Case Number: 26834
Log Number: US-12032010-0002
Submitted Date: 2010-12-03 03:32 GMT
Event Date: 2010-12-03 23:30 GMT
Distance: 100 feet or less
Entity Type: Other
Vallee Index: AN1
My parents are out of town for the week so they asked me to house sit for them, so I headed up to their house in the mountains with my dog (extremely smart Australian Shepard) after work at around 10:00 pm. At 11:30 I went into the kitchen to make something to eat and as I was washing my hands at the sink I saw 2 flashes of blue light through the sliding glass door in the back yard out of the corner of my eye. I didn't think much of it and went over to the stove. So now I'm facing the sliding glass window and as I look up I see another flash except this time its in my direct vision and my dog sees it too, perks her ears up and starts growling. As I stand there, kind of in shock, I see 2 more flashes all within 15-20 seconds of each other. So as my dog and I are standing there staring out the into the darkness, after what felt like maybe a minute after seeing the lights, both my dog and I hear a loud bang come from one of the bedrooms upstairs. I immediately call 911 and head straight into my mom and dads room to grab a gun. Dispatch tells me to stay in the room and hide somewhere to wait for the police to arrive and not even 30 seconds later I hear the police cars pull into the driveway so I put the gun away and crawl out the window to meet them (yes I grabbed my dog too).
The officers searched the house and the surrounding area for a good 20 minutes and find nothing. Here's where it gets weird, as I'm telling one of the officers about the lights 2 other officers, who were standing over at their car talking to each other, immediately walk over to me and start asking me questions about them, what did they look like, what color were they, what shape were they, etc... So I ask the officers why they're so interested and they tell me that they have had numerous calls throughout the past year regarding the exact same thing, and apparently another officer (who wasn't there) had seen them recently too. Now keep in mind that this area is in the Denver metro foothills where every house sits on about and acre of land and in my parents case, the nearest house is over a mile away and the back yard is literally a forest. But its now 1:05 am as I'm writing this and I haven't heard or seen a single thing since the police arrived about an hour ago. What I thought the lights were at first, was that it was a flashlight from someone trespassing, then once I heard the bang I thought for sure that they had broken in.
Only when I saw that look on the officers face when I was describing it did I realize this was something else. Thinking back to it now it doesn't make any sense that it would be a flashlight because when the flashes would occur it had no motion, the light was solid. The lights would just shine in place for a second or two, then go away. And the bang sound, I really don't know how to describe. It was as if someone dropped a heavy box or something in one of the bedrooms, and to be honest I'm still too afraid to go in there and see if anything is out of place. I don't know why I even got on here and wrote this, I just remembered seeing this organization on 9news a long time ago and thought that this might interest you. Anyways, that was my experience tonight.
NOTE: hopefully, there will be a followup to this incident...Lon
Convicted Cult Leader Charles Manson Caught With Cell Phone in Prison, Texting
PWNN - Who was Charles Manson texting? That’s the question everyone wants an answer to as well as the more pertinent one: How did Charles Manson get a cell phone in prison? There’s a growing number of inmates nationwide obtaining cell phones in prison and Charles Manson is the newest famed inmate to be caught red handed. According to a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections, Charles Manson had an LG flip phone hidden under his mattress. He also used the phone and sent text messages to New Jersey, California and Florida. It is unclear who Charles Manson contacted and the nature of the messages has not yet been publicly released.
At 78-years-old, Charles Manson remains one of the most notorious inmates in the nation’s history. His case was interesting in that he was not charged with the infamous murders of Sharon Tate (and her unborn son), Wojciech ‘Voytek’ Frykowski, Steven Parent, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring on August 9, 1969 on Cielo Drive. Instead, he was charged with masterminding the murders and exhibiting great control over his followers referred to as Manson family members. On August 10, 1969, Charles Manson accompanied several other family member to another home where this followers would murder Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Due to Manson’s proven control over his followers, and the fact that his teachings led them to commit horrific murders, Charles Manson is classified as a cult leader.
Prison authorities continue monitor inmates looking for cell phones and other contraband. Cell phones have been linked to additional crimes and with Manson’s control over his followers, many will question whether he used the cell phone to send crime related messages. At this point, it has not been stated whether or not Charles Manson was speaking to family members or what the messages were in regards to.
Charles Manson was found guilty of 27 counts on January 25, 1971; he has been incarcerated since. He has been in a number of prisons including Folsom State Prison, California Medical Facility and San Quentin. Charles Manson is currently behind bars at Corcoran State Prison.
New Diplomatic Cables Contain UFO Details, Says Wikileaks Founder
sify - Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said that the new leaked diplomatic cables set to be published by the whistleblowing website will contain fresh details on UFOs.
The 39 year-old Australian, who is wanted by Interpol over a charge of rape and sexual assault in Sweden, said there were some references to extraterrestrial life in yet-to-be-published confidential files obtained from the American government.
He did not revealed what information was contained in the diplomatic memos obtained by the website.
It also remains unclear when they will be published.
Assange said his website, under considerable strain in recent days over its "Cablegate" series of leaks, received emails from "weirdos" claiming to have seen UFOs.
"Many weirdos email us about UFOs or how they discovered that they were the anti-christ whilst talking with their ex-wife at a garden party over a pot-plant," the Telegraph quoted him as saying, when asked if any of the documents he had received referred to extraterrestrial life.
"However, as yet they have not satisfied two of our publishing rules. 1) that the documents not be self-authored; 2) that they be original.
"It is worth noting that in yet-to-be-published parts of the cablegate archive there are indeed references to UFOs," he added.
Assange's comments were made during a webchat with The Guardian.
UK Top Cops Lose Dead Colleague in the Toilet
metro - When a senior drugs officer with Britain’s ‘FBI’ went missing, his colleagues were baffled. The Serious Organised Crime Agency, admired for its investigative skills and hi-tech crime-fighting abilities, marshalled its resources in the hunt. If only they had checked the toilets. Two ‘extensive searches’ of the offices failed to turn up anything and, 16 hours after he was last seen, the officer’s colleagues called his wife and told her she should report him missing to local police.
He was eventually found at 4am the next day by a security guard on his regular rounds, who noticed the toilet cubicle door had been shut for a ‘considerable time’. The guard then called Soca officers who kicked down the door and found their colleague dead on the toilet, just a few metres from his desk in the London offices of the agency.
Bosses have since ordered that 10cm (4in) be lopped off the bottom of cubicle doors so they could easily check if anyone was trapped. The agency, which employs 4,200 staff and has 40 offices in Britain, refused to confirm when the officer was found dead earlier this year, but a source said he ‘vanished’ after going to the toilet at 12pm.
The source said his colleague, a team leader in charge of Soca’s Interpol drugs desk, was not found until the early hours the next day. He added that Soca was ‘staffed by brand new, inexperienced staff who are keen to assist but who have little, if any, background experience in law enforcement work’. A police source, who has worked in the Met for 15 years, said: ‘How these guys can be called Britain’s FBI when they can’t even find their own officer 50ft from his desk is an embarrassment.’
UFO Enthusiasts Want to Build Memorial to 'Fallen Aliens' in Ukraine
usatoday - In Ukraine, UFO enthusiasts want to build a memorial to "fallen aliens" who have died during their alleged Earthly encounters, the Russia-based news channel RT tells us.
These "ufologists" are collecting money for their extraterrestrial monument in the historic northern city of Berdichev, the project's organizer, Aleksandr Nalisman, told a local newspaper. RT recounts that report, writing that aliens "usually became the victims of different catastrophes," including "a jet fighter [that] collided with a UFO in 1997 in the ancient city of Kherson."
The source says the UFO's pieces were taken by Ukrainian soldiers for examination. Later, they succeeded in bringing down six more UFOs. It helped them "begin constructing its analogue." Whether the scientists have found the remains of the fallen UFO pilots is not known.
