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Welcome one and all to the greatest show on Earth!  Inside the big top we have such mysteries as you've never seen before!  A three-ring extravaganza of conspiracies, UFOs, the paranormal and much, much, MORE!  So sit back and relax and prepared to be amazed, because Conspiracy Journal is here once again for your viewing pleasure. 

This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such death-defying stories as:

- UFO Evidence Grows -
- An Island Made by Global Warming -
- The Unnatural History of Winged Snakes in North America -
- The Most Mysterious Book -
AND:  New Toys Read Brain Waves

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of
CONSPIRACY JOURNAL!

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~


NUMBER ONE BEST-SELLER FROM CONSPIRACY JOURNAL

FIND OUT WHAT MYSTERIES AND CONSPIRACIES
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SHOT WITHIN THE WALLS OF THE HOLY CITY WITH HIDDEN CAMERAS The Vatican has been shrouded in mystery and intrigue for centuries. Except for the highest Cardinals and Bishops, the public and even members of the priesthood are not privy to the inner workings of the Church. It is rumored that there are in the secret archives centuries-old artifacts that, if exposed, could embarrass the standard-bearers of the faith. Searching for truth has always been the Conspiracy Journal's main goal. With this in mind, we recently "invaded" the walls of the Vatican with our hidden cameras on a fact finding mission. On our return, we followed up our investigation by interviewing such astute researchers as: Jordan Maxwell - Brad Steiger - Patricia Ress - Penny Melis - and Diane Tessman.

SOME OF THE EXCITING CONTENTS IN THIS DVD VIDEO INCLUDE:
* Does the Vatican conceal knowledge that the crucifixion was a fraud?
* Is there a secret cabal of Satanists within the Vatican to further the evil conspiracy of the New World Order?
* Learn about the UFO sighting that occurred over the Vatican the morning of the funeral of Pope John Paul.
* Can exorcism be a futile effort that often results in the death of the possessed?
* What secrets is the Vatican keeping about the perilous future of our world?
* Is the Vatican link to the Hubble Telescope evidence that they are aware that Planet X is headed toward Earth?

SPECIAL BONUS OFFER - If you act right now, you will also get the FREE unedited audio interviews with Brad Steiger, Jordan Maxwell, Patricia Ress, and noted psychic Penny Melis. These interviews were conducted by Sean Casteel for use in the documentary. However, as with every documentary, only a small portion of each interview ever makes it to the screen. Now you can hear the complete, unedited interviews as each researcher reveals what they know concerning the secrets of the Vatican.

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ON SALE NOW!
MYSTERIES MAGAZINE  #16


                    In This Issue:
* The Enduring Quest for Eternal Youth
* Interview with Dead Famous TV Host
   Chris Fleming
* Doppelgangers: Seeing Double
* The Mystery of Astral Projection
* Cattle Mutilations Continue to Mystify
And Much, Much More!




www.mysteriesmagazine.com

- LOOK! UP IN THE SKY DEPARTMENT -

UFO Evidence Grows


A retired Air France pilot has backed Aurigny’s Ray Bowyer’s UFO sighting.

Captain Jean-Charles Duboc claimed he saw a huge object over Paris on 28 January 1994 while flying an Airbus 320 from Nice to London.

It was well documented in the French media and on internet sites.

The 55-year-old’s sighting was supported by fellow flight crew and French radar, which picked up the object about 25 miles east of Paris for 50 seconds.

"The observation of Captain Ray Bowyer is really impressive for several reasons," he said.

"The fact it was daytime, a huge size, low altitude, nine minutes of sighting, passengers and another crew to confirm it.

"In fact, Captain Bowyer’s observation is very similar to mine, except there was two objects and they were very low."

However, unlike Captain Bowyer, who gave no suggestion as to what the UFO might have been, Captain Duboc believes the one he was was from another world.

"My position about the sighting off Alderney is that an extraterrestrial civilisation wants to develop contacts with our planet and that they deliberately organise UFO sightings."

He said that in the last 60 years, there have been approximately 1,300 sightings by pilots and about 15% have been confirmed by radar.

"It is a really scary reality, but pilots have exceptional training and are the best qualified observers to identify UFOs."

Air France would not say if Captain Duboc had flown for it because of data protection laws.

Captain Duboc said the size of the objects seen by Captain Bowyer and a Blue Islands pilot was similar to that of the UFO he saw which he described as a huge lens with a bank angle of 45 degrees.

"We soon realised it was about 25 nautical miles away and it didn’t move. It was absolutely huge because it is impossible to see an airplane distinctly at that distance.

"The dimensions of that object could have been around 500 metres and we saw it for between one and two minutes before it dematerialised in about 10 to 20 seconds."

Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer has told of his delight at the response to his UFO sighting.

The 50-year-old captain, who claimed he saw two identical objects as he was approaching Alderney from Southampton, said he had been inundated by people telling similar stories.

"Since the story has been publicised, I must have had a least 20 people come up to me and tell me their story,’ he said.
He said it has had a very positive impact.

"I think what it has done is make it acceptable for other people to tell their stories. It seems to have lubricated people’s tonsils to talk about this sort of experience."

Captain Bowyer’s UFO sighting received national media attention last week and the story has been seen by people all over the globe after being picked up by various news websites.

He said the stories people had told him varied greatly.

"I must say that some of the people said things that I thought could be explained. However I reckon that there are people out there that have seen stuff that cannot be explained."

He added that he had received a lot of support from fellow pilots.

"In the profession it’s fairly well known that if you come forward and tell these sort of stories, you become unemployable."

Captain Bowyer praised his bosses at Aurigny for their understanding.

"I think if I had not had eight years with the company it would not have been mentioned. But I’m lucky that I had the security with Aurigny and I want to thank them for their support.

"It’s really nice that other people have come forward to say that they have had similar experiences."

Source: This is Guernsey
http://www.thisisguernsey.com/code/shownewsarticle.pl?ArticleID=002110

- FASTER AND FASTER IT GOES DEPARTMENT -

An Island Made by Global Warming


The map of Greenland will have to be redrawn. A new island has appeared off its coast, suddenly separated from the mainland by the melting of Greenland's enormous ice sheet, a development that is being seen as the most alarming sign of global warming.

