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Sunday, August 29, 2004
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some people still believe the devastating Siberian event was caused by
If any people are more gullible about Unidentified Flying Objects than Americans, it's the Russians. And if any group of professionals is more gullible than Russians about UFOs, it's the journalists. This truism was confirmed again this month when, around the world, wire services and other press outlets straight-facedly reported a new claim that a UFO had been involved in the great Tunguska catastrophe.
Tunguska? That's the then-uninhabited region in Siberia where in 1908 a mammoth explosion leveled and charred trees and killed wildlife over an area of 800 square miles. That night in northern Europe and western Russia, the skies glowed with an eerie light and in London, for example, it was light enough outside to read a newspaper. The lone human being in the area, a trapper living near the periphery of the blast, was blown off the porch of his shack, but survived. Had the explosion occurred over London, say, or New York, the casualties would have been counted in the hundreds of thousands.
Most scientists today believe that the Tunguska event was caused by an asteroid or a comet that heated so rapidly upon plunging into the atmosphere that it blew up some five miles above the surface with an explosive force of 10 to 15 megatons. But that conclusion is far too rational for Russians like scientist Yuri Lavbin, who heads the Tunguska Space Phenomenon public state fund. It was Lavbin who in July announced that he would lead an expedition to Siberia and stated, "We intend to find proof that not a meteorite but an extraterrestrial spaceship crashed with the Earth."
Some might suggest that Lavbin was predisposed to making a remarkable discovery. And that is precisely what happened. A Russian scientific team headed by Lavbin scoured the Tunguska site early in August and breathlessly announced that it had found the remnants of an extraterrestrial spacecraft, in the form of a large metallic block. After sending a 50 kilogram chunk of the block to a laboratory for testing, Lavbin chose not to await the results. "I can make an official announcement that we were saved by some forces of a superior civilization," he proclaimed. "They exploded this enormous meteorite headed toward us with tremendous speed. Now this great object that caused the meteorite to explode is found at last."
His announcement was greeted by loud raspberries from reputable scientists. Interviewed by Space.com, British researcher Benny Peiser, who runs the CCNet website, a scholarly forum devoted largely to asteroid impacts and other potential natural threats, called the Russian report "a rather stupid hoax." He was equally critical of the press: "It's a rather sad comment on the current state of anything-goes attitudes among some science correspondents that such blatant rubbish is being reported."
All this came as no surprise to science writer James Oberg. In his 1982 book, "UFOs and Outer Space Mysteries," he had traced the origins of the Russian Tunguska UFO obsession to a science fiction writer named Kazantsev, who wrote a story attributing the mighty blast to an exploding nuclear power plant of a spaceship from Mars. Other Russians took the bait. Astronomy lecturer Feliks Zigel, who was also a flying saucer enthusiast, became a spokesman for the "spaceship" theory of Tunguska, and a scientist named Aleksey Zolotov, began claiming, almost annually but without proof, that he had found radioactivity at the blast site.
Oberg predicted that the Tunguska spacecraft story, in various forms, would endure and that gullible members of the press would continue to be hoodwinked by Russian UFOlogists. More than two decades later, his prediction stands unchallenged.
Comment: This little article is quite interesting in that it reminds us of a remark made by Charles Fort as follows:
We are not disposed to fly rabidly at the scientific opinion expressed in this piece for the simple reason that we, too, are convinced that the Tunguska explosion was "caused by an asteroid or a comet that heated so rapidly upon plunging into the atmosphere that it blew up some five miles above the surface with an explosive force of 10 to 15 megatons."
In fact, we are rather convinced that such events have happened at many points in the history of the earth. Laura Knight-Jadczyk has written in her book, Ancient Science:
On the outskirts of Brno, Moravia, there is a quarry where workers uncovered the bones of a wooly mammoth. There, in the quarry, was discovered a 160 foot deep sequence of multiple soil cycles. Each climate cycle from warm to cold was expressed as a sequence of gradational soil types reflecting the change from a moist, deciduous forest to an arid, frozen tundra, cracked by deeply penetrating permafrost. Midway through each cycle, there are numerous bands of fine windblown dust delivered in what must have been monstrous storms of continental scale. Expert speculations suggest that this dust must have shrouded the earth for weeks or months at a time and must have produced a refrigerating effect on Europe's climate. In the colder part of each cycle, the environment had become so dry that even large rivers dried up.
It seems that the ice sheets that repeatedly advanced southward were accompanied by the development of vast, but temporary deserts throughout Russia and Ukraine, even extending into southeast Europe and to the shores of the Black Sea. Every passage back from freezing cold to warm was abrupt in every cycle.
Oceanographers from Turkey, Russia, Bulgaria and the United States teamed up to explore the Black Sea. Using sound waves and coring devices, they discovered that the Black Sea was once a vast freshwater lake. Glenn Jones of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution dated the samples from the bottom of the Black Sea and confirmed that around 7,500 years ago, the seas had burst through the Bosporus valley and the salt water of the Mediterranean poured into the lake with unimaginable force. What was evident was that it had happened suddenly and almost instantaneously. What was also noted was that the massive amounts of salt water pouring into the Black Sea had been deficient in Oxygen.
While searching for the answers to this mysterious event, cores of coral were drilled from the ocean in order to determine the rates of growth on a year by year basis going back 20 thousand years. Apparently, ice melt affects the rate of coral growth. The results of these cores showed that there was a huge spurt of ice-melt around 12,000 years ago. The meltwater from this event was enormous. It filled up dozens of lakes that no longer exist - lakes formed by the sag in the Earth's crust caused by the weight of the huge ice dome. Immediately following this melt, the ice age returned for a brief period called the Younger Dryas. [...]
Otto Muck's book - The Secret of Atlantis - is based on his ideas about the causal relationship between isotherms and favorable climate in northwestern Europe, and the unobstructed flow of the Gulf Stream across the Atlantic. Muck attempts to use this flow to make a case for the prior existence of a large body of land in the Atlantic whose subsidence changed the ocean currents and warmed the British Isles about 10,500 years ago, give or take a day or two. Based on a varied and interesting collection of hard data, Muck suggests that the submarine massif of the Azores was once above water and could have blocked and deflected the Gulf Stream, preventing the circulation of the warmer waters, and thus contributing to the freezing temperatures of the British Isles. Muck writes:
Essentially, what Muck did was to note that the geologically recorded isotherms moved significantly at this point in time. I still think his book is one of the better ones on the subject because he assembles a lot of interesting hard data, even if I don't necessarily agree that there was a big island that "sank beneath the Atlantic." There are other solutions to the problem of the isotherms including current day research showing that this can result from global warming. While we don't deny that it's possible for such severe lithosphere disruption as Muck suggests to occur, and we aren't playing soft with the idea of mass destruction of species, it just seems that an event that would produce the sinking of so vast a body of land so completely would be an event from which absolutely nothing on the earth would survive.
