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10/26/07  #440
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This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such trick-or-treating stories as:

Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs -
- Skinwalkers, What Are They? -
- Return to Sleepy Hollow -
- Rock-Star Ghost Diaries -
AND:  India's Cow Eating Trees

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

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Mental Armageddon: The Quest for Mind Control
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Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs

Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month.

"I heard someone say, 'Oh my god, look at those,' " the college senior from New York recalled. "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects."

Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too.

"I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' "

That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Others think they are, well, dragonflies -- an ancient order of insects that even biologists concede look about as robotic as a living creature can look.

No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones. But a number of U.S. government and private entities acknowledge they are trying. Some federally funded teams are even growing live insects with computer chips in them, with the goal of mounting spyware on their bodies and controlling their flight muscles remotely.

The robobugs could follow suspects, guide missiles to targets or navigate the crannies of collapsed buildings to find survivors.

The technical challenges of creating robotic insects are daunting, and most experts doubt that fully working models exist yet.

"If you find something, let me know," said Gary Anderson of the Defense Department's Rapid Reaction Technology Office.

But the CIA secretly developed a simple dragonfly snooper as long ago as the 1970s. And given recent advances, even skeptics say there is always a chance that some agency has quietly managed to make something operational.

"America can be pretty sneaky," said Tom Ehrhard, a retired Air Force colonel and expert in unmanned aerial vehicles who is now at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonprofit Washington-based research institute.

Robotic fliers have been used by the military since World War II, but in the past decade their numbers and level of sophistication have increased enormously. Defense Department documents describe nearly 100 different models in use today, some as tiny as birds, and some the size of small planes.

All told, the nation's fleet of flying robots logged more than 160,000 flight hours last year -- a more than fourfold increase since 2003. A recent report by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College warned that if traffic rules are not clarified soon, the glut of unmanned vehicles "could render military airspace chaotic and potentially dangerous."

But getting from bird size to bug size is not a simple matter of making everything smaller.

"You can't make a conventional robot of metal and ball bearings and just shrink the design down," said Ronald Fearing, a roboticist at the University of California at Berkeley. For one thing, the rules of aerodynamics change at very tiny scales and require wings that flap in precise ways -- a huge engineering challenge.

Only recently have scientists come to understand how insects fly -- a biomechanical feat that, despite the evidence before scientists' eyes, was for decades deemed "theoretically impossible." Just last month, researchers at Cornell University published a physics paper clarifying how dragonflies adjust the relative motions of their front and rear wings to save energy while hovering.

That kind of finding is important to roboticists because flapping fliers tend to be energy hogs, and batteries are heavy.

The CIA was among the earliest to tackle the problem. The "insectothopter," developed by the agency's Office of Research and Development 30 years ago, looked just like a dragonfly and contained a tiny gasoline engine to make the four wings flap. It flew but was ultimately declared a failure because it could not handle crosswinds.

Agency spokesman George Little said he could not talk about what the CIA may have done since then. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service also declined to discuss the topic.

Only the FBI offered a declarative denial. "We don't have anything like that," a spokesman said.

The Defense Department is trying, though.

In one approach, researchers funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are inserting computer chips into moth pupae -- the intermediate stage between a caterpillar and a flying adult -- and hatching them into healthy "cyborg moths."

The Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems project aims to create literal shutterbugs -- camera-toting insects whose nerves have grown into their internal silicon chip so that wranglers can control their activities. DARPA researchers are also raising cyborg beetles with power for various instruments to be generated by their muscles.

"You might recall that Gandalf the friendly wizard in the recent classic 'Lord of the Rings' used a moth to call in air support," DARPA program manager Amit Lal said at a symposium in August. Today, he said, "this science fiction vision is within the realm of reality."

A DARPA spokeswoman denied a reporter's request to interview Lal or others on the project.

The cyborg insect project has its share of doubters.

"I'll be seriously dead before that program deploys," said vice admiral Joe Dyer, former commander of the Naval Air Systems Command, now at iRobot in Burlington, Mass., which makes household and military robots.

By contrast, fully mechanical micro-fliers are advancing quickly.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have made a "microbat ornithopter" that flies freely and fits in the palm of one's hand. A Vanderbilt University team has made a similar device.

With their sail-like wings, neither of those would be mistaken for insects. In July, however, a Harvard University team got a truly fly-like robot airborne, its synthetic wings buzzing at 120 beats per second.

"It showed that we can manufacture the articulated, high-speed structures that you need to re-create the complex wing motions that insects produce," said team leader Robert Wood.

The fly's vanishingly thin materials were machined with lasers, then folded into three-dimensional form "like a micro-origami," he said. Alternating electric fields make the wings flap. The whole thing weighs just 65 milligrams, or a little more than the plastic head of a push pin.

Still, it can fly only while attached to a threadlike tether that supplies power, evidence that significant hurdles remain.

In August, at the International Symposium on Flying Insects and Robots, held in Switzerland, Japanese researchers introduced radio-controlled fliers with four-inch wingspans that resemble hawk moths. Those who watch them fly, its creator wrote in the program, "feel something of 'living souls.' "

Others, taking a tip from the CIA, are making fliers that run on chemical fuels instead of batteries. The "entomopter," in early stages of development at the Georgia Institute of Technology and resembling a toy plane more than a bug, converts liquid fuel into a hot gas, which powers four flapping wings and ancillary equipment.

"You can get more energy out of a drop of gasoline than out of a battery the size of a drop of gasoline," said team leader Robert Michelson.

Even if the technical hurdles are overcome, insect-size fliers will always be risky investments.

"They can get eaten by a bird, they can get caught in a spider web," said Fearing of Berkeley. "No matter how smart you are -- you can put a Pentium in there -- if a bird comes at you at 30 miles per hour there's nothing you can do about it."

Protesters might even nab one with a net -- one of many reasons why Ehrhard, the former Air Force colonel, and other experts said they doubted that the hovering bugs spotted in Washington were spies.

So what was seen by Crane, Alarcon and a handful of others at the D.C. march -- and as far back as 2004, during the Republican National Convention in New York, when one observant but perhaps paranoid peace-march participant described on the Web "a jet-black dragonfly hovering about 10 feet off the ground, precisely in the middle of 7th avenue . . . watching us"?

They probably saw dragonflies, said Jerry Louton, an entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Washington is home to some large, spectacularly adorned dragonflies that "can knock your socks off," he said.

At the same time, he added, some details do not make sense. Three people at the D.C. event independently described a row of spheres, the size of small berries, attached along the tails of the big dragonflies -- an accoutrement that Louton could not explain. And all reported seeing at least three maneuvering in unison.

"Dragonflies never fly in a pack," he said.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice said her group is investigating witness reports and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several federal agencies. If such devices are being used to spy on political activists, she said, "it would be a significant violation of people's civil rights."

