NTS LogoSkeptical News for 28 November 2003

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Friday, November 28, 2003

Scholars Urge Further Analysis of 1st-Century Jesus Inscription

By Louise ChuAssociated Press Writer
Published: Nov 23, 2003

ATLANTA (AP) - A purported first-century inscription naming Jesus may or may not be the real thing, but Israel's labeling of the find as a fake is premature, scientists and scholars said at a panel discussion Sunday.

At issue is a limestone burial box, or ossuary, with the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," that emerged on Israel's antiquities market last year.

If authentic, the ossuary would offer a rare physical link to the life of Jesus, but Israel's Antiquities Authority declared the inscription a fraud in June.

Panelists, speaking in Atlanta at the annual joint conference of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, said authority should examine the box more closely before passing judgment.

"I don't know for sure whether this is a forged inscription, and I'm sort of cast as a defender of the inscription. I'm not," said moderator Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archeology Review, which published the initial findings. "What I do know is, Israeli authorities have badly managed the affair."

The antiquities authority, which has yet to release a full report on its findings, said the ossuary itself is ancient but oxygen isotope analysis suggested the words on it were inscribed in modern times.

The hard, brown patina that covers the box could not be found on the inscription, where a soft, grayish chalk-and-water paste had been applied instead to imitate weathering, the authority said.

James Harrell, a geologist at the University of Toledo and member of the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity, said his analysis of the inscription suggests the missing patina could simply be the result of overcleaning - not forgery.

Shanks said experts from the antiquities authority declined to speak at the forum.

Oded Golan, the collector who came forward with the ossuary in October 2002 and has since been accused of being the forger, said it had been "undoubtedly cleaned" while in his family's possession but did not know how.

Panelists said that while oxygen isotope analysis found most of the inscription showed some sort of modern influence, the last part of it was consistent with the ancient patina - specifically the part that names Jesus.

The ossuary had been valued at up to $2 million because of the claimed link with Jesus. According to biblical accounts, Jesus' brother James led the early church in Jerusalem and was stoned to death as a Jewish heretic in A.D. 62.

The oldest confirmed surviving artifact that mentions Jesus is a fragment of chapter 18 in John's Gospel from a manuscript dating to A.D. 125.

Durangoan reports he saw UFO


October 25, 2003

By Patricia Miller
Herald Staff Writer

Tim Butler doesn't believe in flying saucers. His perception is more sophisticated. It was a flying boomerang that caught his attention.

From his perch on Smelter Mountain about 6 p.m. Sept. 28, Butler, a Durango sound engineer, saw a silent, silver boomerang – 40 to 60 feet long – sweep over Fort Lewis College, around Smelter Mountain, and across the Animas River toward the airport, he said. The object was flying at a little higher than 1,000 feet. "It was flying so low I think it was illegal."

Then, as Butler fumbled unsuccessfully with his binoculars, he watched the object bank west behind Paradise Ridge and disappear, two or three minutes from the time he'd first seen it. Butler was with a friend who saw the craft, too. But he said his friend declined to be interviewed, citing fears that he may "end up on some future 'Men in Black' list."

Official observers seemed to have missed the flight.

The Durango-La Plata County Airport reported no unusual activity on that date. Financial Director Don Brockus said an American West Express plane departed about that time. If it had gone north, it might have flown along the path that Butler described.

"Doesn't sound like anything we have coming and going. But anything other than airliners doesn't have to check in with us. UFOs never let us know," Brockus said.

The National Weather Service at Grand Junction said: "There isn't any annotation about anybody seeing anything in the sky. And one of the guys working that shift has his own telescope and he would have noticed."

The Department of Defense's Strategic Command in Nebraska would only be concerned with the sighting if it had been space debris. "Strategic Command did not track any object predicted for entry at that time and location," a spokesman said.

Butler believes that what he saw was no airplane. His theory: unknown technology, possibly from the military, possibly not.

"I'm a scientist at heart so I'm a pretty skeptical person," he said. "I've been going to air shows in Oshkosh since I was a kid. It wasn't like any military technology I've seen."

Butler said the public only knows years after the fact what technology the military has. "There's about a 20-year time span between reported objects and the time we find out about them," he said.

As an example, Butler claimed that airships were seen all over rural America during the 1890s. In one incident, Butler read that people saw a cow dragged into an airship by a tractor beam. The United States didn't commission its first military lighter-than-air ship until 1922.

'It didn't make a sound'

The boomerang, Butler said, was notable for what it didn't have: It lacked markings, a cockpit, portholes, a tail and dorsal fins, stabilizing equipment, propellers, engines, and rivets.

"It wasn't thermalling and didn't make a sound," he said. "There was no heat distortion behind the end. I thought it had to be a military drone at one point but there was no contrail, no propulsion."

Butler recalled that the sun hadn't set and he was looking across at Fort Lewis.

"It was a clear, beautiful afternoon. My friend thought he saw a bird. It looked to me like a little glider from the Animas Valley. I have friends who launch gliders from there.

"Then I started seeing reflections from it. The reflections made it look really white, like a long tube of quicksilver. But when it turned, it looked like a cylinder with wings swept back into a delta."

Others sightings reported

So intrigued was Butler with his sighting that he began doing research. He returned to Smelter Mountain to draw a map of where the craft flew. Then he heard about a report in The Silverton Standard about a recent sighting; he drove to Silverton to get a copy.

The Standard reported on Sept. 19 that three residents on two separate occasions reported seeing a boomerang-shaped object over Silverton: Anita Steck and Tammy Rhoades saw the boomerang around 7 p.m. Sept. 15. At first it wasn't moving, then it turned and flew away fast, leaving a trail of smoke." Steck said she saw the same object again around 11 p.m. the same night.

Chris Tousimis saw a bright object over Sultan Mountain late that night or early the next morning, the Standard wrote. He described it as emanating two rays of light downward, giving it a boomerang-like appearance.

The National UFO Reporting Center's Web site reported 408 sightings in September. There were 19 sightings on Sept. 28, the night Butler saw the Durango boomerang.

The nearest sighting reported by the center that day was in Santa Fe, at 6 p.m., almost exactly the time Butler had his sighting. The Santa Fe phenomenon was described as "a large, bright, egg-shaped object that moved slightly." The sighting lasted an hour.

The Web site contains hundreds of reports of triangular UFOs but they are typically described as having lights, unlike the one Butler saw.

The Web site also reported that on Aug. 4 a group of four people saw "three lights moving in perfect triangle formation across the sky in Ouray County."

Durango's most well-known "UFOlogist," Dr. Roy Craig, was the major field investigator for the Condon Project, an Air Force-financed, scientific study of the subject. Craig's account of the project, UFOs: An Insider's View of the Official Quest for Evidence, was published by the University of North Texas Press in 1995.

"If it (the boomerang) was where you said it was, there should have been a lot of people who saw it," Craig said by phone from his home in Ignacio. "That they didn't indicates that it's a private thing."

But at least one person has taken notice of Butler's report.

Donna Chadwick, who gathers reports of sightings for the Aztec UFO Information Center and Gift Shop said, "This is one of the most particular descriptions I've heard. We haven't heard anything about objects of this shape, but we have lots of small, silver basketball stories. This is the kind of thing we're interested in."

Reach Staff Writer Patricia Miller at pmiller@durangoherald.com

Scholars say Jesus box may be genuine


ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- A purported first-century inscription naming Jesus may or may not be the real thing, but Israel's labeling of the find as a fake is premature, scientists and scholars said at a panel discussion.

At issue is a limestone burial box, or ossuary, with the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," that emerged on Israel's antiquities market last year.

If authentic, the ossuary would offer a rare physical link to the life of Jesus, but Israel's Antiquities Authority declared the inscription a fraud in June.

Panelists, speaking in Atlanta at the annual joint conference of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature on Sunday, said authorities should examine the box more closely before passing judgment.

"I don't know for sure whether this is a forged inscription, and I'm sort of cast as a defender of the inscription. I'm not," said moderator Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archeology Review, which published the initial findings. "What I do know is, Israeli authorities have badly managed the affair."

The antiquities authority, which has yet to release a full report on its findings, said the ossuary itself is ancient but oxygen isotope analysis suggested the words on it were inscribed in modern times.

The hard, brown patina that covers the box could not be found on the inscription, where a soft, grayish chalk-and-water paste had been applied instead to imitate weathering, the authority said.

James Harrell, a geologist at the University of Toledo and member of the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity, said his analysis of the inscription suggests the missing patina could simply be the result of overcleaning -- not forgery.

Shanks said experts from the antiquities authority declined to speak at the forum.

Oded Golan, the collector who came forward with the ossuary in October 2002 and has since been accused of being the forger, said it had been "undoubtedly cleaned" while in his family's possession but did not know how.

Panelists said that while oxygen isotope analysis found most of the inscription showed some sort of modern influence, the last part of it was consistent with the ancient patina -- specifically the part that names Jesus.

The ossuary had been valued at up to $2 million because of the claimed link with Jesus. According to biblical accounts, Jesus' brother James led the early church in Jerusalem and was stoned to death as a Jewish heretic in A.D. 62.

The oldest confirmed surviving artifact that mentions Jesus is a fragment of chapter 18 in John's Gospel from a manuscript dating to A.D. 125.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 663 November 25, 2003 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and James Riordon

BEC MADE FROM FERMION MOLECULES. The study of quantum gases, gases that display spectacular quantum effects, has come under sharp scrutiny over the past decade, partly because they offer the chance to study a model quantum system in which the interaction among atoms can possibly be tuned at will by the researcher. Chilled gases are not all alike. Cold clouds of boson atoms (atoms with an overall spin with a whole-number value) can fall into a single quantum state known as a Bose Einstein condensate (BEC). BEC was first observed in 1995 for the case of bosonic rubidium atoms (at NIST/Colorado, http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/1995/split/pnu233-1.htm ), lithium atoms (Rice Univ, http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/1995/split/pnu237-1.htm ), and sodium atoms (MIT, http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/1995/split/pnu248-1.htm ).

Meanwhile, fermion atoms (with half-integral overall spin) must avoid consorting with each other in any unified quantum state (a behavior enforced by the Pauli exclusion principle, which also dictates how electrons in atoms group into discrete shells---a grouping with implications for all chemical relationships). This means condensation is out of the question. Fermi atoms can, however, show off their quantum nature by piling up into all possible quantum energy levels allowed by the ambient temperature inside an atom trap. This feat was achieved in 1999 by another NIST group (http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/1999/split/pnu447-1.htm ). In 2002, BECs were formed from molecules of bosonic rubidium atoms (http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/2002/split/581-1.html ). Now, in the latest chapter in the saga of quantum gases, two research groups have succeeded in producing a BEC of molecules made from pairs of fermion atoms. Note that the atoms are fermions but considered as pairs they are bosons and therefore able to condense in Bose-Einstein fashion. The two groups involved: Rudolf Grimm and his colleagues at the University of Innsbruck (publishing last week online in Science) used lithium atoms, and Deborah Jin and her colleagues at NIST (publishing online in Nature) used potassium atoms.

Researchers will next want to tinker with the force between the pairs of atoms. At the one extreme is the strong interaction typical of the atomic BECs. At the other extreme is an interaction in which the atoms forming the pair are correlated but essentially unbound (in the chemical sense). The best example of this fragile arrangement is the special correlation, "Cooper pairing" between electrons, forming the essence of superconductivity. Such Cooper pairing of fermion atoms (at work in bringing about the superfluid state in liquid helium-3) does not seem to have occurred yet in the present BEC experiments with gases.

