; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just the Facts?: Iran Claims Flying Saucer Downed Drone -- Real Haitian Zombies -- Britain Big Cat DNA

Iranian Engineer Claims Flying Saucer Downed U.S. Drone

Late last month, Iran put on display what it insisted was a captured American stealth drone. At the time, Tehran claimed it brought down the RQ-170 with a sophisticated electronic attack. Nonsense, says one Iranian engineer who claims to have inside knowledge of the drone-nab. The Islamic Republic used force fields and flying saucers to subdue and capture the unmanned aircraft.

Meet Mehran Tavakoli Keshe, who purports to be the father of the RQ-170 abduction. In a recent post to his eponymous foundation’s online forums, Keshe claims the Iranians used “advanced space technology” that he pioneered. “The craft has been air-picked-up and been put down on its belly through the use of field forces,” Keshe writes — by which he means force fields. It’s feeling a lot like Tinfoil Tuesday, our weekly round-up of the planet’s most insane conspiracy theories.
‘The Defense Secretary would like his lightsaber back.’

The U.S. has yet to confirm that the drone Iran claims to have is actually the stealthy “Beast of Kandahar,” and the yellow model that Iran has peddled out looks like it’s made out of fondant, like a drone-shaped cake constructed for an episode of Food Network Challenge. Keshe claims that the drone looks as smooth and clean as it does in Iran’s propaganda photos because his force fields intercepted the RQ-170, like a tractor beam would, and deposited it gently to Iranian soil. As summarized by Pure Energy Systems News, Keshe’s technology, part of an “Iranian [flying] saucer program,” harnesses “a fusion reaction that manipulates dark matter, regular matter, and antimatter.”

“We have no comment on this individual’s claims,” George Little, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, tells Danger Room, “but tell him the Secretary would like his lightsaber back.”

Keshe himself suggests that Iran’s advanced space program has yielded flying saucers and used them to down the drone. “The Iran spaceship program has the capability of jamming and blocking any incoming radar,” he writes, “as we have explained month ago on this forum, and now we see the practical use of the technology.”

Ironies abound. Iran allegedly has alien technology, but can’t seem to put together a decent nuclear bomb. And the Beast of Kandahar — well, it’s got an alien connection, too. In a sense. As you can learn from this fascinating documentary, flying-wing technology of the sort displayed by the RQ-170 was first developed by the, um, Nazis. (You can see a mock-up of a Nazi proto-stealth fighter here.) After the war, the U.S. imported Nazi weapons scientists — like the missile specialist Werner von Braun — under a program called Operation Paperclip. Among them were flying-wing gurus the Horton Brothers. One theory holds that the subsequent American UFO sightings were actually people seeing U.S. flights of the Hortons’ unfamiliar bat-shaped aircraft.

In other words, the RQ-170 may have been born from flying saucers — sort of — and flying saucers may have brought it low.

Not to be That Guy and burst Keshe’s bubble, but Danger Room explained last month that Iran could have captured the drone by spoofing the RQ-170′s GPS-based navigational backup systems. No force fields or saucers necessary.

Keshe isn’t interested in any of that. Even though his saucers and tractor beams allegedly captured the RQ-170, majorly cheesing off Washington, Keshe hopes his space tech will bring about a new era of international peace — and intergalactic exploration.

“We invite the US government and other nations to enter into negotiation with the Foundation and The Iranian government,” he posted, “for disclosure of the full space technology to all nations simultaneously that there shall be no more war race, but a pace race [sic] to join and conquer the space and not each others little peace of lands so called nations, this offer stands and is extended to all nations irrespective of their colour, race and religion.” - wired

The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West

Iran's Nuclear Future: Critical U.S. Policy Choices


Hey...we didn't kill your nuclear scientist

The United States on Wednesday denied that it was to blame for the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist by a car bomb, after Tehran said Washington and Israel were responsible for the attack.

“I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters when asked about Iranian allegations over the attack.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor added: “The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this. We strongly condemn all acts of violence, including acts of violence like this.”

Clinton spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the State Department condemned “any assassination or attack on an innocent person and we express our sympathies to the family.”

The death of the scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, deputy director at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility, deepened a war of words between Washington and Tehran already raging over a nuclear showdown and maritime tensions.

Iranian officials noted the assassination method — two men on a motorbike attaching a magnetic bomb to the target’s vehicle — was similar to that used in the killings of three other scientists over the past two years.

