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NHNE News Brief 62
Friday, May 23, 1997
"A thought-provoking exploration
of the extraordinary times in which we live."
953 days until January 1, 2000
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Gather Your Evidence
Supercomputer to Probe Cosmos
Quake Insurance Jolts Homeowners
Students Take Social Commitment Pledge
THE LIGHTER SIDE:
All is Not What it Seems on Net
Oxygen on Tap
The Odd & the Obvious
NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
Weddings in Sedona
Eiffel Tower Countdown
Armageddon Gears Up for Millennium
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION WATCH:
Restoration of Sphinx Almost Complete
Japan's Underwater Pyramids Update
The Mystery of "Skyquakes"
Plutonium in Space
All Paths Lead to God
Anatomy of a Hoax
The Drudge Report
ABOUT NHNE & HOW TO JOIN US
GATHER YOUR EVIDENCE
"In my early years, I recall my father's constant fear of, and search for, a potential cancer. Repeatedly, I heard my mother's belief that since her mother and grandmother had died of a stroke, that she -- and I -- would die of a stroke, too. I asked and imagined, in my childhood prayers, for a means to be of uplifting value to my fellow beings. Daddy died with his feared cancer. Mother died with her expected stroke. And I am experiencing a lifetime of being of uplifting value to my fellow beings.
"Take time to remember things that you, or someone you knew, feared, pushed against, believed, expected, asked for, appreciated that became an experienced reality. Listen to those around you; be aware of what you read about other's experiences -- and gather evidence of the power of the Law of Attraction. Although most of the evidence may appear as a form of creation by default -- know that you are now, with this knowledge that you possess, in a position for the deliberate creative control of your life experience."
SUPERCOMPUTER TO PROBE COSMOS
(Source: Patricia Reaney, REUTERS, 5/19/97)
Britain has just launched the country's first supercomputer dedicated to cosmological research. Dubbed COSMOS and installed at CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY, the supercomputer will enable British scientists to model the history of the universe from a fraction of a second after its origin in the Big Bang right through to present day, some 15 billion years later. Among the theories scientists will test with COSMOS are how did galaxies form and how did the universe begin. "Computers like COSMOS can evolve [scientists'] model universes in exquisite detail and allow them to compare them with real world data," said Professor Neil Turok of Cambridge. The university's Vice Chancellor Alec Broers described COSMOS, which contains 32 high performance R10000 processors and 8,000 Mb of main memory (making it even more sophisticated than the supercomputer that defeated chess master Gary Kasparov) as the "Deep Blue of Cosmology." Turok believes that he and other cosmologists are entering a golden age of their science and that COSMOS will help them achieve their ultimate aim -- "No less than to crack the code of the universe." (JG)
QUAKE INSURANCE JOLTS HOMEOWNERS
(Source: Broderick Perkins, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/18/97)
Thousands of consumers in California are refusing to renew their earthquake insurance protection for their homes as premiums skyrocket and coverage diminishes. Formed last year in the wake of heavy insurance company losses from the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE AUTHORITY (CEA) is a state-sponsored earthquake insurance program designed to fund $10.5 billion worth of coverage for homeowners. The new CEA policy for single-family homes covers only the primary structure and carries a 15 percent deductible. There is a limit of $5,000 on personal property and a limit of $1,500 on living expenses. Since December 1, 1996, around 20,000 (10 percent) of the homeowners holding earthquake policies with a CEA insurer have declined to renew. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a majority simply weren't willing to pay the new rates, and even those who have renewed are complaining to officials and their insurance agents. Consumer groups such as CONSUMERS UNION, as well as THE CALIFORNIA SEISMIC SAFETY COMMISSION and FARMERS INSURANCE, are contesting CEA's rate structure, as well as CEA's use of a ZIP code's proximity to a fault line as one of the major criteria determining rates: Rates are the same throughout a ZIP code, with no regard to risk factors like variances in soil conditions. Before the creation of the CEA, the industry had threatened to cancel one million homeowner policies unless it received relief from the cost of quake insurance payouts. (JG)
STUDENTS TAKE SOCIAL COMMITMENT PLEDGE