Nevertheless, Otto Muck draws our attention to the meteor craters in the Carolinas. The Carolina bays are mysterious land features often filled with bay trees and other wetland vegetation. Because of their oval shape and consistent orientation, they are considered by some authorities to be the result of a vast meteor shower that occurred approximately 12,000 thousand years ago. What is most astonishing is the number of them. There are over 500,000 of these shallow basins dotting the coastal plain from Georgia to Delaware. That is a frightening figure.
Unlike virtually any other bodies of water or changes in elevation, these topographical features follow a reliable and unmistakable pattern. Carolina Bays are circular, typically stretched, elliptical depressions in the ground, oriented along their long axis from the Northwest to the Southeast. [T]hey are further characterized by an elevated rim of fine sand surrounding the perimeter. [...]
The most widely used method for determining the age of fossils is to date them by the "known age" of the rock strata in which they are found. At the same time, the most widely used method for determining the age of the rock strata is to date them by the "known age" of the fossils they contain. In this "circular dating" method, all ages are based on uniformitarian assumptions about the date and order in which fossilized plants and animals are believed to have evolved. Most people are surprised to learn that there is, in fact, no way to directly determine the age of any fossil or rock. The so called "absolute" methods of dating (radiometric methods) actually only measure the present ratios of radioactive isotopes and their decay products in suitable specimens - not their age. These measured ratios are then extrapolated to an "age" determination. The problem with all radiometric "clocks" is that their accuracy critically depends on several starting assumptions, which are largely unknowable. To date a specimen by radiometric means, one must first know the starting amount of the parent isotope at the beginning of the specimen's existence. Second, one must be certain that there were no daughter isotopes in the beginning. Third, one must be certain that neither parent nor daughter isotopes have ever been added or removed from the specimen. Fourth, one must be certain that the decay rate of parent isotope to daughter isotope has always been the same. That one or more of these assumptions are often invalid is obvious from the published radiometric "dates" (to say nothing of "rejected" dates) found in the literature.
One of the most obvious problems is that several samples from the same location often give widely divergent ages. Apollo moon samples, for example, were dated by both uranium-thorium-lead and potassium-argon methods, giving results, which varied from 2 million to 28 billion years. Lava flows from volcanoes on the north rim of the Grand Canyon (which erupted after its formation) show potassium-argon dates a billion years "older" than the most ancient basement rocks at the bottom of the canyon. Lava from underwater volcanoes near Hawaii (that are known to have erupted in 1801 AD) has been "dated" by the potassium-argon method with results varying from 160 million to nearly 3 billion years. It's really no wonder that all of the laboratories that "date" rocks insist on knowing in advance the "evolutionary age" of the strata from which the samples were taken -- this way, they know which dates to accept as "reasonable" and which to ignore.
More precisely, it is based on the assumption that nothing "really exceptional" happened in the meantime. What I mean by "really exceptional" is this: an event theoretically possible, but whose mechanism is not yet understood in terms of the established paradigms. To give an example: a crossing of two different universes. This is theoretically possible, taking into account modern physical theories, but it is too speculative to discuss its "probability" and possible consequences.
Could such an event change radioactive decay data? Could it change the values of some fundamental physical constants? Yes, it could.
Is it possible that similar events have happened in the past? Yes, it is possible. How possible it is? We do not know. We do not know, in fact, what would be an exact meaning of "crossing of two different universes." In addition to considering the idea of cataclysms that could have destroyed ancient civilizations more than once, there is another matter to consider in special relationship to radioactive decay: that ancient civilizations may have destroyed themselves with nuclear war.
Radiocarbon dates for Pleistocene remains in northeastern North America, according to scientists Richard Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and William Topping, (Terrestrial Evidence of a Nuclear Catastrophe in Paleo-Indian Times):
The evidence that Firestone and Topping discovered is puzzling for a lot of reasons. But, the fact is, there are reports of similar evidence from such widely spread regions as India, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Turkey; ancient cities whose brick and stone walls have literally been vitrified, that is, fused together like glass. There is also evidence of vitrification of stone forts and cities. It seems that the only explanation for such anomalies is either an atomic blast or something that could produce similar effects...[...]
Firestone and Topping propose that this evidence of nuclear radiation is a result of "cosmic ray bombardment" from, perhaps, a supernova. D.S. Allan, a biologist at Cambridge, and J. B. Delair, coauthor of Cataclysm!, published in 1995 in the U.K, also like the supernova hypothesis. Evidence of a supernova explosion, in the form of aluminium 22 (along with other scientific and mythological evidence), found in concentration at the edge of our solar system, helped Allan and Delair conclude that a stellar blast probably caused the massive destruction. Iron ore in the earth from about 11,000 years ago shows that its magnetic polarity violently reversed. This certainly suggests an extraterrestrial encounter with a magnetically powerful agent at that period. The supernova explanation, however, does not account for all the evidence, most particularly the mythic and geological evidence of massive bombardments of comets.
Dr. Paul LaViolette, author of Earth Under Fire, claims that he has discovered evidence of a different sort of cataclysm, a volley of cosmic waves resulting from an explosion in the galactic core. Entering our solar system, this galactic super wave (the most powerful energetic phenomenon in the galaxy) would have interrupted the solar wind's ability to repel most intruding cosmic dust particles.
LaViolette builds a mythological foundation for his scientific theory, the shakiest part of which is that he suggests that galactic core explosions are a cyclical event, recurring every 26,000-year cycles, a period that relates to the precession of the equinoxes. He claims that this is a great clock, and that the precessional cycle is the duration of one Great Year recognized by the ancient Greeks, Zoroastrians, and Chinese. La Violette's theory is weak because galactic core explosions, like other nuclear phenomena, are only statistically probable. Further, the record shows a frequency greater than every 26,000 years, and his attempts to introduce "mini-explosions" to account for this come across as so much prestidigitation of the data. Also his theory does not account for all of the evidence, most particularly the geological evidence of massive bombardments of cometary bodies. What is more, La Violette's claim that the precessional cycle is the "great clock," assumes that the current polar orientation has remained stable for eons, and the very mythic evidence he tries to use as his foundation contradicts this[...]