MAGNETIC GRAPHITE. Physicists at the University of Leipzig have irradiated graphite with protons to produce a lightweight, pure-carbon, metal-free, room temperature magnet. Pure carbon comes in several notable solid forms---graphite (powdery because with its two dimensional planes of atoms are so loosely bound--hence the use of graphite as a lubricant or pencil lead), diamond (hard because its constituents are well connected to atoms in all 3 dimensions), buckyballs (60-atom soccerballs), and nanotubes. All have important electrical properties, but in general they are not magnetic. Until now no pure-carbon sample was known to be magnetic, except when doped and held at temperatures close to absolute zero. In the Leipzig experiment, the protons were supplied by a nearby accelerator, and their presence in the sample in small amounts was just enough to inspire a small magnetic ordering among the carbon atoms. The magnetism was then measured by sensitive SQUID detectors and magnetic force microscopy at the surface. According to one of the researchers, Pablo Esquinazi (esquin@physik.uni-leipzig.de, +49-341-9732751), room-temperature magnetic graphite might have interesting applications in spintronics (some theoretical work suggests that atoms in a 2-dimensional graphite layer sprinkled with protons might be 100% spin polarizable) or as a data storage medium in which magnetic bits could be inscribed in a pure carbon film rather than in metal or metal-semiconductor films. Weak magnetism in graphite might also have implications for the study of biomolecules, which are rich in carbon-hydrogen bonds, or for astronomy since space is rich in carbon-filled gas clouds undergoing irradiation. (Esquinazi et al., Physical Review Letters, 28 November)

DO MICROFLUID PUMPS GIVE HUMANS THEIR SENSITIVE HEARING? New images of movements inside the cochlea, the part of the inner ear responsible for auditory function, suggest that the incredible sensitivity of mammalian hearing may be the result of hair cells that act as electromechanical fluid pumps. Arranged in a spiral structure known as the organ of Corti, the cochlea's outer hair cells exhibit voltage changes in response to sound, and change their length in response to an electrical voltage. At the Acoustical Society of America in Austin earlier this month, researchers (David Mountain, Boston University, dcm@bu.edu, and Domenica Karavitaki, now at Harvard Medical School, domenica@alum.mit.edu) presented visual evidence of contracting hair cells pushing fluid back and forth. The fluid traveled through a tiny channel in the sensory organ known as the tunnel of Corti. According to theoretical calculations by Mountain and colleagues, hearing sensitivity is increased 100-fold if this fluid flow is properly synchronized with sound-induced motions in the cochlea. To image small but very rapid vibrations in the cochlea, Karavitaki used stroboscopic illumination flashing at rates 10,000 times a second to "freeze" the motion of the cells. This visual evidence of outer hair cells acting as electromechanical fluid pumps supports the researchers' theory of cochlear function, which states that an increase in hearing sensitivity cannot take place without fluid flow through the tunnel of Corti. Among all vertebrates, only mammals have a tunnel of Corti, and only mammal ears have hair cells that change their lengths in response to an electrical voltage. (Paper 4pABa1 at meeting; lay-language paper with diagrams and movies at http://www.acoustics.org/press/146th/mountain.htm )

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE is a digest of physics news items arising from physics meetings, physics journals, newspapers and magazines, and other news sources. It is provided free of charge as a way of broadly disseminating information about physics and physicists. For that reason, you are free to post it, if you like, where others can read it, providing only that you credit AIP. Physics News Update appears approximately once a week.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Alternative medicine healers eligible for Nobel Prize


The World Congress of Integrated Medicine was hosted by Medicina Alternativa to celebrate its anniversary.

The plenary sessions were held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall for 5 days from October 27.Delegates from 125 countries attended the Congress.

The largest group of delegates numbering 101 came from India. China was also well represented.

Dr. P. R. Anthonis, a surgeon for all seasons opened the scientific sessions by lighting the traditional lamp and welcoming all the foreign doctors to Sri Lanka. His grateful admirers presented him with a golden knife encrusted with 5 element jewels for his life-long services to humanity. Orations on the theme "The Pitfalls of Integration of Medicines" were delivered by Prof. Dr. J. B. Peiris, Consultant Neurologist, Prof. Dr. Carlo Fonseka, Dean and Consultant Physician Physiologist and Prof. Dr. Denis Aloysious, Consultant General Practitioner.

Two hundred clinical workshops were carried out at Kalubowila, Institute of Acupuncture after the Congress.

There were several medical discussions including the procedure to award a Nobel Prize in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) from next year. The Nobel Foundation in Sweden has now conceded that Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) practitioners are entitled to be nominated for The Alfred Nobel Prize according to his last will.

After the end of the Conference all the delegates were escorted to Beli Lena where they visited the archaeological site of the cave of the Balangoda Man (Homo sapiens sapiens Balangodensis). Where he practised acupuncture 30,000 years ago even on animals (for example, to tame elephants).

An all-night pirith ceremony was conducted by His Holiness Sri Lama Gangchen Rinpoche of Tibet at the Medicina Alternativa Health Centre at Kitulgala to bring peace to Sri Lanka and the World. Health Minister P. Dyaratna MP and Madam Dayaratna were the Chief Guests at the official opening ceremony. Ministers W. J. M. Lokubandara MP, John Amarathunga MP and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksha MP also graced some of the Congress sessions.

The Chairman of Medicina Alternativa presented four of his latest publications to all the foreign delegations. The delegates passed a vote of thanks on Prof. Anton Jayasuriya for making all Complementary and Alternative Medicine healers (CAM practitioners) eligible for The Nobel Prize from the year 2004.

Cult scholar Margaret Singer dies



BERKELEY - Psychologist Margaret Singer, an expert on brainwashing and cults, has died. She was 82.

Singer, who studied the Peoples Temple, Branch Davidian and Symbionese Liberation Army among other groups, died Sunday after a long illness at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley.

Born in Denver, where her father was the chief engineer at the U.S. Mint, Singer received her degrees from the University of Denver.

She began studying brainwashing in the 1950s at Walter Reed Institute of Research in Washington, D.C., where she interviewed U.S. soldiers taken prisoner during the Korean War.

Singer testified in the 1976 bank robbery trial of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army. She interviewed more than 3,000 cult members, assisted in more than 200 court cases and was a leading authority on schizophrenia and family therapy.

"My mom spent her whole life assisting other people -- victims, parents or lawyers -- and often for free," said Sam Singer, a San Francisco public relations consultant.

Occasionally threatened, Singer refused to back down. In a 2002 interview she told how, at 80, she had frightened off someone who'd been leaving menacing notes in her mailbox.

"I've got a 12-gauge shotgun up here with a spray pattern that'll put a three-foot hole in you, sonny, and you'd better get off my porch, or you'll be sorry!" she shouted out the window.

Singer was the author of "Cults in Our Midst," a 1995 study on cults that she revised earlier this year with analysis of the connection between cults and terrorism.

She won the Hofheimer Prize and the Dean Award from the American College of Psychiatrists, among other honors.

She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Jerome, and by her children, Sam and Martha, all of Berkeley.

Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Monday at the McNary-Morgan, Engle and Jackson funeral home in Oakland. Memorial donations may be sent to the American Family Foundation, P.O. Box 413005, Suite 313, Naples, Fla., 34101.

Rush for heavenly weddings



INDIA is braced for mass weddings today, a date astrologers have declared the most auspicious time for marriage for almost two decades.

In Delhi alone about 12,000 couples are to tie the knot in ceremonies across the capital.

Banquet halls have doubled their prices and wedding outfitters are working overtime to cope with the rush in demand.

Hindu priests are planning frantic dashes across a city choked with wedding processions as they conduct multiple marriages to meet young couples' desire for the day that will give their nuptials a fair wind.

The clamour is all the greater since it comes at the end of a lean patch.

An unusual planetary alignment from June until late October resulted in a virtual bar on marriages after the astrologers said any unions in those months would be unhappy and almost certainly doomed to failure.

But today the planets will be in perfect alignment - the best in 18 years for a happy marital life.

The date is also the anniversary of the wedding of god king Ram, from Hindu mythology, and his queen, Sita.

Indian parents, who still regard arranging successful marriages for their offspring as their most sacred duty, are taking no chances. With the juxtaposition of the moon, a symbol of health, and Jupiter, indicative of prosperity, most people feel today will give the best chance of a long and happy marriage.

"No harm will come to couples who are married on that day," said the Delhi-based astrologer Veena Varma. "The entire day is auspicious and so marriages can be held at any time."

The glut of weddings has left those who did not have the foresight to plan months ago scrambling to find venues and bands.

Among the prospective couples who struggled to make their arrangements in time is a businessman, Ravish Sharma, from Delhi, and his fiance, Sudeshna .

"We are yet to find a single decent banquet hall and caterer," Mr Sharma said. Even his family's priest has deserted them because he has too much on his plate and left it to his understudy to do the honours.

India's wedding industry, which caters to increasingly lavish marriages and is worth £700 million annually, is cashing in on the sudden turnabout.

At Palms Court, one of Delhi's leading banqueting facilities, staff took the booking for 27 November four months ago.

Its manager, Manish Thakur, said the venue had resisted the temptation to raise prices to capitalise on demand, but others at Delhi's 150 gardens and halls had doubled prices and even squeezed in two or more parties on the same day.

"We had to turn many people away once we had the booking," said Mr Thakur, whose facility caters to 800 guests at a time. "But that's business. We prefer to concentrate on one party and give a high-quality service."

Like any businessman, Summit Diwan would prefer trade to be evenly spread throughout the year.

But Diwan Sons, an outfitter specialising in elaborate sherwani long coats and saafa tailed turbans traditionally worn by Punjabi men on their wedding day, has had to adjust work schedules to meet demand.

Each bejewelled and embroidered coat can run to £900, so it is well worth paying tailors the extra rupees required to encourage them to work overtime.

But the wedding bands that must grace every marriage can only be in one place at a time. Delhi's Swagat Band has upped its rates from 6,000 to 8,000 rupees (£85 to £115) for today.

"I've been getting lots of calls, everyday asking if the band is available," said Amarjit Ahuja, the band's owner. "We put up our rates. But people have been offering us even more to cancel our existing bookings."

Religion Letters - 11/27/03

Last modified Wednesday, November 26, 2003 9:48 PM PST


By: - North County Times

Evolution lacks scientific evidence

The core of evolution consists of several factors. One of them is that complex information must arise from natural law. The molecules-to-man evolutionary concept requires huge volumes of such new, functionally more complex information to arise, but such information has never been observed to do so. Such increased information complexity is not supported by any known natural law.

Another is that the highly improbable accumulation of beneficial mutations, building one upon another, creates complexity. But again, no such accumulation has ever been observed. In reality natural selection removes mutations to maintain the integrity of the organism. Even a beneficial one would have to wait again for endless beneficial mutations to appear to combine for some useful function, each one increasing the mathematical improbability of usefulness.

And in the beginning, when inorganic matter ruled (according to evolution), none of the above could take place without that first life form being in existence. Life has not been observed, or synthetically made to come from non-life, and in fact since Pasteur we know it cannot be.

Further discussion of intermediates is, therefore, logically void of intellectual and scientific substance.



Science not a part of creationism

In his latest trifle (Nov. 20), Rick Kellogg writes that creationism and evolution are "equally scientific," a pronouncement that is familiar creationist sophistry.

Science is a process that begins with observations that lead to explanatory hypotheses, usually in the context of overarching theories. The hypotheses are tested through experimentation and/or predictions and conclusions are drawn. For example, based on observations of a stratified fossil record in the geologic column, Darwin, in the context of his theory, predicted transitional forms would be discovered. Of course, his predictions have come to pass many, many times.

The approach of creationism is exactly backward to that of science. Typical is the modus operandi of the Institute for Creation Research, the most prominent of the creationist propaganda mills. Members must sign an oath stating, in part, that the Bible is historically and scientifically accurate and as such God made every type of living creature during the Genesis creation week.

