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Dealing with Extraterrestrial-Related Phenomena and Exopolitics


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December 15, 2000

Halifax Herald Limited

Truth is out there, in Shag Harbour
Documentary explores real Nova Scotian X-File case

by Pat Lee

On Oct. 4, 1967 many Nova Scotians saw something strange flying through the sky with flashing lights.

The mysterious object plunged into the water off Shag Harbour, leading fishermen and the RCMP to rush out in a frantic attempt to find survivors.

But by the time boats arrived on the scene, all that was found was a mysterious yellow foam that smelled like burned sulphur, although a dark object was later spotted moving out to sea. (Insert Twilight Zone music here.)

Some 33 years later the Shag Harbour UFO story continues to fascinate believers and skeptics alike, mainly because of the number of credible eyewitness accounts and the official documentation that has been unearthed.

So it's not surprising that the story has lived on in books and most recently has become the subject of a documentary by local filmmaker Michael MacDonald.

Airing Sunday at 5 p.m. on cable's Space: The Imagination Station, the hour-long The Shag Harbour UFO Story brings together eyewitnesses and pieces together the X-Files tale, which started that October night when those mysterious lights were seen around the province.

Among those who spotted the odd sight from Dartmouth was then 12-year-old Chris Styles, who subsequently heard the same story from his grandfather who lived in Shag Harbour.

"I literally felt cold inside," Styles says of seeing the glowing object that night.

Also interviewed in the film is Don Ledger, who has written extensively about the case with Styles. The pair's research provided the framework for MacDonald's film, produced by Halifax-based Ocean Entertainment.

Also providing input on the incident is local fisherman Laurie Wickens, who also saw the strange lights that night, along with fisherman Lawrence Smith.

Adding to the intrigue is a photograph taken by Wilber Eisnor, which shows coloured lights glowing in the sky.

All fascinating stuff, made all the more interesting by government documents, comic book illustrations, the usual jazz about coverups and interviews with folks who prefer to have their voices altered and to be filmed in silhouette.

Of course no one knows what really happened in Shag Harbour, but speculation abounds, particularly since the event occured at the height of the Cold War and the fact that nearby CFS Shelburne was a top-secret submarine detection base.

There's something to make every conspiracy theorist happy. MacDonald and producer Johanna Eliot have done a nice job in touching all the mysterious bases, while presenting the information in a visually interesting fashion.

It truly is a story that will not die.

Picture text: A 1970s comic book offers one interpretation of the rumoured crash of a UFO near the Eastern Shore village of Shag Harbour. The famous case is explored in a new documentary, The Shag Harbour UFO Story, airing on Space on Sunday at 5 p.m.

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December 9, 2000

Connellsville Daily Courier

Kecksburg: Little community with a big mystery

EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to Kecksburg. Close to Home is a series which runs periodically in The Daily Courier. The story features a look at the small town from its citizens' viewpoints.

by Bernadette Myers

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the strangest night in Kecksburg's history.

According to Kecksburg resident Bob Bittner Sr., a metallic, acorn-shaped, unidentified flying object fell to earth near Kecksburg, and the event was followed by a military recovery of the object.

Bittner was there when the military came in: "Forty-five minutes later, they came out of the ravine. I saw a truck with a tarp on it, but I couldn't tell if anything was on it."

He says, however, other witnesses say they saw an object on the truck.

"No one will ever tell me there wasn't something. They didn't send all that military out there to look at shooting stars," states Bittner.

"Ninety percent think something happened, 10 percent think it's a hoax," says Bittner of one of the few points of division in the small, close-knit community.

The quiet village of Kecksburg seems an unlikely backdrop for such an unusual event. Kecksburg was founded in 1866 when John Martin Keck, a German immigrant who had settled in Greensburg, purchased five acres in Mount Pleasant Township and laid out plans for a small community. by 1868, the community had a general store, blacksmith shop and a post office with Keck serving as postmaster.

by the late 1800s, Kecksburg was also home to a cigar factory, funeral home, drug store, hotel, barbershop, church, livery stable, and doctor's office.

Keck's son William, or "Will G.," was affiliated with the firm that bottled mineral water found on the Keck farm and that lead to the development of the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant that operated in Kecksburg for many years.

In addition to the water and soft drink bottling industry, Will G. Keck also helped bring the first telephone company to the area. In 1906, the company that would become "The Citizens Telephone Company of Kecksburg" was founded.

Now mostly residential, Kecksburg today is a little quieter than it was in the past. The Pepsi bottling plant is now the site of "A-liner," a camper manufacturer. Just a few other businesses are nearby.

Hutter's Dairy sits "just over the hill" from Kecksburg, according to owner Jane Hutter. She and husband Gilbert have operated the dairy since
1951. They have processed milk from their dairy and opened a store in 1969.

Customers come from all around to buy their milk.

"Greensburg, Latrobe, wherever they don't have our milk in thestore,"says Hutter.

Duane Hutter of the Kecksburg Volunteer Fire Department says the VFD provides social activities as well as rescue services. They have an annual "gun bash" each spring and a fair during the last full week of July. Weekly activities include Monday night bingo and Wednesday night wing night.

These activities provide necessary funds for the fire department, which has a roster of 68 active and inactive members.

"The community has been tremendous to us," comments Hutter. The small community has enabled the VFD to keep updating its fleet. They recently joined together to build a tanker truck for $26,000 that holds 3,500 gallons of water.

Hutter adds that if a tanker of that size were to be purchased, the bill would have been $295,000. He says the Kecksburg VFD also operates the state certified rescue truck for the township, and the rescue squad is charted under the fire department.

The fire department grounds are the site of the UFO model, displayed high atop a platform for residents and passers-by to see.

Bittner was there during the filming for "Unsolved Mysteries" in 1990. "There was a reenactment. It was a pretty big project, a lot of Army trucks," he recalls.

Despite the story being featured on national television and efforts by local researchers such as Stan Gordon of Greensburg, what actually happened that December night remains unexplained, and Kecksburg remains a little community with a big mystery.

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October 8, 2000

Florida Today

UFO memoirs go online: Son plans to upload father's story on Web

by Billy Cox

After the litigation and the vitriol, after the firestorm of controversy, Lt. Col. Philip J. Corso's curious legacy still can be whittled down to a single question: Why would he lie?

Why, in the final years of his life, would an old man with an apparently distinguished career in military intelligence charge that extraterrestrial technology led to the development of today's fiber optics, Kevlar, microchips, night-vision scopes and lasers?

And why would Corso - called to Capitol Hill as an expert witness to testify on Cold War intrigues - fabricate in a book the claim he was the agent who slipped alien hardware to private corporations in the early 1960s?

"Money definitely wasn't a factor. He never made a dime off it," says his son, Philip Corso Jr. of Port St. Lucie. "Pop had no reason to lie. He was telling the truth."

Two years have passed since the elder Corso died of a heart attack at 83, and three years since his hotly debated memoirs, The Day After Roswell, became a national bestseller. But today, Junior is planning to "complete my father's mission" - by dumping his dad's full manuscripts onto the Internet.

"Only 10 percent of the story came out in the book," says Junior, who builds experimental airplanes and lives in a gated community here with his wife and three kids. "Anybody who read the book realizes it had more questions than answers. Dad was very unhappy with how it turned out."

A lot of people were - from the staff of Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Strom Thurmond, who say the senator was misled about the nature of the book for which he wrote a glowing foreword, to the UFO researchers who ripped holes in Corso's accuracy.

The Day After Roswell wound up in protracted litigation over who owned the story rights. Nevertheless, Corso went to his grave maintaining the alleged crash and recovery of a flying saucer near Roswell, N.M., in July 1947 provided the "Rosetta Stone" for back-engineering projects at Bell Labs, IBM, Monsanto, Dow, General Electric, DuPont and Hughes.

The payoffs, he said, are measured in exotic new metallic alloys, particle beam weaponry and supertenacity fibers.  The Day After Roswell reads like an "X-Files" subplot.

Corso claimed that, as head of the Foreign Technology desk under the command of Army Research and Development director Lt. Gen. Arthur Trudeau in 1960, he was ordered to leak Roswell debris to certain defense contractors. He didn't tell them its origins.  Corso claimed they kept the material away from the Central Intelligence Agency because he and Trudeau felt it was infiltrated by Soviet spies. Accordingly, instructions were delivered verbally to eliminate a paper trail.

The result, according to The Day After Roswell, was a "quantum leap" in American technology that gave the United States a decisive edge over the USSR. Moreover, the missile shield premise behind Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars," actually was a ruse whose real purpose was to defend against threats from space aliens.

Corso also writes that Army insiders, including Trudeau - best known for leading Allied forces into action at Pork Chop Hill during the Korean War - agreed that the last surviving insider would release the information to the public.

Critics have had a field day with Corso's accounting.

Among them is Stanton Friedman, who first investigated the Roswell controversy in 1978 and wrote Crash at Corona and Top Secret: Majic. From his home in Canada, Friedman says Corso's book was a sloppily researched rush job timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the incident.

Lacking an index or references, Corso's memoirs are saturated with inconsistencies, historical errors and an overall strain of credulity, Friedman charges.

"Here's a guy who claims, while he was stationed in Fort Riley (Kansas) in July 1947, he just happened to see the (alien) bodies... When a bowling buddy tells him about it? And lets him into a warehouse for a peek? And there's no guards? C'mon," Friedman says. "Give me a break.

"Corso says the military sat on this stuff for 17 years and didn't do anything with it. And here we have a man, neither a scientist or an engineer, who singlehandedly, within a year and a half, somehow manages to get all this stuff farmed out.  Something nobody else had thought of doing before. I'm not saying it wasn't done; I suspect useful technology came from the wreckage. I just doubt his role in it."

Day After Roswell co-author Birnes, now publisher of UFO Magazine in Los Angeles, laments the lack of referencing and concedes there were "mistakes made on deadline."

He also says he regrets Corso died while revenues from book sales - variously estimated from 120,000 to 200,000 copies - hung in legal limbo because of a contract dispute with agent Neil Russell, which wasn't resolved until earlier this year.

"I worked with Col. Corso on this book for two years, and everything he told me about outside UFOs - things that could be verified - held up," Birnes says. "This man had a fascinating career, from his intelligence work in Rome during the war, to smuggling out German rocket scientists in Operation Paperclip, to working as an investigator with the Warren Commission.

"We were looking to do a book on his World War II experiences when I noticed this one brief passing reference he made to UFOs.  I asked him about it, and what he told me was compelling enough for its own book. We couldn't put everything he knew about the subject in there because it might've been a little too much."

But telling dad's entire UFO story is what Corso Jr., intends to do, at

Web site newsletter

Still smarting from the conventional publishing experience, Junior plans to charge a $4.95 semi-annual subscription fee to a Web site newsletter. He says it'll take roughly three years to upload his dad's notes, or until April 2003. That's when the elder Corso said a major event is scheduled to happen. Junior, of course, won't say what it is.

Among those who've gotten a sneak preview is Ginger Thompson of Rockledge. In 1997, Thompson and her husband, Gary, purchased an RV from the Corso family. Thompson, who appeared on "Maury Povich" several years ago to talk about her alien abduction experiences, became friends with Corso before he died.

"What he told me about his own knowledge of abductions confirmed just about everything I was experiencing myself," says Thompson.  "It was almost a relief."

Indeed, newsletter subscribers will learn that Corso claimed to have been abducted by aliens repeatedly, going back to childhood and running through his military career. For Friedman, the imminent publicity windfall is ominous. "Gads," he remarks.  "Just what we need are claims of Corso's having been on board and talked to an alien."

But Junior, scheduled to meet Friedman at a "Paranormal Conference" in Fort Walton Beach on Oct. 20-22, is steadfast. He claims Dad told him the Air Force possesses "the whole enchilada" from the Roswell crash, and that the Army was left with the scraps Corso farmed out to the private sector.  Interservice rivalry kept both branches from sharing data.

Nevertheless, current applications gleaned from the Army's alien  "insertions" made Trudeau wonder if "we hadn't advanced our own  technology by a leap of about 250 years," says Junior.

"I know that Dad was very concerned that maybe we lived in an altered future as a result. But before he died, he said we'd made such huge strides that, by around 2003, we will have caught up to the alien state of the art as it was in 1947."

"I guess a book would've been the way to go in order to make money off this; I figure a lot of this information is going to get reproduced and passed around. But it's not strictly a money issue anymore, since I finally own the exclusive rights to Dad's story. Dad felt strongly that this is no longer a national security issue, that a new generation needs to know a history that's been hidden for all these years."

So the debates over Corso's revelations may continue.

Courageous claims

In Bethesda, Md., where Stephen Bassett operates a political action committee lobbying elected officials to take a stand on public disclosure of classified UFO records, arguments over The Day After Roswell amount to "nitpicking" that "helps government management of this issue." Statements such as Corso being a member of the National Security Council, when he was only an aide, don't bother him.

"The core issues here are true" he says. "For whatever flaws the book might have, it took a tremendous amount of courage for Col. Corso to come public with it. If you listen to the man tell his story on camera, he comes across as sincere and credible."

For others, such as retired Army Col. and former Los Alamos National Laboratory director of Advanced Concepts John Anderson, the lack of evidence for Corso's claims only deepens the mystery.

"The world's leader in night-vision technology is the Army. Some of those guys in Electro Optics' night-vision division are personal friends of mine," Anderson says. "I looked into the history of their technology development, and Phil's story doesn't hold. You never see technological advances that cannot be accounted for - or anticipated - by traditional good science."

What puzzles Anderson, author of Future War: Non-lethal Weapons in 21st Century Warfare, are the facts that can be verified.

"I met Phil before the book came out. I liked the guy," says Anderson from his home in Las Vegas. "Ninety-eight percent of what he claimed is, in fact, accurate - where he was, what he did, all that.

"I checked it out. Here's a man who sat in front of Congress in 1992 saying we lost quite a few planes over the Soviet Union playing cat-and-mouse with their air defense system. In '95 or thereabouts, he was up there again, exposing the KGB's exploitation of American POWs who were sent to Czechoslovakia."

Equally intriguing to Anderson is Corso's relationship with Trudeau. In 1980, when the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pa., began videotaping oral histories for its library, "Trudeau was one of the first eight men to be interviewed," Anderson says. "There's a wide status gap between a lieutenant colonel and a lieutenant general, but when Trudeau was interviewed, who did he want right there with him? Phil Corso.  It was a very, very unique situation."

Anderson's take on Corso?

"He's an enigma."




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September 24, 2000

Caller-Times (Corpus Christi, Texas)

Believers gather at national UFO conference

by Cynthia Hodnett

Corpus Christi, Texas - Robert Matthews has believed UFOs exist ever since a trip to Mexico nearly 20 years ago.

"During the day, I saw a very white beam of light over the mountains that would appear on and off," Matthews said. "I really believe that it had to be something unexplainable."

Matthews, of Austin, Texas, was one of more than 100 UFO watchers attending the 37th Annual National UFO Conference here this weekend.

"We had conferences in other places, but we wanted to bring it here," said Doris Upchurch of Corpus Christi, assistant chairwoman of Mutual UFO Network's South Texas chapter, which sponsored the event.

James Moseley, the author of several books that document sightings as far back as the mid-1950s, said he remains somewhat skeptical about UFOs. "I accept the fact that I have seen them," Moseley said. "The trouble with the sciences like 'ufologism' is interpretation. You have a mystery that is beyond our current understanding, one that can't be measured more than once."

Other lecturers presented what they call further evidence of a government cover-up at Roswell, N.M., where some believe two alien ships crashed in 1947, leaving alien corpses behind.

Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist, said an Army Air Force general who reportedly met with investigators in New Mexico shortly after the Roswell incident was actually fishing in Port Aransas at the stated time. "There were a great deal of fraudulent documents that were used by the government to confuse researchers," he said. "And it still continues."

Pictures of crop circles supposedly found in Corpus Christi were on display, as was a reproduction of an alien's fossilized remains that were supposedly found in the early 1900s, Upchurch said.

According to Upchurch, the crop circles - a total of seven, ranging in diameter from 20 to 50 feet - were found in a vacant lot.

Other speakers included Jerrnimo Flores Cavazos, a reporter who has investigated UFOs in Mexico for 25 years, and Diana Perla Chapa, a television director who also researches UFOs in Mexico.

Perla Chapa and Flores Cavazos began a group for UFO watchers nine years ago after they met near a mountain where a UFO sighting was reported. Since then, they have done several television reports on UFO sightings throughout Mexico.

"We don't say we believe in UFOs because it is not a religion," Perla Chapa said. "We say we know there are UFOs out there. What we do is the investigation to promote UFO sightings to the public. We show them what we have found and we let them make up their own minds."

Other speakers included Greg Avery, on UFO sightings in the last 30 years, and psychologist Constance Clear, on post-abduction therapy.

Allowing those with similar experiences to meet and remaining unabashed in their beliefs is the goal of the conference, Upchurch said.

"If you ask people whether they have seen a UFO and they are in an earshot of another person, they will probably deny it," she said. "If you get them by themselves, they will probably say yes. It happens more commonly than we would like to think."


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 September 11, 2000

Irish Times

Myth of UFO at Roswell Debunked

by Dr William Reville

Most people are familiar with stories of aliens visiting Earth in unidentified flying objects (UFOs). For some reason the belief that aliens are here is much stronger in America than in Europe, and thousands of Americans claim to have been abducted by aliens, ushered aboard spacecraft and subjected to physical examination.

Many magazines devoted to aliens/UFOs regularly report UFO sightings and human contact with aliens. Nevertheless, there is, to my knowledge, no hard evidence that aliens are visiting Earth. Probably the most celebrated event in the alien genre is the Roswell Incident. The story of what happened at Roswell is told by Robert Park in the May/June 2000 edition of The Sciences. Park effectively, to my mind, explains away the whole incident as an artificial by-product of paranoid US military secrecy.

On June 14th, 1947, a rancher, William Brazel, spotted a large area of wreckage about 70 miles north of Roswell, New Mexico. The debris included neoprene strips, metal foil, cardboard, tape and sticks. Brazel paid little attention at the time, but several weeks later he heard reports of flying saucers and wondered if the wreckage might be related. He reported his suspicions to a local sheriff who informed the army base at Roswell.

An army intelligence officer, Major Marcel, investigated the site and concluded that the debris was the remains of a radar target or a weather balloon. He loaded all the debris into the boot of his car.

The army information office issued a statement to the effect that the army had "gained possession of a flying disc through the co-operation of a local rancher and the sheriff's office". Park says this was a garbled message which the army quickly corrected, this time describing the debris as a standard radar target. The original press release lit the fire of suspicion and, with the passage of years, the subsequent correction has increasingly been seen as a Government cover-up.

As the years passed, the Roswell story grew into a fantastically detailed saga. The debris that Major Marcel reported had fitted into the boot of his car grew into the wreckage of an entire alien spacecraft that was secretly moved by the military to an air force base in Ohio.

Alien bodies were said to have been found in the spacecraft. The aliens were described as small, with large heads and suction cups on their fingers. One alien was reported to have been alive when found but was kept hidden by the Government.

Park explains the emergence of the Roswell saga as the product of over-active imaginations stitching together bits and pieces of reports of unrelated plane crashes, parachute experiments involving roughly life-like dummies, and so on, even though some of these events occurred many miles from Roswell and years later. The story grew into a full-scale myth of an encounter with extra-terrestrials, the details of which the Government found too frightening to share with the people and consequently they, it was believed, covered up the whole thing.

As it turns out, there was a government cover-up, but not of an alien spacecraft. It involved a secret government programme from the 1940s, Project Mogul. by summer 1947 the Russians had not yet exploded their first atomic bomb, but it was clear this test was imminent. It was most important for America to know when the test took place.

Project Mogul was an attempt to listen for the explosion by launching low-frequency microphones to high altitude where sound waves can propagate around the globe. Microphones, radar tracking reflectors and other devices were sent aloft on long trains of weather balloons to listen for the atomic explosion.

These balloon trains were launched in New Mexico from a point about 100 miles west of Roswell. Flight 4 was launched on June 4th, 1947 and was tracked to within 17 miles of where Brazel found the wreckage, when contact was lost. The debris found at Roswell matches the materials used in the balloon trains. Park believes the crash of Flight 4 was the birth of what has become known as the Roswell Incident.

PROJECT MOGUL remained secret until 1994, when Steven Schiff, a Congressman from New Mexico, insisted on an all-out search for records and witnesses to reassure the public there was no government cover-up of Roswell. Had the truth been revealed about Project Mogul in 1947, it would almost certainly have killed off speculation about the Roswell debris, but the truth emerged 50 years too late. For many UFO-enthusiasts, the government secrecy over Project Mogul simply reinforced their conviction that the government also covered up the far more sensitive matter of contact with extraterrestrials.

The Russians carried out their first atomic test in August, 1949, which quickly became common knowledge. At that stage what possible advantage was there for the government to hide Project Mogul, especially when revealing some details would prevent the growth of a potentially dangerous myth? Any reasonable person would allow government the freedom to maintain a certain level of secrecy in some areas, particularly at times of war or threat of war. Unfortunately this concession to government is wide open to abuse and leads to a culture of secrecy.

Keeping secrets inevitably leads to lies and inevitably some of these lies are found out. This destroys trust. Polls in the US now show a growing number of people think the government is covering up information about UFOs. When the public loses trust in government experts, there is a ripple effect outwards of diminished trust in all expert scientific opinion. As the tide of trust recedes it is smoothly replaced by receptivity to all sorts of pseudo-science and even outright superstition - and this apparently is the unfortunate legacy of the crash of a weather balloon at Roswell in 1947.

William Reville is a senior lecturer in biochemistry and director of microscopy at UCC

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August 28, 2000

Irish Times

Group seeks reports of crop circles

by Sean MacConnell

Farmers have been asked to watch for and report any crop circles which they may find in their fields this harvest.

The appeal has come from a new group, UFO Ireland, which was formed to collate information from Ireland and to analyse whether there is any extra-terrestrial activity here.

The central co-ordinator of the group, Mr. Lorcan McGrane, said yesterday he and his colleagues would adopt a sceptical approach to all reports in the hope of discovering a genuine site.

"We would ask farmers not to report unusual patterns in their crops which may have been the work of drunken or other hoaxers. We are looking for the real thing," he said. Mr. McGrane, a Dublin-based media studies student, said crop circles have been a growing phenomenon in the UK and had received a lot of media attention.

"The whole idea is to try and find out how many crop circles appear in Ireland and how they relate to those abroad. The creation of a central database is important," he said.

He did not think the group's work was in any way weakened by an appeal to the public to report UFO sightings as well.

"We have noted a number of UFO sightings from Ireland on websites in the USA and some of them were really over the top," he said. Mr. McGrane said that reports of crop circles and other sightings of UFOs would be published in Six Mag magazine, which hosts the UFO website. He said sightings could be reported to him at 087-6556245 or on e-mail:


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August 10, 2000

Baltimore Sun

Agency's plan backfires as Web site boosts UFO queries

by Laura Sullivan

Two years ago, the National Security Agency (NSA) began posting previously classified documents on its Web site to deflect the growing number of requests each year for information about flying saucers and space aliens. But the plan backfired.

Rather than relieving suspicions that the agency is hiding information about unidentified flying objects, the result has been more people than ever demanding to see UFO documents. A record 36,000 people perused the UFO page last month.

What has piqued UFO believers' interest is not so much what the documents on the Web site say - often little or nothing between the blacked-out, censored sections - but their extraordinary volume: thousands of pages of unofficial reports and antiquated radio interceptions from abroad.

Among the postings from the files of the nation's most-secret spy agency is a National Enquirer article with the headline, "Take UFOs Seriously or Be Prepared for Sneak Invasion by Space Aliens."

All of this is fueling speculation among believers who wonder why, for something that doesn't exist, the NSA has collected a ton of records. The NSA staff, burdened with hundreds of written requests under the Freedom of Information Act, is not amused.

The agency hasn't kept exact numbers about UFO requests. But Pamela Phillips, chief of FOIA/Privacy Act Services, said the increase in letters asking about UFOs has been "significant," forcing the office to hire several additional staff members.

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August 8, 2000

Fox News

UFO Hunters Search NSA Documents on Web

FORT MEADE, Md. -- UFO theorists are probing declassified National Security Agency files on the spy agency's Web site, hoping to find evidence that proves there is life beyond Earth.

The NSA hoped the documents released two years ago would quell suspicions that it harbored information about unidentified flying objects. Instead, thousands are looking at the documents, which include a National Enquirer article with the headline, "Take UFOs Seriously or Be Prepared for Sneak Invasion by Space Aliens."

"The fact that they're releasing this stuff and it's so blacked out, the theories just flurry," said John Greenwald, who has collected UFO documents from government agencies for more than five years and posts them on his Web site.

NSA staffers receive hundreds of written requests under the Freedom of Information Act and the UFO queries are slowing everything, said Pamela Philips, chief of FOIA/Privacy Act Services for the agency.

"More people than ever are interested in this stuff," said Peter Gersten, an Arizona attorney and director of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy. "Each year you get more and more people, especially young people. With X-Files and Star Wars, it's exotic. It's entertaining. It's the greatest mystery of all time."

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August 4, 2000

Detroit Free Press

UFO question pulls politics back to Earth

by Desiree Cooper

IT'S A SHAME that our interest in the presidential race centers more on what damage each candidate can do rather than on how they can move the country forward.

"What will happen to Roe vs. Wade?" some ask of a George W. Bush presidency.

"What will happen to business under a president who's a nut about the environment?" others ask of Al Gore.

"What will happen to the supposedly classified documents about UFOs?" others ask of both.


That's the burning question Peter Robbins, a 53-year-old UFOlogist, former art instructor and theater manager is asking of the presidential candidates. To date, none has dignified his question, save a short acknowledgement from the Libertarian candidate for president and a terse letter from the now-defunct Bill Bradley campaign.

Undaunted, Robbins followed up his Dec. 8 communication with more letters to the Gore campaign this spring, challenging him to declassify government documents relating to UFOs should he become president.

You're wondering whether Robbins is serious. It turns out, he's serious as a Mars attack.

UFOs and eroding democracy

Robbins claims there are classified papers verifying military encounters with mysterious flying objects. He's documented one such encounter in "Left at East Gate" (Marlowe & Co., $15.95), a book that details an alleged government cover-up (including U.S. intelligence) of a UFO incident in rural England. That kind of secrecy, Robbins said, is destructive to democracy -- an issue that extends beyond the question of UFOs.

"But," I protested, "do you really expect the presidential candidates to address UFOs instead of education and health insurance?"

"This isn't just about UFOs," Robbins explained. "People are sick of being told that their feelings, their experiences are not valid -- or that information regarding what they intuitively know to be true is 'classified.' "

Robbins said that UFOs are a metaphor for things most politicians won't talk about, from sex to death. And it's a metaphor for less tangible, but widely held, beliefs in things like near-death experiences.

According to a report from the National Science Foundation, about half of all Americans believe in extrasensory perception, up to one-half believe in UFOs and 20 percent to 50 percent believe in ghosts. But politicians separate themselves from life as everyday people experience it, Robbins said. And that, coupled with excessive secrecy and hypocrisy, erodes the electorate's faith in democracy.

Close encounters with truth

Hmm ...If politicians were willing to get to the bottom of the existence of UFOs, what other issues would they be willing to entertain? Could they explore why so many Americans still feel nervous about their economic futures in this era of unprecedented prosperity? Why Congress is battling over the estate tax when most parents can't afford to give their kids a college education? Why more American children and teens were killed by gunfire in the last 20 years than the total number of American soldiers killed in Vietnam? Why many voters could not care less about cyberspace, because in their virtual reality they have no transportation, affordable housing, health care or a job making a living wage?

Perhaps if politicians could stifle their giggles long enough to answer Robbins' questions, they might find the time to answer mine, too.

And wouldn't that be out of this world?

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July 26, 2000


U.S. Bill Aims for Order on CIA Declassification

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday said he would push for passage of legislation this year aimed at reducing the burden on CIA declassifiers overwhelmed by numerous special requests from government officials.

Those special requests from administration officials and members of Congress have asked CIA declassifiers to search for documents on everything from UFOs to murdered churchwomen in El Salvador to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss, a Florida Republican, and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat, have sponsored legislation to create a nine-member board to prioritize such special requests.

"The purpose of the bill is to bring some order to the chaos," Goss said at a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the legislation. He said he would seek passage of the legislation this year.

"It's a push and shove, it's who has the sharper elbows," Goss said. Right now, a special request for a search of documents by the person with the most political clout is likely to be put on top of the pile, he added.

Streamline Responses

Such requests at times end up resulting in duplicative work for the CIA declassifiers because they are made by different people at different times, Goss and Moynihan said. The proposed board would aim to reduce repetitive requests and streamline agency responses.

The CIA's 230 to 300 employees at its "declassification factory" are stretched by the sheer amount of records they must review, Moynihan said. The spy agency has in the past said it processes about 8 million pages of classified records a year.

Aside from the special requests, the declassification efforts include a presidential executive order requiring information older than 25 years be declassified unless the government decides it needs to stay secret.

Also the public requests declassification of documents under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.

The CIA budget for declassification efforts itself is classified.

Included with Moynihan's testimony was a letter from CIA's director of congressional affairs, John Moseman, on the impact of special searches and a list detailing the types of searches that have been requested.

The list and letter, dated Oct. 18, 1999, were declassified last Friday, July 21. "In sum, special searches are a growth industry and compete with the mandates of the many existing information review and release programs," Moseman said.

Search For UFOs

From 1993 to September 1999, the CIA conducted nine separate special searches for documents on El Salvador, mainly related to four churchwomen murdered there in 1980. There were 12 on Guatemala related to the deaths of several Americans and for records on the 1954 CIA-backed coup, the list said.

CIA Director George Tenet requested a search for documents related to convicted spy Jonathan Pollard on the damage done to national security by his espionage activities.

The request was made in late 1998 when President Clinton, during the Wye River Middle East peace conference, said he would review the case of Pollard, a former naval intelligence official jailed for life in 1986 for selling military secrets to Israel.

Israel has been seeking Pollard's release, reportedly as recently as the just-ended Camp David summit that collapsed.   Tenet has opposed releasing the spy.

Other special searches were done in response to congressional requests for documents on parapsychology studies, and satellite imagery on the presence of Noah's Ark, on which after spending 1,000 hours the CIA concluded "no definitive information identified."

A CIA director also requested information on UFO sightings and Roswell, New Mexico, a subject on which more than 2,700 pages have been released, according to the list.

Several items for which special search requests had been made were
blacked out on the list.

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July 15, 2000

ABC News

Welcoming Real Out-of-Towners
Roswell, N.M. Celebrates Its UFO Heritage

by Andres Ybarra
The Associated Press

R O S W E L L, N.M., July 15 — Santa Fe has Georgia O’Keeffe. Fort Sumner has Billy the Kid. And Roswell? Roswell has E.T.

This small southeastern New Mexico town, known as the alien capital of the world, may not have many artifacts to show off like other historic sites. But it’s still a huge draw for tourists fascinated by the unknown.

"It is a source of pride," said Roswell native Jessica Mysza, a visitor to the International U.F.O. Museum and Research Center.

The museum, the town’s main attraction, is a warehouse of information on the notorious alleged flying saucer crash landing near Roswell in 1947. Little green men decorate the outside of the building in a town where even the Wal-Mart features a picture of a big alien head and a fast-food restaurant has a sign welcoming aliens.

The theme of government cover-up hangs heavy in the building with walls covered with pictures of the alleged crash site and documents of testimonies.

However, despite the fact that many of the museum’s workers have a strong belief in UFOs, the goal is not to convince people of alien existence, museum director Carol Syska said.

"We just ask you to come through with an open mind, and then make up your own mind," said Syska, a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory worker.

Is the Truth Out There?

The 8-year-old museum sees about 180,000 visitors a year, she said. There is no admission charge and most of the workers, including Syska, are volunteers.

A history of the 1947 incident is presented through pictures and testimonies of people involved, including two of the museum’s three founders. Copies of government documents about the incident acquired through the Freedom of Information Act also are on display.

Pictures and written testimonies of UFO sightings around the world also are chronicled — including those proved to be hoaxes.

"It’s still a living museum. It’s not just a dead museum," Syska said. "It shows things that are still happening today."

The only physical evidence on display is a small piece of metal, allegedly debris from the crashed spacecraft. Syska says the metal is much thinner and lighter than the jeweler’s junk the government says it is.

That piece of "spacecraft" is 13-year-old Dustin Dearman’s favorite exhibit item. He’s Mysza’s cousin, visiting from Monahans, Texas.

"I think it’s a good place for reading," said Mysza, who isn’t convinced UFOs exist. "But I really think it’s they’ve done well with the information they present. It’s very informative."

The building also houses a research center with books and videos about UFOs. Databases with information on sightings also are available.

The Mystery and Enigma

After the tourists have their fill on the information side of Roswell’s aliens, they can venture down the street to alien gift shops for the entertainment aspect, store owner Stacy Wolkwitz said.

Wolkwitz’s Alien Zone store, a block from the museum, sells T-shirts, key chains and other alien paraphernalia. The store also features an alien studio filled with several scenes ranging from aliens barbecuing to an Area 51 toxic spill. Visitors can pay $2 to take their own pictures in the studio.

"I think the people really are interested in the mystery and the enigma about all of this," Wolkwitz said.

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July 12, 2000

Edmonton Sun

Shadowy agency prompts speculation

by Doug Beazley

A rich-as-God real estate magnate with his own private jet can go just about anywhere he wants, whenever he wants - including North Battleford, Sask., in high August.

Question is, why would he want to? Well, if he's Robert T. Bigelow, he goes for the scenery. And the mutilated cattle.

"It was a pretty typical case," said Fernand Belzil, St. Paul rancher and one of Canada's top cattle mutilation investigators. "Tongue missing. One ear removed, one eye, the rectum, the udder. Those weird bare spots on the stomach. The corpse was fresh, about 24 hours old."

On Aug. 29, 1995, Bigelow, a billionaire who made his pile with hotel chains and apartments in the U.S., flew into North Battleford for the long drive north to a cattle farm that had seen about 15 mutilation cases in 20 years.

Bigelow, 56, is something of a legend in the UFO community - a sort of Howard Hughes figure who avoids press attention while dumping huge quantities of cash into research areas most mainstream scientists won't touch: crop circles, flying saucers and mutilated livestock.

Bigelow sat in with Belzil on a veterinarian's autopsy of the butchered cow. The cuts, said Belzil, were clean-edged, as if they'd been done with a scalpel.

"The cow was supposed to be pregnant, but we never found a fetus," he said.

Bigelow took the autopsy results and flew home to Las Vegas. Belzil waited for a report on what the veterinarian found.

"All we ever heard was that there was an error in the study. We never got any data back," he said. "Between you and I, it sounds very much like a coverup."

It's a suspicion that gets voiced a lot in the UFO field about Bigelow and his research group, the Nevada-based National Institute for Discovery Science. His deep pockets give him access to a wealth of rumors and reports about weird happenings - but NIDS is notoriously stingy with its information.

"NIDS is a black hole. Information goes in, nothing comes out," said Gord Kijek of the Alberta UFO Study Group. "Nobody seems to know what their real agenda is."

Nobody seems to know a whole lot about Bigelow either. His official NIDS bio describes him as a very wealthy philanthropist with his own aerospace company - currently working on a project to develop the first orbiting space hotel.

In 1947, according to the Wall Street Journal, Bigelow's grandparents were buzzed by a glowing red UFO while driving through the Nevada desert late at night. He's reportedly spent more than $10 million of his own money on paranormal research to date, including bankrolling the operation of St. Paul's own UFO hotline between 1996 and 1999.

"In return for paying the bills, he got first crack at any UFO sighting report we received," said Paul Pelletier, former hotline administrator. "We weren't allowed to publicize them without NIDS' permission."

In 1996, Bigelow sent a team of researchers to a Utah ranch which reportedly had been the site of a range of bizarre phenomena: UFOs the size of football fields, circular doorways appearing in midair, floating balls of light incinerating family pets. He bought out the owners on the condition that they keep mum about whatever they'd seen.

"Personally, it's not the way I feel science should be done," said Dr. Jim Butler, a U of A biologist with an interest in the paranormal. "Because of the secrecy, a lot of conspiracy theories get built up around NIDS."

Like maybe Bigelow's building his own flying saucer?

"I wouldn't put it past him," said Butler, laughing.

Colm Kelleher's heard most of the conspiracy theories himself. He's a researcher at NIDS with a resume that includes a biochemistry doctorate from the University of Dublin.

He said NIDS is working on some explosive theories about UFOs and cattle mutilation they're in no hurry to publish.

"The authentic mutilations are not done by predators," he said. "The cuts show the use of surgical instruments and techniques. We have no indication it's being done by aliens.

"People keep saying we're a CIA front, we're the Men in Black. We're just prudent. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Right now the UFO field is 95% speculation and fantasy, 5% data of very poor quality. This is why these phenomena are still ridiculed by the media.

"And no, we are not (building a UFO)."

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July 12, 2000

Fox News

Former Astronaut Gordon Cooper On UFOs and Space Travel

Gordon Cooper was one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts and part of a select group of the nation's top military test pilots who braved the frontiers of outer space.

He was also the last American to fly in space alone. On that journey, almost 40 years ago, he did not find extraterrestrial intelligence, but he did find a deeper sense of personal faith.

As David Asman uncovered in the afternoon edition of Fox News Live, many untrue reports came out about Cooper and his extraterrestrial sightings in space. On Tuesday, Cooper said all of the reports were false, but he did have an out-of-this world experience while flying a plane during the height of the Cold War with Russia.

"We saw these vehicles that were a lot higher and faster than we were, and we could not get to them with airplanes," Cooper said. "We didn't know what Russia was doing with airplanes so it could have been an advance airplane they were building or it could have been a UFO vehicle."

Ever since that flight, Cooper has had an unshakable belief in extraterrestrial intelligence. His new book Leap of Faith, an Astronaut's Journey into the Unknown, recounts his experiences.

David Asman pointed out; the only way an object can go undetected on Earth, is to travel faster than the speed of light — a barrier which scientists only recently claimed to have broken.

"I agree that you have to go faster than the speed of light to be undetected," Cooper said. "But I don't agree that you cannot break the speed of light, in space, magnetic particles do, they zip around and they are going faster than the speed of light."

Cooper's book also touches on how looking down at Earth changed his life. "It's Probably one of the most humbling experiences that I have ever been through," Cooper said. "You are a small part of this great big universe God has made, you feel very small."

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July 12, 2000

Washington Post

Sagan and Firmage: Not So Perfect Together?

by Joel Achenbach

Carl Sagan is a modern-day hero of science. He inspired millions of people to ponder the beauty of the universe, and to understand that we are a tiny, precious fragment of the cosmos. But he also implored them to be skeptical, to resist superstition and pseudo-science. Sagan told everyone to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

Now comes a bit of news that just about knocked me out of my chair. Joe Firmage, a Silicon Valley millionaire who became a highbrow UFO guru after he was visited in his bedroom by "a remarkable being clothed in brilliant white light," has signed a deal with Ann Druyan, head of Carl Sagan Productions ­ and Sagan's widow ­ to start a new company that will have a Web portal and produce science-based entertainment.

I want to resist the urge to start babbling hysterically about how wrong this is. But I do think the names "Firmage" and "Sagan" do not belong in the same sentence, unless separated by an extremely elaborate clause. Sagan promoted science and scientific thinking. Firmage talks about a bunch of bizarre stuff that Sagan would have rejected in a heartbeat.

Sagan said aliens probably aren't here. Firmage says they probably are. It's not a trivial philosophical distinction.

To be fair, Firmage is a cut above 90 percent of the folks who work in the field of "anomalies." He's incredibly smart. He's successful, having started the Internet services firm USWeb before leaving to pursue his UFO interests. He's not crazy. He doesn't scream or rant. He's a perfectly genial fellow.

He's also ambitious. Firmage has said he wants to start a movement. Two years ago he pounded out a rambling book, modestly called "The Truth," and put it up on the Internet, but he's since taken it down, which means we can't link to the part where the mysterious entity in his bedroom emits an electric blue sphere that enter's Firmage's body and triggers "the most unimaginable ecstasy I have ever experienced, a pleasure vastly beyond orgasm."

Druyan has been a fierce defender of her husband's legacy. She's passionate about scientific reasoning. Why would she go into business with Firmage? How could she do it?

Her answer: the new venture will not allow Firmage to advance his fringe theories. There is a specific legal agreement that prevents Firmage from doing so, she said.

"It unequivocably states that if I feel that Carl's legacy has in any way been besmirched by any statement made in the name of our company, then I walk and I'll take everything with me. Nothing less than that can protect the legacy," Druyan told me.

I asked her if this was an unholy alliance. She said no.

"Carl and I worked with a lot of people over the last few decades who had conventional religious beliefs that in some ways are as remote from what I believe as what Joe Firmage believes," she said.

Firmage said, "I want to tread lightly." But he made clear that his new media company ­ he'll run the Web portal and Druyan will head the production studio ­ will deal with the kinds of theories that interest him.

"Will I use this media company to inequitably promote my view? No," he said. But he said it would "absolutely" deal, responsibly, with "science anomalies."

The "historic joint venture," as the press release puts it, is code-named Project Voyager. It has $23 million in venture capital behind it. I will admit that despite reading the press release and talking to Firmage and Druyan I remain a bit fuzzy on what this company will actually do. The press release calls it "a new kind of media network that intends to transform entertainment and learning drawn from the rapidly expanding knowledge base of science." The production studio will make TV shows and movies, which will be promoted on the Web site alongside news articles and other educational material. In the press release, Druyan says, "There is a hunger for myths, images and dreams that do justice to our radically altered sense of who, where and when we are … And where we might go and who we might become."


Firmage will be tempted use his new company to promote his theories about breakthrough physics. He appears to believe that a small group of scientists have discovered a heretofore secret property of the universe that will someday allow us to extract limitless energy from the "vacuum" of space, cancel the inertial mass of an object, build faster-than-light spaceships, and zip around the cosmos at the snap of a finger.

That imminent breakthrough could explain why aliens are here, snooping around, checking us out. They know we're about to go galactic. They want to give us the ground rules, maybe.

It's hard to know how much of this Firmage really believes and how much of it he is merely entertaining with his very open mind. But if humans and aliens get together soon in a formal way, Firmage wants to be at the table.

Firmage argues that he believes in science. He says he only goes where the facts lead him. But I have an unfortunate fact to report: Everyone working in the world of anomalies ­ of UFOs, near-death experiences, reincarnation, cattle mutilations, crop circles, psychokinesis, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and so on ­ says exactly the same thing. We're scientific! We're not crazy! We just want to stick to the facts, and the facts tell us there are enormous hairy proto-humans lumbering through the Oregon forests!

Firmage doesn't say that aliens are necessarily here right now. But he thinks it's "highly likely" that we've been visited at some point. A small group of people have had knowledge about this issue for the past fifty years, he said.

"I believe that the most economical explanation for some number of UFOS is extraterrestrial visitation," he said. "Ann disagrees with that view. Both of us agree to let science arbitrate."

Firmage has also been talking with The Planetary Society, which was founded by Sagan in 1980 to increase public support for space science. Some kind of business deal could be announced at any time. Firmage offers one thing to the keepers of the Sagan flame: Money. He has been able to raise tens of millions of dollars in venture capital. What they offer Firmage, in turn, is a big shot of credibility.

The SETI Institute, meanwhile, said no to Firmage. All these groups need the kind of money Firmage has, but they need their good reputations, too, and SETI, which takes on the already rather spectacular goal of detecting alien civilizations through scientific techniques, doesn't need to get mixed up with a UFO person.

Sagan's longtime friend and colleague, Frank Drake, the head of the SETI Institute, told me that a deal with Firmage's firm could have meant sizable streams of revenue coming into his organization. But it wasn't the right thing to do.

"Any connection with Firmage, no matter what disclaimers you put on your site, people will take this as an endorsement of the views of Firmage. This would damage our image in the minds of many of our scientific colleagues and members of the general public, including major donors who support us," Drake said.

There is a thought I've clung to as I've ruminated about this latest move by Firmage. It is that Sagan's legacy isn't up for grabs, no matter who strikes what deal. Sagan's name can't be bought. He put his ideas on the record. He wrote books. The books had readers, and those readers are not stupid.

We know the difference between Carl Sagan and Joe Firmage.

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July 7, 2000

Edmonton Sun

Conspiracy theorists landing in St. Paul

by Doug Beazley

"Now, this business goes beyond mere cattle mutilation," said Graham Conway to Fernand Belzil in a very loud voice, halfway through the press conference. "Are you prepared to tell these gentlemen about the otter situation, or shall I?"

"The what situation?" asked Belzil, looking startled.


"I don't know about any otters," Belzil replied. "I heard of some cats being mutilated. Personally, I think that's the cults."

This is what shop talk sounds like in the UFO community. Yesterday, four enthusiasts from the murky fields of paranormal phenomena gathered in Edmonton to hype this weekend's UFO 2000 conference in St. Paul, about 200 km northeast of here.

In 1996 an Angus Reid poll found that 70% of Canadians - and 83% of Albertans - said they believed intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe. Just over half of the Canadians sampled said they thought the planet had already been buzzed by extraterrestrial vehicles - 14% said future visits were quite likely.

And that, said UFO researcher Dr. Bruce Maccabee, makes Albertans some of the canniest people on the orb. Fewer and fewer intelligent North Americans, he said, are willing to accept the lame-duck explanations propped up by the press and the military for the weird lights and mangled sheep, and they're cutting through to the truth: They're out there.

"Sightings have been explained away with explanations that make no sense," said Maccabee, whose resume describes him as possessing a PhD in physics.

"Like the Roswell incident. Just recently the Air Force announced the alien bodies seen by people on the scene were actually crash-test dummies dropped from balloons in the desert.  The Air Force could have gone on ignoring the subject. Instead, it just took one foot out of its mouth and shoved the other in."

In other words, the fact the authorities tried to explain the alleged 1947 alien crash-landing in Roswell, New Mexico, proves the explanation was bogus - otherwise they wouldn't have offered it, right?

Most of the real conspiracy theorizing in the paranormal business comes from just connecting the dots: from lights in the skies to cattle mutilation to crop circles to repressed abduction memories - to aliens.

"I've never seen anything in the sky, ever. Not a single light," said Belzil.

He's a St. Paul rancher who's become the acknowledged Canadian field expert on cattle and sheep mutilations.

"I've had three reports of cattle mutilations in just the last three weeks. Sometimes they're just missing the tongue and an ear, or just the ear. Often the genitals have been removed, the penis or uterus, sometimes the anus.

"And usually there's no blood anywhere. The cuts are clean, like laser cuts. All the arrows point to aliens, but I have no proof.  So I guess I just don't know."

Conway knows. The Vancouver publisher and UFO-chaser saw his first bogey in 1966, near Scarborough, Ont. - two metallic spheres over a rotating T-shaped bar, hovering hundreds of feet above the ground.

He sees a clear link between Belzil's large cattle mutilation casebook, a report out of Fort MacMurray from a trapper who found an otter mangled in much the same fashion and a recent spate of bisected cats showing up in Ontario suburbs.

"We found several of these ... half-cats ... they looked like they'd been cut in two by buzzsaws," said Conway. "No trace of blood. The internal organs were mostly undamaged.

"We found one with a dark circle on the organs, about the size of a toonie. We sent a sample to a doctor in the U.S. and he concluded the damage was cause by a laser beam."

All of which begs the question: If aliens are buzzing deserts, snatching housewives for weird gynecological experiments and cutting household pets in two - why? Are they trying to send us a message? Or is it all an extraterrestrial version of hazing, like knocking down the neighbour's mailbox?

"The last thing these aliens want is to communicate with us," said Ted Phillips, a Missouri enthusiast who tracks physical evidence of spaceship landings.

"We've always found that when the population goes up, sightings go down.

"They tend to land in empty areas, like the middle of the desert.

"Whatever it is they're trying to do, they don't want to be seen when they're doing it."

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July 7, 2000

Rocky Mountain News

Would you report a UFO? The truth is out there

by Bill Johnson

OK, what would you say if I admitted I was out in my back yard, and saw a low, slow, silent triangle with red lights that for long minutes glowed greenish-yellow before turning red, receding into the clouds and shooting straight across the sky?


This is my nightmare scenario. There are a lot of things I'm afraid of — which I'll admit. This is THE one thing I hope I never encounter. Please, Lord, don't ever send a UFO my way.

I bring this up only because the latest copy of The UFO Report was thrown on my desk the other day. It is fascinating, scary reading. And I love UFO stuff.

Sue me. I think they exist. And why not? Is it completely out of the realm of possibility? The 11 people who sighted a UFO between May 14 and June 8 cannot all be crazy.

If I saw one, and I am serious about this, I would say not a word. Life is tough enough. Don Berliner, who edits The UFO Report out of Washington, D.C., laughed. Sort of.

It is the reason the entire UFO movement has stalled in recent years, he says. "Most people don't report because they are afraid of being laughed at. It's unfortunate, but it's life."

He started his monthly report strictly for the media. Most media people today weren't around in the salad days of the '50s and '60s, when UFO and their sightings were "really hot."

There were days back then, says Berliner, 70, when they couldn't keep up with the overwhelming amount of UFO reports.

Today is different. What most people know of UFOs, he says, comes from the supermarket tabloids and The X-Files.

"There's a lot more to it," he says. "It's a worldwide phenomenon that's covered a half-century. And there's a big story out there. It's why I keep at it."

The problem is only one in 10 sightings is reported, Berliner says. It's the laugh factor. And there really is no place for people to report a sighting. The government quit accepting them in 1969.

"It got frustrating for them because most of their explanations were always incredibly flawed," he says. "Since then, they've insisted they have no interest in the subject."

The other problem is people reporting sightings always see them at night. The key is not to see lights, but objects, Berliner says. Lights can be anything — a meteor, a plane. There's never any detail. It makes the report virtually useless.

Of the 11 May-June sightings published in his report, only two occurred during daylight hours.

Why does he do it? He is a believer, he says. An aviation writer by trade, he's heard so many stories from pilots. Almost all of them are afraid to come forward.

"A lot of good information is lost annually because people say nothing. They don't want to look crazy," he says.

He does what he does simply to help people understand the mystery. "It's a mystery that happens so often, you think it should be susceptible to scientific study," Berliner says.

"Myself and others in the field just want the answers. We want to move onto something else."

Does he ever believe he will find the answer? "If you'd asked me 30 years ago, I'd have said we'd know in a decade. Look how wrong I'd have been."

He does, though, have just one wish.

"I hope," he says, "I last long enough to at last find the answer."

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July 7, 2000

Canadian Press

Residents of Alberta town wait patiently for UFO

ST. PAUL, Alta. (CP) -- After 33 years, people are still waiting patiently for little green men to land at this small farming community's UFO landing pad.

Built in 1967, the structure is supposed to draw visitors -- alien and otherwise -- to tour the Polaris Arena, stay overnight at the Galaxy Motel or grab a slice of pie at Mama's Flying Saucer Diner.

But for some reason (a wrong left turn at Andromeda?) the spaceships keep missing the place.

"We should probably look at painting a big bull's-eye on the landing pad to make it easier to spot from way up there," jokes Rhea Labrie, the town's UFO consultant.

To keep the faith and the tourist dollars flowing, St. Paul is hosting UFO Conference 2000 this weekend. The three-day meeting is complete with picture displays and expert speakers on paranormal activities such as UFO sightings, crop circles and animal mutilations.

Labrie says more than 500 humanoids from across North America are expected to attend.

"Most of the participants come because they have seen things," says Labrie. "They are looking for answers, more information to put their experience into perspective."

One of the experts is Fern Belzil, a 70-year-old former cattle rancher who has investigated 46 mysterious mutilations of farm animals.

While he hasn't made up his mind yet on whether aliens are responsible, Belzil says some of the discoveries have been pretty spooky. Especially when there are no tracks, no blood and no evidence of a struggle. Often the animal's genitals have been removed with almost surgical precision.

"It makes you wonder who did this. It sure as hell wasn't predators or cults," he says.

"A lot of evidence points toward aliens . . . but I have no proof of it. Seeing is believing, eh?"

Once Belzil set up a video camera pointing at some cattle on a farm in Saskatchewan. When he discovered one of the animals had
died, he rushed to view the tape.

"The video went blank for 12 minutes . . . a complete whiteout . . . the cow was mutilated."

Ted Phillips, another speaker at the conference, is a specialist on UFO sightings and crop circles.

The civil engineer from Branson, Mo., has been chasing down flying saucer reports since 1968 and has so far probed 2,300 cases in 79 countries -- including Canada.

While he has interviewed hundreds of people who say they have seen UFOs or aliens, his real specialty is looking for physical evidence of extraterrestrial visits.

"We have found eight-foot circular rings that will fluoresce (glow) for three or four nights after an event," usually in rural areas in the middle of fields, he says.

Animals won't go near the rings and people who touch dirt from such areas get a numb feeling in their fingers, he says.

In some cases these sites look like a liquid has been dumped even though the area is completely dry.

Phillips believes the spots may be caused by fluid leaks from UFOs. "Whatever generated the site had dumped this liquid residue," he says. "It would be like finding a motor oil leak."

Unfortunately Phillips has never managed to obtain a big enough sample of the fluid for chemical analysis. He says it evaporates too quickly.

So after 30 years of study does he believe in UFOs?

"I've never seen one so I try to really stay on the fence," he says. "But something has to be going on . . . There have been so many witnesses."

Phillips says UFO sightings now number about 200 per year in Canada -- mostly in August and September. He says people are more apt to witness a landing between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. to 2 a.m.

For the record, most sightings are reported in Ontario, followed by Saskatchewan and Alberta.

"Only about 15 per cent of the reported landings involve (alien) humanoids -- little guys."

If you meet one of these little green men, make sure you tell them about St. Paul's UFO landing pad.

And also let them know that Mama's Diner is featuring its Orbit breakfast special this weekend -- bacon, sausage, three eggs and toast all for $6.75 Cdn.

The town's UFO Web site is at

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July 1, 2000

McClendon News Service

Pressure Builds on Congress over UFOs


by Sarah McClendon

Washington, D.C. - Pressure is building up for Congress to give attention to the controversy over unidentified flying objects.  With scientists from Stanford, MIT, Cornell, Princeton and elsewhere studying UFO evidence, the controversy is now being brought out into the open and heavy secrecy surrounding the subject is being lifted. Seminars on UFO evidence are being held periodically throughout the country with laymen discussing the evidence without fear of being ridiculed.

When about 30 members of Congress or their staff heard a briefing on UFOs in April of 1997, Rep. Dan Burton, R., Ind. chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, displayed some interest in the matter. His committee has received a number of letters on the subject, according to staff member Matthew Ebert. "These letters are treated seriously," he said. Ebert thinks there is a possibility congressional hearings will be held.

At a May 11 hearing on human rights documents pertaining to Guatemala and Honduras held by the House subcommittee on Government Management Information and Technology, its chairman Rep. Steve Horn, R. CA, asked how the government classifies UFO documents. The two witnesses, Lee Strickland, chief of the Information Review Group of the Central Intelligence Agency and Steven Garfinkle, director of the Security and Oversight Group of the National Archives, both said they thought UFO documents should be considered as public information.

There may be economic benefits from this emerging information. Dr. Steven Greer, an emergency room physician, who for eight years has briefed and been briefed by government and U.N. officials on the subject of unidentified objects in U.S. airspace, is convinced that the materials and technology of UFOs carry enormous benefits. For example, he says their energy creating apparatus does not use internal combustion.

Greer asserts the financial and environmental cost of exploiting oil and gas to service 6 billion people worldwide can be dramatically reduced. Large scale energy production derived from UFO technology would reverse environmental damage and save hundreds of billions of dollars annually in direct costs.

Dr. Greer is the International Director of the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence and leads a working team of around 200 composed of CSETI members and associates, government employee witnesses, consultants and government contacts. Their hope is to get congress to hold hearings and take testimony from witnesses. He has explained his conclusions to a number of congressional members.

A national petition utilizing the Internet and calling for congressional hearings was launched last year by another group, Stargate International out of Tucson, Arizona. It has accumulated 20,000 + names to be presented to congress. A million signatures are sought.

Greer is aware that many employees of the government keep secret facts which they have obtained about UFOs. He feels it is unconstitutional for government to bottle up information of this importance. He would like to see UFO's openly discussed and covered widely in the press.

For some years the belief has been widespread there is in the public domain a presidential executive order forbidding government employees from talking about UFOs. Dr. Greer is not aware of any such an executive order but indicated concern that secret executive orders have been issued and not disclosed to Congress or the public. Such secret orders would make it difficult for people to learn more about UFOs. From the White House it was learned that a check of executive orders going back to the early eighteen thirties shows none has been issued on this subject. Surprising is the growing number of citizens showing an interest in finding out more about UFOs. Seminars are being held around the country every week with as many as five and six hundred in attendance.

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June 27, 2000

Irish Independent

UFOs, is the truth out there?

UFOs once the preserve of the purely paranoid are now being taken seriously. Astronauts, Generals and a number of influential scientists are hammering away at the crust of international scepticism. LESLIE KEAN explains why a study by the French military may finally make governments sit up and take notice.

The release in April of the first detailed satellite images of Area 51, the top-secret Air Force test site in Nevada, prompted a website meltdown as people from around the world searched for clues about unidentified flying objects.

The interest has been really phenomenal, said David Mountain, marketing director for Aerial Images, Inc which posted the high resolution aerial photos of Area 51 on the Internet.

But those hoping to see signs of something extraordinary were destined to be disappointed. Most of Area 51s operations occur underground, making photos meaningless. Anyone looking for the fresh information on UFOs would have better luck trying a new, but less publicized source: by the French military, just translated into English.

High level officials including retired generals from the French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense, a government-funded strategic planning agency recently took a giant step in openly challenging skepticism about UFOs. In a report based on a three year study, they concluded that, numerous manifestations observed by reliable witnesses could be the work of craft of extra-terrestrial origin and that, in fact, the best explanation is the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

Although not categorically proven, strong presumptions exist in its favor and if it is correct, it is loaded with significant consequences.

The French group reached that conclusion after examining nearly 500 detailed international aeronautical sightings and radar/visual cases, and previously undisclosed pilots reports. They drew on data from official sources, government authorities, and the Air Forces of different countries.

The findings are contained in a 90-page report titled, UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For?, published in France by the magazine VSD.

The mechanics of a mystery. The number of sightings, which are completely unexplained despite the abundance and quality of data from them, is growing throughout the world, the team declared.

The authors note that about 5 percent of sightings on which there is solid documentation cannot be easily attributed to earthly sources, such as secret military exercises - especially since unexplained objects have been reported since 1944. The rest seem to be completely unknown flying machines with exceptional performances that are guided by a natural or artificial intelligence, they say.

Science has developed plausible models for travel from another solar system and for technology which could be used to propel the vehicles, the report says. assures readers that UFOs have demonstrated no hostile acts, although intimidation maneuvers have been confirmed.

Given the widespread scepticism about UFOs, many will quickly dismiss the generals ET hypothesis. But it is less easy to do so once the authors credentials are considered.

The study's originators are four-star General Bernard Norlain, former commander of the French Tactical Air Force and military counselor to the prime minister; General Denis Letty, an air force fighter pilot; and Andre Lebeau, former head of the National Center for Space Studies (the French equivalent of NASA in the United States.)

They formed a 12-member Committee for In-depth Studies, abbreviated as COMETA, which authored the report. Three-star Admiral Marc Merlo, national chief of police Denis Blancher and Jean-Jacques Velasco, head of a government agency studying UFOs, as well as scientists and weapons engineers, were also contributors. Not only does the group stand by its findings, it is urging international action.

The writers recommend that France establish sectorial cooperation agreements with interested European and foreign countries on the matter of UFOs. They suggest that the European Union undertake diplomatic action with the United States exerting useful pressure to clarify this crucial issue which must fall within the scope of political and strategic alliances.

Why might other nations be inclined to take this subject seriously? For one thing, declassified US government documents show that unexplained objects with extraordinary technical capabilities pose challenges to military activity around the globe. For example, US fighter jets have been scrambled to pursue UFOs, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command logs and US Air Force documents.

Iranian and Peruvian Air Force planes attempted to shoot down unexplained objects during air encounters in 1976 and 1980, and Belgian F-16s equipped with automatically guided missiles pursued UFOs in 1990.

Further, the French report says that there have been visits above secret installations and missile bases and military aircraft shadowed in the US. Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who was the sixth man to walk on the moon, is one of many supporters of international cooperation on UFOs. Of the French report, he says, It's significant that individuals of some standing in the government, military and intelligence community in France came forth with this.

Mitchell, who holds a doctor of science degree from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is convinced at a confidence level above 90pc, that there is reality to all of this. He adds, People have been digging through the files and investigating for years now. The files are quite convincing. The only thing that's lacking is the official stamp. He joins five-star Admiral Lord Hill-Norton, the former head of the British Ministry of Defense, in calling for US congressional fact-finding hearings into the UFO question.

Hearings would include testimony by government witnesses from the Air Force, Army, Navy, NASA, private industry and intelligence operations with personal, first-hand knowledge of UFO phenomena and related projects.

The astronaut amd the investigation Despite the fact that Mitchell is a national hero and has been honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USN Distinguished Service Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, his request for an investigation has been ignored by U.S. officials.

Nonetheless, the public's interest in UFOs is undiminished. A ballot initiative underway in the US state of Missouri, and certified by the secretary of state in March, urges Congress to convene hearings. The initiative states that the Federal Governments handling of the UFO issue has contributed to the public cynicism toward, and general mistrust of, government.

US Naval Reserve Commander Willard H. Miller has been communicating this same concern to high level officials for a number of years. With over 30 years in Navy and Joint Interagency operations with the US Defense Department, Miller has participated in a series of previously undisclosed briefings for Pentagon brass about military policy regarding UFOs.

Like many, he says he worries that the military's lack of preparation for encounters with unexplained craft could provoke a dangerous confrontation when, and if, such an encounter occurs; precipitous military decisions, he warns, may lead to unnecessary confusion, misapplication of forces, or possible catastrophic consequences.

And he says he is not alone in his concerns. There are those in high places in the government who share a growing interest in this subject, Miller reports.

Miller retired in 1994 from active duty on the Current Operations Staff (J3) of U.S. Atlantic Command, Norfolk, Virginia where he worked operations, intelligence, and special contingency issues. In a February, 2000 confidential memo prepared for this reporter, he spelled out the details of meetings with named officials - including the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, an Admiral on the Joint Staff, and the U.S. Atlantic Command's Director for Intelligence - between 1989 and 2000.

Miller concurs with the COMETA's observation that there is no evidence of hostility from UFOs The only threat to the national security of the United States is the continued denial of undeniable physical UFO occurrences and sightings to a public growing increasingly frustrated with its government's weak explanations, Miller says.

Air Force Regulation 200-2, Unidentified Flying Objects Reporting, prohibits the release to the public and the media any data about those objects which are not explainable while allowing disclosure only of the UFOs that have been identified as familiar objects.

An even more restrictive procedure is outlined in the Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146, which provides communications instructions for reporting sightings relevant to US security. Anyone under its jurisdiction disclosing reports without authorization is subject to prosecution under the Espionage Act.

Even the President of the United States recently had trouble accessing information on the subject. In 1995, philanthropist Laurence Rockefeller provided UFO briefing materials to President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Presidential science advisor Jack Gibbons while they spent a weekend at Rockefeller's Wyoming ranch. Clinton then instructed Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department, Webster Hubbell, to investigate the existence of UFOs, as disclosed by Hubbell in his book, Friends in High Places. Despite this request from the Commander in Chief, Hubbell was unable to obtain information on the subject.

In earlier decades, issues that remain pertinent today were openly discussed. In 1960, for example, US Representative Leonard G. Wolf of Iowa entered an urgent warning from R.E. Hillenkoetter, a former CIA Director and Navy vice admiral, into the Congressional Record that certain dangers are linked with unidentified flying objects.

Wolf cited Gen. L.M. Chassin, NATO coordinator of Allied Air Service, warning that If we persist in refusing to recognize the existence of the UFOs, we will end up, one fine day, by mistaking them for the guided missiles of an enemy - and the worst will be upon us.

These concerns were taken seriously enough to be incorporated into the 1971 Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Outbreak of Nuclear War between the US and the Soviet Union. The treaty states that the two countries will notify each other immediately in the event of detection by missile warning systems of unidentified objects...if such occurrences could create a risk of outbreak of nuclear war between the two countries.

The French report may open the door for nations to be more forthcoming once again. Chile, for example, is openly addressing it's own concerns about air safety and UFOs. The now retired Chief of the Chilean Air Force has formed a committee with civil aviation experts to study recent near collisions between UFOs and civilian airliners.

As the international conversation about UFOs unfolds, sightings continue, as they have for decades. Perhaps the most notable recent US sighting took place in March 1997. Hundreds of people across the state of Arizona reported seeing huge triangular objects, hovering silently in the night sky - a sighting that, as the state's Senator John McCain noted recently, has never been fully explained.

As recently as Jan. 5, 2000, four policemen at different locations in St. Claire County, Illinois, witnessed a huge, brightly lighted, triangular craft flying and hovering at 1000 feet. One officer reported witnessing extreme rapid motion by the craft that cannot be explained in conventional terms. Nearby Scott Air Force base and the FAA purport to know nothing.

The French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense and the National Center for Space Studies remain several steps ahead of the United States military and NASA. Perhaps the report by the bold French generals -- with its goal of stripping the phenomenon of UFOs of its irrational layer will be a catalyst for authorities around the world to publicly examine the issue of UFOs in a new light.

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June 22, 2000

Washington Post

'X-Files' Case Lands in Va.

by Patricia Davis

Larry W. Bryant has a court case that could have ramifications way beyond Alexandria--way, way beyond.

Bryant believes that people who claim they were abducted by extraterrestrials should have their day in court. In an effort to force a hearing on the issue, the city resident and two other Virginians have filed a lawsuit against Gov. James S. Gilmore III in Alexandria.

In the lawsuit, the trio argues that the governor has ignored an important public safety issue and has a legal obligation "to identify, assess, and repel this clandestine invasion within Virginia."

"Yet, in direct dereliction of duty," the lawsuit filed in Alexandria Circuit Court charges, "he refuses even to acknowledge the existence of the 'invasion'."

A spokesman for the Virginia Attorney General's Office would not comment on the allegations. But David Botkins said the lawsuit will receive the attention it deserves. "We have turned this case over to our 'X-Files' department," he said.

Bryant said he has been unable to find a lawyer willing to take the case, but he is prepared to argue it himself. The retired Army civilian said he has been involved in "the politics of UFO research" for more than 40 years and directs, from his Alexandria home, the Washington office of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, a public interest organization with about 10,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide.

"It deserves a fair hearing," said Bryant, 62. "I believe that the UFO subject has serious merit and that witnesses are telling the truth as they see it."

The lawsuit, which was filed June 5, is filled with talk of mysterious "flying triangles" and the abduction of citizens from their neighborhoods, homes and cars. Bryant, along with Gretchen Condon, of Hampton, and Evelyn J. Goodwin, of Newport News, believes that citizens deserve to know what the government knows and that the issue deserves more investigation.

Among other things, they want the court to order Gilmore to:

* Convene a special state grand jury, under the Alexandria court's jurisdiction, to investigate the scope, impact, perpetrators and methodology of "this clandestine invasion."

* Appoint a state police task force to analyze and publish all available intelligence on the subject.

* Direct the Virginia National Guard to establish and operate a quick-reaction force to repel "these non-human/humanoid/alien entities yet to be apprehended and brought to justice."

* Afford to invasion victims the same victims-rights counseling, comfort and protective measures as any other victim of criminal activity.

If they get their hearing, Bryant said, he will introduce exhibits to document the current invasion. How the court rules could have, well, far-reaching implications.

"Whatever the court decides in this case may affect how all Earth governments [and society] treat the UFO problem from here on out," Bryant said.

Or not.

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June 4, 2000

Rocky Mountain News

Britain's UFO secrets revealed

by Anthony Barnett
London Observer Service

LONDON - On Feb. 15, 1999, an air traffic controller in Scotland noticed something strange on his radar screen. A bright blip on his screen suggested there was a very large object traveling at 3,000 mph over the Scottish coastline heading southwest. The size of the blip suggested the object was 10 miles long and two miles wide. Two minutes later, the object disappeared from the radar screen.

Three months earlier, British Ministry of Defense documents record that a commercial pilot flying over the Midlands region reported an unusual object traveling at "very high speed" with a very bright strobe light flashing once every 20 seconds.

Although the two incidents were unrelated, both were reported to a little-known department in the ministry known as Secretariat (Air Staff) 2a, the secretive section which collates reports of unidentified flying objects that cross British airspace.

The government has traditionally treated reports of UFO sightings as highly classified and only released information to the public after 30 years. But the parliamentary ombudsman insisted that the Ministry of Defense hand this information to Colin Ridyard, a research chemist from Wales who had been seeking information relating to UFO sightings by pilots or radar operators between July 1998 and July 1999.

Initially, the ministry refused on the ground it would be too expensive. But after the intervention of the ombudsman, Michael Buckley, the ministry agreed to release the information as a one-time exercise for $120. The ministry handed two reports to Ridyard, yet official information from the Civil Aviation Authority suggests there had been additional sightings. During the same period the CAA said it reported two more UFO sightings to the ministry, neither of which it disclosed.

According to official CAA reports, in the same month that a radar picked up an enormous object flying across Scotland, a pilot flying over the North Sea became startled when his aircraft became illuminated by an "incandescent" light. Three other aircraft in the area reported seeing a ball of light moving at high speed. Air traffic controllers reported there were no strange aircraft in the area, but five minutes later an operator at a weather station picked up a fast-moving object on his radar.

The other incident which the CAA reported to the ministry occurred in June 1999 when the pilot of a B757 flying over the North Sea reported an unidentified military-looking aircraft passing close by in the opposite direction. Nothing was seen on the plane's radar or by air traffic controllers. The ministry told the CAA there were no military aircraft known to be in that area at the time.

Although a ministry spokeswoman would not discuss individual sightings, she said all these events had perfectly normal explanations.

In a letter to one of Ridyard's local Members of Parliament, Defense Minister John Spellar said: "My department has no interest or role with respect to UFO/flying saucer matters or to the question of the existence or otherwise of extraterrestrial life forms - about which we remain open-minded."

But Ridyard said: "This is not about little green men, but about freedom of information. It is clear there are many strange incidents that happen in the British skies that are kept secret. There may be issues of aircraft safety or natural phenomena, but by keeping this information secret these incidents cannot be scrutinized by the public or the scientific community."

One of the most infamous incidents relating to a UFO sighting in Britain only came to light through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. This revealed that in December 1980 three security patrolmen investigating a potential air crash near the U.S. Air Force base in Suffolk, England, saw a strange glowing triangular object hovering near the base which had a "pulsing red light on top and blue lights underneath."

An official report by Lt. Col. Charles Halt, the deputy base commander, included a description of the events and stated that the next day three depressions were found in the forest where the object was discovered which showed radiation readings. Later that night three star-like objects were seen in the sky moving "rapidly in sharp angular movements."

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June 2, 2000

Florida Today

Do new NASA tapes show UFOs?

by Billy Cox

The authenticity of videos showing unidentified flying objects has been challenged since the advent of camcorders. But a new debate is unfolding over UFO images generated by NASA and marketed commercially in a video _ "The Secret NASA Transmissions: The Smoking Gun."

It includes space-shuttle footage recorded above western North Africa on Feb. 26, 1996, that appears to show huge, distant spherical UFOs shadowing Columbia during mission STS-75.

This peculiar sequence is just a portion of the "Smoking Gun" tape, produced and edited by Quest Publications, a British outfit that publishes UFO Magazine. Viewers who buy the $27.50 mail-order videotape also will see a number of other anomalous goings-on recorded by NASA cameras from various missions in the 1990s.

For UFO skeptic Jim Oberg, the "Smoking Gun" furor is a classic example of the misinterpretations that occur when human perception expands into the unknown. He likens it to the 15th-century Age of Exploration, when Old World mariners mapped uncharted oceans and returned with tales of sea serpents and mermaids. As Earthlings secure their foothold in space, Oberg predicts there'll be more fog to come.

"When you're on the edge of the new frontier," said the former NASA mission control specialist, "your imagination fills in the details."

For the Canadian largely responsible for bringing the NASA images into the public domain, the possibilities are exhilarating.

"It's all out there," said Martyn Stubbs of Vancouver, "and I think NASA is challenging us to find it."

The STS-75 incident: In the winter of '96, Columbia was testing the $100 million Italian Tethered Satellite System, a ball-shaped device linked to a rod-and-reel deployment spool by a cable stretching 12 miles at maximum extension. The experiment was designed to see how well tethers could generate electricity in space. But it ended abruptly when the cable snapped.

During shuttle video acquisition of the broken tether, the black void around the dismembered hardware began swarming with particles and beads of light, resembling an organic soup beneath a microscope. The tether appeared surrounded by the objects.

And everyone was paying attention, as the communications chatter indicated:

"I've tried to adjust the focus but I can't get better than that."

"OK, Claude, thank you. Beautiful."

"This view is showing,

uhh . . . " Eight second pause. Some of the objects, many of them spheres with a single dot in the center, appear to pass behind the tether. " . . . the satellite, just moving into sunrise."

"Eighty-one nautical miles now from Columbia."

Thirty-three second pause. The objects gather in force.

"You guys getting the image?"

"Franklin, we see a long line, a couple of starlike things, and a lot of things swimming in the foreground. Can you describe what you're seeing?"

"Well, the long line is a tether. Um, there's a little bit of debris that, uh, kinda flies with us and, uh, it's illuminated by the sun at such low angles. There's a lotta stray light and it's getting washed out quickly, but Claude is doing a good job trying to adjust the camera."

