Thursday, September 3, 2015

Paranormal tip-offs should be 'evaluated' in missing persons inquiries, say official police guidelines

Via by David Barrett

Police investigating missing persons cases should look into information they receive from psychics, clairvoyants and witches, according to official new guidelines.

The College of Policing, which governs training for officers across England and Wales, said police hunting someone who has disappeared should evaluate reports from people who claim to have “extrasensory perception”.

But the guidelines warn that such information should not be allowed to become a “distraction … unless it can be verified”.

The consultation paper, which sets out a template for how police should conduct inquiries for people reported missing, said: “High-profile missing person investigations nearly always attract the interest of psychics and others, such as witches and clairvoyants, stating that they possess extrasensory perception.

“Any information received from psychics should be evaluated in the context of the case, and should never become a distraction to the overall investigation and search strategy unless it can be verified.

“These contacts usually come from well-intentioned people, but the motive of the individual should always be ascertained, especially where financial gain is included.

“The person’s methods should be asked for, including the circumstances in which they received the information and any accredited successes.”

Paranormal investigator claims he's found Elizabeth Taylor’s ghost

Via by John Shammas

A paranormal expert has claimed to have made contact with Elizabeth Taylor’s ghost.

Micky Vermooch, 63, from Scarborough, says he crossed the Hollywood legend's ghost during a paranormal investigation while filming an episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Psychic - an upcoming TV show.

Mr Vermooch, known affectionately as 'Gypsy Boy', says Taylor breathed on his neck while visiting Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, where the next James Bond film named Spectre is being shot.

Speaking after his encounter, he said: "I had no idea where I was being taken to do the paranormal investigation.

"The spirits were coming through thick and fast, one after the other.

"It’s like they can’t bear to leave the place."

The Bizarre Voodoo Emporium of Togo

Via by Brent Swancer

For many of us, when we have a headache or minor medical complaint, it’s simply a matter of going down to the local drugstore and getting something to make us feel better, or perhaps seeing a doctor. In most developed countries, it’s the most natural thing in the word, to the point that many of us wouldn’t even think twice about it. Yet in West Africa, having a medical problem may entail going down to the market to pick up an alligator head, a monkey hand, and a lizard’s tail to grind up into a powder. Instead of a doctor, one might go to a healer who will burn animal parts into ashes to rub into wounds. Welcome to the world of West African voodoo, a world which to Western eyes may seem to be a dark, sinister place yet for many of the people here is an everyday fact of life. Perhaps nowhere else is voodoo so widespread and visible as the nation of Togo, and perhaps there is nowhere else that compares to the sheer amount of voodoo merchandise on offer at what is the world’s largest, and certainly most bizarre, emporium of such goods; The Akodessewa Fetish Market.

The West African nation of Togo is one of the smallest countries in Africa and is bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east, and Burkina Faso to the north. Although in recent years it has become more known for violence, riots and human rights abuses, when one sees the beautiful beaches here and meets the warm, friendly people, it is not hard to see why Togo was once known as the “pearl of West Africa.” The capital city of Lomé, located on the Gulf of Guinea, is the largest and most populous city of this nation, and is famous for its colorful marketplaces, including the famous Lomé Grand Market, referred to in French as the Grande Marche, which occupies an entire city block, among many others. All things told, it is actually a rather pleasant and quaint place to pay a visit in peaceful times.

As one takes in the sights of the city and wanders about the numerous marketplaces and bazaars on offer here, you might notice what from a distance appears to be merely just another of the cities many such markets. As you approach, you can probably make out the vendors going about their daily business and selling their wares, as well as tables piled high with something you cannot yet quite make out. Then, as you approach, the smell hits you. Even in the open air, the atmosphere becomes redolent with the thick, heady stench of what can only be described as the smell of rot and death. Pervading the air is a potent brew of the scent of rotting animal carcasses, exotic smelling herbs, and sun caked mud, all coming together to form a nauseating stink that blankets the area and invades the nostrils. As you approach even closer, somehow suppressing the haunting, putrid stench which saturates the air, you may start to notice that the tables, which you at first may have assumed were packed with fruits, spices, meat, or dried fish like many of the markets here, are actually overflowing the macabre sight of desiccated blank-eyed animal heads in various states of decay, dried animals of all sorts, all manner of bones and skulls, the dismembered hands, paws, claws, tails, and other assorted amputated parts of who knows what creatures, as wells as spooky blood stained idols and creepy wooden dolls all vying for your attention in a gut wrenching ghastly display sure to leave you reeling with its sheer grotesqueness. You have just stumbled across the Akodessewa Fetish Market, also known to the locals as the Marche des Feticheurs, the world’s largest market for all things related to voodoo.

