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week Conspiracy Journal brings
you such vein-throbbing stories as:
Oil Companies Plan Ways to Keep Gas
Prices High -
Maury Island’s UFO: 60
years later, the Mystery Lingers
- Obsession Propels Scholar
on Long, Lonesome Voyage
of Stones from Nowhere -
AND: Brown Mountain Lights Respond to Bad Moods
All these exciting stories and MORE
in this week's issue of
~ And Now, On With The Show! ~
FROM CONSPIRACY JOURNAL
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Listen for Conspiracy Journal
Editor Tim Swartz on Magick Mind
Radio Tuesday June 26, 2007 at 7:00PM Eastern
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hour time slot.
Also check out the archives with Mr.
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MYSTERIES MAGAZINE #17
In This Fantastic Issue:
The Hidden History of Haitian Vodou By K. Filan
Oak Island Money Pit:
The Dig Just Keeps Getting Deeper
An Interview with Ray Santilli
The Signs of Stigmata
George Hensley's Serpent Handlers
PLUS: Summer Horoscopes
Get your issue TODAY at your favorite bookstore
or magazine stand.
- BLAME THE CONSUMER DEPARTMENT -
Oil Companies Plan Ways to Keep Gas Prices High
A push from
Congress and the White House for huge increases in biofuels, such as
ethanol, is prompting the oil industry to scale back its plans to
expand refineries. That could keep gasoline prices high, possibly for
years to come.
With President Bush calling for a 20 percent
reduction in gasoline use and the Senate debating legislation for
increases in ethanol production, oil companies say they see growing
uncertainty about future gasoline demand and little need to build or
Oil-industry executives say they no longer think the
demand for gasoline over the next decade will warrant the billions of
dollars in refinery expansions — as much as a 10 percent increase in
new refining capacity — they anticipated as recently as a year ago.
"Why would I invest in a refinery when you're trying
to make 20 percent of the gasoline supply ethanol?" said Peter
Robertson, vice chairman of Chevron.
But Ron Lamberty of the American Coalition for
Ethanol said the talk about biofuels threatening gasoline production is
the "latest attempt to blame ethanol [for] Big Oil's failure to meet
our energy needs."
"The ethanol industry continues to grow while oil
refiners continue to make excuses for maintaining their profitable
status quo," Lamberty said.
Biofuels and efforts to get automakers to build more
fuel-efficient vehicles have been portrayed as key to countering high
gasoline prices, but they are likely to do little to curb costs at the
pump — today, or in the years ahead — if refiners reduce gasoline
Politicians frequently have blamed a shortage of
refineries for the sharp price spikes in gasoline.
"The fact is that Americans are paying more at the
pump because we do not have the domestic capacity to refine the fuels
consumers demand," Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said last week during
debate on the Senate energy bill.
Hampered by outages, U.S. refiners could not keep up
with demand this spring, and gasoline imports were down because of
greater demand in Europe and elsewhere. Despite stable or declining oil
prices, gasoline prices soared to record levels and remain well above
$3 a gallon.
In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area, the average
price for a gallon of regular Sunday was $3.15, according to AAA.
Consumer advocates maintain the oil industry likes it
"By creating a situation of extremely tight supply,
the oil companies gain control over price at the wholesale level," said
Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America. He argued that a
wave of mergers in recent years created a refining industry that "has
no interest in creating spare capacity."
Only last year, the Energy Department was told that
refiners, reaping big profits and anticipating growing demand, were
looking at boosting their refining capacity by more than 1.6 million
barrels a day, a roughly 10 percent increase. That would be enough to
produce an additional 37 million gallons of gasoline daily.
But oil companies already have scaled back those
expansion plans by nearly 40 percent. More cancellations are expected
if Congress passes legislation calling for 15 billion gallons of
ethanol use annually by 2015 and more than double that by 2022,
industry and government officials say.
"These [expansion] decisions are being revisited in
boardrooms across the refining sector," said Charlie Drevna, executive
vice president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.
With the anticipated growth in biofuels, "you're
getting down to needing little or no additional gasoline production"
above what is being made today, said Joanne Shore, an analyst for the
government's Energy Information Administration.
In 2006, U.S. motorists used 143 billion gallons of
gasoline, of which 136 billion gallons was produced by U.S. refineries,
and the rest imported.
Annual demand had been expected to grow to about 161
billion gallons by 2017, Drevna said. But Bush's call to cut gasoline
demand by 20 percent, through a combination of fuel-efficiency
improvements and ethanol, would reduce that demand below what U.S.
refineries make today, he said.
Valero, the nation's largest refiner — producing 3.3
million barrels a day of petroleum product — recently boosted
production capacity at its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery by 325,000
barrels a day. But company spokesman Bill Day said some additional
expansions have been postponed.
