Aug 31, 2010

[MedicalConspiracies] The Hex Hollow Murder - Voracious Self-Cloning Crayfish Invades Ecologically Sensitive Madagascar

Phantoms and Monsters

The Hex Hollow Murder

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 01:39 PM PDT

In Webster's dictionary, witchcraft is defined as the act or instance of employing sorcery, especially with malevolent intent: a magical rite or technique. The religious will say if you believe in God, and believe in what the Bible says, then you must believe in the powers of evil as well. You cannot take one side and then completely discount the other side...basically, evil power is real and witchcraft is the use of it. In reality, though, there is a very fine line between good and evil.

When it came to folk magic or witchcraft in my neck of the woods, Pow-wow was the preferred mystic art. Pow-wow is a unique combination of Christian theology and shamanistic belief. Shamanism is the oldest form of religion and the belief is that there is one Supreme Being...that all is derived from this and is interrelated. In Europe, Shamanic practitioners were persecuted as witches in the name of orthodox religion. It is still practiced in some rural areas of Pennsylvania, though it has been outlawed for several generations. In spite of the name, it is not of Native American derivation. The name comes from the book Pow-wows, or, The Long Lost Friend, written by John George Hohman and first published in German as Der Lange Verborgene Freund in 1820. The subtitle of the booklet hints at the breadth of its contents...a collection of mysterious and invaluable arts and remedies for man as well as animals with many proofs of their virtue and efficacy in healing diseases, etc. It was recognized mainly by Pennsylvania Dutch hex-meisters but after the translation to English in 1846, it had a tremendous influence on the commoner folk magicians of the Appalachians. This little book includes healing spells, binding spells, protective spells, wards and benedictions. Though I'm not a religious person, I am spiritual (and a bit superstitious...I'll cover that later) and always have my copy of 'The Long Lost Friend' near's my personal talisman.

All religions have an upside and a downside. The downside of the Judeo-Christian tradition is Satanism. The downside of Pow-wow was corruption by practitioners, the hex-meisters, who would cast spells or hexes on anyone for a price. Hex-meisters were deeply feared by most people from all walks of life. These German immigrants came to Pennsylvania during the late 1800s and unlike the regular practitioners of Pow-wow, who were mainly of lower class and came here for religious freedom, these newcomers were of the middle and upper classes. There was, at the time, a revival of occultism in Europe, some of which was Satanic. This first wave of immigrant Germans brought this influence with them and became better known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

In 1895, John Blymire was born in York County, Pa...into the world of witchcraft, magick and superstition. His father and grandfather were Pow-wows and he inherited their healing abilities, but not the strength of their skills. When Blymire was five, he suffered from opnema, a wasting away of the body that was believed to be caused by hexes, but was usually caused by poor diet and malnutrition. Neither his grandfather nor father could cure him, so they took him to a powerful Pow-wow healer named Nelson Rehmeyer who eventually cured him. (Note: Nelson D. Rehmeyer was a distant relative through marriage on my father's maternal side. Several generations of the Rehmeyer family and my grandmother's family attended the same church)

John Blymire

At age seven, Blymire attempted his first cure and was successful. He was of limited intelligence, homely and only modestly successful as a Pow-wow. People avoided him, except when they needed his Pow-wow skills. Because of this, Blymire was very lonely.

When he was thirteen, he quit school and worked in a cigar factory in York, Pa. He kept to himself, but word got out that he could heal. He supplemented his cigar factory earnings by accepting voluntary offerings for his work as a Pow-wow.

One day, there was an incident that should have made his reputation as a powerful Pow-wow. When work was done, Blymire and the other workers were leaving the factory when someone screamed that a "mad" dog was approaching. A collie, foaming at the mouth, was coming toward them. People tried to go inside the factory, but those leaving blocked their way. Blymire stood between them and the rabid dog, uttered an incantation and made the sign of the cross over the dog's head. The dog's mouth stopped foaming and it seemed to be cured of rabies. Blymire patted it on the head and the dog, tail wagging, followed him as he walked down the street.

Shortly after this incident, Blymire suffered from the opnema again. He was convinced someone had put a hex on him, possibly a jealous Pow-wow who did not want him to be successful. He quit his job in order to discover who had hexed him. He worked in odd jobs and practiced Pow-wow for financial survival and lived in rooming houses. It was at a rooming house where he met Lily, the woman who would become his wife. His health gradually improved and he found a regular job. His Pow-wow clientele steadily increased and it appeared the hex was removed or no longer worked.

Then disaster struck...Blymire's first child died within a few weeks after birth. Then a second child passed away three days after birth. In the meantime, his health declined and he lost his job.

Again, Blymire consulted with other witches to find out who had hexed him. One was Andrew C. Lenhart, a powerful witch who was feared by many police and city officials. Lenhart stated that he was hexed by someone close to him and Blymire was convinced it was Lily. She began to fear him and her father hired a lawyer who had Blymire evaluated by a psychiatrist. The diagnosis was borderline psychoneurosis. Blymire was committed to a state mental hospital from which he escaped by walking out of the door. There was no effort to recommit him.

In 1928, Blymire returned to work at the cigar factory where he met 14-year-old John Curry who had a cruel childhood due to abuse and believed he was hexed. Shortly after this, they met a farmer, Milton J. Hess who believed he was hexed. He and his wife were of Pennsylvania Dutch stock. They obeyed all of the regulations and rules hex-meisters gave them. Milton had been a successful farmer...crops flourished, chickens laid the right amount of eggs and the cows' milk was plentiful. His wife, Alice had a stand at the farmer's market, where she sold vegetables, flowers and fruit.

Hess explained that in 1926, for no apparent reason, things took a downward spiral. Crops began to fail, chickens were stolen and those that weren't did not lay eggs, cows would not eat and no longer produced milk. Milton's health was also severely affected. Wilbert, his 17-year-old son was also affected, psychologically, by hearing his father complain about the failures and lack of money and his mother changing from an energetic cheerful woman into a sad and silent one who withdrew from communicating with family. The family was convinced they were hexed. Hess got a job as a truck driver and Alice still had her stand, now, out of financial necessity.

In June, 1928, Hess met Blymire who lived in the Widow Detwiler's boarding house in an alley. They would talk daily and the conversation, eventually, turned to hexes. About this time, Blymire consulted Nellie Noll, who was known as the 'Witch of Marietta', also as the 'River Witch' in the attempt to discover who had hexed him. She told him that it was the 'Witch of Rehmeyer Hollow'…after much coaxing from Blymire, she named Nelson D. Rehmeyer.

Hess invited Blymire, as a 'Pow-wower' or 'Braucher', to his farm where the witch could see its condition for himself. He asked Blymire who had hexed the family, but he could not remember the name, so he visited Nellie Noll again. Again, she named Nelson D. Rehmeyer and added that Rehmeyer had also hexed Curry. She told him that all they had to do was to get Rehmeyer's copy of John George Hohman's 'Pow-wows or Long Lost Friend' and burn it. If they could not do that, they must get a lock of his hair and bury it 6 to 8 feet underground.

Once Blymire, Curry and the Hesses knew who had hexed them and what had to be done, there was a conference. Attending this meeting were Blymire, Curry and Milton, older brother Clayton and Wilbert Hess. Soon, plans were made for Blymire, Curry and Wilbert Hess to visit Rehmeyer and get a lock of hair or the book, do as they were directed and the hex would be removed. Clayton, the only family member who had a car, would drive them to the hollow. As events happened, Wilbert said he did not feel well and did not want to go. Blymire said it was OK if he did not. He and Curry would get the book or the lock of hair and would do what they had to.