Yes, voodoo, or as the locals call it, Vodoun. While many have the image that voodoo is a product of Caribbean nations such as Haiti, it actually has its roots in West Africa, where it flourished for centuries in countries such as Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin before being taken by slaves to America and the Caribbean, where it became what we now know as voodoo. Today, voodoo is actively practiced in many West African nations such as Togo, where at least 60% of the people still maintain its traditions, and it is the official religion of neighboring Benin. Voodoo is a complex religion involving countless different rituals, spells, ceremonies, and indeed animal sacrifices, for which various exotic ingredients are needed which are not typically available in your ordinary market, or drugstore for that matter. This is where the Akodessewa Fetish Market comes in, a veritable supermarket and one-stop shopping mecca for fetishes, charms, trinkets, idols, animal parts, herbs, and everything else a voodoo practitioner or witch doctor could ever possibly need, and people travel here from all corners of West Africa and even as far away as the Congo to stock up on what they need.

Government Agents, ESP, and Hotel Secrets (Pt. 2)

Via by Nick Redfern

As I noted in part-1 of this article, in 1957 elements of the U.S. Intelligence community took a keen interest in the controversial claims of a man named William Foos. Specifically because of his alleged extra sensory perception-based skills. They were skills that the FBI, in particular, found extremely interesting and from the perspective of how those powers might be used in espionage operations.

FBI documentation of August 13, 1957 reveals that Bureau agents dug into Foos’ assertions very deeply. To the extent that agents even paid visits to his local library, specifically to review copies of recent newspapers for any mention of the man and his supernatural skills. The FBI also recorded the following: “Foos had recently been to Duke University, where he had demonstrated for two days before Dr. Joseph B. Rhine, an eminent authority on the subject and other members of the Parapsychology Department of the University.”

Things quickly progressed to a new level. A document of September 6, 1957 informed Alan H. Belmont of the very latest news: “According to information furnished to the Bureau, William Foos allegedly gave a demonstration in extra sensory perception to representatives of military intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sometime during August 1957.”

The military said they knew nothing of a CIA connection, but didn’t deny that Foos may also have given CIA personnel a demonstration on the very same day. The relevant paperwork on this issue reads as follows:

“Lieutenant Colonel John Downie, Special Operations Branch, ACSI, advised that a representative from the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Holabird, Maryland, had attended a demonstration given by Foos on August 8, 1957, at the Marriott Motor Hotel, U.S. Highway #1, Arlington, Virginia…As far as Colonel Downie knew, there was no representative from CIA at this demonstration; however, it was his understanding that on August 8, 1957, another demonstration was given by Foos to individuals unknown to Colonel Downie, not representing the Department of the Army, however.” 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Government Agents, ESP, and Hotel Secrets (Pt. 1)

Via by Nick Redfern

There can be no doubt that strange things go on in hotel rooms. But, they don’t get much stranger than something that went down in the Arlington, Virginia, Marriott Hotel – on U.S. Highway 1 – in August 1957. It’s a bizarre story of paranormal phenomena (or, perhaps more correctly, alleged paranormal phenomena), a couple of teenage psychics, an employee of a local railway company, and the U.S. Intelligence community! Yep, it’s time for one of those “stranger than fiction” accounts.

It all began on July 16, 1957. That was the date on which Alan H. Belmont, the Assistant Director of the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division, prepared a document with the eye-catching title of “Extra Sensory Perception.” It was a document circulated to senior FBI personnel, including Assistant Director Cartha DeLoach. Belmont wrote: “One of our agents attended a private exhibition of extra sensory perception given by Mr. William Foos at American Legion Headquarters in Washington, D.C.”

The document continues: “Mr. Foos, resident of Richmond, Va., is a high school graduate employed in a minor capacity with the C. and O. Railway. About two years ago he became interested in extra sensory perception (a term probably technically inaccurate) and began experimenting with members of his family. He claims to have achieved amazing success and in recent weeks has received a considerable amount of publicity in the Richmond area.”

Belmont got to the point: “Very simply Foos claims the ability to teach the blind to see; in six months to teach a person without eyes to see sufficiently well to drive an automobile safely. He disclaims any supernatural power and, not being a scientist or physician, has no technical or scientific explanation. He merely states that a person can do what he makes up his mind to do.”

