; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Monday, April 02, 2012

Just the Facts?: New Tsunami Warning For Japan -- Southwest Florida Cryptids -- Lottery Winners' Horror Stories

Report: 34-meter tsunami may hit Japan after megaquake

Japan's Pacific coastline may be hit by an enormous tsunami, should a major earthquake occur off the coast of the country's central island. This is the scenario feared - and expected - by local specialists.

A special Cabinet Office panel warned of the possibility Saturday, after it revised its 2003 estimate, reports the Kyodo news agency. The new revision reflects new findings from the March 2011 earthquake that triggered a massive tsunami and the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Back in 2003, the panel was sure that Japan would never see a tsunami more than 20 meters high. The new report, however, is based on the assumption that the earthquake will have a magnitude of 9.0 and will occur on the Nankai Trough. The oceanic fault runs east of the central Japanese island of Honshu and is 900 km long. Moreover, this trough is one of the most probable places for an earthquake of such magnitude to occur in the coming decades, local specialists believe.

The waves generated by 9.0 tremor would hit areas from Kanto to Kyushu, with waves as high as 34.4 meters. Areas in Shizuoka, Kochi and Miyazaki prefectures may see waves as high as 10 to 20 meters. Urban areas of Tokyo may be hit by a tsunami up to 2.3 meters high, however the village of Niijima in the Izu Island chain, which is administered by Tokyo, could face deadly waves up to 29.7 meters.

What is worse, if the tremors were to continue for three minutes, some areas would be struck by a tsunami even before the tremors stop, adding to the potentially devastating outcome, said the panel.

While the panel will continue to study the potential extent of the damage in the event of such an earthquake, the Japanese government faces a hard task of re-examining its emergency measures based on the new estimates.

The last such earthquake at Nankai fault happened in 1946, with a magnitude of 8.1. The tsunami triggered by the quake destroyed over 35 thousand homes.

Meanwhile, on Friday, a research team under the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has completed a five-year report. The report found that if a 7.3 magnitude quake hit Tokyo, some parts of the city and surrounding areas would be shaken at level 7 on Japan's seven-point "Shindo" scale of seismic activity, Reuters reports.

The Shindo scale measures ground motion at a specific place and points to the likely impact on people and structures. The government has put the chances of a magnitude 7.3 quake centered in the north of Tokyo Bay at 70 per cent over the next three decades, and has estimated there would be about 11,000 casualties and 850,000 buildings destroyed.

The study concluded that the tectonic plates seen as the focal point in a quake were 10 kilometers shallower than previously estimated, making any impact more severe.

Professor Kazuki Koketsu of the University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Institute, which heads the ministry team, urged citizens of Tokyo to prepare for the disaster.

Japan is situated on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin. This region accounts for about 20 per cent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater. - RT


Land of Monsters, Mysteries

Sea monsters? Skunk apes? Flying monkeys?

Not the kind of animals typically associated with the Sunshine State, but they’ve all been reported at one time or another in Southwest Florida — a region better-known for its manatees, dolphins and wood storks.

But those aren’t the critters that interest people such as Lon Strickler, who hosts a radio show and runs a website, phantomsandmonsters.com, devoted to a variety of mysteries including cryptids — the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Southwest Florida’s skunk ape and the like — creatures whose existence hasn’t been scientifically proven ... yet.

Their study is known as cryptozoology. And Florida, it seems, is something of a cryptozoological hot spot.

Strickler’s archives contain 682 items about the Sunshine State — many from Southwest Florida. There are posts about skunk apes in the Everglades, a Lehigh Acres sighting of a huge flying apelike creature known as an ahool and a 40-foot-long water serpent in the Orange River reported by an anonymous tipster in January:

“While sitting in traffic, my companion and I noticed a strange disturbance on the lake ... She suggested it was a manatee or a dolphin, However, we ruled this out as manatees don’t rise this high above the water, and there was no evidence of a dorsal fin. What we saw appeared to be something like a very large snake — I would estimate that it was close to the diameter of a telephone pole, though probably a little narrower, and could have been as much as 40 feet long. At some times it would disappear, and at other times it appeared as if it had multiple parts of its body rising out of the water at the same time. ...The head did not look like a snake’s — it appeared to have a short snout...” Continue reading at news-press

Florida's Unexpected Wildlife: Exotic Species, Living Fossils, and Mythical Beasts in the Sunshine State

The Legend Of The Honey Island Swamp Monster



Canny Li Ch'in, has earned a fortune providing mourners to cry at the graves of the dearly departed for people too busy to visit their loved ones' tombs in person. Li, 36, - from Tianjin city, northern China - has a cast of more than 30 out of work actors and hires them out for funerals and special events like this month's tomb sweeping festival, where people are supposed to visit their family graves.