In all of this searching high and low for Atlantis, and comparing the paleontogical records and geological records and archaeological records with the story of Plato, the one major thing that everybody seems to be forgetting is this: Plato's tale was about a war followed by cataclysm.
According to Plato's story, Atlantis was the center of a country of extreme economic wealth and military power that sought to enslave all of Europe. The Atlanteans were quite successful in defeating many European countries; however, the great civilization of Athens repelled their attacks and eventually succeeded in driving them back out of Europe. Unfortunately, almost all records of this great achievement were lost due to a very powerful flood that wiped out most of Athens and the whole continent of Atlantis in one day and one night. Over and over again, what we see is the fact that something terrible happened on the earth around 12,000 years ago. This time period comes up over and over again in many disciplines having to do with the study of the past. And it just happens to be the period designated by Plato's characters as the time of the destruction of Atlantis following a terrible war in which Atlantis was defeated after attempting to conquer the entire world at the time of what is remembered as the greatest deluge in human history: The Flood of Noah. [...]
Plato described Atlantis as an "island empire" that "in a single day... disappeared in the depths of the sea." But he also tells us that this "island" was bigger than Libya and Asia Minor combined. Right away we perceive that his terms are a bit different from what we would use. We might think that his term "island," meant simply that this body of land was not connected to Eurasia or Africa - that it was a distinct body of land surrounded by water - except for something else he added: Plato also told us that Atlantis was "the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent." This suggests to us an unusual land formation - an isthmus.
His expression that it "disappeared into the depths of the sea" may have been meant to suggest that it was swept by vast tsunamis as the result of some cataclysmic event. So, considering these clues - its vast size, the definition of the term "navigable," and the idea that "disappearing into the depths of the sea" may have meant swept by terrifying walls of water, let take a peek through the Pillars of Hercules. What do we see? Well, we see the Americas. We see North and South America connected by an isthmus. We also see a lot of little islands in the Caribbean.
Another clue that Plato gives us is that Atlantis had a lot of elephants.
Something catastrophic happened to the large mammals roaming the world during the Pleistocene Epoch. Woolly mammoths, mastodons, toxodons, sabre-toothed tigers, woolly rhinos, giant ground sloths, and many other large Pleistocene animals are simply no longer with us. The fact is, more than 200 species of animals completely disappeared at the end of the Pleistocene approximately 12,000 years ago in what is known to Paleontologists as the "Pleistocene Extinction."
At the same time that the paleontologists are dealing with the unsettling notion of such a recent mass death, geologists are confronted with the evidence of terrifying geological changes which took place: extensive volcanism and earthquakes, tidal waves, glacial melting, rising sea levels, and so on. The Pleistocene Epoch didn't end with a whimper, for sure. It went out roaring and thundering.
We already know that Geologists and Paleontologists don't like catastrophism - it keeps them up at night. They fought long and hard against the Catastrophists. But in the present day, scientists in both fields have to face the fact that the Catastrophists were mostly right from the beginning - even if they might have gone overboard and explained everything in terms of catastrophe. It is evident that there are "gradual" changes, but that most of what happens on the Big Blue Marble in terms of significant changes is catastrophic.
One of the major facts that both paleontologists and geologists and archaeologists have had to face is the stupendous number of frozen carcasses in Canada and Alaska in the western areas, and in Northern Russian and Siberia in the eastern areas - all dated to about 12000 years ago. This suggests, of course, that something dreadful happened on the planet, and its effect on the Northern hemisphere was more severe than on the Southern hemisphere. [...]
Back in the 1940s Dr. Frank C. Hibben, Prof. of Archeology at the University of New Mexico led an expedition to Alaska to look for human remains. He didn't find human remains; he found miles and miles of icy muck just packed with mammoths, mastodons, and several kinds of bison, horses, wolves, bears and lions. Just north of Fairbanks, Alaska, the members of the expedition watched in horror as bulldozers pushed the half-melted muck into sluice boxes for the extraction of gold. Animal tusks and bones rolled up in front of the blades "like shavings before a giant plane". The carcasses were found in all attitudes of death, most of them "pulled apart by some unexplainable prehistoric catastrophic disturbance."
The evident violence of the deaths of these masses of animals, combined with the stench of rotting flesh, was almost unendurable both in seeing it, and in considering what might have caused it. The killing fields stretched for literally hundreds of miles in every direction. There were trees and animals, layers of peat and moss, twisted and tangled and mangled together as though some Cosmic mixmaster sucked them all in 12,000 years ago, and then froze them instantly into a solid mass.
Just north of Siberia entire islands are formed of the bones of Pleistocene animals swept northward from the continent into the freezing Arctic Ocean. One estimate suggests that some ten million animals may be buried along the rivers of northern Siberia. Thousands upon thousands of tusks created a massive ivory trade for the master carvers of China, all from the frozen mammoths and mastodons of Siberia. The famous Beresovka mammoth first drew attention to the preserving properties of being quick-frozen when buttercups were found in its mouth.
What kind of terrible event overtook these millions of creatures in a single day? Well, the evidence suggests an enormous tsunami raging across the land, tumbling animals and vegetation together, to be finally quick-frozen for the next 12,000 years. But the extinction was not limited to the Arctic, even if the freezing at colder locations preserved the evidence of Nature's rage.
Paleontologist George G. Simpson considers the extinction of the Pleistocene horse in North America to be one of the most mysterious episodes in zoological history, confessing, "no one knows the answer." He is also honest enough to admit that there is the larger problem of the extinction of many other species in America at the same time. The horse, giant tortoises living in the Caribbean, the giant sloth, the saber-toothed tiger, the glyptodont and toxodon. These were all tropical animals. These creatures didn't die because of the "gradual onset" of an ice age, "unless one is willing to postulate freezing temperatures across the equator, such an explanation clearly begs the question."
Massive piles of mastodon and saber-toothed tiger bones were discovered in Florida. Mastodons, toxodons, giant sloths and other animals were found in Venezuela quick-frozen in mountain glaciers. Woolly rhinoceros, giant armadillos, giant beavers, giant jaguars, ground sloths, antelopes and scores of other entire species were all totally wiped out at the same time, at the end of the Pleistocene, approximately 12,000 years ago.