Then a manager of community- access cable stations in British Columbia, Stubbs decided to record every minute of every manned mission via live downlink feeds in the mid-1990s, following the famous STS-48 controversy.

In October 1991, STS-48 beamed back images that wound up in national debates, largely on tabloid TV shows. While passing over western Australia, one of shuttle Discovery's cameras recorded white blips that appeared to stop and change direction when a pulse of light raced toward them.

Informally, NASA consultants agreed the camera had photo graphed ice crystals repulsed during a thruster jet firing, which accounted for the light flash. The only formal analysis of the footage was written by University of Nebraska- Omaha physics professor Dr. Jack Kasher. Using geometry and physics, Kasher eliminated near-foreground ice crystals and thruster-jet explanations, then concluded STS-48 had captured independently operated spacecraft.

"The Journal for UFO Studies is a refereed, academic journal," says Kasher on the magazine that published his conclusions. "I keep hoping for an official response from NASA, but of course that hasn't happened."

Stubbs is waiting for NASA to weigh in on the STS-75 footage the video wasn't made public until March. He discounts ice crystals and other forms of near-foreground "shuttle dandruff."

"These objects, particularly the spheres, are clearly going behind the tether," he insists. "And the tether is what, 70, 80 miles away? I've heard the argument that, well, surely if things that big could be seen from that far away, they should be visible here on Earth as well. But how can we know what an unknown phenomenon in space looks like from our perspective here on the ground?"


But that's exactly what you could expect to see, argues Dr. Joseph Nuth, head of the Astrochemistry Branch Lab for Extraterrestrial Physics at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"If you've got mile-wide flying saucers _ which they'd probably have to be, to be seen at that distance from the shuttle _ and six or eight of 'em at least, according to (Stubbs' interpretation), I can't imagine somebody on the ground not seeing it," said Nuth, who watched the "Smoking Gun" video.

Furthermore, Nuth said space isn't a pristine environment.

"When you're in a vacuum, things just de-gas and pop out," he said. "All the stuff comes out of little cracks and it does it the entire time it's up there, because the shuttle basically carries an atmosphere with it. Personally, I think Oberg's explanation is perfectly reasonable."

Oberg, a 20-year veteran of mission-control operations at Johnson Space Center, said some of the images are, in fact, near- foreground objects exaggerated by the shuttle's camera system.

"If you look at enough video, you see this as a standard out-of- focus effect," he said. "This particular camera system isn't designed for low light levels, and it's being pushed beyond its specifications in order to zoom in on the tether. Under these conditions, the tether itself looks bizarre, because it's only as thick as a phone cord, maybe an eighth of an inch. But because the image intensifier is turned all the way up, what we see is a phantom thickness that's not real.

"So, in addition to recording all the debris floating around, we see all these discs out there, too. Big circles with dots in the middle and all of them notched at about 7 o'clock. These notched discs are a feature of the camera."

Consequently, Oberg said the discs passing behind the tether are an illusion blooming in an extreme environment. As for the sudden light flashes and streaks that Stubbs said are visible at some point on every mission, Oberg is less certain. "It's very interesting," he said. "Streaks probably occur when you're out there in the radiation belts."


As he reviewed the voluminous mission tapes, Stubbs kept seeing orange streaking action, captured by payload bay cameras and interior cams as well. Freezing the images took some effort Stubbs said they flashed at one-thirtieth of a second.

On one "Smoking Gun" sequence, shuttle astronauts preparing to leave the orbiter for a spacewalk are clearly perplexed. The streaking is visible on tape:

"What was that flash?"

"What, Max?"

"I saw a light flash past me just here. Did you see it?"

"I thought it must've been me." Chuckle.


"I thought it was my imagination."

"I saw it, too, so it's not. There (were) two of them. There's another one. What are they?"

"I thought I saw the lights flickering in here. Who'd be taking pictures?"

"What is this? It's just gone past in front of us."

Stubbs said he didn't mean for the video title _ "The Secret NASA Transmissions" _ to imply a coverup, or that the mission downlinks were surreptitiously channeled.

"The images were all readily available," he said. "But I think they have a double or hidden meaning. You don't see it unless (you) make time to look at literally everything, like I've done. And then patterns emerge. It's like the O.J. trials, reasonable doubt versus a perponderance of evidence. To me, there's a perponderance of evidence that something very strange is going on."


One of his many challenges on tape is to debate former astronaut Story Musgrave, a veteran of six shuttle missions. In the "Smoking Gun" video, Musgrave is heard saying, "That's really interesting" during the appearance of an ostensible plasma blob that emerges against an Earth background during STS-80 in December 1996.

"I believe Story's playing both sides of the fence," Stubbs said. "He's always talking about life out there, and he's taped some unusual things. I think he knows more than he's saying."

Now living in Kissimmee, Musgrave insists the astronaut corps he flew with before retiring in 1996 has no evidence of extraterrestrial activity.

Objects in space, particularly near-foreground objects, do weird things, he said. They are ubiquitous. They break apart. They move independently. They bump into each other and make right- angle maneuvers. They change velocity.

"I've seen what looks like a little snake swimming along on its own internal motions. I've got it on videotape," he said. "I come back to KSC and I ask the guys on the ground, are you missing something, a sealed rubber hose? They say no, there are no post-flight anomalies. I go up again and there it is, swimming along in the sunlight, internal motion. Yeah, they're curious about it, but OK, so what?

"Since you know there are billions upon billions of intelligent civilizations out there somewhere, must we now, as a part of our Copernican evolution, make this great leap? The fact that I don't understand something doesn't mean that I should apply loose thinking, noncritical thinking, to the process. It does a disservice to the cause of exploration."

Jack Kasher hasn't reviewed the entire "Smoking Gun" video _ only a snippet featured in a recent Fox TV special. Without knowing the camera's capabilities, Kasher said Oberg's explanation sounds valid. But a prosaic solution to the STS-75 images doesn't alter his contention that STS-48 photographed spacecraft making evasive maneuvers.

"I worked a summer at Marshall Space Flight Center in 1991, and there are a lot of really smart people there," Kasher said. "But they're not at all interested in UFOs and it never comes up. I wish they would seize an opportunity like this and put all possible explanations on the table for discussion. Because this is an area of tremendous public interest."

Oberg agrees that NASA should consider being more proactive in addressing issues with extraterrestrial undertones, given the subject's visibility level.

"These are definitely striking images," Oberg said. "I think it's a legitimate subject in our popular culture."


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June 2000

VSD (France)

USA: UFOS and National Security

by Leslie Kean

The recent diffusion in the United States of the Cometa report generates multiple reactions starting from politicians from Congress and military men from the Pentagon. Leslie Kean, an American journalist, examines the situation

"No response is awaited, only action. The Cometa made no request to the American government. It is not entitled to do so," explains Michel Algrin, spokesperson for the Cometa, attorney and political scientist. But he adds, "In this report, we recommend to the French government to cooperate with its American ally on the subject of UFOs."

Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who was the sixth man to walk on the moon, strongly supports such cooperation. Along with five-star Admiral Lord Hill-Norton, the former head of the British Ministry of Defense and Major Gordon L. Cooper, one of America's original seven Mercury astronauts, Mitchell is calling for Congressional hearings to shed light on the UFO question. "People have been digging through the files and investigating for years now. The files are quite convincing. The only thing that's lacking is the official stamp," he explains.  Despite the fact that Mitchell is a national hero, his request for an investigation has been ignored by the American government. As the COMETA report points out, the United States is unique in its silence on this issue. The report UFOs and Defense notes that many UFO files are classified above top secret, and accuses the United States of following a policy of disinformation. It says that the government has an "impressive repressive arsenal" in place, which includes military regulations prohibiting public disclosure of UFO sightings.

Air Force Regulation 200-2, ``Unidentified Flying Objects Reporting,'' for example, prohibits the release to the public and the media of any data about ``those objects which are not explainable.'' An even more restrictive procedure is outlined in the document JANAP 146 (Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146), which threatens to prosecute anyone under its jurisdiction - including pilots, civilian agencies, merchant marine captains, and even some fishing vessels - for disclosing reports of sightings relevant to US security.

A few months after the French release of the COMETA report, US Naval Reserve Commander Willard H. Miller agreed to go on the record about his participation in a series of previously undisclosed briefings for Pentagon brass about national security and military policy regarding UFOs. Miller has been a key liaison to the Pentagon on the subject for years. In asserting publicly that "It's time to give some credibility to the fact that there are those in high places in the government who have an interest in this subject," W.H. Miller has taken considerable risks.

Miller retired in 1994 from active duty on the Current Operations Staff  of U.S. Atlantic Command, Norfolk, Virginia where he worked operations, intelligence, and special contingency issues. With over thirty years of experience in Navy and Joint Interagency operations with the Department of Defense, Commander Miller has held a Top Secret clearance and thus had access to sensitive compartmented information.

It has not been easy for Miller to overcome the taboo that the UFO subject carries among his colleagues in the military. "It is treated much the way we used to view mental illness. Hide the crazy daughter in the attic," he says. In a February, 2000 confidential memo titled "Selected Discussions with Key United States (US) Department of Defense (DoD) Intelligence Personnel on the Subject of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI)", Miller spelled out the details of meetings between 1989 and 2000 with high level Department of Defense intelligence personnel - including the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), an Admiral on the Joint Staff, and the U.S. Atlantic Command Director for Intelligence - among others.

Concerned that many high-ranking military officers are not properly informed about the UFO phenomenon, Miller believes that the generals who have come forward in France could have a significant impact. "Without preparation and planning for encounters, precipitous military decisions may lead to unnecessary confusion, misapplication of forces, or possible catastrophic consequences," he says.

The Navy Commander's concern is justified by the historical record.  Declassified government documents show that unexplained objects with extraordinary technical capabilities pose challenges to military activity around the globe. U.S. fighter jets have been scrambled to pursue UFOs, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) logs and U.S. Air Force documents. Peruvian and Iranian Air Force planes attempted to shoot down unexplained objects during air encounters, and two Belgium F-16's pursued UFO's in 1990.

In earlier decades, such concerns were openly discussed among American government officials. In 1960, for example, Representative Leonard G. Wolf of Iowa entered an "urgent warning" from former CIA Director Vice Admiral R.E. Hillenkoetter into the Congressional Record that "certain dangers are linked with unidentified flying objects."  Wolf cited Gen. L.M. Chassin, NATO coordinator of Allied Air Service, warning that "if we persist in refusing to recognize the existence of the UFOs, we will end up, one fine day, by mistaking them for the guided missiles of an enemy - and the worst will be upon us."

Wolf also referenced a three-year study which determined that air defense scrambles and alerts had already occurred due to the presence of UFOs. The study said that all defense personnel "should be told that UFOs are real and should be trained to distinguish them - by their characteristic speeds and maneuvers - from conventional planes and missiles."

These concerns were taken seriously enough to be incorporated into the 1971 "Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Outbreak of Nuclear War" between the United States and the Soviet Union.  The treaty states that the two countries will "notify each other immediately in the event of detection by missile warning systems of unidentified objects... if such occurrences could create a risk of outbreak of nuclear war between the two countries." The Cometa assures its readers that UFOs have not been the cause of any hostile acts "although intimidation maneuvers have been confirmed."

Reports such as the one from France may open the door for the United States and other nations to be more forthcoming. Chile, for example, is openly addressing it's own concerns about air safety and UFOs.

While Commander Miller alerted the Pentagon, researcher Dr. Steven M. Greer was working the issue within the US Congress and the executive branch. In 1993, Greer was invited to meet with President Clinton's first sitting CIA Director, Admiral James Woolsey. The three hour event was arranged by futurist John L. Petersen, President and founder of the Washington area think tank The Arlington Institute, who "specializes in the area of national and global security" and currently serves as a Pentagon consultant, according to Institute materials.

In August 1995, philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller presented Greer's briefing materials to President William Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Presidential science advisor Jack Gibbons while they spent a weekend at Rockefellers' Wyoming ranch. Clinton then instructed Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department, Webster Hubbell, to investigate the existence of UFOs, as disclosed in his book Friends in High Places.  Despite this request from the Commander-in-Chief, Hubbell was unable to obtain information on the subject.

On April 9, 1997, Greer and his associates held an unprecedented, confidential congressional briefing at the Westin Hotel in Washington. The VIP's in attendance included Representative Dan Burton, Chair of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, with his chief of staff, and staffers from nearly thirty congressional offices.  Representatives from the executive branch, including a staff member from Vice President Gore's office, were present, along with representatives of two state governors, the Department of Defense, and the scientific community.

Two years after the Washington briefing, the COMETA released its dramatic report.

"Because the Congress is afraid they won't get re-elected, they don't even want to talk about this. I just think somebody should do something," said a congressional staff member. Nonetheless, one congressman did respond to public pressure.

In 1993, New Mexico representative Steven Schiff requested that the General Accounting Office investigate the infamous 1947 crash of a mysterious object in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico.  Two years later, he learned from the GAO that all documents and radio messages during the relevant time period had been destroyed "without proper authority." Schiff was unable to attend the Washington briefing in 1997 and died of an aggressive skin cancer the following year. No other member has picked up where he left off. On September 15, 1998, Commander Willard Miller and Dr. Steven Greer entered the Pentagon through the VIP entrance. Thirty minutes later, the DIA Director came out of his office, parting company with an entourage of high-level foreign Admirals and Generals. He graciously ushered in his two guests, taking his place at the head of a massive wood table. According to Miller's confidential memo of February 2000, an Army Colonel, a DIA staff member and a Defense Department clerk were also seated around the table. The briefing lasted 50 minutes.

Greer and Miller explained to the DIA Director that there is no credible evidence of hostility from UFO occupants. "Some US Air Force denials defy logic and strain the public's tolerance," Miller says he told the Pentagon officials.

His point was dramatically illustrated in the aftermath of an extraordinary event that occurred one spring evening over the state of Arizona.  On March 13, 1997, thousands observed enormous, lighted, triangular craft flying low and silently, sometimes hovering wingless over populated areas. More than 90 meters long, air traffic controllers failed to register them on radar. To this day, the people of Arizona do not know what penetrated US airspace that night. In 1999, Arizona attorney Peter Gersten responded by filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Defense.  The case challenged the adequacy of the governments "reasonable search" for information about the triangular objects seen over Arizona in 1997 and elsewhere in the United States over the last twenty years.

As recently as January 5, 2000, four policemen at different locations in St. Claire County, Illinois, witnessed a brightly lit, huge triangular craft flying at 330 meters, according to the Los Angeles Times. Most alarming was the report from Lebanon police officer Thomas Barton that he witnessed the hovering object jump at least 8 miles in 3 seconds. Aeronautical expert Paul Czysz, who spent 29 years at McDonnell-Douglas designing faster-than-sound aircraft, says that such rapid motion cannot be explained in conventional terms. Yet nearby Scott Air Force base and the FAA purport to know nothing

On February 29, 2000, a reporter brought the issue of military denial and the Arizona lawsuit to the attention of U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona at a California press conference. "I think it's of great interest," responded the Presidential candidate, acknowledging that the 1997 "lights" seen over Arizona had "never been fully explained."

Nonetheless, the DoD continues to maintain that it can find no information about the triangular objects. It provided details of its search to the court as required by U.S. District Court judge Stephen M. McNamee of Phoenix for Gersten's lawsuit. On March 30, 2000, the judge concluded that "a reasonable search was conducted' even though no information was obtained, and he dismissed the case.

Once again, the French generals made the same point raised by their American counterparts. "How can one try to ignore a phenomena that is manifested by the regular crossing of our air space by moving objects...If we do nothing, the very principle of defense and air intelligence would be called into question," they state.

UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For? recommends that the French government reflect on "the measures to take in the event of a spectacular and indisputable manifestation of a UFO."  Surprisingly, the United States has taken one small step in that direction.  The second edition of the Fire Officer's Guide to Disaster Control is currently used for training by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at its National Fire Academy and is taught nationally through the seven universities offering degrees in fire science. Chapter 13 of the guide is titled "Enemy Attack and UFO Potential."  It warns fire fighters of known "UFO hazards" such as electrical fields that cause blackouts, air and ground travel disruptions by force fields, and physiological effects. "Do not stand under a UFO that is hovering at low altitudes. Do not touch or attempt to touch a UFO that has landed," the book warns.

Dr. William M. Kramer, professor of Fire Science at the University of Cincinnati and an Ohio Fire Chief, co-authored the chapter and will be updating it this year. The French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense and the National Center for Space Studies are a few steps ahead of the United States military and NASA. Not only do they openly present information acknowledging the existence of UFOs and attempt to explain their origin, they also recommend a widespread information and training campaign on preparedness which would reach all sectors of the relevant political, military, and civilian spectrum in their country.  Perhaps the report by the bold French generals - with its goal of "stripping the phenomenon of UFOs of its irrational layer" - will be a catalyst for American authorities to examine the issue of UFO's in a new light and to end the existing impasse.


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May 14, 2000

Philadelphia Inquirer

The Other Roswell
Visitors from outer space seem to love Kecksburg, Pa.

by Ralph Vigoda

It was about 4:45 in the afternoon and Bill Bulebush was in his driveway, flat on his back under the dashboard of his Corvair, his head beneath the steering wheel, the tools he needed to install a CB radio in his hands, when he was startled by a strange, sizzling noise overhead. He craned his neck and looked through the windshield and saw a bright light speeding across the clouds so fast it seemed to set the sky on fire.

"I got out of the car and walked out toward the road where I could watch it," says Bulebush, 74, recalling the afternoon of Dec. 9, 1965.

"I went down over the hill toward the mountain, then I seen it coming back. It was like it couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to do. This thing floated and made a U-turn and headed into the ravine. I got in my car and took off over the back road."

That back road - a lightly traveled two-lane stretch then called Kuhn's Road and later rechristened Meteor Road - winds above the farmland and woods that make up Kecksburg, Pa., a crossroads community in Westmoreland County about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Bulebush parked his car, got out and looked down into the valley to see where the thing had landed. The landscape was familiar. Bulebush had lived there his entire life.

He grabbed a flashlight and walked down the hill into the woods. The tops of trees had been sheared in the same direction as the fireball's path. He smelled sulfur. Then he came upon it: an acorn-shaped object about the size of a Volkswagen bug, burnt orange in color, with a raised ring around the back and markings that looked like backward letters.

Frightened, his heart pounding wildly, Bulebush stood behind a tree, staring, expecting something to jump out - although he couldn't see how anything could possibly exit the strange

"There was no doors, no seams, no nothing," he says. "It laid there and arced for a while, like it was cooling down. If I'd had my camera, that picture would be worth a million dollars."

When other people started to rush into the woods, Bulebush decided to leave. He was afraid of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. "I didn't want to be running around with this light shining and get shot for no reason," he recalls.

In the early darkness he made his way back to his car, went home and told his wife what he had seen. "She asked me, Did I stop at the club? Was I drinking? I said, No, no, I wasn't drinking. She said, You better not say nothing to anybody."

Bulebush followed her advice for nearly 25 years. Until one day when out of the blue Bulebush got a phone call from a man who said he'd spent decades researching UFOs and the mystery of Kecksburg.

Plenty of books have been written about Roswell, N.M. Hollywood has made movies. There's even a television series about the spot where an alien spacecraft crashed in 1947. Pieces of spacecraft were recovered, bodies were found and for the past half-century the American government has been covering up the truth. That, of course, is the legend, but it's a legend that has spurred a healthy tourism industry in the desert town and fueled a generation of conspiracy theorists.

Kecksburg never gained the same notoriety as Roswell. But for people who believe the government is not telling all it knows about unidentified flying objects, what happened there ranks just behind Roswell in American lore. And whether or not a visit from outer space occurred, one thing is indisputable: What happened in Kecksburg changed the small community forever.

"A lot of people don't talk to each other anymore on account of it," Bulebush says. "There's two people I went to school with, they have nothing to do with me. But I don't care at all. I know what I seen, and I ain't going to change my mind."

"You can still get into a fistfight over it to this day," adds Gene Lisker, 55, a real estate agent who has lived in the area most of his life.

Kecksburg is impossibly rural, farming country. Its up-and-down terrain is quiet. It has no stoplights, no post office and only about 150 people. It began in the 1800s as Ridgeview. Then the Keck family arrived and in 1907 opened a bottling plant where 100 people found jobs making pop.

"They had Big Stick ginger ale in a green bottle," says Ed Myers, who has spent all of his 74 years in Kecksburg and whose dad worked the filters at the plant. "It was good ginger ale."

There are still some Keck descendants in the area, but the plant is no more. Pepsi took it over. Then Pepsi left and now the plant is occupied by a company that makes pop-up tent trailers.

Just about the only other spot to work in Kecksburg is the store at Hutter's Dairy Farm, where you can get a quart of milk and some lunch meat. For serious grocery shopping you've got to drive four miles to Mount Pleasant, or seven miles to Latrobe (pronounced LAY-trobe).

When the 25th anniversary of the Kecksburg incident rolled around in 1990, a crew from the television program Unsolved Mysteries arrived. It spent a week in town re-creating the events of that long-ago Dec. 9, complete with a model of the mysterious craft. Some would-be entrepreneurs took a shot at earning a little money off the publicity, but after a few T-shirts and hats were sold things got back to normal. Which in Kecksburg means not normal at all.

Ed Myers was the town fire chief in December 1965. His first cousin, Jim Mayes, was the assistant fire chief. Shortly after the incident, Mayes talked to the press about seeing blue lights in the woods and told people he escorted the military to the capsule. Myers says Mayes had no business talking to reporters or anybody else about what happened that evening. Actually, Myers says, he should have done the talking because he was the fire chief. And here's what he would have said he saw: nothing.

Myers contends the whole crazy thing started when a woman called police to say her young sons might have seen a crash. There was a search. A couple of military guys from a nearby base arrived to help. No one found anything. End of story.

But, of course, it turned out to be just the beginning. The number of military men swarming into Kecksburg kept growing as the story got told and retold. People swore the soldiers were armed and that they threatened to shoot folks who got in their way. Some said they saw flashing lights and smoke in the woods. Some talked about a convoy of military vehicles and hushed meetings among officials. There were stories of men in space suits carrying boxes into the woods.

"I never saw anything," Myers declares. "And I was there all night. You had a few that know it didn't happen, and they talked anyway. See, I wouldn't go along with it."

To this day Myers believes people got so carried away that they started making up tales, thinking they'd get on television, hoping to cash in.

"I know one guy, he got $300 just for driving his old car in the movie," he says, referring to the Unsolved Mysteries show. "We was a pretty close-knit area. But it's not anymore."

What happened on Dec. 9, 1965 changed lives. It made enemies of friends. It ruptured families. Jim Mayes died five years ago. by then he and Myers had long since stopped speaking to one another.

The debate has endured because some swear they saw something and want validation, and because an opposite camp disputes all accounts of alien arrivals, finding them embarrassing to the community. And because a man named Stan Gordon will not let it go.

Stan Gordon, 50, sells electronics - televisions, radios, video equipment - but that's just his job. His letterhead identifies him in this way: "Researching the Unexplained Since 1959."

The date points back to the year he got a radio as a birthday present. It was Halloween eve and he was 10, living in Greensburg, Pa., in a house around the corner from his home today. He tuned in a program about ghosts and goblins and was hooked. He dashed to the library, took notes on the mysteries of unexplained phenomena and started a scrapbook, embarking on a lifetime of exploring events that seem to defy reason.

Though fascinated by mysteries - everything from UFOs to Bigfoot - Gordon says he is not fanatical. He hunts for rational explanations, and that's why in 1981 he founded the Pennsylvania Association for the Study of the Unexplained, a clearinghouse for reports of strange encounters.

"The majority of the cases are found to have a natural or man-made source," Gordon says. But a percentage of cases can't be easily explained. "And that's what makes it so intriguing."

Kecksburg is his biggest research project yet and, he says, one of the most interesting because so many things remain unknown.

Skeptics, Gordon says, need to stop mocking and concentrate on the information he's gathered over the past 35 years: Hundreds of people from Canada to Pennsylvania reported a fireball in the sky. Airline pilots believed a plane was going down that wintry evening. Witnesses said they found an odd-shaped craft partially buried in the woods. A Soviet space probe fell out of orbit on the very same day. People claimed they were told by military personnel not to talk about what they saw.

And after considering all that, try, just try, Gordon says, to believe the government's "official" story that nothing of significance occurred.

"Something did happen that day in Kecksburg and we still don't know what it is," he insists.

For more than two decades Gordon collected dribs and drabs of information. He located witnesses, some who would talk, some who would not.

In the 1980s one of Gordon's associates obtained a copy of the Project Blue Book report on Kecksburg. Project Blue Book, which operated from 1947 to 1969, was headquartered at what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. It was an official arm of the Air Force charged with investigating UFOs. Spurred by sightings reported by military pilots, the investigations were taken seriously for the first few years. But by the early 1950s - the infancy of the Cold War - the Air Force decided that looking into every UFO report was taking too much time.

Nevertheless, during the project's 22 years, 12,750 sightings were investigated; 587 were marked "unidentified."

To those who believed the government was hiding something about Kecksburg, the inclusion in the Blue Book gave the Pennsylvania incident some legitimacy. But the Blue Book report discounted the entire thing. The records, now in the National Archives in College Park, Md., indicate that an investigation into the Kecksburg incident was performed, that a few military personnel assisted local authorities, and that what people saw was most likely a meteorite disintegrating as it fell toward Earth.

Gordon calls the Blue Book finding fiction.

"Blue Book said there were three Air Force personnel involved," Gordon says. "Well, we know there were more than three from all the eyewitness accounts. Blue Book said the search continued to 2 a.m. and nothing was found. People have told us there were military people down there the next day.

"The question is, where did these military people come from? You can't find any of the records for it. We've been searching for years."

In 1987 Gordon and some assistants set up a display about UFOs in a local shopping mall. One of those who passed the exhibit was Jim Romansky. He overheard a couple of people chatting, walked over and interrupted them.

"Excuse me," he said. "You're talking about Kecksburg, aren't you?"

That's right, he was told.

"Well," Romansky said, "I was there that night."

"I was just turning 18 and I was with the Lloydsville Volunteer Fire Department," Romansky, 54, says, retelling the story from his home in Derry, Pa. "I had seen something in the sky earlier that day and I thought in my mind, `Wow, a meteorite.' But I didn't pay it no attention.

"Not long after that the fire whistle went off, so I run up there. We received a report it was a downed aircraft. Myself and four or five other guys jumped into a truck and took off to Kecksburg, about 18 miles away."

When Romansky and his crew arrived at the Kecksburg fire station on Water Street, dozens of other volunteers were already on the scene, he says. One man laid out a large grid map and assigned teams to search different areas. Romansky was driven out to a field.

"We was into our grid area and we heard on our walkie-talkies that another team found where the object was and it wasn't so far from where we were, so we hightailed it over into a hollow and came upon the object.

"There were eight, nine, 10 guys there, standing around looking at this thing. I stopped and looked and said, `Whoa, this is no aircraft. What the hell is it?'

"It looked like a giant acorn. It was oblong and had a bumper around it and in back it was perfectly flat. I saw no doors, no motor, no windows, no seams, no rivets.

"But there were two unique things: one was the color, a golden bronze. It was a weird color. And the other thing was on this bumper . . . it looked like ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Rectangles, lines and circles."

Soon afterward, Romansky says, a couple of guys came and ordered everyone out. One carried a small device that Romansky thought was a Geiger counter. They were followed by a contingent of military men who announced the area was being quarantined. Romansky and the others went back to the Kecksburg fire station. There, he says, it was "wall-to-wall military."

by this time the roads were jammed with news media, onlookers and state police, Romansky says. But no one was allowed back into the woods.

"We just hung around, and then we saw this big flatbed truck go into the woods and it's there an hour, hour and a half. And then it comes out, hell-bent for leather, and on the back of that truck was the object, covered by a tarpaulin, maybe 15 foot long, eight to 10 foot in diameter, big enough for a man to stand in."

The next day, Dec. 10, the newspapers were filled with the story. "Unidentified Flying Object Falls Near Kecksburg" read the headline in the Greensburg Tribune-Review. The article told how a fiery object was seen streaking across the sky by people in Canada and seven American states. A pilot from Ohio watched a fireball. A reporter from Erie said it left a trail of smoke. Coast Guard officials reported the object over Detroit.

Officials, the paper said, searched a 15-square mile area. Capt. Joseph Dussia of the state police at Greensburg was quoted as saying the search "uncovered absolutely nothing." He attributed the story of a crash to the "imagination" of two young boys.

"About the only thing that wasn't reported during the excitement," Dussia added, was "little green men getting out of a spaceship."

A spokesman for the 662d Radar Squadron at Oakdale, Allegheny County, which was called into the investigation, said no object was found. And Don Hays, who was at his farmhouse and about as close as anyone to the area where the object was supposed to have come down, told the newspaper he saw nothing.

On Dec. 11, two days after the event, the investigation was officially closed. Scientists and astronomers opined that the object was a disintegrated meteor and that, because it fell at sunset, observers could have been fooled into thinking it was close by when it was likely hundreds of miles away.

That's one reason Jim Romansky, like Bulebush, decided to stop talking about it. "I felt if you came out and said something, they'd send for the white wagon and put you away," he says. "But I know something happened."

So he kept his mouth shut for almost 25 years. Until that day he decided to go to the mall.

The Unsolved Mysteries episode aired in September 1990, despite an attempt to stop the broadcast by about 50 local residents who signed a petition addressed to the network.

After the show Gordon got a lot of calls. A truck driver said he remembered numerous conversations with other truckers over CB radios about a large military convoy on the highway heading toward Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. And a man Gordon identifies only as Myron piped up with what is perhaps the most unusual tale.

Myron told Gordon he'd delivered a load of bricks to Wright-Patterson a few days after the incident, and while at the base had looked into a large building. Inside, he said, he saw an acorn-shaped object with unusual markings partially covered by a curtain. On a table nearby, covered by a sheet, was a body with a hand sticking out. He described its skin as "lizard-like."

Myron said he was told to keep his mouth shut by a man he assumed to be from the military, and he did for more than 25 years. But because he suffers from a bad heart and other ailments, he told Gordon, he came forward so the story wouldn't die with him.

"Look," Gordon says, "you're dealing with different intellects, different backgrounds of people, and I'm sure that after all these years certain little details have been changed slightly or gotten mixed up.

"But when you talk to these people, most of whom don't know each other, they're pretty much staying with the same story. And they're pretty much in the same ballpark."

Bob Young says they're full of beans.

Young is an amateur astronomer who gives shows and lectures at the state planetarium in Harrisburg. He, too, saw the Unsolved Mysteries episode and afterward asked a colleague at the planetarium if he had heard of Kecksburg. The answer was no. Young decided to dig for answers. His conclusion:

"It's an urban rumor. If you isolate the stories of the people who actually say they saw objects on the ground and armed troops and an armed convoy, there are really only a handful. And the stories get better as time goes on."

Young talked to Von Del Chamberlain, who was working at Michigan State University when the fireball appeared and later became director of the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Chamberlain wrote an article about the Kecksburg event for the journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He plotted the object's track and its speed - nearly 9 miles per second, much too fast for a man-made craft entering Earth's atmosphere - and speculated that its orbit suggested it had come from an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

"It was clearly a meteorite event," says Chamberlain from Salt Lake City, where he's semiretired and teaching a college course in astronomy. "It's also a very typical event in many ways. The fireball, the trail that was left in the sky afterward, the sonic booms. And the confusion that results is also typical."

What happened in Kecksburg, he says, was this: People saw the fireball low in the sky, and the debris trail was lit up by the sunset, making everything appear extraordinarily bright and very close. The meteorite was traveling over Canada, to the east of Detroit, and its end point was somewhere over Lake Erie. "We're positive about that," Chamberlain says.

As for reports that people saw lights flashing in the woods, Bob Young says he has a statement from someone who was in high school at the time who says he ran through the woods with friends setting off a camera strobe light. Other flashes might have been made by news photographers.

And to those who say the object floated, slowed down or changed direction, there's this explanation: People were watching the bright vapor trail, which was likely buffeted by winds.

"But it's a good story," Young says.

Just a story?

Is it possible a craft really did fall out of the sky? Is it possible the military recovered it? Is it possible the government had a good reason to lie?

Yes, yes and yes.

On Dec. 9, 1965, Cosmos 96, a Soviet space probe headed toward Venus, failed. The U.S. Space Command said it crashed in Canada at 3:18 a.m. - nearly 14 hours before the Kecksburg incident. But this was in the middle of the Cold War, and it isn't farfetched to think the government might have recovered a piece of Soviet space debris in Kecksburg and wanted to keep it under wraps.

That would explain the supposed secrecy and military presence. It could also explain the markings on the craft that Bulebush, Romansky and others claim to have seen: The Russian alphabet can look like hieroglyphics.

In 1991 in yet another revisiting of the Kecksburg incident, James Oberg, an author, expert on Soviet spacecraft and oft-quoted UFO skeptic, concluded that the probe could not have landed in Kecksburg. But two years later in an article for Omni magazine, he suggested that perhaps only the rocket booster landed in Canada, leaving the possibility that the probe could have come down elsewhere.

"In the 1960s," he wrote, "U.S. military intelligence agencies interested in enemy technology were eagerly collecting all the Soviet missile and space debris they could find. International law required that debris be returned to the country of origin. But hardware from Cosmos 96, with it special missile warhead shielding, would have been too valuable to give back."

He suggests the government might have encouraged belief in an extraterrestrial visit as a convenient cover-up for its operation.

"Had such a thing happened, I hope they would have lied about it," Oberg says from his home in Texas, "because analyzing the weight of the heat shield materials on this spacecraft would have been crucial in determining the power of their nuclear missiles."

Stan Gordon wrote to the Russian space agency in 1995. He says he received a reply denying any connection between Kecksburg and Cosmos 96.

"So what was it?" Gordon asks. "What would cause people to react so emotionally over this for all these years? Is there more to this than we understand? These people have been living with this for years. They deserve answers."

And the truth is, he's not sure they'll ever get them.

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April 20, 2000

Whitehorse Star

April 20, 2000

by Stephanie Waddell

For Leah Isaac, a strange encounter with the third kind on March 30 made a believer out of the former skeptic.

The episode, meanwhile, is attracting the interest of the American media.

"I can't even travel at night anymore," the Pelly Crossing resident told the Star in Whitehorse this morning.

Shortly after 5 a.m. on the day in question, Isaac was travelling to Pelly from Whitehorse along the North Klondike Highway with a friend when they came around a corner at Little Fox Lake to a sight neither had seen before.

About 15 to 22 metres (50 to 75 feet) away was a disc-shaped aircraft hovering about 60 metres (200 ft.) off the ground.

"It was silver and transparent," she noted. "It was like a mirror. It was almost like you could see right through the craft.

"It's so hard to explain because you never see that kind of material. It's almost like you can see right through it."

Inside the craft appeared a blue, turquoise colour, but she did not see a pilot nor anyone in the craft which she noted was "so advanced.

"I was really scared, but I was really shocked when I've seen it," Isaac said. "We were both shaking."

Isaac's analog watch stopped, while another friend's digital watch went into chrono mode, the truck's tape deck stopped and the lights on her vehicle dimmed.

"Everything went dead," she said.

Isaac reported the craft seemed to be somewhat confused at their presence. After about five seconds, it shot in front of their vehicle and stopped instantly on the left side of the road.

Isaac reported that she had never seen anything move so fast, and it made no noise.

"I think if it wanted to hurt us, it probably would've," she said.

As Isaac kept driving through the experience, her eyes were peeled on the site, while her friends told her to "floor it."

They took off after the craft disappeared and didn't look back for fear that it would follow them. It was about five minutes before the watches began working again and 10 minutes before the tape player resumed working.

"I was driving really fast, as fast as I ever drove, and then when we stopped somewhere, we were just shaking."

When they got to Pelly, they began laughing about the event and their reactions to it.

"I didn't even watch where I was driving," she said. "It's just funny now that you think about it."

Although Isaac and her friend had initially agreed not to tell anyone, before they got into Pelly, they changed their minds.

When Isaac arrived at her mother's house in Pelly, she immediately drew a picture of the craft, wrote about it and began telling her mother the story.

"She was really excited, too."

Isaac also contacted other friends and family that day to tell them about her experience. While some say she "has made up a good story," others believe her. There have been numerous sightings around Fox Lake over the years.

"It's reality. I'm just telling people what I'd seen."

In the three weeks since the experience, she has spoken with the media, including a Los Angeles radio station, in hopes that others will come out with their own stories.

Although she's still scared to drive alone at night, it has tweaked her curiosity and changed the way she views things.

"I think people should be aware of what's going on in the Yukon," she said. "There's more sightings now than ever."

Before the experience, she was skeptical of other life in the universe, but now she is curious to know what's out there and has considered going back to the site early in the morning to see if she can find out more. She's curious as to why the ship was lingering near telephone poles.

"Our universe is so big, there must be something out there," she said.

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March 14, 2000


Missoulian claims UFO sighting during WWII

NBC Montana

MISSOULA ­ What would it take to make you a believer in unidentified flying objects? For some, it may come down to actually having to see one. A strange "sighting" made a believer out of one Missoula resident.

It’s been nearly sixty years since that night during World War II when Wayne Nordby stood outside the barracks at the airforce base in Salina, Kansas, and looked up into the night sky. That was the night he saw an unidentified flying object.

Wayne Nordby, a WWII veteran, said, "And I know I was sworn to secrecy when I came out of the service not to talk about things, and I haven’t."

After the war, Nordby made a life in Montana as an upholsterer. He raised a family, and retired. These days he’s slowed a bit, and uses oxygen tubes. Now, he has more time to read, paint, and listen to radio talk shows about the paranormal. He also has plenty of time to reflect.

Wayne Nordby said, "The world is not quite everything that we see."

Recently, Nordby read a letter to the editor in the Missoulian about the existence of aliens.

He called the letter’s author, Michael Bishop (a UFO researcher), and shared his experience. Michael Bishop said, "Hey, boys and girls, they’re real, and they’re here."

Recently, a meeting was arranged between the two men.

A certified hypno-therapist, Bishop guided Nordby into a relaxed state, to regress back to the night of the sighting.

During this session, Wayne Nordby said, "It’s not quite dark because the light from the base is shining up against the clouds which are very low, there is a fine mist blowing, as we look up we see this huge, cigar-shaped object. There’s no controls in the back end, there’s no bathtub underneath, I can’t see any lights."

Nordby said the object was three times larger than a B-29. At the time, the B-29 was the largest aircraft the military had. According to Nordby, this was no B-29.

Wayne Nordby said, "It didn’t fit any category that I could make. And I was a trained observer."

Although he hasn’t seen a UFO since world war two, that one time was enough to make him a believer.

Wayne Nordby, "I’ll tell you it will leave you with some impressions that the world is not quite what it seems."

UFO classes were scheduled last year at both the University of Montana Experimental College and the Willard adult education, but both were cancelled for lack of interest.

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February 22, 2000

Gazette Extra (Janesville, Wisconsin)

Were those lights in the skies over Rockford extraterrestrial?

by Mike DuPreé

Whatever else they might have been, the orange lights that Jeff Coan and his family saw over Rockford, Ill., the night of Feb. 11 constitute a "close encounter of the first kind."

What makes the Coans' experience more than an interesting, perhaps embellished, story is the 7½-minute videotape that 16-year-old Joel Coan shot of the five lights as they seemingly flew in formation and in maneuvers around each other.

The Coans live in Beloit. That Friday night, 5-year-old Hannah wanted to eat at Chuck E Cheese's pizzeria in Rockford, so her dad and mom, Jeff and Lori, packed up the family, and her older brother, Joel, brought along his new video camera.

After the Coans left the restaurant about 9:15 p.m., they were driving on State Street and saw the lights.

"Traffic was busy," Coan, 40, recalled. "We all saw 'em at some time. They were all flying so strangely, and they were so bright ly orange. They were not that high, no more than a couple of thousand feet."

The Coans were not the only folks who saw the lights.

Rockford media reported several sightings on Feb. 11, 12 and 16. Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center, said Monday that his private organization had received as many as two dozen calls reporting the Rockford sightings.

Furthermore, similar events were observed on or near the days in question in Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Texas, he said.

Observers' reports of the sightings Feb. 11 and 12 already are posted on the center's Web site,, Davenport said, and he expected to have the observations from Feb. 16, posted within a couple of days.

"Everybody was looking at the same objects at the same time," Davenport said of the Rockford sightings.

Although he has not seen the Coans' video, Davenport believes the lights that people saw over Rockford were not conventional aircraft because they were not lighted as conventional airplanes are--red light on left wing, green light on right wing.

And Davenport doesn't think the lights were on experimental military aircraft because he doesn't think the military would risk an observation of a new top-secret aircraft or risk an easily detectable accident with a new piece of equipment over a densely populated area such as northern Illinois.

The Rockford Police Department reported "no involvement" when a shift commander was asked if the department received any reports of sightings or if any officers saw the lights.

"We didn't take any reports on it," a shift commander at the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department said when asked the same questions.

Deputies heard scuttlebutt about sightings, but it wasn't from other deputies talking about what they saw, the shift commander said.

The Rockford Police Department's statements of "no involvement" and "no reports" concern Karla Soeprasetyo, a resident of Rockford's northeast side.

On Feb. 16, Soeprasetyo's four children--ages 9, 12, 13, and 15--were going to bed about 9:30 p.m. when they called their mother to look at the lights in the sky.

Soeprasetyo, 34, and her children saw two sets of orange lights: first one of five, then a diamond-shaped formation of four.

"After the first one faded away, the second came in," she said.

Soeprasetyo is concerned about police saying they had no reports of sightings because she called the police to report hers.

"The children were upset, so I called the local police," said Soeprasetyo, who also shot videotape of the lights. "I talked to
the police department, but they didn't know what they were. I told the kids they were weather balloons. I didn't know what to say to my kids.

"Being of sound mind and body, I can say there was something in the sky."

Earl Wilson, operations supervisor of the Rockford Airport control tower, said he was not aware of radar confirmation of the phenomena reported by residents.

But, he added, "we see a lot of stuff that isn't airplanes."

Most aircraft carry radio transponders that enhance their radar images and report information, Wilson said.

If an aircraft does not have such a transponder or if the object is something else, such as flock of birds, it shows up only as a "pinprick of light," Wilson said. "Those pinpricks are scattered all over: birds, radio towers, cars sometimes, planes without transponders."

A Gazette reporter watched Coan's video but was unable to view Soeprasetyo's.

Most of the Coan video shows five small white lights with four of them seemingly in tandem as two pairs. The lights seem to perform maneuvers, flying around each other, lining up and hovering. At one point, Joel Coan was able to zoom in, and two of the lights appear as orange balls.

To Coan, the lights appeared to "fly in intelligent formation."

Soeprasetyo thought that each set of lights, which she and her family saw for several minutes, was attached to a large object.

"This was big, huge," she said. "The lights were bright orange and connected."

Coan and Soeprasetyo maintain they are not fans of "The X-Files," a TV show that often portrays encounters with extraterrestrial life and government cover-ups of such encounters. While Coan is a fan of other science-fiction, Soeprasetyo is not.

"I saw something," Soeprasetyo said. "I haven't thought about it being (extraterrestrial). This could very well be a UFO. With what the police said and all, I thought it could be military. There was something there."

Coan believes that Earth is not the universe's sole home for intelligent life.

"Whether that's what we saw, I don't know," he said. "It could be military, maybe other countries."

Davenport operates the National UFO Reporting Center as a "labor of love," he said. Asked why, he replied: "We are quite sure that something extraordinary is going on, and the government doesn't want us to know about it. ...

"Investigators all over are reporting the same phenomena. The number of reports certainly is on the increase."

Asked if he believes the phenomena are extraterrestrial, Davenport said:

"Absolutely. Based on a number of things: The quantity of sightings from seemingly credible people is strongly convincing. These people are seeing things that by all external measurements should not be there."

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February 20, 2000

Halifax Chronicle-Herald

'67 UFO story to be filmed

by Pat Lee
Television Reporter

It's a case Fox Mulder would love.

On a clear fall night back in 1967 a glowing object screeched through the sky and plunged into the Atlantic off Shag Harbour, Shelburne County, leaving a spooky, glittery gold foam in its wake.

A week later the mysterious object was said to have sped off underwater in the direction of Maine, leaving residents of the tiny fishing community as well as military and police personnel scratching their heads.

Talk about your X-Files.

For more than three decades the South Shore UFO sighting has intrigued believers and non-believers alike, primarily because so many people claim to have seen an object in the sky on Oct. 4, 1967, not to mention those who witnessed something resting in the waters off Government Point.

Filmmaker Michael MacDonald, who is currently working on a documentary about the case to air on cable's Space Channel next season, said the Shag Harbour story is often compared to the U.S.'s Roswell tale, in which some claim that a UFO landed in the New Mexico desert in 1947.

"Roswell was basically an anecdotal story given by a few people . . . and some people have actually recanted," said MacDonald, who works for Ocean Entertainment. "But the thing about Shag Harbour that sets it apart from the Roswell story is just the sheer mount of paperwork involved with it.

"There's RCMP paperwork, there's Department of National Defence memos, there's lots of witnesses around here in the Halifax area and Nova Scotia, who when they tell their side of the story it's amazing how well it lines up with others. It's a very highly documented case."

MacDonald said it was the military and RCMP who called what happened in 1967 a UFO incident. "The people down there in Shag Harbour, when this happened, they honestly thought it was a plane that crashed. They just naturally assumed the obvious."

MacDonald, who is currently down on the South Shore conducting interviews for the film, said all sorts of eyewitness accounts also flooded in from around the province.

"There were UFO sightings all over Nova Scotia. There were UFO sightings off the Bay of Fundy, there were UFO sightings off Prospect, an airline captain had a UFO sighting that night," he said. "There was a lot of activity going on that night and there was a lot of activity going on at the end of the incident a week later."

Along with eyewitness testimony from bystanders, MacDonald said he's also fascinated by the extensive multinational military response to the event.

"After that thing crashed in the water, Arguses were scrambled out of Greenwood, the Americans sailed into Shelburne Harbour, there were submarines showing up, there was a huge search going on, all of the sudden CFS Shelburne at Government Point was sealed off to local traffic, there was definitely something big happening."

He said military from Britain and Argentina were also on site.

Not surprisingly, government paperwork or photographs of the incident are considered classified and not readily available.

But off the record, military and RCMP members who were at the scene say something extraordinary took place off Shag Harbour.

"We're talking about grown men here, guys who've worked in the military, guys that have been out there fishing, and their lives have been changed ever since that date. I've had people tell me, who won't go on the record, saying 'I can tell you this, what you imagine happened and what you've been researching did happen.' "

MacDonald, who heard the Shag Harbour story as a boy from his RCMP officer father, said he became interested in putting the incident on film after being reminded of it a few years ago and subsequently pitched the idea to a Space executive at the Banff Television Festival.

He said the basis of the documentary is the already extensive research done on the subject by local buffs Chris Styles (who spotted something himself over the skies of Dartmouth that night) and Don Ledger, who have co-authored a book on the incident.

MacDonald also wants to talk to anyone who saw something that night or in the days after the event for possible use in the film.

"I'd like to hear from anybody in Nova Scotia because often times when UFOs are sighted, they're sighted simultaneously in many places. So I'm looking for anyone who had an experience in the fall of 1967, mostly those from Shelburne and Shag Harbour, Barrington Passage and down the South Shore way, to give me a call and let me know."

Although the story has been told before, he said interest in the incident never seems to wane.

"UFO researchers in the United States and Canada all agree this is one story that just doesn't go away."

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February 19, 2000

Omaha World-Herald

UFOs 'Out There,' Prof Says

by Michael Kelly

The latest flurry of UFO sightings has occurred in China, but in recent years some Omahans, too, think they have seen something.

One couple, prominent members of the business community, got in their car to leave home for dinner. They say they saw a saucer hovering 100 feet above their house for three or four minutes, and then it flew away.

Another man and woman drove at night on "a remote area of the Interstate" in Omaha when, they say, a flying saucer hovered over the four lanes of highway. The couple looked up in awe, and then it was gone.

They continued driving, looked at their watches - and were shocked to see that it was an hour and a half later. They had lost 90 minutes.

Under hypnotism in the office of John C. "Jack" Kasher, the woman described being taken into the saucer and seeing people four feet tall with large heads, wraparound eyes and four fingers on each hand. She recounted in a hypnotic state that they told her telepathically: "You will not remember this."

Kasher teaches physics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, which has honored him as a distinguished professor and with an "excellence in teaching" award. He gave the above examples, and says about 60 people in the Omaha area who believe they have been abducted by aliens hold support-group meetings.

Kasher knows that many people dismiss UFO sightings. No matter.

"The question is not whether they're out there," he said last week at the Omaha Press Club. "The question is have they gotten here yet."

Kasher, who believes they have, spoke to about 40 people at a luncheon. He showed photographic slides taken in various countries depicting saucerlike objects in the sky.

Among ufologists, he said, the sightings in China are a big deal.

Just before the year 2000 began, numerous sightings were reported. On Dec. 2 in Shanghai, people spotted a shining cylinder with a flaming orange tail. Other reports that month came from 12 other cities.

Some sightings since have been identified as cargo planes or surveillance balloons. But the normally conservative official news media in China have lavished attention on UFO news.

Sun Shili, a retired Foreign Ministry official who heads the Beijing UFO Research Society, told the New York Times: "In the U.S., scholars investigating this are under pressure and have been derided. But in China, the academic discussion is quite free, so in this area American academics are quite jealous of us."

Sun says he has a gut feeling that "aliens are living among us disguised as humans."

Hmmm. Look around. Count colleagues' fingers, and see if anyone comes up short. Really, haven't you always suspected the little guy in the supply room, or the woman in your information-technology office?

Kasher, who speaks frequently on UFOs, brings a scientists' skepticism to his research. But the universe is so incredibly immense, he said, that it's unlikely our planet is the only one on which intelligent life has evolved.

Russian military officials, he said, have reported that planes chased UFOs and even tried to shoot them down, but never could catch them.

In America, Kasher said, the government maintains secret files. A court case involving requests for files, he said, resulted in judges at two levels ruling that releasing the information would be detrimental to the national security.

"There is a cover-up," Kasher said, "believe me."

The subject is good "X Files" material, and Kasher always gives an interesting lecture. (His talk at the Press Club was recorded and will be broadcast Monday at noon on KIOS, 91.5 FM, in Omaha.)

UFOs often are reported to show startling maneuverability unknown to earth-based aircraft. Kasher explains that by saying their science is simply far ahead of ours.

If they're that good, and if they're really "out there," are we in danger of attack? On that point, Kasher said he's an optimist.

"If they wanted to take over the Earth," he said, "they would have done it by this time."

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January 30, 2000

Tampa Tribune

A candidate too alien to win?

by Daniel Ruth
Contact Mr. Ruth at:

They've debated abortion, the Middle East, the economy, health care, the budget surplus, taxes and the relative merits of a presidential candidate participating in a mosh pit.

Still, there seems to be something vaguely missing from all these primary face-offs in both the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns.

In a political season so bereft of memorable political punch-lines, at least one candidate has been willing to speak her mind.

Perhaps you are wondering why Democratic presidential candidate Dr. Heather Anne Harder has been so conspicuously absent from the debates between Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley?

It's patently obvious these two pantywaists don't want to tangle with Harder's expertise on foreign policy.

Forget lifting the Cuban embargo, or forging wider ties with China. That's mere child's play for Harder, who is stumping for a more coherent policy regarding the Planet Wazoo.

A firm believer in the existence of UFOs, the Indiana bookstore owner is pushing for detente with galaxies far, far away.

"If we can't get along with our fellow human beings because their skin is a different color, they worship differently, speak a different language, or believe in a different ideology, how can we hope to exist in a world filled with beings that look like giant praying mantises?" Harder argued on her Web site.

You have to admit, it's a question that makes Bradley's claim as the poster child of "big ideas" seem like a man merely searching for a decent cup of coffee.

Then again, I'm not sure we need to look that far out into the cosmos to contemplate the challenges of working out a trade agreement with enormous insects governing the Planet Mongo.

Is it just me, or have you also gotten a nagging feeling that Steve Forbes has about the same body language as the robot Gort in "The Day the Earth Stood Still"?

And really now, if you were a fly, would you want to get too close to Gary Bauer?

Harder has argued the time is now to develop a plan for "open and direct contact with many extraterrestrial beings. We need to learn how to discern which ETs act unselfishly for the greatest good and which only serve themselves."

Good grief, we're lucky if we have an inkling as to what Canada is up to half the time, much less trying to monitor the intentions of the Planet Farquard.

In an interview from New Hampshire, where Harder pulled 1 percent of the primary vote in 1996, the candidate said she has never had a firsthand experience with UFOs, although her ex-husband had memories of seeing lights and experiencing lost time that the couple could not account for.

She unabashedly included her UFO beliefs in her campaign literature, Harder said, "because we have to get back to honoring diversity."

Even assuming Harder believes 'Men In Black' was a documentary, one has to wonder just how effective a president she would be in the Oval Office (which, of course, is the same shape as a UFO) dealing with the U.S. Congress.

You're right, one look at the likes of Sens. Dianne Feinstein, or Paul Wellstone, or Bob Smith might make you think that perhaps Harder is onto something.

Still, it's hard to fathom Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-Vulcan, who would turn the United Nations into the Manhattan franchise of Pedro's South of the Border, agreeing to a multibazillion-dollar appropriation to establish diplomatic relations with the Planet Zardoz. Besides, they could be commies.

Is Dr. Harder's UFO plank a transparent effort to lure the crazed wacko vote? Sure. Even the lunatic fringe is entitled to representation.

But in a presidential campaign so often reduced to silly exchanges over whether John McCain is too nuts to be president, or precisely when did George W. Bush stop taking a toke, or who is more of a Christian, there is a certain perverse appeal to a candidate who simply wonders about who is more human.

Clearly Harder has no shot at ever becoming president. Her views are far too radical, far too controversial.

She also believes bills introduced in Congress should be written in clear English and deal only with one specific issue. How alien a concept is that?


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January 25, 2000

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Midwest UFO sightings lack credibility to scientists

by Heather Ratcliffe

Stacy McKenna rubbed her eyes. Was she really watching three UFOs hovering over south St. Louis during rush hour traffic?

"I just kept rubbing my eyes because I thought if I rubbed them hard enough, they would go away," said McKenna, 28, a college student and waitress.

The objects she saw about 5:45 p.m. CST on Jan. 10 were shaped like triangles with white lights at each point, she said.

"At first they were just two bouncing, glowing lights. Then another one dropped out of the sky," she said. "It was so huge, I screamed because I thought I was going to hit it."

McKenna and dozens of St. Louis-area residents have seen what they thought was an alien spacecraft since the first UFO report Jan. 5 by a Highland, Ill., man and four police officers.

McKenna spent two days rationalizing the sighting, which occurred as she headed toward Interstate 55. She talked to friends, surfed the Internet for pictures and visited the same spot at the same time she first saw the UFOs.

Finally, she called the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to report her encounter.

"I didn't believe in UFOs before," she said. "But I'm certainly intrigued now."

Experts say movies and television shows such as "X-Files" have created a culture in which people are quicker to suppose some unusual object in the sky is an alien craft.

In that atmosphere, witnesses may feel more comfortable reporting what they saw - or think they saw. And when they do, officials may not be as quick to dismiss them as crazy.

McKenna may have seen an extraterrestrial aircraft. But scientists say it was more likely an episode of a "social-psychological phenomenon," in which people believe they see a UFO because they are looking for one.

"I've often said that if anyone will spend one hour looking in the sky on a clear night, he or she will see a UFO," said Phillip Klass, founder of the Committee of the Scientific Investigations of Claims of the Paranormal, in Washington, D.C.

"Most UFO reports, especially lights in the night sky, turn out to be honest misidentifications," he said.

Stephen Winnacott, an English teacher at East St. Louis (Ill.) High School, said he saw a strange aircraft at about 6:45 a.m. that same morning of the police officers' reports on Jan. 5. "It was triangular shaped with lights all on one side," he said.

Winnacott told his wife and children, but didn't think much about it until he read an article about it.

"All its takes is one sighting report, and within days you will have thousands more," said Robert Baker, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Kentucky. "Everybody starts looking up in the sky and seeing things, too."

This pattern is called a "social-psychological phenomenon," said Baker, who has interviewed thousands of witnesses who claimed to have seen UFOs.

When people spot something strange in the sky, they first try to make sense of it, scientists said.

"It's a giant leap of faith that people take when they see lights in the sky to say it's a craft from another planet," said James McGaha, an astronomer and former Air Force pilot in Tucson, Ariz., who investigates UFO reports.

Witnesses apply what they heard about UFOs in the past and soon their perceptions become reality. Then their stories usually sharpen with time and the truth gets lost, Baker said.

Winnacott, along with a handful of other witnesses who reported UFOs this month, said he didn't really believe aliens have visited Earth.

"Before this experience, I was skeptical," Winnacott said. "But now that I have seen something unexplainable, I will put more credibility in other UFO reports."

Barry Beyerstein, a professor of psychological biology at Simon Fraiser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, said, "In the past, people who saw things were less likely to report it because of fear of the repercussions. That stigma has largely dissipated."

Winnacott said he never felt apprehensive about telling his story. "People believe me," he said.

Commercial airline pilots have taken their planes off course to avoid hitting things that later turned out to be the planet Venus or stars, experts said.

"Smart, honest, good people can still be seriously wrong about seeing a UFO," said Beyerstein, who has researched sightings for decades.

The power of suggestion may play a role: If somebody says a bright light is a UFO, others will measure it against that expectation and the perception may become their reality.

UFO researchers said they don't count on witnesses to describe sightings accurately.

"People are notoriously bad at recollecting what they saw," McGaha said. "You can't put any credibility into their reports - even police - because they are not trained to observe anything in the sky or an astronomic anomaly," he said.

"I've been with Air Force pilots who thought they were seeing a UFO. But it was actually the moon," McGaha said. "I've seen people look at Venus and say they could see portholes on a spaceship."

Observers struggle, unknowingly, with distance, time and size, he said. Unless you know how large an object is supposed to be, you cannot figure its distance; unless you know its distance, you cannot determine its size, McGaha said. People reporting UFOs have neither point of reference.

"Time compression also occurs during extreme experiences," he said. "People can see things for 20 seconds, but think 10 minutes have passed."

In a study of about 1,000 UFO sightings in the 1970s, the Center for UFO Studies concluded that about 90 percent of the reports were actually stars, planets, planes, meteors or the moon.

At about 4:11 a.m. Jan. 5, a St. Clair, Ill., County police dispatcher sent a call out to the Lebanon, Ill., officer on duty.

"Lebanon, this a call from Highland PD in reference to a truck driver who just stopped in. He said there was a flying object in the area of Lebanon. It was like a two-story house. It had white lights and red blinking lights, and it was last seen southwest over Lebanon. Could you check the area?"

About two minutes later, Officer Ed Barton sent a message back:

"... Be advised there is a very bright white light east of town. It looks like it's just east of Summerfield, and it keeps changing colors. I'll go over there and see if it looks like an aircraft. It doesn't look like an aircraft, though. ... It's not the moon, and it's not a star."

Over about a seven-minute time span, three other police officers from Dupo, Millstadt and Shiloh saw the object. None can explain what he saw.

Klass, often called the dean of UFO research, said the object, described as flying slowly and silently, was probably a hoax or some kind of a balloon with intense lights or flares. "I would suspect this report is bogus," Klass said.

A National Weather Service spokesman said it has no weather balloons that would reach the area.

Officials at Scott Air Force Base, which is near the sightings, said nothing like what was sighted is based at the airfield. The military also does not fly any low-level training or testing routes in the area, the spokesman said.

The sky that morning was partly cloudy and there was an unusual condition in which a layer of warm air sits on top of cold air at the surface. Meteorologists said that can reflect light in odd-looking ways.

Venus is also very bright in the eastern sky this time of year, said McGaha.

Klass said, "For 50 years, we've gotten reports such as this, but not a single piece of credible evidence to support these claims."

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January 20-26, 2000

METRO (Silicone Valley)

Bovine Intervention
High-powered research team tries to get to the bottom of cow mutilations

by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

Are extraterrestrial aliens swooping down on the cattle ranches of our Western states, pouncing on unsuspecting cows, cutting out their vaginas and other interesting body parts, and carrying them back to their home planets for weird science experiments?

The National Institute for Discovery Science isn't ready to say yes, but they're not throwing out the possibility, either. The privately funded research organization is conducting a serious study of what it calls the "controversy regarding the alleged connection between cattle mutilations and UFOs."

"We've been able in a few cases to rule out predators, scavengers and infectious disease, and we've been able to show, using veterinary pathology, that sharp instruments were used on these animals. That's as far as we're prepared to go," says NIDS deputy administrator Colm Kelleher. "Who's using the sharp instruments, why they're using them, we have no idea. In most of the cases there has been an absence of vehicle tracks around the scene. We don't know what that means. A lot of ranchers have reported a lot of unusual activity in the sky to us, but we're not in a position of drawing a cause and effect between UFOs and animal mutilations without more evidence. There's not a smoking gun, so to speak."

At first glance, it's easy to dismiss the folks at NIDS as a bunch of, well, nitwits. Not counting people who have chosen to isolate themselves from humanity by several hundred miles of desert, who actually believes that extraterrestrials are cutting up our cows? And why, of all the locations on earth for a national headquarters, did this organization's management choose Las Vegas?

The last time we associated extraterrestrials with Nevada's gambling capital, they were zapping peace doves and singing backup vocals for Tom Jones in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks.

But these people are serious. The organization's founder, Robert Bigelow, is a successful national business developer, the owner of Budget Suites of America. Kelleher, his second in command, holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry. One member of the organization's Science Advisory Board once served on the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb; another is the provost of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas; and a third, former Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, was the sixth man to walk on the moon.

And they conduct serious investigations.

In one report on a mutilated cow by a NIDS investigator studying a 1998 incident in northeastern Utah, the organization alleged that the cow's left eye and ear had been removed, an "unusual, formaldehyde-containing blue gel-like substance was found on the eye, the ear and the anus of the animal, its heart was shredded, and though no fetus was present, it tested positive on two different pregnancy tests."

Kelleher says that this is one of perhaps a half-dozen cattle-mutilation cases NIDS has documented in its four-year existence that cannot be explained by so-called natural phenomena, such as scavengers or human poachers.

Lest anyone wish to distance themselves from the issue by several hundred miles of parched desert, NIDS has received "lots of reports from Northern California" that the organization has not been able to investigate (NIDS hotline: 702.798.1700.)

"Ninety-five percent of the calls involve cattle," Kelleher says. "But occasionally we hear about a horse, or an elk, or a buffalo."

According to the NIDS website, missing body parts of dead cattle include lips, tongue, skin and muscles of the lower jaw, rectum and/or genitalia (vulva, vagina, sometimes the entire uterus), penis, scrotum (with or without testicles), eyeball (with or without eyelids; usually only one, on the upper side, when the animal is lying on its side), tail, mammary gland (the whole udder or teats only) and ears. An online graph indicates that the most commonly reported missing parts are rectums and vaginas.

Another mutilation investigator, former Alabama police officer and now Bay Area resident Ted Oliphant III, talks in a 1997 article on his website about a dead cow found in Red Bluff (Sonoma County): "It was found missing teats from the udder, its jaw had been stripped and an ear was missing. Then it happened again, and again and again. by the time the first year had passed, the Bartons had lost four head of livestock." Oliphant attributes the mutilations to a government conspiracy rather than alien invaders.

But according to the Idaho Falls Post Register, animal-mutilation investigator Linda Moulton Howe, author of the book An Alien Harvest, believes that extraterrestrials are definitely behind the cattle killings. "I've talked to dozens of eyewitnesses who have seen silver discs landing in their fields," Howe is quoted as saying.

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January 19, 2000

Chicago Sun-Times

Buffs baffled by UFO

It is certainly a UFO.

It is being called a close encounter of the first kind.

But don't expect E.T. to be phoning home just yet.

That's because all that sci-fi-like jargon does not necessarily mean the enormous triangular object spotted drifting silently through the crisp night air over southwestern Illinois two weeks ago is from outer space.

"To prove something is an alien spacecraft requires a piece of it, requires the aliens to land and say `Here we are,' " said Mark Rodeghier, scientific director of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, based on the Northwest Side.

"You can't prove something like this is an alien spacecraft without some extraordinary piece of evidence."

But so far, it definitely fits the "unidentified flying object" label--because no one seems to know what it was.

Experts are baffled by the object seen cruising over six towns in the Belleville area about 4:30 a.m. Jan. 5.

UFO sightings are not uncommon in Illinois, although all but a handful wind up being easily explained by earthly means. What is unusual about the Downstate object is that as many as four police officers and one civilian in four different towns reported seeing it.

"The witnesses are excellent to unimpeachable," said Peter Davenport, director of the Seattle-based National UFO Reporting Center. "They don't seem to have any motive for misleading us.

"In my conversations with them, generally they just seem to be level-headed, no-nonsense types of individuals who were just doing a job and happened to stumble into something that morning."

And all described pretty much the same thing: A craft shaped like an arrowhead, about 100 feet long, two stories tall, with bright lights on its tail and underside.

"While I was sitting there I observed a very large flying object coming from a southward direction," Millstadt Police Officer Craig A. Stevens reported on the police department's Web site. "The object was flying very low from 500 to 1,000 feet, and was flying very slowly.

"The object was making no noise. I could only hear a very low-decibel buzzing sound. Then the object began banking to the northeast direction, and continued to cruise away from me toward the area of [the nearby town of] Dupo."

Stevens took a photograph of the object but believes his Polaroid malfunctioned because of the cold. The photograph posted on the Web site, millstadt, just shows a few lights in a dark background.

Also on the site is a sketch Stevens drew, showing a triangular object with a series of lights on its concave back.

Davenport said he interviewed both Stevens and an officer from Lebanon, a town about 30 miles east of St. Louis. Three other police officers reportedly saw the craft, but Davenport has not spoken with them.

He said the officer from Lebanon told him the craft had bright red lights that "radiated so much light in the sky it was similar to the Japanese rising sun symbol."

Davenport said the officer told him the craft passed over his stopped squad car before streaking off "at warp speed"--about 8 miles in 3 seconds.

Davenport declined to say if he believes the craft is from another planet but said "the object that has been reported appears to be grossly incompatible with any kind of terrestrial aircraft that I am aware of."

The speculation Downstate has included more earthly explanations, ranging from a government test of a top-secret stealth blimp to some new aircraft flying out of nearby Scott Air Force Base.

Even big-time UFO buffs have to admit that it's possible the mystery craft was a top-secret, man-made experiment. The Stealth bomber, for instance, was test-flown in the Midwest for eight years before the Pentagon unveiled it.

During that time, local UFO societies got dozens of reports of black delta-shaped ships zooming overhead, said Forest Crawford, an Illinois UFO researcher.

Not that the government is about to admit it, if in fact it was involved.

A spokesman for Scott Air Force Base says personnel there know nothing about the UFO. Then again, if it was a classified military project, "I can't imagine that we would know," Lt. Col. Allan Dahncke said. "If we did, it wouldn't be so secret."

Rodeghier said he has no doubt the federal government has stealth blimps for military uses or drug interdiction cases, but he is not convinced that that is what was hovering over southeastern Illinois.

"The question is what would the federal government be doing flying this over East St. Louis on Jan. 5 at 4:30 in the morning?" Rodeghier said. "On the other hand, if you are looking for something saying this is an alien spacecraft, there isn't much evidence for that either.

"It didn't move very quickly, it didn't do anything unusual in terms of its motion, nobody saw little creatures in the windows on it--all it did was fly over the town and just keep flying away."

Still, the sightings are close encounters of the first kind, a designation created by Hynek, the late Northwestern University astronomer who founded the center and wrote The UFO Experience in 1972.

A close encounter of the first kind is a sighting where an unidentified object comes close enough for witnesses to see some details. In a close encounter of the second kind, the object leaves some physical evidence, such as a burn mark on the ground or a clear image in a photograph. The third kind involves the sighting of an alien being on or near the object.

Investigation of such phenomena depends on which class the sighting falls into, but Rodeghier said the first step is to rule out conventional explanations--such as stars, planets, streetlights, hoaxes and the like, which account for 90 percent of the 200 UFOs reported in Illinois each year.

The next step is to look for more unusual--but still earthly--explanations, such as blimps, stealth fighters and other unusual crafts.

Rodeghier said the Downstate object is likely to remain a UFO, rather than an IFO (identified flying object).

"If it is a government stealth blimp, we are unlikely to find out," he said. "They are not likely to tell us."

Rodeghier, who earns his living teaching statistics and survey research workshops, won't say whether he believes in aliens. Davenport, a former Russian translator and college business instructor, said he does--although he admits experts in "Ufology" have failed to come up with scientific proof.

"But the significant thing about this is that human beings are clearly witnessing things that by any human measure should not be there," he said. "And that is happening over and over."

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January 13, 2000

Daily Southtown (Millstadt, IL)

UFO Sighting Brings Town Attention

MILLSTADT, IL (AP) — Nobody knows what it was, but everyone in Millstadt knows what a police officer's sighting of a mysterious floating object above the city has done. It has put this sleepy southern Illinois village on the map.

Reporters and talk-show hosts nationwide have deluged the 10-officer department with telephone calls since the first media reports of the Jan. 5 sighting.

"It's going to affect policing if we don't put a stop to it," Chief Ed Wilkerson said in clamping down on interviews. "I never thought anything like this would draw this much attention."

In a report filed with the department and posted on its World Wide Web site, Craig Stevens said he saw a large, triangular object floating quietly through the sky in the early hours of Jan. 5. Officers in three other Metro East cities and the owner of a Highland miniature-golf course also saw it.

"It was all lighted up and so low that someone could have waved at me out the window," said Melvin Noll, the owner of the golf course.

The sighting provoked calls from reporters and talk-show hosts nationwide, and prompted a team of UFO investigators led by a former FBI agent to fly in from Las Vegas to investigate the case.

Wilkerson said he doesn't think the craft was alien.

Neither does the assistant director of the Illinois Mutual UFO Network, Forest Crawford of Collinsville.

He thinks it was an experimental stealth blimp.

Officials at Scott Air Force Base say they know nothing of any such craft.

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January 9, 2000

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Police officers in St. Clair County report seeing early-morning UFO

by Valerie Schremp

In the past few days, Millstadt police Officer Craig Stevens has slept little, taken countless phone messages from national experts and heard all of the little green men jokes his fellow officers can muster.

It's amusing -- to a point, he said.

"It's not like I'm the only one who saw it and I'm Joe Blow from the local bar who just stepped out drunk, you know?"

Stevens, of Highland, and at least three other officers from the Lebanon, Shiloh and Dupo police departments said they saw something in the sky early Wednesday -- something that looked like a UFO.

Shaped like an arrowhead, sprinkled with dimmer lights all over its surface and three brighter lights on its tail, the thing made its northeast-to-southwest flight across the Metro East area about 4 a.m.

The first report came in to Highland police from the owner of a miniature golf course. He was driving into Lebanon, so the police contacted Lebanon authorities. The officer there guffawed at the dispatcher. But he spotted the thing heading toward Shiloh, and he sped through traffic lights to try to catch up with it. It reached Shiloh, where an officer there spotted it.

Stevens, sitting in his patrol car in Millstadt on his overnight shift, heard the radio chatter and drove to the north end of town. He scanned the sky but saw only airplane lights.

Then he looked west.

"Wow," he thought, jumping out of the car. "This thing's huge!"

He said it moved slowly, like a blimp, about 1,000 feet off the ground. It was about two stories high and about three times as long. In addition to the three lights in the back, dimmer lights sprinkled the entire surface, almost, as he described it, like a "starfield camouflage."

He grabbed his Polaroid camera and snapped a shot. The object headed toward Dupo, and Stevens radioed dispatch. The dispatcher radioed back, reporting an officer there spotted it too.

The Polaroid didn't develop well in the cold, and the image only shows the three bright lights. At the station, Stevens made an unofficial police report and sketched a likeness of what he saw.

"It's been driving me nuts since I've seen it," he said. "I haven't been able to sleep for the last day and a half."

He's searched the Internet for a likeness of the object but can only find a picture of a "Stealth Blimp" on the Popular Mechanics Web site. It looked like an experimental military ship, he said.

The only calls that Scott Air Force Base received about the object were from the media, a spokeswoman said Saturday. And the military base's control tower was closed at that hour.

Stevens has also fielded calls from the media, science institutes, UFO experts, and a former FBI man who had "a hundred questions." One expert was adamant that people spotted a similar ship in California the day after Christmas. He and the Lebanon officer went on Art Bell's nationally broadcast radio show.

Stevens said he is taking the attention, and his sighting, in stride.

"It didn't scare me; it was cool. I'll never forget it," he said

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January 2, 1999

Associated Press

China sees UFOs and calls it science, not superstition

PUSALU VILLAGE, China (AP) - Poor farmers in Beijing's barren hills saw it: an object swathed in colored light that some say must have been a UFO.

They're not alone. People in 12 other Chinese cities reported possible UFO sightings last month. UFO researchers, meanwhile, were busy looking into claims of an alien abduction in Beijing.

At the cusp of the new millennium, China is astir with sightings of otherworldly visitors. And for a country usually straightjacketed by its communist rulers, alien sightings are getting serious treatment.

China has a bimonthly magazine - circulation 400,000 - devoted to UFO research. The conservative state-run media report UFO sightings. UFO buffs claim support from eminent scientists and liaisons with the secretive military, giving their work a scientific sheen of respectability.

"Some of these sightings are real, some are fake and with others it's unclear," said Shen Shituan, a rocket scientist, president of Beijing Aerospace University and honorary director of the China UFO Research Association. "All these phenomena are worth researching."

