UFO ROUNDUP

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Volume 9
Number 34
August 25, 2004

Editor: Joseph Trainor

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MARINE JETS IN BATTLE WITH OREGON SAUCER?

"Two California Marine reservists died Wednesday," July 21, 2004, "after two F/A-18 jet fighters collided over the Columbia River near Arlington, Oregon during a training exercise."

"The fiery crash scattered debris up to 30 miles (48 kilometers) away. One pilot parachuted to safety, but the other two Marines' bodies were recovered after their bodies fell into the river."

"The explosion at about 2:30 p.m. was visible more than 40 miles (64 kilometers) away. A driver on Interstate (Highway) 84 near Echo saw a bright flash in the sky, followed by a trail of smoke."

"The shock wave from the collision felt like 'a big boom of rolling thunder,' said Don Adams, a fuel island attendant at the Anderson Chevron."

"The explosion shook the gas (petrol in UK--J.T.) station's canopy, and Adams went out and saw one jet, with the rear half engulfed flames falling toward the west of the small community of about 500."

"Inside, cashier James Baker heard the explosion and saw part of the fuselage falling from the sky, as well as what looked like half an aircraft falling to the east."

"The jets were based at Miramar Naval Air Station near San Diego," California, "and had flown out of Portland (Oregon) earlier in the day, said Nancy Corey, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson."

"The pilots, two of seven visiting from California, were part of an annual two-week training experience with the Portland-based (Oregon) Air National Guard 142nd Fighter Wing, said spokeswoman Capt. Misti Mazzia."

"'We bring units that are different from us and fly and fight against them to keep our skills polished,' she said. Last year (2003), the 142nd Fighter Wing visited Miramar Naval Air Station on a military training exercise, Capt. Mazzia said."

"An Oregon Air National Guard spokesman told the Associated Press that the planes were on a low-altitude training exercise. One of the dead men was a pilot, and the other was either a pilot or a weapons operator, military spokesmen said."

"Marine spokesman Capt. Dan McSweeney in Quantico, Virginia said the incident was being investigated but did not release the names of the dead men because their families had not yet been told of their deaths."

"The survivor, tentatively identified as Major Craig Bardon, was taken to the Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Oregon after he parachuted to land on a hill to the west of Arlington."

"Jack West was setting out his (lawn) sprinklers when he heard the explosion and was one of the first people to reach the survivor at his landing site."

"The survivor did not know exactly what had happened, West said. 'He didn't know if his plane just blew up, or if his wingman hit him,' West said."

"The survivor was released from the Mid-Columbia Medical Center late Wednesday night," July 21, 2004, "nursing staff reported. His condition was not disclosed."

"Jeremy Takala was setting out nets to catch salmon with his uncle, Andrew David, and grandfather, Jim Bronsco Sr., all of Goldendale (Washington state), when he heard a loud explosion. He assumed it came from a nearby landfill" across the river in Washington state.

"After a second explosion, he looked up and saw the fireball above. They dropped everything and headed up the river while debris rained all around them, he said."

"From about half a mile up the river, they could see two figures parachuting down, David said. One landed in the middle of the river, and the three went to help pull him out. By the time their boat reached the man, he had started to sink into the river, Takala said."

"They pulled the man, whose clothes smelled of jet fuel, out by the parachute, but he was already dead, Takala said."

"Gary Bettencourt, Gilliam County undersheriff, said he was surprised that nobody got hit by falling debris."

"Gary Grossmiller, owner of the Happy Canyon Pizza Parlor, went out when he saw people pointing at the sky outside his shop and saw the parachutes. About a half hour after the crash, a foot-long (30-centimeter) piece of what appeared to be carbon fiber, smelling of jet fuel, landed on his back porch steps."

(Editor's Comment: Now, this is weird! Thirty minutes after the reported mid-air collision, this mysterious carbon fiber cylinder falls out of the sky and lands on Mr. Grossmiller's back steps. What is this thing, anyway? An alien photon torpedo depleted of all its on-board energy?)

"Joey Evens, 14, of Arlington, was swimming with three friends at the swimming area at Earl Snell Memorial Park when the crash happened, and the lifeguard ordered them out of the water. While Joey was swimming, he said a piece of metal fell from the sky and landed" in the river "about 15 feet (4.5 meters) in front of him."

"A military investigative team was expected to arrive late Wednesday, and state and local authorities are searching for debris from the crash, said Georges Kleinbaum, (Oregon) Office of Emergency Management state search and rescue coordinator."

The following day, Thursday, July 22, 2004, the National UFO Reporting Center received a report of a UFO in the region. The female eyewitness reported, "Around 11:10 p.m., on July 22, my husband and I were out studying satellites on our front lawn" in Portland, Ore. "As I looked to my right, I exclaimed, 'Oh, look! That is the lowest, biggest and brightest satellite we have seen.' Right at that moment, the object darted off at a right angle and, within eight seconds, dimmed and was gone...disappeared out of sight. The object was round in shape and lit up all around and had spike-type legs (approximately 5 or 6 of them) extending from the center of the object. It was not like any of the other satellites we had seen that evening, and none of them shot off within eight seconds and disappeared."