(Source: Robert Preer, THE AMERICAN NEWS SERVICE, 5/19/97)
The May 25 commencement at MANCHESTER COLLEGE, a small liberal arts school near Fort Wayne, Indiana, will be much the same as commencements at colleges everywhere, with one noticeable difference: about half the graduates will be wearing green ribbons pinned to their gowns. A note in the commencement program will explain that these students have signed the following statement: "I pledge to investigate and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job opportunity I consider." Activists at California's HUMBOLDT STATE UNIVERSITY first came up with the idea of a graduation pledge in 1987 as a way to promote social awareness and responsibility. MANCHESTER students adopted the pledge a year later. HUMBOLDT STATE and MANCHESTER both have long traditions of social and environmental activism. At MANCHESTER COLLEGE, students receive a wallet-sized card with the pledge on it along with their diploma. Students say the pledge helps them remember their ideals at a time when the pressures of getting ahead and making money are greatest. Neil Wollman, a psychology professor at MANCHESTER and the Faculty Coordinator of the NATIONAL PLEDGE PROGRAM, says it is more than a consciousness-raising device, "It's not just symbolic. Our hope is that if enough people do it, it can actually have an effect." (JG)
THE LIGHTER SIDE:
ALL NOT WHAT IT SEEMS ON NET
(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 5/17/97)
A judge has awarded $264,000 to a woman who met what she thought was the man of her dreams on the Internet, but four months after marriage discovered "he" was a she. Margaret Hunter, a 24-year-old administrative assistant from Alexandria, Virginia, will get $250,000 in damages and $14,000 to cover what she spent on the couple's relationship -- including $9,500 for their wedding before 70 unsuspecting guests last April at a fancy hotel. The ruling came this week from Circuit Court Judge Alfred D. Swersky in Alexandria. Hunter met Holly Anne Groves, 26, of Bryan, Texas, in the fall of 1995 on the Internet. Groves called herself Thorne Wesley Jameson Groves, and told Hunter she was a jet-set businessman dying of AIDS -- a circumstance which kept "him" from being intimate. Groves also bound her chest with bandages, saying she had rib injuries from a car accident. Hunter grew suspicious when Grove did not seem to be getting sicker or receiving any medical bills. Hunter went looking for Grove's birth certificate and learned she was a woman. Hunter said she hopes the fine will "send a real strong message" to Groves and others who misuse the Internet. (JG)
OXYGEN ON TAP
(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 5/13/97)
For Southern Californians repulsed by smoggy air, plans are in the works to open three oxygen bars where they can relax, inhale and literally pay through the nose -- 20-minute doses of oxygen will run $16. Proponents say blasts of plain or fruit-scented "recreational oxygen" can ease headaches, boost alertness, fight fatigue and reduce stress. Actor Woody Harrelson plans to open a Hollywood oxygen bar in June, and a Canadian entrepreneur plans two more this fall with $70 oxygen facials and $125 oxygen body wraps. "It gives you a nice little buzz," said Harrelson, whose bar also will offer health food and space for yoga. "It's an experience designed to recharge you before you go out into a smog-and traffic-ridden state." Some medical experts are skeptical about the value of recreational oxygen and fire officials are concerned about the potential for fire. (JG)
THE ODD & THE OBVIOUS
(Source: Craig Wilson, USA TODAY, 5/16/97)
Rube Goldberg was alive and well earlier this month at the world's largest inventors exposition held annually in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This year, 1,500 items were on display. Here are a few products that you might be seeing on store shelves in the future (but don't hold your breath):
-- Pass It: TV remote controls housed in foam footballs or potatoes, so you can pass them around without anybody getting hurt.
-- Slendermist: You spray it in your mouth whenever you have a craving for something fattening but want to lose weight. It comes in flavors like Chocolate Fudge, Arctic Mint, and Berry Supreme. No calories.
-- Bucket Stilts: A foot harness that attaches to any inverted plastic bucket enabling the user to reach high places while working, like painting ceilings and hanging drywall.
-- Lawn Buddy: America's first automatic lawn ornament. It sits unseen in a hole in the ground and only pops out when it is activated by someone walking nearby. It can be programmed to greet, light the way or take a message. It comes in a variety of faces such as rabbit, chipmunk and skunk.
