Last weekend Discovery Channel aired a documentary which they claim debunked most of the JFK conspiracy theories (those that dispute Oswald as being the 'lone gunman'), through the use of modern forensics - most especially in this case, blood spatter analysis:
A mock-up of the Dallas, Texas crime scene was set up, including the depository, the "grassy knoll," and other nearby landmarks. Artificial surrogates of Kennedy were placed in a car. Sharpshooters then shot the surrogates from the model depository, the grassy knoll, and four other plausible locations.
Schliebe, along with Tom Bevel, an independent expert forensic investigator, were brought in to examine the simulated crime scene. Both scientists had no idea what the experiment was for or that it was a reenactment of the JFK assassination.
The two experts found a simulated gunshot would to the head that closely matched the wound Kennedy suffered. Most of the simulated body material had spattered forward into the car, consistent with a shot that entered the back of the head and exited toward the front. There was some back-spatter -- material that flew back in the opposite direction of the bullet's trajectory -- but not much.
I didn't see the documentary, so I may be missing something crucial that's not in the story, but I'm finding it hard to understand why the experts picked the 'book depository' shot over the others - were they matching blood spatter patterns to those of the original assassination scene, or matching the wound to Kennedy's, or something else? In any case, sounds like an interesting documentary.
Binnall of America Audio returns this week, kicking off the paranormally-themed podcast's fourth season. First guest of the new season is Jim Marrs, for an extensive chat with Tim Binnall (1 hour, 19 minutes) on everything from UFOs to occult Nazis and the JFK assassination. Sounds like a full season all by itself...
As I've mentioned often, Tim does a great job over at BoA, conducting some of the smartest and most detailed interviews with paranormal 'celebrities' that you're likely to find (check the archives over there for a fair amount of fascinating listening). In return, I think he deserves some support - it's not cheap (on time or money) to run something like BoA...his server costs alone must be astronomical. So if you can afford it, head to the BoA Audio homepage and make a donation via the PayPal button on the right. Alternatively, you can pick up a bit of BoA-flavoured merchandise at their CafePress shop. Most people charge fees for access to these sorts of extended interviews, but Tim doesn't ask for anything. Do the right thing and give the guy something back for his good grace, he certainly deserves nice things to come his way.
Planes falling out of the sky near Australia due to secret technologies. I know, it sounds like something out of Lost, but the real story might be almost as interesting. Last night I was watching the news, when they mentioned that two separate aeroplanes have gone into steep dives due to technical malfunctions, both near the same location in Western Australia. Then they didn't say any more about it. I thought to myself, "that seems rather odd, why didn't they say more about this apparent coincidence?" Then this morning Rick sent this article to me, which suggests that a U.S. military base may hold the key to the mystery:
Powerful signals from a secretive naval base are being probed as a possible cause of a Qantas jet plunge last week... The Australian Transport Safety Bureau today said it would examine whether powerful electromagnetic signals from the communications base could have sparked the emergency.
The base uses powerful low frequency radio transmissions to US Navy and Australian Navy ships and submarines. It is understood to be the most powerful transmission station this side of the globe and includes 13 radio towers, the tallest of which is 387m tall.
...ATSB spokesman David Hope confirmed the new line of inquiry today, after "several" groups had raised it as a possibility. "We're looking at everything as part of a very thorough investigation," Mr Hope said. "That's been raised by a number of people to say that somehow or another this US military base has got a very high frequency signal tower there and that could somehow interfere with electrical devices - so we'll look at it."
Now for your daily dose of strange: I commented to Rick that the story sounds like something the Dharma Initiative would be behind. Then I saw the satellite image of the base. As Scooby Doo might say, ruh-roh...
Okay, so it's an octagon versus a hexagon. Don't spoil my fun dammit! I want to believe!
Almost a year to the date of his disappearance, it appears Steve Fossett's wreckage plane has been found:
Crews conducting an aerial search late Wednesday spotted what turned out to be the wreckage in the Inyo National Forest near the town of Mammoth Lakes, Sheriff John Anderson said. They confirmed around 11 p.m. that the tail number found matched Fossett's single-engine Bellanca plane, he said.
Anderson said no human remains were found in the wreckage.
"It's quite often if you don't find remains within a few days, because of animals, you'll find nothing at all," Anderson said.
It's not hard to foresee many people will still claim Fossett was abducted by aliens, or entered some space-time vortex or whatever; but right now the most important thing would be to confirm this is actually the plane he piloted on that fateful day, to later investigate the cause of his demise.
Hopefully this will bring a much needed sense of closure to his widow and family.
