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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 creeping-in-the-dark stories as:
- UFO Buzzes Louisville International Airport -
- Dancing Plagues and Mass Hysteria -
- Burmese Pythons Slithering Across South?-
- Of Winged Beasts and Lizard Men -
AND: Stoned Wallabies Could Be Creating Crop Circles
~ And Now, On With The Show! ~
Underground Alien Bio Lab At Dulce - The Bennewitz UFO Papers
IS THE TOWN OF DULCE, NEW MEXICO THE LOCATION OF AN UNDERGROUND BASE GUARDED BY U.S. FORCES AND INHABITED BY A GROUP OF SINISTER EXTRATERRESTRIALS?
It is an absolutely incredible story, says Timothy Green Beckley editor of the Conspiracy Journal. Since the mid to late 1970s there have been all sorts of rumors about an underground laboratory beneath the town of Dulce. . .The UFO Hunters show on the History Channel recently featured the entire saga of what has been taking place on Native American soil, and a few days later George Noory and Coast to Coast AM plunged head first trying to make sense out of the various accounts that have surfaced.
Beckley admits that it is difficult to pin point exactly when this macabre saga started to develop. But he gives credit to an engineer named Paul Bennewitz for getting the ball rolling when Bennewitz says he was called to the area when aliens started to communicate with him over a radio receiver. He had been directed to Dulce after observing UFOs over Kirkland Air Force Bases nuclear storage facility. Standing near the tall cliffs outside Dulce, Bennewitz took a series of photographs showing unidentified craft diving into the mountains through what he claimed were entrance ways that could be opened and closed.
One individual in the U.S. military who was involved in the early stages of this investigation claims he engaged in hand to hand combat with ETs who had taken over level seven of the Dulce Base after a conflict with our soldiers. Another person involved in this epic committed "suicide" -- or was it murder? -shortly after the "Dulce affair" was made public.
Much has been speculated upon regarding this sinister matter. But this is the complete work that contains balanced information and details from all sides. First time ever interview with Paul Bennewitz who was pushed over the edge never to return to sanity.
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MYSTERIES MAGAZINE #23
In This Incredible Issue:
Decoding the Bible
Whether resting on an altar, courtroom podium, or bedroom nightstand, the Holy Bible commands respect. Although the longest debate about its teachings concerns evolution versus creationism, today’s controversy is not generating sermons or atheists’ arguments inasmuch as challenging a standard belief system. The Good Book is getting a closer look from people who are learning that past tragedies, such as 9/11 and the future Apocalypse, may actually be encrypted in this 3,200-year-old text.
Sunspots and the Number 11 in the 2012 Prophesy
Our times are bracketed by two specific dates—September 11, 2001 and
December 21, 2012—the greatest single act of terrorism on the continental United States and the end of the Mayan calendar. If, as some observers suspect, something more than a coincidental relationship exists between these two events, its explanation must lie beyond the powers of ordinary human reason and in the world of numbers.
The Mayan Calendar: Ancient Prophesies for a New World
On December 21, 2012, the world as we know it will cease to exist. This prediction, made thousands of years ago by Mayan shamans, has raised many questions: What does the ancient prophecy mean? Will a cataclysmic event destroy the planet and how and why did the Mayans choose the winter solstice in a year so far into the future? Scholars claim the answers to all these questions are found in the Mayan
The Loch Ness Monster: Hoax or Horror?
Whichever estimate of sightings we accept, be it 600, 3,000, or 10,000, there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that a strange creature inhabits Loch Ness.
Now available at your favorite bookstore or magazine stand.
- NO WONDER MY FLIGHT IS DELAYED DEPARTMENT -
UFO Buzzes Louisville International Airport
Reports of UFOs over Louisville International Airport on June 24 may include multiple sightings from various employees, according to witness testimony from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) database.
A package handler at the airport first heard a report over his radio about 10:30 a.m. that there was a UFO over the North South runway. The man did not see anything at that time, but at 1:55 p.m., he saw a reflection in the sky from the south end of the runway.
“As this object came closer," the witness stated, "I could make out it was rotating and was a cylinder, then was a diamond shape.”
He said the object moved in a straight line over the runway at a slow and steady speed at a point just under the cloud cover, approximately 1,500 feet. The object stopped at the end of the ramp and hovered for 30 to 45 seconds, then moved up into the clouds and disappeared.
Louisville International Airport is both a civil-military and public airport in the city of Louisville, covers about 1,200 acres of land, and has three runways. The field was formerly known as Standiford Field. Kentucky's Air National Guard's 123d Airlift Wing is based here, operating C-130 transport aircraft. UPS also operates there are a hub for its package deliver service.
Please keep in mind that most UFO reports can be explained as something natural or manmade. If Kentucky MUFON investigates and reports back on this case, I will update this page.
The following report is unedited. You can read my selected cases by type of UFO report at the UFO Traffic Report index page.
KY, June 24, 2009 - Slow moving small object rotating, the sun would flash of its surface as it spun.
The time was 11:AM the place Louisville International Airport.
I work for a very large package handling company, I am sure you have seen our vans. I work the air district side, on the ramp. I arrived to work to day 10:30 ish, as I was arriving to the bird I was to be working with today, some guy's came across the radio and started asking everyone if they were seeing this UFO over the North South runway.
Curiosity sent me to the edge of the ramp and take a look, I didn't see anything so I thought some board people were just joking, I went on about my work.
At about 1:55PM I was on the K-Loader for the bird, and I happened to see a reflection in the sky. The reflection was as if someone had a mirror and was trying to signal you. It would flash then be dark and then the sun would catch it and flash again, it was about midway over the runway at this point. I was working at the South end of the runway.
As this object came closer I could make out it was rotating and was a cylinder then was a diamond shape. As it spun horizontally and clockwise the cylinder shape would catch the sun and reflect, but the diamond shape was black.
The speed of the rotation was about 4 times a minute. It continued in a straight line over the runway at a slow and steady speed, it's height was just under the clouds, the puffy white clouds, that were scattered and sparse. Approximate altitude around 1500 feet ASL.
It continued until it reached the very end of our ramp. It then sat in this position for 30 to 45 seconds, then started to ascend above the clouds. At that point I lost visual and it disappeared.