Nalisman issued his call for remembrance because "people of Earth have not paid attention to the lives of the aliens."
Arguments can be made that the evidence for ancient astronauts comes from supposed gaps in historical and archaeological records, and they also maintain that absent or incomplete explanations of historical or archaeological data point to the existence of ancient astronauts. The evidence is said to include archaeological artifacts that are beyond the presumed technical capabilities of the historical cultures with which they are associated. This also includes artwork and legends that are interpreted as depicting extraterrestrial contact or technologies.
Notwithstanding these contentions, let us say that there is an axiom to the ancient astronaut theory. Then we need to ask, who were these beings? What did they represent to the inhabitants of earth? Where these beings the ancient Gods of antiquity?
I would like to periodically chronicle my speculation of how the native people interpreted these unknown entities. This edition describes Anu, Lord of the Great Above.
To the Sumerians and all of Mesopotamia, Anu was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, and the father not only of all the gods but also of evil spirits and demons, most prominently the demoness Lamashtu, who preyed on infants. He was the father of the Anunnaku (also spelled Anunnaki). It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was a royal tiara decorated with two pairs of bull horns. His symbol resembles somewhat like a Maltese cross, representing as it appears the four points of the compass and hence the entire heavens. His bow, which is frequently mentioned, can probably be identified as the Milky Way.
Anu possesses vast powers of an unknown nature, which seem to surpass the powers of any other Mesopotamian god. Magical in their form and nature, these powers can be employed in numerous forms. He can project rays of mystical forms resembling modern lasers that can explode on impact and erect shields and objects such as thrones and ships from this energy. He can also create dimensional portals at will to travel between earth and heaven and create spells that augment or enforce spells already in existence. He can project his image, voice or energy bolts from heaven to earth and even place bondage spells powerful enough of bonding individuals to certain realms. Anu seems to have limited precognitive and sensory awareness to perceive facts and information from beyond time and space.
Anu was considered part of a triad including Enlil, god of the air and Enki, god of water. In the Code of Hammurabi it is said that then the goddess Inanna (or Antum) of Ereck may at one time have been his consort. Anu is so prominently associated with the city of Erech in southern Babylonia that there are good reasons for believing this place to have been the original seat of the Anu cult. Anu was the god of the 'great above', and the son of the first pair of gods, Ansar and Kisar, descendant of Apsu and Tiamat.
In the Sumerian cosmology there was, first of all, the primeval sea, from which was born the cosmic mountain consisting of heaven, 'An', and earth, 'Ki'. They were separated by Enlil, then Anu carried off the heavens, and Enlil the earth.
According to the Earth Chronicles series by Zecharia Sitchin, the wife of Anu was a fertility goddess and the mother of the gods; her cult was centered in Munster. However, Anu was one of the Anunnaki who came from the planet Nibiru (Marduk). According to Sitchin's theories on Sumerian legend and lore, the Anunnaki arrived first on Earth probably 400,000 years ago, looking for minerals, especially gold, which they found and mined gold in Africa.
After ruling for 9 years of his own, Anu was dethroned by his son, Enlil. There have been comparisons with the myth of Anu's dethronement to that of the Greek myth concerning Zeus and his father, Cronos. Like Cronos, Anu was castrated by his son with a bronze sickle.
Anu cursed Enlil to have three miserable sons for his disobedience and escaped. He retires to the upper heavens where Anu welcomed most of the gods into this new realm he called Celestial Dilmun, but Enlil, now calling himself Dagon, was soon overthrown by his brother Hadad, now called Baal. He confined both of them to Earth and after both of them were ousted as rulers, he confined both of them to separate kingdoms in the underworld. From the heavens, Anu reclaimed his role as King of the gods.
NOTE: These 2 videos have been floating around the internet...supposed 'alien' faces. I have very sincere doubts, but fun to look at...you decide. Lon
Jeweler Promote Pre-Rapture Sale
duluthnewstribune - Larry Falter, owner of Superior’s LTD Jewelers, hit upon a novel idea for his latest TV commercial — blending a storewide sale with his belief that the second coming of Jesus is near.
After opening with the trumpeting of horns and a glimpse of a land assailed by fire and lighting, the 30-second ad shows Falter in his store, stating his belief that as he reads the news “we are really close” to the Day of the Lord and the return of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem.
“Nonetheless, here and now, if you want jewelry, I have access to millions,” he then says. And it’s all on sale at 50 percent off during his Second Coming sale.
“I thought, ‘I am going to have some fun here, be bold about my faith position and make a commercial that would tell people how I believe things are in the world’ ” before transitioning into a sales ad, Falter, 65, said Wednesday.
“I’m trying to be upfront with my faith and my position,” he said. “If anybody wants to see my jewelry or talk about the Lord’s coming, I’m here.”
Falter, the head elder for Beth Yeshaa Twin Ports, a Messianic Congregation, made the ad after returning from a trip to Israel earlier this year. It began airing on two Duluth stations in early November. It will continue to air through most of December.
The blend of apocalyptic imagery with a jewelry sale has raised eyebrows.
“The first thing that crossed my mind was the line ‘Diamonds are forever,’ and I thought, ‘Is he going to go there with that?’ And he didn’t,” Michael Gatlin, Vineyard Christian Fellowship senior pastor, said after viewing the commercial.
“For me, from a theological prospective, I don’t find it helpful at all,” he said.
Gatlin worked in marketing for years as an art director.
“At that level, I can’t picture anyone rushing out to buy jewelry because the Day of the Lord is imminent,” he said. “Other than that, I just find that stuff kind of sadly humorous.”
Falter has received a few calls and store visits from people wanting to talk about the commercials.
“If Jesus really is coming back, why would I want diamonds?” Falter said one person asked. But so far he’s only received one negative comment. It came from a Buddhist who was uncomfortable with Falter mixing faith and selling jewelry in an ad.
In addition to the TV ad, Falter is using a large banner outside his Tower Avenue store to advertise his Second Coming sale.
“It’s giving me the opportunity to talk to people about things that maybe I wouldn’t have normally mixed in during my business day,” he said of the campaign.
The campaign is attracting attention beyond the Twin Ports area. The ad has been posted on YouTube and at least one other website. Bloggers and Minnesota Public Radio have mentioned it or interviewed a somewhat surprised Falter.
“I wasn’t expecting to get any attention,” he said.
So far, no one has asked Falter why, if he believes the Second Coming is near, he just doesn’t give the jewelry away. But he has a ready answer.
“I have ethical obligations to people I owe money to,” he said. “If I couldn’t discharge those ethical responsibilities, I wouldn’t be giving a very good witness. I don’t want to profit at someone else’s expense.”
Haitian Mob Kills 12 Over Fear of Cholera Spread by Witchcraft
afp - Tensions simmered in Haiti Thursday with its political future hanging in the balance, as protesters renewed charges of vote-rigging and cholera fears led to deadly mob violence.
As vote-counting continued ahead of the expected release of preliminary results on Tuesday, candidates in last weekend's presidential and legislative elections remained split over whether to endorse the outcome.
With the impoverished Caribbean nation in limbo, several hundred opposition demonstrators peacefully took to the streets of Port-au-Prince seeking annulment of the vote to determine the successor to Rene Preval.
"Arrest Preval!... Cancel the Election!" the protesters shouted as they made their way to the headquarters of the election commission, which was guarded by blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers and Haitian anti-riot police.
"Our message is clear: We want Preval to go and we do not want elections with him in power," said candidate Jacques Edouard Alexis.
Twelve of the 18 contenders rejected Sunday's election shortly after polls closed, but the following day longtime opposition leader and pre-election favorite Mirlande Manigat and popular musician Michel Martelly, another leading candidate, reversed their calls for the polls to be scrapped.
An unexpected admission from the ruling INITE (UNITY) party that its candidate Jude Celestin may have lost has fueled a sense that Haiti could experience a political watershed if the dysfunctional, failing nation is able to manage a relatively peaceful transition of power.