"That's not to say we've changed our plans," Day
said. "But it's fair to say we're taking a closer look at what the
president is saying and what Congress is saying" about biofuels. He
said there's a "mixed message" coming out of Washington, calling for
more production but also for reducing gasoline demand.
"It's something that we have to study pretty
carefully," Day said.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said consolidation of the
oil industry into fewer companies has left them with no incentive to
"It's a perverted system that does not act as a
free-market system would act," Dorgan said. "If you narrow the neck of
refining, you actually provide a greater boost to prices, which is a
greater boost to profitability."
Source: Seattle Times
IS IT GETTING HOT IN HERE OR WHAT DEPARTMENT -
The Earth Today Stands in
...and nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the
environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change. Those are not the
words of eco-warriors but the considered opinion of a group of eminent
scientists writing in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the
United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the
world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.
They also implicitly criticise the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) for underestimating the scale of sea-level rises
this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.
Instead of sea levels rising by about 40 centimetres, as the IPCC
predicts in one of its computer forecasts, the true rise might be as
great as several metres by 2100. That is why, they say, planet Earth
today is in "imminent peril".
In a densely referenced scientific paper published in the Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society A some of the world's leading climate
researchers describe in detail why they believe that humanity can no
longer afford to ignore the "gravest threat" of climate change.
"Recent greenhouse gas emissions place the Earth perilously close to
dramatic climate change that could run out of control, with great
dangers for humans and other creatures," the scientists say. Only
intense efforts to curb man-made emissions of carbon dioxide emissions
and other greenhouse gases can keep the climate within or near the
range of the past one million years, they add.
The researchers were led by James Hansen, the director of NASA's
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was the first scientist to
warn the US Congress about global warming.
The other scientists were Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha and Gary
Russell, also of the Goddard Institute, David Lea of the University of
California, Santa Barbara, and Mark Siddall of the Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory at Columbia University in New York.
In their 29-page paper, "Climate Change and trace gases", the
scientists frequently stray from the non-emotional language of science
to emphasise the scale of the problems and dangers posed by climate
In an email to The Independent, Dr Hansen said: "In my opinion, among
our papers this one probably does the best job of making clear that the
Earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out
of our control."
The unnatural "forcing" of the climate as a result of man-made
emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases threatens to
generate a "flip" in the climate that could "spark a cataclysm" in the
massive ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, the scientists write.
Dramatic flips in the climate have occurred in the past but none has
happened since the development of complex human societies and
civilisation, which are unlikely to survive the same sort of
environmental changes if they occurred now.
"Civilisation developed, and constructed extensive infrastructure,
during a period of unusual climate stability, the Holocene, now almost
12,000 years in duration. That period is about to end," the scientists
warn. Humanity cannot afford to burn the Earth's remaining underground
reserves of fossil fuel. "To do so would guarantee dramatic climate
change, yielding a different planet from the one on which civilisation
developed and for which extensive physical infrastructure has been
built," they say.
Dr Hansen said we have about 10 years to put into effect the draconian
measures needed to curb CO2 emissions quickly enough to avert a
dangerous rise in global temperature. Otherwise, the extra heat could
trigger the rapid melting of polar ice sheets, made far worse by the
"albedo flip" - when the sunlight reflected by white ice is suddenly
absorbed as ice melts to become the dark surface of open water.
The glaciers and ice sheets of Greenland in the northern hemisphere,
and the western Antarctic ice sheet in the south, both show signs of
the rapid changes predicted with rising temperatures. "
The albedo flip property of ice/water provides a trigger mechanism. If
the trigger mechanism is engaged long enough, multiple dynamical
feedbacks will cause ice sheet collapse," the scientists say. "We argue
that the required persistence for this trigger mechanism is at most a
century, probably less."
The latest assessment of the IPCC published earlier this year predicts
little or no contribution to 21st century sea level from Greenland or
Antarctica, but the six scientists dispute this interpretation. "The
IPCC analyses and projections do not well account for the nonlinear
physics of wet ice sheet disintegration, ice streams and eroding ice
shelves, nor are they consistent with the palaeoclimate evidence we
have presented for the absence of discernible lag between ice sheet
forcing and sea-level rise," the scientists say.
Their study looked back over more than 400,000 years of climate records
from deep ice cores and found evidence to suggest that rapid climate
change over a period of centuries, or even decades, have in the past
occurred once the world began to heat up and ice sheets started
melting. It is not possible to assess the dangerous level of man-made
"However, it is much lower than has commonly been assumed. If we have
not already passed the dangerous level, the energy infrastructure in
place ensures that we will pass it within several decades," the
scientists say in their findings.
"We conclude that a feasible strategy for planetary rescue almost
surely requires a means of extracting [greenhouse gases] from the air."
