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Monday, September 29, 2014

Witchcraft in Alaska

Killisnoo, Alaska, as it appeared in 1899.


The indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest have played an important role in Native American folklore, from Chinook tales of monsters such as the Sasquatch-like Skookum and the humanoid sea monster of the Inuits named Qalupalik. A tribe inhabiting southeast Alaska, known as the Tlingit, has also played an important role in the folklore of the Pacific Northwest.

The Tlingit tribe, like many other indigenous tribes, holds a strong belief in magic and witchcraft. In 1915, a peculiar case evoking memories of Salem, Massachusetts, came before the court in Juneau, centered around allegations of witchcraft and sorcery. The strange case of Mary Moses- or Klantosh, as she was known to her tribe- could've been the last official "witch trial" in North American history had the District Attorney been able to find a law that was broken by the witch in question- a blind man who was said to be able to fly and transform himself into a duck.

The following comes from a newspaper article from November 11, 1915.

Juneau, Alaska, Nov. 11.-- That witchcraft still exists among the natives of Alaska, was brought out in the United States District Court before District Attorney J.A. Smiser here. A complaint of the practice of witchcraft among the natives of Killisnoo was made some time ago to W.G. Beattie, superintendent of native schools for Alaska. An investigation in the Killisnoo village led Superintendent Beattie to bring a number of the tribe to Juneau for examination by District Attorney Smiser, with the result the witch was found, but no law could be found on which to base a complaint against him.

From the testimony of the witnesses examined before the District Attorney the story of the witchery centers around a blind man, his fifteen-year-old daughter and her grandmother. For several months the blind man has been announcing himself as a witch and has claimed responsibility for practically all the deaths that have occurred in the village of Killisnoo for the past five years.


According to the story of the little native girl, Mary Moses, or Klantosh, as her Indian name is, the first time she knew that her father was a witch was one night a "long time ago" when she was awakened in her sleep and felt cold. She called her father and asked for more covers, which he brought, and while covering her over, she says, he told her for the first time that he was a witch and that he wanted her to learn to be one too in order that she might carry on his work when he died.


In order that she might learn the secrets of the practice she said her father told her she must visit with him an old graveyard across the bay. Mary stated her father told her to take hold of his foot and in a moment they "flew" across the channel to the cemetery. While there she said they were able to look through the earth down into the graves and could see the bodies in them. After wandering about the graves for a time her father transformed himself into a white duck and on his back she says she rode back across the channel. Mary told the District Attorney that that night she learned many things about witchcraft.


The girl's story was told with straight-forwardness and without contradiction and the reason she said she wanted something done with her father was because she feared he would kill her grandmother with witchery. The child's mother is dead and she is apparently very fond of her grandmother, and is evidently sincere in her fear of her father's powers.


The only charges against her father are based upon the firm belief that he is a witch and in that connection he is accused of being responsible for everything in the way of misfortune which has happened in the Killisnoo Indian village. In the eyes of the law, Mr. Smiser says, it does look a little like hypnotism, but nothing tangible has occurred which can be reached by law.


In his remarks before the District Attorney, Superintendent Beattie said: "The question of witchcraft is one of the most difficult problems we have to handle among the natives. The existence of witches is a certainty with them, and there is absolutely no possibility of convincing them that there are no such things as witches. It isn't stubbornness on their part, it is simply and sincerely their belief that there are among their tribesman persons who have power to cast a spell over others on their number."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Armpit hair fire causes SUV crash


Photo by Ida County sheriff's department

Five teenagers in Idaho managed to miraculously dodge the natural selection bullet earlier this week after a horrendous SUV crash, which occurred when one of the passengers took out a lighter and lit the driver's armpit hair on fire.

The Ada County, Idaho, sheriff's department stated the rollover occurred after a 16-year-old boy in the front seat lit 18-year-old Tristian Myers' armpit hair on fire while Myers was driving. 

