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Volume 8
Number 7
February 12, 2003

Editor: Joseph Trainor

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COLUMBIA DESTROYED BY WEIRD ENERGY BOLT?

"Top investigators of the Columbia space shuttle disaster are analyzing a startling photograph--snapped by an amateur astronomer from a San Francisco hillside--that appears to show a purplish electrical bolt striking the craft as it streaked across the California sky" seven minutes before the shuttle plunged to Earth in eastern Texas.

"The digital image is one of five snapped by the shuttle buff at roughly 5:53 a.m. (Pacific or California time, which is 7:53 a.m. Central or Texas time--J.T.) as sensors on the doomed orbiter began showing the first indications of trouble. Seven minutes later, the craft broke up in flames over Texas. The photographer requested that his name not be used and said he would not release the image until NASA people had time to examine it."

"Although there can be possible benign explanations for the image--such as a barely perceptible jiggle of the camera as it took the time exposures--NASA's zeal to examine the photo demonstrates the lengths to which the agency is going to tap the resources of ordinary Americans in solving the puzzle."

"Late Tuesday (February 5, 2003) NASA dispatched Tammy Jernigan, now a manager at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, to the San Francisco home of the astronomer to examine his digital images and to take the camera straight to Mountain View, where it was to be transported by NASA T-38 jet to Houston..."

"A Chronicle reporter was present when the astronaut (Ms. Jernigan--J.T.) arrived. First seeing the image on a large computer screen, she had one word: 'Wow!'"

"Jernigan, who is no longer working for NASA, quizzed the photographer on the aperture of the camera, the direction he faced, and the estimated exposure time--about four to six seconds--on the automatic Nikon 880 camera. It was mounted on a tripod, and the shutter was triggered manually."

"In the central shot, a glowing purple rope of light corkscrews down the (shuttle's) plasma trail, appears to pass behind it, then cuts sharply towards it from below. As it merges with the plasma trail, the streak itself brightens for a distance, then fades."

"'It certainly appears very anomalous,' said Jernigan, 'We sure will be interested in taking a very hard look at this.'"

"Jernigan flew five shuttle missions herself during the 1990s, including three in Columbia. On her first flight, the pilot of the craft was Rick Husband, who was at the controls when Columbia perished."

"'He was one of the finest people I could ever hope to know,' said Jernigan."

"It was an astounding day for the San Francisco photographer, who said he had not had any success in reaching NASA through the published telephone hot lines. He ultimately reached investigators through a connection with a relative who attends the same church as former astronaut Jack Lousma, who flew 24 million miles (in orbit) in the Skylab 3 mission in 1973. Lousma put him in direct touch with Ralph Roe Jr., chief engineer for the shuttle program at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston."

"After a series of telephone conversations Tuesday afternoon, the photographer had a veteran shuttle mission specialist (Jernigan) knocking at his door by dinnertime. Within hours, he was left with a receipt, and his camera was on its way to Houston."

However, James E. Oberg, a 22-year veteran of NASA's Mission Control and the NBC News analyst on this story, pointed out that the Nikon 880 is notorious for creating "streaks" in its digital photos and the bolt might simply be a "computer glitch." (See the San Francisco Chronicle for February 6, 2003, "S.F. man's astounding photo." Many thanks to Steve Wilson Sr., for forwarding this newspaper article, and to Jim Oberg for the additional commentary.)

RADAR TRACKED UNKNOWN OBJECT BEHIND COLUMBIA

"NASA officials confirmed Sunday (February 9, 2003) that military radar at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida spotted a mysterious object near Columbia while the shuttle orbited the Earth. But investigators don't know whether the object was a small meteorite or something that came from the shuttle itself."

"The tracking radar spotted the object (Friday) January 17 (2003), one day and 20 minutes into Columbia's mission. The object moved away from the shuttle at 10 miles per hour (16 kilometers per hour) and fell into the Earth's atmosphere two days after the radar spotted it."

