; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fortean / Alternative News: Egyptian Cobra Escapes, Supermoon Blamed For Bombs and NDEs

Poisonous Egyptian cobra escapes in Bronx Zoo

aolnews - A poisonous cobra has vanished from an enclosure outside public view at the Bronx Zoo, and its Reptile House remained closed Sunday as a precaution while zoo workers searched for the missing reptile.

While the roughly 20-inch-long Egyptian cobra - a highly venomous species of snake - has been unaccounted for since Friday afternoon, zoo officials say they're confident it hasn't gone far and isn't in a public area. Its enclosure was in an isolation area not open to visitors.

"To understand the situation, you have to understand snakes," zoo Director Jim Breheny said in an email Sunday.

The animals seek out confined spaces, so this one has doubtless hidden in a place it feels safe, he said.

Once the snake gets hungry or thirsty enough to leave its hiding place, workers will have their best opportunity to recover it, Breheny said. In the meantime, the Reptile House remained closed indefinitely.

The missing cobra is an adolescent of its hooded species, which is believed to be the type of snake that was called an asp in antiquity. Cobra bites can be deadly if not treated properly, but the snakes aren't likely to attack people unless the reptiles feel threatened, according to a fact sheet on the San Diego Zoo's website.

Opened in 1899, the Bronx Zoo is run by the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society.


Supermoon blamed for 100+ WWII bombs washing up on a Southampton beach

dailymail - For decades they lay beneath the sea, undisturbed by time or tide.

But after 70 years, almost 100 Second World War bombs finally fulfilled their explosive destiny yesterday, thanks to the power of the 'Supermoon'.

A Navy bomb disposal team detonated them after abnormal tides thought to be caused by the unusual proximity of the moon washed them up on a Southampton beach.

The experts, who warned that more of the still potentially deadly mortar bombs may yet be uncovered, were initially called in after the low tide revealed six near Calshot Activities Centre, which runs canoeing and dinghy-sailing lessons for adults and children.

The water had receded so far that it uncovered the 70-year-old mortar shells, which were then pushed onshore as the tide came in.

After imposing a 600 yard exclusion zone and detonating them, the Navy team was shocked to see another 87 appear over the next 24 hours.

They spent yesterday wiring up the bombs in groups of ten with explosives, waiting until the tide came back in to detonate them.

'We blow them up when they are covered with water because it absorbs a lot of the shock,' said explosives expert Lieutenant Commander Al Nekrews, who added that it was 'unprecedented' to find so many unexploded bombs.

His colleagues fear more of the Mark I high-explosive mortar bombs, which are 4in by 20in, could wash up on the shoreline.

Lt Commander Nekrews added: 'We would tell all members of the public to definitely not handle them and to call police. They are always a danger.

'They were in an unstable state because of the amount of corrosion they have suffered over the years.'

A Navy spokesman said the bombs were English but it was not known whether they had been fired from land or from a ship.

The Moon is the closest it has been to Earth since 1993, making it a so-called Supermoon and increasing its gravitational effect on the tides.


Does she really know what happens during a near-death experience?

express - An expert in near death experiences, Dr Penny Sartori has spent 15 years interviewing patients who claim they came back from the dead.

We have all heard stories of patients lying apparently lifeless on a hospital bed while doctors work frantically to resuscitate them. When they come round they talk about seeing a white light at the end of a long tunnel. They may often report talking to loved ones.

While sceptics may dismiss these visions as little more than the effect of anaesthesia, these tales are accounts of classic near-death experiences (NDEs). After more than 21 years as a nurse, the last 17 of those in intensive care, I’ve heard countless similar stories.

I became so fascinated with NDEs I decided to undertake my own study at the Morriston Hospital in Swansea where I work. I began documenting NDEs and my research is the largest of its kind in the UK. I was awarded my PhD in NDEs five years ago from the University of Wales.