Authorities cited Myers with inattentive driving, while the 16-year-old armpit arsonist was cited for interfering with the driver's safety (and being a grade-A, first-class moron). The passenger's name wasn't released, out of fear for his safety. After all, with stupidity such as his, it's likely someone would've kidnapped the teenager and given him a forced vasectomy in order to ensure that he wouldn't reproduce.

Deputies also said none of the teens was wearing a seatbelt, and there was evidence Myers was driving too fast.

(more on this story here)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We hate to burst your bubble, but there is no Loch Ness Monster


Elle Williams' recent Nessie photo

Nessie, a favorite among cryptozoologists for over 80 years, is in the news again-- this time making an appearance in Lake Windemere, some 150 miles from Loch Ness. According to the UK Mirror, the creature was recently photographed by Elle Williams, a 24-year-old professional photographer.

James Ebdon, of Autographer Camera Company, told the Mirror: “On closer look we thought it could be a larger animal like a horse with a saddle pack or something. Then we wondered if it was an old giant eel or catfish as seen on TV documentaries." He concluded, "Who knows what it is - maybe some kids messing about - whatever it is we will leave it to the experts.”

Well, until the alleged experts chime in, Journal of the Bizarre would like to take this opportunity to offer three points which point to the non-existence of this famed creature.


1. A thousand year vacation and the miraculous saint.

The first Nessie sighting took place in 1933, when John Mackay and his wife saw "something resembling a whale" while driving past Loch Ness. While some argue that Nessie was first seen by St. Columba in the 6th century, the source for this account seems hardly credible; according to the 7th century Life of St. Columba by Adomnán, Columba was also said to have resurrected dead humans, expel demons, and change the weather. Unfortunately, Adomnán's account of Columba is strewn with historical inaccuracies and blatant butchery of contemporaneous accounts of various battles, dates, and personalities. In other words, Adomnán had a rather hard time with telling the truth.

Inexplicably, Nessie pulled a disappearing act for some 1,300 years, before being spotted in the 1930s by just about everyone in Scotland- most of whom would be surely familiar with the legend of St. Columba. Not surprisingly, many of these early sightings contradicted each other. For instance, in 1933, George Spicer and his wife saw the creature... on land. That same year Arthur Grant nearly hit the terrestrial Nessie with his motorcycle. Based on these early accounts, sometimes Nessie had limbs, sometimes she didn't. Sometimes Nessie had flippers, sometimes she didn't. No two accounts were alike. Nonetheless, tourism around Loch Ness flourished during this time period. Kind of a strange coincidence, isn't it?

Now, compare the early Nessie sightings with early North American Bigfoot sightings. Bigfoot has been seen by various people as early as 1811, in Jasper, Alberta. Bigfoot has been spotted continuously ever since, and often in places which would make absolutely lousy tourism destinations. It wasn't as if Bigfoot was in hiding for a thousand years before having a massive coming out party, as was the case with Nessie.


2. A seven hundred foot deep money pit

Untold sums of money have been spent on the hunt for Nessie, with zero definitive results. There was the Sir Edward Mountain Expedition (1934), Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau (1962–1972), the LNPIB sonar study  (1968), the Andrew Carroll sonar study (1969), the Viperfish submersible expedition (1969), the Roy Mackal Expedition (1970), the Robert Rine studies (1972, 1975, 2001, 2008), Operation Deepscan (1987), Discovery Loch Ness (1993), the BBC study (2003), and the list goes on. These searches have involved thousands of volunteers, dozens of scientists, sonar, boats, submarines, satellites, massive multi-million dollar corporations and tens of millions of dollars... but, to date, the most famous evidence of Nessie still remains the 1934 "Surgeon's Photograph" which has been proven to be a hoax.
Loch Ness has a total surface area of 21.8 square miles, so if we were to estimate that the total funding for all Nessie expeditions, adjusted for inflation, to be 20 million dollars (a conservative estimate), we can estimate that a minimum of $917,430 per square mile has been expended in the fruitless search for the Loch Ness Monster.

