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.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Discovery made in hunt for Nazi gold train


Officials have hinted at a 'significant find' in the hunt for the lost Nazi gold train in Poland.

The excitement surrounding the alleged discovery of the train, which was said to have disappeared in 1945 just as the Soviets were advancing on Poland, began just over a week ago when two men came forward to claim that they had located the locomotive's whereabouts near Walbrzych.

Since then the area has become a hive of activity with hundreds of reporters and amateur treasure hunters descending on the city in an effort to get to the bottom of the mystery.

So many have turned up in fact that authorities have since cordoned off the area where the train is believed to be located and a request has gone out to warn people to stay away in case the locomotive is rigged with land mines.

10 Insanely Brutal Traditions That Were Meant To Do Good

Via by Heather Ramsey

Most of us think of traditions as warm and fuzzy customs that were passed down through the years to remind us of a simpler time as well as the love of our friends and family. Then there are the insanely brutal traditions that may have started out with good intentions but now make us wonder why anyone would engage in such barbaric rituals in the 21st century.
10. Mingi

Just as Lord Voldemort is known as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” in the Harry Potter book series, mingi is the tradition that must not be named among the Kara, Hamar, and Banna tribes in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. There are about 225,000 of these tribe members isolated in primitive villages, practicing their ancient ritual in secret.

Mingi means that a child is cursed and must be killed to protect the tribe. (Although we’ll use male pronouns, this tradition applies to both male and female children.) A child is mingi if his top teeth come in before his bottom teeth, if he breaks a tooth or injures his genitals, if he is born to unwed parents, or if his parents do not have the ceremonial blessing of the village elders to have children. Adults who don’t cooperate with these traditions are also designated as mingi and banished from the tribe.

If a child is mingi, the tribal elders will snatch that child from his parents and drown him in the river, leave him to starve or be eaten by animals, or push him off a cliff to his death. The elders may also suffocate the child by filling his mouth with soil.

These Omo Valley tribes believe that a mingi child will bring evil spirits to their village, resulting in drought, famine, and sickness for the tribe. Although no one knows the exact number, as many as 200 to 300 mingi children may be killed annually.

Even among the members of the tribe, mingi is a taboo subject. Children under 15 are never told about the ritual killing. It certainly isn’t something to be discussed with outsiders. Yet Lale Labuko, a young man from the Omo Valley who was the first of his tribe to be educated at a boarding school 105 kilometers (65 mi) away, found the courage to tell an adult outsider. Together, they’ve spearheaded efforts to save mingi children. In some cases, the government has imprisoned mingi executioners. The tradition is still practiced today—just more discreetly.

9. Pig Slaughter Festival

Each year in the small village of Nem Thuong in northern Vietnam, hundreds of people watch the ritual slaughter of two well-fed pigs to bring the village residents luck for the coming year. Always occurring on the sixth day of the first month of the lunar calendar, the Pig Slaughter Festival is held to honor Doan Thuong, a local protector deity.

According to legend, Doan Thuong was a general in the Ly Dynasty who drove invading forces off the villagers’ land. He fed his starving troops with slaughtered pigs, which is supposedly how the festival started. The pigs’ blood represents good luck in the forms of a good harvest, reproductive ability, monetary success, and good health.

As music is played, the villagers parade the live pigs around the village. Participants in the ritual lay the animals on their backs, pull their legs away from their bellies with ropes, and use swords to hack the squealing pigs in half in front of the crowd. The villagers rush to smear banknotes with the pigs’ blood so that they can place the notes on altars in their houses for good luck.

Animal rights activists have tried to convince the government to stop the festival. Although Vietnamese officials have pressured the village elders to be less publicly cruel to animals, the government has refused to ban the festival. Officials seem to be less concerned about animal cruelty and more apprehensive about the world’s opinion of their local festivals now that pictures can be disseminated over the Internet so quickly.

Wes Craven, Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream director, dies at 76

Via by Monica Tan

Wes Craven, veteran writer and director of some of Hollywood’s most famous successful film franchises, has died at the age of 76.

The director of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream died on Sunday night at his Los Angeles home after being diagnosed with brain cancer, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed.

Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and directed his first feature film, The Last House on the Left, in 1972 following a master’s degree in philosophy and writing at Johns Hopkins University and an early career in teaching.

With 1982’s Swamp Thing, Craven moved into directing big-budget films, and had a huge hit when he wrote and directed A Nightmare on Elm Street two years later.