Over on his Further blog, Mark Pilkington has announced the upcoming publication of a new book by Ken Hollings that looks fascinating: Welcome to Mars: Fantasies of Science in the American Century 1947-1959:
'Welcome To Mars' draws upon newspaper accounts, advertising campaigns, declassified government archives, old movies and newsreels from this unique period when the future first took on a tangible presence. Ken Hollings depicts an unsettled time in which the layout of Suburbia reflected atomic bombing strategies, bankers and movie stars experimented with hallucinogens, brainwashing was just another form of interior decoration and strange lights in the sky were taken very seriously indeed.
The back cover blurb features positive testimonials from the likes of Erik Davis and Jacques Vallee, who says the book "is a searingly accurate and deeply disturbing exposé of the fantasies of American modernism that have inspired the many nightmares and the few hopeful visions of our new Millennium." Sounds tasty! The book will be officially released late October.
On his blog at Strange Attractor, Mark Pilkington points to a short film which jams just about every Fortean and alternative history and science topic into its 20 minute running time: The Orion Conspiracy...
A very cleverly-assembled Grand Unified Mystico-Technological Conspiracy of Everything from French film-maker Seb Janiak. From vedic vimanas to space weaponry and global mind control in just under 20 minutes - phew! I’d say it’s about 6.66% accurate...
A 270MB download, but well worth the wait.
With coverage of plenty of spurious memes, the film is certainly a tour de force of the growing mythology behind the UFO, conspiracy and hidden history genres. If you can't handle the large download, you might want to check it out at Youtube, where it's split into two parts: 1 and 2.
The BBC has recently become the focus of conspiracy theorists with their show Conspiracy Files digging into the alternative theories of what transpired on 9/11 and 7/7 (the train-bombings of London). Mike Rudin, the producer of the series, posted three separate blog entries during June which addressed and debated a number of the topics involved.
"Controversy and Conspiracies", Part One, discussed whether conspiracy theories should even be given airtime, in response to recent criticisms that the BBC was paying a conspiracy theorist to participate in the feature on 7/7:
The stakes are high because conspiracy theories are spreading suspicion about the official account of what happened, ultimately questioning whether the authorities can be trusted. Establishing whether what is argued is true or false, and scrutinising the way proponents conduct themselves, is clearly in the public interest and is a serious and legitimate task for the BBC.
Parts Two and Three concentrated on the enigmatic collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on 9/11 - which will feature in Conspiracy Files on BBC Two tonight. A news story by Rudin, posted on the BBC News website on Friday, features a trailer for this weekend's feature, and suggests that a long-awaited report will put the collapse down to fire:
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, based near Washington DC, is expected to conclude in its long-awaited report this month that ordinary fires caused the building to collapse. That would make it the first and only steel skyscraper in the world to collapse because of fire.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology's lead investigator, Dr Shyam Sunder, spoke to BBC Two's 'The Conspiracy Files': "Our working hypothesis now actually suggests that it was normal building fires that were growing and spreading throughout the multiple floors that may have caused the ultimate collapse of the buildings."
However, a group of architects, engineers and scientists say the official explanation that fires caused the collapse is impossible. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth argue there must have been a controlled demolition.
These new blogs and documentary features on the BBC have riled many of those involved in promoting or researching the conspiracy angle, with plenty of commentary at Alex Jones' Prison Planet and 911Blogger.com.
Personally, I think a lot of the 9/11 conspiracy movement has become a belief system of its own, with a bunch of self-promoters profiting off it to the detriment of those who have something worthwhile to say. Having said that however, I equally dislike the faulty attribution of 'conspiracy theorist = crazy person'. There are very good historical reasons to not trust authority blindly (see Operation Northwoods for just one pertinent example), and I'm actually quite comforted to know that there are people out there who look closely at all the details of these type of events.
And when it comes to the details surroudning WTC7, even if the truth is that it was just fires (after all, it did burn all day, and many people reported hearing creaking and groaning noises coming from it, suggesting an impending collapse), you have to admit that you can't blame suspicious people for seeing conspiracy: The collapse would make it "the first and only steel skyscraper in the world to collapse because of fire". Rather than being investigated, the steel girders were removed from the site and melted down. The owner of the building mentioned on video that he told authorities to "pull it" (apparently referring to fire crews inside the building). News media including the BBC reported the collapse while the building was still standing. The BBC's satellite then went dead at that moment. Then the BBC claimed to have lost the tape of the report. The official report is only now about to be released, more than 7 years on.
If there are no elements of conspiracy behind these events, then it would make a wonderful case study in how a sequence of unrelated events can easily lead people to a certain, incorrect, belief. I've created a nice new controversial poll here on TDG, asking for all your thoughts - was there a conspiracy involved in the collapse of WTC7? Readers in the UK will probably want to check out the documentary tonight for a good overview. You can vote anytime on the poll, or check the results, via the block on the right-hand side of the page.