The following information was taken from trial transcripts and records:

Nelson D. Rehmeyer, the 'Witch of Rehmeyer Hollow'

When they got to Rehmeyer's house, they discovered he was not home. They walked to the witch's ex-wife's house and saw a light through the window, so they knocked on the door. The duo was told that Rehmeyer was probably at his lady friend's house. They walked back to the witch's house and noticed a light on the second floor.

Blymire knocked on the door. Rehmeyer opened the door...he was much larger than Blymire remembered and was mean looking. Blymire asked if they could come in and Rehmeyer led them to the parlor where they sat and started to talk.

Blymire asked Rehmeyer if he had seen the book. The response was yes. The next question was if he had one. Again, the answer was affirmative. Blymire was satisfied with the answers. The conversation, then, turned to more mundane topics. Finally, Rehmeyer asked them why they had stopped by. Blymire told him that he had cured him of the opnema when he was a child and he had worked by picking potatoes for him.

Blymire, while they talked, try to mentally will Rehmeyer to hand over the book, but this was not effective. After a while, Rehmeyer said he was going to bed and they could sleep downstairs if they wanted to.

Curry quickly fell asleep while Blymire stayed awake trying to will the old witch to give them the book. Finally, he woke Curry and told him that he could not control Rehmeyer's mind. Should they try to use force and make him give them the book or a lock of hair? Blymire decided against this because the old witch was a big man and could easily overpower them. He decided they needed help.

That morning, Rehmeyer got up early and made the duo breakfast before they left. At some point, they bought a 25 foot length of strong rope and cut it into lengths of about 14 inches.

On Wednesday, November 27th, 1928, the night of the full moon and eve before Thanksgiving, Clayton drove the trio to Rehmeyer's Hollow. The three walked to Rehmeyer's house.

They demanded that he give them the book. He threw his wallet at them. Then, the three attacked Rehmeyer. Blymire wrapped a length of rope around Rehmeyer's neck. The trio fought savagely with the old man…Curry got a block of wood and hit Rehmeyer in the head. The old man was kicked in the head and the stomach and his face was battered. Blymire said he groaned, took a few breaths, then died.

They ransacked the house and found a small amount of money. The trio decided they had to get rid of the evidence that would tie them into the murder. Curry thought setting fire to the house would achieve this. They lit matches and dropped them in the house to set the fire. The house was smoldering when they left.

The house did not burn as they thought it would. A neighbor, Oscar Glatfelter, was passing by Rehmeyer's house on November 30th and heard his mule braying. When the man checked on the animal, he saw it had not been fed. Glatfelter knocked on the door and there was no answer, but the door was unlocked. After the neighbor entered the house, he saw Rehmeyer's corpse lying on the floor.

The Rehmeyer House during the murder investigation

It did not take the police long to arrest Blymire, Curry and Wilbert for the murder of Rehmeyer. All three confessed and Blymire said he was at peace now that he had killed the witch. The newswire services informed the public that a practicing witch had been killed in York County, Pa.

The trials began on January 9th, 1929. Judge Sherwood presided. District Attorney Amos W. Herrmann represented the commonwealth. Public defenders Walter W. VanBaman represented Curry and Herbert B. Cohen, Blymire. The Hess family could afford to hire Harvey A. Gross, the best criminal defense attorney in the area.

Judge Sherwood decreed that all mention of hexes and witchcraft in the confessions be edited out before they were admitted to records. The attempts of the defense attorneys to make hexes and witchcraft a matter of record via testimony were quashed.

Herrmann made his opening statements, avoiding all mention of witchcraft and hexes and forgot to mention the motive for the murder that the judge wanted. He was sharply reminded of this. The decreed motive was robbery and, then, was stated.

When Cohen tried to bring out testimony about witchcraft, the judge thwarted his efforts.

The trials were the some of the speediest in Pennsylvania history. By obstruction of justice, the judge got what he wanted, guilty verdicts, Blymire and Curry, murder in the first degree and Hess, murder in the second degree.

The sentences were handed down on January 14th. Blymire and Curry were given life in prison and Wilbert was given 10 to 20 years. In 1934, Hess and Curry were paroled and lived quiet lives in the York area. Curry became an artist and died in 1962. Blymire was finally paroled in 1953, returned to York and worked as a janitor.


The Hex House in Rehmeyer Hollow, East Hopewell Township, York County, Pa.

This case has always intrigued me...especially after I read Arthur Lewis' account of the incident in his book 'Hex'. I also remember the tales of paranormal activity in Rehmeyer Hollow and the reports of strange apparitions, said to be Nelson Rehmeyer's spirit, roaming the property nightly.

During my senior year in high school, I decided to make a short trip to Rehmeyer Hollow to see what all the fuss was. I had found a copy of 'The Long Lost Friend' and decided to carry it with me. Like I said earlier, I'm a bit superstitious and thought the book may protect me in some way.

I made the journey alone in mid October was late afternoon when I arrived at a locked gate that was suspended over the access road that had a 'No Trespassing' sign attached to it. At that time, the sparse open areas were overgrown with briers and high weeds. The woods were very thick and dark and as I started walking on the road I could make out the roof of the small house jutting over the trees. As I approached, I noticed what looked like an older man in dark pants and a jacket standing on the road near the bend that led to the house….I estimated he was about 150 feet in front of me. It looked like he was searching for something because he was looking face down in a peculiar manner.

I stopped walking and stood for a few seconds watching this person go back and forth across the road, never raising their head. So I decided it was time to find out if this was a caretaker or if it was OK for me proceed any further even though I knew was trespassing.

I shouted "hello...sir". No response. So I was about to shout again thinking this person was hard of hearing or possibly ignoring me. Just as I began to open my mouth to shout, this person quickly looked up and....

Now, I realize that I was a fair distance away but this 'person' that, I swear to this day, had no facial features. No eyes, no mouth, no nose...just a head. I spun around and hauled my butt back to the car. The ghost hunt was over. I wheeled my Mustang out of that hollow onto the main road in record time. Honestly, I don't remember the drive home. I was absolutely stunned by the experience.

A few days later, my girlfriend and I were in my room and she found 'The Long Lost Friend' on my desk. I was lying on the bed with headphones on when I looked over and saw that she was looking in the book. As I watched her, I noticed that there was writing on the book cover. I had purchased the book as new, had never written in it or had it anywhere other than when I was at Rehmeyer Hollow. As I looked closer, there was an "NR" written in pencil.

The next day, I lit the grill in the backyard and promptly burned the book and buried the ashes. I wasn't leaving anything to 'chance'. A few weeks later, I purchase a new copy of 'The Long Lost Friend' and it's been with me since.



The following is a description of how the Pow-wower applied their skills in 20th-century York County, as noted by Arthur H. Lewis in his 1969 book "Hex":

Except for two days a month, the Rohrbaugh Convalescent Home in rural Spring Grove, York County, Pennsylvania, is about as quiet a spot as you're likely to find anywhere in the Keystone State. But on the first and sixteenth, it becomes a mecca for scores of ailing men, women and children who flock to this tiny village, there to be powwowed back to health by Mrs. Leah Frank.

Mistakenly, I assumed there was some significance in the choice of the two days on which Mrs. Frank practices her profession.

"When I reached ninety, and that was four years ago," Mrs. Frank explained, "I thought maybe I'd better quit altogether; it's so hard on a body. But my people wouldn't let me, tole me they needed me. So, instead of workin' every day, I tole 'em I'd 'try for' two days a month and I picked the first and the sixteenth. Then people will know when to come and not be disappointed in between. That's all there is to it."

Through the windows of the second-floor bedroom she seldom leaves, Mrs. Frank can view the soft hills of York County where she has lived all her years. As a matter of fact, the aged powwower spends most of her daylight hours in an old-fashioned Morris chair facing the east. "I'd rather see the sun come up than go down," she says gently.

