NTS LogoSkeptical News for 16 May 2001

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

US library thieves target books on occult

From Ananova at


Copies of the Bible and books on car repair, the occult and sexuality are stolen most often from US libraries.

The American Library Association carried out a survey of hundreds of libraries and asked workers to list their most stolen items.

Books about the occult, satanism, witchcraft and astrology are popular among thieves.

Larra Clark, the library association officer, told the San Francisco Chronicle: "We're looking for common reasons why certain items are overdue or stolen."

The survey, which revealed stolen library books probably cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars each year, was commissioned by a weekly National Public Radio show.

Indian police release pictures of Monkey man killer

From Ananova at


Indian police have issued pictures of the Monkey Man killer, amid reports he has claimed his second victim.

A pregnant woman died after falling down stairs at her East Delhi home as her family fled from the creature.

Officers in Ghaziabad are offering to pay £75 to anyone who can capture Monkey Man on film. Around 1,000 officers are involved in the search.

Vigilantes are taking to the streets frustrated at the police's failure to catch him.

In Noida, a mechanic wearing a black outfit and fitting a description of the Monkey Man was beaten up. A second man was attacked for apparently performing "mystical formulations".

Some witnesses say the failure the capture the Monkey Man is explained by his ability to make himself invisible.

Deepali Kumari, from Noida, said: "It has three buttons on its chest. One makes it turn into a monkey, the second gives it extra strength, the third makes it invisible.

"He touches a lock and it breaks. But he is afraid of the light."

Pyramids seen as stairways to heaven


Pharoahs used monuments as launch pads to the afterlife, says scientist

Tim Radford, science editor
Monday May 14, 2001
The Guardian

The pyramids of Egypt could be explained as symbolic stairways to the stars, according to a British scientist. And - in a twist that will delight New Age believers in mysterious energies and alien spacecraft - the inspiration for the pyramids might indeed have arrived from outer space, in the form of a meteorite. Toby Wilkinson, an Egyptologist based at Cambridge University, told a conference over the weekend that some of his theory was "deliberately controversial, provocative, but tantalising".

He argued, from evidence of the orientation of the pyramids - always to the northern pole star - and from the names given to estates to finance funerary cults, and the shape of the pyramids themselves, that they could be seen as launch pads for the pharaoh's journey to the afterlife among the stars.

"Circumpolar stars are a very good metaphor for the afterlife because when viewed, they never seem to set: they simply rotate around the pole star. They are the undying stars, or in Egyptian terminology, the Indestructibles, a perfect destination for the soul of the dead king," he told a Bloomsbury archaeological summer school at University College London.

Pyramid structures extend from the north of Egypt to the Sudan, and they were built over thousands of years. "Where are all the steps that led up to pyramid building?" he asked. "We stand marvelling at these monuments and they seem to have appeared almost from nowhere, but clearly something like that cannot be put up overnight without the infrastructure in place."

This infrastructure included royal command of the economy, systematic taxation, a body of experience in public works and increasing mastery of stone as a building material. There had also to be religious or political motivation. Dr Wilkinson traced the rise of a professional civil service in seals, documents and grave inscriptions dating back almost to 3,000BC, and the continuing evidence of Egyptian belief not only in an afterlife, but in death itself as a journey.

Kate Spence, a Cambridge colleague, had demonstrated in a paper last year that from the first, the pyramids were all precisely oriented towards the northern stars. There were further clues in the names, which were crucially important in ancient Egyptian culture. One pyramid was explicitly called "the gleaming". Another was called "the pyramid that is a star". From the 1st dynasty onwards - long before the pyramids were built - kings had founded estates to finance their tomb cults: one of these was explicitly called "Horus (that is, the king) rises as a star".

"What clearer exposition could we have of the ideology surrounding a king's afterlife than that?" Dr Wilkinson asked.

Tombs of the first dynasties were concealed by mounds of earth, seen as symbols of rebirth or resurrection. The first pyramid - the step pyramid at Saqqara, built in the 3rd dynasty - had its altar to the north, and the ramp down into its subterranean chambers started from the north face.

"It can also be seen as a ramp from the burial chamber," he said. "Because if you stand in the burial chamber underneath, and look up this entrance ramp, you are looking at the northern sky. And this is perhaps a launch pad for the king's spirit, to eject him straight to the northern stars where he hopes to spend his afterlife."

Fourth dynasty pyramids - including the Great Pyramid and others on the Giza plateau - were very carefully oriented towards the stars. Could they have been modelled on stars?

"What does a star look like in three dimensions? We could only know that if we had a star that has fallen to Earth for us to look at. A meteorite, perhaps, a shooting star that has literally come down to Earth."

He had a candidate: a stone - long since lost - that had been revered at the temple of Heliopolis in the fourth dynasty. It was known as the Benben stone, and it was represented in inscriptions as conical or pyramid-shaped. Significantly, the Egyptian word for the capstone, the uppermost stone on a pyramid, was "benbenet" or little benben. The high priest at Heliopolis was called "greatest of observers", a title that had astronomical links.

"Could it have been that the Benben stone itself was a meteorite? A signal from the celestial realm to the earthly realm, something that is worshipped as a sign from the heavens? Well, it is a rather tantalising suggestion," Dr Wilkinson said.

"I'm not a geologist, and wouldn't claim to be, but there is a particular kind of meteorite, a rare kind of meteorite, which as it enters the atmosphere, is formed into a shape that startlingly resembles a pyramid. Could the benben stone have been such a stone? Could it have been a shooting star that had fallen to earth and been worshipped as a sign from the heavens?"


The data are in and they support my theory about UFOs: For years I've been arguing that the serious UFOlogists agree with skeptics that 95% of all sightings are fully explicable through natural phenomena (Venus, weather balloons, rocket launches, blimps, swamp gas, sun dogs, etc.). So what we are really discussing here is a residue of unexplained anomalies. Below you will see the statistic reported from Project Blue Book that of the 12,618 reported sightings all but 701 were explained. That is precisely 5.5%.

So what is really going on here is that UFOlogists have constructed an entire world-view on the residue of anomalies. This is a fallacy in their philosophy of science: all fields of science have what is known as the residue problem--there will always be a residue of unexplained phenomena or anomalies because no theory, paradigm, or research program can explain everything. An analogy I use is the L.A.P.D.: let's say there are a hundred homicides every year in L.A. county, and that the L.A.P.D. solves 95 of the homicides. Do we assume that the other 5 homicides were abducted by aliens or murdered by men in black? No, of course not. We simply recognize that the hard working men in blue cannot possibly solve every crime. We live with that level of uncertainty.

So, until the UFOlogists come up with an actual alien body or spacecraft, after 50 years of showing us blurry photographs and grainy videos, and recounting endless anecdotal stories about things that went bump in the night in Farmer Bob's field in Puckerbrush, Kansas at 3:00 in the morning, it would be prudent to remain skeptical and live with the 5% uncertainty.

Below I have appended the press report on the big UFO conference held Wednesday, followed by Joel Achenbach's wonderful column on it for the Washington Post. Joel is a fellow skeptic and the author of the brilliantly insightful and funny book CAPTURED BY ALIENS. I highly recommend it. It deals not just with the UFOlogists and alien abductees, but with all the serious science in looking for ETs.
UFOs, Aliens and Secrets
Former Government Employees Say It's Time to Reveal Evidence


May 9. They're out there and the government knows. That's according to a group of about 20 former government workers, many of them military and security officials, who stepped forward today to say they had witnessed evidence of aliens and unidentified flying objects and called for congressional hearings about such sightings. "These testimonies establish once and for all that we are not alone," said Steven Greer, director of the Disclosure Project, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to disclosing alleged alien sightings.

Greer, who organized the program at the National Press Club in Washington, argued that the United States and other governments have known about UFOs for at least 50 years and have been keeping the information secret.

Greer said there were some 400 witnesses who claim to have firsthand experience with UFO sightings or alien evidence, and are willing to testify before Congress.

Among them is Daniel Sheehan, a well-known Washington lawyer who today acted as counsel for members of Greer's group.

Sheehan told reporters that during the Carter administration he found out about government-held UFO information that then-CIA Director George Bush, father of the current president, would not release.

Sheehan said he was then led into the National Archives where he was shown photographs of captured UFOs, complete with what appeared to be alien writing symbols, but he was only allowed to take notes on a yellow legal pad. He traced the photos onto the cardboard back of his pad, he said.

Military Denies UFOs

The U.S. government repeatedly has denied having any evidence of alien species, though it investigated the possibility for decades.

The Air Force was responsible for investigating alleged sightings for the military. From 1947 to 1969, the service's Project Blue Book at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, investigated 12,618 reported sightings. It said it found explanations for all but 701, such as swamp gas, airplane lights, weather balloons and other natural phenomena.

Sightings for which explanations couldn't be determined were categorized as sketchy reports that couldn't be pinned down.

In 1997, the Air Force announced it was formally closing its nearly 50-year investigation into the alleged alien sighting at Roswell, N.M. It denied that there was evidence of a UFO at Roswell and that the military covered it up.

"Information obtained through exhaustive records searches and interviews indicated the material recovered near Roswell was consistent with a balloon device of the type used in a then-classified project," said a Pentagon statement. "No records indicated, or even hinted at, the recovery of 'alien' bodies or extraterrestrial materials."

Alien Energy?

In another statement today, Donna Hare, a former NASA contract employee, said that Apollo astronauts saw an alien craft when they landed on the moon, but were told not to reveal it. Hare's source was a man who had been quarantined with the astronauts.

Former Air Force Maj. George Filer III told reporters that when he was at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, an alien craft came down, and an alien got out and was shot by a military policeman.

"Our security police went out there and found him at the end of the runway dead, Filer said.

"They asked me to brief the general staff," he said, but was later told not to.He said he would tell the story in front of Congress.

Greer said extraterrestrials could provide a new, plentiful source of energy that would provide the world's energy needs.