Turning his attention to Foos’ family, Belmont said: “To illustrate his ability, his daughter, Margaret Foos (about 16-17 years of age) was blindfolded by the observers with pads and an elastic band, thereafter reading, distinguishing color and moving about the room with complete ease. She could read minute handwriting submitted by those in attendance, accurately trace the written material and in all ways function without error as with complete vision.”

Marketing the Monster: Coffee and Commodified Time


“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department” – David Packard

I’m not a vacation kind of guy. Oh, sure I’m a consummate relaxer, but a comfy couch, good book, and some video games with my seven year old son beats a long plane flight, rental car, hotel room, and tourist traps on any day. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to enjoy travelling once I’ve arrived at my destination, but the prospect of getting there in the first place fills me with trepidation. That’s why my wife plans most of the vacations. She loves to travel. I think something is wrong with her, but between the two of us, she is the professional psychologist, so if it comes down to it, I’m likely to be the one getting committed. Ah, the things we do for England (actually, for love, but Prince Charles once said that when diplomatic etiquette required him to sample snake meat). I’ve just recently returned from a quick respite in Kona, Hawaii, which given my rate of coffee consumption should probably serve as my Mecca, and as always my various neuroses compelled me to keep vigilant for signs of the devil in the details. Even while being mauled by a tiger it’s generally prudent to keep one eye out for monsters. Pleased to report that I returned to the mainland sunburned, but otherwise unscathed by anomalistic aberrations. Well, largely unscathed I should say, as I came face to face with the curious phenomenon of monsters as marketing tools.

We all have our rituals. Some people jog before work. Some prefer meditation at daybreak. These activities strike me as borderline insanity. Each morning, I have to reassert my relative functionality as a member of the human race by downing copious amounts of coffee. Thus, I greeted morning in tropical paradise with a semi-conscious excursion to the nearest coffee house. The popular crack house for caffeine addicts in Kona happened to be the Menehune Coffee Company. I’m usually unprepared to cope with the vagaries of the preternatural without at least sixteen ounces of Joe coursing through my bloodstream. At that point, I’m still unprepared, but at least I’m awake and feeling slightly less uncharitable towards the universe. As I waited somnambulantly in line for my fix, I happened to notice their colorful placard stating, “The Menehune are the legendary wee people who live in the deep forests and hidden valleys of the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii’s legendary mystical and shy forest dwellers are small in size (about 3 feet tall), but according to legend, very industrious master builders that use their strength to accomplish mighty feats of engineering and construction overnight. They are also known at Menehune Coffee for working diligently through the night harvesting, processing, roasting, and packaging up all of the wonderful 100% Kona coffee especially for you. So we invite you to taste the fruits of the Menehunes’ labor by taking home some 100% Kona coffee to start your day”. This strikes me as an instance of suspicious labor practices, but more importantly started me thinking about the relationship between folklore, marketing, and the notion of commodified time. That’s how I roll. Shout out to my homies in continental philosophy.

What is commodified time and what does it have to do with marketing monsters? I’m glad you asked. Your average commie pinko post-modern philosopher will smugly explain that “commodified time” is a function of wage labor, an abstract clock-time that allows a calculus of the exchange value of goods based on the amount of time and expertise needed to produce them. Let’s translate this for those of us who think the most interesting thing about post-modern poster boy Louis Pierre Althusser is that he strangled his wife and spent the rest of his life in a psychiatric hospital. Basically, once we all started settling into city life, and all the money got concentrated in the hands of the priest-kings, it proved untenable to simply dole out a little bread to keep the unwashed masses from starving to death, feeding a few slaves to the lions as public entertainment, and demanding folks keep building the ziggurat from sunup to sundown. It’s not good project management. We tend to get angry and start praying to different gods for your untimely demise. You have to recognize people’s individual efforts. It also helps if they have to buy their own bread. So we invented the “hourly wage”. It also helpfully puts the onus on you of whether you think your time is best spent on liquor, ladies, lettuce, or contemplating the meaning of life (which traditionally has not paid very well). Consequently, time was chopped up into little bits and assigned a value. It takes longer to learn how to electroplate jewelry that it does to move a twenty ton stone by brute force. Therefore, jewelers get paid more than the guy hauling at the rope. Fry cooks get paid less than software engineers. Most of us would agree that it’s more important to have a well-cooked burger than to post something on Instagram, but them’s the breaks. I didn’t invent society, so don’t harsh my mellow.

