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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Big Week For UFO Stories

Driving back home from Valparaiso, Indiana last night, I caught Richard "Face On Mars" Hoagland on Coast To Coast. He's always good for a chuckle (Apollo crews recovered a severed C3PO-like robot head on the Moon and have spent the last 40 years trying to communicate with it. That kind of stuff.)

But it did come out in the course of the talk that three UFO stories hit the mainstream news last week, and not just college kids spotting glowing objects shaped like blunts over their dorms. These involved things at a slightly higher level. And Hoagland is convinced they all point to a struggle in the closed rooms of government over whether to finally admit to the public that Earth has been visited by aliens, and the slave ships are on their way.

On September 21st, Guy Consolmagno, a trained astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican observatory, told the Guardian newspaper that he would happily baptize an alien, “no matter how many tentacles it has.”

From Pope's Astronomer Would Baptize Aliens:

Though he concedes the odds of finding and communicating with other intelligent life is essentially zero, Consolmagno would welcome the event. “Any entity -- no matter how many tentacles it has -- has a soul,” he said. Asked whether or not he’d baptize an alien, Consolmagno replied: “Only if they asked.”

A financial scandal at the Vatican's bank also erupted last week, and Hoagland naturally sees some sort of connection between the two. A juicy scandal would effectively shove this "important" leak about the Vatican admitting there are aliens to the back page.

Next up was an announcement that the United Nations has named 58-year-old astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, the current head of the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), as an envoy for any future extraterrestrial contacts.

From UN to appoint Earth contact for aliens:

The United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth’s first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.

Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.

She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.

During a talk Othman gave recently to fellow scientists, she said: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials.

"When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”

Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law and governance at the UK Space Agency and who leads British delegations to the UN on such matters, said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person.”

Then on September 23rd, the National Press Club hosted a presentation by retired air force personnel who made the claim that UFOs have been neutralizing US nuclear missile sites for decades.

From Aliens Are Monitoring Our Nukes, Worry Ex-Air Force Officers:

Captain Robert Salas was on duty in Montana in 1967 when a UFO shut down the nuclear missiles on his base. And he's hardly the only one to make such a claim.

On Monday, six former U.S. Air Force officers and one former enlisted man will break their silence about similar events at the National Press Club, all centering around unidentified flying objects and nuclear missiles. They plan to urge the government to publicly confirm the incidents, stating that they were ordered never to discuss the events.

"We're talking about unidentified flying objects, as simple as that," Salas told FoxNews.com. "They're often known as UFOs, you could call them that," he added. Salas, a former U.S. Air Force nuclear missile launch officer, will host the event along with researcher Robert Hastings, author of "UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites.

According to the pair, witness testimony from more than 120 former or retired military personnel points to an ongoing and alarming intervention by unidentified aerial objects at nuclear weapons sites, as recently as 2003. In some cases, several nuclear missiles simultaneously and inexplicably malfunctioned while a disc-shaped object silently hovered nearby.

Then there's the news that the SETI program has been shut down (no, it hasn't - most of it is privately funded) and that giant "ark ships" are headed towards Earth right now! According to Pat Parrinello at Bombshock,

At the present time the object(s) are beyond the orbit of Pluto. It is estimated that the objects are in the neighborhood of 150 miles across by 30 to 50 miles wide. Not long ago a Russian Mars probe photographed an object fitting this description just before it was destroyed for unknown reasons. Later, an American Mars probe was destroyed just before it reached that planet.

The people that were associated with SETI are in a unanimous opinion that, yes, we are not alone in the universe. A few of those people are now continuing SETI with private funding. However, reports indicate that some antenna sites have been taken over by government and those antennas in particular are heavily guarded.

It is reported that the US Navy in conjunction with the NSA are attempting to keep the public unaware of what is going on. A few people who are in the know are concerned that the Navy, as a first line of defense may be attempting to convert the antennas for military purposes. It is a fact that some frequencies in the microwave band have been known to affect UFO’s and destabilize their propulsion systems. It stands to reason that such measures may be true in light of Ronald Reagan’s statements about the need for the star wars program and his inference that we may soon have to face something from “out there!”

Finally, a so-called "Goldilocks Planet" has been detected ("This one is juuuuuust right!") that might be able to sustain life. From the AP story Could 'Goldilocks' planet be just right for life?:

It is about three times the mass of Earth, slightly larger in width and much closer to its star - 14 million miles away versus 93 million. It's so close to its version of the sun that it orbits every 37 days. And it doesn't rotate much, so one side is almost always bright, the other dark.