International monitors -- while acknowledging widespread problems including violence and claims of fraud -- declared the elections valid. Final results are expected on December 20.
But the stubborn cholera epidemic, which has claimed more than 1,800 lives since mid-October, cast a shadow over the first election since a massive earthquake tore the country apart in January, killing some 250,000 people.
The epidemic took a ghastly turn Thursday when officials revealed that at least 12 people had been stoned or hacked to death in the last week by angry mobs accusing them of trying to spread cholera through witchcraft.
"Their corpses were burned in the streets" in the far southwest area of Grand Anse, the region in Haiti least affected by the disease, local prosecutor Kesner Numa told AFP.
"These people were accused (by the mobs) of witchcraft related to cholera," said Numa, adding that their attackers believed the victims were trying to "plant a substance that spreads the disease in the region."
Local communities were refusing to cooperate with investigations of the killings there, officials said.
Suspicion about the outbreak has swept through Haiti, where many accuse UN peacekeepers of having imported the disease.
According to the latest official cholera tally, 1,817 people have died and a total of 80,860 cases have been recorded, with 36,207 hospitalizations.
On Wednesday the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said the epidemic continued to spread throughout the country but was less lethal.
"We went from nine percent of cases dying in the early days to 2.3 percent now," said Donna Eberwine-Villagran, a spokeswoman for PAHO, a local branch of the World Health Organization.
She warned, however, that the official toll was an underestimation, and that Haiti could see up to 400,000 infections over the next 12 months.
Amid the epidemic and the election tensions, the president's already tarnished image suffered further with the release of a leaked US diplomatic cable that portrayed him as seeking to "orchestrate" the vote.
"Close friends speculate that many of Preval's actions during the past year... stem from his very real fear that politics will prohibit him from returning to private life in Haiti after his presidency," a June 2009 cable by Washington's then-ambassador said.
"Thus, they argue, his overriding goal is to orchestrate the 2011 presidential transition in such a way as to ensure that whoever is elected will allow him to go home unimpeded."
Haiti has been plagued by dictatorships and political upheaval, and several past leaders have fled or been forced into exile, including Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president.
Spray-On Stem Cells Heal Burns Fast
ksl - A spray solution of a patient's own stem cells is healing their severe burns. So far, early experiments under a University of Utah pilot project are showing some remarkable results.
What was once a serious burn on Kaye Adkins foot is healing nicely now because of a topical spray. With diabetes as a complication, the small but open wound had not healed after weeks of failed treatments.
Dr. Amalia Cochran with the university's Burn Care Center says, "With a wound that is open for several months, as this patient suffered prior to seeing us in our burn clinic, we worry about a pretty heavy bacterial load there."
But enter the evolutionary world of regenerative medicine, using almost a bedside stem cell technique that takes only about 15 minutes. With red cells removed, a concentrate of platelets and progenitor cells is combined with calcium and thrombin. The final mixture looks almost like Jello.
"I woke up and saw them with this big thin, looked like a needle, and I said you're going to put that in my foot? And they said NO, we're going to spray," Adkins said.
Though her own skin graft had failed before, the topical spray was used during a second graft. It "took" and healed. "I had never heard of anything like that. It was just amazing," Adkins said.
Adkins burn is healing and so is her heart. Coincidentally, stem cells were used during her bypass surgery five weeks ago to hasten healing for that procedure as well. While hundreds of heart patients have had stem cell treatments, burn patients are still few in numbers.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Amit Patel and burn care surgeon Amalia Cochran are experimenting on small burns for now. But down the road, both are hoping for large scale clinical trials on patients with much larger burns.
Patel asks, "Can we accelerate healing or improve healing. Then it's the quality of healing. And then, we hopefully advance to decreasing the scarring process completely."
"It's my hope that in my career," Cochran adds, "stem cells will completely revolutionize how we're able to take care of patients. Not just with small burns that are challenging to heal, but with massive burn injuries as well."
The military is keeping a close eye on the Utah project. The future for treating burns on soldiers could stagger the imagination even more. Patel says "regrowing your own skin in a bioreactor is very realistic and that's not five years away even. We start with a biological band aid and hope to end up with basically synthetic skin that's still derived from your own cells."
In this dream of regenerative medicine, Patel believes we can only imagine a day when sheets of pristine skin might be available to any patient off the shelf.
An electronic crosswalk sign near the Maple Street Bridge in Spokane, WA is apparently showing its disapproval of either the weather and / or local drivers by giving people the middle finger.
The crossing sign, located in downtown Spokane in the northbound lanes of Maple south of the Maple Street Bridge, has been somehow modified so when the ‘Don’t Walk’ hand is displayed, only the upraised middle finger is visible.
City of Spokane spokesperson Marlene Feist says that street department personnel think the electronic sign may have snow somehow wedged into the sign, obscuring all but the palm and raised middle finger.
Feist added that clearly the display is “unintentional.”
Poultry Firm Under Review After Man Decapitated
abc.net.au - Already under investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman, Australia's largest poultry manufacturer, Baiada, has now been cited by WorkSafe Victoria over the death of a contract worker at one of its plants.
In August this year Sarel Singh, 34, died instantly when fast moving machinery he was cleaning decapitated him.
A preliminary report on the workplace death, obtained by Lateline, has found Baiada breached occupational health and safety laws by not controlling the risks at the plant.
Six weeks ago, Lateline revealed how Baiada poultry was under investigation over claims of unlawful and unethical treatment of its majority migrant workforce.
Tim Kennedy from the National Union of Workers is horrified by the incident.
"It is absolutely horrific in a civilised society that we have now the fact that these things still occur, it is just not acceptable," he said.
Four years ago, Sarel Singh risked everything to find his fortune in Australia.
His brother, Harry Singh, says Sarel took out a large bank loan in his home state of Punjab to fund the relocation.
"Yes he was excited at that time. He was looking for a job - he can't get it here. Then he tried to get to Australia and have some study over there afterwards and have a job over there, for a better life," he said.
After graduating, Sarel worked as a taxi driver before getting married.
He then joined the Ecowize company, which has a contract to clean the production areas of the Baiada poultry processing plant in Melbourne's west.
"He used to say that life working at that place was like a hell. It's a very hard job and he was tired of that job. But due to the burden of the loans and debts over here and in Australia too, he had to work over there and he was struggling hard," Harry Singh said.
However, Sarel Singh was ready to give up and go back to India. But on August 12 he was killed at work.
Sarel had actually finished his four-hour shift when he was told to go back and re-clean the pack line area.
Mr Kennedy from the National Union of Workers says Sarel was not familiar with the line.
"Now the line he went to was not a line that he normally cleaned. He did not have his full protection gear on in terms of glasses and helmet," he said.
According to the union, as Sarel was standing on a ladder hosing down the line, his jacket was hooked. He was swept into the next machine and decapitated.
The union says the chain line should be stopped while it is cleaned.
"Over time what has happened is the company, to maintain production, to maintain the returns they want to get, has pushed the risk to workers by speeding that chain up so they have run the chain 20 to 40 birds per minute and people have been asked to clean it," Mr Kennedy said.
"The night on which Mr Singh was killed the chain was running at absolute capacity ... 180 birds per minute."
Harry Singh cannot believe that he has lost his brother.
"How can I believe it? My brother, he was my real brother and only brother. I have no brothers else ... and just a great shock to me," he said.
"My mother is feeling shock. Very upset with this because she has lost her older son. She has gone, gone through lot of things throughout [her] life and sacrificed a lot. Sacrificed the pension on his loans. So tough life for her now."
WorkSafe Victoria was soon at the scene of Sarel Singh's death.
Its report, obtained by Lateline, found that the production line posed an injury risk.
It also confirmed the line was operating at the top speed of 183 birds per minute, and that "by not adequately controlling the risks associated with this plant [Baiada poultry] is in contravention of the requirements of section 21(1) and 21(2)(A) of the occupational health and safety act."