Once again, let's compare this to Bigfoot. Based on BFRO statistics, the top 3 states in terms of Bigfoot sightings are Washington (587), California (427) and Florida (287). The combined surface area of these states equals 298,773 square miles. If the same amount of money was spent in just these three states alone as was spent on Loch Ness, we would arrive at a figure of just $66.94 per square mile.

The bottom line is this: Taking all of the United States into account, the quest for Bigfoot has cost pennies per square mile, yet has produced a significantly greater amount of evidence than the massively-funded search for Nessie. This means that either Bigfoot hunters are dozens of times more efficient than Nessie hunters, or that there are incredibly miniscule odds that Nessie exists-- even when compared to Bigfoot, Yeti, chupacabras and other cryptids.


3. A stretch of the neck is a stretch of imagination

The prevailing theory is that Nessie is either a plesiosaur, the extinct long-necked aquatic reptile, or a relative of the plesiosaur. However, there are numerous reasons why Nessie cannot be such a creature.
For starters, the osteology and anatomy of the neck makes it impossible for the plesiosaur to lift its head up out of the water. This much has been proven in 2006 by Leslie Noè of the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge.  As this is the most common type of sighting, the facts fly directly in the face of witness accounts. Since Nessie would have to surface several times a day in order to breathe, statistics should reveal a significantly higher number of credible Nessie sightings than what exists.

These three points strongly refute the existence of Nessie and other similar lake monsters. But if you still believe in the Loch Ness nonsense, just ask yourself this question: If Nessie exists, where was she hiding prior to 1933?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Roberto Clemente death conspiracy

Was the Hall of Fame baseball star assassinated by the CIA?



From the Sandy Hook school shooting to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, it seems that every tragedy in recent times is accompanied by a slew of conspiracy theories. Yet history is filled with events that would be enshrouded in conspiracy theories if they happened today. One such event is the plane crash that killed baseball Hall-of-Famer and Pittsburgh Pirates legend Roberto Clemente on December 31, 1972.

Most of us are familiar with the story: Clemente, playing the role of humanitarian, decides to accompany a flight of emergency aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua, after the victims claim that the corrupt military dictator, Anastasio Somoza, was preventing the much-needed emergency supplies from getting into the hands of earthquake survivors. The rickety plane goes down off the coast of  Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, immediately after takeoff. Strangely, Clemente's body is never found.

This story has all the makings of a first-class conspiracy and would have set the Internet aflame with endless rumors and speculation had the tragedy taken place in 2014 instead of 1972. Here is a brief summary of ten odd facts which would've stoked the flames of conspiracy theory:


1. Clemente knew that he was going to die. In a 2002 ESPN documentary, Clemente's widow, Vera Clemente, stated that Clemente had told her several times that he thought he was going to die young. Even more eerie is a response he gave to a reporter in 1971, when Clemente was on the cusp of collecting his 3000th hit. Did Clemente believe he would reach the baseball milestone in 1971? "Well, uh, you never know. I, I, uh, if I'm alive, like I said before, you never know because God tells you how long you're going to be here. So you never know what can happen tomorrow," replied Clemente. Clemente would die just seventeen months later, a mere 93 days after tallying his 3000th hit.

2. Clemente was a major threat to Somoza. Quite simply, Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was a prick of the highest order (he would ultimately be assassinated himself in 1980). After the quake which virtually destroyed all of Managua in December of 1972, Somoza didn't just steal food, clothing and medical supplies intended for the victims- he even went so far as to sell Nicaraguan blood plasma abroad, at a time when thousands of Nicaraguans urgently needed blood transfusions. Few dictators throughout history were capable of that type of super-villainy.

On the other hand, during the 1960s and 70s, Roberto Clemente was the de facto champion of Latinos around the world. In Latin America, Clemente was the equivalent of Ghandi, Bono, Oprah Winfrey, and Pope Francis all rolled into one.  When informed about the stolen relief supplies, Clemente effectively said something along the lines of, "Oh, hell no. Get me on the next flight to Managua!" It doesn't take a leap of imagination to see how something like this would be a threat to the Somoza regime.