Commenting on the incident, UFO Roundup editor Joseph Trainor said, "For years people have heard Air Force latrine rumors about the 'designated hitter.'
On every military air patrol, at least one jet flies fully armed. This jet 'rides shotgun' on the flight and, if the flight encounters a UFO, this particular pilot automatically switches to combat flight rules and attacks the object."

"This may be what happened in Arlington. Look at the evidence that contradicts the 'collision' story. The survivor said he doesn't know what happened. Witnesses on the ground reported two explosions. And that strange carbon-fiber whuttizzit fell out of the sky thirty minutes after people saw the aerial fireball. All in all, this is one very strange airborne 'collision.'" (See the Tri-City Herald for July 22, 2004, "Two killed in fighter jet collision in Gorge." Many thanks to Daniel Wilson for this newspaper article.)

(Editor's Comment: No doubt about it. The Columbia River region has been a real UFO hotspot during the past few weeks. Check out the next news story.)

UFO ACTIVITY RISES IN WAKE OF NUCLEAR PLANT INCIDENT

"Washington state's only commercial nuclear reactor" in Richland, Wash. "remained out of service while technicians tried to determine why an automatic shutdown system failed to work properly yesterday," Friday, July 30, 2004.

"State emergency officials said there was no release of radiation and no danger to the public. It was not immediately known when the Columbia Generating Station reactor would be restarted."

"The failure triggered an alert in which state agencies prepared to respond if needed to help Benton and Franklin counties near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation."

"But Brad Peck, a spokesman for the reactor's operator, Energy Northwest, said the reactor was started and and the alert was cancelled at 11:57 a.m., just two hours after it was declared."

"The reactor, which produces power for the Northwest's electrical grid, will remain out of service until the owners determine what caused the problem, he said."

"Energy Northwest spokeswoman Heather McMurdo said lights on a control panel showed that two of the 185 control rods did not fully insert into the reactor during the shutdown."

"The rods, which control the reactor's operation, were inserted manually at about 10 a.m., she said."

"Backup systems operated correctly, and the alert could have been canceled when the control rods were manually inserted, but plant operators wanted to err on the side of caution, McMurdo said."

"'It was conservative for us to have remained in an alert status,' she said."

"Bob Harper, a spokesman of the (Washington) state Emergency Operations Center, said that although there was no threat to the public, the center, at the (Washington) National Guard's Camp Murray, was activated, as called for under the plant's emergency plan."

"The state Department of Health dispatched a field team to take air samples and soil readings as a precaution, he said."

"State authorities originally said that the shutdown occurred during a test, but Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials later said it occurred during normal operations."

"NRC spokesman Ken Clark in Atlanta (Georgia) said the reactor automatically shut down after a light-positive indicator" activated at about 9:25 a.m. "It was then that the equipment indicated that some control rods were not fully extended, he said."

"Columbia Generating Station is a boiling-water reactor that produces up to 1,500 megawatts of elecricity, which is sold to the Bonneville Power Administration. Formerly known as the Washington Public Power Supply System No. 2, it is the only one of five reactors started in the late 1970s to be completed before construction was halted in 1983."

Right after the nuclear plant emergency shutdown, there was a sharp increase in UFO sightings in Trout Lake, Wash. Ranch owner and ufologist James C. Gilliland reported, "We have had almost a week of constant (UFO) activity, with as many as 13 eyewitnesses at a time. Several shapes came in very low and exploded into brilliant light. Some side-skipped back and forth, changing speeds, exhibiting behavior unlike any conventional craft."

"There was a triangle on (Friday) August 6 (2004) around 10:30 p.m., which swooped down, ducked and turned around like a ghost ship. It was a bit longer than my hand. Two out of 12 (guests) saw it. It happened very quickly."

"On (Sunday) August 8 (2004), at 9:50 p.m., a ship came in from southeast (over the Hanford reservation--J.T.). It burst into a brilliant golden light, dimming to orange and then white. It continued northwest and then repeated the signal. Yet this time it was a brilliant white like a welder's arc. Three witnesses were present."
(See the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for July 31, 2004, "Hanford reactor shut down after alert." Many thanks to Daniel Wilson and James C. Gilliland for this newspaper article.)

NIGHT SAUCER SPOTTED IN SOMERSET, UK

On Saturday, August 14, 2004, at 9:30 p.m., David C. was outdoors in Piddlington, Somerset, UK when he saw something strange in the night sky.

"There was an oval-shaped disk with white lights that was moving very fast," David reported, "There was another shape with all different coloured lights coming from the south. This object was spinning round. It lasted for approximately five minutes, then it disappeared."

"Then another two disks with white lights appeared."