Baiada poultry was issued with a prohibition notice, informing the company it must assess and control the risk to workers.
WorkSafe Victoria inspectors returned the next day and found the risk assessment prepared by Baiada was inadequate.
After assuring WorkSafe there would be changes to the production line's power system, the plant was allowed to resume operations.
WorkSafe Victoria has told Lateline the entire meat and poultry industry is now under review.
It says when it comes to work safety, employers should do more than the bare minimum and has reminded employers they are responsible for all employees whether they are staff or on contract.
Lateline has sought comment from both Baiada and Ecowize about Sarel Singh's death.
Both declined an on-camera interview.
Lateline also submitted a series of questions to Baiada about the death and work safety conditions at its plants, but there has been no reply.
The National Union of Workers has more general concerns about the treatment of workers at Baiada, particularly contract workers.
"Baiada is a major poultry processor company - we think that in large part Baiada tend to engage in a way that moves risk from them to people, where risk should not reside in terms of the employer relationship, we think that needs to change," Mr Kennedy said.
A separate investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman into rates of pay and working conditions is still underway after snap inspections at Baiada plants around the nation.
Workers at Baiada's Adelaide plant had complained about being bullied into accepting below-award wages and long hours - often beyond working or student visa conditions.
The National Union of Workers is campaigning to improve safety and working conditions at Baiada's various plants.
Mr Kennedy says management told workers to renounce their union membership this week or they could face reduced hours.
"The workers are expressing great concern, some are in tears, that not only have they been asked to resign from the union, but also being threatened [that] if they don't resign from the union, maybe their hours will change," he said.
"These reports concern us."
But Baiada has rejected the union's allegations.
The company says it has not threatened to cut staff hours or asked workers to resign from the union.
Sarel Singh's family wants answers.
"Yes it should be investigated and if there is a culprit he should be punished as per laws of the Australian Government," Harry Singh said.
NASA - NASA-funded astrobiology research has changed the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth.
Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.
"The definition of life has just expanded," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it."
This finding of an alternative biochemistry makeup will alter biology textbooks and expand the scope of the search for life beyond Earth. The research is published in this week's edition of Science Express.
Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur are the six basic building blocks of all known forms of life on Earth. Phosphorus is part of the chemical backbone of DNA and RNA, the structures that carry genetic instructions for life, and is considered an essential element for all living cells.
Phosphorus is a central component of the energy-carrying molecule in all cells (adenosine triphosphate) and also the phospholipids that form all cell membranes. Arsenic, which is chemically similar to phosphorus, is poisonous for most life on Earth. Arsenic disrupts metabolic pathways because chemically it behaves similarly to phosphate.
"We know that some microbes can breathe arsenic, but what we've found is a microbe doing something new -- building parts of itself out of arsenic," said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA Astrobiology Research Fellow in residence at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., and the research team's lead scientist. "If something here on Earth can do something so unexpected, what else can life do that we haven't seen yet?"
The newly discovered microbe, strain GFAJ-1, is a member of a common group of bacteria, the Gammaproteobacteria. In the laboratory, the researchers successfully grew microbes from the lake on a diet that was very lean on phosphorus, but included generous helpings of arsenic. When researchers removed the phosphorus and replaced it with arsenic the microbes continued to grow. Subsequent analyses indicated that the arsenic was being used to produce the building blocks of new GFAJ-1 cells.
The key issue the researchers investigated was when the microbe was grown on arsenic did the arsenic actually became incorporated into the organisms' vital biochemical machinery, such as DNA, proteins and the cell membranes. A variety of sophisticated laboratory techniques was used to determine where the arsenic was incorporated.
The team chose to explore Mono Lake because of its unusual chemistry, especially its high salinity, high alkalinity, and high levels of arsenic. This chemistry is in part a result of Mono Lake's isolation from its sources of fresh water for 50 years.
The results of this study will inform ongoing research in many areas, including the study of Earth's evolution, organic chemistry, biogeochemical cycles, disease mitigation and Earth system research. These findings also will open up new frontiers in microbiology and other areas of research.
"The idea of alternative biochemistries for life is common in science fiction," said Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the agency's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "Until now a life form using arsenic as a building block was only theoretical, but now we know such life exists in Mono Lake."
The research team included scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Penn., and the Stanford Synchroton Radiation Lightsource in Menlo Park, Calif.
NASA's Astrobiology Program in Washington contributed funding for the research through its Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology program and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. NASA's Astrobiology Program supports research into the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life on Earth.
discovermagazine - Arsenic isn’t exactly something you want to eat. It has a deserved reputation as a powerful poison. It has been used as a murder weapon and it contaminates the drinking water of millions of people. It’s about as antagonistic to life as a chemical can get. But in California’s Mono Lake, Felisa Wolfe-Simon has discovered bacteria that not only shrug off arsenic’s toxic effects, but positively thrive on it. They can even incorporate the poisonous element into their proteins and DNA, using it in place of phosphorus.
Out of the hundred-plus elements in existence, life is mostly made up of just six: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus. This elite clique is meant to be irreplaceable. But the Mono Lake bacteria may have broken their dependence on one of the group – phosphorus – by swapping it for arsenic. If that’s right, they would be the only known living things to do this.
The discovery is amazing, but it’s easy to go overboard with it. For example, this breathlessly hyperbolic piece, published last year, suggests that finding such bacteria would be “one of the most significant scientific discoveries of all time”. It would imply that “Mono Lake was home to a form of life biologically distinct from all other known life on Earth” and “strongly suggest that life got started on our planet not once, but at least twice”.
The results do nothing of the sort. For a start, the bacteria – a strain known as GFAJ-1 – don’t depend on arsenic. They still contain detectable levels of phosphorus in their molecules and they actually grow better on phosphorus if given the chance. It’s just that they might be able to do without this typically essential element – an extreme and impressive ability in itself.
Nor do the bacteria belong to a second branch of life on Earth – the so-called “shadow biosphere” that Wolfe-Simon talked about a year ago. When she studied the genes of these arsenic-lovers, she found that they belong to a group called the Oceanospirillales. They are no stranger to difficult diets. Bacteria from the same order are munching away at the oil that was spilled into the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. The arsenic-based bacteria aren’t a parallel branch of life; they’re very much part of the same tree that the rest of us belong to.
That doesn’t, however, make them any less extraordinary.
Phosphorus helps to form the backbone of DNA and it’s a crucial part of ATP, the molecule that acts as a cell’s energy currency. Arsenic sits just below phosphorus in the periodic table. The two elements have such similar properties that arsenic can usurp the place of phosphorus in many chemical reactions. But arsenic is a poor understudy – when it stands in for phosphorus, it produces similar but less stable products. This partially explains why the element is so toxic. But the bacteria of Mono Lake have clearly found a way to cope with this.
They have every reason to do so. Mono Lake sits in a sealed basin close to California’s Yosemite National Park. With no outlet connecting it to other bodies of water, any chemicals flowing into the lake tend to stay there. As a result, the lake has built up some of the highest concentrations of arsenic on the planet. To survive here, bacteria have to be able to cope with the poison.
In 2008, Ronald Oremland (who was also involved in the latest study) discovered bacteria in Mono Lake that can fuel themselves on arsenic. Like plants, they can photosynthesise, creating their own food using the power of the sun. But where plants use water in this reaction, the bacteria used arsenic. Wolfe-Simon has taken these discoveries a step further, by showing that the bacteria are actually incorporating arsenic into their most important of molecules.
She took sediment from Mono Lake and added it to Petri dishes containing a soup of vitamins and other nutrients, but not a trace of phosphorus. She took samples from these dishes and added them to fresh ones, gradually diluting them to remove any phosphorus that might have stowed away onboard. And all the while, she added more and more arsenic.