For many roboticists still struggling to get off the ground, however, that concern -- and their technology's potential role -- seems superfluous.

"I don't want people to get paranoid, but what can I say?" Fearing said. "Cellphone cameras are already everywhere. It's not that much different."

Source: The Washington Post


Skinwalkers, What Are They?

With skinwalkers becoming the subjects of popular books and recently, movies, it is fair to ask about their origins. In August 1996, a team of scientists arrived on a remote ranch in NE Utah to investigate a bizarre litany of phenomena; including unidentified flying objects, animal mutilations, paranormal and poltergeist occurrences that appeared to erupt almost on a nightly basis. [Hunt for the Skinwalker] The list went on and on. The first piece of information the team learned from local people was that the ranch lay "on the path of the skinwalker"”. Was the skinwalker responsible for the weird happenings on this ranch? What followed was a multi-year odyssey into the dark unknown as the science team tried to pursue, measure and photograph the elusive "skinwalker". The complete account of the unprecedented research project is published in the book Hunt for the Skinwalker (Amazon US and Amazon UK).

In the religion and cultural lore of Southwestern tribes, there are witches known as skinwalkers who can alter their shapes at will to assume the characteristics of certain animals. Most of the world’s cultures have their own shapeshifter legends. The best known is the werewolf, popularized by dozens of Hollywood movies. European legends as far back as the 1500’s tell stories about werewolves. (The modern psychiatric term for humans who believe they are wolves is lycanthropy.) The people of India have a were-tiger legend. Africans have stories of were-leopards and were-jackals. Egyptians tell of were-hyenas.

In the American Southwest, the Navajo, Hopi, Utes, and other tribes each have their own version of the skinwalker story, but basically they boil down to the same thing - a malevolent witch capable of transforming itself into a wolf, coyote, bear, bird, or any other animal. The witch might wear the hide or skin of the animal identity it wants to assume, and when the transformation is complete, the human witch inherits the speed, strength, or cunning of the animal whose shape it has taken.

"The Navajo skinwalkers use mind control to make their victims do things to hurt themselves and even end their lives," writes Doug Hickman, a New Mexico educator. "The skinwalker is a very powerful witch. They can run faster than a car and can jump mesa cliffs without any effort at all."

For the Navajo and other tribes of the southwest, the tales of skinwalkers are not mere legend. Just ask Michael Stuhff. A Nevada attorney, Stuhff is likely one of the few lawyers in the history of American jurisprudence to file legal papers against a Navajo witch. He has often represented Native Americans in his practice. He understands Indian law and has earned the trust of his Native American clients, in large part because he knows and respects tribal religious beliefs.

As a young attorney in the mid-70s, Stuhff worked in a legal aid program based near Genado Arizona. Many, if not most, of his clients were Navajo. His legal confrontation with a witch occurred in a dispute over child custody and financial support. His client, a Navajo woman who lived on the reservation with her son, was asking for full custody rights and back child support payments from her estranged husband, an Apache man. At one point during the legal wrangling, the husband got permission to take the son out for an evening, but didn't return the boy until the next day. The son later told his mother what had transpired that night.

According to the son, he spent the night with his father and a "medicine man." They built a fire atop a cliff and, for many hours, the medicine man performed ceremonies, songs, and incantations around the fire. As dawn broke, the three traveled into a wooded area near a cemetery, where they dug a hole. Into the hole, the medicine man deposited two dolls made of wood. One of the dolls was made of dark wood, the other of light wood. It was as if the two dolls were meant to represent the mother and her lawyer. Although Stuhff wasn't sure how seriously to take the news, he recognized that it certainly didn't sound good, so he sought out the advice of a Navajo professor at a nearby community college.

"He told me that the ceremony I had described was very powerful and very serious and that it meant that I was supposed to end up buried in that cemetery," Stuhff says. "He also said that a witch can perform this type of ceremony only four times in his life, because if he tries it more than that, the curse would come back on the witch himself. He also told me that if the intended victim found out about it, then the curse would come back onto the person who had requested it."

Stuhff thought about a way to let the husband know that he had found out about the ceremony, so he filed court papers that requested an injunction against the husband and the unknown medicine man, whom he described in the court documents as "John Doe, A Witch." The motion described in great detail the alleged ceremony. The opposing attorney appeared extremely upset by the motion, as did the husband and the presiding judge. The opposing lawyer argued to the court that the medicine man had performed "a blessing way ceremony," not a curse. But Stuhff knew that the judge, who was a Navajo, could distinguish between a blessing ceremony, which takes place in Navajo hogans (homes), and what was obviously a darker ceremony involving lookalike dolls that took place in the woods near a cemetery. The judge nodded in agreement when Stuhff responded. Before the judge could rule, Stuhff requested a recess so that the significance of his legal motion could sink in. The next day, the husband capitulated by agreeing to grant total custody to the mother and to pay all back child support. "I took it very seriously because he took it seriously," Stuhff says. "I learned early on that sometimes witches will do things themselves to assist the supernatural, and I knew what that might mean."

Whether or not Stuhff literally believes that witches have supernatural powers, he acknowledges that this belief is strongly held in the Navajo nation. Certain communities on the reservation had reputations as witchcraft strongholds, he says. It is also unknown whether the witch he faced was a skinwalker or not. "Not all witches are skinwalkers," he says, "but all skinwalkers are witches. And skinwalkers are at the top. They are a witch's witch, so to speak."

According to University of Nevada-Las Vegas anthropologist Dan Benyshek, who specializes in the study of Native Americans of the Southwest, "Skinwalkers are purely evil in intent. I'm no expert on it, but the general view is that skinwalkers do all sorts of terrible things - they make people sick, they commit murders. They are graverobbers and necrophiliacs. They are greedy and evil people who must kill a sibling or other relative to be initiated as a skinwalker. They supposedly can turn into were-animals and can travel in supernatural ways."

Benyshek and other scientists do not necessarily endorse the legitimacy of the legends, but they recognize the importance of studying stories about skinwalkers because the power of the belief among Native Americans manifests itself in ways that are very real. "Oh, absolutely," Benyshek explains. "Anthropologists have conducted scientific investigations into the beliefs in Native American witchcraft because of the effects of such beliefs on human health."

Anthropologist David Zimmerman of the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department explains: "Skinwalkers are folks that possess knowledge of medicine, medicine both practical (heal the sick) and spiritual (maintain harmony), and they are both wrapped together in ways that are nearly impossible to untangle."

As Zimmerman suggests, the flip side of the skinwalker coin is the power of tribal medicine men. Among the Navajo, for instance, medicine men train over a period of many years to become full-fledged practitioners in the mystical rituals of the Dine' (Navajo) people. The U.S. Public Health Service now works side by side with Navajo medicine men because the results of this collaboration have been proven, time and again, in clinical studies. The medicine men have shown themselves to be effective in treating a range of ailments. "There has been a lot of serious research into medicine men and traditional healers," says Benyshek. "As healers, they are regarded as being very effective in some areas."