At first I thought this phenomenon was caused by hallucinations but one 59-year-old’s experience I documented clearly suggests this isn’t the case. The woman was admitted to A&E with severe asthma and revealed that she suddenly found herself feeling calm. In reality she’d blacked out.

Next she was looking down on her body in the hospital bed and she spotted a mousetrap on top of the cupboard. She then saw a bright light. She was drawn towards it and figures appeared as outlines.

She felt incredibly peaceful and travelled towards the light but the figures told her she had to go back. “I wasn’t sure who the beings were but I had a feeling I knew them,” she told me. “They felt like family members.”

When the woman woke up in A&E she told a nurse about her experience. The nurse then discovered the mousetrap on top of the cupboard.

Other people I’ve interviewed for my research reported travelling down a tunnel and meeting relatives, some have seen spiritual or religious beings standing in bright light, while others have even undergone a life review where everything they’ve done flashed before them. However all the cases I’ve spoken to have one thing in common: they are told it’s not their time or they make a voluntary effort to return to their body. The traditional medical view of NDEs is that they’re caused by drugs, a lack of oxygen to the brain or hallucinations. However my research found that in some cases oxygen levels were normal during an NDE and other patients were not receiving drug treatments yet both still had NDEs.

I have also talked to people who have been recorded as clinically dead for up to five minutes yet during this time they’ve undergone a powerful experience they can recall.

Following 15 years of research, I have come to the conclusion that NDEs are real, spiritual experiences that can have a profound effect.

Some people change their lifestyle and careers while others become less materialistic. The psychological impact can be overwhelming with people afterwards saying they now know the death of the physical body isn’t the end. I’ve even discovered people whose energy field appears to change. If they stand near household appliances, such as kettles, the equipment blows up or becomes faulty for no apparent reason.

I recently headed up new research called The Hereafter Report which shows that 66 per cent of people in the UK now believe in life after death, up from 47 per cent in 1955.

I’m not surprised by the high figure because I suspect many people have NDEs but are afraid to disclose the experience for fear of being ridiculed.

I also believe current scientific thinking is unable to understand NDEs and that the boundaries of science with respect to this phenomenon need to be revised.

But of course however we investigate NDEs, we will never be 100 per cent sure what happens after death until we die ourselves. Meanwhile we can simply try to make sense of the tantalising glimpses reported by others.


Going into the light

irishtimes - A new study of deathbed experiences has found a surprising number of similarities, writes FIONOLA MEREDITH

GIVEN THAT many of us shy away from talking about death and dying, it is not surprising that we know so little about what happens in the last hours of a person’s life. But an unusual new study, funded by the Irish Hospice Foundation, aims to break through the taboo of the deathbed.

The study – Capturing the invisible: exploring Deathbed Experiences in Irish Palliative Care, by researchers Una MacConville and Regina McQuillan – examines the strange visions that often accompany the dying process, asking members of the Irish Association of Palliative Care to report their experiences. The results are startling.

In one frequently reported scenario, the dying person spoke of seeing deceased relatives or religious figures, or of experiencing a radiant white light in the room. Perhaps because they defy explanation, these deathbed phenomena are rarely discussed by healthcare professionals, despite being a familiar occurrence.

Yet rather than avoiding the topic, MacConville says education about such experiences could raise awareness of the phenomena and help palliative care professionals to normalise them for patients and families as a common and even comforting part of dying.

After all, as MacConville points out, there is nothing new in these visions: accounts of deathbed experiences (DBE) are common throughout history and across cultures. William Shakespeare makes reference to them, and the earliest medical encyclopaedias recognise such phenomena as indications that death is close. In most cases, they have a positive effect, bringing peace, comfort, calmness and joy to the patient.

One nurse who responded to the study said, “I have often heard patients refer to seeing someone in their room or at the end of their bed, often relatives, and also it is not a distressing event for them. Family are usually shocked by hearing it and want to know the significance of it.”