Several miles long, the island was once thought to be the tip of a peninsula halfway up Greenland's remote east coast but a glacier joining it to the mainland has melted away completely, leaving it surrounded by sea.

Shaped like a three-fingered hand some 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it has been discovered by a veteran American explorer and Greenland expert, Dennis Schmitt, who has named it Warming Island (Or Uunartoq Qeqertoq in Inuit, the Eskimo language, that he speaks fluently).

The US Geological Survey has confirmed its existence with satellite photos, that show it as an integral part of the Greenland coast in 1985, but linked by only a small ice bridge in 2002, and completely separate by the summer of 2005. It is now a striking island of high peaks and rugged rocky slopes plunging steeply to a sea dotted with icebergs.

As the satellite pictures and the main photo which we publish today make clear, Warming Island has been created by a quite undeniable, rapid and enormous physical transformation and is likely to be seen around the world as a potent symbol of the coming effects of climate change.

But it is only one more example of the disintegration of the Greenland Ice Sheet, that scientists have begun to realise, only very recently, is proceeding far more rapidly than anyone thought.

The second-largest ice sheet in the world (after Antarctica), if its entire 2.5 million cubic kilometres of ice were to melt, it would lead to a global sea level rise of 7.2 metres, or more than 23 feet.

That would inundate most of the world's coastal cities, including London, swamp vast areas of heavily-populated low-lying land in countries such as Bangladesh, and remove several island countries such as the Maldives from the face of the Earth. However, even a rise one tenth as great would have devastating consequences.

Sea level rise is already accelerating. Sea levels are going up around the world by about 3.1mm per year - the average for the period 1993-2003. That is itself sharply up from an average of 1.8mm per year over the longer period 1961-2003. Greenland ice now accounts for about 0.5 millimetre of the total. (Much of the rest of the rise is coming from the expansion of the world's sea water as it warms.)

Until two or three years ago, it was thought that the break-up of the ice sheet might take 1,000 years or more but a series of studies and alarming observations since 2004 have shown the disintegration is accelerating and, as a consequence, sea level rise may be much quicker than anticipated.

Earlier computer models, researchers believe, failed to capture properly the way the ice sheet would respond to major warming (over the past 20 years, Greenland's air temperature has risen by 3C). The 2001 report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was relatively reassuring, suggesting change would be slow.

But satellite measurements of Greenland's entire land mass show that the speed at which its glaciers are moving to the sea has increased significantly in the past decade, with some of them moving three times faster than in the mid-1990s.

Scientists estimate that, in 1996, glaciers deposited about 50 cubic km of ice into the sea. In 2005, it had risen to 150 cubic km of ice.

A study last year by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology showed that, rather than just melting relatively slowly, the ice sheet is showing all the signs of a mechanical break-up as glaciers slip ever faster into the ocean, aided by the "lubricant" of meltwater forming at their base. As the meltwater seeps down it lubricates the bases of the "outlet" glaciers of the ice sheet, causing them to slip down surrounding valleys towards the sea,

Another discovery has been the increase in "glacial earthquakes" caused by the sudden movement of enormous blocks of ice within the ice sheet. The annual number of them recorded in Greenland between 1993 and 2002 was between six and 15. In 2003, seismologists recorded 20 glacial earthquakes. In 2004, they monitored 24 and for the first 10 months of 2005 they recorded 32. The seismologists also found the glacial earthquakes occurred mainly during the summer months, indicating the movements were indeed associated with rapidly melting ice - normal "tectonic" earthquakes show no such seasonality. Of the 136 glacial quakes analysed in a report published last year, more than a third occurred during July and August.

The creation of Warming Island appears to be entirely consistent with the disintegrating ice sheet, coming about when the glacier bridge linking it to the mainland simply disappeared. It was discovered by Mr Schmitt, a 60-year-old explorer from Berkeley, California, who has known Greenland for 40 years, during a trip he led up the remote coastline.

According to the US Geological Survey: "More islands like this may be discovered if the Greenland Ice Sheet continues to disappear."

A self-governing dependency of Denmark, Greenland is the largest island in the world but is inhabited by only 56,000 people, mainly Inuit. More than 80 per cent of the land surface is covered by the ice sheet.

Source: The Independent
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/climate_change/article2480994.ece

- WHERE THERE IS FOO THERE'S FIRE DEPARTMENT -

Veteran Talks of the "Foo Fighters"

Frederic Sargent was studying economics at Colby College in Maine when the draft for World War II beckoned. In 1942, the 22-year-old joined the 415th Night Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Forces and studied at a series of radio schools.

For 31/2 years, he was stationed throughout North Africa, Sicily, Corsica, Germany and England. As a corporal, he never flew, but his principal job was to take care of the lights on the landing strips for night fighters.

He peeled potatoes in the kitchen police and learned the mechanics of aircraft engines. In 1946, as the historian for the group, he wrote an unpublished account of his unit's interaction with foo fighters, titled "Foo Fighters and the 415th."

Sargent went on to teach economics at various U.S. universities before retiring to Sarasota with Shirley, his wife of 60 years. (Below are some of Sargent's writings and ruminations on the topic of foo fighters.)

'The British developed radar and night fighting, so when the U.S. went into World War II, we had to learn everything from the British. My squadron was the first one to do that.

Our pilots and crew chiefs would go to England and Scotland to learn from the British. I was in the ground echelon, so I met up with them in North Africa.

Pilots in the 415th encountered and reported 'foo fighters' (or luminous, unidentified objects) during the night over the German-occupied Rhine River valley. The sightings were recorded between November 1944 and April 1945, when the 415th was operating from landing strips in Dijon and Ochey, France.

The sightings posed a baffling question to air war buffs, scientists, the media and the public. What were they? The pilots could find no explanation that fit all of the sightings. The Air Force was in a position to answer the question, as they had sequestered tons of German air war records. But their focus was on developing the next generation of fighters and bombers, not in information dissemination.

The proliferation of sightings, or imagined sightings, of UFOs and flying saucers by people everywhere complicated the search for an answer. When the Allies captured the area east of the Rhine River, the foo fighter sightings ceased.