Another disturbing development shows that the Arctic spring is coming
two weeks ahead of time compared to a decade ago, with birds,
butterflies, flowers and small animals all appearing earlier in the
year as a result of climate change.
A study of a range of animals and plants living in the high Arctic has
revealed that many of them are responding to the earlier spring by
flowering or laying their eggs significantly ahead of their normal
times of the year.
On average, the breeding and flowering seasons in the Arctic have
shifted by 14.5 days but some species of mosquitoes have begun laying
their eggs 30 days earlier than in the mid 1990s, Toke Hoye, of the
University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said.
"Our study confirms what many people already think, that the seasons
are changing and it is not just one or two warm years but a trend seen
over a decade," Dr Hoye said. "This is the most extensive study of its
kind in the Arctic in terms of the number and variety of species and
the replication of the observations."
The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, show the shift
in the spring season has been greater in the Arctic than elsewhere in
the world. Previous studies have shown that plants in Europe are
flowering 2.5 days earlier than a decade ago, whereas globally animal
and plants are appearing 5.1 days earlier each decade.
The study investigated the time of year when insects, butterflies,
spiders and birds began laying eggs or emerging from their winter
hibernation. They also looked at the time of first flowering of Arctic
Dr Hoye said the movements in the season of six species of plants, 12
species of arthropods and three bird species must be tied to the
earlier times of the year when the snow melts in the Zackenberg region
of north-east Greenland, where the study was carried out.
"It's an indication that for the plants, arthropods and birds there's a
change in their shared physical environment that results in a change in
their behaviour," he said. "That must be when the snow melts.
"We know that the snow is melting about two weeks earlier than it did a
decade ago in this part of the Arctic. Given the wide selection of
species we studied in each group, we can see no other explanation for
the shift in their behaviour," he said.
"We were particularly surprised to see that the trends were so strong
considering that the entire summer is very short in the high Arctic -
with just three to four months from snowmelt to freeze up at our study
Records of global temperatures show that the polar regions, and
especially the Arctic, are experiencing some of the largest increase in
Dr Hoye warned that the change in timing of emergence, egg-laying and
flowering could disturb local food webs with some animals appearing
ahead or behind of others on which they rely for food.
Source: The Independent (UK)
MYSTERIES IN UFO HISTORIES DEPARTMENT -
Maury Island’s UFO: 60
years later, the Mystery Lingers
Roswell, once just a military base in the New Mexican desert, is known
today as the site of the United States’ most high-profile and
controversial UFO sighting and crash. But few Islanders know that Maury
Island was home to the first alleged UFO sighting in U.S. history, and
it took place weeks before two crafts fell from the sky in Roswell.
Tomorrow marks the 60th anniversary of the Maury Island Incident, as it
was later dubbed in books and newspaper articles. It took place in June
1947, two years after World War II ended. The nation was abuzz with
paranoia and suspicion, and it was in this atmosphere that first one,
then two, then hundreds of Americans reported seeing strange,
unidentifiable, usually saucer-shaped, objects whizzing through the sky.
These were the incidents that triggered UFO hysteria, which gripped the
nation for decades and spawned countless movies and books. But it all
started with one close encounter. One X file. It all started with Maury
“I consider (the Maury Island Incident) the most complex mystery in
Washington,” said Charlette LeFevre, co-director of the Seattle Museum
of the Mysteries, the state’s only paranormal science museum. “It
wasn’t as well promoted as Roswell, but it was the beginning of modern
While no one can say for sure what happened that afternoon in the Puget
Sound, after cobbling together the various eyewitness, secondary,
government and media accounts, a story with a life of its own emerges:
At 2 p.m. on June 21, 1947, Tacoma seaman Harold Dahl was trolling the
waters just east of Maury Island, looking for loose logs, which he
collected and sold for profit.
“As I looked up from the wheel on my boat I noticed six very large
donut-shaped aircraft,” Dahl later told one of the investigators of the
incident. “I would judge they were about 2,000 feet above the water and
almost directly overhead.”
He said the ships were 100 feet in diameter, had no “visible signs of
propulsion” and made no noise.
One craft wobbled and dipped to about 500 feet, he told investigators.
It then spewed what Dahl described as thin sheets of white metal and
several tons of hot lava-like rocks or slag. As the slag rained down on
Dahl, his son and his dog, it punched holes in the vessel, burned
Dahl’s son on the arm and killed the family dog.
Another of the six saucers seemed to come to the assistance of the ship
in distress, “jump-starting” it, according to Dahl. Then the crafts
took off. Dahl gathered samples of the rocks and the white metal and
went home for the night, shaken.
The next morning he had what modern UFOlogists refer to as the first
encounter with a “Man in Black” — an ominous individual who warned Dahl
his family would be in danger if he went public with his story,
according to Kenn Thomas, who wrote the book “Maury Island UFO.”
