; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Friday, June 22, 2012

Just the Facts?: Win 'IRONMAN' Signed Photo -- Homeland Security Seizes T-Rex -- Another Flesh-Eating Attack In Florida

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Homeland Security seizes T-Rex

This is one of the strangest arrest warrants we've heard about in quite some time: U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel signed a warrant on Tuesday authorizing the Department of Homeland Security to seize a Tyrannosaurus batarr skeleton from an art storage company. The seizure is part of an effort to get the bones back to its rightful owners — in Mongolia.

Judge Castel issued the warrant after finding there was "probable cause to believe" that the nearly complete skeleton is subject to forfeiture under U.S. laws. While it might sound weird to have a 70-million-year-old skeleton named as a defendant, it's not uncommon for governments to do so when an object needs to be reclaimed.

The National Post offers more details:

The lawsuit said the Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton was brought in March 2010 from Great Britain to Gainesville, Florida, with erroneous claims that it had originated in Great Britain and was worth only $15,000. It sold at auction on May 20 for more than $1 million, though the sale was contingent upon the outcome of court proceedings.

Jim Halperin, cofounder of the The Heritage Auctions, the dinosaur's Dallas-based custodian, has said a consignor bought the fossils in good faith and spent a year and considerable expense restoring them.

Halperin said Tuesday about the judge's order, "We have co-operated in the investigation process for paleontologists to expeditiously examine the skeleton, and we will continue to co-operate with authorities in an ongoing effort to reach a fair and just resolution to this matter."

The remains were examined by five experts on June 5, who unanimously agreed that the skeleton was a Tyrannosaurus batarr, also known as a Tarbosaurus, and almost certainly originated in the Nemegt Basin in Mongolia. Since 1924, Mongolia has enacted and enforced laws declaring any fossils found on their turf to be the property of the Mongolian government and criminalizing their export from the country. - io9


Mystery illness sweeps university campus as 40 students are taken ill overnight

Health officials are investigating the cause of a mystery sickness bug which claimed more than 40 victims in one night.

Dozens of students at George Mason University, Washington, were taken ill with food poisoning and flu-like symptoms on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Those with reported sickness are said to be from a group of 80 international students aged between 15 and 22, who were at the school to attend the Congressional Awards Foundation Program.

Health officials said the outbreak was likely caused by viral gastroenteritis, which causes vomiting and diarrhea.

An unknown number of students were taken to the George Washington University Hospital after being taken ill, while more students developed similar symptoms just hours later.

The students called 911, before another seven pupils were transported to a nearby hospital.

NBC reported that the virus was spread person to person by touching the infected surface areas.
Health officials are now said to be working with the university to clean the area sick students may have infected. - dailymail


Another flesh-eating attack in Florida

Florida man on drugs got naked, barged into his girlfriend's house, bit a chunk out of a man's arm and ate it, then powered through several cop-deployed Taser probes before getting tackled and arrested.

Those are just some of the allegations against Charles Baker of Palmetto, who is already being likened to the Miami man shot and killed after he got naked and chewed 75-percent of a homeless man's face off.

Baker, 26, was visiting his children at his girlfriend's house on Wednesday night, WPTV reported. He was allegedly high on an unknown substance when he started yelling, throwing furniture around the home, and taking off his clothes.

Jeffrey Blake, 48, who lives at the home, tried to stop the madness, but Baker reportedly chewed a slab of flesh from Blake's arm. Somehow Blake was able to restrain him until cops arrived.

But the violence didn't end there.

Baker was allegedly going wild, tensing his body and screaming at police, ABC News reported.

An officer deployed a Taser on Baker and he fell, but got back up and pulled out the probes. Then the officer used a handheld stun gun -- twice -- before he was able to subdue an apparently crazed Baker and arrest him.

Baker was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation before he went to jail. He was allegedly high on unknown drugs during the melee.

It's unclear if his children saw the episode.

It's the third case of flesh-biting in Florida similar to the Miami incident in as many weeks. On Saturday, Giovanni Martinez allegedly bit into the arm of a hospital nurse and threatened to eat hospital staff's faces off "like that guy in Miami." - THP


Man sentenced for online 'South Park' threat

A Muslim convert from Brooklyn was sentenced Friday to nearly 12 years in prison for posting online threats against the creators of the "South Park" television show and others he deemed enemies of Islam.

The sentence — largely in line with the term sought by prosecutors — came after Jesse Curtis Morton, 33, offered an apology for his conduct, saying he "contributed to a clash of civilizations" by espousing a violent ideology.

"I justified atrocities by Muslims simply because they were carried out by the weak against the powerful," Morton said.

Morton founded the now-defunct Revolution Muslim website. He said he wanted the site to offer a forum for nuanced dialogue on relations between the Muslim world and the West and that he thought his website was protected by the First Amendment. However, he admitted that the website devolved into coarse calls for violent jihad, and that he crossed the line by posting the al-Qaida magazine Inspire on the site. The magazine explicitly called for the murder of a cartoonist from Seattle who promoted "Everybody Draw Muhammad day" and featured an article titled "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

He and another defendant, Zachary Chesser, used the website to deliver thinly veiled threats against the creators of the "South Park" television show for perceived insults to the prophet Muhammad, by depicting him in a bear costume. Chesser earlier received a 25-year sentence, but he also tried to travel to Somalia to join the al-Shabab terrorist group.

Prosecutor Gordon Kromberg said Morton's apology may well be sincere, but argued that a stiff sentence was necessary because of the nature of the crime. He said Morton's site inspired a variety of would-be jihadis, including "Jihad Jane" Colleen LaRose; Antonio Benjamin Martinez, who plotted to bomb a military recruiting station; and Jose Pimental, who plotted to assassinate members of the U.S. military returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. He also corresponded with American al-Qaida member Samir Khan on writing an article for use as al-Qaida propaganda.

Kromberg said the posting of Al-Qaida's instructional article on how to build a kitchen bomb will inevitably lead to someone's death in the future. And he said Morton abused his free speech protections to call for the murder of those whose speech he found offensive.

"Make a TV show we don't like — we'll slit your throat. Draw a cartoon we don't like — we'll slit your throat," Kromberg said, summarizing Morton's philosophy.

U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady said Morton was a bright man who could have used his intellect and energy for good but instead took a "horrible turn."

"You were rubbing elbows with some of the most dangerous revolutionaries of the past few years," O'Grady said, who told Morton "there has to be religious tolerance in the world. There has to be freedom of speech."

Defense attorney James Hundley had sought a prison term of less than five years. He argued that Morton by and large tried to keep his website on the right side of the line between free speech and advocating violence, but admitted that at times Morton crossed it.

"His goal was to engage in dialogue," Hundley said.

Morton's prosecution was relatively novel under a law enacted in recent years that makes it a federal crime to use the Internet to place another person in fear of death or serious injury.

Morton was arrested last year in Morocco, where he moved after Chesser's arrest. - thecwaustin