Thursday, October 11, 2012

Just the Facts?: FBI Visits Man Over Cloud Photos -- BBC Crew Detained at Area 51 -- The Allure of Nessie


Taking photos of clouds earns Texas man a visit from the FBI

If you’re corresponding with known terrorists and attempting to overthrow the US government, it’s safe to expect a knock on your door from the FBI. But what if you just happen to think that storm clouds look really, really cool?

Michael Galindo, 26, learned the hard way that anything and everything is seemingly fair game for an FBI investigation. He was taking photos of a dark and stormy rain cloud above his native Texas town of Houston last month and had to pay the consequences for it when a federal agent appeared at his front door on Friday.

Galindo answered honestly when FBI Agent David Pileggi showed up at his Houston household last week and asked him about some photos he took on September 13 near the former Lyondell Refinery.

“He said I was spotted near the refinery but I couldn’t even remember doing that. I thought it had to be somebody else,” Galindo tells Photography is Not a Crime. “It wasn’t until he mentioned my camera that I made the connection.”

Galindo says he never once stepped foot on the refinery’s property, but it was enough to raise suspicion nonetheless. Someone at the facility spotted him shooting photos and phoned in the police, who in turn rang up the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

According to Galindo, he was just “looking for a clear line of site” so he could snap a photo of storm clouds overheard, something he does regularly as a volunteer member of he National Weather Service’s Skywarn program, a coast-to-coast system that lets civilians submit breaking information about any storms stretching across the sky. The Skywarn website acknowledges that the program is run in conjunction with 122 local Weather Forecast Offices throughout the country, including many that offer free training classes to amateur meteorologists.

Galindo tells Photography is Not a Crime that the entire incident with Agent Pileggi ended peacefully. “He told me, ‘you’re not a threat and you are doing a public service but just be careful next time,’” the man recalls. That isn’t to say, though, that he got off without a hassle: Galindo says the agent asked him questions off a three-page document that involved any history he may have had with the US military or traveling overseas.

Now, Galindo says, he is left wondering if the FBI has since opened up a file on him. - RT

Hunting the American Terrorist: The FBI's War on Homegrown Terror

Special Agent Man: My Life in the FBI as a Terrorist Hunter, Helicopter Pilot, and Certified Sniper

THINKING LIKE A TERRORIST: Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent


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BBC film crew was held at gunpoint after trying to sneak into Nevada's Area 51 military base

-Agents held the 12-man team at gunpoint for three hours while checking their credentials

-Area 51 rumoured to hold the crashed space-ship as well as the bodies of aliens which were removed - still alive - from the wreckage

-'Apache helicopters were called in and Washington phoned London after trespass'
Team say they were followed in the days following attempt

-Same BBC team caused outrage by suggesting London bombings were a government conspiracy

This is the moment a BBC film crew were held by security teams at the notoriously secretive Area 51 - where conspiracy theorists believe the American government is hiding a flying saucer.

Irish comedian Andrew Maxwell and UFO expert Darren Perks sneaked past the border at the site - and were forced to lie on the ground at gunpoint for three hours while the FBI checked their credentials.

It is the same 'documentary' team that caused outrage in Britain last week when they suggested that the 7/7 London bombings were part of a government conspiracy to boost support for the Iraq war. Continue reading at BBC film crew was held at gunpoint after trying to sneak into Nevada's Area 51 military base

Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

Dreamland: Travels Inside the Secret World of Roswell and Area 51

Keep Out!: Top Secret Places Governments Don't Want You to Know About


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Psychic’s dream helps find dog?

A psychic who had a dream about a black dog near a stream may have helped rescue an AWOL pooch following an intensive two-day search.

Part of the credit for finding Mollee goes to the dogged determination of a group that rescues English Springers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania and south to Virginia, placing hundreds of dogs each year.

But one volunteer gave great weight to the clairvoyant whose visions inspired his actions.

Although the search happened in Maryland, it's the kind of furry tale that can perk up the ears of animal lovers and ESP fans anywhere.

It started Monday when Mollee, a friendly, but nervous English Springer Spaniel, was picked up by her adoptive family in Maryland.

The year-old, black-and-white pooch had been turned into the Mid-Atlantic English Springer Rescue, after a Maryland breeder could not find homes for all his pups.

Dan Keppler, 43, a volunteer for the rescue group, initially fostered Mollee at his home in Virginia.

On Monday, after the new family adopted Mollie, they stopped to visit relatives in Maryland, about an hour from their home. Mollee bolted into traffic on a busy byway and was nearly hit. She dashed into a residential development bordered with woods.

The rescue group immediately launched an emergency search. Volunteers posted fliers. Local authorities were called. Social media was used, including Facebook and Craig's List. An amber alert for pets was issued.

They scoured the area for hours until darkness put the search off until morning. Lengthy e-mail exchanges among rescue members expressed concern and offered prayers.

Keppler's girlfriend spoke to a physic she knew in Arizona, Kimberly Dumaine, 55.

"Oh my God, I had a dream about a black dog last night," Dumaine told her. Mollie was fine, but scared and hungry. She was near a building, possibly looking for food. She was near a stream. Dumaine said Keppler should know the fliers are important and he should follow his instincts.

Mollee was near and they would find her soon, Dumaine predicted.

Tuesday afternoon, a tipster called because she had seen a flier. Her dog was barking at a stray.

The rescue team mobilized.

Near the woman's house, they discovered a stream Tuesday afternoon. Volunteers fanned the area, quietly calling Mollie.

Keppler spotted a shed and tarp near the stream.