David described the objects as "grey and black oval disks with white lights around the outside which kept spinning. The other shape was blue, red, green and yellow. They were 2,000 feet (600 meters) up, and their speed was amazingly quick." (Email Form Report)

LAKE MONSTER CAUGHT ON FILM IN NORWAY

"Swedish monster-hunter Jan-Ove Sundberg believes he may have crowned several years of searching for Norway's legendary serpent in Lake Seljord by catching the beast on film, the newspaper Varder reports."

"Sundberg is studying a 20-second (film) clip before releasing it publicly."

"The Swede got the exciting footage on the final day of this year's expedition to the lake in Telemark, Norway. At first, Sundberg thought he saw a buoy in the water but was surprised when he focused more closely on the object."

"'I have either filmed a gnarled head or the upper part of a hump, complete with serrations,' Sundberg told the newspaper Varder."

"'The others didn't get the chance to see what I saw because suddenly it was gone. It couldn't have been a buoy. Ducks can dive but they come back up. This didn't, so I don't understand what it could have been except a sea serpent,' Sundberg said."

"Sundberg has interviewed locals to get an impression of what they believe the lake serpent, affectionately known as Selma, is supposed to look like. Sundberg also filmed rocks, branches and other objects in the water in order to identify possible misidentifications."

"The expedition leader said he saw something 30 to 40 centimeters (12 to 16 inches) long, black with a possible tinge of red and white. Sundberg made a similar sighting four years ago and chose not to publish the film due to its poor quality. Now the two (film) recordings will be compared."

"Sundberg is already planning his return trip to Lake Seljord next summer. The Swede's project regularly attracts attention and often controversy." (See the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten for August 16, 2004, "Seljord serpent filmed?" Many thanks to Robert Fischer for this newspaper article.)

CHUPACABRA'S "COUSIN" HAS SCIENTISTS BAFFLED IN CHILE

"Specialists from the Museum of Natural History" in Valparaiso, a seaport city in Chile, "are subjecting a carcass found in Cerro Cordillera to a battery of tests."

"The situation came about a few days ago (Monday, August 2, 2004) at the house of Manuel Otazo, who found the corpse of a strange animal inside the doghouse belonging to one of his animals."

"'We perceived the foul smell and thought at first that someone had thrown away fish by-products. But then we saw that our pet (dog) was frightened and didn't want to go into his doghouse. Upon inspecting it, we came across the monster,' said Sonia Valdivia, the tearful homeowner."

"Manuel Otazo explained that the animal had a small head and red fur, with large fangs, claws and hands resembling wings, different from any rodent or known domestic animal."

"Otazo said, 'At night we could hear noise on the rooftop, and hens and rabbits died recently at a neighbor's house. We think it could be the Chupacabra or one of his relatives that was wounded and came to die in our pet's doghouse.'"

"After burying it, the owners subsequently contacted the Museum of Natural History in Valparaiso, who transferred the specimen to their facility."

"The animal is submerged in a special brine. Fernando Soto, professor of biology, reported that the carcass--in an advanced state of putrefaction--will be submitted to a treatment based on choleopterids that devour flesh to recover the skeleton. The bones will be compared to the anatomies of known specimens."
"Despite the a priori examination performed on the animal, Dr. Soto noted that, while it could be a dog or cat, he was surprised by some strange features, such as the absence of incisors, the size of its extremities, and the color of its fur."

"The Museum of Natural History says that it isn't so unusual to run into strange specimens in the area. Only a few months ago, they received the carcass of a pig with three eyes."

"'The owners, who were from Cerro Baran, decapitated it at once,'" Dr. Soto said, "'Because they thought it was a thing of the Devil rather than a genetic aberration.'" (See the Chilean newspaper La Estrella de Valparaiso for August 5, 2004, "Chupacabra's 'cousin' found in Valparaiso." Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales y Liliana Nunez para esto articulo de diario.)

SUNKEN LIBERTY SHIP THREATENS UK PORT

"Unstable fuses could cause unsalvaged World War II bombs aboard an abandoned shipwreck in the river Thames to blow, reveal investigations by New Scientist."

"For 60 years, the people of Sheerness in Kent, UK have been living next door to a 1,400-tonne time bomb. A lethal mixture of unstable Second World War bombs in the rusting wreck of the Richard Montgomery, a U.S. cargo ship that lies half-abandoned on a sandbank in the Thames, only 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Kentish town."

"If the wreck explodes, it will be one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions ever. The cargo contains a mixture of fused and unfused bombs that were destined to support the Allied push in France following the D-Day landings" June 6, 1944.

"For the first time, a New Scientist investigation has established that U.S. government explosives experts believe that some of the fuses are unstable. Even a small shock could cause one of them to detonate, setting off part or all of the (munitions) cargo."

"The investigation has received official estimates of the devastation that the explosion would cause, including predictions of a 3-kilometer (2-mile) high column of water, mud, metal and munitions sent into the air by the blast."