For thousands of years, Chinese have looked to the skies for portents of change on Earth. While China is passing through its first millennium using the West's Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunar calendar is ushering in the Year of the Dragon, regarded as time of tumultuous change.

"All of that sort of millennial fear and trepidation fits in so nicely with Chinese cosmology - and also the Hollywood propaganda that everybody's been lapping up," said Geremie Barme, a Chinese culture watcher at Australia National University.

In Pusalu, a patch of struggling corn and bean farms 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Beijing, villagers believe cosmic forces were at play on Dec. 11. As they tell it, an object the size of a person shimmering with golden light moved slowly up into the sky from the surrounding arid mountains.

"Some say it was caused by an earthquake. Some say it was a UFO. Some say it was a ray of Buddha. I'm telling everyone to call it an auspicious sign," said Chen Jianwen, village secretary for the officially atheistic Communist Party.

What "it" was remains a topic of debate. Many villagers are fervent Buddhists. But local leaders want to play down any religious overtones, fearing that government censure may spoil plans to attract tourism to Pusalu.

"It was so beautiful, sort of yellow," villager Wang Cunqiao said. "It was like someone flying up to heaven."

State media ignored religious interpretations and labeled the celestial events in Pusalu, Beijing, Shanghai and 10 other Chinese cities in December as possible UFOs. But UFO researchers have largely dismissed the sightings as airplane trails catching the low sun.

"If the military didn't chase it, it's because they knew it wasn't a UFO. They were probably testing a new aircraft," said Chen Yanchun, a shipping company executive who helps manage the China UFO Research Resource Center.

Operating from a dingy three-room flat in a Beijing apartment block, the Resource Center keeps a version of China's X-Files: 140 dictionary-sized boxes of fading newspaper clippings and eyewitness accounts of sightings. The collection has, among others items, accounts that the military scrambled planes in 1998 in unsuccessful pursuit of a UFO.

Chen said the center had 500 reported UFO sightings in 1999, but after investigation confirmed cases will likely number 200 or so.

He's currently checking on a worker's claims that aliens entered his Beijing home in early December and, with his wife and child present, spirited him 165 miles (265 kilometers) east and back in a few hours.

"The increase in flying saucer incidents is natural," said Chen, a former Aerospace Ministry researcher with a Ph.D. in aerodynamics. He cited more manmade aerospace activity and radio signals from Earth penetrating farther into space


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December 29, 1999

New Zealand Press

Night lights mystery

AUCKLAND -- UFO fever is threatening to break out after a rash of calls to police about fast-moving, coloured lights in the sky north of the city.

Police received six calls over two hours from several different areas north of Auckland on Saturday night but have been unable to explain the lights.

One caller said the lights moved 400 metres in less than two seconds while two others said they moved up and down in the sky very fast.

Inspector Barry Smalley of the police northern communications centre said there was something in the sky but no-one knew quite what.

"There's something there. Because of the path it was travelling it may have been something coming through the atmosphere.

"It's another mystery. We'll have to get Mulder and Scully (from the television show, The X-Files) on to it."

The first call to police was at 9.38pm, 20 minutes after the first sighting from Raglan of what appeared to be a green flare when looking in the direction of Auckland. The flare died before it hit the sea.

Further reports had the lights moving north.

The last sighting was about 11.36pm from Tinopai, in Northland, where resident reported "huge lights" over the hills due north. The lights were reported to have moved about 400 metres in two seconds.

Two more strange lights were reported "going straight up and down sky, intensely light and intensely red" looking across the Kaipara Harbour. The lights were reported to be dancing about in the sky.--NZPA

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December 26, 1999

Florida Today

Local eyewitness joins scientific call to reopen national UFO review
30 years after Project Blue Book, is it time to look again?

by Billy Cox

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - It was supposed to have been over and done with 30 years ago. Lost between the triumph of Apollo 11 and the tragedy of Vietnam, the U.S. Air Force quietly terminated Project Blue Book, its controversial study of unidentified flying objects, on Dec. 17, 1969.

For the rest of the world, closure is more elusive. Three decades later, global sightings persist, public belief in UFO visitations hovers at 50 percent in America, and space aliens are ubiquitous commercial commodities.

And this year, two panels of scientists on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean called for a re-evaluation of the phenomenon.

"If that's what they want to do, I think that's wonderful," says Indian Harbour Beach resident William Coleman. "And I'd hope they'd look to the future instead of rehashing the past and kicking the Air Force. It's time we moved on."

Nothing rankles the 75-year-old Coleman like critics, or so-called ufologists, who denigrate the integrity of one of his most unique assignments. Retired colonel, veteran of 155 combat missions, seven shrapnel fragments still lodged in his left hand, Coleman was the USAF's chief information officer in the early 1970s. But it was his work from 1961 to 1964, when he was public liaison for Project Blue Book, that continues to energize its detractors.

"The intent of Blue Book was information and issue management, nothing more," declares Maryland-based political lobbyist Stephen Bassett. "It was window dressing to take the pressure off the real data collection."

When Blue Book killed the lights and locked the doors 30 Decembers ago, it marked the unsatisfying end of perhaps the most curious public investigation ever conducted by a government entity. Known variously as Project Sign and Project Grudge, Blue Book sprang up in 1948 to address mass sightings of "flying saucers," a term that entered the vocabulary the year before.

For the next 21 years, Blue Book harvested and analyzed thousands of eyewitness accounts, photos, radar-visual reports, soil and chemical data. After reviewing 12,783 cases, analysts regarded 701 as unknowns. Of those, says Coleman, "Just over a hundred were what we'd consider worrisome, or suggestive of a technology we don't know about. High strangeness."

Experience high strangeness

Coleman knew a thing or two about high strangeness. In 1955, long before he joined the Blue Book team, he and a crew of four got an eyeful of it.

En route from Miami International Airport to Greenville (Miss.) Air Force Base in a clunky old B-25, Coleman engaged in an 11-minute game of cat-and-mouse with a UFO over North Florida/South Alabama. The crew spotted the bright silver disk glinting in the sun, then gave chase after failing to establish radio contact. Coleman closed in from the rear, swerved to avoid a collision, then leveled out to discover the UFO had vanished.

Coleman climbed back to 2,000 feet, then saw the UFO scudding along the rural deck, casting a round shadow from maybe 100 feet above plowed fields. He fell in behind it, banked away to begin a flanking maneuver, and when he veered back to cut it off, the disk was gone. "All you could see were these two funnels of dust that showed where he'd gone right down the middle of the field," he recalls. "It was nowhere in sight."

Some 45 to 50 minutes later, as the bomber began its descent into Greenville, the UFO re-appeared. "It looked the same as we first saw it, about 2 o'clock high, going across our flight path." This time, Coleman decided not to play.

The next day, Coleman gathered the five eyewitness reports, including his own, and forwarded them to Project Blue Book. Several years later, when he attempted to review his report, he couldn't find it in the Blue Book files. "I thought this was a pretty good case, because we had five credible eyewitness accounts cross-referencing the same event," he says.

A hidden database

Coleman attributes the missing file to bureaucratic mismanagement, but critics contend the account probably went into a parallel database hidden from the public. Most often cited is the so-called "Bolender memo," issued in 1969 by U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development Brig. Gen. Carroll Bolender, who recommended terminating the public study because regulations dealing with UFOS had long been in place:

"Reports of unidentified flying objects which could affect national security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or Air Force Manual 55-11, and are not part of the Blue Book system."

"There's nothing mysterious about it, the manual is a common publication," Coleman says. "NORAD (North American Air Defense Command) tracked UFOs all the time. Everything that comes over the horizon that we haven't identified is a UFO -- satellites, missiles, you name it. Of course we're interested. Our job is air defense. Of course we'd keep collecting as much data on foreign technology as we could. We just didn't do it through Project Blue Book any longer."

Coleman concedes foreign technology is a broad term.

"Well, conceivably, that could include technology developed terrestrially or extraterrestrially," Coleman says. But he's quick to add he has no personal knowledge of ET technology.

The U.S. Air Force beat a hasty retreat out of the official UFO business following an independent evaluation of its work by the University of Colorado. Headed by physicist Edward Condon, the two-year Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects drew three conclusions: 1) UFOs didn't represent a technology beyond the 1969 level of understanding; 2) they didn't threaten national security; and 3) continued study of the phenomenon probably wouldn't contribute anything to modern science.

New challenges

This year, however, two scientific organizations have published reports that rigorously challenge those assertions.

One, UFOs and Defense: What Must We Be Prepared For? is a 90-page look at international incidents compiled by the French Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense. Among its signatories are former institute director Gen. Bernard Norlain, as well as Andre Lebeau, former head of the National Center for Space Studies, the French equivalent of NASA.
After evaluating more than 3,000 UFO cases, many of them with
propulsion, energy and defense implications, French experts advocate, among other things, American participation in a coordinated international study.

The other study took a swipe at the Condon project. Led by Society for Scientific Exploration founder Peter Sturrock and underwritten by billionaire Laurance Rockefeller, the UFO Enigma report by a multidisciplinary committee of scientists contends Condon's dismissive conclusions "bear little relation to the work, analyses and summaries of his own staff."

Sturrock, emeritus director of the Center for Space Science and Astrophysics at Stanford University, is reluctant to portray Condon as the pawn of a conspiracy.

"He was a very independent character," Sturrock says. "My guess is, he thought this was a nonsensical task, and he was going to make the best of it. As to whether he was under any pressure, who knows? It's clear that the Air Force was happy with his report."

"That's because this UFO business was like fleas on an elephant," responds Coleman. "This was the Cold War. We had a lot more things to think about than UFOs. Do you realize my office was getting 9,000 letters a month? Do you know that I answered each one of them personally?"

Public record examined

Significantly, Sturrock says his committee members stuck exclusively to reviewing UFO cases in the public domain. For one thing, he says those cases alone should be astonishing enough to warrant coordinated studies of more contemporary incidents. For another, Sturrock says the UFO field is controversial enough without venturing into the classified margins.

"This is obviously a very complex area," he says. "There are people who are looking into government files, but I'm not interested in conducting Freedom of Information searches. That's not where I want to go."

For that reason, UFO investigators such as Stan Friedman argue that Sturrock's report -- not to mention Blue Book -- is irrelevant. "C'mon," says Friedman, an American nuclear physicist living in Canada. "How seriously can you take these "studies' if they don't even mention Roswell?"

Friedman was the first to revisit the now-legendary crash of an alleged flying saucer outside Roswell, N.M., in 1947. Buried for more than 30 years before Friedman began interviewing witnesses in 1978, the Roswell Incident -- reputed to involve recovered debris and alien bodies -- blazed through American pop culture in the '90s on a whirlwind of books, movies and TV shows.

Roswell, in fact, ensured Project Blue Book wouldn't be the U.S. Air Force's last word on UFOs. After telling the press in 1947 that military field investigators had mistaken a common weather balloon for a flying saucer, Air Force officials changed their story half a century later.

Responding to congressional pressure, the Air Force informed the General Accounting Office the common weather balloon actually was a classified weather balloon sniffing the atmosphere for nuclear fallout. Unable to produce balloon-recovery records for the General Accounting Office, the Air Force went on to attribute alien body stories to mistaken identities of crash-test dummies.

UFOs 'political' issue

Thus, the UFO phenomenon rolls on, from continued sightings and videotapes (Mexico City, Gulf Breeze, Phoenix, Belgium, etc.) to litigation (National Security Agency survives a UFO disclosure battle in the 1982 Supreme Court) to the Roswell anniversary party/Heaven's Gate suicides of 1997.

"This is a political issue now," insists Stephen Bassett, who founded the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee in 1996 to re-open congressional hearings. "Until people understand that, all our scientific efforts will go for naught."

Meanwhile, back in Indian Harbour Beach, the man on the front lines of Project Blue Book remains stubbornly neutral on the controversy. Even when it comes to venturing an opinion about whether his own missing file reflected an encounter with advanced technology.

"I made a stupid remark on "Merv Griffin' one time," says Coleman. "He said, "You do believe in them, don't you?' And I said, "Well, I'm one of these guys who's got to kick the tires first.' Next thing I know, I'm getting all these upset letters from people saying things like, "Don't you know UFOs don't have tires?' "

Coleman rolls his eyes.

"So I've got to watch what I say."

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December 3, 1999

ABC News

Cylinder UFO Spends One Hour Over Shanghai

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shanghai appeared convinced on Friday that an unidentified flying object had visited China's commercial capital. Usually staid official newspapers insisted Thursday's sighting was no vision.

"UFO darts across the city's skyline," screamed a headline in the official Shanghai Daily.

"UFO appears in the sky over Shanghai," the Wenhui Daily said in a front page story with colour photographs.

Nearly 100 people claimed to have seen a cylindrical object with a flaming orange tail moving over the western part of the city for about an hour on Thursday afternoon, the newspapers said. They offered no theories on what it might have been.

The Shanghai Daily ran the story on the same page as an advertisement for "The X Files Movie," based on the popular television series about two U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who probe unexplained phenomena.

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November 24, 1999

Florida Today

Scientists' plan for trying to manage the event: Confirm, verify, tell the world

by Todd Halvorson

ARECIBO, Puerto Rico - The Hollywood scenarios always are the same.

Soon after we make contact with aliens, hysteria seizes a panicked public, or paranoid G-men in black suits and dark sunglasses put a lid on the news.

But in the real world, scientists expect neither mass pandemonium nor a government cover-up if or when intelligent life is found elsewhere in the universe.

A media free-for-all in today's wired world - coupled with a carnival-like sideshow - is more likely.

"What happens next will be something that we cannot in fact control or orchestrate at all," said Jill Tarter, chief scientist with the SETI Institute of Mountain View, Calif., which is searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. "It will be a huge circus."

Imagine the O.J. Simpson trial with a cosmic twist.

The initial news flash will be followed by special TV reports with such catchy titles as "Alien Encounter at Arecibo."

News crews will scurry to the mountaintop observatory here, and a new genre of "expert" TV analysts - astronomers with a knack for snappy sound bites - will form a lucrative cottage industry.

A human wave made of the UFO crowd, strange cults, religious zealots and enterprising T-shirt vendors will crash onto Puerto Rican shores, swamping the media event to beat all media events.

"That's one scenario that just might play out," Tarter said. "What is unsettling is the fact that the situation will get away from us, and it will be very difficult to do our work."

A plan, however, already is in hand to try to manage the event.

Called the "Declaration of Principals Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence," it's a three-page set of instructions adopted in 1989 by the International Academy of Astronautics.

Made up of 1,000 researchers from 65 countries, the academy presumes the detection will come in the form of an intercepted radio signal rather than an alien spaceship visiting the White House.

The protocol includes the following:

•Step One: Confirm, over and over again. The discoverer will not make any announcement until proving - beyond a doubt - that the radio beacon isn't a stray TV signal from The Sci-Fi Channel.  
•Step Two: Verify, repeatedly and independently. Don't claim an alien contact before scientists at other radio telescopes can unequivocally determine that ET indeed is calling.   •Step Three: Tell Everybody. Alert the appropriate "national authorities."  Advise astronomers through the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams.  Notify the secretary general of the United Nations. Ring up the media.   But do not return ET's call.

Any response to an alien message, the protocol says, is a matter for "international consultations" - in other words, a worldwide debate over who should say what for humankind.

Tarter, who played a major role in putting together the protocol, is one of the many scientists who know full well the announcement won't go by the book.

But at the same time, scientists say:

Street rioting is unlikely.

Without a doubt, a 1938 radio dramatization of "The War of The Worlds" triggered frenzy when thousands of listeners thought invading Martians were spreading death and destruction in New Jersey and New York.

The Sunday night broadcast disrupted households, interrupted church services, spawned traffic jams and clogged telephone lines. Some actually left their homes as wide-eyed mobs took to the streets.

But scientists say the chances that aliens actually will show up in spaceships, threatening to lay waste to our cities and abduct our women, are slim and none.

Even an advanced alien civilization, they say, would find interstellar travel technically difficult, extraordinarily expensive and prohibitively time-consuming.

It would, for example, take 100,000 years for an alien spaceship traveling at the speed of light - 186,282 miles a second - to fly from one side of the Milky Way to our little spot in the boondocks.

Aliens on board likely would be dead on arrival unless they had discovered a cure for old age. Scientists, as a result, say it's more likely contact will come in the form of a remote radio signal.

"The point here is that there would be no immediate danger," said SETI Institute scientist Seth Shostak. "Just because you picked up a radio signal doesn't mean the aliens are hopping in their saucers and coming our way."

The announcement won't shock the world.

Public opinion polls the past few years show most people already believe life exists elsewhere in the universe - primarily aliens piloting UFOs - so the news won't come as a big surprise.

Pseudoscientific literature, supermarket tabloids and talk shows have persuaded many to believe also in ancient astronauts and alien crop circles.

"If the headline tomorrow says, `Scientists Prove Existence of Extraterrestrial Intelligence,' Joe Six Pack will say, `Look Marge, they've finally come clean. I knew the aliens were out there. Could you hand me the sports section?' "

There will be no government cover-up.

Much to the chagrin of the conspiracy crowd, the international protocol clearly states that a confirmed alien detection "should be disseminated promptly, openly and widely through scientific channels and public media."

Beyond that, the drill for authenticating a signal from ET effectively spreads the news very fast.

Astronomers in countries around the world would be called to work in a harried bid to verify the alien beacon, making leaks to the media unstoppable and a cover-up impossible.

In addition, those who think the government successfully could quash the scientific discovery of the millennium "greatly underestimate the urge to share heart-stopping news - and the perceptive powers of the press," Shostak said.

Case in point:

In June 1997, SETI Institute scientists working at an observatory in West Virginia intercepted a signal that appeared to be the real thing.

In the midst of a daylong effort to authenticate it, a New York Times reporter called the observatory control room to ask about "that interesting signal" the scientists tuned in to.

"Here was a signal that had us going for 24 hours, and I can tell you there were no government types crashing into the control room. No guys in narrow ties. No guys with black fedoras," Shostak said.

But a newspaper reporter hundreds of miles away already had been tipped to what eventually turned out to be a false alarm.

"The point is that in the case of a detection, the people who are going to know first are the media, and then it's too late" for a cover-up, Shostak said.

"The feds could come in and shut us down, but the signal is in the sky and in The New York Times. Anybody with a big radio antenna could confirm the signal for themselves."

The ensuing media blitz would be overwhelming, like the blanket coverage during the Persian Gulf War or the more recent crisis in Kosovo.

Just how long it would last depends on the nature of the beacon. Scientists say there are two types of signals that could be detected:

Stray radio signals that radiate into space like waves created by a pebble dropped into a pond.

Early television shows such as "I Love Lucy" have been rippling outward for a half century, long enough to have traveled past hundreds of stars as far as 50 light years away.

A light year is 5.88 trillion miles, or the distance television and radio signals travel in one year at 186,282 miles a second. Who knows? Any day now, an alien version of "My Favorite Martian" might reach Earth.

An intentional beacon, one intended to be heard by intelligent civilizations. It might be a simple welcome to the Galactic Club or a signal with an embedded message.

Neither a stray signal nor an interstellar hello would tell us much except to provide proof of life elsewhere and scant information about the home of our celestial neighbors.

Astronomers, for instance, could use telescopes to focus on the source of the signal and study a farflung planetary home. But that would reveal little about an alien civilization's way of life.

"We'd be able to tell a number of things about their planet - its size, its location, the length of their day and the length of their year," said SETI Institute scientist Peter Backus.

"But it may be a long time before we find out anything about their civilization."

On the other hand, an intentional beacon with an embedded message may shed light on the aliens themselves and the lives they lead.

Perhaps ET is broadcasting an Encyclopedia Galactica or advice on how to solve global environmental and geopolitical problems.

"The first question Mr. and Mrs. Front Porch are going to ask is, `What are they saying?' " Shostak said.

"The second question will be, 'What do they look like?' "And the information we get might not answer either question. The message might be screaming difficult to decipher, like hieroglyphics. Or it might be something that we can never decipher."

Media coverage and public interest, consequently, are likely to wax and wane with the speed at which cryptographers can decode the message.

In the meantime, SETI Institute scientists will discover long-term job security.

"I don't think we'll have trouble getting telescope time anymore," Tarter said.

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November 21, 1999

Seattle Times

Book review: Invasion of alien matters

by David Williams
Special to The Seattle Times

Judging from Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach's humorous and insightful new book, the crux of the UFO movement and its related disciplines is whether you are a skeptic or a believer. For example, is the government covering up the fact that aliens landed at Roswell, N.M., in July 1947, or was the mysterious object in the sky above Roswell merely "an innocuous military balloon?" Or, given the fact that the universe consists of hundreds of billions of potentially inhabitable planets, are there other planets with intelligent life... or is Earth the freak of the universe by having thinking beings?

Achenbach spent a couple of years exploring every conceivable niche of alien science and science fiction. He traveled to various UFO congresses and conventions, interviewing people who claimed they had been abducted, had seen aliens, and/or believed that aliens already inhabited Earth. He even allowed himself to be hypnotized as a way to ferret out his past alien encounters.  It was a failure.

Some of the abduction stories may sound incredulous, and Achenbach does not mince words when he thinks people are a little bit off in their views. But he also writes: "Only in a few isolated cases did I ever feel that in talking to a UFO believer I was in the presence of a crazy person. Most of them are merely wrong." His discussion of the believers is fair and entertaining.

Over half of the book is devoted to the more scientific side of extraterrestrials and space travel. Carl Sagan is the standard bearer for this group, known as exobiologists, and is featured prominently by Achenbach. Sagan did not believe in "little green men," but actively promoted the idea that alien life was out there for us to find. Achenbach also investigates Mars meteorite ALH84001 and its hints of Martian life; whether we will construct a spacecraft with the ability to leave our solar system any time in the near future; and whether Homo sapiens is a unique life form.

Achenbach comes across as an open-minded skeptic with a healthy sense of humor about the UFO movement. He writes: "The most serious failure of UFO stories is that they aren't really that interesting. The aliens rarely have anything novel to say.  They're a bunch of motivational speakers, urging humans to make something better of themselves."

In the end, Achenbach concludes that "The alien question is bottomless for today, and probably for years to come. There's no firm ground here." This in part is what makes the topic so compelling; it is hard to be absolutely wrong on most aspects of the alien question, so we all can participate and believe what we want.

One final point. The Puget Sound region figures prominently in the alien believer world, for this is the birthplace of the UFO movement. On June 24, 1947, amateur pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine mysterious flying objects cruising in the sky near Mount Rainier. His description of the discs moving "like a saucer skipping across water" prompted reporters to coin the term "flying saucers." Unfortunately for us, the world learned about Roswell and its "actual" landing of a UFO only two weeks later, and we lost our rightful place as an important spot for strange encounters with alien beings.

'Captured by Aliens'
by Joel Achenbach
Simon & Schuster, $25

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November 13, 1999

Toronto Star

Opening The Secret U-Files
Everyone loves to visit Ontario - even UFOs

by Scott Simmie
Feature Writer

Gilmour, Ontario - If, as The X-Files tells us, "The Truth is Out There", Agent Mulder may well be referring to rural Ontario. For deep in the hinterlands of this seemingly normal province, ordinary people are reporting seeing extraordinary things. Clusters of blinding lights. A V-shaped object gliding low over a country home. Mysteries that fleetingly suggest Toronto may not be the Centre of the Universe.

Call them the U-Files. Unexplained. Unusual. And some times, just plain Unfathomable. (Oh yeah. 'U' is also for 'UFOs.')

Consider, if you will, the case of Barry Day.

Day is a commercial bush pilot with an excellent reputation in the Haliburton Highlands and beyond. In more than 30 years of flying, he’s seen it all: the seductive shimmy of the Northern Lights, the last brilliant gasp of mete ors etched against the black. Transmission towers, aircraft lights, satellites... you name it.

But what he saw late one wintry night from the bedroom of his rural Haliburton property scared the living hell out of him.

"I went to the window and looked up," he recalls, "and here is this fantastic array of lights up on top of the hill. I mean, you could have read by it. I was floored."

The lights were arranged in a tall, triangular pattern.  "It looked like a huge Christmas tree." he says. "Except Christmas was over. There were no decorated trees on Day’s property, no rum and eggnog on the table. It was inexplicable."

"I’m a little embarrassed to say this," he lowers his voice, "but I was scared. And I have never experienced fear (like that) before or since in my life."

How scared?

"I have an old .303 army rifle. And I’m gonna tell you something. I pulled that thing out of the closet and loaded it. And I locked all the doors, made sure all the windows were locked."

"And I sat there with that damn loaded rifle and thought: ‘This is stupid. If that’s what I think it is, with this kind of technology, what am I going to do sitting here with a silly rifle?’"

Day sat, transfixed, for nearly an hour. There was no sound, no motion. Suddenly, the lights dimmed to about half their previous intensity. And then

Day snaps his fingers and pauses for emphasis "They... just... went... out." Leaving a frightened man staring into the dark. It was years ago. But it left Day’s world view irrevocably altered.

"Once you have seen something like this," he explains, "it changes you forever. You’re not a skeptic anymore. This was unmistakable out of this world;"

"The Christmas tree description is actually very good," says astronomer and science writer Chris Rutkowski of Winnipeg. "It’s actually very similar to what other people have reported. So it’s right up there."

Up there, as in unexplained. The way Rutkowski likes ‘em.

Rutkowski and fellow UFO re searchers (called ufologists) devote a considerable amount of their time to analyzing, categorizing, and scrutinizing reported sightings of UFOs. Their hope is to bring greater objectivity and credibility to a field long tainted by overzealous, unquestioning ‘believers.’

Based on interviews and their knowledge of known sky and stellar phenomenon, ufologists try to find a rational explanation for what the observer saw: to turn a UFO into an IFO — an Identified flying Object. Maybe it was Venus or the star Sirius. Perhaps the sun’s rays, bouncing off the j panels of a low-orbiting satellite. Maybe just one too many beer caps, spinning off the cottage deck.

“If we can’t figure out what was seen,” says Rutkowski, “then it’s a pretty decent case.”

In UFO circles, the most decent Canadian case of them all took place in € 1967, when Manitoba prospector Stefan Michalak received unusual and painful bums to his chest. His injuries, he maintained, were caused by a blast of hot gases from the vent of a saucerlike device that landed in the woods.

Numerous high-level investigations found traces of radiation in the area, and an RCAF report noted that “there are certain facts, such as Mr. Michalak’s illness and burns and the very evident circle remaining at the site, which are unexplainable.” Late last month, at the age of 83, Michalak died of natural causes.

Such stories ones where 'evidence' is purportedly left behind are exceedingly rare. The overwhelming majority of sightings are simply cases of mistaken identity. But that, argue ufologists, is significant.

"Since most UFO reports can be explained and reclassified as IFOs," reads the 1998 survey, "we can observe that this attests to the reality of the objects seen. UFO reports actually reflect real events which occur."

Some witnesses, of course, merit more credibility than others. The survey attempts to rank that elusive qual ity, giving greater credence to cases with multiple witnesses, or to those whose profession demands that they be trained observers (police officers, pilots, etc.).

And that’s where things get interest Mr. Rutkowski’s survey is always left with a handful of cases that defy explanation. Last year, 13 of the 194 sightings were intriguingly categorized as "high-quality unknowns."

"That doesn’t mean that they’re aliens," stresses Rutkowski. "All we can say at this point is: We really don’t know what they are."

(The official U.S. Air Force study of UFOs, known as Project Blue Book, was also left with some mysteries. Re tired Colonel William Coleman Jr., who ran the project for three years, wrote last month in the Florida Today newspaper that 130 of the 12,800 cases examined remained "worrisome and unresolved.")

In 1998, three of Canada’s unsolved mysteries occurred in rural Ontario. No surprise to Barry Hendry, local reporter with the Bancroft Times.

"I’ve seen interesting things in the sky up here since I first came up in the late ‘70s," he says. So have other people, folks who often call the paper or local authorities.

"So I think there is activity up here," says Hendry. "It’s definitely hot." Hot enough that the local OPP detachment gets its fair share of calls.

"We’ve had reports of strange things in the air," says Community Services Officer Brett Reeves. "Bright lights in the sky. That’s when we have to check with CFB Trenton to find out if a plane has gone down or whatever."

Cue Trenton.

"I get calls a lot here in the office from members of the public who see weird flashing lights in the sky, and are calling to find out what exercises we have or whatever going on," says public affairs spokesperson Holly Bridges.

"So we do get a lot of these phone calls." Calls that Bridges, in turn, often passes along to the Rescue Coordination Centre, a National Defence/Coast Guard search and rescue operation based at Trenton.

"Most of the things we get are weird lights," says the Centre’s Captain David Elit. "If they don’t match any distress signals, we don’t investigate."

"Usually," he chuckles, "They get passed along to local police."  Full saucer. Er, circle.

So what on earth (or off) is causing all this stuff? Some suggest that many of the objects being seen could well be the next generation of military aircraft being tested in Canadian skies.

"Let’s face it," says Winnipeg’s Rutkowski. "Canada is very involved with the States. So the likelihood that Canada’s co-operating or allowing the U.S. to test things in our airspace is actually very, very possible."

Errol Bruce-Knapp, the communications director of MUFON -- the Mutual UFO Network of Ontario -- agrees. But he says some of the objects being reported appear to pull impossible stunts.

"A lot of the maneuvers this technology pulls, as far as our science and physics is concerned, are impossible," he says.

Surely, with all this alleged activity in the skies, our airline pilots would be seeing things? Saying something?


"In my four years here, the issue of UFOs has never been mentioned," says Peter Foster, who manages the Technical and Safety Division of the Air Canada Pilots’ Association. “So it’s a non-issue." End of discussion.

"I personally have never had that experience," says Sheldon Scholtz, Unit Operations Officer for Nay Canada, which is responsible for air traffic control. "I’ve been here 32 years and haven’t had anything like UFO-type things."

The denials do not discourage Bruce-Knapp, who also hosts a two-hour CFRB program on the topic of UFOs and other unusual phenomenon. Discussing UFOs publicly, he says, can be a career-limiting move; many professionals still fear that talk ing about unknown objects in the sky implies you believe in little green men.

Chat with those same pilots and air traffic controllers away from the office, he insists, and you’ll hear a very different story.

"Get any of these guys at a party somewhere," says Bruce-Knapp, "give them an hour or two and a couple of drinks, and they’ll tell you stories. They’re not about to report them unless radar confirms there’s some thing there, because they have credibility problems if they do."

It didn’t take a drink or a party to get Capt. David Beatty talking. Just a phone call to the Maritimes, where he’s a regional pilot with a major Canadian airline. Beatty, who calls himself an "interested skeptic", says he’s seen things in the sky that don’t belong. Says some of his colleagues have, too.

"The press normally treats this stuff as a joke," he says. "But you look out your (cockpit) window and say: 'I don’t know what that is for sure' and you scratch your head. The frequency of this kind of thing is on the increase. So it looks like something’s going down."

Perhaps the most astonishing thing Beatty has seen was not in the sky, but in a steel Quonset south of Bancroft, in quiet Gilmour, Ontario. For it is there that 75-year-old David Hamel, veteran of two wars, is attempting to build a spaceship: a craft modeled on the one he says he rode in back in 1975.

"It’ll be 64 feet in diameter," says the 75-year-old, his arms spread to convey the eventual magnitude. He leans closer, lowers his voice: "You can take nearly 1,000 men on board."

The Quebec-born Hamel is a case ufologists would classify as a C4: Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind. These are the cases involving alleged abduction or contact, the fodder for all those cheesy tabloid covers.

Yet a lot of people believe, even revere, him. His guest book has entries from around the world. Hundreds of people have made the pilgrimage to see his work-in progress -- a ship being constructed of magnets, steel and granite.

"It will fly," says Hamel, without a hint of doubt. "It will fly." (Hamel previously built a smaller prototype, which he says flew away and never came back.)

Already the subject of two books, Hamel believes he has been chosen by residents of a parallel world to con struct this craft. He says he was permitted to see the inner workings of their ship, and that they continue to invisibly guide his work today. And yes, he’s had people question his sanity.

"They should have their heads examined," he says abruptly.

Capt. Beatty is one who believes there may well be a method to his magnets. Beatty has studied papers related to Canada’s own high-level investigation into the world of UFOs (called Project Magnet), and found documents from the late ‘50s with undeniable parallels to the concepts Hamel discusses. He’s visited him twice, leaving both times "dumbfounded, amazed and profoundly impressed."

"If it works," says Beatty, "this could be tremendously important to us. If it doesn’t, there’s nothing lost. He hasn’t hurt anybody."

"If we find he’s gone some day," muses MUFON’s Errol Bruce-Knapp, "We’ll know it works."

"Exactly", beams Hamel, as he gazes toward the beckoning sky.


'Once you have seen something like this, it changes you forever.   You're not a skeptic anymore' -- Barry Day - Commercial bush pilot

‘You look out your (cockpit) window and say: ‘1 don’t know what that is for sure’ — and you scratch your head... It looks like something’s going down’ - David Beatty - Commercial airline pilot


Strange Sightings This Year In Ontario

Feb. 25: A man and his sons, looking rig out their apa"' over Lake Ontario. They said the bright object "moved slowly at first, grew brighten then zipped to the right of our view, which is at least 30 miles unhindered, in one or two seconds."

Blind River

Mar. 24: While driving towards town at 1120 p.m., a woman saw a cigar-shaped object lifting off from behind some trees. It was wider than the highway, she reported and made the car vibrate as it passed overhead. She checked the site and found no physical trace of any kind.

Val Caron
Apr. 13: Two Sudbury residents, driving at 9.45 p.m., saw a blue, ball-shaped light with a flaming tail moving across the sky. It "was going too fast to be a plane and yet too slow to be a meteor or shooting star... Three cars in front of us seen it too, and slammed on the brakes."

May 1: A computer systems manager, traveling in a taxi on Lake Shore Blvd W at 10:22 pm saw a black, triangular-shaped object hovering above the CNE and watched it for two minutes. He was convinced it was not a blimp, because it was rock-steady, despite the breezy night.

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November 12, 1999

WRTV Channel 6 (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Special Report: UFO's in Indiana

Vicki Duncan

Is there something out there? Life on other planets?

"She said there's this weird dog glowing in the dark running down the road in front of our farm."

Jerry Sievers heads a statewide organization investigating these strange stories... UFO encounters.

"We've got tons of eyewitness reports, backed up by physical evidence, implants, physical traces on the ground. There's so much evidence that if we took it to court today there's no doubt we'd win the case."

The 'evidence' comes from thousands of people from around the world. Indiana ranks 19th in the U.S. for UFO activity.

People say one field near Vincennes may be the best place in the state to see UFOs. Jerry, "It's called lucky point. We've had since the '60's hundreds of UFOs in this area here. Things as mundane as points of light in the sky to black triangles 125 feet across hovering over the power lines."

Emmett Snyder believes he saw a UFO out at Lucky Point. "While we were sitting out here in the middle of the field a light came on and moved in an arc. It focused on the ground and went out." A picture supposedly taken earlier this year at Lucky Point is said to be the only daytime photo of a UFO in Indiana.

Lucky Point is not the only spot in Indiana for UFO activity. In 1997, witnesses say they caught a UFO on video tape over Lake Monroe, near Bloomington.

Nocturnal lights... objects in the sky... too many these things seem strange. Probably the hardest to imagine close encounters of the 4th kind... alien abductions. They're hard to imagine unless you're a person who claims to have been abducted. Sandi,

"In this room it seemed like these little gray people that came up to my waist showed me around. I go from looking at experiments to all of the sudden on this table and the next thing I remember is a drill. They told me they implanted a b-b sized object in my sinus and it would be like a homing device."

There's no doubt Sandi, Jerry, and Emmett believe we are not alone in this vast universe. To those who don't believe, all they ask is, "Why not?"

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November 11, 1999

Detroit News

Washington state near top in UFO sightings
It's one of the best places to see alien objects, according to reports

by Sean L. McCarthy
Scripps Howard News Service

BREMERTON, Wash. -- James Clarkson is searching for E.T.

He investigates UFO sightings in the Bremerton, Wash., area for the Mutual UFO Network Inc., an international volunteer organization studying the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects.

The husky 48-year-old retired police officer hasn't seen a UFO yet, but about once every six months he gets a call from someone who has.

Based on reported sightings to the National UFO Reporting Center, one of the best places to see a flying saucer is Puget Sound. In fact, Washington state trails only California in the number of reported UFO sightings since December 1996 (382 and counting).

It was in the skies near Mt. Rainier 52 years ago that a private pilot, Kenneth Arnold, helped give birth to the term "flying saucer" when he saw nine shiny disks skipping through the air.

About two weeks after Arnold's sighting made headlines, reports out of Roswell, N.M., changed the way many of us think about extraterrestrial life.

The International UFO Museum and Research Center makes its headquarters in Roswell because that's where the first documented UFO crash "occurred."

To put it another way, Roswell is where many believe the U.S. government retrieved the first wreckage from an alien spacecraft -- including alien corpses. For those of you who haven't already run to your audio-visual library for tapes of "The X-Files" and Art Bell to verify our accuracy on this, here's the quick recap on Roswell:

In early July 1947, a New Mexico rancher noticed pieces of strange metallic debris strewn along his property. His neighbors suggested he take his find to the sheriff. The sheriff, in turn, reported the debris to the intelligence officer at the nearby Air Force bomber group. The military blocked off and cleared the site.

Then a curious thing happened. First, the Air Force dispatched a press release saying it had recovered the wreckage from a downed disk or flying saucer. Hours later, after callers bombarded the base from around the world, the Air Force "corrected" its earlier release, attributing the wreckage to a weather balloon.

But the damage had been done.

As the front page of the Roswell Daily Record screamed, "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region."

Thus began the public's distrust of the military -- at least when it comes to the possible existence of UFOs.

Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center since 1994, believes the government knows about the presence of UFOs and chooses not to acknowledge it. Or, as others believe, what people think are UFOs in fact are experimental military aircraft. In either case, the government refuses to cooperate, Clarkson said.

"Part of the problem is they have some really good reasons to not tell the truth," he said.

Pentagon spokeswoman Susan Hansen said the Defense Department has no policy regarding UFOs and doesn't answer questions about them. "No, we have people watching The X-Files instead of asking us these questions," Hansen said.

The Air Force did investigate 12,618 UFO sightings from 1947 to 1969 in an operation called Project Blue Book. The project, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, still had not identified 701 sightings when it was terminated on Dec. 17, 1969 -- a few months after humans first landed on the moon, our own "alien" invasion.

To report sighting

The National UFO Reporting Center accepts calls on recent sightings through its 24-hour hotline at (206) 722-3000. Sightings more than a week old should be reported via the Internet at, or by mail to: National UFO Reporting Center, P.O. Box 45623, University Station, Seattle, WA 98145. Reports should include an exact time, date and location of the sighting, along with a full description.

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November 7, 1999

Agence France Presse

Seven Fishermen & Video Of Sighting

SYDNEY, Nov 7 (AFP) - Seven professional fishermen said Sunday they had video footage showing a possible UFO sighting off the coast of northern New South Wales.

Tony Bell, 33, and six colleagues claim to have seen a strange dome-shaped object when they were about six nautical miles off the NSW coast near Coffs Harbour, north of Sydney.

"This thing just appeared. It was about 100 to 150 feet up in the sky," he said, adding the object had a bright orange, shiny appearance and seemed to keep coming closer to the two boats the group were using.

"It would move closer, then move south of us, then move closer again."

Bell asked one of the other fishermen to grab the video and start filming.

"It was a flying ship for sure," he said. "You can see clearly from the video that it was some sort of machine."

The fisherman have sent the video to the Melbourne-based, privately-run National Space Centre.

Operations director Ross Dowe said he was waiting to examine the footage, adding "it is definitely worth looking at".

"Looking at star charts, there is absolutely nothing that could account for any light refraction of any planet or star activity at all," Dowe said.


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October 29, 1999

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Sheriff recalls UFO encounter in 1966 / He suspects craft somehow linked to dog's death

by Mark Bowes

If he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, Henrico County Sheriff A.D. "Toby" Mathews said, he might not have believed it.

On a bright moonlit night 33 years ago this summer, Mathews said, he saw a large unidentified flying object hovering silently near his Varina farm. He suspects whatever was inside the mysterious craft was responsible for snatching and snuffing the life out of his dog.

"I really saw the thing, I really did," Mathews, 65, said this week when asked to respond to talk of his close encounter. "And I've never seen anything like that since then."

Mathews said he never publicly disclosed what he saw until now because he felt no one would believe him. He talked about his UFO experience this week after The Times-Dispatch learned that he had told the story three years ago to his former chief deputy during a Christmas dinner in Williamsburg.

Mathews, who's fond of sharing personal stories about his life, was candid about his UFO experience, which he noted occurred during a time when such sightings were reported with some regularity by Richmond-area residents.

During the spring and summer of 1966 --when Mathews said he saw a saucerlike object hover over a cornfield near his farm and then disappear in a flash -- more than a half-dozen people, including three other Richmond-area police officers, reported spotting similar objects hovering over the city, Henrico and Goochland County, according to news accounts in The Times-Dispatch and The Richmond News Leader.

One Richmond patrolman told The News Leader that he chased the UFO in his patrol car.

"If I live to be 100, I'll never forget it," said former Officer William L. Stevens Jr. in a July 21, 1966, news story.

Mathews' UFO encounter had been the subject of gossip for years and recently surfaced again as the local election season draws to a close. Mathews, a two-term sheriff, is running for the Varina District seat on the Henrico Board of Supervisors.

With just four days left until the general election, Mathews this week recounted his UFO experience with little hesitation. He said it occurred Aug. 9, 1966, after he returned home from a psychology class at the former Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University). He was a road sergeant with Henrico police and was living alone at the time at his farm on Charles City Road in the county's Glendale area.

At about 10:30 that evening, Mathews said, his German shepherd, tied to a chain out back, began barking loudly, so he went outside to investigate. After turning him loose, Mathews said the dog, which he had acquired only three weeks earlier, ran to  edge of an adjacent cornfield. He was astonished at what he saw next.

"I happened to look up and there was that UFO right above the cornfield, it was just hovering right up above the power lines" about 200 feet in the air, Mathews said.

The craft, which Mathews described as white and about 30 feet in diameter, made hardly a sound and emitted no light. The object was about 4 or 5 feet wide at its widest point, which was in the middle, he said.

"It was just like the ones you see on TV," Mathews said. "It was a bright moon that night," so he got a good look at it.

Mathews said he ran back inside his house to get a flashlight, and when he returned and shined it on the craft, the UFO turned slightly, emitted a burst of light and "took off like a bullet, just tremendously fast."

Mathews said he rechained the dog and went to bed after the craft disappeared, and he got up about 5 the next morning and went out to check on his dog. He let it run loose for a few minutes, as was his routine, but the dog didn't come back.

Mathews said he canvassed the area, but the dog was nowhere to be found. When he returned home, he was startled to find his dog lying motionless in the middle of the road just beyond his circular driveway. He was dead.

"He didn't have a mark on him -- no blood, no singe [marks], no nothing," Mathews recalled. "It looked like he almost was sleeping. And whatever killed him, they had taken his chain collar off" and dropped it on the shoulder of the road. "I couldn't believe how it got off him like it did."

Mathews said his neighborhood in those days was remote and largely devoid of traffic at that hour. "I didn't see any cars come through at the time." Mathews said he assumed that his dog was killed by whoever, or whatever, was in the UFO. "The dog let me know that they were there," he said.

The dog's death remained a mystery, Mathews said. He buried the shepherd that morning in a meadow on his property.

Mathews said the city officer who saw a saucerlike object near the State Fairgrounds a month earlier had urged him to notify the news media about his encounter, but Mathews resisted. Mathews was living alone at the time, and there were no other witnesses, he said.

"I wasn't frightened by it; it was kind of awesome," Mathews said of the object. "Of course, back in those days I was still in the military reserve, and it didn't appear to be any type of military craft at all. Because No. 1, it wouldn't have done what it did" had it been a known military aircraft.

In December 1996, Mathews told his story to then-Chief Deputy Patrick Haley and his wife, Brenda, during a Christmas dinner party at the Seafarers Restaurant in Williamsburg.

"The way he told it was so specific and he was dead serious, he wasn't joking," said Haley, who now is deputy coordinator of law enforcement accreditation for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. "We talked about this for months."

Haley, who resigned abruptly after about a year as the department's No. 2 officer because he believed incompetent leadership and dishonorable management practices by Mathews created a host of problems with the sheriff's office, recalled Mathews telling him a slightly different story about the encounter.

Haley said he remembered Mathews saying the craft had landed and emitted some kind of strong "pull" that drew him toward it, although he managed to resist it. Haley also recalled Mathews saying that his dog, after it was found dead, appeared to have been burnt or singed.

Mathews, however, said those things didn't happen. And he shrugged off how his strange encounter may be viewed by the public.

"Well, I did see it," he said. "I really don't know what it was."

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October 29, 1999

NYers watch skies for UFOs

Stillwater, NY ­ As the last Halloween of the millennium approaches, the hundreds of members of UFO groups in New York state are watching the skies more than ever and investigating reports of unusual sightings. The 1990s have produced more sightings in New York than in any decade since a small New Mexico town called Roswell made unidentified flying objects a mainstream topic.

Consider these reports:

April 10, 1978 ­ A shiny oval object is reported over the treeline of Saratoga Lake. Witnesses said that it moved sideways, hovered, then descended and disappeared 40 minutes later.

April 6, 1978 ­ A police officer and his family report a large oval object hovering near their home in Baldwinsville, Onondaga County. A bright flash of light followed 10 minutes later and power was cut off to 3,000 homes. They said a helicopter appeared and the object flew away. Four others in two separate sightings in the county report similar sights the next night.

Oct. 17, 1973 ­ Sixteen witnesses, including a policeman, report a rotating object in the sky with alternating colored lights. For 40 minutes it hovered over Gloversville, then darted away.

These kinds of sightings are no joke to those who take them seriously. Databases are being compiled to track for the first time sightings nationwide and New York state’s more than 200 reports since a Saturn-shaped object was reported flying slowly over Norwood, St. Lawrence, on July 3, 1884.

"More and more people are starting to be open to this," said James Bouck, a state regional director for the New York chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, and a UFO investigator. "More people believe there is something out there, something visiting us, or something the government isn’t telling us."

A Gallup poll in 1996 found that 71 percent of Americans said they believe the government is hiding something and that officials know about UFOs. Forty-five percent said they believe UFOs have visited, and 12 percent said they have seen a UFO.

UFOs and aliens are linked to the Halloween season by more than costumes and Orson Wells’ 1938 broadcast of a Martian invasion that panicked thousands. Bouck, who is compiling the state database, said that now is the busiest time for reports, despite the fact that more people are outside in warmer months.

However, skeptics maintain that there are simple, everyday causes for 90 percent to 95 percent of these reports. Two who will tell you that are Bouck and Mike Scritchfield of Rochester, a UFO investigator with the group Skywatch. Their objective is to prove the sightings are anything but out of this world. They almost always do. But among the cases for which no Earthly cause is determined, a few patterns appear to be emerging:

These investigators aren’t the techno-geek conspiracy theorists of the X-Files or other TV programs and movies. Bouck is a state auditor. Scritchfield, a retired chief warrant officer in Army Intelligence, is a college tennis coach working on his doctorate in education. They don’t say "these are reports of alien ships." They call them as they see them ­ objects that are unidentified, flying.

"Some say we’ve been visited for breeding, or to warn us of impending doom, or just studying us. It depends on who’s idea you want to consider," said Bouck. "We want to stay open to the possibility of whatever we learn ­ we don’t have enough information, we don’t have a smoking gun."

Critics from government officials to science-based magazines such as The Skeptical Inquirer also point to a lack of proof. Where is even one chunk of hardware? One undeniable photo? A footprint?

The counter-argument is as fervent as it is unprovable.

"I think there’s substantial evidence that the government knows a lot more than it’s talking about," said Dana Schmidt, state director of MUFON. "If there’s nothing to it, one wants to know why are they are keeping the secretive approach?"

The theory has it that hardware and more have been collected and secreted away by the government for research and to avoid mass panic. One of these research sites was long rumored, but never proven, to be at the former Rome Air Force Base in Oneida County.

The explosion of interest in UFOs fueled by television, movies, books and magazines could be because the government duped the entertainment industry.

"What better way to acclimate the public to the idea of extra-terrestrial life?" said Scritchfield, who worked in an Army Intelligence unit unrelated to the paranormal. "In a counter-intelligence mode, you start feeding bits and pieces. You get the public accustomed to thinking there is extra-terrestrial life out there, and somewhere down the road a ship lands in the mall in Washington or the government makes an announcement."

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October 24, 1999

Florida Today

Former Blue Book chief says, `We're probably not alone'

by William Coleman, Jr.

In the summer of 1947, Kenneth Arnold, a businessman from Boise, Idaho, was flying his private airplane near Mount Ranier, Wash.

He reported seeing a group of unidentified objects flying along in a line over the mountains ahead of his course. He described them as appearing "like pie plates skipping over water."

The newspaper report called them "flying saucers" - a description that would never go away. Moreover, the fact that Arnold was an Air Force Reserve major added to the authenticity of the story.

Soon thereafter, the Air Force received other reports of "flying saucers." The pressure politically and otherwise was on. The Air Force hastily organized a project in 1949 to look into the sightings.

Four years later, the effort became known as Project Blue Book, which was the Air Force's official study of UFOs.

During its almost 21 years of existence, the project investigated more than 12,800 reports of sightings. All were resolved except 728 cases. Of these, the Air Force was left with 130 cases that were worrisome and unresolved.

That is, those cases contained two vital characteristics that set them apart from all the others.

First, they demonstrated high ratings of credibility, such as multiple witnesses who were highly qualified. Second, they had a quality we called "high strangeness." That means the witnesses were seeing something that had never been seen before even though they were highly experienced in the observation of aerial phenomena.

What do I believe?

The possibility of manipulative intelligent life in our universe is very likely, perhaps even in our own Milky Way galaxy. Of the 10 classes of stars that exist, three could provide the kind of stable warmth and surroundings that could support planets such as ours.

Have we been visited by extraterrestrial beings?

During Project Blue Book, we found no evidence that would conclusively prove we have. That doesn't mean that we haven't had such a visit. It only means we haven't found evidence.

Any visiting alien would introduce - and himself or herself face - several major problems. Besides those associated with geopolitical, theological and other issues, perhaps the most important would be biological.

This means the possible introduction of unknown bacteria and viruses into our population for which we have no built-in defense. Moreover, an alien could very well face just as tough a problem since he or she might be inflicted by Earth-born germs.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is a marvelous project. But we must remember that if we receive a signal from a star system 10,000 light years away and we respond to it by sending a reply, we'll have to wait 20,000 years before we know whether it was received.

The nearest star that could possibly offer a planet somewhat like ours would be Bernards Star, which is about 6.1 light years away.

Imagine such a trip there, if you will. If you were a twin and and your brother or sister remained here while you went rocketing to Bernards Star at 90 percent the speed of light, when you returned to Earth your sibling would be more than 12 years older than you.

Are we alone? I think not. I've always found the passage from Scripture in the Bible exciting, wherein Jesus told the people, "You are not the only sheep in my flock."

Coleman is a retired Air Force colonel and command pilot who was head of Project Blue Book for three years. He lives in Indian Harbour Beach.

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October 23, 1999

Florida Today

Looking beyond little green men and SETI's cult

by Billy Cox

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - As cults go, members of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence community are a benign crowd. What's not to love? They're cool. They want to contact ET - using radiotelescopes.

They are dreamers with doctorates. They command the vocabularies of science with eloquence and self-effacing humor. They are the underdogs; they fight bland congressional tightwads for funding and lose. They bounce back, resilient. They reside, with the greatest of ease, simultaneously, in opposing worlds of rationalism and faith. And it is that faith - pursued without evidence to support the sanctified medium of radio, dogmatic and selective in its beliefs, closed to alternative possibilities - which makes their science look so insecure.

A full house turned out Tuesday night in Cocoa to catch the SETI show at Brevard Community College's Fine Arts Auditorium. Leading the sermon was Dr. Seth Shostak, a brilliant wit at the privately funded SETI Institute of Mountain View, Calif. Given a) the billions of stars orbiting billions of galaxies, b) the ongoing discovery of new planets, and c) amino acids-laden cosmic debris seeding the universe like sperm cells, painting space as a yawning pond wriggling with life forms was easy enough. Audience members were told how they, too, could assist the radio hunt by downloading and crunching signals with the so-called SETI@Home program.

The doors slammed when several listeners advanced the UFO heresies, wondering if maybe those alien life forms hadn't already arrived. One woman rattled off a list of related Web sites, prompting Shostak to charge, "None of those sources you've mentioned are credible."

Too bad. Because one of the sites Shostak dismissed - - has nothing to do with alien implants, ancient astronauts, or any other subjective aspect of the phenomenon. It's jammed solely with scanned-in photocopies of government documents - 7,000 or so, from acronyms such as the CIA, DIA, FBI and USAF - acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. The patterns of high-level interest are clear; what they're onto is not. We get glimpses of what we already know - military and commercial pilot reports of wild UFO evasive maneuvers, associated power failures, radar signatures, etc. - but the best stuff presumably has been blacked out by censors.

Pressed further by another listener who asked why UFO researchers and SETI guys couldn't reason through this thing, Shostak replied, "Scientists don't object to a dialogue; it just doesn't go anywhere."

Speaking for all scientists, naturally. But not a nine-member Stanford University panel led by physicist Peter Sturrock who, after examining the available evidence in 1998, advocated a rigorous public investigation. Good luck.

he data Sturrock's colleagues studied was assembled by billionaire philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, who circulated a lengthy briefing paper on UFOs to top government officials, reportedly including President Clinton. But the lid remains sealed. In his memoirs, Friends In High Places, now-disgraced former associate attorney general Webb Hubbell states one of his greatest regrets was being unable to get to the bottom of the UFO mystery, which Clinton ordered him to do.

Our chief executives often lack the proper security clearances to know what's going on. Witness Ronald Reagan's Iran-contra debacle. Or consider the Venona intercepts of the 1940s. That's when Signals Intelligence monitored the chatter of Soviet espionage rings in the United States and knew everything about the real - but extremely limited - activities of domestic agents. Disclosure could've preempted Joe McCarthy's persecutions of the innocent, since the names of the guilty were known, but protecting the information was evidently more important than protecting American citizens. We didn't learn until Senate hearings in 1996 that then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Omar Bradley withheld access to the truth from President Truman.

Among the ironies of Shostak's remarks was that the not-credible Black Vault - constructed by 18-year-old John Greenewald Jr., of Mission Hills, Calif. - also offers instructions on how to participate in SETI@Home. Thus, by appropriating "scientists" for the SETI elite and shooing everyone else into the barnyard of cheap laughs over "little green men," Shostak andcolleagues create artificial schizoid divides that fail to further the public interest.

The Cold War is over, but the pathology of secrecy oozes forward.  Consequently, SETI glows in the dark.

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October 21, 1999


How Alien's My Valley?
Farmer claims he saw UFO

A TOP-SECRET Government research base was used to store alien bodies after their UFO crashed in a remote Welsh valley, it was claimed yesterday.

The mysterious craft came down in the Berwyn Mountains, Clwyd, according to a new book by top UFO investigator Nick Redfern.

In a chilling echo of the infamous Roswell Incident in New Mexico, scores of troops were dispatched on a secret mission to recover the wreckage.

One soldier, quoted in the book under the pseudonym James Prescott, was ordered to Llandderfel with four others and loaded two oblong boxes into their armoured truck.

They then ferried the bodies back to the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment at Porton Down near Salisbury, Wilts, under strict orders not to stop for anything.

Retired Mr Prescott, who is too afraid of reprisals to be named, said: "Once inside, the boxes were opened by staff at the faculty in our presence. We were shocked to see two creatures which had been placed inside decontamination suits.

"It was obvious the creatures were not of this world and, when examined, were found to be dead.

"The bodies were about five to six feet tall, humanoid in shape, but so thin they looked almost skeletal with a covering skin.

"Although I did not see a craft at the scene of the recovery, I was informed that a large craft had crashed and was recovered by other military units."

Farmer Huw Lloyd, 39, was a boy of 14 watching TV at home in nearby Llandrillo on the night of the crash in January 1974. He said there was a huge bang followed by a tremor and a blinding blue light.

Huw recalled: "I was amazed at how quickly the police responded and how many people came here."

The incident has remained classified and the Ministry of Defence refuses to comment.

Details were uncovered by expert Mr Redfern after years of research and are published in his book Cosmic Crashes.  

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October 12, 1999

Calgary Herald

Trapper recounts UFO sighting

WHITEHORSE (CP) - Don Trudeau was hiking his trap line under a dark sky one December evening when he spotted a row of lights among the stars in the west. It was between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m., and at first he thought it was a large airplane about to crash.

But he quickly realized the object was moving too slowly and steadily for it to be any type of aircraft. And he said it didn't make any noise.

Trudeau reached to cover his flashlight, and as he did the unidentified flying object rushed toward him, stopping just 300 metres away.

"I had to turn my head from one side to the other to view the whole thing," Trudeau told UFO investigator Martin Jasek. "It must have been about a mile long. For some reason, I wasn't frightened. I just stood there and watched it."

There were 21 others who reported similar sightings the night of Dec. 11, 1996, according to a report released by Jasek last

An engineer by trade, Jasek is a member of the non-profit group UFO*BC. He researches UFO sightings throughout the territory.

Jasek spoke to all 22 witnesses. Trudeau was the only who was willing to be identified.

Witnesses said the object was massive, with two rows of massive yellowish lights.

Trudeau said it hovered silently.

Trudeau said a single beam of white light emanated from the bottom and swept across the ground in front of him.

It then drifted to his right, as slow as nine to 16 kilometres an hour, he said. Other beams of light shot out of the craft horizontally and at a 45-degree angle.

After the UFO drifted behind some trees, Trudeau dashed across a clearing to get a better view but the object suddenly vanished, he said.

It all took about four minutes.

Jasek's report, with Trudeau's account, is available at

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September 28, 1999

Whitley Strieber Rallies UFO Faithful, Rails Against 'Denial'

by Robert Scott Martin
Staff Writer

After being honored as "UFOlogist of the Year" at this year's National UFO Conference, horror novelist turned contactee Whitley Strieber took advantage of the spotlight to berate unbelievers and captivate an audience of UFO faithful.

Strieber, who rarely makes public appearances, accepted the commemorative plaque from conference chairman Jim Moseley on Saturday night. In particular, Moseley -- a veteran of a half-century in the UFO field -- praised Strieber's role in bringing UFO phenomena to a new generation of readers.

Strieber had earned the honor -- the highest and only award given out by the National UFO Conference, or NUFOC -- "for bringing the UFO enigma to the public awareness and expanding public understanding of the Gray aliens -- such as it is -- in a tremendously enhanced way," Moseley said.

Previous winners of the award, which is bestowed annually at the national conference, include such luminaries as J. Allan Hynek, Karl Pflock, John Keel and Jenny Randles.

Strieber received the praise with a mixture of gratitude toward the UFO community and rancor toward cultural forces that have abandoned the phenomena of flying saucers and alien abduction stories to the scientific ghetto.

He noted that the last such honor he had received was a Caldecott award in 1985, and that his career had swerved quite far from the "awards track" soon thereafter as he suffered the experiences that would later become the book Communion.

Describing the UFOlogical field as "rejected knowledge," he lulled a crowd of more than 200 people -- many of whom had come to the conference solely to see him, and had ignored other speakers -- with the nuanced vowels and punched delivery of his recent radio training with UFO-radio kingpin Art Bell, on whose syndicated "Dreamland" program he now serves as permanent guest host.

Rejected knowledge

"I am a missionary for rejected knowledge," he said. "Our interest marks us as a little less well-educated … a little more primitive."

"I've gone beyond the edge. I've received 300,000 letters from people with similar experiences" of being contacted, abducted and manipulated by alien "visitors," he said. "Somebody's having a close encounter right now. Somebody's seeing a UFO right now, in this very area. Somebody's getting abducted."

Strieber likened the fact that these encounters rarely reach the media mainstream except as objects of derision to a society-wide act of "denial."

"We are a culture in denial," he told the spellbound housewives, retirees and teenagers who thronged the crowd. "There is no place to fit this in the socio-emotional construct (but) the silence is becoming a desperate one. Something's going on here."

The seminal abduction case

More than any UFO encounter in the last four decades, Strieber's experience with the uncanny visitors that lurk behind the impassive masks of the now-ubiquitous "Gray aliens" has transformed the way we think about aliens and flying saucers, what they are and what they want from us.

With his 1985 work Communion, Strieber began an increasingly hermetic literary journey into mythic autobiography, relating his UFO experiences -- often harrowing, grotesque or just plain inexplicable -- to an audience that multiplied with each best-selling volume.

Taken together, the books blend existing alien lore with new wrinkles of degradation and longing for the security of metaphysical truth to paint an epic canvas of the alien as capricious, dimension-traveling scientist-trickster, slipping into windows late at night to play with the monstrous toys of human lives.

The image of the alien abductor became one of the enduring myths of the already apocalyptic 1990s, and Strieber insists that it's all true.

"The French have what they consider incontrovertible evidence of something unknown in the atmosphere flying around," he told his San Antonio audience. "There's no question the United States keeps something secret about this. I think it's the biggest secret they're keeping, and it's something wrong."

Once again, he narrated the 1985 encounter with the alien that had at first caused him to doubt his sanity, then launched into a videotape presentation of evidence accumulated since then.

"Why Do We Deny It?"

The presentation, titled "Why Do We Deny It?", began with footage that may have looked almost commonplace to an audience hungry for the spectacle and bloodletting of one more alien autopsy, one more story of sexual experimentation from beyond.

A glowing sphere lopes across the night sky over Camarillo, CA, on Thanksgiving, 1998. With a long rigid projection fixed at a skewed angle and tipped with a smaller spherical projection, it is unlikely to be a weather balloon. It teases the camera, then explodes in a blast of flaming debris….

Space shuttle video taken aboard STS-80 in 1986 reveals a bright, comet-like flash leaping from the ground near Sao Paulo into space. Later, lights and flares dance in the sky over the Amazon during a thunderstorm. None of these phenomena, Strieber said, have been identified…..

A will-o-the-wisp wanders through the streets of a Latin American city in a rooftop video allegedly taken by a 9-year-old boy. "Is this a flock of geese?" Strieber asked the crowd. "I always liked that explanation."

A glowing shape in the dark that Strieber said was an alien captured on film in someone's backyard turns, then hunches away from the camera…..

In an urban medical facility, a doctor digs into an ear that Strieber identified as his own in search of an implant left there by persons unknown. The object retreats from the doctor's tools, forcing the attempt to remove it to end in failure and disbelief….

After this, there was nothing left but for the screen to go black. Whether we buy into Strieber's rather sketchily introduced "evidence" or not, it certainly made for good theater -- the audience clearly bought into the rhythm, flash and mystery of the presentation. The question of whether they were watching a tent-revival miracle or a reel of saucer porn seemed somehow beside the point.

Where It Ends Up

At the end, right before the fans rose up to share a few words with the primal abductee and perhaps get an autograph or see the implant scar, Strieber explained the structure of the film.

"It starts at a distance," he said, with the lights in the sky that simply float without connection to human beings or anything else -- this is their power and their chief allure.

Then, the camera pulls in closer and closer, into the streets and backyards and doctors' offices we know.

"Closer to you, because that's where this ends up," Strieber said, adding that it should come as no surprise that the aliens now seem fascinated with the inner workings of human bodies.

"If we went to another planet and found another intelligent species," he said, "what would be our highest level of interest? Us, unless there's a higher intelligence on this planet."

Hall of mirrors

That said, it's interesting that Strieber's tour from the cosmic to the personal -- perhaps unconsciously, perhaps deliberately -- mirrored the history of UFO contact in this century.

Like Strieber's aliens, the UFO story began with sightings from afar, fleeting glimpses of distant ships and glowing objects in the sky. In the 1940s and early 1950s, researchers paid little heed to stories of landings, and not even the Air Force would consider reports of abductions as valid cases.

Then, as the years wore on and the body of UFO literature grew, the saucers themselves receded to the background of the stories, to be replaced first by landings, then by sightings of the actual aliens themselves -- the proximity of our encounters narrowed as we became accustomed to the aliens (or they became bored with us).

In time, witnesses became bold enough to engage the aliens -- which we had previously only watched from behind trees and rocks -- in increasingly extensive conversation.

And then the reports of humans being brought aboard UFOs for experimentation or picked out for long-term manipulation began to gather momentum. Simultaneously, the "alien autopsy" ascended to glory as the most visceral evidence that we are not alone in the universe.

To sum up his opinion on the aliens' motivations for toying with humans in increasingly intimate ways, Strieber said the UFO entities were most likely trying to preserve the novelty of an encounter with another intelligent race -- humanity -- as long as possible.

"If aliens were to come to this planet, they would be extremely secretive," he said. "Any race with the power to travel on such a scale would of necessity be completely knowledgeable. They would be searching the cosmos for the new, and the newest experience imaginable would be that provided by other intelligence."

No matter what the aliens are -- social constructs of millennial angst, uncanny visitors from elsewhere, extraterrestrials -- our relationship works both ways.

Who is experimenting on whom? Who is growing bored with whom?

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September 25, 1999

San Antonio Express-News

UFO enthusiasts open national meet

by Robert Kolarik

For about 300 people this weekend, the truth really is out there - on Austin Highway.

The two-day National UFO Conference kicked off Saturday in the appropriately named Starlight Ballroom of the Seven Oaks Hotel
and Conference Center.

This isn't a meeting about whether unidentified flying objects exist. Most people questioned claimed to have had at least one UFO "sighting" in their lives.

"Several years ago, I saw one as the sun was setting," said Joe Ullrich, a recent Sam Houston State University graduate from New Waverly. It was "a dark brown or black triangular craft that was hovering."

"In '73, I saw one in Georgetown when I was a teen-ager," said Robert Brady, an electronic digital imaging artist from Austin. "I saw another in 1979."

Underscoring their statements, both men wore UFO-inspired T-shirts.

Brady's was a tie-dyed print with a green alien face on it; Ullrich's featured the caption, "The Many Moods of an Alien," and had an alien image repeated several times, each picture captioned with the name of an emotion.

Although clad in non-alien-image-adorned attire, Janet Broderick of Pensacola, Fla., told of her first sighting in October 1995 while visiting relatives in Wisconsin.

"I went outside to smoke and I looked up," the self-described middle-age housewife said. "There was a round, shiny object in the sky. The sky was perfectly clear.

"My cigarette lasts seven minutes, and during that entire time, I've got my eyes glued to it. I didn't even blink and tears were streaming down my face. All of a sudden, it just disappeared."

A good-natured but surprisingly intense person, Broderick hinted there have been other, darker events in her life - possibly even having been abducted by aliens.

"I could never tell you that, though," she chuckled. "Let's just say I'm guarded about things."

Another person who believed in keeping his guard up was Fred Woods, vice president of the Houston UFO Network.

"When I got into (the UFO scene), it was fun," Woods said. "Now it's more scary. There's a lot of weird things in the world."

As an example, Woods cited a group in Europe he said was started by a race car driver and is seeking a one-world government.

"It's easy to manipulate people who have a belief system," he said. "Everything (in the world is) about power. If you manipulate everyone, you have the power. That's scary."

The conference itself got a bit of a scare as it opened.

The leadoff speaker - retiring Mutual UFO Network International Director Walter H. Andrus. Jr. - wasn't there for his 10 a.m. presentation.

No misfortune had befallen Andrus, though. When he arrived about a half-hour late, the Seguin resident admitted he'd gotten lost while driving in San Antonio.

One motorist who apparently didn't have any trouble finding the hotel was Jim Greenen from Orlando, Fla. His bus - painted white and emblazoned with the words "International UFO Center" and "World's Largest Supplier of UFO Products" - was in the parking lot well before the conference began.

Unlike the other out-of-towners, Greenen and his wife didn't have to seek room at the inn. They live aboard their vehicle while traveling from UFO convention to UFO convention.

"I carry my business with me," Greenen said while he stopped for a cigarette before carting a box of alien T-shirts to the conference vendors' room. "I have a shirt press, hat press, complete computer system on the bus. We make about 90 percent of our own products."

In addition to the shirts, Greenen was offering such wares as computer mouse pads, drink coasters and mugs - all stamped with UFO-related insignia.

Books also were featured at the meeting.

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September 24, 1999


Big debate falls from the skies
A strange light seen over Oregon is classified as space junk, but UFO trackers believe otherwise

by Beth Quinn, Correspondent

GRANTS PASS -- To white-water rafter Margaret Bradford, the strange light blazing in the heavens high above the Rogue River wilderness made for memorable stargazing.

"There was a bright light in the sky that looked like an airline light coming at you. It got brighter and brighter and brighter and then just faded out," she said.

To North American Aerospace Defense Command inside Cheyenne Mountain Air Station in Colorado Springs, Colo., the bright light was strictly routine. U.S. Space Command tracked it as No. 25,761 in the catalog of the man-made objects orbiting the planet, the auxiliary motor of a Russian SL-12 rocket booster re-entering the Earth's atmosphere at 17,000 mph.

But to Peter Davenport of Seattle's National UFO Reporting Center and Nevada radio talk-show host Art Bell, what fell to Earth over Southern Oregon at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 1 was big news and evidence of a government cover-up.

"Something's going on out there -- something big," Bell told the 9 million listeners who tuned in to "Coast to Coast AM" that night, urging eyewitnesses to fax or e-mail their descriptions of the sighting.

"I'm particularly intrigued by this allegation or assertion that military jets were going out of the Portland area apparently headed south," Davenport said as he played outtakes of messages from unidentified callers to his UFO hot line. "It's going to be very difficult to force this one into the space junk box."

Three weeks later, Bell and Davenport continue to push a UFO
explanation of the Sept. 1 incident on late-night radio, generating phone calls, faxes and e-mails to Air Force bases across the country.

But officials at the 142nd Fighter Wing at Portland International Airport and the North American Aerospace Defense Command inside Cheyenne Mountain are sticking to their stories.

"We didn't scramble on a UFO," says Mona Spenst Jordan of the Oregon Air National Guard.

"People are watching the skies," says Petty Officer Andy Karalis of NORAD. "They see what they want to see. They see what they want to believe."

In Davenport's three appearances on "Coast to Coast" so far this month, he and Bell have focused their suspicions on two aspects of the Sept. 1 incident: the fact that F-15 fighters were in the skies over Oregon that night and the fact that in the first week of September four separate sightings of strange lights in the skies over the United States and Australia were attributed by NORAD to Russian rocket debris.

"They're lying to us," Davenport told The Oregonian. "My impression at this time, based on the evidence available to me, is that we're not getting an accurate story from either NORAD or the Air National Guard."

As evidence, Davenport points to 23 sighting reports from Northern California and Oregon left on his Web site about the Sept. 1 light that describe from one to seven objects glowing white, orange or red, often with a flaming tail. In addition, he refers to -- and plays cuts from -- another 16 sighting reports from Northern California and Oregon left on his telephone hot line. Several of the recorded reports include claims of multiple objects maneuvering in formation or changing direction.

But military officials have their own evidence of what went on that night.

For the 142nd Fighter Wing, the evidence includes a September flying schedule laid out months in advance that shows six F-15 Eagles set for an 8:30 p.m. training flight of fighter maneuvers over the Pacific and aerial refueling over the coast between Lincoln City and Astoria. Jordan says four single and one pair of fighter jets took off from Portland between 8:28 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. and landed as two singles and two pairs between 9:06 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

"It's the same night that people saw something in the sky, and they put two and two together," Jordan says. "However, I know for a fact that our jets were flying night training missions and that we were not scrambled on anything or anybody that we couldn't identify."

Although two of the fighter wing's 18 F-15 fighters remain on continuous alert -- 24 hours a day, 365 days a year -- ready to intercept any unknown aircraft entering U.S. airspace from the Canadian border to Northern California, Jordan says the 142nd has never scrambled to intercept a UFO.

"If we have ever been scrambled, we have always identified every single object," she says.

At NORAD headquarters in Colorado, officials make no such claim.

Karalis, who handles thousands of e-mail queries each year about unusual lights in the sky, often determines the object was a meteor or other natural phenomenon.

"We only track man-made objects," he says.

On Sept. 1, NORAD was tracking the auxiliary motor of a Russian Proton rocket that was launched Feb. 28 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan to boost the Raduga 1 satellite into orbit. The Russian boosters came down within days, but the motor -- "about the size of a propane tank that you have for your gas grill," Karalis says -- was scheduled to splash down in the Pacific south of Alaska at 0420 Zulu -- Greenwich Mean Time -- on Sept. 2.

It missed.

Instead, Space Catalogue No. 25,761 stayed aloft for another 10 minutes, traveling as far south as Oregon before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere at 9:30 p.m. Pacific time on Sept. 1, which is 0430 Sept. 2 in the military's Zulu time.

That same day, another bit of Russian space junk let loose during a space walk from the Mir space station streaked across the skies above Sydney, Australia. And on Sept. 7, two more Russian rockets were the explanation NORAD provided for the unusual lights seen at 5:05 a.m. near Tampa, Fla.

"If we're to believe the Australian government and Cheyenne Mountain, there have been four major Russian booster re-entries in the past five days," Davenport told Bell that night.

Believe it, says Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, whose Web site claims to detail every satellite launch ever made or attempted, all man-made objects now orbiting Earth and the current position of all known satellites in geostationary orbit.

"It used to be that they'd launch one every three days," he says. "They would always leave quite a big booster rocket in low orbit that would re-enter after a few days."

Although these days the Russians launch only about 30 satellites a year, their launch style still brings a periodic rain of debris.