Except for a slight diminution in hearing and arthritis, only lately beginning to cripple the long, tapered fingers she needs for "laying on" ill or otherwise troubled patients, Mrs. Frank remains in excellent health. Her cheeks, though wrinkled, have a healthy glow; her teeth are her own, and her sharp blue eyes still regard with abiding interest that small portion of the world she sees.

"Prettiest part of the world, though I wouldn't know much about the rest of it," Mr. Frank said in a clear voice with a strong Pennsylvania Dutch inflection. "Born and raised ten miles from here and never been no further away than forty. But you don't have to travel to learn things and how to take care of 'em that needs you, do you?"

She smiled and went on.

"I've been tryin' for people for a long, long time. I always know'd I had the power but I learned how to use it from a veterinarian who practiced powwowin' too. That was back in 1904; I've been doin' it ever since.

"Course that's not all I ever done. I just used to try for people on the side like most of us faith healers do. From the time I was a little girl 'till I was seventy-seven years I worked in a mill and I worked hard, too. Anymore I don't work so hard. Now I'm so old I only powwow."

What troubles Mrs. Frank is the current shortage of apprentices willing to undergo the rigors of training in order to become worthy practitioners.

"I don't mean those that don't have the power inside 'em 'cause they'll never learn no matter how much they want to. Some of 'em try but I always say to 'em, 'If you can't stop blood, you'll never be a powwower, so don't waste your time.'"

"What I'm referrin' to is those that got the power but don't want to use it. It ain't easy; you have to work hard and it makes you mighty tired to try for people.

Mrs. Frank did not elaborate upon the curriculum required before the neophyte can become a full-fledged practitioner. She did say, however, that after "blood stopping," which, incidentally, she claims can never be taught and must be known congenitally, the next training step is wart removal. After that come the many other branches of the discipline concluding with cures for the opnema, St. Anthony's fire and finally tumors.

Mrs. Frank also holds to the orthodox belief, one shared by the majority of her colleagues, that an instructor in powwowism or witchcraft may impart his knowledge only to members of the opposite sex.

"A man shouldn't teach another man or boy and a woman can't teach another woman or girl," claims this nonagenarian necromancer. "I'm helpin' train a young man who lives 'round here and he's doin' all right. But I sure wish I could teach my granddaughter. She was born with the power but she don't know how to use it. She could do wonderful good."

I asked Mrs. Frank what would happen if she attempted to teach the profession to her granddaughter. She shuddered.

"Oh, my goodness! That would be terrible. I'd suffer for it the rest of my days and maybe lose my own power if I tried."

Like the Willow Street powwower, to whom she is not related, Mrs. Frank is aware of the present of evil area witches. However, she does not subscribe to Clair Frank's depressing theory that practitioners of the black art are getting smarter as well as increasingly numerous.

"Not many of 'em 'round as there used to be," Mrs. Frank said cheerfully. "And they're getting dumber and dumber all the time. But when I was a girl!"

NOTE: In 1988, the film Apprentice to Murder was released and starred Donald Sutherland, Chad Lowe and Mia Sara. The story was based on the Rehmeyer Hollow Murder...Lon

Lewis, Arthur H., 'Hex' (1969) - Trident Press
Yronwode, Catherine, 'Hoodoo in Theory and Practice'
Georg Hohman, Johann, 'Pow-Wows or The Long Lost Friend' (1820)
Rehmeyer Family Archives

The Hex Hollow Murder

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/21/2010

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 09:09 AM PDT

The Incredible Shrinking Moon

AP - The moon may be shrinking.

Not to worry though, lovers and crooners, it won't be disappearing any time soon.

New research indicates cracks in the moon's crust that have formed as the interior has cooled and shrunk over the last billion years or so. That means the surface has shrunk, too, though not so you'd notice just from gazing at it.

Scientists have identified 14 landforms called lobate scarps scattered over the surface of the moon, explained Thomas R. Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Watters and colleagues describe their find in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

The scarps had previously been noted at the moon's equator, but this is the first evidence in other areas, indicating they result from a global process.

The study calls the scarps "evidence of recent thrust faulting on the moon." But this is planetary science, where "recent" can mean a billion years ago.

The scarps, or cliffs, extend across some small craters, and small craters tend to be obliterated over time, Watters explained in a telephone interview. In addition, there are no large craters imposed on top of the scarps, another indication they are relatively recent, in planetary terms, he said.

"One of the really cool parts of this ... the faults are so young-looking that you can't escape the possibility that this contraction occurred recently, and could indicate that the moon is still active," Watters said.

The size of the scarps indicates a shrinkage in the size of the moon of about 100 meters (328 feet), which wouldn't be nearly enough to be noticed with the naked eye. The moon is about one-fourth the size of the Earth in diameter.

The scarps range up to 10 meters (a little over 30 feet) high and a few kilometers long, he said. By comparison, the planet Mercury has much larger scarps indicating considerably more shrinkage over time.

The moon's not going to disappear and its shrinkage won't affect the Earth in any way, Watters stressed.


Kissing Bugs...Nasty Little Insects That Bite Your Lips

fishinsects - Triatoma infestans is one of the Kissing Bugs. Like the ticks, these bugs can carry human diseases. T.infestans is the most important carrier of Chaga's disease in South America.

What happens is that the bug gets infected with the parasite (Trypanosoma cruzi) when he sucks blood from an infected person, and then passes it on when he bites a new victim. The parasite is actually passed out with the bug's faeces, and then it creeps into the wound which is usually on the lips. Soon after infection there is a chronic reaction, typically with swelling around the lips, and then the disease lays dormant for several years. The later, chronic, stage of the disease is very serious. There is often severe heart damage, and while the disease can be treated just after infection, the chronic disease remains incurable. Even heart transplants don't seem to work because the parasite just takes advantage of the lowered immune system, reproduces like mad, and then starts doing damage all over again!

Charles Darwin ( famous for his views on evolution ) probably caught Chaga's Disease when he was bitten by "a great black bug of the pampas" while on his famous voyage round the world in the 'Beagle'. It is possible to get a vaccination before going to places where the disease is endemic (parts of South America), and you can also use mosquito nets. The worrying thing is that for every one adult flying down to 'get' you there will be five young ones crawling up! And that's not all one has young that camouflage themselves, so that you can end up carrying them into the house with the firewood.

Kissing Bugs are members of the Assassin Bug and Wheel Bug family of insects (Reduviidae). They have been found preserved in Amber - (Assassin Bug in Colombian Amber). Most Assassin Bugs kill insects so they can be very helpful to man, often killing agricultural and garden pests, and sometimes more directly (such as the 'Masked Hunter' who kills bedbugs!). Wheel Bugs are among the many bugs kept as pets by some people who feed them mealworms. They look very unusual but they can give a very nasty bite, so I don't think I'll go any further than keeping Silverfish myself!


India Couple Sacrifices 4-Year-Old Daughter To 'Attain Wealth'

indiatimes - A poverty-stricken couple in an Uttar Pradesh village allegedly killed their four-year-old daughter after a self-proclaimed godman assured them that the act would attain them affluence, police said Wednesday.

Shri Krishna and his wife Rama Devi are absconding. The body of their daughter Kanni was recovered late Tuesday evening from their house in Sitapur district's Dahelikushepa village, some 80 km from Lucknow.

"Investigations reveal it is a case of human sacrifice. Flowers, packets of sindoor (vermillion), incense sticks and other 'puja' items were recovered from near the girl's body," police inspector Rajveer Singh told reporters in Sitapur.

"The body, which was found buried in the courtyard, had multiple burn injuries. It appeared that the girl was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination," he added.

The couple killed their daughter under the influence of a 'tantrik', Shiv Kumar, who too is absconding.