He followed his instincts, recalling the stream and building Dumaine saw in her vision.

"It was like this spidey sense went off ... this is where she is going to be," Keppler said.

There was Mollee. Tired, scared and making no sounds.

Had it not been for the clairvoyant, "we would have walked away and not found her," Keppler said.

A skeptic might note that it seems like common sense to imagine an animal might be near water and possible shelter.

But that doesn't explain the dream, claimed to have preceded the request.

Keppler said he decided to keep Mollee. She will join his pack of three other springers and a golden retriever. The adoptive family will be paired with a new dog, perhaps one more comfortable around strangers. - Philly.com

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The murky allure of the Loch Ness monster

Adrian Shine has patrolled lakes by day and night. He's taken countless photos, and he's used all the latest technological advances in sonar to uncover the mystery behind Loch Ness monster.

Twenty-five years ago this week, he led what was at the time considered the most extensive search of Loch Ness - a £1m exploration called Operation Deepscan.

The week-long project consisted of a flotilla of 24 boats, equipped with high-tech sonars, which trawled the 22.5-mile (36km) long, 738ft (227m) deep lake in the Scottish Highlands for two days.

Shine may have gone to unusual lengths in his hunt for the Loch Ness monster, but he is far from alone in falling under its spell.

Willie Cameron, an expert on the Highland tourism market, says about one million people visit Loch Ness and the surrounding area every year, with the value to the economy worth about £25m.

And he says more than 85% of them are attracted by the phenomenon of the Loch Ness monster.

"Loch Ness has become a brand as big as Elvis Presley, Madonna and Coca-Cola - but by default rather than design," he says.

So when did the Loch Ness monster gain such mythical status, and what is the fascination with finding it?

Jonathan Downes, director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, says the legend of the monster dates back to the 6th Century, but it was not until the 1930s that it really took off.

Since then there have been a flurry of sightings, with more than a thousand people insisting they have seen creatures in Loch Ness.

Most descriptions of encounters lend themselves to either the theory of a multi-humped sea serpent or the plesiosaur, a long necked dinosaur from the early Jurassic period.

"People like to think of it as a giant prehistoric reptile living in a lake, but it can't be, that's nonsense.

"But it's a lovely notion. I think people find the idea of a 21st century monster, a prehistoric survivor, irresistibly romantic," says Downes.

Downes says the odd thing about the Loch Ness monster is that although it is "the most iconic mystery creature", it is actually the one with the least amount of evidence of its existence.

So-called physical evidence has turned out to be hoaxes, he says.

"Footprints turned out to have been made by a stuffed hippo or stuffed elephant, and a 'monster body' that washed up in 1972 turned out to be a dead elephant seal," says Downes.

So most of the legend around what lies in Loch Ness - which holds about 16.5 million gallons of water.

And Shine has first-hand experience of how unreliable they can be.

He says shortly after he arrived in Loch Ness in the 1970s, he rowed out on a nearby lake, Loch Morar, which has its own history of monster sightings, hoping to spot something.

"Suddenly there it was - the classic profile of a large hump and then I saw a half-submerged head which seemed to be moving," he says.

He excitedly began snapping pictures but soon realised that it was nothing more than a strange-shaped rock sticking out of the water.

"That was when I realised that if I couldn't trust my own eyes I shouldn't necessarily trust anybody else's," he says.

Nevertheless, Shine says it is hard to dismiss "the honesty and volume" of eyewitness testimony of the Loch Ness monster.


Lots of locals, too, believe there is something lurking in the loch, according to Cameron.

"I know four people who very genuinely believe they have seen a creature, but they would not speak about it publicly for fear of ridicule.

"My late father saw something unexplainable on 15 June 1965. Nine other people saw it at the same time - and it had a power source because it went against the wind. He said describing it would be like trying to describe a tomato to a blind man."

Operation Deepscan picked up three large unexplained sonar "contacts". They appeared on the scanners as crescent shaped marks - which some people believed were too big and too deep to be any creature known to inhabit the Loch.

However, others say the "contacts" could have been a seal or a group of salmon.

But Shine, who now runs the Loch Ness & Morar Project and is still hoping to find out what is behind the mystery, says the beauty of the monster myth is that no one can disprove it, short of draining the loch.

Although he doesn't believe that Scotland's most famous and reclusive resident is a dinosaur, his own theory is that it is a "Jurassic creature" of sorts.

"I think it could be the occasional navigationally challenged Atlantic Sturgeon," he says, with a mischievous smile.

Known to grow to over 4m long, the fish, which has reptilian scaled plates along its back and a long pointed face with tusk-like barbells hanging from its jaws, is not indigenous to Scotland. It could conceivably make its way up River Ness and into the loch in the search for new breeding grounds.

"It could very easily have swum into the loch, been spotted and left again leaving nothing behind save an enigma," he says.

Of course theories are part of the appeal for many intrigued by tales of the Loss Ness monster.

Downes says the only theory that makes sense to him is that a "gene of gigantism" might have created an eel that was bigger than normal.

Cameron, on the other hand, says the sightings could be a number of things, including a large, nocturnal invertebrate, or a large seal, shark or dolphin that has come in from the sea.

But Shine says even if he does manage to prove his theory about the sturgeon, he is under no illusion that it will bring an end to the mystery of Nessie.

"If Operation Deepscan proved one thing, it is that you can't kill a legend with science," he says.

Cameron concurs: "This fascination with the Loch Ness monster is now part of the public psyche. Everybody loves a mystery." - BBC

The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence

MONSTER OF THE MERE

EXTRAORDINARY ANIMALS REVISITED


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