In other words, with creationists, conclusions come first. And any evidence that contradicts their literal interpretation of the Bible, such as the vast amount of evidence supporting evolution, is damned, often with nary a look, let alone objective critical analysis. And this Kellogg calls science.


associate professor

Palomar College

San Marcos

Bible literalism is based on faith, not reason

Robert Ivasku (Faith & Values Letter, Nov. 13) claims that Southern California Babylon will be punished by fire, smoke and destruction as retribution for sin. I suppose this implies a biblical basis for claims that the recent wildfires were punishment for California's election of a groper starring in violent action flicks.

Paul Manata (same date) acknowledges that his claim of "ultimate authority" is "circular" and proposes a "transcendental argument" that Christianity's inherent superiority means that "the laws of logic are immaterial." This is precisely why any claim to authority is a fundamental logical flaw.

Logical claims must be supported by reason, not mere say-so, especially from the source circularly asserting the claim. Even a claim to authority would require verifying the validity of that authority, which Bible literalists cannot do while their primary source is riddled with contradictions and factual errors.

Bible literalism is based on faith, not reason, as more honest Christians are willing to admit. Manata has essentially conceded the logic issue and basically reaffirms my original point. Until he can actually offer a substantive position, I can no longer expend my limited response allocations on silly offerings that only reinforce my point.



Black hole awaits the godless

Recent discovery by astrophysics: There is a massive black hole at the center/core of this galaxy. You who say there is no God - the black hole awaits.

You who say there is no such thing/place as hell - the black hole awaits. You who rebel against God - the black hole awaits.

You who think, say, believe that homosexual behavior is normal or acceptable - that black hole awaits.



Evolution's logic hard to live with

Dr. Carey Carpenter continues to defend the facts of evolution but never offers a complete worldview to accompany his model. His model says only the physical exists, but it cannot account for the nonphysical. He uses logic and morality but he cannot account for them.

Logic and morality didn't start with the physical. They didn't evolve from dust. They have always been there and are discovered by man. It's the same with math: 2 plus 2 has always equaled 4, it didn't evolve into 4. Love, aesthetics, ethics, philosophy don't depend on the evolutionary stages of man, or even if man exists, they are outside of the physical world.

His model is incoherent. It says at first there was nothing and then it blew up? Nature created nature? All life is an accident, therefore man has no special value. So there is no real difference between killing a worm or a child? There is no soul or final justice after death. The wicked shall not be punished nor the righteous rewarded. So there is no real difference between Mother Teresa and Hitler. The fact is the good doctor doesn't really believe that. Even he can't live with his facts.



Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Astrologist's predictions for 2004


Reporter: Emma Pedler

Presenter: Michael Criddle

Tuesday, 25 November 2003

Where does our future lie?

Looking into the future is one of those alluring things that can attract and scare people at the same time. If you're interested in hearing an astrologists predictions for 2004, read on...

Christine Broadbent is a full time astrologist who has practised as a professional astrologer for 22 years. She is a sociologist, writer, teacher, author and conference speaker.

Christine joined Michael Criddle on the breakfast program to discuss what we can expect in 2004.

This is her prediction:

"2004 looks like a point of, many of the cycles that started earlier coming to their natural completion point in 2004. There are a few things that seem to alleviate it, but there's also the suggestion that we've got a lot of social change coming down the track.

"We've actually got a planetary event occurring that hasn't occurred since the roaring twenties began, and that's the planet of change - Uranus is entering Pisces."

Michael asked Christine what happened when this occurred back in the twenties.

"Well, in the roaring twenties, basically there was massive social change. There was a rise of spiritualism. There was a sense of needing to engage again with the spirit of imagination.

"Theatre and the cinema age took off. Hemlines went up, there was a sense that we had to break away from old restrictions in all sorts of ways in the 1920's. Again you've got your artisan Pisces pushing for this break from restriction.

"And we even have another important slow planet in the other water sign of Cancer. So there's a lot of water sign energy, which suggests that things that are most newsworthy are the things to do with water.

"We're really going to have to deal with the state of our oceans, our rivers, our groundwater. And we'll probably see water driven cars starting to enter the market in a serious way as opposed to petrol driven… they are actually testing them already, but they haven't reached mainstream yet. But it's on the way…

Michael asked Christine what she foresees politically for 2004.

"What's happening now is very indicative of the extreme turbulence of the current… we've got some short, hard aspects that have been building up since late August between Mars and Jupiter…

"That tends to really push all sorts of political agendas, and peculiar things occur and polarities become bigger and the great divide becomes even deeper between people of different religious beliefs and political leanings.

"We will continue to see quite a lot of division and probably some surprises. There'll probably be some surprise twists in world politics. Someone who seems incredibly strongly positioned could be undermined… and particularly American politics that bears looking at.

"Because America itself (the American chart) and President George Bush will be having the 'satin return', which means there's a big reality bite transit, and that happens in the second half of 2004. And we are of course very linked to what happens."

Michael asked Christine if the world might see the division between rich and poor being addressed.

"Yes, I do… because Pisces is very much a sign of compassion and trying to look at things that unite the human family, rather than the things that divide them, so there's certainly more attention to that.

"Whether it's tremendously effective is another matter, because the social structures that are increasingly coming into place are tending to stress that difference. So we have the situation where insurance companies are beginning to influence us so strongly and in so many ways…

"Of course we're seeing our health system in so much turmoil, and that fits with us having the planet Jupiter in Virgo, which is the sign of health, so we're going to see continual big emphasis on health.

"There'll be a very, very extreme divide around this issue of maintaining the quality of free health care or moving towards the American model of privatisation. And that will remain a very burning issue, right though till September, and probably won't come to its biggest point of decision until the August/September time in fact."

Michael asked Christine if 2004 is going to be a year of opportunity or challenges.

"I think it is a year of opportunity, we have a very nice aspect between the two social shaping planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

"I think there's going to be a lot of efforts to remedy some of the problems that we have created, with the earth and the waterways and pollution and all these ecological crisis. I think there's a lot of opportunity for shift there.

"But there's also going to be a bit of turbulence, I think, on the world stage, where we continue to reap the rewards of past movements."

Wealthy Richmond widow influenced by cult leader



In local news 25 years ago this week:

Fate brought Esther Price and Joseph Jeffers together.

Fate was the name of a magazine of the occult. Price was a wealthy Richmond widow who responded to an advertisement placed in the magazine by a religious cult called the Kingdom of Yahweh. Jeffers was the flamboyant and charismatic leader of the cult. When Price died in 1978 at age 84 under questionable circumstances, the story that emerged is a tale of faith and suspicion.

The Nov. 25, 1978, Times-Dispatch included an Associated Press report on a third will purportedly left by Price that had been filed with the Phelps County, Mo., Probate Court. The will had been executed in 1966. Two wills previously filed with the court were dated 1976 and 1978.

The 1978 will, written just a month before Price's Aug. 28 death, left her entire estate to Jeffers. The 1976 will bequeathed $285,000 to Kingdom Voice Publications Inc., a publishing firm run by Jeffers, and the 1966 will left only $25,000 to Jeffers' organizations.Price was the daughter of a prominent Richmond banker and contractor, John T. Wilson, whose construction firm built several of the city's landmarks, including the old Federal Reserve Bank and the Miller & Rhoads downtown department store. Price lived on Monument Avenue with her husband, an executive in the lumber business, until his death in 1963. Soon after he died, she moved to the Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond and lived as a frugal recluse.

It was during the period shortly after she moved to the hotel that Price fell under the influence of Jeffers and his cult. Those who met Jeffers during his visits with Price at the Jefferson could not forget him.

His clothing was usually clownish in appearance. One resident recalled the outfit Jeffers was wearing when they met: red slacks, blue suede shoes, long white coat and broad-brimmed white hat. Jeffers seemed protective of Price whenever they were together, and he was guarded around her friends.

"There was an air of secretiveness and mystery," one hotel resident said.

Jeffers was born in 1898 in Alabama. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1918 and became a traveling preacher with a flair for theatrics. His magnetic personality easily attracted followers.

In 1935, Jeffers officially broke his ties to the Baptist church by founding Kingdom Temple Inc. in California and proclaiming himself the reincarnation of Christ. He turned to Yahwism, a religion based on the belief that there is only one true deity whose name is Yahweh.

Jeffers' teachings soon evolved into an odd mixture of fundamentalist Christianity and New Age spiritualism that included reincarnation, spaceships, aliens, astrology, and numerology. Jeffers' personal life was tumultuous, with five marriages and numerous brushes with the law.

Price abruptly left Richmond and moved to Jeffers' Missouri commune in late 1975. Jeffers later said she joined the commune because he had been able to establish contact with her deceased husband in the spirit world. Price's relatives received only occasional letters and calls from her after she joined Jeffers in Missouri.

One of Price's sisters-in-law received a Sept. 9, 1978, telephone call from a friend in Missouri that suggested something might be wrong with Price. The sister-in-law called the sheriff in Phelps County, Mo., and learned of Price's death. Price's body had been transported back to Richmond where a local funeral home had handled her Sept. 1 burial beside her husband in Riverview Cemetery. The funeral home had been unaware Price had relatives in the area who should have been notified.

The Phelps County prosecuting attorney requested an investigation into Price's death, and a Richmond Circuit Court judge ordered the exhumation of Price's body in late September 1978 so an autopsy could be performed. The autopsy report released that November said the primary cause of death was cancer of the bladder, but foul play could not be ruled out because of "the paucity of information about the events occurring in her terminal days." However, no charges were filed.

When Price's relatives and other beneficiaries named in earlier wills learned that the 1978 will left Price's entire estate to Jeffers, they filed lawsuits contesting the legacy. Settlement of the estate was finally achieved in February 1982. Price's worth, once estimated to be near $5 million, had by the time of the final accounting dwindled to about $300,000 and a few real estate holdings.

Lawyers believed Price had given the bulk of her wealth to Jeffers' organizations before her death. In the final disbursement, Jeffers received $170,000, with the remainder going to family members and 13 charitable organizations named in the 1966 will.

Jeffers led the Kingdom of Yahweh until his death in 1988. The organization later moved its headquarters to Arizona.

Larry Hall is a Times-Dispatch librarian/researcher. Contact him at (804) 649-6076 or lhall@timesdispatch.com. Time Capsules features items from the archives of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. To learn more about past events in your community, try searching www.archivesva.com. For events prior to 1985, contact the News Research Library at (804) 649-6224 for assistance.

Dores attend a three-day program


Dr. Nicholas Dore, a local doctor of Oriental medicine, and his wife, Edith, a Master Massage Therapist recently have returned from Plymouth, N.H., where they completed a three-day Gerson Institute Caregiver Training program.

The program was conducted by Charlotte Gerson, author of the book, "The Gerson Therapy." Gerson is the daughter of the late Dr. Max Gerson M.D., developer of the Gerson Therapy, a scientifically-based nutritional therapy for the treatment of cancer and other acute and chronic degenerative diseases, a press release stated.

In addition to an in-depth study of the development and scientific basis of the therapy, the training also included experiential learning of the techniques and procedures necessary or unique to the Gerson Therapy.

For more intensive training, the Dores will travel to Baja, Calif., and Mexico in December as caregivers for a patient who will undergo the Gerson Therapy at Baja NutriCare Center, a licensed Gerson treatment facility, the press release stated.

Originally published Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Christians cause chaos at psychic show


November 26 2003 at 12:57PM

By Jeanne Viall Fundamentalist Christian demonstrators caused chaos at the Baxter Theatre on Tuesday night as they hurled threats and anti-Semitic abuse at psychic Belinda Silbert.

The men said they were from a church in Claremont, and apparently sounded American.

The protesters first staged a disruption during the show after telling John Bowey, producer of Cross Over and Connect, that they wanted just to slip in for a while to see if the show was "suitable", as congregants had expressed interest in the show.

