UFO ROUNDUP

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Volume 9
Number 4
January 28th, 2004

Editor: Joseph Trainor

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"ANOMALY" CRIPPLES MARS ROVER SPIRIT

"NASA's rover Spirit stopped sending data from Mars, the victim of an apparent software glitch, drawing serious concerns from mission controllers Thursday," January 22, 2004.

"'We know now we have had a very serious anomaly on the vehicle,' says Spirit project manager Pete Theisinger of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. After acknowledging instructions sent early Wednesday (January 21, 2004), Theisinger says, the rover sent only random noise instead of data that night."

"However, a 'beep' indicating that the rover's computer was in a safety mode arrived Thursday morning. That's 'good news,' Theisinger says, indicating that power antennas and at least some of the rover's software are working."

"The signal means it's less likely that Spirit had a power failure, which could be 'very serious' and doom the rover. JPL officials said a software glitch would be a fixable problem unlikely to shorten the 90-day design life of the rover."

"JPL chief Charles Hachi compared the situation to the Voyager and Magellan probes, which overcame software setbacks to become very successful missions."

As of Saturday, January 24, 2004, "the Spirit rover remains in critical condition on the Martian surface, continually trying to reboot its software system in a futile effort to restore itself to normal function."

"It could be many days or perhaps weeks before ground controllers know if Spirit will be able to resume its explorations."

"Spirit managed to send back some engineering data on three occasions Friday," January 23, 2004, "after a period in which it was transmitting only a rudimentary signal. But rover project manager Pete Theisinger said the vehicle's complex software system is not operating properly. The craft's computer has attempted to reboot itself more than 60 times since the trouble began Wednesday, Theisinger said at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory."

"Theisinger said engineers now suspect the root cause is some hardware problem that is causing havoc with Spirit's computer. Just as with a home computer, he said, a software glitch should have been solved when Spirit pushes its reset button and reboots itself."

"Whether the six-wheeled rover, now only a few feet away from the landing platform it vacated last week, will be able to roam farther afield depends on whether engineers can resuscitate the vehicle." (See USA Today for January 22, 2004, "Mars rover could be in trouble," page 1A; and the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for January 24, 2004, "Computer problems still plague Mars rover," page 5A.)

ROUNDUP MYSTERY VAN CAUGHT ON FILM

An Arizona woman has taken the first photographs of the mysterious electronics-laden van which has been spotted periodically during the past six years on the back roads of the USA.

The van, which sports the logo of UFO Roundup's parent site UFO INFO, was seen Thursday, January 15, 2004 in Prescott, Arizona (population 33,938). The witnesses, Korenda and her husband, saw and jotted down the Web site address of Albert Rosales' Humanoid Sightings Report. They told Albert that they had "gotten his email address from the side of a Government van with www.ufoinfo.com on the side."

Albert then contacted UFOINFO webmaster John Hayes and asked, "Do you know anything about a van with your UFOINFO logo on the side running around Prescott, Arizona?"

A few days later, UFO Roundup was contacted by Pat M**** of Mayer, Arizona (population 1,408), a small town on Highway 69 about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Prescott. Not only had Pat seen the mystery van, she managed to take photographs of it.

Image of the "UFOINFO van"
Click image for full size

"As you can see, the van is light grey rather than black," Pat reported, "I saw the driver but didn't get his picture as I was trying to drive and photograph while not calling attention to myself, as I had no idea what I might be getting into. The driver exactly matched the description given in your article. I only saw him from the back, but he was a big man with a bushy head of pure white hair. He was wearing a jacket, but his shirt was not tucked in."

"The sighting took place on (Friday) January 23 of this year (2004) between 11 and 11:30 a.m. while I was waiting to catch the UPS man at the local convenience store (on the corner of Spring Lane and Arizona Highway 69 at the entrance to a small rural subdivision called Spring Valley--P.M.) to give him a package."

"I first noticed a van parked at the gas pumps which I remember as being white. It left, and 5 to 10 minutes later, the one in the picture arrived and parked by the laundromat across the street from the convenience store."