Information from alien encounters, said Greer, could also have significant impact on the global environment and the quest for world peace.

ABCNEWS' Katelynn Raymer in Washington and David Ruppe in New York contributed to this report.

Aliens and UFOs: The Likely Scenario
By Joel Achenbach

Joel Achenbach can be reached by e-mail at achenbachj@washpost.com. Joel's book, It Looks Like a President Only Smaller: Trailing Campaign 2000 is available at Borders.com.

Wednesday, May 9, 2001; 1:16 PM

A group of people who believe in UFOs held a press conference this morning that established beyond the shadow of a doubt -- that reached levels of credibility so high as to constitute actual proof -- that there really do exist people who believe in UFOs.

This was the big day for the Disclosure Project, an attempt to incite the government to admit that UFOs are piloted by creatures from another world. The organizer, a Virginia emergency room physician and UFOlogist named Steven Greer, announced that this was a moment of historic, indeed planetary, significance:

"This is the end of the childhood of the human race. It is time for us to become mature adults among the cosmic civilizations that are out there."

He had arranged an impressive venue, the main ballroom of the National Press Club. Upwards of a hundred people filled the room, and a phalanx of more than a dozen TV cameras documented the proceedings. At the front of the room, in a line, sat the 20 witnesses, most of them gray-haired men who had retired years ago from the military.

As they took turns at the microphone, it became apparent that this was a rather quaint event -- a return to the fundamentals of UFOlogy, the discussion of aerial anomalies. At one point a witness flashed two black-and-white photos of a saucer-shaped craft. The tales were set, for the most part, in the Forties, Fifties and Sixties; there was no talk of alien abductions, or an alien-human hybridization program, or the implantation of alien fetuses, or any of the extremely intimate Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind that have dominated the UFO mythology in recent years.

These guys were from the hardware wing of the movement. They'd seen things in the sky that they couldn't explain. Objects. Lights. Radar blips moving at extraordinary speed. What they didn't see, in almost every case, were any actual aliens.

Only one witness, Clifford Stone, a retired Army sergeant, professed to having directly seen an alien. He'd seen bodies at the site of crashed alien saucers; some aliens were still alive. Asked if he could describe their appearance, he said, "I could, but it would probably take a whole lot of time." There are 57 documented alien species, he said, including three types of grays. Many look just like human beings, he said. Some can touch an object in a dark room and tell its color, he said.

Ideally the press conference will trigger congressional hearings. Greer says he has conducted interviews with 400 people with intimate knowledge of the cover-up of the alien phenomenon. Many are afraid to come forward without congressional immunity.

"We know lethal force has been used to keep this secret," Greer said.

In the category of what a scientist would consider evidence, the press conference presented little, if any. The proceedings featured the Argument from Authority. The message here was that credible people -- people who are not kooks -- believe that UFOs contain aliens. These people have good resumes. Maybe that's not as impressive as someone coming forward with an actual alien antenna, but it's not trivial.

If nothing else this was an interesting glimpse of human psychology and the corrosive side-effects of government secrecy. The witnesses were grave, in some cases emotional -- they've carried these beliefs for decades. Collectively they've experienced centuries of suspicion. They've seen things that their superiors brushed aside or covered up.

"Such things do exist. Please believe me," said ret. Air Force Lt. Col. Charles L. Brown, who once analyzed UFO sightings and saw, just two years ago, "two inexplicable objects."

Graham Bethune, a retired Navy pilot, told of seeing a glow near Iceland that turned into a circle of lights with a dome. This was 1951. He's ready to testify under oath.

Robert Salas, retired Air Force captain, said a "bright, glowing red object" hovered outside the gate of a nuclear weapons site in Montana in 1967. The weapons suddenly went into a "no-go" condition. Did the aliens disable them?

The stories keep coming. People make connections. There are people saying that the Bush administration wants to build a missile defense shield in order to do battle with the aliens. Who's running this cover-up? Greer said there are compartmentalized elements of the secret government operation in multiple intelligence and defense agencies and throughout corporate America. The bad guys are everywhere.

The anxiety grows: What if everything we've been told by our leaders is a lie?

What if we're all just a bunch of dupes?

How do we KNOW the Apollo astronauts really went to the moon and not just to a Hollywood back lot?

Scientists who work in the esoteric field of "exobiology" would very much like to find a single scrap of alien life. They'd like to know if life out there parallels life on Earth. Does alien life also feature DNA, or is there some other molecule that fulfills DNA's function? Is it carbon-based? Does it use oxygen in its metabolism? Did the aliens evolve from simpler life forms? Does the alien home planet have multiple species that are intelligent and technological and self-reflective, or are those traits rare in any given biosphere? To what extent does the history of life on Earth follow a certain cosmic pattern, and to what extent is it a series of accidents and low-probability mutations?

Oh . . . sorry. Got off on one of those damn "science" tangents.

We have to decide, as rational people, which is the more likely scenario:

1. Intelligent creatures have piloted spaceships across trillions of miles in response to our discovery of nuclear weaponry. They hide, except when they decide to show themselves. Secret forces within our government have masterfully covered up the alien presence for half a century, duping the media and the scientific community, although sometimes the cover-up is imperfect, which is why, at Safeway, you can buy Chef Boyardee Flying Saucers & Aliens canned pasta. People like Steven Greer, the crusading emergency room physician, have seen through the lies and are going to help us reach the era of cosmic brotherhood.

2. Some people believe in things that aren't actually true.

You make the call.

(Rough Draft appears once in a blue moon at washingtonpost.com. To get the story of the press conference directly from the organizers, go to www.disclosureproject.org. For a scientific approach to the question of extraterrestrial intelligence, try www.seti.org.)

Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company
Michael Shermer is the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the Director of the Skeptics Society, host of the Skeptics Science Lecture Series at Caltech, columnist for Scientific American, and author of Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe, and The Borderlands of Science.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Villagers flock to worship fallen rock

From Ananova at


Hundreds of people are worshipping a huge rock that slipped off a truck while being transported to an Indian temple.

The rock, weighing more than 100 tonnes, was being taken to Tamil Nadu to be carved into an idol of the monkey-god Hanuman.

It fell off a 96-wheel trailer near Hassan in the southern state of Karnataka. Believing the huge rock to be holy, villagers began worshipping it.

The statue was due to be installed in a temple at Thiruvallur, 60 miles north of Madras.

Hindu priests chanted prayers and applied vermillion paste to the rock to consecrate it, while villagers began lighting oil lamps and making flower offerings to the stone.

But temple priests in Thiruvallur want the rock returned to them and have sought the help of engineers to supervise reloading the rock back on to the truck, said BP Kaniram, deputy commissioner of Hassan.

The rock was donated to the temple authorities by a quarry owner .

Anti-Gravity Physics Explianed

Posted by Dean A. Batha

Considering that 150 degrees Kelvin is really really really cold, liquid methane kind of cold, and definitely not the temperature of a mercury plasma, I wonder what kind of wool these folks are pulling over my eyes?


The Air Force has a non-secret that the news media cannot legally report. However, hundreds of people have seen it fly. And fly it can because it uses a gravity nutralization system that makes it weigh 89% of its original weight. [This is of course hard to believe unless you are aware of the fact that each year the United States government conficates 6,000 patents a year. For decades the us government has conficated any patent that related to anti-gravity.] The TR-3B has a circular, plasma filled accelerator ring called the Magnetic Field Disrupter. The mercury based plasma is pressurized at 250,000 atmospheres at a temperature of 150 degrees Kelvin, and accelerated to 50,000 rpm to create a super-conductive plasma with the resulting gravity disruption.

The MFD generates a magnetic vortex field, which disrupts or neutralizes the effects of gravity on mass within proximity, by 89 percent making the vehicle extremely light, and able to outperform and outmaneuver any craft. Like other high performance aircraft, the manuvers are limited to the ability of the crew to withstand G forces. But, inside the TR-3B the G forces are also reduced by 89%. Thus the crew of the TR-3B can perform a 40G manuver with the crew feeling 4.2 Gs.

The TR-3Bs propulsion is provided by 3 multimode thrusters mounted at each bottom corner of the triangular platform. The TR-3 is a sub-Mach 9 vehicle until it reaches altitudes above l20,000 feet - then who knows how fast it can go!..."

The Myth of Alternative Energy


The life and times of Amory Lovins, green guru
By William Tucker

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler a few years back. - John Maynard Keynes

As environmentalists roam up and down the country opposing every power plant in sight and insisting we can live in a world run on "renewable resources," they are almost invariably quoting Amory Lovins, an obscure genius, MacArthur fellow, and author of 27 books who now runs the Rocky Mountain Institute out of a solar-heated aerie in Snowmass, Colorado.

Lovins has been the wunderkind of the environmental movement since 1976, when he published "Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?" in the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs. In what became the most widely reprinted article in the periodical's history, Lovins made the startling proposal that America could live without both coal and nuclear energy. His subsequent best-seller, Soft Energy Paths, was sitting on Jimmy Carter's desk when Lovins visited the White House in 1978 to advise the president on energy.

Lovins went on to become one of the principal strategists behind California's revolutionary energy planning, begun under governor Jerry Brown. Today, Lovins readily admits that, "except perhaps for Maine," no state has been more diligent than California in putting his "soft energy path" into effect. Even as California's energy infrastructure collapses, Lovins continues to receive adoring coverage in the press. In April, Business Week named him one of its "Masters of Innovation," saying he has "envisioned a new kind of power grid in which homes and businesses could generate their own electricity." Lovins and his former wife Hunter were named two of nine "Heroes for the Planet" in a special Earth Day issue of Time in April 2000. Since January, he has been the subject of two admiring front-page stories in the Wall Street Journal.

Not content with reforming electricity generation, Lovins has gone on to invent the Hypercar, a lightweight, hydrogen-powered automobile that he informed Fortune will "end the car, oil, steel, aluminum, nuclear, coal, and electricity industries." The Hypercar has been praised in the Economist, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal, and has received $500,000 in funding from BP Amoco and $1 million from Sam Wyly, the solar-minded Texas billionaire. (Lovins is seeking $250 million.)

