Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Lofa Legend

According to legend, the Lofa was a supposed Bigfoot-like creature that lived in Northwest Alabama (including areas of Mississippi and Tennessee)...a region that was once dominated by the Chickasaw people. Frankly, I'm unfamiliar with the stories and reports. Any additional information the readers could provide would be welcomed.

The Wildcat Clan

This clan differs from other clans principally in what its members eat. They seldom go out in the daytime but roam about at night in search of food. They do not, however, try to steal.

They are swift of foot and when an accident happens to them they depend on their swiftness to escape. They care very little about women, but when they want anything they generally get it. They think more of their feet than of any other parts of their bodies and their eyes are so keen that they can see anyone before he detects them.

When one of them wants a wife he gets his parents to obtain one. They do not select any kind of woman but are careful in choosing. The younger always get a woman first. These generally sleep in the daytime. If they do not have good luck at night their rest is disturbed but if they have good luck they sleep through most of the day.

One day a number of men belonging to this clan went hunting and camped a considerable distance from home. Afterward they scattered to see what they could find but remained within call of one another, having made an agreement that if anything happened to one of them he should shout for help. But one of them ventured farther than he was aware and got a long distance off. Presently he got tired and sat down to rest, but while he was there a lofa (means “skinner.” The being was thought to have long hair like an animal) came up and said: “What are you doing here? You are intruding upon my land and had better get up and return to your own place.”

But the Indian believed himself to be strong enough for any situation, so he sat still without speaking.

Presently the lofa ordered him off again and added, “If you do not get up and go away I will tie you up and carry you to my place.”

“You may do so if you can,” the man replied, and upon this the lofa seized him.

At first it seemed as if the man were the stronger of the two and he was able to throw the lofa down, but the latter smelled so bad that it was too much for his antagonist, and the lofa overcame him, hung him up in a tree and went away.

The man hung there all night, and when he did not make his appearance at camp the other hunters began a search for him and, when they found him, cut the grapevine by which he was fastened so that he fell to the ground. They asked him what had treated him in this manner but he would not speak and they thought he might have seen a ghost or something of that sort.

Some time later, however, he came to himself and related what had happened. Afterwards, thought he was very fond of hunting and knew that he would be successful, he would not venture out unless someone were with him. - John R. Swanton


When the settlers started to move into the areas previously occupied by the Chickasaw tribes, the sightings and experiences with the Lofa were passed along. As well, there were first hand accounts of close encounters with the beast. The newspapers, did for the first time, print and record some of these encounters.

To the newcomers, everything that was not openly known or written about by "the leading scientific leaders of the time" and the well educated, was dismissed as pure nonsense. Anyone who came into a town with a story about seeing a wild hairy man along the road was most likely thought to be crazy. Everyone "knows" there is no such creature out there like that.

This is something that still continues today. This is why so many sightings and encounters with these creatures still to this day, go unreported, not discussed, not talked about, and the story is surely not taken to a newspaper editors that will add his or her own little comments about anyone coming in with a story like this. In most cases, if someone does tell the story, it is to someone they know and trust very well and that is as far as it goes.

There was a time that some editors remained open minded enough to the possiblity that not everything out there has been bagged and tagged and put in a box someplace.


Gorilla Family Hunt is in Vain

Sheriff W. P. Cotton dismissed a posse of "wild man" hunters today and reported that an all day search for a strange gorilla like family in a Choccolocca Valley swamp was in vain.

Cotton led a group of farmers and citizens into the swamp after rural residents reported seeing a man, woman and child whose bodies were covered with hair and at times walked on all fours. - UPI - 4/15/1936


Mera Roberts' Story

My siblings and I grew up hearing "Hairy Man" stories. My mother, Clara Odie Anderson Roberts, is almost 90 years old and still has a sharp mind. She lives in the Jackson Health Care Facility and can tell you these things herself.

When she was young, a black man named Dan Scruggs lived near Uncle Tom Purvis’ place on the other side of Friendship, a community which was between Coffeeville and the Witch Creek area. One day he left his house to go to a nearby spring, taking his gun with him. A short time later he arrived back at his home, running andout of breath. He was very frightened, and could only say, "Hairy Man, Hairy Man." As he had neared the spring he saw a "Hairy Man" there and he left in such haste that he left his gun there near the spring.

One day, mother’s oldest brother, Chamlers Anderson, and Elmore Bedwell, were returning to their home after having visited the Roberts family who lived in the area. About halfway between the Roberts place and the Ida Bedwell place, they saw a "Hairy Man" sitting on a log that was over a ravine. I suspect they lost no time getting to their respective homes. This also happened when mother was young. I’m wondering if other relatives or descendants of the people who actually saw the "Hairy Man" might also have heard the stories told and passed down in their families. My oldest sister, Inez, remembers Grandma Anderson (my Mother’s Mother) telling her something that happened when Grandma’s oldest child (Chalmers) was a baby. Grandma said she was walking to a relative’s house and carrying Uncle Chalmers and she walked up on a big hairy ape sitting on a log and holding its head with its hands. When Grandma walked up, it just got up and ambled off into the woods. Grandma said she figured it must have escaped from a circus somewhere and that it may have been sick.

Could this have been a "Hairy Man" or a Bigfoot? The baby (my uncle) who was being carried was born Dec. 30, 1907 so Grandma’s encounter with the "big hairy ape" was probably around 1908. All of these sightings occurred in the Friendship area. - The South Alabamian - Jackson, AL - 12/23/2004

NOTE: The following link may also be of interest - Addison, Alabama Near Brushy Creek and BFRO - Alabama Reports...Lon

UFO and Bigfoot Sightings in ALABAMA: A listing and examination of selected sightings

Beginner's Guide to Bigfoot Research

Just the Facts?: Cow Mutilation in Missouri -- 'Umbra' Movie Shakeup -- Humanoid Abducted Animal

Cow Mutilated in Northland, Missouri

Police are investigating after a Northland farmer reported that one of his cows had been found dead and mutilated, apparently by someone who a veterinarian says knew what they were doing.

According to Kansas City Missouri Police, officers responded to a call on Thursday morning to a farm near 120th and Brightwell in rural Platte County, just west of KCI. There, officers said that they found the cow, which had its sexual organs and udder removed.

Click here to see a picture of the mutilated cow (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE)

The cow’s owner, Casey Hamilton, told police that the cow had been ill, and had been moved to another pasture away from the rest of his herd. According to the police report, the cow was alive and recovering when it was last checked on Wednesday night, but was found dead the following morning.

A veterinarian examined the cow, and determined that it’s vagina and udder had been removed. According to the police report, the vet told officers that it was a precise cut and whoever did it “knew what they were doing.” He also stated that the cow was alive when the parts were removed.

“I couldn’t believe it happened so close to home,” said rancher Gordon Phillip, a friend of Hamilton’s and one of three ranchers in the area. The ranchers lease the land from KCI – the cattle herds keep tall grass down, which in turn helps keep deer off the airport’s runway.

“”It’s amazing, like how the vet said, if he had done a massive masectomy like that on a cow there would be blood all over the field, but there was no blood,” said Phillip.

Police say that when the cow was discovered on Thursday morning, the gate was still locked and there were no footprints or tire tracks leading to the dead cow.

“It’s somewhat amazing because the lack of evidence,” said Phillip, who says that he discovered one of his own cows mutilated 30 years ago. When he asked his vet for an explanation, Phillip says that he just looked towards the sky.

“He was just amazed when I showed him this cow 30 years ago, he went around and around looking for where a space machine had landed to see if he could find any burn marks in the pasture,” said Phillip.

The cow’s exact cause of death has not been determined, but the vet told police that the cow did not die from the mutilation. The lack of evidence is leading to a conundrum for investigators and ranchers alike.

“(It’s) just amazing how whoever does this terrible thing to animals seems to know what they are doing,” said Phillip. - fox4kc

Alien Harvest: Further Evidence Linking Animal Mutilations and Human Abductions to Alien Life Forms


Runaway car parks itself in neighbour's garage

A car reported stolen last month in the Adelaide Hills is believed to have rolled into the garage of a nearby home, parking itself perfectly.