"So, there are two vans, or one whose color I did not accurately recall."

"After delivering the package, I drove home and got my camera and returned to take the pictures. On the driver's side of the van, it says 'USAF--For Official Use Only.' But my husband's comment is that 'surely the government would be using a newer vehicle.' Also, he doesn't think they're government license plates."

(Editor's Note: In the November 2003 sightings in Arizona, the mystery van had state of Georgia license plates.)

"I later learned that our neighbor spoke to the driver of the van and was shown the inside of the vehicle. It was full of electronic equipment. The driver said that they are working on some supposed sightings near Humboldt, Arizona (about 12 miles from here--P.M.) and that he had received some of the strongest signals in the area that he had for a long time." (Email Interview)

(Editor's Comment: Pat's photos only serve to deepen the mystery. If this is a hoax by a private citizen, then the perpetrator must be independently wealthy. That equipment costs a fortune. Also, if there is more than one van, then it has to be a government project. However, the driver's behavior violates all the rules of "need to know" and secure information. He's showing civilians classified equipment and chatting about "saucer hunts" in the desert. Finally, if it's a government hoax or disinformation project, what's the point? The van's six-year odyssey has taken it on a wandering path from Warsaw, Indiana to Prescott, Arizona for no seemingly logical reason. But we'll keep reporting its presence wherever it turns up.)

UFO VIDEOTAPED FLYING OVER KANSAS CITY

"A remote camera from a downtown energy corporation" in Kansas City, Missouri (population 441,545) "captured a bizarre sight in the eastern sky" last week.

"The video shows an object that appears to be clearly falling in the sky around 8:30 a.m." on Wednesday, January 14, 2004.

"Bob Lindsay, a security worker at Trigen Energy Plant, spotted the object on security monitors and asked a co-worker to zoom in on the mysterious image."

"'It had the appearance of more of a really light yellow--wasn't quite white, wasn't quite yellow,' Lindsay said."

"Lindsay believes he saw a long vessel, like a distant aircraft with flames shooting over its nose and up its sides."

"The staff at Trigen has come up with several theories about the nature of the strange image."

"'We got UFOs, we got experimental airplanes--a jumbo jet maybe? There are a lot of guesses going around,' Lindsay said."

"Kansas City TV station KMBC-TV showed the tape to astronomer Tom Armstrong, who has worked extensively with NASA."

"Armstrong guessed the object could be man-made space debris, but it's more likely it was just a meteor skimming across Earth's atmosphere."

"'If you've watched a meteor shower, and you put this right against this background, you'd probably think meteor,' Armstrong said."

"The North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as NORAD, said it was not tracking any man-made junk reentering the atmosphere on January 14." (See the KTVU Channel 2 news broadcast from Oakland, California for January 21, 2004. Many thanks to Jim Hickman for this transcript.)

SMALL CIGAR-SHAPED UFO SEEN IN PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania ufologist Stan Gordon reports "a daylight close-range observation of a small cigar-shaped UFO. This occurred on Wednesday, December 31, 2003 at approximately 1:30 p.m. as the witness was driving west of Ligonier, Pennsylvania (population 1,695)," a small town at the intersection of Routes 30 and 711, located about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Johnstown.

(Editor's Note: Johnstown, Pa. is famous for its catastrophic flood of May 30, 1889, which killed thousands of people.)

"The driver was heading westward" on Route 30 "when she observed an object flying through the sky about 10 feet (3 meters) off the ground. The object was moving up the right side of the highway, and initially the observer had the suspicion that she was observing a bird. The woman soon realized that the object had no wings."

"The object began to approach closer, giving the witness the opportunity to get a better look at it. She described the object as cigar-shaped, about 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length, and it appeared to be metallic. On the side of the object were several dark, possibly black, bands. At a distance of about 15 feet (4.5 meters), the object changed direction and began to keep pace with the vehicle."

