Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just the Facts?: Humans Not On Alien Menu -- More Vatican Hijinks -- 'Baby' Bigfoot Evidence


Aliens don't want to eat us, says former SETI director

Alien life probably isn’t interested in having us for dinner, enslaving us or laying eggs in our bellies, according to a recent statement by former SETI director Jill Tarter.

In a press release announcing the Institute’s science and sci-fi SETIcon event, taking place June 22 – 24 in Santa Clara, CA, Tarter — who was the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in the film “Contact” — disagreed with both filmmakers and Stephen Hawking over the portrayal of extraterrestrials as monsters hungry for human flesh.

“Often the aliens of science fiction say more about us than they do about themselves,” Tarter said. “While Sir Stephen Hawking warned that alien life might try to conquer or colonize Earth, I respectfully disagree. If aliens were able to visit Earth that would mean they would have technological capabilities sophisticated enough not to need slaves, food, or other planets. If aliens were to come here it would be simply to explore.

“Considering the age of the universe, we probably wouldn’t be their first extraterrestrial encounter, either. We should look at movies like ‘Men in Black III,’ ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Battleship’ as great entertainment and metaphors for our own fears, but we should not consider them harbingers of alien visitation.”

Tarter, 68, recently announced her stepping down as director of SETI in order to focus on funding for the Institute, which is currently running only on private donations. Funding SETI, according to Tarter, is investing in humanity’s future.

“Think about it. If we detect a signal, we could learn about their past (because of the time their signal took to reach us) and the possibility of our future. Successful detection means that, on average, technologies last for a long time. Understanding that it is possible to find solutions to our terrestrial problems and to become a very old civilization, because someone else has managed to do just that, is hugely important! Knowing that there can be a future may motivate us to achieve it.”

On the other hand, concern that searching the sky for signs of life — as well as sending out your own — could call down hungry alien monsters would make a good case for keeping quiet. And a quiet search may not get the necessary funding to keep going. I can see where Tarter is coming from. - phys.org

Alien Invasion: The Ultimate Survival Guide for the Ultimate Attack

Contact [Blu-ray]


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Pope's Butler Leaks Documents

A mysterious source named Maria. A room furnished with a single chair where sensitive Vatican documents are turned over to an investigative journalist at regular meetings. The arrest of the pope’s butler. Perhaps the greatest breach in centuries in the wall of secrecy that surrounds the Vatican.

An on-again-off-again scandal that the Italian press has called VatiLeaks burst into the open on Friday with the arrest by Vatican gendarmes of a man, identified in news reports as Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s butler, who the Vatican said was in possession of confidential documents and was suspected of leaking private letters, some of which were addressed to Pope Benedict XVI.

The arrest follows by a day the ouster of the president of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, amid conflicts over how to bring the secretive institution in line with international transparency standards and days after the publication of a sensational book, “Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI,” in which the journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, aided by “Maria,” discloses a huge cache of private Vatican correspondence, many revealing clashes over the management at the Vatican bank and allegations of corruption and cronyism.

The letters, which have made their way into the Italian news media in recent months, draw a portrait of an ancient institution in chaotic disarray behind its high, stately walls, where various factions vie for power, influence and financial control in the twilight years of Benedict’s papacy.

“Of course there are problems, big problems,” said Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican expert for the Italian daily La Stampa and its Web site, Vatican Insider. “What is happening now shows that there’s a crisis.”

It was not clear whether the bank president’s ouster and the arrest of the man found with confidential documents were directly related, although Mr. Nuzzi’s book includes various memos from Mr. Gotti Tedeschi about the Vatican bank.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, declined to identify the person who was arrested, saying only that he was not a priest or member of a religious order and that he had been detained for further investigation. (This year, the pope called for investigations into the leaks by the Vatican police and a committee of cardinals.)

But Italian news media reported that he was Mr. Gabriele, 40, and a butler in the papal household. Some publications even showed images of him holding a white umbrella above the pope and pouring him wine at dinner.

The twist that “the butler did it” was fully worthy of a whodunit that began earlier this year when documents began appearing in the Italian press. In one, a Sicilian cardinal, writing in German in order to be more stealthy, said he had heard in China about a bizarre plot to kill the pope. At the time, Father Lombardi called the accounts “delirious and incomprehensible.”

In another letter from 2011 that appeared in the Italian press this year and is also published in Mr. Nuzzi’s book, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, then the deputy governor of Vatican City, wrote directly to Benedict. In it, he argued that transferring him to another post would impede his efforts to fight “corruption and abuse” in various Vatican offices, sending the wrong signal about in his efforts to rein in cronyism in the awarding of contracts for construction work at the Vatican.

Nevertheless, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, named Archbishop Viganò papal nuncio to Washington, where he has had to contend with multimillion-dollar lawsuits against American dioceses over the sexual abuse scandal that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church, according to Mr. Nuzzi’s book.

At a news conference this week, Mr. Nuzzi said he believed that his source had been motivated by “courage, as well as the unbearable complicity with people that are committing the most serious crimes.”

He added: “I think that 20 years ago this book would have never come out. There are documents that hint at relations between states, and that’s why I think they are very relevant; they are not private documents regarding the Holy Father or one of the cardinals.”

The release of documents in which Vatican officials discuss one of the great unsolved mysteries in Italy, the 1983 disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee led to the reopening of a criminal investigation.