The car's owner from Upper Sturt had parked the vehicle on a slight slope outside a shop in Stirling early on December 18.

He returned 15 minutes later to find the car was gone, and then called police.

The man had only owned the vehicle for two days.

The mystery was still unsolved when the new owners of a house opposite the shops returned from holidays on Wednesday.

Noticing their garage door had received minor damage and been pushed off its tracks, they suspected a break-in.

Upon inspection, they found the car inside.

Police say the owner probably did not put the transmission in park when he left the vehicle on a slight slope.

Senior constable Tim Dodds says they reconstructed this sequence of events.

"It had rolled out of the shopping centre car park, across the road, down the driveway, into the garage, through the garage door which then closed on itself and there was the man's stolen car," he said.

"It remained under cover for 17 days and so we've recovered the stolen car and cleared up the break-in.

"It even made us have a bit of a laugh here in the office."

The driver says he can recall hearing a loud bang while he was away from the car. -


Dulce base movie ‘Umbra’ in production shake-up

The upcoming sci-fi conspiracy thriller Umbra – a leaked draft script for which makes strong references to the deep-underground biogenetic research facility alleged to exist in Dulce, New Mexico – is currently undergoing a major production shake-up.

The director originally attached to the production – Roger (Species) Donaldson – was replaced by A-Team helmer Joe Carnahan last year. Carnahan was also in the process of rewriting the original (leaked) version of the script.

Now, according to, Carnahan has dropped out of the Umbra project altogether and has been replaced by veteran director Martin Campbell (The Mask of Zorro, Casino Royale, Green Lantern). The script, meanwhile, is undergoing yet another rewrite – this time at the Oscar-winning hands of Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby). Haggis caused a storm in 2009 when he quit the Church of Scientology after more than three decades of membership ("I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t").

Just how far Campbell and Haggis’ Umbra movie will veer from the original script (which features numerous references to the darker chapters of UFOlogical history, including the alleged human/alien fire fight at Dulce described by ‘whistleblower’ Phil Schneider) remains to be seen.

Umbra will begin shooting in the spring and will hit cinemas sometime in 2013. - silverscreensaucers

The Dulce Wars: Underground Alien Bases and the Battle for Planet Earth


Humanoids "...took an animal or something back onto the plane"

Case Number: 34674
Log Number: US-01062012-0024
Submitted Date: 2012-01-06 18:47 GMT
Event Date: 2011-12-16 00:00 GMT
Status: Assigned
City: Greeley
Region: Colorado
Country: US
Longitude: -104.7091322
Latitude: 40.4233142
Shape: Triangle
Duration: 00:30:30
Distance: 500 feet or less

I was about to sleep, and in my mirror I saw this bright *** star, I thought it was a planet so I went to my window, i was about to take a picture with my phone and it disappeared, I was like what the #$%^, then i saw it again, really dull, but it was huge, and like a mile away into the wooded area behind my house, I grabbed a knife and a jacket, and went to see if it was military or something, I was walking for fifteen minutes before it stated descending, I ran toward it, and realized that it was big. I realized that planes dont just fall slowly, helicopters do that. I hid in this brush because it wasnt a helicopter, it hovered for maybe five minutes before it landed, people came out in these uniforms, they had big round eyes, one had almond shaped goggles on, I hid there for about twenty more minutes, before that took an animal or something back onto the plane, I felt like the one with the goggles was looking at me, he like smiled or some @#$%, I was scared, but when he looked at me I felt comforted, I blacked out at one point and woke up in my yard, where I had seen the ship, a helicopter was going slowly by, it wasnt a loud copter, so I thought maybe that was what I saw before, but then a couple days later it hit me, I remembered it, I had to take the day off work because I was too shaky to write. - MUFON CMS

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Catskill Tales

Since my early years I have been intrigued by American folktales, especially the classic stories written by Washington Irving. The following essay incorporates an historical figure and one of Irving's best known characters into a tale that some say contains more fact than fiction.

"Behind the New Grand Hotel, in the Catskills, is an amphitheatre of mountain that is held to be the place of which the Mohicans spoke when they told of people there who worked in metals, and had bushy beards and eyes like pigs. From the smoke of their forges, in autumn, came the haze of Indian summer; and when the moon was full, it was their custom to assemble on the edge of a precipice above the hollow and dance and caper until the night was nigh worn away. They brewed a liquor that had the effect of shortening the bodies and swelling the heads of all who drank it, and when Hudson and his crew visited the mountains, the pygmies held a carouse in his honor and invited him to drink their liquor. The crew went away, shrunken and distorted by the magic distillation, and thus it was that Rip Van Winkle found them on the eve of his famous sleep." - Myths and Legends of Our Own Land - Complete- Charles M. Skinner - 1896

Henry Hudson and the Catskill Gnomes

On September 3rd of 1609, Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon into the mouth of the great New York river that later bore his name. The explorer and his crew journeyed north for several days, trading with the native residents and searching for the fabled northwest passage to the Orient. By the time he reached the area that would become present-day Albany, Hudson knew that he had not found the passage for which he sought. Reluctantly, he turned the Half Moon and sailed back down the river.

That night, Henry Hudson and his crew anchored the Half Moon in the shadow of the Catskill Mountains. Around midnight, Hudson heard the sound of music floating across the mountains and down to the river. Taking a few members of his crew, he went ashore and followed the sound up and up into the Catskills. The sound of the music grew louder as Hudson and his men marched up to the edge of a precipice. To their astonishment, a group of pygmies with long, bushy beards and eyes like pigs were dancing and singing and capering about in the firelight.

Hudson realized that these creatures were the metal-working gnomes of whom the natives had spoken. One of the bushy-bearded chaps spotted the explorer and his men and welcomed them with a cheer. The short men surrounded the crew and drew them into the firelight and the dance. Hudson and his men were delighted with these strange, small creatures, and with the hard liquor that the gnomes had brewed. Long into the night, the men drank and played nine-pins with the gnomes while Henry Hudson sipped at a single glass of spirits and spoke with the chief of the gnomes about many deep and mysterious things.

Realizing at last how late it was, Hudson looked around for his men. At first, he couldn't locate them. All he saw were large groups of gnomes, laughing and joking as they sprawled around the fire. Then, to his astonishment, he recognized several of the gnomes as his crewmen! They had undergone a transformation. Their heads had swollen to twice their normal size, their eyes were small and pig-like, and their bodies had shortened until they were only a little taller than the gnomes themselves.

Hudson was alarmed, and asked the chief of the gnomes for an explanation. It was, the chief explained to Hudson, the effect of the magical hard liquor the gnomes brewed. It would wear off when the liquor did. Hudson wasn't sure that he believed the little man. Afraid of what else might happen to him and his crewman if they continued to linger in such company, Hudson hurriedly took his leave of the gnomes and hustled his severely drunken crewmen back to the Half Moon. The entire crew slept late into the morning, as if they were under the influence of a sleeping draught. When they awakened, the crewmen who had accompanied Hudson up into the Catskill Mountains, aside from ferocious headaches, were back to normal.

Hudson continued on his way down the great river, and by October 4th, the Half Moon had reached the mouth and Hudson and his crew sailed for home. In 1610, Hudson set off on another journey, searching for a northwestern passage to the Orient. Trapped in the ice through a long winter, Hudson's crew eventually mutinied and set Henry Hudson and eight of his crewmen adrift in the Hudson Bay. They were never seen again.

In September 1629, twenty years to the day that Hudson and his crew met the Catskill gnomes, a bright fire appeared on the precipice above the hollow, and dance music could be heard floating through the mountains. The Catskill gnomes spent the evening dancing, and carousing and drinking their magic liquor. At midnight, they were joined by the spirits of Henry Hudson and crew. Merry was their meeting, and the gnomes and the spirits played nine-pins all night long. Each time they rolled the ball, a peal of thunder would shake the mountains, and the fire would flare up in bolts like lightening. The party lasted until daybreak, at which hour the spirits departed from the hills, with promises to return.