Villagers, who noticed Shiv Kumar entering the couple's house Tuesday morning, informed the police after they heard Kanni's screams.

"They managed to escape. The same 'tantrik' had also suggested other families to go for a child sacrifice in order to get rid of their poverty," the police inspector said.

"Locals said Shri Krishna and his wife believed they would attain affluence overnight with the ways suggested by Shiv Kumar," he added.


Raelians' 'Go Topless' Day

myfoxspokane - Sunday is "Go Topless" Day, with women (and men) gathering in U.S. cities to advance a woman's right to go shirtless, just like men.

"As long as men can be topless, constitutionally women should have the same right, or men should also be forced to wear something hiding their chest," Maitreya, Rael, "spiritual leader" and founder of Go Topless , the group behind Sunday's annual event, says on the group's website.

In case you are wondering:

• No, there is no PG version of Sunday's event.

• Women do wear nipple covers that look like actual nipples.

• They also wear little more than strategically placed stickers.

• And guys? Male supporters wear bras and bikinis.

The annual event is held on the Sunday nearest to Aug. 26, the date in 1920 when the U.S. Constitution was amended to grant women the right to vote. Also, Congress in 1970 declared Aug. 26 "Women's Equality Day."

Major cities taking part include: San Francisco; New York; Austin, Texas ; Los Angeles; Denver; Seattle; Miami, and Chicago .

Go Topless was founded by the Raelian Movement, which believes that life on Earth was created by advanced extraterrestrial scientists, states the group's website.

For supporters of the topless cause, a woman's breasts should not be treated any different than her legs, belly button or other body parts than can be exposed without hassle.

"It's a matter of fairness," Go Topless director Nadine Gary told AOL News . "We want equal topless rights for all or none."

Gary, a native of France, which tolerates topless women in public, wants the issue to become law, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

She said the goal is also to establish clarity in what's allowed. Gary noted that a woman arrested in New York for going topless in public was later awarded $29,000 for wrongful arrest.


Japanese Man Kept Dead Mother in a Backpack

BBC - The remains of a Japanese woman have been found in a backpack, in the latest gruesome discovery by investigators searching for missing old people.

The woman's son told police his mother died in 2001 but he had not been able to pay for a burial.

A similar discovery weeks ago sparked a search for people who are registered as being more than 100 years old.

According to Japanese media, the audit has so far identified 281 centenarians who are missing or have already died.

The inquiry followed the discovery last month of the mummified remains of a man registered as being 111 years old. He had died 30 years earlier.

Those unaccounted for include a 125-year-old woman whose registered address was turned into a park in 1981, according to media reports.

In the latest find, a 64-year-old man told officials that his mother had died at home in Tokyo in "about June 2001".

"Because I didn't have money for a funeral, I didn't report her death," the Sankei Shimbun newspaper quoted him as saying.

The AFP news agency reported that he told police: "I laid out her body for a while, washed it in the bath, then broke up the bones and put them into a backpack."

But the woman's pension continued to be paid and police are now investigating the son on suspicion of fraud.

There are more than 40,000 registered centenarians in Japan, according to government data, but the number of missing has raised concerns that the welfare system is being exploited by dishonest relatives.

Analysts say there is dismay in Japan that a rich, efficient society could have lost track of its senior citizens to such a degree.

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/21/2010

Voracious Self-Cloning Crayfish Invades Ecologically Sensitive Madagascar

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 08:26 AM PDT

sci-tech-today - Alarm is mounting on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar over an invasion of voracious self-cloning crayfish, which are gobbling their way through rice paddies and threatening endemic crayfish species.

The marbled crayfish, or marmorkrebs, is color mottled brown-green with light and dark spots and can grow up to 10 centimeters in length.

It is not clear how or when the shrimp-like crustacean, which is believed to originate in North America, came to this vast island, which lies 400 kilometers off the coast of Mozambique.

Experts believe it arrived via Europe, where German scientists already warned in 2003 about the proliferation of the crayfish as aquarium fish.

Professor Olga Ramilijaona, a biologist at the capital's Universite d'Antananarivo, said the first specimens were discovered in a rice paddy near the capital in 2003.

But the first "invasion" of the Procambarus species came only four years later during the 2007 summer rainy season, when the crayfish, which are sold to impoverished locals as a cheap source of protein, began cropping up for sale on markets.

Today they are found in rice paddies, rivers, lakes and swamps in eight of the country's 22 regions, mainly in the central high plains, where Antananarivo, the capital, is situated.

"Our seven indigenous crayfish species are directly threatened by these voracious non-endemic species," Professor Noromalala Raminosoa, also of the capital's university, told a press conference last week.

Raminsoa said all types of Procambarus are carriers of the crayfish disease, which nearly wiped out European crayfish in former times.

"If nothing is done to stop them these crayfish will become a national threat," she warned.

Apart from the threat to biodiversity, the crayfish are also devouring young rice plants and attacking small fish bred in rice paddies.

Madagascar's rice farmers use their paddies as mini-fish farms to supplement their diet -- and their income -- with small carp and tilapia.

Local daily Midi Madagasikara quoted a farmer from a small village on the outskirts of Antananarivo as saying his catch of tilapia had fallen by about 75 per cent since the crayfish appeared.

The crayfish "will eat any plant matter, including rice. In fact, they'll eat any biological matter," the biologists warned.

They also reproduce at an explosive rate, producing up to 400 eggs in 40 days during the warm rainy season.

In 2003, German scientists proved that the marmorkrebs could clone itself. Although the crayfish also reproduced sexually, females were able to lay eggs which hatched without being fertilized.

Known as parthenogenisis, this type of unisex reproduction is effectively a form of natural cloning.

Biologists here fear that if the crayfish continue to gain new ground the impact on the environment of this ecologically sensitive island, which is home to tens of thousands of plants and animals found nowhere else, could be disastrous.

Working with Conservation International, the university has launched a campaign across areas within a 200-kilometer radius of the capital. Using pictorial placards, they warn people against the dangers of the pest, known locally as orana vahiny.

"We get diarrhea after eating them," one farmer said. "Even the pigs won't eat them."

Rice farmers have also grouped together and have began fishing out and burning the crayfish en masse.

Meanwhile, at bush taxi ranks on roads leading out of the capital, volunteers are checking passengers' baggage to ensure that plateau dwellers are not carrying the crayfish to give as presents to relatives in other regions.

Voracious Self-Cloning Crayfish Invades Ecologically Sensitive Madagascar

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[MedicalConspiracies] Agatha Christie's Unexplained Mystery - Situation in Russia is Worsening...Chernobyl-Tainted Forests Burning

Phantoms and Monsters

Agatha Christie's Unexplained Mystery

Posted: 17 Aug 2010 11:10 AM PDT

It's a story that even the 'Queen of Crime' couldn't have come up with: the mysterious disappearance of the most famous writer in England and subsequent nationwide search, then fifty years later a seance in a glamorous Istanbul hotel and the discovery of a key that could solve the whole mystery.

It all began on December 14th 1926. For eleven days England and the rest of the English-speaking world had been up in arms over the disappearance of none other than one of the most famous authors in the world.

For months, Christie had been dealing with a lot of stress and tragedy, including her mother's death and the revelation of her husband's long-time affair. Her newest novel, The Mysterious Affair of Styles, though selling well, was also met with criticism that some say was due to it's "unorthodox" plot. The break from literary norms nearly got her kicked out of the Detection Club for violating the rules of "fair play."

On the morning of December 3rd, Christie had an argument with her husband, World War I pilot Colonel Archibald Christie (Archie) which was presumed to be about his upcoming trip. Christie believed he was planning to see his mistress (Nancy Neele). Later that same day, she wrote two letters (to her husband and to her secretary) canceling all of her appointments. She then left in her car and did not return that night.