In light of the disappointing outcome of California's energy experiment, it may not come as a surprise that Lovins is also a bit of a crackpot. Some of his ideas are sloppy or ill-thought-out. Others are on the fringes of scientific speculation. His proposal to eliminate the coal and nuclear industries through a transition to a hydrogen economy defies the laws of physics.

Still, these ideas have enormous impact. Inevitably, Lovins comes on the scene and conjures up a glorious future where the hard practical realities of the world we know have vanished. These energy utopias then become an excuse for doing nothing in the present. In March, amidst rolling blackouts, Lovins was the keynote speaker at the Silicon Valley Energy Summit, where he argued that Calpine's proposed 600-mw gas plant for San Jose is unnecessary because the Golden State will soon have an energy glut—once his latest conservation proposals are put into action.

As Vice President Cheney prepares to make his energy recommendations to the Bush administration this week, environmental critics have already raised the cry that he will rely too much on power plants and not enough on conservation and renewables. "Cheney's plan is the more-pollution solution," says Greg Wetstone of the Natural Resources Defense Council. After all, didn't Amory Lovins prove twenty years ago that large polluting power plants are unnecessary? California itself remains unconverted. Even as electrical shortages engulf the West, state officials are pushing ahead with plans to eliminate the internal combustion engine by mandating a switch to electric- or hydrogen-powered cars.

A careful look at Lovins's teachings makes it clear why things have gone so far awry in California and why—as these ideas inspire more environmental opposition to new energy development in other parts of the country—they could get worse.

The story begins in 1976, when the nation found itself in the throes of the energy crisis. Through midcentury, we had produced most of our electricity from coal. As concern about air pollution rose in the 1960s, however, we switched to low-sulfur oil. Much of this oil had to be imported—prompting the abandonment of oil-import quotas, which had protected the domestic industry. Just as swiftly, the Arab oil embargo of 1973 made it clear that imported oil was a volatile and unreliable resource. What to do next?

The nation was at a crossroads. Should we go back to coal, which was dirty and required disruptive strip-mining, or should we move ahead with nuclear power? The nuclear effort had received some early support from the Sierra Club, but now environmentalists had their doubts. Nuclear plants sucked up huge amounts of water, there was the potential for accidents, and radioactive wastes had to be disposed of. In addition, of course, there was the ever-present environmental anxiety that nuclear power might actually prove to be reasonably cheap and manageable, opening the door to more mass consumption, suburban sprawl, and industrial progress.

In this moment of uncertainty, Lovins electrified the environmental movement by arguing that neither coal nor nuclear was necessary. In prose worthy of a 19th-century English novel, Lovins wrote:

There exists today a body of energy technologies that have certain specific features in common and that offer great technical, economic, and political attractions, yet for which there is no generic term. For lack of a more satisfactory term, I shall call them "soft" technologies: a textural description, intended to mean not vague, mushy, speculative, or ephemeral, but rather flexible, resilient, sustainable, and benign. . . . Recent research suggests that a largely or wholly solar economy can be constructed in the United States with straightforward soft technologies that are now demonstrated and now economic or nearly economic. Lovins's central argument was that the generation of electricity was uneconomical and inefficient.

The laws of physics require, broadly speaking, that a power station change three units of fuel into two units of almost useless waste heat plus one unit of electricity. . . . At least half the energy growth never reaches the consumer because it is lost in elaborate conversions in an increasingly inefficient fuel chain dominated by electrical generation. Although Lovins's arguments often became dense and difficult to follow, his conclusions always remained the same: Stop building power plants, start conserving energy.

Some 8 percent of all U.S. energy end use, and similarly little abroad, requires electricity for purposes other than low-temperature heating and cooling. Yet since we actually use electricity for many such low-grade purposes, it now meets 13 percent of U.S. end-use needs—and its generation consumes 29 percent of U.S. fossil fuels. . . . By applying careful technical fixes, we could reduce this 8 percent total to about 5 percent (mainly by reducing commercial overlighting), whereupon we could probably cover all those needs with present U.S. hydroelectric capacity plus the co-generation capacity available in the mid to late 1980s. Thus, an affluent industrial economy could advantageously operate with no central power stations at all!

The process would be economical all the way. Energy conservation was cheaper and faster to implement than new power plants were to construct. Buildings could be redesigned to conserve heat. Electric motors hadn't changed since the 1920s and were ripe for improvement. Lovins later coined the term "negawatts" to describe this strategy. Many industrial uses required steam. Much energy at power plants was vented as steam (think of the cooling towers on nuclear reactors). Why not match the two? Small "co-generation" plants at manufacturing sites could generate electricity while using the waste steam for industrial purposes. Much of our energy is consumed as low-grade heat (below the boiling point of water). Yet we were meeting these needs by turning water into steam in 10,000-degree nuclear reactors, using the steam to run electrical turbines, transmitting the electricity along high-voltage lines to homes, and there using it to heat water to 150 degrees. "It's like cutting butter with a chainsaw," Lovins said pithily. Appropriate and benign technologies could do the job much more efficiently.

Natural gas and even coal (burned cleanly in "fluidized beds") would serve as "transition fuels" for the co-generation era. As these smaller generators came on line, the grid itself would decentralize, becoming more flexible and robust. Even before PCs began replacing mainframes as the major source of computing power, Lovins was arguing that small, "distributed" sources of power could take the place of large nuclear or coal facilities. As the transition occurred, renewables and alternative energies could be phased into the system. Windmills, solar panels, small hydroelectric dams, geothermal sources, even backyard generators burning "clean" coal or natural gas could eventually produce most power. As conservation brought consumption down and alternative energies came on line, the supply and demand curves would meet. By 2025 we would be living in Energy Utopia—a world run entirely on renewable resources.

The alternative "hard path," on the other hand, promised a brittle, unreliable world of extended transmission lines and nuclear power. "It is important to recognize that the two paths are mutually exclusive," wrote Lovins. "Because commitments to the first may foreclose the second, we must soon choose one or the other—before failure to stop nuclear proliferation has foreclosed both." No state took these teachings more seriously than California.

For the last 20 years, California has done nothing but follow the soft energy path. The state has spent billions on conservation through countless mandates and incentives to the utility companies to subsidize conservation investment and cut consumer demand. These efforts have been largely successful. California now ranks dead last among the 50 states in electrical consumption per capita.

At the same time, the state has built nothing larger than small co-generation plants. With the exception of two nuclear reactors commissioned in the early 1970s, no new central generating stations have been added to the grid since 1980. The largest co-generator is the 385-mw Arco Watson plant completed in 1988. The most recent is a 158-mw plant built by Campbell Soups in 1997. By contrast, the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility contributes 2,100 mw of power.

Every other power source added to the grid has been "clean and renewable." The Golden State has over 100 windmill facilities generating 1,400 mw, 3 percent of the state's capacity. It has 43 geothermal sites generating 2,500 mw. It has the world's largest complement of solar-electric cells, generating 413 mw. It gets 30 percent of its power from hydroelectric dams (more than half of them out of state). It has 56 more renewable-energy projects generating 1,100 mw on the drawing boards—including plans to burn methane for electrical power at nearly every landfill in the state. (Each new windmill and landfill adds about 2.5 mw.) Altogether, California gets 12 percent of its electricity from small-scale renewables—more then ten times the average for the rest of the country.

Yet California has the nation's only energy crisis. The state must import 20 percent of its electricity, most of it from hydroelectric dams in Oregon and Washington and coal and nuclear plants in Arizona and Nevada. What went wrong?

Lovins argues that the problem is "freeloading" by neighboring states. "The 17-state Western System Coordinating Council is supposed to be a vehicle for the integrated resource planning that is still required by federal law, in case you didn't notice," he commented in a recent interview. "It's supposed to ensure reliable supply by making sure you have a supply-demand balance. Well, the balance was unbalanced by those other 16 states, particularly 3 or 4. The villains would be—and I'm not sure in which order—Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. They did essentially nothing on the demand side. If Nevada had built more efficient houses and casinos, we'd have a much better balance of supply and demand in the western pool today."

A fairer and more logical explanation would be that the soft path and the theory that alternative energies could replace central generating stations proved to be woefully misbegotten.

Let us give credit where credit is due. Lovins's predictions about the potential of energy conservation have proved startlingly accurate. Today the nation's overall consumption is slightly below the seemingly impossible trajectory that Lovins first traced in 1976. "Energy consumed per dollar of GDP has fallen more than 35 percent since 1973," he points out.

As prophetic as he proved to be about energy conservation, however, Lovins wildly overestimated the potential of alternative sources. This should have been apparent from the beginning. Take Lovins's proposal in Soft Energy Paths for a U.S. transportation sector run on crop-based "gasohol." He makes his argument in a single paragraph, using the beer and wine industries as a benchmark:

The required scale of organic conversion can be estimated. Each year the U.S. beer and wine industry, for example, microbiologically produces 5 percent as many gallons (not all alcohol, of course) as the U.S. oil industry produces gasoline. Gasoline has 1.5 to 2 times the fuel value of alcohol per gallon. Thus a conversion industry roughly ten to fourteen times the physical scale (in gallons of fluid output per year) of U.S. cellars and breweries, albeit using different processes, would produce roughly one-third of the present gasohol requirements of the United States. . . . The scale of effort required does not seem unreasonable. Lovins's statistics are correct. But notice he doesn't bother to calculate how much organic material would have to be run through such a system. The figures are easy to estimate. Hop fields and vineyards occupy about 40 million acres of farmland. Averaging Lovins's conversion figure of 10 to 14 gives us about 480 million acres, half the cropland in the United States. But beer and wine are only about 5 percent alcohol (whereas gasohol is 100 percent alcohol). This means multiplying again by 20, which gives us 9.6 billion acres—ten times the entire cropland of the United States—to produce one-third of the fuel we needed for transportation in 1977.