"A NASA spokesman said he didn't know how near the object approached the spacecraft or why the radar was aimed at the shuttle. (Good question!--J.T.) Nor does NASA know how big the object was, only that it's at least the size of a softball. The radar can only detect debris that size and larger."

"Some suspect the radar image is from Columbia dumping excess water. That's a routine maneuver during shuttle missions. Usually, the water falls in small crystals, but at least once before, it formed a block of ice."

"Investigators were also trying to decipher an image an Air Force camera took of Columbia as it crossed New Mexico--hundreds of miles before the shuttle fell to pieces. The grainy picture seems to show a jagged edge on the front of the shuttle's left wing, in contrast to the smooth curve of the front of the right wing."

"Some engineers interpret the picture as evidence that the front edge of the left wing had broken up. That would cause serious problems in maneuvering the shuttle."

James E. Oberg, a 22-year veteran of NASA Mission Control, stated, "You can't see the actual object; it's in the dark. You can only see the glowing plasma sheath around it, caused by its high-speed passage. The actual size of the object, as the size of a meteorite compared to the meteor images they create, is much smaller. Because it (the mystery object) falls back so quickly, my assessment is that it is very 'undense,' much like a tile.'" (See USA Today for February 10, 2003, "Searchers find shuttle landing gear hatch," page 11A. Many thanks to Jim Oberg for the NASA commentary.)

SHUTTLE DEBRIS FOUND IN TEXAS AND CALIFORNIA

"NASA has recovered a two-foot (0.6 meter) long piece of Columbia's wing near Fort Worth (Texas), a find officials hope can help turn the investigation in the space shuttle crash."

"The 26 to 27-inch (65 to 68 centimeter) piece of wing was found near the western edge" of the 100-mile (160-kilometer) long debris zone, which stretches eastward into Louisiana, and "where pieces of the shuttle have been found. By Friday evening (February 7, 2003) NASA officials said they were unsure which wing the black, carbon-composite section came from, but the answer is certain to have a bearing on how useful it proves to be."

"The piece, designed to withstand scorching temperatures on the leading edge of the wing, was taken to a Texas military base for further examination. The location of the discovery was not released because officials hope to find more critical debris at the site."

In California, where strange light flashes were photographed by on-the-ground amateur and professional astronomers in San Francisco, Sacramento, Bishop and at the Lick Observatory in San Jose, anomalous debris was found in the state's high desert.

"A resident of Joshua Tree (population 4,027) in the high desert of southeastern California reported finding a piece of debris on a driveway that that might have come from the disintegrating space shuttle Columbia."

"The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department does not believe it came from the shuttle. But the Sheriff's Department contacted NASA about the debris. The Sheriff's Department is holding a four-inch-square object, described as looking like a piece of exposed film. It has foil-like material on one side and apparent burn marks."

"A small piece of something was found in a Target parking lot in Sacramento," the state capital, "and siezed by the sheriff's department, Sgt. Lou Fatur said."

"'We got notified from the CHP (California Highway Patrol--J.T.) to keep an eye out. We're just kind of following what they're doing,' Fatur said."

"At Soquel (population 5,081), on the north end of Monterey Bay, a state parks official told police of an object on the beach and tagged it for NASA, a Santa Cruz County emergency dispatcher said."

"NASA asked state park rangers to hold the object--an aluminum cylinder just over one foot (0.4 meters) long with inch markings on it--until space agency officials could retrieve it Wednesday morning (February 6, 2003), state parks spokesman Steve Capps said."

"Video taken from the Lick Observatory in San Jose also showed flashes of light and what appeared to be parts breaking off the shuttle. It was taken by amateur astronomer Rick Baldridge."