This event was global. The mammoths of Siberia became extinct at the same time as the giant rhinoceros of Europe; the mastodons of Alaska, the bison of Siberia, the Asian elephants and the American camels. It is obvious that the cause of these extinctions must be common to both hemispheres, and that it was not gradual. A "uniformitarian glaciation" would not have caused extinctions because the various animals would have simply migrated to better pasture. What is seen is a surprising event of uncontrolled violence. In other words, 12,000 years ago, a time we have met before and will come across again and again, something terrible happened - so terrible that life on earth was nearly wiped out in a single day.
Harold P. Lippman admits that the magnitude of fossils and tusks encased in the Siberian permafrost present an "insuperable difficulty" to the theory of uniformitarianism, since no gradual process can result in the preservation of tens of thousands of tusks and whole individuals, "even if they died in winter." Especially when many of these individuals have undigested grasses and leaves in their belly. Pleistocene geologist William R. Farrand of the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, who is opposed to catastrophism in any form, states: "Sudden death is indicated by the robust condition of the animals and their full stomachs ... the animals were robust and healthy when they died." Unfortunately, in spite of this admission, this poor guy seems to have been incapable of facing the reality of worldwide catastrophe represented by the millions of bones deposited all over this planet right at the end of the Pleistocene. Hibben sums up the situation in a single statement: "The Pleistocene period ended in death. This was no ordinary extinction of a vague geological period, which fizzled to an uncertain end. This death was catastrophic and all inclusive."
The conclusion is, again, that the end of the Ice Age, the Pleistocene extinction, the end of the Upper Paleolithic, Magdalenian, Perigordian, and so on, and the end of the "reign of the gods," all came to a global, catastrophic conclusion about 12,000 years ago. And, as it happens, even before this evidence was brought to light, this is the same approximate date that Plato gave for the sinking of Atlantis. [...]
Over and over again we find these odd clues that point to an ancient civilization that existed something over 12,000 years ago. There has been a raging controversy for generations between pro-Atlanteans and anti-Atlanteans about this. There seem to be sufficient archaeological remains to justify a serious scientific study based on such a hypothesis but so far, there are no "takers" in the mainstream scientific community. Archaeology and ethnology, being observational sciences, and not experimental sciences, have built their entire framework upon the study of those remains. And when we look closely at the array of discoveries in those fields, we note bits and pieces of cultures of almost unspeakable age. The fact that uniformitarian science barely allows the idea of cataclysmic destruction to be part of the hypothesis cripples archaeologists and, in the end, may make fools of them all.
Without the algorithm of cyclic cataclysm, archaeologists cannot fully understand what they observe, nor can they explain the anomalies here and there, and the lack of other evidence that ought to be here and there (if one assumes great antiquity of civilization with no cataclysms). The fact seems to be that, what does continue to exist in terms of archaeological remains from times before 7,000 or more years ago, have been subjected to geological and cosmic cataclysms of almost incomprehensible violence and few major relics remain for perusal. Those few, however, are cast aside as the anomalies of archaeology and ethnology, and their very existence is buried or denied in efforts to avoid toppling the house of cards so laboriously established by those sciences.
Nevertheless, we find that all over the globe, with few exceptions, these studies break down almost completely right around 7,000 to 10,000 BC, at which point they meet with what mathematicians call a "discontinuity." Immediately after this discontinuity, all of the hot-spots of ancient civilization that archaeologists accept as valid suddenly appear with no indication of gradual, uniformitarian development. What is more, there seems to be considerable indication that these developments were degenerate remnants of something already lost in the mists of antiquity.
Entire libraries of books have been written demonstrating this antiquity of man and his civilizations, but it has not yet been accepted, even in principle, by any branch of modern science. The scientific thought police oppose any type of cataclysmic change in the structure of the earth and will go to any extremes to avoid coming to grips with its evidence. And yet, as we will see, science breaks down again when it is forced to contemplate the origin of man's intellectual development. [...]
On the basis of the evidence of an antiquity, we postulate the ancient development of some kind of science. In either case, it is of great importance to consider these matters in terms of the how's and why's and who's. Most books on these subjects approach the matter from one of these assumptions or the other, with little regard to what might be behind it all when considered in light of present day observations. For us, the most telling thing about this is that either angle is abhorrent to science and to most religions.
In the end, nothing but the existence of an extremely ancient high civilization answers all of the problems presented by observed and recorded facts. And that is what led us to ask the questions about what is the wellspring of our beliefs, what is the source of our denial and rejection of what is observable in favor of an imposed belief system? [...]
When we consider ancient archaeological evidence, most of which consists of fragmentary bits and pieces of skeletons or stone tools, we do not get the idea of an ancient worldwide, advanced civilization. However, there is something about this that we need to consider before we discard such an idea.
The first thing to think about is the fact that our own "history" is a mere 5,000 years old. When we talk about the possible existence of man on the earth for literally millions of years, many, many civilizations could have come and gone, leaving little more than fragmentary remains. If the reader will have a look at some books that show pictures of the ancient structures whose history we know, and think, for a moment, about what might remain of our own civilization after a period of ten thousand years, it becomes evident that even under the best of conditions, little would remain that would be recognizable as the works of man. I have tried to imagine what the structures of our civilization would look like after thousands of years of abandonment. I had to admit that we have not created a very substantial environment. The prospects of providing future archaeologists with such elegant ruins are indeed remote! And, to assume that societies which did leave sophisticated metropolitan centers were primitive in their technologies, and backward, compared to our own, seems to be the ultimate in absurd conceit.
In fact, in these terms, metal is the least substantial element of all. Many gravesites have been dug up after only a few hundred years, and metal objects, aside from precious metals, have tended to simply disintegrate into powder. So, as a matter of fact, the things that would be preserved the longest are objects of stone. So, just because the only remains we find are stone does not prove that technology of metals was not known. In fact, there is considerable evidence of metals mining all over the earth far into dim antiquity. Further, during those inter-civilizational periods when we might conjecture that man was forced to use whatever implements he could to survive, stone is always there, always handy, and always works. Thus it is that repeated periods wherein primitive stone tools are evidence, in no way contradicts the idea of other periods of high civilization.
There is another thing we need to consider about the possible survival of artifacts: cataclysm. The evidence that repeated worldwide cataclysms have occurred tells us that it is very likely that, during such events, the forces of the earth itself would grind up, pulverize, and bury the works of man so completely that the fact that we find any traces at all is practically a miracle. You could say that such artifacts have a very short "shelf life!" [...]