A few investigative air science researchers studied records and archives in Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. Recent investigators point out a possible line of progressive development of radar invisibility from the foo fighter to the stealth fighter and bomber.

Eventually, as the U.S. becomes militarily secure, the Air Force will probably declassify its records of German World War II research."

Some excerpts from the unit's log:

Nov. 27, 1944: Lt. Edward A. Schleuter returned from a mission and reported that he saw a red light flying through the air. It came in about 2,000 feet off starboard and then disappeared in a long red streak.

Dec. 15, 1944: A pilot's mission report stated: 'Saw a brilliant red light at 2,000 feet going east at 200 miles per hour in the vicinity of Erstein. Due to AI failure, could not pick up contact but followed it by sight until it went out. Could not get close enough to identify object before it went out."

Source: Herald-Tribune
http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070421/
COMMUNITY/704210340/-1/xml

- SNAKES ALIVE DEPARTMENT -

The Unnatural History of Winged Snakes in North America

Even in today’s decidedly cynical and rational culture, legends and alleged sightings of exceptional and mysterious creatures are still—on occasion—featured in the news media, and dominate the 100-realm of our libraries’ Dewey decimal classification section. In the modern age, the “big three” cryptozoologically dominate: Sasquatch, lake monsters and the Chupacabra. Rewind the clock back 125 years though and a new “top three list” of whispered-about mystery creatures emerges from North America: “Wild men of the woods” (likely an early nomenclature for what will later come to be known as Bigfoot), sea serpents and…Winged Snakes
           
If one were to design the simplest animal that would generate the greatest commotion among the public at large, the winged snake might be the ideal conception. Coalescing the most ominous features of two of the most traditionally feared critters—the snake and the bat, the idea of the existence of winged snakes was, historically, a nineteenth century hullabaloo just waiting to happen.
           
The idea of a serpent that can fly is by no means a contemporary concept. The classic Chinese dragons, though wingless, were built upon this notion. The belief peaked perhaps in ancient Egypt, where numerous examples of winged snakes can be found depicted in tomes of all types from the region. These were, ostensibly, not merely for dramatic graphic illustration. The prominent historian Herodotus wrote about these animals as actual biological components within the Egyptian ecology. Consider the following passage from his History of Egypt, Book 2. Chapter LXXV:

I went to a certain place in Arabia, almost exactly opposite the city of Buto, to make inquiries concerning the winged serpents. On my arrival I saw the back-bones and ribs of serpents in such numbers as it is impossible to describe; of the ribs there were a multitude of heaps, some great, some small, some middle-sized. The place where the bones lie is at the entrance of a narrow gorge between the steep mountains, which there open upon a spacious plain communicating with the great plains of Egypt. The story goes, that the spring the snakes come flying from Arabia towards Egypt, but are met in this gorge by the birds called ibises, who forbid their entrance and destroy them all. The Arabians assert, and the Egyptians also admit, that it is on account of the service thus rendered that the Egyptians hold the ibis in so much reverence. 
           
While many historians dismiss this passage as a misguided connection to swarms of locusts, it is problematic to reconcile this explanation with Herodotus’s reference to having been witness to their “bones” and “ribs”. Similarly damning is the fact that Herodotus described their wings as bat-like rather than feathered as a bird. Others reject the account as a mere fable to explicate the Egyptians’ reverence for the ibis.
           
The Bible too mentions these creatures in Isaiah 30:6 and refers to them as “saraph”, often translated as the “fiery flying serpents”.  The “fire” here referring to their poison’s burning sensation.
The burden of the beasts of the south: Into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to people that shall not profit them. (Isaiah 30:6 from the King James Bible)
           
In the seventeenth century, the belief in the existence of these animals was waxed through a proposed hypothesis on the conception of natural chimeras. Edward Lhwyd, curator of the Oxford Museum, suggested that—captured in the natural processes of evaporation and precipitation—snake semen could fertilize nest-bound bird eggs to produce a blended beast, a process he termed “fermentational putrefaction”. While Lhwyd’s idea was not new, it did resurrect and adjust slightly the older principle of the “spermatick principle” proposed by the 16th century Andreas Libavius. Both the “fermentational putrefaction” and “spermatick principle” theories were geared towards fossil formation, they have also been connected to the chimera formation. Today, the idea is zoologically implausible, but one must ask why such a conjecture was even needed if there were no documented sightings of such organisms.

In North America?

The Arabian Peninsula does not have an exclusive claim to these mystery animals by any means. Accounts of such creatures stretch as far back as the United State’s westward expanding history. Admittedly, the believability of the existence of such an extraordinary North American cryptid would have been made far easier had the roll call of known sightings revealed marked similarities; alas, the reports vary from the mundane and minute to the inordinately bizarre. In a brief review of some of the prominent sightings, the reader will be guided from the former to the latter.
           
The earliest known recorded sighting can be found in the journal writings of Hieronymus Benzo, an Italian naturalist who traversed the New World from 1541 to 1556. In his text Istoria de Mondo Nuovo Libr. III, Benzo included the following entry on an expedition into what is now Florida:

I saw a certain kind of Serpent which was furnished with wings, and which was killed near a wood by some of our men. Its wings were so shaped that by moving them it could raise itself from the ground and fly along, but only at a very short distance from the earth.
           
The next known flap of sightings emerged from the area of Leavenworth, Texas and, in fact, culminated in the acquisition of a sample specimen. In August of 1875, an unnamed woman dwelling in the southern side of this town made local headlines with her insistence that a smallish winged snake was undertaking excursions over her neighborhood. So astonishing was her testimony that a local, aged psychic was stirred to boldly foretell (to the local newspaper) “in a short time the air would be full of flying serpents”. Perhaps, if the next 35 years might be interpreted as “a short time”, she was partially right.
           