"Four years ago (2000), the government asked independent contractors to carry out a risk assessment of the wreck. The consultants said that the safest course of action would be to remove the wreck's deadly cargo."

"In 2001, the government held a meeting in Southampton (UK) to discuss what should be done about the wreck. But, three years later, the risk assessment remains unpublished, and the Richard Montgomery remains on its sandbank, slowly rusting." (See The New Scientist for August 20, 2004, "Doomsday wreck in Thames could blow." Many thanks to Mary Lou Jones-Drown for this article.)

(Editor's Comment: So for 60 years this Liberty ship has been mired on that sandbank, loaded with enough TNT to blow a big hole in Kentish countryside, and nobody's done anything about it. Nobody's going to do anything, either. Until the day Al-Qaeda goes speeding by in a stolen motorboat and rolls a few depth charges off the stern.)

MISSING GLIDER MYSTERY IN CHESHIRE, UK

"Mystery surrounds the sighting of a small aircraft in darkness over the Delamere Forest last Tuesday night," August 10, 2004.

"Police launched a full-scale search operation after four different witnesses reported seeing a microlight (ultralight in the USA--J.T.) or glider lose control and fall into an area of dense forest known as Thieves Moss."

"They even employed a group of archers, including Mike Williams from Northwich, who 'know the forest like the back of their hand' to help out."

"But to date, no evidence of the craft or pilot has been found. Police decided to reduce the search on Wednesday afternoon," August 11, 2004, "in favor of other leads, including circulating information to police forces around the country (UK)."

"A police spokesman said, 'We are appealing to anyone who knows anyone who flies a glider or microlight, who has not been in contact since Tuesday evening, to get in contact with us.'"

"The search of Delamere Forest began after the first reported sighting at 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday night, with sniffing dogs and handlers from the Mid-Wales Search and Rescue Dogs Association receiving overhead support from the Mid-Wales Police helicopter."

"They continued until 4 a.m. when deteriorating weather conditions in the forest made it impossible to conduct a meaningful search."

"The land-search was resumed early on Wednesday by members of Cheshire police's search and rescue team, along with an unconventional rescue service."

"Foggy, wet weather prevented the police spotter plane from circling the forest, so Cheshire police search director Sgt. Martin Baker called on the South Cheshire Field Archers."

"The archers were chosen for their detailed knowledge of Thieves Moss, the 40 acres of dense forest where the aircraft was spotted and which the archers lease from the Forestry Commission."

"Club secretary Dave Wheeler also spoke of how he came to spend Wednesday morning trekking the forest in his suited clothes, ankle-deep in bog and chest-high in nettles."

"'I got to the office that morning and had a message from Sgt. Baker asking could we assist the search, so I phoned two other members and headed down to Delamere, still in my office clothes.'"

"'We split the forest into thirds and did a thorough search. We are happy to help because--who knows?--it might have been one of us on the receiving end.'"

"Dave said the search was made more difficult by the terrain than the size of the forest, which is not reachable by public roads."

"'Knowing the place well, we could move through it quite quickly, but there are sink holes, ditches and other hazards that make it hard work.'"

"Dave said his main worry is that Thieves Moss contains two deep gravel pits that have filled with water."

"'I have a terrible feeling that the pilot may have seen them through the fog as nice, flat surfaces and landed on them. It doesn't bear thinking about.'"

"Police liased with Cheshire divers, but they were not required, and a search plane flew over the area at the weekend. It found no fuselage."

"He added that police had dismissed a report from a man who runs a paranormal website about the possibility that what had been seen above the forest was a UFO." (See the Chester Chronicle for August 18, 2004, "Vanished in thin air." Many thanks to Robert Fischer for this newspaper article.)

MYSTERY AIR PATROLS STARTLE PASADENA

"Jet engines command respect. And Friday," August 13, 2004, "over the San Gabriel valley" in southern California, "they did."

"Residents reported rumbling sounds while others complained of the noise of at least two fighter jets (which) would show up between midnight and about 8 a.m."

"The soaring twin-winged F-15 Eagle and F-16 Falcon surprised others who happened to catch a glimpse of the planes flown by members of Colorado-based NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, composed of special military personnel from the United States and Canada."

"'It was not an annoying buzz of an aircraft, it is the sound of freedom,' said Canadian Army Major Douglas Martin, a NORAD spokesman, 'It's a vital part of the defense of our country.'"

"NORAD, established in 1958 to combat aerospace threats from outside of the United States and Canada, now includes domestic airspace as of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the (USA's) East Coast."

"Martin was coy when asked if President George W. Bush's visit to the Southland (slang for southern California--J.T.) Thursday and Friday (August 12 and August 13, 2004) prompted the flybys. He also refused to confirm when the patrols started, when they would end, when the jets were last in the area and when they would return."

"Representatives from several military bases, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, local law enforcement and government officials offered no explanation for the jets."

"Yet residents from Arcadia, Azusa, Duarte, Monrovia, El Monte and as far west as Glendale know what they heard."