Amazingly, bacteria still grew in the dishes. Wolfe-Simon isolated one of these arsenic-lovers – a strain called GFAJ-1. Using an extremely sensitive technique called ICP-MS that measures the concentrations of different elements, she showed that the cells of these bacteria did indeed contain large amounts of arsenic.
By giving the bacteria a mildly radioactive form of arsenic, Wolfe-Simon could also track where the element ended up in the cells. The answer: everywhere. There was arsenic in the bacteria’s proteins and in their fat molecules. It had replaced phosphorus in many important molecules including ATP and glucose (a sugar). It was even in their DNA, a conclusion that Wolfe-Simon backed up with a number of other techniques. All other life uses phosphorus to create the backbone of the famous double helix, but GFAJ-1’s DNA had a spine of arsenic.
It’s an amazing result, but even here, there is room for doubt. As mentioned, Wolfe-Simon still found a smidgen of phosphorus in the bacteria by the end of the experiment. The levels were so low that the bacteria shouldn’t have been able to grow but it’s still not clear how important this phosphorus fraction is. Would the bacteria have genuinely been able to survive if there was no phosphorus at all?
Nor is it clear if the arsenic-based molecules are part of the bacteria’s natural portfolio. Bear in mind that Wolfe-Simon cultured these extreme microbes using ever-increasing levels of arsenic. In doing so, she might have artificially selected for bacteria that can use arsenic in place of phosphorus, causing the denizens of Mono Lake to evolve new abilities (or overplay existing ones) under the extreme conditions of the experiment.
Other species can cope with arsenic too. Some switch on genes that give them resistance to arsenic poisoning, while others can even “breathe” using arsenate. But GFAJ-1 uses the element to an even greater extent. How does it manage?
Under the microscope, the bacteria become around 50% larger if they grow on arsenic compared to phosphorus, and they develop large internal compartments called vacuoles. These might be the key to their success. Wolfe-Simon thinks that the vacuoles could act as a safe haven for unstable arsenic-based molecules – they might contain chemicals that steady the molecules, and they might keep out water that would hasten their breakdown.
These are questions for future research. In the mean time, the angle being used to sell the story is that this might have implications for alien life. Of course, the results have nothing to do with aliens. If anything, they expand the possibilities of what alien life might look like. If bacteria on Earth can exist using a biochemistry that’s very different to that of other microbes, it stands to reason that aliens could do the same.
That hasn’t stopped the hype machine from rolling forward, fuelled by a public announcement from NASA, teasing a press conference about an “astrobiology discovery”. It’s a shame. In teasing their own press conference two days ahead of time, and refusing to budge on the embargo when the first information trickled in, NASA effectively muzzled everyone who knew about the actual story while allowing speculation to build to fever pitch.
That may, of course, be their intention. However, I can’t help but feel that the result will be a lot of disappointed people, who’ve been robbed of an opportunity to be excited about a genuinely interesting discovery.
Arsenic-loving bacteria may help in hunt for alien life
BBC - The first organism able to substitute one of the six chemical elements crucial to life has been found.
The bacterium, found in a California lake, uses the usually poisonous element arsenic in place of phosphorus.
The find, described in Science, gives weight to the long-standing idea that life on other planets may have a radically different chemical makeup.
It also has implications for the way life arose on Earth - and how many times it may have done so.
The "extremophile" bacteria were found in a briny lake in eastern California in the US.
While bacteria have been found in inhospitable environments and can consume what other life finds poisonous, this bacterial strain has actually taken arsenic on board in its cellular machinery.
Until now, the idea has been that life on Earth must be composed of at least the six elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus - no example had ever been found that violates this golden rule of biochemistry.
The bacteria were found as part of a hunt for life forms radically different from those we know.
"At the moment we have no idea if life is just a freak, bizarre accident which is confined to Earth or whether it is a natural part of a fundamentally biofriendly universe in which life pops up wherever there are Earth-like conditions," explained Paul Davies, the Arizona State University and Nasa Astrobiology Institute researcher who co-authored the research.
"Although it is fashionable to support the latter view, we have zero evidence in favour of it," he told BBC News.
"If that is the case then life should've started many times on Earth - so perhaps there's a 'shadow biosphere' all around us and we've overlooked it because it doesn't look terribly remarkable."
Proof of that idea could come in the form of organisms on Earth that break the "golden rules" of biochemistry - in effect, finding life that evolved separately from our own lineage.
Study lead author Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues Professor Davies and Ariel Anbar of Arizona State University initially suggested in a paper an alternative scheme to life as we know it.
Their idea was that there might be life in which the normally poisonous element arsenic (in particular as chemical groups known as arsenates) could work in place of phosphorus and phosphates.
Putting it to the test, the three authors teamed up with a number of collaborators and began to study the bacteria that live in Mono Lake in California, home to arsenic-rich waters.
The researchers began to grow the bacteria in a laboratory on a diet of increasing levels of arsenic, finding to their surprise that the microbes eventually fully took up the element, even incorporating it into the phosphate groups that cling to the bacteria's DNA.
Notably, the research found that the bacteria thrived best in a phosphorus environment.
That probably means that the bacteria, while a striking first for science, are not a sign of a "second genesis" of life on Earth, adapted specifically to work best with arsenic in place of phosphorus.
However, Professor Davies said, the fact that an organism that breaks such a perceived cardinal rule of life makes it is a promising step forward.
"This is just a weird branch on the known tree of life," said Professor Davies. "We're interested ultimately in finding a different tree of life... that will be the thing that will have massive implications in the search for life in the Universe.
"The take-home message is: who knows what else is there? We've only scratched the surface of the microbial realm."
John Elliott, a Leeds Metropolitan University researcher who is a veteran of the UK's search for extraterestrial life, called the find a "major discovery".
"It starts to show life can survive outside the traditional truths and universals that we thought you have to use... this is knocking one brick out of that wall," he said.
"The general consensus is that this really could still be an evolutionary adapatation rather than a second genesis. But it's early days, within about the first year of this project; it's certainly one to think on and keep looking for that second genesis, because you've almost immediately found an example of something that's new."
Simon Conway Morris of the University of Cambridge agreed that, whatever its implications for extraterrestrial life, the find was significant for what we understand about life on Earth.
"The bacteria is effectively painted by the investigators into an 'arsenic corner', so what it certainly shows is the astonishing and perhaps under-appreciated versatility of life," he told BBC News.
"It opens some really exciting prospects as to both un-appreciated metabolic versatility... and prompting the questions as to the possible element inventory of remote Earth-like planets".
jamaica-gleaner - Yipe! I nearly slid into the river while trying to cross on some protruding rocks. Now it was by no means a roaring river, but I readily admit I'm no river-crossing expert.
It was my first time in Heywood Hall, St Mary, and after spending the first 20 minutes desperately trying to strike up a conversation with a woman who offered little more than a blank stare and an intermittent shake of the head, I decided to go exploring on foot.
It seemed it had rained earlier that day, so the roads in the community, which, over time, have degenerated to nothing more than glorified foot paths, were all muddy and slippery.
It was while crossing a small bridge near a community bar that I met Ornell. Now Ornell is not big on conversation, but he did offer to tell me a secret about the river that runs through the community, if I would be willing to treat him to a drink at the nearby bar.
"Mi brain nuh really wake up yet yuh know. After a drink, mi start function. Mi could tell yuh something bout di river, but not a word until mi get a drink," he said.
Before I could respond, Ornell continued.
"Me live bout di place from longer time yuh know. Heywood quiet but di river yah have whole heap a mermaid," he said, looking pleased with himself.
I paused a moment.
"Was that the secret?" I asked.
"Yeah, man," he said, quite casually. I paused again. I pointed out to Ornell that he had given the secret away before getting the drink.
The man's face went blank.
"But mi ... ahm," he stuttered. I felt bad for him, so I interjected, telling him it was fine and offered to treat him to a drink at the bar anyway.
"Tenk yuh, man. Tenk yuh," said Ornell, looking relieved.
