Monday, November 29, 2010

Fortean / Oddball News: Christopher Columbus Was Polish, UFO Pit Stop and Organ Regeneration


New Evidence: Christopher Columbus Possible Son of Vladislav III, Exiled King of Poland

dailymail - He is celebrated as the humble Italian weaver who ended up discovering the Americas.

But the conventional wisdom relating to Christopher Columbus is under threat after academics concluded the explorer was actually a Polish immigrant.

An international team of distinguished professors have completed 20 years of painstaking research into his beginnings.

The fresh evidence about Columbus’ background is revealed in a new book by Manuel Rosa, an academic at Duke University in the United States.

He says the voyager was not from a family of humble Italian craftsmen as previously thought - but the son of Vladislav III, an exiled King of Poland.

‘The sheer weight of the evidence presented makes the old tale of a Genoese wool-weaver so obviously unbelievable that only a fool would continue to insist on it,’ Rosa said.

The academic argues that the only way Columbus persuaded the King of Spain to fund his journey across the Atlantic Ocean was because he was royalty himself.

For some reason he hid the true identity of his Polish biological father from most people during his lifetime, and history books have been none the wiser.

‘Another nutty conspiracy theory! That’s what I first supposed as I started to read... I now believe that Columbus is guilty of huge fraud carried out over two decades against his patrons,’ said US historian Prof. James T. McDonough.

Other historians first doubted Columbus’ Polish roots, but Rosa’s findings have been steadily gaining followers as the evidence comes to light.

‘This book will forever change the way we view our history,’ said Portuguese historian Prof. Jose Carlos Calazans. National Geographic is reportedly interested in making a documentary.

Until now, it was believed that Columbus, who was born in the Italian city of Genoa in 1451, was the son of Domenico Columbo, who was a weaver and had a cheese stall in a market in the city.

At the age of 22 Columbus started working for Genoese merchants trading throughout the Mediterranean, and three years later took part in a special trading expedition to northern Europe, docking at Bristol before continuing to Ireland and Iceland.

Throughout the 1480s, when Columbus was in his 30s, he traded along the African coast.

Historians say it is a myth that navigators thought the world was flat before Columbus sailed west – they had been using the stars at night as a primitive navigation system that assumed the earth was a sphere.

What sailors including Columbus didn’t know is how big the earth was, and how long it would take to sail round it.

When he persuaded financiers to back his voyage west in 1492, he had completely miscalculated the distances and thought that Asia would be where America is: he arrived in the Bahamas, thinking he was somewhere off the coast of China.

Columbus undertook three more return journeys across the Atlantic Ocean, each time hoping that he had found another part of Asia.

He set up Spanish colonies and became governor of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but was later put on trial in Spain for alleged abuse of power.

After Columbus’ death in 1506, European explorers continued to set up colonies and eventually empires in north and south America.

**********

Scientists Reverse Ageing in Mice

guardian - Scientists claim to be a step closer to reversing the ageing process after rejuvenating worn out organs in elderly mice. The experimental treatment developed by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, turned weak and feeble old mice into healthy animals by regenerating their aged bodies.

The surprise recovery of the animals has raised hopes among scientists that it may be possible to achieve a similar feat in humans – or at least to slow down the ageing process.

An anti-ageing therapy could have a dramatic impact on public health by reducing the burden of age-related health problems, such as dementia, stroke and heart disease, and prolonging the quality of life for an increasingly aged population.

"What we saw in these animals was not a slowing down or stabilisation of the ageing process. We saw a dramatic reversal – and that was unexpected," said Ronald DePinho, who led the study, which was published in the journal Nature.

"This could lead to strategies that enhance the regenerative potential of organs as individuals age and so increase their quality of life. Whether it serves to increase longevity is a question we are not yet in a position to answer."

The ageing process is poorly understood, but scientists know it is caused by many factors. Highly reactive particles called free radicals are made naturally in the body and cause damage to cells, while smoking, ultraviolet light and other environmental factors contribute to ageing.