(When confronted with these figures, Lovins argues that hops and grapes are not a good measure of gasohol's potential. "You could produce enough liquid fuels out of all the farm and forest wastes that are produced and disposed of today. That's enough to run an efficient U.S. transportation system"—meaning a system three or four times more efficient than what we have now.)

Lovins's biggest mistake was his presumption that generating electricity is inherently inefficient. First, the conversion losses have been reduced from two-thirds to one-third in the newest power plants. But second and more important, electricity itself is so versatile and fungible that it creates its own efficiencies. Lovins correctly notes that we now use 35 percent less energy per dollar of GDP than we did in 1975. But we use only 3 percent less electricity.

In 1975, we consumed 28 percent of our energy as electricity. Today the figure is 40 percent. Much of our improved energy efficiency has come precisely through this conversion. In 1975, 40 percent of household natural gas was wasted in pilot lights. Today we have electronic ignition, which produces enormous savings. The potential for further conservation is just coming into view as the Internet and other electronic networks disseminate timely information.

As we capitalize on electricity's greater efficiencies, alternative energies become more and more unfeasible. Electricity cannot be stored. It must be consumed as it is generated. This plays havoc with alternative energies, which are largely dependent on the weather. You couldn't possibly power California by littering the countryside with windmills or solar cells, as Greenpeace and other environmental groups now advocate. The electric current would come and go with the wind and sun. Once windmills made up more than 25 percent of the grid, random fluctuations in frequency would start damaging electric-powered equipment. Even hydropower is highly seasonal, dependent on rainfall and snowmelt. By contrast, many nuclear plants now run nearly two years without interruption. Alternative energies can never be more than a supplement to the more reliable base-load plants.

Aware of these problems, Lovins has brought forth a grand new synthesis—the hydrogen economy, utilizing "the most common element in the universe." The key breakthrough is the fuel cell, a device that uses hydrogen to produce an electric current, with 170 degree water the only by-product. Lovins's Hypercar runs on such fuel cells. Moreover, Lovins has made the Hypercar part of a larger scenario that he claims will (1) power the entire transportation sector, (2) solve our air pollution problems, and (3) "end the car, oil, steel, aluminum, nuclear, coal, and electricity industries"—all in one blow. (The auto companies themselves are experimenting with hydrogen cars. In February, BMW introduced a model that can do 140 mph.) All this becomes particularly interesting as California prepares to mandate that 10 percent of all new cars sold in the state be "non-emissions vehicles" by 2003.

There is only one problem with the Age of Hydrogen: Where do you get the hydrogen? Although hydrogen is indeed the most common element in the universe, free H2 exists only in outer space. On Earth, it is all tied up in chemical compounds. The most available sources are natural gas and water. Extracting hydrogen requires energy. Thus, hydrogen, like electricity, is not a "natural resource." Like electricity, it only carries energy derived from other resources. Nevertheless, Lovins is undeterred. Here's what he would do.

In the natural gas scenario, methane (CH4) would be combined with oxygen at the wellhead. This would produce pure hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The carbon dioxide, of course, is just another "greenhouse gas," but Lovins would re-inject it into the gas wells, keeping it out of the atmosphere and increasing subterranean pressure that would make more gas easier to extract. "Existing natural gas resources—roughly 200 years of supply at current rates of consumption—could provide a long bridge to a fully renewable energy system," he says.

But is that much natural gas really available? After all, our domestic production has leveled off, and we import 17 percent of our gas from Canada. Lovins sees no problem. He subscribes to the theory of Cornell astronomy professor Thomas Gold that not all natural gas is necessarily biological in origin. There may be huge "astronomical" deposits at depths of five to ten miles beneath the earth's surface. "There's a heck of a lot of methane in the solar system that doesn't come from living things," says Lovins. "It is ubiquitous and abundant on Earth as well." Although Gold's theory has scattered support in the scientific community, it is by no means proven. Even if it proves true, there is no guarantee that deep deposits will be virtually unlimited.

Given an almost infinite supply of natural gas, of course, just about any energy strategy becomes practical. (Gold himself doesn't see the need for Lovins's hydrogen scenario.) But in the event those supplies do not turn up, Lovins has another scheme. This involves producing hydrogen by electrolysis—splitting water (H20) using an electric current.

According to the plan, individual buildings all over the country would install "hydrogen appliances"—small electrolytic devices using "cheap off-peak power" from the "ubiquitous electrical grid" to produce hydrogen. Some of the hydrogen would be fed into the buildings' fuel cells, to supply their electricity, heat, and hot water. The remaining H2 would power the Hypercars.

But that's not the end. Each of these Hypercars—equipped with its own fuel cell—would in turn become a "plug-in 20-plus-kilowatt power plant." While parked ("96 percent of the time"), they would be connected to a building's hydrogen supply and the electrical grid. Using its own fuel cell, each Hypercar would pump electricity back onto the grid. "Ultimately, plug-in Hypercars could provide 5 to 10 times as much generating capacity as all utilities own," says Lovins, "enough in principle to displace essentially all central thermal power stations at a profit." This would be "the last nail in the nuclear coffin."

Let's look carefully at what Lovins has devised here. He has invented a system that uses electricity to produce hydrogen to produce electricity. And by the time he's through, he thinks he'll have so much electricity that he'll be able to replace the electricity he started with. But this violates one of the fundamental laws of physics—the conservation of energy. No system can produce more energy at the end than it has at the beginning. With heat loss and work done, the product will always be less usable energy. Once again, Lovins has made the mistake of concentrating on the capacity of the system while ignoring the energy required to fuel the system. A fleet of Hypercars might indeed have far greater generating capacity than the entire electrical grid, but it will still require energy input. That input can come only from the existing grid itself—which is what Lovins thinks he can eliminate.

What Lovins has invented here is a perpetual motion machine—a machine that runs on its own output. It is the philosopher's stone of physics. It is also the mechanism by which Lovins and his disciples believe the nation can avoid making the difficult choice between coal and nuclear energy. None of this is to say that conservation and renewables are not worth pursuing. The Bush administration was foolish to defund these efforts—although this week's proposals may change the emphasis. Conservation and renewables should be supported—if only to keep environmentalists happy.

In the end, though, the nation still faces the clear choice it confronted in 1978: coal or nuclear? To this point, environmentalists have tacitly accepted coal. As a result, we now burn 400 million more tons of coal a year than we did in 1980. Yet if greenhouse gases are indeed affecting the earth's climate—as environmentalists themselves believe—that choice must be reexamined. The Bush administration is wisely considering nuclear power. Environmentalists may not agree. But if they don't, they must admit that they choose to go on burning fossil fuels. There are no other alternatives.

Harvard creates alternative medicine program

From Salon at:



May 14, 2001 | BOSTON (AP) -- Harvard Medical School, acknowledging that patients are increasingly experimenting with holistic and other alternative treatments, is creating an institute for nontraditional medicine.

Harvard researchers will examine the effectiveness of such treatments as acupuncture, herbal therapies, and massage, and look at how they work or interact with traditional medicine.

"You can't practice medicine these days without knowing what patients are doing, and a tremendous amount of them are doing it," said Dr. Dan Federman, who helped start Harvard's new program.

Harvard calls its program integrative medicine, for the combination of alternative and mainstream treatments. Americans made an estimated 600 million office visits to practitioners of integrative medicine and spent $30 billion on treatments, according to a recent Harvard study.

The school decided to start an integrative medicine program to learn more about how pharmaceutical drugs and herbal medicines interact with each other, and whether or not herbal medicines live up to their reputations.

The program, established with a $10 million gift from San Francisco philanthropist Bernard Osher and $2 million from the school, will work in conjunction with a similar one at the University of California at San Francisco.

The University of Arizona was one of the first schools to start an integrative medicine program. Founded in 1994, it now includes a month-long rotation for medical students that exposes them to nontraditional practices.

The University of Pennsylvania also has a program devoted to alternative medicines. Some other schools are incorporating naturopathic medicine, Chinese medicine and chiropractic techniques into curricula.

Dr. Monica Aggarwal of the New England Medical Center wasn't taught about nontraditional medicine in medical school. She said she regularly sees patients who are taking some sort of herbal concoction to ease their ailments.

"I think a lot of it is hodgepodge medicine," she said. "They are taking all these medications, and they have no idea what they are and if they are causing these problems. And we don't know what's in whatever they've taken."

That kind of miscommunication has prevented Nikki Davis from choosing a new doctor. She used to talk to her doctor about herbs and other holistic treatments, but when he died, she says she couldn't find another doctor as open-minded.

"I miss him so much, because he was really wise," said Davis, a 38-year-old counselor in Newton who advises her own clients about holistic treatments. "But it's really hard to find someone like that. ... I prefer a doctor who speaks both languages. That's always the best."

The Myakka Skunk Ape Photographs

Posted by Dean A. Batha

Some of you may recognize the author of this report.

From Fate at:


The Myakka Skunk Ape Photographs

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Cover Story FATE Magazine 2001-05-01

by Loren Coleman

The Myakka Skunk Ape Photographs

Two remarkable new photographs of what may be a Florida Skunk Ape have been discovered through an interesting chain of events by Sarasota resident and animal welfare specialist David Barkasy. This article will overview how these photographs were taken, how this find surfaced, the first reactions and analyses, and some tentative conclusions.

Backyard Pictures

The circumstances behind the photographs are intriguingly innocent. In early autumn 2000, an elderly couple living near I-75 in Sarasota County, Florida, began to experience routine visits from an apelike animal. On one of these visits, the wife took two relatively clear photographs of the creature. The couple did not know what the animal was, but since her husband said it looked like an orangutan, they called it an orangutan.

The location of these events was near I-75, most likely east of Sarasota, which includes the Myakka River and Myakka State Park.

The woman describes the events leading up to the photographs being taken: "For two nights prior, it had been taking apples that my daughter brought down from up north off our back porch. These pictures were taken on the third night it had raided my apples."