After a short walk, we were at the bar. It really was just a shed with a fridge, overlooking the river, but it had a nice atmosphere. Ornell signalled to a girl sitting on a stool near the fridge and she handed him a bottle of beer. I walked closer to the river.
"Di river run right cross di road further down. Ah nice river fi bathe inna. Mi bathe inna it bout three time fi di day. Mi just throw off mi clothes and jump in," he said.
Eager to avoid a more detailed description of Ornell's bathing rituals, I asked him about the mermaids he mentioned earlier.
"Yeah man, nuff mermaid. When mi was likkle, mi used to see whole heap ah dem," said Ornell.
"Yuh tink ah likkle man mermaid pull inna di river wid dem? Dem mermaid deh nuh easy," he added, shaking his head.
Now, if I'm to be honest, I had very little confidence in Ornell's story. I was surprised though, when the woman behind the counter at the bar suddenly spoke up.
"Is true yuh know," she said, adjusting the zipper of the sweater she was wearing.
"My father tell me about it from mi was likkle. Dem say is one mermaid was there and she dead now, but first time yuh used to see har all di while," she said.
I had a puzzled look on my face. "True true," the woman said.
"Dem say is di same mermaid what used to deh ah Flat Bridge swim come here because it more quieter. Mi never used to believe it, but den mi seh, so much people couldn't just meck up di story so," she said.
I looked across at Ornell, who was nodding in agreement. "As granny seh, wah nuh go so, nearly go so," he said.
The mermaids, also known as merfolk and sometimes referred to as Scaly Tails, are human-fish hybrids. Many are said to serve as agents of the Sirens, dragging sailors down to a watery grave.
The mermaids are amphibious beings, a hybrid of human and fish. The average mermaid has the appearance of a beautiful girl with long, flowing hair the colors of the sea, and pearly-white skin flecked with scales. From the waist down, however, a mermaid is comprised of a long, shimmering scaly tail. Further undermining their conventional beauty, mermaids hide sharp, fang-like teeth in their mouths.
It is possible that this beautiful appearance is not the true form of the mermaids; if viewed peripherally, they lost their outward beauty and seemed to transform into creatures with clawed tentacles, fangs, and barnacles and boils covering their scales. They often speak in harmony, singing a melody commonly attributed to the Sirens
The Mermaid and the Comb
Many Jamaicans grew up hearing stories about the River Mumma or Mermaid. There are many legends surrounding these beautiful sirens. The most commonly known River Mumma involves the Rio Cobre River. Legend has it that on moonlit nights one may be lucky to catch sight of her as she sits on a boulder and combs her hair with a golden comb. In other areas of the island, it is said that for one night every year the mermaid leaves her underwater home to visit the surface. If frightened while combing her hair, she would dive into the water leaving her comb behind. It is believed that anyone who finds it will become rich.
Wanting the comb to be returned, the mermaid would approach the finder in a dream and direct them to treasure underwater. This treasure, according to folklore is said to be gold left by pirates who had forgotten the hiding place.
The following anecdote has been told for several years.
In an old district in western St. Mary, a very strange thing happened. 15-year-old Elvis Smith's mother had taken ill. It was her kidneys, the doctor said. There was no money for dialysis, and a kidney transplant was out of the question - there was just no money. It was when Elvis saw his mother getting weaker that he thought that the pirate's treasure could save her life. So he determined in his mind that if there were a mermaid he would find her, and if there were a comb he would take it, and if there were pirates' treasure he would find it, for his mother's sake.
Despite his mother's protestations, Elvis built a hut of plywood and zinc just below his house, at the riverside, overlooking a rock. He had picked out that rock because he calculated that if the mermaid surfaced that was where she would sit. There the river was a silent, expansive pool. Further up, the water was fast-moving. It cut into the rocks and cascaded down and down, until it came to a narrow section from where it seemed to just trickle into the pool and become silent. Boys dived under rocks there to catch shrimps, big black shiny ones and small, almost transparent ones. Further down, the river narrowed again and became fast-moving once more. Standing over that section of the river was a massive white concrete bridge, the bridge they said separated St. Mary from St Ann.
So, while everybody in the district celebrated the coming of the New Year that night, Elvis climbed into the little hut he had made. He thought that if the mermaid were real then he would not leave there for a long time, and so he took up residence at night in the little hut. His 12-year-old sister he mandated to care for his mother at night.
Two weeks into his vigil, Pastor Lincoln came to convince him the mermaid and the comb were only folklore, brought from Africa by slaves and modified through the ages. But Elvis was not convinced. He said, 'If it is a myth, by New Year's Day next year I will know.'
Elvis' cousins and uncles and aunts came to him, telling him to stop the foolishness and go sleep in his bed, but he remained unmoved. When that still didn't work, they destroyed the hut, but he sat in the cool air outside that night, watching and waiting; and when the whole district combined couldn't get him to stop his vigil, they left him alone. Elvis rebuilt his hut and, night after night, waited for the mermaid. But she didn't come. February, March, June, July - no mermaid.
Elvis looked up at the moon and saw that it was almost in the centre of the sky. He thought it might have been up for four hours or so, and by that deduction he surmised that it was around 10 p.m.. It was a cool September night - the frogs were croaking and the crickets were scraping, and Elvis' relentless determination was still intact. He yawned, and was about to go into the hut when he heard a swoosh, then a splash.
Then in the moonlight he saw her. She was seated on the massive stone. Her hair was dark and silky....he couldn't see her face, but her great tail she curled up and rested on the rock too. She was combing her hair.
Elvis thought of running to scream in the district that he had seen the mermaid, but that wouldn't save his mother's life. He thought, 'I will have to frighten her,' so he stole past the star apple tree and floated over the soft mud near the water's edge and shouted, 'River Mumma!'
The mermaid dived quickly into the water and was gone. And there it was, the comb, golden and lovely. The moonlight lent mystery and magic to it.
Elvis was hesitant. Should he take it up? But why not? He had slept in the cold for nine months; why then should he not take it up? And how then would his mother's life be saved? He quickly grabbed it, as if he thought it might disappear, but when he examined it he saw that it was old and ugly and he wondered if it was the right comb. He looked around. Perhaps the golden comb was near him somewhere. But he saw nothing. He went to his little hut, located the bag he had placed there in January for this very purpose, and put the comb in it. Then he climbed the hill to his house, rushed to his mother's room, shook her and said, 'Here it is, Mama; your life will be saved.'
But his mother was groggy and asked: 'What yu talking 'bout, Elvis?'
'Mama, a' find the mermaid's comb, here it is, mama.'
But she turned over onto her side, curling her feet so that knees and elbows almost touched. She clasp both hands and laid her head on them, and quietly said, 'Elvis, a' really feel tired.'
'So you don't believe, Mama?'
By this time his sister had awa- kened and come into the room. To her, Elvis said: 'Here it is, see, the mermaid's comb.' He brought it up to Nicole's eyes for her to see. 'You believe though, Nicole?' And he saw the look in her eyes.
He shook his head with disappoint and said, 'So you don't' believe me either, Nicole.' Finally she asked, 'Where did you get that old comb, Elvis?' She embraced him and said, 'Let us agree that you really tried Elvis. Goodnight.'
His feet felt weak, and his gut had a strange tingle to it. They didn't believe. They just didn't believe. But when he found the treasure they would have to believe!
He went to his bed with great anticipation that night. He fell asleep with a smile on his face, for he had reasoned that that night he would have the dream revealing the place of the buried treasure and his mother and sister would believe.
But that night no dream came. He got out of his bed and dragged himself out to the road and wondered what was happening. He told his cousin about the night's events, and by noon seven or eight boys were at his house demanding to see the mermaid's comb. 'Show wi the comb!'
'Nobody going to see it,' Elvis said
And the boys said, 'Him no have no comb, a' lie him a' tell.'
Elvis thought of rushing to the hiding place to show them he had the comb but one boy said, 'Unno come yaw, a' lie him a' tell.'