"I told them it would be better to see the whole show," said Bowey, but they were insistent and he let them in.

'You murdered Jesus' People in the audience began praying loudly, heckling and disrupting the show, a shaken Silbert said on Wednesday.

Then, at the end of the show three of the Christian protesters started shouting, "She's not your god", "There are only demons here" and "She calls up the dead".

"They were screaming at me as I went to sign my CDs, and saying I should accept Christ.

"I told them I was Jewish and that set off a stream of hate speech.

"They shouted, 'You murdered Jesus' and that's when I said, 'Nobody insults me or my nation.'

One was particularly aggressive. "He advanced on me, saying I was the devil incarnate and would burn in hell," Silbert said.

"I became alarmed and very angry at the anti-Semitic tirade. It was revolting."

Silbert gives messages to people "from the other side" during the show.

Security was ill-equipped to deal with the situation, and Silbert and Bowey left the scene to defuse it.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Argus on November 26, 2003 Channeling The Sprit Of Eric Weiss


October 31, 2003 By John Sharify

WOODINVILLE - So I'm thinking, no one knew the guy. There's no wife here -- "widow" I mean.

No son or grandson -- not even a distant relative

And yet all this interest, to get a hold of a dead guy. Well not the guy, but his spirit.

"And maybe tonight will be the night," said Sheila Lyon, a medium who reaches out to spirits.


Lyon never knew Eric Weiss, but Midge knows everything about him!

He was the first man to escape naked from jail cells. He was the first man to hang by his feet upside down outside of a building while escaping from a straight jacket.

I should tell you something else about Eric Weiss. He changed his name to Harry Houdini.

Houdini was simply the greatest escape artist, and magician who ever lived. The only thing he couldn't escape? Death.

Houdini, by the way, died on Halloween in 1926. And ever since, people have tried to reach him on Halloween!

Why? Maybe the question should be, why not?

Why here at Woodinville's Willows Lodge? It's because Harry Houdini slept here, and performed magic. This was someone's home at the time and Houdini was the guest of honor.

In fact, walk into the Willows Lodge you can see the actual Chinese water torture cell that Houdini used to escape and wow audiences.

For the record, Hollywood got it wrong when it claimed the water torture is how Houdini died. Actually, it was so much less dramatic.

Houdini's appendix burst.

So now, we wait to see if Harry Houdini can be brought back from the dead.

We did get any word -- nothing.

Maybe it's because when you die, you only answer to your real name.

Evolution of a theory


Researchers probe other beginnings of existence


The State News

More than 150 years separate Charles Darwin's evolutionary research efforts from an MSU plant biology professor's, but in many ways, the debate is the same as Darwin left it.

Creationists - those who believe that a god created life - and evolutionists have yet to reach a consensus on the theories.

And Doug Schemske's research then goes on to differ from those theories.

It doesn't involve primates - just monkeyflowers.

In Darwin's theory, a species evolves through infinitely small changes over a long period of time. Schemske, part of a group of MSU researchers, found evidence that one large mutation occurs before settling down to a series of smaller ones. The research will determine whether new adaptations are comprised of many mutations each of small effect, or instead, if some large-effect mutations are involved.

"It was previously believed that mutations of large effect would cause such disruption that they would not improve overall performance," Schemske said.

But under the bright fluorescent lights of the Plant Science Greenhouse, Schemske seeks to prove the initial evolution theory wrong.

His research involves two species of mimulus, or monkeyflowers. The orange monkeyflowers only attract hummingbirds as pollinators; the purple flowers only attract bumblebees.

Schemske created a hybrid of the flowers that attracted different pollinators than their colors would suggest. The orange hybrids attract bees and the purple flowers attract hummingbirds.

The flowers' structures can be applied to humans, Schemske said, by mapping traits that control flower color, shape, size and nectar volume.

The research is funded through three grants awarded from the National Science Foundation in 2000. The first two were for a combined $653,000. A group of researchers recently received a grant from the Frontiers in Integrative Biological Research program of the foundation for $5 million to continue their work on the evolutionary genetics of adaptation.

"We discovered that moving a single genetic region that influences flower color causes a dramatic increase in visitation by a new pollinator," Schemske said. "Thus, in this system, adaptation to a new pollinator has clearly involved major genes."

Schemske produces thousands of hybrid monkeyflowers, as does his counterpart 4,000 miles away in Seattle. University of Washington biology Professor Toby Bradshaw meets with Schemske at least once a year to conduct field observations in the vicinity of Yosemite National Park in California.

"The whole purpose is to determine the minimum number of genes it might take for a species to split into two," Bradshaw said.

Monkeyflowers are used because they are easier to produce, Schemske said.

"Imagine all of the kinds of interesting experiments that can be done with plants that would be very difficult to do with animals," Schemske said. "Also, the hybrid seeds are very viable and can withstand a century, so the next generation of scientists will be able to use them in their experiments."

But some say evolution research isn't concrete.

Kathleen Cook, a charter member of Community Baptist Church, 7832 W. Mount Hope Road in Lansing, said any current research to prove evolution exists lacks validity.

"Creation was inspired and breathed by God,"Cook said. "And evolution is just a theory."

"In order to prove a theory, you have to be able to reproduce things and it can't be reproduced. It is all about faith, and the faith to believe that an omnipotent God created the Earth and all that dwell within it."

Robert Pennock, an associate science and technology professor, studies the nature of scientific evidence and how it relates to evolutionary biology.

Creationists, Pennock said, are proponents of "intelligent design (who) want to think the scientific community is split by doubt because they can't come to a uniform theory of evolution.

"For more than 150 years, they have been battling this ghost as if Darwin's theory is the end of the story," Pennock said. "Darwin had a lot of stuff right, but there is so much more that we have learned since then."

Pennock recently testified in Texas against teaching creationism from a textbook and stands by his right to defend scientific research.

"I have had students in the past who are supposed to reject evolution because of their religious beliefs, and that is an issue they have to work through," Pennock said.

Rep. Ken Bradstreet, R-Gaylord, is spearheading a legislative bill that would allow creationism to be taught alongside the theory of evolution in Michigan classrooms.

The bill is not entirely religious in nature, Bradstreet said.

"There are people who believe in or embrace intelligent design, but it is not necessarily related to some deity," said Bradstreet.

And Bradstreet expects to encounter some opposition from scientists on his bill.

"Anybody that gets exercise over the separation of church and state is bound to get excited over this," Pennock said. "They are forced to reject the conclusion of intelligent design and are running around like Chicken Little just because it happens to be based on certain religious beliefs."

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Alternative Medicine Is Gaining More Fans


POSTED: 2:51 p.m. EST November 3, 2003
UPDATED: 7:54 a.m. EST November 4, 2003

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 40 percent of Americans used some form of alternative medicine in 2000.

Alternative medicine is big business and growing in popularity. Barbara Morse reports on a holistic education center in Wakefield that boasts of having "All That Matters."

Yoga is a staple at "All That Matters," but it's not the only thing. "We offer Tai Chi, we offer meditation, we have health services, things like Reiki and massage," said Elizabeth Devereux, and instructor at "All That Matters."

"It's not a massage, but rather a gentle form of body work," said Suzanne Tuzes, LMT.

Tuzes, a therapist who performs the Bowen Technique, works on specific muscles.

"You slack back the top layer of skin to get behind the muscle, you press down, press down behind and you give it a little challenge, you just press into it a bit," Tuzes said.

After each move, Tuzes backs off for a couple of minutes and that's when the client feels the effects.

"It felt great, but it's strange because it's happening now, not when she's touching me but now," said one client.

It's very good for stress, very good for physical pain she said.

To dig deeper emotionally, "All That Matters" offers chanting.

"It's not about singing, it's about what you have in your heart and just opening your heart and letting it out," said Rae Ferguson, "All That Matters," instructor.

Pamela Dee said she's hooked on this form of meditation. "Well, life is so busy, this is really a time to come into yourself, tune in and relax. So, I get a lot of peace from that," said Dee.

"I just felt I just kind of needed reminders of getting away from the outside world and just bringing myself back to myself," said Judy Geller a client at "All That Matters."

"You do it everywhere, you bring it out, if you're out walking or if you're driving, wherever, it's very healing for those around you also," said Patricia Blake an "All That Matters," client.

Whatever your outlet -- it's all about who we are and how to access that.

And that's what they encourage at this holistic center. The emphasis is on education -- learning new ways to get in touch and keep in touch with your inner self.

There's a library open to anyone, and they even have a store full of products that will help you achieve your goals.

In addition, "All That Matters," offers belly dancing, African drumming and therapeutic touch.

To learn more about this holistic health education center, call (401) 782-2126 or visit its Web site.

Copyright 2003 by turnto10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Think tank group questions Darwinism

A History of Intelligent Design
By Thomas Woodward


By Douglas Groothuis
Special to The Denver Post

The media often organize information according to predictable and simplistic stories. Sometimes the media story captures the truth, and sometimes the truth eludes it. One oft-repeated story is that all challenges to Darwinism are merely religiously motivated and hopelessly unscientific.

Science is about objective facts. Religion is about subjective values. Darwinism is scientific. Challenges to Darwinism are not scientific and so have no place in any public institution. This standard story is being upended by lawyers, scientists and philosophers who claim that Darwinism fails the tests of good science. These thinkers, who are neither theologians nor preachers, make up the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, which is chronicled in this important book written by a professor at Trinity College in Florida.

Woodward's account shows that the problem with the template of "religion vs. Darwin" is that it simply doesn't fit the ID movement, although many detractors try to insist otherwise. The founder of the movement, Phillip Johnson, was, until his recent retirement, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. While on sabbatical in the late 1980s, he studied the scientific case for and against Darwinism and concluded that the empirical case for Darwinism was surprisingly weak. He then presented his findings at a symposium held through his law school and was further encouraged to pursue his criticism of Darwinism. As Woodward amply documents, the proponents of this movement, which include a biochemist (Michael Behe) as well as a philosopher of mathematics (William Dembski), have "doubts about Darwin" based on their investigation of the empirical evidence.

Proponents of ID argue that Darwinism lacks crucial evidence, begs important questions, and often caricatures alternatives unfairly. It excludes the possibility of any design in nature by philosophical fiat, not by winning the game empirically.

The proponents of ID make their case against Darwinian evolution by pointing out flaws in the arguments and gaps in the evidence, not by citing religious texts. Neither do they argue that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old, nor do they care to discuss Noah's flood. That is, they are not part of the older "scientific creationism" movement.

Rather, ID thinkers are a diverse group united primarily in their belief Darwinism isn't beyond the reach of scientific criticism. They claim that the category of intelligent design is a legitimate scientific concept required to explain certain aspects of the natural world, but they say little about the nature of the designer.

Chance and necessity alone, they argue, do not provide sufficient scientific categories for explaining the origin of complex living systems, such as DNA and the bacterial flagellum (a microscopic rotary motor). The scientific and philosophical establishment is beginning to interact seriously with ID claims in academic journals and at conferences, although it is still often dismissed as "unscientific."

A growing number of books defend and criticize ID, but Woodward's book is unique in that it assesses the history of this movement of the past decade or so from the perspective of the classical discipline of rhetoric. Given the book's angle, the reader is treated to the straight arguments for and against Darwinism, as well as an inside look at the personalities and persuasive strategies used on both sides of the debate. (For example, when noted Darwinist Stephen Jay Gould first met Philip Johnson, he dispensed with pleasantries and said, "You're a creationist, and I've got to stop you.")

In Woodward's account, Johnson emerges as the rhetorical mastermind of ID, who, though an outsider to the scientific guild, nevertheless mastered the scientific case against Darwinism and helped develop a consistent strategy for the ID movement. His simple charge is that Darwinism is driven more by a commitment to a materialistic worldview than by the actual evidence of biology. If one admits the category of intelligent design back into science, the case for Darwinism crumbles - or so Johnson claims.