The UFOs Didn't Come In Peace! Astronaut Sets Record Straight On ET Nuclear War

Via by Lee Speigel

Few people are surprised by the eye-popping headlines in The Mirror. But when the infamous British tabloid quoted astronaut Edgar Mitchell as saying that "UFOs came in peace" to "save America from nuclear war," it shocked everybody -- including Mitchell.

"I don't know where The Mirror got the story," Mitchell, 84, said in an email to The Huffington Post, accusing the paper of fabricating his quotes and denying that an interview for this story ever took place.

The sixth man to walk on the moon has been outspoken over the years in his belief that extraterrestrials have visited the Earth and the moon -- and that the government is withholding vital information about UFOs. Still, Mitchell insists the Aug. 11 Mirror story has no basis in the truth and disavows the information in it.

In the story, the Apollo 14 veteran allegedly told the tab that "military insiders" had seen the "strange crafts" on July 16 over missile bases and the White Sands facility in Las Cruces, N.M., where the first nuclear bomb was tested 70 years ago.

The Mirror quotes Mitchell saying the following:

"White Sands was a testing ground for atomic weapons, and that's what the extraterrestrials were interested in."

"They wanted to know about our military capabilities."

"My own experience talking to people has made it clear the ETs had been attempting to keep us from going to war and help create peace on Earth."

"Officers from bases on the Pacific coast told me their [test] missiles were frequently shot down by alien spacecraft."

When HuffPost asked Mitchell if he had told The Mirror that peace-loving aliens came to Earth to stop a nuclear war, that aliens were interested in our atomic weapons testing areas, and that ETs attempted to keep us from going to war and help create peace on Earth, he said, simply, "None of those statements were originated by me."

Alleged UFO abduction commemorated with a monument in Massachusetts

Via by Alejandro Rojas

Earlier this year the Great Barrington Historical Society and Museum inducted an alleged UFO sighting and alien abduction. This week, a coalition of witnesses to this encounter erected a monument to commemorate the site of the UFO incident.

According to News10 ABC in Albany, New York, “The commemorative monument is dedicated to the official induction of our nation’s first off-world UFO incident.”

They continue, “The monument was installed and funded by a coalition of witnesses present on that fateful night in 1969.”

One of the primary witnesses of the event is Thomas Reed. He says that he and his family experienced a strange encounter at the location of the monument in 1969.

In an article regarding the incident being inducted in the Great Barrington Historical Society and Museum, The Boston Globe reported Reed says this UFO sighting was part of a string of strange encounters he and his family experienced beginning back in 1966. The first encounter took place on their horse farm when Reed was 6 years old. He and his younger brother saw strange lights coming from the forest and strange figures in their hallway. They remember seeing a large disc-shaped craft in a clearing in the forest, and being taken aboard.

They experienced similar incidents over the next few years.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Asteroid 'headed to destroy Earth' almost certainly isn’t real, NASA says

Via by Andrew Griffin

Conspiracy theorists and others keep saying that we are going to be killed by an asteroid, and Nasa has been forced to point out that it is very, very unlikely that it’s going to happen.

This week, news reports of “prophet” Efrain Rodriguez’s claim that an asteroid is about to hit Puerto Rico and destroy the Earth resurfaced, ahead of the expected apocalypse sometime between September 15 and 28. But NASA has already denied that anything is headed for us any time in September.

"If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now," said Paul Chodas — manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Office, which is charged with spotting such asteroids — said in a statement.

What color were dinosaur feathers?


Palaeontologists believe that they have found a way to determine the color of a dinosaur's feathers.

The fact that many dinosaur species, especially small theropods, possessed a birdlike plumage of feathers is something that has only really been recognized within the last few years.

One of the major challenges surrounding this discovery has been to accurately portray what these feathered dinosaurs might have looked like. Scientists have often used the appearance of modern birds to estimate how dinosaur feathers might have been distributed and what colors they were likely to have been, but even with this data it has still proven very difficult to get a complete picture.

NASA claims sea level rise is 'inevitable'


Sea levels are rising around the world, and the latest satellite data suggests that three feet (one meter) or more is unavoidable in the next 100-200 years, NASA scientists said Wednesday.

Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting faster than ever, and oceans are warming and expanding much more rapidly than they have in years past.

Rising seas will have "profound impacts" around the world, said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division.

"More than 150 million people, most of them in Asia, live within one meter of present sea level," he said.

