9/7/13  #737
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It has been going on for centuries.  The dark, secret places have been their meeting rooms.  Behind closed, locked doors they weave their plans.  Like the web from a hideous spider, their connections are complex and far-reaching.  Their nefarious activities seem disjointed and random -- effectively hiding their ultimate goal.  Those who dare oppose them are branded as "conspiracy nuts"  and  ignored.  It is all part of the grand plan.

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This weeks issue of Conspiracy Journal looks at such soul-sucking stories as:
Why End-Times Buffs Are Freaking Out About Syria -
Men in Black: Space Zombies? -
- Miniature 'Human Brain' Grown in Lab -
- Ghost Hunters Haunted By New Terror: Competition -
Haunted Houses Give Japan Chills in Hot Summer
All these exciting stories and MORE in this issue of

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~


UFOs - Wicked This Way Comes: The Dark Side Of The Ultra-Terrestrials


Stories of encounters with the supposedly friendly "all-too-cute" ETs are NOT always the norm and represent only one side of the coin. Little Elliot may have befriended Steven Spielberg's cozy, cuddly alien, but all too often our almond-eyed visitors have their own agenda, which frequently puts them at odds with our earthly well-being. They have been known to abduct, dice and slice and put us through a universe of utter torment.

Not only can the Ultra-Terrestrials be damned ornery but they have the power to interfere with both our physical and mental states and put dread into our hearts. Thus the term “UFO Fear Factor.” They can oftentimes wreak havoc on an entire household following what might seem like a benign close encounter but which ends up going well beyond a cosmic one-night stand. The Ultra-Terrestrials possess various characteristics in common with spirits from the dark corridors of demonology and have been known to produce the same sort of phenomena at UFO landing sites as you would find in a haunted house or at a seance.


* Witness grows 5 inches following close encounter! Hair of observer changes color overnight!

* West Virginia man abducted by weird “vegetable”-like Ultra-Terrestrials.

* Valuable objects vanish upon arrival of strange shadow beings in New Jersey home.

* The mystery of the “Crawling Stumps” in Oregon.

* Giants bully youngsters in Brazilian UFO terror attack.

* “Fireballs” cause massive blackout.

* A man named “Fred” (a pseudonym) recalls under hypnosis a horrifying sexual experience involving a half human/half animal creature.

* Dr. Karla Turner, who passed away from breast cancer after she started reporting on the negative aspects of the UFO abduction phenomenon, noted: *** A surprising number of abductees suffer from serious illnesses they didn’t have before their encounters. These have led to surgery, debilitation, and even death from causes the doctors can’t identify. *** Some abductees experience a degeneration of their mental, social and spiritual well-being. Excessive behavior frequently erupts, such as drug abuse, alcoholism, overeating and promiscuity. Strange obsessions develop and cause the disruption of normal life and the destruction of personal relationships.

* Noted author/researcher Brad Steiger offers evidence that many individuals hear the guttural voices of Ultra-terrestrials commanding them to do demonic deeds, such as the case of a self-declared prophet of a new religion linked to the slain bodies of a family of five—all victims of human sacrifice necessary to persuade the “forces” to present the Ohio-based cult with a magical golden sword.

* Some of the human implications of what the Ultra-terrestrial “invasion” represents are so potentially disturbing and disruptive that well-known talk show personality/investigator Peter Robbins declares that he has no doubt that there are “those” who are capable of just about anything in their efforts to keep the subject from us, including possibly being involved in the untimely deaths of certain truth seekers whose lives have been decidedly entangled with the Unknown.


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Why End-Times Buffs Are Freaking Out About Syria
By Tim Murphy

Novelist Joel Rosenberg has the ear of Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and the Heritage Foundation. He thinks conflict in Syria was foretold by the Old Testament.

In early 2012, best-selling novelist Joel Rosenberg came to Capitol Hill for a meeting with an unidentified member of Congress to discuss the end of the world. "I thought the topic was going to be the possible coming war between Israel and Iran," Rosenberg explained on his website. "Instead, the official asked, 'What are your thoughts on Isaiah 17?'"

For the better part of an hour, Rosenberg says, the writer and the congressman went back forth on something called the "burden of Damascus," an Old Testament prophecy that posits that a war in the Middle East will leave Syria's capital city in ruins—and bring the world one step closer to Armageddon. As Rosenberg put it, "The innocent blood shed by the Assad regime is reprehensible and heart-breaking and is setting the stage for a terrible judgment."

But Rosenberg and his anonymous congressman aren't alone in viewing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's actions through a biblical lens. With Congress set to vote next week on the authorization to use military force in Syria, the Damascus prophecy has taken on a new significance among the nation's End Times industry—writers and pastors who believe the world is hurtling toward the return of Christ as forecasted in the Book of Revelation—and its adherents in the pews and in public life. On Saturday, Rosenberg will travel to Topeka, Kansas, at the invitation of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The idea behind the prophecy is a fairly straightforward one. In Isaiah 17, the prophet explains that, in the run-up to Armageddon, "Damascus is about to be removed from being a city, and will become a fallen ruin." The implication is that it will be leveled by God on behalf of Israel as part of the last great struggle for mankind.

How exactly that will happen is a bit less clear. "The honest answer is that the Bible does not say," Rosenberg wrote on his blog last June. But in Rosenberg's Twelfth Imam series, he postulates that the emergence of the Mahdi, the Muslim messiah, leads to the rise of a new Islamic caliphate in the Middle East that prepares to decapitate Israel by launching nuclear warheads from Damascus. As the top-rated Amazon review for the final book in the series, Damascus Countdown puts it, "This is a great read for anyone interested not only in the prophetical future of Israel but for Iran and Syria as well…[It] makes one want to keep his or her eyes wide open on current day Middle East events, and see if they line up to eschatological Old Testament passages."