Alarm was raised the next morning when she had yet to return. Later that day her car was found in a ditch off the side of the road a few miles from Styles, near the hotel where her husband was going to spend the weekend with his mistress. The car was abandoned and covered in frost, with the lights left on. Inside was an expired driver's license identifying the car's former occupant as Christie, a fur coat, and a small suitcase containing a couple of pieces of clothing.

Of course, this was BIG news and it created a media frenzy. 15,000 (or so) volunteers searched the surrounding area and it marked the first time in British history that planes were used as part of a search party. When the police learned of Archie's affair, he became the prime suspect. The police tapped his phones and he was followed everywhere that he went.

"I would gladly give 500 pounds if I could only learn where my wife is." Archie announced in a public statement. But the question remains, was Archie a concerned husband or just playing his part in public?

There were many guesses as to what happened. Some people thought that she had been murdered, others that she had suffered a bout of amnesia. There were several cynics who suspected an elaborate publicity stunt. Several writers wrote articles outlining their elaborate theories as to what they believed to have really happened. As the days passed, more and more people believed her to be dead.

Christie was not dead, but where was she? On December 14th, she was discovered at Harrogate Hydropathic Hotel in Yorkshire (Northern England) and had apparently gone directly there, from her home. She checked into the hotel under the name of Theresa Neele, using the same last name as her husband's mistress. Apparently, several of the guests recognized her, but she denied who she was. The police and her husband were notified. When her husband arrived, it's said that she greeted him as her brother.

Christie claimed that she was suffering from amnesia. She and her husband went back to their home and told the press that she was coping with memory loss as a result of her mother's death. Despite two doctors examining her and agreeing with this prognosis, the public remained skeptical. Some maintained that it was a publicity stunt, and criticized her for wasting the taxpayer's money. Others believed that she had done it to publicly embarrass her husband as revenge for his adultery.

Whatever the reason truly was for her eleven days missing, she never revealed it. It was widely believed that with the release of her biography (after her death) there would be some reference to this period and her true reasons behind her disappearance, but she never mentioned it.

Christie was said to have spent a a lot of her time in the 1920's and 30's at the Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul. It happens to be where she wrote Murder on the Orient Express in room 411, preserved to this day as tribute.

Room 411 Pera Palas Hotel

In preparation for the movie Agatha (1979 release), the studio turned to a known psychic, Tamara Rand and asked that she hold a seance in Christie's room at the hotel in hopes of contact. Rand, if you remember, has had some fame due to her prediction of Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt. Rand claims that during the seance, she witnessed Christie hide a key under the floorboards in her room.

The workers in Christie's room tore up all the floorboards. In the corner between the door and the wall, they found a small, rusty key. Rand claimed that this key would open Christie's diary and would reveal the secret to Christie's disappearance. The press was ecstatic about the potential of the discovery. But celebration came too soon. The diary key couldn't be taken back to England and tested. The hotel management and the movie studio could not reach an agreement on the price to be paid for the key, so the key never actually left the premises of the hotel, and it remains there today, the last hope perhaps to obtaining the answers to her disappearance. Another key numbered 411 was found in another room in the Pera Palas in 1987, adding further confusion to this mystery.


For the past decade or so, Horacio Velmont and the Grupo Elron (Entities of Light) claimed to be channeling L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. Now, Scientology does not recognize channeling but this group claimed that Hubbard regularly conversed with them.

In 2004, a channeling session was conducted and the discussion of Agatha Christie's disappearance took place. The following is the supposed transcript from that session:


Interlocutor: I will talk now about the famous writer of mystery novels Agatha Christie who played the lead in her strange disappearance in December of 1926. Nobody knew her whereabouts during eleven days, and when they found her in a small hotel, she said that she had lost her memory. Many conjectures were made, but definitely everything remained in the fog.

Ron Hubbard: She met a sixty year-old person more or less, and she became very friend of this person, she told to this person many things, her sorrows, her marital problems, her loss, her loneliness. This person held her back as a confessor.

Interlocutor: Are we speaking of a man or of a woman?

Ron Hubbard: This person was somehow from an indefinable species between a man and a woman. She took it as an androgynous.

Interlocutor: But in fact what it was?

Ron Hubbard: In fact this person was of the masculine sex, but with feminine features. Agatha trusted in him since the very first moment, because this person had feminine features, and she had many engrams that predisposed her against men.

Interlocutor: What was the name of this person?

Ron Hubbard: His name was Epipheo.

Interlocutor: What a strange name! Was he English?

Ron Hubbard: No, he was not English, but extraterrestrial.

Interlocutor: Extraterrestrial? I already thought that there was something fishy. With my characteristic "wickedness" I will ask you if there was "something more than friendly conversations" between them.

Ron Hubbard: I understand what you mean. Yes, there was intimacy between them.

Interlocutor: Was this alien humanoid or a human type?

Ron Hubbard: It was human type.

Interlocutor: And his origin?

Ron Hubbard: Orbein, Orbein 4, to be exact.

Interlocutor: One can say that during that week Agatha was with the extraterrestrial, it was something like a "honeymoon."

Ron Hubbard: Completely, because that is what it was.

Interlocutor: What happened finally?

Ron Hubbard: That person told her that she won't be able to contact him anymore, because he had to return to his world, without explaining which one it was.

Interlocutor: Did she know he was an extraterrestrial?

Ron Hubbard: Yes, because he told her.

Interlocutor: Did she believe him? Did she see his ship?

Ron Hubbard: She had doubts. No, she didn't see his ship.

Interlocutor: Did he come in a spacecraft? or he simply came in an exploration device from his planet

Ron Hubbard: He was an explorer, who came alone.

Interlocutor: Now I understand why she had to remain silent, because on one hand nobody would have believed her that she had an encounter with an extraterrestrial and even less an intimate relation with him, and on the other hand, she had her doubts.

Ron Hubbard: Correct.

Interlocutor: Is there something else about this story?

Ron Hubbard: No, there is nothing more, because the main thing has been explained and the details on the case are not interesting.

Velmont states on his website:

There have been reports of alien abductions all the way back to the Bible, this is evident if we consider with logic and common sense the sightings of "chariots of fire and raptures" mentioned in the scriptures, in spite of that, close-minded people deny that alien abductions could be real and they insist stubbornly that all the abductees are insane or they simply hallucinate. Skeptics refuse to accept the facts because those events are beyond their understanding.

At the present time, skeptical people of the UFO phenomenon are doing the same thing that religious people did in 1633 with Galileo Galilei, when they imprisoned him because he had claimed that the Earth was not the center of the universe, Galileo had to recant to save his life from the fire, something that Giordano Bruno did not do since he was convinced of his ideas and he was burned at the stake because he had affirmed that the man was not the maximum work of God and that other inhabited worlds existed in the universe.

Fortunately, skeptical people will not burn those who have these ideas, but they will laugh at those who had suffered an alien abduction with scorn.

NOTE: First off, I have NO affinity towards fact, I consider it a moronic cult. Second, I presume that L. Ron Hubbard was an average science fiction writer and an excellent con-artist. That being said, Velmont and his group have no connection with Scientology from what I can gather. For this reason, I find it interesting that Hubbard is their messenger from beyond. I'm not going to state an inference or draw any conclusions (though, you can probably guess what I'm thinking). I'll just post the information and let you decide...Lon

Jared Cade, 'Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days'
Laura Thompson, 'Agatha Christie: An English Mystery'

Agatha Christie's Unexplained Mystery

Situation in Russia is Worsening...Chernobyl-Tainted Forests Burning

Posted: 17 Aug 2010 09:55 AM PDT

Chernobyl fallout and H-Bomb manufacturing areas are going up in smoke. Forest fires hit areas remaining radioactive since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

veteranstoday - Russia is burning down this summer. The smoke is engulfing Moscow and the European Union. Embassies are emptying.