"The witness indicated that the object hovered just above her, then in front of her at a distance she estimated to be about 12 feet (3.8 meters) or less. The object then suddenly took off overhead and was no longer seen. The entire experience lasted about 15 seconds." (Many thanks to Stan Gordon for this report)

NIGHT SAUCER SPOTTED IN AMELIA, OHIO

"A lighted, disc-shaped object with a 'hump' was seen hovering silently over a house near Amelia, Ohio (population 2,752)," a suburb on Route 125 located about 15 miles (25 kilometers) southeast of Cincinnati.

"The object, which moved in a bizarre fashion said by witnesses to be 'drop and stop,' was seen near the East Fork vicinity by multiple observers in Clermont County at 2:58 a.m. on early Monday morning," January 12, 2004.

"Also seen was something described as 'a shadow' that 'transformed into a ball- another person describing the same as a peculiar tannish-brown object, separate from the lighted UFO, which strangely 'rolled down the side of a house.'"

"The sighting was first reported within an hour of the event." The case is being investigated by Mrs. Donnie Blessing, MUFON state section director and former Clermont County librarian. (Many thanks to Ohio ufologist Kenny Young for this news story.)

MORE UFOs REPORTED IN CALIFORNIA

On Wednesday, January 21, 2004, at 6:40 p.m., eyewitness P.M. was outdoors in San Diego when he spotted a strange flying object approaching from the north.

"It was a red glowing ball that passed from north to south overhead," he reported, "Camera shots were taken. As the object approached the apparent horizon, two other smaller pieces seemed to fall off the original object. The weather was perfect and clear with many stars visible."

"The red glowing ball was thousands of feet high. Traversed slowly enough that I was able to get 27 shots of the object."

The witness has posted these images at his Web site. Roundup readers can access it at http://imageevent.com/markandsuzy/sandiegoufo

Just ten minutes earlier the same day, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 21, 2004, Mark Duarte saw a UFO approach from the southwest in Castro Valley, California (population 57,292), just east of San Francisco and Oakland.

Mark described the UFO as "an object traveling extremely high but super slow, flew over our heads that night, traveling northeast. There were no blinking lights, and after it was past us, the light was just as bright as it was headed towards us. As it passed over, it seemed to stop for a brief moment, then disappeared."

"The object made no sound, and, at one point, made a subtle change in direction, as no aircraft can do. Shortly after it disappeared, multiple military aircraft flew overhead. I know this because no commercial airliners would travel side by side at supersonic speeds at roughly 40,000 feet (12,000 meters), and they headed in the same direction as the object."

"My son Jordan actually filmed the final 60 seconds of this singular moment. We have the film on VHS-C, and when it is converted, I will send it to UFO INFO."
(Email Form Reports)

COUPLE SEES A SAUCER IN AVIGNON, FRANCE

On Saturday, December 27, 2003, the eyewitness "walked to the Palace of the Popes in Avignon," a city in the department of Vaucluse in southern France, "with my girlfriend. Nobody was on the square. The (former papal) palace was all lit up. My girlfriend drew my attention to a funny object in the sky coming from Villeneuve-les-Avignon."

"It was a disc of brilliant red lights. The object then accelerated in the direction of and stopped right above the palace. It seemed to come down closer (lower than 100 meters (330 feet), hovering at about 20 meters (66 feet) above the palace--the witness), and as a result we can make a precise description of it. It had the shape of a saucer overhung with a large dome of black colour. The rest of the object was silver-grey, and it threw a bright red light in the direction of the ground."

"There was absolutely no noise! The display lasted for about three minutes, and I hastened to get closer to the UFO by climbing the stairs which lead to the palace gardens. But the object disappeared immediately by going away straight up into the sky at a dizzying speed."

"We have no explanation. The object did not look like a helicopter, a plane or a balloon." (Merci beaucoup a Robert Fischer pour ces nouvelles.)

DOZENS OF NICARAGUANS FALL TO MYSTERY MALADY

A mysterious illness, said to be caused by sorcerors, "Grisi Siknis, also known as Pauka Prukan, attacked the Santo Tomas de Umbra community in the Rio Coco" region of eastern Nicaragua, "upstream from the community of Raiti and which belongs to the Sumu ethnicity (indigenous people--J.T.)."