While Woodward is a friend of the Intelligent Design movement, he lets the thinkers speak for themselves and is neither partisan nor unfair. Rather, without getting too technical, he frames the debate in terms of rhetorical strategies employed. In this way, the reader can discover the larger intellectual, historical, emotional and cultural contours of this growing debate, which is not about to go away any time soon.

Douglas Groothuis is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary and the author of "On Pascal."

Doctors baffled as Indian man claims not to have eaten for 68 years


Mon Nov 24, 6:28 AM ET

AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) - An Indian man who claims divine inspiration says he has survived 68 years without eating, drinking or relieving himself, baffling doctors who are unable to prove him an imposter.

Prahlad Jani, a 76-year-old whose extraordinary tale has won him a small band of devotees, took a dare and underwent round-the-clock surveillance at a hospital in Ahmedabad (news - web sites), the commercial capital of the western state of Gujarat.

Clad in his trademark red sari, bangles and earrings meant to fashion Hindu goddesses, Jani managed to puzzle the Sterling Hospital's 400 doctors.

Neurologist Sudhir Shah said Jani was under watch for 10 days, with a closed-circuit camera running, and that doctors were convinced he did not break any of his vows, although there was no way of verifying whether Jani has pulled it off for 68 years.

"He has evidence of the formation of urine, which was reabsorbed on his bladder wall. The medical committee does not have any scientific explanation," Shah said.

Jani offered an explanation. He said he has been blessed and heard his calling when he was eight years old.

"I get the elixir of life from the hole in my palate, which enables me to go without food and water," Jani explained to AFP.

A vindicated Jani left the hospital Saturday and said he was retreating to a cave at Mount Abu in the neighboring desert state of Rajasthan.

Another doctor, Dinesh Desai, said the hospital hoped to test Jani again to verify his claim of a hole in the palate between his mouth and nose.

"We may get some answers then," Desai said.

Shah said it took the hospital more than a year to persuade Jani to undergo surveillance.

He said he wanted the ascetic to undergo experiments at NASA, as Jani's supposed feat could come in handy for astronauts.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Alternative medicine: Future virus fighting


Rupert Goodwins

Viruses and worms are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future - but how will the methods used to fight them develop?

Although viruses have been with us for 20 years and worms considerably longer, there has been remarkably little movement in the way they are written, detected and removed. In general, an unknown writer identifies a vulnerability in a common system, writes software to exploit it and releases it to his chums and the antivirus companies, sometimes into the wild. The virus is analysed, a unique pattern within it is identified and the antivirus companies release the update to their customers.

This works unless the malware -- a generic term for harmful software -- can propagate itself faster than the companies can respond. One approach to counter that is heuristic analysis, where software examines email attachments and incoming files and attempts to work out what they actually do. Typically, a heuristic detector would look for programs that attempt to access your address book, check for a particular date set in the future, overwriting system files and so on -- if a piece of software does enough things that the detector considers suspicious, it flags the file as suspicious and issues an alert. This process can spot unknown viruses -- it's been particularly successful in detecting email-borne worms -- but can also easily flag legitimate files as dangerous.

A more advanced form of heuristic scanning involves running the code, either in emulation or a virtual machine, and watching for dangerous activity. In theory, this will discover all malware: in practice, it can only find that which misbehaves early on. A virus that does nothing suspicious for a week after infection will only be revealed in this way after a week in quarantine has passed, and that's not an acceptable delay. Yet another approach is to monitor not the suspect code, but the entry points to the operating system: as software runs, the antivirus program constantly checks for dangerous activity.

Hardware scanning is an old idea that is constantly reinvented. One of the latest demonstrations comes from Washington University, where John Lockwood and his students have developed a device called the Field Programmable Port Extender (FPX) that can scan incoming bitstreams at up to 2.4 gigabits per second. This is fast enough for the device to be used much like a firewall, monitoring all traffic at the point it enters or leaves an organisation.

The hardware builds incoming packets into a message, analyses the protocol headers and compares the contents of the message against a database of known signatures -- all things that are normally done in software. At the heart of the FPX is a device called a field-programmable gate array (FPGA), a chip containing millions of logic gates that can be reconfigured through software. It's this that checks for known signatures by setting up circuits that respond to matches; by putting many of these in parallel, incoming traffic can be scanned as fast as it arrives. Automatic tools take virus signatures and convert them into circuit configuration data: the idea is that as soon as a threat is detected anywhere in the world, new configurations are generated.

Although this approach works well for most viruses, worms and other malware, it does little for polymorphic and metamorphic viruses. These dynamically rewrite themselves every time they replicate, leaving as little as possible unchanged from copy to copy. All a scanner can hook onto is the small amount of code that doesn't change, and the trouble with looking for small chunks of code is that there's a high chance of false positives from legitimate messages. Also, it is impossible to add heuristics to scanners that check bitstreams in real time.

In the end, there is no guaranteed way to distinguish malware from legitimate data -- to take an extreme example, a signature file distributed by an antivirus company to update its scanners will by definition contain all the hallmarks of the virus it is designed to detect. It's merely the context that makes it good, rather than bad, information.

Trusted computing initiatives are ways to manage that context. By arranging the hardware and operating system of a computer so that only specifically authorised code can be run -- and by preventing the user from deciding what is authorised -- whole families of infection can be disarmed. Such schemes are still being developed for personal and enterprise computing, but are already in place for embedded systems such as Microsoft's Smartphone platform. Here, it is already possible to arrange things so that no application can be loaded onto a phone except with the express authorisation of the network operators. Although this has met with considerable user resistance -- one of the selling points of smartphones is their ability to run games and multimedia applications, where users prefer as much choice as possible -- the companies concerned are persisting. Microsoft's Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB, formerly known as Palladium) and Intel's LaGrande hardware specification are both being heavily promoted as increasing security against malware.

This is as much for commercial reasons as to protect the user. As John Lockwood points out, techniques used to deflect viruses can also be used to deflect any form of unauthorised data -- and as digital rights management and other aggressive copyright protection schemes are adopted, the definition of unauthorised widens considerably to cover anything to which a user does not have the explicit rights.

The future of antivirus software will most probably be a mixture of all the above techniques. PC hardware is becoming more robust and more flexible -- Intel's Vanderpool virtualisation will create multiple independent virtual processors, one of which could be given over to heuristic analysis of suspicious code away from live data -- and email server providers are already using anti-spam analysis ideas to check for viral behaviour. ISPs have learned that the first sign of a successful attack can be a sudden increase in network activity on an unusual port, and have established links to antivirus software company laboratories. There are even signs that the users themselves are learning not to run suspicious email attachments, but researchers privately admit that they expect true artificial intelligence to be developed before they can inculcate the real thing in their clients.

Malware will never go away, because there is always a way to persuade legitimate software to behave in dangerous ways. The only truly safe software is that which cannot access or change anything of value, and that is truly useless. But with security finally registering as a top concern for hardware, software and network companies, the days when a twisted teenager can cripple the Internet with a few hundred bytes of Windows exploitation are numbered.

Dowsers let swinging devices call the shots


By Stephanie Gaj
Special Correspondent

November 24, 2003

NORWALK -- Images of dowsers searching for underground water with forked branches and other devices are depicted in folklore, writings and art.

But some people practice less-known applications of the ancient skill in their daily lives.

"One of the benefits is you can dowse almost anything," said Martha Howland, a healing consultant who leads the Fairfield County Dowsers, which holds monthly meetings at the Total Life Care Center on East Avenue in Norwalk.

Many modern practitioners use pendulums to dowse for answers to yes-or-no questions, Howland said. When questions are posed, the pendulum moves in patterns to signify a yes, no or neutral response. Common patterns are straight back-and-forth swinging, and clockwise and counterclockwise circles.

"It's like a compass," Howland said.

Matt Oller, a custodian in the Weston school system, said he dowses to make decisions about everyday matters, such as where to bring his car for repairs and whether to take Interstate 95 or the Merritt Parkway.

"I do it for my own guidance," said Maureen Caswell, an employee of a financial services firm in Greenwich.

Peggy Heinrich, a reconnective healing practitioner from Bridgeport, said she has dowsed to choose vitamins, complete crossword puzzles and choose fresh fish at the market.

"I'm naturally indecisive," she said.

Other members dowse to clear negative energy from their homes, discover sources of physical or medical ailments, find directions, find lost objects, answer relationship questions, solidify travel plans or choose the best shampoo.

During their November meeting, group members dowsed to determine the type of meditation to do at the end of the session.

Each month, the meeting is led by a guest speaker or a group member invited to share their area of expertise. This month, a member spoke about the benefits of color therapy and finding one's healing colors. Next month, another member will speak about ridding the home of negative energy from power lines and other sources.

Artifacts and early literature indicate dowsing was practiced thousands of years ago. Remains of cave drawings portray dowsers at work. Artifacts have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. And dowsers say there are references in the Bible and in the writings of Confucius and Homer.

Darilyn Keith of the Rowayton section of Norwalk, one of the group's newest members, was looking for another meeting at the Total Life Care Center when she stumbled upon the dowsers.

"I came to the group by accident, but I believe I was meant to come," she said.

Keith said she recently found an opal ring she lost in a pile of leaves using a dowsing device she made from twigs.

"I'm a believer," said Keith, a Norwalk therapist with a master's degree in clinical social work.

Heinrich said that once while doing a crossword puzzle, she searched a map for the name of a small island but was unable to find it. Then she dowsed over the map and found the answer right away, Heinrich said.

The group has about 20 members who come from professions that include banking, family therapy, carpentry, massage therapy, personal fitness training and several healing professions.

"We all bring a lot of different experiences and are at different levels," Howland said. "Some people have been dowsing for years, and we get some who've never dowsed before but want to learn."

The group formed about three years ago and met at Howland's home in Greenwich. Howland said they moved the group to Norwalk to be more centrally located.

The idea for starting the group came from John Kelly, a former Wall Street trader with healing and energy practices in Wilton and Rutland, Vt.

Kelly is a teacher for the American Society of Dowsers in Danville, Vt. Founded in 1961, the organization claims 4,100 members from the United States and foreign countries, and almost 100 from Connecticut, said Claudette Swett, the membership secretary.

Kelly said he has yet to meet anyone who could not learn to dowse.

"I've met some people who won't dowse for one reason or another," Kelly said. "Sometimes when it works, people get scared and decide not to come back."

Caswell, who has been with the group since it started, learned how to dowse at a course Kelly taught at Greenwich Continuing Education. Participants learned to use several tools, including a pendulum, a pair of rods, a Y-rod and a bobber.

"John makes it fun," Caswell said. "Once I learned how, I got hooked."

Howland said the most challenging component of dowsing is asking specific questions. For example, the question, "Is it raining today?" probably would get a yes reply because somewhere in the world it is raining. Asking whether it is raining in a particular town likely would get an accurate response, she said.

When a person is seeking answers to emotional questions, it is sometimes better to ask another dowser for help, Howland said. She occasionally dowses for her daughter for that reason, she said.

"I don't even know what (her) question is," Howland said. "She thinks of the question and I dowse on it."

Howland advises new dowsers to start with simple questions, such as whether they should have fish or chicken for dinner, or turn right or left at an intersection, and build up to more difficult things.

Dowsing cannot be used to predict the future or find answers to questions with unethical motives.

"You can't predict what will happen because we have free will," Kelly said.

Sometimes the ability to get a response depends on intention.

Kelly gave the example of dowsing about a co-worker who might be pregnant, with the intention of finding out whether to start knitting a baby blanket.

"You can't ask if she's pregnant but can ask if you should start working on a blanket," he said.