In September of that same year, two young men surnamed Remington and Jenkins, while hunting in the woods near Leavenworth, were astonished to see this oft-gossiped about creature soaring straight toward them at an altitude of about four feet. Jenkins quickly removed his cap and, with an accurate sweep, netted the little beastie. It turned out to be quite harmless; it was approximately one foot in length, spotted and bore wings approximately the size of their hands. After dispensing of it, the two intelligent lads brought the now lifeless body home and preserved it in a jar of alcohol. Tragically, this essential physical specimen appears to have been lost to time, most likely in much the same manner as myriads of copies of Action Comics #1 have been innocently tossed by mothers with other attic junk, without realization of what they possessed.

Another diminutive winged snake was witnessed by an entire family, that of H. C. Cotton, of White County, Tennessee. The creature nonchalantly soared over their home as they were all upon their porch in August of 1899. An Atlanta, Georgia newspaper commented upon the story by noting “the coves of White County are famous for the production of a fine quality of apple brandy. Whether this had anything to do with the phenomenon or not is not stated.”
           
A slightly larger and more alarming specimen was observed over St. Charles, Missouri, not far from the Mississippi River in 1911. Mrs. John Bishop and her children were startled from their work and play by an odd sound evocative of a monoplane. This buzzing though was not from an engine, but rather from the highly rapid fluttering of a sizeable pair of wings attached to a three-foot-long spotted snake passing over their residence. The awe that overtook the unsuspecting family quickly transformed into terror however, as the airborne snake turned and approached the terrified group of witnesses. The mother hastily herded the children into the home where they watched in safety as the creature performed various aeronautic feats for almost twenty minutes before it disappeared over the horizon in the direction of Alton, Illinois.
           
Farm hands working on what was one of the most renowned plantations in King George, Virginia, “Berry Plain”, did battle with a winged snake in September of 1905 and emerged victorious. The enigmatic reptile had been seen many times on the plantation—always in flight or arboreal, never terrestrial—prior to its demise. The beast was five feet long, one inch in diameter and possessed wings “of good size” covered with something that resembled feathers. The plantation was located on the banks of the Rappahannock River; thus, locals surmised that the creature must have “come from an impenetrable marsh of the river or some neighboring creek”.
           
More outlandish yet was the monster witnessed in Greensburg, Indiana in September of 1893. While riding in a buggy, Mrs. Joseph Groswick and Mrs. Casper were literally pursued for most of a mile by a seven-foot winged serpent that emerged from a roadside tree. In addition to its inexplicable wings, the two women claimed that it also possessed a beak like an eagle. By providence, a chance encounter with a pair of hunters and their dogs persuaded the beast to abort its fearsome chase and flee back into the woods.
           
In 1914, an American Indian of the Seminole tribe named Jim Sanitu traversed the country with his “trophy”, the fully mounted skeleton of a large winged snake that he claimed to have bested in a battle in the Everglades.
          
Just Prior to the turn of the nineteenth century, the New York Times, ran an expose on the rare sighting made by Robert McDougall, described as “the most prominent citizen of Waterford [New Jersey]”. Startled while strolling through the woods, McDougall reported a five-foot winged snake, flapping its wings as it descended from the low branches of a nearby tree.
           
“It had the look of a bat in its face,” said McDougall. “But it was a flying snake, sure enough. One of a venomous kind I would say. The skull resembled that of a puff adder…I have seen all sorts of things in my time, but never before did I set eyes on a monster like that.”
           
Apparently, a man named Hiram Beechwood, who witnessed it crossing a road entering a swamp, spotted the creature again just a few days later. He noted that its wings appeared to be bat-like in design, as opposed to avian.

They might be giant
         
The labeling of a winged snake’s head as being similar to a puff adder’s was echoed less than a month later by a subsequent sighting hundreds of miles down the Atlantic coast. This was clearly not the same animal though; this new critter was far more a monster by any definition of size and shape. Once again from the Everglades, it was described as bearing a head shaped like a puff adder’s, possessing a dark, bluish body that was estimated by the witness as being up to thirty-five feet in length and boasting not two, but four wings—the arrangement of which was left unstated. Like many of the sightings already described, the commotion created by the report spurred locals to form a posse to eliminate the terrifying threat. Unfortunately, also similar was the lack of success that this mob suffered in the ensuing search.9
           
This was not the only North American giant winged snake ever reported though. The Times-Independent of Bedford, Iowa told the tale of a local man named Lee Corder and his late summer 1887 encounter with an enormous flying snake. When he and a group of people he was with at the time first sighted it in the distance, it appeared to him to be a large buzzard-like bird. It was not until it flew much closer that the creature’s undulating serpentine body became obvious. The snake was described as being nearly a foot in diameter, with great glistening scales. While watching it with astonishment, the snake landed with a thud in a cornfield approximately one hundred feet away, but out of sight. The men’s fear prevented them from investigating into the field further and prompted them to take a quick leave of the area. The local paper challenged any who might belittle this report to “call on Lee Corder, or any of the family, who reside five miles from this city, [so that] they may be convinced of its truth, as they are people of unimpeachable veracity.”
           
South Carolina also alleged its own giant aerial serpent in 1897. Witnessed twice in the same day at locations twenty-two miles distant from each other, this huge winged beast was described by both witnesses as being anywhere from twenty-five to forty feet in length and eight to ten inches in diameter though its largest part.

They came from the water?

The idea of a snake with wings seems anomalous at best if viewed from an evolutionary perspective. Would not wings be a serious detriment to the burrow-dwelling nature of a terrestrial snake? Likewise, it does not seem plausible that the lop-sided, elongated serpentine body could be advantageous to flight. The only way such a combination could be viewed as logical—and perhaps beneficial—would be in the context of a water snake that could take to the air as necessary. Along that line of thought, a couple important sightings of large winged water snakes were documented in the media.
           
The Washington Post noted in 1911 that the “passengers and crew of the White Star liner Celtic brought with them to New York today a revival of the sea serpent tales of other years. They reported having passed early yesterday morning a formidable looking creature that was going at a high speed in pursuit of a school of young whales. The monster, they say, had wings, and rose frequently 10 feet or more from the water. Whales and pursuer faded from sight within a few minutes.”