"The area attacked has caused concern among authorities from MINSA (Spanish acronym for Nicaragua's Ministerio de Salud or Ministry of Health--J.T.) and the Regional Council Health Commission, who earlier this week sent Porcela Sandino to control the illness, which is spreading throughout the communities of Waspam and Rio Coco."

Victims of the strange illness have reported vomiting live spiders, extracting strange objects from bodily orifices and experiencing sudden expansion and contraction of the abdomen.

"'We are alarmed by the increases in the cases of Grisi Siknis, which had only affected Miskitos (another indigenous people--J.T.) and now the Sumus. We believe the central, regional and municipal authorities should decree an alert in the presence of this epidemic,' said Juan Gonzalez Enrique, president of the Regional Council Health Commission."

"The illness had only affected Miskitos 'and the fact that it is now appearing among the Sumus is very troubling,' said Gonzalez."

"According to the MINSA report, 32 people afflicted with Grisi Siknis were reported before January 16, 2004. The outbreak can only be countered by persons who practice traditional medicine."

"'Porcela Sandino is the best sukia (medicine woman, equivalent to a bruja in Mexico or a jossekeed among the USA's Anishinabe indigenous people--J.T.) we have, and we've sent her on an emergency call.'"

"According to early reports from the Regional Council Health Commission, the symptoms at Santo Tomas de Umbra are the very same which afflicted the Miskitos at Raiti."

"Moreover, MINSA authorities in the region stated that an increase of up to 60 cases was reported in the community of Namahka. 'For this reason, Porcela Sandino will relocate to that community after controlling the situation in Santo Tomas de Umbra,' said the comission's secretary."

"Meanwhile, Jose Osorno, mayor of Waspam, is taking all due precautions and is in constant communication with the authorities of Rio Coco through shortwave radio."

"The authorities fear that the health problem will affect all of the different ethnic groups, for which reason they shall request the aid of the central government." (See the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa for January 23, 2004, "Grisi Siknis affects Sumu community." Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales y Gloria Coluchi para esto articulo de diario.)

MYSTERIOUS BOOM CAUSES STIR IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

"A minor earthquake rattled southern New Hampshire yesterday (Wednesday, January 21, 2004), prompting dozens of calls to police from residents concerned about everything from explosions at their homes to terrorists."

"'There was a major shaking and a loud, loud boom,' said Patricia Finnerty, secretary at the Hopkinton, New Hampshire Police Department, who answered many of the phone calls. 'We haven't heard of any damage. Just scared a lot of people.'"

"The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake at 12:11 p.m. was a magnitude of 2.2" on the Richter scale, "centered west of Concord," the state capital, "in the Henniker-Hopkinton area."

Henniker and Hopkinton, straddling Drew Lake, are on Route 202, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Concord. (See the Providence, R.I. Journal for January 21, 2004, "Minor quake rocks southern New Hampshire," page 3. Many thanks to Mary Lou Jones-Drown for this newspaper article.)

(Editor's Comment: Is it my imagination, or are these small earthquakes occurring more and more often in New England? I keep remembering what psychic Gordon Michael Scallion said about the region. Namely, that "Earth Changes" will turn all the real estate east of the Connecticut River into Atlantic Ocean seabed.)

ICE METEOR DESTROYS NEW ZEALAND ROOF

"It came from the sky--a block of ice the size of a rugby ball with enough force to smash through Jan Robertson's roof last night (Wednesday, January 21, 2004)."

"Plummeting at an estimated 450 kilometers (270 miles) per hour, it penetrated the concrete tile roof, the ceiling, gib and a light socket before landing on the kitchen bench."

"'There was a terrific bang like goodness knows what,' she told the Herald, 'I could have been in there cutting up vegetables.'"

"It was just before 5 p.m. and Mrs. Robertson, 80, was cleaning a bedroom in her Meadowbank house while her 83-year-old husband Bruce was outside pulling weeds, both just metres from where the ice block hit."