The air traffic was very lite today, and at the time of my sighting there were no airlines landing or taking off from this runway. The object was moving against the wind that I would say was 5 to 8 miles an hour breeze, with lite gusts.
I was wearing hearing protection and didn't think to take them out to try and hear anything. So I can't comment on the sound or non-sound it may have made. But there were no sounds that I am not used to hearing at the airport, and when the airport was quiet, as it was during my sighting.
Source: The Examiner
- JUST GOTTA DANCE DEPARTMENT -
Dancing Plagues and Mass Hysteria
The year was 1374. In dozens of medieval towns scattered along the valley of the River Rhine hundreds of people were seized by an agonising compulsion to dance. Scarcely pausing to rest or eat, they danced for hours or even days in succession. They were victims of one of the strangest afflictions in Western history. Within weeks the mania had engulfed large areas of north-eastern France and the Netherlands, and only after several months did the epidemic subside. In the following century there were only a few isolated outbreaks of compulsive dancing. Then it reappeared, explosively, in the city of Strasbourg in 1518. Chronicles indicate that it then consumed about 400 men, women and children, causing dozens of deaths (Waller, 2008).
Not long before the Strasbourg dancing epidemic, an equally strange compulsion had gripped a nunnery in the Spanish Netherlands. In 1491 several nuns were ‘possessed’ by devilish familiars which impelled them to race around like dogs, jump out of trees in imitation of birds or miaow and claw their way up tree trunks in the manner of cats. Such possession epidemics were by no means confined to nunneries, but nuns were disproportionately affected (Newman, 1998). Over the next 200 years, in nunneries everywhere from Rome to Paris, hundreds were plunged into states of frantic delirium during which they foamed, screamed and convulsed, sexually propositioned exorcists and priests, and confessed to having carnal relations with devils or Christ.
These events may sound wildly improbable, but there is clear documentary evidence that they did in fact happen. The dancing plagues were independently described by scores of physicians, chroniclers, monks and priests, and for the 1518 outbreak we can even read the panicky municipal orders written by the Strasbourg authorities at the time of the epidemic (Midelfort, 1999; Waller, 2008). Similarly, trial documents and the archives of the inquisition provide copious, in-depth accounts of nuns doing and saying the strangest of things (Sluhovsky, 2002).
Writers then and now have offered various interpretations of these strange and sometimes deadly crises. It has been suggested that the dancing maniacs of 1374 and 1518 were members of a heretical dancing cult. Contemporary observers, however, made clear their view that the dancing was a sickness. Nor did the Church, at a time when heresies were quickly suppressed, believe the dancers to be anything but victims of a terrible affliction, natural or divine. In recent decades a vogue for simple biological explanations has inspired the view that epidemic madnesses of the past were caused by the ingestion of ergot, a mould containing psychotropic chemicals (Backman, 1952; Matossian, 1989).
But scholarship in the fields of psychology, history and anthropology provides compelling evidence that the dancing plagues and the possession epidemics of Europe’s nunneries were in fact classic instances of a very different phenomenon: mass psychogenic illness.
An important clue to the cause of these bizarre outbreaks lies in the fact that they appear to have involved dissociative trance, a condition involving (among other things) a dramatic loss of self-control. It is hard to imagine people dancing for several days, with bruised and bloodied feet, except in an altered state of consciousness. But we also have eyewitness evidence that they were not fully conscious. Onlookers spoke of the dancing maniacs of 1374 as wild, frenzied and seeing visions. One noted that while ‘they danced their minds were no longer clear’ and another spoke of how, having wearied themselves through dancing and jumping, they went ‘raging like beasts over the land’ (Backman, 1952). The hundreds of possessed nuns described in chronicles, legal records, theological texts or the archives of the Catholic Inquisition were equally subject to dissociative trance (Newman, 1998; Rosen, 1968). Some may have simulated the behaviour of the demoniac as a means of eliciting positive attention (Walker, 1981), but the detailed descriptions of astute and cautious inquisitors leave little doubt that most were genuinely entranced.
How might we explain these epidemics of dissociation? Ergot could have induced hallucinations and convulsions in nuns who ate bread made from contaminated flour, but it is highly unlikely that ergotism would cause remorseless bouts of dancing (Berger, 1931). Nor is there any evidence that what the victims of mass possession ate or drank made any difference. Rather, as explained below, there are very strong indications that fearful and depressed communities were unusually prone to epidemic possession. And given that there is a well-established link between psychological stress and dissociation, this correlation is immediately suggestive of mass psychogenic illness.
Fear and loathing
The years preceding the dancing epidemics were exceptional in their harshness. The 1374 outbreak maps on to the areas most severely affected, earlier in the same year, by one of the worst floods of the century. Chronicles tell of the waters of the Rhine rising 34 feet, of flood waters pouring over town walls, of homes and market places submerged, and of decomposing horses bobbing along watery streets (Backman, 1952). In the decade before the dancing plague of 1518, famine, sickness and terrible cold caused widespread despair in Strasbourg and its environs (Rapp, 1974). Bread prices reached their highest levels for a generation, thousands of starving farmers and vine growers arrived at the city gates, and old killers like leprosy and the plague were joined by a terrifying new affliction named syphilis.
These were intensely traumatic times. Nuns were protected from many of the indignities of daily life, but nunneries could also become toxic psychological environments. Even in well-managed communities, some nuns were inevitably unhappy. Sisters were often consigned to lives of quiet contemplation in accordance with the wishes of their parents rather than any conspicuous piety on their own part. Once inside the cloisters it was very hard for them to get out. But those who keenly embraced the spiritual life were often the most desperate. Tormented by a feeling of falling short of the exacting standards of holiness imposed by their orders, plenty reflected with terrible fear on the fiery destiny awaiting those impure in mind or deed.