Dowsing about the pregnancy wouldn't work if the intention were to steal the co-worker's accounts when she goes on maternity leave, Kelly said.

"If people ask unethical questions, they get answers, but they are usually inaccurate," he said.

Copyright © 2003, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

Misplaced faith stings evangelists

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~130~1783548,00.html By Al Lewis
Denver Post Business Columnist

If you pledge enough money to Greenwood Village-based Marilyn Hickey Ministries, you will receive a vial of oil.

It's not just any oil. Marilyn and her daughter, Sarah, have prayed over it with two more famous televangelists. There's even a photo of this ritual on the group's website.

"I asked Brother Oral Roberts and his son Richard to join Sarah and me in believing God to place a 'MIRACLE OVERFLOW' anointing into some special anointing oil," Marilyn Hickey explains on her website. "NOW, the first thing we want to get into your hands is a personal quantity of this very special anointing oil."

Running a television, publishing, teaching, preaching and missionary empire is expensive. And sometimes even the creator of the entire universe may seem a little short on cash. Recall that in 1987, Oral Roberts said God would "take me home" if he did not raise $8 million.

Like Roberts, Hickey pursues a relentless campaign for dollars. Two years ago, this quest led her to a man named Gregory Earl Setser, 47, a businessman in Texas who turned out to be quite a fundraiser himself. He claimed he was a former minister and promised miraculous investment returns without risking principal.

Last week, Setser was in federal custody, charged with fraud. He was unavailable for comment.

Hickey, through a spokesman, declined to comment. The ministry issued statements explaining how it invested with Setser, an alleged Ponzi scheme artist who prosecutors say duped several high-profile evangelical ministries and their members out of $160 million.

"During the downturn in the economy, the board was looking for investment opportunities and vehicles with greater return to increase revenues for the work God has given us to do," the group said.

Setser had received high recommendations from Christian leaders, Hickey's ministry said. Other televangelists - including the faith-healing Benny Hinn of Irving, Texas - believed in him, too. Hickey ministries says it spent months investigating Setser, his companies and his claims.

Somehow, Hickey's group did not learn that in 1993 Setser received probation after pleading no contest to charges of theft by check in Texas. Or that he filed for bankruptcy that year after the feds put a tax lien on him. Or that in 1997, his bankruptcy petition was dismissed for failure to make payments. In March 2002, Setser's firm, IPIC Investments, forfeited its status as a Texas domestic corporation for not paying taxes.

Setser claimed to have sold billions of dollars worth of goods to retailers such as Costco, J.C. Penney and Pier 1 Imports. His wife, Cynthia, 47, claimed to be working with President Bush's family on a diamond mine in Congo. Somehow, Hickey's investigators never cut to the heart of Setser's ungodly claims, which federal prosecutors in Dallas now allege are complete fabrications.

Bank statements show that most of Setser's transactions involved buying, not selling - to acquire things like homes, a yacht and a helicopter, prosecutors allege.

Setser and several of his family members were indicted and arrested in Dallas last week. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a securities-fraud action against them as well.

Hickey's prepared statements make several points: 1) Unlike others, the ministry made a "substantial profit" from its investment. 2) Pastors Wallace and Marilyn Hickey invested personally - no mention as to what was lost or gained. 3) Ministry board members invested, but did not promote the schemes to the congregation. 4) The ministry has played a role in helping prosecutors pursue Setser, and is a victim of his crime.

"We pray that the name of Christ will not be tarnished as a result of this tragic situation," the ministry said.


Al Lewis' column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail: alewis@denverpost.com.

Crowd seeks hands of faith healer


Event with controversial TV evangelist Benny Hinn packs thousands into Munster church.

Times Correspondent

MUNSTER -- Young and old, wealthy and poor, more than 5,000 people from Chicago through Porter County came seeking miracle healing Sunday evening at the hands of Benny Hinn, TV evangelist and faith healer.

They came to the Family Christian Center in wheelchairs, with canes and walkers, with cancer and multiple sclerosis. They carried children with life-threatening illnesses. They raised gnarled arthritic hands in prayer. Some waited five or more hours for Hinn to arrive at the church.

Slated to appear about an hour earlier than his 7:51 p.m. entrance into the auditorium, Hinn told those gathered that the rainy weather had delayed his flight.

That same rain and the large crowd created parking and walking problems for participants and police. When the church's parking lot filled up after 4 p.m., many began parking in surrounding businesses' lots.

Munster police ordered more than a dozen vehicles towed from the Whole Foods lot just east of the church, as employees stood just outside the firm's doors watching the action. At least four Munster Police Department squad cars were deployed to keep cars moving and out of business lots.

Even when they found a parking spot, many of those attending had to walk blocks in a cold, pelting rain. Approaching the church on 45th Street, they then encountered shoe-sucking mud before reaching the doors.

By 4:45 p.m., the church's security personnel began turning people away as the auditorium, balcony and overflow areas were packed. Folding chairs were placed alongside auditorium seats to accommodate the crowds, and the lobby began to fill up with spectators watching on several televisions.

Ed Power, head of security at Family Christian Center, refused to discuss the security arrangements, parking problems or crowd control.

Jerry Rose, founder and president of the Total Living Network (TLN), which airs Hinn's program, was on hand for Hinn's appearance.

Rose said the controversy surrounding the authenticity of Hinn's faith healings on his TV show, "This Is Your Day," doesn't surprise him.

"I've been part of the Pentecostal movement all my life. I'm used to controversy," he said. "This is what's at the core of Benny Hinn's program. I'm not surprised people are healed and I'm not surprised people don't believe it.

"I've seen God move in powerful ways. Benny Hinn is on our lineup of programs. That's a statement of our endorsement."

TLN partnered with the Family Christian Center's Pastor Steve Munsey to bring Hinn to the Munster church. Rose said he has had a long association with Munsey.

"He's on the cutting edge of media ministry that's centered beyond this church to the broader community," Rose said.

None of what the church's Pastor David Jordan Allen called the pandemonium of the event seemed to affect Cecelia Peterson of Merrillville as she cradled her 3-year-old son, Aveon, in her arms. Occasionally administering oxygen to her rigid, comatose child, Peterson said she was hoping to take her son up to the altar for healing.

Born normally, Aveon had a series of convulsions at 6 months old and stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead, but suddenly began breathing again.

However, his condition has left him in a vegetative state.

"I'm here for a miracle from God," she said, as a smile spread across her face. "I'm hoping God will heal him totally whole."

Leroy Purnell of Gary sat near the front of the church, his walker leaning against a ledge. But it wasn't the effects of his stroke he wanted healed; rather it was his "prostate problem" that brought him to the service.

"My wife was talking about it, and I thought I'd come and be healed," Purnell said. "I'm taking medication for my prostate problem. I don't want to be on the medication."

Diana Armstrong of Hobart said she, too, was praying for a healing from distonia, a neuro-muscular disorder that causes repeated muscle contractions. A member of Family Christian Center, she has suffered with distonia for 11 years.

"I want a healing, a complete healing," Armstrong said.

Armstrong's friend, Jennifer Salinas of Valparaiso, accompanied her.

"I want people to know it's not the man (Hinn) who heals. It is God working through him," Salinas said.

"He will work through anybody who lets Him."

Not everyone came to Sunday's service seeking physical healing.

Lucy Cardona of Lake Station said her husband left her, she lost her home and her only son died -- all within three months surrounding Sept. 11, 2001.

"I want to be healed of a broken heart," Cardona said, her face etched in lines of sorrow and her hands twisting in wringing motions. "I'm mourning the living and the dead. I want the Lord's help, not the world's help. I need peace in my heart."

Sunday, November 23, 2003


by Peter Ritter

The first thing you'll notice about Phyllis Galde when she comes to the door of her Lakeville split-level is her T-shirt. "UFOs are real," it reads. "The Air Force doesn't exist." Beneath this koan is a picture of a flying saucer. At first, you might suspect that the shirt is a cute novelty. It's not. Galde is a believer.

A 57-year-old grandmother with a pronounced Midwestern drawl and an endearing habit of using heck as an invective, Galde looks less like a committed student of supernatural phenomena than she does a school teacher or church organist--both of which she once was. Nor does her home, at the terminus of a suburban cul-de-sac, show any outward signs of housing America's oldest and most esteemed journal of the paranormal, which it does.

For the past 55 years, Fate, the magazine Galde runs, has been busy publishing stories about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, time travel, astral projection, life after death, the latent psychic abilities of house pets, angelic visitations, haunted houses (which, as it happens, includes Galde's own), government conspiracies, the lost continent of Atlantis, voodoo cults, and, of course, UFO encounters. But this is no mere pulp tabloid. Authoritative, even academic, in tone, Fate dares to take all of the above seriously.

"Everyone has a psychic story or has seen something that's changed their life," Galde says. "I think that's why Fate has endured for so long while a lot of magazines have come and gone. It has a good reputation because sometimes we'll say, 'This is a bunch of baloney.' We look objectively at things."

Take alien abductions, for instance. Although Galde herself has had experience with UFOs--more on that shortly--Fate contains none of the expected lurid tales of cavity probings or Elvis sightings. Instead you will find a measured discussion of the possibility of extraterrestrial contact. Here, by way of example, is an excerpt from a March, 2003 exposi on abductions:

"There is an extensive tradition of people who were kidnapped "from above" in human history--Elijah, Romulus, the founder of Rome, and a host of unnamed ones--combined with many thousands that disappear every year without a trace. If these alien-born humans have the power, obviously, to return to Earth, what keeps them from staying? Perhaps they fear the reprisals of their alien masters, or the loss of certain faculties ('powers' so to speak) that they may have developed or acquired on other worlds. Perhaps they have been thoroughly brainwashed and no longer see Earthbound humanity as kin."

So it goes with other dispatches from the frontiers of fact: "Talking to Angels" (December 2000); "You Can Hear Dead People" (February 2001); "Crop Circles--The Mind of God?" (May 2002); "Civil War Ghosts of Atlanta" (August 2003); "Giant Octopus in Ocean's Depth" (November 2001); "The Medium and the Murderer: Jack the Ripper Exposed by Psychic in 1888" (October 2003); "DRAGONS ARE REAL!" (November 2002).

Strangest of all, every word in Fate is true.

Fate's nerve center is in Galde's basement. At first glance, the magazine's office is disappointingly ordinary, suggesting nothing more than your average semi-prosperous home business. There are a few desks with computers, and a number of youngish, shoeless employees hanging around. But a cursory inventory of the books lining the walls offers some clue as to what goes on here: The UFO Encyclopedia, Occult Theocracy, The Goat Foot God. Galde points out a corner between the photocopier and a fish tank. This, she says, is the location of an inter-dimensional vortex through which spirits occasionally pop in for a visit.

Galde is sensitive to hauntings. Growing up in a turn-of-the-century North Dakota farmhouse, she was visited nightly by phantoms. Only later, when she returned to the house as an adult, did she discern that the visitors were the spirits of departed relatives. But Galde isn't the only one in the Fate office who has experienced eerie phenomena: Her housemate and coeditor David Godwin has, while working late at night, occasionally seen a man in a suit wandering about--a lonely soul looking for company, Galde figures.

Twice, as a child, Galde had what she believes were encounters with extraterrestrials--nothing more than curious lights in the inky Midwestern night, perhaps, but enough to excite her imagination. These, along with a steady diet of science fiction, opened her mind to the possibility of the paranormal.

"I've always been kind of sensitive about spirits," she says. "A lot of people in our family have a slight bit of psychic ability. The more you're involved with it, the more you pay attention to it. It's just like art appreciation: You're able to see colors, and see designs and brushstrokes, after you've learned about art or done painting yourself."

Galde has never had direct contact with aliens. But some years ago she began having vivid dreams in which she cavorted with tiny beings dressed in gold lami stretch-suits. Eventually she grew worried that she was advertising herself as a target for alien abduction, and forced herself to stop dreaming.