"'I was in my kitchen when I heard the roar. It was a wild roar at first, but then it got very, very loud and went on for a long time,' said Duarte resident Mickey Dudek, 57. 'I couldn't see, but I could hear it passing overhead. I half-expected a crash. I thought, Is this another terrorist attack!?"

"Dudek said the noise upset her dogs and sent them running around the pool."

"Don Walker, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), would not comment on the fighter jets but confirmed a temporary flight restriction was set up during Bush's visit. El Monte airport officials said the temporary flight restriction lasted from 11 a.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday." (Editor's Note: These flight restrictions are standard procedure whenever the president comes to visit. Airport security screeners refer to them as "ground stops.")

"'It's standard procedure,' said assistant manager Carl Hoten, 'It's general information for pilots so they can avoid temporary flight restriction areas.'"

"Pasadena resident Bill Bibbiani, a former Marine, was in his backyard when he saw the planes flying from east to west at medium altitude."

"Bibbiani, a member of the Pasadena Unified School District board, heard the jets as late as 2 p.m. Friday. He said he recognized the fighter jets as (Navy) F-18 Hornets because of their unique twin tails."

"But, it turns out, the F-15 (Eagle) has a similar tail."

"'I never saw more than one at a time,' he said."

"Bibbiani, 63, first thought the aircraft were part of a ceremonial flyover at the Rose Bowl and Dodger Stadium, but when they kept going back and forth, over and over, he figured he was wrong. 'I wasn't alarmed, just curious,' he said."

Pasadena (population 133,936) is on Interstate Highway I-210 about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north-northeast of Los Angeles City Hall. (See the Pasadena, Cal. Star-News for August 13, 2004, "Jets' roar awakens residents." Many thanks to Daniel Wilson for this newspaper article.)

WELCOME TO "JINX HIGH"

In two or three weeks, it will be "Back to School" for a large number of our UFO Roundup readers. While it has been said that high school is "sheer death on teenagers," there's one campus where this is the literal truth.

Welcome to Lafayette Junior and Senior High School, located in Syracuse, New York (population 147,306). Or maybe we should call it "Jinx High."

Traffic deaths have claimed an inordinately large number of students there.

According to Channel 10 News in Syracuse, N.Y., "It's a sad day for Lafayette Junior and Senior High School where students are mourning one of their own."

"Police say 19-year-old Matthew Tasker was killed when his Ford Mustang hit a tree and went off an embankment, flipping onto its roof."

"Teachers and friends described Tasker as an excellent student and athlete--someone who was going places."

"'He was an excellent athlete, a fantastic state-award-winning musician, percussionist loved by his peers, loved by his teachers, the kind of kid who made sure he said hello to the principal, just an all-round pleasure to be around,' said Principal Paula Cowling."

"In the last two years, the high school has had its share of tragedies."

"In June (2004), Matthew Nastasi was killed while riding a bike." (Editor's Comment: To borrow a phrase from Charles Fort...is somebody collecting Matthews?)

"And in 2002, three students died in a car accident when a tractor trailer hit their vehicle."

"In June 2002, there was another accident in the Class of 2003 and Shannon Thomas and Jessica Flegal, and a girl that would have been part of the Class of 2004, Liane West. So it's been a very, very difficult four years,' said Cowling."

"'It's difficult, there is no doubt about it. We can't explain it. We are asked by the kids, Why? And what do you say? You don't know, there is no answer to this. You try to help them get through it and make every day as good for them as you can,' said Tasker's coach Jerry Kelly." (See the News 10 News of Syracuse, N.Y. transcript for August 18, 2004. Many thanks to Loren Coleman for this news story.)

(Editor's Note: Since the current Fayette Factor flap began in January, there has been a noticeable correlation between places named for the Marquis de Lafayette and traffic accidents involving teenagers.)

ROVERS FIND MORE EVIDENCE OF WATER ON MARS

"NASA's Mars rovers have uncovered more tantalizing evidence of a watery past on the Red Planet, scientists said Wednesday," August 18, 2004. "And the rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are continuing to do their jobs months after they were expected to die."

"Aside from minor complaints, such as a balky wheel on Spirit and a stone jamming a grinder on Opportunity, 'both rovers are performing marvelously,' says Chris Salvo of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory" in Pasadena, California, "which manages the mission. Salvo says engineers expect to remove the stone before the grinder is again needed by scientists."

"Both Mars rovers landed in January (2004) on an $835 mission to search for signs of past water on the planet. Since a controversial report of fossilized microbes hidden inside a Martian meteorite emerged in 1996, scientists have pondered the possibility that life once existed on Mars, and water would have been a prerequisite for that."

"Gusev Crater was selected as Spirit's landing site because from space the crater appears to have been a lake at some point in its history. Team scientists said at the JPL briefing that Spirit has now climbed about 10 yards (9 meters) up a hillside, getting above the Gusev plain. Holes drilled into soft bedrock there show that, compared with the volcanic rocks below, there are higher amounts of elements that are active in water. Those elements may be evidence of the suspected lakebed."