(Editor's Note: Meadowbank is a suburb just east of Auckland.)

"They each ran to check that the other was okay and found the ice on the bench."

"'It was like all hell broke loose,' Mr. Robertson said."

"The couple dialed 111." (Equivalent to 911 in the USA--J.T.)

"Fireman John Sweeney said they were sceptical 'until we saw it for ourselves.'"

"Mr. Sweeney estimated that the block weighed between 3 and 5 kilograms. Firefighters first thought it might have fallen from an aircraft or was a climactic phenomenon."

"He said the block must have come from high up and was 'bloody travelling' because it crashed through the roof as clean as a knife."

"It is not the first time that the neighbourhood has been hit. The Robertsons' neighbour, Pat Theobald, said ice fell on his home last week 'and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.'"

(Editor's Comment: Even more curious, January is the middle of the summer in New Zealand and other countries of Earth's southern hemisphere. It's hardly the season for ice.)

"Mrs. Robertson said she believed it fell from an aircraft. 'Where else could it have come from?'"

"The east Auckland couple say they often hear aircraft overhead."

"NIWA climate scientist Jim Salinger said it was very unlikely to be a natural formation because of its size and the look of others around it. 'It sounds like an aircraft got some icing on it from the moisture in the air. It de-iced as it descended and the block dropped off.'"

"Auckland University physics lecturer David Krofcheck said a 5 kilogram block falling from a plane at 350 metres (1,155 feet) will reach the speed of 400 kilometers (250 miles) per hour."

"'It couldn't have had much friction, so there would have been plenty of energy to punch a hole through the roof. The people were very fortunate not to be underneath the ice, as they could have easily been killed."

"A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said it would investigate if it received a complaint." (See the New Zealand Herald for January 22, 2004, "Block of ice falls from sky, smashes through roof." Many thanks to Kirsty MacGregor for this newspaper article.)

PHANTOM PANTHERS PROWL AGAIN IN UK

On Thursday, January 15, 2004, the female witness reported, she was at Bishops Frome, Worcestershire when she spotted "a very large panther-type cat."

"I had just got home from work and went out to get my horse in at approximately 7:10 p.m. I had turned on the stall lights and the outside field floodlight and walked across the garden to the stall block."

"Just as I was about to enter the hay store, this large black cat leapt in front of me and fled out the field into the darkness. It was huge! Slightly bigger than an Alsatian dog, jet black. Its body was about 3 feet (0.9 meters) in length, and it had a very long feline tail--again probably 3 feet in length."

"As it was windy and raining, I think the cat was seeking shelter in my hay store and must have been fast asleep, especially for it to still to be in there after I had turned on the lights. It is strange because the local farmer had told me he had seen a large black cat in the area whilst he was out ploughing a few months ago."

In Scotland, "a runner yesterday (Thursday, January 15, 2004) claimed a big cat scared him so much he won a foot race."

"Iain Taylor crossed the line 18 seconds ahead of his nearest rival."

"But yesterday he said he had seen a black panther which has been spotted before in Blairadam Forest, near Kelty, Fife."

"The big cat has been dubbed 'the Beast of Blairadam.'"

"Iain, who is secretary of the Carnegie Harriers, said: 'A cat ran out from the south side of the forest, right across the track. I would say it was about 2 feet (0.67 meters) high, 3 feet (0.9 meters) long, and was black. The following day, there were what looked like cat prints in the snow.'"

"'A couple of guys in the club had said they heard a cat out there, but I'd always thought it was a load of rubbish.'"

"'I've never believed in the Beast of Blairadam, but there is a big cat there. It's probably the reason I won the race.'"

"Scottish Big Cat Trust researcher George Redpath said: 'There have been a lot of sightings in the area. I wouldn't dispute the runner's sighting at all. It's probably a black panther.'" (See the Daily Record of Glasgow for January 16, 2004, "Panther made me run faster." Many thanks to Robert Fischer, UFO Roundup's phantom panther expert, for these news stories.)

IS IRAN CLOSE TO TESTING A WORKABLE ICBM?