What would appear to be, by description, the same or a similar animal was witnessed a few years earlier in the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. A local newspaper account noted that:

“Miss Rachel Talbot, daughter of W. A. Talbot, who has a summer villa opposite Grunderville, was the first to see the creature as it came swimming up the middle of the river. The head protruded several feet above the surface. She called to ‘Hank’ Johnson, ferryman for the Warren Lumber Company, who ran for his rifle and opened fire. Immediately the reptile reared its head at least 10 feet into the air…and charged for the shore. Jackson steadied himself and, taking careful aim hit one of the wings, disabling it. The snake flew as high as the ferry cable which hangs 20 feet above the water and then vanished.”

Not really ‘wings’?

An intriguing variation on the mythology and anecdotal history of North American winged snakes is the contemporary investigation of Northern Arizona University anthropology student Nick Sucik. Sucik has been delving into the Navajo and Hopi legends that tell of snakes, or snake-like reptiles, known as the T?.iish Naat’a’í that can take flight and undulates in various movements within that motion. In 2004 Sucik issued a paper, Exploring the Prospect of an Unidentified Species of Reptile within Navajo and Hopi Lands that nicely bridged the fields of theoretical herpetological physiology and cryptic anthropological folklore.

Sucik’s flying snakes of Arizona were hypothesized to be wingless—by definition of bat or bird—but capable of limited aeronautics through extended flaps that stretched over a significant portion of their bodies. Sucik outlines his findings regarding the lack of “wing”-like appendages as follows:

The wings undoubtedly are the most peculiar feature, even if they technically may fall short of the definition. Those only having heard of the snakes tend to assume they sport bat-like wings, whereas witnesses mostly have described something far differing. Instead of possessing limbs, the animals sport a retractable membrane that emerges from behind the head and then trails back to either side along a significant portion of the body length. Some have likened it to the expansive display of a cobra.s hood, though both much larger and longer. This membrane is faint in color, almost to the point of transparency or, as one woman put it, .like they were made of plastic. Thus, the membrane may tend to go unnoticed, creating the surreal image of a snake magically “slithering” through mid-air.

It is difficult to reconcile this statement however with the sightings presented previously, especially those that lasted for dozens of minutes or even produced a type specimen carcass.

The ‘Winged-snake’ platypus

Our world does not seem to like chimeric critters. When the first drawing and pelt of the world’s most celebrated chimera, the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) was delivered to British naturalists, it was mocked as an obvious hoax, with the renowned natural George Shaw going so for as to attack the pelt with scissors in a vain attempt to expose the seams of this fraud. The world has always been filled with wonders and without a doubt, these magnificent animals–be they cryptids or tall-tales—certainly made the world a more wonder-filled place.

The winged snake may be one of history’s most notorious mass-perpetuated hoaxes; if not, the extraordinarily rare species is certainly extinct. Nevertheless, let us not take the figurative scissors of skepticism to the winged snake too hastily.

Source: BioFort
http://biofort.swampgasbooks.com/2007/04/29/the-unnatural-history-of-
winged-snakes-in-north-america/

- HISTORIES MYSTERIES DEPARTMENT -

The Most Mysterious Book

a 400-year-old text continues to perplex code-breakers, but was it a hoax?

Elements of the Voynich Manuscript story could fit comfortably into the plot of a Dan Brown best seller. A mysterious, ancient document whose secrets have puzzled scholars and codebreakers for centuries, the 234-page document is written in letters that do not correspond to any known language or code.

Multiple theories have been forwarded and different techniques have been employed by linguists, historians and code breakers; no one has translated the document, and it is considered one of the most perplexing cryptological puzzles in the world.

Little of its history is certain; its author, meaning and intended purpose are unknown. It was first purchased by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II in the 16th century for 300 gold pieces, and appeared in the modern era when art dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich acquired the document from an Italian monastery in 1912.

Since the ’20s, the Voynich Manuscript has been kept at Yale University. It’s now in a climate-controlled environment in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, available to students and researchers on a limited basis.

“Among the medieval manuscripts, it’s probably one of the more frequently written about,” Robert Babcock, curator of early manuscripts at the Beinecke Library said.

Because of the hand-drawn pictures of plants, astrological diagrams and nude women, researchers believe the book is probably what’s called an “herbal” — a book about plants and their uses. Unfortunately, the illustrations don’t explain the text.

In the ’20s, University of Pennsylvania professor William Newbold hypothesized that the visible text is meaningless, but that each character was composed of a series of tiny characters that could only be seen under magnification. Newbold proposed the hidden text contained information about scientific knowledge that should have been unknown at the time the manuscript was created.

As tantalizing as that interpretation is, the technique Newbold used to get it was flawed, said Craig Bauer, editor in chief of Cryptologia , a quarterly academic journal devoted to codes and secret messages.

“Really, what it was is that the paper is crinkly — it’s not a perfectly smooth surface,” Bauer said, adding that today “most people believe he was simply deluding himself.”

A statistical and mathematical analysis of the text has been undertaken in different approaches. One of the earliest was performed by William Friedman, who ran the United States Army’s code-breaking division during World War II. After analyzing how frequently certain symbols occurred, Friedman hypothesized it was written in a constructed language, not a textual representation of a real language. However, such constructed languages didn’t exist at the time the document was probably written.

In the ’70s, onetime director of research for the Naval Security Group Prescott Currier proposed that the document was written in two distinct languages by at least two different writers.

New insight into the Voynich Manuscript has come to light this month. The April, 2007 edition of Cryptologia contains an article that experts say points to an answer.

“This may not be the final chapter in the story of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript, but it may well be the start of the closing section,” Keele University professor Gordon Rugg said in a statement.

Here’s where the story veers wildly from Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code template: the document’s secret isn’t a world-changing, mind-blowing, institution-wrecking revelation. And instead of being humanistic and relatively heartwarming (Jesus is your great grandfather! Hugs all around!), the conclusion to this story is faintly nihilistic.

The document, the new Cryptologia article demonstrates, was most likely a hoax.

According to the analysis of the document by Austrian researcher Andreas Schinner, the characters used in the text are nothing but carefully crafted gibberish deliberately designed to fool people into thinking it has meaning.

The idea that the document is a hoax isn’t new. In a 2003 study, Rugg contended that it was probably a hoax, and demonstrated a technique that could have been used to construct the manuscript.