The Harvard group focused on a process called telomere shortening. Most cells in the body contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, which carry our DNA. At the ends of each chromosome is a protective cap called a telomere. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter, until eventually they stop working and the cell dies or goes into a suspended state called "senescence". The process is behind much of the wear and tear associated with ageing.

At Harvard, they bred genetically manipulated mice that lacked an enzyme called telomerase that stops telomeres getting shorter. Without the enzyme, the mice aged prematurely and suffered ailments, including a poor sense of smell, smaller brain size, infertility and damaged intestines and spleens. But when DePinho gave the mice injections to reactivate the enzyme, it repaired the damaged tissues and reversed the signs of ageing.

"These were severely aged animals, but after a month of treatment they showed a substantial restoration, including the growth of new neurons in their brains," said DePinho.

Repeating the trick in humans will be more difficult. Mice make telomerase throughout their lives, but the enzyme is switched off in adult humans, an evolutionary compromise that stops cells growing out of control and turning into cancer. Raising levels of telomerase in people might slow the ageing process, but it makes the risk of cancer soar.

DePinho said the treatment might be safe in humans if it were given periodically and only to younger people who do not have tiny clumps of cancer cells already living, unnoticed, in their bodies.

David Kipling, who studies ageing at Cardiff University, said: "The goal for human tissue 'rejuvenation' would be to remove senescent cells, or else compensate for the deleterious effects they have on tissues and organs. Although this is a fascinating study, it must be remembered that mice are not little men, particularly with regard to their telomeres, and it remains unclear whether a similar telomerase reactivation in adult humans would lead to the removal of senescent cells."

Lynne Cox, a biochemist at Oxford University, said the study was "extremely important" and "provides proof of principle that short-term treatment to restore telomerase in adults already showing age-related tissue degeneration can rejuvenate aged tissues and restore physiological function."

DePinho said none of Harvard's mice developed cancer after the treatment. The team is now investigating whether it extends the lifespan of mice or enables them to live healthier lives into old age.

Tom Kirkwood, director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, said: "The key question is what might this mean for human therapies against age-related diseases? While there is some evidence that telomere erosion contributes to age-associated human pathology, it is surely not the only, or even dominant, cause, as it appears to be in mice engineered to lack telomerase. Furthermore, there is the ever-present anxiety that telomerase reactivation is a hallmark of most human cancers."

**********

Pit Stop for UFOs in Colorado

NYTimes - “I like humans, they’re fun,” Judy Messoline said as she showed a visitor through her vortex garden, which psychics have said contains not just one, but two separate portals to a parallel universe.

Many of the humans who come to Ms. Messoline’s U.F.O. Watchtower, hard by the dueling vortexes, may be fun, but they are also wounded. About 95 percent, by her estimate — and she makes a point of asking — have experienced something, a shudder in the fabric of the ordinary, the sighting of an unidentified flying object that to one degree or another has haunted them and drawn them to this otherwise empty spot in south-central Colorado. Having fun in thinking about extraterrestrials, she said, is usually bound up with something deeper right here on the home planet.

“The world needs a place where people can go to talk about their experiences and not be laughed at,” she said.

People do laugh here. One of Ms. Messoline’s principles in building the Watchtower a decade ago, in an attempt to raise cash as her cattle ranch collapsed in economic ruin, was that U.F.O.-spotting should be a hoot, and whenever possible, a party.

“The best sightings have been when people are just out enjoying the evening,” she said. Fifty-nine events — lights that move erratically or, during the day, objects that defy explanation in shape or movement — have been witnessed from the tower since 2000, Ms. Messoline said, sometimes by dozens of people at the same time.

No one knows the count before that, since no local institution existed for counting. Many residents, though, say the San Luis Valley, just north of the New Mexico state line, has been a hotspot for decades. U.F.O. reports reach all the way back to the early settlements of the 1600s, with a particularly noted wave in the late 1960s.

The turmoil of modern life is also in evidence near the tower, at the house once occupied by Ms. Messoline’s son and his family, now vacant and in foreclosure since the couple’s divorce.

“Broke my heart,” she said. Adding to the pain, she said, is that the house will probably never sell. “Who wants to live next to a U.F.O. Watchtower?” she said.