But there is a dark side to the learning of the medicine men. Witches follow some of the same training and obtain similar knowledge as their more benevolent colleagues, but they supplement both with their pursuit of the dark arts, or black magic. By Navajo law, a known witch has forfeited its status as a human and can be killed at will. The assumption is that a witch, by definition, is evil.

"Witchcraft was always an accepted, if not widely acknowledged part of Navajo culture," wrote journalist A. Lynn Allison. "And the killing of witches was historically as much accepted among the Navajo as among the Europeans." Allison has studied what she calls the "Navajo Witch Purge of 1878" and has written a book on the subject. In that year, more than 40 Navajo witches were killed or "purged" by tribe members because the Navajo had endured a horrendous forced march at the hands of the U.S. Army in which hundreds were starved, murdered, or left to die. At the end of the march, the Navajo were confined to a bleak reservation that left them destitute and starving. The gross injustice of their situation led them to conclude that witches might be responsible, so they purged their ranks of suspected witches as a means of restoring harmony and balance. Tribe members reportedly found a collection of witch artifacts wrapped in a copy of the Treaty of 1868 and "buried in the belly of a dead person." It was all the proof they needed to unleash their deadly purge.

"Unexplained sickness or death of tribal members or their livestock could arouse suspicion of witchcraft," wrote Allison in her book. "So could an unexplained reversal of fortune, good or bad." In the Navajo world, where witchcraft is important, where daily behavior is patterned to avoid it, prevent it, and cure it, there are as many words for its various forms as there are words for various kinds of snow among the Eskimos. If the woman thought he was adan'ti, she thought he had the power of sorcery-to convert himself into animal form, to fly, to perhaps become invisible. Very specific ideas. Where had she gotten them?

The Navajo people do not openly talk about skinwalkers, certainly not to outsiders. Author Tony Hillerman, who has lived for many years among the Navajo, used the skinwalker legend as the backdrop for one of his immensely popular detective novels, one that pitted his intrepid Navajo lawmen Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn against the dark powers of witchcraft. The following excerpt is from Skinwalkers:

You think that if I confess that I witched your baby, then the baby will get well and pretty soon I will die," Chee said. "Is that right? Or if you kill me, then the witching will go away."

"You should confess," the woman said. "You should say you did it. Otherwise, I will kill you."

Hillerman has been harshly criticized by some Navajo for bringing unwanted attention to the subject of skinwalkers. "No one who has ever lived in the Navajo country would ever make light of this sinister situation," wrote one critic after Hillerman's book was produced as a movie that aired on PBS in 2003.

Anthropologist Zimmerman explains why so little information is available on skinwalkers: "Part of the reason you won't find a lot of information about skinwalkers in the literature is because it is a sensitive topic among the Dine. This is often referred to as proprietary information, meaning it belongs to the Dine' people and is not to be shared with the non-Dine'."

We know from personal experience that is it extremely difficult to get Native Americans to discuss skinwalkers, even in the most general terms. Practitioners of adishgash, or witchcraft, are considered to be a very real presence in the Navajo world. Few Navajo want to cross paths with naagloshii (or yee naaldooshi), otherwise known as a skinwalker. The cautious Navajo will not speak openly about skinwalkers, especially with strangers, because to do so might invite the attention of an evil witch. After all, a stranger who asks questions about skinwalkers just might be one himself, looking for his next victim.

"They curse people and cause great suffering and death," one Navajo writer explained. "At night, their eyes glow red like hot coals. It is said that if you see the face of a Naagloshii, they have to kill you. If you see one and know who it is, they will die. If you see them and you don't know them, they have to kill you to keep you from finding out who they are. They use a mixture that some call corpse powder, which they blow into your face. Your tongue turns black and you go into convulsions and you eventually die. They are known to use evil spirits in their ceremonies. The Dine' have learned ways to protect themselves against this evil and one has to always be on guard."

One story told on the Navajo reservation in Arizona concerns a woman who delivered newspapers in the early morning hours. She claims that, during her rounds, she heard a scratching on the passenger door of her vehicle. Her baby was in the car seat next to her. The door flung open and she saw the horrifying form of a creature she described as half-man, half-beast, with glowing red eyes and a gnarly arm that was reaching for her child. She fought it off, managed to pull the door closed, then pounded the gas pedal and sped off. To her horror, she says, the creature ran along with the car and continued to try to open the door. It stayed with her until she screeched up to an all-night convenience store. She ran inside, screaming and hysterical, but when the store employee dashed outside, the being had vanished. Outsiders may view the story skeptically, and any number of alternative explanations might be suggested, but it is taken seriously on the Navajo reservation.

Although skinwalkers are generally believed to prey only on Native Americans, there are recent reports from Anglos claiming they had encountered skinwalkers while driving on or near tribal lands. One New Mexico Highway Patrol officer told us that while patrolling a stretch of highway south of Gallup, New Mexico, he had had two separate encounters with a ghastly creature that seemingly attached itself to the door of his vehicle. During the first encounter, the veteran law enforcement officer said the unearthly being appeared to be wearing a ghostly mask as it kept pace with his patrol car. To his horror, he realized that the ghoulish specter wasn't attached to his door after all. Instead, he said, it was running alongside his vehicle as he cruised down the highway at a high rate of speed.

The officer said he had a nearly identical experience in the same area a few days later. He was shaken to his core by these encounters, but didn't realize that he would soon get some confirmation that what he had seen was real. While having coffee with a fellow highway patrolman not long after the second incident, the cop cautiously described his twin experiences. To his amazement, the second officer admitted having his own encounter with a white-masked ghoul, a being that appeared out of nowhere and then somehow kept pace with his cruiser as he sped across the desert. The first officer told us that he still patrols the same stretch of highway and that he is petrified every time he enters the area.

Once Caucasian family still speaks in hushed tones about its encounter with a skinwalker, even though it happened in 1983. While driving at night along Route 163 through the massive Navajo Reservation, the four members of the family felt that someone was following them. As their truck slowed down to round a sharp bend, the atmosphere changed, and time itself seemed to slow down. Then something leaped out of a roadside ditch at the vehicle.

"It was black and hairy and was eye level with the cab," one of the witnesses recalled. "Whatever this thing was, it wore a man's clothes. It had on a white and blue checked shirt and long pants. Its arms were raised over its head, almost touching the top of the cab. It looked like a hairy man or a hairy animal in man's clothing, but it didn't look like an ape or anything like that. Its eyes were yellow and its mouth was open."

