; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Fortean / Alternative News: Haiti Declares Zombies Illegal, Eating Grandma and Skin Gun is Real

Haiti admits and criminalizes the creation of zombies

Haitians are 50% Catholic and 100% Voodoo priests - says a military member of Brazilian peace forces, that are working in the capital Port-au-Prince since 2004. The mysticism of the inhabitants of the western part of the island of Hispaniola, the Caribbean, is considered taboo by most of the western world and has little relationship with rag dolls targeted needles.

Haitian Voodoo has its root in Africa. The practices are widespread in the Caribbean nation, whose deep misery gives to gives the nation the worst Human Development Index (HDI) of the Americas.

Brazilian soldiers who are part of MINUSTAH (United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti), they remember of to have found in the street, at the beginning of the mission, pieces of human bodies, with chest cutted and eyes gouged out. Believe they were victims of voodoo priests, the "bokors", who practice black magic

The brazilian militaries still remember themselves having collected the testimony of an Italian priest who was kidnapped together a novice nun by practitioners of voodoo. The nun was raped repeatedly, including with sticks and wooden stacks, in a supposed religious ritual. The victims managed to escape when another bandits group attacked the firsts and was this episode that created the chance of escape

Apart from the rituals of death and purification, the voodoo includes the mystical transformation of humans into "zombies". This is one of the biggest fears for the secular society. The haitians believe that a zombie is created from the sorcery of the wizard, who would make himself a controler of his victim, able to manipulate the will the person's soul. For scholars of practice Vodouisants are, however, the alleged lethargy of zombies may be resulted from the application of tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin found in puffer fish species.

Article 246 of the Haitian Penal Code makes clear reference to the poisoning made with the aim to produce a "lethargic" state in a person, the main characteristic of those Haitian zombies. "Are classified as envevenamento all attacks on a person's life, the effect of substances that can lead to death sooner or later, independent of the epoch when that these substances had been applied or administered, and whatever the consequences of this procedure.

If most of the practitioners of the Haitian voodoo practiced mixed with other religions such as Catholicism, after 2010 earthquake, when at least 220 000 people lost their lives and, mainly, with the worsening of the cholera outbreak at the end of last year, sorcerers of voodoo passed to be hostilized by the population. At Port au Prince the reaction against voodoo practioners can be something violent.

In houses whose roofs have a sort of scarecrow with red rags, at least 40 priests were murdered, says Brazil's ambassador to Haiti, Igor Kipman. Part of the population attributed to them the responsibility for the deaths of more than 3300 people that were victims from cholera.


Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early Spring (yeah...right)

sfgate - Word is out today that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow in the annual tradition in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Punxsutawney Phil is supposed to tell whether we're going to see six more weeks of winter or not. Apparently, we will not, which is good news for much of the Midwest today. With the weather we've had around the country during the past couple of winters, Phil is encouraging many people that springtime is near.

This morning, however, many families across the Midwest are getting crushed by snow. There is a massive storm in the midwest that is ravaging the Great Lakes right now and is set to affect some 30 states by tomorrow night, with as much as 20 inches of snow around certain parts of the country.

For your reading today, the National Wildlife Federation provides some fun and little-known information about groundhogs.

The groundhog, also known as the woodchuck or the mouse bear (because it looks like a miniature bear when sitting upright), first won its reputation as a weather prognosticator in 1886, when the editor of western Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper, one Clymer Freas, published a report that local groundhogs had not seen their shadows that day, signaling an early spring.

This story begat Punxsutawney Phil, the legendary woodchuck weathercreature, which begat Ground Hog Day and the familiar idea that Phil (and his namesake successors down through the years) can predict the perpetuation of winter.

It is likely that the story of Phil is based on European beliefs that badgers and hedgehogs can provide signals about the future; lacking those species in his area, old Clymer substituted the local animal that most resembles a badger or a hedgehog.

But the groundhog is much more than a weather rodent. It's also a real animal with a real life.

