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Of Grand Forks • East Grand Forks

March 30, 2017

Published by: Wick Publications

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Come along with Tidbits as we hunt for famous and infamous spies!


• Hans Stultz taught German spies how to act like Englishmen during World War II. He told all his recruits that the English measured men by their savings accounts. The spies were told to put their money in a bank, then go to the police station claiming they had lost their bank book. The police, seeing such an upstanding man who kept his money in the bank, would think very highly of such a person. Most of the spies did as Stultz instructed because they were anxious to fit into the English community. They never suspected Stultz was actually a British agent who had forewarned all police stations in England to be on the lookout for men who had lost their bank books. • When General MacArthur was in the Philippines, Japanese spies would pose as Chinese or Filipinos in order to penetrate the defenses. Suspected spies would be asked to pronounce the word “hula-hula.” Chinese and Filipinos have no trouble pronouncing the letter ‘L’, but Japanese do not have the ‘L’ sound in their language and would therefore pronounce it “hura-hura” thereby betraying their nationality. Turn the page for more!


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• On December 6, 1941, Japan was preparing to mount the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. A Japanese spy in Pearl Harbor walked right up to the telegraph office in town and sent a dispatch to his confederates describing where the warships were located. The telegram cost $6.82 and nobody in the telegraph office thought it was suspicious. • One plot to foil the Germans involved waging glandular warfare against Hitler. Someone noticed that Hitler had strong female tendencies, and thought that if given female hormones, his voice would rise, his moustache fall out, and his appeal would plummet. They bribed Hitler’s gardener to inject estrogen into his favorite vegetables. The plan failed, perhaps because the gardener kept the bribe and threw away the hormones. • A Spanish spy known only by the code name “Garbo” convinced the German embassy in Madrid that he would be a fabulous spy. The Germans believed him and outfitted him with everything he needed. He soon began feeding them information gleaned from his 14 agents and 11 contacts. He sent the Germans 400 letters and 2,000 radio messages full of false information. His cover was never blown. In fact, the Germans awarded him the highly prized Iron Cross— just at the same time the British awarded him the prized Order of the British Empire. • Josephine Baker was a singer, dancer and actress who became one of the biggest stars of the 1920s. During World War II she became a spy for the French resistance. She would use invisible ink made out of onion juice and lemon juice to write secret messages on sheet music. The sheet music was then sent out of the country. When the sheet music was warmed over a lightbulb or candle, the writing became visible. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal for her services. ...continued

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• Ian Fleming worked for the Secret Service during World War II. After the war, he began writing books about a spy named James Bond. His very first book, called “Casino Royale,” was based on a story he heard about while he worked for the Secret Service, in which Russian spies hired two assassins to kill the German ambassador. They were given two camera cases: one was blue and the other was red. The Russians said the red one contained a bomb and the blue one contained a smokescreen. The assassins were told to detonate the bomb in the red case and then deploy the smokescreen in the blue case to make their escape. • The assassins did not trust the Russians and decided to reverse the instructions, assuming that the blue camera case actually held the bomb, and the red case held the smokescreen. • As it turned out, both cases contained a bomb. The Russians wanted the first bomb to kill the ambassador, while the second bomb destroyed the evidence. As it turned out, the assassins were killed while the ambassador they were sent to murder escaped with only minor injuries.

*Answer located further back in this issue.

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• Regardless of whether or not the story was true, it made a great plot and launched Ian Fleming’s career, as well as James Bond’s.


• Two spies in France needed to disguise their radio transmitter so it could never be located by the Germans. They got a large wine cask and divided it in half, with wine in the bottom, and the transmitting equipment— and the radio man— in the top. While one man pushed the cask on a cart, dispensing wine to customers, the radio man would be transmitting information. When German tracking trucks appeared, the radio man would be signaled to stop transmitting. The Germans were mystified. ...continued

Of Grand Forks • East Grand Forks

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• An Albanian man named Ilya Basna worked as a spy for the Germans. He got a job as a valet to the British ambassador to Turkey, and photographed documents that came through the office. He became the highest paid German spy. The British figured out they had a spy in their midst, but Basna fled with his money to Argentina. He went to a bank to deposit his fortune. Only then did he discover that the Germans had paid him in counterfeit currency. • During World War II the British developed a powerful itching powder thinking that if it could be smuggled to prisoners who would sprinkle it on their captors, they could get a few moments of distraction to escape.