The father described as a fearless man who had served two tours in Vietnam, turned completely white, the blood drained from his face. The hair on his neck and arms stood straight up, like a cat under duress, and noticeable goose bumps erupted from his skin. Although time seemed frozen during this bizarre interlude, the truck continued on its way, and the family was soon miles down the highway.

A few days later, at their home in Flagstaff, the family awoke to the sounds of loud drumming. As they peered out their windows, they saw the dark forms of three "men" outside their fence. The shadowy beings tried to climb the fence to enter the yard but seemed inexplicably unable to cross onto the property. Frustrated by their failed entry, the men began to chant in the darkness as the terrified family huddled inside the house.

The story leaves several questions unanswered. If the beings were skinwalkers, and if skinwalkers can assume animal form or even fly, it isn't clear why they couldn't scale a fence. It is also not known whether the family called the police about the attempted intrusion by strangers.

The daughter, Frances, says she contacted a friend, a Navajo woman who is knowledgeable about witchcraft. The woman visited the home, inspected the grounds, and offered her opinion that the intruders had been skinwalkers who were drawn by the family's "power" and that they had intended to take that power by whatever means necessary. She surmised that the intrusion failed because something was protecting the family, while admitting that it was all highly unusual since skinwalkers rarely bother non-Indians. The Navajo woman performed a blessing ceremony at the home. Whether the ceremony had any legitimacy or not, the family felt better for it and has had no similar experiences in the ensuing years.

This disturbing account is not offered as definitive proof of anything, particularly since we have not personally interviewed the witnesses. It is presented only as an illustration of the intense fear and unsettling descriptions that permeate skinwalker lore, and which are accepted at face value by the Native Americans for whom the skinwalker topic is not just a spooky children’s story.

So, exactly how and when did the skinwalker legend intersect with the Gorman ranch in northeastern Utah? Retired teacher and UFO researcher Junior Hicks says his friends in the Ute tribe believe the skinwalker presence in the Uinta Basin extends back at least 15 generations. The Utes, described by historians as a fierce and warlike people, were sometimes aligned with the Navajo against common enemies during the 1800's. But the alliance didn't last. When the Utes first acquired horses from the Spanish, they enthusiastically embraced the Spanish example by engaging in the slave trade. They reportedly abducted Navajos and other Indians and sold them in New Mexico slave markets. Later, during the American Civil War, some Ute bands took orders from Kit Carson in a military campaign against the Navajo. According to Hicks, the Utes believe the Navajo put a curse on their tribe in retribution for many perceived transgressions. And ever since that time, Hicks was told, the skinwalker has plagued the Ute people.

The ranch property has been declared as off-limits to tribal members because it lies in the path of the skinwalker. Even today, Utes refuse to set foot on what they see as accursed land. But the tribe doesn't necessarily believe that the skinwalker lives on the ranch. Hicks says the Utes told him that the skinwalker lives in a place called Dark Canyon, which is not far from the ranch. In the early 1980's, Hicks sought permission from tribal elders to explore the canyon. He's been told there are centuries-old petroglyphs in Dark Canyon, some of which depict the skinwalker. But the tribal council denied his request to explore the canyon. One member later confided to Hicks that the tribe denied the request because it did not want to disturb the skinwalker for fear that it might "create problems." The tribe's advice to Hicks: "Leave it alone."

Dan Banyshek suggests that some parts of this account don’t add up. He thinks it unlikely that the Navajo would enlist the assistance of a skinwalker to carry out their revenge on the Utes, no matter how much the tribe might want some payback on their enemy. "The skinwalkers are regarded as selfish, greedy, and untrustworthy," Banyshek says. "If the Navajo knew someone to be a skinwalker, they would probably kill him, not ask for his help with the Utes. Besides, even if he was asked, the skinwalker would be unlikely to help the Navajo get revenge, since his motives are entirely evil and self-serving. From the Navajo perspective, this story doesn't make sense."

But from the Ute perspective, it could ring true. "The Utes could very likely have concluded that the curse is real," explains Banyshek. "Different tribes or bands would often tell stories about the evil motives of other tribes they were in conflict with, about how another tribe was in league with witches, or how other tribes were cannibals. The Utes might tell themselves this story as a way to explain their own misfortunes."

Hicks told us that the Indians say they see them a lot. "When they go out camping," he says, "they sprinkle bark around their campsites and light it as protection against these things. But it's not just Indians. Whites see them, too." Like his Ute neighbors, Hicks sometimes uses the terms skinwalker and Sasquatch interchangeably. He says he's seen photographs of the telltale huge footprints often associated with Bigfoot, taken in the vicinity of the Gorman ranch. But whether it was a run-of-the-mill Sasquatch or a far more sinister skinwalker isn't always clear, even to those who accept he existence of both.

"There was an incident 16 years ago where a skinwalker was on a porch in Fort Duchesne," Hicks remembers. "They called the tribal police and tracked it east toward the river. They took some shots at it and thought they hit it because they found blood on the ground, but they never found a body."

We also conducted an interview with a Ute man who worked as a security officer for the tribe. He provided us with details about his own encounter with a Bigfoot or skinwalker. Brandon Ware (not his real name) received his police training at an academy associated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He says he was working the 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. shift, guarding a tribal building near a part of the reservation known as Little Chicago. Between midnight and 1:00 in the morning, Ware walked up to check on the building and noticed that the guard dogs inside were calm but intently staring through a window at something outside. They weren't barking, he said, just looking.

"I could see this big ol' round thing, you know, in the patio over there," Ware recalls, "and the hair started raising on my neck and I kinda got worried a little bit trying to figure out what things were. I stood there and watched it for a few minutes, then it came over the top and headed down the road. But I could smell it. Even after it was gone, you could smell it."

Ware says that when the creature realized it was being observed, it briefly looked over at Ware, then vaulted over a short wall that surrounded the patio area outside the building. He says it took off running toward the Little Chicago neighborhood, crashing into garbage cans as it moved past the homes, and generating a cacophony of loud barking by every dog in the immediate area. Ware says he then went into the building and telephoned another on-duty officer who was nearby. By the time Ware left the building, the other officer had pulled up in his patrol car.

Ware told the other officer to turn off his engine so they could listen to the hubbub that was still unfolding among the nearby homes. "We listened a little bit and we could hear it. Then we jumped in and took off. We headed down the hill to see if we could catch up to it."

The two officers didn't see the creature again that night, but had no trouble tracing its path through the cluster of homes because they were able to follow a noticeable trail of scattered garbage cans. "It must have gone straight on through, " Ware recalls. "We could see where cans - people usually tie up their cans - them were all off. I told the other officer, 'hey man, maybe it picked up them cans and was throwing them at those dogs'."