A notable example is that of Jeanne des Anges, Mother Superior of the Loudun nunnery in southern France, who became infatuated with a local priest, Father Grandier, in the year 1627. ‘When I did not see him’, she later confessed, ‘I burned with desire for him.’ In consequence, Jeanne felt overwhelming worthlessness and guilt. After weeks of painful penance and introspection, she fell into a dissociative state during which she repeatedly accused Grandier of plotting with Satan to make her lust after him. Within days, several more nuns had followed suit, all deliriously pointing the finger at the hapless priest. After an investigation by the Inquisition, Grandier was burnt alive (de Certeau, 2000). As in the case of the Loudun nunnery, a deep, guilty longing for human intimacy could trigger collective breakdowns. This is in part why, during their possession attacks, dissociating nuns often behaved with alarming lewdness: lifting their habits, simulating copulation, and giving their demons names such as Dog’s Dick, Fornication, even Ash-Coloured Pussy. Guilt and desire could drive a nun to distraction (Sluhovsky, 2002).
The fortitude of many a nun was most severely tested during the evangelical reform movement that swept their communities from the early 1400s. Striving to restore the harsh spiritual codes of earlier centuries, reformers instructed the nuns to consume only the blandest fare, to spurn all vanity, to adopt exacting regimes of abstinence and self-abasement, and to meditate routinely on the evils of Satan and the flames of Hell. Often the younger daughters of nobles or rich burghers, many nuns did not adjust well to tasteless meals, pillow-less beds and evenings bereft of music and conversation. Hence the arrival of reformist Mother Superiors precipitated a significant number of mass possessions. Take, for example, the Ursuline nuns of Auxonne in eastern France who experienced a possession crisis in 1658 after the appointment of the evangelical Barbe Buvée to their nunnery. For several years, distressed and dissociating nuns accused her of being a witch, of killing babies and of being a lesbian. Barbe Buvée was exonerated but judiciously assigned to an alternative nunnery. The possession crisis petered out (Sluhovsky, 2002).
Mass possession also affected secular communities, and here too the role of stress is abundantly clear. The girls whose ‘grievous fits’ and ‘hideous clamors and screeching’ set off the Salem witch panic in New England in 1692 were the members of a community rent by factional strife (Demos, 1983). They were also terrified of attacks by the Native American tribes which had already slaughtered the parents and relatives of several of those at the heart of the witchcraft accusations (Norton, 2003).
Fear and anguish were the common denominators of dancing plagues and possession crises. But this is only part of the story.
Rude devils and cursing saints
Studies of possession cults in hundreds of modern cultures, from Haiti to the Arctic, reveal that people are more likely to experience dissociative trance if they already believe in the possibility of spirit possession (Rouget, 1985). Minds can be prepared, by learning or passive exposure, to shift into altered states. The anthropologist Erika Bourguignon (1991) speaks of an ‘environment of belief’, the set of accepted ideas about the spirit world that members of communities absorb, thus preparing them later to achieve the possession state. It is not necessary, however, to be formally trained. The dancers of 1374 and 1518 occupied an environment of belief that accepted the threat of divine curse, possession or bewitchment. They didn’t intend to enter trance-like states, but their metaphysical beliefs made it possible for them to do so.
Similarly, it is only by taking cultural context seriously that we can explain the striking epidemiological facts that possession crises so often struck religious houses and that men were far less often the victims of mass diabolical possession. The daily lives of nuns were saturated in a mystical supernaturalism, their imaginations vivid with devils, demons, Satanic familiars and wrathful saints. They believed implicitly in the possibility of possession and so made themselves susceptible to it. Evangelical Mother Superiors often made them more vulnerable by encouraging trance and ecstasy; mind-altering forms of worship prepared them for later entering involuntary possession states. Moreover, early modern women were imbued with the idea that as the tainted heirs of Eve they were more liable to succumb to Satan, a misogynistic trope that often heightened their suggestibility.
So when one especially distressed nun began to faint, foam, convulse and speak in strange tongues, there was always a chance that the more suggestible of her sisters would begin to experience the same kind of dissociation, convinced that Satan was stalking their cloisters in search of impure souls.
Modern anthropology and psychology also reveal how beliefs and expectations can shape the individual’s experience of dissociation. In societies where people are encouraged to enter trance states so as to make contact with a spirit world, they typically behave in ways prescribed by their cultures (Katz, 1982; Sharp, 1993). We have every reason to think that the victims of dancing plagues and possession epidemics were also acting in accordance with the rich theology of their worlds.
That the dancing plagues were reliant on cultural belief-systems is apparent from the fact that they were concentrated in just those communities where we know there to have been a pre-existing belief in the possibility of dancing curses being sent down from Heaven or Hell. In 1374 the dancers believed that Satan had unleashed an irresistible dance, hence they not only danced interminably, but also begged for divine intercession, hurried to holy sites, and submitted gladly to exorcism (Backman, 1952). The people of Strasbourg in 1518 were convinced that a saint called Vitus had unleashed a dancing curse (Martin, 1914; Waller, 2008). And so, having entered the possession state, it seems that they acted according to the conventions of the St Vitus myth: dancing for days on end. The dance turned epidemic, as it had in 1374, because each new victim lent further credibility to the belief in supernatural agency. Indeed, the Strasbourg epidemic exemplifies the awesome power of suggestion: the city authorities ensured that the outbreak got out of control by having the dancers gathered together and left to dance in some of the most public spaces in the city (Waller, 2008).
Theological conventions also conditioned the behaviour of demoniac nuns. This is apparent from the fact that nearly all possession epidemics occurred within a single 300-year period, from around 1400 to the early 1700s. The reason is that only during this period did religious writers insist that such events were possible (Newman 1998). Theologians, inquisitors and exorcists established the rules of mass demonic possession to which dissociating nuns then unconsciously conformed: writhing, foaming, convulsing, dancing, laughing, speaking in tongues and making obscene gestures and propositions. These were shocking but entirely stereotypical performances based on deep-seated beliefs about Satan’s depravity drawn from religious writings and from accounts of previous possessions. For centuries, then, distress and pious fear worked in concert to produce epidemics of dancing and possession.
Body and mind
In 1749 a German nunnery in Würzburg experienced an epidemic of screaming, squirming and trance which led to the beheading of a suspected witch. By this period, however, the dancing plagues had disappeared and possession crises were rarities. The incidence of possession declined with the rise of modern rationalism (Bartholomew, 2001). Thereafter, mass outbreaks of dissociation tended to be confined to harshly managed settings such as factories and schools, and to be triggered by groundless fears of poisoning or exposure to toxic chemicals (see box opposite). For a variety of reasons, even these outbreaks are now uncommon in the Western world.