"We're trained here not to evaluate," explains L. Ellen Yarnell, the exposition's producer. "If a man walked up to you with a pet rock, would you have laughed at him or told him it's a great product?" (JG)
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EIFFEL TOWER COUNTDOWN
(Source: Phil Poithier, SwiftWing Reporter, Paris, 5/20/97)
Europe's most famous and recognizable landmark now has its own giant clock which is counting down the number of days to the new millennium. The clock is huge with individual numbers eight meters (25 feet) high. It faces west across the Seine River and the digital display, which reads in French "Number of days before the year 2000," can be seen from 25 kilometers away. The clock was unveiled on April 6, celebrating exactly 1,000 days to the year 2000. What do people think of the addition to the graceful curves of the Eiffel Tower? Phil Poithier, NHNE's SwiftWing Reporter in Paris, informs us that "tourists (especially Americans) are going gaga over the thing, but the locals, with their typical Gaullic nonchalance, just shrug their shoulders and say, 'So what?'" (JG)
ARMAGEDDON GEARS UP FOR MILLENNIUM
(Source: Kendall Hamilton, NEWSWEEK, 5/19/97)
Israeli officials are seeking to cash in on millennium hysteria by creating a tourist attraction at Armageddon. The Book of Revelation names Armageddon ("Megiddo" in Hebrew) as the final great battle between good and evil. The ISRAELI NATIONAL PARKS AUTHORITY has approved a multimedia reconstruction of Armageddon on the site of its ruins, 15 miles southeast of Jerusalem. High-tech grottoes will enable pilgrims to contemplate the final showdown with the aid of virtual reality. (JG)
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION WATCH:
RESTORATION OF SPHINX ALMOST COMPLETE
(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS via MILLENNIUM MATTERS, 5/20/97)
Ever since it was first built, the Sphinx has been subject to erosion damage by water, wind and sand. In 1988, the loss of a huge chunk of rock from the monument's shoulder, prompted the Egyptian government to launch a $1 million 10-year project to restore the world famous landmark. The colossal figure derives its English name from a Greek mythological beast with a woman's head and lion's body; in Arabic, it's known as "Abu el-Hol," or "Father of Terror." The body of the 242-foot reclining lion was formed by laying quarried limestone over a natural outcrop. Traces of paint indicate the Sphinx may once have been painted bright red. The age of the monument is uncertain. The current face, rising 66 feet above the desert floor, is that of King Chephren, the principal builder at Giza, but may have been superimposed on a much older carving.
The greatest challenge for the team is to undo the damage caused by restorations dating as far back as 1550 B.C. For hundreds of years, the Sphinx was buried and protected by sand until explorers started digging it out in the 19th century and patching it with cement. In the 1980s, more cement and stones were added, broadening the lion's body by as much as nine feet in some places. "It was the worst thing they could have done," says Zawi Hawass, the government director of the Giza pyramids. "They not only ruined the contour, but the cement leached salt up through the structure, weakening everything." Workmen have been guided by photos from the 1850s and a color-coded, stone-by-stone blueprint of the Sphinx produced by the Cairo-based AMERICAN RESEARCH CENTER and GERMAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE. Each damaged stone removed is measured, weighed and sketched. Each new stone is hand-cut by Egyptian masons and fitted in place with a mortar mix of lime and sand. No machines are involved -- working by hand makes for a closer fit and avoids damaging the aging limestone. Stones as heavy as 1,320 pounds are moved on rope cradles borne on workers' backs. "We're trying to use the same methods as the ancient Egyptians," Hawass said. "It's accurate, careful and good."
This month, restorers will start work on a 30-foot-deep crack in the Sphinx's back, removing the cement patches laid down in the 1920s and replacing them with limestone blocks. Then they'll try to shore up the chest in a similar manner. But the restoration won't give Pharaoh Chephren back his beard, parts of which are in the British and Egyptian museums, nor will he again have a nose, which has been missing since the 14th century. "The Sphinx is like a chronically ill man," says Hawass, "In six months he will be better, but he can never be fully cured. He will always need attention." The restoration work should be finished in October. (JG)
JAPAN'S UNDERWATER PYRAMIDS UPDATE
(Source: Laura Lee, ATLANTIS RISING, Spring/97)
[Information on the underwater Japanese pyramids is sketchy and slow in coming. Here is an update on a preliminary report we published in News Brief 50.]