She went out into her backyard after hearing deep "woomp" noises. She aimed her camera toward the hedgerow at the back of her property and was startled to see what her flash revealed. "I didn't even see it as I took the first picture because it was so dark. As soon as the flash went off for the second time it stood up and started to move. I then heard the orangutan walk off into the woods." She noticed that its "awful smell" lasted long after it had left her yard.

Reflecting on what had occurred, she said that the anthropoid "sounded much farther away than it turned out to be." She thinks she was about ten feet away from it, and it looked like it was crouching, then standing. She notes it is hard to know how big it was, but she would "judge it as being about six and a half to seven feet tall in a kneeling position. As soon as I realized how close it was, I got back to the house." (Eyewitnesses regularly report larger sizes for animals which are hair-covered and seen in the dark.)

The woman photographer remarks: "It only came back one more night after that and took some apples that my husband left out in order to get a better look at it. We left out four apples. I cut two of them in half. The orangutan only took the whole apples. We didn't see it take them. We waited up but eventually had to go to bed." Then they placed a dog in their backyard, and the animal did not return.

The Photographs Surface

According to the evidence provided by the postmark on the envelope, on December 22, 2000, the woman mailed a letter signed "God Bless. I prefer to remain anonymous" to the Sarasota Sheriff's Department. They received the letter on December 29, 2000, although most people at the sheriff's office were unaware of it until after the holidays. According to the department's official report created later, the filing officer wrote: "I received an unusual letter addressed to the animal services of the sheriff's office. The letter told of an encounter with a monkey or ape and contained two photos. The letter was anonymous." The animal control officer read the letter which begins: "Enclosed please find some pictures I took.… My husband thinks it is an orangutan. Is someone missing an orangutan?"

The woman was especially concerned, and nothing about "skunk ape" or "Bigfoot" was mentioned in the letter. This was merely a normal person who had a remarkable encounter. She was worried about her grandchildren's safety and her own. She wanted to alert the police and requested clearly for them to "please look after this situation."

The matter in which it was treated in the department will be debated for years. Our understanding is that, initially, the letter and photographs were seen as merely an amusing thing to talk about around the office. No file was created; no permanent record was made. The photographs were passed around and there were joking asides.

This began to change when a member of the animal control division contacted David Barkasy, owner of the Silver City Serpentarium in Sarasota, Florida. He was informed that local authorities were matter-of-factly discussing the local "orangutan animal" problem and some interesting photographs had been sent to the department. On January 3, 2001, David was given details about the photographs and a black-and-white photocopy of them was shared with him.

Barkasy, who was aware of Florida's history of Skunk Ape reports due to his animal welfare interests, felt the photographs he was shown might be firm evidence of the local mystery anthropoids, which he understood were much different from the Pacific Northwest's Sasquatch and Bigfoot. That night, Barkasy contacted me because I was known as a cryptozoologist and author of several books on mysterious primate reports. He also contacted a Bigfoot email list moderator. Barkasy wanted assistance and opinions on what he had discovered, to explore possible hoaxing, and to make certain that anthropological, zoological, and photographic analyses could be brought to bear on this, if the photographs turned out to be authentic. (Since January 3, David Barkasy and I have talked frequently about the details of the ongoing investigation.) On January 11, Barkasy was able to borrow photograph no. 2 (the one where the animal begins to pull up and away from the photographer). He made copies and high-quality scans on January 12, returning them to the department the same day. Barkasy was working on gathering all the information he could legally, within the non-official avenues, on the nonofficial photographs. (They did not have a file or case number and were only one day away from being discarded by the department.) He was gaining the trust of the department and getting closer to finding some answers to the who, what, and where of the photographs.

Meanwhile, unknown to Barkasy, someone behind his back independently contacted the department and demanded, as part of the open records laws, copies of the photographs. Barkasy was upset by this and talks of what impact it had on limiting his access to the department and his investigation: "[This person] knew I was in the process of getting copies of both of the pictures one at a time. I had already made copies of the picture with the ape-like creature rising before he called the department. By him doing this, a friend of mine, who works for the department, was reprimanded for letting this happen. He put a good friend of mine's livelihood in danger for his own personal interest. It was an anonymous report which did not even have a file number at the time. After [his] intrusion, the photos were given a case number. I then had to have a Sheriff's Department Courier escort me to various copy houses to get copies of the remaining picture.…So much for letting me carry on with my investigation in peace."

When Barkasy was able to obtain high-quality copies of photograph no. 1 on January 23, 2001, a file had been created on the incident, on January 18. Color photocopies on regular printer paper had also apparently been sent to the email list moderator by then. Barkasy noticed that staple holes, scratch marks, and other damage had occurred to the original photographs. This is an important detail, because later Internet analyses and critics of the photographs would begin to claim that many of these marks were evidence of hoaxing. (People would later see UFOs, running lights, and stars in the skies, but all of these were just scratches and staple holes.)

Although Barkasy's attempts to discover all the particulars of the photographs were frustrated by the unfolding events, his work led to the eventual surfacing of the photographs. Furthermore, officers were telling him of rumors of an animal bothering neighborhoods in east Sarasota County. Some of Barkasy's searches in the Myakka neighborhoods had some eventful and humorous outcomes-like the time in early February he was stopped by an officer and frisked to see if he was a burglar checking out homes.

Barkasy also found that no feral apes or lost pets had been reported or recovered. Finally, without talking to Barkasy or me, the moderator used his own small email list to publish the color-copied generations of the photographs on Sunday, February 4, with only the slightest of details on the circumstances of the report. A fuller telling appeared most appropriate at that time, and Barkasy requested that I release all the details as a coherent whole, versus the piecemeal way they were being presented. This article is part of that effort.

Perhaps someplace out there is one of the photographer's relatives or friends who could lead us, confidentially, to the source of these pictures.

This is an excerpt from Loren Coleman's complete report on the Myakka Ape Photos, which is available exclusively in the May 2001 issue of FATE.

Loren Coleman's latest book is Mysterious America: The Revised Edition (New York: Paraview Press, 2001), the totally updated version of his 1983 classic. For more information, go to www.lorencoleman.com/ma.html or www.paraview.com/coleman.htm.

Ghaziabad's monkey monster comes to terrorise Delhi


Staff Reporter/New Delhi

The mysterious monkey-like creature, which has created terror in Ghaziabad, has moved into the Capital. Its first three victims were from East and North-East districts.

Such is the panic that Delhi Police has got into the act and is preparing an identification kit of this still unidentified 'criminal'.

Joint Commissioner of Police, New Delhi Range, Suresh Roy said calls had been received from three victims till now. The description of the creature varies from person to person. The cases have been referred for a thorough medical examination to establish the extent and cause of the injuries, he added.

A late-night report said the monster mania claimed its first life in Noida on Monday. A man sleeping on the terrace of his Sector 58 residence jumped down to save himself from what he claimed was a "monkey monster". He later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

Raman was sleeping on terrace with 30 others from his block when, around 1 am, his friend noticed a monkey-like creature coming towards him. He raised an alarm, hearing which many of those sleeping on the roof jumped to the ground to save themselves. Raman also jumped and suffered severe head injuries. City SP Piyush Srivastava said, Raman was rushed to hospital where he died.

Meanwhile, in Old Seelampur the news of the "black and tall monkey" spread like wildfire. People downed shutters and held demonstrations in Krishna Nagar area of East district. Someone even said the monkey was spreading a deadly virus. The police received 13 calls by frenzied residents asking for help.

Senior police officers do not rule out the possibility of anti-social elements being involved. Most attacks have taken place when there was no electricity. Cops are trying to figure out the mysterious animal who appears to be extraordinarily fast.

An elderly resident of Old Seelampur was attacked on Sunday night. Ejaj Ali, sleeping on the roof, woke up hearing a rumbling sound. Before he could react, a huge monkey attacked him. His son who rushed to his rescue was also floored by the creature who disappeared in a flash.

Eighteen-year-old Nizam was its third victim. A five-year-old boy was terrorised and bitten by this creature "with blood shot eyes." Nizam said "the animal was a huge furry creature who moved very fast. He just lunged at me, scratched and vanished into thin air."

Vinod Kumar Yadav was attacked while crossing a railway track. The beast grabbed his waist and scratched his hands. Yadav described the animal as "a half-man-half-animal" wearing a helmet, brass gloves and shoes made of iron. The description provided by Yadav bolstered police claims that a gang was behind these attacks.

Many residents of East Delhi said they remembered "a huge animal who jumped more than a normal monkey does".

Between the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, it struck 13 times.

The speed and height of the animal point towards an Ape, but the speed and the nature of attacks have rendered the police clueless. A baboon matches this description but baboons are not found in this part of the world.

Mr Roy said the 'monkey' is said to be jumping up to 30 feet across, which is highly unusual. He has instructed his men to be vigilant and be on the look out for the animal. Instructions have been issued to the rank and file to patrol the entire North East and East district throughout the night.

One such incident was reported in Mandoli area in North East district on Monday night.

Police officials have been asked to get in touch with Delhi Zoo officials regarding this "simian attack", Mr Roy added.

Viagra replaces animal penises as favoured Chinese impotence cure - Ananova Alerting

According to a Canadian government report, demand for the penises - traditional aphrodisiacs - is plummeting.

The price of seal penis has crashed from £17 to less than £3.

The report said the probable cause of the market collapse is "the increased use of Viagra as a substitute for seal penises".

Last year only 91,000 seals were slaughtered in Newfoundland and Quebec compared with 280,000 in the late 90s.

Peter Reshetniak, an environmentalist and president of the Raptor Education Foundation, said: "All of us concerned about animal sacrifices to human delusions should send our thanks to the Pfizer company. We salute them!"

Pfizer are the manufacturers of Viagra.

See this story on the web at

NOVA on Evolution

Posted by John H. Mazetier, Jr.