But the dancing plagues and the experiences of demoniac nuns still have something to tell us about human responses to stress. For these events place in bold relief the extraordinary power of context to shape how anguish and fear are expressed. What the historian Edward Shorter calls the ‘symptom pool’ for psychosomatic illness has varied significantly over time and between cultures (Shorter, 1992), and the changing incidences of conversion disorder, somatoform disorder and dissociative trance are all attributable, at least in part, to shifting norms and expectations (Nandi et al., 1992). Madnesses of the past of course tell us much about the worlds that sustained them. But wild epidemics of dancing and possession can also serve as powerful reminders of the instability of many psychiatric conditions.
John Waller is in the Department of History at Michigan State University, and is the author of A Time to Dance, a Time to Di firstname.lastname@example.org
Even if dancing plagues are things of the past, mass psychogenic illness (MPI) remains a part of the human condition. MPI has been defined as the ‘collective occurrence of physical symptoms and related beliefs among two or more persons in the absence of an identifiable pathogen’ (Colligan & Murphy, 1982). Simon Wessely (1987) has usefully separated outbreaks of MPI into two different kinds: ‘mass anxiety hysteria’ and ‘mass motor hysteria’.
Mass anxiety hysteria usually involves the sudden expression of intense anxiety in response to a false threat. In Western settings, plausible fears of poisoning or exposure to toxic chemicals have been known to trigger classic stress-reactions such as fainting, nausea, weakness and hyperventilation. In a school in Blackburn in 1965, for instance, as many as 141 pupils were affected by psychogenic dizziness, nausea, spasms and shortness of breath after several girls had publicly fainted (Bartholomew & Wessely, 2002). Unless the initial fear is given credibility by the media or authorities, cases of mass anxiety hysteria seldom last more than a few days.
Mass motor hysteria, in contrast, typically requires a prolonged build-up of psychological tension which then manifests itself in dissociative states, conversion symptoms and other psychomotor abnormalities. These can persist for weeks or months. Such outbreaks are often shaped by the kinds of supernaturalist beliefs that were responsible for the dancing mania and the possession crises of European nunneries. In modern-day Malaysia and Singapore, for example, factory workers are often drawn from rural communities steeped in beliefs about the spirit world. Those who find it hard to adjust to the regimentation of factory life sometimes enter a dissociative state in which they behave in a manner shaped by their culture’s understanding of spirit possession. MPI may arise where fellow-workers share the same beliefs and are also experiencing severe psychological strain. These outbreaks are often brought to an end with a religious ritual involving the slaughter of a goat (Phoon, 1982).
In both Western and non-Western settings, mass motor hysteria usually occurs in schools. In 1962, for example, several girls at a mission school near Lake Tanganyika developed a compulsion to laugh and cry by turns. The affliction soon spread to neighbouring populations (Rankin & Philip, 1963). Similar outbreaks of laughing have been recorded in both Zambia and Uganda. In fact, schools in central Africa are especially prone to outbreaks of mass motor hysteria. Late in 2008 several girls in a Tanzanian school responded to the pressure of taking important exams by dissociating: some fainted, while other sobbed, yelled or ran around the school.
In other cases, conversion symptoms predominate. Thus in 2006 around 600 students in an emotionally austere all-girls school in Mexico City developed paralysis and nausea lasting days or weeks. Analogous forms of MPI have been described in European and North American schools. In a school in North Carolina in 2002 a dozen pupils experienced seizures or other paroxysmal episodes over the course of four months (Roach and Langley, 2004). In many such cases, the victims receive extensive medical treatment before a failure to identify a pathogenic cause leads to a diagnosis of MPI.
More properly described as ‘mass hysteria’ are cases in which groups of people act upon beliefs which gain exaggerated credence in times of social and economic distress. For example, parts of south-east Asia are periodically struck by epidemics of a fear among men and women that their genitals are shrinking into their bodies. ‘Koro’ is fuelled by a belief in the existence of an evil spirit that causes genital retraction. Death is said to ensue once the penis, nipples or vulva have fully disappeared into the body: hence men have been known to drive pegs through their penises in the attempt to prevent complete retraction (Bartholomew, 2001). A similar phenomenon has been recorded in parts of western Africa where men claim their penises to have been shrunk or stolen through evil magic. Individuals accused of stealing or shrinking genitals are sometimes beaten to death or lynched: at least 14 suspected penis-thieves were killed in Nigeria in 2001 (Dzokoto & Adams, 2005).
Mass anxiety hysteria and mass motor hysteria can be hard to distinguish from the effects of actual exposure to environmental hazards. Experts have therefore identified several features that are indicative of a psychogenic origin for a sudden outbreak of illness symptoms in a group of people. These include the lack of a plausible organic basis, their occurrence in a relatively closed group, and the prior existence of high levels of stress. It is always necessary, however, to test fully for potential toxic or pathogenic exposures. This point is underscored by a case in 1990 when several children at a London primary school fell sick with typical symptoms of MPI: nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain and over-breathing. It looked like a classic case of hysteria. However, it turned out that they were actually suffering from poisoning from pesticides used on cucumbers (Bartholomew, 2001).
Source: The Psychologist
- KEEP A WATCH ON THE KIDS AND PETS DEPARTMENT -
Burmese Pythons Slithering Across South?
Experts test snakes caught in Florida to see how they fare farther north.
AIKEN, S.C. - One by one, seven slithering Burmese pythons were dumped into a snake pit surrounded by 400 feet of reinforced fence at the Savannah River Ecology Lab in South Carolina.
As they were released last week by a handful of scientists, some of the serpents hissed and lunged, baring their fangs. Others coiled up under the brush. Two slid into a pond in the center of the pit, disappearing in a snaking trail of bubbles. Some were more than 10 feet long and thicker than a forearm. And for the next year all of them will call this snake pit — an enclosed area of tangled brush and trees — home.
Ecologists will track the exotic pythons, all captured in Florida, to determine if they can survive in climates a few hundred miles to the north. Using implanted radio transmitters and data recorders, the scientists will monitor the pythons' body temperature and physical condition.
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The test could show whether the giant imported snakes, which can grow up to lengths of 25 feet, are able to spread throughout the Southeast.