Another odd but quite frequently reported occurrence – 31 per cent of respondents mentioned it in this study – is when a dying person unexpectedly emerges from a coma, suddenly becoming sufficiently alert to communicate with family and friends.

A respondent reported that, “In one incident the patient, who had been in a coma, opened his eyes and smiled at his three daughters and wife. Profound calmness and peace filled the room. It was special to be part of that experience. In another incident the patient said he saw a light, a bright light; he died shortly afterwards.”

Less dramatically, the dying person may also experience vivid dreams that have particular significance for them, sometimes helping them resolve unfinished business in their lives. Others report a sudden and unexplained smell of roses, or claim to see angels appearing in their room.

However you explain them, most of these experiences sound benign, even reassuring. But MacConville says that deathbed phenomena sometimes can be frightening encounters for the dying person and their relatives: “Family members may become distressed because they realise that death is imminent, and the dying person may be disturbed by the visions because they don’t understand them.”

One respondent told MacConville and McQuillan that relatives often become “upset and emotional if patient talks to them as they realise time is very short”.

Neither is a deathbed experience any kind of guarantor of a peaceful death. In the study, only 24 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that patients experiencing DBE have a peaceful death as a result. Some 59 per cent were neutral and 17 per cent disagreed.

MacConville says deathbed experiences are rarely talked about precisely because it’s not clear what these visions are. One common sense explanation may be that the visions are drug- or fever-induced hallucinations. But 68 per cent of respondents agreed, or strongly agreed, that DBE have different qualities from such hallucinations.

MacConville says there appears to be a difference in the quality of the visions: they appear with greater clarity, and they are experienced as meaningful, with significant associations, rather than random, as they would be in drug-induced cases.

An earlier study also indicated that patients experiencing deathbed phenomena are usually calm and composed. In contrast, drug- or fever-induced hallucinations can be disturbing and frightening, with other symptoms of drug-induced toxicity and high temperature present as well.

Reflecting on the deathbed phenomena, one anonymous palliative care nurse admitted that such visions “do not often have a rational explanation”. Nonetheless, “I don’t believe people’s experiences can be discounted or disputed. It is individual, intense and real for many patients and families.”

Being able to put a name to these experiences, and to talk about them openly, is one important step towards overcoming the fear and confusion that surrounds the last hours before death.


"Spare the rod, spoil the child?"

wisconsingazette - The pastor and seven members of a small fundamentalist Christian church near Mazomanie, Wis., have been arrested on charges of child abuse for beating infants as young as two months old with wooden rods, reported AOL News.

Philip Caminiti, 53, pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church in Black Earth, and his brother, John Caminiti, 45, pleaded innocent to a dozen counts of child abuse last week. The alleged victims range in age from infancy to 6 years old, according to the Dane County Sheriff’s office.

“During interviews with detectives, Phil expressed his belief that the Bible dictates the use of a rod over a hand to punish children. He stated that children only a few months old are ‘worthy’ of the rod and that by ‘one and a half months,’ a child is old enough to be spanked,” according to the sheriff's office release.

“Throughout the investigation, the church members were open with detectives about their ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ philosophy. They described using wooden dowels and wooden spoons on the bare skin of children, starting as young as 2 months old,” the sheriff's office said.

The pastor told deputies that the Bible prescribes the punishment for infants who are “being emotional, grumpy or crying.”

Six church members charged in the case also pleaded innocent.

According to the sheriff's office, the wooden dowels used to beat the infants were 12-18 inches long with a diameter about the size of a quarter. Former church members who brought the complaint to the attention of authorities told detectives that “redness and bruising” were the “common effects of the spankings.”

The children often were punished when they cried or failed to sit still during church services, a former church member told authorities. “Phil was very strict about children being quiet during church,” the complaint states.

John Caminiti told investigators in November that he does not allow his family to communicate with people outside his religious beliefs and has punished his wife and son by confining them to their rooms until they corrected their disobedience, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

None of the children of people charged in these cases has been removed from their parents' homes.