An American television heads-up from Prof. William Calvin's Website

The NOVA series on Evolution, all eight hours of it, will air on PBS this autumn, two hours each night from September 24 to 27. The parts of the series that I have previewed are excellent; I am one of the dozen science advisors for the series, especially the sixth program, "The Mind's Big Bang." Mark your calendars.


Sunday, May 13, 2001

Geller claims mind games win the cup

From Ananova at:


Uri Geller claims his powers helped a rugby team win a major cup tournament.

He said he put his mind to work on behalf of Newport, who beat Neath 13-8 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

They won the Wales's Principality Cup for the first time in 24 years.

On a trip to south Wales at the end of April to launch his new set of CDs, Geller was asked to help the team win the Cup game.

He was given a Newport rugby shirt and a photograph of their retiring captain, former Springbok Gary Teichmann.

He said: "I was approached to do this when I was down in south Wales a few weeks ago. When the game started I put on the Newport rugby shirt and took the picture of the captain.

"I focused my powers on the fans so they would send their energy to the players and I focused on the captain because I had bent a spoon for him. It has been exhausting because I am not used to doing rugby games. I had to totally clear my mind and just focus on winning."

After the game, Newport player Matthew Pini said: "If that is what he wants to think, then that is up to him. We are just delighted to have won the cup."

More on Monkey Man

From the Hindustan Times at:


No let-up in monkey-man's menace
M K Mittal
(Ghaziabad, May 7)

Ghaziabad is in the grip of panic. Not a day passes in this city without sightings of the weird monkey-man. It appears that someone donning a rhesus monkey mask has been stalking various localities of the city, spreading terror among its residents. The monkey-man has even injured a few.

The latest victim of this sinister simian is 30-year-old Shamir Begum, a housewife living in the Islamnagar area. The woman swooned when she came across the monkey-man walking on her terrace.

"Shamir Begum screamed and collapsed. By the time we arrived at her side the monkey-man had fled," said a neighbour.

Although the Ghaziabad Police claim that there is nothing like a monkey-man, complaints of sightings, scuffles and looting by the monkey-man are pouring into police stations here.

Two days back the monkey-man tried to claw Naresh Kumar Sharma of Ghukna Colony and tried to break the leg of his mother.

Twin terror struck Kamla Nehru Nagar when two monkey-men jumped on a resident, Om Veer, and tried to scratch his face.

"They ran away when they saw the headlights of an approaching car," the complainant told the police while reporting the matter at the Kavi Nagar police station.

Though yesterday the Ghaziabad Police arrested a person named Dharmendar suspected to be the monkey-man, residents here are still under the grip of fear.

Dharmender said he was only an ordinary thief who decided to take advantage of the fear-psychosis in the city. "He donned the mask so that everyone would think he is yet another monkey-man at work and so would be scared of touching him," said a police official.

Meanwhile, a number of localities including Jatwara, Ghukna, Shibbanpura, Nasirpur, Chanderpuri, Maliwara and Vijay Nagar residents have mobilised small self-styled bands of local youths to hunt down the monkey-man and remove fears from the minds of the people.

In other areas, people are taking recourse to superstition to allay fear. In fact, the matter got out of hand at Kailash Nagar where residents caught hold of a girl named Manju and started beating her.

The residents said that the "devilish soul of a monkey" had entered into her body.

Monkey-man panic continues in India - Ananova Alerting

From Ananova at:


Panic caused by a weird monkey-man has grown in the Indian town of Ghaziabad following more attacks and sightings.

The latest victim was housewife Shamir Begum, 30, who fainted after she came across the monkey-man prowling on her terrace yesterday. When she came to he had gone.

Since April 28, more than a dozen people have been treated in hospital for fractures or deep scratches caused by the monkey-man or by falling as they flee from him.

Police are being inundated with calls about sightings and attacks by the monkey-man, who some claim is a beast and others a man wearing a rhesus monkey mask.

While the monkey-man ambushes residents, police say he seems to have no motive of either robberry or sexually assaulting them.

Local media reports suggest that the streets of the town are becoming deserted, with shopping arcades closing before sunset.

Many familes have also sent their children away from Ghaziabad, while office workers have been staying at home.

Ghaziabad police chief Prashant Kumar, who believes someone is causing mischief wearing a mask, says: "There is certainly absolute panic in the city."

Last week, police arrested a man for wearing a rhesus monkey mask to scare people, but he claimed not to be the man police are looking for.

The suspect said he had worn the mask only to copy the monkey-man in the news. The attacks and sightings have continued since the suspect's arrest.

See this story on the web at


Saturday, May 12, 2001

Family says spontaneous combustion started house fire

From Ananova at:


A Chilean family says a tongue of flames shot out of a bedroom and set fire to their home in a case of apparent spontaneous combustion.

Experts have been unable to explain how the fire started at the Caceres family's wooden home in the Santiago suburb of La Granja.

It is the latest in a number of incidents of the phenomenon recorded in the Chilean capital in recent weeks. Their neighbour says they should have an exorcism .

The fire brigade have ruled out an electrical short circuit or arson in the latest incident.

Local fire chief Nolberto Moya said it is possible there is a paranormal explanation for the fire.

He said even though his officers had thoroughly doused the blaze, flames later appeared in the same place.

Homeowner Jose Caceres said it's not the first time the house has spontaneously combusted. He told police family members saw a ghostly figure before a fire at their home last year.

Family member Sara Munoz claimed she saw the "ghost of a person wearing a straw sombrero who suddenly disappeared."

Neighbour Yamille Mena said: "I think someone should organise an exorcism."

Meanwhile, the Caceres family has decided to sleep in shifts to watch for new fires. They've lived in the same house for 40 years, but Jose Caceres says they're thinking about moving.

UFO Believers Sighted Here!


By Joel Achenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2001; Page C01

A group of people who believe in UFOs held a news conference yesterday morning that established beyond the shadow of a doubt -- that reached levels of credibility so high as to constitute actual proof -- that there really do exist people who believe in UFOs.

This was the big day for the Disclosure Project, an attempt to incite the government to admit that unidentified flying objects are piloted by creatures from another world. The organizer, Steven Greer, aCharlottesville emergency room physician, announced that this was a moment of historic, indeed planetary, significance:

"This is the end of the childhood of the human race. It is time for us to become mature adults among the cosmic civilizations that are out there."

He arranged an impressive venue, the main ballroom of the National Press Club. Upward of a hundred people were there, along with more than a dozen TV cameras. At a long table up front sat 20 witnesses, most of them gray-haired men who'd served in the military.

As they took turns at the microphone, it quickly became apparent that this was a rather old-fashioned event -- a return to the fundamentals of ufology, the discussion of aerial anomalies. At one point a witness flashed two black-and-white photos of a saucer-shaped craft. The tales were set, for the most part, in the '40s, '50s and '60s; there was no talk of alien abductions, or an alien-human hybridization program, or the implantation of alien fetuses, or any of those extremely intimate Close Encounters that have dominated the UFO mythology in recent years.

These guys were from the hardware wing of the movement. They'd seen things in the sky they couldn't explain and that suggested, to their minds, extraterrestrial visitors. They'd seen objects. Lights. Radar blips moving at extraordinary speed. What they didn't see, in almost every case, were any actual aliens.

Only one witness, Clifford Stone, a retired Army sergeant, told of having directly seen aliens. He'd seen them both dead and alive at the scenes of crashed saucers. Asked if he could describe their appearance, he said, "I could, but it would probably take a whole lot of time." He did stipulate that there are 57 alien species, including three types of "grays." Many aliens are humanoid, and, indeed, are indistinguishable from members of our own species. Some can touch an object in a dark room and tell its color.

There were a few other unverified bombshells. One speaker claimed that George Bush the elder, when director of the Central Intelligence Agency, refused to give newly inaugurated President Carter the top-secret files on UFOs. Greer, meanwhile, assured the audience that the military has already developed spacecraft that can travel faster than the speed of light.

The Disclosure Project is part of a long -- and so far unsuccessful -- effort to incite congressional hearings on the UFO issue. Greer says he has conducted interviews with 400 people with intimate knowledge of the alien phenomenon and the government "coverup." Many, he claimed, are afraid to come forward without congressional immunity.

"We know lethal force has been used to keep this secret," he said.

There was nothing presented at the news conference that could be considered forensic evidence. Instead, the audience heard what is known as the Argument from Authority. The evidence on the table was essentially in the form of résumés. The witnesses vouched for their credibility and said they'd like to tell their stories to Congress. Maybe that's not as impressive as someone coming forward with an actual alien tentacle, but you have to start somewhere.

If nothing else, this was an interesting glimpse of the corrosive side effects of government secrecy. The witnesses have been burdened by suspicion for decades. Some said they were told by superiors to stay silent about what they'd seen.

"Such things do exist. Please believe me," said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charles L. Brown, who once analyzed UFO sightings and saw, just two years ago, "two inexplicable objects."

Graham Bethune, a retired Navy pilot, told of seeing a glow near Iceland that turned into a circle of lights with a dome. This was 1951. He's ready to testify under oath.

Robert Salas, a retired Air Force captain, said a "bright, glowing red object" hovered outside the gate of a nuclear weapons site in Montana in 1967. The weapons suddenly went into a "no go" condition. Did the aliens disable them?

The UFO narrative has innumerable subplots, some of which emerged yesterday. There are people who believe that the Bush administration wants to build a missile defense shield as part of its covert war with the aliens. There is a rumor that Big Oil wants to suppress knowledge of a secret, stunning energy source that can be harvested from the quantum soup all around us. If we know the truth about the aliens, our energy crisis will be solved. "It will cause such vast and profound changes on this planet that there is nothing to equal it in human history," Greer said.

Who's running this coverup? Greer said that's a complex matter. He said there are compartmentalized elements of a secret government operation in multiple intelligence and defense agencies and throughout corporate America.

The bad guys are everywhere.

We live in a world of lies.

(Are you sure the Apollo astronauts really went to the moon, and not just to a Hollywood back lot?)