The popularity of the film and its terrifying antagonist Freddy Krueger established Craven’s reputation as a director of the teen slashers, able to blend gore with wry humour and create memorable film villains.

His mantle as the king of horror continued throughout the 90s, with his Scream franchise setting the tone for numerous imitators. Scream took $173m in worldwide box office takings, with its 1997 sequel falling just short of half a million in matching its predecessor.

Craven only occasionally strayed from the horror genre, including the sentimental Music of the Heart starring Meryl Streep, and his 2005 psychological thriller Red Eye.

10 Dastardly Secret Operations Of The KGB

Via by Nathan Wold

Like the CIA, the Soviet (and now Russian) spy agency known as the KGB has engaged in decades of secret operations across the world, ranging from blackmail to kidnapping. Most of the secrets that we know about the KGB today are because of one man—Vasili Mitrokhin. Mitrokhin was an archivist for the KGB for 30 years before he defected to the UK and handed over his 25,000-page archive of secret KGB files. Here are some of the KGB’s most disturbing and outlandish secret operations.

10. Attacks On America’s Infrastructure

From 1959–72, the KGB began to photograph US power plants, dams, oil pipelines, and infrastructure for a nefarious operation that would disrupt the power supply to all of New York. Once they picked targets that they thought were vulnerable, the KGB set up a safe house near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. From there, KGB agents sought to plan and carry out a series of attacks on America’s power systems.

Hydroelectric dams, which generate a significant portion of the US’s energy supply, were a target. The KGB formulated an elaborate plan to destroy two large hydroelectric dams, the Hungry Horse Dam and Flathead Dam, in Montana. Taking the two dams out of commission would cripple the power supply of the state and surrounding region. The attack was to begin 3 kilometers (2 mi) down the South Fork River from Hungry Horse Dam. The KGB planned to have operatives destroy power pylons on top of a tall mountain slope, which would be difficult to get back online, indefinitely knocking out power transmission from the dam. Then, the operatives were to seize the Hungry Horse Dam’s controls and destroy them. The attacks would have knocked out the power supply to all of New York state.

From the Soviet Union’s Canadian embassy, the KGB also planned to further disrupt America’s energy supply by attacking oil pipelines between Canada and the United States. The plot, called Operation Cedar, was planned for over a decade. The KGB even sought to destroy oil refineries in Canada, which supply a great deal of America’s gasoline.

All of the attacks on America’s power system were part of a larger scheme to attack New York City. Once they had knocked out most of the power in the United States with the earlier attacks, the KGB plotted to use the chaos and darkness to plant explosives on piers and warehouses along the Port of New York, a crucial harbor for America’s commerce and imports.
9. Hostage Crisis Retribution

In 1974, the KGB created an elite counterterrorism task force with the mysterious name “Alpha Group.” The Alpha Group was used by the KGB to carry out top secret and often dangerous missions for the USSR—and now Russia—including a bloody and vicious mission in Lebanon.

In 1985, the Soviet Union found itself with its first major hostage crisis after four Soviet diplomats were kidnapped in Lebanon by terrorists affiliated with an Islamic terrorist group. The kidnappers reportedly took the Soviets hostage to stop the USSR from giving support to Syria’s efforts in the Lebanese civil war, which the country was then embroiled in. After the Soviet diplomats were taken hostage, the kidnappers sent chilling photographs to news agencies of the hostages with guns to their heads. The terrorists demanded that the USSR force Syria-affiliated forces to stop attacking Iran-affiliated forces fighting in northern Lebanon, or the hostages would be executed.

Initially, the USSR was open to some form of negotiations with the terrorists to release the hostages unscathed. Things changed when the USSR didn’t seem to stop the Syrian forces’ involvement in the civil war, and the terrorists executed one of the hostages only two days after the initial demands were made.

That’s when the USSR abandoned negotiating, and the KGB took swift and bloody action. First, the KGB investigated what organization was behind the the kidnappings and found it to be the work of Hezbollah. That’s when the KGB did a bit of kidnapping of their own, snatching a close relative of a Hezbollah leader. They began to dismember him, castrating him and sending some of his dismembered body parts to the kidnappers of the Soviets. Soon after, the KGB killed the Hezbollah relative.

Then, the KGB sent the Hezbollah leader a message indicating that they knew of many more of his relatives and their whereabouts and warned that they would suffer the same fate if the hostages were not released. The Islamic terrorists holding the Soviets took notice and released the remaining three Soviet diplomats shortly after, entirely unscathed and without further demands.