Ware provided us with further details about what he had seen. His initial impression was of something dark and round. But he says that when the creature stood erect to vault over the patio wall, it appeared to be "huge." Ware was carrying a large flashlight at the time of the encounter. He says he was using the flashlight just minutes before the encounter while checking the doors of the building, but when he tried to use it to illuminate the creature, the light wouldn't turn on. When the creature took off running down the hill, the flashlight clicked back on.

"He moved quick," he told us. "Whatever it was, it moved - I called him a 'he' - it could have been a she. It could have been whatever, but he moved quick going down through there. But it was kind of cool. It was neat. I never knew was something I've never seen before. I've heard about them. I heard the old people talking about some of these things."

Just a few nights later, Ware got a chance for a second look. He and another officer, "Bob", were patrolling a back road that emerges at a spot known as Shorty's Hill. They emerged from the road to a pasture area that is punctuated by a large rock. "I don't know if it was the same guy or not," Ware says. "It was a big ol' black hairy thing hanging there, and when it turned around, it had big ol' eyes on him. It had big ol' red eyes on him about yeay big. We'd just passed it and I told Bob 'there he is,' and then he come to a screeching halt and we backed up. By the time we got out, it was gone."

Ware described the creature's eyes as being "coal red" and unusually large. He isn't sure whether the headlights of the patrol car might have affected his perception of the beast's eye color, but tends to doubt it. He has no doubt about the presence of the beast itself. "We got out there to go look and we had shotguns and pistols and everything. We were going to blow him away," Ware admits.

When pressed for his opinion of what he had seen, whether it might have been a Sasquatch or even a skinwalker, Ware's response seemed to draw a distinction between the two, but the distinction became blurry as the conversation progressed and Ware explained his understanding of tribal lore.

"Sasquatch, he's an old man, an old man that lives on a mountain," he explained. "He just comes in and looks at people and then he goes back out again. He just lives there all his life, never takes care of himself, and just smells real bad. Almost like, almost like that guy, like he is dirty, dirty human being smell is what it smelled like...a real deep, bad odor....It smelled like dirty bad underarms...The closer I got, the worse the smell got." Could the creature he saw have been a skinwalker?

"Nope," said Ware. "A skinwalker's smaller. A skinwalker is the size of humans, six foot and under. They don't come in most of the time to where the animals are at. They come in where people are at. They can come right here and you'd never know he was standing here looking at you in the middle of the night...they can take the shape of anything they want to take the shape of. Like I said, they're medicine."

Ware said that skinwalker sightings among the Utes are not uncommon. He told us of an encounter with two shapeshifters near the Gorman ranch. The figures he described are so unusual, so far outside our own concept of reality as to be almost comical, like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon. One local who saw them in the road in Fort Duchesne described them as humans with dog heads smoking cigarettes. But Ware was perfectly serious in his description. He certainly did not bare his soul for comic effect and we have no interest in making light of his story. For him, and for many others, skinwalkers are as real as the morning sun or the evening moon. They are a part of everyday life, and they most certainly are integral to the story of the Gorman ranch.

Could the Utes have used the skinwalker curse as an all-encompassing explanation for their assorted tribal misfortunes, as Banyshek asks? Or are they relying on the legend as an umbrella explanation for the wide range of paranormal events that have been reported in the vicinity of their lands for generations - in particular, in the vicinity of the ranch?

If a skinwalker really is a shapeshifter, capable of mind control and other trickery, might it also have the ability to conjure up nightmarish visions of Bigfoot or UFOs? Could it steal and mutilate cattle, incinerate dogs, generate images of monsters , unknown creatures, or extinct species, and could it also frighten hapless residents with poltergeist-like activity? At the very least, the skinwalker legend might be a convenient way for the Utes to grasp a vast menu of otherwise inexplicable events, the same sort of events that might stymie and confuse a team of modern scientists.

One thing is sure, by summer 2007 it is obvious that the legend of skinwalkers is entering popular culture in ways not seen before.

Source: Daily Grail

By Timothy Green Beckley and Circe

Recently, we deployed our company ghoul and likeable horror movie host Mr Creepo (aka "Mr UFO" - Tim Beckley) along with sexy vamp hunter and Creepo henchwoman Circe (or is that wenchwoman?) to check out rumors of a revival of paranormal activity in the dreamy village of Sleepy Hollow, New York, and neighboring Tarrytown.
Though our budget was small, the researchers managed to drink and eat  -- mainly drink -- themselves into a tizzy as if possessed by glutinous spirits. Very much, we fear, like the early farmers whose wives accused them of "tarrying" to long on market day at the local tavern, thus the name Tarrytown was born. In any respect we present their -- pardon the expression - "sobering" -- report.

The cool autumn air sits in just before twilight and a breeze starts to drift in from the Hudson River, just down the road a bit from where legend has it Ichabod Crane was chased by the headless horseman.

Indeed, the bridge and adjacent brook where Crane soiled his pants in an attempt to run for his life still stands, albeit part of the main drag that goes through town, a road now used by truckers, buses and SUV's coming up from Manhattan a scant 40-minute drive away.

Many commuters unwilling to drive in the midst of quite ghostly (I mean ghastly) traffic take to the rails, hopping onboard one of the numerous commuter trains that make the trip from the Big Apple all day and well into the evening hours.

Folding back the pages of the New York Post (we are much to blue collar to read the Times) and gazing out the window one would hardly guess  that he area is particularly rich in paranormal lore. But as you pass White Plains and the office buildings start to diminish in height and number you can start to be thankful that Circe is your traveling companion as ghouls know well to leave her be. We figure it has to be the garlic in her bag, but she insists it is the lovely charms she makes and wears  to ward off negativity and things that go bump in the night.

But, indeed the truth sometimes can be very strange. For it is along this very route to Sleepy Hollow back in 1982 that thousands craned their necks out of car windows to watch as a silent, giant, black-shaped triangle filled the sky, much like the cloak of the headless horseman is said to have done as the phantom glided through the thickets and glades of this same community in the early eighteen hundreds.

One of our first destinations was the Sleepy Hollow cemetery to visit some of the communities founding members. Circe (made infamous for her role of  Muffy in my low budget vampire flix, The Curse of Ed Wood) was perched on a  tombstone while I frolicked with the angels near the grave of Washington Irving.
Switching into a serious mode, I remarked how I could recall numerous conversations with fellow researcher Philip Imbrogno whose book Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings fairly well documents the numerous close encounters in the area. I told Circe how Phil, a teacher by profession (strange, wasn't Ichabod Crane also a teacher?) had started out as a conservative investigator of unexplainable aerial phenomena only to end up photographing ghost lights and confronting time distortions (to find out more order my book Our Alien Planet: This Eerie Earth in the Conspiracy Journal bookstore). All within a few square rural miles of where we were now standing.