James E. Oberg, a 22-year veteran of NASA Mssion Control, had this comment: "Several reports of 'finds' of funny-looking junk have come in from California. So far, according to my information, none have proven to be from Columbia." (See the Chicago Tribune for February 8, 2003, "Chunk of shuttle's wing found in Texas," page 5; and the Los Angeles Times for February 7, 2003. Many thanks to Steve Wilson Sr. and Loren Coleman for these newspaper articles, and to Jim Oberg for the commentary.)

STRANGE SECRETS OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA

Since the Colombia disaster, all sorts of strange, odd and downright spooky links and coincidences have emerged. Many have been listed or discussed on the Internet.

Christian seer Tom Gaston used the Bible Code to check out the name Columbia. He claims to have found predictions of the space disaster in the Old Testament, notably Song of Songs 8:6 and Esther 2:12.

"I have already found a (Bible) code for the space shuttle," Gaston reported, "The code: Crew, 16 days, which is the amount of days they were in space. Code: the fracture, the first day, the wing, followed by the defect, the defect, the inferno, spaceship returning to Earth, the seven dead, burning, Holocaust."

Curiously, the shuttle Columbia was carrying Holocaust memoribilia when the disaster happened. According to an Israeli news source, Arutz Sheva, "Yet maybe the strangest irony of all was that the Holocaust became a motif of the mission. (Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan) Ramon, whose mother beat the odds to survive Auschwitz, took with him on Columbia a drawing depicting the earth as seen from space, sketched by a 14-year-old boy, Peter Ginz, who didn't survive the Nazi death camp."

Ramon also carried a small Torah scroll which had been hidden in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and used on the Sabbath by Jewish prisoners.

Before the flight, Ramon told news reporters, "I carry on the suffering of the Holocaust generation. I'm kind of proof that despite all the horror they went through, we're going forward."

(Editor's Comment: Maybe Col. Ramon should have waited until he was safely back on the ground before making that statement.)

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman explored strange Fortean lexilinks (odd word links and coincidences--J.T.) in the shuttle disaster. He wrote, "In the wake of the pattern, I asked if the debris distribution from the space shuttle Columbia, with the first Israeli on board, raining down on Palestine, Texas, some Fortean 'name game' coincidences were being revealed."

"On February 3, 2003, reports from Texas talked of (shuttle) debris being found near Venus, Texas, 'and in a tree in Joshua, Texas.'"

"Now, on February 5, news services were saying the search for debris was spreading westward, because a piece of what appeared to be charred Columbia debris had been found in the driveway of a home in Joshua Tree, California." (See the related news story earlier in this issue--J.T.)

"Joshua Tree National Monument is an oft-discussed 'power point' in the occult community," Loren added, "Country rock musician Gram (short for Ingram) Parsons' death on September 19, 1973 took place at the nearby Joshua Tree Inn. (Parsons was famed for his music with Emmylou Harris, the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers--L.C.) His death is legendary in music and magick because of what happened after he died."

"While Parsons' body was waiting at the Los Angeles International Airport to be flown back to New Orleans, his road manager, Phil Clark Kaufman, and a friend, Michael Martin, borrowed a broken-down hearse and drove it to LAX (the airport) to steal the body. Kaufman (who had produced the album Lie for Charles Manson--L.C.) and Martin took Parsons' body out into the Joshua Tree desert and burned/charred it."

(Editor's Comment: Here's another lexilink. The name Parsons could also refer to Jack D. Parsons, pioneering rocket scientist, friend of Robert H. Goddard and disciple of Aleister Crowley, who helped launch the USA's space program in the 1950s. Jack Parsons is infamous for a lot of things, notably a certain black magickal ritual in Pasadena, California in 1952, which is not discussed in polite society. But this one is my favorite: Jack got drunk in Tularosa, New Mexico one night and told the bartender: "Listen, fella, I've burned up more alcohol in five seconds than you've sold across this bar in twenty years!")

If you suffer from triskadeiphobia (fear of the number 13--J.T.), you might want to skip employment at NASA. "The number 13, and the month of January, take on a tragic significance in NASA's manned space program."