"On Monday, January 5, 2004, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Shamkhani said that Iran is going to launch its own satellite using a launcher fully produced at the country's military factories."

"Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) can be used as rockets for launching space satellites. Examples include the Russian long-range ballistic missiles, especially the SS-18, many of which have been launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan."

"When Iran's military claims they have 'enough armaments' for 'an adequate response,' this may not be just an idle threat."

"I am not saying that Iran possesses space rockets similar to the Dnepr-1, converted from existing ICBMs like the SS-18. But if they have, then they may pose a serious threat" to the USA. (Many thanks to Der Voron for this news report.)

DUBYA VISITS ROSWELL, JOKES ABOUT ALIENS

President George W. Bush visited Roswell, New Mexico last week "but did not leave without plainly acknowledging what the small southeastern New Mexico city is best known for--it's the site of an alleged (July) 1947 UFO crash and as a draw for conspiracy theories about extraterrestrials."

"'I understand that you have reports that rumor of an unfamiliar aircraft,' he said to laughter from residents who have freely adorned their town with images of green aliens."

"'Don't worry--it was just me.'" (See the El Paso, Texas Times for January 22, 2004, "Bush visits Roswell, cites unfamiliar aircraft." Many thanks to Loren Coleman for this news story.)

FEBRUARY 2: ZAWAHIRI'S DAY OF DESTINY?

Four weeks ago, the Italian newspaper Il Giornale of Milano reported that the terrorist group Al-Qaeda was planning an attack on New York City, using a weapon of mass destruction. The supposed date of the attack was to be Monday, February 2, 2004.

Since then, little has been heard about Al-Qaeda's possible intentions. UFO Roundup editor Joseph Trainor did more research into the alleged date and found out something intriguing.

"Since the Number Two man in Al-Qaeda, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri is from Cairo and the nephew of a former Grand Mufti, I figured that he had more than a passing familiarity with the ancient Egyptian mysteries," Trainor said, "Since astrology is such a big part of the mysteries--indeed, the Egyptian new year dated from the rise of the star Sirius above the horizon--I wondered if there might be some astrological significance in the date February 2, 2004."

"Sure enough, there is!"

According to the February 2004 issue of Astronomy magazine, there will be a conjunction on February 2. The moon and the planet Saturn will come within 5 degrees of each other in the constellation Gemini.

"I'm no astrologer, so I don't know what this means--if anything," Trainor added, "I have heard that Saturn is considered an evil influence in astrology."

"Also, the very first horoscope ever cast for the USA was prepared by a prominent English Freemason named Ebenezer Sibley and was published in his 1784 book on the occult. Sibley identified Gemini as one of the ruling influences over the USA."

"In his article The Twin Towers and the Great Masonic Experiment, Richard Hoagland makes a convincing case that Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 because the twin towers were kind of a Masonic symbol. Dr. Zawahiri might have it in for Masonry because, as an Egyptian initiate, he considers the Masons heretics."

"That's why I think the next target will be the other prominent Masonic symbol in New York City--the Statue of Liberty."

"In his article, Hoagland writes, 'In the mythology of the Freemasons/Templars, one of the core legends is that of Jachin and Boaz...the 'Twin Pillars' of Atlantis. All Masonic lodges have these two pillars at some location in their architecture. In the earliest Lodges, they were said to represent far more ancient pillars, supposedly erected by 'the children of Lamech.'"

"'On those ancient pillars--one of brick, one of stone--were said to be engraved all the then known sciences to preserve them from destruction 'by fire or inundation' As such, they symbolized the esoteric importance of the builder's (mason's--R.H.) art, to be guarded and preserved by future faithful craftsmen.'"

"'Simply put, according to Masonic legend, 'the children of Lamech' were the inhabitants of Atlantis. This information, passed down from that prior highly advanced civilization, is supposed to form the basis of the Masonic secrets 'from ancient times.'"

Al-Qaeda might have interpreted the conjunction of Moon and Saturn in Gemini as a favorable time to attack the USA.