Low-lying US states such as Florida are at risk of disappearing, as are some of the world's major cities such as Singapore and Tokyo.

"It may entirely eliminate some Pacific island nations," he said.

There is no doubt that global coastlines will look very different in years to come, US space agency experts told reporters on a conference call to discuss the latest data on sea level rise.

"Right now we have committed to probably more than three feet (one meter) of sea level rise, just based on the warming we have had so far," said Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Boulder and leader of NASA's sea level rise team.

"It will very likely get worse in the future," he told reporters.

"The biggest uncertainty is predicting how quickly the polar ice sheets will melt."

10 Notorious Crimes Committed By The Yakuza

Via by Robert Grimminck

Japan is famous for its low crime rates, but an interesting juxtaposition to their crime statistics is that Japan is also home to the largest and the most immersive criminal organization in the world—the yakuza. The approximately 60,000-member gang is made up of 22 families, called boryokudan (“violence group”). These boryokudan are often made up of smaller affiliated gangs. Out of the 22 boryokudan, there are three main families, which are the Yamaguchi-gumi, the Sumiyoshi-kai, and the Inagawa-kai.

One thing that many readers will notice is that the nature of the yakuza’s crimes are not as shocking and vicious as the crimes of mafias in other countries. Instead, these crimes should speak to the nature of criminal culture in the Land of the Rising Sun.
10. The Murder Of Ryoichi Sugiura
The two largest families in the yakuza are the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Sumiyoshi-kai. The Yamaguchi-gumi has about 25,000 men, and the Sumiyoshi-kai boasts a membership of 10,000. Needless to say, a war between the two could be devastating on city streets. On February 5, 2007, that fear almost became a reality for the citizens of Tokyo. Just after 10:00 AM, two men in motorcycle helmets approached the limo of a senior member of the Sumiyoshi-kai, Director Ryoichi Sugiura, and shot him three times through the window of his limo, killing him.

The gunmen were from a gang called the Kokusui-kai, which is affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, and the motive behind the murder concerned a turf dispute. At the time of his killing, Sugiura was negotiating a turf dispute between the Sumiyoshi-kai and the Kokusui-kai. The dispute was over a district in the middle of Tokyo called Roppongi, which used to be the Yamaguchi-gumi’s turf. They had lost it to the Sumiyoshi-kai after battles in the early 1990s. But now, the Yamaguchi-gumi wanted the turf back, and they were willing to kill to get it.

The fear was that a turf war would start in Roppongi district, where many embassies, schools, universities, and nightclubs are located. On the same day of Sugiura’s murder, as well as the day after, members of the Sumiyoshi-kai fired rounds into a Yamaguchi-gumi office and at two other properties owned by affiliates of the Yamaguchi-gumi. Police quelled the attempts at revenge before they got too serious, and no one was injured.

Luckily, the turf war never materialized, or at least, the public was not made aware of it. No one was ever arrested for the murder of Sugiura.
9. The Exploits Of Wataru ‘Jackson’ Inada

Having so many members, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the yakuza have expanded to other countries. They’ve made inroads in China, South Korea, and even the United States.

One person who was influential in the spread of the yakuza in the United States, especially in Hawaii, was a man named Wataru “Jackson” Inada. Inada, a member of the Sumiyoshi-kai, came from Tokyo to Hawaii in 1972. Over the next two years, he made connections in the US mainland, which included a relationship with the Los Angeles mafia. These connections allowed the yakuza to ship heroin into the United States. During this time, the yakuza and their US mafia connections flew under the radar of the authorities.

That changed in May 1976, when Inada and his girlfriend were found shot to death in an apartment in Honolulu. Inada had been arrested after trying to sell a large quantity of heroin to an undercover officer, and he was planning on testifying against his suppliers. The murder was never solved, but it is believed that he was killed by a local gangster.

Inada’s murder caught the attention of a prosecutor in Honolulu named Michael Sterrett. Sterrett realized that Inada planted the seed of the yakuza, which was becoming more established in the US. Using the connections that Inada had made, the yakuza could ship drugs to the United States, and organized crime syndicates in the US could ship guns to Japan. Sterrett was the first person to bring the fact that the yakuza were becoming a real problem to the Justice Department’s attention.

Even 40 years after Inada came to Hawaii, the yakuza are still a problem in the United States. They are involved with money laundering, human trafficking, and prostitution. In 2012, President Obama froze the assets of two of the biggest yakuza gangs to stop them from doing business in the US.