The fast-growing population of snakes has been invading southern Florida's ecosystem since 1992, when scientists speculate a bevy of Burmese pythons was released into the wild after Hurricane Andrew shattered many pet shop terrariums.
Now scientists fear this invasive species is silently slithering northward.
"They of course have an impact on native species," said herpetologist Whit Gibbons, a professor of ecology at the University of Georgia and a member of the python project. "If you have a big old python eating five times as much as another species that eats the same prey, it's a competitive thing." The pythons compete with alligators, among other top predators.
Gibbons said a human is "just another prey item" to a python — especially a small human. Pythons are constrictor snakes and have been known to eat people in their native areas of Southeast Asia, he added.
"A 20-foot python, if it grabbed one of us, would bite us and then within just — instantly — seconds, it would be wrapped all the way around you and squeezing the life out of you," Gibbons said.
While pythons don't make a habit of attacking people and most aren't large enough to eat a person, Gibbons called the possibility a "nightmare."
"What about the first kitty cat they eat? Or the first little poodle? They'd love poodles, I imagine," he said.
Mike Dorcas, a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina, has sliced open pythons in Florida to find the remains of white-tailed deer, bobcats and large birds.
Dorcas is leading the experiment at the Savannah River Ecology Lab as part of a collaboration between the U.S. Geological Service, the National Park Service and the University of Florida.
He was prompted by a study released last year showing that the native habitat of Burmese pythons in Asia is a climate match for much of the southeastern U.S.
"The question is really, well, can they survive in a place like South Carolina or North Carolina or Arkansas or Tennessee?" Dorcas said.
One day before releasing the pythons into the pit, Dorcas snapped on latex gloves and surgically implanted radio transmitters into all seven. The transmitters enable scientists to keep track of the pythons' location and allow them to hunt down any that manage to escape.
All test subjects are male
What are the chances of escape? "We never want to say never. We've made the enclosure as snake-proof as possible but we've taken some other precautions," Dorcas said, noting that all of the pythons are males, so they wouldn't be able to reproduce.
The ecologists also inserted micro data loggers into each snake to record the internal temperature of the python every hour. After a year, Dorcas will remove the chips and download the information into a computer to discover how the snakes thermoregulate in a cooler climate.
Pythons are masters of disguise — slippery and quick — and all but one of the serpents was invisible within minutes of being deposited into the pit.
So counting pythons in the wild is a daunting task. Scientists don't have an accurate estimate of how many pythons are in Florida.
"It's certainly in the thousands, or tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands," said Gibbons.
- THE FRIEND WHO LIVES IN MY CLOSET DEPARTMENT -
Invizikids: Imaginary Childhood Friends
Childhood is the Roman Coliseum of imagination, the Grand Old Opry of fantasy. When we are children we mentally create that which we cannot appropriate in the flesh, and, further, imbue it with a life that adult fantasies can never achieve.
Ask any psychologist; that’s why children create what are usually referred to as “imaginary friends”, right? Well, maybe in some cases. But not all. No sirree. I had two “imaginary” childhood friends when I was a toddler. One was called Maureen, the other Elizabeth. To this day I am convinced that they were more - far more – than fantasies.
Ask anyone who has ever heard of the phenomenon what precipitates it and you will likely receive one of two stock answers. Most psychologists argue that youngsters create imaginary friends when they are short of siblings to interact with. If you ain’t got a brother, make one. Short of a sister? Build one in your head.
Of course, this may well hold true in some cases, but my research has shown me that the majority of “imaginary” friends actually belong to children who already have siblings, and it is at this juncture that the second explanation usually raises its head.
“Ah”, say the psycho-sages, “When there are brothers and sisters at home taking all the attention then kids will invent an imaginary playmate that they can ‘keep to themselves’ and don’t have to share.”
So they you have it. Kids with allegedly imaginary friends invent them either because they have no siblings or because they do have them. This is an argument which, I would venture, pretty much sows up all the possibilities, but it is flawed. Why? For it is built upon the premise that “imaginary” childhood friends really are imaginary and arrogantly ignores many other explanations.
I have interviewed nearly one hundred people from numerous continents and countries, all of whom had (or have) allegedly imaginary friends. What struck me, first of all, was a number of constants which always seem to present themselves.#
For instance, these ‘non-corporeal companions’ or NCCs as I prefer to call them, almost always fit neatly into one of four clearly-defined categories. More of that later. Another bizarre feature is the way that many NCCs seem to possess names which we may call “double-barrelled repetitives” A woman from the Philippines used to have an NCC called “Gardu-Gardu”. A youngster from South Yorkshire said his NCC was called Bally-Bally. A Bangladeshi youth I interviewed called his NCC Manno-Manno.
In June 2006 I gave a lecture at a conference in St. Annes-on Sea. An American chap in the audience raised his hand in astonishment and told me that his NCC had been called Likki-Likki. This double-barrelled repetitive was a universal constant during my research; not present in every case, but present enough times to make its significance obvious.
There are other constants connected to nomenclature. Many NCCs, for example, have names which are curiously dislocated from their own culture or gender. I encountered a Native American tribal chief called Brian, a boxer called Doris, a teenager known as Spider and a New York policeman called Mr. Marbles. Eventually I concluded that the bizarre naming system attendant to NCCs is so distinct that it almost certainly forms part of their “culture”.
I discovered other constants. NCCs never hurt their corporeal friends, but will sometimes frighten them. They often dish out “advice” or “counsel” to experients, and their appearances seem to be dictated by a fixed set of rules.
NCCs only seem to appear to experients between the age of 3 and the onset of puberty. They never appear to more than one experient (although it is just possible they may appear to other experients at different times who do not know each other) and they are always very vague about their origins when questioned.
These constants become even more apparent when we look at the four aforementioned categories of NCC that I have been able to identify.
Type 1: The Invizikids
Invisible (to everyone but the experient) “imaginary” children comprise the most common order of NCC. They look and act like perfectly normal children and, about 70% of the time, have common names which are perfectly at home within the cultural setting of the experient. 30% of the time they will have a name which is a double-barrelled repetitive.
Invizikids will play games and engage in other activities with experients. They will also eat, drink, cough, sneeze and burp. In fact, the only things that distinguish them from corporeal youngsters are a) that they are invisible to everyone else, and b) that they can appear and disappear at will.
