The Manchineel – World’s Most Dangerous Tree for Several Reasons

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The Manchineel tree, native to the Western Hemisphere, is known as the most poisonous tree in the world. In places where it grows – Florida, the Caribbean and the Bahamas – the manchineel is often marked with a red band to warn passersby not to get too near it.

The tree is poisonous on so many levels that if you ever spot one, it is better you stay at least a few yards away from it. Its fruit resembles a small apple, but eating one could land you right in the emergency room. It was supposedly named ‘manzanita de la muerte’ (little apple of death) by Christopher Columbus. But it might just be the least dangerous part of the tree.

The manchineel’s milky white sap is incredibly caustic and poisonous as well – even a drop could cause skin blisters, dermatitis, swelling or burns. This happens a lot with unsuspecting travelers who use the tree for shelter from the rains. The sap is so caustic that even the rain drops coming from the branches can cause burns. The bark is poisonous too – burning it releases a smoke that causes temporary (and in some cases, permanent) blindness. Considering all the ways it can hurt you, it’s no wonder the manchineel currently holds the Guinness record for world’s most dangerous tree.

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Human Air Pump Inflates Car Tires with His Nose

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If Nie Yongbing was in a comic book, he would probably be ‘Super-Lung Man’ (lame name, I know, but I’m open to suggestions). The 63-year-old has lungs of steel that allow him to inflate car tires using only his nose.

According to recent news reports, the Chinese man displayed his strength in Chengdu, Southwest China, by inflating four truck tires with two adults standing on each, in just 20 minutes. He held a 40-meter rubber hose to his right nostril and blew as hard as he could, gradually filling the tubes. He had his left nostril and left ear covered the whole time to prevent pressure leaks.

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Meet Yacouba Sawadogo – The Man Who Stopped the Desert

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Yacouba Sawadogo is an exceptional man – he single-handedly managed to solve a crisis that even scientists and development organizations could not. The simple old farmer’s re-forestation and soil conservation techniques are so effective they’ve helped turn the tide in the fight against the desertification of the harsh lands in northern Burkina Faso.

Over-farming, over-grazing and over population have, over the years, resulted in heavy soil erosion and drying in this landlocked West African nation. Although national and international researchers tried to fix the grave situation, it really didn’t really make much of a difference. Until Yacouba decided to take matters into his own hands in 1980.

Yacouba’s methods were so odd that his fellow farmers ridiculed him. But when his techniques successfully regenerated the forest, they were forced to sit up and take notice. Yacouba revived an ancient African farming practice called ‘zai’, which led to forest growth and increased soil quality.

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Inspiring Doctor Dresses as Homeless and Makes House Calls to People without Homes

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Dr. Jim Withers, from Pittsburgh, Pa., has dedicated the past 20 years of his life to treating the city’s homeless. He is known as the ‘street doctor’ because he dresses up like a homeless person and goes out at night to provide medical care to the real needy.

The extraordinary doctor started his unusual practice in 1992, along with Mike Sallows, a former homeless man. The two of them went out at night with backpacks of medicine. Withers estimates that he has treated over 1,200 homeless people a year since 1992.

Today, his initiative has evolved into a national network of medical students and volunteers who treat the homeless, four nights a week. The nightly service is now a nonprofit – Operation Safety Net. It is one of the first full-time street medicine programs in the United States.

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South African Pastor Tells Congregation to Eat Grass to Be Closer to God

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Pastor Lesego Daniel, of Rabboni Centre Ministries, is a highly unusual person. In order to be closer to God, the South African preacher is encouraging his congregation to eat grass. He also tramples on them for added effect.

The pastor is said to have claimed that humans can eat anything they choose to sustain themselves. When he put up pictures of the grass-eating event on Facebook, he faced severe criticism from thousands of people across the world. Rabboni Centre Ministries is now a trending topic on social media. But none of that has bothered Mr. Daniel’s followers; they defend their pastor and swear by his methods.

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Meet Inri Cristo, the Man Who Thinks He Is Jesus Reincarnated

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A 66-year-old Brazilian man believes he is the reincarnation of Jesus. He has been preaching the word of God for the past for the past 35 years. Born Alvaro Theiss, this controversial religious figure now goes by ‘Inri Cristo’.

Inri is derived from the Latin acronym inscribed on the cross during Jesus’ crucifixion (INRI – Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum, which means: Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews). Cristo, his last name, means Christ.

Cristo experienced his first revelation that he was Christ during a religious fast in Santiago, Chile, in 1979. Although he had a powerful voice in his head guiding him since childhood, on this occasion it told him clearly: “I am your Father. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.” He has hundreds of followers around the world, and his own church, ‘Soust’, based on a lush farmland outside Brasilia. Soust is an acronym for Suprema Ordem Universal da Santmssima Trindade.