What's the deal?

Thousands of forest fires are burning all over Russia. More importantly, the nuclear weapons factories and reactors around Mayak and the former Soviet Union's Uranium Project are going up in smoke. The smoke is toxic and radioactive in every possible sense of the words.

Russian forest fires are burning down old H-Bomb factory areas and the Chernobyl poisoned woodlands. This holds the virtual certainty of at least 241,000,000 Lethal Doses of radioactivity becoming air borne during a fire. Due to peculiar nuclear forces the tiny ceramicized radioactive particles stay in the air for months
or even years till they are "rained out" by some form of precipitation.

Snowflake edges are particularly good scavengers of radioactive particles.

Two US Air Force C130s just flew into Moscow. Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, or one of the seven other nuclear weapons labs in the US, are more than likely involved. Ask yourself this. What on earth could have scared the Russian nuke forces enough to call in their old hated Cold War foe – the US Air Force – for help?

There is a simple way to let the people of the world know what is going on with airborne Chernobyl and Mayak data. We paid for all the data, anyway, whether Russian, American or European Union Data.

Free the Data. Release it to the InterNet all over the world and let people decide for themselves which country is safe enough for their families to live in.

If you are planning a trip to Europe or Russia – don't go. If you are already there – leave immediately. If you have family or friends there – get them out if you can. This is not a drill. It is the real deal.

Another way to look at the Mayak national sacrifice zone in Russia is that the old Soviet Union manufactured 30,000 global thermonuclear weapons. There were numerous "accidents" at Mayak that weren't supposed to happen and "officially" never did happen. The government lied, of course.

Thousands of forest fires are burning in Russia around old H-Bomb factories.

The 1,000 sq km around the Mayak bomb factory is one of the most contaminated areas on Earth because the Mayak Uranium Project manufactured the most poisonous substances on Earth for the most lethal weapons on Earth.

Manufacturing thermonuclear weapons is a really nasty business. As far as Weapons of Mass Destruction goes, there are the real McCoy.

As of 8/15/2010 all personnel in Russia and the European Union are advised to evacuate immediately. I repeat. This is not a drill. If you can't leave, get your kids out. It may be too late already.


scientificamerican - Fires have scorched forests contaminated with radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a Russian forestry official said on Wednesday, but it was unclear how dangerous the smoke might be.

Kremlin leaders are already grappling with Russia's deadliest wildfires since 1972 and a drought that has destroyed crops after what weather monitoring officials say was the country's hottest summer in a millennium.

Fears of stirring up nuclear pollution from the Chernobyl disaster could take the crisis to a new level, though officials said radiation levels were normal in Moscow and once scientist said the level of risk depended on exactly where the fires were.

"Yes, there have been fires," Vasily Tuzov, deputy director of Russia's forest protection agency, told Reuters by telephone when asked if there had been fires in forests polluted by the Chernobyl accident, the world's worst civil nuclear disaster.

"Most of them have been extinguished now," Tuzov said.

He refused to give more details about the fires, referring to a statement on the agency's website which said that fires covering an area of 39 square kilometers (15 square miles) had been registered in regions with forests polluted with radiation.

The regions affected included Bryansk province, which borders Ukraine southwest of Moscow and was polluted by radioactive dust that billowed across Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Europe after a series of explosions at Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 on April 26, 1986.

Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said on August 5 that in the event of a fire in forests in the Bryansk region, radioactive particles could be propelled into the air.

Kim Holmen, head of research at the Norwegian Polar Institute, said trees, other vegetation and the ground had absorbed some of the nuclear material spewed out in the 1986 accident and blazes were releasing some again into the air.

"The sins of our fathers revisit us," he told Reuters.

"There is a remobilization of Chernobyl material. That is a side of biomass burning that is under-communicated. There is plenty of this still around ... In order to say anything useful about the amounts you have to see where the fires are."

Greenpeace Russia said in a statement that three fires had been registered in badly contaminated forests in the Bryansk region, which was polluted with the nuclear isotope caesium 137.

Radiation levels in the Moscow region were unchanged and within normal limits on Thursday, said on Yelena Popova, the head of Moscow's radiation monitoring center.

Asked whether fires in the areas contaminated by Chernobyl could bring radioactive particles in the Moscow region, she said the risk was still "theoretical."

"There is a possibility that winds could bring contaminated air from Kaluga or Tula regions if major fires erupt there," she said, referring to two Russian provinces a little under 200 km (125 miles) southwest of Moscow that were also polluted by Chernobyl.

"But our monitoring stations have not registered any increase in such activity so far," she said.

The wildfires have killed at least 54 people in Russia.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she had called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday to express solidarity with Russia over the crisis.

Strong winds cleared the toxic smoke that has choked Moscow for three weeks on Wednesday, but weather forecasters warned it could return in 24 hours.

The heat and smoke in Moscow -- which sent pollution levels to the highest levels in decades -- almost doubled mortality rates in the capital and disrupted flights, consumer activity and even trading in Russian stocks and bonds.

Muscovites got a glimpse of clear skies on Wednesday after a thunderstorm accompanied by strong winds in the early hours dispersed the smoke. Some young Russians rejoiced in the rains, dancing in the downpour and cheering the thunder and lightning.

The Emergencies Ministry said the area of burning forests in Russia had almost halved in the past 24 hours to 927 square km (358 square miles) from 1,740 square km (676 square miles), and that nearly 166,000 people were fighting more than 600 fires.

"As soon as there is windless weather again, the smoke will return," Roman Vilfand, the director of the state weather forecasting center, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

"It has got easier in Moscow but not where the fires are burning."

Situation in Russia is Worsening...Chernobyl-Tainted Forests Burning

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/17/2010

Posted: 17 Aug 2010 09:26 AM PDT

Wiccan Witch Sells 'Booty Enhancement' Spells on eBay

asylum - Amelia, better known as eBay seller moonstruck9000, has been a Wiccan spellcaster for over 20 years. More recently, as Asylum discovered, she moved her business to the Internet and is now offering booty-enhancement spells.

That's right, folks, if you have a Leo girlfriend, this would make the ideal birthday gift ... for you. Amelia will take your $8.95 and you'll just have to trust that the witch will actually follow through on the deal and cast a spell over the Interwebs.

Moonstruck9000 swears by this practice: "Upon purchase of a spell I will set up an alter [sic] solely for your spell to be cast," she claims on her eBay listing. "Be assured your desired outcome will receive my undivided attention. This will include the use of candles, herbs, oils, gemstones, tools and some other items that may be required to bring results. Your spell will be complete within 24–48 hours of purchase depending on the complexity of your spell."

She says you should "feel positive energy immediately" -- although, of course, she'll also email you a confirmation message to let you know something should be happening in the badunkadunk zone.

Keep reading for some testimonials of her Wiccan wares from her time of butt-swelling over the Internet.

Moonstruck9000 has satisfied ass fans for years, judging by these reports:

"I felt a surge of good energy the night spell was cast A++++."




Of course, the ultimate review is her own, from the Disclaimers section: "You must be 18 years old to purchase," she writes. "Psychic, paranormal, haunted and/or magical items are for entertainment purposes only. I am not responsible for any paranormal activity you may or may not experience."


Coin-Operated Benches in China...Pain in the Arse!

Park officials in China have found a way to stop people from hogging their benches for too long - by fitting steel spikes on a coin-operated timer.

If visitors at the Yantai Park in Shangdong province, eastern China, linger too long without feeding the meter, dozens of sharp spikes shoot through the seat.

The spikes are too short to cause any serious harm - but long enough to prevent people from sitting on them comfortably.

Park bosses got the idea from an art installation in Germany where sculptor Fabian Brunsing created a similar bench as a protest against the commercialization of modern life.