"Sadly these days people work too hard to be able to keep up the traditions, but don't want to lose face in the community or insult their ancestors, so my mourners will go for them," explained Li.

The basic package of four mourners costs £300 for a one-hour service - that also includes burning joss sticks, placing a ritual food offering at the grave, reading a eulogy and crying loudly in front of the tomb.

"I charge by the 10 minutes for the crying - that's the most expensive bit. My staff are very skilled wailers. I teach them all how to cry, wail, and sob at the drop of a hat so they sound very mournful," he added. Li explained: "Official mourners go back to the old emperors of China. Now our people are all equal, we can all have our own mourners." - austriantimes


Senior Soviet KGB ex-official found dead in Moscow apartment

Leonid Shebarshin, a retired General of the KGB, who was often referred to as “the last Soviet spy” was found dead in his downtown Moscow apartment over the weekend. Police said a pistol and an apparent suicide note were found next to his body. In a separate statement on Saturday, law enforcement investigators said Shebarshin had shot himself. Born in 1935, Shebarshin was posted as an interpreter at the Soviet embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, shortly after graduating from the Moscow Institute of International Relations. He eventually became personal assistant to the Soviet Ambassador to Pakistan, who recommended him to the KGB. Shebarshin returned to Moscow in 1962 to attend the KGB’s training school, before being sent back to Pakistan in 1964, this time as an intelligence officer. In 1975, he moved to India, where he became rezident (station chief) of the KGB’s field station in New Delhi. Two years later he was transferred to the KGB’s field station in Tehran, Iran, which he headed through the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1982, however, his meteoric rise within the ranks of the KGB was temporarily halted by the defection of Soviet Vladimir Kuzichkin, a Major in the KGB, who escaped to Turkey with the help of the British Secret Intelligence Service —also known as MI6. The British brought Kuzichkin in contact with the CIA, which in turn passed along the defector’s debriefing notes to the government of Iran. This information led to the summary expulsion from Tehran of nearly 20 Soviet KGB field officers, including Shebarshin himself. After a brief period in Moscow, Shebarshin returned to the field, this time to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, where he traveled at least 20 times. He was in Russia on August 19, 1991, during the so-called ‘August coup’, when a group of hardline communist officials took power in Moscow and temporarily arrested Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. But, even though he headed the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (now renamed to Foreign Intelligence Service), Shebarshin persisted in remaining neutral during the coup, and spent all of August 19 playing tennis at his summer residence. He returned to Moscow on August 22, following the failure of the coup, to assume interim leadership of the KGB, which lasted until the following day. Even though he did not support the hardline communist coup, Shebarshin disagreed with the dismantling of the KGB and, in September of 1991, resigned and largely withdrew from public life. According to Russian media reports, Shebarshin had been living alone following the death of his wife and had been complaining about his ailing health. His 77th birthday was on March 24. Moscow police have refused to disclose the contents of his alleged suicide note. - intelnews

The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer - The True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames


Lottery Winners' Horror Stories

Poverty, after spending all the money on drugs and hookers. This is the sad tale of "Lotto Lout" Michael Carroll, the "self-styled King of Chavs," who "turned up to collect his £9.7million [UK] win wearing an electronic offender's tag." After winning, he used his money on drugs, gambling, and "thousands of prostitutes" only to end up back on the dole after eight years of living the Lotto life. Said Carroll to the Daily Mail, "The party has ended and it's back to reality. I haven't got two pennies to rub together and that's the way I like it. I find it easier to live off £42 dole than a million." He sounds pretty chipper given the details of his story, which involve his wife leaving him and taking their daughter with her, and the loss of £100,000 over eight years in payments to prostitutes, among other rather grave financial mistakes.