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World’s Dirtiest Man: 80-Year-Old Iranian Man Hasn’t Bathed in 60 Years

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80-year-old Haji believes that “cleanliness brings him sickness.” That’s why he hasn’t bathed at all in the past 60 years. He lives in isolation in Dejgah village, in the Southern Iranian province of Fars.

Haji hates contact with water. Even the suggestion of a bath makes him very angry. And all these years of escaping bath time have taken their toll – Haji is almost the color of earth. He has managed to completely blend in with his surroundings. In fact, it’s easy to mistake him for a rock statue if he sits very still.

It’s not just bathing that Haji dislikes. His disgust for fresh food and clean drinking water is unmistakable. Instead, he prefers his favorite meal of rotten porcupine meat. He drinks 5 liters of water a day for health purposes, but only from a large rusty oil can. He likes to fill his smoking pipe with animal feces instead of tobacco. To trim his hair he doesn’t use clippers; he just burns it off over an open flame. An old war helmet keeps his head warm during the winter.

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Kind Businessman Is Selling His Restaurant to Help Treat Employee’s Brain Tumor

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In a world where getting a kind word from your boss is a huge achievement, businessman Michael De Beyer comes across as one-of-a-kind. Where else do you get to see employers selling an entire business to help out an employee in need? I for one have never heard of such a thing before.

De Beyer is the owner of the Kaiserhof Restaurant and Wunderbar, in Montgomery, Texas. Brittany Mathis, his 19-year-old employee, is suffering from a tumor that she cannot afford to get treated. So De Beyer has decided to sell the 6,000 square foot family restaurant that he has owned for 17 years, and donate money to Brittany.

Brittany appears to be a healthy girl, but the serious ailment is taking a toll on her. It all began when she noticed a rash on her leg. “I went to the hospital and found out it was my blood clotting,” she said. “So, they wanted to keep me and do CAT scans and MRIs and the next day they came in and told me I had a tumor.”

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Iowa Businessman Poses as Homeless, Rewards Generous Passers-By

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This Christmas, a businessman from Iowa came up with a very creative way of giving. Posing as a homeless person, Jonnie Wright gave away envelopes of cash to all the people who showed him kindness.

On December 24, Wright stood at a street corner for four hours, in the bitter cold, in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston. He gave away about 50 envelopes, a total of $1,000 in cash. Five of them contained $100 bills and the rest, $10 bills. All the envelopes came with a letter of appreciation as well.

One of the recipients of the envelopes was a Des Moines resident, Rob Taylor. The letter informed him that the ‘bum’ he just handed money to wasn’t homeless, but a successful businessman giving back to good people.

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Crazy Aerosol Challenge Has Teens Burning Themselves with Sprays Just for Kicks

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There’s always some weird teenage trend or the other doing the rounds online. The latest one has kids spraying aerosol deodorant on to their skin at an extremely close range. They film themselves performing the ridiculous stunt, to see who can endure it the longest.

Teenagers all over the world have been taking part in the bizarre aerosol challenge. They’ve been putting up the videos on YouTube and other social networking sites. In some extreme videos, kids spray each other until angry red blisters appear on their skin. In worst cases, severe scarring could cause permanent damage.

As with all other teenage trends, experts are expressing their outrage against the aerosol challenge. According to a spokesperson from the British Skin Foundation, the craze could be both painful and damaging. “The British Skin Foundation would never encourage the use of any aerosol product in close proximity to the skin for a prolonged period. These products should be used appropriately and responsibly as extended use can lead to the freezing action producing a cryogenic burn,” the spokesperson said.

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Elderly Couple Run a Marathon a Day for a Whole Year, Set New World Record

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Most people forget their New Year resolutions within a few weeks, some can’t even make it a day. But a Melbourne couple in their 60s have completed what they set out to do, every day of last year. For the whole of 2013, Janette Murray-Wakelin, 64, and Alan Murray, 68, ran marathons every single day across Australia. They completed their 366th marathon on January 1, running 44 kilometers down the Yarra Trail to their home at Warrandyte. The couple ran a total of 15,000 kilometers last year.

The Murrays wanted to set a positive example of being responsible for one’s own health. “We wanted to share as much, with as many people, for as long as we could, a really positive message of hope and just to show people anything is possible if you put your mind to it and set a goal to achieve,” said Janette.