Rosenberg may seem like a fringe figure, but he has a large base of support and friends in high places. Damascus Countdown was, like the two preceding books in the series, Twelfth Imam and Tehran Initiative, a New York Times bestseller. He has been cited as an expert on nuclear policy by Fox News, where host Shannon Bream noted that he had been referred to as a "modern-day Nostradamus." Former (and future) Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum wrote a blurb for the hardcover edition of Damascus Countdown and brought the author onto his radio show, Patriot Voices, to discuss the book last spring.

In March, Rosenberg met privately with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Louie Gohmert in Austin. Gohmert was such a big fan of the novelist he brought a copy of Damascus Countdown as a gift to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2011. (Because he's Louie Gohmert, the Texas congressman knocked over Netanyahu's coffee cup and bottled water in the process of handing over the book.) In April, he discussed Damascus Countdown at the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank. Rosenberg did not respond to a request to comment from Mother Jones.

Rosenberg is not the only Christian thinker making a buck off the burden of Damascus. Jan Markell, on whose End Times radio program Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has frequently appeared, blasted out an email to followers last summer warning that the Burden of Damascus may be close at hand. She reiterated that position in an interview with OneNewsNow last week. Walid Shoebat, a self-described "ex-terrorist" who is a frequent guest at right-wing confabs, told birther news site WorldNetDaily in August that while he wasn't sure the Burden of Damascus was imminent, "We can sense the beginning signs for the fulfillment of Isaiah 17's destruction of Damascus when we witness the influx of refugees from Syria to Jordan as predicted by the prophet Amos."

Hal Lindsey, a Texas-based evangelist famous for his 1970 treatise, The Late Great Planet Earth, has been beating the Damascus drum for years. He addressed the subject head-on in a 2008 column at WorldNetDaily (where Santorum is also a columnist), inspired by fears that then-President-elect Obama might bring the world closer to a war between Israel and Iran.

As Lindsey explained, the prophesied ruination of Damascus did not mean the end for everyone else—it would just bring the world one step closer to the final confrontation. "[A]ccording to Bible prophecy, Iran survives the Israeli strike and plays a major role in the coming Russian-led Gog-Magog Alliance foretold by the Prophet Ezekiel," he wrote. "Israel also survives, since the Gog-Magog Alliance eventually marches against it."

After warning once more of the "burden of Damascus" throughout the spring and early Summer, Lindsey offered a more dire warning on his television program on Friday, the day before Obama announced he was taking his case to Congress.

"As I prepared for this weeks program, I was again struck by the speed with which events are moving into the scenario the prophets predicted for the end times," he told his audience. "I believe we're there. People on the street are talking about what all of these things mean. Folks that wouldn't go darken the door of a church or pick up a Bible are now very curious. This may be our greatest opportunity—maybe even our last opportunity—to share the gospel of Jesus Christ before we're silenced by political correctness."

Your move, Congress.

Source: Mother Jones


Parallel Worlds
By Andrew Crumey

If human history turns on the tilt of the multiverse, can we still trust our ideas of achievement, progress and morality?

Andy Murray’s unexpectedly strong start against Roger Federer in the Wimbledon 2012 final put the Daily Telegraph columnist Matthew Norman in a science-fiction mood. ‘It seemed we’d been transported to one of those parallel universes into which Doctor Who likes to slip with insouciant ease,’ he commented. A year later, that alternative world became reality, as Murray took the title, leaving journalists to apply the same familiar image to others. Contrasting Murray with the doubles champion Jonny Marray — who still rents a flat and drives a Ford Fiesta, despite holding a Grand Slam title — the Daily Mail opined: ‘The stark reality is that the two champions, who share a passion for tennis, live and work in a parallel universe.’

Where did this idea of parallel universes come from? Science fiction is an obvious source: in the 1960s, Captain Kirk met his ‘other self’ in a Star Trek episode called ‘Mirror, Mirror’, while Philip K Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle (1963) imagined an alternate world in which the US was a Nazi puppet state. Since then, the idea has become mainstream, providing the image of forking paths in the romantic comedy Sliding Doors (1998), and the spine-chilling ‘What if?’ in Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America (2004), which envisaged the anti-Semitic aviator Charles Lindbergh defeating Roosevelt in 1940. But there’s also science fact. In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger proposed his famous thought experiment involving a cat in a box whose life or death is connected to a quantum event, and in 1957 the American physicist Hugh Everett developed his ‘many worlds’ theory, which proposed that the act of opening Schrödinger’s box entailed a splitting of universes: one where the cat is alive, and another where it is dead.

Recently, physicists have been boldly endorsing a ‘multiverse’ of possible worlds. Richard Feynman, for example, said that when light goes from A to B it takes every possible path, but the one we see is the quickest because all the others cancel out. In The Universe in a Nutshell (2001), Stephen Hawking went with a sporting multiverse, declaring it ‘scientific fact’ that there exists a parallel universe in which Belize won every gold medal at the Olympic Games. For Hawking, the universe is a kind of ‘cosmic casino’ whose dice rolls lead to widely divergent paths: we see one, but all are real.

    "Borges never considered how many millions of light years any poor soul would need to travel in order to find so much as a page worth reading."

Surprisingly, however, the idea of parallel universes is far older than any of these references, cropping up in philosophy and literature since ancient times. Even the word ‘multiverse’ has vintage. In a journal paper dating from 1895, William James referred to a ‘multiverse of experience’, while in his English Roses collection of 1899, the poet Frederick Orde Ward gave the term a spiritual cast: ‘Within, without, nowhere and everywhere;/Now bedrock of the mighty Multiverse...’

At the far reaches of this hidden history is Democritus, who believed the universe to be made of atoms moving in an infinite void. Over time, they would combine and recombine in every possible way: the world we see around us is just one arrangement among many that are all certain to appear. For Epicurus, who thought that atoms sometimes undergo a sudden random movement (‘swerve’) the whole future is not mapped out by mechanical principles, as it is for Democritus. Its paths are multiple. Epicureanism was the doctrine that survived into Roman times — as a philosophy of life in general, not just a physical theory. It was celebrated by Lucretius’s poem De Rerum Natura, and by Livy in a passage of the Academica:

"Would you believe that there exist innumerable worlds... and that just as we are at this moment close to Bauli and are looking towards Puteoli, so there are countless persons in exactly similar spots with our names, our honours, our achievements, our minds, our shapes, our ages, discussing the very same subject?"