3. Somoza altered the Nicaraguan constitution to coincide with Clemente's death. Anastasio Somoza's term as president was set to expire in May of 1972. However, he planned to regain the presidency in 1974 (the national constitution disallowed immediate re-election), so Somoza and his cronies tampered with the constitution and reached a compromise, in which a three-man junta would be PINO (presidents in name only), while Somoza himself would be the leader of the National Guard. In other words, Somoza would have total military control over Nicaragua.

Somoza and his triumvirate of PINOs drew up a new constitution, which was then ratified by the very same PINOs on April 3, 1971. Somoza then stepped down as president on May 1, 1972 but, as head of the National Guard, he effectively remained the  ruler of the country. When the quake of '72 struck Managua and martial law was declared, Somoza once again became the "official" head of state.  Interestingly, the United States backed the Somoza regime, even though the Somoza government was guilty as sin of embezzling relief funds, including funds given by the U.S. government.

President Somoza

4. The U.S. government was in bed with Somoza. Somoza's changing of the Nicaraguan constitution gave political fodder to Somoza's enemies, such as the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front), which was helmed by Daniel Ortega. Because the Sandinistas were backed by the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Libya, the United States had no choice but to support Somoza, whether they wanted to or not.

Since Roberto Clemente, through his humanitarian efforts and worldwide fame, had the ability to single-handedly take down the Somoza regime, preventing Clemente from reaching Nicaragua would have been a pretty high priority on the Nixon administration's to-do list.

Imagine this scenario: Clemente's efforts result in the overthrow of the Somoza regime, which then results in a Sandinista power grab, which then puts the Commies right on Puerto Rico's doorstep. With Puerto Rico being an American territory, it was evident that Clemente had to be stopped at all costs.

5. Clemente's plane was accessible to the American military. Clemente's Douglas DC-7 took off from Isla Verde International Airport, which is a joint civil-military international airport, and home of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. Under the "Total Force" concept, Puerto Rico Air National Guard units are considered Air Reserve Components (ARC) of the United States Air Force (USAF). Puerto Rico's ANG units are trained and equipped by the United States.

6. Clemente's plane was allegedly "unfit" to fly. In July of 1973, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that Clemente's DC-7 was 4,200 pounds overweight, and that it had not been flown in over four months. The NTSB also declared that the plane's crash was the result of "extensive internal failure of the inboard left engine" during takeoff. They also ruled that the flight mechanic was untrained and that the plane's co-pilot only had 6 hours of total training.

According to the NTSB, the plane's first takeoff was aborted, and the pilot returned to the ramp for work on both right engines. Three hours later the flight resumed, swiftly crashing into the ocean. The plane was owned by a private Puerto Rican charter company.

This is interesting because the flight crew was smart enough to know something was wrong before it returned to the ramp. At this point, "mechanics" had three hours to either fix the plane's engines-- or tinker with the engines to rig a catastrophic failure.


7. Clemente wasn't an idiot. According to the NTSB report, an unnamed eyewitness informed Clemente that the plane was overloaded and unsafe to fly, but that Clemente didn't seem to care. This is wholly inconsistent with the mentality of a major league baseball star.

Whether Clemente realized it or not, he was an expert in several branches of science. You have to be, in order to amass 3,000 hits in baseball. Such a rare feat requires a player to be a master of statistics and analytics; judging a pitch's velocity, angle of descent, and adjusting bat speed accordingly is a precise science requiring split-second decision making. Such minds are not prone to saying "Oh, this plane is two tons overweight and being flown by nincompoops? Let's do this!" It would be the equivalent of swinging on a lousy pitch. As a lifetime .317 hitter, it's hard to imagine Clemente making such a foolish decision.