Although Dahl had not yet told anyone about his UFO sighting, the man
in black knew many details of the incident, he later reported. Dahl
said he suspected the man was a government official.
Later that day, Dahl told his supervisor Fred Crisman about his UFO
sighting. Crisman, dubious, visited Maury and collected his own samples
of the slag. He then contacted Ray Palmer, an adventure magazine
publisher, to see if Dahl’s story was fodder for his magazine.
The next day, three days after Dahl’s sighting, UFOs went from
obscurity to front-page news. On June 24, 1947, U.S. Forest Service
employee and pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine “saucer-like”
objects flying in formation at speeds of up to 1,200 miles per hour
near Mount Rainier. Arnold contacted the press immediately, and the
tale spread like wildfire. Soon, U.S. media were saturated with reports
of Americans spotting UFOs, almost always saucer-shaped. “Flying
saucer” became a household term.
Because Arnold had the eye of a highly trained pilot, his story became
big news. Dahl’s story, however, remained obscure until Arnold was
dispatched by Palmer to investigate just what it was Dahl saw off the
shores of Maury.
Arnold flew to Tacoma in July 1947 and rented a room in the Winthrop
Hotel, where, according to FBI reports, Arnold met with Dahl, decided
the sighting was authentic and called two U.S. intelligence officers to
tell them the news. The men, Capt. William Davidson and Lt. Frank
Brown, became the first two Army officers to investigate UFOs, Arnold
said in a book he later wrote.
After Arnold phoned Davidson and Brown on July 31, 1947, they flew to
Tacoma within an hour, gathering in Arnold’s hotel room where they
pored over the details of the incident and collected samples of the
slag and white metal, according to Arnold.
The officers’ plane was due back the following morning for inaugural
Air Force Day ceremonies, marking the separation of the Air Force from
the Army. So, although it was after midnight, they returned to their
plane, allegedly carrying UFO slag and metal, and headed for Hamilton
Air Force Base in California. Twenty minutes into the flight, their
engine caught fire, igniting the left wing. The two crew members aboard
the plane with Davidson and Brown parachuted to safety. But neither
intelligence officer jumped nor radioed distress, according to news
reports. Instead, both died when their B-25 plane crashed near Kelso,
“Why didn’t they call in to land?” LeFevre said. “It was like they made
up their minds they were going to go down with the plane.”
The military promptly sealed off the crash site and cleaned up the
rubble from the U.S. Air Force’s first accident. But they left some of
Only a few locals knew the location of the crash, and none investigated
it fully, LeFevre said. But in April 2007, now-owner of the site Bob
Greear visited it, accompanied by LeFevre and Philip Lipson,
co-directors of the Seattle Museum for the Mysteries.
The three retrieved a blackened, lava-like rock from the site, which
now sits in their museum, as well as mangled pieces of the B-25 that
went down that night.
Bill Beaty, a research engineer at the University of Washington and a
member of the museum’s board, analyzed the rock and found that it was
“almost certainly an Earth rock.” But more analysis should be done
before writing the specimen off, he said.
After the fatal accident, the government staunchly denied any
classified material had been on board the B-25.
But the media knew the names and mission of the deceased officers
before the military released them. An anonymous caller contacted
various Washington dailies on July 31 through Aug. 3, 1947. The caller
gave such intimate details of the conversations that took place in
Arnold’s hotel room that Arnold thought the room was bugged. The
identity of the caller remains unknown.
While newspapers differed on details, they were in agreement on one
thing — the government wasn’t telling the whole truth.
The U.S. military cited Dahl and Crisman’s signed confession that the
Maury Island Incident was a hoax. But upon government questioning, the
two said they had only sworn their story was a fabrication to protect
It wasn’t until 1979 that the government declassified the FBI files
admitting Davidson and Brown had been investigating the Maury Island
flying discs at the time of their deaths.
“It didn’t start with Roswell. It started here in the Pacific
Northwest,” LeFevre said of UFOlogy. “People should be aware of that.”
Source: Vashon Beachcomber
COLUMBUS WAS LAST DEPARTMENT -
Obsession Propels Scholar
on Long, Lonesome Voyage
Among armchair sailors, Gunnar Thompson is a master mariner. He has
navigated oceans and continents, east to west, pole to pole and back
again — most of it without leaving his small home near the shores of
the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Thompson's vessel is a historical time machine, guided by ancient maps
and journals, and powered by a fertile imagination and an obsession
with early exploration. And his mission is to sink what he considers
the greatest myth in history: that Columbus discovered America.