"They tend to come in spurts. They kind of get their team up there to the launch site and launch a few off," McDowell says.

According to NORAD, Russia launched three satellites on Aug. 18, two on Aug. 26 and four on Sept. 6, all with boosters that re-entered Earth's atmosphere in the following days.

But the Russians aren't the only ones leaving orbiting junk above the Earth. Rocket debris from the United States, India and the European Space Agency has re-entered the atmosphere in the past month, including bits of rockets that exploded in 1972 and 1994, a U.S. booster launched in 1993 and a U.S. Navy navigation satellite launched in 1964.

And the blazing rain of space debris will get heavier -- and maybe a whole lot scarier -- in the months to come.

For one thing, the sun is reaching the maximum of its 11-year solar cycle, increasing the solar winds, which in turn push against Earth's atmosphere and make the atmosphere more dense and increase the friction against objects traveling through it. Atmospheric friction is what slows satellites and, ultimately, brings them down.

"Every 11 years, everything falls out of the sky from that altitude," McDowell says.

The biggest piece of space junk still up there is the now-abandoned 100-ton Mir space station, which the Russians hope to bring down over the Pacific Ocean in a controlled re-entry.

On late-night radio, Art Bell is already speculating about the problems Mir's re-entry might cause.

And in Grants Pass, white-water enthusiast Bradford is still marveling about the strange blaze of light in the wilderness sky.

"We saw a satellite, shooting stars and something we couldn't identify," she says. "It was pretty awesome."

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September 10, 1999

Dallas Morning News

Encounter culture
Beachside California town is gaining a reputation as UFO central, but some don't quite see the light

by Paul Pringle

LOS ANGELES - Ever since the 1960s, Topanga has been known as a spacey place. But lately, it's getting even spacier.

These days, the talk of the beachside canyon community - an enduring haven for old-time hippies, New Age herbalists, nudists, bikers, cultists and every combination thereof - is UFOs.

Lots of UFOs.

"It's kind of old hat now," said Lucile Yaney, 60, owner of the Inn of the Seventh Ray, a Topanga eatery that mixes vegetarianism with spiritualism. She was speaking of UFO sightings.

"We know that they're here. We hope they're not going to interfere with our planetary evolution."

Roswell, N.M., you're grounded. Back to Earth, Gulf Breeze, Fla. Those longstanding UFO hot spots can't compete with the current buzz that resonates in - and perhaps above - Topanga.

"I've seen them on five different occasions," said Preston Dennett, 34, a former Topanga resident who has just published a book on weirdness in the skies draping the Santa Monica Mountains. "They're scaring the wits out of people."

Mr. Dennett's UFOs Over Topanga Canyon (Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minn.) is zooming off the shelves of local bookstores. Its 300 pages purport to document a "wave" of unidentified flying objects since 1992.

The author presents more than 80 detailed accounts of strange lights, levitated autos, bedroom invasions by large-headed creatures, abductions, alien-induced miscarriages, and "missing time" episodes (in which UFO witnesses suspect they were rendered unconscious for experiments).

There are also descriptions of Hollywood-style chase scenes - helicopters dogging metallic discs in the Pacific moonlight. In chapter five, one woman maintains that a close encounter with an extraterrestrial caused her to stop supporting Ross Perot's political campaigns.

Most of the wilder stories come from anonymous sources. But Mr. Dennett, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, taps the recollections of solid citizens as well. Some had first related their tales to the Messenger newspaper, a Topanga weekly that gives UFOs banner headlines. A few recounted their experiences for this article.

"The silvery object slid down the canyon," said David Phillips, 60, a psychology professor at Santa Monica College. He is among those who have reported a helicopter pursuit.

"The classic, disc-shaped silver object - it was between me and the helicopters."

Brush with unknown

Eric Andrews, 37, who runs a Topanga cement company, had a brush with the unknown that predated Mr. Dennett's wave. He said he was on a four-wheeling jaunt in 1977 when a bright light overhead stunned him.

"It was not like anything I had seen before," he said. "It made a big U-turn and took off at an incredible rate of speed."

Mr. Andrews conceded that the location of his sighting - Topanga, that is - might be problematic for outsiders.

"I know, I know," he said with a sigh. "There are a lot of dope-smoking, acid-dropping freaks here. I hear that - which is why I'm hesitant to tell anyone what I saw."

Topanga snakes through the rugged, tawny high country between Santa Monica and Malibu, an area plagued by brushfires in the dry months and mudslides in the wet ones. Its 8,000 residents live in rickety A-frames, hill-hugging bungalows and the odd Mediterranean estate.

The canyon doesn't entirely deserve its wacky reputation. Many Topangans fall into the mainstream of teachers, lawyers, doctors and bricklayers. Artists of all varieties abound. The show-business types who have made Topanga their home include flower-power singer Donovan and Robin Williams, who shot to stardom portraying an alien on the sitcom Mork and Mindy.

"Isn't that a coincidence?" Mr. Dennett said, smiling gamely.

His night job

Mr. Dennett is a pencil-thin, balding Chicago native who wears a wispy mustache and a Velcro-strap wristwatch that displays the positions of the planets. He has written three books on UFOs, but his passion does not pay the bills.

by day, he works as an accountant for a collection agency. by night, he cruises Topanga in a dusty and dented Daihatsu, scanning the gloom above the ridgelines and debriefing fellow believers.

"People have told me there are a bunch of druggies and hippies here," he said. "But I always ask the witnesses I interview if they were under the influence. One guy told me he was on acid, and I said, 'goodbye.' "

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Dennett took a drive along Topanga's winding roads, pointing out to a visitor (an Earth-born one) the sites of otherworldly observations.

"Right here," he said, indicating a field of oak groves where he once tried to lure UFOs by directing high-voltage lights into the heavens. He claimed that the light show, along with determined meditation, delivered the goods.

"I saw a pinpoint of light," he said. "It quickly filled up the sky. . . . These entities are telepathic. You think, 'I wish it would come' - and it does."

Mr. Dennett says intelligence-gathering UFOs flock to Topanga because it is isolated enough to make detection difficult but close enough to central Los Angeles for studies of big-city humans. He's had a tough time pitching his theories to the government, however.

"The authorities don't much like UFOs," he said.

But Ron Cohan, a California Highway Patrol officer who prowls Topanga's switchbacks, doesn't dismiss the UFO reports out of hand. Each year, he noted, his agency logs numerous calls from residents spooked by streaking lights.

The officer added that a colleague, whom he declined to identify, has told of hearing unsettling sounds in the canyon. (UFO enthusiasts label this an "audible encounter.") Mr. Cohan also recalled arresting a drunken-driving suspect who offered a UFO alibi.

"He was en route to a UFO landing area to meet someone," Mr. Cohan said. "He was extremely intoxicated . . . but I don't discount his story."

A town divided

Topangans remain divided on the phenomena. At the Spiral Staircase bookstore, where Mr. Dennett's volume sells as briskly as feng shui guides, employees and patrons alike say they are convinced that something is out there.

"I saw a UFO when I was younger," said Linda Cook, 55, who works behind the counter. She shuddered at the memory. "I'm not positive they're here for the best things. I think they're encroaching on this Earth."

Oh, get real, says Barbara Allen, a board member for the Topanga Chamber of Commerce.

"I have no idea what they're seeing," said Ms. Allen, 59. "I think the first question to ask is, 'What are they drinking or smoking?' . . . Helicopters and airplanes fly over all the time."

Another skeptic, 13-year-old Zak Forbes, weighed in while Mr. Dennett was touring UFO sites near Topanga State Park. Zak was leading a chocolate-colored horse past one of Mr. Dennett's favorite viewing points. What did the boy make of all this UFO business?

"I think some people are crazy," Zak said.

The youngster's words left Mr. Dennett looking as though he had just eyeballed an alien.

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September 6, 1999

Modesto Bee

Pushing the outer limits

by Dennis Roberts

SAN MATEO -- Phyllis Painter of Sacramento was a bride in her 20s when she witnessed one of the most talked-about UFO sightings in history -- the so-called Captain Mantell Incident of 1948 over Godman Air Base in Kentucky.

"It was more long than round, and it had a shiny aluminum appearance," she recalled. "My husband, Chuck, was the control tower chief, and they called out the new jet planes we'd just gotten in ... and they went flying up to see what this thing was about. And (one of the pilots) Mantell said, 'It's in front of me.' And he hit it, or it hit him, or God knows what happened."

The event was witnessed by hundreds of people, Painter said. All were later visited by agents -- she doesn't recall if they were "Men in Black" -- and were told what they saw hadn't happened.

"My husband would never tell what he knew, not even on the day he died," she said.

Painter's story may sound unusual, but it's only one of hundreds told during this weekend's Bay Area UFO Expo at the Marriott Hotel in San Mateo -- and Painter was a member of the audience, not a speaker. The event, expected to draw about 400 people, ended up attracting between 1,200 to 1,500.

"People have been asking for something like this," organizer Victoria Jack said.

Many who attended were as fervent in their beliefs as any evangelist, and sometimes they even sounded like fundamentalists at a revival meeting.

"They've given us the information, and now it's up to us to go back and tell what we've heard," one believer was overheard saying. "But most people don't want to get on the ark until it's already floating."

These folks are not from the Bible Belt. They're from the Art Bell Belt -- a land where UFOs, ghosts, time travel and apocalyptic predictions have begun to blend into one. Bell's overnight radio program, heard on upwards of 600 stations, has become the nation's most popular sounding board for people who believe We Are Not Alone.

Who's on deck

Bell gave the expo several plugs on his program, and that may be the main reason more than 1,200 people jammed into meeting rooms for the latest reports from ufology's superstars:

* Stanton Friedman, the nuclear physicist whose investigation of the alleged spaceship crash at Roswell, N.M., in 1947 reignited interest in UFOs and popularized the doctrine that the government is hiding the truth about extraterrestrial visits.

* Richard C. Hoagland, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration consultant and CBS news adviser during the Apollo space missions, who believes NASA photos taken over Mars and the moon reveal evidence of ancient civilizations that may be our ancestors. He says the photos show geometric outlines of demolished buildings and a gigantic eroded monument that resembles a human-like face.

* Dr. Roger Leir, a surgeon who has removed what he believes are alien implants from people who claim to have been abducted by UFOs.

* Peter B. Davenport, head of the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle, who has investigated hundreds of sightings, including the March 13, 1997, flap over Phoenix. Hundreds of witnesses saw -- and some videotaped -- a triangular-shaped group of lights that hovered over Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. Military sources said people were seeing flares from one of their operations.

* Dr. Steven Greer, director of the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI, not to be confused with SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which Greer calls a government sham). Greer has gathered a group of high-level government witnesses who are willing to testify that UFO evidence is being covered up.

* Peter E. Gersten, touted as the world's only UFO attorney. As director of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), Gersten is trying to use legal means to force government officials to uncloak evidence of extraterrestrial contact.

A serious affair

While the 50th anniversary "celebration" of the alleged Roswell crash took on the flavor of a circus, with parades, people dressed in alien costumes and plenty of commemorative trinkets, this gathering attracted a generally low-key crowd. No "My parents were abducted to Venus and all I got was this lousy T- shirt" messages, no one dressed in alien costumes.

"I didn't come here with a point of view," said one Bay Area man, a captain of a research vessel. He didn't want to give his name. "I don't believe modern science has all the answers, but I do believe that modern science has the ego to keep us from knowing they don't have all the answers."

The reluctance to allow their names in print remains fairly common among UFO buffs because they don't want to be ridiculed or risk losing their jobs.

"People are more open today, but there's still a prejudice about this topic," Jack said. "We have people here who are in federal jobs, one who's a rocket scientist. They don't want to jeopardize their jobs or friendships by being identified with interest in UFOs."

A set of beliefs

Like most doctrines, the current UFO belief system sounds zany to anyone outside the Bell Belt. No one has written a manifesto that everyone agrees to -- UFO evangelists are notoriously cantankerous, often blasting one another's theories in public -- but speakers and those attending the UFO Expo this weekend seemed to generally accept this evolving set of tenets:

* UFOs are real, but they are not all the same. Some may be secret U.S. spacecraft "back-engineered" from crashed alien vehicles, some may be from other planets or even other dimensions, some may be spiritual manifestations. Some are good, some are bad, some are your basic gray aliens with almond-shaped eyes, some may look like reptiles. Or, if you want to really indulge yourself in some paranoia, there's Greer's assertion that "a majority of things you hear about are, in my opinion, not extraterrestrial. They are decoy events to keep you from looking at the real thing."

* Things are coming to a conclusion real fast. Some, like Greer, cite the collapse of Earth's ecosystem. Others point to the prophecies of the Bible and Nostradamus. Others look to the calendar of the Mayans -- who some believe were regularly visited by aliens and may have been descendents from other planets themselves -- which ends in the year 2012.

"We're on the verge of something so big it will overshadow everything that preceded it," said expo emcee Robert Perala, author of "The Divine Blueprint -- Roadmap for the New Millennium."

Dannion Brinkley, who claims he's died and has been brought back to life three times and who is the author of "At Peace in the Light," probably summed up how most of those at the UFO Expo feel.

"Have I ever seen a UFO? No," he said. "Have I listened to people who are credible (who say they've seen a UFO)? Yes. Have I listened to lunatics? Yes."

"Are they the same?" someone shouted from the audience.

"No," Brinkley laughed, then talked about the billions of stars and planets we already know about, and the billions more we probably don't know about.

"Either there's life out there or God builds really sloppy universes," he said.

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September 6, 1999

Modesto Bee

Ex-military man from the valley tells of training for alien contact

by Dennis Roberts

SAN MATEO -- Dan Sherman has decided to come out of the closet -- the UFO closet.

Sherman, who was born in Sacramento and grew up in Central Valley towns from Yuba City to Turlock, has written a book about his experiences as an "intuitive communicator" for the U.S. Air Force. In "Above Black," Sherman claims he was recruited into an ultra-elite program -- "Project Preserve Destiny" -- whose members were trained to receive messages from aliens.

Is Sherman bananas? You sure wouldn't know it to talk to him. He backs his testimony with apparently official Air Force duty papers bearing what he says are code designations for both black (super-secret) and gray projects -- the latter being projects related strictly to alien contact.

Other than that -- as with most UFO reports -- you have to listen to him tell his story and decide for yourself. He sounds like a rational guy -- admits he doesn't know what the "big picture" was about his work and says the main way the government keeps secrets is by not letting one pawn know what the other is doing.

One part he admits sounds far-fetched: Sherman says he was "genetically managed" from the womb to be an intuitive, and that his mother is unaware to this day that she was abducted by aliens for this experiment. Neither she nor his father has heard about what their son says he did for the last 2 1/2 years of his 12-year career in the military. Sherman's co-workers don't know, either.

Well -- until now.

His wife, Allison, believes him. Her family? They tread politely around the subject. Friends? "I give them a copy of the book and they're really excited, and then they never bring it up again," Allison said.

It's no easy gig, Sherman says.

"I don't want people to think I'm crazy. I want to live a fairly comfortable life. But it's a chance I have to take because somebody has to do it."

Sherman's web address is:

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September 6, 1999

San Francisco Chronicle

UFO Abductee Spellbinds Earthlings
More than 1,000 attend expo in San Mateo

by Jonathan Curiel

For the past 23 years, says Robert Parela, he has been regularly abducted by extraterrestrials.

"They take me aboard their spacecrafts," Parela said yesterday at the Bay Area UFO Expo, a two-day event that attracted more than 1,000 people to the San Mateo Marriott Hotel. "They share information with me, in a telepathic language that is like

Skeptics might question Parela's claims, but the San Jose author represents a new reality for UFO watchers: an expert whose views are being embraced by mainstream culture.

Hollywood has had incredible success with "The X-Files," "Men in Black" and other extraterrestrial-related movies and shows. And --says Parela -- producers are eagerly perusing "The Divine Blueprint," his book about alien abductions, angelic visitations and other paranormal matters.

"There's so much interest in this stuff," said Ted Oliphant, a producer of the event. "It (talking about extraterrestrials) is not as far out as it used to be."

Ten years ago, it might have been difficult to come across the sister of ex-Beatle George Harrison at a UFO expo. But yesterday, Louise Harrison was wandering around the confines of the Marriott Hotel, checking out the tables that were selling UFO books, UFO videos and UFO paraphernalia.

"I'm here for the spiritual path," said Harrison, who was invited to the UFO conference by Parela. "I have no knowledge or experience of UFOs. I don't believe in extraterrestrials. But my mind is open."

Harrison, who operates an environmental organization, was one of many people this weekend who discovered there is a New Age component to extraterrestrial life. Vendors at the expo were selling -- along with such books as "Extraterrestrials Among Us" -- healing crystals, jewelry and videos about tai chi and dream interpretation.

Parela and others believe that extraterrestrials are communicating a deeper understanding of life to humans. His "abductions" are pleasant experiences, he says, though the first one scared him.

"They were 8 1/2-feet tall, with space suits and very humanoid, with an antenna that was 6 inches high," said Parela, who was the expo's master of ceremonies. "At the time, I didn't know what it was. I locked myself in my room for three months."

Many expogoers described seeing triangle-shaped spacecraft in the skies over the Bay Area. Guest speakers also talked about the spacecraft they have seen -- and their frustrations at getting UFO information from the U.S. government.

Yesterday, lawyer Peter Gersten, who is director of a group called Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, told a rapt audience that he has been trying for years -- without success -- to get the government's documents on UFO sightings and landings. "The information has to be made public," Gersten said.

The promoters said they considered the expo -- the Bay Area's first major UFO conference in five years -- to be a smash success. So much so, in fact, that they plan to return next year to the San Mateo Marriott and may even take their UFO show on the road.

Hotel workers seemed surprised at the type of people who were drawn to the expo. Those attending, they said, seemed so . . . normal.

"They're a nice group," said a guest relations agent who wouldn't give his name. "They're nice."

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August 22, 1999

Edmonton Journal (Canada)

Truth about real "X-Files" is out there

by James Langton

The truth is out there, and Peter Gersten believes he knows where to find it.

As director of the Campaign Against UFO Secrecy, he plans to launch a lawsuit this week against the U.S. government, claiming that its refusal to hand over secret documents on the existence of flying saucers is a violation of his constitutional rights.

While the authorities, including the Department of Defence and the CIA, say that they are not concealing details about alien incursions, their denials are undermined by growing evidence of real-life "X-Files."

The British academic journal Intelligence and National Security last week published an official CIA report on attempts to uncover the truth behind a half-century of reports of UFO sightings.

The CIA operated its own UFO team. Like the TV series The X-Files, the agency was plagued by bitter divisions between believers and non-believers.

Gersten and his organization hope that their latest lawsuit will force the authorities to reveal what they know about a large number of well-documented sightings of large triangular craft seen over Arizona and New Mexico in recent years.

The objects, some many times larger than a jumbo jet, have been seen by the tens of thousands of people. One was filmed over Phoenix two years ago but later interpreted by the air force as a series of flares dropped in a training mission - an explanation few accepted.

"People have a right to the truth," says Gersten, a lawyer from Scottsdale, Ariz., who believes that extra-terrestrials are trying to contact us through crop-circles. "I believe that the authorities have evidence and that I can prove it in a court of law."

While such extreme opinions are only shared by a tiny minority, most Americans believe that their government knows more than they will say. Opinion polls show that more than half believe in UFOs.

And after years of denial, almost all branches of the American military now admit that they carried out their own secret investigations into flying saucers, particularly in the 1950s when UFO fever peaked.

The CIA report, by its official historian Gerald Haynes, says that the agency eventually concluded that most reports could be explained and that there were no little green men.

While some CIA agents believed there was evidence of genuine UFO activity, the official version attributes at least half the sightings to secret U.S. air force reconnaissance aircraft such as the U-2 and Blackbird.

Dr. Bruce Maccabee, one of America's leading UFO experts who regularly met CIA agents from 1979, believes that the "real X-Files" are in the vaults of the air force and FBI.

The air force also maintained Project Blue Book in which it documented nearly 13,000 sightings between 1951 to 1969, all but 700 of which it was able to explain as conventional aircraft or natural phenomenon.

The air force has also attempted - with very limited success - to end speculation that it recovered the remains of a spacecraft which crashed near Roswell, N.M., in 1947, and several alien bodies.

It has released previously classified files which claim the "saucer" was actually a weather balloon used to monitor nuclear tests and that the "aliens" were crash test dummies for parachute prototypes.

Among UFO diehards, however, such "explanations" are seen only as evidence of a further coverup.

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August 18, 1999

Daily Telegraph (UK)

UFO Report Reveals Rifts At CIA

by Michael Smith

LONDON - The CIA has released a secret history of its investigations into sightings of unidentified flying objects, revealing that there is more truth in the popular television series The X-Files than is often believed. The highly critical report describes often-bitter debates between real-life X-File investigators who believed "the truth is out there" and their skeptical bosses. It records tales of bumbling undercover agents whose activities that the government was covering up what the agency described as "extra-terrestrial visitations by intelligent beings." The problem was eventually passed to the agency's physics and electronics division, where in true X-Files style just one analyst investigated UFO phenomena. But the 1950's equivalent of Fox Mulder was constantly undermined by his boss, described by the CIA history as "a non-believer in UFO's," who tried but failed to declare the project 'inactive." While the CIA investigations eventually concluded that all the sightings could be explained, the report concludes that "misguided" attempts to keep them secret led to widespread belief of a government cover-up.

The report, written by Gerald K. Haines, the official CIA historian, was commissioned by James Woolsey, CIA director at the time, in 1993, in the wake of renewed claims of a CIA-led cover-up. It calls, for the first time, on documents that the agency hid from UFO enthusiasts who obtained thousands of more mundane files under the Freedom of Information Act. The report, completed in 1997, was released at the request of the British academic journal Intelligence and National Security, and is published in its summer issue.

U.S. intelligence began investigating UFO sightings in 1947, when a pilot claimed to have seen nine discs traveling at more than 1,600 kilometers per hour in Washington state. The claim was backed up by additional sightings, including reports from military and civilian pilots and air traffic controllers.

The first investigation, Operation Saucer, was carried out by U.S. Air Forces intelligence, which initially feared the objects might be Soviet bombers. But some officers became convinced that UFOs existed and, in a top-secret report, concluded many of the sightings were "interplanetary." Air force chiefs had the report rewritten to conclude that "although visits from outer space are deemed possible, they are believed to be very unlikely." The CIA initially dismissed the investigations as "midsummer madness."

But an agency committee decided they could be used by Moscow either to create mass hysteria or to overload the air warning system, making it unable to distinguish between UFOs and Soviet bombers. In 1955, claims by two elderly sisters that they had contact with UFOs attracted widespread publicity. A CIA agent describing himself as an air officer spoke to them and reported that he appeared to have stumbled upon a scene from Arsenic and Old Lace. Analysis of a "code" that the women believed aliens were using to make contact with them while they listened to their favorite radio program showed it was Morse from a U.S. radio station. But when UFO enthusiasts heard of the "air force" officers visit, they became immediately suspicious he was a member of the CIA trying to cover up the affair.

One enthusiast pursued the CIA conspiracy theory and was visited by another CIA officer, who claimed to be in the air force and even wore an air force uniform. The ruse failed, making the conspiracy theorists even more suspicious. The refusal to release 57 documents on the investigation in the 1970s, to protect sources, also fuelled the cover-up theory, Mr. Haines concluded.

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June 9, 1999

Albuquerque Journal

DA Investigating Recent Cow Deaths

by Brendan Smith

No one is sure what killed a calf and two cows last month on the Tres Ritos Ranch north of Questa, but ranch manager Tom Reed definitely finds the deaths unusual.

"I come up with more questions than answers," Reed said Monday. "I wouldn't be surprised if we never do find out who or what is doing this. It may be something totally unexpected."

The last cow was found dead May 23 in a pasture near where a dead calf and a dead cow were found earlier in the month, Reed said. The last cow had its udder cleanly cut off and a deep hole with smoothly cut edges gouged into its neck, Reed said.

Each of the three animals had unexplained wounds and missing body parts, Reed said.

The 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office takes cattle mutilations seriously, although no one has ever been charged with the crime, Assistant District Attorney John Day said. The judicial district covers Taos, Colfax and Union counties.

"If someone is up there killing livestock, that's a crime," Day said Tuesday. "Whether (cattle mutilations) are a secret government project or aliens, that's out of my realm."

Dozens of reported cattle mutilations in northern New Mexico dating back to the 1970s have spawned theories about aliens sent to Earth to slice up cows.

Reed said he couldn't explain the three recent deaths from his herd of 40 cattle, but he isn't convinced aliens cut up his cattle.

"I would lean more to the government or cults or something like that. I really don't know anything. I guess that's just speculation," he said. "If the government isn't involved, I think they're covering it up."

Gabe Valdez, a retired State Police officer who has investigated cattle mutilations near Dulce, said he is working with the District Attorney's Office in investigating the recent cattle deaths on Tres Ritos Ranch.

Valdez, who lives in Albuquerque, is now a field investigator for the National Institute for Discovery Science, a private organization that has volunteered to pay for necropsies and lab tests on the dead cattle.

The institute, based in Las Vegas, Nev., researches cattle mutilations, UFOs and reported encounters with aliens. The organization is funded entirely by a Las Vegas entrepreneur who is interested in the paranormal field, said Colm Kelleher, the institute's deputy administrator.

Reed found the first dead cow on May 4 in a pasture on the 3,200-acre Tres Ritos Ranch. The cow's right eye and right ear were missing with a circular cut around the right ear extending down the neck, Reed said.

"There were no tracks where she was injured or hurting and dragged herself around," Reed said. "She was just there."

The calf was found dead four days later in the same area. The calf's right eye and tongue were missing and the genital area had been cut open, Reed said. The calf's rump also was missing but Reed thinks birds may have eaten it.

Valdez said he saw flipped cow patties around the third dead cow that may have been caused by "turbulence," but Valdez didn't know if the turbulence was from an alien spaceship.

"It was an unexplained animal death," Valdez said. "Don't ask me what I think. I don't know who's doing it."

The New Mexico Livestock Board investigated about 30 cattle mutilations in northern New Mexico in 1993 and 1994, including one mutilated cow reported by Reed at the Tres Ritos Ranch in May 1994.

The Livestock Board concluded most of the 1993-94 cattle mutilations were not caused by predators or scavengers. An earlier investigation by the board found there was "possible involvement of clandestine Satanic groups."

Predators or scavengers were blamed for similar cattle mutilations from the 1970s investigated in 1980 by an ex-FBI agent for the 1st Judicial District Attorney in Santa Fe.

The Las Vegas institute hasn't determined what caused the recent deaths of the cows on Tres Ritos Ranch.

The institute has researched about a dozen unexplained cattle deaths, most in New Mexico or Utah, over the past three years, Kelleher said.

After conducting necropsies and lab tests, some of those cattle deaths were determined to be caused by infectious disease, accidental poisoning from insecticides, or the work of predators or scavengers, Kelleher said.

Other cases of cattle mutilations have proved more mysterious.

"There are a small handful for which there are no logical explanations," Kelleher said.

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June 15, 1999

Tampa Tribune

From Roswell to Gulf Breeze, UFOs 'R Us

by Jennifer Barrs

TAMPA - Even psychologist Carl Jung was stumped by the little green men in their flying machines.

For him, UFOs were probably archetypes in the making, embedded deep in the collective unconscious. He wrote a book about them in 1957 - "Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies" - but proferred no answers. Were they rumor, fact, fantasy? Or were the disc-shaped apparitions produced by the unconscious as symbols of wholeness and unity?

"I'm puzzled to death about these phenomena," Jung wrote early on.

Years later, the puzzle is still incomplete, and only sex is a hotter topic on the Internet.

But 52 years ago today, rancher Mac Brazel found a bunch of junk - tape, foil, rubber strips and wood - scattered around a pasture 85 miles northwest of Roswell, N.M. Unimpressed, he didn't do anything until newspapers reported UFO sightings in the area.

Brazel retrieved a few pieces of debris and turned them over to the local sheriff, who passed them on to officials at Roswell Air Force Base.

In a prepared statement published July 8, 1947, an Army base commander announced: "We have in our possession a flying saucer."

Though the announcement was retracted by the military the next day - supplanted by a story about a wayward weather balloon - the event was pivotal. The "Roswell incident" was the first American piece of a puzzle that has fascinated humankind for years.

Now, along comes "UFO USA" (Hyperion, $12.95), a coast-to-coast travel guide to UFO sites and alien encounters, crop circles and other phenomena. It is, in turns, both serious and silly. It includes blurbs about sightings by former President Jimmy Carter and various American astronauts, coupled with pithy checklists on `How to Defend Yourself Against Abduction."

Ultimately, it's a guide to "cool roadside attractions ... for people who are searching for evidence but also want to be entertained," explains Dave Borgenicht, 30, a Philadelphia writer and editor for Book Soup Publishing.

THE PROJECT was initiated by Hyperion in New York, but Borgenicht enlisted the aid of The Society for the Preservation of Alien Contact Evidence and Geography, or SPACEAGE.

For "obvious reasons," Borgenicht says, SPACEAGE members remain anonymous, identifying themselves solely as researchers aligned with Area 51, a secret compound supposedly in Groom Lake, Nev., long-rumored to be the center of government study on extraterrestrials.

Borgenicht says the book didn't require he trust the members of SPACEAGE - though he does - as much as follow their substantive leads.

"These are not groups of people wandering around looking for ETs. These are literally scientists trying to identify what is identifiable, and that doesn't necessarily mean extraterrestrial," he says.

"Some people who study UFOs are legitimate scientists. They don't all live in trailer parks. When world leaders claim to have seen something ... well, you can't just dismiss it as a class thing or as people who are whacked out."

Consequently, "UFO USA" is brief but encyclopedic, alphabetized by state and detailing only the most historically significant sites.

"We're not reinventing the wheel," Borgenicht adds, laughing.

So, yes, there's a listing for Roswell. And there are pages devoted to the first official U.S. sighting - it didn't involve a crash - near Mount Rainer, Wash., in 1947. There's the incident that inspired an annual UFO Festival in Wisconsin, as well as a riveting account, circa 1986, when a Japan Airlines pilot trailed a UFO - with the Federal Aviation Administration's permission - between Iceland and Anchorage, Alaska.

FLORIDA ALSO GETS high marks from the book for its "T," "H" and "S" factors - we've got the Technology (Kennedy Space Center), the Hot Spots (areas with ongoing activity) and the Sightings (Gulf Breeze and more).

In fact, tiny Gulf Breeze in the Florida Panhandle is acknowledged as one of the country's premier points of view, with visitors gathering in Shoreline Park almost every night to scan the skies.

The city's reputation was sealed in 1987, when a Gulf Breeze home builder named Ed Walters produced photographs of an alleged craft hovering. Hundreds of sightings have been reported since, even after a plastic model was reportedly found in Walters' residence and a teenager came forward to say he helped fake the photos.

The Tampa Bay area is not specifically mentioned. But Shannon Smith, co-director of the local chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, notes that Central Florida has always been considered a hotbed. The local chapter boasts the largest metropolitan membership in MUFON's national directory - that's about 200 and growing.

"I have seen scientific explanations that go beyond theories of relativity that make [UFOs] possible," says Smith, a chemist with a Hillsborough County utility. "Plus, there is an overwhelming body of evidence and personal testimony ... it's a lot different when you meet someone face to face who's had an experience."

References to theories of relativity - to physics, to the speed of light - are frequently cited by scientists and skeptics wishing to dismiss alien visitation. They also point to the fundamental lack of concrete evidence.

Those critics include Gary Posner, a medical executive who founded Tampa Bay Skeptics in 1988.

"IN 30 YEARS... I am not aware of a single case where the evidence is so compelling that we are forced to acknowledge that we are being visited by spaceships from another planet," he says.

Indeed, Posner adds, the most likely explanations may be rooted in the acronym itself. UFO, or "unidentified flying object," means exactly that - it's unidentified. It's not necessarily alien.

Posner cites a report issued by the U.S. Air Force in September 1994 that may explain Roswell. The debris, he says, almost certainly came from a complex experimental package of balloons, radar reflectors, batteries and transmitters arranged on vertical "trains" up to 600 feet long.

These were launched as part of Project Mogul, used to monitor Soviet nuclear tests, he says.

But what satisfies some doesn't satisfy all. Nor does it explain the public's ongoing fascination with the subject, in Florida or elsewhere. Smith says the Bay area MUFON hot line received a report of a UFO just three weeks ago, observed in north Tampa.

Also on the books:

-- A UFO sighting near Armenia Avenue in 1997.

-- Seven witness accounts, including one made by a Hernando County sheriff's deputy, of a UFO near Brooksville in 1993.

-- A famous UFO sighting that drew a crowd near MacDill Air Force Base in the late 1970s.

Nonetheless, Roswell remains the touchstone for tales of American UFOs. And folks such as Bruce Rhodes aren't at all surprised.

The 69-year-old former schoolteacher conducts tours in and around Roswell, including a spot in Ragsdale, where another UFO was allegedly spotted in 1997.

TOURS BEGIN at about $25 per person, last three to six hours and come with the soft-spoken nonchalance of the longtime Roswell resident, who was 17 when the infamous incident occurred.

He has known most of the prominent players all their lives, and he is absolutely convinced they are telling the truth.

"Their integrity is unquestioned," Rhodes says. "They wouldn't lie if you paid them."

He believes the government covered it up because they feared the nation would panic.

These days a sort of curious rationale prevails. This week, Rhodes will show a Japanese television crew the lay of the land. Next week, a group from National Geographic comes in.

"I grew up in this county so no, it doesn't bother me. We're accustomed to seeing things in the sky here. I've never been afraid, not in the slightest."


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July 9, 1999

New York Times

Sleep Disorder May Explain Alien Abduction Stories
Brain-body 'disconnect' can cause terror

by Nicholas D. Kristof

About once a week, Jean-Christophe Terrillon wakes up and senses the presence of a threatening, evil being beside his bed.

Terror ripples through him, and he tries to move or call out, but he is paralyzed -- unable to raise an arm or make a sound. His ears ring, a weight presses down on his chest, and he has to struggle for breath.

"I feel an intense pressure in my head, as if it's going to explode," said Terrillon, a Canadian physicist doing research in Japan.

Sometimes he finds himself transported upward and looking down on his body, or else sent hurtling through a long tunnel, and these episodes are terrifying even for a scientist like him who does not believe that evil spirits go around haunting people.

Called sleep paralysis, this disorder -- the result of a disconnect between brain and body as a person is on the fringe of sleep -- is turning out to be increasingly common, affecting nearly half of all people at least once. Moreover, a growing number of scholars believe that sleep paralysis may help explain many ancient reports of attacks by witches and modern claims of abduction by space aliens.

"I think it can explain claims of witchcraft and alien abduction," said Kazuhiko Fukuda, a psychologist at Fukushima University in Japan and a leading expert on sleep paralysis. Research in Japan has had a head start because sleep paralysis is well-known to most Japanese, who call it kanashibari, while it is little- known and less studied in the West.

"We have a framework for it, but in North America there's no concept for people to understand what has happened to them," Fukuda said. "So if Americans have the experience, and if they have heard of alien abductions, then they may think, 'Aha, it's alien abduction!' "

Sleep paralysis was once thought to be very rare. But recent studies in Canada, Japan, China and the United States have suggested that it may strike at least 40 percent or 50 percent of all people at least once, and a study in Newfoundland, Canada, found that more than 60 percent had experienced it.

There, as in Japan, people have a name for the condition, and some scholars believe that people are therefore more likely to identify it when it happens to them. In Newfoundland, it is called "old hag" because it is associated with visions of an old witch sitting on the chest of a paralyzed sleeper, sometimes throttling the sleeper's neck with her hands.

"People will draw on the most plausible account in their repertoire to explain their experience," said Al Cheyne, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo in Canada. "Trolls or witches no longer constitute plausible interpretations of these hallucinations.

"The notion of aliens from outer space is more contemporary and somewhat more plausible to the modern mind," he said. "So a flight on a broomstick is replaced by a teleportation to a waiting spaceship."

Cheyne said that in a survey he worked on involving more than 2,000 people identified as experiencing sleep paralysis, hundreds described experiences similar to alien abduction.

"A sensed presence, vague gibberish spoken in one's ear, shadowy creatures moving about the room, a strange immobility, a crushing pressure and painful sensations in various parts of the body -- these are compatible not just with an assault by a primitive demon but also with probing by alien experimenters," Cheyne said. "And the sensations of floating and flying account for the reports of levitation and transport to alien vessels."

In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of people who insist that they have been kidnapped by alien creatures from outer space, perhaps subjected to medical experiments and then released again. These claims have been a bit of a scientific puzzle, because they strike most people as utterly wacky and yet they are relatively widespread. One well-publicized (and widely criticized) Roper Poll published in 1992 suggested that nearly 4 million American reported experiences akin to alien abduction.

Surprisingly, one study found that these people were no more fantasy-prone than the general population and had slightly higher intelligence. Many shun publicity and show signs of feeling traumatized and humiliated.

Several scholars have found that people are more likely to report alien abductions when they have been exposed to movies or books about the idea. Simon Sherwood, a researcher on sleep paralysis in England, said that in one case study he gathered, a regular sufferer of sleep paralysis watched an alien film and then had a hallucination of "little blue aliens" inserting a metal probe into his forehead.

The growing professional literature on sleep paralysis has often mentioned the parallels with reports of alien abductions. Still, many scholars are reluctant to research the connection for fear of tainting their reputations. Others say that a connection is plausible but unproved.

Those who believe in alien abductions deny that sleep paralysis could be behind it all. John E. Mack, a Harvard University Medical School professor who is the most prominent defender of the possibility of abductions, argues that sleep paralysis simply does not fit the evidence. He notes that at least a few abduction reports come from remote places where people are not exposed to movies or tales of UFO's, and that many happen in daylight and involve people who seem to have been awake and alert.

Other defenders of abduction theories say aliens may be clever enough to use sleep paralysis in their kidnappings.

Sleep paralysis researchers say that as many as 60 percent of intense abduction experiences were linked to sleep, and some of the reported symptoms -- noises, smells, paralysis, levitation, terror, images of frightening intruders -- are very similar to those of sleep paralysis.

So what is sleep paralysis?

Even after many years of study, particularly in the last decade, it remains mysterious. Experts have trouble even saying definitively whether a person is asleep or awake during sleep paralysis.

"In the classic definition, you are awake," said Emmanuel Mignot, director of the Center for Narcolepsy at Stanford University Medical School. "But in practice, there's a gradient between being awake and being in REM sleep," he said.

During REM sleep -- the period when rapid eye movement takes place -- the body essentially turns itself off and disconnects from the brain. This is a safety measure, so that people do not physically act out their dreams, and it means that people are effectively paralyzed during part of their sleep. Even automatic reflexes, like kicking when the knee is tapped, do not work during REM sleep.

Sleep paralysis seems to occur when the body is in REM sleep and so is paralyzed and disconnected from the brain, while the brain has emerged from sleep and is either awake or semiawake. Usually after a minute or two the spell is broken and the person is able to move again, as the brain and body re-establish their connection.

What is going on in the brain during sleep paralysis is unclear. The person experiencing the paralysis feels completely awake and "sees" the room clearly, but laboratory experiments in Japan show that sometimes people experiencing sleep paralysis do not even open their eyes.

Aside from witchcraft and alien abduction, sleep paralysis is also sometimes mentioned as a possible link to shamanism and to dream interpretation and even to near- death experiences. But for many sufferers, the growing research in the field is reassuring simply because it demonstrates that they are not alone in their terrifying nighttime paralysis and hallucinations.

"Sometimes I'm just glad that I didn't live a long time ago," said Terrillon, the Canadian physicist in Japan. "Because maybe people who had this in the olden days were put in madhouses."

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July 9, 1999

Los Angeles Times

Something (Probably) Is Out There

Space: Most everybody thinks they're wacky, but next millennium might prove the prescience of the MUFONeers

by James P. Pinkerton

At the end of a century, at the dawn of a millennium, American presidential politics has boiled down to a choice between Republican middle-of-the-roadism and Democratic split-the-difference-ism--a battle between the bland and the blanched. Yet just 30 years ago this month, on July 20, 1969, Americans did something truly bold: They put men on the moon.

Then the U.S. stepped back from greatness; the space program was mothballed, an innocent victim, perhaps, of the Vietnam War. In the minds of many, the Right Stuff rocket jocks were too close to Phantom-flying baby-napalmers. The first Earth Day, in 1970, signaled an anti-technology backlash; meanwhile, counterculturalist historians were redefining discoverers and explorers as despoilers and exploiters. And short-termist politicians expanded domestic spending programs that crowded out funding for space. Even now, with the deficit days over, Washington is transfixed by such weighty questions as whether Medicare should pay for Viagra. Manifest Destiny will just have to wait.

But if NASA isn't doing much, there's MUFON. That's the Mutual UFO Network, based in Seguin, Texas; some 700 "X-Files" types gathered in Washington last weekend for their annual convention. MUFON is an outsider vigilante space organization; if Uncle Sam won't own up to looking outward and upward, then it will. And while one can easily make fun of flying saucer followers, and while all of them are likely misguided in their particulars, they're probably right in general: Something is out there. And whether It becomes known to us in the next year or the next thousand years, all those who watched and waited by the sky horizon will have earned their vindication.

Unfortunately, most MUFONeers are to serious space research what astrology is to astronomy. Typical is Budd Hopkins, a New Yorker who has been writing about alien abductions for a quarter-century. In a speech to a rapt audience, he recounted the tale of a man who claimed he had been kidnapped and physically probed by space aliens in 1961. Of course, there is no physical evidence to support his story; his account emerged when he was under hypnosis. But to UFO true believers, the more incredible the claim, the more credible it is. As Hopkins said, even survivors of the Holocaust have a hard time believing it happened to them, even though it did. So, by that sleight-of-logic, Hopkins argued, if it's hard to believe in alien abduction, then it's easier, maybe, to believe it actually happened.

Philip Klass, a veteran writer for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, also attended the conference. He has studied UFOs for three decades, written four debunking books and publishes a skeptical newsletter. He has seen zero evidence, he says, for anything extraterrestrial. Then why does he stay on the case? Because if ET does exist, he wants the story, he says, still eyeing the future at age 79: "I'd win a Pulitzer Prize and every other prize there is."

The search for the truth out there also animates the newest star in UFO firmament, Joe Firmage, a Silicon Valley mogul who was pushed out of the company when his interest shifted from cyberspace to outer space. Firmage is a believer; he has written in the past of an encounter with "a remarkable being, clothed in brilliant white light."

But in an hour-long presentation to MUFON, he made a more modest argument: the more scientists learn, the more they learn about what has yet to be learned. And so, given the enormity of the universe, isn't possible that others have learned more than us? Now all of 28, he has both a fortune and a mission to last a lifetime; he will shortly unveil the International Space Sciences Organization, which will attempt to bring scientific rigor to UFO research.

Many, maybe most, will regard Firmage as a crackpot, but Christopher Columbus was lightly regarded until he discovered America; today he is justly remembered as a man for the millennium.

But now another millennium is coming, and a new set of heroes will emerge. Since the current crop of vision-thing-less politicians have so little to offer, someone such as Firmage has a chance to step into immortality. The next thousand years will quite possibly be remembered as the era when They find us--or we find Them. - - -

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July 6, 1999

Washington Times

For devout, truth about space aliens is close to home

by Julia Duin

Beverly Trout is demure, 70, the daughter of Iowa farmers and --she adds emphatically -- a frequent abductee by space aliens.  Mrs. Trout was among the speakers over the weekend at the MUFON '99 International UFO Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Virginia, which drew 400 attendees, many of them scientists and government workers. Also attending were curiosity seekers, New Agers and artists, who filled one room with "abductee art" of creepy scenarios featuring small, gray beings with large heads and limpid, black eyes.

Normally, the Seguin, Texas-based Mutual UFO Network sticks to more provable phenomena, such as the mysterious, huge V-shaped object that floated above Phoenix for 106 minutes on March 13, 1997. Residents flooded police departments and Luke Air Force Base in nearby Glendale with terrified calls. This year, the MUFON conference ventured into far riskier territory by turning over much of its speaker slots to more radical territory: People who claim to have been kidnapped by aliens.

"This phenomenon is very difficult," admitted MUFON board member Thomas Deuley of San Antonio. MUFON had sidestepped the issue for some time until the number of people calling their office with abductee stories got too numerous. Now "we're in the position of having to deal with it," he said. Dressed in a dark-colored pantsuit with silvery hair, Mrs. Trout looks more like a denizen of county fairs and rural school board meetings than an abductee of alien spaceships. Mrs. Trout started speaking out about 18 months ago when realized she had to express the truth as she sees it. "I was in the line of fire, and I got hit," she says of her abduction experiences that began during her childhood years. "We are being utilized [by aliens]. There is some kind of breeding program under way."

Most distressing, she reports, is the way aliens perceive humans --much in the same detached way that farmers view a breeding herd of livestock. Speaking last weekend on "Talking Back to Aliens and Humans," she ventures that there is communication between the two species, but that "it's one very dysfunctional relationship." Sounds like "The X-Files" come to life? The very idea has sparked media reports ranging from Fox TV to PBS' NOVA show. Essentially the scenario is the same: Alien kidnappers snatch unsuspecting people and perform sexual experiments on them in the hopes of creating a hybrid human-alien race.

Aliens are apparently multi-generational, too. "Ever since I was a child, I've had encounters," Betty Ann Luca of Hays, Va., said at a press conference. After introducing her daughter, Becky, she said even her grandchildren and great-grandchildren "have had experiences." The star speaker at the conference was Kelly Cahill of Australia, who kept several hundred people spellbound with her account of a multiwitness "abduction." It occurred early in the morning of Aug. 8, 1993, she said, when six persons in three different cars told authorities of being forced over to the side of a road east of Melbourne, the capital. After they had gotten out of their cars to investigate what looked like a hovering craft with bright orange lights, they were approached by 7-foot beings, cloaked completely in black with luminous red eyes, she said. Partly because of her Pentecostal background and partly due to the evil feel of the "energy wave" emanating from these creatures, she first thought they were demons.

She said she was knocked to the ground and temporarily blinded. "Let go of me," she overheard her husband saying. Then, she remembers a "sarcastic, beautiful male voice" with no accent informing them that "we are a peaceful people" and telling his companions he would not harm her because, "after all, I am her father." This frightened her, she said, as her real father was still alive. She remembers little after that, until she and her husband found themselves back in their car. Later, she told conferees, she found a triangular cut burned into her abdomen and began experiencing uterine bleeding. People in the other cars, she said, claimed to have been taken into alien ships. Two of them, she said, emerged with strange-shaped slashes on their inner thighs and ankles.

UFO researchers from a nearby university combed the site in hopes of finding some traces of paranormal activity and came up with strange holes about 19-and-a-half feet apart burned into the ground, as if a giant tripod had rested there. A soil test revealed an abnormally high concentration of sulfur in the area. Mrs. Cahill said her religious convictions have radically changed since the incident, as the kind of Christianity she had known had no category for her experience. Conferee organizer Susan Swiatek, an Episcopalian, said abductees, including participants in an "abductee support group" in Centerville, Va., have been shunned by church members. "Christians need to look at this with new eyes and say it's not all demons and delusions," she said. "It's either real or a new mental illness."

Not everyone attending the conference agreed that "abductees" should have been given time at the podium.  Vincent J. Mooney of Fairfax, Va., called their tales "a never-never land" of confusion. "UFO stories are complicated to explain as it is," he said. "The abduction stories contaminate the effort. They're difficult to prove and difficult to believe." Physicist Robert Swiatek of Fairfax said there has been plenty of evidence over the past 50 years that "something is going on," but "there is no definitive evidence to civilian UFO researchers that the UFO phenomenon is extraterrestrial in origin. If there were, we wouldn't have to be trying to convince these people there is legitimate phenomena to be studied." "I don't know where UFOs come from, I don't know what they are, I don't know who or what mans them," he said. "It's my personal opinion it's an extraordinary phenomenon of nonhuman intelligence. . . I cannot prove it to you definitively."

Budd Hopkins, a UFO investigator living in Manhattan, said: "If something violates physics as we know it . . . somehow it has to be rejected. It's very difficult to get to people who've already made up their minds." He compared the UFO phenomenon to early accounts out of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945. "[Both] were inherently unbelievable. How could they have happened?" he asked. "If you find the material is inherently unbelievable . . and inherently disturbing, you're not going to get people opening up their minds and allowing their curiosity and their scientific impulses to see what in fact is going on."

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July 3, 1999

Washington Post

Where Aliens Aren't A Foreign Concept
UFO Believers Have A Close Encounter Group

by Richard Leiby

The blinking red button on Tom Benson's madras shirt wishes you a Happy Fourth of July as he talks about the third time he encountered aliens. Many people misunderstand flying saucers, he says from behind his vendor's booth at the 30th annual Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) symposium being held this weekend in the Crystal City Hyatt Regency.

"The vehicle's not physical. It's an energy construct," explains Benson. "It's your consciousness or soul that gets taken on board."

Benson, 61, works for the state of New Jersey as a personnel management analyst but has a sideline selling vintage UFO books. A patriotic fellow, he's set up several American flags amid his wares, and this weekend is offering a special on a plastic "Dashboard Uncle Sam With Flag" for $3.

It would be tidy to conclude that Tom Benson represents something "typical" about this convention, which is open to the public and expected to attract about 500 people through tomorrow. But there is nothing typical about MUFON. Here we have humans who claim to be infused with alien consciousness and receive messages from other galaxies. Here are researchers who believe they have bettered Einstein and uncovered the secrets of "extraluminal" (beyond light speed) physics.

What could be more all-American than the participants' passion, the intense debate and yearning to be heard? At a news conference yesterday--attended by exactly one mainstream newspaper reporter and about 50 conventioneers--panelists from around the world defended their research papers, addressed a schism in the movement and criticized the media.

"They tend to view us as an interesting sociological phenomenon--and we end up on the Style pages," lamented Richard H. Hall, whose saucer investigations date to the mid-1950s. "I'm very empirically oriented. We need to get back to basics."

For some, UFOlogy has become a New Age religion. One constant controversy pits those who embrace UFO "evidence"--the sightings, radar returns, declassified documents and eye-witness testimonials--against ethereal approaches that seem to construe space visitors as angels.

"We don't get involved with New Agers. We avoid them like the plague," says Walter H. Andrus Jr., MUFON's 78-year-old international director. "We're dedicated to the scientific study of the UFO phenomenon." He quickly adds, "The evidence is overwhelming that the abductions take place."

Yet Andrus admits he has never seen one tangible piece of actual evidence--say, an exhaust pipe from an extraterrestrial craft--emerge in decades of UFO studies.

No matter. UFOlogy is among our most durable, high-tech industries, taking off in 1947, concurrent with the so-called Roswell incident and the development of the early computer, ENIAC. Saucer sightings fueled an entire Hollywood film genre, featuring space beings whose essential personalities shape-shift depending on our cultural mood--from the benevolent Klaatu in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" to the malevolent squid monsters in "Independence Day" to the current nonsymbolic, merely annoying Jar Jar Binks.

This weekend, all the movement's most quoted mouthpieces are in town--among them Stanton T. Friedman, who calls himself the "original civilian investigator of the Roswell incident," a reference to the purported crash of an otherworldly vehicle in New Mexico. But the star of the conference is a newcomer with a neatly trimmed beard and a nice blazer: Joe Firmage, 28, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Firmage is an important figure not just because he espouses a new, unified, alien-oriented theory--which he modestly calls The Truth--but because he is loaded. Worth, some whisper, about $200 million. That bestows a certain instant credibility. Firmage founded USWeb Corp., but his new intellectual pursuits prompted a hasty exit as CEO.

"I have reached the conclusion that UFOs are real," Firmage said. He admitted he's never seen a UFO--or, as frequently reported, actually spoken with a space creature. "What I said was that I had a conversation with a being of light. I didn't say 'alien.' I didn't say an organic body." (For more on Firmage, his talk is at 8:45 tonight.)

Susan Swiatek of Fairfax, the symposium coordinator, also says she's never had a close encounter, but she's dedicated all her spare time to setting up this convention for the believers--and anyone who might marvel at the endless possibilities of a clear night sky. "At MUFON we'll have fun, glow-in-the-dark aliens!" she promises. "It's an alternative if your beach plans fall through."

UFOlogists, like most Americans, are questers, she says; they yearn to be part of something more.

"I, personally, do not claim to have seen a UFO," Swiatek, 41, said. "I saw something so far away, it could have been a kite or something."

And you never know. Go out and look in the sky this weekend. You might notice something glowing. You might see things that sparkle, swoop, arc and fly. You might see something that reflects what it means to be an American.


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July 1, 1999

Dawn (Pakistan)

Do aliens exist?

by Munazza Siddiqui

Frank Drake, in the early 1960s, came up with an equation (called the "Drake Equation") that calculated the possibility of extraterrestrial life.  He determined that there was a possibility of 100,000 to 1,000,000 extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy (the Milky Way) alone. With so many complex and huge solar systems across the galaxy, the Earth cannot be the centre of the universe. Because if it is then what is the purpose of the rest of the huge universe?

Water is the main source of life on Earth. Taking a clue from this, European scientists, using ultra cold orbiting telescopes, have discovered unimaginable volumes of water in inter-stellar space. This discovery raises questions about life elsewhere in the universe. Scientists were astounded to find water in the freezing atmosphere of Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Saturn (and its moon Titan). They have even identified a cloud of water, less than a light year across, in the constellation Orion.

A year after the US dropped its Pathfinder lander and its rover on the Martian surface, some scientists claimed that Mars could have some sort of life. There is evidence of an ancient world that was warm, wet and possibly hospitable to life long ago and a dry rocky world that has changed little in about two thousand million years. About three thousand million to 4.5 thousand million years ago, there was fast flowing water which deposited some boulders on the Martian surface which the Pathfinder recorded and beamed back to earth.

Many people believe that research on UFOs and aliens is not intellectually respectable and there are those who think that making myths the basis for research is unscientific and only leads to mystical speculation.

As a researcher once remarked: "If they exist, they have shown little willingness to cooperate with human investigators. There is even evidence suggesting that they deliberately try to keep humans in the dark about their activities and nature." But then a large number of human-alien encounters have left hard evidence - photographs, instrument readings that have recorded the flight of UFOs and human experiences that has been scientifically examined. Based on those evaluations Dr Walther Riedel, once chief designer and research director at the German rocket centre, said: "I am completely convinced that they (flying saucers) have an out-of-the-world basis."

This statement was based on four vital observations: "First, the skin temperatures of the ships operating under the observed conditions would make it impossible for any terrestrial structure to survive. The skin friction at those speeds and at those altitudes would melt any metal or nonmetal available; second, think about what the centrifugal force, in a few minutes of the high acceleration at which they fly and manoeuvre, would do to the crew and their blood; third, there are many occurrences where they have done things that only a pilot could perform but no human pilot could stand; and fourth, in most reports there has been lack of visible jets. Most observers have reported that such ships have been without visible flame and no trail. If it would be any known type of jet, rocket, piston engine or chain-reaction motor, there would be a very clear trail at high altitude."

The Earth has and still undergoes anomalies which have neither been justified by historical standards nor explained by science. The one-mile long carving of a human-like face on the surface of Mars and the presence of nearby ruins of a pyramid and city strongly suggest that at one point in time, there could have been some ties between the Earth and Mars.

Alan Alford is of the view that as the pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza, Egypt, have been dated back to around 10500-8000 BC, it proves that a highly advanced but unrecorded civilization existed at that time. The exact alignment of the Giza pyramids to the three stars of Orion's Belt reflects the interest of that culture in astronomy. This is also supported by the findings at Stonehenge, where it has been established that wooden totem poles, dated as far back as 8000 BC, are a sort of astronomical marker, a forerunner to the stone observatory built in 2700 BC.

The school of thought which believes in the existence of extraterrestrial is of the view that these wonders were built by people from some other planet who were advanced enough to have travelled to Earth and make it their station. After gauging these structures in relevance to the history of the evolution of man, it just does not seem possible that they could  have been constructed by humans. It's not just the astronomical aspect alone which supports this thought but also the aeronautical advancement influencing such developments. The best evidence in this respect can been seen at Baalbek, Lebanon, where a huge platform was constructed in ancient times with stones weighing hundreds of tons - an accomplishment very difficult to duplicate even today with all the modern technology. Mythology links this sacred site of Baalbek with the sun god Helios, who parked his chariot on this platform. There are the Nazca Lines in Peru, properly visible from the air, which also tells of a similar legend. All these structures and their similarity to the ones on Mars lead to the question whether the aeronautical technology of the gods included space travel. In 1976, an American author, Zecharia Sitchin, gave proof that the gods were indeed space travellers and also that the Earth was once visited by the Anunnaki (literally meaning "Those who from heaven to earth came").  The evidence as to where these aliens came from continues to point to the mysterious Planet X, the tenth planet of the solar system. Despite various governments' attempts to disregard its presence, many astronomers believe that it exits because of the anomalies that have been recorded in the orbits of the outer planets. Due to its highly elliptical 3600-year orbit, it has not been possible to visually confirm the existence of Planet X. In his book The Twelfth Planet, Sitchin deciphered an ancient clay planisphere from the British Museum, which presented a route map of the people from Planet X to Earth. Their journey through the solar system to the earth was commemorated in an ancient Babylonian ritual called the "procession of Madruk." It was only after thorough research that Sitchin realized that Babylonians had named Planet X as Madruk, and after that he was able to decipher their route map.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to suggest that any of the Egyptian pyramids were meant to be used as tombs. The dating of the Giza Pyramid to 10450 BC brings in the possibility that all the later pyramids were poor copies, made by the pharaohs after discovering that food and human bodies don't decay in them. John D. Miller, in his article on The Pyramid of a fallen god, concludes that: "The Great Pyramid is undoubtedly one of the oldest structures in Egypt... there is no record in Egypt itself of any gradual development of architectural knowledge and skill. How did this exquisite technical knowledge and skill displayed in this vast structure suddenly make its appearance in this mysterious land? We might even ask the further question, which, indeed has been asked before. Though the Great Pyramid is in Egypt, is it of Egypt?"

It is interesting to note the connection between the five-sided pyramid on Mars and the Great Pyramid at Giza. Alan F. Alford in one of his books has demonstrated how its chambers, passages and shafts could have formed the functional component of a hydrogen gas power generator, fuelled by water after being split into its basic elements. It has now been scientifically proven that Mars also had abundance of water in the bygone era. So it is possible that both the pyramids of Mars and Earth were huge energy devices with multi-functional purposes.

Pyramids stand out in a lot of ways and have astounded scientists for ages, allowing research to focus on them. But besides, this wonder, many parts of the world are sprayed with remnants of alien or strange people. A mysterious rock carving near Navai, Uzbekistan, estimated to be 3000 years old, has images of men wearing respirators. Could the object with rays be a space rocket? Then, in the ancient cave painting in the Prince Regent Valley in Kimberleys in Australia, a figure wearing a helmet with antenna is shown - an alien? Nearly all myths and folklore are full of tales of flying objects. Even if it were all pure imagination, they would have had to get the notion from some where. The story behind the rise of Dalai Lama and where he got his powers from also talks of extraterrestrial transferring their knowledge to humans.

We live in a three dimensional world with time being termed as the fourth, but why should we suppose that any living being in any other planet has to be in these dimensions only. Maybe there are more dimensions, complimenting their existence in their world. The probabilities are endless.

In spite of all the research, first hand experiences and beliefs about the existence of extraterrestrial, there is one aspect that confounds me. Why is it that the people in the subcontinent mostly encounter jinns, the presence of which is verified in the Holy Quran, and those living in the West mostly encounter aliens and their ships. There have been media reports suggesting that various governments, with the USA topping the list, have been trying to hide and cover up the presence of extraterrestrial from the public. It will probably take some more time and more public reception and participation to determine the truth. If there are extraterrestrial, then we have already lost a lot of time by not accepting their presence. There's truth waiting to be discovered outside the circle of our compact lives. If only we would open up to the possibility that we might not be alone in this huge universe.

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May 25, 1999

Surrey Now

Major UFO Sightings In The Famous 'Surrey Corridor' In British Columbia
Strange Lights Reported Over White Rock

by Tom Zytaruk

From a galaxy far, far away?

White Rock appears to have enjoyed a special preview of Star Wars this past weekend, as four independent sources are claiming to have seen strange goings on in the night sky there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

North Delta resident Graham Conway, president of UFO*BC, is quite impressed with the number of unexplained sightings.

"I don,t understand what's going on," he said. "For some reason there's a lot of activity going on in White Rock. This is such a collection of such good eye witness stuff."

A man reportedly ran into the Ocean Beach pub about 10 pm Friday, "stuttering like mad" that he'd seen a huge blue plasma ball cruising over Semiahmoo Bay.

"He said it was monstrous," said UFO tracker Bill Oliver, of Guildford. "He was rattled big time."

Whatever it was cast such a bright light it lit up the sea beneath and "apparently acted in an intelligent manner," said Conway.

The thing apparently cruised over the bay, around Kwomais Point and "out of sight."

Then on Saturday, the really interesting stuff began. Two young women and a girl, South Surrey residents, were at the McDonald's restaurant on Johnston Road when they claim to have seen a huge boomerang-shaped object with eight lights on front, at about 10 pm. Shaking with fear, they watched it move "very, very slowly" for about eight seconds before it took off. Conway said the experience left the 11-year-old girl crying and one of the women, 18, so disturbed she slept with her light on the following two nights.

About five minutes after that sighting two women were standing on White Rock pier when they claim to have seen a wedge-shaped object 'a flying triangle' traveling below the tree level. They watched it for about three or four minutes as it headed across the bay, away from White Rock.

Then on Sunday, about 10:15 pm, Jen Pieschel and her boyfriend Kevin Pearce saw a wedge-shaped object flying over Highway 99, near the Crescent Road turnoff . They saw it had blue and red flashing lights, and then spotted an amber flash, like a flare, from a second craft.

"We saw something weird," Pieschel said. "We just want to know what it was."

They searched the Internet and found something like what they saw: An F-117A Nighthawk stealth bomber. Only thing is, Stealths can't hover. Or can they?

The sightings this past weekend weren't the first such sights in the White Rock/South Surrey area, either. Richard Desilets of Aldergrove was near Zero Avenue and Pacific Highway earlier this year when he saw what looked like "two headlights" blinking on and off just above a set of power lines.

"It sounded like a plane, like a turbine motor, but very, very quiet," he said. "It just slowly took off."

In spite of the four sightings this past weekend, Transport Canada, NAVCAN, Vancouver International Airport's Traffic Control tower, Surrey and White Rock RCMP, the weather office, National Defence, and Vancouver Planetarium astronomer David Dodge either hadn't heard of anything unusual, or didn,t know what to make of it. Dodge noted though, that the US Whitby Island naval base it not far away from White Rock.

"If it's a military thing, they don't keep me informed," Dodge said.

Still, an official at the naval station told the NOW the wedge-shaped objects aren't theirs.

"There're pretty cool, but we don't have them here," he said.

The UFO*BC sightings hotline is 604-878-6511.

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May 22, 1999

London Evening Standard

Cracking the crop circle mystery

by Julian Champkin

Laurence Rockefeller, the American millionaire and philanthropist, is funding scientific research into crop circles, it emerged yesterday. Why? After all, this is a problem that everyone thought had been solved.


The Crop Circle Mystery caused headlines and arguments nearly every summer for 20 years. Strange shapes were appearing in cornfields in Wiltshire and other counties. From the ground, the corn was seen to be beaten down, amazingly regular. From the air, the patterns appeared.

They came first as simple circles. Later, there were circles within circles, then more intricate patterns still - circles radiating spiral arms, circles joined by straight lines, circles arranged in squares, even snowflake patterns of amazing intricacy and beauty.

For 20 years arguments raged. Were they caused by circular winds? Or were mysterious forces at work? The obvious solution was human hoax. But if so, how?

In 1992, two Southampton men, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, confessed to making corn circles: every summer night for 20 years. Their method was simple: rakes and planks of wood to bash down the crop, ropes to guide them to a perfect circle, loops of wire on hats to guide straight lines.

It began as fun but, as UFO theories snowballed, they wanted to see how credulous people could be.

Dave Chorley died in 1996. The pair had retired from circle-making some time before. That should have been the end of the mystery. Yet corn circles continued to appear.

'They are worldwide,' says Michael Green, President of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies. And this week, the first of this season's British crop, 12 of them, have been seen in fields of oil-seed rape in Hampshire and at Milk Hill, Wiltshire.

Andrew Thomas, author of the crop-circle book, Vital Signs, claims that the Bower-Chorley 'confession' was itself a hoax: 'They could not explain how they laid the stalks so perfectly; nor why the circles have continued to appear.'

And now Laurence Rockefeller, brother of the late Nelson Rockefeller, is funding a researcher to re-investigate the phenomenon.

He is paying Connecticut-based Colin Andrews to engage staff and they have flown reconnaissance flights over Wiltshire and Hampshire. Andrews has a database of 10,000 crop circles. With computers and satellites, the research and debate has re- opened. So what could cause them?

'First theories were circular winds, mini-cyclones or "dust-devilsî [tiny tornadoes], says Montague Keen, scientific adviser to the Centre for Crop-Circle Studies for three years. 'A meteorologist devised a theory of "plasma vortexes", spiraling winds of electrically-charged air.'

Ball lightning was another possibility - again circular, again involving powerful and little-understood forces of electricity.

'But straight lines do not come from natural phenomena,' says Keen. 'The patterns became increasingly complex and no natural phenomenon can change and evolve like that. There were too many for them all to be hoaxes.'

A U.S. physicist found evidence that corn inside the circles under-goes chemical and biological changes. It takes up more nitrates than corn outside, and microscopic holes form in the stem tissue. These changes seem to argue for a sudden, sharp infusion of energy into the circle - far more than could come from men with planks or rollers.

'I was never quite convinced that his research was sufficiently rigorous' says Mr. Keen, 'but there were certainly electromagnetic changes within circles. Compasses behaved strangely; people felt either distress or euphoria inside the circles; and batteries went flat unaccountably often.

'All this seems to point away from hoax towards something very strange, indeed. There is clearly some kind of intelligence behind them.'

And if it is not natural intelligence? 'Well, then you are thrown back to imagining some wholly unnatural intelligence.' As, for example, some form of psychic projection from human beings - dead or alive.

'Some shapes of the early Eighties seemed similar to shapes carved into rocks by Palaeolithic man,' said Michael Green, President of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies.

Were mental energies of past minds being channeled into cornfields?

The first corn-circle for which evidence is claimed appeared in Hertfordshire in 1678. A pamphlet shows a woodcut of a circle mown in a field of oats, and the devil mowing.

The pamphlet describes the sky over the field that night as being 'all of a flame'; so here, too, for those who are willing to believe, is a link with flying saucers and UFOs.

For, of course, there are the aliens as the final theory of crop circles. Michael Green does not believe that little green men are responsible - but he believes some kind of non-human intelligence is behind them.

He points to a succession of shapes, from simple to complex to very complex indeed. Can these be messages to be read by all of mankind?

'These are written large on the landscape. They are there to be seen. There is a non-human intelligence behind them,' says Mr. Green. 'That's what points one towards thinking the unthinkable.'

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May 19, 1999


US billionaire funds crop circle research

US billionaire Laurance Rockefeller is to fund the UK's biggest survey of crop circles.

Scientists will be carrying out aerial research over Wiltshire next month in the hope of finding out once and for all whether the mysterious patterns are genuine or the work of hoaxers.

Some believe they are created by UFOs during nocturnal visits. Others say they are connected to ancient "ley lines", or put it down to natural phenomena such as unusual forms of lightning.

The first few crop circles of the season have already appeared in several West Country fields. The area has long been the focal point of those in Britain who believe that the circles are the work of extra terrestrial forces.

Last year a US Website advertised week-long tours of UK crop circles priced at $2,199 per person.

Until now research has been carried out by amateurs and enthusiasts, known as croppies. But there is a growing scientific discipline based around the study, known as cereology.

Mr. Rockefeller, a former US congressman, has given his financial backing to the UK's largest and most scientific study.

Mr. Rockefeller, scion of the famous dynasty, has a long standing interest in UFOs and other bizarre phenomena.

He has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to UFO abduction researcher John Mack.

Mr. Rockefeller also funds the Starlight Coalition, which wants to end what it says is US Government secrecy on UFOs.

His organisation has already built up the biggest crop circle database, and will be working with private detectives and the National Farmers Union.

Many farmers believe crop circles are the work of hoaxers, and say they cause thousands of pounds of damage every year. Several people have come forward to claim responsibility.

In 1991 two landscape painters, David Chorley and Douglas Bower, claimed they started the hoax in 1978, after drinking in a pub.

They said for the past 13 years they had been sneaking around southern England at night, fashioning as many as 25 to 30 new circles each growing season.

In a BBC CountryFile special in January, Mr. Bower, 74, showed how his patterns were made with planks of wood, lengths of rope and a ball of string. He said he was amazed that many followers of crop circles still refused to believe they were a hoax.

But it seems there remain unexplained factors, such as the lack or tracks or footsteps.

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April 21, 1999

Chicago Sun-Times

Buckley sighting reported

By Bill Zwecker

While Christopher Buckley calls himself a "UFO agnostic," the author admits he is totally fascinated by the phenomenon of extraterrestial life. "Simply because it is such a big thing in this country," he says. "It's huge." Buckley, who has snared both critical and popular acclaim over the past half-dozen years--thanks to such satires as The White House Mess, Thank You for Smoking and Wry Martinis--is calling from Minneapolis, having just "survived one heck of a nasty traffic jam."

The subject at hand? Anything that strikes his fancy. First up, of course, is his latest book--Little Green Men (Random House, $24.95). Combine that title with the author's delayed call (due to that traffic snafu) and one wonders if there was any interference from, well, little green men.

A gentle teasing about being temporarily abducted by aliens revs up Buckley's razor-sharp wit.

"No. Actually, I was in the middle of a very enjoyable probe," he said, making a not-so-subtle reference to the physical examination of "alien" abductees in Little Green Men. "But being the professional I am, I looked at my watch--which, of course, had stopped--giving me my first clue, and made me realize I was late for our chat." Chatting is clearly an avocation Buckley enjoys. Of course, being the only son of conservative icon and political pundit William F. Buckley Jr., he is presumed to have discovered the art of lively and engaging conversation at an early age.

Conversation is easy. Buckley loves to jump around, but his range of topics always seems to tie together in a flow of language that makes the listener laugh often, imagine easily and stop and think about serious implications now and then, too.

First of all, Buckley explains the sheer magnitude of "the belief system we've created" regarding UFO phenomenon made it a subject he couldn't wait to tackle. "After all, think about it. The 50th anniversary of [alleged UFO sightings in Roswell, N.M.] made the cover of Time ... " Throw in Buckley's penchant to tweak the Washington Beltway establishment, and Little Green Men was off and running.

The book juxtaposes the presumed behavior of aliens with D.C.'s power pundits--satirically attesting to how much the two groups have in common.

Underlying the whole story is the possibility that the entire UFO thing is one big government hoax. Those inflated federal defense budgets and "Star Wars" programs have to be justified somehow in this post-Cold War world, don't they?

Once he knew he was going to write a book about aliens and media decisionmakers, Buckley immediately knew the character around whom he would spin his tale--a strait-laced Washington Sunday morning talk show king dubbed John Oliver Banion.

"I just became obsessed with the idea of abducting George Will and probing him," said Buckley. "I hasten to say, I'm a big fan of his ... he has one of the finest minds working today, but as a figure he does lend himself to a certain amount of caricature."

Yet even readers of Little Green Men not privy to Buckley's revelation in this interview would likely catch the Will influence on the Banion character.

"The key is that line [early in the book] about Banion being perpetually on the verge of smiling while never actually giving into the impulse," said Buckley. "Doesn't that just tell you it's George Will?"

Throughout the book, Buckley also uses a number of footnotes--obviously designed for comic relief. Claudia Schiffer is footnoted as "Highly desirable German model." Buckley chuckles when he says, "It's maybe the only time she's been footnoted in contemporary literature."

Asked whether he's also implying that Schiffer should only be a footnote in our contemporary culture, Buckley laughs, but keeps mum.

When it comes to his work ethic, the author sheepishly admits to being more disciplined than he'd like one to think. "But I don't know that I'd want to be a full-time novelist. It's kind of fun to go from one job [as managing editor of Forbes' FYI magazine] to the other. ... Frankly, it's prudent for most novelists to have a day job."

Buckley pauses and then shares a thought about one of his favorite authors, Honore de Balzac. "He used to make himself a couple of pots of coffee and start writing at something like midnight and write for 18 hours--until he was spent." Buckley also likes to share a "great line Tom Wolfe had about [the prolific] Balzac. ... Wolfe says, 'The reason he was able to [produce so much] was that no time-saving devices existed' " then.

Buckley is a bit cynical when it comes to Hollywood.

"New Line owns [this book], they optioned it, but then they also optioned the last one. Actually I have three of my books in development. I've learned that is code for, 'Your book will never become a movie.' "

For Little Green Men, Buckley does not mind fantasizing about who he would like to see in the Banion role. "We'd need someone like George [Will], only younger. I could see Tom Hanks doing it, because I can see him play stuffy, but then losing it when he thinks he's been abducted by aliens and surrounded by all these loons.

"Of course, knowing how Hollywood works, you watch. I expect to get a call one day when they tell me, 'We're so excited. We just came from the casting meeting, and Chris Rock is really pumped about the role.' "

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April 9, 1999

Seattle Times

Resort town a getaway for extraterrestrials?

by Ricardo Sandoval
Knight Ridder Newspapers

TEPOZTLAN, Mexico - When Carlos Diaz came down from his first mountainside encounter with a UFO 20 years ago, he was worried people in this popular resort town would shun him as a nut case.