For Epicurean atomists, history was a succession of accidental collisions. Human affairs were subject to the laws of matter, or pure chance, not the will of gods, and everywhere and always the outcomes of events might have been otherwise. Thus Livy (not an atomist, though a believer in chance) speculated on what might have transpired if Alexander the Great had invaded Italy. Such ‘What if?’ scenarios were shunned by later Christian historians, who saw divine providence as the principle guiding the grand course of human affairs. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet put it: ‘There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,/Rough-hew them how we will.’

In the 17th century, the mathematician and philosopher Gottfried von Leibniz introduced a new kind of multiverse. He was intrigued by the way that so many natural processes appear ‘optimised’— soap bubbles minimise surface area by being spherical; light beams take the quickest route through space. Detecting the work of a divine hand, Leibniz proposed that the universe is optimised in every detail by God. Thus was born ‘optimism’, the idea (ruthlessly parodied by Voltaire in Candide) that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Applying the theory to the problem of why evil exists, Leibniz gave it graphic form, as a pyramid, infinite and many-roomed, in each of which is a possible world. At the pyramid’s peak is the one true world we inhabit. Leibniz modelled the various possible lives of the notorious Sextus Tarquinius, speculating that in most rooms Sextus leads a virtuous life, but in the highest he rapes Lucretia and is banished. Why is that the best of possible worlds? Because his banishment leads to the founding of the Roman Republic: an evil act produces a greater good. Or, as optimists say nowadays when trying to come to terms with disaster, everything happens for a reason.

Unlike Democritus (who was an atheist), Leibniz insisted that the possible worlds exist purely in the mind of God, who selects one of them for true existence. Like a hologram, his universe is projected by God into every mind and made consistent by a ‘principle of harmony’. What makes it authentic is God’s benevolence: he wouldn’t play the nasty trick of making us believe in the reality of a false world. That scenario would be left for much later writers to contemplate, in darkly sinister films such as The Truman Show (1998) and The Matrix (1999).

Alexander Pope’s poem ‘An Essay on Man’ (1734) helped to sustain a Leibnizian optimism (‘Whatever is, is right’), and only in the 19th century do we see a significant re-emergence of the idea that the world might be shaped by chance after all. The British scholar Isaac D’Israeli, father of the future prime minister Benjamin, speculated in 1823 that ‘often on a single event revolve the fortunes of men and of nations’. In the essay ‘Of a History of Events Which Have Not Happened’ (1830), he paid tribute to Livy’s ancient example by exploring historical ‘What ifs?’ that imagined Cromwell forming an alliance with Spain, or a Muslim Britain under Saracen domination, where ‘we should have worn turbans, combed our beards instead of shaving them, [and] have beheld a more magnificent architecture than the Grecian’.

D’Israeli’s essay is one of the first examples of the ‘alternate history’ genre that Philip K Dick and so many others would take up, often as a subversive reaction against the ruling elite’s assumption that they were entitled to power. Before then, the upheavals of French politics proved fertile territory for such revisionist speculation. Napoléon et la conquête du monde (1812), by Louis Geoffroy, brought the victorious emperor to Britain, while in 1854 he made it to India in Joseph Méry’s Histoire de ce qui n’est pas arrive (‘History of What Never Happened’). Charles Renouvier’s Uchronie (1876) offered a complete rewriting of European history. Most interesting of all, Louis-Auguste Blanqui’s L’éternité par les astres (1872) offered an updated version of the Democritean multiverse which used 19th-century atomic theory to argue that there exist physically real planets where Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo.

Blanqui, a lifelong revolutionary agitator, was imprisoned by every regime under which he lived. The Paris Communards demanded his release so that he could be their president, and Karl Marx said that, had their wish been granted, the Commune might not have fallen. But Blanqui was too left-wing even for Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels, who denounced him as an anarchist.

Like Engels, Blanqui dabbled in scientific speculation. He’d picked up enough contemporary science to appreciate the probabilistic nature of two great theories of the time: thermodynamics and natural selection. He also appreciated the intimate connection between political ideology and scientific interpretation. It was Marx who said that the theory of natural selection was essentially a description of capitalism without the concept of class conflict, but Blanqui would surely have appreciated the observation.

    "In a village you don’t bump into the stranger who changes your life; in a city you might"

Marx, in fact, had studied Democritean atomism for his PhD in philosophy, and his own theory of history was similarly mechanistic: the ultimate rise of the proletariat was as inevitable as the fall of an apple. History is progress, and can only go one way, propelled by the class struggle. For Blanqui, atomism implied a different universe, for as well as planets where revolution succeeds, there are also ones where it has failed, or is failing right now. Every moment is effectively an eternity in space, repeated in different places in every possible variation. Historical progress is therefore illusory — a local phenomenon without meaning in the greater multiverse.

Blanqui’s bleak but supposedly rational vision could be seen as a pseudoscientific counterpart to other 19th-century nightmares of the educated mind: the heat-death of the universe or the extinction of species. It was a vision that later gripped the German literary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin.

In the 1920s, Benjamin embarked on a study of 19th-century Paris that would become The Arcades Project, a mass of quotation and commentary that remained in a fragmentary and disordered state when he died in 1940. One offshoot was the essay ‘On Some Motifs in Baudelaire’, in which Benjamin comments on the rise of gambling and speculation, the way that each throw of the dice represents a new start, a new world. He compares this to the factory conveyor belt, where each component is brand-new yet identical to the one before. The machine operator spends a day endlessly repeating some simple physical gesture, then finds amusement in doing the same thing at a slot machine. The mechanised world, like capitalism itself, is an apparent offer of constantly renewed hope, when really the one thing it must produce in order to perpetuate itself is a sense of constantly increased need.