• Mikhail Gorin was a spy in 1938 when he sent a suit to be dry cleaned. He forgot to check the pockets first. The dry cleaner checked them as a matter of routine, and found notes concerning Japanese spies. • Heinrich Albert was a German spy in New York City during World War I. He dozed off on the subway one day, and awoke with a start when the doors opened at the next stop. He left the subway so abruptly that he forgot his briefcase. A Secret Service agent who had

been following him snatched the briefcase, finding it held papers concerning German plans to attack American munitions factories. The documents were subsequently published in the New York “World.” • When agents stormed the Japanese embassy in Portugal, they seized a secret Japanese code book, thinking it would be helpful to the Allies. They didn't know that the Allies had already broken the code. Now that Japan knew the code book had been stolen, they immediately changed the code. It took more than a year before the U.S. could break the new code.

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• It was the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who made the following sage observation: "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." • You might be surprised to learn that Helen Keller, best known as the first blind and deaf person to earn a bachelor's degree, loved performing. She spent years on vaudeville tours, and in 1919 she starred in "Deliverance," a silent film about her life. • In the Canadian town of Churchill, Manitoba, most people don't lock their car doors. The primary motivation for this practice isn't trust (although, of course, trust is required), but public safety: A pedestrian who unexpectedly encounters a polar bear will be able to find refuge in any car along the street. • With warmer weather approaching, you might want to consider heading to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to witness an annual rite of spring. Students at Lake Superior State University gather on (or near) the first day of spring for the annual Snowman Burning. Started in 1971 by a campus club known as the Unicorn Hunters, the tradition involves setting alight a 12-foottall "snowman" -- usually built of recycled paper, wood and wire -- to celebrate the end of winter. • If you haven't listened to any new music in a while, chances are you're over 33. Those who study such things say that's the age at which Americans would rather stick to what they know than try out new tunes. • If winter seems to be dragging on endlessly, be glad you don't live on Uranus; there, winter lasts 21 years. *** Thought for the Day: "I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat." -- Dame Rebecca West © 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.


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Amazing Plants:


• One of the most troublesome invasive weeds is a toxic plant called giant hogweed. Native to areas in Asia, it was imported to Britain as an ornamental plant before people understood just how nasty this plant is. By then it was too late, and the plant has spread alarmingly throughout temperate regions of the world, including the northeastern and northwestern U.S., southeast and southwestern Canada, and throughout Europe and Britain. • Giant hogweed contains toxic sap that causes devastating blistering when activated by sunlight. Areas of the skin affected by this chemical burn can take weeks to heal. Often the skin remains photo-sensitive for years afterwards, burning and blistering whenever it is exposed to sunlight. Contact with the eyes can lead to temporary or possibly permanent blindness, which has reportedly happened when children used the large hollow stems as telescopes. In terms of misery inflicted, giant hogweed is far worse than poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac in respect to its potential to harm humans. However, livestock such as sheep, goats, and cattle are impervious to the poison and can even eat the plant without suffering any ill effects. • It’s a member of the family that includes parsnip, celery, and carrots. Its Latin name Heracleum mantegazzianum derives from the Greek hero Heracles (also called Hercules) who was the god of strength, athletics, and agriculture, and Paolo Mantegazza, who was an Italian scientist. • It looks very much like the common plant known as Queen Anne’s lace and had been described by horticulturists as “Queen Anne's lace on steroids” because it can achieve heights of up to 14 feet, with the umbrella-shaped flower clusters spreading more than two feet in diameter and the leaves reaching 5 feet wide.