"Consider these haunting facts:"

"The doomed Columbia mission was launched January 16 (2003) as the 113th space shuttle mission."

"After several delays, the space shuttle Challenger finally lifted off January 28, 1986 at 11:38 a.m. One minute and 13 seconds into the flight, Challenger exploded, killing all seven astronauts" on board, including Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space. (In numerology, 11:38 a.m. works out to 1 plus 1 plus 3 plus 8 equals 13--J.T.)

"Apollo 13 lifted off at (gulp!) 13:13 Houston time, April 11, 1970. Two days later, on April 13, it had a near-fatal explosion onboard caused by a fault in electrical circuit 13."

And in 1952, the movie Abbott and Costello Go to Mars premiered. In the film, comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello accidentally launch themselves into space aboard a "rocket ship." By some eerie coincidence, the ship first lands in central Louisiana, where the easternmost debris from the shuttle Columbia fell to Earth.

Believing they are really on Mars, Bud and Lou put on space suits and venture forth. Of course, they've landed on Mardi Gras Tuesday, so they encounter lots of people in fantastic costumes, whom they believe to be aliens. Nor are the locals alarmed when they see the pair, figuring they're just dressed up for the festivities as "spacemen." After some comical misadventures, Bud and Lou blast off again. This time, though, they have two escaped convicts on board, and their spaceship heads for Venus.

Oh, yes, and the name of the "rocket ship" in Abbott and Costello Go to Mars?
Why...the Columbia. (See the tabloid Globe for February 18, 2003, "The Unlucky 13s," page 21. Also many thanks to Loren Coleman, Steve Wilson Sr., and others for the trivia.)

BIG UFO FLOTILLA RETURNS TO MEXICO'S YUCATAN

On Wednesday, January 29, 2003, at 11 p.m., witnesses in Progreso, a seaport town on the northern coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, saw another large flotilla of spherical silver metallic UFOs hovering just south of the community.

"The sighting was reported along the Merida-to-Progreso highway, this time in the vicinity of the Flamboyanes subdivision," 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of Progreso."

"Sra. Maria Barrera, 42, who witnessed the earlier flyover of 40 metallic UFOs on January 17, 2003, has seen the phenomenon once more but this time in greater numbers."

On Wednesday, January 29, 2003, "80 spheres, double the number of the previous incident, were seen. On this occasion, the event lasted between 15 and 20 minutes, and the spectacle was also seen by dozens of civilian vehicles which pulled over to watch the phenomenon, among them an official vehicle of Mexico's Federal Election Comission."

Sra. Barrera "states that she looked carefully at the spheres as they made figure-like shapes in the air, first a rhomboid and then an arrow. The apparent diameter of the spheres, explained Sra. Barrera, was between 30 and 40 centimeters (12 to 16 inches)" at arm's length. The sky was clear over the Yucatan that night." (Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales y David Triay Lucatero del Centro de Analisis de Fenomenos Espaciales (CAFE) para eso informe.)

UFOs REMAIN ACTIVE IN SOUTH AMERICA

UFO sightings remain at an all-time high in the countries of South America.

In Brazil, on Monday, February 3, 2003, "a local radio station in Atibaia," in the state of Bahia, "reported that at 2:30 a.m., there was an electrical power blackout throughout the city. Several witnesses went out in the street and saw two bright UFOs zigzagging through the sky. The UFOs were spherical in shape. Locally, silver UFOs have been seen repeatedly in the mountains near Itapetinga," also in Bahia state.

"One witness in Atibaia, who asked not to be identified, saw the UFOs from the balcony of his apartment building."

"The radio announcer said that, while zigzagging, the UFOs were festooned with bright lights colored blue, green and yellow, and others also saw them. Light from the two UFOs faintly illuminated the darkened streets of the city."

Itapetinga is located 200 kilometers (120 miles) southwest of Salvador, the state capital, and about 500 kilometers (300 miles) north-northeast of Rio de Janeiro.