Poverty, after excessive gambling. Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice, in 1985 and 1986, raking in $5.4 million. "Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer," writes Ellen Goodstein in a story titled "Unlucky in Riches." Adams said, "I was a big time gambler. I didn't drop a million dollars, but it was a lot of money. I made mistakes, some I regret, some I don't. I'm human. I can't go back now so I just go forward, one step at a time."

Losing friends, fighting among coworkers. Take the case of the Greenwich asset managers who won the $245 million jackpot recently. Whether they were collecting it for a client or not, office lunches are surely a bit uncomfortable nowadays, as are social events with the neighbors who didn't win.

Being looked down on for the winnings. Steve Granger won $900,000 in the West Virginia Lottery in September of 2005, and, after paying the taxes, "put most of it away for his and his wife's retirement," writes Oren Dorell in USA Today. But along with everyone knowing his business, everyone asking for investments, and everyone grabbing at him because he was suddenly considered "lucky," there are the lotto snobs, too. He once heard "someone say in an ugly tone, 'There go those lottery people,' as he and his wife passed by." Ouch.

Ending up in debt for failing to manage the money properly. These tales go on and on. Here are just a few.

A descent into crime (and bankruptcy, too). In 1998, William "Bud" Post III won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery, only to later wish it had never happened. That's because his brother hired a hit man to try to kill him and his sixth wife (and was arrested for doing so), other relatives made him invest in businesses that never paid off, a landlady made him give her a third of his winnings, and Post "spent time in jail for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector." He declared bankruptcy and, in 2006, at the age of, 66, "died of respiratory failure... at a Pittsburgh area hospital," writes Patricia Sullivan in The Washington Post. Then there's Victoria Zell, who won an $11 million Powerball jackpot with her husband in 2001, only to end up in Minnesota prison after being convicted of a drug- and alcohol-induced collision that killed one and paralyzed another. "This just goes to show you winning the Powerball doesn't guarantee you happiness," said County Attorney Amy Klobuchar.

Ending up murdered. Abraham Shakespeare won the $31 million jackpot in Florida in 2006. He disappeared in 2009, having spent most of his fortune; his body was found in early 2010 under a concrete slab. John Campanelli writes in The Plain Dealer, "A woman who had befriended him -- and fleeced him for $1.8 million, say police -- has been charged in connection with his murder." Campanelli goes on to list 9 other unfortunate lotto cases, including the sad tales of Willie Hurt, who killed a woman over crack cocaine, and Callie Rogers, who won $3 million at the age of 16 in the UK lottery, and used her money on "vacations, cars, gifts, drugs and even breast implants." Rogers was broke by 2009, "driving a used Volkswagen Golf to her job as a maid and had twice attempted suicide."

Suicide. In June of 1997, a man named Billie Bob Harrell Jr. took the $31 million Texas Lottery jackpot. At first, all was great: "Harrell purchased a ranch. He bought a half-dozen homes for himself and other family members. He, his wife and all the kids got new automobiles. He made large contributions to his church. If members of the congregation needed help, Billie Bob was there with cash," writes Steve McVicker in The Houston Press. "Then suddenly Harrell discovered that his life was unraveling almost as quickly as it had come together.... everyone, it seemed -- family, friends, fellow worshipers and strangers -- was putting the touch on him. His spending and his lending spiraled out of control. In February those tensions splintered his already strained marriage." And tragically, 20 months after winning the lottery, Harrell committed suicide.

Everything terrible happens that possibly can. Jack Whittaker of West Virginia was an already wealthy businessman when he won what was at the time the largest jackpot ever by a single ticket, garnering him $314.9 million on December 25, 2002. A chain of awful events followed, including his car being broken into twice, first with $545,000 in cash stolen, then later with $200,000 stolen (and later recovered); a plot was revealed in which two club employees had planned to drug his drinks and rob him; his granddaughter's boyfriend was found dead in Whittaker's home from an overdose; Whittaker's granddaughter was found dead at a male friend's house after being reported missing (the death was ruled an overdose); Whittaker had a DUI; Whittaker was sued by Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million worth in checks to cover gambling losses; Whittaker was sued by a woman who had previously sued him for not paying her money (he claimed thieves had stolen it all from him); and Whittaker's daughter was found dead. "I wish I'd torn that ticket up," Whittaker has said.

Learn How To Increase Your Chances of Winning The Lottery