Temperatures can be as hot as 160 degrees or as frigid as 25 degrees below zero, but in between - in the land of constant sunrise - it would be "shirt-sleeve weather," said co-discoverer Steven Vogt of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

It's unknown whether water actually exists on the planet, and what kind of atmosphere it has. But because conditions are ideal for liquid water, and because there always seems to be life on Earth where there is water, Vogt believes "that chances for life on this planet are 100 percent."

The astronomers' findings are being published in Astrophysical Journal and were announced by the National Science Foundation on Wednesday.

The planet circles a star called Gliese 581. It's about 120 trillion miles away, so it would take several generations for a spaceship to get there. It may seem like a long distance, but in the scheme of the vast universe, this planet is "like right in our face, right next door to us," Vogt said in an interview.

Not exactly a vacation spot. And in spite of zero evidence of any kind of thing even remotely qualifying as "life" being discovered on any other spinning rock in the universe apart from our own, co-discoverer Steven Vogt of the University of California at Santa Cruz made the somewhat remarkable remark, "It's pretty hard to stop life once you give it the right conditions."

Or the imagination, for that matter.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Geronimo's Skull

A longtime story goes that Yale University's famously secretive Skull and Bones Society has in its windowless campus home, known as the Tomb, the skull of Apache chief Geronimo. Back in early 2009, descendants of Geronimo attempted to sue Skull and Bones, Yale, and the federal government for the return of the warrior's skull. Because Geronimo’s grave was originally on a U.S. military base, the plaintiffs also named President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of the Army Pete Geren as defendants in the suit. Under the theory of never sue anyone poor or not famous. But on July 27th, a District of Columbia judge dismissed the case.

The plaintiffs were 20 descendants of the legendary Native American chief, and their attorney was Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General under Lyndon Johnson, whose previous client list has included Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic.

The story goes that back in May of 1918, a group of Bonesmen were all serving in the Army together at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, site of the mouldering remains of the Apache chief who had died in 1909 from pneumonia. It's no secret that S&B prides itself on its creepy collection of frat house decor, and the skull of an Indian chief whose name is synonymous with intoxicated white people jumping off cliffs would make a dandy addition to their "tomb." So (allegedly), Prescott Bush (father of George H.W., and grandfather of George W.), Henry Mallon, Ellery James and Charles C. Haffner, dug up the grave and stole the skull, a few bones, and a horse bit, and spirited them off to the Skull & Bones Tomb at Yale. Over the years, they have (allegedly) been in a glass display case.

The Skull and Bones "Tomb" on the Yale campus.

The Geronimo skull is a longstanding piece of Skull & Bones folklore, but several members of the (alleged) grave robbing team gave conflicting accounts of the raid. Towana Spivey, director of the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum, is quoted as saying he has never believed the story. Still, there
is a skull in the S&B Tomb in New Haven known commonly as Geronimo.

This public imbroglio started back in 2007 when Harlyn Geronimo of Mescalero, New Mexico, wrote to President George W. Bush for help in returning the skull of his great-grandfather. Bush didn't bother to answer, and the lawsuit followed. During the 2004 presidential race, Bonesmen Bush and Deomocratic nominee John Kerry both reacted to questions about the secretive society (one of about a dozen on the Yale campus) by saying that it was so secret they couldn't talk about it. Obviously, Bush admitting the chief's skull was in the Tomb would be in violation of the Society's oath.

From "Judge dismisses Apache suit against Skull and Bones" in the Yale News on August 9th:

If [Clark] had won his case, he and his clients would have dug up the grave at Fort Sill, and if, as the story about Prescott Bush suggests, some of the remains had been missing, they would have turned to Yale and Skull and Bones.

Before anyone can take legal action against the U.S. government, the government must consent to the proceedings by waiving its sovereign immunity. District Judge Richard W. Roberts said he dismissed the case because the plaintiffs had failed to establish why immunity should be waived in this case. He also said that the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), under which the prosecution was suing for ownership of the remains, only applies to burials, grave robberies and other incidents that took place after it was passed in 1990 — making the act irrelevant to this case.

But Clark said he does not think Roberts is correct on this last point.

"It doesn't seem like that act would have much relevance if it cut off everything before that date," Clark said.

Still, Clark said the fact that he tried to take the case straight to court, without first arguing his clients' claim to their ancestor's remains in front of the relevant government agencies, might be why the government never waived its immunity. Clark said he pursued litigation first because it was the fastest route, allowing him to take on all relevant parties — those in the government and those in New Haven — at the same time. Now, he said, he and his clients will turn to agencies in the executive branch and the Department of Defense that they previously tried to bypass. He added that he will eventually reopen his cases against Yale and Skull and Bones if need be, but not until after the Fort Sill remains are exhumed.

Yale has said it does not possess the remains, but that it cannot say whether the secret society — a separate entity — might have them. A representative of Skull and Bones has declined to comment on the matter.