Every twenty years, the spirits of Henry Hudson and his crew returned to the Catskill Mountains to play nine-pins with the gnomes, and to look out over the country they had first explored together on the Half Moon. Now and then, one of the Dutch settlers living in the region came across the spirits as they played nine-pins. They claimed that any man foolish enough to drink of the spirits' magic liquor would sleep from the moment the spirits departed the mountain to the day they returned, twenty years later. Most folks discounted the story, although several members of Rip Van Winkle's family swore it was true. True or false, wise folks who walk among the Catskills in September do not accept a drink of liquor when it is offered to them. Just in case. - Spooky New York: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore- S. E. Schlosser


Washington Irving's Mysterious Home

Click for video

<-- Is this a ghost? Could it be the apparition of Washington Irving?

TP - On June 26, 2010, 14-year-old Rachel Lambert saw something a bit unusual in a photograph she took earlier during her trip to Washington Irving's Sunnyside.

After seeing Tim Burton's film, "Sleepy Hollow," Rachel pursued her interest in the paranormal and convinced her family to take a trip from Rotterdam, N.Y. to see what the town of the horseman is really like.

They ended up wandering the estate of Tarrytown's Sunnyside and as they did, Rachel saw something strange in a window of Irving's cottage. She snapped a picture and moved on, as not to miss any of their tour guide's fascinating historical speech. When Rachel got home the next night and viewed the picture on the 27-inch screen of her computer, she found that the creator of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow had not let her down (see attached video).

She and her family were able to make out a figure that looks like the head and upper body of a ghost holding a quill pen. Rachel determined that before her eyes was a picture of the ghost of Washington Irving.

Rachel's father Ed believes that his daughter's sighting of the spirit may not have been a sheer streak of luck. Just before the family stopped outside the cottage, they were having a conversation with the guide about Rachel's achievements as an English honors student and her dream of becoming a writer. They additionally spoke about her interest in Sleepy Hollow and how she had planned out sights to see and goals for the trip, which included stopping at Washington Irving's grave in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery beforehand. The family thinks that Irving's spirit may have overheard this conversation and acted. Perhaps Irving's thoughts were, "I'm gonna let her see this and do this for an aspiring author," as Rachel's father put it.

When Historic Hudson Valley, the organization entrusted to maintain the estate, was contacted, spokesperson Rob Schweitzer said he was "unaware" of any ghosts at the estate.

But some ghost enthusiasts maintain the Sunnyside is known for holding the spirit of Washington Irving.

"The legend says he still haunts the house," said Donna Davies, of Haunted Hudson Valley. "He passed away in the house. If he was going to haunt any place he would haunt Sunnyside."

Another ghost hunter, Linda Zimmermann, has written many books on the hauntings in the Hudson Valley and agrees with Davies' assessment in her book Ghost Investigator: Hauntings of the Hudson Valley, Volume 1:

* "Irving made his home at Sunnyside in Tarrytown. Some people claim that to this day, he still resides in his beautiful mansion. That are reports that Irving's spirit walks the halls and rooms of Sunnyside, and that he particularly favors the tower know as the Pagoda. It seems to be poetic justice that the man most know for his ghost story would pass on and create one of his own."

Rachel was certainly excited by this sighting and claims that she is now even more interested in Sleepy Hollow, Irving and ghost stories. As for her parents, Rachel's mother emphasized that they have always been open about the paranormal with their children and allowed them to explore its possibility rather than fear it.

Ed however, stated that he always thought there could be a potential for the spirit world, but that there are also other scientific ways to explain such mystical events. "Do we make these things up in our minds or are they there?" he initially thought. But after taking several close looks at the photograph he said, "I think it's there."

Many family members and friends that were shown Rachel's photograph were similarly shocked by the image and questioned their ideas about the spiritual world.

"I think it made some people believers," said Ed Lambert.

Some even said that it looks like there are several ghosts in the image, besides Irving's spirit. The Lambert family believes that some kind of paranormal investigation should be done to determine what is really in the photograph and at Sunnyside.

The Lambert family plans to return to Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown in the fall to see the scenery of the season, and perhaps to further explore the possibility of the supernatural in the villages.

Although Rachel is likely to also pursue her interest in the paranormal elsewhere, her recent experience and haunting souvenir caused her to admit, "I think there's something special about Sleepy Hollow.


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Ichabod Crane, a Connecticut schoolteacher, arrives in Sleepy Hollow in 1790 and is immediately attracted to the supernatural tales told by the area’s Dutch housewives, particularly the tale of a headless horseman. According to the story, he is a Hessian cavalryman who was decapitated during a battle in the American Revolution. Each night he rides out searching for his lost head.

Crane also spends his time pursuing a young woman, Katrina Van Tassel, the "plump," 18 year-old daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer. This infuriates a rival for Katrina’s hand, “Brom Bones" Van Brunt, a handsome but rather rowdy and brutish man who subjects Crane to ridicule.

One Autumn night after attending a party at the Van Tassel home, Crane encounters the headless horseman near a bridge and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A pursuit through the countryside follows during which the spectral horseman hurls his “head” at Crane. The next day the schoolteacher is missing, leaving behind a riderless horse, a trampled saddle, Crane’s hat, and a smashed pumpkin.

Irving leaves it to the reader to decide if the horseman was an actual specter or Van Brunt in disguise.

The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

The cemetery in Sleepy Hollow is a beautiful Victorian era cemetery with many hills and valleys in a gothic park-like atmosphere, situated on the east side of the Hudson River. It contains the final resting place of Washington Irving, the author of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Ichabod Crane's encounter with the Headless Horseman. Washington Irving wrote, in a letter addressed to the editor of Knickerbocker Magazine, “I send you herewith a plan of a rural cemetery projected by some of the worthies of Tarrytown, on the woody hills adjacent to the Sleepy Hollow Church. I have no pecuniary interest in it, yet I hope it may succeed, as it will keep that beautiful and umbrageous neighborhood sacred from the anti-poetical and all-leveling axe. Besides, I trust that I shall one day lay my bones there.” Washington Irving’s gothic revival home, known as Sunnyside, is situated not far from his gravesite, along the Hudson River.

Also buried at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery are other luminaries such as: Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, William Rockefeller, and Elizabeth Arden. The television series “Dark Shadows”, which featured vampire Barnabas Collins, witches, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures, inspired a film, “House of Dark Shadows”. In the film, Lyndhurst, a gothic revival mansion in nearby Tarrytown, was the Collinwood estate and a mausoleum in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery was shown as the Collins family tomb. The cemetery is rather renowned and guided tours are offered in October. It is also adjacent to the cemetery of the Old Dutch Church, which is the resting place of those who inspired Irving's characters of Katrina Van Tassel, Brom Bones, and the headless Hessian soldier.



Legendary Sleepy Hollow

Where the Ghosts are

A British ghost investigator named Dean James Maynard visited Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow in the summer of 2005 and called the area “the most haunted place in the world.”

Who and where are the ghosts? Here is a guide to the apparitions and places where they reportedly reside. Should you see a ghost or hear about one we haven't mentioned, please let us know.