But what stunned Diaz was his inability to get anyone here excited. To residents of Tepoztlan - and many of its countless weekend visitors - his account of getting close to a glowing object pulsing with yellow, orange and red streaks was no big deal.

In this sun-drenched haven for residents of nearby Mexico City, believers are as common as the healing crystals and Indian sweathouses that help make Tepoztlan a popular getaway in a country steeped in superstition.

The commonplace nature of UFO sightings here, against a surreal backdrop of jagged peaks and an Aztec pyramid halfway up a 1,000-foot cliff, also make Tepoztlan ideal for the UFO information center Diaz plans to open this month.

"I found people in their 90s who have had so many sightings that they now take them for granted," said Diaz, who says he has witnessed dozens of visits here by spacecraft. "They simply refer to them now as sunspots in the night sky."

Diaz says he wants to help others find the truth through a nonprofit clearinghouse about extraterrestrials and their love of visiting Mexico and Tepoztlan.

In the past decade alone, hundreds of sightings throughout Mexico have been reported to UFO experts, often above Mexico City and its surrounding volcanic mountains. Video recorders have captured odd shapes over the capital's upscale neighborhoods. During Pope John Paul II's recent visit, many people - including radio and TV reporters - talked quite earnestly of seeing strange lights in the sky during one of his Masses.

That pales beside Tepoztlan's record for ethereal sightings.

Some longtime residents report soberly that 60 percent of the people here have seen UFOs. Many say it's because the copper-laden mountains, which bedevil cell phones, televisions and radios, also act as beacons for extraterrestrials. Others say it's the "seven bands of energy" - electromagnetic waves - streaming through the valley around Tepoztlan.

It's probably mass hysteria and a desire to be part of the hip crowd in very hip Tepoztlan, countered Mario Torres Lujan, a physicist who edits the magazine Contacto OVNI. OVNI is the equivalent acronym in Spanish to "UFO."

Torres Lujan says he believes visitors come calling from elsewhere in the universe, but insists he tries to bring science into his investigations. He says he gets as excited about uncovering hoaxes as by establishing legitimate claims.

He says many of the Tepoztlan sightings are real and even predate the Spanish conquest in the 1520s. This area was a favorite getaway from Tenochtitlan (as the people the Spanish called Aztecs, but who call themselves Nahuas, called Mexico City) for royalty and priests intent on mapping the sky. Today, sightings of floating lights remain common around Indian pyramids, Torres Lujan said.

Still, Torres Lujan harbors doubts about Tepoztlan's singular status among intergalactic frequent fliers.

"Too many people who want to stand out invent things," he said. "What is bad is that people see things with their eyes, and these things you must see with logic and science."

In the two decades since Diaz says he was first touched by an alien visit, he has become something of a celebrity in the global UFO network for his intriguing photos and videos - pictures now circulated on the Internet. Yet he still can't get a rise out of jaded Tepoztlan natives.

"It's not that we don't believe him - we all do - but so many of us have seen these things that we're no longer shocked," said Ignacio Gonzalez, owner of a small resort where strange objects in the sky have sometimes entertained guests dining on the patio.

Gonzalez, a former army officer, says he came to Tepoztlan a skeptic. He stops short of proclaiming that space visitors have arrived. But he swears that what he and his well-heeled guests have seen on occasion is not from the Mexican Air Force's inventory.

"We saw one, and everyone in town has seen one, or knows someone who has," offered Luis Quijano, a chemical company executive in Mexico City who listened intently as Gonzalez spun tales of fantastic sightings.

At an adjacent table, two elderly women caught the buzz and compared notes about the latest episode of "The X-Files"
television series.

"Let's stay up and see if they come tonight," said one of the women. "I think they're already here," said the other.

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April 6, 1999

The Hindu (India's National Newspaper)

Not alone in the universe?

ALIEN BASE - The Evidence for Extra-terrestrial Colonization of Earth: Timothy Good; Arrow Books Ltd. Received from Ajay Parmer & Co., Market Managers for Random House International, Post Box No. 7208, First Floor, Arun House, 2/25, Ansari Road, New Delhi-110002. 6.99 Pound.

In his Janus, a collection of articles published in 1966, Arthur Koestler, the celebrated author of Darkness at Noon and a number of other books, came out with a blistering attack on the U.S. Air Force for having suppressed a report on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) written by an investigating team of the University of Colorado, headed by Dr. Edward Condon.

When the Condon team which was in fact commissioned by itself came out with its report confirming the truth about UFOs and alien visitors to the Earth, the USAF decided not to make its contents known. Instead, it issued a secret memorandum to Dr. Robert Low, a coordinator for the Colorado project, to throw doubts over the findings of the Condon report about the extra-terrestrial spaceships as being nothing more than either vehicles built on the Earth or as hallucinations.

In his sensational disclosure about the secret memorandum, Mr. Koestler said that Dr. Low was asked to attribute a credulousness to the members of the Condon team. The Low memorandum suggested that this could be done by limiting the recording of the witnesses to those of doubtful credibility and poor perceptions.

The purpose of questioning the truth about the sightings of UFOs was to ensure against the spread of panic among the people resulting from the reported alien visitations since the U.S. Air Force was scared of the possibility of a repetition of the scenes of fear and frenzy exploding immediately after a radio play based on H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds in the U.S. was broadcast in the early Thirties.

If the U.S. Air Force believed that it could destroy the credibility of the reports about the very large number of sightings of and encounters with the UFOs, Mr. Timothy Good's present book, giving a very detailed and exhaustive description of the same, forcibly suggests that it should have failed. It is, however, surprising that there is no reference in his book to Koestler's Janus which was perhaps the first and the most devastating exposure of the USAF's moves to suppress the truth and it mentions only briefly the Condon report and the Low memorandum. This book takes the thread from where it had left it in his Above Top Secret and Alien Liaison.

The very large number of eyewitness accounts given by persons of unquestionable integrity - with a few of them from the USAF itself - about the space ships from other planets and their encounters with the aliens could conclusively establish the dishonesty which had gone into the doctoring of the findings of the Condon report with the Low memorandum.

If, however, ETs had indeed come to Earth, there will have to be convincing answers to many questions. The huge expanse of space - which is said to be still expanding - and the millions of stellar systems having their own planets in orbit - imparts a certainty to the evolution of life in quite a sizable number of planets of other stars even if they add up only to a small percentage.

The other question, the efforts to answer which throw the biggest challenge to human imagination, is whether the forms of life could not be totally alien to what is known to us in Earth and subject to an entirely different and unintelligible physics and chemistry.

The space scientists do not seem to have any answer to this question though a very strained effort is made by Mr. Good in his book to take note of them. He perhaps knows that the credibility of the accounts he gives about the large number of persons who had seen UFOs and the many who had encounters with them will be questioned.

The space probes which have so far been made by the U.S. National Aeronautic and Space Administration have established that the Earth is the only inhabited planet in the solar system.

Mr. Good, however, quotes quite a number of witnesses about visitors from Mars and Venus looking very much like human beings. This is indeed difficult to believe and the sceptics would attribute this to the credulousness of the witnesses of the sightings. One of the witnesses, George Adamski, invited heavy ridicule for his accounts of his encounters with ETs from Venus. It also appears that English has long graduated as the inter- galactic language between the ETs and those they had met in Earth.

At least quite a few of those who thought that they had run into the landing ETs later became doubtful whether they had only seen a ``pantomime of unrealities.'' Others had an uneasy feeling of having witnessed something ``that did not actually exist, an impression of disconnected sequences only found in dreams.''

A number of other aliens left those whom they had run into on the Earth with the conviction that they were coming from far more advanced civilisations and a science and technology which our planet would not be able to match for a long time to come.

Mr. Good does provide a few glimpses of the advanced levels of technology which the denizens of the other planetary systems light years away from ours have possibly reached.

This could be seen from the long and striking description by Daniel Fry, Vice-President of Crescent Engineering and Research Company in California, of the alien space ship he had seen and what he had heard from a ``voice'' coming to him from the depths of space. ``Perhaps you noticed,'' he was told, ``that the hull (of the alien space ship) seemed unusually smooth and slippery. That is because your flesh did not actually come into contact with the metal but was held for a short distance from it by the repulsion of the field. We use the field to protect the hull from being scratched or damaged during landings.''

The alien is also reported as having told Fry, ``you have no idea of the amount of close range observation to which your planet has been subjected by passing spacecraft during the past few generations.''

This book is replete with exhaustive accounts of the encounters with ETs by those who had run into them and also who were ``abducted'' by them but were later released. There is a number of striking photographs of the landing of flying saucers and of one or two hideous looking ETs - and not of the attractive and radiant beings he writes about.

We shall perhaps have to wait for a long while and for a much larger number of persons in the Earth to run into ETs before Mr. Good could prove beyond doubt that what he has been told by UFO witnesses is true and that we are not - to parody the haunting lines from Coleridge's celebrated Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner:

Alone, alone, all alone

Alone on a wide, wide space.

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March 31, 1999

Marlette Leader

Unusual Sightings in the Sky Peak Interest in the Thumb

by Stacy Langley

Unusual sightings have been the talk of town in Unionville (Michigan) and several surrounding communities as residents compare stories and probe officials about the weird light spotted in the skies last week.

The past few years, sightings of unidentified objects in the sky have been quite common and without much explanation.

Adiel DeBoever of Unionville said he was the first person to call Tuscola County Central Dispatch around 8:30 p.m. March 16 just after he spotted the lights in the sky hovering over his home.

DeBoever said this is the first time he's seen lights like this. He said they were bright orange in color and looked to be shining from the inside of an object.

"The lights weren't like a spotlight shinning down from the sky, but they were very noticeable", he said.

The sighting by DeBoever was just one of five reported that night by area residents who say they saw the unidentified flying object(s). DeBoever, who lives on Cottage Drive near Unionville, says the lights would just blink out of sight and then come back on, but the object seemed to remain in the same place the whole time.

"The lights were off and then came back on, it was eerie", he said.

DeBoever recalls that as far as distance, the light probably were half a mile away to the east, just above the Department of Natural Resources wetlands when he saw them.

"They spanned about the entire length of a football field. There were two sets of light clusters which were bright orange. The larger one could have been further away", he said. "When my nephew came out of the house I said 'Eddie, there's a UFO in the sky' just joking and then the light blinked out, but came on this time.

"It appeared to separate into six other lights and they all moved and stopped in the shape of a large triangle object which then appeared to rotate on its axis."

Officials at the Tuscola County Central Dispatch say they have no explanation for what the lights were that night, but say that DeBoever wasn't alone in the sightings.

Shortly after DeBoever's call, Central Dispatch reports a call came in at 8:57 p.m. from a Juanita Township resident who reported seeing orange lights in the sky.

Just two minutes later, a Novesta Township woman called with a similar sighting. Callers from Fremont Township and the Fairgrove area followed. The caller described seeing orange lights in the shape of a football field, while the Fairgrove residents reported seeing a Z-shaped formation in the sky.

Officials from Selfridge Air National Guard Base said they couldn't offer any explanation about the lights in the sky, and no sightings were reported to the base.

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March 31, 1999

Washington Post

The CEO From Cyberspace: Joe Firmage, A Master of the Universe at 28, Wants to Defy Gravity and Visit the Far Corners Of His Realm

by Joel Achenbach

LOS GATOS, Calif.—The prophet speeds through Silicon Valley in a red Corvette convertible, up Highway 17 to Highway 85 to Highway 101. Joe Firmage is racing to the offices of USWeb/CKS. He started the company three years ago in a moment of inspiration, and it now has a market value of $2.5 billion. Joe Firmage, at the age of 28, is a winner.

Another red Corvette whizzes by. Another young businessman, going faster. This is a Darwinian world -- speed is of the essence.

Firmage soon arrives at his office building, which is like every high-tech office for miles around, so new it's barely had time to experience the phenomenon of rain. Firmage rides an elevator, goes through double doors and strides down a clean, carpeted hallway past secretaries and staffers, everyone tapping on keyboards and talking on the phone. They're all engaged in an extremely profitable pursuit that didn't even exist a few years ago. USWeb/CKS provides "Internet services." The people here set up "e-commerce" sites and "intranets" and "extranets" for other companies. Firmage says proudly, "We are probably the single largest concentration of Internet experts in the world."

He used to be the ultimate boss here, the CEO. Now he's just a consultant, the resident prophet in the corner office.

He devotes himself to his mission. His mission is "The Truth."

That's the title of his book, which is posted on the Internet at Joe Firmage believes he has found The Truth, and he is using all his entrepreneurial skill to disseminate that truth to the world at large.

In a single month, his Web site received 6 million hits. He's placed a full-page ad in USA Today. He is about to be profiled in Wired and Rolling Stone. The local papers have followed his recent moves. He's a hot topic in certain Internet chat rooms -- a sudden silicon celebrity.

The Truth according to Firmage is that the world is about to change dramatically. Of course that's what every visionary says. In these millennial times, there are futurists and big talkers crawling all over California and the rest of the planet. Firmage knows he has to speak louder than others to be heard over the background static. Thus his assertion that human beings are about to master the force of gravity.

We will learn to engineer the very fabric of "space-time." We'll tap into a massive, hidden energy source. Aspects of nature that everyone has always taken for granted -- like this annoying thing called "inertia" -- will enter the realm of human manipulation. We'll zip around the planet in a flash. We'll zoom across the entire galaxy -- really fast!

"You could go to Alpha Centauri and be back for dinner," Firmage says.

And there's more! The gravity breakthrough is merely a harbinger of the really huge development, the paradigm-shattering event to end all paradigm-shattering events. We will make contact with. . . the Visitors. We're talking formal contact here, actual direct communication, no more cat-and-mouse games in the desert. No more coverup. We will know the aliens and discover, finally, our place in the cosmos.

That's "The Truth."

Whether he's right or wrong -- brilliant or boneheaded -- Firmage is clearly a creature of his time and place. The temptation is to prop him up as a Generation X figurehead, and the press has been unable to resist the urge to call him the Fox Mulder of Silicon Valley. A better way to look at the situation is to say that he's the Internet in human form.

He's the human search engine. He is a nexus for provocative and questionable information. From his corner office, he can tap on the computer and dart through an unofficial and unauthorized world of knowledge and rumor. He can amass, as he swivels in his chair, his own personal database of facts and theories. To listen to Firmage is to hear of the Casimir effect and zero-point energy and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and quantum foam and the Roswell incident and the MJ-12 documents. Science, pseudo-science, truth and fiction, God and electromagnetism: It's all there, a thick and pungent stew.

He would like the world to think that someone has come along, someone intelligent and bold and most of all spiritual, who can make sense of it all. He would be the man who reconciled science and religion, who legitimized the UFO mythology and who figured out the future, even though it meant abandoning his wildly lucrative career as an Internet guru. As he told a local paper, "I chose to basically take the risk for everybody's sake and put my own career on the line."

But another story line is in play -- that what works in Silicon Valley does not always work in the real world. That here's a case of someone who couldn't separate the good information from the bad. That with enough hubris, even Joe Firmage, so young and smart and clever and rich, might find a way to make a fool of himself.


Firmage is polite and personable, but when he gets rolling, his fervor builds. He puts the tractor beam on his listener and doesn't let go. There are moments when his eyes appear sad, and weary, as though affected by the tedium of explaining things that should be obvious.

He says things like:

"The macro picture here is anthropological in dimension."

Firmage resides in a million-dollar house in Los Gatos that shows little evidence of a human occupant. There's a pool table just off the kitchen (he is quite good at billiards, he says) and a laptop on the counter with, by Firmage's estimate, 2,000 unanswered e-mail messages. He says he typically works 15 hours a day and does not have the "bandwidth" at the moment to get married or have a permanent relationship.

Firmage is the descendant, through many generations, of another bold searcher, Brigham Young. Young led the Mormons to Utah after the murder of the prophet Joseph Smith. Firmage grew up in a Mormon household in Salt Lake City.

When he was 10 years old, his father, a law professor, insisted that he watch Carl Sagan's PBS series "Cosmos." Young Joe found it transformational. He became fascinated by astronomy. In his back yard, he took pictures of the heavens with a camera attached to a telescope.

In his bedroom, he tinkered with computers. One day he tried to write a software program on a Macintosh, and found the job laborious. He had to dive down into the deepest structure of the Mac's brain. This is too hard, he told himself. Suddenly he had an idea. He'd make this simpler for everyone. He designed a set of software tools that could be used by anyone to write a program. He formed a company, Serius Corp., based in his bedroom. He stayed up late at night, shrink-wrapping boxes of Serius software.

His invention was a hit. Although he went on to the University of Utah, studying physics, he didn't stay long. Firmage had found his calling: computer world entrepreneur.

People with money were looking for computer whizzes. Investors gave him millions of dollars, the business expanded, and soon Firmage had 45 employees in a fancy office. Novell Corp. came along in 1993, waving $24 million. The huge company bought Serius and made Firmage a vice president. He was 23 years old and a millionaire.

Two years later, in the fall of 1995, he quit Novell, and with a colleague, Toby Corey, he started USWeb. Firmage's new, big idea was that corporations all over the world were befuddled by the Internet and needed smart people to guide them through the wilds of this new medium. USWeb wouldn't make products, it would provide services. The company bought out more than three dozen other firms. Firmage was a winner yet again.

He's not shy of touting his intellectual skills and professional successes.

"I could have done anything in this industry."

"We did something far more challenging than Yahoo or"

"People describe me as incredibly rational, very left-brained, highly attuned to risk management, all the qualities that make a good CEO."

The rule in Silicon Valley is adapt or die. To be slow, to cling to tradition, to fail to envision the next big thing, is to ensure extinction. by the fall of 1997, Firmage and his partners were ready to take USWeb public, a move that required a frenzy of activity in preparing the initial public offering (IPO).

He was exhausted. But he decided to surf the Internet.

He'd always been interested in astronomy, physics, UFOs, stuff like that. As a teenager, UFO stories had intrigued him, but he'd concluded that there was no way the flying saucers, or whatever they were, could cross the immense distances of interstellar space.

But on this day he found something. It was a research paper by a man named Bernhard Haisch.

Haisch, as it happens, is a physicist who works just up the road from Firmage, at Lockheed Martin. He's also the editor of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, which often carries articles about UFOs.

The Haisch paper discussed something called the "zero-point field." This is a theoretical field of energy that permeates everything, even the "empty" spaces of the universe. Haisch asserts that what gives a piece of matter its "mass" is an electromagnetic reaction with this zero-point field. The theory is abstruse in the extreme. But if Haisch is right, then mass can, in theory, be modified and engineered. Something as seemingly fundamental as inertia might be subject to cancellation. There are implications for faster-than-light travel and spaceships that require no fuel, all sorts of fabulous notions.

Firmage was captivated by the Haisch paper and its implications. If humans could modify mass, inertia, space-time, then so could . . . the Visitors. Firmage took a printout home and stayed up late reading. He finally set his alarm for 6:10 a.m. and went to sleep.

Morning arrived. The alarm rang. He hit the snooze button.

"The next nine minute snooze changed the course of my life," he writes.

Without warning, a "remarkable being clothed in brilliant white light" appeared above him, hovering over the bed.

"Why have you called me here?" the entity asked.

Firmage, half awake and half asleep, said, "I want to travel in space."

"Why should you be granted such an opportunity?" said the entity.

"Because I'm willing to die for it," Firmage said.

And then an electric blue sphere emerged from the being and entered Firmage.

"Instantly, I was overcome by the most unimaginable ecstasy I have ever experienced, a pleasure vastly beyond orgasm."

After that, he began writing furiously. He became intellectually hyper-linked to all kinds of new and imponderable theories. He tunneled deep into the world of UFOs. He claims he has had private conversations with some of the top military leaders in America, who have confided that aliens are real. He won't say who these leaders are.

Firmage now believes that aliens get interested in a planet when the most intelligent species on that planet learns how to control gravity. The aliens couldn't possibly stand around doing nothing while humans, so raw and unfinished a species, began racing across the galaxy like teenagers on spring break.

Firmage says he'd love to be in a leadership position if formal contact with the aliens begins -- if, for example, "two years from now, we had a craft hovering over Times Square, or landing in the middle of the Super Bowl."

All roads in the Firmage universe lead to UFOs. For Firmage, the visions reported by prophets and religious figures -- including Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith -- are strikingly reminiscent of modern encounters with aliens.

As Firmage journeyed deeper -- and after he began anonymously posting pieces of "The Truth" on a Web site called Project Kairos -- his position within his own company became problematic. Corey, his partner, says he was sympathetic to Firmage's position on UFOs. "There appears to be a number of data points that appear to come from a lot of credible people," Corey says.

Nonetheless, some members of the company's board were uncomfortable with Firmage's new passion, particularly after he went public with his beliefs in November. There were clients who were appalled that the head of the company was espousing views normally associated with crackpots. USWeb's stock price began to slip. The company had merged with a firm called CKS, and it was a sensitive moment. Any sign of weakness can be fatal in the computer industry. Firmage had already planned to step down as CEO, making way for an older executive, but it became clear that he had to hurry up the transition. He became the chief strategist. Eventually, even that seemed too lofty a title for someone with his beliefs, and he became a mere consultant.

His next step will be to print 100,000 copies of "The Truth" as an elegant hardback, self-published, he says, so he'll have total editorial control. This summer he'll embark on a 20-city book tour. He won't do ordinary book signings but will speak, he vows, in auditoriums and other large venues. He's thinking big all the way.


And what does Bernhard Haisch, the man behind the zero-point field, think of Joe Firmage?

"He's way out there."

He thinks Firmage is smart and wishes him luck. Haisch is open to anomalies, UFOs, government conspiracies. But he's also a scientist, and he knows that his theories about the zero-point field are nowhere close to being verified.

Moreover, a scientist would never write something called "The Truth." A scientist might write "The Theory." To approach the level of a truth, a theory must be tested, vigorously and should have the potential to be falsified. That's one of the many problems with the UFO mythology. Covert entities can't be disproved. Nor can secret government conspiracies.

Haisch says, "Because he's not a scientist, and because of his youth and his success, he's probably not applying as stringent a filter as he might."

Aliens in UFOs don't survive the violent jostling they receive when they pass through the filters of most scientists. Among those who rejected the idea that aliens have visited our planet was Firmage's hero, Carl Sagan. Firmage knows that. He has an explanation: "Sagan was not aware of zero-point physics."

The professional UFO debunker Philip Klass says of Firmage, "In terms of establishing or proving that we have ET visitors, he adds nothing."

Many scientists note that there is not a single scrap of metal that appears extraterrestrial in any laboratory analysis. "Why doesn't anyone come into my office with an ashtray or a radio knob from one of these things?" asks Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the SETI Institute, which conducts radio searches for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations, and which is loath to be associated with UFOs.

Firmage admits that 80 percent of UFO stories are nonsense. But there is truth out there on the fringes, he insists. The entire cosmos has characteristics of being conscious, Firmage believes. We are spiritual beings coming to terms with the meaning of our existence. We will someday lose our appetite for material possessions. What we will value are experiences -- like traveling in space.

He imagines what that would be like. In "The Truth," he writes:

As you ascend through the clouds, piercing beyond the lung of your world, a silence strikes every sense of your soul. Your gaze shifts from the blue light below, and you look up. A black blacker than sudden blindness hits your senses, or rather doesn't, as your eyes adjust to the silent night of heaven. And ever so gracefully, the campfires of the Cosmos begin to sparkle . . .

This is an age of searchers, of people who would figure out everything, the future, the significance of human history, the thinking of the gods. The Internet explodes with information that almost makes sense. Firmage believes in himself, and assumes that his instincts are right. His instincts tell him that change is nigh. We will understand what is happening. We will know the secrets of cosmic intelligence.

"Imagine one day we could plug our Internet into theirs," he says. "That would be cool."

If he's right, he'll be vindicated. No one will mock the UFO CEO anymore. On the day of unambiguous alien contact, he will be undeniably credible. A winner once again.

But what if he's wrong?

"If I go down, I'll take this belief system with me."

Another bold declaration, but perhaps his least plausible assertion. The aliens are durable creatures. They were here in spirit before Joe Firmage, and they will be here in spirit when he is gone.

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March 14, 1999

Dallas Morning News

Answers sought on '97 reports of UFO in Arizona
Military says lights were flares dropped by planes

MESA, Arizona (AP) - Was it the "mother ship" or simply military flares?

Two years have passed since mysterious lights appeared in a V-formation over Phoenix. Was it a UFO? An experimental military aircraft? A hoax?

Dozens of people saw the lights, and millions around the world have seen Phoenix insurance agent Mike Krzyston's home video of them on television. But no one can say for sure what they were.

However, Phoenix resident Tim Ley says his life has changed since he spied a low-flying, slow-moving object silently passing overhead on March 13, 1997.

Mr. Ley, who owns a VCR repair shop, and his family were standing in their driveway when what appeared to be a V-shaped craft quietly drifted over their house and passed into Dreamy Draw, only 100 feet over a freeway.

He remembered its being an "alpha" shape, dotted with five brilliant white lights. But most of all, he remembered the shape - two 700-foot arms that came to a point.

The Leys weren't alone. Arizonans from all walks of life - joggers, a Little League baseball team, people scanning the sky for the Hale-Bopp comet - saw it.

Accounts first placed the object in the northwest part of the state in the afternoon. Then, beginning at 8 p.m. it passed over Phoenix, Squaw Peak and the southern portion of the city known as Ahwatukee Foothills.

At 9:30 p.m., it appeared in Tucson. Half an hour later, it was seen in Casa Grande. Finally, it was over Phoenix again at 10:10 p.m.

Former Phoenix City Councilwoman Frances Emma Barwood never saw it. But many of her former constituents on the northeast side of town did.

"I was not a believer. But I am now," she said.

Ms. Barwood was ridiculed after she formally asked the city and the Air Force to investigate. She was dubbed the "UFO candidate" during an unsuccessful run for secretary of state last fall.

Some military officials have said what people saw that night probably were flares dropped at a gunnery range 40 miles south of Phoenix by eight A-10 Thunderbolts from the Maryland National Guard. The flares were dropped at 15,000 feet and had parachutes attached to them to slow their descent.

The truth might trickle out of a lawsuit filed against the Department of Defense on behalf of a Scottsdale group called Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, demanding the military produce what it knows about the object. The suit, filed a year ago, is pending in federal district court in Phoenix.

*Send a letter to the editor about this story

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March 4, 1999

Canadian Broadcast Corporation News


Stephen Thorne

OTTAWA (CP) - A Swissair pilot reported his 737 jet was nearly hit by an unidentified flying object, possibly a missile, near the area off New York where a TWA airplane crashed in 1996, The Canadian Press has learned.

Swissair Flight 127 was cruising at 23,000 feet on Aug. 9, 1997, when the pilot interrupted an address to passengers to report the near miss by a round white object, says a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

"Sir, I don’t know what it was, but it just flew like a couple of hundred feet above us," he radioed Boston air traffic control. "I don’t know if it was a rocket or whatever, but incredibly fast, opposite direction."

"In the opposite direction?" asked the controller.

"Yes sir, and the time was 2107 (Greenwich mean time). It was too fast to be an airplane."

The controller asked another aircraft if its crew saw anything like a missile in the area. The reply was negative. He then asked the Swissair pilot again how far above the plane it was.

"It was right over us, right above, opposite direction, and, and I don’t know, two, three, four hundred feet above. All that I can tell, 127, is that (we) saw a light object, it was white, and very fast."

Investigators interviewed the captain and first officer on Aug. 10, 1997. The flight engineer hadn’t seen the object and was not interviewed.

The report, filed under NYC97SA193, said the flight was opposite John F. Kennedy Airport at 5:07 p.m. Eastern time - near the area where TWA Flight 800 went down July 17, 1996, after taking off from JFK; 230 died.

Some believe a missile caused the midair explosion of the TWA 737 off Long Island, N.Y. Authorities have reached no official conclusion but have been leaning toward faulty wiring in the plane’s fuel tank.

The transportation safety board report said the Swissair captain saw the cylindrical object for less than a second. He did not see any wings and was not sure it was an aircraft.

"He had never been so close to other traffic before," said the report. "It passed over the cockpit, slightly right of centerline. If it had been any lower, it would have hit the aircraft.

"As the object passed by, there was no noise, no wake turbulence, and no disruption or anomalies with any of the flight or engine instruments."

The plane was flying in clear weather to Boston from Philadelphia at the time. The sun was at the pilot’s back. He apparently did not have time to take evasive action.

"There was no exhaust or smoke, no fire, and he could not accurately discern its size. The captain reported his total time as 15,000-plus flight hours. He had never seen a missile in flight."

The first officer, whose flight time totaled 7,500 hours, said he was bent over to adjust the volume on his headset when he looked up and saw the object pass overhead "very quickly.

"It was close enough that he ducked his head because he thought it would hit them. . . . He thought it passed about 100 to 200 feet above the airplane and between the right side of the fuselage and the No. 3 engine."

The first officer said no markings were visible and the object appeared to be the size of a thumbnail held at arm’s length.

He said he had previously encountered a weather balloon over Italy, and the object did not look like the balloon. He had witnessed missile launches from the ground previously, the report said.

The report said the nearest weather balloons are launched from Upton, N.Y., 43 nautical miles northeast of JFK twice daily, at 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. Eastern time and usually take 25 to 28 minutes to reach 23,000 feet.

Balloons are light tan or brownish, or black and red, said the report, adding the wind was blowing from the north, almost at right angles to the aircraft.

Investigators also checked radar data and plotted the plane’s flight path.

"There was no evidence of an opposite direction target, either beacon or non- beacon," said the report.


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March 1999

Reason Magazine

Learned Nonsense

By Mark Goldblatt

Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace, by Jodi Dean, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 242 pages, $15.95 paper


The author of Aliens in America, Jodi Dean, is a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges; the publisher is a respected university press. With a cursory glance at the title, therefore, an unwary reader might anticipate a learned inquiry into extraterrestrial phenomena. But in Dean's poststructuralist take on UFO sightings and alien abductions, E.T. takes a back seat to politics. From the first page to the last, in fact, the author remains doggedly agnostic with regard to the reality of what she is describing. Reality itself (a word she prefers to put inside quotation marks) is pretty much beside the point

for Dean, whose academic field is not astronomy but political science and whose previous work concerned the rather more earthbound subjects of feminism and identity politics.

Dean's thesis in this book, insofar as it can be encapsulated, is that "to claim to have seen a UFO, to have been abducted by aliens, or even to believe those who say they have" constitutes "a political act" because it "contests the status quo"--a status quo that is both political and epistemological. On the political front, she rounds up and slimes the usual bêtes noires of the left: white guys, big corporations, the military-industrial complex. On the epistemological front, Dean's case is far more radical, arguing that the popularity of ufology "marks the widespread conviction that previously clear and just languages and logics...are now alien, now inseparable from their irrational others." Alien narratives, in short, "challenge us to face head-on...the dissolution of notions of truth, rationality, and credibility" in the information age.

Before continuing, I should note that already I have misrepresented Dean's enterprise. To refer to her thesis as a "thesis" is to belie the book's critical method and, ultimately, its raison d'être. For thesis implies a logical structure, an argument developed according to principles of inductive and deductive reasoning. By contrast, Dean's book is based on a technique of pseudo-analysis that amounts to a verbal Rorschach test. Rather than argue points, she links--her favorite word--disparate ideas by mere juxtaposition, forging connections that range from mildly intriguing (UFO sightings are linked with apocalyptic anxieties in our era and in the last fin de siècle) to bizarre (astronauts are linked with mainframe computers, witnesses to alien abductions with networked PCs) to obscene (the death of Christa McAuliffe in the Challenger explosion is linked with the perception of outer space as menacing and, finally, with the supposed sexual violation of female abductees).

What you get, in effect, is a performance, a routine of synaptic somersaults in which Dean free-associates on the themes of aliens and UFOs. Mostly, it's by-the-numbers stuff: The space race, she notes, was more about politics than science; the seven original Mercury astronauts were all white, male, and married--and thus did not represent a true cross section of America; and the Internet has enabled people who would once have been deemed harmless kooks to connect and form a growing subculture.

But the performance veers toward unintended farce in moments of wildly misplaced smugness, the philosophical equivalent of Wile E. Coyote's triumphant snickering as he lights the fuse of his Acme rocket skates: "It is hardly surprising," Dean writes, "that a new skepticism toward religious thinking--this time that which masks itself as science--has emerged." Or: "I guess he [a writer who stresses the importance of fact checking] is reassured by the vagueness of categories such as `facts' and `reality' and the nostalgia they invoke." Or: "The fact that abduction accesses the stresses and excesses of millennial technoculture doesn't get to the truth of abduction (as if getting to truth were still a possibility)."

Considered in itself, Dean's is a pro-foundly silly book on a numbingly pathetic subject--a parade of the duped and the deluded marshaled in support of highbrow posturing by which the duped and the deluded would themselves be appalled. After all, if you spend your life insisting on the reality of your alien encounter, you do not want to hear that "reality" is itself an illusion.

Considered as a scholarly work, written by a college professor and published by a university press, Dean's book is symptomatic of a much deeper problem in American intellectual life. The problem is that a growing number of highly credentialed academics simply do not know how to think. Not what to think--the reason colleges exist is to haggle out what to think--but how to think. Rational argument is no longer the sine qua non of the advancement of propositions among educated people; indeed, rationality is seen in certain circles not as a method of getting at truth but as an instrument of oppression. As Dean writes: "Argument, thought by some to be an important part of the process of democracy, is futile, perhaps because democracy can bring about Holocaust."

Argument is linked to democracy. Democracy is linked to Holocaust. Therefore: Argument is evil. Q.E.D.

The most significant question raised by Dean's book, on reflection, has nothing to do with ufology. Rather, it is a more general question: How did nonsense--as a critical genre--come to be equated with scholarship?

As I mentioned at the outset, Aliens in America is a "poststructuralist" take on the phenomena of UFO sightings and alien abduction. The term, however, requires clarification.  Poststructuralism is the philosophical position, or anti-position, that underpins much of the trendiest academic work, including Dean's. It is a theoretical approach to texts that gained a brief cachet among leftist intellectuals in France in the late 1960s and soon thereafter found a lasting niche in literature and social science departments on American campuses.  To understand poststructural theory, you must know its genesis.  Despite its French popularizers, it is the bastard child of American New Criticism of the 1930s and '40s--in particular, the precept that the meaning of a text is not controlled by the artist's intention.

The New Critics held that a text, once created, should be divorced from what is known about its creator, and its meaning subsequently negotiated, as it were disembodied, by its critical audience. Yet the New Critics never doubted that a text was held together by a "voice," perhaps non-authorial but still a unified presence, or that the text possessed a set of coherent meanings, or that it would sustain certain meanings and contradict others.

The poststructural twist on New Criti-cism was the denial that a coherent meaning could ever be had; poststructuralism declared, on the contrary, that every reading is a misreading, that language is always indeterminate and self-contradictory, unbound by any unified voice, and hence that every effort to pin down a meaning is doomed from the start. From such premises is derived the practice of "deconstruction"--the teasing out of secondary and tertiary senses of individual lines, words, or even syllables to show how a text contradicts what it seems clearly to mean.

To wit, Jacques Derrida's notorious de-fense of his poststructuralist colleague Paul de Man, who, as a literature professor at Yale, helped popularize deconstruction. In a 1940 essay for the pro-Nazi newspaper Le Soir, de Man, then living in occupied Belgium, stated, "One can thus see that a solution to the Jewish problem that would lead to the creation of a Jewish colony isolated from Europe would not have, for the literary life of the West, regrettable consequences." In 1988, when de Man's wartime writings became public, Derrida defended his friend, contending that de Man was compelling us to think the unthinkable--the erasure of Jews en masse from Europe. In so doing, Derrida argued, de Man reminded us of the right of all people to live in peace.

When the critic's goal is to find contradictions, rather than to reconstruct what the text means, then he or she can set aside the logic of observation and inference and take up free association, word play or, in Dean's case, "linking." Thus, the poststructuralist exercise (project is the preferred term but fails to convey how tiresome and repetitive the approach becomes) is always the same: To show how every text resists yielding up a unified, coherent, common-sense meaning--and how such resistance thereby challenges the very idea of "common sense."

The text itself need not be a poem or a play or a novel. It can be a religious tract or a political treatise. Or a painting or a photograph or a movie. Or, in more recent examples, a sitcom or soap opera or commercial. Or a pop star. Or a criminal trial.  Or, in the case of Aliens in America, the phenomena of UFO sightings and alien abductions. Despite its apparent novelty, then, Dean's exercise remains the perpetual poststructuralist exercise: to show how the text resists a unified, coherent meaning, and thereby challenges common sense. "UFO belief," she writes, "thus challenges the presumption that there is some `public' that shares a notion of reality, a concept of reason, and a set of criteria by which claims to reason and rationality are judged." And again: "Against a scientific priesthood, the individual is held up as an independent source of knowledge.  Supporting abductees, or at least respecting their right to their opinions, appears to be radical, a way to resist (for a time) the dominance of scientific and government elites invested not simply in a particular determination of the real, but in set hierarchies for the production and validation of legitimate knowledge."

The challenge to common sense, therefore, constitutes not just an act of epistemological resistance but also of political resistance: "Abductees acknowledge that, from the perspective of the dominant culture, their words are illogical, unreasonable, unscientific. Yet they insist, as a matter or right, truth, and survival, that these words be spoken. They speak, braving the incredulity they know they will encounter, because they experience it themselves."

Speaking the truth to power: In the fi-nal analysis, it is the political utility of poststructuralism, regardless of the sheer inanity of the theory itself, that accounts for its adoption by the intellectual left. As Dean states: "Various Marxists, feminists, and multiculturalists have stressed the importance of knowledge gained at the margins; the importance of the standpoint of the oppressed as epistemologically superior to the falsely disembodied, disconnected view from nowhere. There are myriad perspectives on the world, each with its own legitimate claim to the truth."

So, for example, if you're a multiculturalist, you can argue--against historical evidence--that Greek philosophy is derived from sub-Saharan Africa; or if you're a feminist, you can argue--against biological evidence--that gender is completely a social construct; or if you're a Marxist, you can argue--against experiential evidence --that socialism is compatible with individual rights. What could be more useful, if you can't make a coherent, rational case for what you believe, than a theory that undermines the notion of objective truth, that relativizes all knowledge?

Perhaps, then, it was inevitable that poststructuralism and ufology find each other, since both sets of believers stake out logically invincible positions. As Dean herself points out, "From its early years in the cold war up through today, ufology has attributed the paucity of physical evidence of flying saucers to a vast cover-up, explaining that the nation's political, economic, and religious institutions would collapse if the alien truth were known." Thus, the fact that believers cannot adequately support what they believe is itself a kind of support; indeed, when someone writes a book dissecting and demolishing their scarce "evidence" (as the late Carl Sagan did in 1990's The Demon-Haunted World), this is only further proof that they are onto something big.

Poststructuralists similarly stake out irrefutable positions.  Critiques of the theory are dismissed as mere logical objections--poststructuralism, its advocates contend, calls into question the dominant status of logic in intellectual exchange and thus stands above such quibbling. Several of its best known practitioners even reject the principle of noncontradiction (x and not-x cannot simultaneously be predicated of y) as an arbiter of truth or falsehood. Apparently so does Dean. Hence, she can blithely assert on page 173: "Confronted with dissolution, insecurity, surveillance, and paranoia, the best response could well be not to respond at all, to wait and see what happens. The problem is that too much happens." But then, on the very next page, without a trace of self-consciousness, she can also assert: "The audience identifies with the characters on Seinfeld because nothing ever happens to any of us."

Too much happens. Nothing ever happens. Such is the universe through the poststructural looking glass. Lack of evidence is evidence of suppressed evidence. Logical contradiction is no bar to academic argument. If there are indeed aliens among us, they must be shaking their heads.

Mark Goldblatt has written for The New York Times, The New York Post, and Newsday. He teaches developmental courses and the history of ideas at the Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York.

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February 22, 1999

Los Angeles Times

Alien encounter session
Glendale resident appears on "The Roseanne Show" today to talk about UFO abductions

by Rodney Tanaka

LENDALE -- Is there intelligent life out there? If so, does it watch "The Roseanne Show"?

Aliens can get a glimpse of how humans perceive them at 10 a.m. today on "The Roseanne Show," airing on KNBC-Channel 4. The show, which focuses on alien abductions, features Glendale resident Franklin Ruehl.

Ruehl, who says he holds a doctorate in nuclear physics, lectures and writes a column in the Sun tabloid about UFOs and the possible existence of extraterrestrial life. He hosted a show on the Sci-Fi Channel for two years and has appeared on "Jenny Jones" and other talk shows as well.

"Roseanne" producer Larry Ish said Friday the show approaches alien abductions as a serious topic.

"We're not going to ridicule anybody -- I thought we could present that side and people can believe or discount it," Ish said. "Ruehl is a character. He comes across as intelligent but lighter than other people on the show."

During the show, which taped Feb. 1, Ruehl proposes a number of theories about possible alien involvement on Earth. He extends the possibility that the asteroid that led to the extinction of dinosaurs may have been steered by aliens to a location that would cause maximum damage.

The demise of the dinosaurs led to the ascension of mammals. If not for the asteroid, upright "dinosoids" might be the dominant species on Earth, Ruehl said.

A variety of life may exist on other planets, Ruehl said, from thinking plants to living minerals to two-headed dinosaurs.

"I think anything conceived of on sci-fi shows is possible," Ruehl said. "With 20 billion years for the universe to conduct experiments, anything is possible."

Ruehl appears on the show with a man who claims to have been abducted several times by aliens.

"They have to be taken one story at a time, but he was very convincing," Ruehl said.

Possible reasons behind alien abductions, Ruehl said, are that aliens are using humans to repopulate their species, aliens are trying to enhance the human species or aliens are experimenting with humans like laboratory rats.

Finding other life in the universe will happen, Ruehl said.

"I think it's a matter of time -- albeit 10, 100, or 1,000 years -- before we come to learn how unique we are not," Ruehl said.


* WHAT: "The Roseanne Show."
* WHEN: 10 a.m. today.

* WHERE: KNBC-Channel 4.

* WHY: Glendale resident Franklin Ruehl gives his views on alien abductions and UFOs.

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February 17, 1999

New York Times

NBC's 'Aliens' riddled with questions

by John Martin

The first thing I want to tell you about "Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us?" (NBC at 8) is that you should take a close look at the title.

Notice that question mark at the end?

It should tell you that the two-hour-long February ratings "sweeps" special contains "evidence" that is dubious at best and that a word as unequivocal as "confirmation" is ridiculously misplaced.

Next, notice that the host is actor Robert Davi. If NBC ever digs up anything close to confirmation it will be Tom Brokaw or, at least, Jane Pauley and Stone Phillips delivering the news, not the grim-faced co-star of NBC's "Profiler."

This freak show is as indefensible as the press release (also dotted with questions marks) that arrived with it.

For example, NBC boasts that the special contains "eyewitness accounts from police who've witnessed alien craft." In fact, the Ohio police officer makes a point of saying he doesn't know what he saw. Minor detail?

As to the footage of an operation to remove what a man says he believes is an alien implant, again NBC calls it "alleged."

There's a chance we've been visited. There's a chance people have been abducted.

But what's the chance that in the 52 years since the alleged Roswell UFO crash everyone supposedly involved in the cover-up carried the secret to their grave?

What is certain is that thousands of flying saucer hoaxes have been exposed and scores of authors and newsletter editors are making a lot of money from the UFO-conspiracy/alien abduction industry.

And I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that there are as many people in mental institutions who are convinced they are Jesus Christ as there are people who believe they've been abducted by aliens.

Confirmation? Hard evidence?

We're still waiting.

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February 17, 1999

ABC News

UFOs, Or A Light Show?
Science Battles Wishful Thinking

by Jim Oberg

As humans explore space, it's reasonable to imagine that other beings in the universe are doing the same. Encountering explorers from other planets have been a staple of science fiction for decades.

Videotapes from space shuttle missions have persuaded some folks that NASA astronauts have already encountered alien visitors.

On the space shuttle mission STS-48 in September 1991, a TV onboard Discovery spotted moving white dots suddenly changing direction when a flash of light appeared. Although nearby debris frequently appears on shuttle videos, the combination of flares, streaks and changing directions grabbed imaginations.

Answering a congressional query the following month on behalf of a curious constituent, NASA had four Houston experts - including one astronaut, astronomer Karl Henize - examine the videos.

"The objects seen are [Discovery]-generated debris, illuminated by the sun," they reported. "The flicker of light is the result of firing of the attitude thrusters on [Discovery], and the abrupt motions of the particles result from the impact of gas from the thrusters."

That didn't wash for some viewers, who believed they were seeing alien visitors or Star Wars-like battles.

Popular Interpretation

Enthusiasm for the UFO interpretation of space pictures isn't restricted to a narrow band of crackpots, as any Web search demonstrates. Mainstream writers and major TV networks also promulgate these misinterpretations. Aside from enhancing the public's paranoia about government cover-ups, it can have a poisonous effect on public support for space exploration if a substantial portion of voters becomes convinced by such theories that space experts, astronauts and scientists are lying to them.

Such space tapes are no surprise to NASA; the agency shrugs them off as just one more phenomenon of space flight.

The STS-48 images were being collected as part of an ongoing NASA study of unusual lightning.

The project was coordinated by NASA scientist Otha "Skeet" Vaughan, in Huntsville, Ala. He has collected and analyzed about 500 hours of tapes over two decades of shuttle flights, probably watching more space video than anyone else.

Just Debris

Vaughan, who retired from NASA last month, said such dots appear frequently. "They're an ordinary part of space flight," he says. "It's obviously just more shuttle debris."

Astronauts aboard the STS-48 mission agree.

Mission specialist Mark Brown says ice formed on the shuttle's main engine bells after the remaining fuel was dumped in space.

"These crystals would break free of the engines and float around the shuttle," he says. "When illuminated by sunlight they looked like small diamonds floating in space, disturbed only when the maneuvering rockets fired - the plumes from the rockets would hit them and send them off in different directions."

Shuttle co-pilot Ken Reightler says: "We saw a lot of this on STS-48 because we had a dump nozzle that was leaking." The same nozzle leaked on the shuttle's next mission and "created the same shower of ice particles - but this time apparently no one misinterpreted them as UFOs."


Small particles flaking off manned spacecraft have been around since John Glenn saw "fireflies" outside his capsule in 1962. Apollo astronauts saw them so often they were nicknamed "moon pigeons." A NASA study in 1971 traced them to propellant leaks, water dumps, pyrotechnic separation and other ordinary events.

Yet claims for an extraordinary interpretation of the STS-48 images persist, coming from respectable and seemingly rational people. Jack Kasher, a physicist from Nebraska, has published an exhaustive analysis showing why they cannot be debris. "The only feasible explanation," he concludes, "is that they actually were spacecraft out in space away from the shuttle."

Mark Carlotto, an imaging specialist in Massachusetts, published a 1995 report in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, claiming that "beyond a reasonable doubt" the objects could not be explained as known phenomena.

Shedding Light

Two factors - sunlight and the steering-jet pulses - explain the videotape.

The shuttle TV cameras observed lightning on the night side of Earth. But as the shuttle circled toward the day side, it rose into sunlight even while the camera remained fixed on the still-dark horizon behind it. So objects near the shuttle suddenly become illuminated - and it's precisely at sunrise that the most famous "shuttle UFO videos" show the appearance of these dots.

The autopilot normally fires the shuttle's steering jets to keep the craft on course. Telemetry readouts from STS-48 show exactly such a jet firing at the time of the mystery pulse.

Space junk and thruster gas are a lot less exciting than alien visitors and space battles, so the popularity of UFO explanations for such videotapes will persist. But if recent studies prove anything, it is that the less one knows about space flight, the more likely one is to swallow the idea of space shuttles spotting UFOs.

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February 7, 1999

Sunday Times of London

UFO hunter at MoD 'kidnapped by aliens'

by Mark Macaskill

THE Ministry of Defence official who once headed investigations into unidentified flying objects believes he was abducted by aliens. Nick Pope, who ran the ministry's top secret Airstaff Secretariat office during the early 1990s, believes that he, his girlfriend and their car were abducted from a deserted toll road in Florida.

He has described how he was lifted aboard an alien spacecraft and then wandered around its corridors - without, however, meeting any aliens.

It was following this incident that he applied for the job heading the defence ministry department which collects all reported sightings of UFOs and related phenomena. He did not, however, enter details of his experience on the files since he was uncertain exactly what had happened to him and because he was worried he would be labelled a crank.

Pope is still employed by the ministry, but a routine transfer in 1994 means he now works for the finance policy department as a higher executive officer.

He has alluded to the incident in his bestselling book The Uninvited, which claimed to expose the phenomenon of alien abductions. But only now has it emerged that one of the detailed descriptions of the several abductions was based on his own experience rather than on that of someone called Peter.

This weekend, Pope refused to confirm or deny the claim that he was the "Peter" in the book. He said he was unable to speak because he had since broken up with his girlfriend and did not want to involve her.

According to the book, the incident happened while "Peter and Jenny" were travelling along a Florida turnpike. Suddenly, they realised they were no longer on the same road and had jumped several miles closer to their destination, even though no time seemed to have elapsed.

He described the experience as the "strangest" event in his life. In the book he went on to explain that he only recovered his memory of what happened when, some time later, he underwent hypnosis. He then "recalled" how he and his girlfriend had been lifted from the ground in their car and how he had then walked on air into a metallic corridor in what seemed to be some sort of spacecraft. Shortly after, the experience ended with him returning to his car with "no immediate recollection" of what had happened.

The book makes it clear that he accepts that such recollections are not 100% reliable and he cannot say for certain that he was actually abducted. He says, however, that he believes it is highly likely. The book adds: "If the event occurred as Peter remembers then he was taken without consent and subjected to some truly bizarre experience."

His latest revelation will come as a further surprise for the ministry, where officials were amazed when he announced that his time collating their "X files" had convinced him that Earth was being visited by aliens.

They were sufficiently relaxed about his claims, however, to allow him to publish his first book, Open Skies, Closed Minds in 1995. Its success illustrates the huge interest generated by the subject of aliens visiting Earth, with hundreds of people claiming to have been abducted by travellers from space.

Jenny Randles, the former head of investigations at the British UFO Research Association, who remains one of Britain's leading "ufologists", said: "When I discovered that Nick had had an experience I was mildly surprised given his position as the government expert on UFOs.

"What surprised me more, though, is why he has never admitted to it before and why he chose to describe the incident as happening to somebody else.

"Clearly, the truth really is out there."

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January 16, 1999


When fortunes go to flights of fancy

by Alan Boyle

MSNBC Jan. 16 — Heads turned when Joe Firmage announced he was leaving the high-flying, high-tech company he founded to help prepare humanity for its encounter with extraterrestrials. But Firmage is by no means the first millionaire to go on what some might see as a kooky quest. Some of those quests turned out to be not so kooky after all.

FIRMAGE, 28, *announced a week ago that he was leaving USWeb/CKS, a Silicon Valley Internet service company, to focus more attention on "The Truth" — a manifesto on otherworldly encounters, spiritual awakening, interstellar travel and new twists in the laws of gravity.

Firmage, who helped found USWeb in 1995, said a dreamlike encounter with an otherworldly being in 1997 sparked his conversion to the UFO cause. Last November, Firmage published "The Truth" on the Internet and stepped down from his CEO job to become the company's chief strategist.

His new perspective — and his departure from USWeb/CKS — set off a buzz that resounded across Silicon Valley as well as the woo-woo airwaves of Art Bell's "Coast to Coast" radio show.

Jerome Clark, editor of the International UFO Reporter and author of "The UFO Encyclopedia," noted that a number of moneyed backers have been drawn to the search for aliens over the years.

"This guy Firmage is unique in the sense that he has drawn attention to himself," Clark said. "Most people who try to study UFO phenomena really fear ridicule, so they do it on the condition that they stay as anonymous as possible."


There have been cases, however, in which adventurous souls with sufficiently deep pockets have taken on seemingly way-out projects, weathered the public ridicule and eventually earned scientific respect. Here are a few examples:

Texas Oil Billionaire EDWARD BASS established Biosphere 2 in 1991 to see whether humans could sustain themselves within a self-contained complex of domes in the Arizona desert — a grand ecological experiment that blew up in his face. Unanticipated effects caused the sealed ecosystem to go haywire, and what once was envisioned as a profit-making venture went into receivership.

But Columbia University took over management in 1996 and started building up scientific credibility. Instead of being seen as the prototype for a sealed-off space-age lifeboat, Biosphere 2 is now generally considered a unique platform for investigating the effects of global climate change before they happen. Among the experiments: how higher concentrations of carbon dioxide might affect coral reefs and tree growth.

"Our focus is on Planet Earth and its future, and on how to create a sustainable planet," said William Harris, Biosphere 2's executive director and president. "We have the only laboratory that can create future Planet Earths."

Colleges and corporations are now anxious to pursue partnerships with the venture that once brought Bass nothing but scorn. "He had a very good idea in the first place," Harris says.

LEONARD BOSACK was essentially ousted from Cisco Systems, the company he helped found, in 1990. But he and co-founder Sandy Lerner left with millions of dollars that they have put toward a variety of worthy causes, including the *search for extraterrestrial intelligence, known as SETI.

There was a time when SETI wasn't considered so worthy, at least by Congress. Lawmakers cut off funding for NASA's search in 1993, one year after it started, and SETI scientists still feel like pariahs in some quarters of official Washington. But the search is chugging along, thanks to the Bosack & Kruger Foundation — and further contributions from other high-tech worthies such as Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, as well as organizations like the Planetary Society.

Even NASA's recently articulated goals for astrobiology research recognize the value of SETI, albeit glancingly: "A long-term consideration is to develop alternative methods of searching for life, such as detecting radio signals or other artifacts from an advanced civilization."

JACQUES VALLEE, like Firmage, straddles the worlds of UFO phenomena and high-tech finance. On one hand, he's a Bay Area venture capitalist, representing European investors who have put their money in a variety of startups.

On the other hand, he's an astronomer who gained fame as a UFO investigator, serving as the model for Francois Truffaut's character in the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." In a series of highly regarded books, Vallee contended that the strangeness associated with flying saucers actually was of terrestrial rather than extraterrestrial origin.

There appears to be little overlap between one career and the other, and few people giggle at Vallee's views in either realm. He has earned respect even from UFO skeptics such as Philip Klass, who is quoted as saying Vallee was "one of the more distinguished members of the pro-UFO community."

No list of self-financed flights of fancy would be complete without referring to the millionaire adventurers trying to become the first to circle the world nonstop in a balloon. British entrepreneur RICHARD BRANSON, Chicago trader STEVE FOSSETT and Denver real-estate magnate DAVE LINIGER have *failed in their latest attempts to enter aviation's history books — and some observers deride them as rich boys with high-cost, high-risk toys.

Nevertheless, their efforts — which combine the romance of the 19th century and the technology of the 21st century — have captured the popular imagination. And the flights have taken on a scientific and educational character as well: Liniger's Team Re/Max balloon, for example, was to have carried scientific experiments to observe red sprites and blue jets, mysterious bursts of light in the upper atmosphere.


Will Firmage's efforts gain the respect of the wider world? Probably not, if he limits himself to promoting his 600-page tome and grand conspiracy theories.

His next step, as outlined in "The Truth," would be to create a venture called EarthCity, a "collaborative e-commerce Internet site" selling a variety of goods and services. The profits would go to charities selected by purchasers.

In addition to the EarthCity scheme, there are plenty of potential projects that might make scientific sense while advancing Firmage's dream of interstellar space travel. Already, NASA has provided some support for investigations of *unorthodox propulsion techniques such as warp drives and vacuum energy. But the "giggle factor" is such that there probably won't be significant levels of public funding for such investigations.

There's another point to consider: The foundations backed by Bass, Bosack and Lerner also fund endeavors ranging from wavelet research and nanotechnology to the arts, historic preservation and animal welfare. Firmage says he's spent more than $3 million so far on "The Truth" — but the truth is that there are some down-to-Earth causes that could use his help as well

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January 16, 1999

Florida Today

by The Business of American is Business

By Billy Cox

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The death of Betty Cash at age 69 in Alabama late last month generated no headlines, and only the Mutual UFO Network saw fit to make note of it. "She was devoted to family and friends," stated the press release, "and never allowed her illness to prevent her from helping others to cope with the trauma of UFO close encounters."

One different kind of obit.

I met Betty in 1983, when she was living outside Houston, still brimming with fire and indignation over her radiation poisoning. She, a friend named Vickie Landrum, and Vickie's grandson, Colby, were confronted by a blazing, diamond-shaped object spewing off massive heat in the middle of a Texas backroad on the night of Dec. 29, 1980. When she braked and got out of the car, the thing hovered away.

Within hours, Betty was vomiting, blistering, and losing her hair; Colby and Vickie reported similar symptoms. Betty was hospitalized for what doctors deduced as exposure to ionizing radiation. Medical records notwithstanding, what really juiced the story was how the three reported seeing this object being pursued by as many as 23 Army helicopters, most of them twin-rotored Chinooks.

The newspaper got interested because the man leading the unofficial investigation was a Johnson Space Center space shuttle flight operations manager. John Schuessler did thorough work, and he was able to locate at least four other witnesses - including a cop - who'd seen the choppers that same night, as well as their military markings.

As a result of the publicity, the Army Inspector General's office was forced to conduct an investigation, but couldn't seem to find any evidence of its own involvement. An attorney for Cash-Landrum tried to sue the government for damages, only to have a federal judge toss it out in 1984.

Now retired and living outside Denver, Schuessler retraced Betty's ordeal, which ended on Dec. 29 when she died from myriad cancer-related health complications. "The judge never even looked at a page of our evidence," Schuessler recalled. "They said they didn't have choppers up that night - we have multiple eyewitnesses. They said maintenance records of their CH-47s are routinely destroyed after six months - that's a lie, they're kept for the life of the vehicle. This is the kind of thing we were up against. We didn't really stand a chance."

Schuessler said he never figured out what happened to Betty Colby, and Vickie (the latter are still alive) on that damp, dark Monday night 18 years ago. "But I'm not giving up," he said. "I suspect some of those helicopter pilots were probably burned as well. I'm hoping they'll step forward at some point and talk."

But even if they do, we already know how it'll end - at the slammed door of a pathology called "national security."

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January 9, 1999


Real-life X-File? Computer pioneer quits to chase UFOs

by Andrew Quinn

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - In the X-Files it would be called the case of the CEO and the UFO.

Joe Firmage, who at the age of 28 has made not one but two mega-fortunes as a computer pioneer in California's Silicon Valley, has quit the $2 billion company he helped found to promote what he calls "the most important news event in 2000 years" -- his belief that many of today's scientific advances came from space aliens.

"Why would a young, successful CEO risk his reputation on something this fantastic?" Firmage told Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle in announcing his departure from USWeb/CKS (Nasdaq:USWB - news), an Internet marketing and consulting company based in Santa Clara, California.

"Because I believe so much in this theory. And I am in a unique position to communicate an extremely important message. I have the money, credibility, scientific grounding, and faith."

Firmage has been dubbed the "Fox Mulder of Silicon Valley" after the hero of the "X-Files" television series, and his own beliefs seem strangely parallel to the dark mix of UFO contact and government conspiracy that lie at the show's core.

Backed by his immense resources, Firmage has sought to prove a variety of theories regarding UFOs, including one which holds that many recent scientific advances including semiconductors, fiber optics and lasers can be traced to a purported alien spaceship crash in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 that was covered up by the government.

"Outright rejection of the evidence without comprehensive review of the research in print across hundreds of books is close-minded, unscientific and indeed irresponsible in the extreme," Firmage wrote in one recent essay.

"It is also quite understandable given decades of government disinformation which, right or wrong in its genesis and continuation, was specifically designed to create a 'giggle factor' surrounding the subject."

Firmage's credentials as a UFO buff are matched by his track record as a computer industry entrepreneur.

A physics major at the University of Utah, Firmage was 18 when he formed his first company, Serius, which specialized in writing computer operating system codes. That was sold to Novell in 1993 for $24 million, and Firmage served as Novell's vice president of networking strategy until 1995 when he left to form USWeb.

That company, which helped companies to develop Internet strategies, completed a merger with CKS Group Inc. last month to form a $2.1 billion powerhouse that employs 1,950 people.

During the merger, however, Firmage was edged out as CEO by a board of directors who did not see eye to eye with him on the UFO issue. Now, Firmage says, he is leaving the company for good to pursue his beliefs.

"I want to ensure that the company is not impacted in any negative way," Firmage told the Chronicle, adding that he was not pressured to give up his job as chief strategist.

Robert Shaw, who took over as CEO of USWeb/CKS, said Firmage himself had suggested the move "given the market exposure associated with his outside interests."

"Joe is a visionary and he should be quite proud of what he accomplished. This move should demonstrate to the public and the employees that he's always put the interests of the company first," Shaw told the newspaper.

Firmage has already laid the groundwork for a campaign to publicize his UFO beliefs. He has set up the International Space Science Organization to promote his views, sunk $3 million into an endeavor dubbed 'Project Kairos' aimed at preparing humanity for alien contact, and posted a 600-page manifesto, entitled 'The Truth', on his website (

Included in 'The Truth' are new documents from a source Firmage calls the 'Deep Throat of Cyberspace' which he claims back up his space alien theories.

One of the documents is a purported 1947 memo from President Harry Truman to Secretary of Defense James Forrestal that sets up a secret U.S. government operation dubbed 'Majestic Twelve' to investigate extraterrestrials.

Another is an alleged June 1947 letter from Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer to scientist Vannevar Bush giving advice on how to deal with alien visitors.

Firmage's departure from USWeb/CKS was greeted with a shrug by many of his Silicon Valley contemporaries, who have long scoffed at his otherworldly beliefs.

"I've met a bunch of the valley's pioneers, and none of them I know are aliens," said John McLaughlin, a Silicon Valley historian. "The valley was built on ingenuity and hard work."

Even Silicon Valley's 'official' UFO organization, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute which is partly financed by high-tech heavyweights from Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Intel, is not lining up behind Firmage.

"Roswell has repeatedly been discounted as nothing more than a military experiment," SETI Institute President Frank Drake told the Chronicle. "It is constantly exploited by obsessive types who want to believe. If it's not Santa Claus, then it's aliens."

Firmage, however, was unperturbed by the lack of support from the high-tech world.

"It's the Flat-Earth society mentality all over again, and I'm here to prove my theory is real," he told the newspaper.

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January 9, 1999

Dallas Morning News

UFO lectures spout some alien ideas

by Tom Maurstad

For the first video column in this millennial year (it's been a week - how many stories on where to spend New Year's Eve 1999 have you seen/heard/read already?), it seems appropriate to focus on a mysterious, potentially apocalyptic subject.

To most people, the thought of a video series examining UFO phenomena conjures images of tiny blobs of light arcing across the sky and drawings of bug-eyed aliens. Perhaps to counter the "pseudo-science" stigma that cloaks the field of "UFO-ology," Omega Communications' six-volume set, The UFO Experience, is presented as a series of scholarly lectures.

Of course, the primary audience for these tapes is UFO enthusiasts. It seems like you would need to have a strong interest (what's known as a pre-existing condition) to sit through almost nine hours of guys speaking on issues such as "What Aliens Want ... And How They Plan to Get It" and "Physics and Flying Saucers."

But this series provides another, broader level of entertainment for viewers who haven't put the UFO question at the center of their lives. For the uninitiated, watching one of these tapes is like visiting a foreign country or, more appropriately, an alien world. Like the Kennedy assassination, pursuit of the UFO question has bred a distinct culture and vocabulary.

So if the phrases "abduction phenomenon" and "nasal implants" don't ring with resonant, multilayered meanings, then you are obviously not a UFO-ologist (which, we quickly learn, is pronounced "Yoofologist"). In the volume devoted to "Children - The Youngest Abductees," artist/UFO-ologist Budd Hopkins lectures on "this most touching and disturbing aspect of the abduction phenomenon."

Speaking at a UFO conference, the mild-mannered Mr. Hopkins delivers over an hour of anecdotal recountings of children who have been kidnapped and experimented on by aliens, and the effects of this extraterrestrial trauma. His speech is punctuated by proclamations that, depending on your perspective, are either startling or silly. To wit: "I believe a large number of dysfunctional families in this country may have at their heart, as a cause, this sort of UFO incident."

Get into the spirit of the millennium and check it out. And in the meantime, let's make using the phrase "party like it's 1999" a capital offense.

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December 31, 1998


The Believers: Heavens Gate or hell
Three views on connection between UFOs, religion

by Alan Boyle

Chuck Humphrey, Charles Spiegel and Chuck Missler share more than a first name. Although they probably would resist the idea, each occupies a corner on the intersection of spirituality and space beliefs.

HUMPHREY IS the sole survivor of a wave of Heaven’s Gate suicide attempts undertaken in the belief that shedding one’s earthly “container” would open an unearthly door to a higher level of existence. Spiegel is the director of the Unarius Academy of Science, an organisation diligently preparing in the San Diego area to welcome a grand landing of spaceships in 2001. And Missler, a commentator at Koinonia House, a fundamentalist Christian centre in Idaho, draws connections between UFO reports and biblical references.
All three men are matter-of-fact and measured as they talk about matters that would raise eyebrows or even prompt cruel laughter in some circles.

In May, Humphrey and another lapsed Heaven’s Gate follower, Wayne Cooke, went to a San Diego hotel room and tried to follow the fatal course of 39 others. Each man consumed alcohol and barbiturates, then put a bag over his head. Cooke suffocated, but the bag on Humphrey’s head wasn’t sealed tightly enough. He was revived and taken to a hospital.
“I made every intention along with Wayne to exit my vehicle,” says Humphrey, who is working on a book about his experiences. And even though he was thwarted in his suicide attempt, he says, “I still have permission to leave whenever I choose.”

‘I made every intention ... to exit my vehicle.’
Heaven's Gate survivor

Heaven’s Gate was shot through with references to space exploration: The followers saw themselves as members of an “away team” on a temporary mission to Earth. When the mission was finished, the team would make its exit aboard space-time vehicles piloted by members of the kingdom of heaven. Those emissaries from the “next level” were pictured as the big-headed, dark-eyed extra-terrestrials of UFO culture.

The followers drawn together and disciplined by Marshall Applewhite felt they shared a special bond, Humphrey says.

“Our Creator designed it this way,” he says. “It’s the same thing that happened 2,000 years ago. ‘For those who have ears to hear, drop everything and follow me.’ When I first was introduced to this information back in 1975, it was as if I knew these individuals.”

Humphrey believes Applewhite and the 39 others succeeded in getting to the “next level” and now exist as “angels in the biblical term.” But he doesn’t believe Applewhite — or, for that matter, Jesus Christ — ever intended his message to be institutionalised on this level.
“There was no intention for church to start, and to think you could go to Sunday school and pay your dues and when you die you wake up in heaven.”

Like Humphrey, Charles Spiegel believes that Applewhite and his followers took a journey to another level of existence. But in Spiegel’s view, it was a downhill slide.
 “They took the wrong exit on the highway of life,” says Spiegel, who heads the Unarius Academy of Science in El Cajon, Calif.

‘It's the end of a cycle, and therefore the beginning of a new cycle.’
Unarius Academy of Science

The Unarius perspective is that organisms are like recyclable computers, processing information from other realms of existence. Spiegel says that what Applewhite did was the equivalent of taking a sledge hammer to one’s own computer, and that it will take many tens of thousands of years on another planet to repair the damage.
Unarius is one of the oldest Space Brother groups, formed in 1954 by Ernest and Ruth Norman.
Spiegel studiously avoids calling Unarius a religion and characterises it instead as a scientific pursuit (“The word religion has gotten a bad name,” he explains). But the tax-exempt, non-profit group maintains that the universe is teeming with intelligent life, and that representatives from 32 planets are preparing to arrive and welcome Earth into their confederation in 2001.
Why 2001?
“It’s the end of a cycle, and therefore the beginning of a new cycle,” says Spiegel, who believes the 21st century will mark the start of a new golden age.
In Spiegel’s view, the aliens won’t be so alien after all. In fact, he says, humans have gone through incarnations on other planets as well as on Earth. Spiegel himself says he has spent previous lives as Pontius Pilate and Napoleon.
Such information comes via psychic communications, says Spiegel, who earlier in this life served as a psychologist and teacher. According to Unarius’ literature, the “lack of concept of extraterrestrial civilisation is due only to the psychic amnesia that is lived by many, many people.”
Spiegel admits that many, many people look askance at such views.
“If you’re not looking for answers ... it’s a lot of poppycock,” he says.

Chuck Missler doesn’t think flying saucers are poppycock, but he definitely doesn’t think they’re here to show humans the path to righteousness, either.
In fact, Missler cites biblical passages such as Genesis 6, 2 Peter 2 and Jude 6-7 to make his point that the UFO phenomenon could well be a trick of the devil and a harbinger of the last days.

‘Our view is that we are being set up for some kind of gigantic deception.’
Koinonia House

“Our view is that we are being set up for some kind of gigantic deception. ... Our concern is that the average Christian believer is really ill-prepared to deal with what we think is forthcoming,” he says.
Not all Christians hold Missler’s view. The Rev. Billy Graham, for example, has noted similarities between reports of humanoid aliens and the biblical accounts of angels.
Some Christian fundamentalists, however, see an evil hand behind the pain and confusion that are part of purported UFO abductions. Missler even sees parallels between the bizarre reports of alien interbreeding experiments and the references in Genesis to “sons of God” who mated with “daughters of men.”
In Missler’s view, those sons of God likely were fallen angels under Satan’s leadership.
According to the Bible, the union resulted in the birth of Nephilim, or “fallen ones.” And in that time, humanity’s wickedness led God to bring on the deluge, which only Noah and his family survived because they were “perfect in their generations” — perhaps, Missler says, a reference to genetic as well as spiritual purity.
Missler says wicked Nephilim could be making a comeback in this age under the guise of alien visitations, making one last attempt to lead believers astray before the Second Coming.
And the nature of this “grand deception?” Christian fundamentalists point to some of the claims in UFO literature that extraterrestrials were actually behind some of the miracles ascribed to a divine source. They also emphasise the parallels between alien lore and occult New Age phenomena such as channelling and telepathy. Missler and other commentators fear that a fascination with such phenomena could lead believers away from their faith.
“The encounters tend to attempt to undermine the biblical viewpoint,” Missler says. “Anything attacking that would be by definition viewed as adversarial and demonic.”
For Missler, the important thing is not to be distracted by UFO claims, and to “prepare oneself for spiritual warfare” as prescribed in Ephesians 6.
“People should get their spiritual house in order,” he says.


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December 31, 1998


UFO beliefs enter spiritual dimension
Some say aliens here to help -- or to hinder -- humans

by Alan Boyle

For thousands of people, unidentified flying objects are more than strange lights in the sky: They fit into a millennial world view with a spiritual pedigree that goes back before biblical times.

FOR CHARLES SPIEGEL of the Unarius Academy of Science, the UFO phenomenon heralds a 21st-century golden age, when extraterrestrial beings will invite Earth to join 32 other worlds in the Interplanetary Confederation.

"It’s preconditioning for that time when the spaceships will land, and you will see that they are human beings like you and me."

For Christian commentator Chuck Missler, unidentified flying objects portend something far darker: a sign that demonic forces are at work on Earth, just as they were in the days before the Deluge.

"These UFOs and these strange reports of abductions may be a prelude to all this happening again," he says. "There’s so much nonsense and weird stuff and also deliberate disinformation about all this. But something really is happening."

Fifty years after the first flying-saucer reports, even the skeptics have to concede that something is happening. Although there is not yet indisputable public proof that UFOs have visited Earth, pollsters say almost half of all Americans hold such a belief.

And for thousands of people like Spiegel and Missler, unidentified flying objects are more than strange lights in the sky: They fit into a millennial world view with a spiritual pedigree that goes back before biblical times. "Dateline NBC" report from April 1997 about millennial religious movements.

Mixing millennialism, space beliefs and cult charisma can result in a deadly brew, as illustrated by the Heaven’s Gate suicides. Forty people took their lives in the belief that shedding their earthly containers would enable them to board an alien rescue craft headed for the "Next Level" of existence.

The religious connection between the Heaven’s Gate suicides and the UFO phenomenon rubs some investigators the wrong way.

"That was an embarrassment," says Walter Andrus, director of the Mutual UFO Network, the world’s largest UFO organization. "It was a religious cult. It wasn’t a UFO cult, it was a computer cult."

But skeptics, scholars and even some of Andrus’ ufological colleagues point to similarities between modern-day "close encounters" and the mystical experiences of past ages, between the flying-saucer stories of today’s technological society and the allegories of old.

The techno-theological debate is hitting hot buttons for religious believers, UFO believers, scientists and society at large. And whether or not the spaceships land in 2001, all sides agree that the controversy will only get hotter as the millennium approaches.

*The believers: From Heaven’s Gate to the Gates of Hell
*The ufologists: More unsettled questions
*The skeptics: A cultish cause for alarm
*The scholars: Raw material for a new religion

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December 31, 1998


The Ufologists: Questions unsettled
Some downplay religious links, others see deeper meaning

by Alan Boyle

'These people [extraterrestrials] are conducting experiments utilizing humans for their own purposes. There’s no culture involved.'
Mutual UFO Network

MSNBC Peter Davenport of the National UFO Reporting Center analyzes thousands of anomalous sightings every year -- and some of them have led him to the guarded conclusion that something dramatic is going on.

THE STRANGE OCCURRENCES probably involve spacecraft beyond our current understanding, he says.

As guarded as he is about the observations, he’s even more guarded about the follow-up questions: What is the nature of the visitors? And what’s the purpose behind the visitations?

"Those are the things that keep us motivated," says Davenport.