"Of course, it's difficult to second-guess an initiate like Dr. Zawahiri," Trainor added, "Sort of like Little Leaguers challenging the New York Yankees. But if Al-Qaeda is zeroing in on Masonic targets, the Statue of Liberty is extremely vulnerable."

"I tried to look for another Fortean lexilink that might have to do with Brooklyn," he continued, "And I came up with one possible--Lafayette Avenue. The Marquis de Lafayette was one of the USA's founders. He was also a world-famous Mason. And, as Fortean researcher Bill Grimstad has pointed out, strange things often happen in places named 'Lafayette' or 'Fayette' here in the USA."

"Most ominously, Lafayette Avenue is close enough to both the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge for a 'suitcase nuke' to do significant damage."

"Now, it could be that Al-Qaeda was just rattling our cage last month, and that nothing will happen on February 2," Trainor said, "For myself, I'm hoping that February 2 will be the biggest fizzle since Y2K and the Comet Kohoutek." (See The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital by David Ovason, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, N.Y., Perennial Books edition, 2002, pages 93, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147,167, 202, 271, 272, 276, 301, 360, 373, and 384. Also Paranoia magazine for Spring 2002, "The Twin Towers and the Great Masonic Experiment" by Richard Hoagland, pages 55 through 58.)

From the UFO Files...

1963: A STRANGE FIND AT THE BOOKSTORE

After Conan the Barbarian, the most popular character in the "Sword and Sorcery" genre is Thongor, the giant Valkarthan warrior of ancient Lemuria.

Indeed, Thongor's origin is probably as strange as anything conjured up by the Black Wizards of Zaar.

The story actually begins in the summer of 1939, at a small-town public library in the USA's state of Georgia. Just starting his summer vacation, nine-year-old Linwood Vrooman Carter wanders into the children's section and sees a shelf full of new books. One title in particular catches his eye.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

It is quite literally the book that will change Lin Carter's life.

Flash forward to January 1963. Lin is now 33 years old, about ten years out of the Army and working for an insurance company in New York City. In the past couple of decades, he has devoured everything Burroughs ever wrote and is a great fan of fantasy writers Abraham Merritt and Robert E. Howard. Like every sci-fi or fantasy fan that ever lived, he wants to become a writer.

But let's let Lin tell the story himself.

"When I first conceived of writing a Sword and Sorcery novel, I originally considered laying the scene in Atlantis. This notion I discarded for the simple reason that there have been a considerable number of novels about ancient Atlantis--but to my knowledge not one single novel laid in ancient Lemuria, which I finally decided to take as my province."

"I explored the occult literature to see if there was anything there I could use in the way of background data, but I found nothing that seemed suited to my purpose."

"It was a book by W. Scott-Elliott, The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria, that led me to Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical movement of the late Nineteenth Century and to her enormous and fascinating thousand-page work of occult lore, The Secret Doctrine."

(Editor's Note: Scott-Elliott's 1925 book also influenced Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937), most notably in his stories Dagon and The Call of Cthulu.)

"According to Madame Blavatsky, the human race originated in the lost continent of Lemuria, which existed in the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean before Atlantis. She was full of Lemurian lore and constantly referred back to the Puranas, which are believed actually to predate as oral tradition the settling of the Aryan race in the Indian subcontinent, and to have originated while the Aryan peoples were still a wandering nomadic tribe."

"According to the occult authorities, where the Puranas discuss a Sveta-Dwipa (the Sacred Land or White Island--L.C.), they are talking about that lost continent or group of islands we know as Atlantis, fragments of whose lost histories were preserved in Diodorus Siculus and Aelian (quoting the historian Theopompus--L.C.), and, of course, in the two famous dialogues of Plato, the Timaeus and the Critias. And where they mention the Hiranya-Dwipa (the Golden Land--L.C.) they are recording some of the lore of that mythic continent we know as Lemuria or Mu."

Reading Madame Blavatsky, who "constantly referred back to the Puranas ... reminded me that I had Hollister's book on my shelves, among my scanty collection of Asian literatures."