In Peru, "an unidentified flying object was was reported on Monday, January 13, 2003 over the" city of Pucallpa, located on the Rio Ucayali in La Selva, the tropical jungles of eastern Peru.

"The witness was a functionary of Aeropantanal, a private (airline) corporation."

"Alberto Santiva Panduro, a functionary of the airline, claims having seen the UFO in the morning when the skies were 'completely clear.'"

"He added that the unknown object was headed southward" over the trackless rain forests, "adding that during the same week, he had seen another similar object in the northern reaches of the Peruvian community."

Pucallpa is located about 600 kilometers (360 miles) northeast of Lima, the capital of Peru. (Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales y Guillermo D. Gimenez para eso informe.)

SOLITARY UFO TRAILS A CAR IN NORTHERN INDIA

On Sunday, January 26, 2003, a car left Chandigarh, a city in northern India's Himachal Pradesh state, bound for the hill resort of Simla in the Himalayas.

"The witnesses said they were driving on a two-lane road in the Himalayas," south of Simla, "when they observed a strange object approaching from the east at a very high altitude. The UFO 'left a strange contrail' in the blue mountain sky."

"For over three hours, the UFO remained at the same point in the sky in relation to the automobile. Then it suddenly zipped away over the high snow-covered mountains and out of sight of the witnesses."

Chandigarh is located about 250 kilometers (150 miles) north of New Delhi, the capital of India. (See NotiOVNI for February 2, 2003. Many thanks to Prasant Solomon of UFO India and Daniel Munoz for this news story.)

PHANTOM PANTHER APPEARS IN EAST ANGLIA, UK

"The long snowfall over the weekend meant it was difficult for any animal to cover its tracks and, when one woman awoke on Saturday morning (February 1, 2003), she could see an unusual visitor had been in her garden."

"The woman, who lives at Bedfield, near Framlingham" in East Anglia, UK "but who would rather not be identified, is convinced the tracks left in the garden were from a large cat, possibly a puma." (Also known as a cougar or a mountain lion in the USA--J.T.)

"The tracks were not in the garden Friday evening (January 31, 2003) and their appearance on Saturday morning made the homeowner recall a possible sighting she had had earlier."

"'My bedroom window overlooks nearby fields and recently I was convinced I saw a large black cat. It was far too big to be a domestic cat, and it moved differently from a dog,' she said."

"Although the woman has heard of other possible 'big cat sightings' in the area, she thought she must have been mistaken, but the pawprints in her garden have made her think there may be a 'Bedfield Beast' on the prowl."

"The tracks show an animal came close to the house, walked across the patio and then made for the birdtable. The distinct pawprints were about 15 centimeters (6 inches) long and had to have been made by a sizable creature."

"Dominique Thomas, a friend of the homeowner, was also convinced that the tracks were made by a large cat-like creature."

"'I do not think there is any doubt about it. The pawprints are not those of a dog. They are also just over a metre (3 feet, 3 inches) apart, so they have been made by a large animal,' she said."

"Mrs. Thomas, who also lives in Bedfield, was so concerned about the possibility of a large cat roaming wild in the village that she telephoned local farmers so they could check their livestock."

"'We have not heard of any livestock being taken in the valley, but farmers have kept a number of animals and birds that could be attacked, including geese and black swans,' she said."

"The two women believe the animal must have been extremely hungry to have ventured so close to the house."

"'It looks like it was after the food left on the birdtable, but these scraps would not have been enough to fill a large animal,' said the homeowner."

"However, the tracks in the snow melted away with the rising temperatures on Saturday, and the 'Bedfield Beast' remains as elusive as ever." (See the British newspaper Evening Star for February 3, 2003. Merci beaucoup a Robert Fischer pour cette article de journal.)

SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION KILLS ELDERLY ROMANIAN

"An 85-year-old man who appears to have died from spontaneous self-combustion (better known as spontaneous human combustion or SHC) has been buried in his back garden."