"I'm proving that Columbus was not the first," he says. "Everybody beat
Over the course of his 30-year journey, Thompson has written five
books, all self-published, detailing what he believes to be conclusive
evidence that, long before 1492, the Americas were explored repeatedly
— by the ancient Chinese, Venetians, Egyptians, Romans, Vikings, Irish,
English and who-knows-who-else.
He argues, for example, that a Chinese admiral named Zheng He,
commanding a fleet of Chinese junks in the early 1400s, explored the
coasts of the Americas. He believes that Marco Polo sailed with the
Chinese into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and perhaps into Puget Sound in
the 13th century. He is convinced that Sir Francis Drake sailed these
waters some 300 years later. And he has copies of maps that he believes
prove each claim.
Give him a chance, and he'll fill a room with his hand-copied or
photocopied evidence — ancient Chinese maps that he believes depict
Puget Sound and the Columbia River, Roman maps that show the Florida
peninsula, ancient Chinese and European coins and other artifacts, and
similarities between art motifs produced in Asia and among the ancient
Aztecs and Incas.
Now he's compiled much of what he's learned into a 265-page, thoroughly
illustrated volume called "Secret Voyages," or "True Adventure Stories
from the Forbidden Chronicles of American Discovery," self-published
last year by Misty Isles Press, Seattle.
"This book represents the culmination of nearly 30 years of research,"
he says, lifting his hefty volume.
But most of the time, Thompson sails single-handed. Established
historians dismiss his theories. Google his name, and you'll find pages
of criticism from academics, many of whom seem outraged by his heresy.
"They seem to be very angry," Thompson says. "They don't like people
questioning these things. But history is too important to be left to
Thompson is an affable 60-year-old bachelor with a mop of dark brown
hair over a round, Nordic face. He lives in a small "shed" he rents
from a friend in a housing cooperative in uptown Port Townsend.
He attributes his skeptical nature to his parents. His father was an
engineer and artist, his mother a nurse who crusaded for the polio
vaccine before it was widely accepted. "They were troublemakers who
taught me the value of truth," he says.
When he was a youth living in suburban Chicago, Thompson's family took
cross-country car trips, stopping along the way at museums and Native
American sites, where Thompson developed an early interest in art,
history and anthropology.
At the University of Illinois, he asked more than his share of
questions and learned to write "from an artistic standpoint." He went
on to graduate school in anthropology, where he became fascinated by
archaeology and by striking similarities between art forms from ancient
China and the Americas.
"I was experimenting with other cultures and religions, and this didn't
go over too well," he recalls.
Thompson moved on, and in time he grew accustomed to academics who did
not welcome his maverick ideas. He taught anthropology but lost his job
when he refused to conduct an exam that conflicted with an anti-war
Eventually, he earned a Ph.D. in "rehabilitation counseling" and set
out looking for a job. He taught at colleges from Wisconsin to Hawaii
and the University of Washington, but he never earned crucial tenure.
He kept moving, always keeping one hand in ancient art and maps, until
he took a job in mental-health services in Port Townsend — "my last
Since then, he's been devoted full time to his global quest, launching
a Web site while writing and illustrating his books on ancient
Three years ago, Thompson finally found an intellectual ally in Gavin
Menzies, a former British naval officer who has written his own
controversial book, called "1421," (Penguin, 2004) about the
pre-Columbian voyages of Zheng He. They spent three days in a Seattle
motel room studying each other's maps and exchanging ideas. Menzies
eventually wrote a glowing introduction to Thompson's new book.
Together, they've made some impact. They've given talks at the Library
of Congress and at a couple of conferences. There have been stories in
The Economist news magazine and on British television, focusing on a
recently discovered Chinese map that Menzies and Thompson believe
proves Chinese knowledge of the Americas long before Columbus.
But a little publicity only doubles the criticism. Historians argue
that Thompson and Menzies essentially started with their conclusion and
searched the globe for fragments of evidence to support it. "Given only
one data point, you can draw any line you want to," one critic argues.
The theory that Marco Polo sailed these waters is a bit too far out for
John Findlay, history chair at the University of Washington and an
authority on Northwest history. But Findlay admits he is "intrigued" by
the theory, shared by a few amateur historians in Canada and England,
that Sir Francis Drake sailed into Northwest waters in 1579. "There's a
strong desire for it to be true, and it's difficult, if not impossible,
to disprove," he says.
State historian David Nicandri isn't familiar with Thompson's work, but
he remains open-minded. History is laced with gaps and unanswered
questions that are fair game for researchers willing to test new
theories, he says.
Nicandri cites the example of J. Harlen Bretz, the upstart geologist
who in the 1920s theorized that much of the Eastern Washington
landscape had been carved in a few days by a monumental ice-age flood.
"He was derided by the establishment," Nicandri says. "But now he and
his theory are accepted as a story of courageous perseverance against
the dominant thinking of his day."