Many years ago, Galde also came under the spell of Edgar Cayce, known widely as "The Sleeping Prophet." Cayce, who died in 1945, is perhaps history's best-known psychic: From a trance-like state, he predicted that California would one day slide into the Pacific Ocean and that Atlantis would be discovered in 1968 off the coast of Florida. (That neither has come to pass has not diminished him in the eyes of his devotees.)

Inspired by such experiments with ESP, Fate recently commissioned an off-site "remote viewing" of Area 51, where the U.S. government keeps its stock of flying-saucer technology. The results, recounted in the June issue, were more poetic than conclusive: "Scattered about this desert are some worn-out boots and a smashed, broken kid's watch with a Mickey Mouse face, with works missing," reported one Fate reader. "The desert sky is very beautiful here at night and reminds me of Egypt when the sky is a cobalt blue with silvery stars, as I rest inside an oasis with palm trees."

There may be no scientific evidence to support such psychic tourism, but Galde likes to point out that science has always lagged a step or two behind Fate. Two years ago, for instance, the magazine published a story positing the existence of an enormous squid. Then, this last April, fishermen pulled just such a creature out of the icy waters near Antarctica.

The story of Fate properly begins on June 24, 1947, in the sky over Washington's Mount Rainier. On that afternoon, a traveling salesman and amateur pilot named Kenneth Arnold was returning home from a business trip in his small plane when he saw nine metallic objects darting through the sky. They moved, he later said, "like a saucer would if you skipped it across water." When he landed, Arnold dutifully reported what he'd seen. The next day, a Portland newspaper reporter coined the phrase "flying saucer." And so the UFO craze was born.

Shortly after Arnold went public with his close encounter, he was contacted by Ray Palmer, an editor for the pulp magazine Amazing Stories. Even by the standards of the company he kept, Palmer was a strange, shadowy character. Crippled in a childhood car accident, he stood less than five feet tall. He was also a notorious raconteur: Palmer is widely credited with orchestrating (or at least perpetuating) the world's first UFO hoax, when, only two days after Arnold's sighting, an Oregon man claimed that debris from a UFO had killed his dog.

Palmer was, at the time, working for Ziff-Davis, a Chicago publishing house that owned a number of fly-by-night pulp magazines. A few years previous, he'd begun receiving rambling letters from a Pennsylvania welder named Richard Shaver about a race of underground goblins called Deros, who, Shaver claimed, were controlling events on the Earth's surface with ray guns. Harold Browne, Palmer's associate editor, later called the stories "the sickest crap" he'd ever run into. Palmer loved it.

When Amazing Stories began publishing the so-called Shaver Mysteries, circulation jumped tenfold almost overnight and letters began pouring in from Americans claiming to have had experiences with the Deros and their mysterious mind-control rays. Palmer had inadvertently tapped a deep and still-rich American vein: The paranoid conspiracy theory.

Jerry Clark, who worked as an editor for Fate in the 1970s, once had occasion to meet Palmer. "He had the instincts of a carnival barker--always working up a hustle," Clark says from his home in Canby, Minnesota. "But he wasn't a con man. Palmer saw the Shaver mysteries as a chance to get some controversy going. But he also believed it on some level. Or he believed there was some truth in it."

Despite Palmer's reputation, he and Arnold struck up a partnership. Along with a fellow Ziff-Davis editor, Curtis Fuller, Palmer put together his own pulp magazine. The first issue of Fate, from the spring of 1948, featured Arnold's account of his UFO encounter, titled "The Truth About Flying Saucers."

This was the beginning of the Cold War, when malevolent forces descending from the skies seemed like something more than an idle phantasm. Fate was a runaway success, eventually reaching 100,000 subscribers. Yet, says Clark, there was also tension between Palmer and Fuller over what shape the magazine ought to take: Palmer wanted a fast and loose outlet for sensationalistic semi-fictional fare like his Shaver stories; Fuller, a conservative businessman who made his money with an RV camping magazine, was more interested in scientific anomalies and paranormal phenomena. In 1955, Palmer sold his interest in Fate to Fuller and moved from Chicago to Amherst, Wisconsin, where he drifted into oblivion.

Clark, who began writing book reviews for Fate in the '70s, eventually grew very close to Fuller and his wife Mary, who became the magazine's associate editor. "They were people who it was easy to respect," he says. "They had this extraordinary decency and integrity. Just really good people."

In those days, Fate operated out of a nondescript office building in Chicago's north suburbs. Among Clark's duties was dealing with readers who through luck or single-minded determination managed to track down the office's location. "Mostly the readers were normal, nice people who just had this one unusual interest," he recalls. "But there were also some raving loons. I remember this one time a guy showed up claiming he was receiving messages through his TV telling him to kill people. Of course, I tried to usher him out the door. But I was also trying not to do anything to upset him. You do develop great social skills."

Later in the magazine's history, another unsolicited correspondent arrived at the office completely covered in red paint and carrying his manuscript in a plastic garbage bag.

By the late '80s, UFOs had hit the mainstream and Fate was in steep decline, scraping by on its cachet and the devotion of longtime readers who remembered the magazine nostalgically from the salad days of pulp. In 1988, the Fullers sold the magazine to Llewellyn, the St. Paul-based publisher of New Age and astrology books. The magazine relocated from Chicago to Llewellyn's Wabasha Street headquarters, a former tannery that, according to Galde, is haunted by the ghosts of the animals who died there.

Carl Weschcke, Llewellyn's longtime publisher, decided that Fate would be a perfect complement to his company's lineup. "People wanted to hear magic, and Fate was all about magic," he recalls. "The Fullers were very much believers. They did a considerable service to the world by opening people's minds to alternate realities and alternate explanations.

"That's an important thing," Weschcke continues. "A lot of us look at the world with blinders on. We need to take off those blinders and consider the possibility of another reality. UFOs and things like that--they're all things that impinge on our reality."

If Fate's raison d'jtre hadn't changed, though, the exigencies of magazine publishing had. Sweepstakes subscription sales, traditionally a major part of Fate's market, had virtually dried up. In an effort to revive newsstand sales, Llewellyn revamped the magazine from its original Reader's Digest size to a more traditional format.

Don Kraig, who edited the magazine for three years in the '80s, estimates that when Llewellyn bought it, Fate's subscription base was hovering around 30,000. Reportedly, the publisher even considered turning Fate into a Goth publication or scrapping it altogether. The former prospect irked the aging readership even more than did the latter.

Galde got involved with Fate by chance--or, if you prefer, fate. In 1982, she was a junior high teacher in tiny La Crescent, Minnesota. One morning, while walking down the hall, she heard a voice. "'Hand in your resignation right now,' it said. It was kind of scary, because I loved teaching," Galde recalls. "But here was the spiritual voice telling me to quit, so I did."

Some years later, while flipping through the phone book, Galde saw the name "Llewellyn" and decided to call about a job. As it happened, the publisher had one available, and Galde became a copy editor. Eventually, she found herself with the plum assignment of editing Fate. In 1991, Galde started her own publishing house, Galde Press, which now features some 90 titles. Galde began mostly with books on New Age spirituality and the paranormal--Enjoy Your Own Funeral is one example. But the press has since branched out into poetry and more traditional nonfiction--for instance, the best-selling World War II memoir A Half Acre of Hell.

In 2001, when Llewellyn decided to sell Fate, Galde jumped at the chance to run the magazine herself. Restoring the magazine to its former status was, she realized, her destiny

Since taking over Fate, Galde has done her best to change nothing. The magazine's readership tends to be, on balance, rather conservative in its tastes: When Fate recently published a cover illustration by R. Crumb depicting a buxom female Yeti in a skimpy outfit, outraged letters poured in--less, perhaps, an outcry against the indecency of the drawing itself than against the misrepresentation of the noble Sasquatch.

"Our readers are devoutly loyal because, you know, it's not some big corporate thing," Galde explains. "But, boy, if we get our facts wrong, they call us up and give us heck. They also don't like anything too raunchy or sexist or too risqui."

On this gusty November afternoon, Galde and a couple of her part-time staff members are sitting at her kitchen table stuffing letters to Fate subscribers--one of the innumerable small tasks that devolve to the editors of this decidedly non-corporate enterprise. There has been only one ghost sighting this week: While working near the haunted photocopier downstairs, the magazine's web designer, John Zupansic, had invoked the spirits of Curtis and Mary Fuller. Suddenly, he says, his hair stood on end.

"They come around a lot," explains Galde.

Far from finding these unannounced visits disquieting, Galde draws some comfort from the prospect of an active afterlife. "If I die I'll come back and tell you what it's like," she offers brightly.

Indeed, of all Fate's regular features, the most popular is "My Proof of Survival," in which readers write about their near-death experiences and brushes with divinity. Some of the stories are silly--a miraculous never-ending bag of potato chips, for instance--but most are sad and sweet and wonderful: dead parents and spouses returning to say goodbye to their survivors is a common one.

Reading through the heartfelt testimonials of Fate devotees, one gets a sense that they are, by and large, very much like Galde: Nice, normal people who simply choose to believe in a type of magic that's been wrung out of life. Their animating impulse is religious--a dream of a brighter, more comprehensible world, of life after death, of aliens and angels.

Which is, in a roundabout way, why everything in Fate is gospel, even if none of it is true.


Mayor cancels alien landing over abduction fears


The mayor of a Brazilian town says he has cancelled a planned landing by an alien spaceship during this week's Brazil v Peru football match.

Elcio Berti told Estado de Sao Paulo online: "I cancelled the landing because I was worried they might abduct one of the Brazilian footballers."

Mr Berti, the Mayor of Bocaiuva do Sul, claims to be in regular touch with aliens and says they are helping to fund a UFO landing pad he's building in the town.

The mayor first hit the headlines when he issued a decree banning all birth control methods in Bocaiuva do Sul to try and boost the number of pregnancies to increase federal funding.

Story filed: 13:23 Friday 21st November 2003

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Assassination still stirs memories, debate 40 years later


04:33 PM CST on Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Associated Press

DALLAS - Moments before President John F. Kennedy's limousine reached the Texas School Book Depository on that November afternoon four decades ago, Nellie Connally turned to Kennedy and remarked, "No one can say Dallas doesn't love and respect you, Mr. President."

"You sure can't," he said.

The first shot sounded like a firecracker. The next two were unmistakably gunfire.

At the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's death, the moments remain frozen in the American psyche, the assassination still a source of fascination for historians, conspiracy theorists and an estimated 2.2 million people who visit Dealey Plaza each year.

"It's an age-old search for the truth," said Greg Silva, 39, a Hilmar, Calif., salesman who wasn't even born when Kennedy died but made it a point to visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza during a recent business trip to Dallas.

For others, the assassination endures as a deeply personal experience -- a lingering mix of heartbreak, nostalgia and the lost promise of Camelot. Those emotions are clear at The Sixth Floor Museum.

"If you take people there that are old enough to remember the event, you lose them. They are back with their mother and father, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles," said Greg Elam, spokesman for the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"You can tiptoe away and they'll never know it because they are back in that experience."

Politics had brought the 46-year-old president to Texas, a pivotal and worrisome state in his 1964 re-election plans.

At the urging of local politicians, Kennedy ordered the reflective glass shield atop the presidential limousine removed for his visit to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. With first lady Jackie at his side, Kennedy smiled and waved at the crowds from the back seat. Up front, Gov. John Connally and his wife, Nellie, beamed at the Texas welcome.

Just before 12:30 p.m., the motorcade slipped out of the glass and steel canyons of downtown and zigzagged toward Elm Street and a drab, seven-story brick building.

Then the shots rang out.

A half-hour later, Kennedy was declared dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

At 2:38 p.m., Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One, with Jackie Kennedy at his side.