For Benjamin, what was crucially new in the 19th-century world view was the crowd – that is, the statistical mass. He didn’t cite thermodynamics or natural selection, but instead two stories, ‘The Cousin’s Corner Window’ (1822) by E T A Hoffmann and ‘The Man of the Crowd’ (1840) by Edgar Allan Poe, which dramatised this new way of seeing the collective rather than the individual. With it came the rise of chance as a factor in people’s lives. In a village you don’t bump into the stranger who changes your life; in a city you might.

In the course of his studies, Benjamin discovered Baudelaire’s particular fascination with Blanqui, and this is perhaps how, in the late 1930s, Benjamin came to read L’éternité par les astres, writing excitedly to his fellow philosopher Max Horkheimer about it. According to Benjamin, Blanqui’s theory represents a tragic capitulation to everything the old revolutionaries fought against — a vision of bourgeois existence remodelled as cosmology, with replicated worlds like mass-produced consumer goods, inspiring passivity and boredom.

Around the same time, and quite independently, Blanqui’s book was read in Argentina by Jorge Luis Borges, who shared it with his friend and fellow writer Adolfo Bioy Casares. Casares was inspired to write a short story called ‘La trama celeste’ (1948) — ‘The Celestial Plot’ — in which an airman crashes and finds himself in a parallel world; the plot hinges on copies of Blanqui’s book that are differently paginated in the different universes.

Borges himself refers to Blanqui in his 1936 essay ‘A History of Eternity’. For Borges, Blanqui’s vision is heavenly — like the archive he describes in his short story ‘The Library of Babel’ (1941), a building that contains every possible book among its randomly generated texts. What Borges never considered in his story is how many millions of light years any poor soul would need to travel in order to find as much as a page worth reading. To any real inhabitant, the library would be indistinguishable from chaos, and it is only from the lofty vantage point of literary contemplation that the place assumes order. For Benjamin, however, the multiverse is not an intellectual parlour game, but a damning reflection of the society that produces it.

In a proposed introduction to The Arcades Project, Benjamin compares Blanqui’s multiverse to Baudelaire’s poem ‘Les sept vieillards’ (‘The Seven Old Men’, 1857), which takes a succession of identical old men and imagines them as a single man multiplied in some ‘infamous plot’. This, says Benjamin, is an image of modernity itself. An eventual consequence of such dehumanisation was the rise of fascism. In one of his last essays on the philosophy of history, Benjamin says that to understand fascism we need to appreciate how in an oppressive regime every day is presented as a new emergency.

Given that war is the archetypal splitting point for alternative history, perhaps the threat of fascism accounts for the rise in popularity of parallel-world stories in the 1940s, sometimes as wish-fulfilling escapism, as in the film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), or else as warnings of alternatives that could so easily happen. In Borges’s short story ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ (1940), for example, an invented world causes reality itself to cave in. A year later, Borges again worked the theme of branching realities, in a wartime spy story called ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’. When the American physicist Seth Lloyd met Borges at a Cambridge reception in 1983, he asked him if he was aware that this story eerily prefigured Hugh Everett’s concept of many worlds. Borges had never heard of it, but said that it didn’t surprise him that physics sometimes followed literature. After all, physicists are readers, too (of literature, and of history).

The theories of Everett, Feynman and others are highly technical, but physicists looking to explain them in ordinary language draw on the same common stock of image and metaphor as everyone else, and that stock has been around for a very long time. Feynman’s idea about light taking every possible path is essentially Leibniz’s, only without the need for God. That said, modern-day optimism is no longer a belief that all things were created for the best; it’s the belief that in the cosmic lottery, anyone can be a winner, whether you’re Andy Murray or just buying a lottery ticket.

After training as a theoretical physicist, I took up the harmless occupation of writing novels while many of my contemporaries went into finance. And look where they got us. Optimism is all very well, but sometimes scientists need to be reminded that ‘fact’ is a word to be handled with care.

Source: Aeon Magazine


Men in Black: Space Zombies?
By Nick Redfern

Within the controversial field of UFO research there are surely very few things more menacing than the sinister Men in Black. In the highly successful trilogy of MIB movies, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the dark-suited ones are portrayed as the secret agents of an equally secret government agency that is doing all that it can to keep the lid solidly on the alien presence on Earth.

The Men in Black were not created by, or for, Hollywood, however. Indeed, the MIB movies were based upon a comic-book series of the same name, which, in turn, was inspired by genuine encounters with these macabre characters dating back to the latter part of the 1940s.

The real Men in Black are very different to their movie counterparts, however. They are far less like government agents, and far more like definitive zombies –  in terms of both their appearances and their actions. In other words, the image that Smith and Jones portray on-screen is just about as far as you can get from the much darker, gruesome reality of the situation.

Despite what many might think or assume, the real MIB do not chiefly force their way into the homes of witnesses to UFO activity. Most of those that have encountered the MIB note a very curious fact: when the Men in Black make their calls on those who have seen or who investigate UFOs – calls that usually occur late at night, and long after the sun has set – they loudly knock on the door. Then, when the door is duly opened by the owner, who usually reacts with a mixture of fear and astonishment, they patiently wait to be invited in.

Very few people need to be told that this action of not entering a person’s home until specifically invited uneasily parallels the lore surrounding yet another undead monster that feeds upon the living: the grotesque, bloodsucking vampire.

Then there is the matter of the attire of the MIB. They curiously wear the typical black suits and fedora-style hats that were chiefly in vogue in the 1940s and 1950s. But it’s their unsettling physical appearance that matters most of all. They seldom exceed five-feet, five-inches in height, they are very often thin to the point of near-emaciation, and their skin is described as being not just white, but milk-white and very sickly.