When Invizikids do their disappearing act it will normally take one of two forms. Some Type-1 NCCs will remain visible to the experient when another person enters the room. Whilst they are present the experient may see them whilst others cannot. This implies that their ability to become invisible is selective. Others will always become invisible to the experient too, suggesting that whilst some NCCs can choose who they become invisible to at any given time, others only have the ability to be either invisible or invisible to everyone at once.
Whenever experients question their Type-1 NCC about their origins, such as asking them where they live, or where they come from, the NCC will always be vague. Typically they’ll answer, “From far away”, or “From another place”. Curiously they may also claim to live on a vehicle which is always on the move, which also makes it difficult to ascertain where they hail from. One youngster told me that his Type-1 NCC “lived on a big red bus”.
Type-2: The Elementals
Type-2 NCCs almost always live out-of-doors, often by the coast and in remote areas where, presumably, they are unlikely to be seen. They will often be described as “little goblins”, “pixies” or such like. Unlike Type-1 NCCs, who are always conventionally-sized, Type-2 NCCs are typically between 30 – 50cm in height.
Type-2 NCCs tend to be named with either a double-barrelled repetitive or a bizarre title. Mol-Mol, Koddy-Koddy, Ball Eagle and Wumpy are examples I’ve come across. They generally appear distant or remote to their corporeal friends. They are not unfriendly, but they don’t make conversation as readily and tend not to smile very much.
Like Type-1 NCCs, Type-3s can appear and disappear at will. However, they tend to do this less often. This may be because they inhabit remote areas where, when they are interacting with an experient, they are far less likely to be interrupted by a third party.
A unique feature of Type-2 NCCs is that they may appear in multiple numbers to experients.
Type-3: The Animals
Type-3 NCCs look like conventional animals and are proportionately-sized. Like Type-1 NCCs they appear “normal”. If you could see a Type-3 rat, dog or cat, for instance, you may never know that it was an NCC unless it suddenly disappeared in front of you. Like Type-1 NCCs they can also appear and disappear at will.
Type-3 NCCs have a unique feature; they can almost always talk in the language of the experient and are quite happy to engage them in conversation. Intriguingly, although Type-3s only ever appear to the primary experient, they are often heard by others in the vicinity. This is interesting, for it suggests that NCCs may not be a subjective experience created in the mind of the experient, but may well have an objective reality.
Type-4: The Wackies
Wackies comprise the most bizarre of the four NCC orders, and also the least well-known. Like other types they will appear and disappear at will, but it is their appearance that distinguishes them markedly.
Wackies come in two distinct types; Sages and Animates. Sages are human-like but typically dress in an exotic manner and tend to display distinct cultural characteristics. Almost always this will be a culture different to that of the experient. They may appear as a Native American warrior, a Buddha-like sage or a Chinese mandarin, etc. Sages may also only show themselves from the waist up (one youngster told me that his “Eskimo” NCC would appear from the waist up at floor level, looking as if his legs were buried in the ground.) Sage-like Wackies always appear as adults, never children. Typically they will dispense pearls of wisdom to their young experients, often urging them never to steal, get angry or hurt others.
Animates share many of the characteristics of Sages, but their appearance is radically different. Curiously, Animates will appear as every-day household objects that suddenly grow arms and legs (but rarely heads). During my research I have came across yoghurt cartons, banana skins, wall-mounted radiators and candle-holders which have suddenly taken on a life of their own and spoken to their presumably startled witnesses.
Like other orders of NCC, Type-4s will either have human names such as Walter, Ethel of Cindy, or, again, double-barrelled repetitives like Mook-Mook, Kobby-Kobby or Fudda-Fudda. It is this common denominator which urges me to include animates within the family tree of Non-Corporeal Companions.
One characteristic typical of Type-4 Animates is that they usually only appear when the experient is at a low ebb psychologically. When the child witness is unhappy, worried or depressed a nearby object will burst into life, grow arms and legs and offer words of comfort.
Animates have a curious habit of leaving behind essentially useless “gifts” for experients, such as a pile of biscuit crumbs on the carpet, a small ball of coloured fluff or a dried leaf.
Curiosities of the NCC Phenomenon
When I was a child I had two Type-1 NCCs. They never appeared together except when we moved house. Just before we vacated the premises for the last time they both appeared simultaneously to bid me farewell. However, they never interacted with each other and seemed completely unaware of each other’s presence. I remember them actually talking over the top of each other. I never saw them again.
NCCs are distinctly place-centred. If you relocate they will stay behind. However, even this characteristic needs some investigation. A Philippina [sic] woman told me that her young cousin had a Type-1 NCC that always appeared to her in a particular grove of mango trees. The cousin eventually relocated to another city, and, one day, went for a walk to familiarise herself with her new environment. Eventually she stumbled upon a mango grove very similar to the one back home where she had encountered her NCC. To her astonishment her NCC appeared and started to talk to her. This begs the question; are NCCs tied to a particular geographical location or, as it seems in this case, a particular type of location?
As a child I used to insist that my mother set a place at the table for either Maureen or Elizabeth. I can recall seeing them eat their food with gusto, but my mother’s recollection is different. She remembers taking out the untouched plate of food into the kitchen.
I sometimes wonder if I was experiencing two different realities simultaneously. In Reality A, Maureen/Elizabeth was present and ate her food. In Reality B, she was absent and the food set out for her was wasted. I can’t be sure, but it’s a thought.
Sometimes NCCs let their guard slip and their presence becomes obvious to others. I remember on one occasion passing a ball back and forth across the lounge floor with Elizabeth. Suddenly my grandmother entered the room just in time to see the ball roll away from me, come to an abrupt halt and then roll back to where I was sitting. She could not see Elizabeth, but her face was a picture.
To be honest I do not know where NCCs come from and I have no fixed ideas as yet regarding their nature. I simply know they exist. They may be the spirits of the dead or creatures from another dimension. Perhaps they are something else entirely.
I have never found anything remotely sinister about this baffling phenomenon, although the refusal of NCCs to disclose anything about their origins could be viewed as a little disturbing. We may never get to the bottom of the mystery, but for me it doesn’t matter. I simply accept NCCs on their own terms and believe they may even play a vital part in our development into adulthood.