In the spring of 1995, divers off the coast of Okinawa discovered huge stone terraces cut at right angles and punctuated by perfect staircases and hexagonal columns. Five separate sites have now been found off the coast of three different islands in the Okinawa group, all in 60 to 75 feet of water.
Frank Joseph, Editor of "ANCIENT AMERICAN MAGAZINE" went to Japan to investigate. He reports that the most accessible site is 550 feet offshore from the main island of Okinawa, near the town of Chatan. The other sites are off Aguni Island and Yonaguni Island, where the tops of some of the ruins come within 20 feet of the ocean's surface. All the structures seem to be oriented due south. Joseph says that the ruins are reminiscent of the ruins of the pre-Inca city of Pachacmac -- a huge, sacred city of multi-stepped pyramids just outside Lima, Peru. Ancient mysteries researcher Shun Daichi reports that you can draw a straight line connecting the underwater sites with sites on land of similar ruins of unknown origin. Some geologists surmise that the area was submerged when the seas rose after the last ice age, 12,000 years ago.
For more information, visit <www.lauralee.com>, click on "Recent Guests" and select "Japan's Underwater Cities." (JG)
THE MYSTERY OF "SKYQUAKES"
(Sources: UFO ROUNDUP, 5/18/97; CNI NEWS, 5/16/97; Tom Dongo, SEDONA SIGHTINGS, Spring/97)
Huge explosions in the sky are being reported with growing frequency in many parts of the world. Sometimes these explosions have been attributed to tests of secret aircraft such as the "Aurora," which were prevalent in southern California in the early 1990s and were labeled as sonic booms by the U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. Sometimes such booms can be attributed to large meteors that disintegrate explosively in the upper atmosphere -- this explanation might account for several such incidents reported in France last year. Sometimes, however, such an explosion makes a very large impression yet seems to baffle authorities, as happened near Scotland's Isle of Lewis on October 26, 1996, when a tremendous aerial explosion prompted a massive air and sea search by the BRITISH AIR FORCE and COAST GUARD -- that turned up nothing.
Some other puzzling occurances:
-- On December 6, 1996 "a heavy, grating boom" rocked the area around Sedona, Arizona. The RED ROCK NEWS reported that several houses experienced cracked walls and ceilings. Strangely, minutes after the explosion, several highly-unusual fires broke out in Camp Verde, 15 miles south of Sedona. Graham Birdsall, one of the world's top UFO researchers, noted that many small fires broke out in the vicinity of the French and Scottish booms as well, and local residents reported small balls of fire falling out of the sky.
-- On May 9, 1997, a mysterious explosion accompanied by a flash of light shook the community of Newtown, Ohio, just east of Cincinnati. Sergeant Foster, of the HAMILTON COUNTY POLICE & FIRE DISPATCH CENTER stated that he the explosion "was no boom, it was a deep explosion, like a propane bomb." The Cincinnati FAA tower was contacted at 8:20 a.m., where Mr. Dennis Klepper, the Quality Assurance Officer, commented. "I can't put my finger on any airplane coming out of this airport which would cause such a racket. A sonic boom would have to be a military aircraft, but it would have been heard beyond Newtown. If a plane blew up, we would know about it."
-- On May 15, 1997, an explosive sound rolled across a wide area of southern Ohio into northern Kentucky, mystifying thousands of residents. Reports flooded in from a 104-square-mile of "six separate jolts happening over a 10-minute duration;" The CLERMONT COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT received calls from township police departments reporting the blast: 3:45 p.m. from Tate Township, 3:52 p.m. from Monroe Township, 3:55 p.m. from Washington Township, and 4 p.m. from Miami Township; CHANNEL 12 TV received a call from a Delhi resident who complained that 'her little glass knick-knacks shattered,' and another from a resident of Butler, Kentucky whose front door had exploded from the blast. This was the third explosive event in the Cincinnati region since April 19.