As for those suits, they’re not the cool, chic, expensive types worn by the likes of agents J and K in the films. Rather, they are sometimes described as being crumpled, creased and badly-fitting. Interestingly, I have three cases on file – two from the US and one from the UK, and all three from the 1960s – where the MIB projected a distinct and distasteful odor described as being musty and dirt-like, something which provoked one of the witnesses to ponder on the possibility that the MIB had been underground for a significant period of time, possibly even in nothing less than…a grave.

Rather notably, and very closely echoing the data immediately above, the late John Keel – the author of the acclaimed book, The Mothman Prophecies – called this particular breed of MIB “the cadavers.” Keel said, and I quote him word for word:

“These are people who look like they’ve been dead a long time. Their clothes hang on them; their flesh is pasty white and they look like maybe somebody’s dug them up from a cemetery. This cadaverous type has turned up in strange places: England and Sweden.  I saw one in the early ‘60’s. They’re very elusive when you approach them, and hurry away. And they do have a habit of turning up in UFO areas and following UFO investigators around.”

We should not, of course, consider the Men in Black to be literal shambling or fast-running zombies of the cinematic variety -  in the sense of them trying to violently and physically devour us, after becoming infected with a mysterious virus. But, the fact is that some witnesses to the MIB have developed deep and disturbing suspicions that their mysterious visitors in black were feeding psychically on their bodily energy, leaving them feeling weak, nauseated, dizzy, and not unlike a diabetic in full-on crashing mode.

Are hostile space zombies in our very midst? And, if so, are they bleeding us dry – so to speak – and living and thriving on our life-forces? Don’t bet against it, and particularly so if, late one night, you hear a loud, slow and deliberate knocking on your door.

The outcome of such a visit may not quite be so savagely akin to encountering the reanimated dead of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead; of the 1964 movie, The Last Man on Earth; or of  my favorite TV show, The Walking Dead. In a roundabout and highly alternative fashion, however, it might not be that far off either...

Source: Mysterious Universe


Miniature 'Human Brain' Grown in Lab

Miniature "human brains" have been grown in a lab in a feat scientists hope will transform the understanding of neurological disorders.

The pea-sized structures reached the same level of development as in a nine-week-old foetus, but are incapable of thought.

The study, published in the journal Nature, has already been used to gain insight into rare diseases.

Neuroscientists have described the findings as astounding and fascinating.

The human brain is one of the most complicated structures in the universe.

Scientists at Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences have now reproduced some of the earliest stages of the organ's development in the laboratory.

Brain bath

They used either embryonic stem cells or adult skin cells to produce the part of an embryo that develops into the brain and spinal cord - the neuroectoderm.

This was placed in tiny droplets of gel to give a scaffold for the tissue to grow and was placed into a spinning bioreactor, a nutrient bath that supplies nutrients and oxygen.

The cells were able to grow and organise themselves into separate regions of the brain, such as the cerebral cortex, the retina, and, rarely, an early hippocampus, which would be heavily involved in memory in a fully developed adult brain.

The researchers are confident that this closely, but far from perfectly, matches brain development in a foetus until the nine week stage.

The tissues reached their maximum size, about 4mm (0.1in), after two months.

The "mini-brains" have survived for nearly a year, but did not grow any larger. There is no blood supply, just brain tissue, so nutrients and oxygen cannot penetrate into the middle of the brain-like structure.

One of the researchers, Dr Juergen Knoblich, said: "What our organoids are good for is to model development of the brain and to study anything that causes a defect in development.

"Ultimately we would like to move towards more common disorders like schizophrenia or autism. They typically manifest themselves only in adults, but it has been shown that the underlying defects occur during the development of the brain."

The technique could also be used to replace mice and rats in drug research as new treatments could be tested on actual brain tissue.


Researchers have been able to produce brain cells in the laboratory before, but this is the closest any group has come to building a human brain.

The breakthrough has excited the field.

Prof Paul Matthews, from Imperial College London, told the BBC: "I think it's just mindboggling. The idea that we can take a cell from a skin and turn it into, even though it's only the size of a pea, is starting to look like a brain and starting to show some of the behaviours of a tiny brain, I think is just extraordinary.

"Now it's not thinking, it's not communicating between the areas in the way our brains do, but it gives us a real start and this is going to be the kind of tool that helps us understand many of the major developmental brain disorders."

The team has already used the breakthrough to investigate a disease called microcephaly. People with the disease develop much smaller brains.

By creating a "mini-brain" from skin cells of a patient with this condition, the team were able to study how development changed.

They showed that the cells were too keen to become neurons by specialising too early. It meant the cells in the early brain did not bulk up to a high enough number before specialising, which affected the final size of even the pea-sized "mini-brains".

The team in Vienna do not believe there are any ethical issues at this stage, but Dr Knoblich said he did not want to see much larger brains being developed as that would be "undesirable".

Dr Zameel Cader, a consultant neurologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, said he did not see ethical issues arising from the research so far.

He told the BBC: "It's a long way from conscience or awareness or responding to the outside world. There's always the spectre of what the future might hold, but this is primitive territory."

Dr Martin Coath, from the cognition institute at Plymouth University, said: "Any technique that gives us 'something like a brain' that we can modify, work on, and watch as it develops, just has to be exciting.

"If the authors are right - that their 'brain in a bottle' develops in ways that mimic human brain development - then the potential for studying developmental diseases is clear. But the applicability to other types of disease is not so clear - but it has potential.

"Testing drugs is, also, much more problematic. Most drugs that affect the brain act on things like mood, perception, control of your body, pain, and a whole bunch of other things. This brain-like-tissue has no trouble with any of these things yet."

(Special Thanks to James Haarp, host of Cosmic Horizons on Blogtalk Radio, for bringing this story to our attention.)

Source: BBC


Ghost Hunters Haunted By New Terror: Competition
By John Blake

Zak Bagans tiptoes into a darkened bedroom, hunting a predator.

"Are you here, can you talk to us?" he asks, scanning the empty room where he just heard mysterious steps.