"Opportunity, by contrast, has descended deep into one of the craters dotting Meridiani Planum, its landing region. 'Wonderful layered rocks' exist there, says mission scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University."

"In March (2004), Opportunity detected similar layers inside a small crater at its landing site, layers pointing to a past saltwater sea on Mars. Another crater now under exploration goes about 80 feet (24 meters) deeper, revealing more clues:"

"The layers look lumpy rather than rippled by running water, as seen at more shallow craters."

"The sea-salt chemistry of the rock changes the deeper the rover goes."

"Rather than seeing 'blueberry' rocks found at other craters, the team reports red pebbles dot the landscape."

"A lumpish rock in the crater, perhaps made entirely of these new pebbles, has intrigued team geologists."

(Editor's Comment: I've got a geologic name for this rock...Squyres' conglomerate.)

"More analysis may reveal whether a deep sea or mere waterlogged dirt deposited the deep rock layers."

"Both rovers have been exploring more than twice as long as they were designed to last. And even though the Martian winter is (now) at its coldest, Salvo is confident that the rovers will continue, despite showing signs of mortality."

"'They are developing a few of the signs of aches and pains of aging,' he says, 'You might, too, if you had to operate two times past your design life.'" (See USA Today for August 19, 2004, "More evidence of Martian water bubbles up," page 14B.)

JOHN THE BAPTIST'S CAVE FOUND IN ISRAEL?

"Archaeologists think they've found a cave where John the Baptist baptized many of his followers--basing their theory on thousands of shards from ritual jugs, a stone used for foot cleansing and wall carvings telling the story of the Biblical preacher."

"Only a few articles linked to New Testament figures have ever been found in the Holy Land, and the cave," located at Kibbutz Tzuba in Israel, "is potentially a major discovery in Biblical archaeology."

"'John the Baptist, who was just a figure from the Gospels, now comes to life,' British archaeologist Shimon Gibson said during an exclusive tour of the cave given to the Associated Press."

"But some scholars said Gibson's finds aren't enough to support his theory, and one colleague said that short of an inscription with John's name in the cave, there could never be conclusive proof of his presence there."

"John, a distant relative of Jesus--their mothers were kin, according to the Bible--was a fiery preacher with a message of repentance and a considerable following."

"Tradition says he was born in the village of Ein Kerem, which is today a part of modern Jerusalem. Just 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away, on the land of Kibbutz Tzuba, a communal farm, the cave lies hidden in a limestone hill--24 meters (72 feet) long, 4 meters (13 feet) deep and 4 meters (13 feet) wide."

"It was carved by the Israelites in the Iron Age, sometime between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C., the scientists said. It was apparently used from the start as a ritual immersion pool. preceding the Jewish tradition of the ritual bath."

"Over the centuries, the cave filled with mud and sediment, leaving only a tiny opening that was hidden by trees and bushes. Yet in recent years, it had occasional visitors--Reuven Kalifon, an immigrant from Cleveland (Ohio) who teaches Hebrew at the kibbutz, took his students spelunking."

"They would crawl through the narrow slit at the mouth of the cave, all the way to the back wall, though they saw nothing but dirt and walls. In December 1999, Kalifon asked Gibson to take a closer look."

"Gibson, who has excavated in the Holy Land for more than 30 years, moved a few boulders near the walls and laid bare a crude carving of a head. Excited, he ordered a full-scale excavation."

"Over the next five years, Gibson and his team, including volunteers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, cleared out layers of soil, picking up about 250,000 shards from small jugs apparently used in purification rituals."

"The explorers uncovered 28 steps leading to the bottom of the cave. On the right, a niche is carved into the wall--typical of those used in Jewish ritual baths for discarding the clothes before immersion. Near the end of the stairs, the team found an oval stone with a foot-shaped indentation--about a shoe size 11. Just above, a soapdish-like niche apparently held ritual oil that would flow through a small channel onto the believer's right foot."

"On the water-covered floor of the cave, stones and boulders were moved by the worshippers and a path was filled with gravel, said Egon Lass, an archaeological consultant at Wheaton College, near Chicago, who also worked on the dig."

"Crude images were carved on the walls, near the ceiling, and Gibson said they tell the story of John's life."

"One is the figure of the man Gibson spotted on his first visit to the cave. The man appears to have an unruly head of hair and wears a tunic with dots, apparently meant to suggest an animal hide. He grasps a staff and holds up his other hand in a gesture of proclamation."

"James Tabor, a Bible scholar from the University of North Carolina, said there is little doubt this is John himself. The Gospels say John was a member of the Nazarites, a sect whose followers didn't cut their hair, and that he adopted the dress of the ancient prophets, including a garment woven of camel's hair."

"On the opposite wall is a carving of a face that could be meant to symbolize John's severed head. The preacher had his head cut off by Herod Antipas after he dared to take the ruler to task over an illicit affair."

