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Irish town seeks ‘buzz kill’ after mysterious sound keeps residents up at night

November 17, 2023

A bizarre humming sound has seized a small town in Northern Ireland, perplexing residents who say it’s keeping them up at night. The mysterious buzzing has continued for weeks in Omagh, a town of 20,000 people 50 miles west of Belfast, with authorities unable to say what’s causing it or where it’s coming from, reports the New York Post.

Local Councillor Stephen Donnelly said the plaguing sound may seem trivial—but it has become a serious concern for some residents. “What we need to do is establish the facts and get to the bottom of this and then take action to resolve this,” Donnelly recently told the BBC.

“I appreciate that when a story like this is kind of draped in mystery and intrigue that it can very easily become a subject of trivialization; but certainly from people I have spoken to … they are very concerned about the ability that they have to make sure they get a good night’s sleep,” he added.

“It may well be that it’s seasonal or weather-related but these things often don’t turn out to be simple and it may be a multitude of sources.”

Donnelly said he was contacted by a group of residents in one area of Omagh in late October, but the phenomenon had since spread to other parts of the town.

Residents “usually characterize it as a persistent buzz or hum” that was distinct from more common noise such as traffic, he said.

One man described the sound as “like a vibrating noise, real loud at night, about 12 or 1 every night”, telling the BBC it had woken him up at night.

The Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has launched an investigation into the humming, but it has so far been unable to trace its source. With the investigation so far fruitless, the council says it’s getting ready to call in audio experts.

The situation is reminiscent of the 1970s “Bristol hum,” during which hundreds of people in the U.K. city of Bristol reported a strange buzzing noise. After falling silent for decades, the low-level Bristol hum returned in 2016 before dissipating once more.

The phenomenon, known widely as “The Hum”, has been reported across the globe for the past five decades, including in Australia.

Several theories exist as to where the strange noise comes from, ranging from tinnitus to factory noise to conspiracy theories.

Research contact: @nypost

Yokesters: The Dutch vow to egg Jeff Bezos’ yacht if a bridge is dismantled to let it pass through

February 11, 2022

It’s not exactly smooth sailing these days in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, where locals are voicing their objection to a plan that would temporarily dismantle an historic bridge to enable the passage of a mega-yacht reportedly owned by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, reports NPR.

In fact, some already are making plans—albeit, in jest—for what they will do if the project comes to fruition: Throw eggs at the yacht as it traverses the water under the Koningshaven Bridge, known locally as “De Hef.”

Some 13,000 people are “interested” and nearly 4,000 have said they will attendFacebook event titled “Throwing eggs at superyacht Jeff Bezos,” which has been shared more than 1,000 times in the week since its creation.

“Calling all Rotterdammers, take a box of rotten eggs with you and let’s throw them en masse at Jeff’s superyacht when it sails through the Hef in Rotterdam,” wrote organizer Pablo Strörmann.

He told the NL Times that the protest started as a joke among friends and has quickly gotten “way out of hand.” (The English-language news site also notes that this isn’t Strörmann’s first campaign to go viral.)

The news of De Hef’s potential disassembly, however brief, has clearly struck a chord with both locals and international observers.

It all started last week when Dutch broadcaster Rijnmond reported that the city appeared willing to grant a request to dismantle the centuries-old steel bridge so that Bezos’ yacht could pass through.

De Hef was built in 1927 as a railway bridge, with a midsection that can be lifted to allow ship traffic to pass underneath, according to The Washington Post. It was replaced by a tunnel and decommissioned in 1994–but was saved from demolition by public protests and later declared a national monument.

The yacht’s three masts apparently would be too high for the bridge’s roughly 130-foot clearance. The yacht in question was reportedly commissioned by Bezos and currently is being built at the Oceanco shipyard in The Netherlands, according to Boat International. It will comprise three masts with aluminum and steel construction and will measure more than 415 feet in length.

Once delivered, not only will she become the world’s largest sailing yacht, but she also will hold the title for the largest superyacht ever built in the Netherlands.

The waterway where the bridge sits is the only way the ship can get from the shipyard in Alblasserdam to the open seas, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. So Oceanco asked Rotterdam officials to temporarily remove the middle section of the bridge.

City spokesperson Netty Kros told the CBC that “the applicant” would cover the costs of the project but did not clarify whether that refers to the yacht’s owner, the shipbuilder or both.

Bloomberg reports that Oceanco will foot the bill. NPR has reached out to Amazon and Oceanco to confirm these details.