What fascinates me more than anything else is that, despite the universal prevalence of the NCC phenomenon, it has attracted very little attention. Studies available on the Internet are almost all governed by the “psychological” approach, that NCCs are the product of the mind of a lonely child.
People are normally disturbed by the idea that their house may be haunted, and yet they accept without the slightest reticence the notion that their child may be talking to an invisible entity. Is this because they don’t believe that their child’s “imaginary” friend really exists, or because they sense that the phenomenon, whatever its nature, is essentially harmless?
They say that “an only child is a lonely child”. Maybe, just maybe, there aren’t so many lonely children around as we’ve hitherto imagined.
- STORIES FROM AROUND THE CAMPFIRE DEPARTMENT -
River Monster Tales
So I have now returned to the northern hemisphere and summer has brought fruition to the greening of spring. Swimming pools are filled with the exuberance of youth, anglers are hitching their boats, and the Illinois River is once again the primary destination for the canoe enthusiast.
They come from all across the state, and the country, and all over the world to experience the delight of a slow, cool “float” down the Green Country Highway. They come to camp and float, they come to picnic and float, they come to fish and float. They come in cars, they come in campers, and they come – and I’m not kidding – on motorcycles. They come to see the clear waters, they come to see old friends, and they come to see the monster. Monster? Yeah, that’s right, the monster. “Soppy,” the now legendary Illinois River Monster.
I was born, and have lived most of my life, in Tahlequah. During the summers while I was in high school and college, I worked at several “float places” on the Illinois River and obtained a considerable knowledge of the stream and its characteristics. At one time, I was one of the few people capable of completing “night floats.” The moon on the water being the only light (a must for the night float) and the utter tranquility that comes with the absence of humanity, leaving only the sound of the river and living nature, are memories I will treasure the remainder of my time on this planet.
In summer 1982, a number of my aunts and uncles had come from Kansas and set up camp at one of the larger establishments on the upper Illinois on State Highway 10. I was awash in kith, kin, and cousins, to the tune of 20 or more. So, I put them all in canoes, as was their wish, and sent them down the river. Several hours later, they all returned happy and hungry, with a wish, to repeat the experience on the ‘morrow.
I told them I would be happy to send them down again and suggested to the cousins a night float. They were all agreed, and the next day I sent the aunts and uncles, along with the younger cousins, downstream. That evening as the sun was sinking below the tree line, I put three boats of older cousins in the water and off we went. The moon was near full and the effect was that of an old black-and-white silent film. The trees shook silver in the breeze and the naked gravel banks shone white against the dark river. The only sound was the rippling of the passing water and the occasional thump of a paddle on the side of a boat.
All was serene until we heard what sounded like footsteps. Something was creeping down the right bank. Just out of sight, in the darkness of the tree lined shore. I told the cousins that it was in all probability a farmer’s cow, but I wasn’t so sure. I had seen cows come to the water, but there were fences, and this was an unlikely time to see a thirsty bovine. Whatever it was continued to follow us, and after 30 minutes I was convinced, by the wet hair standing on the back of my neck, that we were being tracked.
I did my best not to alarm the cousins and discouraged an attempt to beach the boats and investigate. We were only going four miles, About a quarter of a mile from our landing, the mysterious footfalls and rustling foliage faded into the forest. We loaded our boats, I accepted the thanks of my family and we motored up old No. 10 to the campsite.
I am not the only Okie with a tale on Soppy. On Aug. 1, 1990, a woman living in a mobile home near Eldon reported to Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department she heard noises, noticed a bad smell, and saw a creature about 10 feet tall and about 400 pounds. A deputy investigated and found impressions big enough to place both his feet in. Just two days later, an 8-year-old girl and her mother described a creature 8 feet tall with dark brown, frizzy hair and standing on two feet rummaging through a trash pile near their house. There have been several reports in this area since the early ‘70s.
On Feb. 5, 1996, a man living in the Vian Bottoms, about two to three miles north of the Arkansas River, saw a black figure moving in and out of the trees. He said it looked to be about 8 feet tall, huge, muscular build, with very long stringy hair, and walked upright on two legs.
In April of 2000, two friends canoeing the Illinois River had stopped at a designated camp point and something approximately 8 feet tall, dark brown in color, and covered in hair except for areas of the face and hands walked out of the woods. It began to cross the river, turning while in the stream to look at them, and then walked into the woods on the other side of the river. They investigated the area where the animal crossed and found tracks that were deeply imprinted in the soil.
A woman driving near Green Leaf Lake on Nov. 18, 2001, saw something cross the road in front of her. She said it was about 6-1/2 feet tall, with long, dark hair except for the face area, and had a thick build. She described the creature further as looking “like a person with hair.”
In October of 2005, Tahlequah 911 received a call at about 6 a.m. one morning from a man near the Welling bridge who said he had just seen what he believed to be Bigfoot. It was 7 feet tall and hairy, and from the anatomy it appeared to be female.
There is a woman who lives in the Pumpkin Hollow area who says she and her relatives have been “spotlighting” similar creatures for years. She says the animals smell of berries and urine. A woman living in Lost City has reported that three generations of her family has seen the hairy, smelly creature, and that it seems to be fond of children.
One of the most popular areas for Bigfoot sightings is the southeastern Oklahoma community of Honobia. In October 2006, a documentary film crew from Kansas visited Cherokee and Adair counties to interview the local citizenry about sightings and engage in a Bigfoot hunt with the Green Country Bigfoot Research Center. Afterward, they traveled to Honobia, near Talahina, for that community’s annual Bigfoot festival.
In July 2008, a woman living in an area known as Murphy’s Hill, near 14-Mile Creek, said she was receiving a curious and regular visitor that was “getting bolder” and “coming out in the daytime.” She said one “Sunday afternoon the wind shifted, and we smelled it.” She said she went into the yard and found the door to her dogs’ pen broken almost in half. And, that the dogs get really quiet when this thing is around. The previous February, a friend had moved into the trailer next to hers and soon after, he said he heard a deep, low growl and something shook his trailer. One evening the two of them were outside when they saw something tall and furry run between the trailers. They went inside and shortly heard a bang on the door and the sound of heavy footsteps running away.