That night Elvis went to bed with hope and believed that he would have his dream.
In his dream, he saw the mermaid, her face ugly and scared and angry; he was standing by the river and she was threatening him, telling him that if he didn't return the comb she would wash their house down into the river. And he saw when she dived into the water and lashed her mighty tail against it and the water rose and almost swallowed up the house, and he woke up frightened. In the morning, he rushed down to the river and saw that some of the land had actually washed away.
For a week he had the dream every night. Every morning he would rush down to the river and see that a piece of the land had been washed away. It was then that the people started to wonder: 'Wonder if Elvis really have the mermaid comb fi true?' By the start of the next week they had come to believe, and they started to exhort him to return the comb to the mermaid, and Pastor Lincoln came again to convince him to give back the comb and to save his mother's house. 'Yu father dead lef' that house fi yu mother and it going to be yours when she gone and yu using yu own hands to mash it up, boy? Now, where yu hide the comb?'
Elvis' mother and sister, too, begged him to throw the comb back into the river. But he had one thing to say to them all - that the mermaid had not kept her part of the bargain, and that he was going to keep the comb until she did because his mother's life must be saved.
It was a Sunday afternoon when it happened. The whole district had come to see, 'how the little boy mek mermaid mash up him father dead lef' house.' The men had helped to take the furniture out of the house and Elvis' mother and sister were out there too, watching the last of their house come down. But Elvis was nowhere to be found.
Then the people saw him coming up from somewhere in the bushes. And they said, 'See the fool deh.' Elvis came with the old rusty comb in his hand. And the people said, 'Then is really the comb that?'
Elvis came and stood on the bridge. He held the comb in his hand for a while, then threw it into the river. And the people said: 'It too late fi that.'
And then, with a mighty sound, the house came crumbling down. The debris fell down at the riverside and some of it was washed away.
Then, from close beside Elvis, one little boy shouted, 'Is what that?'
And a man asked, 'What, what?'
'Seet there,' the little boy said, pointing. 'Something like a trunk.'
They saw it and hurried down to the river. It was not one but three chests, and when they finally got an axe to break the chain and opened one chest they held their collective breath - for it was like a dream. In the chest were glorious things, great jewelry and gold and things they didn't know. And the man who had asked the little boy 'what' said, 'The treasure was buried under the house. The mermaid has given us the pirate's treasure.' The people looked at him strangely and he rephrased his statement: 'The mermaid has given Elvis the pirate's treasure.'
Then the people held Elvis aloft and sang 'For he's a jolly good fellow,' and Elvis went to his mother and said: 'Now you can get yu treatment properly, Mama.'
Manatees: The REAL Mermaids
To the sailors of earlier Caribbean exploration, imagine the excitement of not only discovering the New World, but that it also had mermaids. Surely, this was a blessed place. What a great sailor’s tale this would make on the tall ships and in the seaports of 16th century Europe.
So what if they were a bit ugly, in fact so ugly that only a mother could love them. But they were gentle and they didn’t talk back, or shoot arrows like the native people either.
Today manatees are an endangered species in the United States and they are a protected species in all of the Caribbean as well. These gentle mammals, a mature adult can weigh up to ¾ of a ton, live and breed in warm protected bays and lagoons. With their soft whiskery muzzle they browse on sea grasses, water hyacinths, and other aquatic vegetation as they cruise along just beneath the surface.
Descended from land mammals that returned to the sea during the Tertiary Period, manatees have gradually evolved during the last 20 million years and are unique to the New World. Females give birth to a single calf after a 12-month gestation period. Individual manatees are solitary animals, but are sometimes seen in small groups. Their skin is gray, leathery, and hairless. They have 3 to 4 fingernails on the tips of their pectoral flippers, a reminder of their ancient ancestry. They have no dorsal or anal fins and their round paddle shaped tail is horizontal.
Manatees are difficult to see because they swim slowly beneath the surface stopping only occasionally to expose their nostrils when breathing. This is usually accompanied by a short burst of air. To see them you need to get lucky. Hang around in the bays and shallows early in the morning when the sea is perfectly calm. You just might catch a glimpse of one of these gentle creatures.
Today, the biggest threat to manatees is man and his machines. Collisions with boats and boat propellers are the single biggest cause of manatee fatalities each year. Please be careful and watch out for the mermaids. Their future is in our hands.
wlwt - An area man was shocked Tuesday morning when he saw an African wild cat outside his home.
Anthony Topmiller said he heard a growling sound when he opened his barn door to feed his cattle, and when he looked to see what it was, he saw what looked like a small cheetah about five feet away.
"I've never been afraid of an animal, but I will definitely say I was taken aback from this one," Topmiller said. "It sounds silly, but a 30-pound cat had my barn held hostage."
The animal was actually a serval, a medium-sized cat related to lions, hovering over a domestic cat it had just killed.
"It was not wanting to leave its prey, so we considered him fairly dangerous and called the proper authorities to come in and help us with this animal," Topmiller said.
Animal control officers picked up the serval, which a neighbor claims belongs to her.
The woman said she has been looking for the female serval, which she has raised from a baby and named Eris, since it escaped nine days ago.
She said the animal is valued at about $3,000.
The dog warden said Ohio has almost no regulations on wild animals such as this one.
"People need to be trained on what they're doing," Topmiller said. "We can't have these things wild like this. It's become a public safety (issue), and that's exactly what happened yesterday."
The serval remains with animal control officers while the neighbor attempts to regain custody.
Lee Harvey Oswald's Coffin for Sale
aolnews - A California auction house is offering bidders the chance to buy the coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man believed to have killed President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Bidding for the discolored, water-damaged pine box will start at $1,000, according to the website of the Nate D. Sanders auction house in Los Angeles.
"There's just a lot of interest in Kennedy and anything to do with his assassination," auction manager Laura Yntema told Reuters.
Oswald spent almost 18 years in the coffin before a bizarre set of circumstances led to his exhumation.
Oswald's widow, Marina, got into a bitter argument with his brother Robert. Marina heard rumors that the man buried in the coffin was in fact a Russian Oswald look-alike. She wanted to put it to the test.
Marina managed to get the body exhumed. Dental records proved that the corpse inside was indeed that of Oswald. The suspected assassin was then reburied in a new casket.
Oswald was arrested on Nov. 22, 1963, and was widely believed to have shot Kennedy from the roof of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. He had previously served in the U.S. Marines and lived and worked in the Soviet Union, according to the Biography Channel.
Oswald was killed two days after the assassination by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
Allen Baumgardner, a funeral director who assisted at Oswald's original embalming, is selling the coffin.
Missing Brit Backpacker Believed to be Eaten By Shark Off Aussie Coast
metro - Michael Utley, 30, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, went swimming with four friends on Saturday afternoon.
He was caught up in a riptide and has not been since.
A coastal search at Bremer Bay in Western Australia, had to be scaled back on Monday after a large shark was seen nearby.
Police have yet to formally identify the body but believe it is that of the missing man.
‘The body of a male person was located on Dillon Beach Bremer Bay yesterday morning at about 6.05am,’ a police spokesman said.
The search team of 50 with helicopters said a shark attack had not been ruled out. Michael, a plasterer, went travelling last December and met a group of friends.
He was swimming at Native Dog Beach when they became caught in a riptide.
All but Michael were washed ashore.
Michael’s mother, Susan, who lives in California, is flying from Germany with her husband, Graham Liles, who works there.
His father, Max, and his wife, Susan, live in Westhoughton.
Michael’s twin brother Mark from Westhoughton, said: ‘I spoke to Michael on Friday and he said he was going to stay out there because he was making good money, and when he got back we should go into the property business.’
Mark and his mother are to fly to Australia to identify the body.
Gov't evaluating cell phone blocking tech in cars
MSNBC - In addition to its efforts to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation is evaluating technology in automobiles that would disable cell phones. The move is a response to the growing number of deaths and injuries related to distracted driving.