During the course of our investigation in the area, we drove over into Connecticut to hunt down giant Jack 'O' Lanterns known to be harassing residents near an outdoor farmers market. This was pretty much the same trek truck drivers had been on that fright filled night in 1982 when they rubbed 18 wheelers with a "thing" the size of a 747 that tailed them at less than a thousand feet in the air.  Around the same time the mysterious men in black showed up to persuade witnesses to back off from telling of their encounters with the unknown. Many similar tales exist from the time of Washington Irving who also spoke of nightmarish figures cloaked in black who staked those who dared discuss their own paranormal misadventures.

Those who have followed such matters will be able to confirm that often times places that have a reputation for being "haunted" have a long history of paranormal phenomenon.   
Indeed, it was Circe that reminded me that Washington Irving had, himself,  speculated on this very "coincidence" in his Legend of Sleepy Hollow tale. To prove her point, she cracked opened a copy of Irving's book just purchased at the Kyjuit gift shop on the Rockefeller Foundation estate, scene of the annual Halloween activities that tourists flock to this region along the Hudson every fall season.

To quote Irving: "A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them t walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, an frequently see strange sights and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country. . . "

One almost has to scratch their head in disbelief that this paragraph was written two hundred -- give or take -- years ago. It seems like something a contemporary ghost hunter like our pal Joshua Warren might write in  one of his scripts for the Discovery Channel.

As we hunkered down for the evening -- after hours of paranormal musings -- we couldn't help but reflect on how the area seemingly abounds in the macabre. In fact, all around us were signs and symbols that a spooky October was in the works for the area just up the river from our  vampiric crypts.


Three thousand hand carved pumpkins are the decidedly spooky backdrop for a spine tingling event set on the grounds of the 18th Century Van Courtland Manor. You might be a bit too scared to nip away at those pumpkin cookies or sip down that warming cup of hot apple cider, as you experience the SCARECROW AVALANCHE and PUMPKIN PROMENADE.  


Join Jonathan Kruk for a lively reading and reenactment of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow at the Philipsburg Manor. For Legend Weekend (October 28-30) there will be candle lanterns and bonfires, and a haunted landscape to set the mood. Say doesn't that fellow with the crooked nose  over there look like??? Nah, it can't be!

Sponsored by the Historic Hudson Valley Society, more information can be found at:  or for ticket information call 9l4-631-8200.


Numerous bed and breakfasts dot the scenic area. The Doubletree right on the Hudson offers a breathtaking view, but we were stopped at the entrance by the burly  ghoul in charge who informed us before we even had  time to twist our heads around, that the palatial estate was being renovated and thus closed to all. So I guess even the Horseman won't be staying there on Ole Hallows Eve.
If your budget is up to it and you are looking for really lavish grounds, go ahead and plop yourself down on one of the beds at the Tarrytown House. The restaurant wasn't open when we where there so we had to venture out into the crisp autumn air. This slight incontinence was offset by the use of the heated indoor pool (just call me Creepo the prune) and the fact looking out the window at around 3 AM I thought I saw a specter under the flood lights in back of the complex where we should have been fast asleep and not watching the Sci Fi Channel.


For lunch there is the Horseman saloon and the Sleepy Hollow Cafe (service is fine but if your seated outside you notice the sidewalk slants more than it does  in one of those mystery vortex spots).

For about the best meal ever in an absolutely superb setting stop by Harvest-on-the Hudson in Hasting on the Hudson. Its right on the Hudson (boy isn't that repetitive) and outdoor dinning for lunch will be a treat you won't forget for a long time. Lots of indoor seating as well, and a bar that  goes on for miles (thank you, but we had our Bloody Mary's on the lawn).

Thus ended our little adventure...Being psycho -- I mean psychic -- I asked Circe about the vibes. She didn't appear to be scared out of her wits despite the traffic headed home, so I guess the spirits weren't as restless as they might have been.

So do we plan to return to Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown to search for more spirits?  It could well be that sometime in the not to distant future we might set up shop to film our own version of Sleepy Hollow -- except it will called CREEPY HOLLOW.        
Happy Halloween from Mr Creepo, Circe, and the staff of the Conspiracy Journal


Night Crawlers - Reality of the North American Ape

Huddled by the campfire, the screech of a creature unknown raises the mother of all goose bumps. Was it Bigfoot or Mothman, the Chenoo or Chupacabra?
Tales of these legendary forest creatures are not for folks who sleep with the lights on, peer under beds and inspect closets before bedtime. The rest of us relish a morsel of fright and a quality shudder.

Did you hear the one about Old Mossback or the superhuman Lemurians who inhabit an underground city of gold beneath Mount Shasta? Long sacred to American Indians, Mount Shasta also is believed to be the site of magic crystals, UFO landings and, gasp, the doorway to another dimension.

Lakes are said to be inhabited by serpentine creatures like Tahoe Tessie (Lake Tahoe) and Ogopogo (Lake Okanagan, British Columbia). And we'd be neglectful not to mention the outdoors-loving werewolf and the American Indians' Wendigo. Both are meat eaters.

Not that such things deserve credence, but do watch for exposed tree roots while sprinting for the car.

Chills in the West mostly are courtesy of Bigfoot, sometimes called Sasquatch. Thought to be a stinky, hairy, bipedal humanoid, Bigfoot mostly has been reported roaming from California's North Coast on up into Canada.

Reports of face-to-face encounters, awful odors, unearthly screams and humongous footprints are logged and investigated by people with degrees in science. And just try to convince the backpackers, the campers and the fishermen who have seen Bigfoot that it doesn't exist.

"I saw one when I was 4 years old, and I've since talked to about 200 who have seen one," says Michael Rugg, proprietor of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton, near Santa Cruz. "You see one of these things yourself and it takes away your skepticism."

Nonbelievers laugh themselves silly over such claims. Hazel Gendron, who lived in Happy Camp for many years, scoffs at the existence of Bigfoot. Happy Camp, 323 miles north of Sacramento and near the Oregon border, is Bigfoot country. Its backyard is the Siskiyou Wilderness area, a vast, forested region described as the most isolated and remote wilderness area in the United States.

"Not a believer," says Gendron, now living in Shasta Lake City. "I always backpacked in those mountains without a gun, sometimes camping eight or 10 days at a time. I never carried a gun, only a camera. It's not the animals I was afraid of, it was the marijuana growers out there."

Gendron, a historian and author, believes the Bigfoot story may have originated from the Tolawa tribe.

"The old Indians had ancient stories handed down which had moral themes and also themes to keep the kids in line," she says. "If the kids happened to wander off, this big, hairy man was going to get them. That was probably the beginning for the idea of Bigfoot."

Vinson Brown: 'Believe it'

Fear can be inspired by things living and allegedly living, things seen and unseen.

"The great majority of Bigfoot sightings are associated with extreme fear," Rugg says.