Truth be told, the Watchtower — really just a framed metal platform perhaps 10 feet off the ground — is not much of a moneymaker at $2 a head for admission. Ms. Messoline, 65, a former housecleaner from the Denver area who moved to Hooper in the mid-1990s, still needs the paycheck from Miss Deb’s, a convenience store down the road, identified by the giant chicken out in front, to make ends meet.

But that is the interconnection of a lot of things in Hooper, a dot of perhaps 100 souls in a vast and lonely place. Harsh realities in economics and climate — high poverty rates and brutal winters — are interlaced with vistas of breathtaking beauty and a local culture that has long prized and cultivated the offbeat.

Ms. Messoline furthered that spirit by encouraging visitors to leave something in her vortex garden. One recent offering: a two-foot-tall Superman doll with one hand extended, holding a bottle of hot sauce, perhaps in greeting or in supplication.

Another visitor left a primer for extraterrestrials who might find themselves confused about human tableware. A folding knife-and-spoon was marked with text and helpful arrows pointing in the direction of each object: “This is a knife and a spoon, alien,” it said.

Even the winds are strange. One corner of the San Luis Valley, banked on all sides by mountains, somehow became a collecting spot for blown sand over the past few thousand years, since the drying up of an ancient lake bed. The result: a little bit of the Sahara in Colorado at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, about 15 miles from here.

The sky, with barely a town to break the landscape, is black at night — a riot of stars not visible from the big city — and huge at all hours. And people here are used to being out and aware of their surroundings, which makes them perhaps more likely than city folk to see things in the great Out There.

“There’s not a lot of activity, so people have more opportunity to be watching what’s around them,” said JoDene Newmyer, 64, who works with Ms. Messoline at the convenience store.

Ms. Newmyer’s own U.F.O. story — and most people here seem to have one — occurred on the Friday morning of Memorial Day weekend, 1972. She was driving her daughter to the baby sitter at 7 a.m. when she stopped cold at the sight of a huge angular silver object just above the horizon.

“Flying saucer? I will not say that,” Ms. Newmyer said. “But unidentifiable it definitely was, because I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Ms. Messoline says the years of scanning the sky and of meeting people who are drawn to her and her tower have changed her.

She decided recently to put the patch of ground under the tower and the vortex garden in her will, donating it to a U.F.O. research group in Denver to continue the work, or the fun, after she’s gone, even though she knows that a tower in perpetuity will probably doom any chance of a sale of her son’s former home.

**********

Shock in Ghana over gruesome death of 'witch'

BBC - There has been widespread shock in Ghana over the death of a 72-year-old woman accused of being a witch.

The woman, who lived in the port city of Tema, near Accra, was allegedly set on fire by a group of five adults, one of whom is believed to be a pastor.

The suspects say her death was an accident, and deny committing any crime.

The BBC's David Amanor in Accra says belief in witches is common among both educated and uneducated Ghanaians.

Three women and two men have been arrested, aged between 37 and 55.

Police say the suspects tortured the woman, Ama Hemmah, until she confessed to being a witch, before dousing her with kerosene and setting her on fire.

She died from her injuries the following day.

According to reports, the suspects say that they poured anointing oil on the woman which caught fire as they were trying to drive out an evil spirit.

Our correspondent says newspaper pictures showing the woman's injuries have caused revulsion in Ghana, and the incident has been condemned by human rights and women's activists.

Our correspondent says there have been other cases of violence against women accused of being witches, and a government-backed commission has urged religious and civil society groups to help tackle the problem.