But, he adds, "I don’t think there’s any ufologist who has the answers to those questions. And if they do, you should probably reject their information."

Ufology -- the sympathetic study of UFO phenomena -- is a hybrid discipline: Some keep track of aerial sightings, analyze radar tapes, look for unusual chemical residues. Others dwell on human testimony, hypnotic regression, the physical and mental traumas left in the wake of unsettling experiences. Generally, the people looking into the human factor are more likely to look for deeper meanings as well.

The debate among ufologists over the ultimate meaning of UFOs can become as sharp as the debate between skeptics and believers. Most UFO investigators scorn "contactees" who claim to have a psychic link with benevolent Space Brothers. Walter Andrus of the Mutual UFO Network says such claims sound "a little bit like channeling, and we don’t take much stock in channeling."

Andrus and other sympathetic researchers do take stock, however, in the accounts of those who say they were abducted by extraterrestrial visitors -- a phenomenon that appears to involve telepathy, interdimensional travel and drastic medical procedures that leave no trace.

But even with abduction experiences, Andrus is reluctant to speculate as to any deeper meaning.

"These people [the extraterrestrials] are conducting experiments utilizing humans for their own purposes," he says. "There’s no culture involved."

In contrast, Harvard psychiatrist John Mack says in his book "Abduction" that aliens appear to "administer an odd mixture of trauma and transcendence" -- warnings about potential ecological ruin as well as efforts to create an alien/human bond. In his view, the abduction experience poses a grave challenge to Western religious tradition, while Eastern religions may find it easier to embrace the phenomenon.

And in a book titled "The God Hypothesis," journalist Joe Lewels lays out a theory that UFOs and interdimensional aliens helped foster the origin of species and provided the inspiration for all the world’s major religions, from Sumerian creation stories to Christ’s passion and visions of the Apocalypse.

Toronto ufologist Errol Bruce Knapp, who moderates the UFO UpDates mailing list and documents UFO episodes as well, tries to refrain from making conclusion on the religious aspect of UFO experiences. But he does note that religion makes a difference in how people react to abduction experiences.

"If they come from a religious background -- not necessarily a strong background, but if they’re a ‘go-to-church-on-Sunday’ kind of people -- they’ll see it as a sign from God," he says. "Others -- more pragmatic people -- are freaked out by it."

*The believers: From Heaven’s Gate to the Gates of Hell
*The skeptics: A cultish cause for alarm
*The scholars: Raw material for a new religion
*Introduction: UFOs and the spiritual dimension

*Discuss millennial change on the Social Issues Bulletin Board
*Discuss strange sky phenomena on the Space News Bulletin Board

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December 30, 1998

Midland Reporter-Telegram

Is 'E.T' a Retelling of the Christ Story?

by Jimmy Patterson

Dr. David R. Allen, new head of the theater program at Midland College, has a rather interesting, but not unique, theory about the meaning of "E.T.," the 1983 film from Stephen Spielberg that has firmly entrenched itself in American culture.

Speculation has always held that the film is a retelling of the Christ story, and Allen buys into that notion.

"E.T. comes from above, is left behind, is given shelter by Elliott and, while he is with Elliott, brings plants back to life," Allen said. "He can communicate on a non-verbal level and he heals people. He is chased by the authorities, captured by the authorities and then dies. After his death, Elliott goes to him and he lives again and then Elliott takes him back to his space ship and he returns to heaven."

A simple translation with one further parallel: The last thing E.T. tells Elliott: "I'll be right here," the alien says, placing a finger on Elliott's heart.

There are overriding messages of faith and spirituality throughout many of the films of Spielberg, who is of the Jewish faith.

"Every single one of them," Allen said. "If you look at a lot of his films, you will see a recurring motif is light and moving toward the light. That is his sense of the spiritual. During a scene in 'Amistad,' the camera pans up a slave's body and he is holding his hand up to the sky and to the light of the stars. Throughout the film, there's a sense of moving toward the light."

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind," one of Spielberg's early films, dealt with "moving toward a greater understanding and of our place in the world," Allen said.

"Star Wars" is another example of a film that offers a "clear sense of spirituality with 'The Force' and (producer) George Lucas' pop take on that."

More recently, this summer's "The Truman Show" had clear religious overtones.

"One might be able to say that 'The Truman Show' is a feminist retelling of the story of Eden. And I'm not talking in terms of feminist being women's power, but in the philosophical sense of a different point of view than the masculine telling of the story that came before it: that men were everything and that everything was done for the man. The feminist meaning is that neither man nor woman is the most important, but that we are of equal value.

"If I look at it that way, I see the retelling of the Eden story (in 'The Truman Show'). The character Christof is God, Truman is Adam. As Truman goes through his world he is happy but dissatisfied, and then along comes Eve. One of the actresses in the movie, Lauren, gives him the knowledge that his world is a setup for him. He then becomes extremely dissatisfied and leaves Eden of his own accord. Lauren gives him the knowledge by which he can have a better life, and then he takes it on despite all
the problems that may come with it."

Other recent movies with clear religious themes include "The Shawshank Redemption," "Dead Man Walking" and "The Spitfire Grill."

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December 22, 1998

Windsor Star

UFO Reports Shrouded in Mystery

Defence Department Documents Cast Spotlight on Canada's Own X-Files

Jim Bronskill

Several snowmobilers see a round yellowish light assume the shape of a star.

It moves slowly westward, like a balloon on a string, then suddenly disappears. .

A number of people witness a large triangle-shaped object pass quickly above a Yukon lake under a full moon. It makes a loud noise, but has no lights and leaves no vapour trail.

A Prairie family finds some of their cattle mutilated. A few years later, they discover a two-metre crop circle in one of their fields.

The mysterious stories are just a few of the reports from people across the country who have encountered things they simply could not explain.

The Defence Department has just released a batch of the documents, known in military circles as CIRVIS reports, short for Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings.

The names of the people who claimed to see the strange phenomena have been deleted, but the memos provide intriguing glimpses of the eerie episodes.

Some, like the "large greenish flare" seen over Northern Ontario in 1997, can be fairly easily explained as meteors. But others are more baffling.

Army Sgt. Clay Rankin remembers the spring day last year in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., when a local woman reported being followed by two cone-shaped unidentified flying objects as she drove home with four companions. "She seemed pretty sincere about it," Rankin recalled in an interview. "What it was, I'm not sure."

The official report says bright blue light shone from windows in the twin objects as they moved through the Arctic sky about one kilometre behind the car. "They were followed for approximately 15 minutes when contact was lost." Rankin, 38, duly filed his report with superiors at Canadian Forces Northern Area Headquarters.

Still, he doubts the existence of extraterrestrial spacecraft. "I've never seen one myself," said Rankin. "I'm not one of those X-Files fans or anything like that."

A bizarre incident near Marmora, Ont., last February might have made believers out of three people who saw white and orange lights flying above the ice on Crowe Lake.

A similar sighting took place in Ottawa on a clear July evening. Witnesses told the National Defence Operations Centre of a display by four or five glowing objects that moved about chaotically, "merging and separating at random" for almost an hour before vanishing.

A woman in Coral Harbour, N.W.T., was starting her snowmobile one morning last January when she gazed over the water and saw a large blue ball and two, smaller red balls followed by sparkles.

"As the large ball got closer to me it picked up speed and the colour changed from blue to red," she told the military. "As it passed overhead it changed colours again from red to orange, then to yellow, then headed up into the sky."

The report lists the incident as a possible "UFO/submarine sighting." Officials were at a loss, however, to explain the June 1997 Yukon sighting of the black, triangle-shaped object over Lake Laberge.

"A number of aircraft were in the area around the reported time, but none remotely resembled the object's description."

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December 7, 1998

Herald (Rock Hill, South Carolina)

Photograph brings back memories of alien sighting

by Joe Hosey

CHESTER - Hours after strange lights hovered above her back yard in November, Carla Alford stared at a face from her past - a frightening face she found hidden in a Polaroid photograph taken more than a year before.

She thinks it's the face of an extraterrestrial.

"All that scares me are the eyes," Alford, 24, said. "The eyes are so big." They're eyes Alford says she has seen before - on a figure standing in the door of a spaceship 21 years ago.

"When I was 3 and I was living in Rock Hill, I was crossing the road from my grandma's house to my aunt's house," Alford said, recalling how she cut through a field in Lesslie one night long ago.

"All I can remember, to be honest with you, is stairs and a big head, and it was going like this," she murmured, crooking her index finger and beckoning with it. "I started screaming then. That's all I remember."

Alford is not alone in her experiences and apprehensions. From 1947 to 1969, the Air Force checked out about 12,000 reports of UFO sightings. Today, the National UFO Reporting Center has a database tracking UFO reports as long ago as 1954. It reports 639 sightings this year, 12 of which were in South Carolina.

The reporting center's database includes two sightings in Fort Lawn, one in October and the other in the early 1970s. A report on the October sighting describes a large orange ball of light with four smaller lights. A report on the 1970s sighting describes a white oval craft with multicolored lights all around it.

Nonetheless, many of the sightings - and the reports of alien abductions - often have mundane explanations, experts say.

"Sounds from the sky"

Although a Gallup Poll from 1992 indicates 3.7 million people claim to have been abducted by aliens, noted social psychologist Shane Thye at the University of South Carolina contends more plausible possibilities are usually uncovered.

"In most cases, you can find alternative explanations," he said. "I'm not saying the people who claim this are charlatans - I'm sure that it feels very real to them."

Many self-professed victims of alien abduction actually suffer from instances of sleep-paralysis, a condition Thye calls "very real."

"You are effectively physically paralyzed, and you are seeing auditory and visible illusions," he explained.

Also, a preoccupation with the paranormal can lead one to find unfounded instances of the uncanny.

"If you're looking hard enough for something to happen, inevitably, you'll see something you could interpret to be what you want," he said. "It's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Are there intelligent beings on other worlds? The California-based Search for Extraterrestrial Life's Project Phoenix, which has sought signs of life from other galaxies with costly interstellar surveillance equipment, admits it has so far found nothing.

But officials there aren't discouraged. SETI describes its Phoenix program as "the world's most sensitive and comprehensive search for extraterrestrial intelligence." Using immense satellite dishes, SETI listens for sounds from the sky.

"Only in the last few years has the equipment been sophisticated enough or sensitive enough to even think about finding anything," said spokeswoman Michelle Murray, noting her organization's ears extend 150 light-years into space.

That SETI hasn't found anything doesn't help Alford. "I can't even sleep at night," she said, noting she sees no point in alerting authorities to the extraterrestrial activity around her residence.

"What can they do? They can't fly."

Philip Klass, the author of six books and a leading UFO skeptic, took exception to that, saying, "She should report it to the FBI or the local police department."

"If I tried to abduct her," Klass said, "I'm sure she'd report it to the local police department."

"Looks like he's winking"

The spacecraft plaguing Alford in recent weeks have yet to make threatening advances. Still, she sees them in the sky, and they scare her.

Alford's mother, Wanda, recalled her daughter's reaction to what she saw as a child.

"She was screaming her head off," Wanda Alford said. "I asked her what it looked like - she said it had big eyes."

The lights floating above Alford's Grants Lake Circle home returned again in the evenings after she found the alien in the picture. Her brother, Donnie, also has seen them.

"It was weird," he said. "It was in the shape of like a triangle, and it was a green light."

"It went straight across," he said. "It was much faster than a plane."

Charlotte-Douglas Air Traffic Controller Jim Koon reported no record of anything unusual flitting about Chester around the time of Alford's first sighting following the appearance of the spaceman in the photograph. He conceded, however, that peculiar craft can elude detection.

"Air traffic radars filter out things they're not designed to track," he explained, noting non-moving objects such as buildings and other "clutter" slip past the radar's sweep without being seen.

"There's conceivably something out there that we didn't track," he said.

If "something" is out there, it has been shadowing Alford for nearly her entire life. Her photograph has made a believer of her friend, Heidi Butler.

"I never believed in aliens," Butler said, until Alford showed her the picture. "I looked at Carla, and my jaw just dropped," she said. "He looks like he's winking."

Eerily, it was the prelude of finding the alien gaping from the murky Polaroid that ushered in Alford's close encounters a little more than a week ago.

"(Sunday) night, I walked out of the bedroom. For some reason, I was looking at pictures - for some reason, I kept looking at it," she said, telling of how seeing the alien's face and eyes jolted her back to her near-abduction 21 years ago.

"It's plain as day," she said.

Now Alford spends sleepless nights and tearful days trying not to think about why the extraterrestrials have returned - or what they want.

"I want to move out of this house," she said. "I'm scared."


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November 30, 1998

Associated Press

She says E.T. life exists but feds are covering it up

BOISE -- Where others see unfathomable mysteries or supermarket-tabloid fodder, Linda Moulton Howe sees a great story in need of an ending.

Howe, a former Miss Boise and Miss Idaho, has spent the past 19 years as an investigative journalist trying to find hard evidence regarding unexplained phenomena. They range from cattle mutilations and crop-circle formations to UFO sightings and reports of human abduction by aliens. Hundreds of interviews, an Emmy Award and three books later, Howe is convinced of some truths she believes are out there.

"We are not alone in the universe, and the government of the United States at least has known that since the 1940s, if not earlier," said Howe, who now lives in Jamison, Pa. "Coming out of the World War II environment, there was a decision by the Truman administration that Americans and the world were not going to get any facts about this extraterrestrial presence."

Some of Howe's latest interviews and research can be found in her new 440-page book, "Glimpses of Other Realities, Vol. 2: High Strangeness" (Paper Chase Press, New Orleans). It's the second of her two volumes on unexplained phenomena. Her latest book arrives at a time when interest in such mysteries and belief in alien visitation pervade popular culture. Fox TV's "The X-Files" series has brought the murky subjects of aliens, government conspiracy and other mysteries into American living rooms every week. "The X-Files" even has incorporated some of Howe's research into its scripts. Howe also contributes weekly reports on science and the environment, as well as alien mysteries, on Art Bell's popular nightly radio program "Coast to Coast," and his Sunday show "Dreamland."

One of Howe's "Dreamland" reports two years ago focused on anomalous activity in Utah's Uintah Basin, particularly in the vicinity of a ranch then owned by Terry and Gwen Sherman. The Shermans' accounts of UFOs, unusual animal deaths and floating baseball-sized balls of light, first chronicled in the Deseret News, intrigued Las Vegas philanthropist Robert Bigelow. He has since purchased the ranch and moved in a team of scientists to study activity there and in the surrounding area.

Idaho's own X-Files can be found in the field research of Ike Bishop, chief investigator and Idaho state director of the Mutual UFO Network, a group of people who investigate reports of unexplained sightings. Bishop has traded information with Howe and said he respects her investigative ability. "She is probably the most pre-eminent UFO investigator in the world," Bishop said. "She checks things out before she talks about them. She gives Art Bell a lot of credibility."

Although Howe might appreciate the compliment, she regards herself as a television producer and investigative reporter, not a UFO investigator. "My beat has basically been in science and medicine and the environment my entire career," said Howe, who was born in Boise 56 years ago. "I had been producing television programs and documentary films for 11 years before I ever made my first phone calls to find out what was happening with unusual animal deaths around the world."

Howe nearly became an astronomer. As a girl, she was always interested in the stars. Her father, Chet Moulton, was director of aeronautics in Idaho until the late 1970s. After graduating from Boise High School in 1960, she entered and won the Miss Boise and Miss Idaho pageants, which paid her way through college. After a professor sparked a love of English in college, she knew she wanted to be a reporter. She has a master's degree from Stanford University and has worked for television stations in Burbank, Calif.; Boston; Denver; and Atlanta.

It was during her tenure in Denver in 1979 that she first investigated reports of farm animals that were found with internal organs removed in a strange, almost surgical manner. "I had no preconceived idea of what I was getting into beyond the fact that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of cases all reporting the same bloodless excisions of cattle, pigs, cows and sheep. "The two most unusual features that law enforcement always noted was the lack of blood in excisions that were cookie-cutter precise, and that there were no tracks around these animals -- even on wet dirt. That's what forced law enforcement to look to the sky." Law enforcement personnel and scientists have been unable to explain the technology used in the mutilations, or who or what mutilated the animals. "Hemoglobin is cooked. Collagen is cooked," Howe said. "You can't do that at low temperatures. If it's a laser, where is the carbon? There is no carbon residue in the cows."

Throughout her work on alien mysteries, she has struggled to get sources on the record -- to use their full names. Fear of ridicule keeps many silent. She says fear of government retribution also keeps many military people quiet. Howe wrote a book about the mutilation mystery, "An Alien Harvest." She went on to write about more alien mysteries in her book, "Glimpses of Other Realities, Vol. I." Howe said she is not out to prove the existence of UFOs but to uncover facts. The appendix of Vol. 2 contains copies of purported government documents leaked to her that admit the existence of aliens and confirm a cover-up. "This is serious. This has nothing to do with a believe system," she said. "We're talking about men and women who have served in highly sensitive positions in the United States military and intelligence agencies, with high clearances.

"These people are the same people who have talked to me and a few others about the fact that our government has had knowledge about extraterrestrial biological entities, and that Truman made the executive order in 1947 that put all of this under a lid. "This is a story the entire human family on this planet deserves to have knowledge about."

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November 20, 1998

Daily Reveille (Louisiana State U)

UFO Lecturer At Louisiana State Explores Accounts Of Alien Visits

by Georgina Troughton

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Robert Hastings was 16 years old when he saw his first UFO.

He was living on an Air Force base with his family when he noticed five "unidentified aerial targets" in the night sky.

"I saw them hover and ascend vertically at high speeds when the base sent missiles after them," Hastings said. "An important thing to understand is where they were hovering ... over nuclear missile sites."

Hastings addressed students and faculty at the Union Tuesday with his "Hidden Mystery" presentation.

He said the sighting impacted his life significantly, prompting him to spend the past 30 years researching the UFO phenomenon, he said.

"The experience made a big impression on me," he said.

Hastings has traveled to over 500 universities across the country in order to raise awareness of UFO sightings and the numerous government records documenting these events.

"The military says sightings are reported all the time. This is not something to be taken lightly," Hastings said.

"I am not a missionary. I am not seeking to convert non-believers. I just want to tell people that this is real," he added.

The Freedom of Information Act has enabled UFO researchers to uncover approximately 30,000 pages of once classified government information.

"These are the real X-Files," Hastings said.

Despite repeated denials by the U.S. government for the past half-century, documents report military sightings of UFOs and even declared the situation a national security matter, according to Hastings.

"The documents basically say the Air Force and the government believe UFOs exist," he said.

The researcher presented a 30-minute film which he narrated and listed UFO-related events from the 1920s until present.

The film also included actual photographs, excerpts from government documents, and touched upon the controversial topic of alien abductions.

"The only ticket to admission this evening is an open mind," Hastings said before beginning the film.

A "wave" of UFO sightings began in 1947 with Americans from each state, except for Georgia, claiming to see saucers hovering for periods of time before flying away at high speeds.

Military personnel also reported unidentified objects hovering over top-secret missile sites and atomic weapon development centers, according to the film.

Increased public pressure on the U.S. government resulted in the Pentagon stating the objects were actually falling meteors, flattened hailstones or reflections on clouds.

"People described the objects as being shiny, metallic-looking, domed on top and made absolutely no sound," Hastings said.

The government developed Project Sign in 1948, stating people were seeing "interplanetary space ships examining our world for some unknown reason."

A startling event took place several years later when radar detected a flying object invading the restricted air space over the White House. The military sent planes to chase the craft but if flew away at speeds up to 7,000 miles an hour.

The Pentagon called it "an atmospheric illusion caused by the weather."

After this incident, JANAP 146, a government organization, required military and commercial airline pilots to report any sightings immediately, at which point missiles would be sent to intercept the target.

Reports of alien abduction began surfacing during the 1960s, when the story of Betty and Barnie Hill becoming widely known, Hastings said.

The couple claimed to be driving along a New Hampshire road when they heard beeping sounds, grew tired and then lost almost two hours of time with no memory of what had happened.

Time-regression hypnosis revealed the couple's experience being of taken from their car into a spaceship where they were medically examined and held conversations with the aliens.

Over 50 abduction cases have been reported in the past 30 years with many people claiming the aliens told them they were slowly preparing for the day to reveal themselves to the world and to not be afraid because their intentions were not hostile, according to Hastings.

Soon after the release of the Hill story, the biggest power failure ever recorded took place in New York. Citizens reported seeing UFOs prior to the disaster and blamed them for the blackout, he said.

City officials claimed a broken circuit in a Canadian power plant to be the actual problem but it was later revealed the circuit was actually tripped by a tremendous surge of power, he said.

Another top-secret UFO event was revealed in 1990 concerning a 1947 UFO crash.

Residents in Roswell, New Mexico, had reported a crash which left metallic debris scattered over a mile long.

Military personnel described the debris as being "peculiar, shiny, extremely light material which would not dent or bend," Hastings said.

Over 200 officers have publicly reported the material being flown to several military bases, including several boxes containing possible dead alien beings.

The military declared a faulty weather balloon was the source of the crashed object but this explanation remains debated, he said.

Hastings concluded his presentation with a slide show showing excerpts from several official government documents.

"UFOs do exist. They are real," he said. "The government has been untruthful and the cover-up is massive."

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November 19, 1998

National Post (Canada)

Dead Cattle Alert Issued to Solve Mutilation Puzzle

by David Staples

A team of Las Vegas scientists is determined to solve the 100-year-old mystery of what has been causing cattle mutilations across North America, says the team's leader, Dr. Colm Kelleher.

The National Institute of Discovery Science is on red alert to jet around the western U.S. and Western Canada in order to quickly autopsy a freshly dead, mutilated cow, at no cost to the rancher.

The group--dedicated to studying matters outside the scientific mainstream--is backed by Vegas businessman Robert Bigelow.

"We are moving in the direction of telling ranchers what might have caused the death of the animals," Dr. Kelleher says.

In Western Canada in the past four years, cattle mutilations investigator Fern Belzil says he has heard of 80 such cases and investigated 45.

The cows die for an unknown reason, then lose certain body parts, such as one ear, one eye, and the rectum, Mr. Belzil says. The cuts are done with "surgical precision."

But Joe Nickell, a writer for *Skeptical Inquirer* magazine, says Mr. Belzil and the scientists at NIDS are engaging in pseudo-science.

Cattle mutilation stories started in 1897, when a Colorado newspaper reported the case of space aliens mutilating a calf, Mr. Nickell says. A member of a local Liars' Club later admitted to planting the story.

The bulk of evidence shows that mutilations are done by predators, Mr. Nickell says. Yet mutilation fever rages because the idea that cattle are being mutilated is a powerful one. When it takes hold of ranchers, Mr. Nickell says, they suddenly start looking for evidence that in fact a mutilation has occurred, instead of relying on common sense, which would tell them cows die all the time for various reasons and scavengers come and eat them.

Dr. Kelleher counters: "The ranching community has had that explanation for 30 years now. In order to dismiss this phenomenon you need an awful lot more evidence."

Dr. Kelleher's team, which includes a veterinarian, wants to autopsy at least 20 cows that died no more than 24 hours previously.

The team has already jetted up to Canada, flying in to North Battleford, Sask., to autopsy an allegedly mutilated cow at a ranch that has suffered 25 mutilations in the past 15 years.  Unfortunately, laboratory error prevented accurate histopathological tests on the skin tissue, Dr. Kelleher says.

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November 10, 1998

New Brunswick Telegraph Journal

The truth is out there
New book says more than 225,000 Atlantic Canadians have seen UFOs

By Gina Miller

Harriet (last name unknown) was 15 and living in a fishing village west of Halifax when she saw her first UFO. Years later, when she was married, she and her husband Ray awoke in the night to discover their room was full of fog, or "mist" as Ray defined it.

Ray remembers being paralyzed but capable of discerning multicoloured lights flashing. Harriet recalls walking through a thick fog while Ray lay on the bed. Shortly thereafter, Ray discovered an odd scar on Harriet's lower back.

Neither Harriet nor her mother remember how or when the scar appeared on Harriet's back, but the size and mark is consistent with other scars documented in alien abduction cases all over North America.

According to a new book, Maritime UFO Files by Don Ledger more than 225,000 Atlantic Canadians have seen what they consider to be an unidentified flying object - known as UFOs.

On top of that, some 54 per cent of Canadians who participated in a poll carried out by Manitoba Astronomer Chris Rutowski believe that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and some 35 per cent of those polled believe that intelligent life is visiting us now.

Mr. Ledger lives in Bedford, N.S. A former pilot and now a civil servant, he has been researching UFO phenomena for six years. He has culled his information from a vast and shadowy nest of military and RCMP documents. Mr. Ledger's book begins its catalogue of UFO sightings and alien abductions in the 1950s.  From here he chronicles decades of first-hand accounts made by scientists, ordinary citizens, pilots and RCMP officers.

There is a commonality of experience in most of the accounts.  Bright lights hover in the sky. Time lapses and the people who have seen or felt the presence of UFOs are confused and cannot understand how the hour has leapt ahead or what happened during that time.

One experience is particularly common: UFOs don't like cars.  There have been several reports of UFOs chasing vehicles, frightening drivers into cross-country high-speed chases.  Drivers report that they found themselves careening along country roads at 125 kilometres per hour in vain efforts to outrun gleaming orbs, or saucers in the sky.

In October of 1976, Joseph Robichaud, 26 years old at the time, filed a report to the RCMP Constable J.A. St. Pierre in Richibucto.

"At 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 3 1976," reported Mr. Robichaud, "I received a call from Rejean Emery Robichaud stating something unusual had happened to him. He asked me to meet him... on Highway 480.

"When I arrived at the site he was waiting there for me. There was no smell of liquor on his breath and his eyes were clear and normal. He did not seem to be under the influence of any kind of drug. He was, however, very pale and nervous, and appeared to be quite frightened. There were no clouds, there were quite a few stars in the sky, and the temperature was quite cool."

Mr. Robichaud told Joseph Robichaud that when he drove down Highway 480 in Kent County at approximately 3 a.m., he noticed a red, glowing object in the sky approximately 6 to 8 kilometres south of him.

He turned off the lights and engine of his car to get a better look at this stationary object, which was when the UFO started to move slowly up and down in the sky then headed north toward Mr. Robichaud.

At this point, Mr. Robichaud panicked, turned his car back on and headed east with the UFO in hot pursuit. The red glowing disc caught up to him very quickly despite the fact that Mr. Robichaud was reported to be travelling at speeds of 185 km/hr on the treacherous Highway 480. Eventually, with the UFO hovering above him, Mr. Robichaud arrived at a small group of houses. He slammed on the brakes, and ran from the car to take refuge. The UFO, he reported "stopped at about 91 metres from him and hovered silently over the pavement about 6 metres in the air.... The UFO was about the size of a house, and was red in colour similar to burning coals in a fire... Finally it took off into the night sky."

Mr. Ledger believes that Mr. Robichaud's story has credence given that he was up-front with the RCMP about the speeds he was travelling in the night. Furthermore, he showed no signs of drinking or narcotic abuse and appeared genuinely frightened by his experience.

Throughout the 1970s, reports of UFO sightings appeared never-ending.

*In 1970 a precision radar painted a large object at CFB Shearwater, at an estimated altitude of 2,500 feet.

*For more than one week in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia a UFO was sighted by a number of individuals from Colpitts Settlement to Moncton, to Sackville to Falmouth, N.S. The UFO, Mr. Ledger writes was reported to be "oval shaped, similar to a bathtub, and it had two reddish coloured lights shining downward."

*In 1977, Rosemary Anger of Bedeque PEI, called the Summerside detachment of the RCMP to report that she and her two daughters had observed a UFO which passed over her car at a height of approximately 15 metres.

*In December 1979, two different families - the Bartons of Segmour Point, outside Saint John and the Schwartzes who lived to the northwest of Fredericton - reported that they saw a flame-coloured UFO break up and fall over the Kennebecasis River on December 23 (according to the Bartons) and on December 24, near Fredericton (according to the Schwartzes).

The list of sightings tapers off in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1994, writes Mr. Ledger, the RCMP stopped reporting public sightings, deeming that they "should be kept confidential to protect the identity of the witness."

Despite the high number of UFO sightings in Atlantic Canada, most go unreported, writes Mr. Ledger. Which explains why from 1947 to 1988 only about 300 Maritime cases are on file with the National Research Council in Ottawa.

Most people, says Mr. Ledger, will not report what they have seen for fear of ridicule within their community. Nevertheless, of the cases he has researched and the witnesses he has interviewed, each case has led to five others and Mr. Ledger writes that he is concerned about how pervasive the sighting appear to be and how deeply they affect individual families.

Mr. Ledger has no conclusions at the end of his research, except that it is unfortunate that people do not have a forum to seek explanations for what they have seen. In the end, he concludes that there is more to the issue of UFO sightings - particularly in Atlantic Canada - then we have ever realized. Till we do come to some conclusion or resolution, the M-Files will continue to amaze and frighten the people who see UFOs in the night-time skies.

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November 5, 1998

Birmingham News

UFO buffs scan stars in search of life from other planets

by Kathy Kemp

ALTOONA, Ala. (AP) -- In a pasture nestled among pine trees at the foot of a hill, Roy Snow beams his flashlight toward the heavens.

He waves the light back and forth, back and forth, hoping that extraterrestrials will swoop down, land their spaceship at his feet and cordially invite him aboard.

"I'd like to be abducted, as long as they don't hurt me," said Snow, 42, a Northport laborer. "I know they're out there. I'm hoping it'll happen tonight."

So on this weekend night, he and his wife, Alice, and son Scotty have joined a small group of UFO spotters under a full moon and a sprinkling of stars, an hour northeast of Birmingham.

The trip was arranged by Bill Weeks, 55, a Birmingham land surveyor. Like the Snows, he is a member of the Birmingham chapter of MUFON, short for Mutual UFO Network, an international group that investigates unidentified flying objects, alien abductions and other peculiar goings-on.

"This is a hobby for me, not an obsession -- yet," said Weeks, who got interested in the topic after hearing a friend describe how an airship the size of a football field floated over Andalusia in 1971.

"I've never seen anything," he said. "That's part of what makes this interesting, the curiosity. I hear the stories about UFOs. Now I want to see one."

If it weren't for the low cloud cover and the blinding campfire, his chances might be good.

Alabama has a long and colorful history of flying saucer shenanigans, dating back 100 years, when MUFON records show that folks in Mobile noticed strange lights in the sky. In 1938, the port city also reported a "humanoid" sighting, though the details are sketchy.

It wasn't until the summer of 1947 that UFO-mania hit Alabama. On July 7, 1947, just days after the nation's newspapers screamed that a flying saucer had crashed near Roswell, N.M., hundreds of panicky Birmingham residents saw space ships buzzing the city.

The practical-minded suggested it was space debris, not aliens, over Birmingham. The excitement diminished further when the Air Force announced, contrary to some eyewitness reports, that it was a weather balloon that had crashed in the New Mexico desert. But a cult of true believers was born.

One is Nancy Lawson, a piano teacher who heads Birmingham MUFON. On the fourth Sunday each month, she joins MUFON members to discuss the latest sightings in Alabama and beyond.

"People are losing their fear to talk about this," said Ms. Lawson, who saw a UFO when she was 12. It followed her family's car along a dark stretch of U.S. 280, she recalls. "Used to, if you'd tell anybody a thing like that, they'd say you were crazy. Now they want to hear more."

Jeff Greenhaw is one Alabamian who wishes he'd kept his mouth shut about aliens. In October 1973, as police chief in the North Alabama town of Falkville, Greenhaw made international news when he responded to a call from "an excited woman" and came upon what he described as a 6-foot-tall metallic critter with an antenna on its head.

Before the creature took off at an "inhuman" pace, Greenhaw snapped a grainy photograph, which to this day can be found in UFO history books.

Greenhaw didn't get rich. But he did become infamous.

Now 48 and living in another town, Greenhaw is unemployed and has colon cancer. "He still believes what he saw was from outer space," said his wife, Paula.

Ms. Lawson's belief that attitudes are changing may be illustrated by a later and equally famous UFO case, also involving small-town North Alabama police officers. In February 1989 in rural Fyffe, Police Chief Junior Garmany and Assistant Chief Fred Works were responding to a call about lights in the sky when they drove right under a space ship.

"It was huge, above the treetops, and it didn't make a sound," recalls Garmany, 49, now a deputy sheriff in DeKalb County. "We'd never seen anything like it."

Other Fyffe residents saw the object, which one observer unfortunately described as "banana-shaped." That description drew plenty of laughs, as well as hordes of UFO spotters to the town.

The sighting remains a mystery, as do cattle mutilations that plagued Sand Mountain farmers from 1992 through 1996. The mutilations, often described as surgically precise, coincided with reports of black helicopters and UFOs in the area, which Ms. Lawson considers a "hotbed" for such activity.

MUFON members interview witnesses, document cases and look for answers. "Most of the time, there is a reasonable explanation," Ms. Lawson said. Some are probably military experiments. But a few cases suggest, to Ms. Lawson, that extraterrestrials are visiting Earth.

Baloney, says Thomas Wdowiak, an astrophysicist/biologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and part of the NASA team searching for life on Mars.

"I've spent 50 years examining the UFO issue and never once found anything credible," he said.

Ms. Lawson suggests that anyone who sees a UFO should call the police. In Birmingham, Crime Prevention Officer Annie Brown can't remember ever getting such a call. But should one come in, "I'd go on the Internet and try to find them a number to call," she said. "If they sound real crazy, I might send a social worker."

by midnight, the MUFON members have seen three spaceships, which prove to be only airplanes. Disappointed, the Snows say they'll keep waiting for their UFO ride.

But Mrs. Snow said she doesn't want to rush it, unlike the Heaven's Gate cult, whose members committed mass suicide in March 1997. Their leader, former University of Alabama choral director Marshall Herff Applewhite, instructed his followers to shed their earthly "containers" in order to catch a ride on a UFO trailing the Hale-Bopp comet.

"Them people's crazy," said Snow, waving his flashlight at the heavens.

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November 5, 1998

Agence France Presse

Air Force Pilot Plays Chase with UFO

SHANGHAI - The air force had a prolonged up-close encounter with a UFO last month that one fighter pilot described as "just like ones in foreign movies," a government-controlled newspaper reported Thursday.

A Hebei Daily report -- carried in the news digest Baokan Wenzhai -- gave a detailed pilot's account of an aerial cat-and-mouse game played between the object and a jet fighter ordered to intercept it.

At least 140 people on the ground also saw the object, it said.

An editor with the Hebei Daily said the events took place on Oct. 19 and were still being investigated by local government departments.

The newspaper's report and military sources quoted show an openness that contrast sharply with Washington's notorious secrecy on the topic of unidentified flying objects (UFOs).

It said the encounter began when four different radar stations in northern Hebei province picked up an unknown moving target in airspace directly above a military flight training base near Changzhou city.

To observers at the base, the UFO first appeared like "a small star," and then grew larger and larger, perhaps as it descended to a lower altitude, the report said.

They described an object with a mushroom-shaped dome on top and a flat bottom covered with bright, continually rotating lights.

A base commander surnamed Li reported to his superiors, who ordered a Jianjiao-6 armed interceptor airborne to pursue the object once checks showed no other civilian or military aircraft in the area.

The two pilots aboard said the object closely resembled depictions they had seen in foreign science fiction films.

When they got within 4,000 meters (13,200 feet) of the UFO over Qing county, it abruptly shot upward, easily evading subsequent attempts to get closer.

It appeared to be toying with the fighter by repeatedly outdistancing it and then reappearing just above it, the pilots said.

The report said a request for permission to fire on the UFO with an onboard cannon was denied by ground command at one point.

The interceptor was eventually forced to return to base after it ran out of fuel at an altitude of 12,000 meters (39,600 feet). The UFO then disappeared before two newer-model planes could get airborne, the article said.

While China's racy tabloids often run stories of strange phenomena alongside celebrity-gossip and crime stories, UFO reports are seldom carried by more official papers like the Hebei Daily.

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November 3, 1998

Dallas Morning News

Destinations : Close encounters with alien sites

by Tim Wyatt

They talk of glowing green fireballs, hours of unaccounted-for time andunexplained cuts and scrapes. Alien abduction? Or a happy hour turnedinto a two-day bender? "UFOlogists" - those who study alien contact andUFO sightings - take a good bit of ribbing about their avocation. Butas long as governments keep passing them off as the products ofimaginations run amok, UFO and extraterrestrial contact sites on theWeb will keep expanding at the same rate as the universe.

National UFO Reporting Center

Think of this page as the unofficial wire service of UFO sightings for North America. Here visitors can view the center's log book of call-ins and sort results by date, location or shape - that is, flying saucers and little green men vs. reptilian ETs that drive cigar-shaped crafts. Actually, these folks post sincere sightings from their hotline, like this one: "9/26/98, 21:05 - Fort Worth, Texas - A retired policeman sees a fireball coming down from the West that changes from green to white and back to green again before disappearing." The site receives up to 200 reports a month and also publishes in-depth reports of UFO investigations. No abductions posted here.

Project Blue Book

Set aside the graphics, forget the claims of conspiracy and overuse of exclamation points. This small page simply outlines entries that its author claims to have noted down from reading Air Force archives in 1974 of Project Blue Book, investigations of UFO sightings from 1947 to 1969. Of the more than 12,000 sightings reported in that time, 700 remained "unidentified" or unexplained. The author, who says he was allowed to read the files in researching a book, never finished his manuscript and decided to post his findings on the Web. He also notes that the Air Force censored the files in 1976 before sending them to be archived in Washington. So there!

The Alien Presence

A commercial-free site, the Alien Presence features a large amount of data on sightings, research groups and key events in "UFOlogy," including photos purported to be of deceased EBEs (extraterrestrial biological entities) found 52 years ago in the wreckage of a UFO in Roswell, N.M. Fortunately, the site sports a glossary so that the uninitiated can make their way through the maze of alien-related jargon and acronyms. The most astounding section to UFO neophytes, however, is a 60-year list of alien craft crash sites across the globe, the latest of which happened in 1992 in Long Island, allegedly. We just hope the flight crew didn't try to hop a commuter train to Brooklyn.

UFO's, Mysteries & Phenomena

UFO-wise, there's nothing spectacular about this page's reference material and links to related sites. The bulk of the site contains illustrations of aliens. But scrolling down its listings, "52 Signs of Abduction" caught our eye. Although its authors caution that many symptoms described here could be caused by other factors - maybe that acute sinus pain is caused by allergies instead of a suspicious implanted device - it's a good tool to help the curious decide if they've been handled by space visitors. One definitive clue should be if a person has "seen a hooded figure in or near your home, especially next to [the] bed." Well, unless you left the front door unlocked on Halloween night.

Set up as a mockup of a top secret government study lab of human contact with extraterrestrials, this site's heavy graphical environment makes it hard to answer if there's intelligent life out there, even with a modem that travels at the speed of light.  That said, there remains a decent collection of "true" stories of alien encounters and abductions. We especially liked the tale of the Canadian man who lay paralyzed in bed while his wife was "visited." And after you pore over stories of implanted devices, alien cross-breeding programs and cattle mutilations, stop by the site's store for that miniature alien action figure gift set.

Alien Abductions Inc.

"If they won't contact you, contact us!" is the motto for an elaborate, virtual company that offers to implant alien abduction memories for those who feel they're the only ones left on Earth who haven't been taken against their will into an alien spacecraft. Inside a vast treatment complex that offers corporate group rates for memory implants lies The Abductalizer, an inane test for determining a visitor's Personal Abduction Analysis Factor that serves to drive home the site creators' contempt for "UFOlogy." But it's a nice break from reading about bizarre medical experiments inflicted on earthlings by little bug-eyed guys about four feet tall.

The Skeptic's Dictionary

This "ET & UFO" subsection of the Skeptic's Dictionary deals nasty blows in long and short form to believers in alien abductions (a cult with no proof), crop circles (pranksters, not spaceships) and Area 51 (most likely a government-run toxic waste dump). The party pooper of alien contact, the site employs diabolical methods of scientific fact and reason to make its arguments. The dictionary goes as far as to quote the late Carl Sagan on the possibility of millions of abductions: "It's surprising more of the neighbors haven't noticed."

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October 18, 1998

The People (UK)

Churchill's Fears of UFO Invasion

WORRIED Winston Churchill ordered a top-level probe into UFOs when he was Premier, it was revealed yesterday.

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, revealed the investigation as he admitted the Government is holding at least 33 top-secret files on UFOs.

The classified documents are held under lock and key at the Public Record Office in Kew, West London, and Lord Irvine says there may be more in other Government departments.

But the information contained is so sensitive it cannot be released with the other 23 files reporting sightings between 1943 and 1967 which have already been made public.

Churchill asked his air minister Lord Cherwell to investigate in 1952, writing: "What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth?"

He was told 12 days later there was no evidence flying saucers existed.

Yet official documents show the War Office received reports that flying saucers were spotted by the RAF's 115 Squadron on bombing raids over Germany in 1943.

And in the year Churchill asked for his investigation, another two sightings had been reported to the War Office.

Lord Irvine's statement follows questioning by Lord Hill-Norton, Chief of the Defence Staff in the 1970s, who says UFO evidence is being concealed.

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October 9, 1998

Florida Today

Waiting for Bubba: Vigilant skywatchers keeping the faith

by Billy Cox

GULF BREEZE, Fla. - Saturday night in this almost-Alabama panhandle hamlet of 6,000 souls ain't what it used to be, not since Bubba pretty much upped and left. But for the dozen or so Skywatchers chowing down at a buffet restaurant, what matters is that Bubba showed up at all.  And they consider it a privilege to have met him. Or whatever the hell Bubba is. Or was. Nobody figured that out; the thing got its name when the Skywatchers kept shouting, "Look over there, Bubba!"

The Skywatchers are about as ordinary a bunch of folks as you can imagine, not your usual tie-dyed incense-burning New Age suspects. Up until about 10 years ago, these diners were strangers, from near and distant points such as Pensacola, Mobile and Foley, Ala. That's when Bubba began bringing them together. Now they're friends.

Seventy-six-year-old Sue Jones has a photo album. She opens it up.

Jones has marked the Bubba pix according to photographer, time and date. The only connecting visual thread seems to be the night sky; Bubba looks different in each one. Here - Bubba looks like a glowing orange Life Saver ring sucked thin enough to dissolve. There - Bubba is clustered in a tight constellation of bright burning lights. In another photo, Bubba blossoms like - wow! - a carnation of red-orange fire.

One thing Bruce and Ann Morrison know Bubba isn't is flares. They've got footage of C-130 flare drops for comparison and you can hear the plane illuminated in the glow. The Morrisons have several hundred hours of videotape edited down into a half-hour presentation they call "The Best of Bubba." They play it later, back at the house in Pensacola.  Some of the footage is pretty cool. Sometimes, when it's getting ready to leave, Bubba blazes from its typical red glow to a magnesium white.  Sometimes, Bubba drops cinder-red or ash-white globules that plummet like heavy metal; the Skywatchers call them "shooter-off'ers."  Sometimes Bubba shows off for a few seconds; other times, it's five minutes-plus. But always - always - the soundtrack is punctuated by the excited voices of the Skywatchers.

At least, that's how it used to be.

At Bubba's peak, in 1992, the Skywatchers had the names of 552 witnesses who'd seen Bubba before they just quit counting. Bubba used to show up so regular you could plop down a lawnchair at Shoreline Park off Santa Rosa Sound and set your watch by it, around 9 p.m. In fact, several Skywatchers reckon they've seen Bubba hundreds of times. That is, until for some unknown reason, Bubba sightings began to taper off in the late '90s.

Even though Bubba never made a sound and sometimes moved like an erratic cursor across a night-black mousepad, it might be reasonable to suspect Bubba's real name is Uncle Sam, seeing as how Gulf Breeze sits in the slot between sprawling Eglin Air Force Base to the east and Naval Air Station Pensacola to the west. But when you query EAFB about Bubba, all you get is a press release about how the USAF "concluded all UFO investigation activities in 1969 and has no current interest in the subject." And when you chat with NASP rep Harry White, he says "We've never had anything unusual show up on radar" and "I think (Bubba) was pretty much proved to be a hoax a few years back."

Well, that depends on who you ask.

In June 1990, there was a paper model recovered from the attic of a house formerly owned by one Ed Walters, who took the first Bubba pix in 1987-88. It resembled but didn't match Walters' photos. Walters quit talking about Bubba because of all the flack, and the Skywatchers claim he was set up. Even if Walters was a hoax, that didn't explain what everyone else was seeing and photographing years after the model was found.

Anyhow. The Skywatchers went on to organize themselves into Project Awareness, which is hosting the Space Coast UFO Conference this weekend at the Cocoa Beach Hilton. And who knows? Maybe Bubba will drop in when they do a skywatch tonight around 10. But no matter. They'll still keep bringing the kids and the cameras to Shoreline Park every now and then, just in case. Because you just never know.

"We've had over 60 sightings," claims Clopton Jones, gazing across the water to the commercial lights of Pensacola Beach. "My wife and I have been married 59 years, and this is one of the nicest things that ever happened to us."

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October 4, 1998

Houston Chronicle

Undocumented Aliens: `Ufologists' Hope Report Spurs Research Funding

by Todd Ackerman, Science Writer

When John Schuessler was investigating UFO reports in and around Houston, he always knew he could count on one thing.

He'd get little help from local scientists.

Needing answers about, say, the physiological effects of radiation or the physics of unusual occurrences, the longtime Clear Lake aerospace engineer would have to turn to experts in other cities.

"You'd think that in the nation's space center there'd be no shortage of interest," says Schuessler, who retired and moved to Colorado this summer. "But as soon as I mentioned my questions concerned a UFO sighting, scientists didn't want to talk to me."

Schuessler hopes that is about to change. This summer, in the first scientific review of UFO phenomena since 1970, a panel of scientists concluded that some sightings are accompanied by physical evidence so strong they deserve scientific study.

The story made front-page headlines around the nation. To the intelligentsia, after all, UFOs have long been the stuff of tabloids and the lunatic fringe, liable to culminate in mass suicides like Heaven's Gate, better illuminated by ``The X-Files'' than serious scientists.

The 50-page report, funded by millionaire Laurance Rockefeller, stopped short of finding convincing evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence or even any violation of natural law. But it indicted the scientific community for a lack of scientific curiosity.

Citing cases that included burns to witnesses, radar detection of mysterious objects, strange lights appearing repeatedly in the skies over certain locales, aberrations in the workings of automobiles, and radiation and other damage found in vegetation, it called on scientists to overcome their fear of ridicule associated with the topic and get funding to research such occurrences.

Funding is the rub, of course. Even a report by respected scientists isn't likely to make historically skeptical government agencies and foundations suddenly pour forth with major grants to study UFOs.

"But I think it'll crack the door open a bit," says Schuessler, who delivered testimony to the panel regarding UFOs he has investigated, including a famous 1980 case in Liberty County. "And, symbolically, it means a lot to the `UFOlogy' community and to those people around the world whose experiences have been trivialized by science."

But if UFOlogists want practical results, they probably still have their work cut out for them. Alan Holt, a NASA manager at the Johnson Space Center who is sympathetic to their concerns, says the scientific community would need 10 times more data than the report presents before they would get interested.

UFO ridicule dates to the Korean War, when a CIA-sponsored study debunked then-prevalent UFO reports. In that authoritative era, its language was so harsh it had the effect of quieting the controversy - the media stopped asking questions, people became afraid to report sightings.

There were (and still are) easy explanations for most sightings: Jupiter, Mars and Venus, comets, meteors, even the moon in its red-hued gibbous phase, space debris, experimental aircraft, model planes, fireworks, research balloons, kites. Others require more expertise: ball lightning, swamp gas, mirages, distant tornadoes, sunlight reflecting off flocks of birds and swarms of insects. Some, of course, are hoaxes.

But according to UFOlogists, about 5 percent of reported sightings involve none of those, and constitute some sort of unidentifiable phenomena. This summer's report says those cases merit more serious study.

The only investigation currently being done is typically by UFOlogists like Schuessler, volunteers who've made a hobby of researching the subject. They often are scientists, although the fact that their work isn't funded by grants actually taints them in the eyes of some colleagues. Skeptics, nicknamed debunkers by the UFOlogists, call them "mystery mongers."

"The implication of claims about those unidentifiable sightings is that if you spend a lot of time studying them you'll find something remarkable," says Joe Nickell, an editorial board member of the Skeptical Inquirer. "But more likely, they'll fall into one of the identifiable categories."

Nickell says he has no problem with open-minded scientific investigations into UFO sightings. But he questions the wisdom of putting money into research that will inevitably yield cases that are unidentifiable because there simply weren't enough witnesses or the kind of evidence to resolve the matter.

The world's biggest center of UFOlogy is the Mutual UFO Network, an international, grass-roots organization headquartered in Texas that dispatches its volunteers to investigate sightings, holds symposiums and publishes a quarterly journal.

MUFON is also the home, in Seguin, of a UFO museum - an eccentric hodgepodge of alien toys and UFO books; of gift-shop knickknacks and scholarly displays of UFO sightings; of mugs, caps and T-shirts and laminated newspaper pages; of movie posters and debris from an authentic NASA rocket.

It is the biggest UFO museum east of Roswell, N.M.

MUFON's roughly 3 ,500 members include a wide range of experts and views - 217 have doctorates and 300 have master's degrees; some are almost as skeptical as Nickell in assessing likely explanations. Others, like MUFON Director Walt Andrus, are more flamboyant.

Andrus, whose home doormat reads "Welcome, UFOs and Crews," says the UFOs probably have an underwater Earth base and calls on the U.S. government to "quit lying and tell the truth about UFOs."

"Theology is a matter of belief, not UFOs," says Andrus. "The fact of the matter is, the evidence for UFOs is overwhelming. We're receiving visitations from someplace. These UFOs didn't originate here."

Such is the kind of discussion the makes the mainstream scientific community cringe. A sampling of scientists at the time expressed anxiety when this summer's report came out that a topic with such a high "giggle factor" might blur the lines between legitimate research and the "lunatic fringe."

Schuessler says he and others presenting UFO testimony to the report's authors initially picked up that same vibe, an "arm's-length" attitude that bespoke a kind of fear of being contaminated. But Schuessler says that went away, and a mood of true scientific discussion emerged as "the panel realized we weren't kooks."

Schuessler's testimony focused on the physiological effect on witnesses, particularly in the well-known Cash-Landrum case in Liberty County. The 1980 incident involved two women and one's 7-year-old grandson. Their alleged encounter with a UFO left them with permanent damage to the eyes; stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea; skin scarring, with loss of pigmentation; excessive hair loss; loss of appetite, energy and weight; fingernail shedding; increased susceptibility to disease; and cancer.

The incident - Schuessler has written a book on it - is one of a number of sightings that Schuessler says have made Texas a UFO center. Others include an 1897 airship crash near Fort Worth in which The Dallas Morning News reported that the recovered pilot's body was "not of this world," sightings of lights in the sky known as the Lubbock Lights and Marfa Lights, and a 1976 event near Tyler that Schuessler told the panel left the witnesses with the experience of "shock."

So what will the report accomplish? Nickell says it'll be a blip on the radar screen. And even its author, Stanford physicist Peter Sturrock, says he doesn't think scientists are going to jump into the field. But Schuessler is more hopeful.

"Scientists will happily do UFO research, just as they now do fruit fly research, if the money's there to pay for it," says Schuessler. "UFOlogy just needs some millionaires to endow them."

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August 31, 1998

Philadelphia Inquirer

Call it freedom? Or beyond the fringe?
Activity at Temple's Center for Frontier Science is the target of a columnist.

by Faye Flam

by encouraging an open exchange of ideas, even very prestigious universities end up nurturing some fringe material. At Harvard, there's a psychology professor who is convinced that his patients have been abducted by UFO aliens, while at Stanford a doctor is promoting the idea that AIDS is not caused by HIV but by drug abuse. At Princeton, a group of engineers keeps trying to show that computers and other machines can be controlled with the mind.

At Temple University, a whole center is devoted to what many scientists consider fringe activity. Temple's school of education includes the small but vocal Center for Frontier Science -- which sends out a journal and hosts numerous talks and conferences on such fare as homeopathic medicine, telekinesis, cold fusion, even Tarot cards, as well as misapplications of quantum physics to AIDS and cancer treatments, spirituality and plant development. The journal prints some articles by respected researchers and some by people who don't appear to understand freshman-level physics.

Until recently, many on Temple's faculty didn't like to talk about the center. "It's been like the scandal of the lobotomized cousin up in the attic," said mathematician John Allen Paulos.

Then, this month a science columnist named Martin Gardner, in a column titled, "What's going on at Temple University?," criticized the university for housing the center.

The column, published in the magazine The Skeptical Inquirer, also mentions Temple history professor David Jacobs, who has written books and appeared on talk shows spreading the word that aliens from outer space are abducting people.

Along with the center, Gardner calls this "further evidence that Temple is sliding into absurdity."

The flap has prompted scientists to debate the distinction between science and pseudoscience, and the the role of a university such as Temple in encouraging the free flow of ideas, even unpopular or ridiculous-sounding ones.

"Yes, the center supports stuff that is, to be generous, unbelievable," said Temple biology professor Richard Weisenberg. However, "a university, if it's doing its job, is a place that welcomes and encourages all kinds of views."

Temple spokeswoman Harriet Goodheart said faculty members she spoke with were outraged at the column. "They thought it was a cheap shot at the university based on one faculty member and one center."

Paulos said he thinks Jacobs, like any tenured professor, has a right to his point of view. Keeping him on the faculty does not mean Temple endorses belief in UFO abductions.

Jacobs could not be reached for comment.

But the Center for Frontier Science is a larger concern, he said. According to Paulos, it poses a threat to Temple's reputation because it is officially part of Temple's ed school and because it "wraps itself in the mantle of Temple" by putting the Temple name and T logo on its journal and lecture announcements and material sent to the media.

"Most universities have their crackpots," he said, "but they don't come under the aegis of the university."

The Center for Frontier Science was conceived in 1986 by the chairman of Temple's board of trustees, Richard J. Fox, who wanted to give a platform to ideas that were outside the mainstream.

The center hosts lectures and conferences and twice a year releases its journal, Frontier Perspectives, to the media and 4,800 subscribers.

The center itself is a surprisingly small operation, consisting of director Nancy Kolenda and one graduate student. Kolenda is not a scientist -- she majored in accounting -- but she has an interest in both science and communication.

"I think science has been held back by a lack of communication," she said.

She says the main function of the center is to get new and unconventional ideas out in the open -- to get them aired and explored. It is not to promote these ideas, she says, "but these ideas would never been published if Frontier Perspectives didn't exist."

"Any time anyone goes out of the accepted, current paradigm, they're ridiculed," she says. Look at Edison, she said. Look at Galileo.

In an interview, trustee Fox said part of the reason he supports the center, at a cost of about $100,000 a year, is to encourage free expression of ideas and support "lonely researchers" who might be onto something really new.

"The university's role is one of enlightenment, of discussion and openness," he said. "There's a great need for a forum to explore new ideas and ideas that may not be popular."

Paulos argues that the subject matter published in Frontier Perspectives is actually quite popular -- witness The X-Files -- but he finds the contentions are so dumb and the arguments so pseudointellectual as to be embarrassing to him as a Temple professor.

Columnist Gardner said he expected a higher level of discussion from the journal. He thought he might see articles on the speculative area of physics known as superstring theory, or some of the more far-out theories in cosmology, or perhaps something on possible connections between genetics and altruism.

Instead, what he saw was "so far out on the spectrum that it doesn't deserve to be called science."

There was an article by a British electrical engineer called "Is a Living System a Macroscopic Quantum System," which, along with an article called "Biological Effects of Quantum Fields and Their Role in the Natural Healing Process," attempted to use quantum physics and electromagnetism to explain and defend a branch of alternative medicine known as homeopathy.

In homeopathy, medicines are diluted to the point that the patient ends up getting little or nothing but pure water, though, according to the theory, the water contains the "essence" of the original substance.

Homeopathic medicine was invented in the 19th century and has never been convincingly shown to work. Though most scientists see it as quackery, it is seeing a resurgence of popularity.

Another article argued that illness is caused by a delusion that infuses not just the brain but the entire body. For delusional illness, the author suggests homeopathy, which he defines as "harmonic nonlinear soliton waves in resonance with subconscious negative programs," which can "collapse a negative thought program." Paulos calls this sort of nonsensical term-dropping "quantum drivel."

Another article used the jargon of freshman-level physics to back up the contention that Tarot cards can transmit information from "the field of the collective unconscious."

Prominent Temple scientists can't distance themselves enough from the center. "We don't have any interaction with them," said Edward Gawlinski, head of the physics department.

"They look at things that are not the things we are interested in," said biology department chair Joel Sheffield.

Gardner, who is not a scientist but became known among scientists for the mathematics columns he wrote for Scientific American, said that in his judgment, the articles distributed by the Center for Frontier Science were not science at all but pseudoscience. Pseudoscience uses the language of science and sometimes the mathematical symbols, but it lacks the logic and the connections to both observational evidence and to established science.

Gardner believes the distinction between science and pseudoscience is not one of opinion. There is a reason that mainstream science accepted Einstein's radical ideas of relativity, while continuing to reject homeopathy and psychic powers.

Evidence is crucial, but it is only part of the story.

Einstein's special and general theories of relativity were accepted as brilliant before the experimental evidence came in to back them. Scientists of the time were impressed that the mathematical formulas behind special relativity created a new connection between electricity, magnetism, and the speed of light.

It is partly these mathematical connections that allow theories on superstrings, the inner reaches of black holes, mysterious particles, and the origin of the universe to get published in Physical Review rather than in supermarket tabloids.

Many scientists believe that the rigorous skepticism that underlies the scientific method has not held back the progress of science but has in fact helped break down old dogma and unleashed the torrential progress that has characterized science and technology in the last century and a half. If radical new ideas are held suspect for a time, that's all part of the process.

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August 29, 1998

Times of London

Vatican man puts faith in ET and his friends

by Ruth Gledhill
Religion Correspondent

EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS exist and there is no conflict between a belief in aliens and the Christian faith, a Vatican theologian close to the Pope says.

Father Corrado Balducci, of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, claims in a book about alien abductions to be published next week, that it is wrong to assert that reports of encounters with aliens are not credible.

"It is reasonable to believe and affirm that extra-terrestrials exist," he says. "Their existence can no longer be denied, for there is too much evidence for the existence of extra-terrestrials and flying saucers."

Father Balducci says that clues such as the existence of flying saucers indicate that extra-terrestrials are further evolved than humans. In an interview to be published as the appendix to Confirmation, Father Balducci says that even if extra-terrestrials were discovered who were superior to humans, it would not call into question the teachings of Christianity.

He refers to a passage in the New Testament where St Paul refers to Christ as the king of the universe, not just the king of the world. "This means that everything in the universe, including extra-terrestrials and UFOs are reconcilable with God."

Father Balducci, a renowned exorcist and expert on demonology, has written two books on the Devil. Listed in the Vatican directory as "priest of honour" since 1964, he is an official member of the papal household or family.

Father Balducci says his first question to an alien would be what their concept of God was. But he goes on to say: "It is very important to lend credence to the eye-witness accounts, but we must be very careful to ensure that they are authentic. I have also heard of people who have claimed to have had contacts, but who unfortunately were not mentally sound."

A spokesman for the Catholic Media Office in London said last night: "The fundamental creation message relates to humans here on earth. If aliens were shown to exist, this would not cast doubt on the veracity of the Gospel. But we would have to ask whether the Christian atonement was applicable to them."

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August 26, 1998

St Louis Post-Dispatch

Group believes: Government should release data on UFOs

by Allison Schlesinger

Bruce Widaman has advice for President Bill Clinton: Release all the government's UFO information and the public will forget about presidential infidelities.

Widaman, the state director of the Mutual UFO Network Inc., or MUFON, said he was part of a growing population - those who seek the truth and believe the government is keeping it from them.

A recent Gallup Poll suggests that about 72 percent of Americans believe that life exists on other planets and 48 percent believe that UFOs are real phenomena.

Another poll states about 40 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. government is hiding UFO information from the public.

The serious believers of these statistics, like Widaman, belong to MUFON. The national club, based in Seguin, Texas, has members from every walk of life and is the world's largest UFO membership organization.

At a recent monthly meeting of the Missouri MUFON chapter, held at the Holiday Inn Select in St. Peters, the attendees were a mixture of skeptics and believers.

Some members said they attend MUFON meetings because they, or someone they know, have been abducted by aliens.

Others said they have too many unanswered questions about recent scientific discoveries. The members' professions include accountant, artist, florist and neuro chemist.

"We aren't political. We don't push an agenda," Widaman said. "We just want to find out the truth."

Widaman is also quick to point out that this is not an organization for kooks. None of the members in the local chapter sees a psychologist or a psychiatrist for personality disorders, he said.

Membership to the group is by invitation only and a special board approves applications.

Walter Andrus, international director of MUFON, said the organization is governed by a 21-member board of directors, most of whom are doctors representing 45 areas of science, technology, medicine and other professional fields.

Widaman leads an informal monthly meeting. He estimates that the organization has about 200 members from Missouri and that about two dozen make it to meetings.

Over dinner, they talk, either in small groups or all together, about recent UFO sightings, scientific discoveries or unexplained phenomena.

A regular, and well-known, member of the MUFON chapter is Chrystal Jackson. The 75-year-old professional artist from Ballwin said she was uncomfortable and skeptical about UFOs until she was abducted by aliens.

Jackson said she was teaching a painting seminar in July 1981 in northern Wisconsin when the abduction happened. She and her family were driving at night when her son first saw a bright, red-orange disk hovering in the sky about 300 feet away.

When the incident first happened, she said she was scared and confused. The UFO seemed to control the car and she and her son cannot account for 20 minutes of that night.

She said she now knows what happened that night and embraces the experience. The aliens who abducted her were beautiful beings who had a profound impact on her art, she said.

"We're brainwashed to believe that this is crazy and can't happen," Jackson said.

Jackson hopes to publish a book about her experience titled "The Doughnut Shop." She said she selected that name because Jackson believes some aliens live on Earth and frequent doughnut shops.

But not all members of MUFON believe in alien abduction. In fact, some members would prefer that their neighbors not know about their sky-watching hobby.

"There are some things that no one can explain," said one member of the organization who wished to remain anonymous. "Like, why the government would spend so much money to investigate something that they tell the public doesn't exist. So, I belong to MUFON to talk about it. But would I want to talk to my boss about all of this? I don't think so."

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August 17, 1998

Seattle Times

'We know they exist,' says alien researcher at conference

by Hugo Kugiya

The windows of the Flag Pavilion were covered with black cardboard, not out of fear of searchlights from black helicopters, or the peering eyes of agents in black suits and sunglasses.

The hangar-like room at Seattle Center was darkened in order to show slides and short films to about 150 people gathered to discuss extraterrestrial life. Not the possibility of it, but the reality of it.

"We know about misidentification and hoaxes," said Terry Tibando, member of the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI), a network of believers, which sponsored yesterday's all-day workshop. "We've considered all the contrary arguments. We don't question the possibility. We know they exist."

The ideas put forth yesterday at the workshop - abductions, alien craft shot down by the military, alien technology stolen by the government, the desire of giant corporations to instill fear of an alien invasion - if remotely true would be the biggest news story of the millennium. Such assertions are confined mostly to late-night talk radio and plots of movies and television shows.

Given the weight of the message, much of what was heard yesterday in the Flag Pavilion sounded surprisingly down to earth. It resembled, in many ways, a religious revival.

Joy Gilbert, from Eugene, spoke yesterday of once visiting her grown daughter in Sisters, Ore., and being taken aboard an alien craft by doe-eyed escorts, who examined her in the glow of a brilliant blue light.

She spoke with passion of communicating with a kind, loving alien being, whom she realized had appeared in her dreams all her life and who remains an invisible presence.

Tibando believes that in his lifetime, aliens will show themselves to humans and will live among us. He says they have not yet shown themselves because "we're not mature enough to deal with them in a mature manner."

"They see us as a maturing, interesting species," Tibando said. "But we've reacted to them with aggression. We scramble jets to shoot them down. So what they're doing now is quarantining us. It sounds like 'The X-Files' but it's not; it goes way beyond that."

As with gods, whom worshipers do not see but believe in nonetheless, some faith is required here.

The aliens, Tibando said, have left us a trail of bread crumbs: geometric shapes burned into wheat fields, numerous sightings of spacecraft, individual encounters like Gilbert's.

The goal of Tibando and others associated with CSETI is full disclosure. Highly placed officials in the military and in industry know about our relationship with aliens, Tibando said.

Last June an international panel of reputable scientists concluded enough unexplained, physical evidence accompanying UFO sightings exists to warrant further investigation.

The study, led by Stanford University physicist Peter Sturrock, cited evidence such as burns to witnesses of UFO sightings, radar detections of unexplained objects, strange lights appearing repeatedly in the skies in certain areas, aberrations in the operation of automobiles, and radiation and other damage found in vegetation.

A 50-page report was compiled by the panel, composed of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell and Princeton universities, the universities of Arizona and Virginia, and institutions in France and Germany, among others. But the greater scientific community still is reluctant to dignify such ideas with a response, for fear of blurring the line between legitimate scientific research and the beliefs of a fringe group.

Only time will tell whether the fringe was, all along, the only people smart enough to foretell one of the greatest events of mankind.

"We need Congress to demand an investigation," said Deborah Foch, with CSETI. "Otherwise, most of us will not know."

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August 15 1998

Times of London

Reports of UFOs vanish mysteriously into space

BY James Landale
Political Reporter

THE little green men from outer space have packed their bags, fired up their flying saucers and headed home. Or perhaps we have just become a little less credulous.

Reported sightings of UFOs have fallen dramatically in Britain in the past year, according to the Ministry of Defence. In 1996, 609 people told the ministry that they had seen an unidentified flying object. Last year, the figure dropped to 425. In the first six months of this year only 88 people reported sightings.

Ministry officials differed from UFO experts yesterday in explaining the decline. A ministry spokesman suggested that Hollywood was to blame. The unusually high 1996 figures had, he said, been prompted by the film Independence Day, with its story of aliens trying to destroy Earth. This was compounded by Men in Black, last year's film about aliens living on our planet. Similarly high numbers occurred after Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the late 1970s, when sightings rocketed from 435 to 750.

The spokesman added that the Hale-Bopp comet and last year's 50th anniversary of an American pilot coining the term "flying saucer" had contributed to the figures. "There was a series of films and events in 1996 and 1997 which triggered off a spate of reports from the public," he said. "In contrast, this year we have had the World Cup."

His theory has a flaw: UFO sightings dropped from 600 to 250 after ET hit the screens in 1982. Nick Pope, a UFO expert and civil servant who investigated sightings for the ministry between 1991 and 1994, was sceptical of the films theory: "The idea of a link is an attempt to try to trivialise the UFO project."

Graham Birdsall, editor of UFO Magazine, said official reports of sightings had declined because the ministry decided last year to stop taking them in person over the telephone, installing an answering machine instead. This put people off making a report.

He claimed that the official figures represented only 10 per cent of UFO sightings, most of which went unreported because observers were afraid of being mocked. Many other reports, made to the police and airports, did not reach the ministry.

The official figures were given in a written parliamentary answer to Lord Hill-Norton, the 83-year-old former First Sea Lord and UFO aficionado. His only comment yesterday was that he did not think the number of sightings had dropped.

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August 13, 1998

Boston Globe

If Alien Abductors Call, Just Say No

by Diane White

How many times have you asked yourself: What would I do if space aliens showed up at my door?

If they came for just a friendly close encounter, it would be one thing. You could invite them in for cocktails and a chat. It's the alien abduction thing you want to avoid. Everybody knows what happens when you're abducted by aliens. They probe your orifices. Life is difficult enough these days without some alien sticking an instrument, or whatever, into your ear, or wherever.

In her book "How to Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction," UFO researcher Ann Druffel delivers what her title promises. The paperback, just published by Three Rivers Press, costs $12, a small price for step-by-step instruction in techniques that will help you resist should aliens come calling.

Druffel, who has been researching UFOs since 1957, looked through 250 case studies and found 70 "resisters," people who just said "No!," in a manner of speaking, to alien abduction. Actually, just saying "No!" is Resistance Technique No. 3, one of nine described in the book. Druffel calls it Righteous Anger. It requires assertiveness and a positive attitude on the part of the resister. Righteous Anger, Druffel writes, "is best combined with strong commands, either verbal or mental, such as 'Go away!' or 'Leave me alone!' and so on."

I'm not sure I could pull off Righteous Anger if aliens were to show up at my house. I can't get my cats off the kitchen counter by saying "Go away!" so I doubt it would work on extraterrestrials bent on probing my orifices. Nor do I think I'll be using Resistance Technique No. 2, Physical Struggle. I wouldn't want to risk hurting an alien. "The intent should never be to kill or seriously injure the intruders," Druffel writes, "but to inform them that their presence is violating the witness's right to privacy."

The problem with this gambit is that aliens don't appear to understand the concept of privacy. They're forever showing up unannounced in people's bedrooms in the middle of the night, and if that's not a violation of privacy I don't know what is. Personally, I think they could use a short course in etiquette. I bet Miss Manners could whip them into shape in a hurry.

Of the remaining seven Resistance Techniques my favorite is No. 9, Repellents. Although I'm not ruling out No. 4, Protective Rage, or No. 7, Metaphysical Methods, or even No. 5, Support From Family Members.

You can mix and match Druffel's techniques to suit yourself and the occasion. For example, you could use a well-known Alien Repellent like St. John's Wort along with a Metaphysical Method of resistance, such as envisioning yourself enveloped in a protective bright white light. And if that's not enough, you could fly into a Protective Rage "using rejecting statements, even well-chosen curses" against the intruders. Begone, alien scum!

Druffel writes that most people in the alien abduction field, abductees and researchers alike, don't believe Resistance Techniques can be used successfully. Why? Druffel puts it down to lack of practical experience: "... it seems almost certain that most [abductees] have never even tried [resistance] with the necessary motivation and confidence."

Clearly then, it's best to be prepared. Get a copy of 'How to Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction'. Practice the Resistance Techniques on telemarketers and cold-call sales people and anybody else who pops into your life uninvited. You don't want to find yourself thinking, "Gee, I wish I'd bought that book," as some big-eyed entity drags you off to the mother ship.

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August 12, 1998

Evansville Courier

Close Encounter: Illinois Man Convinced He Saw A UFO 75 Years Ago

by Len Well

MOUNT ERIE, Ill. -- It’s been 75 years since Norman Massie led a team of horses into a pasture near his Mount Erie home, looked up and saw what he is convinced to this day was a spaceship.

"You can call me anything you want, but I know in my heart and in my mind what I saw that evening, and it was some kind of spaceship," Massie said.

Massie, 85, was 10 years old when he encountered the object. The retired high school math teacher and coach says he kept quiet about the incident until 1990 because his father told him never to breathe a word about what he saw because "people would talk."

Massie’s UFO sighting happened in June 1923 on the family farm in northern Wayne County.

"I opened the gate to let the horses into the pasture. I let them through, and as I was closing the gate I looked back down the field and there was an object with lights all around it," Massie said.

"I kept walking closer to the object until I got about 50 feet away. I stood there and watched the five men who were on board."

Massie described the men as being about 4* feet tall with blond hair. "I got close enough that I could hear them talk," Massie said. "One guy sat in a chair and the others called him the commander. Four others made trips back and forth in the ship. I didn’t know what was going on until the end."

Massie claims he heard one of the crew members tell his commander that "the repairs had been made."

"The machine was metallic and stood on three legs. The top was a dome with holes in it. The best way I could describe the top was it looked like melted glass," Massie said.

The encounter lasted only about five minutes, Massie said. "In a minute, it came to a hovering position. The tripod legs telescoped up into the belly of the thing, and it went straight up about 200 feet and whizzed off to the west like a bullet," he said.

Startled by what he saw, Massie says he ran home and told his parents, Grover and Laura Massie, and his 8-year-old brother, Lyveere.

"Mom and Dad tried to convince me that I really hadn’t seen anything, and was making up the whole thing," he said.

He says his dad announced he wanted no member of his family mentioning the incident to anyone because they might think Norman was "crazy in the head, or an idiot."

Massie broke his silence on the matter in 1990 when he told his son, Jerry, who was a Colonel in the Air Force at the time.

"When I got done telling him the whole story he told me there was nothing wrong with me, that the Air Force files are full of pictures of UFOs. He accepted my story as the truth."

Massie says he’s convinced the object had to come from somewhere other than Earth. "It doesn’t bother me one bit that people might think I’m a crazy old man. In my own mind and my own heart, it existed and I saw it with my own two eyes."

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August 10, 1998

Salt Lake City Deseret News

Paranormal effort takes a public turn
Nevadan seeks Uinta Basin's input on UFOs

by Zack Van Eyck

LAS VEGAS, Nev.-- Two years ago, Terry and Gwen Sherman were trying to unload a 480-acre Uintah County cattle ranch they said was rife with UFO activity and other bizarre occurrences.

Millionaire philanthropist Robert T. Bigelow came to the rescue, buying the ranch and moving in a team of researchers and surveillance equipment.

Bigelow, 54, a Las Vegas native who amassed a fortune in real estate development, had for years funded private research projects on the far fringe of mainstream science.

The Sherman ranch was exactly what he was looking for a secluded location with a history of phenomenal events where his nonprofit National Institute for Discovery Science could gather extraordinary data.

As a condition of the purchase, however, the Shermans agreed to keep quiet about what they reportedly had witnessed the mutilated and disappearing cattle, UFOs the size of football fields, circular doorways that appeared in midair and floating balls of light that allegedly incinerated the family dogs.

Bigelow and his staff also dodged media inquiries, saying public knowledge about their observations would be premature and not in keeping with established scientific methods. Even today, two years later, Bigelow will not discuss specific incidents that have occurred on the ranch and the surrounding area.