Ghosts and places where you might encounter them:

1. Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Washington Irving was the first American writer to gain old world respect and recognition for the new world’s literature; he bought consciousness of fantasy, ghosts, goblins and the supernatural to American fiction. He experienced periods of gloom and obsession with death during his lifetime. His ghost has been reportedly seen in a window of a bedroom that faces the Hudson River and also in his study located on the east side of the cottage, away from the river. The Complete Tales Of Washington Irving19th Century American Literature)

2. Washington Irving’s fiancee Matilda Hoffmanm

Irving’s shy and beguiling fiancée is said to haunt a trove of trees from which she watches Irving’s cottage. She died on April 26, 1809 at the age of 17 from complications from a cold that led to consumption. Sunnyside

3. The five caring nieces of Washington Irving

They were the daughters of Irving’s elder brother Ebenzer. After the visitors are gone, they still tidy the house. Sunnyside

4. The woman who ate green apples

A young woman, suffering from a lost love, wandered through the orchard, ate too many green apples, died and stayed as a ghost according to Washington Irving III, great-great grandnephew of Washington Irving. Sunnyside

5. The Headless Horseman, a mercenary Hessian trooper

Washington Irving’s famous character was a mercenary Hessian trooper whose head was blown away by a cannon ball during the American Revolution. He returns at night to the scene of the battle. Take cover if you hear hoofbeats. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

6. Abraham Martling, Washington Irving’s inspiration for Brom Bones

Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

7. Eleanor van Tassel Brush, Washington Irving’s model for Katrina

She was the love interest of Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

8. Baltus Van Tassel, father of Eleanor van Tassel Brush

Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

9. Samuel Youngs, Washington Irving’s model for Ichabod Crane

He was a schoolteacher and later a lawyer. Ichabod Crane was met by the Headless Horseman in the vicinity of Patriot’s Park; the route of their chase has been guessed at but the timber bridge has long since been gone. An existing bridge called the Headless Horseman Bridge over the Pocantico River at North Broadway (identified by a metal blue sign with yellow lettering) is not where the encounter took place; this bridge was erected around 1912. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow and Patriot’s Park, Tarrytown

10. Henry Hudson and his Half Moon crew

The ghosts of Henry Hudson and his crew play ninepins upstate at Kaaterskill Falls where Rip Van Winkle napped for 20 years and missed the American Revolution. That's a long trip but visitors can see the bronze statue of a reclining life-size Rip Van Winkle in Irvington. Hudson's crew haunts Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Mountains. The statue however is on Main Street next to the town hall in Irvington, NY.

11. Revolutionary War Major John Andre

Major John Andre was caught by three American militiamen with papers describing the defenses at West Point. His conspiracy with Benedict Arnold exposed, he was sentenced to death by hanging. Angry at both the Americans for denying his request to be executed by firing squad and the British for refusing an offer of exchange for Benedict Arnold, he died in a rage. His ghost is said to roam Patriot’s Park where he can be heard reciting a poem he penned that was published in the Riverton’s Gazette on the day he was captured. In the poem, he wrote, “What hero could refuse to tread the rugged path to fame.” Patriot’s Park, Tarrytown.

12. Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

General Anthony Wayne, who carried out the order to hang Major Andre, was the commander of the American forces assigned to patrol the Hudson River. His ghost is said to haunt the riverfront but out of respect for Andre’s ghost, it carefully avoids Patriot’s Park. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow waterfronts.

13. Hulda the Witch

An immigrant from Bohemia, shunned and feared by her Tarrytown neighbors, she fired on British troops with deadly accuracy during the American Revolution. After killing many redcoats, she fell mortally wounded. Later, her neighbors discovered a will in her home leaving her money and possessions to the widows of patriots who died during the war. Old Dutch Burying Ground, Sleepy Hollow

14. Captain Kidd (1654-1701)

A notorious pirate whose gold and buried treasure is still sought, some of which may have been buried along the Hudson River. His ship stopped at or near Tarrytown where he had dealings with wealthy local merchants. He was hanged by the British on May 23, 1701. Exact locations unknown

15. The crew of Captain Kidd’s pirate ship, the Adventure Galley

When Captain Kidd buried gold and other loot, his crew members drew lots. The losers were killed and their bodies were placed on on top of the treasure chests to repel intruders. As ghosts, they remain fierce sentries destined to guard Kidd’s treasures forever. Exact locations unknown

16. A woman mistaken as Captain Kidd’s bride

She was captured in Tarrytown, tried for piracy and executed. She is believed to be either a traveler who booked passage to Tarrytown looking for work or or a slave or servant intended for a rich merchant. Her ghost proclaims her innocence as she waits for the vessel that brought her to Tarrytown believing it is coming to her rescue. Tarrytown’s river edge

17. The pirate whose skull was battered by Captain Kidd

In a fit of rage, Captain Kidd killed a member of his crew by striking him with an iron water bucket. Kidd was hung for the murder of this sailor, not for piracy. Tarrytown’s river edge

18. An intoxicated villager

He was a local resident who lost his balance and drowned while attempting to navigate his rowboat across the Tappan Zee; boaters say he often waves to passing vessels. Tarrytown waterfront

19. Five young women slain by a mad monk

Five innocent young women, believed to be virgins, died at the hands of a mad monk. Tarrytown near Sunnyside cottage

20. The mad monk accused of murdering the five young women

Before he could be tried, the monk was killed by a house servant, the lover of one of the five women, who then sealed the monk’s body in the manor’s walls. The house was owned by John Jacob Astor, a close friend of Washington Irving and at one time, the richest man in America. Tarrytown near Sunnyside cottage

21. The Armour-Stiner house’s odoriferous guest

This ghost exudes an “exquisite and unidentifiable fragrance” according to a passage in a book written by poet and historian Carl Carmer, best known for his autobiographical book, “Stars Fell on Alabama.” The ghost’s identity is unknown but it is believed to be either Aleko E. Lilius, a Finnish writer and explorer, or the woman he cohabited with, a 20th-century lady pirate who made a fortune plundering vessels in the China Seas. Theories have also arisen that the ghost is Paul J. Armour, the New York banker who built the house in 1860, or Joseph Stiner, a wealthy tea merchant who bought it in 1872. An eight-sided domed and colonnaded structure in Irvington built in 1860 and resembling a classic Roman temple

22. Sybil Harris King, known as “the apparition in white”

She was the daughter of Benjamin Newton Duke, co-founder of the American Tobacco Company. She has been heard pacing up and down the second-floor hallways of the King House in Tarrytown. She was married to Frederick King, son of Thomas King, vice president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the country’s first major railroad. She died in 1955. Located on the grounds of the 26-acre Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center

23. The woman who froze to death at Raven Rock

She lost her way during a storm and became trapped by blinding snowdrifts in the hill behind the rock. Her wailing, similar to the sound of the wind, warns travelers not to seek safety here. Raven Rock, a precipitous outcrop on Buttermilk Hill located on the Rockefeller estate

24. The Indian maiden who died at Raven Rock

She fell or leaped to her death from Raven Rock when pursued by Tory raiders. In another version of this story, it is said she was fleeing a jealous admirer. Raven Rock, a precipitous outcrop on Buttermilk Hill located on the Rockefeller estate

25. The engineer of Lincoln’s funeral train

It is said that once a year in April, a 14-car black funeral train with a ghost at the throttle sounds a deafening whistle as it approaches Sunnyside. The piercing sound wakes Irving’s ghost as the train chugs toward Tarrytown carrying Abraham Lincoln’s body, just as his funeral train did in 1865 when it traveled from New York City to Buffalo and eventually to Springfield, Ohio, Lincoln’s final burying place. Sunnyside cottage - tarrytown.patch

Washington Irving : History, Tales, and Sketches: The Sketch Book / A History of New York / Salmagundi / Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. (Library of America)19th Century American Literature)

Just the Facts?: Witchcraft Murder Trial -- 138 Pound Tumor -- Humans Must Colonize Space

Witchcraft murder trial in London

A 15-year-old boy was tortured and drowned by his sister and her boyfriend because they believed he was a witch, the Old Bailey has heard.

Kristy Bamu, from Paris, was found dead in Newham, east London, on Christmas Day in 2010.

The boy had 101 injuries and died from being beaten with a metal bar and drowning, the court heard.

His sister Magalie Bamu and her boyfriend, Eric Bikubi, both Congolese and aged 28, of Newham, deny murder.

Prosecutors told jurors of acts they described as "depraved", "wicked" and "cruel".

Mr Bikubi admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, a plea not accepted by the prosecution.

'Armoury of weapons'

Kristy Bamu Kristy Bamu and his siblings were visiting London from Paris during the Christmas holidays

Kristy and his siblings were visiting the couple for Christmas, but Mr Bikubi had accused the boy and two of his siblings of witchcraft, the court heard.

