed there, however, and Maxwell had to fly back to Australia with his extra passenger before it could be extracted.

4Shell Shocked

While many people find the thought of popping spots disgusting, it is a guilty pleasure for many more. And unless you are Dr. Pimple, it is probably your own spots you are popping. But after antibiotics failed to rid Rachael Franklin’s son, Paul, of a spot on his knee, Rachael decided to pop it herself, against the advice of doctors. At first, she thought the small, black object that popped out was a rock, only to then realize it was a sea snail.

A few weeks prior to this, Paul and his family were enjoying a day out at the beach. At one point, Paul fell and scraped his knee, but his parents thought nothing of it. It is assumed that a snail egg got stuck under his band-aid, and continued to grow inside him. If you are wondering how it survived, snails are carnivores with tongues covered in thousands of tiny teeth that they use to rip off edible shreds of food.

Paul, who was only four years old at the time, simply said he thought the situation was “kind of crazy,” and kept the snail as a pet, naming it Turbo.

3Couples Escape

In 2013, Australian couple Bryan Williams & Ally Vagg were on vacation in Bolivia. Like many other tourists, they were bitten mercilessly by mosquitosduring their trip. Thinking the red marks dotted all over their bodies were nothing more than bitemarks, they carried on for a few days before they realized the marks were moving. Then, they noticed little heads popping out of the wounds.

The couple sought medical attention, but said that the doctors involved were “useless.” Eventually, one of Bryan’s friends pulled the first, 2.5 cm (1 inch) botfly larva out of a wound. The useless doctors did nothing, leaving the couple to remove seven of the larva themselves, after taping the wounds to smother them. But with potentially 50 larvae in each wound, the couple had to see a specialist, as well as spend over a month in Bolivia to ensure that they would not bring any of the larvae back to Australia with them.

2Czech Your Food

Hana Foldynova was 76 years old when she was admitted to hospital in her native Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic) after her GP found blood in her urine sample. When surgeons began operating to remove what they assumed was a blood clot, they were horrified to find an almost 10 cm (4 inch) tapeworm living in one of her kidneys, as well as another in her bladder.

The parasite was identified as a giant kidney worm, and most likely made it into her system from undercooked fish. While the worm can live in its host for up to five years, it will inevitably kill you if left untreated. Unfortunately in this case, given the patient’s age, Hana was unable to fully recover after the surgery and passed away a short time later.

1You’ve Got Something in Your Teeth

As horrifying as these stories are, in most cases, there is not a whole lot you can do to prevent something from taking up residence inside you. Sure you could use more insect repellent, or watch what you eat, but unless you are going to live a paranoid life in a bubble, you just have to run the risk of becoming a tiny creature’s house. However, for the 36-year-old Taiwanese man in this case, he really should have brushed his teeth.

After experiencing a toothache like no other, the unnamed man went to see a dentist. The tooth in question was a decayed molar, with the molar below it missing as well. This double-whammy of poor dental care gave enough room for the guava seed stuck in his tooth to germinate and sprout, leading to the man’s pain. After removing the tooth, the dentist acted professionally and assured the man that everything would be fine. Just kidding. He called in all the other staff and patients waiting outside to come see for themselves, causing the patient to flee in humiliation.

The only thing growing inside Simon is his contempt for days that are both rainy and hot. You can follow him on Twitter @simongireland


Read more about people with things living inside them on 10 People Who Had Creatures Living In Their Ears and 10 People Who Had Things Living Inside Them.


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Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Armenia

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Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Armenia


Armenia is a country that sits next to Turkey, Iran, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, which is of no help to those readers who have struggled through an American education. Go on, find it on a map. You can’t. Armenia is a picturesque land of plunging valleys, ancient churches, weird bread, and wrestling, but there is so much more tragedy and comedy to unearth. Come with us, to Armenia!

10Armenia Has Been at War for Thirty Years

Depending on who you talk to, the duplicitous and totalitarian Azerbaijanis have been preventing the Armenian people in Nagorno-Karabakh province from rejoining their countrymen as part of Armenia. Either that or the sneaky and not to be trusted Armenians are backing violent separatistsagainst the legitimate and noble Azerbaijani government.

Since before the fall of the Iron Curtain, Nagorno-Karabakh has been the scene of sporadic and sudden violence, the causes and solutions to which nobody can apparently agree on. After the province declared itself an independent state in 1988, and following a 1994 conflict you didn’t hear about that cost upwards of 30,000 lives, the ethnic Armenians in the autonomous state of Nagorno-Karabakh have lived with the double threat of an Azerbaijani state keen to retake the territory, and an international community that recognises the Azerbaijani claims. The result is a seemingly endless cycle of sporadic violence and peace talks that collapse at the first round.

Then again, the Armenians were also condemned for ethnically cleansing the Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh during the 1994 conflict, so it is not like there are many heroes to this particular story to feel sorry for.

9Paganism Is on the Rise

While over 90 percent of Armenians are Christians—mostly of the Armenian Apostolic variety, a particularly conservative and orthodox sect similar to the Coptics and Syriacs—there is a resurgence of paganism that is well integrated and respected in the country. The current president of the Republican Party is a so-called “Hetan” and the philosophy is highly entwined with a search for Armenian identity and nationality in the post-Soviet epoch.

Part of the reason for this reawakening of the old gods is the Temple at Garni. A sacred site dating back to three thousand years before Christ, the Roman era temple was left unmolested when Armenia adopted Christianity in the third century A.D. This temple is the figurehead of a pagan culturethat left relics, stonework, and symbology across the nation—meaning that in the years after the Armenian Genocide, there was a framework available for the persecuted peoples to regain some of their identity.