But the strange airborne activity and unusual animal deaths have continued, Bigelow confirmed in a lengthy, face-to-face chat with the Deseret News the first interview he has granted to discuss his regional pursuit of aerial phenomena.

"We wouldn't be there just for the weather," he said.

When the impressive team of scientists Bigelow has assembled can say something definitive about what is going on in the skies around Fort Duchesne, Randlett and beyond, they will, Bigelow promised on the NIDS Web site at

"We know so little in terms of what the overall scope of these phenomena is all about that it's just embarrassing to try to make conclusions at this point," Bigelow said.

And it's still too early, he said, to determine whether the curious activity poses any threat to Uinta Basin residents.

"Should people be fearful of anything from NIDS? Absolutely not. But I think the jury is way, way, way out and a long way from coming back on whether or not we know enough to say that they shouldn't have something to fear from the phenomena," he said, then added somewhat humorously, "We haven't had any of our staff eaten or anybody else that we know of."

Bigelow said the National Institute for Discovery Science needs the help of Uinta Basin ranchers and residents. He asks anyone who discovers an unusual animal death or spots an unidentified object in the sky to call NIDS at 1-888-433-6500. When an animal mutilation is reported, NIDS veterinarians can respond to perform a necropsy.

"It will cost him (a rancher) nothing to try to find out what happened to his animal," Bigelow said.

The recent interview in Las Vegas was an intriguing departure for Bigelow, a confident and articulate self-made man who has kept the lowest of low profiles over the years prompting some paranormal researchers to suggest he has a hidden agenda or government connections.

Bigelow said he retained a private persona while conducting his own research into the UFO field primarily to protect his sources. But now, with NIDS sponsoring an international essay contest to pique the mainstream science community's interest in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, the time is right to assume a more public role even if he doesn't allow his photograph to be taken.

As for the government, Bigelow said his staff has no evidence the government has any interest in the Sherman ranch or similar "hot spots" NIDS has investigated in New Mexico and Colorado.

People shouldn't be worried that he is part of a covert government group, Bigelow said, but instead should ask themselves why the government, politicians, religious institutions, educators, scientists and the media are not taking UFOs and the possible existence of extraterrestrials more seriously.

Bigelow, in fact, said one reason he spends more than a million dollars a year on NIDS research is to do what he feels the government and other institutions should be doing preparing America and the rest of the world for eventual ET contact. That revelation, if confirmed suddenly and dramatically, Bigelow believes, could have a devastating psychosocial impact on global civilization.

"There are aspects of this phenomena that are going to be disturbing to the average person," he said. "It's more complex, more diverse than I think is commonly recognized.

"We've been exposed to some things that are significantly different than the traditional body of information that you read about or that you watch (on TV, movies), and that increases the dynamics, the scope of what has to be digested."

Bigelow's interest in the paranormal stems from his youth. At the time, Las Vegas was, by comparison, a sleepy little hamlet. There wasn't much for locals to do in the 1950s except drive down the street for an ice cream cone after dinner.

Off on one of those evening cruises, Bigelow's grandparents had a close encounter that not only had a profound impact on them, but when he was told the story two years later strongly affected their 10-year-old grandson.

"This ball of light that appeared to be on flames was coming right at them," Bigelow recalled. "They swerved the car off the road in a pretty dramatic way and kind of ducked, waiting for this impact and there was no impact. Instead, it made a 90-degree turn. It came right at them and went voooom it just went the opposite direction.

"It not only shook them up because they thought they were about to die, but then it gave them something to think about for weeks, months and years after."

Ditto for their grandson.

Bigelow retained his curiosity about that event and other Vegas-area UFO sightings for three decades while building his real estate empire. In 1988, with money to burn, he began an intense, personal quest for an answer to the question: "Are we alone in the universe?"

That led to the formation of NIDS, established in '95 to investigate both aerial phenomena and another of his interests the survival of consciousness after bodily death.

A year later, word of the Shermans' plight brought Bigelow to the Uinta Basin, where hundreds of UFO sightings have been cataloged by former Roosevelt schoolteacher Joseph "Junior" Hicks, beginning in the early '50s.

NIDS isn't likely to leave the area anytime soon, either as long as research can be conducted without interference. Bigelow and Colm Kelleher, NIDS' deputy administrator, worry that too much publicity may attract undesirable attention.

"If you had a tailgate, football-stadium kind of atmosphere out there, and everybody's out there with hot dogs and hamburgers, and they're barbecuing and waiting for the UFOs to come down, I don't picture it (continuation of the activity) is going to happen."

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August 10, 1998

Deseret News

UFO entries include reports from Utah
by Zack Van Eyck

For the past two years, the Seattle-based, nonprofit National UFO Reporting Center has accepted hundreds of UFO sighting reports via the Internet.

At least a half-dozen of the more than 400 entries involve observations made in Utah, including two that mention unidentified craft shining beams of light onto the ground.

Below is a brief summary of those reports. All but one were submitted this year, although the dates the sightings occurred span three decades. The full text of these and other reports are available on the UFO Reporting Center's Web site,

:Flying triangle — A river guide and companions, traveling south on U-261 near the San Juan River in June 1982, observed three triangle-shaped UFOs. The closest object was shining a light beam onto the highway. "As the UFO came close, we flashed the lights of our car and they shut their front lights off," the submitter wrote. The object then flew over the vehicle, revealing eight lights in an oval shape underneath the craft.

:Unidentified flying cloud — Someone driving south near Provo in 1972 reported seeing a small, bright cloud that suddenly turned into a "silver saucer" and shot across the desert. The submitter took pictures and still has "one picture with a fuzzy saucer in it."

:Kennecott orbs — While driving to work about midnight in July '93, a Tooele resident spotted "four intense, glowing green stoplight type orbs" hovering about 1,000 feet above Kennecott Copper Mine. After more than a minute, the orbs "flew northward at an extreme speed," according to the entry.

:Moab UFO — In January of last year near Moab, a bright object was seen to emit "triangular yellow-green light, modulating from flood to spot beam" before appearing to dissolve "into a cloud of its own light."

:Moving star — A "former assistant chief" reported that in January of last year several witnesses, including two members of the Hansen Planetarium's astronomical society, saw a "moving star, similar to a satellite," stop, hover and "dart around" for more than three hours above Alta. Planetarium personnel "weren't aware of any satellites that can behave like that," the submitter wrote.

:Green streaks — A 15-year-old from Huntington, Emery County, reported seeing a green light streak across the night sky two times over a five-minute period in May of '97.

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August 9, 1998   

Sunday Times of London

The X-Files: One Glance at the Shining Metallic Object in the Sky Changed this Writer's Life for Ever

by Georgina Howell

On Friday, May 30, 1997, I finished researching a Scottish wildlife story for The Sunday Times Magazine. I had spent four nights in Orkney, and on the Friday morning I was at Kirkwall Airport to catch the 11.50am flight, BA 8773, to Aberdeen, where I was to change onto a flight to Heathrow. The weather was brilliantly sunny and clear. When we were called to board the small propeller plane, I was the last one out of the terminal building and walked slowly across the Tarmac thinking I should probably never return to Orkney. I looked around, to memorise the landscape, and above the windsock to my left, at approximately 45 degrees above the grass and sea, I saw a motionless silver metal angle in the sky, like two sides of a triangle.

Depending on how far away it was, each bar could have been the size of a plane, or much larger. The sunshine glanced off the upper bar. I looked at it as I walked, my head turned to the left, trying to understand what it was. I saw that it wasn't a plane, but it might have been two planes, one superimposed by perspective over the other. It did not look in the least like that, so I rejected the theory instantly. (In any case, the previous flight had taken off some 15 minutes earlier.) It might have been a piece of airport apparatus mounted on a tall pole, but there was no pole.

About four seconds after first noticing the metallic object, I decided to point it out to the air hostess as I got onto the plane, and ask if she could explain it. At that point I felt myself falling forward, and the right side of my face collided violently with the Tarmac. It had happened so quickly that my hands were still by my sides. Although I had a cut lip, scraped nose, a black eye and bruising above the eye, my hands and arms, and the tape recorder I was carrying in my left hand, were unscathed.

Several people came to my aid and helped me up. After a minute or so I told them, "I was looking at that!" and pointed to the sky where I had seen the angle, but there was nothing there. Apparently nobody else had seen it.

Later, I tried to find out more. UFO magazine cuttings revealed an upsurge of UFO sightings over central and northern Scotland, but I could find no report of angular, rather than triangular sightings, in any of the material.

Then a friend sent me a report of a giant V-shaped formation of red and white lights that swooped over Arizona on the night of March 13, 1997, seen by thousands and videotaped by many. Reports appeared in the Daily Mail, June 19, and The People, June 22, testifying to the fact that the flying angle blotted out the stars for "more than a mile", and passed over several towns at a steady 30mph, covering a distance of 60 miles at a height varying from 500 to several thousand feet.

The reports began with a phone call from a retired police officer in Paulden, 60 miles north of Phoenix, and within minutes the switchboard of the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle was flooded with calls from Prescott, Wickenburg, Glendale, Phoenix and Scottsdale. Bill Grava, a pilot and air traffic controller for 12 years, was on tower duty at Sky Harbor International Airport. He saw the UFO, but says that it did not appear on radar.

Those people in Arizona must also have gone over and over the event until they could barely believe it themselves. In one respect I envy them: they can reassure each other that it happened. I am alone in what I saw and felt, so I am glad that I had a photograph taken and typed out my account within 48 hours.

I still have no idea what actually happened. I have a selection of "expert" assessments, running the gamut from those who believe that people who see these odd sightings have been preselected by aliens (as in the movie Close Encounters) to those who believe it is a trick of the mind. Here are some of the opinions.

Magnus Park, duty officer at Kirkwall Airport, where he has been employed for the last seven years: "Aircraft movements are continually logged, but the recorded tapes are reused after 40 hours. Air Traffic Control know of no report of anything unusual on that date.

"I have read many reports of UFO sightings in the north of Scotland in the papers, but I have never seen anything of that kind myself, and I have never met anyone who has."

RAF spokesman for the Ministry of Defence: "The MoD as an organisation has no interest, expertise or role with regard to UFO activities. We monitor the skies to prevent unauthorised incursions into British airspace.

"If we receive written reports of UFO sightings we examine them, but only to see if they relate directly to the field of our interest."

Timothy Good, author of Beyond Top Secret - The Worldwide UFO Security Threat, published by Macmillan and with a foreword by Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Hill-Norton, ex-chief of the defence staff: "There are many witnesses worldwide who have seen anomalous objects in the skies which are apparently motionless. Some of these people have been adversely affected from a distance."

Dr Susan Blackmore, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of the West of England, Bristol, specialising in parapsychology and presently studying psychic phenomena in borderline states of consciousness: "It was odd that you fell that way. It suggests an epileptic seizure, or transient narcolepsy, a momentary sleep paralysis. Many examples of reported 'alien abduction' are really explained by this.

"Typically, people report a buzzing noise with flashing or floating lights. In several examples I have examined people in this state who say they see shapes - including triangles."

Albert Budden, senior scientific officer at the Natural History Museum and member of the Environmental Medicine Foundation, has written Allergies and Aliens, and a new book, Electric UFOs: "What you saw was not a craft, but a hallucination. You were at an airport, with radar, and near to a propeller plane with the engines running. You may have found yourself in an electromagnetic hotspot, and you may have had a focal seizure with the appearance of an exotic reality, resulting in a drop attack - a form of epileptic seizure.

"Just as planes can interfere with television, radio and telephone reception, the electrical component in plane engines emits a powerful electromagnetic energy. You may be slightly more sensitive to this than other people. You had a syncope. Go to a neurologist."

Graham Birdsall, editor of UFO Magazine and an active researcher since 1967: "Scotland has had more than its fair share of triangular craft sightings. Many of them are USAF experimental craft. There are all manner of UAVs - unmanned aerial vehicles - including a wing-shaped variety. They do not remain motionless, but hover. From the distance between you and the object, I would deduce that it was hovering, but appeared motionless. However, I do not know of any UAVs that are angle-shaped, and I would be very surprised to hear that one was being flown anywhere near a civil aircraft air corridor."

Nick Pope, higher executive officer in the MoD investigated 750 UFO sightings between 1991 and 1994. His assessment was that some UFOs were extra-terrestrial in origin: "The shape you describe does not correlate with anything I have investigated. It could be an exotic prototype craft that I'm unaware of, but an airport is the last place in the world you would choose to test a craft of that kind. Why did you fall? You were not looking where you were going. You should have immediately tried to find out if the air traffic radar had picked up anything unusual: by now the tape will probably be recorded over."

Hilary Evans, author of an influential book, Altered States of Consciousness, is neither a believer nor a sceptic. He does not doubt that people see UFOs, but suspects they are military devices or psychological phenomena. He has never investigated a human/alien encounter that he cannot explain as a psychological event. "It comes down to this: you saw something unusual, and you had an unusual fall. If you didn't trip, and the two are connected, it could have been something that was momentarily visible to you and no one else.

"There are two points to consider. The shape you saw was entirely meaningless, therefore perhaps not derived from your subconscious. When people hallucinate, they usually tell a story with far more detail."

Professor Michael Persinger, psychologist at Laurentian University, Ontario, Canada, has studied the workings of the temporal lobes of the brain. His work was the subject of a 1994 BBC2 Horizon programme in which he used magnetic pulses to the brain to trigger temporal lobe activity and illusions that can be misinterpreted by the subject as alien abduction.

He has also found a link between UFO sightings and areas of pre-earthquake stress under the earth's crust: "Historically and geographically, in Orkney you were in a high probability area for unusual events. Added to that, the stress of travelling can induce a state in which certain chemicals are activated in the brain. The result is an increased vigilance in the brain's right hemisphere, which is sensitive to what is happening on the left-hand side.

"Therefore it is not an accident that you saw what you did. It was not necessarily a physical object, and only a sensitised person is likely to have seen it. Such 'objects' have a life cycle of around 10 seconds.

"To sum up, you were in a special state induced by travelling, a state that interfered with the execution of your normal reflexes. The right hemisphere of your brain activated the left side of your visual field."

As is so often the case with any mystery sighting, the answers posed further questions. I do not believe I was "meant" to see the UFO, and was punished because I was going to point it out to other people, but neither do I believe that I just happened to trip at that moment.

If it had been a normal fall, I would have put my hands up to protect my face. I don't claim to have been abducted. There is no family history of epilepsy or narcolepsy.

And if I was in a special state induced by travelling, why have I never experienced these phenomena on the hundreds of other occasions at airports? Now that we are all international tourists, why don't cases like this happen more often?

Finally, I rang the Breakspear Hospital at Hemel Hempstead, which deals with patients suffering from all kinds of sensitive states, including drop attacks.

I spoke to Dr Jean Monro, the director of the hospital, who explained that these can be common in people who are electrically sensitive. "The trigger can even be a weak frequency - each person can be sensitive to a different level of electromagnetic frequency.

"Frequencies can affect the whole of the human network between the cells, passing through them at the speed of sound.

"The results can be dramatic: people go down like ninepins with neuromuscular paralysis, while at the same time being completely aware of what is going on."

This seemed to tie in precisely with what I experienced. It "felt" right. But was it then a complete coincidence that I happened to see an unusual shape in the sky?

"I don't believe that these people who say they have seen UFOs can all be wrong. The thing you saw might have had a magnetic field, but that doesn't necessarily make it an unnatural phenomenon."

I don't believe that anyone can satisfactorily explain it better than Dr Jean Monro. Whatever happened that day has certainly changed my opinion about UFOs.

The subject used to bore me. Now I think about the incident frequently and I want to know what these things are. I will go on asking questions about them for the rest of my life.

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August 8, 1998

Independent (UK)

Corn Detectives Flock to the Great Who (and how) Dunnit of Summer

by Duff Hart-Davis

The fine weather may have sent thousands of holidaymakers rushing to the coast, but it has also touched off a serious outbreak of crop-circle fever in the cornfields of Wiltshire and Hampshire.

All day, every day, people are trekking out along the tramlines made by tractor wheels to inspect formations in standing wheat; at night they are sitting out on headlands, looking for peculiar lights in the sky.

In every hostelry, rumours of new formations proliferate, and whenever a car pulls in to the side of a road other motorists draw up behind it to see what is happening.

One new formation in a wheatfield at Manor Farm, near Lockeridge in Wiltshire, drew a typical crowd. A complex of interlocking circles several hundred feet across, the shape appeared during Wednesday night.  by Thursday lunch-time, there were a dozen vehicles parked at the bottom corner of the field, and a boy holding a makeshift notice in green ink was exacting £1 from every visitor.

When I arrived, a woman was sitting near the centre wielding two L-shaped copper rods. An American seemed impressed rather than annoyed by the fact that his camera had twice refused to work (malfunctioning of electrical and mechanical equipment is common inside new formations).

Andreas Mueller, a researcher from Germany, was taking measurements. On the question of whether the formation was natural or the work of fakers, Mr. Mueller remained reserved. "In Germany we've had 22 formations so far this year," he said, "and I'm quite sure that three were man-made, maybe more. In this one, what's surprising is that the corn is laid in several different directions. It wasn't just that somebody walked it down, all one way."

Equally cautious was the indefatigable English researcher Lucy Pringle. "Unless I'm first into a new formation, and see exactly how the crop has gone over, I find it very difficult to tell whether it's real or fake," she said. But already this year she has photographed over 50 formations from the air and investigated 15 on the ground.

In her view, the season has been "a terrifically busy one". It began early, on the night of 19 April, when a double circle appeared in oilseed rape right under the approach to Thruxton airfield, in Hampshire. The next manifestation, a couple of days later, also in oilseed rape, was close to the prehistoric mound of Silbury Hill - a double ring more than 200ft across, with 33 scroll-like bands between the rings.

She likens it to a Beltane wheel - an ancient symbol used at Celtic festivals in May - and points out that, whatever produced it, the hard stalks of oilseed rape are exceedingly difficult to bend into accurate and attractive geometrical patterns.

Ms Pringle readily accepts that skilled fakers are at work, but after 10 years' research she remains convinced that many formations are the product of natural causes, probably the discharge of electro-magnetic energy. "We know that they appear suddenly, in from four to seven seconds, and that they can have powerful effects on people, sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful."

She is annoyed that in July the BBC set out "to rubbish the whole phenomenon" by showing how easy it is to produce fakes, and hiring practised hoaxers to construct a complex of circles on Milk Hill, near Alton Barnes. "It may look all right on the film," she said. "But as soon as you went into it on the ground, you could see it was a chaotic

Crop Circles: The Theories

In order of increasing likelihood, there are three principal theories to explain crop circles. The first is extraterrestrial visitors; the second, natural phenomena such as unusual forms of lightning; and the third is humans armed with some string and a plank or garden roller.

Although the UFO idea has excited onlookers since the first formations came to wide public notice in Westbury, Wiltshire, in August 1980, it has never convinced sceptics - generally because any crop circle can be reproduced by people, given time and patience.

The alternative non-human possibility is strange weather. William Levengood, a retired biologist from the University of Michigan, reckons that unstable vortices of ions in the ionosphere descend to the ground and cause a discharge which heats the corn - swelling the nodes on the stems (as is sometimes observed) - as it whirls it round and lays it flat. Nobody has ever observed it, but nature is capable of strange things.

Another weather theory suggests micro-tornadoes, as a cause but this does not explain the huge number of circles, nor the fact that their number has grown and fallen in line with media coverage. The human theory does.

In 1992, a number of teams admitted creating most of the famous hoax formations. The process is simple: all you need is some string, a stick, and something to flatten corn. Instructions are available on the Internet.

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August 2, 1998

Deseret News

Origin of crop circles still under question
Prankster says they're hoaxes; others say nope

by Zack Van Eyck

A Nibley man says he and a buddy created seven crop formations in the Cache Valley in 1996 and 1997, then earlier this year taught a class of Utah State University students how to use boards and string to make them.

(Image text: Doug and Barbara Hendricks were not pleased about this crop formation that appeared in their barley field in Cove, Utah, July 22. - Photograph by Con Olsen.)

Mike Norton, 30, says he and Joe Parker had nothing to do with two new formations that appeared in College Ward and Cove two weeks ago.

But some of those students, Norton suggests, could have become restless on summer vacation. He believes mischievous Aggies could be responsible for so-called crop circles found in Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington this summer.

"When you teach 150 physics students how to make a crop circle, at least one is going to be curious" and give it a try, said Norton, a United Parcel Service employee and a bail bondsman.

"It doesn't take too long with two people doing one."

The theory sounds logical. Case closed, right? Not so fast, say other Utahns and crop circle researchers.

The large and sometimes complex field designs have appeared stealthily in fields of wheat, barley and other crops across the world for years now. To some people, the confessions of British hoaxers "Doug and Dave," Norton and others are proof that crop circles are a product only of creative humans with a lot of time on their hands. But to the intrigued individuals who track them — and farmers whose fields have been violated — the mystery remains just that.

"I don't believe for a minute that he did that," Sandra Alder said of Norton's claim that he and Parker, his former LDS Church mission companion, made a 270-foot design in her family's Providence barley field two years ago.

"Where that crop circle was, the next year (husband) Gerry planted and nothing grew there. . . . I do know this, there was no tracks in and no tracks out and how could they do that? If he did do that, why don't he prove it?"

Dixie and Glen Hansen also doubt pranksters are to blame for a crop formation discovered in their barley field last Tuesday, although they don't have any other explanation. The Hansens looked for, but couldn't find, tracks leading to the formation from a nearby irrigation ditch or U.S. 89.

"I can't understand how someone could go in there and make that perfect of a circle, no prints, in the dark and not stumble and fall," Dixie Hansen said. "If they were college-age, they usually have a pretty good time before they attempt something like that. It's just very interesting."

If Norton made the Providence circle, the Alders want payment for damages. And while Gary Hansen won't press the issue, he did lose $500 in wheat from the formation Norton says he and Parker created on his Smithfield land last July.

The Cache County Sheriff's Department did suspect pranksters were to blame for the Providence formation, but prosecutors have not brought charges against Norton or Parker for trespassing or causing damage in any of the fields.

"Quite frankly, anything I say, even if in the newspaper, it's still hearsay," Norton said. "They would have such a hard time proving we did it in a court."

Alder said Norton denied creating the Providence design when she confronted him last week. And Gary Hansen said his son, Dustin, also was told by Norton he did not make the Smithfield circle but knew who was responsible.

Norton, however, said the farmers he's talked to don't care that someone may have entered their fields and made curious patterns by flattening plants.

"Wheat and barley and hay, frankly, is not a real profitable crop," Norton said. "Even a large crop circle in the middle of a field financially does very little damage."

Nancy Talbott, part of an international crop-circle research team led by former University of Michigan professor W.C. Levengood, said the '96 Providence formation was "authentic." Laboratory work revealed internal, physical changes to the plants inside and immediately outside the formation, she said.

According to Talbott, Levengood has discovered that "part of what was involved was electromagnetic radiation" in the Providence pattern and most others he has tested. Levengood believes there may be a natural explanation for most crop circles — perhaps a spontaneous energy vortex of some kind.

Jill Marshall, the Utah State professor who invited Norton into her class, doesn't buy that theory. She believes all crop circles are the work of humans.

"It's embarrassing that a number of scientists, some of whom are not what I would really call scientists, were fooled," she said.

About 10 percent of the 300 crop formations Levengood has analyzed since '89 have been classified as non-authentic, probably made by humans, Talbott said.

Richard and Anne Nielsen of Spanish Fork took samples from the College Ward formation last Sunday and will send them to Levengood. Anne is convinced the circle is authentic, partly because she became ill while inside it.

"There were absolutely no tracks" leading to the formation, Richard said.

Levengood's team has yet to process samples taken from last year's Smithfield and Richmond crop formations. Norton says those designs clearly spell out the names "Mike" and "Joe."

Meanwhile, two crop formations also have turned up near Boise, in Star and Nampa. They were first seen July 21 — the same day the new Utah formations are believed to have been created. An elaborate crop circle was found the following day in Hubbard, Ore., and two others have been reported near Pasco, Wash.

A Boise TV station reported the Star formation was probably a hoax. But Ike Bishop, the Mutual UFO Network investigator who took samples from the field, said MUFON researchers always tell that to the media to protect property owners from further damage curious spectators might cause.

If incorrigible Aggies are responsible, perhaps some have traveled overseas. Several crop circles were discovered in Belgium on July 21.

Talbott and Boise native Linda Moulton Howe, a journalist who has investigated the unexplained for two decades, says the phenomenon is worldwide and should not be dismissed even though some formations clearly have been faked.

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July 28, 1998

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cosmic mysteries continue to intrigue

by Carolyn Nizzi Warmbold

Some results of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Southern Focus Poll may bring smiles of recognition to readers of supermarket tabloids.

A sizeable minority of respondents believe in UFOs, ghosts, extraterrestrials and psychic healing. An even greater number place credence in devil possession, superstitions and ESP.

These topics, mostly ignored or ridiculed in the mainstream media, have long been staples in the weeklies sold near checkout lines. These papers' content combines a high CQ - cosmic quotient - with grocery-store gospel - news of weeping Madonnas and the like.

A recent Sun, for example, predicted a Great Flood in a cover spread labeled "Bible Prophecies Come True." In other stories, it asserted that "demonic possessions have risen to plague-like proportions" and that there is "a frightening rash of UFO sightings throughout North America." It linked Mother Teresa to a bleeding crucifix in Calcutta, and ran an ad for a prayer with an "iron-clad guarantee."

The AJC poll suggests that such topics do resonate with large numbers. History suggests this has long been the case. Supermarket tabloids' content can be traced at least as far back as English "broadside ballads," published in the 16th to 19th centuries. These were rhymed compositions, often about crimes, public hangings or cosmic phenomena, printed on a single sheet, to be sung and sold in the street. The broadsides were often illustrated with woodcut prints of their subjects: a pig-headed woman, ghosts walking,
a woman possessed.


Do you believe in psychic or spiritual healing, or the power of the mind to heal the body? 

Not sure........12%............13%
Don't believe...39%............29%

Source: AJC Southern Focus Poll

The 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys categorized broadside themes in 10 categories, which have endured through the centuries to our tabloid era. These include devotion and morality; "history - true and fabulous"; tragedy, including judgments of God; and "love fortunate" and "love unfortunate."

For the moment, however, supermarket tabloids' CQ seems to be declining. Not too many years ago, stories about hauntings, UFO sightings and miracles were common in The National Enquirer, the nation's best-selling and best-known tab. Recently, however, the Enquirer has trended more toward Hollywood phenoms than heavenly phenomena.

The gap is not likely to be filled by the mainstream daily press, despite the recent surge in coverage of religion, faith and values. These pages and sections are more apt to cite ordained ministers than doomsday specialists.


Do you believe extraterrestrial beings have visited Earth at some time in the past? 

Not sure........21%.......25%
Don't believe...47%.......38%

Source: AJC Southern Focus Poll

But that doesn't mean the archetypal news of cosmic mystery will go unreported. The void, one suspects, will largely be filled by the Internet, home of niche interests. UFO Web sites featured photos and videos of sightings, interviews with abductees, reports, articles and much more, including 52 indicators of UFO encounters or alien abduction.

Exclamation-point headlines being the staple of supermarket tabloids, let me predict this one: World Wide Web to Go Cosmic!!! That prognostication, be warned, does not come with an ironclad guarantee.

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July 26, 1998

Idaho Statesman

Journalist Finds Herself Captured by Aliens
Search for facts leads Boise High grad to investigate unexplained phenomena, write several books

by Marianne Flagg

BOISE - Where others see unfathomable mysteries or supermarket-tabloid fodder, Linda Moulton Howe sees a great story in need of an ending.

Howe has spent the past 19 years as an investigative journalist trying to find hard evidence regarding unexplained phenomena. They range from cattle mutilations and crop-circle formations to UFO sightings and reports of human abduction by aliens.

Hundreds of interviews, an Emmy Award and three books later, Howe is convinced of some truths she believes are out there.

"We are not alone in the universe, and the government of the United States at least has known that since the 1940s, if not earlier," said Howe, who now lives in Jamison, Pa. "Coming out of the World War II environment, there was a decision by the Truman administration that Americans and the world were not going to get any facts about this extraterrestrial presence."

Some of Howe's latest interviews and research can be found in her new 440-page book, "Glimpses of Other Realities, Vol. 2: High Strangeness" (Paper Chase Press, New Orleans).

It's the second of her two volumes on unexplained phenomena.

Her latest book arrives at a time when interest in such mysteries and belief in alien visitation pervade popular culture. Fox TV's "The X-Files" series has brought the murky subjects of aliens, government conspiracy and other mysteries into American living rooms every week.

"The X-Files" even has incorporated some of Howe's research into its scripts.

Howe also contributes weekly reports on science and the environment, as well as alien mysteries, on Art Bell's popular nightly radio program "Coast to Coast," and his Sunday show "Dreamland."

Idaho's own X-Files can be found in the field research of Ike Bishop, chief investigator and Idaho state director of the Mutual UFO Network, a group of people who investigate reports of unexplained sightings.

Bishop has traded information with Howe and said he respects her investigative ability.

"She is probably the most pre-eminent UFO investigator in the world," Bishop said. "She checks things out before she talks about them."

Although Howe might appreciate the compliment, she regards herself as a TV producer and investigative reporter, not a UFO investigator.

"My beat has basically been in science and medicine and the environment my entire career," said Howe, who was born in Boise 56 years ago. "I had been producing television programs and documentary films for 11 years before I ever made my first phone calls to find out what was happening with unusual animal deaths around the world."

Howe graduated from Boise High School in 1960. After a professor sparked a love of English in college, she knew she wanted to be a reporter. She has a master's degree from Stanford University and has worked for television stations in Burbank, Calif.; Boston; Denver; and Atlanta.

It was during her tenure in Denver in 1979 that she first investigated reports of farm animals that were found with internal organs removed in a strange, almost surgical manner.

"I had no preconceived idea of what I was getting into beyond the fact that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of cases all reporting the same bloodless excisions of cattle, pigs, cows and sheep.

"The two most unusual features that law enforcement always noted was the lack of blood in excisions that were cookie-cutter precise, and that there were no tracks around these animals -- even on wet dirt. That's what forced law enforcement to look to the sky."

Law enforcement personnel and scientists have been unable to explain the technology used in the mutilations, or who or what mutilated the animals.

Throughout her work on alien mysteries, she has struggled to get sources on the record -- to use their full names. Fear of ridicule keeps many silent. She says fear of government retribution also keeps many military people quiet.

Howe wrote a book about the mutilations, "An Alien Harvest." She went on to write about more alien mysteries in her book "Glimpses of Other Realities, Vol. I."

Howe said she is not out to prove the existence of UFOs, but to uncover facts.

Vol. 2 contains copies of purported government documents leaked to her that admit the existence of aliens and confirm a cover-up.

"We're talking about men and women who have served in highly sensitive positions in the United States military and intelligence agencies, with high clearances.

"These people are the same people who have talked to me and a few others about the fact that our government has had knowledge about extraterrestrial biological entities, and that Truman made the executive order in 1947 that put all of this under a lid.

"This is a story the entire human family on this planet deserves to have knowledge about."

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July 12, 1998

Sunday Mirror (UK)

Lights in sky leave Britain in grip of the 'Z-Files'


WEIRD "Z" shapes lighting up the sky over Britain sparked hundreds of calls in an X Files-type riddle yesterday.

People from Cornwall to Scotland reported the huge dazzling display.

One aircraft pilot called in to say he'd seen what appeared to be an explosion in the sky above the Isle of Man.

Teesside air traffic control tower, near Newcastle upon Tyne, also reported
a sighting.

A Department Of Transport spokesman said: "We had sightings from the Clyde and west to Belfast and east to Leeds."

Belfast coastguard Rowlston Williams watched for more than an hour when the sky lit up around midnight on Friday.

He said: "I have never seen anything like it. When we first saw the object,it was not completely dark.

"Whatever it was, it appeared to be moving very slowly westwards.

"It seemed larger than the moon and higher than the clouds."

UFO researcher Ron Barrett said: "There have been numerous people who have seen these lights but not in these sort of shapes."

Defence officials at RAF Fylingdales, the Yorkshire-based early-warning station reported no undue activity.

But a pilot flying from France to the Midlands solved the mystery when he reported a meteorite.

A spokesman for the Coastguard Agency said: "It was very spectacular but can be explained.

"The lights that so many people saw were caused by a meteorite breaking up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere.

"The big 'Z' vapour trail was hanging there for a while. It was a mystery at the time - but it was not an alien craft."

The boulder disintegrated as it entered the Earth's atmosphere, leaving a bright trail of strange shapes.

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July 7, 1998

Southeast Missourian

Local UFO probe Researcher seeks answers to report of crash in 1941

by Peggy O'Farrel

A Virginia man is investigating the possibility that a UFO crashed near Cape Girardeau in 1941. "That would be six years before Roswell," said James Westwood of Centreville, Va., referring to the 1947 incident in which the government allegedly recovered and then covered up a UFO crash in New Mexico. "That would put Cape Girardeau County on the UFO map," he said.

Southeast Missouri already is known for UFO activity. Dr. Harley Rutledge, a former chairman of the physics department at Southeast Missouri State University who is now retired, has investigated reports of strange sights seen flying through the skies near Piedmont and other UFO reports.

"Project Identification: The First Scientific Field Study of UFO Phenomena" outlines Rutledge's research.

Westwood said Rutledge told him he has not heard of the 1941 incident. Westwood, a retired Navy man and engineer, is looking for people who may remember an incident from 1941 when some type of aircraft reportedly crashed approximately 3 to 15 miles outside Cape Girardeau.

Westwood bases his investigation on an account by Charlotte Mann, a Texas woman whose grandfather, the Rev. William Huffman, was the pastor of Red Star Baptist Church from 1941 to 1944.

Leonard H. Stringifield, a renowned UFO investigator, recounted Mann's story in the July 1991 issue of his "Status Report," a monthly publication on UFO activities and investigations.

Mann told Stringfield her grandfather got a call one spring night from police asking him to accompany them to the site of an airplane crash outside town in case the victims needed a clergyman.

"A car was sent to get him, but grandmother said it wasn't a police car," Mann said in Stingfield's recounting of the story. When Huffman got to the crash scene, Mann said, he noticed one piece of the wreckage that appeared to have a rounded shape with no edges or seams," and a "very shiny metallic finish."

"Police officers, "plainclothes men" and "military officers" were already at the scene sifting through the wreckage, Mann said. Laid to one side of the scene were "three bodies, not human," she recounted. "It was hard for him to tell if they had on suits or if it was their skin, but they were covered head to foot in what looked like wrinkled aluminum foil," Mann said. "He could see no hair on their bodies and they had no ears. They were small framed like a child, about 4 feet tall, but had larger heads and longer arms." Their faces had "large, oval-shaped eyes, no noses, just holes and no lips, just small slits for mouths," Mann said.

Huffman was told by one of the military officers at the scene not to tell anyone what he had witnessed for security reasons, Mann told Stringfield. Huffman told his wife, Floy, and their two sons what he had seen when he returned home from the crash site but never spoke of it again, said Mann.

Huffman died in 1959. His wife, who died in 1984, told Mann the story. A few weeks after the crash, Huffman was apparently given a photo of two men holding one of the corpses found at the scene. Mann father (sic!) loaned the photo to a friend but never saw it again.

Now Westwood, who read Mann's account in Stringfield's publication, is looking for others who may remember hearing about the crash. "What you need here is another source, at least one other person who says, I sort of remember this," Westwood said. "Even if it's second-hand account, you've at least got another source.

"Mann's account says the crash happened in the spring (sic!). Westwood speculates it may actually have happened in the fall because of the mention of a field fire caused by the crash. In the spring, he reasons, vegetation would have been too wet to burn easily. "But in the fall, it's very dry," he said.

He also speculates the military officers on the scene may have been called in from an Army Air Corps base in Sikeston at the time. If the crash happened, the military and police wouldn't have known what they were looking at, Westwood said, because Roswell and the other early UFO sightings hadn't happened. And the incident may have been covered up for military security reasons since the U.S. was gearing up for World War II, he said.  "It wouldn't be implausible" for the incident to have been reported as an airplane crash," Westwood said.

Westwood began researching Mann's story at the beginning of the year. He has been in Cape Girardeau for the last week reviewing local records and looking for potential sources. He hasn't had much luck. So far; no one he has talked to has admitted to knowing anything.

"There isn't anything that I would consider even close," Westwood said. He found a report of a student pilot's airplane crash near Morley in Scott County in May 1941, and a local pilot told him about another crash near Oak Ridge that happened in spring 1941.

The other problem is the Huffmans left the area not long after the alleged crash. The Cape Girardeau city directory lists the Huffmans from 1942 to 1944, but they aren't listed in the 1945 directory. Records from the Southeast Missourian say Huffman became the pastor of the church in September 1941.

And Stringfield, who investigated hundreds of reports of UFO crashes and retrievals, died in 1994. His family has refused to release his files to other researchers.

Westwood says he has never seen a UFO or been in contact with extraterrestrials. "There's no doubt in my mind that UFOs are real flying objects from outer space," he said. He points to similarities in thousands of sightings and reports from people who have reported having contact with extraterrestrials as evidence that something is out there. But what he calls the "cultism" surrounding the study of UFOs and false reports by attention-seeking hysterics detracts from evidence given by witnesses or people who claim contact, Westwood says, "aren't any crazier than anybody else." (sic!)

Tracing UFO reports is "an interesting kind of detective story," Westwood said. "It's a Sherlock Holmes kind of thing in which you have to sort through a lot of BS looking for those nuggets. In the end, some of the things fit, and some things don't."

The Roswell crash and recovery isn't the only UFO crash in the annals of the study of UFOs, Westwood said. "It's just the best known," he said.

Anyone with Information about a 1941 crash may contact James Westwood at 5608-34 Willoughby Newton Drive, Centreville, Va., 20120, or call him at (703) 222-0978.

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July 1, 1998

New York Post

The Truth Isn't Out There

"Panel Urges Study of UFO Reports," ran the front-page headline in Monday's Washington Post. According to that Post, an independent scientific review directed by a Stanford physicist said that UFO sightings need serious study. The implication: The UFO industry has now received the intellectual backing of serious scientists.

But the sad fact is that The Washington Post has been taken for a good long ride by one of the more superficially respectable organizations on the lunatic fringe - an association for the sort of credulous academic who overdosed on science fiction as a teen-ager, is a sucker for ESP and Eastern mysticism and is drawn to the kind of crank who claims that Martians built the pyramids.

The source of this extraordinary story was the "Society for Scientific Exploration." The group has put out papers on "Atlantis and the Earth's Shifting Crust," "The Message of the Sphinx," "Reincarnation and ... Birthmarks" and one of our favorites, "Severe Birth Defects Possibly Due to Cursing."

It is all very well to search for explanations for mysterious crop circles or strange lights in the sky. But nowadays UFOs and ESP have replaced demonic possession as a superstitious way of explaining phenomena that are otherwise hard to understand.

Why would actual science professors put their name to a report like this? Well, there are a lot of scientists in the world and, not surprisingly, a small number of them are given to wild fancies. Many truly extraordinary scientists can be completely "out there" when it comes to subjects other than their own area of expertise. Sir Isaac Newton was devoted to alchemy; Michael Faraday, the great theorist of electricity, was a member of an extremely bizarre religious sect. William Shockley, the father of the transistor, believed a lot of racist nonsense about IQ.

But what about The Washington Post? All it would have taken for the newspaper to realize that this announcement did not come from a serious, respected scientific organization was a quick search for the SSE on the Internet ( But maybe something else is going on here. It is very common to hear supposedly educated, rational people proclaim their belief in all sorts of wispy magic, from crystal power to astrology to curing AIDS by the laying-on of hands.

One explanation for spreading credulousness among Americans is the deepening ignorance of basic science among members of the liberal professions. Even as our technology becomes more sophisticated, more and more people have no understanding of scientific method or even the kind of basic science behind the internal-combustion engine.

Another explanation is the powerful appeal of New Age claptrap to Baby Boomers who long ago lost the religious and political ideals they grew up with. Such people are prey to all sorts of superstition. Faith in "alternative medicine" - some of it sensible, most of it pure snake oil - is now so common that many people are as likely to trust a popular witch doctor as their MD.

This partly came about because doctors and scientists oversold themselves and their abilities during the '50s and '60s. But just because real scientists cannot explain everything or cure every disease, there is no cause for 20th-century Americans to turn to superstitions like frightened savages in the primeval forest.

The SSE's UFO platform is based on a big lie. That lie is that scientists have never taken UFO claims seriously for fear of ridicule - or because of a government conspiracy right out of "The X-Files." The truth is exactly the opposite. UFO "sightings" have been exhaustively investigated by genuinely open-minded people over and over again.

And despite the successful efforts of the UFO industry to convince millions of people otherwise, there is no - repeat no - credible evidence of space aliens visiting the Earth in suspiciously Hollywoodesque flying saucers. And the case for little green men making landings all over the farm belt in order to kidnap and then have unusual sex with random hicks in pickup trucks is even more ridiculous.

When a sophisticated civilization starts to nourish weird cults and an obsession with magic, it is a sign of a retrogressive sickness that can be fought only with sweet reason and an appeal to true religion, not false idols.


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July 1, 1998

Florida Today

UFO groups increase pressure for hearings

by Paul Hoversten
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON - Buoyed by suggestions from an international panel of scientists, UFO groups in the USA plan to step up efforts to push for congressional hearings into Unidentified Flying Objects.

"This could be the thing that puts it over the top," said Steven Greer, a Charlottesville, Va., physician who heads the nonprofit Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Greer was referring to Monday's report from scientists who said past and future mysterious sightings deserve serious scientific review.

The nine-member panel, which included physicists and astronomers from such institutions as the German Aerospace Center, the University of New Mexico and France's University of Bordeaux, spent nine months on the first independent review of UFOs since 1968.

The study was sponsored by the Society of Scientific Exploration of Stanford, Calif. It's an interdisciplinary organization of scholars formed to support unbiased investigation of claimed anomalous phenomena.

Though it did not find convincing evidence to support the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the panel noted that UFO reports dating back 50 years contain enough unexplained observations to merit another look.

"It may be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports to extract information about unusual phenomenon currently unknown to science," the panel concluded. "Such evaluations must take place with a spirit of objectivity and a willingness to evaluate rival hypotheses."

The panel looked into several incidents, including:

°A photo taken on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, by a family visiting a park in October 1981. It shows a daytime view of a mountain with a silvery oval-shaped object set against the blue sky. But the panel said it is impossible to rule out a hoax.

°A 1994 report from an airline crew who spotted a gigantic, fuzzy-edged disk near Paris. They lost sight of the object when the edges appeared to lose focus. Swiss military radar tracked it for 50 seconds.

°A 1992 report from Haines City, Fla., patrolman Luis Delgado, who said he saw a green-lit object in the rear view mirror of his patrol cruiser. He said the object was 15 feet long and hovered 10 feet off the ground. It circled his car several times before he pulled off the road. Then the engine, lights and radio went dead.

The panel's conclusions are far different than those reached by Edward Condon, who headed in 1968 an Air Force-sponsored study known as the Colorado Project. That report said further study of UFOs "cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced."

But Greer said he has 150 former government employees, many from classified projects, willing to testify under oath of their experiences with UFOs and how such technology can help the world.

"These people are not the flakes you see at some bizarre UFO conference with the T-shirts and bug-eye things you wear on your head," Greer said. "These are courageous men, and in a few cases women, who do not want to take to their grave one of the most important issues of the century."

He has pressed Congress and the White House to convene hearings and take the witnesses' testimony - so far to no avail.

The last congressional inquiry into UFOs was in 1966, chaired by the then-representative Gerald Ford.

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June 29, 1998

Washington Post

Panel Urges Study Of UFO Reports Unexplained Phenomena Need Scrutiny, Science Group Says

by Kathy Sawyer

Some supposed UFO sightings have been accompanied by unexplained physical evidence that deserves serious scientific study, an international panel of scientists has concluded.

In the first independent scientific review of the controversial topic in almost 30 years, directed by physicist Peter Sturrock of Stanford University, the panel emphasized that it had found no convincing evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence or any violation of natural laws.

But the panel cited cases that included intriguing and inexplicable details, such as burns to witnesses, radar detections of mysterious objects, strange lights appearing repeatedly in the skies over certain locales, aberrations in the workings of automobiles, and radiation and other damage found in vegetation.

The 50-page review, being released today, asserts that the scientific community might learn something worthwhile if it can overcome the fear of ridicule associated with the topic and get some funding for targeted research to try to explain these occurrences.

"It may be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports to extract information about unusual phenomena currently unknown to science," the report stated, adding that such research could also improve understanding of, and in some cases debunk, supposed UFO events.

For example, Earth science researchers have eventually accepted several phenomena "originally dismissed as folk tales," including meteorites and certain types of lightning, the panel noted.

The findings are from a four-day workshop held in Tarrytown, N.Y., followed by a second three-day meeting in San Francisco, both last fall. The results are published in the current issue of the Society for Scientific Exploration, which was established by Sturrock.

The inquiry involved scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell and Princeton universities, the universities of Arizona and Virginia, and institutions in France and Germany, among others. A panel of nine physical scientists analyzed presentations by eight UFO investigators, who were encouraged to present their strongest evidence. The project was funded by Laurance S. Rockefeller through his LSR Fund because of a belief, the report said, that "the problem is in a very unsatisfactory state of ignorance and confusion."

The panel suggests the scientific community has suffered a failure of curiosity regarding UFOs. Despite an abundance of reports over the last 50 years, "and despite great public interest, the scientific community has shown remarkably little interest in this topic."

Asked about the conclusions, a sampling of scientists and officials outside the panel expressed surprise that a topic with such a high "giggle factor" might be reincarnated for serious study, possibly further blurring the lines between legitimate research and the "lunatic fringe." Some said they would never comment on the touchy topic, and some said they would reserve judgment until they had read the report.

In a telephone interview, Sturrock said that he hopes at least some scientists "will read the report and become curious. . . . The challenge is to do good science on this issue. It's difficult."

Some reported UFO incidents could have been caused by rare natural phenomena, such as electrical activity high above thunderstorms, or other known physical effects, the panel found. But there were some phenomena they could not easily explain.

The existing evidence from past cases is unlikely to produce either a solid debunking or other satisfactory explanation of the reports, the panel found. But "new data, scientifically acquired and analyzed (especially of well-documented, recurrent events) could yield useful information," it said.

To be credible to the scientific community, future UFO "evaluations must take place with a spirit of objectivity and a willingness to evaluate rival hypotheses" that so far has been lacking, the report said.

sparse, suggests microwave, infrared, visible and ultraviolet radiation, although "a few cases seem to point toward high doses of ionizing radiation, such as X-rays or gamma rays."

Radar detections of UFOs. Scientific study would require the cooperation of military authorities. An example occurred in January 1994, in the skies above Paris, when an airborne crew saw "a gigantic disk" more than 3,000 feet in diameter. The disk was detected on military radar for 50 seconds, slowed abruptly from 110 knots to zero, then disappeared.

Semi-regular sightings of strange lights (such as those in
Hessdalen, Norway, and Marfa, Tex.), in some cases associated with measured magnetic disturbances.

Apparent gravitational and/or inertial effects, as in a case that occurred in Ohio in 1973. A number of witnesses, both on the ground and in an Army Reserve helicopter, saw lights, including a powerful green glow, and a "cigar-shaped gray metallic object," during which time the helicopter ascended although its controls were set for descent. Scientists apparently failed to investigate the one item of physical evidence -- a magnetic compass that had begun to spin during the event and was subsequently removed because it was unserviceable.

Injuries to vegetation and other ground traces. In a 1981 case in Trans-en-Provence, France, a witness reported an ovoid object emiting a low whistle as it flew in for a landing. Police and special UFO researchers found two concentric circles and other traces that, when subjected to laboratory analysis, showed the soil had been heavily compacted, though without major heating, and there were symptoms of aging in the plants there. A toxicologist concluded that some, though not all, of the effects could have been caused by powerful microwave radiation.

The Sturrock group said that because of advances in knowledge and technical capability, chances of significant learning are greater now than 30 years ago when the Air Force and the CIA supported a two-year investigation by the Colorado Project, directed by Edward U. Condon. That 1968 report concluded that "further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced."

The Air Force last year made public its latest report on the infamous 1947 incident near the town of Roswell, N.M., which gave rise to a whole flying-saucer culture of paranoia, up to and including the fictional television program "The X-Files." Titled "The Roswell Report: Case Closed," that report, like the Sturrock panel, reiterated earlier conclusions that there is no evidence of aliens or their spaceships.

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June 29, 1998

San Jose Mercury News

Science panel says it's worth evaluating UFO reports

Mercury News Staff Writer

For more than 50 years, UFO investigators have scoured the skies for signs of alien life -- completely snubbed by the scientific community as cranks.

But today, in the first independent scientific review of UFO evidence in nearly 30 years, scientists gave a faint nod in their direction by concluding that it might be worthwhile to evaluate UFO reports, marking a major and important shift in the eyes of some UFO investigators.

"What we need are more scientists looking at this area if we are going to get answers," said Peter Sturrock, the Stanford University physicist who convened the international panel of "skeptical" scientists. Sturrock assembled the group after being approached by New York philanthropist Laurance S. Rockefeller, the grandson of John D. Rockefeller and someone who reportedly has a longstanding interest in UFOs and psychic phenomena.

Sturrock, whose Society for Scientific Exploration promotes the examination of ideas outside the scientific mainstream, hopes the panel's review of UFO reports, to be published today in the alternative Journal of Scientific Exploration, spurs more solid research in the arena.

To be sure, after a rare meeting between scientists and UFO investigators, the scientific panel remained skeptical. Nevertheless, they said the scientific community's refusal to even entertain the analysis of such information has been counterproductive.

"The history of Earth science includes several examples of the final acceptance of phenomena originally dismissed as folk tales," such as meteorites and sprites, the report says. "It may therefore be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports to extract information about unusual phenomena currently unknown to science."

One UFO investigator was pleased with the findings.

Openness, evidence

Mark Rodeghier, of the Center for UFO Study in Chicago, interprets the panel's greater openness as an important step to bring the world of science -- which demands empirical evidence -- closer to that of UFO observers, some of whom believe they now know what aliens do during human abductions.

Taking a break from the national Mutual UFO Network conference, Rodeghier said, "It would be extremely important for us to know if aliens are visiting the Earth surreptitiously. I didn't expect in five days that they would change their mind completely. I think it's sufficient that they say the subject deserves study."

For its review, the panel examined evidence such as a 1981 photograph of "a silvery oval-shaped object set against the blue sky," taken in British Columbia -- the photographer swears it was not a trick photo of a frisbee -- and a 1965 report by two French submarine crews in Martinique of "a large luminous object (that) arrived slowly and silently from the west, flew to the south and vanished like a rapidly extinguished light bulb."

The last time scientists took a serious look at UFOs was in 1968, when Dr. Edward U. Condon, director of the Colorado Project, undertook a two-year study sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agecy and the U.S. Air Force. His dismissive conclusion: "Nothing has come of the study of UFOs in the past 21 years .¿.¿. and "further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified."

Already some of this panel's scientists are steeling themselves for ridicule from peers.

"I haven't gone around and advertised I've done this. I thought I'd wait until our report came out and then let them take their jabs then," said Thomas Holzer, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Still, he adds, he shares the panel's view that more openness is needed.

Natural phenomena

Some UFO reports, the scientists concluded, could be explained by rare natural events such as sprites, or what appear to be huge sheets of light moving upward from cloud decks caused by electrical activity high above thunderclouds.

Unusual radar patterns that UFO investigators interpret as flight patterns of alien craft are likely radar echoes caused by refraction in the atmosphere, said panel member and Stanford professor Von Eshleman, who studies the structure of the atmosphere through experiments on U.S. space missions.

And, the scientists said, some in their community may be more interested in UFOs than they are willing to admit.

Sturrock said his own surveys of astronomers show that many privately admit to interest in UFOs. Asked for his own views, Sturrock was coy.

"I don't believe in UFOs, but they may exist whether I believe in them or not," he said. "That's saying I don't have an opinion I wish to share."

When pressed, panel member Eshleman said he thinks it would be surprising if there weren't life forms on other planets. Asked about the likelihood of complex alien societies, he said, "It's less probable, but there's no reason to limit it anywhere."

Gregory Benford, a solar physicist at the University of California-Irvine who has reviewed the UFO report, said that when Condon, now deceased, wrote his initial 1968 findings on UFO evidence, he wrote the conclusion first. Even though a scientific panel urged more open-mindedness two years later, it didn't carry much weight.

"He had an automatic aversion to the cranks who had surrounded the UFO phenomenon", Benford said. In '68, he just wanted to squash this like a bug. So he said you won't learn anything if you study this any further.

Looking in new places

"I think that's unwarranted. If you don't look in new places, you won't see new things."

Still, he added, while many astronomers believe that life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, that's a far cry from believing that UFOs are passing over your neighborhood.

"Even if some intelligent being was visiting us from a distant star, why would they fly around and never make any contact?" he said. "If they are hostile, why not do the obvious and wipe us out? It would be dead easy to get in touch with us.

"Just because you are open-minded doesn't mean your brains have fallen out."

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June 29, 1998


Panel suggests scientific review of reported UFO evidence

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Are we alone?

An international panel of scientists that convened to ponder the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors was not about to answer that question, but they said the physical evidence in some UFO sightings merits further serious scientific review.

The nine-member group, the first independent review of UFO phenomena since 1966, found no convincing evidence that extraterrestrial intelligence was responsible for the physical evidence. But some findings remained unexplained.

"If there is an interest in trying to get serious answers to the UFO problem, it would be sensible for scientists to focus on the physical evidence as opposed to witness testimony," Stanford University physicist and panel director Peter Sturrock said in a telephone interview Sunday.

The study, which brought together astronomers, physicists and experts in other scientific disciplines, was launched by philanthropist Laurance S. Rockefeller. Sturrock said the field of UFO study "is in a very unsatisfactory state of ignorance and confusion."

The panel's 50-page report appears in the summer issue of Journal of Scientific Exploration.

The panel was impressed by analysis of a 1981 photograph taken by a family on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The picture shows a silvery oval-shaped object that has a glow and brightness consistent with a reflecting metal object. But the scientists were unable to rule out a photographic hoax.

The panel examined another sighting, near Paris in January 1994. An airline captain, co-pilot and flight attendant all reported seeing an object resembling a gigantic disk with slightly fuzzy edges. Swiss radar detected the object for 50 seconds.

The panel said radar reports require very specialized analysis and an official UFO research organization would need access to raw radar data with military approval for further study. "It is a puzzle," Sturrock added. "The only way to get real answers is to get scientists involved in the problem."

The group reviewed reports of unusual damage to vegetation, ground traces of soil disturbance and physiological effects on purported witnesses, such as marks and burns on the skin, memory loss and double vision. The panel felt most of those reports were weakened by the absence of an unaffected independent witness.

Panel member Tom Holzer, a physicist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said the study stopped well short of making any conclusions that Earth is being visited by extraterrestrial craft. "We require a bit more rigor in the acquiring and analysis (of evidence)," Holzer said.

The last comprehensive review was when the U.S. Air Force commissioned the Colorado Project, which issued the Condon Report. It found no conclusive evidence of extraterrestrial visits.

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June 29, 1998


Sturrock: UFO Reports Deserve Additional Scientific Study

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Some scientists in the know about UFOs are issuing a report that may heat up speculation about this always-lively topic.

In the first independent review of UFO phenomena in more than 30 years, a nine-member group of scientists says physical evidence linked to some sightings deserves additional scientific study.

The physicist who headed up that panel is Peter Sturrock, who joins me now from Stanford, California.

Thanks for joining us, sir.


ALLEN: Well, tell us about the sightings that you believe need further examination?

STURROCK: Well, I'm not presenting my belief. I'm presenting the assessment of a panel of scientist who met with a group of eight investigators. The investigators were asked to present whatever physical evidence they found in the course of their research.

And the only question asked of the panel was that, do you believe that further study of this kind of case, this kind of evidence, might eventually lead to answers to the problem of understanding the cause or causes of UFO reports? And the panel felt, yes, this would be a promising line of research for the future.

ALLEN: So can you give us an example of a particular sighting they may examine further?

STURROCK: Well, there were many examples given, ranging from photographic evidence through radar, through ground traces. But the panel, in particular, is interested in cases with more than one kind of physical evidence. And one of those occurred in France in 1981. It is, unfortunately, a single-witness case. But the witness, who was working in his garden, heard a whistling sound, saw a strange object land on his terrain and then leave.

In France, they have an official data collection and organization, organized through the French space agency, CNES. So the next day, the Jondomery (ph) (gendarmerie i.e., ed.) came out and took photographs, took samples of the plants. A little later, scientist from the space agency came out, took further samples, further photographs, took soil samples, and took samples of the vegetation, which were alfalfa plants. And they found there were indentation in the soil that would have taken about 1 ton to produce, and the vegetation has strange biochemical changes, which could perhaps be caused by micro-radiation; they didn't know what.

But here is one case with only a single witness and two kinds of physical evidence. The panel really urges a search for cases with many witnesses and more than one kind of physical evidence.

ALLEN: I believe I read that you have said that you believe there should be more emphasis placed on the physical evidence as opposed to witness testimony.

STURROCK: You need both, you need both. You have to have strong witness testimony, and you have to have physical evidence that we analyze in the laboratory. And these are really quite different kinds of activities. And it probably would be good if different people, or different teams, were involved in the two types of research.

It may take an official organization, as in France, to collect the data that can then be provided to university scientist or other scientist to analyze the data.

ALLEN: You've also said that this field of UFO study is in a very unsatisfactory state of ignorance and confusion. Why do you think that is, when there seems to be something that so many people have an interest in?

STURROCK: Well, I think basically it's because there has been no sponsored research in this area. Almost all scientific research in the nation is sponsored by an agency or supported by the institution, like a corporation or an university. UFO research has no such support.

ALLEN: Do you think you could get a corporate sponsor?

STURROCK: Did you say, do I think we can?


STURROCK: That remains to be seen. I'm not looking for it.

ALLEN: How else would you try to fund this research?

STURROCK: I'm not trying to fund it. I'm simply trying to -- we're simply trying to point the way how research could be carried out if there are any organizations or any other countries who wish to pursue it. Now there are programs in Chile and in France. And if three or four other countries would set up really quite low-level research projects, then in a few years, we may have some serious answers.

ALLEN: How much would you like to see an answer to the scenario? You told us about this fellow in Europe. Do you have a particular interest in that story, since you shared it with us?

STURROCK: No, I have no particular interest in any particular story. I find it a challenge that there have been UFO reports for 50 years, and they have been pretty much ignored for 50 years. I hope they will not be ignored for the next 50 years.

ALLEN: And what about you personally? Are we alone? Do you think something or someone has landed here?

STURROCK: Oh, that is entirely a separate issue. Most astronomers and most physicists believe that we probably are not alone, that there are other life forms on other planets or on other stars. But most physicists believe it is quite possible to travel from one star to another.

ALLEN: Peter Sturrock, thanks for joining us. Something to think about.

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June 24, 1998


Boulder Daily Camera

Speaker: Aliens Monitor Earth
More than 600 UFO enthusiasts hear N.C. man's theories

Sandra Fish


They came from Tabernash, Fort Morgan and Aurora. They came from Peyton, Berthoud and Boulder.

Who knows? Maybe some even came from outer space. This much is certain: More than 600 UFO enthusiasts crowded into a University of Colorado auditorium intended for about 500 Saturday, sitting on stairs, the floor and standing at the back of the room.

They came to see a two-hour video of testimony from former government and military employees about the existence of extraterrestrial beings and the government's monitoring of them. It's part of Dr. Steven Greer's "Disclosure Project," in which the North Carolina physician is trying to get Congress to hold hearings on the government's interaction with alien life forms.

As a child, Greer witnessed a "disc-shaped craft" at close range and began studying aliens. He said he thinks people from outer space are monitoring Earth, in part to monitor weapons use.

"I think they are waiting for us to reach the early stages of maturity, where we can live peacefully, so they can interface with us," Greer said.

Katie Hofner of Fort Collins was among the hundreds who watched Greer's video, a program that began a 17-city tour in Boulder.

"I think it's fascinating," she said. "It's very compelling information."

Others weren't so enthusiastic. Maureen Murphy of Boulder handed out fliers inviting people to "The Alien CoverUp," a panel from noon to 1:30 p.m. today at the Boulder Public Library sponsored by the Allies of Humanity.

"We don't disagree with Dr. Greer on the disclosure agenda," Murphy said. "We just disagree on the aliens' agenda. They're taking women against their will, they're creating a race that will have an allegiance to the visitors."

Greer said he's unfamiliar with that group's efforts.

Contact Sandra Fish at... or


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June 24, 1998

Philadelphia Inquirer

Temple professor warns: Truth Is Out There
In his latest book, respected, tenured David M. Jacobs, the "foremost expert" on aliens, says they do not come with benign intent.

by Leonard W. Boasberg

So you're walking down Walnut Street and you see this guy coming toward you, and he looks like an attorney or maybe an accountant.

Well, maybe he is, or maybe he's one of those hybrid alien/humans that Temple University professor David M. Jacobs writes about in The Threat, just published by Simon & Schuster.

There are thousands of these beings, he contends. They could be anyone. "Some hybrids look really quite human," Jacobs said in a recent interview in his Victorian-style home near Chestnut Hill.

But many look like the kind of extraterrestrials you've seen in movies and trash tabloids. That's the way people have described them to Jacobs: large heads; big black eyes; no hair, ears or nose; slits for mouths; thin arms and legs; grayish bodies.

What about that young woman taking her baby out for a stroll in Rittenhouse Square? Could she be one? "I do not think they are walking among us," Jacobs says, "or that they have a job at the 7-Eleven, or something like that."

What the young woman might be, though, is one of the thousands of people who, according to Jacobs, have been abducted by extraterrestrial beings and taken onto spaceships, stripped, and used for experimental procedures, including the removal of ova or sperm.

And the baby? Don't ask. Embarrassing. Frightening. Jacobs himself is frightened.

The aliens from outer space, he contends, do not come to earth with benign motives. On the contrary. They have an agenda. As he describes in The Threat, with the subtitle The Secret Agenda: What the Aliens Really Want . . . and How They Plan to Get It, the motive is nothing less than "the systematic and clandestine physiological exploitation, and perhaps alteration, of human beings for the purposes of passing on their genetic capabilities to progeny who will integrate into the human society and, without doubt, control it."


And it may be too late to stop them. "My own complacency is long gone, replaced," he writes, "by a sense of profound apprehension and even dread."

Jacobs, 55, a tenured associate professor of history at Temple, specializing in 20th-century America, is also, according to his publisher, "the world's foremost expert on the UFO and abduction phenomenon."

A man of medium height, with a halo of white hair and a white moustache, he speaks with the confidence of a man who knows his subject. He's been studying UFOs since 1965. He's written two previous books on the subject. He appears regularly on the TV talk show circuit -- Larry King Live, Howard Stern, Geraldo, A&E, the Learning Channel, the Discovery Channel. He recently returned from the sixth annual international UFO conference sponsored by the Republic of San Marino.

Jacobs started studying UFOs as a student at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he majored in history. In 1973, he obtained a master's degree in history at the University of Wisconsin and, later, his doctorate, with a dissertation on the UFO controversy.

In The Threat, Jacobs recounts the abduction experiences that people he's interviewed have described. He writes that he has used hypnosis in more than 700 abduction investigations. He learned it on his own: "Doing hypnosis is the easiest thing in the world."

There is something, for example, that he calls "mindscam," in which the abductors stare into the abductees' eyes at a distance of a few inches or less, sometimes provoking intense sexual arousal in both men and women.

A woman Jacobs calls "Laura" said that one night she was lying in bed with her husband when five of these creatures entered the bedroom, and one of them got on top of her. There was nothing she could do to stop him.

"Donna," when she was 20, met a hybrid on a beach in Maine. He was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and his hair was down past his ears. He began kissing her, she recalled, and "you feel your train exploding and your toes tingling and everything in between absolutely -- firecrackers!"

Unfortunately, all we have to go on is Laura's and Donna's word. All we have to go on in all the cases that Jacobs describes is what the people involved told him.

"Anecdotal evidence is not evidence at all," says James Randi, a professional magician, also known as the Amazing Randi, who has gone around the world debunking claims of the paranormal, supernatural and occult.

Randi, who received a MacArthur Foundation award for his work in investigating such claims, says he has offered a million dollars "for the performance of any paranormal, supernatural or occult phenomenon under proper observing conditions, and that includes contact with alien beings from nonterrestrial sources." The money, he says, is in negotiable bonds at Goldman Sachs in New York. So far, no claimants.

What about it, professor? There's a million dollars waiting for you.

Randi, Jacobs says, is like a lot of other critics who "have done absolutely no research whatsoever."

Even if we had an ashtray stamped "made in Mars," Jacobs contends, the skeptics would claim it had been made on earth. "Ultimately, what you need is an alien. You need one of these little guys wiggling on the end of a pole, and then you would have something. That would be convincing."

What about photographs? Didn't it occur to any of these people who claim multiple abductions to have a camera handy the next time?

The problem, he explains, is that there's a consciousness alteration at the beginning of every abduction that renders the abductee passive.

Sure, people hijacked aboard those spacecraft have picked up things. But see, they're naked, so there's no place to hide them.

How is it, a Wall Street Journal reviewer of The Threat wondered, that the aliens always seem to abduct people no one's ever heard of? Why don't they abduct somebody important, like Alan Greenspan or Kathie Lee Gifford?

"The answer," says Jacobs, "is that they do." Like who? "Can't tell you. If the people want to come forward, they will. . . . I cannot give you names right now."

Jacobs, like many UFO researchers, contends that the government, along with the media and the scientific community, determined long ago that the phenomenon had no objective reality. So "because the normal avenues of academic discourse have been closed to UFO researchers," he said, "they have been forced to take to the popular culture airways to bring their message."

"There are no alien spaceships. There never have been," said Robert Baker, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky. "There's absolutely no respectable scientific evidence of any alien invasion or that aliens have abducted any human being."

How then does he explain how people who come from all walks of life have told Jacobs such similar stories? of being abducted by aliens from outer space?

It's a phenomenon, well-known to psychiatrists and psychologists, called "sleep paralysis" -- people wake up in the middle of the night, find themselves paralyzed, and have psychological experiences in which they think their dreams are real, Baker said.

"It's a universal human experience that has been reported from the beginning of time," he said.

At Temple, Jacobs, in addition to his main job of teaching 20th-century American history, also conducts a course called "UFOs in American Society," in the American studies program. He believes it's the only course on UFOs taught at any American university, and he's pretty sure there's nothing of the kind anywhere else in the real world.

He teaches both sides of the issue, he says, including required reading of a debunking book by Philip Klass, UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game, "that contends I'm a total jerk."

Jacobs' colleagues in the Temple history department speak highly of his teaching. There is, said Morris Vogel, former department chair, "a fundamental disconnect between the David Jacobs of The Threat and who is on Howard Stern and the David Jacobs we see every day as a colleague and a teacher. In the classroom, he's a gifted instructor who covers the same 19th and 20th century United States in the way most of his colleagues do . . . and differs from us only in doing that teaching with more success."

Jacobs admits he's never seen one of these extraterrestrials himself, but he knows they exist. How can he be sure they haven't installed thoughts in his mind? Laughing, Jacobs dismisses the question. He knows that many people, including some of his colleagues, think he's a nutcase.

"I've learned to accept that," he says. It's a sacrifice he makes to "have the opportunity to make a contribution in a field of potentially surpassing importance."

"You have to remember," he says seriously, "that I've come to these conclusions after an adult lifetime of studying this subject, and I've come to them with full realization of how fringy they are, of how off-to-the-side they are. I've come to them with the full realization of the damage it does to my career and to my credibility. And yet, as an academic and as a person who is intellectually honest, I feel I must go where the evidence leads me."

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June 15, 1998

Philadelphia Inquirer

Pressing for truth on UFOs
At a conference in Fort Washington, speakers talked of real mysteries, not science fiction shows

by Mark Binker

FORT WASHINGTON -- Keith Morgan says he believes that there is -- or at least was -- life on Mars, but he won't tell you about flying saucers, alien abductions, or strange men clothed all in black.

"I try to look at this from a scientific standpoint," said Morgan, of Washington, D.C., after finishing a presentation that covered artificial structures on Mars, circumscribed tetrahedral geometry, and crop circles.

Morgan, a television technician for ABC News who is urging NASA to take more and better pictures of the Martian surface, was one of about 50 people who spent yesterday in the Fort Washington Holiday Inn sorting through the myths and data that are part of the marketplace of ideas for UFO enthusiasts.

The conference was sponsored by Glenside-based CIRAEP, or Council of Investigations and Research on Aerial/Earth Phenomena.

No one in the audience was wearing Vulcan ears or toting a Buck Rogers toy blaster. No one mentioned Mulder or Scully, and there were only pejorative references to little green men.

Instead, the conversations hinged more on secret budgets, mathematical equations, and the possibility someone in the U.S. government knows more about extraterrestrial life than has been admitted.

"I've had clients that have reported seeing UFOs," said Rita Corriel, an Allentown psychologist and Temple University graduate.

Corriel, who said she had had an interest in the possibility of alien life since seeing the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, said she did not know which, if any, of the UFO literature is accurate.

But, she said, "I believe that something is happening that is real . . . and I would like to understand it."

Preston Nichols, one of the presenters, said he was not so much interested in contact with alien species as making the government accountable.

"Basically, like what a lot of other people are looking for . . . I would like to bring the constitution back," said Nichols, a writer from Long Island.

Robert F. Eure, CIRAEP's president and founder, said his interest in UFOs and alien life began in 1981 after he was contacted by "two unusual beings" dressed as Catholic priests.

In 1993, the 60-year-old Eure started CIRAEP to both find evidence of extraterrestrial life and provide support for those who say they have been contacted or abducted by aliens.

"I've not made any money yet," said Eure, who wore a gray suit and dark sunglasses even inside the Holiday Inn's conference room.

A social worker and teacher by trade, Eure said he was simply trying to bring together credible people who lend credence to reports of extraterrestrial life.

During his presentation, Morgan did not make any claims as to what life from Mars might be like.

But evidence such as the symmetrical geographic features and humanoid face carved on the Cydonia portion of the Martian surface, he said, is proof that someone is trying to send a message through space and time.

"Nature doesn't make squared lines," said Morgan.

Another presenter, Richard Sauder, focused on the existence of underground military and other installations.

Sauder, a political scientist and author from Flagstaff, Ariz., presented schematics of underground bases and tunneling machines he obtained from government agencies, along with pictures of surface vents and seemingly out-of-place buildings throughout the United States.

While he would not vouch for alien life either, he said certain aspects of abduction stories are consistent with what is publicly known about underground military installations.

None of the presenters would say they knew exactly what is being hidden, obfuscated or avoided. Rather, the day could be summed up with a line from the popular series The X-Files.

The truth is out there.

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May 16, 1998

Albuquerque Journal

Aztec, the UFO and the Skeptics
Many say there is not a shred of evidence that a flying saucer landed here 50 years ago

by Bill Papich

AZTEC -- Did anything resembling the crash of an unidentified flying object or any other event happen in a rugged canyon near here 50 years ago?

No, nada, zippo, zilch, say the skeptics.

But does that minor detail matter to this community of 6,000 in northwest New Mexico planning a 50th anniversary celebration next week of the purported event?

No way.

Consider this. Aztec was named for ruins settlers found when they arrived in 1876, believing they'd been left by the Aztec empire of Mexico.

The Pueblo buildings are actually those of the Anasazi civilization.  But, hey, the misnomer doesn't bother people. So neither are residents upset that most UFO researchers debunk claims that a flying saucer crashed near here in 1948.

The skeptics don't mince words about what they say certainly did not happen. Dennis Stacy, a former editor of the UFO Journal, published by the Mutual UFO Network based in Seguin, Texas, is one of them.

"It's a complete utter myth and hoax," Stacy said. "There's nothing to substantiate it. You just get stories."

But the crash does have its true believers. Among them is the co-author of a book explaining how the alleged crash was supposed to have happened. He is said to be in hiding, fearful that agents of the federal government seek him for revealing details about the crash.

Plans for the 50th anniversary celebration starting Saturday and running through May 25 are in full swing with a UFO symposium, crash site tours, model rocket launchings and a band among the events scheduled.

Proceeds from the "UFO Crash at Aztec 50th Anniversary Event" will go in a fund to buy books and computers for a new Aztec public library.

The crash site is a clearing amid sandstone formations in oil and natural-gas drilling country, on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Wendelle C. Stevens, who co-wrote a 600-page privately published book in 1986 titled "UFO Crash at Aztec," says people know of the crash but are afraid to speak out. "As soon as their names are mentioned or if you even make a telephone call to them, within two days they'll be visited by the FBI," Stevens said from his Tucson home.

"They will be reminded of their national security oath, they will be threatened one way or another."

Stevens wrote the book with William S. Steinman, who Stevens says was a government quality-control inspector for the aviation industry and who lost his job when the book was published. The book reports a flying saucer crash in March or May 1948 near Aztec, with 16 aliens on board who died in the crash and were hauled away with their space ship to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

The book, with a map of the crash site and sketches of dead aliens and their space ship, doesn't name its eyewitness sources.

Stevens says Steinman, after losing his job, feared the worst from the government.

"Steinman is in hiding now and has been ever since the book came out," Stevens said.

The book describes the flying saucer as six feet high, with a diameter of 99.9 feet, with dead aliens inside having small, humanlike bodies.