No one knows exactly what skyquakes are, but they are reported to be far more intense than typical sonic booms or thunder. Typically, skyquakes occur in perfectly clear, calm weather. (JG)
PLUTONIUM IN SPACE
(Source: Greg Campbell, THIS JUST IN, Jan/97, thanks to James Francis Yax)
In October 1997, if all goes according to schedule, the Cassini deep-space probe will blast off for Saturn. Once in orbit around the ringed planet in 2004, the spacecraft will study its rings and satellites in detail for about four years. Generating power for its payload of scientific instruments will be 72.3 pounds of Plutonium-238. Before the probe heads of to Saturn, it will swing by Earth in August 1999 via Mars and Venus in a trajectory designed to give it a velocity boost that will ensure it reaches Saturn. However, if something goes wrong either during blastoff or the slingshot maneuver, up to 60 percent of Earth's population could end up paying for the mistake with their lives. According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, one pound of Pu-239 (a less toxic form of plutonium than its weapons-grade brother) evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere would cause lung cancer in EVERY PERSON ON EARTH!
"Plutonium is the most toxic substance in the universe," says Karl Grossman, a Professor of Journalism at STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK who has been researching the use of nuclear materials in space for the better part of 10 years. He's the author of "What You're Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power." In a worst-case scenario that the NATIONAL AERONAUTICS & SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA) deems "unlikely" in its final environmental impact study for the Cassini mission, "approximately 5 billion of the estimated 7 to 8 billion world population at the time of the swingby, could receive as much as 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure" if the probe were pulled back to the surface of the Earth.
Despite these grim consequences, NASA is not deterred from using plutonium to power its deep-space probes and Grossman and others are convinced that it would take a disastrous accident to change the agency's mind. But by that time, of course, it would be too late. On November 16, 1996, a Russian four-stage SL-12 Proton rocket booster carrying the Mars-96 orbiter -- and about six ounces of plutonium fuel for instrumentation -- crashed in Chile somewhere near the Bolivian border. (Preliminary reports had erroneously stated that the debris had fallen into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America.) Such an accident, say Grossman, should have acted as a wake-up call to those involved in the Cassini project, whose 72 pounds of plutonium represents the largest amount of nuclear material ever launched into space. Proponents of using plutonium in space say that present solar cell technology is inadequate to provide enough electricity to a destination so far from the Sun.
The Cassini probe, and its toxic payload, will fire into space atop a Lockheed-Martin Titan IV-Centaur booster rocket, America's largest and most powerful expendable launch vehicle. Of the 18 Titan IV launches, one exploded shortly after lift-off. Of 24 known U.S. space missions that used some sort of nuclear power, three have failed, including the Apollo 13 mission to the Moon which carried 8.3 pounds of plutonium. That's a failure rate of 13 percent. The Russian failure rate is higher -- about 18 percent. In a 1989 report titled "Emergency Preparedness for Nuclear Powered Satellites," scientists reported finding debris from the 1961 crash of an American navigational satellite carrying 2.1 pounds of Pu-238 "to be present on all continents and all latitudes." (JG)
By Mary Dodd
Since opening its doors last year in Overton, Texas, the SYNERGY CENTER has provided a safe haven for people wanting to rediscover their own real nature. A number of techniques are available there, such as a float tank, mandala room, Klini, massage, shiatsu and Reiki, as well as the fascinating and mysterious Psychomanteum (briefly discussed in News Briefs 4 and 9, and Wind & Wings 5).
Based on the work of Dr. Raymond Moody and described in his book, "Reunions," the Psychomanteum dates back to ancient Greece, where gazing into a reflective pool produced visions. The modern version consists of a darkened room, comfortable chair, and mirror. While seated in the chair which is dimly lit from behind, the client gazes at the mirror situated so that he does not see himself. The amount of time it takes to reach an experience varies from person to person. Some people make several attempts and others have immediate results. The more relaxed the person is, the easier it seems to be to reach an experience. Usually the point at which a person becomes frustrated and is ready to give up is when the experience begins -- the willingness to give up seems to help people let go of their need to control.