Thus it is that we may find that our religious myths and rites are remnants of narratives - a message in a bottle - designed to explain these phenomena, and that the monotheistic versions, declaring a Final End, or a Judgment Day of a final end, are merely distortions of the myth designed to establish a Control System on our planet. These distortions are beneficial to those who seek power and wealth, who are under the control of archetypal forces of another realm of which our own reality is but a shadow or a reflection. Let me reiterate: I do not mean, here, to suggest that this other realm is "astral" or ephemeral or non-material. I am suggesting that it is an intermediate realm of para- physical, hyper-dimensional beings whose existence and nature has been carefully concealed from us for millennia - for a reason that is not to our benefit. [...]
According to Plato's story, Atlantis was the center of a country of extreme economic wealth and military power that sought to enslave all of Europe. The Atlanteans were quite successful in defeating many European countries; however, the great civilization of Athens repelled their attacks and eventually succeeded in driving them back out of Europe. Unfortunately, almost all records of this great achievement were lost due to a very powerful flood that wiped out most of Athens and the whole continent of Atlantis in one day and one night. Let's look at an more interesting item from Frank Joseph's book: The Lost Pyramids of Rock Lake. While reading, keep in mind our dating problem that was identified since Joseph wrote his book, so we very likely will have to push the early dates way back.
Frank Joseph found some very strange pyramidal type structures in Rock Lake, Wisconsin. They were different from other pyramidal structures - being conical - and he was astounded some years later to see identical, unusual, pyramidal structures in the Canary Islands.
Are Rock Lake and the copper mines remnants of the civilization known by Plato as Atlantis? Adding 10,000 years to Joseph's dates, as suggested by Firestone and Topping, would put these sites into the timeframe indicated by Plato.
The evidence that Firestone and Topping discovered is puzzling for a lot of reasons. But, the fact is, there are reports of similar evidence of possible Nuclear War from such widely spread regions as India, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Turkey; ancient cities whose brick and stone walls have literally been vitrified - fused together like glass. There is also evidence of vitrification of stone forts and cities. It seems that the only reasonable explanation for such anomalies - taken in conjunction with the rest of the evidence - is an atomic blast. This fits with Plato's story of a war between the Atlanteans and "Athens."
If the Americas were "Atlantis," and if there was a war going on prior to the cataclysm, it seems that - fitting the descriptions together - North America was the hardest hit. There is not only the evidence of the nuclear activity, but the massive bombardments of exploding cometary bodies which blasted away nearly all traces of civilization. [...]
We have looked at the Americas as the possible ancient empire of Atlantis. It is now time to reiterate certain observations. We have noted earlier that the practice of human sacrifice seems to have originated and spread in the Southern Hemisphere. We have also noted that human sacrifice was most closely associated with Solar deities. The further north you go, the less importance the Sun had, the more importance the Moon was given, and the incidence of human sacrifice diminished. At certain points, where the two "types" mingled, it was not uncommon to find Moon worship associated with human sacrifice, or Sun worship divorced from Human Sacrifice. But what is evident from tracking the myths and folktales and artifacts, is that Human Sacrifice was primarily a Southern Hemisphere production. It would be almost impossible to track the ancient peoples with firm accuracy, but the point is that there is evidence that the religion of the Jews came from South America via India to the Middle East, bringing its bloodthirsty, flesh flaying, genital mutilating god along. [...]
It's easy to look back on history and see where this or that group was "misled" in their beliefs and this distorted their thinking, which then led them to perpetrate unspeakable horrors. We can point to the genocide advocated by the God of the Hebrews, whether it was actually committed or not, or the religious- zeal-run-amok of the Catholic church when it instituted the Inquisition and the Crusades. We can see the twisted version of the desire to create a "genetic superman" that led to the holocaust. It's easy to discern these errors of the past, because we "know more now."
We know more now. How much more can we learn? Can we be certain that the current beliefs of our reality are not similar manipulations? How much more will we know in the future about our own present situation? Do we have any clues around us pointing out that something is dreadfully amiss as were present in the years preceding the Holocaust? How many people at that time ignored all the warning signs until it was too late? How many people didn't "get it" until they were bombed back to the Stone Age? Can we compare any of our present reality to such a scenario? After all, a smart man learns from his mistakes; a genius learns from the mistakes of others.
At the present time, there are, indeed, indicators that we are being maneuvered into a certain mind-set, a certain belief system. The "reality game" has just gotten more and more complex, but the same essential errors keep getting repeated. What is at the root? Will our descendants look back on our own time and shake their heads in dismay at how ignorant we were, how manipulated our thinking was, and how great an error we made because of our beliefs? As the reader will discover, it seems that we are presently facing just such a grand illusion; one that may be the grandest of them all, and if we do not find our way to the light whereby our eyes can be healed, we shall be, indeed, the householder who lost all he possessed because he was bound and blinded by "demons." And if we are blind, and follow the blind, we will most certainly all fall into a pit; one that we may not be able to get out of for a very long time.
We know that this question, "why is life the way it is?" is one that we don't like to face. But, when we awaken late at night, alone in our thoughts, with no distractions of daily life to fill the void, we are face to face with our existential dilemma. And it is a terrible silence. In those moments of cold clarity, the bleakness and futility of our existence in cosmic terms rises up to confront us as it has confronted all of humanity throughout millennia.
Looking back at history, we see that, to escape this monstrous "dark night of the soul," human beings will accept any answer-any religious belief or philosophy-that may be offered, because the cold, abyssal silence that follows the question must be filled at any cost. The sad fact is, there are plenty of people willing to try to convince us that they have "the answer to all our questions." These blind leading the blind can be found in the pulpits of nearly every church across the land, and in the seminars and lecture circuit of the New Age. But, these answers generally consist of confusing the discernment of reality with personal opinion which results in a judgment upon reality by refusing to acknowledge it as it really is. Those parts of reality that are not acknowledged have a way of biting us. "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Flashback: Earth faces sixth mass extinction
The Earth may be on the brink of a sixth mass extinction on a par with the five others that have punctuated its history, suggests the strongest evidence yet.
Butterflies in Britain are going extinct at an even greater rate than birds, according to the most comprehensive study ever of butterflies, birds, and plants.
There is growing concern over the rate at which species of plants and animals are disappearing around the world. But until now the evidence for such extinctions has mainly come from studies of birds. "The doubters could always turn around and say that there's something peculiar about birds that makes them susceptible to the impact of man on the environment," says Jeremy Greenwood of the British Trust for Ornithology in Norfolk, and one of the research team.