Maybe it was a shadowy figure, the snap of dry twigs, the rustling of brush that froze the soul of Vinson Brown. Something was out there, shrouded by the inky blackness of the Siskiyou Wilderness area. Brown and his German shepherd could feel its presence.

"The hair on the dog was standing straight up, and that dog wasn't afraid of anything," says Barbara Brown, relating her late husband's story. "He (the dog) even scared off bears."

Whatever was out there behind their home in Happy Camp that night made a believer of Vinson Brown.

"He didn't believe in Bigfoot, but he did after that night," she says.

Sightings or reports have been made in every state but Hawaii, according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization ( Washington leads with 414 incidents, followed by California (369) and Oregon (199).

More fascinated than scared

A BFRO investigator interviewed a backpacker two years ago after a Bigfoot encounter in the Desolation Wilderness area of El Dorado County. In part, the unnamed backpacker had this to say: "My tent is about 4 feet tall, maybe a little less, and what I saw was more than twice as tall. At first I couldn't see any features, just the outline. Then it took a couple of steps towards me. I almost peed my pants right there. I picked up the .45 and took a shot off to the left of it. It stopped and looked at me. Then it started walking towards me again. ..."

Cryptozoologists, scientists who actually investigate the possible existence of undiscovered animals, have one point in their favor – nobody has ever disproved the existence of Bigfoot.

Rugg's encounter with Bigfoot came during a family fishing trip to the Eel River in Humboldt County. He says he felt more fascination than terror and that the encounter began a lifelong hobby of collecting Bigfoot items. His Bigfoot Discovery Museum is a shrine to all things Bigfoot.

"Deputy sheriffs, forest rangers have seen them, even a few Ph.D.s on vacation," Rugg claims. "Smart people who aren't likely to mistake it for a bear or the rear end of a moose. It's pretty hard to continue being a skeptic."

Admitted Bigfoot hoaxes are discredited by Rugg, who claims those who suit up in a costume or "find" footprints are motivated by publicity.

"You could disprove some of the evidence, but you cannot disprove Bigfoot," he says.

Just a month ago, Rugg says, Bigfoot was sighted in the Santa Cruz area. He added that the sightings "usually start in August," when fruit begins to ripen on trees, and continue well into October. Bigfoot is a big fan of fruit, but then so are bears.

On plums and pots

Barbara Brown, whose late husband became a believer in Bigfoot, actually sleeps outdoors in the fall to discourage bears from eating and damaging her fruit trees. Her home backs up to the Siskiyou Wilderness area, but she's not concerned about Bigfoot.

"The dog barks, I get a flashlight and bang on a pot," she says. "Brown bears like plums and are a nuisance. They'll break off branches to get to the fruit."

Many wouldn't sleep out near Happy Camp for all the fruit in the world.

Source: The Sacramento Bee 


Rock-Star Ghost Diaries

These ghoulish tales will make you wet your pants with fear!

Most ghost stories are pretty damn lame, and most happen to everybody except musicians. If you attempt to seek out ghost stories from pop stars, you quickly discover that phantoms, freaky psychic phenomena, and even UFOs aren't nearly as numerous as popular culture has us believe. In fact, one might estimate that maybe one in five musicians has something to say on the subject, and when they do, odds are it's just about as exciting as the story your neighbor Hal tells about his mother-in-law's first cousin seeing her dead uncle take a bath in the family cottage.

But hey, Halloween is here again. After several months asking rock stars questions like "Have you ever had an encounter with the supernatural? No, not the lame television show!," we've collected some stories that might scare a toddler, and others that are almost as scary as a Stephen King novel. And like any good horror movie, they get more thrilling as you go along, so get out the garlic and spare proton pack, and brace yourself for the rock-star ghost diaries.

James Valentine, Maroon 5: "[We recorded our latest, It Won't Be Soon Before Long, in Rick Rubin's allegedly haunted house]. One night, I saw a figure walking up the stairs, when there was nobody else in the house except my girlfriend at the time. I was so certain that I'd seen someone that I called out to this thing and then went up to the room that it had walked into. There was nobody there. I don't know how to explain it, but that's what I saw. I got the impression it was a woman, and apparently other people had talked about a female spirit that they had seen."

Steve Bays, Hot Hot Heat: "I used to always play drums in bands. I grew up on an island, and there were never many good drummers. I always wanted to switch up and play different instruments, though. I met a guy who could play drums — and hard-hitting drums. At the time, I basically wanted to play metal or at least heavy music. [So] we formed this band together, and on the night of our first jam, we drove forever out to his place — this really forested area. He hadn't drummed in a year, because, he said, he'd been drinking and into drugs for that year. But he said, 'I've quit now.' So I played guitar. He played drums. But I remember he was sweating a lot through the whole damn thing. Rehearsal was great. I go home, and that night I have this really crazy dream, where I go into the bathroom and see this guy in the mirror. He's basically saying goodbye to me. This ghostly figure in the mirror is saying goodbye to me, and he gives me this necklace — this medallion. I didn't make anything of it, but I clearly remembered him saying goodbye to me through the mirror. The next day, I heard three hours after the jam, he died. His heart stopped. I guess his body was so run down that drumming for three hours essentially killed him. It's creepy. When he died was basically when I had the dream."

Alice Cooper: "I get out of rehab [in 1983], and [Aerosmith guitarist] Joe Perry got out of rehab at the same time. I was going to write two songs for this movie I was going to be in and thought, 'I'll call Joe, and we'll do this together.' My manager set up this house in upper New York. Joe's assistant went up there. My assistant went up there. We checked into this big old house in the middle of farm country — this big gothic-looking thing. I'm putting my clothes away. I leave the room and come back, and the closet door is closed. The drawer I was packing is closed. Hmm, I don't remember closing that. This house was so full of whatever that on the second night we're there, we're sitting there eating dinner, and it sounds like somebody is moving furniture in the basement. It's making so much noise. It's not even trying to be subtle. I say to Joe, 'We're the only ones here, right?' I'm not going down into the basement to find out what's down there. I say, 'This house — every time I put my coat down, I come back and it's gone.' Joe says, 'The same exact thing is happening to me too. I thought I was just going through a recovery thing — being forgetful.' I say, 'No, this place is insane.' So we ran out of the place. I found out later this is where the guy who wrote The Amityville Horror wrote the story — there in that house."

Source: Cleveland Scene  


David Hamel Was Building Spaceship to Fly to Planet Kladen

GILMOUR -- It was only just recently that word got out that David Hamel had died, or that his care worker had at least stumbled upon the mortal body of the man who, after being abducted by aliens, proceeded to build his own spaceship here in the large Quonset hut behind his old farmhouse.

If he has since been spirited away by his extraterrestrial friends from the planet Kladen, 4 billion km away on the other side of the sun, his nearby gravesite would appear to be undisturbed.