All three were beaten and other children were forced to join in the attacks. But it was Kristy who became the focus of Mr Bikubi's attention, the prosecution said.

The teenager was said to be in such pain after days of being hit with an "armoury of weapons" including sticks, pliers, a metal bar, hammer and chisel that he begged to die.

Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said: "Eventually Bikubi took him into the bathroom, put him in the bath and started to run the water.

"Kristy was just too badly injured and exhausted to resist or to keep his head above the water.

"It was only when he [Mr Bikubi] realised that Kristy was not moving that he stopped what he was doing and pulled him from the water."

He added: "By then it was too late."

The youngsters were forced to lie to their parents about what was happening when they phoned home, the jury heard.

Mr Altman said of Kristy's father: "He had sent his children on holiday, not to a torture chamber."

When police arrived they found Kristy and his siblings - brother Yves, 22, and and sister Kelly, 20, and other children.

Mr Altman said: "All were standing in the living room, hysterical, terrified and soaking wet.


"None of them spoke any English."

Kelly Bamu said Mr Bikubi and Ms Bamu accused Kristy, herself and a third child of "being witches or sorcerers - practising witchcraft" which adversely influenced another child.

"Despite her own siblings' denials that they were sorcerers, Magalie Bamu joined her boyfriend in repeating these fantastic claims and participating in the assaults," Mr Altman said.

The three were beaten and refused food, drink and sleep and eventually, to stop the torture, they admitted being sorcerers, the jury was told.

Mr Altman said Mr Bikubi's admission of manslaughter was rejected by the prosecution, which argues the couple carried out "the very deliberate murder" of Kristy.

'Feral and evil'

Ms Bamu also denies two charges of causing actual bodily harm to her other siblings.

The defendants are originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The jury heard that witchcraft or sorcery - called kindoki - is practised in Congolese Christian churches.

Mr Altman said that taken out of the church's control "it may take on a feral and indeed evil character, as we suggest it did here".

The court heard that in 2008 Mr Bikubi had accused a family friend of being involved in witchcraft and had forced her to cut her hair short to purge herself.

The trial continues. - BBC


Argentina: The New UFO Museum (Museo OVNI)

Source: Diario Victoria
Date: 01.03.12

Argentina: The New UFO Museum (Museo OVNI)

Last night was the official inauguration of the Museo OVNI in the city of Victoria, at which provincial and local authorities were on hand.

This new site is located at Calle Sarmiento between Além and 25 de Mayo streets, being more centrally located and spacious than the former facility.

A more tourist-oriented approach is offered to visitors, including such amenities as, for example, being photographed while “traveling” aboard a flying saucer. It is also possible to find journalistic material, photographs, curios, information on cattle mutilations, crop circles and other strange phenomena.

The inauguration was presided by Ruben Dario Garcilazo, intendente (mayor) of the City of Victoria, who praised the efforts made by Silvia Pérez Simondini. “This is important for both Victoria and Silvia, a way of appreciating her research endeavors, which she has carried out with great seriousness. It pleases me that this result has been achieved,” beamed the mayor.

Furthermore, Garcilazo took the opportunity to add: “We hope that this helps to bring visitors to Victoria, and to this end, we shall be aiding and supporting this new attraction for the city, so that it may be declared of municipal interest and appreciated by tourists to Victoria.

The “Museo OVNI” is the result of years of virtually pro-bono dedication on the part of Silvia Perez Simondini, her relatives and friends, who came to Victoria as a result of public awareness of the phenomenon in the vicinity in late August 1991.

Raul Gonzalez, the provincial secretary of tourism, confirmed that the opening of the Museo OVNI in the “city of the seven hills” is a new alternative of great worth for tourism. “This is a new stage for family-oriented tourism visiting the city of Victoria,” assured the provincial official.

Thanks to Scott Corrales at Inexplicata


Scientology civil war ready to erupt

Hold on tight to your leather-bound edition of Dianetics and hope for the best. A rift between two top members of the Church of Scientology is causing the controversial religion to be bought to the brink of civil war.

Debbie Cook, a former top-dog among the bureaucracy within the Church of Scientology, started off her 2012 with an email blast to followers of the religion in which she blasts current leader David Miscavige on corruption.

According to Cook, who at one time was the top officer in the church’s Sea Org group, Miscavige is hoarding over $1 billion that he acquired through church fundraising. Additionally, says Cook, the leader has blown millions on ridiculous facilities and the rest of the church must become aware of his misdoings.

“Only a tiny fraction has ever been spent… Only the interest earned from the holdings has been used very sparingly to fund projects through grants,” adds Cook.

Graeme Wilson, a spokesperson for the church, has fired back and tells the New York Times that Cook’s email reflects “a small, ignorant and unenlightened view of the world today” and are not representative of “the thousands of Scientologists who are overjoyed by our 27 new Churches and what they mean to the communities they serve.”

Cook, however, knows the ins and outs of the Scientology biz and is a force to be reckoned with within the church. From 1993 through 2008, she sat on the board of directors of the Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc. — a position that puts an awful mount of clout behind her recent words. Cook also served as “captain” of the Flag Organization from 1989 through 2006.

In an almost apocalyptical forewarning of what’s to come, Cook emailed a list of 12,000 scientologists on New Year’s Day cautioning them of the leader’s corrupt cash-grabbing, but stayed optimistic, saying, “We are a strong and powerful group and we can effect a change. We have weathered many storms. I am sorry that I am the one telling you, but a new storm is upon us.”

Cook says that she was drawn to the religion years ago thanks to the writings of founder and science fiction author L Ron Hubbard. That determination to keep his beliefs going is what motivated here to address the corruption coming from the church’s corporate headquarters.

“I dedicated my entire adult life to supporting L Ron Hubbard and the application of LRH technology,” Cook’s email reads, “And if I ever had to look LRH in the eye I wouldn’t be able to say I did everything I could to Keep Scientology Working if I didn’t do something about it now.

“We all have a stake in this. It is simply not possible to read the LRH references and not see the alterations and violations that are currently occurring,” warns Cook.

Miscavige has led the church since Hubbard passed away 26 years ago. According to Cook, the current leader has since dismantled the "complete and brilliant organizational structure” set in place by Hubbard. - RT


Prof. Stephen Hawking urges human colonization of space

"It is possible that the human race could become extinct but it is not inevitable. I think it is almost certain that a disaster, such as nuclear war or global warming, will befall the earth within a thousands years," Professor Hawking, the Cambridge University cosmologist and theoretical physicist said.

"It is essential that we colonise space. I believe that we will eventually establish self-sustaining colonies on Mars, and other bodies in the solar system, although probably not within the next 100 years.

"I am optimistic that progress within science and technology will eventually allow humans to spread beyond the solar system and out into the far-reaches of the universe," he said.

Professor Hawking was answering questions submitted by listeners to BBC Radio 4's Today programme to mark his seventieth birthday.

But if man should meet alien life on its journey into space, the consequences for humanity could be grave, Prof Hawking warned.

"The discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe would be the greatest scientific discovery ever. But it would be very risky to attempt to communicate with an alien civilisation.

"If aliens decided to visit us, then the outcome might be similar to when Europeans arrived in the Americas. That did not turn out well for the Native Americans."

He said did not believe the results of the CERN experiments which appeared to show particles travelling faster than the speed of light - in defiance of the known laws of physics.

"Einstein's theory of relativity predicts that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Thus if the Opera experiment is correct, and neutrinos do travel faster than light, then relativity theory is wrong.

"However, I don't believe the Opera results, because they disagree with the detection of neutrinos from supernova SN 1987A."

Bursts of neutrinos detected in 1987 from that stellar explosion suggested neutrinos travel at the same speed of light. If CERN's experiment is correct, they would have been detected on earth years before the light from the explosion was seen on earth, physicists believe. Instead, they arrived within hours of one another.

A listener from Lagos asked Hawking, Britain's most celebrated physicist, whether there "was a time when there was nothing".

"The origin of the universe can be explained by the laws of physics, without any need for miracles or divine intervention," replied the professor, who uses a speech synthesizer due to his debilitating Motor Neurone Disease.