8. Clemente's missing body. When studying the nature of the crash, it's hard to explain why Clemente's body remains missing more than four decades after the crash. The NTSB reported that the plane climbed to an altitude of 8,000 feet before encountering engine problems, and then attempted to turn left to head back to the airport. The plane slowly lost altitude before crashing into the ocean, presumably at a very low airspeed, about 1.5 miles from San Juan's luxury hotels. In other words, this wasn't nearly the same type of incident as a jumbo jet crashing into the middle of the deep Indian Ocean at hundreds of miles per hour.

The body of the pilot and part of the fuselage of the plane were soon recovered. An empty flight case apparently belonging to Clemente was the only personal item recovered from the plane. Clemente's teammate and close friend Manny Sanguillén was the only member of the Pirates not to attend the memorial service; instead, the Pirates catcher chose to dive into the waters where the plane had crashed in an effort to find his teammate. Clemente's body was never recovered.

9. The empty flight case. Although details are scarce regarding the type/style of flight case used by Clemente, it's quite odd that an empty flight case was the only personal item recovered from the crash site. These days, flight cases are manufactured with waterproof and fireproof ballistic material able to withstand the impact of a plane crash. Surely, 1970s flight cases weren't as sophisticated in construction, but is it possible for a flight case to lose its entire contents in shallow water during a low-speed crash from a low-altitude flight?

Look at the vintage flight cases below, which showcase the most popular styles throughout the 1950s to the 1970s. The vast majority of these cases were leather, with metal locks in addition to leather straps. If Clemente had a similar case, the metal claps would have to be broken and at least two leather straps would have to become unstrapped, since the crash occurred so early in the flight that it is unlikely Clemente would've had an opportunity to open his flight case.



Common sense suggests that all of Clemente's possessions were collected from the crash site and pored over meticulously, perhaps by the CIA in order to determine if the star slugger had a hidden agenda for his Nicaraguan visit.

10. CIA director Helms was known for playing dirty.
Richard Helms was the Director of the CIA at the time of Clemente's death, and even President Nixon had misgivings about Helms' methods. Nixon mistrusted Helms so much, in fact, that Helms was to be excluded from policy discussions at the National Security Council (NSC) meetings.

During the Nixon administration, the CIA was tasked with domestic surveillance of American activists and protesters, an effort later becoming known as Operation CHAOS. Investigations were opened on Americans and their organizations based on the theory that they were funded or influenced by foreign enemies, especially the Soviet Union and other communist states.

These CIA activities were on the margin of legality, as the CIA was forbidden from domestic spying. In 1974, the Operation Chaos became a national scandal of Edward Snowden-like proportions. Helms was soon forced to resign.

Based on the ten facts listed above, it would appear that the death of Roberto Clemente was more than just a dark day for baseball, but an act of Cold War murder orchestrated by the government of the United States.



Monday, September 1, 2014

The girl who was eaten alive... by shellfish!



The sea is brimming with bloodthirsty creatures with razor-sharp teeth and monstrous tentacles, and while man-eating sharks and gigantic squid may get all the attention, the world's oceans are also home to another man-eating creature: shellfish!

While killer clams and ornery oysters may sound like creations from a mad sea captain's warped imagination, history records at least one occasion when a human being was consumed by shellfish; in this case, a giant abalone. This true terrifying tale of the sea took place in 1861, off the coast of San Francisco.
Before we get to the particulars of the story, however, let's jump forward in time twenty-six years, to the fall of 1887. A few miles south of the famous Golden Gate strait, upon the sandy beach of Half Moon Bay, a large abalone shell was found. The curious shell was opened and there, captured in mother-of-pearl, was a perfect impression of a child's shoe. Locals immediately turned their thoughts toward an incident that took place nearly three decades earlier.