The Psychomanteum produces a wide range of experiences, from relaxation to visions, guides and symbols which provide answers to the participant's questions, to out-of-body experiences as well as visits and communication with loved ones who have died. For example, one client smelled perfume she associated with her mother. Another reported hearing bagpipe music, which she associated with her Scottish grandmother. Sometimes the encounter is subtle, people will see symbols, such as colors and butterflies, which are symbolic of spirit guides. It helps if participants have a question in mind or an issue that they sincerely want to solve.
People also get full-blown experiences where they see and talk with their loved ones or receive guidance from visible spiritual guides. Here are two first-hand accounts:
"For me, the Psychomanteum was a sacred and holy place. It is difficult to articulate the deep and beautiful experience that I had. I started to hear faint voices singing a capella. I saw lights blinking, then I saw a red mist form just to the left bottom of the mirror. It throbbed a few times like a heart beating and was gone. I then smelled smoke from the cigarettes my grandmother used to smoke. I asked, 'Grandmother? Is that you?' After a few moments, I felt a tickling on my hair just at the hairline on my forehead and a cold sensation pulling down my arms and around my torso, centered over the solar plexus area. The sensation lasted about a minute and then stopped. I think my grandmother was trying to pull on my energy to materialize, but just wasn't able to do so." (Cheryl Hodgeson)
"In the Spring of 1994, I went to Phoenix to train with two women who were using the Psychomanteum as a form of grief therapy. After getting very relaxed and into an altered state by listening to a tape, I opened my eyes to focus on a spot in the mirror. As I gazed, my physical body was incredibly hot and I was perspiring all over. I had tremors and I was feeling very nauseous. I realized I was gently being pulled toward and into the mirror. I saw the frame come up and disappear beyond my peripheral vision. I went into the cool black void slowly at first and then the speed picked up. I was literally shot from there into a blinding whiteness that seemed to transform into a celestial sky like midnight with trillions of stars. In what seemed like camera flashes, I would see different galaxies, very unique life forms, a place where there was a crystal city of sorts, and then came the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael who took me into this whiteness that can't be described with human words. The whiteness wasn't really a color, it was pure, untainted, unconditional love -- At that moment I knew what God was. Had I traveled here without being in such an altered state, I would have had a heart attack or spontaneously combusted. I was only in this light for a split second and then I felt the sensation of being pulled backwards at an incredible rate of speed. I didn't want to go -- I was ready to stay in this place forever. As I came back, I looked down and saw the tiny blue-green marble of Earth taking shape out of the ethers with the molten rock and steam and clouds solidifying her form and turning her into the gem that she is. Then I was back in the chair, dripping with perspiration. I took a few deep breaths, my stomach settled down, and I realized what an adventure I just had." (Keli Adams)
To build your own Psychomanteum, all you need is a room or a large closet which can be darkened completely; hanging black fabric on the walls removes all sources of light. Place your chair in front of a mirror at an angle so that you cannot see yourself, and use a dim light behind the chair. People seem to have faster results in a small space. The SYNERGY CENTER recommends reading Moody's book for more details and stories from his clients.
For more information, visit the SYNERGY CENTER Web site: <http://www.synergycenter.com> or email Mary Dodd at "Mary@synergycenter.com".
ALL PATHS LEAD TO GOD
(Source: INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY (UK), May/97, thanks to Rev. Ann Tognetti)
A Church of England bishop has caused an uproar in some Christian and Moslem circles by "giving up" the Bible during Lent and reading the Koran instead. For the six weeks leading up to this past Easter, the Bishop of Jarrow, Alan Smithson, read to his congregation selections from the Koran. The "prayerful" reading of Islam's holy book has been a spiritual experience he says: "It is a great act of faith to find God's truth in more places than one." The Bishop received a negative reaction from sections of his own church and from Moslems abroad.
Replying to the criticism, he responded, "What more important time is there to get into the heart of religion? What hope is there for the Middle East without tolerance between faiths? I cannot see a reason why God would want his different believers to be enemies."