"These laws predict that the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing in a rapidly expanding state. It's called inflation, because it's like the way prices go up at an ever increasing rate. Time is defined only with the universe, so it makes no sense to talk about the time before the universe began. It would be like asking for a point south of the south pole." - telegraph


Doctors set to remove Vietnamese man's massive 138 pound tumor

A man with a tumour tipping the scales at 198 pounds on his right leg is set to go under the knife in Vietnam today to have the growth removed, it has been reported.

Left unable to walk by the swelling that weighs more than the rest of his body, Nguyen Duy Hai's enormous tumour is to be cut away by a team of medics in ten hour operation that only has a 50 percent chance of success.

Hai, 31, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, has been living with the tumour since he was four years old, a statement from the France-Vietnam hospital in Ho Chi Minh City detailed.

"This is a huge procedure with many risks, including the risk of death during surgery or post-operative care," the hospital said.

The hospital added that despite being warned of the potential problems with the surgery, Hai has nonetheless decided to proceed with removal.

Lead doctor McKay McKinnon successfully removed a tumour weighing over 176 pounds from a Romanian woman in 2004.

McKinnon has reportedly waived his fee for the operation, with remaining costs expected to be covered by donations.

Last October it was reported that a grandmother from Berkshire had dropped seven dress sizes after surgeons removed a 39lb tumour from her stomach.

“The weight of it meant the pressure on my legs became unbearable.,” said Jayne Grainger..

“By the end, I could barely walk and couldn’t get down the stairs in my house.” - mirror

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

A New Mother's Concern: Update

In January 2010, I received an email from a new mother who I referred to as Lisa. Since that time we have corresponded was a brief followup from Lisa which I received in March 2011, letting me know that her son was doing quite well. On Monday I received another followup email. I have posted my original article below after which I have posted the latest correspondence I received from Lisa:

Last evening, I received a rather mysterious email from a woman (I'll refer to her as 'Lisa') who had a traumatic experience recently. Lisa didn't place much content in the email and attached a telephone number, so I called Lisa this morning. I attempted to write down notes as best as I could....she was very distraught. She gave me permission to post her account anonymously. I will state that she lives on the U.S. west coast. Before I go any further, this is one of the more unusual accounts related to me.

Two months ago, Lisa gave birth to a baby boy. She never mentioned anything about the child's father but I assumed by some of her comments that she was not in a relationship. Her pregnancy was uneventful though, the OB/GYN insisted that she remain at home for the last trimester. The reason he gave was that Lisa was slightly built and it would be better safe than sorry. She lived with her mother and sister so there was someone usually there to watch over her.

In those last months of her pregnancy, the OB/GYN told her he and a nurse would come to her mother's home for her exams instead of her coming to his office. She didn't give it much thought at the time, but did recognize that this was a bit unusual. The exams were not anything out of the ordinary except for one occasion when the nurse gave her an injection of a 'mild sedative' to relax her during a cervical exam.

I asked her what had happened during that exam and she whispered "I don't know". Lisa had fallen asleep or was under strong sedation but only remembers the nurse applying a cold compress to her forehead just before they got ready to leave. She said that she thinks that the examination lasted almost a full hour from what she could recollect about the time of day. I asked if her mother and sister were home but she said that both were at work that day.

In early November, Lisa gave birth to a 6lbs. 8oz baby boy at her local hospital. The labor and birth went easier than she had expected...her contractions lasted about 10 hours but she said it was more bearable than she had imagined it would be (this was her first child). The procedure was performed naturally without any pain medication though she said that she did suffer a slight infection a few days later which required her to remain in the hospital for 2 extra days. Her OB/GYN performed the delivery and the nurse who had come to her home was also present.

Everything was fine with the child and Lisa leading up to the holidays. She had taken the baby to another OB/GYN because her regular doctor was on a 'long vacation' another doctor in his clinic was taking care of his patients until he returned.

A few days before the New Year, Lisa was feeding her child when she noticed that the baby's eyes were a dark, almost violet color instead of it's normally blue hue. She said that the baby acted normal but she called the doctor's office anyway. She was told that infants' eye color can change fairly quickly and it was nothing to worry was just part of the growing process. After a few days, the child's eyes seemed to lighten some...until New Year's eve.

It was late morning and Lisa was at home alone because her mother and sister were at a friend's wedding. She was in the living room when the baby started to suddenly it was being hurt. Lisa picked him up and noticed that his eyes were very dark violet but seemed to shine when the baby blinked. The baby continued to scream...then stopped on a dime. The child's eyes opened wide, looked directly at her and blinked SIDEWAYS! Membranes came across both eyes from the corners and blinked like, in her words, "...a lizard".

"OK" I'm thinking "...was someone setting me up?" "Why was this woman telling me a story like this?"

I asked Lisa to continue her story. She said she immediately called the doctor's office and was told to go to the hospital since the doctor was on call. When the baby was examined, it was determined he was fine and that there was nothing wrong with the eyes. Then Lisa inquired to the emergency room doctor about her regular OB/GYN...she was told that someone would get back to her on that question.

About a half hour later, the OB/GYN who was on call and had filled in for her regular doctor came to the examination room. She said that she looked at the exam reports and everything was fine. Then Lisa was told, in a matter-of-fact manner, that her regular OB/GYN had quit his practice. Lisa asked about his attending nurse. The doctor looked at her like she was crazy and said "what nurse?". She described the nurse and was told that no one of that description worked at the clinic or the hospital.

Since that day, Lisa says her child's eyes are a light violet color and that she has not noticed the strange side-to-side blinking at all but swears there is something wrong. The child looks at her in a strange manner, with very wide eyes...then slowly closes his eyes and gives her an unsettling 'smile'. She said she has investigated the OB/GYN and has found that he was licensed to practice but is not anywhere to be found.

In the meantime, I'm still wondering if I was having my leg pulled. After some checking, Lisa is actually who she said she was...all the information I was given was true. I did ask her why she contacted me and was told that I was 'referred' to her and that I could give her some idea where to go. I gave her some contact addresses and links as well as assurance that I would remain available if she needed to contact me.

My last question to Lisa was "what do you think is going on?". As I expected, she tells me her theory of 'reptilians' and 'alien hybrids'....and that the OB/GYN and nurse may be aliens, etc. I'm not discounting any of her thoughts. But as with every other incident or case I research, I'm not taking all the information as fact. I truly believe Lisa is sincere and I will continue to keep in touch with her. But, in the meantime, I'll continue with an open and somewhat skeptical mind...Lon


On Monday, January 2, 2012, I received the following email. Some of the correspondence has been edited for spelling. I have also withheld her son's name and other personal information:

Lon - I hope you had a very nice holiday. You had asked me to contact you if there was any notable information in regard to my son and I. He is doing well and is very healthy. My mother has remarked that he is the healthiest baby she has ever seen because he does not catch colds or exhibit other minor ailment, including fevers. In fact his pediatrician has also remarked about his clean medical record but has not mentioned it as a problem, but I am concerned because this just does not seem right to me.

We moved into an apartment a few months ago. He goes to daycare on some days and stays with my mother on others. We have all noticed a strange characteristic that he has exhibited for the past year or so. Sometimes he will sit on the floor with his arms folded and stare straight ahead for up to 10 minutes. I've noticed that his eyes will turn a darker shade of violet during these episodes. He doesn't make any noise and is almost impossible to rouse. Afterwards he acts like he has been zapped of his energy and will occasionally take a brief nap. Have you heard of this type of activity before?

I made you aware of my thoughts on alien involvement during our first conversation. I honestly don't know what you think about that. Since then I had thought less of that theory but now I'm wondering if there really was some type of intervention. I have still not been able to contact the OB/GYN who suddenly left his practice. The AMA has no further record of him practicing anywhere. Now I'm starting to be wary of the pediatrician which, I agree, is somewhat paranoid.