"But the images are from the Byzantine era, apparently carved by monks who associated the site with John, following local folklore, Gibson and Tabor said."

"'Unfortunately, we didn't find any inscriptions' that would conclusively link the cave to John, Tabor said."

"Still, Gibson, who heads the Jerusalem Archaeological Field Unit, a private research group, argues that the finds and the proximity of John's hometown are strong evidence the cave was used by the preacher."

"'All these elements are coming together and fill in the picture of the life and times of John the Baptist,' said Gibson, who has written a book about the dig, The Cave of John the Baptist, to be published this week."

"Tabor said no one could ever say for certain that John the Baptist used the cave. However, he said, the cave could help to bring to life an important part of the New Testament." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for August 17, 2004. "John the Baptist may have used cave," pages 1A and 6A.)

(Editor's Comment: And speaking of caves...)

WORLD'S DEEPEST HOLE FOUND IN CROATIA

"Earlier this month, as thousands of Olympians trained to compete in Athens, a small team of Croatian cavers set a benchmark that went largely unnoticed. They found the world's deepest hole."

"There was no medal ceremony awaiting Darko Baksic, the expedition leader, or any of his dusty colleagues when they reached the bottom of the 513-meter (1,693-foot) pit. Just a long climb back up."

"The pit, which is at the back of a dark cave in the Velebit Mountains, southwest of Zagreb," Croatia's capital, "is 65 meters (217 feet) deeper than the former record holder in Austria known as the Hollenhohle."

"Sophisticated mapping has left little room for dumb luck in surface exploration. But maps do not chart what lies beneath the land or the ocean floor."

"'I'm not at all surprised that we're still making these sorts of discoveries,' Lisa Gaddis, the program chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's astrogeology team, said, 'I think we have perhaps a better global picture of some other terrestrial planets, like Mars, than we have of some of the more remote areas on Earth.'"

"When it comes to caves, noted David Smith, the chief of NASA's Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics, 'we can't see anything from space.'"

"He added, 'You can't really say very much, if anything at all, about below the surface.'"

"The new find is not the deepest cave on Earth. That title still belongs to the Krubera Cave in Abkhazia, which descends 1,554 meters (5,130 feet, just under one mile--J.T.), albeit more steadily, without such a sharp drop."

"Cavers define a hole, or pit, as a straight vertical drop, sometimes interrupted by ledges, that is too steep to walk down."

"'Until the era of modern technology, pits often stopped incursions into caves,' according to the Atlas of the Great Caves of the World, most pits are explored by shimmying down ropes."

"The underworld remains a kind of last frontier for explorers looking for new discoveries. 'It takes a special kind of person who is willing to walk, crawl a mile underground in pitch black,' Smith said." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for August 17, 2004, "In Croatia, explorers make a deep discovery," page 7A.)

MINNESOTA'S DAY FOR WEIRD WEATHER

August 21 is traditionally "Weird Weather Day" in the USA's state of Minnesota.

"On this day in 1883, a tornado (F-5 on the Fujikawa scale--J.T.) hit Rochester," in the southern part of the state, "killing 31 people and destroying more than 1,000 homes."

"Then, in 1918, 36 people were killed in Tyler when a (F-5) tornado hit the town, destroying most of the business section. There was $1 million in damages."

"And, on this day in 1989, a thunderstorm produced baseball-sized hail (stones) near Appleton," Minn. (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for August 21, 2004, "Today's Weather Fact," page 8D.)


From the UFO Files...

1876: RETROCOGNITION AND MADAME BLAVATSKY

The psychic phenomenon called retrocognition may have played a role in the fiction of Robert E. Howard (1906-1936). But it most certainly was a big part of Madame Blavatsky's book, Isis Unveiled.

Retrocognition is the remote viewing of scenes from the past, usually the prehistoric past, via trance, dreaming or daydreaming.

Elena Petrovna von Hahn, later to become world famous as Madame Blavatsky, was born on August 12, 1831 in Ekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk--J.T.) in southern Russia, the daughter of Pyotr Alexeiyevich von Hahn and the former Elena Andreyevna de Fadeyev. Her father was a captain of artillery in the Russian Army, and at the time Elena was born, he was fighting in the Russo-Polish War of 1830-1831. After the war, Capt. von Hahn was posted to Odessa, and there his second daughter, Vera, was born in 1832.

The family moved around quite a bit, from Odessa to Kiev in the Ukraine, and then to St. Petersburg, and on to Astrakhan, Russia's main port on the Caspian Sea. A close bond developed between the sisters, and it remained strong, even when their interests moved in opposite directions.