"Police are refusing to issue a death certificate because his (the victim's) head was burned to the size of an orange, but his body and clothes were unharmed."

"Alexei Rusnac, 85, from Dej," a city on the Somesul River in Transylvania, a region of northwestern Romania, "was found by his daughter, sitting next to his fireplace."

"Investigators say no one can explain why more than 80 percent of the victim's head melted and why his shirt and clothes did not have any trace of burning whatsoever."

"Several doctors said it was possible that the man suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, fell in the fireplace, and his head set on fire."

"But the theory is not endorsed by police forensics experts who say a human body can burn only at 250 degrees Centigrade," a temperature "which is impossible to reach in a fireplace."

"They say this might be the first case of unexplained spontaneous self-combustion investigated in Romania, but they are refusing to issue a death certificate without a known cause of death."

Dej is in Romania's Cluj province about 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of Bucuresti (Bucharest), the national capital. (See Ananova for February 5, 2003, "Romanian may have died of SHC." Merci beaucoup a Robert Fischer pour ces nouvelles.)


From the UFO Files...

1875: MARY TODD LINCOLN AND THE MAHATMAS

"All rise," the clerk said, "The First District Court of Cook County, Illinois is now in session, the honorable Marion R.M. Wallace presiding."

It was May 18, 1875, and the Cook County courthouse was packed with onlookers. And no wonder! Sitting at the defendant's table was former First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of the assassinated president. The charge: insanity!

The trial was the denouement of an ongoing struggle between Mrs. Lincoln and her surviving son, Robert Todd Lincoln, for control of her fortune. Abraham Lincoln had left his widow well provided for, with $56,000 (about $2.8 million in today's money--J.T.) in valuable Illinois Central Railroad securities.

But Robert was afraid he would never inherit the money. Not only was Mary given to spending big bucks on her expensive wardrobe, she was also generous to a fault. She once gave a bellboy at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Chicago a five-dollar gold coin because he reminded her "of my dear son Tad, who was your age when he died."

So Robert set a trap for his mother. He sent a telegram to the resort in Jacksonville, Florida, where she had spent the winter, telling her he was "deathly ill." Mary took the first train to Chicago. Robert, assisted by his friends Leonard T. Swett and Lyman J. Gage (of whom, more later--J.T.), hired Pinkerton detectives to trail his mother. The Pinkertons surreptitiously entered her hotel room. They were unable to find the securities, which Mary always kept on her person, but they did take the letter, plus the clothes she had recently purchased. Robert had these men return the garments to the stores and kept the refunded money for himself.

Swett was the prosecuting attorney in the case. Swett was your typical Gilded Age crook, though hardly in the same league as Grant's corrupt Secretary of the Interior, Zachariah M. Chandler. During the recent American Civil War, Swett had made a fortune buying hay from Illinois farmers and selling it as horse feed to both the Union and Confederate armies, then laundering the money through French and Spanish banks.

Mary's defense attorney was Isaac N. Arnold, 60, who, like jury foreman Lyman J. Gage, was a transplant from upstate New York. He had met Mary only 15 minutes earlier, when she arrived at the courthouse, and he asked for a motion of continuance, so that he could have more time to prepare her defense. Judge Wallace turned him down on the grounds that this was only a simple sanity hearing, not a felony case.

So the trial began, with Swett calling witnesses to testify to Mary's "crazed behavior" and deliberately trying to provoke her into a display of her infamous "Todd temper." Mary rose to the bait more than once. Judge Wallace told her, "The defendant will refrain from making disparaging comments about the counsel (Swett) and the opposing witnesses." Then Swett called Mary's physician to the witness stand, and the testimony took a rather bizarre turn.

Swett: "Doctor, will you give us your name and professional rank?"

Danforth: "I am Willis Danforth, M.D., formerly Professor of Surgery and Gynecology at the Chicago Homeopathic College. My office is at 978 Wabash Avenue; my residence is at 1224 Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois."