The city appeared to agree to the arrangement last week, with municipal project leader Marcel Walravens telling Rijnmond that the project would proceed for logistical and economic reasons. He said an exact plan was being developed but estimated it would take about a week to prepare and another week to “put everything back in place.”

Research contact: @NPR

AOC: Stephen Miller ‘must resign’ after leak of his white nationalist emails, xenophobic rants

November 15, 2019

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), also known as AOC, has called on Senior White House Adviser Stephen Miller to resign immediately amid reports that he regularly pushed white nationalist talking points and xenophobic rants in a series of leaked emails sent in the months before the 2016 presidential election.

In addition, the Huffington Post reported this week, Miller “bemoaned opposition to Confederate symbols following a mass shooting in a black church in South Carolina and embraced immigration policies once lauded by Adolf Hitler.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center published an investigation from its Hatewatch blog on November 14 after reviewing more than 900 messages that Miller sent to the conservative news outlet Breitbart from March 2015 through June 2016.

More than 80% of the emails related to “or appear on threads relating to the subjects of race or immigration,” the group found, and many sought to promote far-right extremist ideas and anti-immigration messaging.

But despite the fact that Miller sent the messages before the election, @AOC tweeted on Tuesday that the trove of uncovered emails should bring the White House aide’s immediate resignation.

“Stephen Miller, Trump’s architect of mass human rights abuses at the border (including child separation & detention camps w/ child fatalities) has been exposed as a bonafide white nationalist,” the lawmaker wrote Tuesday night on Twitter. “He’s still at the White House shaping US immigration policy.”

She added, “Miller must resign. Now.

The Trump administration refused to discuss the SPLC’s investigation on Tuesday. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said she had not seen the report but called the SPLC an “utterly-discredited, long-debunked far-left smear organization” in a statement to HuffPost. 

She added that the nonprofit group, which regularly defends civil liberties and shines a light on hate groups, was “beneath public discussion.”

Hatewatch said Tuesday that many of Miller’s emails were centered on race and immigration, calling his perspective “repetitious” and highly focused on “ending nonwhite immigration to the United States.” They were given to the news outlet by a former Breitbart editor, Katie McHugh, who said they “clearly illustrate his beliefs, which until now have not been made explicit and known to the American people.”

Miller has been the architect of many of President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration efforts and one of the administration’s most vocal defenders.

“Americans should be terrified by the casual way that Stephen Miller, who has enormous influence in the White House, shares racist content and speaks the language of white nationalists in emails to people he apparently considered fellow travelers,” Michael Edison Hayden, an investigative reporter at Hatewatch, said in a statement Tuesday.

Read the full investigation at the SPLC.

Research contact: @HuffPost

‘Meat and greet’: White sharks meet up with ‘pals’ regularly for dinner parties

November 5, 2019

Ever since the release of the movie, Jaws, in 1975, great white sharks have become a cultural icon—representing vicious, scary manhunters. But at the end of the day, they just want to get together with some friends and socialize like the rest of us, according to results of research recently conducted in Australia.

In fact, Study Finds reports, although they hunt and travel alone, white sharks get together a few times each year with the same group of friends for a hearty meal of baby seals.

Scientists have known for some time that large groups of white sharks feast together on prey sporadically, but up until now they had assumed these dinner parties were a completely random result of individual sharks traveling to areas filled with food.

Now, a research team led by behavioral ecologist Stephan Leu of Macquarie University in Sydney has discovered that many of these sharks actually know each other and have been getting together for years.

Working in collaboration with researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide, the Fox Shark Research Foundation in Port Lincoln, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, France; Leu and his team took photographs of nearly 300 white sharks for four and a half years, according to Study Finds.. The sharks were photographed meeting close to a seal nursery off the coast of the Neptune Islands in the Great Australian Bight.

Through the use of photo identification and network analysis technology, researchers were able to identify and keep track of each individual shark that visited the area. To their surprise, they noted that many of the same sharks were observed in close proximity to each other time and time again over the course of the observation period. So much so, that researchers say there is no way it was simply a coincidence.

“Rather than just being around randomly, the sharks formed four distinct communities, which showed that some sharks were more likely to use the site simultaneously than expected by chance,” Dr Leu comments in a release.

“The numbers varied across time, and we suggest that sex-dependent patterns of visitation at the Neptune Islands drive the observed community structure. Our findings show that white sharks don’t gather just by chance, but more research is needed to find out why.”

On a related note, it seems sharks aren’t the only aquatic animals with a penchant for get-togethers; another recent study conducted at Macquarie University found that manta rays regularly form close-knit and structured relationships that could also be described as communities.

The study findings have been published in the journal, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Research contact: @StudyFinds