Bagans was summoned to Victoria's Black Swan Inn in San Antonio because something strange was afoot. Jo Ann Rivera, the inn's owner, told him that disembodied voices threatened to kill her, invisible hands groped her, and something yanked the sheets off her daughter's bed at night, leaving bruises on the girl's legs.

Bagans, the buff star of the Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures" series, is prepared to do battle, but with what he does not know. As he and Rivera creep through the darkness, they are about to find out.

"Something just came up on me and backed me up," Bagans says, his voice rising in alarm.

Rivera turns to respond, and her eyes widen in shock.

They have a "visitor."

Chasing gigs instead of ghosts

We've heard of ghosts that harass the living. Now people are starting to harass the ghosts. Virtually every night on television, a paranormal investigator like Bagans can be seen trying to summon a ghost or "dark spirit." All across America, novice investigative teams are creeping through people's homes at night, trying to get rid of their paranormal pests.

The public's fascination with the paranormal, though, has created a problem. Ghost-hunting teams are chasing television gigs more than ghosts, some investigators say. The allure of fame, they say, has done what the forces of darkness could not do -- turn ghost hunters against one another.

The stars of some paranormal shows feud over whose show is real or fake. Local ghost-hunting teams refuse to work together because they see each other as business rivals. Some teams refuse to share spooky "evidence" captured on film because they plan to use it as a demo tape for a potential television pilot or a Hollywood movie like "The Conjuring," investigators say.

For years the paranormal community functioned like an extended family: People bonded over shared experiences with the supernatural and joined one another on ghost-hunting expeditions. Now, though, the feuding has turned so toxic that some ghost-hunting groups have mounted a "Paranormal Unity" campaign via social media to get rid of all the "paradrama."

"With all of these paranormal shows, we're asking people to unite and to quit being so selfish and childish and share evidence and experiences with one another," Bagans says. "People don't need to compete against one another."

That may be unavoidable, though, because the law of supply and demand is hitting the paranormal community. There's a ghost-hunting glut: too many teams and not enough hauntings to go around, says Bill Wilkens, who created paranormalsocieties.com, a national online database of ghost-hunting teams across the United States.

Wilkens says 4,413 ghost-hunting teams are registered on his site, and 200 more have asked to be added. His site also lists potential cases. Movie producers and casting directors frequently call him, asking for the creepiest stories and the most telegenic investigators. He had to hire an assistant to help him run the site.

Everybody, it seems, wants a piece of that paranormal pie.

"Sometimes when I post a case," he says, "I might have eight teams respond."

Why ghost hunters are sexy

Paranormal investigators used to be as coy as the ghosts they tried to coax into the open. Many hid their vocation from neighbors and friends because they didn't want to be called kooky. Now they're cool. They speak at corporate events, land book deals and get appearance fees at college lectures and paranormal conferences.

Ghost hunters have gone from being nerds to action stars. Some have even become sex symbols.

"It's true," says Steven LaChance, a paranormal investigator who wrote "The Uninvited." The 2008 book is a harrowing account of what happened to his family when they moved into an old home he says was haunted by malevolent spirits.

When "The Uninvited" was featured in a Discovery Channel documentary, LaChance says he was contacted by women who thought there was something hot about a man tangling with the supernatural.

LaChance chuckles at his new image. He mimics the voice-of-doom baritone of a horror movie narrator:

"He was the guy who fought the devil for his children. He stood toe to toe with the devil."

Click onto some paranormal stars' websites and you'll see men dressed in tight black T-shirts, black shades and leather jackets, staring into the camera with grim determination. Most of these stars may be men, but the fan base is primarily women.

Bagans, host of "Ghost Adventures," embodies the new ghost-hunter-with-an-attitude persona. He often taunts ghosts during his investigations ("You want us; you got us"), and one of his most memorable scenes came when he took off his shirt during an investigation, revealing his muscles and tattoos.

"There're definitely girls into that," says Wilkens, of paranormalsocieties.com. "It's a bad-boy thing."

Bagans has become a brand. On his website, he cradles a silver skull while advertising his Twitter handle. He has his own "Dungeon Wear" clothing line and a "NecroFusion" rock album for sale, and he has posted an interview with Muscle & Fitness magazine to share the secrets of his chest workout.

He says he's been criticized by investigators on another popular paranormal television show, but he won't say who.

"It's unfortunate that some shows feel like they own the paranormal," he says. "There's one show in particular, they talk a lot of crap."

Before paranormal investigators fought one another, though, they first fought for credibility.

Critics have long said ghosts don't exist and that paranormal shows are faked. Even "South Park" lampooned the overactive imaginations of ghost-hunting teams by depicting one duo as flinching at every stir of the wind before asking, "Did you hear that?"

One of the most formidable critics of the paranormal community is a former detective and magician who says he knows all the tricks.

Joe Nickell has been investigating hauntings since attending his first séance in 1969. He has been featured on many television shows debunking the supernatural, and has written a book aimed at disproving some of the most famous paranormal cases, "Entities: Angels, Spirits, Demons and other Alien Beings."

Nickell says he's never seen a ghost or any other supernatural entity in 44 years of investigations.

"I've never been able to find one," he says.

He has a theory, though, about why people are so fascinated with the paranormal.

"The paranormal, by and large, promises pretty wonderful things," he says. "If ghosts are real, then we don't really die. If I were voting, I would vote for that. There's a big market for this."

The show that started it all

The market for the contemporary fascination with ghost hunters can be traced primarily to one show: "Ghost Hunters" on the Syfy Channel. "Ghost Hunters" is to the paranormal field what Sugarhill's "Rapper's Delight" is to hip-hop -- it launched a subculture. The show was developed by Craig Piligian, founder of Pilgrim Studios, which created reality shows like "American Chopper" and "Dirty Jobs." The show was launched in 2004 and remains the Syfy Channel's top-rated paranormal reality show.

Piligian says he was inspired after reading a New York Times story about two Roto-Rooter plumbers who also offered house calls to fix paranormal disturbances.