While Elena was staying at the dacha of her grandfather, Andrei Mihailovich de Fadeyev, in Astrakhan, she stumbled upon a family treasure. Andrei had inherited the massive occult library of his father-in-law, Prince Pavel Vasilyevich Dolgorukii, a leading light in the Lodge Harmonia and the Illuminati of Russia before their suppression in 1792. Here the teenaged Elena, a voracious reader, found topics a whole lot more esoteric than the witch-tales of Baba Yoga and Teherno-Bog she'd heard as a small child. Here she was exposed to Originalschriften des Illuminatenordensekte by Adam Weishaupt, the works of Jakob Bohme and Jacques de Molay, and (or so it's rumored--J.T.) a copy of Kitab al-Azif in the original Arabic, by the Iraqi sorcerer Abdul Majid al-Hazrad, which has come down to us through the centuries as the thoroughly-garbled Necronomicon.

Vera, on the other hand, showed no interest in the family's occult and Masonic background. She seems to have led a fairly conventional life. She married Nikolai Nikolaiyevich Yahontov and had two sons. After Nikolai died, Vera did not remain a widow for long. She married Vladimir Ivanovich de Zhelihovsky and had another three children--all girls--by him.

In their correspondence back and forth, the two sisters vehemently defended their beliefs. Vera remained a staunch Christian of the Russian Orthodox Church all her life. In one letter, an exasperated Elena wrote, "You are not going to convert me, and I'm certainly not going to convert you, so this discussion appears completely pointless."

There is a remarkable candor in the correspondence between the two women, which leads your editor to believe that Elena was on the level when she wrote about her strange experience in New York City in November 1876.

"Well, Vera, believe it or not, some enchantment is upon me. You can hardly imagine in what a charmed world of pictures I live!," Elena wrote, "I am writing Isis; not writing, rather copying out and drawing that which she personally is showing me."

(Editor's Note: Elena's first title for the book was The Veil of Isis. But when she learned that this was the title of an 1861 book and therefore copyrighted, she changed the title to Isis Unveiled.)

"Really, it seems to me as if the ancient Goddess of Beauty in person leads me through all the lands of bygone centuries which I have to describe. I am sitting with my eyes open and, to all appearances, see and hear everything real and actual around me, and yet at the same time I see and hear that which I write. I feel short of breath; I am afraid to make the slightest movement, for fear the spell might be broken."

"Slowly century after century, image after image, float out of nowhere and pass before me as if in a magic panorama; and meanwhile I put them together in my mind, fitting in epochs and dates, and know positively there can be no mistake."

"Races and nations, countries and cities, long vanished in the darkness of the prehistoric past, emerge and disappear, giving place to others, and then I am told the consecutive dates. Hoary antiquity gives room to historical periods; myths are explained to me by means of events and people who actually existed, and every event which is at all remarkable, every newly-turned leaf of this many-colored book of life, impresses itself on my brain with photographic accuracy."

"My own conceptions and calculations appear to me later on as the separate colored pieces of different shapes in the game which is called casse-tete (French for brain teaser or puzzle--J.T.). I, too, gather them together and try to match them one with another, and in the end there always comes out something geometrically correct."

"It stands to reason, it is not I who do it at all, but my Ego, the highest principles that live in me; and even then with the help of my Guru, my teacher, who helps me in everything. If I forget something, all I have to do is address him, or another one like him, in thought, and what I had forgotten emerges once more before my eyes, sometimes whole tables of numbers and long inventories of events passing before me. They know everything. Without them, whence would my knowledge come?"

"Both in my waking state and, it seems, in sleep, I am occupied with my Isis! I look and observe and am filled with delight over that which I see, as her veil becomes thinner and thinner and falls away before my very eyes! It is already three years (i.e. since 1873--J.T.) since pictures of the past, daily and nightly, have hovered around me."

Evidently, Elena's description of these paranormal experiences sounded convincing enough to Vera that she wrote her older sister, trying to warn her against succumbing to the spell. Vera's letter is lost, but we do have a copy of Elena's return letter of June 1877, which states:

"Do not be afraid that I am off my head. All that I can say is that someone positively inspires me--more than this: someone enters me. It is not I who talk and write, it is something within me, my higher and luminous Self, that thinks and writes for me."

"Do not ask me, my friend, what I experience, because I could not explain it to you clearly. I do not know myself! The one thing I know is that now, when I am about to reach old age (Elena was 45 when she wrote this--J.T.), I have become a sort of storehouse of somebody else's knowledge."

"Someone comes and envelops me as a misty cloud and all at once pushed me out of myself, and then I am not 'I' any more--Helena Petrovna Blavatsky--but someone else. Someone strong and powerful, born in a totally different region of the world; and as to myself, it is almost as if I were asleep, or lying by not quite conscious--not in my own body but close by, held only by a thread which ties me to it."

The similarities between Madame Blavatsky's experience in New York City in 1876 and Robert E. Howard's initial "siesta dream" in Rio Grande City, Texas in 1932 have convinced your editor that retrocognition is a real psychic phenomenon. (See The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky, Volume 1 1861-1879, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Illinois, 2003, pages 3, 4, 5, 215 and 309. Also The Masters Revealed by K. Paul Johnson, State University of New York Press, Albany, N.Y., 1993, pages 19 to 22.)

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

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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