8The Genocide Is Still Denied

It is fairly common knowledge to most people that during the First World War, the Ottoman Empire exterminated 1.5 million ethnic Armenians. As well as brutal massacres at the hands of The Young Turks, many Armenians were simply forced into the Syrian desert to die of thirst and starvation.

Strange then, that only 28 countries acknowledge the genocide happened at all—and Turkey flat out denies it. Turkey is the key player that prevents the worldwide recognition of the genocide, through hysterical denunciations and the tearing up of trade deals, Ankara is sure to suppress any mention of Ottoman complicity in genocide—to the extent of hiring internet trolls to downvote a Christian Bale movie dealing with the topic. Weird.

7The Beginning of the Christian World

The exact details of how Gregory the Illuminator converted the pagan king of Armenia are wrapped in myth, as one might expect for a third-century legend, although Gregory himself almost certainly existed. What we know for sure is that the oldest Christian cathedral on Earth (the Holy Etchmiadzin) is found in Armenia, and this event is one of the earliest models of what would become the method in which other pagan nations would turn to Christ.

In short, the legend that is told again and again with different characters is that a holy man goes to a country and talks to the pagan king. The king is unimpressed and tortures/kills/exiles the holy man, but then changes his mind after a miracle/demonic possession/defeat in battle. That is the story of Gregory the Illuminator and many other sainted men who followed him, and it all began in Armenia.

6Churchill Got Wasted with Stalin on Armenian Brandy

At the Yalta Conference, the greatest Prime Minister of all time took 500 cigars with him. After all, the conference between Stalin, Roosevelt, andChurchill was due to take an entire week. Winston’s proclivity for alcohol being well known, it is rumored that Stalin brought a sizeable supply of Dvin brandy from Armenia, claimed to be finer than French cognac. As the French were not invited to Yalta, being a “winners only” kind of club, we cannot say whether Dvin passed the Pepsi challenge, but we can almost guarantee that Churchill was drunk as a lord.

As one should be, when deciding the fate of a planet with a genocidal despot communist dictator.

In any case, we can’t entirely blame “The Western Betrayal” on Armenian brandy, as the entire affair was really the story of Uncle Joe Stalin running rings around Roosevelt and setting the stage for the Cold War, which conveniently brings us back to Armenia in the communist era.

5Communism Was Actually Not So Bad for Armenia

Apart from the obvious flaws that come along with communism, Armenia was in such a tragic state after World War I that the Sovietization was a blessing. In 1921 over 200,000 people were starving in the country, and most of the population were beaten down rural folks who had survived the genocides. The infrastructure was limited, literacy was rare, and the school system was limited to being whatever the church felt like teaching.

Unlike many other satellite states, the Armenians were permitted to retain their own language, and much of their culture was left essentially intact—although naturally communism dominated public life and attempted to exterminate religion entirely. By 1991 when independence was declared, Armenia was a modernized state with industry, infrastructure, and decent levels of education. Thanks, commies!

In seriousness though, communists are awful, and they did kill a lot of Armenians for thought-crime. Having factories does not make up for that.

4Simple Potato Cellar Turns into Lifelong Quest for Digging

Back in 1985, Tosya Arakelyan asked her husband to dig out a potato cellarunder their house. Being a builder by trade and not knowing that the end of communism and access to MTV was just six years away, Levon Arakelyan set to work using only hand tools, working for 18 hours a day and apparently motivated by visions that compelled him to dig.

By the time Levon died, 23 years later, and having ignored MTV entirely in favor of more digging, the potato cellar had grown into a network of tunnels70 feet below ground and included shrines, stairs, halls, and mosaic portraits. If nothing else, it stands today as a testament to the awesome power of nagging wives to motivate a guy to just live his life underground like some kind of badger, slowly going insane.

3Chess Is Mandatory in Schools

For the last six years, all Armenian kids have been playing Chess as part of the curriculum, and now we wonder why this doesn’t happen everywhere, immediately. Chess as a game builds character, improves cognitive abilities, improvisation, and forward planning. It is also fun, unless you are a nerd who likes football or other so-called “Jock” sports. You don’t kill queens in football, losers.

Anyway, the example has been a success story, so much so that Spain has followed suit and as of 2015, similarly required chess to be part of everyday school life.

2Renewable Energy Is Going to Be Huge

For the modest sum of around US$60 million, you could build a solar power station in Armenia. At the moment the new development is still at the bidding stage with over twenty bids from international companies. Armenia is already quite well versed in the less polluting side of power, having four hydro-electric plants already, and only one nuclear, and two thermal plants.

Why this particular project is important is that this proposed 55MW solar generator will be constructed in tandem with a 155MW geothermal plant at Jermaghbyur. Both projects are supported by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and represent both a significant investment in infrastructure and, with a population of just three million, the possibility that the entire nation will soon be a green energy model for the region.

1Problems Persist

As is common throughout the region, Armenia suffers from several retrograde social issues. Primarily, freedom of the press is barely any better than under the Soviets. The rights of LGBT people are minimal in the face of frequent hate crimes, such as the report that “five men attacked two transgender sex workers in a Yerevan park in August, causing serious injuries, including brain trauma. The victims attempted to seek assistance from security officers, who refused to help them.” There is no law criminalizing domestic violence, and there is minimal protection from the state for victims of child prostitution and pornography.

Conversely, when one actually is arrested by the Armenian authorities, the punishment is likely to be significantly harsher than you are used to in a western country, with violence par for the course. For example, a woman in Yerevan rebuffed a police officer who whistled at her in 2016. “Four officers handcuffed her and took her to the station, where they insulted and ill-treated her for three hours. A forensic exam revealed bruises and psychological distress. Her appeal of the Special Investigation Service’s decision to dismiss her complaint was under court review at time of writing. She was charged with insulting an officer.“

So be on your best behavior women and gays. Don’t make trouble in Armenia.


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