"The same qualities they used to fix a leaky pipe they used in their work to debunk whether or not a place was haunted," Piligian says. "It was almost mechanical in nature, and not so much voodoo."

Jason Hawes is one of those plumbers and now the no-nonsense star of "Ghost Hunters." A gruff guy with a shaved head and goatee, he's also the co-founder of the Atlantic Paranormal Society. He's feted at paranormal conferences, speaks at corporate events and has written seven books on his ghost-hunting experiences.

"The fame is great, but the minute I'm done filming, it's all about my family," says Hawes. He and his wife met in junior high and have five children. "I'm still a little plumber from Rhode Island."

Hawes said the popularity of paranormal shows has added visibility to the field, but that some shows have damaged its credibility because they don't take a scientific approach to cases.

He won't name names, but he says some shows launch investigations assuming a place is haunted and allow cable production companies to handle evidence, which he says leaves room for fabrication.

"Ghost Hunters" won't allow the Syfy Channel to touch any evidence, and nothing on the show is fabricated, he says.

"A lot of our cases never air," Hawes says. "We go in believing that 80% of all claims can be disproved."

Hawes, Bagans and other paranormal stars may be famous, but there's one ghost-hunting duo that stands above all the rest: Lorraine and Ed Warren, the couple depicted in this year's Hollywood film, "The Conjuring."

The husband-and-wife team were investigating ghosts before it was hip. They founded The New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952 and investigated the notorious paranormal case that inspired the book and film "The Amityville Horror."

Ed Warren died in 2006, but Lorraine, who was portrayed by Oscar-nominated actress Vera Farmiga, discovered during a recent trip to the pharmacy that she's a celebrity herself.

"I had to pick up my prescription and the first thing they said was, 'Lorraine, you're a movie star!'"

When she left a premiere of "The Conjuring," she says she was surrounded by fans who wanted to know about her work.

Some asked if "The Conjuring" exaggerated all the spooky things she encountered.

"Maybe certain dramatic things, but not the important things," says Warren, at 86 a buoyant woman who calls strangers "honey" and seems tickled by her fame. "I'm very proud of it."

Warren is a devout Christian who says she became a paranormal investigator to bring people closer to God. "The Conjuring" is filled with chilling moments, but she doesn't consider herself brave.

"I'm brave in my faith," she says. "That's where my bravery comes from."

Their most terrifying cases

Thanks to TV shows and movies like "The Conjuring," paranormal investigators say they've never been busier.

Claudia Lee, director of Roswell Georgia Paranormal Investigations, says she has seen a "tremendous increase" in requests for help. When she and her investigators arrive at people's homes, their clients easily slip into the ghost-hunting jargon they've heard on TV -- talking about feeling "cold spots" or seeing "orbs" of floating lights.

Lee says the paranormal shows have created "mass hysteria" -- people think something paranormal is going on in their home when the explanation is often mundane.

"We will often get a call with clients that are convinced that the dust particles in their photographs are actual demons," Lee says.

Some investigators say that there are times, though, when they encounter something that is terrifying.

Lee says her team met a single mom who was being "oppressed by some type of demonic activity." A priest was called in to perform an exorcism.

"When he arrived, the client's eyes were all black," she says. "The eyes were crystal blue when the priest finished."

Lee says she didn't sleep for weeks after that case, which was eventually filmed by the Discovery Channel as "The Exorcism of Cindy Sauer" (It's on YouTube).

"You never know what you're going to walk into," Lee says. "I have never seen anything like that in my life. I thought maybe I shouldn't do this."

John Zaffis, a paranormal investigator for 38 years, has walked into his share of strange situations. He's been dubbed the "Godfather of the Paranormal" and hosts the television show "Haunted Collector." He's Lorraine Warren's nephew, and his investigations have been featured on the Discovery Channel and "Unsolved Mysteries."

Zaffis says he's been attacked.

"I've been scratched, I've been burned. I've seen people levitate. I've seen people's eyes change, and I've seen people thrown around," he says. "That changes how you look at things."

Noah Voss, a paranormal investigator for 25 years who sells ghost-hunting equipment at GetGhostGear.com, says the job requires not just courage, but sensitivity as well. People share experiences with him that they don't even reveal to their spouses.

"I've had guys bigger than me break down and cry, saying to me that they can't go back into their house because it's haunted," says Voss, who is 6-feet-4 and more than 200 pounds.

But Voss and others say those moments of terror are not routine. Some compare it to fishing: There's a lot of preparation, but nothing usually happens. It's not like TV, where a ghost appears in every episode.

Some of the newer ghost-hunting groups aren't prepared for the mundane nature of actual paranormal investigations and worry that they might miss out on their big chance, Voss says. "People will say, 'My group has been investigating for six months and we still haven't had our own TV show.'"

Some inexperienced teams give new meaning to taking their work home with them, says "Uninvited" author LaChance.

"Novice teams will try to provoke spirits, and the next thing you know these things follow them home," he says. "About two years ago, we had more investigative teams calling us to help them than individual families. It was crazy."

LaChance wishes he did not believe in the paranormal.

He investigated one case involving a couple's 50-pound pit bull. The couple had treated their dog like it was their child. But when he showed up, the dog was inside its cage, dead. Blood was everywhere. He says an entity had thrown the dog, cage and all, down the hall and killed it.

Like some other paranormal investigators, LaChance talks about his work like it's a ministry. Many ghost-hunting teams don't charge for investigations. They see their work as a way to help people in distress.

"It has to do with helping someone else who is in the same situation I found myself in at one time," he says, recalling the house where he says malevolent spirits attacked his children. "When I went looking for help back when I needed it, I could not find it."

Zak Bagans meets a ghost

Back at Victoria's Black Swan Inn, Zak Bagans has his own encounter with an unexpected "visitor." It happens during the second episode of the show's eighth season.