Lin had picked up this strange little book while browsing in a bookstore in New York City in 1963. It was a very rare English translation of the Upa-Puranas.

Lin explained that the Puranas "deal with cosmogony, stories of the gods, the sages and the heroes, the ancient mythic histories of the Aryan peoples, and of the wars and kingdoms supposed to have existed before formal history began. The first of these is called the Maha-Puranas, and they are essentially religious or philosophical in nature...But there exist as well a subordinate, and more ancient group, called the Upa-Puranas (Lesser Puranas--J.T.), which are historical and legendary in subject, and almost completely unknown and utterly neglected by western scholars (that mighty repository of human knowledge, the 1959 Encyclopedia Brittanica devotes--would you believe, just one single sentence to the Upa-Puranas?--L.C.)."

"So far as I have been able to discover, the complete Upa-Puranas have only been translated into English once, in a little-known edition published in 1896 in Bombay (now Mumbai--J.T.), presumably a limited private-press edition, so far as I can tell, from the scanty data in my copy. The translation (into English rhymed couplets--L.C.) is by an Anglican clergyman, the Rev. W. Clinton Hollister, who may have been a missionary."

"I have been able to find out nothing about him or his academic and scholarly qualifications, but I count myself fortunate to have picked this rare volume out of a bin of miscellaneous second-hand books in New York in 1963."

"I have never seen another copy."

Reading Hollister's book, Lin became enchanted with the tale of Mahathongoyha, "a wandering hero of mysterious and probably divine origin. He encounters a great Rishi (sage, saint or wizard, take your pick--L.C.) named Shahrajsha; together, summoned by Vishnu, they wage a sacred war or quest against the Nagarajahs, the Kings of the Serpent People (There's them Reptoids again!--J.T.), whom they destroy with a magic sword given to them by the (Hindu) god Indra. There is also a subplot. Mahathongoyha (Thongoyha the Great--L.C.) rescues the Maharani (Queen) Soomaia from a band of wicked fire-worshippingpriests who have usurped her city of Patangha."

So Lin began spending his nights and weekends at the typewriter. He "digested most of those long Sanskrit names into briefer, more easily remembered forms. I presume few save for the occasional Oriental purist among my readers would object too strongly if I cut down Karamkaravaryu into 'Karm Karvus' or Palitahooridya into 'Phal Thurid.'"

Finishing the book in 1964, Lin mailed a carbon copy of the rough draft to science fiction author Lyon Sprague de Camp. Sprague read the book, made several suggestions as to how to strengthen it, and returned it to Lin with a detailed critique. Like all authors, Lin did a lot of rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and more rewriting before crossing his fingers and sending it off to the publishers.

Lin had written five unsold fantasy novels before this. But he hit a home run with Number Six, entitled Thongor of Lemuria. It hit the newstands in 1965 and, in addition to launching Lin's career as an author, it helped to spark the Sword and Sorcery revival of the 1960s.

And all because of an obscure little book that Lin Carter had picked out of the bargain bin at a New York City used bookstore in January 1963.

Lin himself once mused about the strangeness of his find. "Wouldn't it be an amusing and ironic trick of fate if I had actually restored what was originally the genuine history of a genuine lost Lemurian civilization into a close retelling of the way things had actually happened! It would be one of the most classic ironies of all time, if in merely attempting to write an entertaining series of fantastic adventure stories, I had uncovered and restored a true lost chapter of Man's past, without ever knowing it."

"However, it is most unlikely. Let me add here that I am neither an occultist (Theosophist or any other variety--L.C.) nor an Oriental scholar. I do not know whether there ever was an actual Lemuria or not. I doubt it."

"(Still...wouldn't it be funny, if I had accidentally hit on the truth...--L.C.)" (See the book Thongor At the End of Time by Lin Carter, Paperback Library Inc., New York, N.Y., 1968, pages 150 to 158.)

Well, that's it for this week. Join us next time for more UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth, brought to you by "the paper that goes home--UFO Roundup." See you in seven days.

UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 2004 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their Web sites 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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