Roshan, 32, died immediately in the blast outside a university campus in east Tehran. His driver and bodyguard also later died of his wounds, the Fars and ILNA news agencies reported. A third occupant of the Peugeot 405 was wounded and in hospital.

The scientist specialized in making polymeric membranes to separate gas. Iran uses a gas separation method to enrich its uranium.

In Israel, a senior official said he was unaware who carried out what he called an act of “revenge.”

“I don’t know who took revenge on the Iranian scientist, but I am definitely not shedding a tear,” military spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai wrote on his official Facebook page.

Three other Iranian scientists were killed in 2010 and 2011 when their cars blew up in similar circumstances. At least two of the scientists had also been working on nuclear activities.

Those attacks were viewed by Iranian officials as assassination operations carried out by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, possibly with help from US counterparts.

Western nations, the United States at the fore, are steadily ratcheting up sanctions on Iran with the aim of fracturing its oil-dependent economy in a bid to halt its nuclear program.

Iran has responded by saying it could easily close the Strait of Hormuz — a chokepoint for 20 percent of the world’s oil at the entrance to the Gulf — if it is attacked or if sanctions halt its petroleum exports.

“I think it’s important to recognize very clearly that the provocative rhetoric coming out of Iran in the last week has been quite concerning,” Clinton added during a press conference.

“It has caused us and many of our partners in the region and around the world to reach out to the Iranians, to impress upon them the provocative and dangerous nature of the threats to close the Straits of Hormuz,” she said.

“This is an international waterway. The United States and others are committed to keeping it open. It’s part of the lifeline that keeps oil and gas moving around the world,” the chief US diplomat said.

“And it’s also important to speak as clearly as we can to the Iranians about the dangers of this kind of provocation,” she said.

US-Iranian tensions have also worsened following an Iranian court’s death sentence this week on an American-Iranian former Marine it found guilty of spying for the CIA, and Iran’s capture last month of what it said was a CIA drone. - rawstory


Doomed Russian Mars Probe Scheduled to Crash in Indian Ocean on Sunday

A doomed Russian Mars probe that's been stuck in Earth orbit for two months may finally come crashing down Sunday (Jan. 15) over the Indian Ocean, Russian space officials say.

The 14.5-ton Phobos-Grunt spacecraft should fall back to Earth sometime between Saturday and Monday (Jan. 14 to Jan. 16), Russia's Federal Space Agency, known as Roscosmos, announced in a statement today (Jan. 11).

If Phobos-Grunt comes down at the "central point" in that window — 4:18 a.m. EST (0918 GMT) on Sunday — it will fall over a stretch of empty ocean west of the Indonesian island of Java, according to a re-entry projection map Roscosmos published with the update.

But these projections are far from set in stone. The predicted time and place of re-entry may change as engineers continue to track the spacecraft's decaying orbit, officials said. All that's known for sure is that Phobos-Grunt will come down somewhere between 51 degrees north latitude and 51 degrees south latitude. - space


Real-life medical report on three cases of Haitian zombies

Zombies may seem like the purview of AMC dramas nowadays, but in 1997, English medical journal The Lancet published an intriguing set of case studies detailing three reports of zombification in Haiti. What caused the dead to walk in these instances? Well, let's just say reality is far less lurid than George Romero flicks.

Here are the three case studies the researchers observed in southern Haiti between 1996-1997:

FI was around 30 years old when she died after a short febrile illness and was buried by her family the same day in the family tomb next to her house. 3 years later she was recognised by a friend wandering near the village; her mother confirmed her identity by a facial mark, as did her 7-year-old daughter, her siblings, other villagers, her husband, and the local priest. She appeared mute and unable to feed herself. Her parents accused her husband of zombifying her (he was jealous of her after she had had an affair). After a local court authorised the opening of her tomb, which was full of stones, her parents were undecided whether to take her home and she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in Port-au Prince [...]

WD, 26 years old, was the eldest son of an alleged former tonton macoute (secret policeman) under the Duvaliers' regime. The father was our principal informant together with WD's mother and other villagers. When he was 18, he suddenly became ill with a fever, "his eyes turned yellow," he "smelled bad like death," and "his body swelled up". Suspecting sorcery, his father asked his older brother to obtain advice from a boko [or sorcerer], but WD died after 3 days and was buried in a tomb on family land next to the house of a female cousin. The tomb was not, as was customary, watched that night. 19 months later, WD reappeared at a nearby cock fight, recognised his father, and accused his uncle of zombifying him [...]