As before, if you or others you know could offer reassurance I would be very grateful. Here is my contact number xxx-xxx-xxxx

NOTE: Again, I contacted Lisa by telephone. She was at her office so she may have been more discreet than before. Her demeanor was quite uneasy...she is very concerned that something is seriously amiss in relation to her son's physical and mental well being. She is also worried that some procedure may have been performed on her during the time she was sedated while pregnant. She has had a few odd physical changes that I was asked not to least for now. She has promised to keep me 'in the loop'...though I feel that she needs to come forward in order to receive extensive medical treatment. She continues to maintain that her family and I are the only parties with knowledge of her identification and situation...Lon

The Allagash Abductions: Undeniable Evidence of Alien Intervention

The Ancient Alien Question: A New Inquiry Into the Existence, Evidence, and Influence of Ancient Visitors

Just the Facts?: Mokele-mbembe -- Swank Sushi -- Joan of Arc's Soul

The hunt for Mokele-mbembe

The search for Scotland's Loch Ness Monster is world famous. Far less well-known is the hunt for a similar creature, Mokele-mbembe, which is reputed to live in the remote north of Congo-Brazzaville. But how strong is the evidence?

"I checked maps, and the data on the maps was white. It said, 'insufficient data to delineate terrain'. Well that got me!" says Dr Roy Mackal, a retired biologist from the University of Chicago.

"It's the end of the world. It gives you a feeling of a surviving prehistoric time."

In the 1980s, Dr Mackal led two expedition teams to the vast Likouala swamp and rainforest area of the Congo which is inhabited by pygmies, on the hunt for this mystery creature - Africa's version of Scotland's Loch Ness Monster.

The Mokele-mbembe is reputed to be a large reptile-like creature, with a long neck, and long tail.

Despite being a herbivore, it is said to roar aggressively if approached by humans. Some say it has a single horn, which it uses to kill elephants.

Many a Western explorer over the years has been gripped by the tantalising possibility that they could discover a creature - a formidable one at that - that has remained, as yet, unknown to science.
Rising 'out the water'

To date, there have been more than 50 expeditions to the region, but no scientific evidence, unless you include the large claw-shaped footprint recorded by a French missionary in 1776, and by a number of others since.

The only photographic images have been so fuzzy, they prove nothing.

But there is no shortage of eyewitness reports.

"I was in a boat on the river when I saw Mokele-mbembe. He began to chase us. Mokele-mbembe rose out of the water," one man told the BBC. "We ran, or he would have killed us."

Paul Ohlin, a community development worker who spent more than 10 years living with the Bayaka in Congo and the Central African Republic, just to the north, says the people who live in the area are in no doubt about the creature's existence.

"When people are sitting around the campfire talking, they talk about the Mokele-mbembe - it's something that's a reality in everyday life," he says.

At the same time he emphasises their "spiritual connection" and "mystical relationship" with it.

"The way they see the world is a little different to the way you and I see it," says Paul.

But their eyewitness reports still need to be taken seriously, in his view.

"Certainly mythology surrounds it," says Adam Davies, a British man who spends his spare time and money travelling the world in search of undocumented species, and has twice gone to Africa on the trail of the Mokele-mbembe.

"But when you put it to people, 'Is this a real creature?' they become quite affronted… and they consistently came out with physical descriptions."

"Never dismiss tribal accounts on the basis that they must be talking tosh because they are tribal - that's not right and it's actually disrespectful," he says.

The field of cryptozoology - the search for large, unproven species - extends well beyond the realms of mainstream science.

But those who believe Mokele-mbembe exists point out that some animals once dismissed by science have turned out to be real.

The most often cited example is the okapi - a cloven-hoofed mammal with zebra-like stripes on its legs, which lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just to the east of Congo-Brazzaville.

In the 19th Century, there was talk among Westerners in Africa of the existence of an "African unicorn" and the explorer Henry Morton Stanley - who had earlier tracked down the missing missionary, Dr David Livingstone - reported seeing a mysterious donkey-like animal on a journey through the Congo in the late 1880s.

It was only in 1901 that the okapi was properly documented and identified as a relative of the giraffe.

"I'd put Mokele-mbembe in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster," says Bill Laurance, professor at James Cook University in Australia, a conservation biologist and an expert in tropical rainforests.

"My gut sense is that the likelihood of the creature actually existing today is small.

"However, one thing you learn early on in science is never say never. We are still discovering new species all the time."

The Likouala region in the north-east of Congo Brazzaville is the kind of place that it is easy to imagine containing hidden mysteries. Congolese government officials say 80% of its 66,000 sq km is uncharted. Much of it is dense, often flooded forest, forming part of the second largest rainforest in the world.

"The idea of a creature which is very rare, living in a very remote area with a vast size to it, is not remotely implausible," argues Adam Davies.

But some wonder about the motivations of the Congolese who promote the existence of the creature.

US writer Rory Nugent who went to Congo in search of the Mokele-mbembe and wrote a book about his experience, Drums Along the Congo, says he saw "an elegant French curve moving through the water".

He believes it might have been the head of the famed creature, but he is also deeply sceptical.

"The guides were screaming about a god beast. Whether it was part of the show, whether there was somebody swimming under the water with flippers pushing a cardboard piece across the lake, I couldn't tell you."

Taking foreigners on expeditions to try to find the Mokele-mbembe is a good "money making operation" for those involved, he adds.

Mr Nugent fears that one day a kind of "Disneyland Congo" could be created in the area - similar to the tourist trap around Loch Ness - with scientists and tourists from the world flying in and out.

Those who believe the Mokele-mbembe exists argue that with further dedication of time and resources, one will eventually be tracked down.

But might the discovery of the creature be an anti-climax? Perhaps the mystery is what we enjoy most.

"I think there is a basic need or drive to entertain possibilities just outside of our reach," says psychology professor Jacqueline Woolley of the University of Texas.

"There is the excitement in believing that what seems impossible or improbable could potentially exist."

She says that for belief in creatures like the Mokele-mbembe to take hold, they "can't be too wacky and far out - they must be similar to real entities," but vary in just one or two ways.

"I realise my bias," admits Dr Mackal, who is now in his 80s. "I'm interested in discovering unknown species of animals."

"But I think that Mokele-mbembe still exist, and there isn't just one - they are reproducing," he contends.

"At 86 years old, I would dearly love to be alive if and when the animals are discovered." - BBC


Tuna fetches record $736K in Tokyo

This tuna is worth savoring: It cost nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.

A bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record 56.49 million yen, or about $736,000, Thursday in the first auction of the year at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. The price for the 593-pound (269-kilogram) tuna beat last year's record of 32.49 million yen.

The price translates to 210,000 yen per kilogram, or $1,238 per pound — also a record, said Yutaka Hasegawa, a Tsukiji market official.

Though the fish is undoubtedly high quality, the price has more to do with the celebratory atmosphere that surrounds the first auction of the year.

The winning bidder, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he wanted to give Japan a boost after last year's devastating tsunami.

"Japan has been through a lot the last year due to the disaster," a beaming Kimura told AP Television News. "Japan needs to hang in there. So I tried hard myself and ended up buying the most expensive one."

Kimura also said he wanted to keep the fish in Japan "rather than let it get taken overseas."

Last year's bid winners were Hong Kong entrepreneur Ricky Cheng, who runs the Hong Kong-based chain Itamae Sushi, and an upscale Japanese restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza district.

This year's record tuna was caught off Oma, in Aomori prefecture and just north of the tsunami-battered coast.

Bluefin tuna is prized for its tender red meat. The best slices of fatty bluefin — called "o-toro" here — can sell for 2,000 yen ($24) per piece at tony Tokyo sushi bars.

A Sushi-Zanmai shop in Tsujiki was selling fatty tuna sushi from the prized fish for 418 yen ($5.45) apiece Thursday.

"It's superb. I can do nothing but smile. I am very happy," said Kosuke Shimogawara, a 51-year-old customer, who pointed out that if sold at cost, each piece of sushi could cost as much as 8,000 yen ($96).

"It's unbelievable. President Kimura is so generous. I have to say thank you to him," he said.