That describes perfectly how Thompson feels about his own work. "I'm
reminded of the bumper sticker I see around Port Townsend," he says.
"Don't believe anything until it's been officially denied."
The history establishment is hopelessly handicapped, he says, by its
insistence on written documentation. Such records of ancient voyages
either don't exist, or haven't been found, because they were
systematically suppressed, censored or destroyed by ancient rulers
intent on secrecy.
"For me, the real breakthrough came when I began to understand the
importance of secrecy in early exploration," he says. "Why would Marco
Polo lie about what he'd seen in the Americas? Because he worked for a
maritime government [Venice] with a huge incentive to keep that
If journals were suppressed, maps tended to survive, passed along from
one ship captain to the next, but always preserving the crucial
information, he says.
That's the gist of "Secret Voyages." In each case, from the ancient
Chinese to Drake, Thompson attempts to explain why and how the details
were kept secret.
But the controversy continues, he says. "Academic historians hate Gavin
Menzies and his book," Thompson says. "When he spoke at the Library of
Congress, they tried to prevent it. I can't name a single historian who
accepts our evidence — except in China."
Challenging historical orthodoxy isn't easy. Literary agents won't look
at his books. Publishers won't stick their necks out.
But these days, the Internet provides troublemakers a chance to bypass
the establishment and confront conventional wisdom. So, whatever the
historians think, Thompson's theories are out there, bouncing around
None of this pays Thompson's rent. His savings are almost gone, and
soon he'll be back on the streets, looking for a job to support his
But he won't quit.
"I'm a reluctant detective," he says. "I'm an artist by nature, not a
historian. But when an artist gets an inspiration, you have this need
to express it."
Source: The Seattle Times
FROM OUT OF THE BLUE DEPARTMENT -
Hail of Stones from Nowhere
They rain down on houses and people with no earthly explanation.
The catalog of unexplained events includes many strange instances of
stones falling from the sky - or somewhere. Showers of stones, often
from clear skies and in areas where rockslides from mountains cannot be
blamed. Hails of stones pummeling rooftops and people, often causing
damage and injury. Investigations of these events usually end with
unnerved victims and with officials scratching their heads in
puzzlement or, out of desperation, inventing "explanations" that are
sometimes as outlandish as the events themselves.
Reports of this particular type of mystery go back centuries and come
from all over the world. One of the earliest written accounts was by
Robert Kirk in 1690, who attributed the throwing of "great stons" to
subterranean inhabitants that he called the "invisible wights." And an
unexplained stone-throwing incident that took place in New Hampshire
was recorded in a pamphlet entitled "Lithobolia, or the Stone-throwing
Devil," published in London in 1698.
In some of these bizarre cases, the rain of stones occurs in connection
with other paranormal phenomena, such as a haunting or poltergeist
In the famous Bell Witch haunting of 1817, which included a host of
strange goings-on, neighbors of the beleaguered Bells were pelted with
stones thrown by an unseen entity.
The phenomenon is defined by the inability of investigators to identify
any assailants or vandals, and usually by the lack of any motive for
such an assault. So the questions arise: Where do these phantom stones
come from? Who or what is responsible for throwing or dropping them?
Are there natural explanations for the phenomenon? Consider these
remarkable cases and draw your own conclusions:
• Harrisonville, Ohio, 1901 - The stone attack on this small village
began on the Sunday afternoon of October 13 when, as the Buffalo
Express reported, "a small boulder came crashing through the window of
Zach Dye's house." No culprit could be found around the isolated
house... and this was just the beginning. The next day, dozens of
stones rained down in the heart of the village, breaking windows and
striking citizens. Were mischievous kids to blame? The next day, all of
the male children of the village were gathered together (how could
girls do such a thing?), and stones fell for a third day. None of the
villagers could detect where the stones were coming from.
• Sumatra, 1903 - W. G. Grottendieck wrote about how small black
stones, hot to the touch, came raining down in his bedroom as 1 a.m.
The most bizarre aspect of this case is that the stones seemed to come
through the roof without making holes in it, and they fell, he said, in
a motion that was slower than would be normal.
• Marcinelle, Belgium, 1913 - For four days in January one house was
besieged by an invisible stone thrower with remarkable accuracy. Police
officers began to watch the house in an attempt to catch the vandal,
but one wrote in his report: "I have seen a stone arriving in the
middle of a large window-pane and then came others in spiral round the
first point of impact.... I even saw, in another window, a projectile
caught in the fragments of the glass of the first hole it made, and
subsequently ejected by another passing through the same point." No
stone-thrower was ever seen, although an estimated 300 stones struck
• Ardeche, France, 1921 - Most of these events are short-lived, lasting
only a few days at most. But beginning in September, a farmhouse in
France was victimized for four months. The stones dropped at all hours
of the day, sometimes striking the family's children and a clergyman
who was called in to investigate. In this case, apples were also thrown
and, again, with inhuman accuracy: apples came speeding in through
small holes in the shudders made by previous apples.