• A single giant hogweed plant can produce over 50,000 seeds. Because it commonly grows along waterways and in marshy areas, it can be spread widely by the movement of the water. Shoots arising from the roots can turn a single plant into a large patch of the plants within a few short growing seasons. • Once established, it can take up to five years of constant battle with herbicides to completely kill off giant hogweed. The seeds remain viable in the soil for years, and any piece of the root that’s left behind can re-grow. • Many places have hotlines that citizens can call to report places where they find giant hogweed growing. People sent to deal with the weed often don hazmat suits to protect themselves from exposure. One way of killing the plant involves covering it with a large plastic trash bag, tying if off at ground level, then chopping the stem of the plant. • Its status as a noxious invasive species means it’s illegal to deliberately plant it, import or export it, or move it across state lines. • If you do come into contact with the plant, and especially the sap, you are advised to wash the affected areas immediately, keep the exposed area out of direct sunlight, and seek medical advice. • In 1971 the budding rock band Genesis produced a dire warning about the plant in their song “The Return of the Giant Hogweed”: “Turn and run! Nothing can stop them, Around every river and canal their power is growing. Stamp them out! We must destroy them, They infiltrate each city with their thick dark warning odor. They are invincible, They seem immune to all our herbicidal battering!”






• On April 5, 1792, George Washington exercises the first presidential veto of a Congressional bill, which proposed a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives. Washington decided that the bill would have resulted in a higher number of representatives than that proscribed by the Constitution. • On April 3, 1860, the first Pony Express mail, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously leaves St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Ten days later, the westbound rider arrived in Sacramento, beating the eastbound mail packet by two days. • On April 8, 1916, at the Boulevard Race in Corona, California, an early racing car careens through a barrier and into a crowd after a wheel breaks, killing the driver and two others. "Wild Bob" Burman had previously set a world speed record for hitting 129 mph. • On April 7, 1920, Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar is born in India. Shankar's "discovery" by the Beatles' George Harrison in 1965 made him a household name around the world and changed the music sound of the '60s. • On April 4, 1933, a dirigible crashes in New Jersey, killing 73 people in one of the first air disasters in history. The Akron was the largest airship built in the United States. • On April 6, 1970, Sam Sheppard, a doctor convicted of murdering his pregnant wife in a trial that caused a media frenzy in the 1950s, dies of liver failure. After a decade in prison, Sheppard was freed following a re-trial. His story is rumored to have inspired the television series "The Fugitive." • On April 9, 1987, U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz states that he is "damned angry" about possible Soviet spy activity in the American embassy in the Soviet Union. Soviet officials called the espionage charges "dirty fabrications."

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(Answers located after next page)

March 20, 2017

• “Here’s my tip: Fasten all buttons, snaps, fasteners and zippers on your clothes before washing and drying. It will help them keep their shape. Turn socks insides out, too. It will help prevent them from getting fuzzballs.” — M.W. in Saskatchewan, Canada • “If you are training a puppy or your fur baby has an accident on the carpet, here’s how to prevent a reoccurrence in the same spot: Blot up urine, then saturate the spot with club soda. Allow it to sit for five minutes, then blot with paper towels.” — S.S. in Arkansas • “In this day of recycling and reusing, before I discard an item, I look to see if any part of it can be reused. I removed wire from a broom that can now be used to hang a picture on the wall. I also remove any reusable screws or nails from items I toss. I put them in plastic jars.” — B.B. in Maine • Here’s one for hamster owners out there, from C.H. in Utah: “If your dwarf hamster makes much noise when running in its wheel (especially metal wheels), just lube it with a little olive oil. Just a drop or two will make the wheel turn smoothly and silently, without posing any harm to the little ones in case they lick it. • “Put battery-operated lights on each wall in the main rooms for when there are power outages.” — M.W. in Iowa • W.T. from “The Road” (he’s an RV traveler) is looking for suggestions to remove the smell from the lid of glass jars to make them reusable — say, salsa jars or peanut butter jars. If you have a solution for W.T., send it to me at: Now Here’s A Tip, c/o King Features Weekly Service, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.


• Agatha Christie began writing her first detective story, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” when she was 25 years old in 1916 on a dare from her sister who bet that she couldn’t write a mystery the reader couldn’t solve. She did. • It took her three weeks to write the book and four years to find a publisher. It was rejected by six publishers before being brought out in 1920. It sold 2,000 copies and earned her 25 pounds. From then on, she turned out at least one book per year. • Out of her 66 detective novels, she uses poison as the means of murder in 41 of them.