One of the most credible UFO investigators is nuclear physicist Stanton T. Friedman, who says reports of a UFO crash near Aztec have no evidence to back them up. Friedman, of New Brunswick, Canada, is a regular on the international UFO speaking circuit and outspoken in his belief that a UFO crash at Roswell in 1947 does have evidence to prove it.

"I've seen no evidence there was a crash at Aztec. That doesn't prove that nothing happened," Friedman said. 

"What am I going to say -- I don't want people to support a library? I love libraries."

Karl Pflock of Placitas, a writer and UFO researcher who published a 1994 book about the alleged UFO crash at Roswell titled "Roswell in Perspective," dismisses claims of an extraterrestrial crash at Aztec or one at Roswell. Pflock says stories about the Aztec crash began after two men involved in oil exploration finance schemes claimed they had a machine, built with alien technology, that would find oil and natural gas deposits.

Pflock said the two, both now dead, were convicted of fraud and related charges in 1953. He said one managed a radio and TV parts store in Phoenix and used the store's inventory to build the machine.

"So they put together this screwball does-nothing device, but looks-like-it-does-something device," Pflock said.

"They managed to persuade a number of people to actually invest money in this thing."

He said Variety magazine columnist Frank Scully picked up on the Aztec crash story and wrote about it in the October 1949 issue, Pflock said.  Scully also wrote about the Aztec crash in his best-selling 1952 book "Behind the Flying Saucers."

Pflock said his 1994 book reveals evidence that the alleged UFO crash at Roswell actually was that of an instrument-heavy balloon the military was testing to monitor nuclear weapons tests in the Soviet

"At least the basis for the Roswell story was real. Something really did happen," Pflock said. "Aztec started as a myth, a total con job from the very beginning."

The Fund for UFO Research, based at Mt. Rainier, Md., also has found no evidence of a UFO crash near Aztec. The organization is a 15-member board, most of them scientists, said UFO Research chairman Don Berliner.

"Nobody I would rate among the serious people in the field has paid any attention to that one because there didn't seem to be any reason to," Berliner said. "That doesn't mean there might have been something toit."

There is something, according to the just published book "Glimpses of other Realities, Volume II: High Strangeness" by Philadelphia author Linda Moulton Howe. One chapter of her book, titled "Military Voices," tells of a secret government photograph of a silver disk landing, not crashing, near Farmington sometime in the 1940s -- hauled away by the government.

Farmington is 15 miles west of Aztec.

In a telephone interview, Howe said Farmington would have been the main geographical point of reference in the 1940s, not Aztec.

"One of the accounts is by an ex-intelligence person about seeing a file with a photograph of a classic silvery disk," Howe said, adding she must protect her sources.

Randy Barnes, of Farmington, says he knows an ex-military man who participated in the recovery of a UFO crash north of Aztec, but not in 1948. Barnes, who owns the Medicine Wheel School of Holistic Therapy in Farmington, said the man wants his identity protected.

"He said there were two crashes in two locations not too distant apart," Barnes said. "He told me about the one he was involved in," in 1950.

One of the most extensive investigations of claims in Steinman and Stevens' book was by former UFO investigator Rebecca Minshall of Albuquerque. Steinman had visited Aztec while writing his book, and Minshall and UFO investigator William E. Jones went to Aztec to check out everything and everybody Steinman wrote about.

"The stories he claimed he got from people, when we re-interviewed them, those stories did not hold up," Minshall said. "We came to the conclusion that it appeared, in our opinion, there was no crash at Aztec."

Bob Weaver, president of the Aztec Museum's board of directors, says the late George B. Bowra, 1950s editor of the now-defunct Aztec Independent Review newspaper, wrote a report of a UFO crash as a joke.

"I don't remember the year, I just remember what he told me," Weaver said. "He said it would be fun to put something like that in the paper.

"Everybody pretty much knew he did these things and nobody thought anything about it."

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May 10, 1998

Arizona Republic

X-Files is Opened Into Phoenix "UFO"
BarWood asks staff to investigate lights

by Susie Steckner and Chris Fiscus

It's not exactly the kind of made-for-tv case those X-files agents would investigate. But, says Frances Emma Barwood, those strange lights in the Phoenix sky should be checked out by city staff, at the very least.

"I asked them to find out if it's a hoax or what," the Phoenix councilwoman said Friday. "I did not see it. I wish someone would have called me.

"Apparently, people all over the city got video of it. They all said it was as big as a football field."

So Sculley---Sheryl, the assistant city manager, not X-files FBI Agent Dana Scully ---has asked police to look into the sightings, at Barwoods request.

"I guess they'll ask Sky Harbor, ask the military, look at videos, I'd love to see all the videos," Barwood said.

In March, callers from Prescott Valley to Tucson flooded the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle to report the appearance of a boomerang-shaped, lighted object.

The center called it "the most dramatic sighting" reported in the past two or three years. In the following weeks, it drew hundreds of calls--- even one from Las Vegas--- and resulted in an inch-thick stack of written reports, center Director Peter Davenport said. Then, in April, the sighting was featured on the out-of-this world radio program called The Edge of Reality, which is produced in New York City.

"Personally, I think it's something the Air Force is working on, some sort of large transport," Barwood said.

Does she believe in UFOS?

"Thats a good question," she said. "I guess I have an open mind." Since God created the universe, she said, "Why couldn't he have created others?"

UFO researchers so far say they have no explanation, despite asking questions around Luke Air Force Base and local airports.

Davenport, meanwhile, is thrilled to hear that a public official is taking the sightings seriously.

"As far as I know, this is the first time I've ever heard of a local or state body taking an official stand," he said. "I'm encouraged. I'm heartened by that."

At a City Council meeting this week, Barwood said she was "a little curious" about the recent sightings. She said a television news crew asked her about the lights, and piqued her curiosity.

The crew was from the show Extra, which aired a segment Thursday about the "Phoenix UFO mystery."

Barwood said the main reason she asked the city to look ino the matter is because the TV crew asked why no one was investigating the reports.

"I said, 'I'll ask.'"

"I don't know why they (the government) don't check it out and if it was nothing, say it was nothing," Barwood said. "Being there were videos of it, it has people's curiosity. Why not check it out and see if it's a hoax?"

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May 10, 1998

USA Today

Mars' 'face' a pile of rocks?

by Paul Hoversten

Whether carved by aliens or sculpted by nature, the famous "face" on Mars continues to stir up a cosmic controversy.

Never mind that NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft made three sweeps near the planet last month and sent back photos to debunk notions that an ancient civilization carved the face.

"This is ancient, ruined architecture we're seeing," insists Richard Hoagland, author of The Monuments of Mars and the loudest voice for the theory that aliens built the face.

NASA says Surveyor's pictures provide ample evidence that the mile-long mesa on the Martian plain Cydonia is just a naturally occurring pile of rocks. Surveyor's camera is 10 times more powerful than the one aboard the Viking probe, which in 1976 first sent back pictures of the mesa and other strange rock formations.

But on Internet sites, in calls to talk radio programs and in UFO conferences, the cry is growing for more and better pictures from different angles. The Cydonian formation has galvanized Mars buffs and the ET crowd in ways few other phenomena have.

Some believers accuse the government of hiding evidence that would "prove" that Cydonia contains too many strange architectural shapes for them to have formed naturally. The outcroppings, they say, could have taken shape only by design.

Hoagland says NASA has photographs confirming his theory but won't release them because they could so shock Earth that civilization might collapse.

"They are seeing things they did not expect. That's why they're not showing all the data," Hoagland says.

NASA says it has released everything it has on Cydonia and, for that matter, everywhere else on Mars. Officially, the agency declines to take a position on the origin of Cydonia. But some scientists note privately that Hoagland is keeping the controversy alive to push his book, videotapes, posters and speeches.

Scientists on the Surveyor mission say there's a simple explanation for why Cydonia's features appear the way they do. The same natural forces that shaped the rocks there can be found on Earth.

"The area is geologically very interesting," says Arden Albee, project scientist at the California Institute of Technology. "It looks like there were a number of layers of material laid down in the planet's formation with different hardnesses. These layers then eroded, so you get craters which are perched up in the air sort of like on a pedestal.  We've seen these elsewhere on Mars."

But that assessment is not enough to keep others from joining the fray.  Geologists, photography experts and architects are downloading Surveyor's pictures from the Internet and analyzing them.

Even members of Congress are taking new interest in briefings from the Planetary Society in Pasadena, Calif., on the Cydonia images and other missions to Mars.

"Those of us who have studied it are unanimous that it's artificial," says Tom Van Flandern, an astronomer and former head of celestial mechanics at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Van Flandern, who runs a Washington, D.C.-based group called Meta Research that investigates celestial anomalies, doesn't buy into the theory of a government cover-up or that "UFO pilots" built monuments on Mars.

But because the Martian region has so many odd patterns and shapes, he puts the odds at a billion to 1 that all of them occurred naturally.

Van Flandern says he hopes NASA can be persuaded to take more photographs of the formation while it can.

NASA would have to race against time. On Sept. 11, Surveyor's orbit will be adjusted so it won't pass over Cydonia every nine days, as it is now. The maneuvers are necessary to lower the spacecraft into a tight circular orbit so it can begin its primary mission of mapping the planet starting in March 1999.

No more pictures are coming anytime soon. Mars now is in solar conjunction, which means that it is behind the sun as seen from Earth.  That makes it hard for controllers to exchange transmissions with Surveyor. The cameras have been turned off, and they won't be back on until May 26, when the conjunction period ends.

At that point, the camera will take pictures as the science warrants, says Mike Ravine, advanced projects manager at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, which built the camera. "We're not going to be targeting specific things. We already took the picture of the face, and I don't care what Hoagland says, it's a good picture."

As Ravine sees it, even if Surveyor takes photos only of Cydonia, it will not be enough to satisfy believers. "I don't believe these people are going to be happy no matter what we do. The idea that I would play some willing role to suppress information that some alien civilization exists is just ridiculous.

"There is no conspiracy."

To Hoagland, the controversy will be settled only with more data.

"If we don't get it, all we'll have for the next 20 years to argue about are just these three images. That would be a tragedy."

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May 5, 1998

Associated Press

Death of Cow Investigated

RED RIVER, N.M. (AP) - A cow found dead in a mountain pasture was missing an eye and its tongue and had suffered massive hemorrhaging, investigators say.

District Attorney John Paternoster of Taos said investigators are looking into the death of the 4-year-old animal as a cattle mutilation - one of a number of unexplained animal deaths reported in northern New Mexico in the past 25 years.

The animal, which had been dead about a day when it was discovered Sunday, was found in a remote pasture about 10 miles southeast of here in the Moreno Valley. Paternoster said there were no signs of predators, scavengers or a struggle.

Samples of the cow's tissue, blood and organs will be analyzed at an Albuquerque laboratory, he said.

"No apparent cause of death was immediately visible," Paternoster said. "I'm not certain what I'm looking at (but) we have since the beginning been taking these deaths seriously.''

A team of law enforcement officers went to the pasture, along with Gabe Valdez, an agent with the National Institute for Discovery Science _ a privately funded Las Vegas, Nev.-based organization that investigates suspected paranormal phenomena.

Paternoster said he believes it's the first reported suspected cattle mutilation here this year.

Debate has gone on for years about the cause of the deaths, with speculation ranging from aliens or satanists to secret government experiments.

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April 27, 1998

London Daily Express (UK)

RAF Spots Speeding UFOs with New Radar

Britain's X-Files may be opened up amidst claims of stunning evidence that UFOs fly over Britain.

Tapes to be shown to British and American experts are said to show objects which change shape in mid-air and a battle-ship sized aircraft travelling at 33 times the speed of sound.

The details are due to be revealed in early June at a Space Symposium at the RAF Cranwell staff college.

A senior RAF source claims the mystery craft haqve been picked up by the latest Phased Array radar at the Cold War listening post at Fylingdales in North Yorkshire.

One senior officer said: "What we have seen are not secret weapons. They are craft of which we have no technical knowledge. We know their shape, speeds and height but cannot explain what they are."

The most spectacular discovery is a craft spotted by Fylingdales and the Dutch Air Force over the North Sea. Described as "the size of a battleship", it zig-zagged at up to 24,000 mph for 15 minutes "as if it wanted to be spotted."

Another tape shows a group of 12 oval objects seemingly change shape, to the amazement of observers.

But the RAF is expected to withhold some X-Files. It is feared they could reveal how sophisticated their new radars area.

A similar report appeared in the London Daily Mail for the same date, penned by that paper's Science Correspondent, and containing non-committal quotes from a Fortean Times spokesman.

On the surface the story looks impressive if true and would fit what we know about Fylingdales involvement in the UFO reporting system of which the MOD's AS2a appears to be the initial, and public stage.

However, it appears this particular story is a tissue of untruths, according to Press sources at the RAF and Ministry of Defence - but they would say that wouldn't they?

Yes, there is to be a conference at the Air Warfare Centre at RAF Cranwell in June, but this is to discuss possible future military strategies in outer space - not UFOs, or so the RAF Press Desk assures us.

No secret radar tapes showing UFOs are to be shown at this conference, as these do not exist (although we know from Ralph Knoys that gun camera film certainly does).

The RAF Press office are steadfastly denying all stories about craft as big as battleships and shape-changing UFOs and deny there are any radar traces showing objects of this kind.

They say the story originates not from a "secret RAF source" but actually from an ex-employee who left with "a chip on his shoulder" and has since gone to work for a number of Army related magazines producing wildly exaggerated stories about a variety of military subjects.

UFOs are apparently the latest in his list of exclusives - and he will certainly find a willing audience with the British press eager to feed believers, although the same Press last week decided not to run a story about the downfall of the Rendlesham Forest case.

I understand reporters from the Mail and Express rang the AS2 Press desk at the weekend to check the facts supplied by this character [whose name I have and am checking out] and were told none of the story was correct - but decided to run with it anyway.

But hey, we're here to entertain as well as to inform - or so my editor always tells me!

Perhaps the source of this story may go on to write a best selling book about his time at the MOD UFO desk...oops, hasn't that already been done by someone else?

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March 20, 1998

Huntsville Times

Author: Blame NASA for high interest in UFOs

Times Aerospace/Science Writer

NASA doesn't advertise flying saucers as a space program spinoff, but the agency gets at least a share of the credit, the author of a book about UFOs said Thursday.

"The exploration of space makes reverse exploration seem reasonable," said Dr. Benson Saylor, professor of anthropology at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

Saylor, author of "UFO Crash at Roswell, The Genesis of a Modern Myth", talked about the UFO "subcommunity" during a public lecture at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Asked why UFOs have become so popular in the face of contradictory, ambiguous or nonexistent evidence, Saylor suggested more people are searching for "enhancement, wonder, spirituality."

It also resonates strongly with recurring mythology, specifically the "hoarded object myth" in which some entity controls crucial resources and refuses to give it to humanity, Saylor said. In Greek mythology, the gods controlled fire until Prometheus stole fire and gave it to mortals. India has a similar myth about water, he said.

"In Roswell, the monster is the U.S. government, which controls the knowledge that we are not alone," said Saylor, who noted that he does not believe in UFOs.

Saylor said UFOs are used for "individual empowerment," a way for people to make themselves popular.

UFOs also are a vehicle for anti-government fears in the wake of Watergate and the Vietnam War, Saylor said. "Shaken confidence in government makes it seem more plausible. The government cant win this case."

The appeal of UFOs is also driven by docu-dramas and other media that make them seem more real, he added.

Polls indicate half of adults in the United States believe UFOs are real and there is intelligent life in the universe, Saylor said. Another 27 percent maintain alien ships have landed and have contacted humans.

Unlike true stories, like Watergate, which gradually unfolded around a handful of facts that didnt change, the Roswell incident and other UFO stories change or contradict themselves, Saylor said.

"Its not what you find in a journalistic expose," he said. "Its what you find in myths."

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March 13, 1998

Arizona Republic

Phoenix Lights remain bright one year later.  Alien or not, they lit up some lives
Since witnessing the Phoenix Lights a year ago, Mike and Nannette Fortson spend their nights together watching the skies, hoping for another sighting.

by Richard Ruelas

No one was abducted by the crafts that flew over Phoenix on March 13, 1997. The air ships didn't land in the Valley, blaze a pattern in the desert grass, or even scrape a tree. The balls of lights that same night didn't send out musical tones trying to communicate.

That could be, of course, because the crafts were most likely a squadron of planes. And the balls of light were high-intensity flares dropped during a training exercise.

But the "Phoenix Lights," which appeared a year ago today, had definite impact, whether their origin was ordinary or out-of-this world.

Documentaries have been done, more are on the way; books and a CD-ROM are in the works. The lights are on T-shirts and talk radio.

They've pushed a relatively unknown former Phoenix city councilwoman into the national media spotlight. Two men who investigated the lights say it cost them a business relationship with a Spam millionaire.  Another UFO investigator said the lights zapped him of energy to peer anymore.

The lights also rekindled at least one marriage.

Nannette and Mike Fortson happened to see the light formation from their Chandler back yard. Since then, they've spent every night outside looking for a repeat show.

"Other than the hand of God coming through space, nothing could have been more profound," said Mike Fortson, a safety products salesman and chili cook-off champion.

The Fortsons, both 45, now spend about three hours each night sitting outside on their patio scanning the skies. They tore out a gazebo so they have a clearer view. They have a $900 video camera at the ready, and a high-beam flashlight in case any crafts want to communicate.

They've seen some objects they believe are alien craft, but nothing as spectacular as the March 13 lights. The main benefit has been to their 25-year marriage, they say.

"To be able to shut the TV off and talk, that's a great thing," Fortson said. "I think it's brought back some passion to us," he said before his wife shushed him.

It was a spectacular light show, no doubt, seen by thousands of Phoenix residents.

Around 8:30 p.m. five lights swept down from Northern Arizona over Phoenix in a boomerang formation. Some say it appeared to be a solid black object; others said they could see stars between the lights. A videotape shows that the lights seemed to move independently of each other.

An amateur astronomer pointed his powerful telescope at the lights and said he saw airplanes.

The second light show happened closer to 10 p.m. Seven lights flashed brilliantly, then slowly disappeared along the city's southwestern horizon.

An Air National Guard sergeant found that the Maryland Air Guard had dropped a volley of flares during training exercises southwest of Phoenix around 10 p.m.

But those explanations didn't satisfy some.
A hard-core group turned the tables, deciding they didn't need to prove the lights were an alien craft, but rather demanded skeptics prove they weren't.

For the believers, a clubhouse emerged: Village Labs, a spacious, mostly vacant office in Tempe.

The company was set up five years ago, with designs on enabling companies to access a planned supercomputer in Nebraska.

The company was run by Jim Dilettoso and Michael Tanner, who spent the '70s as touring rock musicians and part-time UFO researchers. They convinced Spam magnate Geordie Hormel to pay their lease and lend the company its considerable start-up costs, court records show.

But instead of finding investors, Dilettoso and Tanner said they spent the bulk of their time investigating the lights.

Dilettoso said he was courting companies like TRW and US West, but they backed off.

"When you're dealing with companies that big, you can't say, 'Sorry, I missed the paperwork deadline because I was working on some UFO video last night,' " he said.

Hormel recently yanked his funds from Village Labs, saying he couldn't wait any longer for the computer project which was supposed to return him millions of dollars. Village Labs got an eviction notice and must be out in less than three weeks.

"It was all legit, there was nothing fake about it," said Hormel, who estimated he put $2 million into Village Labs. "It just never got the financing it needed."

Tanner said he spent countless hours interviewing more than 300 witnesses to the lights, dismissing only three of them as kooks.  Witness statements have put more objects in the sky that night.

Tanner has concluded there were at least two V-shaped craft, two solid triangles, one giant disc and two hovering formations of orbs competing for airspace that night.

Dilettoso became the media's expert on the lights. He began doing optical analysis of the videotapes, saying he could prove by careful spectral analysis of the amateur videotapes, that the objects weren't flares.

But Paul Scowen, an astronomer at Arizona State University, isn't so sure. He said it's impossible to tell anything about the origin of a light source from a TV picture.

"The evidence seems a little bit shaky," Scowen said.

Richard Motzer, who heads up Arizona's Mutual UFO Network group, said he's done chasing aliens.

"I can't afford it. I don't want another one of these things," he said.  Motzer said his self-started computing business suffered because of the time he spent digging for the truth.

"You have to draw an ending point to this," he said.

The lights could signal a new beginning for another media darling created during the year: Francis Emma Barwood.

The former Phoenix councilwoman was rebuked by everyone she asked to look into the lights. She used the refusals as ammunition for her secretary of state campaign, pledging to open up state records. One of her campaign consultants is a national UFO expert.

"After talking to hundreds of people, it's just amazing how deeply they feel about this, that something's there," she said.

Barwood said she doesn't aim to be known as the UFO candidate, but said it follows her everywhere.

Except the one day she spoke to some UFO buffs at a metaphysical bookstore in Phoenix.

"They didn't even ask me about UFO stuff," Barwood said. "They wanted to learn where I stood on all the (political) issues."

That could be because the lights, for some, are simply a hobby.

"I definitely look up a lot more," said Trig Johnston, a former airline pilot who saw the 8:30 p.m. lights. "I haven't been obsessed with it. I think some people have."

Despite his time investment, Fortson said the lights are merely a fascination for him as well.

"I don't go everywhere with my camera; I don't have an aluminum foil hat," Fortson said.

But he does have a patio, a pair of binoculars and a low-light video camera.

"If March 13 happens again," he said. "I'll be ready for it."

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April 14, 1998

South China Morning Post

'Alien abductee' to beam down to Asia UFO summit

by Anne Stewart

An alleged alien abductee and mainland spacecraft spotters will be the star attractions at Asia's first UFO conference in Hong Kong later this year.

Organised by the Hong Kong UFO Club, the meetings will feature video footage of what are believed to be unidentified flying objects.

Experts, including a Japanese man who claims to have been abducted by aliens, will give talks. A 10-member team headed by Sun Shi-ling will brief delegates on sightings over the mainland.

Club committee member Henry Chen Yun-hai, 26, said the 700-member club was not expecting opposition from Christian groups.

However, he said the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union had once described having an interest in UFOs as "evil".

Mr. Chen, a UFO enthusiast since he was five, said he believed Christianity and an interest in UFOs were not mutually exclusive.

"I spoke to a bible teacher once who said if you believe in God, you can believe he created the universe and he also created aliens," he said.

Many UFOs had been spotted over Hong Kong, from Shamshuipo to Lamma, Mr. Chen said.

Vatican spokesman Monsignor Corrado Balducci recently prompted a UFO debate in the Catholic Church after saying there was definitely extra-terrestrial life.

Father Luke Tsui Kam-yiu, of the Catholic Institute for Religion and Society, said he was not aware if the church had any opposition to a belief in extra-terrestrials or to the UFO Club's conference.

The conference will be held from October 23 to 28 at a venue to be announced.

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April 10, 1998

Florida Today

Making a case for a face on Mars; scientist not ready to concede

by Billy Cox

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Though the so-called Face on Mars appears to have dissolved under sharper optical scrutiny, a group of researchers touting a dead-civilization hypothesis aren't bailing out yet. In fact, a scientist who'll be speaking in West Melbourne on Saturday claims Mars was once teeming with so much life, it might harbor massive supplies of oil.

"We have meteorites that say Mars had a history of liquid water much longer than anyone suspected, maybe 2 to 3 billion years, and that it was awash in a rich, organic soup," says John Brandenburg, a plasma physicist with the RSI Corp. in Lanham, Md.

"What I've discovered is oil shale on Mars. That could make going to Mars the equivalent of purchasing 500 new Alaskas."

Beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Brandenburg will make his pitch with a lecture, which coincides with last month's release of a controversial book, The Case for the Face (Adventures Unlimited Press, $17.95), to which he contributed.

The Case for the Face - authored by a score of multidisciplinary
researchers whose fields include geology, physics and computer imaging - deals largely with data collected by NASA's Viking orbiter data in 1976. Investigators calling themselves the Society for Planetary SETI Research (SPSR) go to exhaustive lengths asserting that alignments among Martian surface features in the Cydonia desert reflect redundant, geometrical consistencies that appear non-random.

For instance, Thomas Van Flandern, former chief of celestial mechanics for the U.S. Naval Observatory, argues in a paper presented to the American Astronomical Society that the Face stands only a 1 percent probability of having occurred by chance. And after studying a series of mounds near the Face, Horace Crater, a physicist with the University of Tennessee's Space Institute, calculates the odds are 200 million to 1 against natural origins.

Last November, six SPSR researchers shared their conclusions with NASA officials Carl Pilcher and Joe Boyce. Team member Stanley McDaniel, former Sonoma State University philosophy department chairman, had been one of NASA's biggest critics; in 1993, his scalding McDaniel Report accused the space agency of sabotaging scientific inquiry into Cydonia through negligence and false claims.

But after the meeting, The Case for the Face reports that Pilcher, acting director of Solar System Studies, told SPSR that NASA would make the Face a targeting priority for Mars Global Surveyor. Significantly, MGS would train its high-resolution camera on the region, which could resolve the formation 10 times better than Viking.

"It was a remarkable and thoughtful meeting," says SPSR member David Webb, a member of President Reagan's National Commission on Space and now retired in Daytona Beach. "They were obviously impressed by the work that'd been done. My impression was that they were anxious to get these photos, and NASA went to extraordinary lengths to introduce new software to get the pictures (this month)."

NASA released the first photo of the Face in 22 years on Monday, and initial results were a bust for the pro-Face crowd. The sphinx-like visage staring into Viking's camera seemed to have disintegrated into craggy desolation beneath the MGS squint.

"The picture NASA sent back is devilishly tough to analyze," says Biblical archaeologist James Strange, former dean of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Florida. "We've got a low-grey scale with only 56 shades of grey; we expected it to be in the 80s. We're all processing like mad."

Strange says new photos of the mounds and the pyramidal formations on Cydonia are more critical to acquire than the Face. "We're anxiously awaiting any other images," he says. "And if it turns out that the mounds are just piles of rocks, well, then we'll just have to figure out why they're all located on a square root of 2 grid."

But what MGS won't be able to do is resolve a challenge posted by John Brandenburg. A year before NASA Administrator Dan Goldin announced evidence for Mars microfossils in August 1996, Brandenburg was working on an even gutsier evolutionary leap - Martian oil shale.

Origins for Brandenburg's research date back to 1965, when a geologist named Bartholomew Nagy published his findings on exotic meteorites known as carbonaceous chondrites, abbreviated C1. The extraterrestrial clay-like stones were filled with tarry matter called kerogen, a biological substance on Earth, resembling oil shale.

Brandenburg, a NASA Advisory Board member on reusable launch vehicles, located the literature on eight CI meteorites, discovered in Africa, India, Antarctica and Europe, and began comparing notes. The result was a paper in the May 1996 Geophysical Research Letters journal assigning the C1 meteorites to Mars, based on oxygen isotopes and noble gases. He says Goldin encouraged him to continue his research.

"What it means is that early Mars was crawling with life and perhaps supported an Earthlike climate as recently as the Coal Age, maybe 500 million years ago," Brandenburg poses. "What this means is that Mars suddenly becomes very easy to colonize. Rocket fuel, the production of plastics, food sources - Mars is a treasure, and making it our 51st state should be our goal."

Richard Hoover, an astrophysicist at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., included Brandenburg's paper during a Society for International Engineering conference last year in San Diego. Hoover is a fence-sitter when it comes to Brandenberg's theories. "He's advanced some arguments that may have merit," he says, choosing his words carefully. "I don't think many people are going to argue that CIs have complex organics. But whether they're from Mars - that's another matter."

Harold McSween, a University of Tennessee geologist and a leading authority on meteorites, labels the Martian origins of C1 "ludicrous," and says the puzzling meteorites are most likely primitive debris left over from the formation of the solar system.

"When Brandenburg proposed that we have these kinds of meteorites included with Mars samples, he was met with a kind of stunned silence," McSween says. "It goes against how we think meteorites are formed. It's not as controversial as the Face is, but it's out there.

"It would be kind to describe this as a debate. No one's debating this except John Brandenburg, and the idea is so implausible that most people have ignored it."

Brandenburg's most recent campaign for peer support came last month, when his work was featured in the Martian meteorite section of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston. He is undeterred by the critics, comparing the intransigence of conventional thinking to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. "When the wall fell, it only seemed to take a few days, but it was crumbling for decades because it was built on a flawed premise," he says.

"Outside of Jerusalem, Mars is the most political piece of real estate in the solar system," Brandenburg adds. "Maybe the only thing we can all agree on is that the Mars story is just going to get bigger and bigger."

In the meantime, SPSR researchers and other Earthlings will be waiting for more Cydonia images. MGS will take another shot at it on Monday, and again on April 24. After that, Surveyor will swing back out to reposition itself into a full-fledged mapping orbit this summer.

Says McDaniel, "No one images of the Face will end the controversy, because of the two dozen or so other anomalous formations in the region which form the basis of many of our statistical conclusions."

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March 26, 1998


Arizona group files suit over Roswell
Freedom of Information action focuses on rumored UFO crash

Phoenix - The name says it all: Citizens Against UFO Secrecy. The organization - accusing the Army of hiding the truth - has filed suit to obtain documents on the rumored crash of an unidentified flying object near Roswell, N.M., in 1947.

CITING THE FREEDOM of Information Act, the group is seeking documents to which retired Army intelligence officer Philip Corso referred in "he Day After Roswell," a book on the Roswell incident that was published last year. Corso claimed that his office helped leading American businesses adapt alien technologies to develop products such as lasers and microprocessors.

In its lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, the Scottsdale-based group says the Army denies such documents exist. That doesn’t ring true with the group, which says its mission is to "educate and enlighten the public about the continuing presence of an extraterrestrial intelligence in contact, directly and indirectly, with the people of this planet."

According to a now-famous story, the government recovered a crashed spaceship and alien bodies from a ranch near Roswell in July 1947. The Air Force has long contended the wreckage was actually a high-altitude balloon. In 1995, the Pentagon said the balloon was part of a secret project to monitor the atmospheric effect of Soviet nuclear tests. And in June 1997 an Air Force report said people may have mistaken parachute test-dummies as alien bodies.

The government’s assurances have done little to change the minds of those who believe there has been a conspiracy to cover up evidence of alien visitations. The conspiracy theories have enjoyed a new burst of popularity due to TV programs such as "The X-Files" as well as observances of the 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident.

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March 11, 1998

Arizona Republic

'Phoenix Lights' witnesses credible, hard to dismiss

by Steve Wilson

Phoenix - When the "Phoenix Lights" were reported last year, I yawned. I didn't see them, and breathless TV broadcasts were underwhelming. It seemed easy enough to dismiss the lights as flares or military aircraft. UFOs? You've got to be kidding.

Still, as the March 13 anniversary of the sightings approached, I was curious enough to seek out some witnesses. I suspected most would turn out to be UFO devotees. My skepticism was heightened by a New Times story last week that debunked the extraterrestrial theorizing and discredited a leading local theorist, Jim Dilettoso, as a "quack scientist."

I found several people with credible credentials who witnessed the lights. At the least, their stories are interesting. Even if you regard their accounts dubiously, as I do, they raise legitimate questions.

Enough questions, says Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle, that what happened that night "may rank as the most dramatic UFO event in the past 50 years."

First, a little background. The lights were spotted between 7:30 and 10:30 in the evening over a 300-mile corridor from the Nevada line through Prescott Valley and Phoenix to the northern edge of Tucson. Some reports indicate that a single "V" formation traveled across the state, while others suggest multiple UFO events. The lights were seen by hundreds of people.

Here are four:    Dr. Bradley Evans, 47, is a clinical psychiatrist from Tucson. He and his wife, Kris, were driving north on Interstate 10 to a swimming meet in Tempe. They watched the lights for 20 minutes or so move slowly south in a diamond formation and pass over them at an estimated 1,500 feet. Even then, with the car's moon roof open, they heard not a sound from the sky. He was "awed" by the experience and has no idea what he saw. Kris said she couldn't explain it either and guesses it was "something military."

Trig Johnston, 50, is a retired commercial airline pilot who lives in north Scottsdale. His 22-year-old son was looking for Comet Hale-Bopp that night when he noticed the lights and told his dad.

"I looked up and remember saying out loud, "I'm going to chalk this up to an illusion.' It was the size of 25 airliners, moving at about 100 knots at maybe 5,000 feet, and it didn't make a sound.

I've flown 747s across oceans and not seen anything like I saw that night," Johnston said.

"I don't expect anybody to take my word for it," he added. "This was something you had to see for yourself to believe."

Max Saracen, 34, is a real estate consultant who lives in north Phoenix. He and his wife, Shahla, were driving west on Deer Valley Road when they saw a huge triangular craft. They pulled off the road, got out and watched it pass overhead. "It was very spooky -- this gigantic ship blocking out the stars and silently creeping across the sky. I don't know of any aircraft with silent engines."

Dr. X is a physician who lives near Squaw Peak in Phoenix and asked to remain anonymous for fear of ridicule.

Her home has an elevated, panoramic view of the Valley, and she has some of the best known videotape and photographs of the lights. Though she had no prior interest in UFOs, the episode prompted her to begin her own investigation.

"I think what happened is mind-boggling," she said. "I'm trying to be as scientific as I can, and a number of things just don't compute. "

I'm not given to an otherworldly answer. But neither do I think these four people and so many others who saw the lights are all exaggerating or delusional.

Of all the explanations, a U.S. military operation of some sort, maybe testing experimental aircraft, seems most likely. Mitch Stanley of Scottsdale said he could clearly see several planes when he pointed his telescope at the lights. But if it was a classified operation, why conduct it directly over the nation's sixth-biggest city?

And if it wasn't, why hasn't the military simply acknowledged it?

You don't have to be a ufologist to be puzzled about what lit the sky that night.

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March --, 1998

Ashtabula Star Beacon

'X-Files' comes to Saybrook
Resident, troopers, deputy witness strange object moving across the sky

by Diana Lewis

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP - For the second night in a row, Dennis Johnson was standing in the dark in his front yard, transfixed by a light in the sky that so far has defied explanation.   "It could be an optical illusion, but I know I saw it move," he said Monday evening, outside his North Depot Road home.

Pointing toward the southwest, he said, "When I came out, it was there. Now it's straight out, to the west. It's moving north. "That's pretty strange, since most of the other objects in the cloudless night sky - stars, mostly - were "moving" in a different direction, due to the rotation of the earth.

"I don't think it's a satellite, or a planet," he said. "I'm just awed by it."

This second night, Johnson was content to watch the odd-looking light by himself. But Sunday night, he was desperately looking for corroboration. He got it. Maybe it's because cops enjoy a believability factor the every day, run-of-the-mill UFO- spotter doesn't possess, but Johnson made the difficult decision to call in the law just before midnight Sunday to report the strange moving light in the sky to the west.

"About 11:30, I was going outside to have a cigarette, because I don't smoke in the house and I saw this odd-looking star," Johnson said. "It was a flat light, instead of round and shiny, like a star."

Johnson said he walked around the yard, trying to see it from several angles. "It was just a flat-type light, so I lined it up with a telephone pole to see if it was moving," Johnson said. "It moved down, then to the left and the right."

Johnson called his wife to the door, and she watched it for a while.

"She told me to be careful who I call about it, because they would think I was crazy," he said.

After watching a few minutes more and noticing it changed color from white to green at times, Johnson called 911.

"I told them it wasn't an emergency, but I wanted to know if there were any other reports about it. They told me no," Johnson said.

Johnson didn't know it, but a deputy was dispatched after his first phone call. In his report, the deputy said he drove into the area, scanned the skies, and saw nothing but stars. He did not speak with Johnson.

After watching the object a while longer, Johnson tried to determine how close it was. It could have been hovering over Geneva, he said.

"I called again and said, 'Please send a car so I can show it to somebody,'" Johnson said.

The deputy was dispatched to the area again, with instructions to speak with the star-gazer at his home.

When he arrived, Johnson pointed out the light, located to the west of their location.

"The deputy said, 'Yeah. It's moving,'" Johnson said.

In his report, the deputy said he lined up the light with a fixed object and was then convinced the light was indeed moving around in one general area. By this time, two troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Saybrook Post were also on the scene.

The four men took turns looking at the light with binoculars.

"They were all joking. Saying they weren't going to say anything because people would think they were crazy," Johnson said.

Eventually, the three officers left. Johnson, however, stayed outside a bit longer.

"I watched it go over the trees, out of sight," he said. "It just went gradually lower in the sky and disappeared."

Johnson said it took about a half hour for the light to drop behind the horizon. It was moving much faster than the constellations, he said.

A call by the ACSO to Youngstown airport after Johnson's first call yielded no information. Sheriff Billy Johnson said he believes his deputy "saw something unusual."

"I'm not going to say there aren't UFOs," Johnson said.  "Nobody's ever come down and tapped me on the shoulder, but I won't rule out UFOs. All we can do is watch, observe."


Article Listing

January 4, 1998

Washington Post

The Start of Something Big

by Elaine Showalter

The Secret Alien Agenda
By David M. Jacobs
Simon & Schuster. 287 pp. $23

An Illustrated Reference to Alien Contact
By Kevin Randle and Russ Estes
Simon & Schuster. 308 pp. $12

Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements
Edited by Thomas Robbins and Susan J. Palmer
Routledge. 334 pp. Paperback, $18.95

The Genesis of a Modern Myth
By Benson Saler, Charles A. Ziegler, and Charles B. Moore
Smithsonian. 198 pp. $24.95

A Rationalist's Guide to a Precisely
Arbitrary Countdown
By Stephen Jay Gould
Harmony. 190 pp. $17.95

IN 1898, in War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells played masterfully on his culture's fin de siecle anxiety with a story of telepathic, blood-sucking Martians landing in suburban London to invade a world they regard as crowded by "inferior animals." In the 1930s, Orson Welles terrified New Jersey with his radio adaptation of the story. Now David M. Jacobs, a professor of history and ufology at Temple University, carries on the tradition, but he doesn't think it's fiction.

In The Threat, Jacobs expounds his view that a race of alien pod-people is about to take over the earth. For decades, he explains, extraterrestrial beings have been carrying out a sustained program of abductions, sperm collection, ova-harvesting, and alien-human cross-breeding. "At the heart of the reproductive agenda," he writes, "is the Breeding Program," using "extrauterine gestational units" that look like brown paper bags to impregnate menopausal women; "Mindscan" to create sexual arousal in unwilling victims; nasal implants to monitor negative thoughts, and "fetal extraction" (fatal attraction?) to salvage the hybrid if its carrier thinks about abortion. Moreover, there's nothing we can do; already "it may be too late" to stop the threat of "alien integration," and the aliens could be coming as soon as 1999.

Preposterous as Jacobs's theory sounds -- and surely millennial social anxieties of intermarriage, immigration, artificial inseminatio and genetic engineering have something to do with
his vision -- he presents it with serious intent, and undoubtedly many readers will believe him, just as they headed for the hills when Orson Welles broadcast his "War of the Worlds." Indeed, recent surveys show that 25 percent of all Americans believe that aliens have landed on earth. And they're not all the big-eyed Tall Grays we know from "The X-Files" or "Close Encounters." In Faces of the Visitors, Kevin Randle and Russ Estes describe, sketch, and rate the credibility of sightings of over 100 different kinds of alien beings, from reptoids and insectoids to humanoids, indistinguishable from you or me, to sexy Brad Pitt-like "Nordics." Whatever their appearance, most of the aliens are sexual predators; there is even a Midwestern support group for those raped by reptoids.

What we don't have, though, are Polaroids. In fact, there are no photographs, videotapes, or material evidence to prove that any of these Oids exist. Some of David Jacobs's patients (he has studied hypnosis and done over 700 "hypnotic interviews" with abductees) have set up video cameras in their bedrooms to film nighttime abductions, but the cameras seem to fall down or break or show the patients getting up at night and turning them off. At a National Press Club luncheon in Washington in October, a reporter asked Gen. John Shalikashvili, then-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, whether the United States was adequately defended against the threat of invasion by extraterrestrials. "I sleep well at night," the general replied, "without fear that an alien being is going to capture me." The journalists laughed, but neither high-level assurance, absence of evidence, nor disconfirmed prediction seems to halt the fears of abduction, invasion, conspiracy, and apocalypse that swirl around the end of our century.

Alien invasion is only one of the many conspiracy theories and apocalyptic scenarios that constitute what the novelist Don DeLillo calls "millennial hysteria." Believers can hitch their scenarios to a multitude of alleged apocalyptic "signs" -- AIDS, the breakdown of the family, the Internet. Lubavitcher Hassidic Jews interpreted the Gulf War as a sign of the imminent appearance of the Messiah. Egyptians, as The Post recently reported, interpreted the death of Princess Diana as a British-Israeli conspiracy designed to keep her from marrying a Muslim. But, warn Thomas Robbins and Susan Palmer in the introduction to their excellent Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem, apocalyptic thinking can "become dangerous when actual events appear markedly convergent with the anticipated scenarios of zealots." The recent massacre of 70 tourists in Egypt is partly the result of widespread cultural support of xenophobic conspiracy theories.

The contributors to Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem analyze contemporary religious and secular apocalyptic movements from the Mormons to Waco and Aum Shinrikyo, and explain the central significance of prophecy in these movements. Prophecies are useful because they enhance the charismatic authority and power of the leader, bind the followers together, and make leaving the group seem risky.

Paradoxically, even "failed prophecy" or "apparent prophetic failure" can unify millenarian groups. David G. Bromley notes that "apocalyptic intensity can be maintained through predictions that are imminent but indeterminate, which then necessitates and legitimates a constant state of readiness." No amount of counter-evidence, testimony by scientific panels, or contradictory hypotheses can shake these firmly held beliefs and suspicions. In fact, as anthropologists of religion have demonstrated, disconfirmed prophecy leads to intensified faith and proselytizing, as believers seek "dissonance reduction" through disclaimers, rationalizations, and self-congratulation that their faith has saved them.

With regard to the alien invasion stories, anthropologists have also analyzed the role of folklore, myth, and media in the construction of narrative. In UFO Crash at Roswell, cultural anthropologists Benson Saler and Charles A. Ziegler, along with atmospheric physicist Charles B. Moore, trace the process by which the belief that a manned flying saucer had landed in New Mexico in 1947 became a contemporary "technomyth" expressing "antigovernment sentiment."

The authors offer a useful vocabulary and terminology for understanding the formation of myth, in a "process of transfiguration that involved successive retellings in which some of the historically recorded events were retained, some were distorted or repressed, and entirely new elements were inserted."  They identify six versions of the Roswell legend from 1980 to 1996, evolving from the genre of "crashed-saucer story" to a myth of the culture-hero (the ufologist) wresting knowledge from an evil monster (the government). The Roswell myth has been assembled from various fragments and sources: documented events, distorted historical events, previous crashed-saucer stories, beliefs about government deviousness by UFO believers in the UFO community, and new cultural ideas.

Most important, the authors argue, when tales move from the oral to the written tradition, the process by which narrators rationalize internal contradictions and implausibilities accelerates. When tales are written down or "personal legends" are collected and edited, they increasingly conform to prevailing narrative concepts, introduce elements of fantasy, intensify relations of dominance and subjugation, play down the shocking and unpleasant, transpose subplots, and rationalize discrepancies.

All of these elements are present in David Jacobs's retelling of the stories he heard in interviews with his patients, almost all of whom are women. He emphasizes the alien chain of command, with insectoids and reptoids at the top, Tall Grays in the middle, female Tall Grays (there do not appear to be females among the other groups, including shorter Grays) tending to the offspring, and handsome Nordics getting free time for "IHA" -- independent hybrid activity. Kathleen, Susan, Diane, Sarah, Cindy, Rozanne, Carla, Allison, Claudia, Beverly, Paula, Donna, Emily, Deborah, and Doris tell very similar stories, in part because Jacobs does not include the stories that do not conform to his model. They are stories of displaced sexual desire, romantic fantasy, and reproductive ambivalence. Many of his clients have had hysterectomies, and yet they tell of alien insemination and being forced to conceive an alien child. Could it be that they are mourning lost fertility, fearing lost sexuality? Although they sometimes express distress at their rapes, and at feelings of sexual arousal they wish to disown, the more unpleasant aspects of imagining forced sex with an alien are played down, and the emotional satisfactions played up. At worst, we hear that male aliens are not circumcised. (Presumably, there are no Jewish hybrids).

At best, many of the women fall in love with their "personal-project hybrids," male aliens who have lifelong relationships with them, choosing them for frequent sex and fathering their hybrid children. The PPHs joke and even linger "for a short time" after sex "before putting on their clothes and going to another task." (They wear blue jeans.) But alas, like so many other men in romantic fiction, these hybrid males have several personal "projects," are not monogamous, and lie. Donna's PPH says "that he wants to be with me more than he's often able to." Uh-huh. But "even the romantic hybrids can suddenly display anger and malice," just like the guys on "Melrose Place." Sympathetically understood, The Threat is a sort of apocalyptic version of The Rules, a sad statement of women's unmet needs for love, sexual attention, and adventure.

How much of the current hysteria is generic to the millennium? In Questioning the Millennium, Stephen Jay Gould dismisses much of this theorizing as "speculative, boring, and basically silly" and refuses "to speculate about the psychological source either for the angst that always accompanies the endings of centuries (not to mention millennia) or for the apocalyptic beliefs that have pervaded human culture throughout recorded history, particularly among the miserable and malcontented." Instead, his subjects are "calendrics, astronomy, and history."

BUT GOULD does get into the debate over the previous turn of the millennium in 1000 A.D. While historians used to believe that the year 1000 saw a wave of terror sweep over Europe, this view has been widely challenged ever since French "positivist historians of the subsequent Third Republic, imbued with the rationalist spirit of the late nineteenth century, adopted an opposite and skeptical attitude that has dominated the profession to the present day." Nonetheless, Gould is convinced that modern chronology had circulated so extensively among all social classes in Europe by the year 1000 that there is reason to cautiously support the idea of "substantial millennial stirring."

His own book concludes with "a little story about an ordinary person who has done something heroic in the domain of calendrics and who loves the millennium with all his heart." Gould's hero is Jesse, a young autistic man who is a savant day-date calculator -- what some label "with the stunningly insensitive name idiot savants -- that is, globally retarded people with a highly precise, separable, and definable skill." Jesse's fascination with naming the day of the week for any date in history is a substitute for his inability to understand other kinds of relationships, and Gould explains the mental process behind what seems an uncanny phenomenon. But his last paragraph is unexpectedly moving, as he incorporates Jesse's world-view into a broader sense of how we all question the millennium: "May we all make such excellent use of our special skills, whatever and how limited they may be, as we pursue the most noble of all our mental activities in trying to make sense of this wonderful world and the small part we must play in the history of life." It's a wish people like David Jacobs should heed.

Elaine Showalter, a professor of English at Princeton University, is the author, most recently, of "Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media."

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December 15, 1997

Associated Press

Martians smarter than the average American?

by Donald M. Rothberg
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Most Americans think there is intelligent life on other planets -- more intelligent than on Earth.

"The public loves this stuff, they always have," said Paul Horowitz, a professor of physics at Harvard, when told of the finding made public Monday by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. Horowitz directs a project that operates a 250-million channel receiver listening for signals from space.

"It could be that the American people are taking two and two and coming up with four," said Brian Welch, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

What pleased the space community was the response to this question: "Do you think there is intelligent life on other planets?"

Sixty percent of the people said yes and 40 percent said no.

Marist researchers then asked those who said yes if they thought life on other planets is "more, less, or about as intelligent as human life on earth."

The aliens came out ahead on that question, with 47 percent of Americans saying they thought extraterrestrial life was more intelligent, 13 percent said less intelligent and 40 percent said it
was about the same.

by a margin of 86 to 14, people said they thought galactic neighbors are friendly rather than hostile.

Despite the positive view of the possibility of life on other planets, the survey found Americans divided on spending for the space program.

Forty-seven percent said the government is spending too much, 43 percent said funding was about right and 10 percent said it was too

low. Asked if they thought the space program was a good investment, 45 percent said yes and 55 percent said the money would be better spent on other programs.

The telephone survey was conducted Oct. 5-7. Marist questioned 935 adults by telephone and the results had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Broken down by age, people from 18 through 60 were strongly supportive of the idea of life on other planets. But people older than 60 rejected the idea by a margin of 67 to 33.

"The subject has moved a lot in just the last couple of years, said Louis Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society, whose 100,000 members are strong advocates of continuing research into the possibility of life in outer space.

Horowitz said researchers are "riding along on this wave of technological innovation." He said his project listens on 250 million channels simultaneously. The first serious search for signals from space was in 1960 and had just one channel, he said.


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December 14, 1997

San Francisco Examiner

Unknown UFO site remains so

Linda Watanabe McFerrin
Special to the Examiner

IN NEVADA, not far from the California border and right next door to the Nevada Test Site where the U.S. government has been experimenting with nuclear bombs since 1951, on a remote plain ringed by parched mountains, lies the best-kept, widely known, top-secret spot in the world.

To insiders it is "Watertown Strip," or "the Ranch. " Aircraft buffs, referring to the call sign of its control tower or its off-limits status on aeronautical maps, call it "Dreamland" or "the Box." Most of us know it as Area 51, the appellation assigned to it on government documents. The New York Times once described it as a base so secret that it didn't exist. To some "ufologists" it is a turn-out on the extraterrestrial highway, an alien rest stop and spaceship garage.

Regardless of what it's called, this military installation sequestered in America's outback - it does not appear on U.S. Geological Survey maps - has been cloaked throughout its 46-year history in the kind of secrecy that invites investigation, and that is just what writer David Darlington does in Area 51: The Dreamland Chronicles (Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 281 pages, $25.00).

Darlington's informants - desert denizens, road warriors, con artists and self-proclaimed extraterrestrials - are a colorful lot, and their stories about alien abductions, government conspiracies and interstellar travel rival the best from the Twilight Zone.

Darlington walks among them with heroic impartiality on his sober and ultimately sobering prowl of Dreamland's dramatic periphery. When he digs deeper, the stories get wilder. Witnesses report on aliens called "little grays," saucers propelled by elements that do not exist in this solar system, the use of humans as guinea pigs and New World Order conspiracies. There are tales about back-engineering captive flying saucers, interactions with aliens, neighbors from Alpha Reticuli and Invisible Government Obedient Robotons (IGORS) created in clandestine government Frankenstein works.

On the other hand, the summary withdrawal of 89,000 acres of public land from public access, the untold billions spent yearly on Black Budget (secretly funded) intelligence and defense projects, the spy planes, stealth fighters, secret shuttles, security oaths and workers exposed to toxic waste without recourse - all verifiable fact - read a great deal like science fiction.

There's so much deceit and misrepresentation around Area 51 that the line between myth and reality is a blur. In this frighteningly distorted world even Darlington seems to occasionally lose perspective.  At one point, lured to the Luxor casino in Las Vegas and confronted with the spectacle of Americans smoking, drinking, eating and gambling to excess, he wonders irritably if visitors to this planet might not find that earthly society at the end of the century was nothing more than a mass migration of oversized but pea-brained organisms, waddling about in T-shirts and shorts.

The only regrettable thing about his chronicle is that Darlington never really penetrates Area 51's covert operations. The electric fences, the false trails, the "cammo" dudes, the smoke screens and very real fears keep him forever circling about the installation's perimeter. This leaves the reader longing, in the midst of all of this data, for the one thing that Darlington is unable to unearth - a truly believable witness.

Linda Watanabe McFerrin is a Bay Area poet, novelist and travel writer whose work appears frequently in the Examiner Travel Section. Bookings appears the second Sunday of each month.

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December 8, 1997

United Press International

UFO researchers meet in Brasilia

LONDON - Top UFO researchers from 27 countries gather in the Brazilian capital this week to take a serious look at Unidentified Flying Objects.

The 50 scholars believe their discipline merits U.N. recognition.

A BBC report cites a U.S. poll indicating popular belief in intelligent life on other planets is at an all-time high.

Most mainstream scientists scoff at the grainy photographs and stereotyped eyewitness accounts presented by so-called "ufologists" as evidence of alien visitations to Earth.

But the popularity of film and television space fiction testifies to the human willingness to believe.

Television's "The X-Files" series raised so many questions about "the Roswell incident" that the CIA took pains earlier this year to issue a final report on the mysterious sightings in the New Mexico desert in 1947.

The CIA said weather balloons were mistaken for UFOs, and crash test dummies for dead aliens.

The CIA's report may have fallen on deaf ears. A standard ufologist argument is that governments do not tell the truth about alien encounters.

Ufologists took heart from the discovery earlier this year of a meteorite from Mars that appeared to contain evidence of organic structures.

But not all scientists accepted NASA's conclusion that the

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December 7, 1997

Globe and Mail

Old spirals could be sign of alien visits

by Jay Ingram

I think I have stumbled on one of me great discoveries of all time: evidence that aliens once visited this planet. I realize that this is a notion that has often been discredited and so I need to make a strong case. But I think I have one.

First, let me emphasize that I think the notions of the deservedly maligned Erich von Daniken, and others like him, that mysterious glyphs in Mesoamerican carvings represent advanced technologies like rockets are crazy. Nor do I think the Nazca lines in Peru-the outline drawings apparently made to be seen from the air-suggest that aliens took the natives aloft to give them inspiration to create these works of art.

I am not convinced that the African Dogon knowledge about an invisible companion star for the star Sirius requires that Sirians landed and imparted that information.

All of these are pretty feeble, last resort grasping at extraterrestrial straws to explain the somewhat out-of-the-ordinary.

Yet, on the other hand, there is the firm belief among astronomers and cosmologists that there are very likely intelligent civilizations out there.

I think that now for the first time there might be evidence at hand of knowledge imparted by aliens to humans thousands of years ago-knowledge that we have just now decoded.

The story begins with stone carvings of the neolithic age, 4,000 or 5,000 years ago. One of the most common decorative motifs in carvings of the time is something called a "cup and ring" pattern. It is a tightly coiled spiral, resembling a coil of rope as seen from above.

While these are often seen carved into stone objects and walls in Scotland and Ireland, they actually are very widespread, appearing throughout Europe and Asia. There is no evidence that these tight spirals are meant to mimic anything the people of the time might have used (like rope or woven baskets), but their ubiquity suggests a strong artistic urge to create and copy them.

The problem until now has been that, unlike the ice-age art of Lascaux and Altamira, where there is a logical link between the large mammals depicted in the caves and the artists who hunted them-there seemed to be no good reason to carve tight spirals.

However, recent advances in molecular biology have changed all that. Specifically, a recent publication in the journal Cell has provided what I think is an explanation, one that requires the visitation of a civilization with advanced technology.

The scientific article in Cell describes how DNA is packaged inside strange objects called bacterialviruses (technically bacteriophages). These are viruses that prey only on bacteria. They are so tiny they can be seen only with an electron microscope, and even then they are marvellously complex. Only a few of their inner details have been revealed.

In the recent issue of Cell, researchers use high-resolution images of viruses frozen in ice, then sliced, to show how the genetic material DNA is packed inside the socalled "head" of the virus. To fit inside, the relatively huge strand of DNA is compacted by a factor of 10,000. And how do you think it's arranged inside the virus? Of course-as a tight spiral.

It is awe-inspiring to see the two images together: a cryoelectron micrograph of the DNA of bacteriophage T7 next to a carving from Neolithic Ireland. They are exactly the same.

It makes perfect sense to me. I suppose aliens could pass on astronomical knowledge or show technopoor earthlings their flying machines; but how grandiose and unimaginative.

How much more dramatic to inform stone-age people of the existence of the master molecule, to tell them of the evolutionary struggle in the microworld, then to give them a motif that would be reproduced over and over, finally to be decoded by us, the carvers' high-tech descendants.

I hope to gather all the relevant evidence and publish this discovery more widely in the scientific literature-hopefully by the first of April.

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November 23, 1997

New York Post

Bill Wanted UFO Probe: Hubbell Book

By Deborah Orin

President Clinton was intrigued by UFOs and wanted to know if they really existed, says a new book by his golfing pal, disgraced Justice Department official Webb Hubbell.

Hubbell says finding out about UFOs was one of the top priorities Clinton gave him in sending him over to a job as one of Attorney General Janet Reno's top deputies.

"' Clinton_ had said, "if I put you over at Justice I want you to find the answers to two questions for me,'" Hubbell recounts.

"One, who killed JFK. And two, are there UFOs.'

"Clinton_ was dead serious. I had looked into both, but wasn't satisfied with the answers I was getting," Hubbell adds.

Hubbell describes his failure to find out about JFK and UFOs as a big regret when he had to resign as associate attorney general and pleaded guilty to bilking law clients of $482,000.

Whitewater figure Jim McDougal has said Hubbell - who worked closely with Mrs. Clinton and former White House lawyer Vincent Foster at Little Rock's Rose law Firm - "knows where the bodies are buried" on the land deal, but he stays pretty closed-mouthed in the book "Friends in High Places."

The book touched off a courtroom battle when Whitewater counsel Ken Starr tried to subpoena early drafts. Starr backed off, and in any case Hubbell's book insists he can't remember much.

But Hubbell does toss out a tantalizing aside in examining why Bill Clinton decided against running for president in 1988: a remark from Hillary that, "We've got to straighten up Whitewater."

The book portrays Hillary Clinton as an ambitious woman who dreamed of succeeding her husband as Arkansas governor and paints Bill Clinton as someone unable to face his wife on whether she should use his last name or hers.

Hubbell recounts that in 1981, after Clinton got beaten for re-election as Arkansas governor - a campaign in which his wife's use of her maiden name, Rodham, was an issue - he asked Hubbell to press her to change her name.

He quotes Clinton as saying: "She needs to do this ... Webb, you're her friend. Will you talk to her about it?"

Hubbell says he did so and Mrs. Clinton agreed - "but I suspect it hurt for some reasons she's never understood herself."

Later in 1990, Hillary Clinton seriously talked of running to succeed her husband as Arkansas governor when Bill Clinton seemed bored with the job, he adds.

"Hillary had actually floated her candidacy past Vince ^Foster_ and me in the event that Bill didn't run," writes Hubbell, then a law partner of Mrs. Clinton's and Foster's.

"We questioned whether if the reason Bill wasn't running was he had been in office too long, voters would think they were just getting the same thing."

Hubbell adds that Mrs. Clinton "talked about how it might energize a new generation of females in the state, and when she said that, I knew she was really thinking about it."

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July 1, 1997


UFO faithful land in Roswell for anniversary fest

by Kieran Murray

ROSWELL, N.M. - Thousands of UFO buffs, researchers and alien-watchers gathered Tuesday for an extravaganza marking the 50th anniversary of the most famous of all alleged alien landings on Earth.

Organizers said between 60,000 and 100,000 people would arrive over the next six days to swap stories of alien encounters and dissect the evidence they believe shows that an alien spacecraft crashed near this ranching town on or around July 4, 1947, and that its dead occupants were taken away for secret autopsies and testing by Air Force scientists.

Bidding to quash the Roswell conspiracy theories, the Air Force last week issued a comprehensive report aimed at refuting details of the alleged extraterrestrial landing. It said the wreckage found in a field 75 miles northwest of Roswell was in fact that of a high-altitude balloon used in the military's top-secret ``Project Mogul'' to detect Soviet nuclear tests at the start of the Cold War.

Eyewitnesses who said they saw dead aliens loaded into body bags at another site and spoke to people who carried out autopsies on the creatures may have confused what they saw with Air Force dummies used to test high altitude parachutes in the area, the Air Force said.

But the report has been ridiculed by UFO believers and the few remaining witnesses insist their stories are true.

``I know what I saw,'' said Frank Kaufmann, now 81, who was working at the Roswell Army Air Field in July 1947 when he was sent out to see what had crashed into a dry river bed north of town. ``Seeing those bodies and the craft made me realize we're not alone in this vast universe.''

He said he got a close look at two dead aliens, one in the wreckage and another in the dry river bed, and that those two and three more were taken away in body bags.

"There is a lot of crap in all this,'' said Kaufmann, who has little time for the zanier alien buffs who claim they have been abducted by little green men or impregnated by extraterrestrial visitors.

``These people who claim they've been abducted by aliens, it's so transfixed in their minds they fantasize it and there's no way you can budge them.''

Max Littel, an 80-year-old local businessman who has researched the alleged landing, said the Air Force report insults the intelligence of local residents because the parachute dummies were not used in the area until the late 1950s, a full decade after the incident.

``It's just more of their coverup. They are trying to get people to shut up about this but there's absolutely nothing to it. We just call it another one of their damn lies,'' he said.

The so-called Roswell Incident has drawn huge interest in recent years with the release of the ``Independence Day'' movie, the ``X-Files'' television series and fake alien-autopsy videos focusing on the events of July 1947.

Few believe the military report has undermined the Roswell mystique for those who believe intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe and this city of 50,000 people in southeast New Mexico has geared up for a tourist invasion.

``It's the Woodstock of 1997. The U.S. government's effort to deep-six this with this release of another absurd explanation just adds gasoline to the fire,'' said Linda Moulton Howe, a reporter who researches UFO sightings.

``I have no doubt the Pentagon is lying to us. They think people would freak if they told the truth so they are covering it up,'' said a California woman named ``Star'' who arrived in Roswell Monday, her hair sprayed green for the occasion.

Alien dolls, T-shirts, cookies, bottled water and 50th anniversary commemorative coins are on sale and thousands of people are expected to visit three separate sites where the spacecraft or its debris came down.

The ``Roswell UFO Encounter '97'' also boasts a film festival, a rock concert, laser shows, ``Alien Chase'' foot races and a soapbox derby of homemade alien vessels.

While some researchers say the commercial blitz and assorted wackos expected to attend the event undermine their work, organizers insist the serious side to the incident is not being overlooked.

``We're not sacrificing alien babies. This is a legitimate family event and an educational experience,'' chief organizer Stan Crosby said.

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May 10, 1997

Arizona Republic

X-Files is Opened Into Phoenix "UFO"
BarWood asks staff to investigate lights

by Susie Steckner and Chris Fiscus.

It's not exactly the kind of made-for-tv case those X-files agents would investigate. But, says Frances Emma Barwood, those strange lights in the Phoenix sky should be checked out by city staff, at the very least.

"I asked them to find out if it's a hoax or what," the Phoenix councilwoman said Friday. "I did not see it. I wish someone would have called me.

"Apparently, people all over the city got video of it. They all said it was as big as a football field."

So Sculley---Sheryl, the assistant city manager, not X-files FBI Agent Dana Scully ---has asked police to look into the sightings, at Barwoods request.

"I guess they'll ask Sky Harbor, ask the military, look at videos, I'd love to see all the videos," Barwood said.

In March, callers from Prescott Valley to Tucson flooded the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle to report the appearance of a boomerang-shaped, lighted object.

The center called it "the most dramatic sighting" reported in the past two or three years. In the following weeks, it drew hundreds of calls--- even one from Las Vegas--- and resulted in an inch-thick stack of written reports, center Director Peter Davenport said. Then, in April, the sighting was featured on the out-of-this world radio program called The Edge of Reality, which is produced in New York City.

"Personally, I think it's something the Air Force is working on, some sort of large transport," Barwood said.

Does she believe in UFOS?
"Thats a good question," she said. "I guess I have an open mind." Since God created the universe, she said, "Why couldn't he have created others?"

UFO researchers so far say they have no explanation, despite asking questions around Luke Air Force Base and local airports.

Davenport, meanwhile, is thrilled to hear that a public official is taking the sightings seriously.

"As far as I know, this is the first time I've ever heard of a local or state body taking an official stand," he said. "I'm encouraged. I'm heartened by that."

At a City Council meeting this week, Barwood said she was "a little curious" about the recent sightings. She said a television news crew asked her about the lights, and piqued her curiosity.

The crew was from the show Extra, which aired a segment Thursday about the "Phoenix UFO mystery."

Barwood said the main reason she asked the city to look ino the matter is because the TV crew asked why no one was investigating the reports.

"I said, 'I'll ask.'"
"I don't know why they (the government) don't check it out and if it was nothing, say it was nothing," Barwood said. "Being there were videos of it, it has people's curiosity. Why not check it out and see if it's a hoax?"

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February 28, 1997

Florida Today

FOIAville: Good things take time

by Billy Cox

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - OK - even though the Air Force is now 39 days late in responding to its own Freedom of Information Act deadline, and its public relations officer at Los Angeles Air Force Base isn't returning calls, I still don't buy the conspiracy stuff. I'd have to be paranoid, and I'm glad I'm not one of those raving lunatics.


On Nov. 7 last year, shortly after 11 a.m., Jim Graw, a security guard at Aquarina in Melbourne Beach, was glancing east when he became transfixed by two elliptical metallic objects, each roughly the size of a jumboliner, cruising north at a leisurely pace along the shoreline.  Glinting sunlight, they were visible for about a minute, not even a mile away. Graw was amazed. "I couldn't identify them. They were definitely round and disc-shaped," he said.

Less than an hour later, after watching the Delta rocket's first-stage separation that launched Mars Global Surveyor from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Wes Clark noticed a white pinpoint of light entering the picture some 40 degrees above the horizon. Several moments later, the blip was joined by two identical UFOs, which proceeded to perform strange maneuvers in a triangulated formation.

At 12:16 p.m., as Clark and perhaps a dozen fellow USA Flight Systems employees watched from the parking lot of the space station processing facility, what appeared to be a single jet fighter slashed in from the south, briefly scattering the UFOs. With the jet banking and cutting "lazy figure-8s, as if it was on an intercept pattern," Clark took meticulous notes on the chronology of events, which included an entry at 1:05 p.m. listing a pass by a "high-flying aircraft with a short fuselage and long wing and white on the bottom, going from northeast to southwest, as if tracking the objects."

Clark finally went back to work at 1:08 p.m. because he'd spent his entire lunch break in the parking lot. A while later, Clark got a "holy cow!" phone call from a buddy, space shuttle inspector Scott Cook at the logistics building, several miles away.

Cook had seen the objects, too. "They looked like three stars, in broad daylight, arranged like a pyramid, before they started moving," Cook said later. "When I showed them to other people, they said, `Oh, they're probably just weather balloons.' But I didn't think weather balloons could move like that. And I thought the winds would've carried them away by then, because they were there for an hour."

Cook also saw the first jet ("I'm not sure what it was - an F-15 maybe, or it could've been a T-38") as well as the second, which he surmised was a U-2. Cook watched the show until 2:30. He counted eight U-2 passes. During the last, Cook says one of the UFOs began following the U-2. Cook says he also watched two more jets streaking into the area, apparently surveilling the objects. "The (UFO) I got the best view of, the bottom one, looked like a perfectly round star," Cook says.

Rawinsond and/or jimsphere weather balloons? Or something else?

A circuitous maze of queries meandered from the Lockheed Missiles and Space Ops to the Eastern Test Range to the Federal Aviation Authority before finally crunching into a FOIA request for data records with the USAF in Washington, D.C. They've got this really cool picket fence of Defense Support Program satellites that can allegedly track the nose hairs off a garden snake. The most interesting lock-ins - the unknowns that enter the atmosphere and then veer out again - are rumored to be called "fastwalkers," although that term doesn't officially exist.

Well, you know how zany things can get in Bureaucracy World, being understaffed, underfinanced, overworked and all that. No surprise here that USAF/Washington exceeded its legal mandate to acknowledge receipt of my FOIA within 10 days by nearly two weeks. Like, when was the last time any of those paper-pushers got a raise, anyway?

The last I heard, the FOIA had been peddled off on LAAFB, which wrote on Dec. 20, "We will provide your office with the determination and/or the current status of your FOIA request on or before 20 Jan 97." Just for grins, LAAFB even included a phone number.

You know, they probably were weather balloons, after all. But this is how weird rumors get started. I'm glad I'm mature and professional enough not to participate.

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June 26, 1996


James Oberg and Don Ecker on Larry King Live

KING: A camera aboard the space shuttle Discovery recorded a curious sight nine months ago. Some UFO researchers are calling it a breakthrough video: a clear view of a craft, not one of ours, performing a high-speed maneuver. Others, with years in the space program, say it's just plain old debris. Judge for yourself.

The mission was STS-48, flown in September of last year. As Discovery circled the Earth, the camera picks up what looks like an object drifting from right to left, then suddenly and strangely veering off to the right and out of view, followed by what looks like a tracer or laser from the bottom to the top of the screen. Another, closer look: The object appears to change direction. NASA says it was waste water dumped from Discovery.  UFO enthusiasts disagree and claim NASA has long hidden the full extent of outer space UFO encounters.

With us from Los Angeles - Don Ecker of UFO Magazine. In Houston - space engineer and author, James Oberg, who worked on ground communications for this shuttle mission, the one in question.  Don, why are you so sure this is a UFO?

Don Ecker - 'UFO' Magazine: Well, it certainly has all the appearances, Larry, of being something that is unidentified. It certainly appears to be flying. And we do not normally associate waste water - or, as some pundits are calling it, urine in space - to make drastic right-angle turns.

KING: Why would NASA want to hide it?

ECKER: Why would the United States Government want to keep this subject under wraps for 45 years? That's an excellent question.

KING: Why?

ECKER: Well, we could certainly go into the realm of speculation.....

KING: I mean, the Government denies it, so you're going to have to tell me why you think they hide it.

ECKER: OK. Well, to begin with, I have a couple of questions that I want to address to Jim first, Larry, that I think are germane. To begin with, good evening, Jim. And I have a couple of questions. To begin with, what capacity are you here in this evening? Are you here....?

KING: Hold it. They're straightening out Jim's microphone. So let me get straight with you and then they'll let me know and we'll be ready to take that through. When you saw these tapes for the first time, were you just feeding your own, for want of a better term, frenzy, something you'd been wrapped up with for a long time? Or did you turn this over for analysis? Did you look at it? Did you investigate their explanation?

ECKER: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I have the documents with me with what NASA had claimed that these particular anomalous objects are. There are several events on this particular tape that originally came from a cable television channel back in the Maryland area that downlinked it on the NASA K-band. Basically, this was event number two, which shows a number of anomalous objects in this particular segment of footage, and there are a number of things that just simply don't stack up with what NASA is claiming that these things are. If you watch the entire segment, you will notice that several moments after this particular event happens, NASA begins preparing for the waste water dump.

KING: OK, now, James are you with us now? Are we clicked in OK?

JAMES OBERG, Space Engineer: That's fine. We can talk to outer space OK, but I had a problem with your.....

KING: OK, that's James Oberg, space engineer and author. He worked on flight control for the shuttle mission. And you say this is not phenomena, right?

OBERG: It's a phenomenon that's very familiar. Larry, we see this since the fireflies on John Glenn's flight 30 years ago.  Spacecraft are surrounded by clouds of debris - ice, dust, insulation, and other fragments. These pieces - and I've seen these tapes and I've seen hundreds of hours of tapes like that -   are fairly ordinary phenomena.

KING: OK, Don has a couple of quick questions for you. Don?

ECKER: Yes. Jim, what capacity are you here in this evening? Are you here as a civilian? Are you here as a representative of Lockheed....?

OBERG: I'm not representing.....

ECKER: ... or of NASA?

OBERG: Don, don't give loaded questions, here. I have no connection with Lockheed. I'm a space nut. I'm interested in outer space myths and folklore-

ECKER: So in other words, you're here on your own accord?

KING: Yes, in other words, James, you're not here representing NASA, right?

OBERG: I'll play it back, Don. I'm not here as editor of a magazine trying to sell subscriptions.

KING: OK, no, James.....

ECKER: OK, let me ask you this.....

KING: Hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it.....

ECKER: Let me ask you this.....

KING: Hold it, hold it.....

ECKER: James.....

KING: Don... Don... Don, hold it. It's my show. James, you're not here as a representative of NASA, right?

OBERG: No. No, I have written on this subject for a long time.

KING: OK. Did you work on this mission?

OBERG: Yes, I did.

KING: In what capacity?

OBERG: I was in the flight control center, part of helping the deployment of one of the satellites. So I was there for.....

KING: Are you a contracted employee to NASA?

OBERG: Yes. Yes, I am. Yes, I am.

KING: OK, but tonight you appear as James Oberg, space engineer.....

OBERG: That's right.

KING: ... not representing NASA?

OBERG: That's correct.

ECKER: All right, Larry, I have one more question for Jim.....

KING: OK, now, go ahead, Don. Go ahead.

ECKER: Yes, I have one more question for him. Jim, are you working here under the constraints of any security agreements that you may have signed with NASA?

OBERG: No, I'm not. Myself is not the issue. The issue are these pictures and the big deal people are making out of it.

ECKER: Well, this is a simple question, Jim. Are you working under security constraints?

KING: All right, no, James, that's a fair question. Did you sign any kind of an agreement with NASA not to reveal certain things?

OBERG: DOD material, yes. This is not, and this is not covered. Nothing about this material is covered.....

ECKER: All right, let me... One last question, Jim.....

KING: 'DOD' means Department of Defense material?

OBERG: Department of Defense, that's right.

KING: OK. Go ahead, Don.

ECKER: One last question, and this question is very simple. With the security agreements that you have signed, before we start addressing this particular segment of footage, if you had any awareness of anomalous objects, would you be free to talk about them? And I'm talking about anomalous objects that are not our debris or our spacecraft.

OBERG: I am totally free to talk about these kinds of topics, anything seen on the shuttle. I have talked about it. I have a long history of writing for Omni Magazine and other magazines and books.....

ECKER: Well, no, no, no, that's not what I'm saying.....

OBERG: ...because it's clear.....

ECKER: You're usually on.....

OBERG: I'm giving you an expert opinion.....

KING: Don, Don, Don... Hold it. Guys, hold it. This is not a trial, Don. He answered the question. If it was not a Defense Department fear, he could talk about anything. Now, would you briefly, James.....

OBERG: There was nothing on STS-48 that was classified, nothing on that flight.

KING: All right. Would you tell us, you are convinced beyond question that this is d