• Sumatra, 1928 - One of the most astonishing cases was experienced and
reported by the renowned paranormal investigator Ivan T. Sanderson.
While sitting on the veranda of an estate house as a guest one evening,
a shiny black pebble dropped onto the veranda out of nowhere. Dozens
more followed. Sanderson, who was familiar with the phenomenon, tried
an experiment. He ordered the stones gathered up and marked with chalk,
paint or whatever else could be used. They then threw the stones back
out randomly into the garden and shrubbery. "We must have thrown over a
dozen such marked stones," Sanderson wrote. "Within a minute they were
all back! Nobody, with a powerful flashlight or super-eyesight, could
have found those little stones in that tangled mess... and thrown them
back on to the veranda.
Yet, they came back, all duly marked by us!"
• Oakland, California, 1943 - In August of that year, Mrs. Irene
Fellows finally called the police after two weeks of stones pelting her
house at various times of the day. At first skeptical, the police
inquiry became serious when their investigation clearly identified the
pockmarks of the falling stones on Mrs. Fellows' roof and walls, and by
the litter of stones on her lawn. Mrs. Fellows and members of her
family were frequently hit by the stones, although to no serious
injury. The thorough police investigation could offer no explanation
for the stones, which seemed to materialize out of nothingness.
• Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand, 1963 - Stones and apples are one
thing, but what about money? Why would a vandal throw money? On March
24, a guest house was inexplicably battered by a hail of stones and a
few coins. Police were called and unsuccessfully searched for the
perpetrator of the assault, which lasted for seven hours. Windows were
smashed and people were struck, but none injured. The coins included
New Zealand pennies and a large copper coin. The mysterious attack
occurred again for two more nights, then stopped.
• Skaneateles, New York, 1973 - Most often, a particular house is the
target for this phenomenon, but in this highly unusual case, two
fisherman became the victims of the falling stones - a paranormal storm
that followed wherever they went! The rain of pebbles began as they
were finishing their fishing expedition and followed them as they made
their way to their car. The shower ceased for a while, then resumed
when they stopped briefly on their way home. Deciding they needed a
drink, they went to a bar, and when they came out some time later, the
rain of pebbles began again. As they were about to go their separate
ways in their hometown of Liverpool (about 25 miles northeast of
Skaneateles), the little stones dropped on them one last time.
• Arizona, 1983 - The attack on the Berkbigler family began in
September, just as they moved into their new home. Large rocks crashed
down on the house every night, usually between the hours of 5:30 and
7:00 p.m. The local sheriff's department could determine no assailant,
even with helicopter surveillance. The authorities became reluctant to
visit the Berkbigler home when they too were struck by the falling
rocks. This went on for weeks, culminating on December 4 while two
newspaper reporters were interviewing the family. Rocks slammed into
the side door of the house for two hours. What's most mysterious here
is that to strike this door, the rocks had to pass through the garage
where a van was parked, through a narrow two-foot space.
This is just a small sampling of the hundreds of such cases that have
taken place over the last century. There is no easy explanation for
these rains of rocks and stones. Something supernatural is most
definitely taking place, and most researchers theorize that it is a
form of poltergeist phenomena - a physical manifestation caused most
likely by the minds (or powerful electromagnetic brain activity) of the
victims themselves. But this meager explanation poses more questions
than it answers, especially in the cases in which the very physical
stones seem to materialize out of thin air.
SEARCHING FOR A DREAM DEPARTMENT -
Archaeologist Sparks Hunt
for Holy Grail
An archaeologist has sparked a Da Vinci Code-style hunt for the Holy
Grail after claiming ancient records show it is buried under a 6th
century church in Rome.
The cup - said to have been used by Christ at the Last Supper - is the
focus of countless legends and has been sought for centuries.
Alfredo Barbagallo, an Italian archaeologist, claims that it is buried
in a chapel-like room underneath the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le
Mura, one of the seven churches which Christian pilgrims used to visit
when they came to Rome.
Mr Barbagallo based his claim on two years spent studying mediaeval
iconography inside the basilica and a description of a particular
chamber, in a guide to the catacombs written in 1938 by a Capuchin
friar named Giuseppe Da Bra.
The friar describes a room of about 20 square metres with a vaulted
roof ceiling. "In the corner of a wall-seat there can be seen a
terracotta funnel whose lower part opens out over the face of a
skeleton," he wrote.
Da Bra then explains that giving liquid refreshment (refrigerium) to
the dead was part of ancient funeral rites.
According to Mr Barbagallo, who heads an association called Arte e
Mistero [Art and Mystery], this funnel is the Grail.