This creature has lived in Oklahoma for generations. There are old stories among the Cheyenne of seeing the wild man traveling with the herds of buffalo. The old Cherokee called it Tsul ‘Kalu – the slant-eyed or sloping giant.
The Chickasaw chief Tishomingo hinted at the humanity of the Sasquatch: “Why do you want to hunt the wild men? My children, they are a tribe even as are we. They have families, hunt, fish, and procreate. Leave them alone and they will leave us alone.” The Comanche chief War Shield agreed, but added a dire warning: “Nothing that is said, or accused toward the hairy brothers of the forests, will cause them to leave their homes; they deal with the round eyes the same as we, they will kill the round eyes to protect their home.”
So, here we are again at the birth of another summer and the search begins anew. In May, a couple of dozen researchers again descended on Oklahoma, hoping to catch a glimpse of Soppy and his “cousins.” Equipped with night-vision goggles, long-range lenses, sensitive audio recorders, and an unshakeable belief in the existence of the yet unproven Bigfoot, they come. They come in cars, they come in campers.
Source: Tahlequah Daily Press
- TALES OF THE WEIRD DEPARTMENT -
Of Winged Beasts and Lizard Men
In a previous column, we took a look at the thunderbirds, the legendary large winged creatures that are believed to fly above the skies of the Western states. Various American Indian tribes knew about these awesome creatures and told myths and legends about their mysterious powers.
But it seems that the thunderbirds could also inhabit the eastern part of North America as well. One of them apparently provided a nasty scare for an unsuspecting man.
According to a Web site, this man, who wanted to stay anonymous, was driving on a rural two-lane highway just outside of the town of Clendenin, W.Va. one morning in early October 2007. It was about 8 a.m.
Suddenly, the man had to hit his brakes when he was confronted by the sight of a giant flying creature in the middle of the road. The huge bird was only a few yards ahead of him and it was feeding on some road kill. The witness, who is an avid hunter, was startled by the size of the creature. He estimated it stood at least 4 feet tall and it's head extended above the roofline of his vehicle.
He described the large bird as being covered with very dark brown or black feathers. It had a large head and its long neck appeared to be slightly crooked. The beak was very long and the eyes were quite dark. But the most impressive thing about this animal was its massive wingspan. It was easily as wide as the two-lane road upon which it stood, according to the online report.
"It had a very muscular upper torso and the wings were as if they were its arms," said the man.
The startled man said the creature's wing tips stirred up the dust and gravel on both sides of the road as it started to fly away. The witness added he was in a state of shock as he watched it fly off. He later returned to the site and measured the distance across the road from edge to edge. It was about 21 feet.
The man also did some research to find out exactly what he had just seen. The closest creature he could find was in a book. It was a drawing of a teratornis, an extinct bird from the prehistoric era. It was larger than the Andean Condor and was the largest species of flying bird ever encountered by man. It became extinct around the end of the last Ice Age, according to a Web site.
But perhaps the teratornis is not extinct after all. Some researchers in cryptozoology believe that the massive bird could have survived after all and formed the basis of the thunderbird legend among Native Americans. It could be still by flying over our heads and make an appearance when we least expect it, they say.
This column also took a look at South Carolina's legend about the Lizard Man. I am sorry to say that the man who first reported spotting this creature has been murdered.
Back in June 1988, 17-year-old Chris Davis was on his way home after working the late shift at the McDonald's in Bishopville, S.C. As he drove near Scape Ore Swamp, a tire on his car blew out. While struggling to fix his tire, the young Davis was attacked by a two-legged lizard-like creature that leaped out of the nearby swamp. The startled young man managed to shake the weird creature off and get out of there. His report would give birth to South Carolina's Lizard Man legend.
Media coverage at the time prompted a swell of attention, with local businesses selling "Lizard Man" T-shirts and the local chamber of commerce making the most of the publicity. The young Davis became an international celebrity.
But last week, Davis was shot to death at the age of 37 in an apparent drug-related incident. Police in Sumter, S.C. have a suspect in custody and, as of Tuesday, are looking for another in connection with the shooting death, according to a Web site.
It is a sad end for someone who helped give birth to one of the South's best-known paranormal legends.
Source: The McDowell News/Mike Conley
- MAN, I GOT THE MUNCHIES AS WELL DEPARTMENT -
Stoned Wallabies Could Be Creating Crop Circles
Wallabies are hopping into Tasmania's opium poppy fields and getting high.
The revelation has also solved what some growers say has spurred a campfire legend about mysterious crop circles which appear in the state's poppy paddocks. In true X-Files style, Attorney-General Lara Giddings said yesterday the drugged-up wallabies had been found hopping around in circles squashing the poppies, creating the formations.
The wallabies are increasingly entering the fields and eating the poppy heads.
That causes them to get high and run around in turns creating "crop circles".
"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Ms Giddings told a Budget Estimates hearing.
"Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high."
Tasmanian Alkaloids field operations manager Rick Rockliff said wildlife and livestock which ate the poppies were known to "act weird" -- including deer in the state's highlands and sheep.
"There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles," Mr Rockliff said.
"But as growers we try our best to try and stop this sort of consumption, particularly by livestock, due to concerns about the contamination of the meat.
"There is also the risk to our poppy stocks, so growers take this very seriously but there has been a steady increase in the number of wild animals and that is where we are having difficulty keeping them off our land."
Tasmania is the world's largest producer of legally grown opium for the pharmaceutical market. About 500 farmers grow the crop supplying the market with about 50 percent of the world's raw material for morphine and related opiates.
Ms Giddings was answering questions about the security of Tasmanias poppy stocks, that are considered some of the safest in the world.
However there has been 17 thefts resulting in 2280 poppy heads stolen throughout the financial year.
Of those, Ms Giddings said 551 heads, eight events were from thebaine crops.
Thebaine is a variety of poppy opiate alkaloid is can be potentially deadly when it is consumed.
The other main variety is morphine.
Mr Rockliff said those figures were still considered very low but called for a review into the state's security protocols.
"Although there has not been a major incident in the past 40 years of this industry it is time that we look at licensing measures and other security handling procedures to make sure that stays the same in the future."
Source: The Mercury
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