Now there is concrete evidence that insects - which account for more than half the described species on Earth, are disappearing faster than birds.
"If we can extrapolate that pattern of the British butterflies to other British insects, and indeed to invertebrates across the planet, we are obviously looking at a very serious bio-diversity crisis," says team member Mark Telfer of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Bedfordshire, UK.
Six large sets of data collected over the past 20 to 40 years in England, Wales, and Scotland were analysed by Jeremy Thomas of the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Dorchester, UK and colleagues. More than 20,000 volunteers submitted over 15 million records of species.
The researchers found that populations of 71 percent of the butterfly species have decreased over the last 20 years, compared to 56 percent for birds and 28 percent for plants. Two butterfly species (3.4 percent of total) became extinct, compared to six (0.4 percent) of the plant species surveyed. None of the native breeding birds went extinct in the last 20 years.
Crucially, the decline in populations happened in all the major ecosystems and was distributed evenly across Britain, rather than in just a few heavily degraded regions.
The crisis could be foreshadowing a sixth mass extinction, warn the researchers. Life on Earth has already seen five mass extinctions in its four billion year old history. The last one, which wiped out the dinosaurs, happened 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period and was possibly caused by a giant meteor collision.
The current extinction is being precipitated by the widespread loss of habitats because of human activity, according to Tefler. The remaining habitats are small and fragmented, and their quality has been degraded because of pollution.
This claim is strongly supported, at least for plants, by a second study published alongside Thomas' paper in Science. Carly Stevens of the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, and her colleagues studied the diversity of plants in 68 grassland sites in the UK. The number of species in each site varied greatly, from a mean of 7.2 to 27.6 species per site. Nitrogen pollution was found to blame for this variability.
"We found strong evidence that the decline in the species richness of grasslands within the UK was linked to nitrogen pollution," says Stevens. "In areas of high nitrogen pollution the species richness was much lower than in areas of low pollution, such as the Scottish highlands."
Atmospheric nitrogen pollution is caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and from intensive agriculture, especially from the volatilisation of animal waste. This nitrogen is deposited on the soil, favouring the growth of some species to the cost of others.
"Evidence of a global extinction crisis has come into stark focus with these important results," comments Mark Collins of the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK.
Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
and Paul Harris in New York
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'
The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.
The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.
An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.
Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.
Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.
A group of eminent UK scientists recently visited the White House to voice their fears over global warming, part of an intensifying drive to get the US to treat the issue seriously. Sources have told The Observer that American officials appeared extremely sensitive about the issue when faced with complaints that America's public stance appeared increasingly out of touch.
One even alleged that the White House had written to complain about some of the comments attributed to Professor Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, after he branded the President's position on the issue as indefensible.
Among those scientists present at the White House talks were Professor John Schellnhuber, former chief environmental adviser to the German government and head of the UK's leading group of climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He said that the Pentagon's internal fears should prove the 'tipping point' in persuading Bush to accept climatic change.
Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office - and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism - said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.'
Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored.
'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson.
'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.
Already, according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.
Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said. 'It is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat.'
Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said.
'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.'
So dramatic are the report's scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush's stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign.
The fact that Marshall is behind its scathing findings will aid Kerry's cause. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence.
Symons, who left the EPA in protest at political interference, said that the suppression of the report was a further instance of the White House trying to bury evidence of climate change. 'It is yet another example of why this government should stop burying its head in the sand on this issue.'
Symons said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office. 'This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil companies,' he added.
Flashback: Key findings of the Pentagon
· Future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honour.
· By 2007 violent storms smash coastal barriers rendering large parts of the Netherlands uninhabitable. Cities like The Hague are abandoned. In California the delta island levees in the Sacramento river area are breached, disrupting the aqueduct system transporting water from north to south.
· Between 2010 and 2020 Europe is hardest hit by climatic change with an average annual temperature drop of 6F. Climate in Britain becomes colder and drier as weather patterns begin to resemble Siberia.
· Deaths from war and famine run into the millions until the planet's population is reduced by such an extent the Earth can cope.
· Riots and internal conflict tear apart India, South Africa and Indonesia.
· Access to water becomes a major battleground. The Nile, Danube and Amazon are all mentioned as being high risk.
· A 'significant drop' in the planet's ability to sustain its present population will become apparent over the next 20 years.
· Rich areas like the US and Europe would become 'virtual fortresses' to prevent millions of migrants from entering after being forced from land drowned by sea-level rise or no longer able to grow crops. Waves of boatpeople pose significant problems.
· Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt and North Korea. Israel, China, India and Pakistan also are poised to use the bomb.
· By 2010 the US and Europe will experience a third more days with peak temperatures above 90F. Climate becomes an 'economic nuisance' as storms, droughts and hot spells create havoc for farmers.
· More than 400m people in subtropical regions at grave risk.
· Europe will face huge internal struggles as it copes with massive numbers of migrants washing up on its shores. Immigrants from Scandinavia seek warmer climes to the south. Southern Europe is beleaguered by refugees from hard-hit countries in Africa.
· Mega-droughts affect the world's major breadbaskets, including America's Midwest, where strong winds bring soil loss.
· China's huge population and food demand make it particularly vulnerable. Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates the inland water supplies.
By Dale Killingbeck,
CADILLAC - The skies around Sherman and the village of Clam Lake undoubtedly turned from blue to black.
In Chicago, flames were racing through the city and in Peshtigo, Wis., people were running for their lives. Flames from the woods near Manistee invaded the town on a quiet Sunday - and people fought for their homes.
Within three days of the fires, thousands were homeless, hundreds from Chicago, Wisconsin and Michigan dead, and many pioneers faced the winter without a home or crops to eat.
In the month of the Perseid Meteor shower, it is interesting to ponder - could a disintegrated comet be the cause of the fires?
An Upper Peninsula systems design engineer thinks so, as does a former physicist with McDonnell Douglas Corp.
Consider a statement by the Detroit Post on Oct. 10, 1871: "In all parts of the state, as will be noticed by our correspondence during the past few days and also today, there are numerous fires in the wood, in many places approaching so near to towns as to endanger the towns themselves."
In Holland, fire destroyed the city, in Lansing flames threatened the agricultural college and in the Thumb, farmers trying to establish homesteads soon would be diving into shallow wells to escape an inferno some newspapers dubbed: "The Fiery Fiend." Many did not escape.