Forty years later, Kennedy remains an inspirational figure - a president more popular in death than in life.

"There's still so much sentiment for John F. Kennedy, and so much of it is colored by the assassination," said David Crockett, a political scientist at Trinity University in San Antonio. "He's the young, attractive, tragic martyr figure assassinated on television, with a wife who's mourning."

When many Americans close their eyes, they can still see Kennedy's 3-year-old son, "John John," bravely saluting his father's flag-draped coffin.

After a 10-month investigation, the Warren Commission in 1964 concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald alone killed Kennedy, firing shots from the Texas School Book Depository's sixth floor.

Doubts lingered, however, and in 1978, Congress impaneled a committee to again investigate the assassination. The panel largely relied on the recording of a police motorcyclist's microphone.

The committee's conclusion: Four shots were fired, with one coming from a grassy knoll downtown. In other words, it concluded, Oswald didn't act alone.

But after further studies, the Justice Department in 1988 concluded there was no "persuasive evidence" of conspiracy, and formally closed the investigation.

Oswald was killed two days after Kennedy's assassination - gunned down by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby as he was transferred from one jail to another.

A Dallas jury convicted Ruby of murder in 1964 and sentenced him to death. An appellate court ruling later set the verdict aside, and Ruby died of cancer in prison in 1967 before he could be retried.

Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who was four days shy of her 6th birthday when her father died, is the sole survivor of her immediate family. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died of cancer in 1994 and John F. Kennedy Jr. died along with his wife and sister-in-law in the 1999 crash of a small plane he was piloting.

The crash brought still more pain to a family that dealt first with Kennedy's slaying, then with the assassination of his brother, Robert, during his 1968 presidential campaign.

All of which help explain the unending interest in all things Kennedy.

"They've just had great triumph and great tragedy," said Patrick Maney, a presidential historian at the University of South Carolina.

In Dallas itself, the anguish for some still seems as fresh as on that Friday afternoon 40 years ago.

"There are people who lived in Dallas in '63 who will never come to this site. It is too painful," said Jeff West, executive director of The Sixth Floor Museum, which chronicles Kennedy's life, death and the era in which he lived.

But for others, acknowledging Dallas' place in history helped the healing. "There are people who were here in '63 who are very proud and pleased that we did something to commemorate and mark the spot," West said.

Longtime residents recall how Dallas was labeled the city of hate - "Dallas was the only place ever blamed for killing a president," as historian Conover Hunt put it. Dallas residents talked about telephone operators disconnecting their calls and taxi drivers refusing to give them rides.

"People were spat upon, they were thrown out of restaurants all over the country and this went on for decades," said Hunt, original curator for The Sixth Floor Museum.

At the time, Dallas had a reputation as an ultraconservative city that didn't treat liberals kindly. The day before the assassination, handbills were distributed in Dallas with convict-style photographs of Kennedy and the caption: "Wanted for Treason."

The next day, a full-page ad appeared in The Dallas Morning News. The "American Fact-Finding Committee" demanded to know why the president had "ordered the Attorney General to go soft on communism."

So, when Kennedy was killed, the backlash was immediate.

"All of the nation experienced sadness. But I think the sadness that was experienced here in Dallas was of such great magnitude that it's almost hard to describe it," said Adelle Taylor, 72.

Taylor and her husband, Jim, work as tour guides at Southfork Ranch, made famous by the long-running hit television drama Dallas, which, along with the emergence of the Dallas Cowboys as "America's Team," helped change the Big D's image.

"It's a little ironic that Dallas is known for the shooting of JFK and the shooting of J.R.," said Mark Thompson, sales and marketing director at Southfork Ranch, which draws more than 400,000 visitors a year.

For years after the assassination, many Dallas residents ignored sites connected with Kennedy's killing. Then the city tried to acknowledge the tragedy in 1970 by commissioning artist Philip Johnson to create a cenograph, or empty tomb, in a park two blocks from Dealey Plaza. An entire city block was renamed John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza.

But the austere 30-foot blocks of white concrete that were meant to be a place for quiet reflection instead confused some visitors.

Eventually, Hunt and others raised $3.8 million in donations and loans to create The Sixth Floor Museum.

A few miles away, though, trash and pigeon droppings litter the front of the closed Texas Theatre, where police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald. The "E" has fallen off the makeshift "TEXAS" marquee that Oliver Stone put up for his 1991 movie, "JFK."

City voters have approved $500,000 of the $3 million needed to restore Dealey Plaza to its 1963 look. A group working to renovate the Texas Theatre has raised $2.4 million of the $3.5 million project cost.

The Oak Cliff Foundation envisions remaking the theater as a movie house and performing arts center with a lobby exhibit recounting the theater's role in history. Executive director Beverly Mendoza acknowledges surprise at the reactions she receives from some longtime residents asked to contribute.

"It just floored me," said Mendoza, who moved to Dallas in 1995, "for people to still be so ashamed of what happened here that they couldn't get beyond it to acknowledge it as a place of history."

ABC News reconstructs Kennedy assassination


Investigation confirms Warren Commission conclusion
09:10 AM CST on Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Associated Press

NEW YORK - ABC News has conducted an exhaustive investigation of the Kennedy assassination, complete with a computer-generated reconstruction, which irrefutably confirms that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, the network said.

A two-hour special on the event is scheduled to air Nov. 20, two days before the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's killing.

"It leaves no room for doubt," said Tom Yellin, executive producer of the special, narrated by Peter Jennings. He called the results of the ABC's study "enormously powerful. It's irrefutable."

The conclusion that Oswald alone shot Kennedy during a motorcade in Dallas mirrors that of the Warren Commission, the official government inquiry into the assassination. Even today, public opinion surveys find that less than half of Americans believe there was more than one shooter, said Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

But that reservoir of doubt, largely fed by government secrecy and Oliver Stone's movie on the assassination, is important to address, Yellin said.

ABC News worked with an expert who created a computer-generated reconstruction of the shooting based on maps, blueprints, physical measurements, more than 500 photographs, films and autopsy reports, ABC said.

It enables a person to view the scene from any number of perspectives, including what Oswald saw from the sixth floor of the former Texas school book depository, Yellin said.

"When you do that, it's chillingly clear what happened," Yellin said. He dismisses theories that there was another gunman. Through interviews and other documentation, ABC News also concludes that Jack Ruby, who later killed Oswald, acted simply out of his love for Kennedy.

The computer-generated technology, only available for the past few years, is now frequently used in criminal investigations, Yellin said.

While Stone's movie raised doubt in many people's minds about the Warren Commission, it also led to the release of many government documents that had previously been kept hidden and fueled conspiracy theorists, Yellin said.

None of the documents offer significant evidence refuting the conclusion that Oswald acted alone, Yellin said.

Still, much of Americans' cynicism about their government can be traced to Nov. 22, 1963, making further investigation important even 40 years later, he said.

"I think it's very hard for people to accept the fact that the most powerful man in the world can be murdered by a disaffected person whose life had been a series of failures up to that point," Yellin said.

It's hardly foreign territory for news organizations. CBS News, in fact, has done six separate specials on the assassination, including a two-hour, CBS Reports: Who Killed JFK, the Final Chapter, that was broadcast 10 years ago. That investigation also concluded that Oswald acted alone.

Both Yellin and Mack admit that no matter what evidence ABC News lays out, it's not likely to quiet people who believe otherwise.

"The history of this subject is pretty clear," Mack said. "No matter what information comes out, people are going to believe what they want."

A conspiracy -- between JFK museums

DALLAS, Texas (AP) --The man behind the counter popped in a video in the Conspiracy Museum's darkened back room and pulled a chair in front of the TV.

"Here's what they don't want to show you down the street," Ron Rice said, his voice lowered.

The video is a copy of Abraham Zapruder's amateur footage of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Zapruder, a spectator who was part of the crowd greeting the president, was the sole person to film the deadly shot to Kennedy's head.

Rice contends that The Sixth Floor Museum, two blocks away, won't show Zapruder's film in its entirety because they want to hide a popular conspiracy theory: that bullets fired at Kennedy came from the grassy knoll, not from Lee Harvey Oswald and the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository.

Ahhh, a conspiracy -- this one between museums.

While the sleek Sixth Floor Museum is considered the authority on Kennedy's assassination, the Conspiracy Museum, operating on a shoestring budget down the street, aims to address the countless conspiracy theories swirling around Kennedy's death.

Many of the 10-year-old Conspiracy Museum's displays are hand-drawn: the purported route Oswald took to escape and something called an "assassination tree" tracing prominent Americans assassinated over time.

The gift shop consists of a rack of refrigerator magnets and Texas bluebonnet cards, assorted books and tapes, and a few other items.

The museum's owner, Robert Cutler, lives in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, and remains detached from the day-to-day operations.

'You don't need to see the man die'

Meanwhile, The Sixth Floor Museum has attracted nearly a half million visitors annually since it opened in 1989. Audio tours come in seven languages. The National Parks Service designated the museum and Dealey Plaza as a National Historic Landmark in 1993.

Dallas County owns the former Texas School Book Depository, which contains The Sixth Floor Museum. The museum operates separately as a nonprofit organization and is funded primarily through donations and ticket and gift shop sales.

The former book depository building has been preserved to look as it did in 1963, with its brick walls, wooden beams and exposed vents. A corner window is sealed off with plexiglass. Boxes inside are stacked precisely as they were when it was used as a sniper's nest.

Visitors are first reminded of what life was like back then. A Chubby Checkers album and a playbill for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" put the era into context, as do displays on racial struggles and the space race. Dozens of Kennedy family photos as well as those of Kennedy in office hang on the walls.

The museum shows Zapruder's film -- but stops before the point when the president is shot. Curator Gary Mack said the film stops there because the graphic scene might offend some people, especially parents visiting with their children.

"Of course we're criticized for doing that," Mack said. "But we'd also be criticized if we did show it. ... The reality is, you don't need to see the man die to know that he did."

For the 40th anniversary, the museum on November 22 will debut the exhibit "Remembering Jack: Intimate and Unseen Photographs of the Kennedys."

No conclusions

The museum tackles several of the most prevalent conspiracy theories, such as the "grassy knoll" theory, with clinical detachment. Some believe a sniper awaited Kennedy's motorcade atop a grassy knoll downtown and fired along with Oswald at the president.

Other conspiracy ideas point to organized crime and the Cuban government, which had bitter relations with the United States during Kennedy's presidency.

The museum explores why suspicions were raised, what investigations were done and the outcome -- without any innuendoes or any conclusions drawn.

Across the street from where Kennedy was shot, the Conspiracy Museum draws in those who want to learn more about the theories. Rice, who refuses any title beyond "worker," speaks in a near mumble. His answers are more like hints to the next question.

"There had to be a conspiracy with JFK. There's too many red flags," Rice says as he points to a map on the wall showing six shots fired in Dealey Plaza. The official count is three.

Visitors can also study a sketchy array of questionable outcomes in the assassinations of President Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. Even mysteries behind UFOs are scrutinized and linked to government cover-ups.

But the Kennedy assassination is the museum's bread and butter.

As Rice puts it, "It's America's No. 1 mystery."

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Find this article at: http://www.cnn.com/2003/TRAVEL/DESTINATIONS/11/21/jfk.museums.ap/index.html



The Minnesota Iceman is one of the most facinating pieces of the Bigfoot mystery. It was toured accross the Midwest at carnivals and fairs by Frank Hansen from the late 60's - early 80's. Hansen told spectators that the Iceman was a creature from the Iceage. The display consisted of a large block of ice which entombed and preserved the hairy creature.

Eventually the Iceman caught the attention of cyrptozoologists, scientists, and monster hunters alike. This publicity sparked the confusion and mystery that surrounds the Minnesota Iceman to this day.

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