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6/22/07  #422
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Don't touch that dial!  We control your television. We know what you watch. We have control of your computer - We have your email - We know what you want to read - And that is Conspiracy Journal!  Yes, once again it is time for your favorite email newsletter of the world of conspiracies, UFOs, the paranormal and everything else weird and strange.

This 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 -
- Hail of Stones from Nowhere -
AND:  Brown Mountain Lights Respond to Bad Moods and Murders

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

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~


Pre-Publication Sale of our FANTASTIC NEW BOOK!

Accompanied by Warriors From Atlantis,
Lost Cities, Living dinosaurs, and a
Bloody Arsed Pirate or Two

Noted historian Timothy Green Beckley has proclaimed Harold T. Wilkins one of the most important writers on the paranormal of ALL TIME, “who immersed himself in tales of Atlantis, lost civilizations in the jungles of South America, haunted treasure troves of infamous pirates, and prehistoric creatures which might still be alive. In the l950s, he became mesmerized by the earliest flying saucer accounts, and his works "Flying Saucers on the Attack" and "Flying Saucers Uncensored" created a stir because of their controversial nature.”


The history of a militant race of Atlantean warriors who could only be killed by stones or wood because they were invulnerable to steel. 

Read a terrifying account of a fire breathing monster which emerged from a flying saucer in 1952. Witnesses saw a half-man/half-dragon creature, ten feet tall, with  a red-orange face and green body. Then there was one contactee who in 1953 met a beautiful saucer woman who hailed from a planet on the dark side of the moon.

Do exotic creatures still exist in the deepest jungles of South America?  Read about a brave explorer found ripped to shreds by a King Kong-like monster, and the native women who coupled with large "apes."  Learn of their hybrid progeny, whose "language" consists only of moans and howls.
Also included are the world’s most mysterious creatures: Unicorns, the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas and a bird with the head of a monkey.

This facinating book edited by Sean Casteel is now available for the
incredible price of only $20.00

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!  If you order right now, we will also include a FREE CD from our collection of RARE UFO material!

So don't delay, order your copy of Harold Wilkins UFOs Attack Earth
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You can order online via our secure order page:  

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24-hour hotline: 732-602-3407

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Editor Tim Swartz on Magick Mind Radio

Listen for Conspiracy Journal Editor Tim Swartz on Magick Mind Radio Tuesday June 26, 2007 at 7:00PM Eastern with host Dr. Ed Craft.  Tim will talk about his interest in the world of the weird with such subjects as Nikola Tesla, UFOs, time travel, conspiracies, ghosts, the paranormal and anything else that they can fit into the one hour time slot.

Also check out the archives with Mr. UFO Timothy Green Beckley who was on Magick Mind Radio Monday, June 18!

So don't miss out and tune in to Magick Mind Radio June 26 at 7:00PM Eastern:


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.


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 expand refineries.

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 production.

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 that way.

"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 expand refineries.

"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


The Earth Today Stands in Imminent Peril

...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 change.

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 greenhouse gases.

"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 plants.

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 site."

Records of global temperatures show that the polar regions, and especially the Arctic, are experiencing some of the largest increase in average temperatures.

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)


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 Island.

“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 UFOlogy.”

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, Wash.

“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 it behind.

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 their families.

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


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 Columbus."

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 historians."

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 protest.

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 real job."

Since then, he's been devoted full time to his global quest, launching a Web site while writing and illustrating his books on ancient exploration.

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 information proprietary."

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 the Web.

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 obsession.

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


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 activity.
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 the house.

• 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.



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 Archaeology.

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)


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 all-too-imaginable fates.

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 compensatory death.

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.

Source: Citizen-Times


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