“Gordon [Rugg] found a method that could have been used to construct the Voynich Manuscript and could have been used to produce the interesting statistics that go with it. It’s really hard to fake statistics of a language,” Bauer said. “If you try to randomly write letters, they’re going to be patterns and properties distinct from a natural language.”

Through a statistical analysis of the document, Schinner has determined that Rugg’s supposition that the Voynich Manuscript was created through a deliberately random sequencing process is probably correct.

It’s not the final nail in the Voynich coffin, but the coffin’s built and has a hammer lying beside it. “Between Rugg and Schinner, we have very strong evidence for a hoax,” Bauer said.

No one doubts the manuscript’s age, and in many respects a 400-plus-year-old hoax is just as interesting as a 400-year-old mystery, if not more. The document clearly took a lot of time to create, and its creator was crafty and meticulous enough to ensure the document appeared to have a meaning. Who could have written such a thing?

“The prime suspect is Edward Kelley, an extraordinary Elizabethan adventurer and charlatan,” Rugg wrote.

Kelley, an Englishman, claimed to be an alchemist and died in prison after he was jailed when his claims proved false. He was still alive and on the loose when the Voynich Manuscript first appeared, though.

“He was in the area when Rudolph II bought the manuscript, and is likely to have been the mastermind behind the manuscript’s production, even if he didn’t personally produce it,” Rugg wrote.

Sources indicate Kelley was a huckster of the highest order. Religion and mysterious languages were his grift of choice — he claimed to be able to translate the language of angels. Spending several months to create a book of tantalizing nonsense seems right up his unsavory alley.

“Rudolph paid the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars for the manuscript,” Rugg said.

Somewhat surprisingly, as the answer to the Voynich code is that there is no code, Bauer was very upbeat about the recent conclusions.

“I see this as a success for cryptologists,” Bauer said. “We’re finally able to answer the question.”

Source: Hartford Advocate
http://www.ctnow.com/custom/nmm/hartfordadvocate/hce-hta-0426-ht18nc5yaleuse18.
artapr26,0,3918251.story?coll=hce-utility-ha-advocate

- WINGED WEIRDOS DEPARTMENT -

The Mawnan Owlman

The area south of Falmouth is not reknown for its ease of access. Quiet settlements sit on narrow lanes, and at the very end of one of these is the squat yet attractive form of Mawnan Old Church.

A tidy graveyard backs onto a narrow strip of woodland, accessible through a public footpath, and the steep northern side of the Helford Estuary. It doesn't take imagination to suspect that most visitors are tourists, walkers, church-goers or hobby fishermen. Yet it would seem that as of 1976 something else came to pay an occasional visit to this delightful corner of southern Cornwall - the bizarre zooform entity known as the Owlman.

'A HUGE GREAT THING WITH FEATHERS...'

Unlike the case of the Ohio-West Virginia Mothman which has become a stape of modern Fortean lore, the story of the Owlman is far murkier, one linked firmly to the character of Anthony 'Doc' Shiels. A surrealist artist, magician, playwritean monster hunter who was attempting to invoke Cornish seamonster 'Morgawr' at the time, Shiels claims to have been approached on 17 April 1976 by irate holidaymaker Don Melling.

The Preston based tourist seemingly accused Shiels of hoaxing the appearance of a 'huge great thing with feathers, like a big man with flapping wings' hovering over Mawnan church. The witnesses were Melling's two daughters Vicky, 9, and June, 12. So scared were they that the family holiday was cut short without Shiels being allowed to gain any additional information on the sighting.1

Many sightings of winged humanoids appear as one-off events, but this was not to be with this particular weirdo. A contentious sighting was made the following month (Shiels stated that artist Dick Gilbert observed an unusual winged creature near the village of Lamorna, the only sighting away from the area of Mawnan Old Church. Details of Gilbert remain sketchy at best, Shiels noting ''no one knows where he is, or even if he is still alive'2) and on 4 July Shiels would again be sought out with news of an encounter involving the Owlman and two young girls near Mawnan Old Church.

At 10pm the previous evening Sally Chapman and Barbara Perry were terrified by something 'like a big owl with pointed ears, as big as a man. The eyes were red and glowing ... it went up in the air and we both screamed ... you could see its feet were like pincers.'3

'WE REALLY SAW THE BIRDMAN'

It is worth mentioning that by the time of Chapman and Perry's sighting details of the Owlman were already in the local psyche. A local journalist writing under the pseudonym Anthony Mawnan-Peller had retold the Mellings' tale in the pages of 'Morgawr - The Monster of Falmouth Bay', a pamphlet both girls were familiar with. Despite this it would seem that Shiels was prepared to accept ' that they were genuine'.4 That same day upon which Shiels met with the girls, another pair of young females would run into the flying freak at its favoured haunt. In an interview later published in the Falmouth Packet two sisters from the Lancashire town of Southport relayed their experience: 'We really saw the bird man, though it could have been somebody playing a trick in a very good costume and make-up. But how could it rise up like that? If we imagined it, then we both imagined the same thing at the same time.'5

For the best part of two years the Owlman passed into lore as just one set of strange events that haunted Cornwall in 1976 (UFOs, animal mutilations and Morgawr are covered in Jon Downes' excellent 'The Owlman and Others', now republished by his own CFZ Press). Yet this was an interval rather than an end, and on 4 June 1978 the sixteen year old daughter of a Ken Opie ran into 'a monster, like a devil, flying up through the trees near Mawnan Old Church'. Shiels claims to have been told of the sighting by the girl's father in an abrupt telephone conversation which ended with the curious statement 'she wouldn't have been there on her own'.6 Yet no further witness did come forward although Shiels had only a short time to wait until details of a further sighting reached him, apparently from a local woman who took lodgers at her boarding house in Redruth.