Scientists who work on "exobiology" endure the stigma of being experts in a field with no known subject matter. They'd be thrilled beyond words to find a tiny fragment of alien life. They'd like to know if extraterrestrial life is carbon-based, if it uses oxygen in its metabolism, if it stores genetic information in the form of the DNA molecule. They'd like to know the evolutionary history of an alien biosphere, so they could compare it to the history of life on Earth. Now we hear that all the scientists need to do is start poking around in government freezers.

When the news conference was over, rational observers were faced with two scenarios:

Your call.

Latest [Creature] Reports from Spanish America

Flying Saucer Review, Vol 46/1, Spring, 2001, pp. 22-24

by Gordon Creighton, Editor, FSR

I. More "Chupacabras" [goatsuckers]

In the last few years these creatures have been reported not only from Puerto Rico, but also from Mexico, Panama Republic and Panama Canal Zone, Nicaragua and even from some of the southern states of the U.S.A.! [All with Latino population lending credence to the folklorico aspects. - TWC] The principal latest reports, gathered by Scott Corrales of the Hispanic UFO Research Centre, California, come from Chile.

Early on Sept. 13, 2000, 3 geese and 5 ducks were found dead in the usual condition in the La Flora district of Chile. This followed a whole series of similar reports from six or seven other localities of Chile, where the populace have spoken of a "strange being that leaves no traces of any footprints, and is more like a ghost or a creature of the Devil himself".

Geese are historically famous for their usefulness in sounding an alarm, but these geese gave none! And all were found dead, bloodless, feet upwards, none of them showing any signs of violence except for the curious small punctures - all on the necks and throats.

The fowl house had also contained chickens and a dog. The dog was found alive, huddled in a corner, and the chickens had escaped by taking refuge up among the rafters. The owner said the killings "appeared to be the work of a creature that passed through the wire without leaving a crack". (Source: Newspaper La Cuarta, Sept. 14, 2000).

Next, another local newspaper, La Estrella del Loa, (no date given), reported that, on or about Feb. 6, 2001, two chupacabras had been seen in the villages of La Banda and Independencia Norte, on the outskirts of Calama, in Chile.

A woman named Patricia Valdivia, of La Banda de Calama, had opened her front door and found a chupacabra on the step!

She told the newspaper (La Estrella del Loa) that she had heard some strange noises at one o'clock in the morning. It is the hot season there now in the Atacama Desert. Going to the door, she saw "three cats, more paralysed than a photograph, spaced at about a metre apart, and beside them, sitting right in front of the door, the chupacabra. When it saw me it immediately jumped over the outside wall and was gone in the darkness".

She had noted that the strange creature measured about 60-70 cms and was in a seated position, with long legs hanging down from its body which was covered in leaden-coloured (i.e. grey) hair. She said it uttered "a strange growl that made the windowpanes rattle"! And this was repeated when it leapt over the garden wall.

The ufologist Jaime Ferrer, who has been investigating the chupacabras for some months, took plaster casts of its footprints. [This is strangely at variance with the reports that it "leaves no traces of footprints". -G.C.]

In another case, at Independencia Norte, in the Calama district, three boys had an astonishing experience, being paralysed with fright on coming face-to-face with one of the critters.

The boys, Gabriel Herrera, Miguel Salvo, and Jorge Salvo, have told their stories separately, and with remarkable similarity. Their story is as follows:

"It was about 1 metre tall (3 ft 4 inches) and it was sitting there in the inner courtyard, but jumped effortlessly when Jorge opened the door. It scared us.

"It had spines running down its back. It was hairy and grey. We thought it was a rabbit, and went to tell Momma. That's when it vanished. We all searched for it, but it was gone."

Miguel Salvo specifically mentioned that "it didn't have a nose, or elbows, but it had shining eyes, and legs that were thick at the top and skinny at the bottom. It jumped away and hid under a pick-up truck." (Newspaper La Estrella del Loa, Jan. 30 and Feb 1, 2001; reports via Scott Corrales.)

[In a note issued through http://www.Rense.com , Scott Corrales mentions that the three boys may have made an important new discovery about the creature, and that a UFO researcher is investigating this, and for the time being all details are being kept under wraps.]

II. The Nicaragua Case.

Report from Scott Corrales, President of the Hispanic UFO Research Centre, and FSR Consultant.

Chupacabras have struck again in Nicaragua, killing seven goats on a farm in Limon.

On Monday, Sept. 11, 2000, Channel 7 TV in Managua aired video footage of the seven dead goats, which local residents said had been killed by "a strange animal which many consider to be the chupacabra."

The goats presented cuts measuring 2 cms on different parts of the body, through which the blood had been extracted. The attack took place on a farm approximately 164 kms from the Nicaraguan capital, Managua. (See adioprogramas del Peru for Sept. 1, 2000.)

III. Abduction Report from Chile.

Joseph Trainor, UFO Roundup, Vol. 5, No. 44, carries a report that a UFO had allegedly abducted two people in Chile, and set them down again a short distance away.

The events appear to have started on Oct. 19, 2000, at 7.00 p.m. A teacher, Juan Rojas Moffett, and some colleagues, in a classroom on the second floor of the Escuela San Francisco at Chiu-Chiu, some 40 kms from Calama in the north of Chile, saw a "bright light in the sky".

Three hours later (10 p.m.) 35 adults, all members of the school's PTA (parent-teacher association) were having a meeting in the school, and some 20 children were playing outside. A weird sound was heard, and a UFO appeared.

Two eyewitnesses, Rene Calpa Carranza and Walter Anza Vilca said the UFO, mainly white in colour, with blue, red, and yellow flashing lights, hovered above the school playground. And a number of children recalled having smelt "a burning odour".

Then a panel on the underside of the UFO opened, and a dazzling beam of light "stabbed downwards", bathing two people in its glow.

These were Sra. Fresia Vega, the school janitor, and a student, Valentina Rojas Espinoza, aged 8, and both of them instantly vanished.

According to Sra. Monica Espinoza Fernandez, mother of the girl, "The children were outside, and they were witnesses, and they called to the parents at the meeting to come out and see it. And we heard a tremendous blast, and everyone ran out to look".

They said the UFO was hovering above the playground at a height of no more than a four-storey building. They saw the dazzling beam switch off, and then the UFO sped away towards the south. Fresia Vega and the child Valentina, were found, dazed and shivering, not far away.

Interviewed by the newspaper *El Mercurio*, Srs Fresia Vega said: "The thing was a very large ship, about the size of a soccer field, surrounded by lights of every imaginable colour. In the middle of it there was a door from which came a light that blinded me and left me paralysed. I felt myself being sucked through the door, and I felt a tingling sensation all over my body.

"Voices became far, far away, and I froze. That's when I realised I must have passed out, because I remember nothing at all. I then felt the door was being shut with a sound like that of iron, and the ship looked as though it was surrounded by light."

The child Valentina gave a similar account, and said: "I felt cold, and my blood froze. I was very scared, and hid behind Fresia."

IV. The Animal Mutilations in Chile - "A Truly Frightening Situation".

FSR's Vancouver Consultant/Correspondent Dr Max Edwards tells me that he has just received, on March 6(th), the following report in a letter from Scott Corrales, who of course is so well known to us as another FSR Consultant/Correspondent. (To my surprise - for I had not heard this before - Scott Corrales is himself from Puerto Rico, and so he is a compatriot of our Jorge Martin! -G.C.)

Report from Scott Corrales.

"The situation in Chile regarding the animal mutilations is truly frightening and ought to be taken seriously by anyone with half a mind. Although the mutilations have toned down somewhat at the moment, sightings of the creatures causing them have increased ten-fold.

"There was a case last week of a man who had one such entity jump onto the hood of his car and stare him down, issuing the telepathic command: "DON'T SCREAM - I DON'T WANT YOU TO SCREAM'." Needless to say the man choked on his own utterance.

"Residents of some of the desert towns of Northern Chile where all this is taking place are hearing the sounds of creatures running across their rooftops at night as they leap from one house to another.

"Rationalists are hoping that the creatures - if ever captured - will be some kind of baboon entity set wild in the desert by some unknown agency for its own purposes, but the chances that we are dealing with something completely unknown are very high. I wish you could see the messages that I am getting. People are truly scared, and there is evidence that the Government feels a certain amount of concern."

Dr Max Edwards himself has first-hand knowledge of all these areas in the North Chilean Desert, and therefore his own comments are equally valuable. He writes:-

"It's about time Governments did 'feel a certain amount of concern'. The towns in the Desert are few and far between, except for Arica, Iquique, and Antofagasta. The waterless desert ends just north of La Serena - I've been to all these places - and if creatures can survive in that desert - without water -* THEY MUST TRULY BE DEMONIC! Fancy thinking it is a baboon!

"By this time one would think that people everywhere, after hearing all the chupacabras stories from Puerto Rico, would put two and two together, and realise the sameness between events in Puerto Rico and events in Chile! I believe too that, some time ago, Spain also had some 'chupacabra events'."

[Yes! See Magdalena del Amo-Freixedo's Chupacabras Galore! in FSR 42/2 (Summer 1997), and More Animal Mutilations in Spain, by Raquel Andion and Enrique Tomas, in FSR 44/2 (Summer 1999) -G.C.]

And Max Edwards concludes his comments:- "To my mind this is all like the 'Jersey Devil', in New Jersey, USA, in the early years of the 19(th) century. Drawings of the 'Jersey Devil' and of the 'chupacabras' are strangely similar. I've seen the sketches of both."

Note by Editor of FSR.

But -dear Max- OF COURSE the chupacabras can get on all right in the waterless desert! THEIR BEVERAGE ISN'T WATER! IT IS BLOOD!

Hum, throb and groinkle department

Flying Saucer Review, Vol 46/1, Spring, 2001, pp. 21 and 22

I. To the Editor, FSR, August 14, 2000.

Dear Mr. Creighton,

Thank you for FSR 45/2. As regards the spread of AIDS as mentioned in this issue, I read similar statistics in NEXUS MAGAZINE. I attempted to discuss these frightening aspects with several friends and acquaintances, but no interest was shown whatsoever. Perhaps they are all asleep? (Yes! - G.C.)