"He thought he was exaggerating. He didn't foresee that a very practical country like China might actually use them for real," said one critic.

Parks in China suffer from chronic overcrowding at weekends when millions of people try to escape the country's teeming cities.

"We have to make sure the facilities are shared out evenly and this seems like a fair way to stop people grabbing a bench at dawn and staying there all day," said one park official.


Proof of Aliens Could Come Within 25 Years, Scientist Says

space - Proof of extraterrestrial intelligence could come within 25 years, an astronomer who works on the search said Sunday.

"I actually think the chances that we'll find ET are pretty good," said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in Mountain View, Calif., here at the SETI con convention. "Young people in the audience, I think there's a really good chance you're going to see this happen."

Shostak bases this estimation on the Drake Equation, a formula conceived by SETI pioneer Frank Drake to calculate the number (N) of alien civilizations with whom we might be able to communicate. That equation takes into account a variety of factors, including the rate of star formation in the galaxy, the fraction of stars that have planets, the fraction of planets that are habitable, the percent of those that actually develop life, the percent of those that develop intelligent life, the fraction of civilizations that have a technology that can broadcast their presence into space, and the length of time those signals would be broadcasted.

Reliable figures for many of those factors are not known, but some of the leaders in the field of SETI have put together their best guesses. Late great astronomer Carl Sagan, another SETI pioneer, estimated that the Drake Equation amounted to N = 1 million. Scientist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov calculated 670,000. Drake himself estimates a more conservative 10,000.

But even if that lower value turns out to be correct, at the rate they're going, it wouldn't take scientists too long to discover an alien signal, Shostak said.

"This range, from Sagan's million down to 10,000 – that's the range of estimates from people who have started and worked on SETI," said Shostak. "These people may know what they're talking about. If they do, then the point is we trip across somebody in the next several dozen or two dozen years."

The SETI quest is set to take a leap forward when the Allen Telescope Array, a network of radio dishes under construction in northern California, is fully operational. By 2015, the array should be able to scan hundreds of thousands of stars for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, Shostak said.

But while humans might be able to discover an alien signal within that timeframe, interpreting what ET is trying to tell us could take much, much longer.

Shostak admitted such a task would be very difficult. An alien civilization may be as technologically advanced compared to us as Homo sapiens are to our hominid relatives Neanderthals.

"We could give our digital television signals to the Neanderthals, and they'll never figure it out. And they're not stupid," he said.

Yet simply having proof that we are not alone in the universe would likely be a world-changing achievement, Shostak added.

NOTE: Proof?! How much 'proof' do you need? Lon


The Market For UFO Tourism

cyprus-mail - It may sound like the stuff of pure fantasy, but several leading British travel companies think UFO spotting could prove to be a money-spinning tourist attraction for Cyprus.

The unusual new marketing offensive has prompted Jet 2, Late Deals and all attempt to lure UFO hunters via a series of press releases.

Experts say Cyprus is experiencing a concentrated period of sightings, with countless reports of strange lights in the sky.

"It is an area of growth. We have actually had a few enquiries about the UFOs over the months. Holidaymakers want to know the best time of year to spot one," says Calum MacDonald of holiday consultants

Nick Pope the former UFO investigator for the British Ministry of Defence told the Cyprus Mail that such tourism initiatives had proved beneficial in other countries.

"UFO tourism is a fascinating possibility and there are some previous examples. Many people believe a UFO crashed in Roswell, in America, in 1947. Nowadays the town has a UFO museum, conferences and a city parade where everyone dresses up as aliens. It's a huge tourist attraction.

"In the UK, tourists come to the parts of the country where crop circles appear. If Cyprus is currently a UFO hot-spot, tourists may come to see if they can have their own sighting. It could turn out to be an out-of-this-world holiday," Pope added.

Despite the laughable factor, there is a strong case to be made, with Scotland, Chile and parts of Nevada - the famous Area 51 - all investing in specially designated 'UFO spotting zones'.

Suggestions by local enthusiasts for adapting UFO tourism include a visitor's centre in Troodos, which would exhibit photographs, accounts and details of extra-terrestrial incidents recorded in Cyprus.

Locals in Chile have reported so many UFO sightings during the past two decades that on local official is declaring his Maipo River region just outside the capital of Santiago an official UFO tourism zone.

There are plans to erect two observation centres, place signs where there have been sightings and offer workshops on, among other topics, how best to photograph alien visitors.

The Scottish town of Bonnybridge has also cashed in on the UFO boom after recently been dubbed the UFO capital of the world. Dozens of unexplained sightings have been recorded in the area, which attracts visitors from across the globe.

Troodos and the east coast are the undisputed epicentres of significant sightings, with yet another bizarre close encounter by British military personnel having been published recently describing an incident near Dhekelia in 1971.

An unnamed soldier, who provided photographic evidence of the incident recalled, "Everybody on the exercise, about 1400 men, saw the light, which was extremely bright and when I'm talking about extremely bright, I've never seen anything as bright in my life."

Increasing number of accounts of UFO encounters are being published online, especially by former servicemen and pilots.


Infamous "Satanic Panic" Case in New York Reopened

AP - A man who has been trying for decades to take back his guilty plea in a notorious child molestation case won a huge moral victory Monday when a federal appeals court encouraged prosecutors to reopen their investigation.

Although the judges on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denied Jesse Friedman's request to withdraw his plea, saying there was no legal basis to allow that, the panel criticized interrogation techniques by investigators in the 1988 case and actions by prosecutors and the trial judge.

"The record here suggests 'a reasonable likelihood' that Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted," the judges said in a 31-page decision. "While the law may require us to deny relief in this case, it does not compel us to do so without voicing some concern regarding the process by which the petitioner's conviction was obtained."

A teenage Friedman and his father, Arnold, pleaded guilty in 1988 to molesting 13 children during computer classes in the basement of their home in Great Neck, on Long Island. Jesse Friedman, now 40, was paroled in 2001; his father committed suicide in prison in 1995. The pair were charged with several hundred counts of sex abuse.

Their case was the subject of the 2003 Oscar-nominated documentary "Capturing the Friedmans."

The federal judges said the allegations against Jesse Friedman must be viewed in the context of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which they called "a period in which allegations of outrageously bizarre and often ritualistic child abuse spread like wildfire across the country and garnered worldwide media attention."

They cited statistics that of 72 people convicted in nearly a dozen major child sex abuse and satanic ritual prosecutions between 1984 and 1995, almost all convictions have since been reversed.

The judges recommended that Friedman's remedy lies in state courts, and they suggested Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice reopen her office's investigation. Rice, who was elected in 2005 and wasn't involved in the original prosecution, currently is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for state attorney general.

"We are reviewing the decision and will be giving the court's opinion serious thought and consideration," Rice spokeswoman Carole Trottere said in a statement.

The documentary, which featured archive video footage of the Friedmans, revealed evidence prosecutors had withheld — that at least one of the children who accused Friedman did so under hypnosis arranged by police.

Because his case never went to trial, Friedman, the court said, never had an opportunity to explore how evidence against him was obtained.

"On the contrary, the police, prosecutors and the judge did everything they could to coerce a guilty plea and avoid a trial," the appeals court said.

A spokesman for the Nassau County courts said the trial judge, Abbey Boklan, has since retired and no contact information for her was available.

Friedman's attorney, Ron Kuby, said his client is married and lives at an undisclosed location on the East Coast. He declined to say what his client does for a living.

"Having been denied justice for decades, I came to believe the system does not work," Friedman said in a statement released by his attorney. "The court's decision today makes me feel that it is holding fast to the truth; there is still hope for justice."

Kuby said he would wait a day or two before contacting Rice's office about what might happen next.