MM, aged 31, was the younger sister of our principal informant who described her as formerly a friendly but quiet and shy girl, not very bright. At the age of 18, MM had joined some friends in prayers for a neighbour who had been zombified; she herself then became ill with diarrhoea and fever, her body swelled up and she died in a few days. The family suspected revenge sorcery. After 13 years, MM had reappeared in the town market 2 months before we met her, with an account of having been kept as a zombi in a village 100 miles to the north, and having borne a child to another zombi (or perhaps to the boko). On the death of the boko, his son had released her and she travelled home on foot.

The researchers diagnosed the first patient with catatonic schizophrenia, the second with epilepsy and brain damage (presumably from oxygen deprivation), and the third with potential fetal alcohol syndrome.

To makes matters even curiouser, DNA testing revealed that the second and third patients were cases of mistaken identity. The researchers posit that reported cases of zombification have less to do with mind-controlling neurotoxins and more to do with untreated or undiagnosed mental illness and brain disorders. - io9

NOTE: the full report - Clinical findings in three cases of zombification

Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie


DNA tests to solve mystery of big cat sightings in Britain

There have been thousands of reports of big cats across the UK but most are a fleeting glimpse caught by a member of the public.

The most definitive evidence that has been gathered so far are images on mobile phone cameras or blurry video.

Now experts are carrying out DNA tests on the carcass of a roe deer found at the National Trust’s Woodchester Park, near Stroud, amid speculation that it could have been brought down by a big cat after reports of large felines in the area.

A local walker sent photographs of the carcass to experts last week after noticing particular features on the deer which could suggest it had been killed by a large predator.

The injuries to the neck of the deer and the way the carcass had been consumed are thought to be highly indicative of big cat activity.

Dr Robin Allaby, Associate Professor at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick has visited the kill site to examine the evidence and take DNA samples from the wounds of the roe deer to be tested. Theses samples are now being tested with the results due by the end of the month.

Rick Minter, author of a new book on the mystery of the UK’s feral big cats, said the results could solve the mystery of big cats in Britain once and for all.

“It is very helpful to have this forensic study of the deer carcass. The consistent feedback I receive from people about possible big cats is that the animals should be studied, so we can learn about the subject.

Previous evidence of ‘big cats’ in Britain include thermal images taken by the Forestry Commission in 2009 of two animals in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

QUIZ: How well do you know your wild cats?

A series of photos taken in Cornwall purport to show the ‘Beast of Bodmin Moor’, that is also blamed for mauled sheep in the area.

A film of what looks like a big cat was taken by a military policeman on his mobile phone in 2009 after spotting the creature in Dunbartonshire near the home of Britain’s Trident nuclear submarines.

Other sightings are mostly anecdotal or seen after attacks on domestic animals.

Mark Fraser, founder of Big Cats in Britain, said officials are afraid of admitting big cats are roaming the country for fear of farmers claiming compensation for livestock that is taken.

He said wildcats are “definitely out there” with up to 1,000 sightings a year. Most sightings are attributed to panthers, with a handful of reports put down to their smaller cousins the lynx, once native in this country, or leopards.

It is thought the cats were released into the wild in the 1970s following a crackdown in the law in keeping wild animals.

David Armstrong, National Trust Head Ranger for the Gloucestershire Countryside, said the Trust were taking a scientific view.

"With only one footpath, although it is popular with dog walkers, there is plenty of space for wildlife to live relatively undisturbed. There are 120 hectares of woodland nearby at Woodchester and both areas provide a good habitat for large numbers of deer, both roe and muntjac.

“There are some very occasional sightings of big cats in the Cotswolds but they have wide territories, so are rarely present in one particular spot for long. We’d be interested to hear of any more sightings at Woodchester.”

Officially Natural England claim that there are no big cats in Britain

But Mr Minter said you can never be too careful.

“Although people occasionally report a possible big cat from a distance, close up encounters with such cats are rare. Their hearing and movement are exceptional, which helps them avoid close contact with people. In the event of a close-up encounter you should stay calm and face towards the animal as you back off, but not threaten or aggravate it. The chances are it will have backed off very quickly first.”

Have you seen a big cat recently? - telegraph