The article on the 'mystery whine', on page 22, reminded me that I have found a similar article in one of my scrap-books. It was in the (now long defunct) periodical 'TIT-BITS', of either the late 1940s or early 1950s, most likely the latter. Here is the article if you are interested.

David J. Hampton


Have you heard the mystery noise? It's the British equivalent of America's flying saucers, and it's just as mysterious. Hundreds of people now claim to hear it - a whirring, throbbing, or roaring sound, a noise similar to the humming of the wind in roadside telephone wires or akin to the roar of 'planes flying high'.


Ear-witness reports differ, as with eyewitness accounts of flying saucers, but the facts are on official file at the B.B.C. Some people complain of the noise only at infrequent intervals. Others insist that they can hear it day and night.... and they claim that it's getting louder.

One investigator, a retired London barrister, has asked sufferers to get in touch with him in order that scientific observations can be made, and reports have flooded in from all over the country. There are even examples of *deaf people* who 'hear' the vibrations. Sometimes a man is worried by the noise, while his wife cannot hear it.

One by one, possible sources have been checked. Theories of distant jet engine tests or a 'radar hum' have all been disproved. One man turned up at Broadcasting House declaring that the noise was slowly killing him. Post Office and electrical engineers have been called out to people who assert that the continuous throbbing keeps them awake.

Most hearers agree that the noise is loudest at night and in the early morning. Some have kept log-books to show that the sound was intermittent until 1945, and has since been continuous. Doctors have even attached a name to the sound and call it 'radiophobia'. It is used to describe the eccentrics who appear in the courts to claim injunctions against the Minister of Supply or the Postmaster-General that the noise shall cease.

Yet a parallel mystery recently cropped up in Australia, where newspapers and radio authorities were bombarded with letters demanding that the "radio irritation" should cease. Sufferers were advised to switch off. Back came replies that they had - and could still hear it.

Are flying saucers sending these signals? Are they travelling on a humming, throbbing, sound-beam? Is it all imagination? People who hear the sound claim that those who cannot hear it simply cannot be listening!

Note by Editor, FSR.

Very interesting. I will look out our own reports from early issues of FSR. And will our readers please be so kind as to send in to me any such reports and stories that they may find in their own scrapbooks?

*(Note, incidentally, that whereas in the case recently published by us in FSR 45/2 it was said that 'only women tended not to hear the whine', this early report mentioned that, whereas a man was frequently worried by the sound, it was his 'wife' who could not hear it!) -G.C.

II. More throbbings, hums and "groinkles".

In a letter dated August 24(th), 2000 from long-term FSR reader D.J. Strudwick of Meopham, Kent, we learn that he and his wife Lesley have been similarly troubled for years past by what they term "a groinkle"! They live on the North Downs Ridge, four or five miles from the nearest motorway.

Late at night, on August 23, Dave Strudwick was working in his study on an electronic project, when he became aware once more of this "groinkle", which "sounds like a dishwasher running".

He checked everything, but everything, dishwasher, washing machine, heater, air filter fan, etc. was switched off. Going up to bed, where Lesley was already asleep, he could still hear it in the bathroom, and then, horror of horrors, it was even at its loudest in the bedroom!

When he awoke at 6.00 a.m. next day, it had stopped. But when his wife woke up shortly afterwards her first words were: "I heard that noise again last night."

Mr. Strudwick says no underground caves are known to exist beneath the area where he lives, but about ten miles away, further up on the North Downs Chalk Ridge, there are the famous chalk caves at Chislehurst. He says UFO sightings have always been very frequent in that area. But his wife "wonders whether the noise may not be due to the 'Little Greys' doing their weekly wash in their caves on night-rate electricity?"

[If so, what a pity that, while they are on the job, the "Little Greys" apparently can't make themselves a little "whiter than white". G.C.]

Big Cat Thoughts

Flying Saucer Review, Vol 46/1, Spring, 2001, pp. 20 and 21

Big Cat Thoughts
( by Trevor Beer, FRES, FZS, MBOU, FSR Consultant.

A warm welcome to Trevor Beer, our new Consultant, who lives in Barnstaple, Devon, and, after a career as a writer in the educational field, is now well known as Britain's top expert on the various species of Big Cats which are found in our country and regarding which he writes regularly in the Devonshire newspaper *Western Morning News*. A great lover of all kinds of wild life, he is a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, and a member of the British Ornithological Union and founder of the North Devon group of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). His highly popular *Nature Watch* column appears daily in the *Western Morning News* and he has just won the coveted David Bellamy Award issued every year by the British Naturalists' Association, the oldest conservation organisation in our country. FSR readers may have noticed that I have recently expressed some startling views about the possible origin of some (maybe most) of Britain's Big Cats, and I am delighted to find that Mr. Beer shares my belief that there "may be a UFO link"! His letter in this issue shows the extraordinary range of Mr. Beer's knowledge and talents. -Editor

"Where do they come from?" The most asked question of all from believers and sceptics alike when the subject of British Mystery Cats loose in the wild in the UK and Ireland crops up. Interestingly no one asks where do they go, yet the creatures live on amongst us and we amongst them. [Why no serious injury or death to humans? - TWC]

As a cryptozoologist and investigator into the alien big cats for many years, and into folklore and legend since the 1950s, it is the black cat phenomenon, of leopard size and sometimes larger, that intrigues me most of all.

Appearing and vanishing as they do with the ease of all felines, it is at times as if they disappear at will even as one watches them. Many is the time I and others have watched such a cat crossing an open hillside when it has 'vanished' as if into thin air, presumably into a cave or some hidden goyal as we locals call the smaller coombes or unfarmed bits of countryside hereabouts.

Yet, as often as not, on going to what seems the exact spot, we find that the animal has disappeared, with the terrain showing no obvious hiding places. At such moments the air feels charged with electricity as one's own 'hackles' rise at the back of the neck and one feels as if one is in the presence of unseen, watching eyes, which is probably the case.

In recent years sightings of adults with cubs have been made which adds to the speculation surrounding these superb creatures. I have actually sat at a wood edge to suddenly feel watching eyes boring me, have turned and there has been a black big cat just standing observing, as if it has sensed my presence and come to see what I'm up to. There has never been an obvious threat, yet the feeling is always one of awe at their owner. At those moments, if it does not leave then I do - quite quickly.

Once two of us watched a black leopard coming towards us along a disused green lane, from a vantage point looking down along its length. The lane was bordered with trees and bushes with steepish fields on either side and leading to a waterway below.

Suddenly this cat came to a gorse patch but instead of appearing out the other side it, too, vanished. I say 'vanished' because though it might simply have lain down to rest up amongst the gorse, when we went down to look, it had gone, yet I feel sure that at no time as we walked down to the lane did I lose sight of the spot.

A friend who studies the phenomenon along with the Cadborosaurus situation in British Columbia, living in puma country, took 20 years before he saw one in the wild. So yet, such cats can appear and disappear virtually at will, their senses much more acute than ours.

My own view is that the black alien big cats (ABCs) are leopards, the melanistic form of the more usual spotted leopard. I do not accept that a large number of black pumas are about, and in any case the ones we are observing are leopard-like in every way.

Intriguingly I have had a variety of stories from people as to their origin including the obvious releases and escapes from captive situations such as 'pets', menageries and so on, over many years, which makes some sense of sightings going back to Roman times for example, and of the strange beasts, black dogs, Wisht hounds and such which have always roamed the countryside of reality and legend.

I have received suggestions that a foreign power was dropping them off here to destroy our livestock and farming, and another that, bored with the mundanity of pheasant and other game-shooting, some people have released various animals including large cat species to better enjoy the thrill of hunting them in the wilds of 'Britain'!

That the cats, some of them, are dropped from UFOs is not an uncommon theory. Interestingly, UFO activity, crop circles and ABCs often occur at the same time in many areas, and I've witnessed this myself many a time. I am not saying the three are part and parcel of one situation, but the links are there in terms of timing.

Of course, there are also links between all three and, say, local buses or the Royal Mail vans or whatever! One can easily make out a case for linked phenomena, but equally the links cannot be refuted and should therefore be examined both separately and in the context of possibly being related.

Hauntings by 'ghost' cats also comes into the picture, and rightly so. As a dowser, who also studies leys, I have my views on this aspect of the big-cat presence, but that will have to be for another time.

What is certain is that alien or mystery cats of large size definitely exist in the wild in this country and abroad, countries where they are not naturally found in the wild. Have no doubt about that, dear readers. I have no doubt there are a number of reasons for their presence, and if space permits I will keep you informed.

Businessmen hope to clone Dracula

From Ananova at


A group of US businessmen have announced plans to clone Dracula by digging up the body of Vlad the Impaler who inspired Bram Stoker's original novel.

The decision comes after medical reports claimed that vampirism is a real condition that could have been treated by modern medicine.

Vlad, a prince of Wallachia in the 15th century, is buried at a monastery on the island of Snagov on a lake close to Bucharest.

The unnamed businessmen are due to visit Romania next month, according to the Romanian daily Libertatea, where they will finalise their plans.

The newspaper also claims that the group has already approached the Scottish research centre at Roslin, where Dolly the cloned sheep was produced, to find out whether cloning the count is possible.

Vlad, who was known as Dracula because of his father's membership of a Hungarian knightly order, became infamous for spiking Turkish prisoners of war on stakes.

The businessmen say the cloning plan will solve once and for all the mystery of Dracula.

Canadian scientist David Dolphin from the University of British Columbia in Canada says his research indicates a rare metabolic illness was the cause of the vampire legends.

He said vampires were probably suffering from Porphyria, a condition which stops sufferers producing haemoglobin which gives blood its colour.

Even today there is no cure for the rare disease - although Dr Dolphin points out that in the middle ages when the vampire myth took off things were much worse.

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