On the menu of a Wall Street restaurant is a burger covered in gold flakes - at US$180 for one burger, it's a meal fit for Gordon Gekko. Is there an Illuminati version of Gordon Ramsay loose in a New York restaurant? That's an appetising conspiracy, but sprinkling your food with gold isn't new. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt ingested gold dust, believing it prolonged one's life. Restaurants in Turkey have been serving gold-flecked meals for a while, and they were undoubtedly inspired by history:
Europe has very old traditions in using edible gold on food, dating back to the Renaissance. While 15th century alchemists used gold medicinally as an aid to digestion, 16th century Italian dukes decorated their risotto with it. The Elizabethans added gold dust to fruit at their most sumptuous banquets and ate sweets covered in gold in the afternoons to maintain healthy hearts. Gold is still considered medicinal in both traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. The Japanese continue to use gold regularly in their diet, and it is especially consumed at New Year’s when it is thought to bring luck and prosperity. There are several brands of sake that feature gold flakes in the bottle.
A small bottle of Kizakura sake sits on the shelf above my computer, a past birthday present that I never drank. The gold flakes sit at the bottom, autumn leaves in a pond, until I shake it like a snow-globe. But this beautiful concept is shattered by my conscience conjuring images of the obscenely rich gorging themselves on gold and beef at the expense of environmental and human rights.
Or perhaps it's simply that the sake I just drank is well past its expiry date...how else can I explain contemplating a conspiracy of Wall Street burgers sprinkled with gold dust, Illuminati chefs, and alchemical immortality?
Paranormal researcher and pundit George P. Hansen - the author of the seminal book The Trickster and the Paranormal - has posted a quite amazing entry on his blog, which touches on the crossovers between UFO/paranormal research and the shady world of government agencies. This is a really sensitive topic, with most people preferring to sweep it under the carpet - but it is one that really, at some stage, needs to come to a head. Most importantly because it has ramifications for the reputation (and research) in multiple fields, from parapsychology to ufology, and alien abductions.
In the early 1990s, Jones publicly proclaimed that he "honestly did not know of any activity of the U.S. government" in the field of UFOs.1 But in 1992 Robert J. Durant produced a detailed, widely circulated white paper demonstrating that Jones was in a position to throw considerable light on government-UFO activities...
Colonel John Alexander (U.S. Army, retired) was heavily involved with the U.S. government’s psychic spying program, but he was also active with UFOs. In fact, Alexander admitted that he was the model for the "Harold Phillips" character in Howard Blum’s book "Out There: The Government’s Secret Quest for Extraterrestrials".
Hansen then goes on to detail some rather shocking connections, which include links to the JFK assassination investigation, and also to the strange case of Armen Victorian - if you care to research either of these two topics, you'll head down some very deep rabbit-holes indeed! Far too deep to go into here...it should be enough to say they involve plenty of shady government agencies, various levels of harassment and threats, and all the other cloak and dagger you'd expect from such folk.
Hansen's point is this:
Whatever one may think of Jones and Alexander, one cannot reasonably conclude that they have worked to inform the public about government-UFO activities. They have fostered ambiguity and suspicion, and perhaps worse. One might be skeptical of any statements they may make on the topic.
Now, George Hansen is not some kooky conspiracy guy. He is a respected thinker on paranormal topics who has been involved in the field for many years - though he is also disliked by many because he tends to 'call it as he sees it'. And in this case he may be calling the biggest topic there is in the paranormal field. John Alexander is linked to various high-profile research efforts on the paranormal - from the 'Stargate' remote viewing project, through to Robert Bigelow's National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS). Beyond Alexander though, numerous high-profile researchers on paranormal topics also have been connected to government agencies.
My point? Considering its already shaky reputation, the field of paranormal research is one that must be open, honest and transparent. Involvement of government agencies throws a huge - and unwelcome - shadow upon that goal. That's not to say that those involved with such agencies have nefarious goals or are bad people - I know quite a few myself, and most I would have nothing but praise for. But it is a huge issue that needs to be discussed more openly.
Over the past few years, controversy has surrounded the alleged use of torture by U.S military and intelligence personnel, with the current administration arguing - basically - that in these times of 'war' (ie. the War on Terror, aka "the global struggle against extremism"), anything goes if it saves U.S. lives. The story has reared its head again with the publication of the 'Yoo' memo, a legal memorandum sent by the U.S. Justice Department to the Pentagon in 2003.
Browsing through this disgraceful attempt at using semantics to justify torture, I noted with interest that the memo also mines dictionary definitions to allow interrogation with mind-altering drugs - somewhat of a fifty-year flashback (pardon the pun) to the bad old days of Project MK-ULTRA. Watch the semantic acrobatics (please excuse the length, but it's necessary to show how they justify it all):
Second, section 2340(2)(B) provides that prolonged mental harm, constituting torture, can be caused by "the administration or application or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality."...
...This subparagraph, however, does not preclude any and all use of drugs.