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/17/2010

Touring Some of Australia's Most Haunted Locations

Posted: 17 Aug 2010 08:50 AM PDT

smh - by Julie Miller - Dusk is falling over Port Arthur and a group of shivering tourists is gathering to explore the historic penal settlement under a cloak of darkness. I'm sitting quietly on a bench as lanterns are ignited and safety is discussed, when a woman sidles up to me and whispers: "Did you know there's a bunch of people hovering around you?"

I turn but there's no one there. I look back at the woman quizzically; she nods her head sagely. "They are really curious about you. Your aura is incredibly strong - I can barely talk to you."

Oh, THEM! I suddenly realise what she's talking about. My eyes widen in disbelief - never in my life have I been accused of possessing mystical powers. But this woman is convinced that the spirits of convicts past are following me around, watching me watching them on the Port Arthur ghost tour.

I dismiss the suggestion with a shrug but am a little thrown by her psychic observations. Having spent many a night wandering through allegedly haunted locations researching a book about the paranormal in Australia, I am fairly immune to spooky presences, my sceptical mind dismissing them as entertaining yarns or, at worst, just negative energy.

Now I'm starting to think differently. What if the phantoms know what I'm up to and are following me around? What if they are latching on to me, coming along for the ride from location to location?

For six months, I've explored some of the creepiest places in Australia, sometimes on my own, sometimes on a group tour such as this one. The most infamous haunted locations capitalise on their reputation, cashing in on the public's insatiable desire to be scared. Teenagers, in particular, love a good ghost tour - fear, after all, produces the same endorphins as love, making a spooky night out the perfect first date.

So if you're looking for a spine-chilling, hair-raising and entertaining exploration of some of Australia's scariest places, here are good places to start.

Penitentiary Chapel, Hobart

If there's a prize for the gloomiest and downright nastiest haunted location in Australia, Hobart's Penitentiary Chapel wins hands down. Don't let the innocent facade of a church fool you - this was a grim and gruesome place of incarceration, its history as a place of torture and death evident in every crumbling stone, every creepy dark passageway and the ominous swing of a noose hanging over a bloodstained deck. Now managed by the National Trust of Australia, its ghost tours are devoid of theatrics and embellishments, the deadpan demeanour of tour leader Brendan suiting the bleak location. Just being in this foul, oppressive chamber of horrors is enough to conjure the injustices of the past.


Picton, a quaint town south-west of Sydney, has the reputation as Australia's most haunted town, a label officials reluctantly admit brings in much-needed tourist dollars. Its ghost tours attract about 35 out-of-towners every Saturday night and every second Friday, promoting weekend trade and giving locals something to do when the pub closes - taunting tour groups with a ghostly "whooooo!".

The highlight of the tour is the infamous Redbank Range Tunnel, a disused railway tunnel where, it's said, the spirit of a woman mown down by a train in 1916 resides. Certainly, strange things happen here - barely a night goes by without someone witnessing strange lights, apparitions or inexplicable rushes of wind.

Quarantine Station

Belying its peaceful harbourside location, Sydney's Quarantine Station was a place of isolation, suffering, loneliness and death. It was the first port of call for ships bringing new arrivals to the colony, with more than 13,000 people suspected of carrying infectious diseases such as smallpox and Spanish influenza interred here during its 150 years of operation. And it appears some of those miserable souls chose never to leave. According to the site's resident medium, there are at least 55 entities wandering the hospital, dining halls and the infamous shower block - a place even hard-as-nails me refuses to enter on my own. I also dare you to stomach the morgue, where an ominous mannequin lies under a sheet and the stench of death ignites the imagination.

Old Melbourne Gaol

Pity the poor drunks or vagabonds in colonial days - chances are, they would have ended up incarcerated behind the bluestone walls of Old Melbourne Gaol, sharing tiny cells with murderers, thieves, baby killers and rapists. Conditions in this so-called "model jail" were unimaginable, with prisoners locked up for 23 hours a day and with only a thin mattress protecting them from the icy chill of the slate floors. I can empathise - I spent one of the coldest nights of my life in here, participating in a paranormal investigation conducted by local group GhostSeekers Australia. One for hardcore ghost enthusiasts, this monthly tour employs gadgets and monitoring equipment, with the aim of collecting statistics on paranormal activity. I suggest you bring a thermos of something warming - it's a long cold night, accompanied by ghoulish presences of prisoners past, including Ned Kelly.

Monte Cristo, Junee

With 10 ghostly entities to its credit, Monte Cristo holds the dubious reputation as Australia's most haunted private residence. This imposing Victorian mansion overlooking the town of Junee in NSW is a veritable house of horrors, with Psycho-style murder, suicide, torture and insanity all part of its dark history. From the moment current owners Reg and Olive Ryan moved into the then derelict house in 1963, they were aware of their other-worldly housemates, with strange lights appearing in windowless panes despite the electricity being disconnected. Many a medium has since run screaming from the premises; claims of pure evil belying the beautifully renovated and decorated interior. By popular demand, the affable and unflappable Ryan now runs tours of his home, happy to spin a yarn and share its fascinating past.


The nation's capital has long fought its reputation as being boring, drab and bland - and it's certainly an unlikely contender for a scary night out. But the Canberra Ghost Tour, led by Australia's face of unexplained phenomena, Tim the Yowie Man, is one of the most popular of its kind in the country, booking out weeks in advance. And with good reason - the tour is loads of fun, great theatre whether you are a believer in the paranormal or not. On board the cobweb-strewn Destiny Tour bus, TTYM and his mate Tinny share stories of floating coffins, vicious murders and havoc-wreaking poltergeists in buildings ranging from seats of power through to pubs. Locations include the National Library, said to be inhabited by a pilot who crash-landed during a ceremonial fly-by; and the National Film and Sound Archive, said to have high levels of poltergeist activity. Even Old Parliament House has several ghosts ... which leads to the inevitable jokes about politicians being stabbed in the back. Poor Kev.

Jenolan Caves

The oldest cave system in the world open to the public, Jenolan Caves in NSW has more than 250,000 visitors a year, with daily tours through 20 kilometres of chambers. Dark, dank, silent and evocative, it's little wonder that a steady flow of ghostly stories has emerged over the years, with security gates rattling for no reason, display lights turning themselves on and off and phantom figures appearing mysteriously. Many of the tales are connected to James Wiburd, Jenolan's third caretaker, from 1903, and a passionate adventurer. It's said that Wiburd so loved the place that he chose never to leave, lingering to keep an eye on things. Lantern-lit tours are popular with guests staying overnight at Caves House, where creaky floors and peeling wallpaper add weight to its reputation as Australia's most haunted hotel.

Port Arthur

That this tranquil site in Tasmania was once called "hell on earth" seems unthinkable; that it was the scene of one of the most violent crimes of recent memory and in Australian history even more incredible. But, in reality, Port Arthur has arguably witnessed more horror than any other location in the nation, its very name holding overwhelming connotations of evil and sadness for many Australians.

The injustices of the past are the focus of its hugely popular ghost tours, its ruins resonating with the souls of convicts, military leaders and free settlers who are buried on the aptly named Isle of the Dead. The tour is a mix of fascinating history and theatre, entertaining as well as a little hair-raising. And the statistics don't lie - in the 20 years that the ghost tours have been running, more than 1800 apparitions have been reported, with records of the events carefully stashed in 14 folders in the managerial offices.

I, of course, have undertaken this tour accompanied by several watchful spirits; and, for the first time as I leave a spooky location,

I actually ask my supernatural companions to stay behind. After all, it is their eternal choice to remain in their former homes, to share their tales of life and death, of struggle and pain.

They may have left this mortal coil but their legacy endures, a permanent and precious gift for future generations.

Touring Some of Australia's Most Haunted Locations

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