The interior of an abalone shell


During the summer of 1861, the coastal town of Half Moon Bay was in a frenzy when a young girl- no more than a toddler- had wandered from her home and disappeared. Fearing that it may have been a kidnapping, the authorities were notified and a massive search party was formed. They searched high and low for the missing toddler, but to no avail. However, just when they were about to abandon their efforts after four days of fruitless searching, the lifeless body of the missing girl was cast up by the waves onto an adjacent reef. It was surmised that the child had fallen off a rock. One of the girl's feet were missing, presumably gnawed off by a hungry shark or some other flesh-eating monster of the deep. Years passed by and the event faded from memory.

That is, until the fall of 1887, when a young man was walking along the beach near Half Moon Bay. The man's gaze fell upon an enormous abalone shell which had been thrown up by the tide. He was astonished to find inside the shell a perfect likeness of a child's shoe, perfect right down to the break in the toe where the leather had worn away. Every detail was captured in brilliant colors of the jewel-like mother-of-pearl. The astonished young man took the shell home as a curiosity.

The man showed the shell to his mother, who reacted with even greater astonishment. No sooner did the old woman see the shell than she exclaimed, "It is my baby's shoe! The shoe of my little girl that was lost twenty-six years ago!" The rest of the family ridiculed the idea, but the old woman went into her bedroom and returned with the mate to the missing shoe, which matched the impression inside the abalone shell right down to the most minute detail. At last, the mystery of the young girl's death was solved.

This incredible story, which was published in the October 20, 1887 edition of the San Francisco Globe-Democrat, continues by theorizing that the foot of the unfortunate girl must have stepped onto the edge of an open abalone shell. The creature closed the shell on the girl's ankle, holding the young child hostage as the rising tide swept over her doomed body.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Iowa's Haunted Railroad



In 1877, an apparition of a "woman in white" appeared to several employees of the southwestern division of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, on a lonesome stretch of track between Perlee and Pleasant Plain in southeastern Iowa. This ghost, believed to be the spirit of a woman who was raped and later succumbed to her injuries, was said to appear whenever her tormenters were passengers on the line.

The following is an article which appeared in the August 31, 1877 edition of the Jefferson City (MO.) State Journal:

According to the Fairfield Ledger, the shape, whatever it may be, was seon on Wednesday night, of last week, by Engineer Moore, on train No. 9, between Perlee and Pleasant Plain. It was walking up the track toward the engine and the careful engineer, thinking it a thing of flesh and blood, actually whistled for brakes and almost brought his train to a standstill. Just as the form was within a few feet of him it disappeared.
He saw the face plainly, and supposed it either that of a lunatic or a somnambulist. On Thursday and Friday night it was seen at different places between the two towns by engineers Shaffer and Crw, who agree with Moore as to its description, manner of appearance, etc. Since its first visit the train men have been on the watch, determined to see what it is and how it gets there. They are too brave to be frightened by the apparition, even if it is an inhabitant of the spirit world, but still their curiosity gets away with them, and in their determination to ferret out the mystery they do stand a little in awe of the fragile form that gives them these mysterious visits.


The matter is a common topic of conversation among railroad men on the division. Three years ago a married woman was outraged in a terrible manner near the place where the white specter has been seen, receiving injuries which caused her death some three weeks after. Now there is a suspicion that one or two parties who know more about the affair than they have ever told take occasional business trips on the line, and that it is to trouble their conscience that the form appears.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Statue of Jesus contains human teeth, x-rays reveal




Earlier this week, during a restoration of a 300-year-old statue of Jesus in Mexico, researchers discovered that the inside of the statue's mouth contained real human teeth. Researchers at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico made the strange discovery after performing x-rays on the three foot tall statue, known locally as the Lord of Patience.

The small statue, which is less than four feet tall, is from a church in San Bartolo Cuautlalpan, approximately 30 miles north of Mexico City. “It is common for statues to have teeth, but they are normally made of wood or carved individually out of bone,” said Fanny Unikel, an expert in Mexican art restorationr. “In this case, he has eight adult teeth. You can even see the roots.”

Unikel believes that the teeth were donated to the church out of gratitude. Researchers at INAH believe that the statue dates back to the 18th century.



(more on this story here)
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