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• She introduced two timeless detectives. Hercule Poirot, an egotistical, pompous, natty, compulsively neat dandy, and Miss Marple, who was a nosy, gossipy, sharp-eyed elderly spinster who dithered her way through the mess. • Agatha Christie avoided the public eye. She once confessed, “The reason I began to write more than 60 years ago was in order to avoid having to talk to people.” • Agatha Christie was once the center of a great mystery herself. In 1926 her husband asked her for a divorce so he could marry his golf partner, Nancy Neele, with whom he’d been having an affair. He asked that she make the divorce a private matter and keep his lover’s name out of the papers. Already in a state of despondency because of her mother’s recent death, Christie went into an emotional tailspin. Her car and her overnight bag were found abandoned by the side of a road mere miles from the place where her husband and his lover were spending the weekend. Inside the car were her expired driver’s license and her fur coat. There was no sign of Agatha.


(Solution on Next Page)


DIFFERENCES: 1. Neckline is lower. 2. Rag is missing. 3. Arm and mop are moved. 4. Cabinet is moved. 5. Number is different. 6. Skateboard is missing. © 2017 King Features Synd., All rights reserved.

• In the search for Agatha Christie, ponds were dragged. The countryside was combed. Air searchesDell. were launched. Agatha Christie’s disAnswer: appearance headlined every news report, esA VERY LARGE NUMBER pecially after word got out about her husband •and Edward Kasner was a mathematician. In 1938 his paramour, Nancy Neele. Eleven days he was asked to come up with a name for in a later, a hotel employee recognized a photo very large number: the numeral one, followed the paper as a guest who had registered under by a hundred zeros. He asked his two young the name “Teresa Neele.” Needless to say, the nephews what name they would suggest. divorce was not a private matter and the lover’s • Nine-year-old Milton suggested a name name was not kept out of the papers. However, out of the funnies. A cartoon strip character sales of Christie’s book named Barney was verysoared. popular. Milton chose Barney’s last name for the number. • In 1930 she met a nice young archaeologist Mallowan him. •named KasnerMax announced the and newmarried name for theThey big number in his nextuntil book, remained married shealtering died. the spelling. Sixty years Larrydeath, Page she and wrote Sergeya mysBrin • •Shortly beforelater, her own developed a new internet search engine. Other tery called “Curtain” in which Hercule Poirot search dies. engines searched each webpage himself It shot directly to the top ofand the ranked them according to how many times a bestseller list, and Peirots obituary appeared specific term appeared on them, but Page and inBrin the designed “New York After to hersearch deathfor in theirTimes.” search engine 1976, her publisher announced were two the specific term and then find there out how many more Agatha Christie books yet unpublished. links there were that led back to that page, One details theindeath of search her other creation, which resulted a better engine. Miss Marple. The other was her own auto-bi• They decided they needed a name that ography. reflected how many websites the search wasofsearching. They took • Atengine the time her death in 1976, shethe hadname writof Edward Kasner’s very large number, only ten 147 short stories, 15 plays, and 90 novels they misspelled it slightly, so it ended up being which have sold over 2 billion in over spelled exactly the same waycopies the cartoon 40character languages and still sellhis millions of copies Barney spelled last name. What’sa year. She’s the most widely translated it called? (Answer at bottom of page) author in history. Her publisher FACTS claims that only the COMPUTER Bible and Shakespeare have sold more copies. • In 1981 Bill Gates said, “640 kb of memory Her play “The Mousetrap” opened in 1952 and ought to be enough for anybody.” is still running, making it the longest-running •play Moore’s Law states computer ever staged. Herthat play “Murderperformance on the Oridoubles every 18 to 24 months, and ever since ent Express” was turned into one of the most 1971, this has been true. successful movies ever made in Britain. She •has HP,been Google, Microsoft, andsaint Apple were all dubbed “the patron of insomnistarted in garages. acs.” Answer: Google, from googol.




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Tidbits Grand Forks - March 30, 2017  

"Spies," "Giant Hogweed" and "Agatha Christie"

Tidbits Grand Forks - March 30, 2017  

"Spies," "Giant Hogweed" and "Agatha Christie"