Swett: "Will you state your professional relationship to the defendant?"

Danforth: "In November 1873, I visited her professionally, treating her for fever and nervous derangement of the head. Ten months later, namely September 1874, I made another professional visit. Last week (May 11, 1875) I called on her, at her behest, at the Grand Pacific Hotel."

Swett: "On this latter visit, what transpired of interest to the jury?"

Danforth: "It was this way. We were conversing, when suddenly she got up, crept to the door leading into the hall, placed her ear against the door and listened acutely."

Swett: "What, Doctor, was your reaction?"

Danforth: "To say the least, I was puzzled."

Swett: "Did she offer an explanation?"

Danforth: "None whatsoever."

Swett: "What happened then, Doctor?"

Danforth: "She returned to the seat and resumed the conversation as if nothing had happened."

(Editor's Note: When Robert Todd Lincoln took the stand, Isaac Arnold forced him to admit that he had indeed hired Pinkerton detectives to shadow his mother. Which means Mary was absolutely right about "being followed.")

Swett: "During your professional call, did anything else of a pertinent nature transpire?"

Danforth: "Suddenly, in our conversation, she bent over a small table about this high and began to talk to it!"

Swett: "What did she say?"

Danforth: "Mumbo-jumbo...in short, gibberish."

Swett: "Did she later make any cogent remark?"

Danforth: "She did, indeed! She said someone was pulling steel wires out of her head (my emphasis--J.T.) Also, she said that an Indian was taking bones out of her face."

Through most of the trial, Mary's reaction had been anger and disdain. But now she reacted with fear and alarm.

Mary: "I did not say that! He is twisting my meaning."

Judge: "Mrs. Lincoln, you're out of order."

Mary: "I don't want any falsehoods told about me!"

And why was Mary so upset? Well, at this point in time, Mary's interest in Spiritualism and the occult during her White House years was still pretty much a secret unknown to the American public. Mary often met with psychics, mediums and New Age enthusiasts in the White House and more often at a private home in nearby Georgetown, D.C. Nettie Colburn Maynard's expose of Mary's seances was still thirty years in the future.

Of interest to modern-day Forteans is Mary's reputed description of pulling steel wires out of her head. This is a space-bending phenomenon usually reported in India and very rare in the West. One who mentioned it was Elena Petrovna von Hahn Blavatsky, better known as "Madame Blavatsky," who discusses it in her book The Secret Doctrine. Madame Blavatsky made the claim that she was shown this phenomenon by her mahatmas, or Hidden Masters ( Mahatma is a Hindi word meaning great soul--J.T.), two mysterious Indians named Koot Hoomi and Morya.

Koot Hoomi was said to have traveled in the USA during the 1860s and 1870s. One wonders if he ever attended a Georgetown seance where Mary Todd Lincoln was present.

One other person in the courtroom showed intense alarm when Dr. Danforth began chatting about the wire trick--Lyman J. Gage, the jury foreman. As to why the mysterious Mr. Gage was so upset...well, that's something we'll have to talk about next time in UFO Roundup. (See the books The Trial of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln by Homer Croy, Meredith Press, Des Moines, Iowa, 1962, pages 64 through 69, and Robert Todd Lincoln: A Man in his Own Right by John S. Goff, University of Oklahoma Press, 1969, pages 100 through 105.)

Next Week: The Illuminati Exposed! Or, "can Isaac Arnold save Mrs. Lincoln from certain conviction?"

(Editor's Comment: Hmmm, this sounds like a job for...Johnnie Cochrane!)

Well, that's it for this week. Conflicting reports about the shuttle Columbia are still pouring in. The focus of the investigation sometimes seems to be changing on a daily basis. But we'll be back with more on the Columbia, plus the usual UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth, brought to you by "the paper that goes home--UFO Roundup." See you then.

UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 2003 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their websites or in news groups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.

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