Janette and Alan followed a strictly vegan diet for the whole year, to help them achieve their goal. At 4 a.m., they would eat 10 bananas, a grapefruit and a date smoothie, before hitting the road. At 8 a.m. they had 10 more bananas, and a green smoothie at 9 a.m. Once they hit 31 kilometers, they would stop to snack on a fruit salad. At the 37-kilometer mark they would have three oranges. They would finish running by 4 p.m. and settle down to a scrumptious dinner of an avocado, vegetable juice and salad.

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Mystery Surrounds Colombian Cemetery That Turns Buried Bodies into Mummies

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The ancient Egyptians spent centuries developing their mummifying techniques, but at a cemetery in San Bernardo, a small Colombian town, corpses somehow become naturally mummified in their coffins.

The phenomenon was first noticed 15 years ago, by grave digger Eduardo Cifuentes. “The burial pit was full of bodies,” he said. “I didn’t like stepping on them because they were humans like us so I started organizing them.” It’s only because of Eduardo’s efforts that the mummies are being talked about. He said that the mummified bodies have been around since about 1957, but no one paid any attention to them. “I liked the idea of keeping them for posterity,” he said. With the passage of time, the mummies’ clothes and skin have turned brown. Their skins look pasty and wrinkled.

Scientists have no idea why this is happening. The only other site in Latin America where natural mummification takes place is the Guanajuato, a town in central Mexico, where underground gas and soil conditions are the secret. But the same cannot be said for San Bernardo, because bodies are buried in chambers above the ground (as is customary in Colombia) so they do not come into contact with the earth.

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Woman Runs 500 Kilometers in 86 Hours without Any Sleep

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Kim Allen, a 47-year-old ultra-distance runner from New Zealand, recently broke the world record for running the longest distance without sleep. She surpassed the previous record of 486 km (set by American Pam Reed in 2005) by running a whopping 500 km. It took her 86 hours, 11 minutes and 9 seconds of non-stop running to complete the challenge.

Kim began at 6 am on the 19th of December, in Auckland, and kept at it for four long days. She ran initially, but slowed down to a walk in the final laps. The mother-of-four called her achievement “Sleepless in Auckland.” “It’s all a bit surreal at the moment,” she said, shortly after completing the feat.

This wasn’t her first attempt; Kim tried to beat Reed’s record last year, but she could only manage 370 km before she had to stop. This time, she reached her goal with blistered feet and swollen ankles. But Kim was so ecstatic about her achievement that she referred to her state as “just a bit weary.” She also said that she was overwhelmed and could not believe her quest was over.

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Woman Shares Her Body with 15 Different Personalities Who Can Each Take Control at Any Time

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Kimi Sands suffers from a very strange condition called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), otherwise known as multiple personality disorder. The 23-year-old, from Cardiff, Wales, shares her body with 15 different personalities any one of which can take control at any time.

In the movies, people suffering from DID are often portrayed as dangerous criminals or serial killers. Not Kimi, though. None of her personalities make her do anything horrible. At worst, she and her partner Chris Lee need to buy Christmas presents for all 15, making the holidays more expensive for them.

“Including myself, there are 16 individuals to get presents for,” said Kimi. “These can be anything from alcohol for the older personalities to teddies for kids.” That’s right, the personalities all belong to different age groups. Among them are 22-year-old Japanese chef Satou, 17-year-old exercise addict Fiona, and four-year-old twins Jack and Safyer. There’s also a 23-year-old Yorkshire man, Ashy, and a party-loving bisexual, Theodore, aged 15.

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Caga Tio – Catalonia’s Wacky Present-Pooping Christmas Log

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Caga Tio is a Christmas tradition in the Catalonian region of Spain. Caga is pronounced caca, and it means ‘poop’. Tio means ‘tree trunk’ or ‘uncle’. So it is basically a tradition of the pooping tree trunk. What does the trunk poop? Why gifts, of course!

The Caga Tio is a small log of wood with a painted face and two front legs. It makes an appearance in homes every year on the 8th of December, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Children keep the log as a pet until Christmas, feeding it and keeping it warm. They believe the log will grow if they feed it properly.

There is no such thing as a growing log, of course. The parents actually replace the logs every few days with larger ones. It’s easy for families who live in the country; they just go outside, find a piece of wood and paint a face on it. Urban parents have a tougher time. They have to trek into the woods to find larger Caga Tios. But mostly they just buy new ones from shops. The Caga Tio is done growing by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The full grown log is placed in the center of the living room and covered with a large red blanket. Children gather around, sing songs and hit the Caga Tio with sticks repeatedly, until it ‘poops’ out the presents. Earlier, the tradition was to place the log partially in fire, ordering it to defecate. There aren’t many modern households with fireplaces anymore, so now it’s just down to hitting the log.

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