So there is no way of knowing.

Travel back two years in time to the land of the living, however, and Dave Hamel is found working away in that hut. He looks like a grey-skinned gremlin, and he has little patience for disbelievers. In fact, he is quite profane when a dumb question is asked, such as, "What will propel your spaceship?"

"F---ing energy," he yells, frustrated by the questioner's obvious ignorance concerning the science that was provided to him, through telepathy, by the silver-suited aliens who abducted him 29 years previously when he was working as a carpenter in British Columbia.

And then he goes on to talk, at great length, about magnets and granite spheres, and vibration working hand-in-hand not only to propel his stainless-steel craft but to also make it "weightless."

"Do you understand now?" he asks me, tugging at his greasy ball cap and rolling his eyes. "Or are you just stupid?"


The tour takes more than an hour. Behind his house, in that locked hut, is the epicentre of his craft -- indescribable to those who lack Hamel's alien-gifted technological savvy, although there are scores of true believers who, in the vastness of cyberspace, have created websites dedicated to promoting the brilliance of his "Hamel Technology," and have even written books on his experiences and his efforts to build his spacecraft.

All one has to do is "google" his name.

Out back of Hamel's house on this August day three years ago, past a sign of warning, the craft's wings can be found, octagonal steel structures that appear akin to science fiction's depiction of flying saucers.

After almost three decades of work, however, it would appear as if the craft is years away from completion.

"It will be done when it is done," says Hamel. "So what if I'm 80? Maybe I'll be 180. It doesn't matter. The survival of the human race is at stake. That's what this is all about. It's about the survival of our species."

Hamel says the aliens who abducted him flew him to this place off Weslemkoon Lake, some 50 km north of Madoc, and told him to build his spaceship in this very spot.

Inside Hamel's home, his infirm wife, Nora, who died a few weeks later, sits in a wheelchair and says nothing as her husband points to the blueprints he drew of his project, and if there is a genius in this far-out scenario, it is in these detailed drawings.

They look totally unfathomable and therefore totally plausible.

"(The aliens) planted these drawings in my brain," he says. "They gave me all the instructions I needed."

He says to envision a butterfly floating above a magnetic field, weightlessly and effortlessly.

"It is now up to me to make it work. The end of the world is not far off, and we need some of us to survive. Otherwise, all is lost."

And perhaps it now is.

Fast forward to this October day, 2007, and the Quonset hut is locked. The windows of Dave Hamel's home are boarded up. A disabled old truck sits in the driveway.

David Hamel was 83 when his body gave out. Born in Rosemont, he was one of 13 siblings. He fought in World War II, and enlisted again for Korea.

After his last war, he headed for the lower Fraser Valley in B.C., met his future wife Nora, already stricken with cerebral palsy, her legs in braces.

Hamel was working as a carpenter, and life seemed normal.

And then, on Oct. 21, 1975 -- 32 years ago this Sunday -- Dave Hamel was sitting his armchair, watching The Waltons, when his television suddenly goes snowy.

It was the moment his life changed.

In a book on his life called The Granite Man and the Butterfly, written by Jeanne Manning, three visitors from the planet Kladen -- one human-looking woman and two human-looking men -- entered his presence, and lifted him up to their spaceship where they implanted their technology into his brain, telling him he would be the instrument entrusted with the survival of his species.

The woman's name was A. Arkan was her husband, and On was the mechanic.

They spoke to him through telepathy.


Until a waitress in a coffee shop snitched on him to a local B.C. newspaper, Hamel was making plans to follow the aliens' instructions in obscurity. And then came the headline, "Introducing David Hamel -- He Rides In Flying Saucers."

The reporter wrote that Hamel knew the secret to perpetual motion, and was building a device to allow people to heat homes, power industry and fly aircraft without the use of fossil fuels. He added that, according to local health authorities, there were no records to cast doubt on Hamel's sanity.

And that is how it began.

It ended here, in this tiny village where a spacecraft from the planet Kladen came 32 years ago this Sunday, and three aliens pointed to an old farmhouse below and told David Hamel to build his own space ship in the very spot where a locked Quonset now stands, and where all the windows are now boarded up.

Down the road, at the Gilmour Cemetery, the engraver has yet to arrive to inscribe the date of Hamel's death on the granite tombstone he shares with his wife.

Perhaps the engraver is awaiting proof that he is actually gone.

Just in case the approaching Sunday brings visitors from beyond.

Source: Canoe


India's Cow Eating Trees

In Roy Mackal’s book, Searching for Hidden Animals (NY: Doubleday, 1980), his last chapter is entitled “The Monstrous Plants.” It was not about cryptozoology, needless to say, but about cryptobotany, being a short treatise on the Victorian accounts of man-eating plants.

As Mackal points out, many zoologists and botanists have been fascinated by plants that eat meat since the days when Charles Darwin was bitten by this interest, and wrote a definitive work on the subject, Insectivorous Plants, published in 1888.

Like Mackal, who tells of having acquired several varieties of carnivorous plants after reading about them in Darwin, I recall as a boy buying and successfully raising Venus flytraps (Dionaena muscipula), after reading about the plants in Willy Ley’s Salamanders and Other Wonders (NY: Viking, 1955).

Recently, I’ve actually thought about getting some more, to raise them in this bay window here at the museum. The plants still intrigue me. Nature does have some fine wonders.

Anyway, Mackal spends his final chapter detailing mostly the reports from the 1850s through the 1940s of the “Man-Eating Tree of Madagacar,” and the expeditions that searched (unsuccessfully) for the species.

Little did I imagine that I would run across a new story of a similar nature, but here it is, from today, from South India: “Cow-eating trees of Padrame.”

Mangalore: Carnivorous trees grabbing humans and cattle and gobbling them up is not just village folklore.

Residents of Padrame near Kokkoda in Uppinangady forest range sighted one such carnivorous tree trying to dine on a cow last Thursday [October 18, 2007]. According to reports, the cow owned by Anand Gowda had been left to graze in the forests.

The cow was suddenly grabbed by the branches and pulled from the ground. The terrified cowherd ran to the village, and got Gowda and a band of villagers to the carnivorous tree.

Before the tree could have its meal, Anand Gowda and the villagers struck mortal blows to the branches that turned limp and the cow was rescued. Uppinangady range forest officer (RFO) Subramanya Rao said the tree was described as ‘pili mara’ (tiger tree) in native lingo.

He had received many complaints about cattle returning home in the evenings without tails. On Friday, the field staff confirmed coming across a similar tree in Padrane, partially felled down.

However no detailed inquiry was made as the authorities were not asked for any report, Rao said.‘Cow-eating’ trees of Padrame, Tuesday, October 23, 2007, Express News Service, New IndPress.

Source: Cryptomundo


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