As Bagans stands in a darkened bedroom, he learns from the inn's owner that her mother recently died in the same room only months earlier. The owner, Jo Ann Rivera, asks Bagans to summon her mother's spirit and ask her to say something that would establish her identity.

Nothing happens at first. As he stands in the deserted bedroom, Bagans tosses questions aloud at Rivera's mother while holding a recording device.

Bagans then jumps because he says he feels something enter the room. He rewinds his electronic device and pushes the play button.

The TV camera's microphone picks up the faint voice of an elderly woman saying an odd word: "Bossier."

"Bossier," Bagans says to Rivera. "What is that all about?"

Rivera is stunned. Her eyes widen, and she starts to cry. Bossier is Bossier City, Louisiana.

"Bossier is where she liked to gamble," Rivera says of her mother. "That's where she wanted to go before she died. Nobody knows that word except for me."

Rivera's voice cracks, and she wipes tears away.

"I'm sorry," she says, embarrassed by her emotion.

"Don't be sorry," Bagans says as he hugs her.

Later, Bagans says cases like these are why he became a paranormal investigator. "To help people like her, to get evidence like that -- you cannot deny that evidence."

Sure you can, say skeptics, who question whether such scenes are real or simply a bid to boost ratings.

"There's an old saying," says Zaffis, the "Godfather of the Paranormal." "To the believer, we have an overabundance of evidence. To the nonbeliever, we never have enough."

The encounter certainly appeared to leave its mark on Rivera, the owner of the Black Swan Inn. In Bagans' "Ghost Adventures," she was a shaken woman whose family was under attack by demonic entities.

Go online, though, and Rivera seems to have recovered. She posted an online essay entitled, "Yes, I Live with Ghosts!" Rivera announces that her inn is haunted and offers access to ghost-hunting teams. It's also advertised as a "world-class wedding venue" that stages more than 20 weddings each year.

In an interview that accompanies her post, a smiling Rivera adds that she's taken on another job title:

She's now a paranormal investigator.

Source: CNN


Pennies From Heaven
By Kelly Roncace

Since I can remember, I’ve heard stories of people finding pennies in strange places after the passing of a loved one.

I wasn’t sure if seeing these tiny copper coins laying around was just coincidence, or if there could be a connection to the spirit world.

It has long been believed by many that found pennies are signs from lost loved ones or angels — something to tell you that you are not alone.

But why pennies? There are so many other coins to choose from — nickels, dimes, quarters — that are circulated just as much if not more than pennies, but we don’t seem to find these silver-colored coins randomly lying around.

So, I decided to consult the Google search bar and actually found out why pennies could be the calling card for our departed.

Copper — the metal of which pennies are made up — is considered a conductor and apparently relatively easy to be manipulated by a spirit. Copper is a conductor for electromagnetic fields, which are said to be emitted by spirits.

Dowsing — a type of divination used to locate water, buried metals or elements, oil, gravesites and many other materials or items — is sometimes done using rods or other conductive metals such as iron.

Dating back to the 15th century, dowsing rods have also been used to communicate with spirits.

In those early days, dowsing was thought to be an act of occultism and satanic.

However, in paranormal investigations, the theory is that the rods act as a conductor of hidden energy sources and that spirits reside within these fields and draw upon the energy to manifest themselves.

Because spirits are thought to be connected to energy fields, they could, in theory, manipulate the rods in response to "yes" or "no" questions.

Dowsing rods are embedded into handles which are held firmly in each hand. The rods are free to swivel in response to elements, running water or spirit interaction.

Based on the thought that copper is easily manipulated by those in the spirit world, it makes sense that ghosts could leave pennies behind as they travel through our world.

So, the next time you find a penny in an odd place or somewhere you know there had not been one previously, open your mind and let yourself hold on to the hope that it could be a gift from a loved one.

Source: NJ


Haunted Houses Give Japan Chills in Hot Summer

A shiver down the spine is one way of keeping cool during summer in Japan -- traditionally viewed as a time when the spirit world makes its presence felt.

August sees millions of Japanese return to their home towns for the Obon season, in which relatives gather to temporarily welcome back the spirits of their dead forebears.

Despite its association with the deceased, Obon is a cheerful period that frequently involves fireworks and dancing in "yukata", a light summer kimono.

But it's also a time for ghost stories, with dozens of temporary haunted houses opening up across the country to mark the season.

"Goosebumps can be very refreshing," said Sayaka Makabe, a schoolgirl who came to witness "The Cursed Tooth" at Tokyo Dome, which tells the story of a woman driven to madness after sacrificing her once pearly white teeth for her child and has been condemned to pull them out one-by-one.

To allow her to rest in peace, visitors must pluck a black tooth from her mouth and take it to the exit. As her screams echo around the building, a loudspeaker relays the public's fearful cries to those queuing up to get in.

Three small children cling to their father, Ryuta Sato, in terror as they stand in front of an old woman with a knife stuck in her throat, surrounded by pools of fake blood.

"I used to visit these kinds of things when I was a kid," said 42-year-old Sato, who admitted he was more scared than he was letting on.

"The dead come back to the human world in August. This is a period in which all kinds of terrifying things are supposed to happen," said Hirofumi Gomi, the creator of "The Cursed Tooth", who is credited with setting up dozens of other haunted houses around the country.

The tradition goes back to the Edo period (1603-1868), when people packed Kabuki theatres in August to see ghost stories.

Obon religious ceremonies are based on the popular belief that ancestral spirits spend a few days on Earth in the month of August.

Families craft small "horses" from cucumbers and toothpicks, symbolising a form of transport for spirits to come from the netherworld.

As the festival ends, small boats with lanterns are set adrift, taking souls back to heaven.

"I have always practised this tradition because I think my parents really come back, I sometimes feel their presence with me," said Yumiko Tominaga, visiting a cemetery in Hitachiota, north of Tokyo, with her husband to sweep the graves of his ancestors.

"When I die, if I go back to Earth, I will certainly be happy if my children greet me the same way."

Source: Menafn

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