Here are 10 things from the National Wildlife Federation about this roly-poly rodent:

1.Groundhogs are among the few animals that are true hibernators, fattening up in the warm seasons and snoozing for most of three months during the chill times.

2.While hibernating, a woodchuck's body temperature can drop from about 99 degrees to as low as 37 (Humans go into mild hypothermia when their body temperature drops a mere 3 degrees, lose consciousness at 82 degrees and face death below 70 degrees).

3.The heart rate of a hibernating woodchuck slows from about 80 beats per minute to 5.

4.Breathing slows from around 16 breaths per minute to as few as 2.

5.During hibernation-150 days without eating-a woodchuck will lose no more than a fourth of its body weight thanks to all the energy saved by the lower metabolism.

6.During warm seasons, a groundhog may pack in more than a pound of vegetation at one sitting, which is much like a 150-pound man scarfing down a 15-pound steak.

7.To accommodate its bodacious appetite, woodchucks grow upper and lower incisors that can withstand wear and tear because they grow about a sixteenth of an inch each week.

8.If properly aligned, woodchuck upper and lower incisors grind away at each other with every bite, keeping suitably short; when not in good order, they may miss one another and just keep growing until they look like the tusks on a wild boar; if too long, a woodchuck's upper incisors can impale the lower jaw, with fatal results.

9.Woodchuck burrows, which the animals dig as much as 6 feet deep, can meander underground for 20 feet or more, usually with two entrances but in some cases with nearly a dozen.

10.Burrows provide groundhogs with their chief means of evading enemies, because the rotund little guys (just before hibernation, a hefty woodchuck may tip the scales at 14 pounds) are too slow to escape most predators in a dead heat: the rodents have a top speed of only 8 mph, while a hungry fox may hit 25 mph.

Bonus Fact: Although groundhogs may not be the best weather predictors, they do in fact emerge from dens in early February. This is the practice of males as they rouse themselves to wander around their 2- to 3-acre territories in search of burrows belonging to females, which the males will enter and where they may spend the night. Research suggests that no mating takes place at this time; the visits probably just let the animals get to know one another so that they can get right down to the business of breeding when they emerge for good in March. Outside of the mating season, woodchucks are solitary, except for females with young, which usually are born in early April.

NOTE: I can't believe I actually drove up to Punxsutawney, Pa. one year to witness this spectacle...Lon


Coffin abandoned in woods sparks mystery

nola - About a month ago, Scott Owens set out to find a prime fishing spot near Slidell.

The 37-year-old outdoors photographer from River Ridge thought he had found one off winding, tree-lined McManus Road. But before he crossed the woods and got to the water, he stumbled across an open and empty casket that might have been unearthed from a nearby graveyard that was flooded during Hurricane Katrina.

Owens, struck by the mystery of whom it belonged to, called a local television news reporter. The reporter notified authorities and aired a story about the discovery during the weekend, launching an effort to find the deceased person's relatives and properly recover the coffin.

But on Monday, coroner's office investigators determined that the woman who once rested in the casket is indeed properly buried. Though Hurricane Katrina's flooding unearthed the coffin years ago, authorities subsequently managed to recover the remains and bury them again; the funeral box, however, was apparently discarded nearby and forgotten.

"It was bizarre," Owens said Monday. "I thought it might have been negligence as a result of Katrina."

Owens, who enjoys fishing aboard his kayak, recently surveyed the New Orleans area on Google maps for enticing bodies of water. A swamp near rural McManus Road caught his eye, so he used Google's "Street View" feature to get a better look.

"Street View" pulled up a panoramic of Brookter Cemetery, a private family graveyard. At its entrance, Owens saw a crumbled burial vault and an exposed casket, an image he struggled to erase from his mind.

The vault Owens saw was damaged by the 12- to 14-foot Katrina surge that swamped the Slidell area in August 2005. The surge washed away dozens of crypts, vaults and caskets in southeastern St. Tammany Parish. Some of the caskets were broken, and the remains inside were exposed, including one at Brookter Cemetery, said Melanie Croft, executive director of the parish coroner's office.