He also points out to several beautiful mosaics and frescos in the
basilica which feature images of the sacred cup.
Mr Barbagallo added that its presence in the church fits the sketchy
accounts of its early guardians.
In 258 AD, during a phase of Christian persecution, Pope Sixtus V
reportedly entrusted the treasures of the early Church to a deacon
called Lawrence, Lorenzo in Italian. This deacon was martyred four days
later and since then no one has ever seen the Grail.
Various legends have it that the cup, given the name Holy Grail in the
Middle Ages, was taken to different countries - including Britain.
Dan Brown’s work of fiction, The Da Vinci Code, said the cup had been
buried at Rossyln Chapel in Scotland, and sparked off a stampede to the
isolated location as thousands flocked to see it for themselves.
Mr Barbagallo said he believed it never went anywhere, and stayed with
St Lawrence in his tomb.
Emperor Constantine built a shrine on the site of Lawrence’s martyrdom
in the 4th Century and the main part of the Basilica of San Lorenzo
Fuori le Mura was built in AD580 on the same spot.
The catacombs where Mr Barbagallo believes the cup to buried come under
the authority of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Sacred
A spokesman said: "We are aware of the reports and a few weeks ago made
an initial investigation of the area with the possibility of opening
the catacombs up but as yet no decision has been made."
Source: The Telegraph (UK)
IT'S WEIRD IN THEM THAR HILLS DEPARTMENT -
Mysterious Brown Mountain
Lights Respond to Bad Moods and Murders
LINVILLE FALLS — Occult tales often come into being to explain
mysterious phenomena. But it sometimes works in reverse, with
storytellers attaching vital pieces of lore to marvels in order to give
their assertions permanence.
The ancient Greeks did it with constellations. Locals do it with the
Brown Mountain lights, the colored orbs that on rare occasions bob and
pulse in midair eight miles east of Linville Gorge.
Eerier than a ghost is the need for one. The Brown Mountain lights
suggest a search party’s lanterns, which in turn conjures up memories
of lost loved ones, people who had slipped beyond one’s grasp and met
Randy Russell and Janet Barnett’s book, “Mountain Ghost Stories,”
revives the tale of a woman named Belinda, who, in the first half of
the 18th century, conceived a child by a fellow named Jim and
apparently had enough family to require that Jim marry her. Belinda’s
folks let her go.
Jim beat Belinda, whose presence had ruined his prospects with Susie,
his true love. When Belinda gave birth, the crisis came to a head.
Perhaps Belinda fled. She and her child disappeared, prompting a search
party, whose progress was halted by a forest fire. Some time later,
local women followed the Brown Mountain lights to the site of two
skeletons, mother and child.
Russell tells how interrogators held the victims’ skulls above Jim’s
head in a folk practice meant to elicit the truth. Jim remained silent.
“Burke County husbands have continued to escape penalty for murdering
their wives,” Daniel Patterson writes about the 1830s in his book, “A
Tree Accurst: Bobby McMillon and Stories of Frankie Silver.”
The same week in 1832 that Frankie Silver was convicted of killing her
husband, Charlie, with an ax, Reuben Southard, a Burke County resident,
was found not guilty of killing his wife with a metal rod. Three years
later, a jury found a local blacksmith not guilty of the murder of his
wife, Charity Norwood, found beaten, cut, and burned in his shop.
Christopher Blake, author of “River of Cliffs: A Linville Gorge
Reader,” delves into Scots-Irish traditions in his paper on the Brown
Mountain lights and quotes 17th-century Scots minister, Robert Kirk.
Dead souls, Kirk wrote in “The Secret Commonwealth,” travel in bodies
of air “through a vehement Desire of revealing a Murther or notable
Injurie done or received, or a Treasure that was forgot in their
Liftyme on Earth.”
Though Josh Warren, local unexplained phenomenon investigator, has
connected the Brown Mountain Lights with geologically stored charges
and produced plasmas, folklore seeks a paranormal counterpoint to a
psychological evil: bad temper.
The Brown Mountain Lights have of old represented the torches of
Cherokee women searching for their husbands in a tragic battle against
the Catawba. Cherokee violence had not so much to do with
territorialism as with “corporate responsibility,” says Barbara Duncan,
Museum of the Cherokee education head and author of “Cherokee Heritage
Trails Guidebook.” The murder of a clan member called for a
Bad temper can trigger chain reactions and create historical episodes.
Why was there a rash of domestic abuse and murder in the 1830s? Why has
dark science fiction become popular recently, with “The X-Files”
imagining supernatural causes for a world gone haywire. On May 8, 1999,
in an episode titled, “Field Trip,” the show blamed the Brown Mountain
Lights and a giant psychotropic fungus for our current mood.
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