BOOK SUGGESTIONS


The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity and the UFO Abductee

Stories from the Messengers: Owls, UFOs and a Deeper Reality

Impossible Realities: The Science Behind Energy Healing, Telepathy, Reincarnation, Precognition, and Other Black Swan Phenomena

I Am the Word: A Guide to the Consciousness of Man's Self in a Transitioning Time

Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook

Astonishing Encounters: Pennsylvania's Unknown Creatures, Casebook 3

Encounters with Flying Humanoids: Mothman, Manbirds, Gargoyles & Other Winged Beasts

Monsters of Texas

Don't Look Behind You: Following Ghost Roads Into the Unknown

Beyond the Seventh Gate: Exploring Toad Road, The Seven Gates of Hell, and Other Strangeness in York, Lancaster, and Adams Counties

Bigfoot in Pennsylvania: A History of Wild-Men, Gorillas, and Other Hairy Monsters in the Keystone State

Wood Knocks Volume 1: A Journal of Sasquatch Research

Wood Knocks Volume 2: A Journal of Sasquatch Research

Wood Knocks Volume 3: Journal of Sasquatch Research

The Black Eyed Children

Strange Intruders

The Essential Guide to Bigfoot

The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest

Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah

The Monster Book: Creatures, Beasts and Fiends of Nature

A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts: Encounters with Cryptid Creatures

The Mothman Prophecies: A True Story

The Time Before the Secret Words: On the path of Remote Viewing, High Strangeness and Zen

The Zozo Phenomenon

The Djinn Connection: The Hidden Links Between Djinn, Shadow People, ETs, Nephilim, Archons, Reptilians and Other Entities

Beyond the Seventh Gate: Exploring Toad Road, The Seven Gates of Hell, and Other Strangeness in York, Lancaster, and Adams Counties

The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster

Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster

Momo: The Strange Case of the Missouri Monster

Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch

The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin's Werewolf

Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America

Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena

The Royal Arch of Enoch

The Real Men In Black: Evidence, Famous Cases, and True Stories of These Mysterious Men and their Connection to UFO Phenomena

The Van Meter Visitor: A True and Mysterious Encounter with the Unknown

Monsters of West Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Mountain State

Venus Rising: A Concise History of the Second Planet

Final Countdown: Rockets to Venus

Cosmic Ray's Excellent Venus Adventure

The Brimstone Deceit: An In-Depth Examination of Supernatural Scents, Otherworldly Odors, and Monstrous Miasmas

Thieves in the Night: A Brief History of Supernatural Child Abductions

Voices From the Cosmos

Humanoid Encounters Series - Albert S. Rosales

Monsterland: Encounters with UFOs, Bigfoot and Orange Orbs

The Chilling, True Terror of the Black-Eyed Kids: A Monster Compilation

Beasts of Britain

Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens

Passport to the Cosmos

Weird Winged Wonders: The Twilight World Of Cryptid Creatures

Fingerprints of the Gods

Into The Fringe: A True Story of Alien Abduction

The Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root-Work

Creole Religions of the Caribbean: An Introduction from Vodou and Santeria to Obeah and Espiritismo, Second Edition (Religion, Race, and Ethnicity)

Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact

The Starchild Skull -- Genetic Enigma or Human-Alien Hybrid?

Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers

Grimoire for the Green Witch: A Complete Book of Shadows

The Lost City of the Exodus: The Archaeological Evidence behind the Journey Out of Egypt

Moses and Akhenaten: Brothers in Alms

The Crystal Bible

Encyclopedia of Crystals, Revised and Expanded

Winged Cryptids: Humanoids, Monsters & Anomalous Creatures Casebook

Alien Disclosure: Experiencers Expose Reality

Mothman Dynasty: Chicago's Winged Humanoids

Haunted Rock & Roll: Ghostly Tales Of Musical Legends

Angel Medicine

Toward the Light: Rescuing Spirits, Trapped Souls, and Earthbound Ghosts

Light the Way: A Guide to Becoming a Rescue Medium

Owl Medicine

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure

Pow-Wows, or Long Lost Friend: A Collection of Mysterious and Invaluable Arts and Remedies, for Man as Well as Animals

Energy Essentials for Witches and Spellcasters

Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch: A Traditional Medical Practice in the Modern World (Pennsylvania German History and Culture)

The Mothman Prophecies: A True Story

Operation Trojan Horse: The Classic Breakthrough Study of UFOs

The Eighth Tower: On Ultraterrestrials and the Superspectrum

Our Haunted Planet

Strange Creatures From Time and Space