The book also provides a unique window into the nexus between Italian banking and media power and the Vatican. In one letter from last Christmas, Bruno Vespa, Italy’s most well-known television host, sent a check for $12,500 to the pope’s private secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, “a small sum at the disposal of the pope’s charity,” and asked when he could have a private audience. The director of Italy’s Intesa San Paolo bank, Giovanni Bazoli, sent a $32,000 check, “with my most deferential salutations.”

Other letters addressed to Monsignor Gänswein are written in obsequious baroque Italian, in which everyone from Jesuits to officials in the government of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to Mercedes-Benz directors responsible for maintaining the popemobile write seeking favors, recommendations and most of all, the pope’s ear.

But other documents hint at more complex dealings. In one letter, Mr. Gotti Tedeschi defends himself to Monsignor Gänswein after he and another Vatican bank official had been placed under investigation by Rome magistrates in September 2010 for having failed to adequately explain the origins of funds transferred from one account held by the Vatican bank to two others it holds.

Since so many documents have been leaked from the Vatican this year, there were some doubts expressed that the butler arrested on Friday was the true — or only — source. “It doesn’t seem likely that he is the only one responsible for VatiLeaks because many of the documents that came out didn’t ever pass through the pope’s apartment where he works,” said Paolo Rodari, a Vatican expert for the Italian daily Il Foglio. “His arrest seems more the Vatican’s desire to find a scapegoat.”

Cardinal Bertone has emerged as a central, contentious figure in the VatiLeaks drama. Many critics, including some inside the Vatican, see him as a poor administrator who as the Vatican’s C.E.O. has struggled to manage the scandal-ridden papacy of a German intellectual with little interest in day-to-day affairs of state. Vatican observers say that many of the leaked documents are aimed at undermining the cardinal’s influence.

That clash has played out most visibly in the controversy over the Vatican bank, which has struggled to comply with international standards to stop money laundering. Defenders of Mr. Gotti Tedeschi see him as trying to improve the transparency of the Vatican finances, while they see Cardinal Bertone as trying to impede his efforts.

In a statement on Thursday, the Vatican said simply that the five-member board of the Vatican bank had voted no confidence in Mr. Gotti Tedeschi “for not having carried out functions of primary importance for his role.”

Others familiar with the Vatican bank said that Mr. Gotti Tedeschi had not been fully involved in its oversight because he maintained his full-time job as the head of Italian operations for Spain’s Banco Santander in Milan.

On Friday, Reuters reported that Mr. Gotti Tedeschi had said, “I have paid for my transparency,” while the Ansa news agency reported that he was torn between “telling the truth and not disturbing the pope.” - nytimes

NOTE: With all the controversy in the Vatican recently, you'd think that the spirits of the Borgias and the Famiglia de' Medici had reappeared...Lon

The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia

The Borgias and Their Enemies: 1431-1519

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Farm Animals Attacked, Cut With Unknown Weapon In Virginia

There may be a farm animal attacker on the loose in Virginia, but employees of Frying Pan Farm Park won't let the assailant get their goats.

When workers went to feed the animals of Kidwell Barn early Sunday morning, they found that two goats, a chicken, and a calf had all been cut by an unknown object, according to a statement released by Fairfax County Police Department. The calf and one goat had been slashed on the head. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

The calf and one of the goats are each under three months old, ABC 7 reports, and are bottle-fed. They would have readily approached any person who entered the barn, thinking it was feeding time, according to NBC Washington.

The attack is especially unsettling in light of a similar incident that occurred nearby only a month ago. On April 26, three horses were stabbed multiple times in a barn neighboring Frying Pan Park. The animals, who work as therapy horses for disabled children, were left with large, open wounds, but ultimately survived the attack.

Police do not know whether the two incidents are related, and no arrests have been made. - THP

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'Baby' Bigfoot Evidence - Cast Prints from a Sasquatch Toddler

Cast image

The vast ecosystem formed by the Red River watershed on the borders of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana affords a habitat comprised of many micro-climates with an incredible diversity and richness of plant and animal life. In many of the deep ravines where the creeks and waterways have cut through the the limestone cap rock, the vegetation has a nearly tropical aspect. Towering, ancient cypress trees form a canopy above the underbrush and thick hanging vines. These ravines are like a primordial oasis, seldom traversed by humans. Often in remote wildernesses, surrounded by thousands of acres of temperate woodlands and meadows. The ravines are a favored living quarters for the Sasquatch or "Bigfoot"

From one of these ravines, a very significant group of footprints of a "Baby Bigfoot" were cast in plaster, along with a hand- and footprints from a more mature Sasquatch, most likely the juvenile's older sibling or mother. The prints, pressed into the fine clay of the creek bed are rare specimens, since not only are they from a rarely documented young juvenile, but the casts also retain detailed anatomical features that are not generally preserved in other types of soil.

A record of this type of evidence is necessary for a more in-depth understanding of these beings, who are the closest living relatives of humans, as current, in-depth DNA results are expected to reveal. The popular misconception of the Sasquatch is one of a savage "monster"- a giant ape with limited intelligence, motivated by sheer instinct. The Sasquatch are far more complex, intelligent and social creatures, with a family structure and long-term relationships within their extended families and network of friends- which in very rare instances can include humans. Continue reading at "Baby" Bigfoot Evidence- Cast Prints from a Sasquatch Toddler

THE BEAST OF BOGGY CREEK: The True Story of the Fouke Monster

The Bigfoot Filmography: Fictional and Documentary Appearances in Film and Television - The author, David Coleman, will be our guest this week at 'Beyond The Edge Radio'