Japanese eat 80 percent of the Atlantic and Pacific bluefins caught — the most sought-after by sushi lovers. Japanese fishermen, however, face growing calls for tighter fishing rules amid declining tuna stocks worldwide.

In November 2010, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas voted to cut the bluefin fishing quota in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean by about 4 percent, from 13,500 to 12,900 metric tons annually. It also agreed on measures to try to improve enforcement of quotas on bluefin.

The decision was strongly criticized by environmental groups, which hoped to see bluefin fishing slashed or suspended. - kasa

NOTE: Raw bluefin tuna is very good...but not at those prices. Lon


Sarah...get your gun!

A teenage mother shot and killed an intruder after a 911 operator said she was allowed to defend her infant son and herself with force.

Sarah McKinley, 18, killed Justin Martin with a single gunshot wound on New Year's Eve when he forced his way into her Blanchard, Okla. home and came at her with a long hunting knife, ABC News reports.

The deadly encounter occurred about a week after the young mom's husband died of cancer, according to TV station KOCO. Martin darkened McKinley's door on the day of her husband's funeral, several days before the shooting. He claimed he was a neighbor who wanted to say hello, but she didn't open the door.

Martin returned with an accomplice on Dec. 31, and they tried to force their way into the modest house. When McKinley heard the men trying to break in, she called 911.

She also holed up in her bedroom with a 12-gauge shotgun and a pistol, while she put a bottle in her three-month-old son's mouth.

"I've got two guns in my hand -- Is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door?" McKinley asked the 911 operator.

"I can't tell you that you can do that, but you do what you have to do to protect your baby," the dispatcher told McKinley when she asked a second time. The call went on for 21 minutes as the men powered their way into McKinley's house.

Eventually, Martin kicked in the door and charged at her with a knife, but McKinley fired before he could injure her.

Police found Martin slumped over a couch that McKinley had used to barricade the door and pronounced him dead on the scene, TV station News 9 reports. They said McKinley's use of force was justified.

Martin's alleged accomplice, Dustin Stewart, fled when he heard the gunshot and later surrendered to police, according to The Oklahoman. Stewart was charged with burglary. - THP


The fight for Joan of Arc's soul

Almost six centuries after she was burnt by the English, President Nicolas Sarkozy will lead a commando operation tomorrow to free Joan of Arc from captivity.

Not from English captivity but from her status as a foreigner-bashing, official heroine of the French far right. Friday marks the 600 anniversary of Joan’s birth. Mr Sarkozy will take time out from rescuing the French and European economies to attend a series of events in her native village of Domrémy-la-Pucelle in the Vosges. He will also visit Vaucouleurs in Meuse, where Joan or Jeanne or Jehanne (1412-1431) spent the early part of her brief career as a religious visionary and resistance leader.

The xenophobic National Front adopted Jeanne d’Arc as an icon of ultra-nationalism two decades ago. The NF will celebrate her 600 birthday with an open-air rally led by the party’s leader Marine Le Pen and its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in Paris on Saturday.

President Sarkozy first attempted to wrestle Joan from far-right ownership during his bid for election in 2007. So did his principal rival, Ségolène Royal. Although the president is not yet a declared candidate, his appearances tomorrow will, in effect, mark his entry to this spring’s presidential campaign.

Implicitly or explicitly, Mr Sarkozy will, like Joan, pose as the saviour of a French way of life menaced by arrogant external forces and internal divisions and weaknesses. He will imply that he, not the National Front, is the true guarantor of French nationhood.

There is nothing new in posthumous attempts to recruit Joan of Arc to political or religious causes. She was virtually forgotten by the French for 400 years, until her re-invention first as a patriotic-republican and then as a religious-conservative heroine in the mid 19th century. In the US and Canada, she has become a feminist icon: a symbol of girl power. In Latin America, she is claimed by the revolutionary Left as one of the first popular, resistance leaders, a female Che in chain mail. In 1920 Joan was canonised by Rome as part of a campaign by the French church to recapture the soul of France from godless republicanism.

But who was the real Jeanne d’Arc? The story is well known. A cross-dressing peasant girl who came from nowhere, directed by “voices” of saints, to lead the French armies and defeat the English. She lifted a cruel siege of Orléans; created a sense of French nationhood; changed the course of the Hundred Years War; but was betrayed by French traitors and burned by the English as a heretic and a witch.

The problem is that, according to recent French historical studies, little of that is true. Jeanne never really led the French armies. She was a kind of mascot in armour. She was repudiated by the French king and ended as an independent, guerrilla leader. Her entire military career lasted just over a year. The Hundred Years War continued for 22 years after her death. In any case, her enemies were also French and Burgundian in what amounted to a desultory, muddled, three-way civil conflict.

Joan was sent by the dauphin, later King Charles VII, to relieve Orléans in April 1429, as part of a food convoy. She galvanised the city's defenders, who were under no real threat from a relatively small attacking force. They assaulted a few English outposts and the English army retreated.

She had played no great part in the skirmishes but became a heroine for Charles' previously demoralised forces, who won a couple of serious battles. Charles was anointed king and then, on Jeanne's urging, marched on pro-“English” Paris and was utterly routed.

Charles VII rejected Jeanne's messianic zeal to “boot out the English” and sought diplomatic solutions. Disgusted, she fought a brief guerrilla war, with a small band of devotees. She was captured by the Burgundians outside Compiègne on 29 May, 1430.

King Charles ungratefully refused to ransom her. The English paid £10,000 and handed her to the church, which strongly disapproved of peasant girls who spoke to saints. After a lengthy trial in Rouen, in which Jeanne defended herself with great intelligence and dignity, she was condemned for heresy and witchcraft (partly for having worn a man's clothes). She recanted, to avoid the stake, but a few days later was “found” in her cell dressed as a man. For having “relapsed”, she was burned alive.

Joan herself claimed that her women's clothes had been taken away. She had to dress as a man or go naked. This was probably a medieval sting operation, conducted by anti-Joan elements in the French church and the University of Paris.

Revisionism can go too far. The legend of Joan helped to solidify the “French forces” after her death. She did therefore play some part in booting the English out of France. Her second, posthumous trial, which cleared her in 1456, was a symbol of the post-war creation of a first, true sense of French national identity.

The transcripts of her two trials mean that Jeanne's personality and voice have survived through the centuries: calm, obstinate, driven but not really the voice of a fanatic. We learn, among other things, that she was a wonderful cook and a good-looking woman with large breasts.

Jeanne d’Arc was plainly a creature of a 15th century in which people, recovering from the black death and beset by terrible wars, saw signs and omens all around them. She is also oddly modern and inspired writers from George Bernard Shaw to Mark Twain, Jean Anouilh and Bertolt Brecht because of the mental strength that she - an illiterate teenager - displayed in standing up to her malevolent inquisitors.

It is possible to dismiss Jeanne/Joan as a medieval fanatic. It is also possible to recognise in her the stirrings of belief in the individual conscience, one of the building blocks of western modernity. To make her a heroine for xenophobes is to diminish her. To recruit her, 600 years on, to a struggling president’s re-election campaign is ridiculous. She belongs to all of us.

National icons: Saint George

It is not only France that has a problem with far-right political parties appropriating national symbols as their own. England's patron saint is celebrated by right-wing extremist parties such as the British National Party (BNP), the English Defence League and the League of St George as a heroic symbol of the English ideals of honour and courage.

The BNP leader, Nick Griffin, was flanked by a party member dressed in a St George costume when he launched the party's manifesto on St George's Day in 2010.

Little is known about the almost mythical dragon-slaying saint, but he may not have been the most appropriate symbol for such nationalistic parties. Legend has it that he was born in Cappadocia (now Turkey) and lived in Palestine before becoming a Roman soldier. It is doubtful that he ever visited Britain. - independent

Joan of Arc: Her Story

Maid of Heaven: The Story of Saint Joan of Arc


The 'best Bigfoot trackers in the world' have announced that they have permission to hunt and kill any undiscovered species they want...

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