Fires threatened Muskegon, South Haven, Grand Rapids, Wayland and reached the outskirts of Big Rapids. A steamship passing the Manitou Islands reported they were on fire.
A horror story? Yes. And so real that historic markers to the event can be found at Manistee and in the Thumb. Lots has been written about the storm of fire that killed 2,000 in Peshtigo, Wis., and the Great Chicago Fire and the fires that devastated the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
Theories for the fires are many - but one thing is certain, the devouring flames showed up at the same time.
Most historians point to the dry weather of the summer and the poor logging practices of the day for creating conditions ripe for a hot dry wind from the southwest that blew into the area whipping up small fires already s moldering and carrying destruction through the state.
Theories for the Chicago and Michigan fires include Mrs. O'Leary's cow knocking over the lantern and then firebrands from Chicago being driven across the lake to ignite Michigan. But there is another interesting theory th at continues to make the rounds on the Web and in at least one presentation by a retired physicist who worked for McDonnell Douglas Corp.
In 1871, fire erupted in Chicago, Wisconsin and northern Michigan at the same time. Some believe a meteorite or comet was to blame.
The Discovery Channel reported on its Web site in March a presentation by Robert Wood, a retired McDonnell-Douglas physicist, who theorizes fragments of a comet discovered in the early 1820s possibly caused the fires.
Wood theorized that small pieces of frozen methane, acetylene or other high combustive materials hit the earth sparking the flames.
That theory also resounds with Munising's Ken Rieli who believes he found a chunk of meteorite in the waters off the Port Sanilac shore a few years ago.
"We started doing an investigation on where the meteorite came from," he said. His investigation also took him back to the Comet Biela that was discovered in 1821 and returned every six years and nine months. It was last seen in 1866 and never showed up in 1872.
"It was supposed to recycle and it wasn't there," Rieli said. He questions how fires could start simultaneously in Chicago, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario. He also notes how dry summers and strong winds since have never produced a similar result in America's history.
"If these are coming down like buckshot with real dry conditions ..." Rieli theorizes how flaming space rocks could have ignited fires in many places. He said he's been contacted by relatives of survivors of the Peshtigo fire who shared stories from their ancestors about seeing fire falling from the sky.
Physicist Wood in his report cited eyewitness reports of spontaneous ignition and "fire balloons."
Rieli said Canadian geologists found a huge impact crater 200 feet below Lake Huron in the Port Huron area in the early 1990s. He said he has a relative who participated in drilling for a water pipeline to serve the Detro it in the same area at the same depth. He said crews discovered meteorite-like rock as they bored a hole for the pipeline.
"They were bringing it out and piling it up," he said. He said the rock was reformulated and either was volcanic or a meteorite.
"It's another piece of evidence that the Michigan area and parts of Canada, Illinois are ground zero for an active meteor strike zone."
Michigan State University's David Batch, director of the Abram's Planetarium, said he had not heard the theory before and is skeptical that a comet or meteorite could have caused the fires.
Batch said meteorites that have come through the atmosphere and hit the ground are never hot when people have had the opportunity to run over to the piece of space rock immediately.
"When they run over to them, there is a frost to them," he said. "There's no known evidence of a comet or a meteorite causing a fire in history."
Batch said comet particles are mostly ice and would not survive to hit the ground while the meteorite only glows hot in the very outer surface as it passes through atmosphere.
"It's only heated to those temperatures for a very short time," he said. "It's like the outer millimeter that is heated up. The rest of it stays cold."
Rieli counters that if the meteorite chunk exceeds one pound and has enough mass, it will not cool by the time it hits the ground.
"That's only true under a certain mass of rock," he said.
He said the Comet Biela had to have hit an asteroid belt when it broke up around Jupiter and likely the debris carried a mixture of rock and ice when the Earth plowed through the field in October 1871. The result was hund reds of hot rocks flying through the atmosphere and in many cases striking tinder-dry woods.
While residents around the state battled flames, information about the area around Cadillac, then Clam Lake, is fuzzy. The first newspaper did not start until 1872.
The village began the same year as the firestorm and by October of that year there was a sawmill, hotels, a general store some boarding houses, along with other buildings, according to Judge William Peterson's "The View from Courthouse Hill."
Peterson recounts near Sherman, the area between Mesick and Sherman Hill, there were numerous fires at the same time Manistee and Chicago were burning down.
"It was said sparks from the fires in Wisconsin that summer or the great Chicago fire in October or the conflagration that destroyed Manistee at the same time, started a large number of fires in the Sherman area," Peterson wrote.
Among the losses were a sawmill and the prosecutor's house.
Rieli acknowledges his theory is controversial. His Web site is meant to spark conversation - but he believes his chunk of carbonaceous chondrite meteorite bolsters his theory. Any certainty would require more research.
"It's just a present thing we are doing," he said. "People need to expand their minds."
A strong earthquake occurred at 13:41:29 (UTC) on Saturday, August 28, 2004. The magnitude 6.4 event has been located in the CHILE-ARGENTINA BORDER REGION. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)
7:04 pm EDT August 28, 2004
HOOKSETT, NH -- A minor earthquake shook southern New Hampshire Saturday morning.
Gregg Champlin, the earthquake specialist at the state Office of Emergency Management, said the 2.1 magnitude quake was centered about four miles west of Hooksett just after 8:30 a.m.
Quakes of that size generally do not cause damage or injuries, and none were reported.
"We heard a loud bang," said Champlin, who was working in a barn in Henniker. "We could see movement in the roof of the barn, though we felt nothing."
Champlin said New England sees about six small quakes a year. Southern New Hampshire, from the Lakes Region south along the Merrimack River, is an active seismic area.
ALABASTER, Ala. A minor earthquake -- the second this month-- was reported in central Alabama, but smaller than the first one.
Early today -- about six minutes after midnight -- the U-S Geological Survey National Earthquake Center says a quake with a magnitude of two-point-eight was centered six miles southwest from Helena.
It extended to six miles west from Alabaster and nine miles north-northwest from Montevallo.
On August 19th, a magnitude three-point-five quake rattled Jefferson and Shelby counties, causing no damages or injuries.
A quake of two-point-five to three is the smallest generally felt by people. A magnitude four quake can cause moderate damage.
TOKYO (AFP) Aug 29, 2004
Super Typhoon Chaba pounded the southern Japanese island of Amami-Oshima Sunday with heavy rain and strong winds, cutting off electricity to some 5,800 households, officials said.