"There's a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we're looking at that," Raymond LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation said during a discussion during MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "That's one way. But you have to have good laws, you have to have good enforcement, and you have to have people take personal responsibility. That's the bottom line."
In addition to his comments on disabled cell phones, LaHood also announced a new video campaign, "Faces of Distracted Driving." The series of online videos tells the stories of several victims of distracted driving. The DoT plans to add a new video every few weeks.
LaHood said that nearly 5,500 people died from distracted driving last year, and that about half a million were injured. That's a low estimate, according to Paul Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas who studies distracted driving.
LaHood's figures only account for known deaths or injuries -- suspected deaths or injuries aren't included. The real numbers, said Atchley, are likely far higher, and will only get higher.
While there is no federal law against using a cell phone while driving a vehicle, dozens of states prohibit texting while driving in an effort to reduce the number of deaths or injuries. Several other states forbid drivers from using hand-held cell phones.
Hardware, such as cell phone jammers, are illegal, and the FCC isn't likely to approve any kind of jamming equipment. That would leave software from companies like Zoomsafter, tXtBlocker and iZup.
While the specifics differ, the general idea is the same. When a cell phone or a vehicle exceeds a certain speed, determined by the car and transmitted via Bluetooth or by the speed of the cell phone itself as measured by cell phone towers, the phone is automatically disabled.
That won't work, said Atchley. Most of these services are voluntary. It is not difficult for users to either not activate them, or to work around them.
The real answer to the problem is a change in people's attitudes. The research on drunk driving and distracted driving is quite similar, but the reactions of people to both are far different.
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"When we ask young drivers about drunk driving, they say that judges should throw the book at drunk drivers, but not the person texting while driving," said Atchley.
"The bottom line is that people want to use these devices," said Atchley. "And things are going to get worse before they get better."
Man Marries Dog
thechronicle - A young Toowoomba man yesterday tied the knot with his best friend – a five-year-old labrador.
In perhaps a first for the Garden City, Laurel Bank Park hosted the wedding of Joseph Guiso and Honey, a labrador he adopted five years ago.
Thirty of the couple’s closest friends and family were in attendance for the emotional ceremony, held at dusk.
"You’re my best friend and you make every part of my day better," Mr Guiso’s vows read.
The couple decided on the location – and to tie the knot - after stumbling upon a wedding in Laurel Bank Park during an afternoon walk.
"I said that could be us," Mr Guiso said.
"She didn’t say anything so I took that as a yes."
Mr Guiso said as a "religious guy", he could no longer take the guilt of living with Honey out of wedlock.
"It’s not sexual," he assured the onlookers.
"It’s just pure love."
The couple is planning a short honeymoon to one of Toowoomba’s parks.
WND - The Department of Defense is slamming the door on questions about the mysterious contrail filmed Nov. 8 by a KCBS television crew near Los Angeles after questions were raised about a warning from the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency that there could be missiles fired in that area at that time.
The official government position has been that the contrail, which appears to have been made by a single source, was from a jet passing by.
And the refusal to provide answers to specific questions suggests a cover-up of potential secret missile testing in the area – contrary to official jet contrail explanation.
For weeks, experts have examined the billowing plume and the single-source white-hot exhaust which they contend was from a missile, not a jet.
It was in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin intelligence report where the story was broken that several experts who examined the video of the mysterious contrail confirmed it was not from a jet but a missile.
The experts who examined the video have had extensive experience working with missiles and computer security systems for various sensitive agencies of the U.S. government.
They even went so far as to suggest that the missile may have been shot from a submerged Chinese nuclear submarine, coinciding with an increasing level of confrontation between the United States and China and designed to send a message to Washington:
But it was in late October that the NGA issued the maritime warning for the Eastern North Pacific off California about "intermittent missile firing operations." While the notice gave time frames and days of the week as well as areas for missile firings, there was no specified time limit as to when they would end.
"Intermittent missile firing operations 00001Z to 2359Z daily Monday thru Sunday in the Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range," the warning said. "The majority of missile firings take place 1400Z to 2359Z and 0001Z to 0200Z daily Monday thru Friday."
The contrail sighting by the KCBS television crew occurred during these time periods.
Karen Sinn of the NGA told WND that the NGA only issued the missile launch advisory as a courtesy for its customer, the Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at Point Mugu in California.
Point Mugu, which is located some 50 miles northwest from Los Angeles, is a massive facility that includes a weapons division and the Sea Range Operational Area, comprised of the main base complex at Point Mugu which includes the Laguna Peak complex, the offshore islands and the adjacent 36,000 square nautical miles of controlled operational air space.
At the Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range, spokeswoman Becky Hall was asked by WND whether the sighting of the contrail occurred during the period of the NGA warning, and did the coordinates mentioned in the warning notice conform to the area in which the contrail was sighted.
She also was asked whether the Navy, in fact, had launched any missiles in the area during the warning period.
Hall, however, refused to answer any of the questions or make any comment on its warning issued through the NGA.
"I am sorry to say that I will be unable to help you with this request (for information)," she told WND, and referred the inquiry to the press desk of the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.
At the time of the sighting of the contrail, the Department of Defense said that it had checked with all the services involved with missiles and dismissed the contrail as coming from a jet, and not a missile.
At the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Robert Ditchey from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs reaffirmed DOD's original statement by saying that inquiries were made with each of the services and the Department of Homeland Security which includes the Federal Aviation Administration and it was concluded that there were no launches that day.
When told about the NGA notice, however, he admitted to WND that he was unaware of it and asked for a copy which was sent to him for comment.
But in a followup e-mail, he merely said that "NGA provided a report back on 10 Nov during the initial media coverage, that their Maritime Watch Desk had no information that would link the NAVAREA XII 453/2010 warning to the contrail reported in the media.
"All DOD entities with rocket and missile programs reported no launches, scheduled or inadvertent, during the time period in the area of the reported contrail," Ditchey said.
"In addition, the FAA ran radar replays from Monday afternoon (of Nov. 8) of a large area west of Los Angeles," he added. "Those replays did not reveal anything unusual. The FAA also did not receive reports of any unusual sightings from pilots who were flying in the area Monday afternoon."
But Ditchey referred only to the NGA warning notice which he wasn't aware of until it was brought to his attention. In addition, he would not address the fact that the NGA had issued the warning at the request of the Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at Point Mugu, even though he was informed of that development.
Ditchey also refused to comment on whether the Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range, in fact, had conducted any missile launches at the time of the contrail sighting.
According to the initial report in G2 Bulletin, the situation sparked several provocative questions about the government's official response.
"The question that still must be answered is why NORAD's muted response was simply that North America was not threatened, and later our government approved the lame excuse that the picture recorded was simply an aircraft leaving a contrail," said retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Jim Cash.
A former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and commander of an F-15 squadron and an F-16 wing, Cash was assigned to NORAD as an assistant director of operations at the Cheyenne Mountain complex near Colorado Springs, Colo., and is fully knowledgeable of NORAD procedures.
"There is absolutely no doubt that what was captured on video off the coast of California was a missile launch, was clearly observed by NORAD, assessed by a four-star general in minutes, and passed to the president immediately," he said.
Even more ominously, cautioned Cash: "We must question the timing of this shot across our bow. The president was abroad being diplomatic, which means trying to placate China which is becoming overly concerned with our handling a totally out-of-control deficit in spending."
Also, Wayne Madsen, a former naval officer who has worked at the National Security Agency and the Naval Data Automation Command, said the inability to pick up what he described as a Chinese Jin-class submarine-launched ballistic missile isn't the first time U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare sensors have failed.
Madsen, who today is an investigative journalist, said the Pentagon is working "overtime with the media and on the Internet to cover up the latest debacle. However, even some reporters who cover the Pentagon full-time are beginning to question the Pentagon's version of events ... over the skies west of Los Angeles."