Recently, Owens drove to the area. The vault was no longer crumbled. Someone had installed a three-sided fence around the cemetery. Relieved, he marched toward the water he had spotted on the map, but several yards into the dense woods, he found something even more haunting: a silver coffin that resembled the one he saw on Google.

"At first I thought it was junk, a refrigerator," Owens said. "But I walked up to it and there it was -- (the) casket."

Owens headed back home and for weeks was unsure of whom to notify. Eventually, he called the TV news reporter who notified the Sheriff's Office and the coroner's office before publishing a story on the situation Sunday.

Two deputies investigated the open casket but found no human remains in it, said Capt. George Bonnett, a sheriff's spokesman. Fallen tree branches, vegetation and debris blanketed it, but its interior was intact.

On Monday, Croft said, her office's investigators determined through photographs that the casket Owens saw on the Web and the one he found in the woods were one and the same. The remains inside belonged to a woman who once was buried in a flooded-out Brookter funeral vault, but the coroner's office could not determine the precise burial spot and therefore could not identify her.

Two people who believed that woman was their mother contacted the coroner after the storm. DNA analysis showed that was not the case in both instances. No one else claimed the woman was a relative, and the coroner's office reburied the remains elsewhere. Afterward, the keepers of Brookter Cemetery apparently dumped the abandoned casket at the rear of their property, said Denise Brookter, a relative.

Authorities were not immediately sure whether the keepers needed to do anything else to dispose of the coffin because it sat deep in land posted as private.


Video link: Skin gun is real

gizmodo - The skin gun is not science fiction—it's a prototype medical device that literally sprays skin cells onto burn victims to re-grow skin. Old methods like skin grafts took weeks to heal; the skin gun needs about an hour.

We've heard about the spray-on skin gun back in 2008 but we didn't think it'd become this real, this useful, this fast. Though it is still technically in an experimental stage, the skin gun has already successfully treated over a dozen burn victims. The way it works is by using stem cells from the patient's healthy skin and mixing it with a solution to come up with the spray paint. And combined with that fancy gun, the rest is easy. Doctors say "skin cell spraying is like paint spraying".

The video has some graphic burn images, so don't watch unless you have the stomach for it. This clip will also air on National Geographic's Explorer: How to Build a Beating Heart. Stem cells have long been a point of controversy but this is really wonderful science at work.



Charles Manson caught with another cell phone

Cult killer Charles Manson has been caught with a smuggled cell phone for the second time.

Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Wednesday that guards found the phone Jan. 6 at Corcoran State Prison.

Manson previously was caught with a phone in March 2009. He had been calling and texting people in California, Florida, New Jersey and British Columbia. He had missed calls from Arkansas, Indiana and Massachusetts.

Thornton couldn't immediately say who he'd been calling this time, nor how he got the phone.

Manson is serving a life sentence for killings including the infamous murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles in 1969.

He faces a disciplinary hearing and could lose early release credits. The Legislature plans to consider a bill making inmates' possession of phones illegal.


Ukrainian boy (named 'Vlad') eats grandmother

mid-day - A 26-year-old Ukranian, named only as Vlad, has been arrested for slicing off and eating parts of his grandmother's body while she was still alive.

He reportedly used a shard of broken mirror to slash the face of the woman who had raised him and then took out her eyeballs and ate them, police sources said.

They said that he cut off parts of her body to chew before killing her in a sickening ritual, The Mirror reports.

"All this time the old woman was conscious and tried to escape, screaming. He responded by slicing off her tongue and eating it," the paper quoted a source, as saying.

The alleged killer, described by neighbours as a religious fanatic, was in his underpants, holding a cross and conducting a perverse funeral service, the paper said.

Vlad's father broke into the flat soon afterwards and found his elderly mother lying dead in a pool of blood, her skull smashed, and her ears and lips also apparently devoured.

The dad fled and called police who pumped gas into the flat in Simferopol, Ukraine, to subdue the man. He was arrested covered in blood and held for psychiatric tests.

"I heard muffled cries. I thought it was people watching a horror movie," a neighbour said later.