Three unnamed French students were in the vicinity of Mawnan Old Church where they disturbed something 'very big, like a big, furry bird with a gaping mouth and round eyes'. Despite pleas in the media for the students to contact him Shiels was unable to glean any further information on this sighting.7

It would be another two years before further scant details of an Owlman sighting would come into the public domain when, 'an enormous, bird-like creature' was witnessed 'over the Helford River and into the trees near Grebe Beach'.8

GAVIN

And then the Owlman simply disappeared, even ignoring its habit of making a two year hiatus. During the interim the Owlman would occasionally become the subject of discussion in various magazines dealing with all kinds of Forteana and paranormal related subject. It didn't go unnoticed that all of the sightings had been linked to Shiels in one way or another, the implication being that he had made the whole thing up. Yet conjecture can sometimes be overtaken by events at the time and in April 1995 cryptozoologist - and friend of Shiels - Jon Downes was sifting through some letters he came upon a letter from 'earnest young student' subsequently given the pseudonym Gavin. Subsequent correspondence, discussions and interviews revealed that Gavin and his then girlfriend had been shocked by Owlman at some time during 1988 or 1989 whilst on holiday. Again, the sighting occurred on the fringe of Mawnan woods at approximately 9.30pm: 'The creature was grey, with brown, and the eyes definitely glowed. On seeing us, its head jerked down and forwards, its wings lifted up and it just jumped backwards ... this creature was DEFINITELY a great deal bigger than any owl ... and, as we were sure we knew what the head looked like, it didn't really resemble an owl except superficially'.9

MURKY WATERS

Now with a seemingly independent witness to support the existence of the Owlman it was all but inevitable that the entire saga would be dragged up again, albeit from murkier depths than ever before. In a latter to Downes a female marine biology student from the USA recalled the events she in endured in Mawnan woods on 3 September 1995. Writing of a 'vision from Hell', the student included a sketch of the entity. Rather than further implicate himself in a hoax Shiels curiously distanced himself from the letter, suggesting its origin was the reporter Simon Parker from the Western Morning News paper. Downes himself suspected a hoax, 'I am convinced that it is based on another drawing that I have seen somewhere. It is not based on one of the published eyewitness drawings of the Owlman, but I feel sure that it is based on a drawing that I have seen somewhere in an occult or Fortean magazine'. Interestingly the address from which the letter originated turns out to be genuine yet its sender has not been traced.10

During April of 1996 sketchy details of a further Owlman sighting reached Downes. A Stephen Fowler whose father 'had been the Rector of Gerrans and Portscatho, and his ministry had for a while included Mawnan Smith.' told Downes of another alleged Owlman sighting. This involved a resident from a home for people with mental disabilities, or those suffering mental illness (it isn't established which). Despite Fowler suggesting he would attempt to uncover more details it seems that Downes heard no more on the matter.11

NUMBER ONE SUSPECT

If the reader discounts the potential hoax and potentially unreliable word of someone with a mental illness or disability, the tale of the Owlman reaches an abrupt and unsatisfactory end. Sightings of the entity seem to have stopped in 1988 or 1989, even though Shiels himself has playfully suggested that it has been since, albeit without revealing any additional details. Contrary to this, in 2005 an acquaintance of the author got in touch with the Reverend Pinchbeck of Mawnan church who was unaware of any new sightings. Perhaps the creature 'died' when Shiels moved back across the Irish Sea. This would therefore make him a prime suspect!

To make sense of anything related to the Owlman case it's essential to look at Shiels himself. His monster hunting autobiography 'Monstrum!' is a tangle of word play, surrealism, conjecture and wry humour. His infamous photograph of the Loch Ness Monster (re-christened the Loch Ness Muppet!) has come under criticsm for appearing unrealistic due to a lack of water ripples around the neck. The suggestion has also been raised that the 'monster' is in fact the work of a talented artist - something that Shiels clearly is - having tampererd with the negatives. Similarly Shiels has stated that whilst he may capture photographs of monsters he doesn't necessarily believe in them.12 Trickery is in Shiels' blood and the suspicion cannot go away that the early Owlman sightings were a wheeze thought up by Shiels.

At this point it would be easy to laugh and walk away from the entire Owlman saga, yet this would neglect the seemingly independent testimony offered by Gavin. Perhaps only Gavin himself knows the truth about his sighting, and it would not be unreasonable to still query whether he had hoaxed his sighting or misattributed an encounter with something far more mundane such as a large owl (either at the time or at a later date after reading about the entity). The same can be said of the author of another piece of correspondence received by Downes in July 2000. Written by a 'Sally G', claiming to be Sally Chapman who had the Owlman sighting in July 1976, she states that her fellow witness Barara Perry had actually approached Shiels off her own back to tell him of their sighting. Whether Sally G is Sally Chapman is not certain, at least not in the public domain, but this piece of correspondence remains an interesting footnote.13

Quite rightly Downes has protected Gavin's true identity, yet it makes the case that harder to unravel. Regardless, the implications are clear. If Gavin did stumble across some sort of genuine zooform entity, then what was it? It has been suggested by some lone voices that someone had been dressed up in costume, or even flying a bird shaped kite, yet we're stuck in one big guessing game.

THE ROLE OF THE SURREALIST

Shiels has suggested himself that surrealism may hold the key. Sixteen days before the first recorded sighting of the Owlman the surrealist artist Max Ernst died. In 1937 he had visited the area with friends and performed rituals to invoke the appearance of all sorts of mysterious creatures. One of these may have been 'Nightjarman', half bird, half human.14 Perhaps it is possible that such invocation rituals - remember that Shiels himself carried these out at the time of the first Owlman sighting15 - may be able to create a paraphysical entity. This holds echoes of the Tulpa thoughtform being from Tibetan mythology, and the experiments by Toronto based researchers in the 1970s to create their own ghost by the power of the brain alone (popularly known as the Philip Experiment).

If Shiels is correct then perhaps Gavin, Sally Chapman, Miss Opie and all of the other witnesses to the winged freak at Mawnan Old Church may have been unlucky enough to have encountered a paranormal entity beyond the scope of conventional science and unserstanding.

Wishful thinking, whichever way you look at it.

Source: Severnside Centre For Fortean Research
http://www.laughinggiraffe.co.uk/scfz/owlman.html

- BRAVE NEW WORLD DEPARTMENT -

New Toys Read Brain Waves

A convincing twin of Darth Vader stalks the beige cubicles of a Silicon Valley office, complete with ominous black mask, cape and light saber.