Chaba, meaning hibiscus in Thai, is moving slowly northwest and generating maximum windspeeds of around 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Due to the typhoon, some 5,800 households had no electricity in the island, 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) south of Tokyo, police in Amami-Oshima said.
The typhoon is likely to hit parts of Kyushu island in southwestern Japan by early Monday and dump up to 800 millimeters (32 inches) of rain in the region, the Meteorological Agency said.
Waves in Kyushu could reach as high as eight meters, the agency added.
At least 27 flights from Tokyo to Kyushu were cancelled Sunday due to the typhoon, an airport official said.
MANILA (AFP) Aug 29, 2004
Thirty-two people have been killed and more than a million other people received assistance amid massive floods, civil defense officials said Sunday.
More than 100 towns and cities of the main island of Luzon went under water or were isolated by landslides following last week's heavy southwest monsoon rains induced by Typhoon Aere, they said.
The extreme weather killed 24 people, mainly drowning victims or buried by landslides, the civil defense office said. Eight other people are presumed dead after being carried off by rampaging floodwaters last week.
Portions of the main north-south Luzon highway were cut off after the Pampanga and Tarlac rivers burst dikes, while landslides blocked key arteries in the upland Cordillera region of northern Luzon.
Civil defense officials said 1.12 million million people out of the national population of 84 million received relief assistance worth 7.96 million pesos (about 142 million dollars).
Of that number, more than 6,000 lost their homes and sought refuge at government-run evacuation centers.
Although the heavy rains have stopped and floods are receding, Red Cross spokeswoman Tess Usapdin said the affected population would need a week more of food and medical support before things could return to normal.
"The waters are subsiding. Hopefully, there would be no typhoons arriving soon that could induce more monsoon rains," Defense Secretary and civil defense chief Avelino Cruz said over DZBB radio.
Beliefs in UFOs and ritual abuse are studied as new religious movements
DALLAS - Christopher Bader was one of those kids who loved tales of the improbable, and he grew up to become his own improbable tale: He's a sociology professor at the conservative and Baptist Baylor University. He's a Presbyterian. And he has a particular interest in people who say they are UFO abductees or victims of religion-linked ritual abuse. His study of the two groups was published in a recent issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
"My students ask me all the time: 'Do you believe in UFOs? Do you believe in ritual abuse? Do you believe in Bigfoot?'" Bader said. "My answer is that I just don't care whether they're real or not."
Studying the sociology of religion is nothing like delving into theology, he said.
"We're not studying God. We're studying what people who believe in God and live on earth do," he said.
"God" and "religion" are defined broadly by sociologists of religion. Beliefs in UFO abductions and in ritual abuse both include a large dose of faith.
The scientific mainstream has not accepted any claims of alien abductions. And many who claim to have survived ritual abuse say they discovered the abuse by recovering long-repressed memories. The length of time between the alleged event and the recovery of the memory often makes it hard to investigate the claims.
So are there UFOs grabbing people? Are there satanic cults abusing people? In many cases, people believe without the kinds of evidence that would convince outsiders -- it's a matter of faith. And that means people in support groups for UFO abductees or ritual-abuse survivors can be studied as members of "new religious movements."
Sociologists such as Bader study these small groups because they think it is a way to understand how successful faiths develop.
After all, the largest religions all started with a few people considered unusual by their neighbors.
"It really is no crazier than anything else," he said of the outside-the- mainstream stuff he studies. "I appreciate it as a belief, and a sincerely held belief."
Most of his work involves less controversial belief systems -- why churches and denominations succeed or fail in drawing members. So when Baylor hired him a couple of years ago, he told his new bosses that part of his studies could seem a bit, well, odd for a Baptist school.
"But when I talk about Satanism in class, I'm not recruiting," he said.
His paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal, is the fruit of years of tentative contacts with the support groups. Members are suspicious of outsiders. And much of his paper details how he gained their trust -- and eventually, some information about them.
Bader was able to get 55 of the UFO folks and 51 ritual-abuse survivors to anonymously fill out forms detailing their ages, education levels and other demographic information.
That fills a hole in the study of these groups, he said. Most attention has focused on the beliefs or on the psychological effects for the believers. Bader's goal was to identify the kinds of people who believe.
What he came up with has its limits, he admits. The sample size is small, and there's no way to know for sure whether they represent the average UFO abductee or ritual-abuse survivor. But the results are in line with research on other small, new religious movements, he said.
Academics who study such movements tend to consider members of these groups rubes, he said. "They assume that these are some country bumpkins who believe that the UFOs are plucking them off their tractors. That's not what people who are interested in new ideas are like."
Of the 51 UFO abductees, 32 were women; 48 said they were white, six identified themselves as Native American (three chose both categories), 34 attended some college and 29 were white-collar workers. Most said they found some positive aspects to their experience.
Of the 48 ritual-abuse survivors, all were white women; 44 had attended college; and of the 21 then employed, 18 were white-collar workers. This was an unhappy population, and most reported that they had dozens of personalities.
What they have in common, Bader said, is that they mostly follow the pattern found in other new religious movements.
"The theory tells us that it doesn't matter about the personality of the god involved," he said. "The point is that a certain demographic is interested in things outside the mainstream."
UFO sightings reported at Dryden (Canada)
The manager of the Dryden Regional Airport wants to get to the bottom of reports of unidentified flying objects in the area.
George Friesen said yesterday that he has requested a checklist from NAV Canada on the subject and "has a few phone calls to reply to" following a report of a UFO sighting in the Dryden area July 12.
NAV Canada provides air navigation services used by airports, airlines, and aircraft operators across Canada.
The Dryden-area UFO sighting is posted on www.hbccufo.com—a website that reportedly represents the Canadian UFO research community.
The posting said at least three Dryden-area people witnessed "low altitude bright lights tracking across the sky."
One person reported seeing the lights on three-consecutive nights, as well as a V-shaped metallic craft during the day "moving through the sky, very slowly."
Area police services said they received no calls of suspected UFOs in July.
Friesen said his interest is both personal and professional.
"If something occurs near an airport, professionally we are obliged to report it," he said.
While working in Lynn Lake, Man. in the early '90s, Friesen said he dealt with quite a few inquires about "strange objects in the sky"—largely because the airport was releasing huge atmospheric weather balloons at the time.
The last unexplained phenomena observed in the northwest was a "strange light" seen in the Thunder Bay area in March, 2003.
At the time, officials with a U.S.-based research centre suggested the light may have been space junk.
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