; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just the Facts?: Rumblings Bring Down Barn -- Supermarket Ghost -- Castro's Knowledge of JFK Assassination

Mysterious Rumblings Bring Down Barn In Vancouver

People in Sooke are talking after another round of mysterious rumblings.

In January people reported feeling serious vibrations from Sooke to Victoria, some worried it was an earthquake. That thought crossed Sharon Hanslip's mind as well when she felt three blasts yesterday morning. The last one so severe it brought a barn on her property crashing to the ground.

Seismologists say it wasn't an earthquake and Sooke's mayor, Wendal Milne said he doubts it can be attributed to the company responsible for January's blasting as it didn't feel the same...

There is construction nearby at a new business park with heavy equipment and trucks on site. Milne says builders aren't required to report to the municipality when and if they need to blast so he can't say what it may have been. A Sooke mystery, he says."

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Pig freaks out after candidate brings it to news conference

Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-WI) has learned the hard way not to bring a pig to a news conference.

Speaking to the Milwaukee Press Club on Monday, Neumann, who is running for Senate, brought out a piglet named named “Mister Favors” to make a point about cutting spending in government.

“I think it draws attention to pork barrel spending and just how much waste there is in the federal government,” the Republican candidate explained. “We call him Mr. Favors because when you really look at this pork, it really turns out to be favors to constituents from so many members of congress and it’s got to be stopped if we want to fix the problems facing this country.”

Just as Neumann was cradling the young hog in his arms, it began to thrash and squeal — like a pig.

“If you think he’s squealing now, wait til you hear him in Washington, D.C. when they start really cutting wasteful government spending,” he said before fleeing with the pig around the corner of a building.

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Security camera footage shows supermarket ghost in action

The south Australian town of Brompton is a little spooked after CCTV video captured what appears to be proof that their local IGA supermarket is haunted. Last Thursday night, owner Norm Hurst closed up, leaving the shop in ship-shape condition.

But at 11.30pm, the CCTV cameras mysteriously switched on to capture a packet of Roll-Ups sweets in the middle of aisle. But the Roll-Ups are kept 12 metres, an aisle and a corner away.

The CCTV footage clearly shows the Roll-Ups packet being flung into the middle of the aisle - from the pasta section.

"One of the cameras shows the packet of Roll-Ups just arriving on the ground ... it's not just slid off, it's been thrown out of the pasta, yet the roll-ups are kept 12 metres away," Mr Hurst said. Mr Hurst bought the store in October 2011, and was warned by the previous owners that the shop was haunted. He was sceptical - until now.

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A 40 year wait for plant to flower – and then it dies

Gardeners must be patient as they wait for their carefully-nurtured plants to flower. But few will have faced quite the wait endured by staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew, where a plant has flowered for the first time after almost 40 years.

Just before flowering, the Agave franzosinii more than quadrupled in height – growing a rate of almost 3ft a week until it was as tall as a house.

The growth spurt was such that the plant outgrew its west London conservatory, forcing staff to remove parts of the roof to allow its progress to continue. When it did finally bloom, most of the 3in yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers were outside the building.

However, the glorious display did not last long. Agaves die shortly after flowering and four months after the start of the growth spurt, the plant had to be felled by Kew’s tree management team.

The species is found in the wild in Mexico where it can even take longer to flower and reach greater heights. Kew’s specimen could actually be older than 40. The gardens’ records show it joined its collection in 1973 but do not indicate whether it was a seed or a plant at this point. It was initially grown in a pot, but was planted in the Princess of Wales Conservatory in 1989.

Before its final growth spurt, it stood at around 6ft in height, with large leaves spreading over a 6ft diameter.

Then, last June, it started to produce a stalk, or “spike”, which grew for around two months, reaching a height of around 29ft. It then flowered at the top, for a further two months.

Lara Jewitt, keeper of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, said: “I knew it was about to start growing because just before it did, it wasn’t looking very good. It had lost all its vigour and looked a bit wilted. This is because it is putting all its energy into starting this monstrous spike.

“Once it started, you could see it growing daily. This is the biggest one I have ever seen flowering, and also the longest period taken to flower.”

The plant is of the same family as the Agave tequilana, which is used to make the spirit tequila. Collectively they are known as “century plants”, as it was previously thought they only flowered every hundred years.

Where they grow in arid parts of Mexico, they are an oasis for wildlife, as they are full of pollen and nectar, attracting birds, bees and bats.

By chance, the flowering took place while Sir David Attenborough was filming at Kew Gardens for a new series, Kingdom of Plants 3D, which is due to be broadcast on Sky in May. Its progress was filmed for the show.

Before it died, staff at Kew took some seeds from it, which have already been sown and reached around 2ft in height. They are expected to flower some time around the middle of the century.


The Kennedy assassination: Did Castro know in advance?

The orders surprised the Cuban intelligence officer. Most days in his tiny communications hut, just outside Fidel Castro’s isolated family compound on the west side of Havana, were spent huddled over his radio gear, trolling the island’s airwaves for the rapid-fire bursts of signals that were the trademark of CIA spies and saboteurs, pinpointing their location for security forces.

But now his assignment had abruptly been changed, at least for the day. “The leadership wants you to stop your CIA work, all your CIA work,” his boss said. Instead, the officer was told he had a new target: Texas, “any little detail small detail from Texas.” And about three hours later, shortly after mid-day on Nov. 22, 1963, the shocked intelligence officer had something to report that was much more than a small detail: the assassination in Dallas of President John F. Kennedy.

“Castro knew,” the intelligence officer would tell a CIA debriefer years later, after defecting to the United States. “They knew Kennedy would be killed.”

The defector’s tale is reported in a book to be published next month by retired CIA analyst Brian Latell, the agency’s former national intelligence officer for Latin America and now a senior research associate at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

The book, Castro's Secrets: The CIA and Cuba's Intelligence Machine is the first substantial study of Fidel Castro’s intelligence operations. Based on interviews with Cuban spies who defected as well as declassified documents from the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon and other national security organs, it contains a good deal of material likely to stir controversy, including accounts of how Castro’s spies have carried out political murders, penetrated the U.S. government and generally outwitted their American counterparts.

But nothing is more potentially explosive than Latell’s claim that Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, warned Cuban intelligence officers in advance of his plans to kill the president. Latell writes that Oswald, a belligerent Castro supporter, grew frustrated when officials at the Cuban embassy in Mexico City refused to give him a visa to travel to the island, and promised to shoot Kennedy to prove his revolutionary credentials.

“Fidel knew of Oswald’s intentions — and did nothing to deter the act,” the book declares. Continue reading at The Kennedy assassination: Did Castro know in advance?

Castro's Secrets: The CIA and Cuba's Intelligence Machine