But this is no chintzy Halloween costume. It's a prototype, years in the making, of a toy that incorporates brain wave-reading technology.

Behind the mask is a sensor that touches the user's forehead and reads the brain's electrical signals, then sends them to a wireless receiver inside the saber, which lights up when the user is concentrating. The player maintains focus by channeling thoughts on any fixed mental image, or thinking specifically about keeping the light sword on. When the mind wanders, the wand goes dark.

Engineers at NeuroSky Inc. have big plans for brain wave-reading toys and video games. They say the simple Darth Vader game - a relatively crude biofeedback device cloaked in gimmicky garb - portends the coming of more sophisticated devices that could revolutionize the way people play.

Technology from NeuroSky and other startups could make video games more mentally stimulating and realistic. It could even enable players to control video game characters or avatars in virtual worlds with nothing but their thoughts.

Adding biofeedback to "Tiger Woods PGA Tour," for instance, could mean that only those players who muster Zen-like concentration could nail a put. In the popular action game "Grand Theft Auto," players who become nervous or frightened would have worse aim than those who remain relaxed and focused.

NeuroSky's prototype measures a person's baseline brain-wave activity, including signals that relate to concentration, relaxation and anxiety. The technology ranks performance in each category on a scale of 1 to 100, and the numbers change as a person thinks about relaxing images, focuses intently, or gets kicked, interrupted or otherwise distracted.

The technology is similar to more sensitive, expensive equipment that athletes use to achieve peak performance. Koo Hyoung Lee, a NeuroSky co-founder from South Korea, used biofeedback to improve concentration and relaxation techniques for members of his country's Olympic archery team.

"Most physical games are really mental games," said Lee, also chief technology officer at San Jose-based NeuroSky, a 12-employee company founded in 1999. "You must maintain attention at very high levels to succeed. This technology makes toys and video games more lifelike."

Boosters say toys with even the most basic brain wave-reading technology - scheduled to debut later this year - could boost mental focus and help kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism and mood disorders.

But scientific research is scant. Even if the devices work as promised, some question whether people who use biofeedback devices will be able to replicate their relaxed or focused states in real life, when they're not attached to equipment in front of their television or computer.

Elkhonon Goldberg, clinical professor of neurology at New York University, said the toys might catch on in a society obsessed with optimizing performance - but he was skeptical they'd reduce the severity of major behavioral disorders.

"These techniques are used usually in clinical contexts. The gaming companies are trying to push the envelope," said Goldberg, author of "The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older." "You can use computers to improve the cognitive abilities, but it's an art."

It's also unclear whether consumers, particularly American kids, want mentally taxing games.

"It's hard to tell whether playing games with biofeedback is more fun - the company executives say that, but I don't know if I believe them," said Ben Sawyer, director of the Games for Health Project, a division of the Serious Games Initiative. The think tank focuses in part on how to make computer games more educational, not merely pastimes for kids with dexterous thumbs.

The basis of many brain wave-reading games is electroencephalography, or EEG, the measurement of the brain's electrical activity through electrodes placed on the scalp. EEG has been a mainstay of psychiatry for decades.

An EEG headset in a research hospital may have 100 or more electrodes that attach to the scalp with a conductive gel. It could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

But the price and size of EEG hardware is shrinking. NeuroSky's "dry-active" sensors don't require gel, are the size of a thumbnail, and could be put into a headset that retails for as little as $20, said NeuroSky CEO Stanley Yang.

Yang is secretive about his company's product lineup because of a nondisclosure agreement with the manufacturer. But he said an international toy manufacturer plans to unveil an inexpensive gizmo with an embedded NeuroSky biosensor at the Japan Toy Association's trade show in late June. A U.S. version is scheduled to debut at the American International Fall Toy Show in October.

"Whatever we sell, it will work on 100 percent or almost 100 percent of people out there, no matter what the condition, temperature, indoor or outdoors," Yang said. "We aim for wearable technology that everyone can put on and go without failure, as easy as the iPod."

Researchers at NeuroSky and other startups are also building prototypes of toys that use electromyography (EMG), which records twitches and other muscular movements, and electrooculography (EOG), which measures changes in the retina.

While NeuroSky's headset has one electrode, Emotiv Systems Inc. has developed a gel-free headset with 18 sensors. Besides monitoring basic changes in mood and focus, Emotiv's bulkier headset detects brain waves indicating smiles, blinks, laughter, even conscious thoughts and unconscious emotions. Players could kick or punch their video game opponent - without a joystick or mouse.

"It fulfills the fantasy of telekinesis," said Tan Le, co-founder and president of San Francisco-based Emotiv.

The 30-person company hopes to begin selling a consumer headset next year, but executives would not speculate on price. A prototype hooks up to gaming consoles such as the Nintendo, Wii, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft  Xbox 360.

Le, a 29-year-old Australian woman, said the company decided in 2004 to target gamers because they would generate the most revenue - but eventually Emotive will build equipment for clinical use. The technology could enable paralyzed people to "move" in virtual realty; people with obsessive-compulsive disorders could measure their anxiety levels, then adjust medication accordingly.

The husband-and-wife team behind CyberLearning Technology LLC took the opposite approach. The San Marcos-based startup targets doctors, therapists and parents of adolescents with autism, impulse control problems and other pervasive developmental disorders.

CyberLearning is already selling the SmartBrain Technologies system for the original PlayStation, PS2 and original Xbox, and it will soon work with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The EEG- and EMG-based biofeedback system costs about $600, not including the game console or video games.

Kids who play the race car video game "Gran Turismo" with the SmartBrain system can only reach maximum speed when they're focused. If attention wanes or players become impulsive or anxious, cars slow to a chug.

CyberLearning has sold more than 1,500 systems since early 2005. The company hopes to reach adolescents already being treated for behavior disorders. But co-founder Lindsay Greco said the budding niche is unpredictable.

"Our biggest struggle is to find the target market," said Greco, who has run treatment programs for children with attention difficulties since the 1980s. "We're finding that parents are using this to improve their own recall and focus. We have executives who use it to improve their memory, even their golf."

Source: Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/04/29/ap3665635.html

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