Bishop Smithson has no regrets for his actions, explaining that he finds himself at a spiritual crossroads where all religious paths lead to God. He thinks that even unbelievers may find salvation as "God may be in all sorts of places where religion has yet to find them." (JG)
THE ANATOMY OF A HOAX
(Sources: Kimm Antell, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, 5/22/97; Lieutenant Marlon Defillo, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT, 1/30/97; Allen Watson, 5/20/97)
[When we first received this detailed report, we weren't sure what to make of it. Rumors of the story had been circulating on the Internet for months. It had a number of earmarks of an urban legend: the premise was bizarre but conceivable; the accounts were second and third hand, with no firm sources. Further digging turned up the fact that THIS ACCOUNT IS UNTRUE. We publish it here with our follow-up research to lay bare the anatomy of a hoax. JG]
THE ORIGINAL REPORT:
A new crime ring is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently operating in most major cities. The crime begins when a business traveller goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the work day. A stranger walks up and offers to buy them a drink. That's the last thing the traveller remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bathtub, their body submerged to their neck in ice. There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call 911 and a phone on a small table next to the bathtub. The 911 operators, who have become quite familiar with this crime, instruct the victim to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from their lower back. Invariably, the business traveller finds such a tube. The 911 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent the paramedics. The operator knows from experience that both of the business traveller's kidneys have been stolen. The going rate for a kidney on the black market is $10,000.
"My sister-in-law works with a lady that this happened to her son's neighbor who was visiting Las Vegas. The only "good" thing to his whole story was the fact that the people doing this horrible crime were aware of what complications could happen afterwards given the detailed precautions they set up before leaving the room. The hospital in Las Vegas stated that these people knew exactly what they were doing -- the incision was exact and clean, they used sterile equipment, and other than the fact that the victim lost a kidney, there were no other complications." (Patty Radford, Houston, Texas, 12/16/96)
"A guy went out last Saturday night to a party. He had a couple of beers and was having a good time, when some girl invited him to go to another party. He quickly agreed. She took him to a party in some apartment and they continued to drink, and even got involved with some other drugs. The next thing he knew, he was alone and completely naked in a bathtub full of ice. Written his chest in lipstick was the message, "Call 911 or you will die!" There was a phone on a stand next to the tub, so he picked it up and dialed. He explained to the EMS operator what the situation was and that he didn't know where he was or why he was calling. She advised him to get out of the tub and look himself over in the mirror. He did, only to find two nine-inch slits on his lower back. She told him to get back in the tub immediately, and sent a rescue team over. He is currently in the hospital on life support awaiting a kidney transplant. Any information leading to the arrest of the individuals may be forwarded to the UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS Campus Police or the Texas Rangers." (Kim Antell, Editor, THE DAILY TEXAN, Austin, Texas)
May 22, 1997
Thank you for contacting me regarding this matter which I have named "the bane of my existence." The story is not true. Unfortunately, my name was tacked on to the story and I have been contacted several times regarding the matter. In truth, I was only sending the story on to some friends and my signature remained at the bottom. One of these friends forwarded the story without removing my signature and I think that you can figure out what happened from there.
About a month after all of this happened, some wonderful, unknown person took the liberty of editing the original post and adding bits of information; the most disturbing of which is the addition of Editor of THE DAILY TEXAN after my name. At no time have I been Editor although I was a cartoonist for a semester. At no time was an article printed in THE DAILY TEXAN. They even printed a disclaimer on their editorial page as they have been plagued by many phone calls regarding the legend. (The real editor even went so far as to call me and threaten me with a libel suit.) I am sure that they have gotten very tired of hearing the phone calls too.
I have been plagued by phone calls at work to the point that we finally had to change our phone number. I have also received many emails and faxes regarding this urban legend.
A woman at the NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER IN MARYLAND called and told me that the FBI has confirmed that the entire story is a hoax. The NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT also has a web page confirming that there is no validity to the story. The page is at <http://www.mardigrasday.com/police.html>. [See below.]
---Kimm Antell, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS
January 30, 1997
Over the past six months the NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT has received numerous inquiries from corporations and organizations around the U.S. warning travelers about a well organized crime ring operating in New Orleans. This information alleges that this ring steals kidneys from travellers, after they have been provided alcohol to the point of unconsciousness.
After an investigation into these allegations, the NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT has found them to be COMPLETELY WITHOUT MERIT AND WITHOUT FOUNDATION. The warnings that are being disseminated through the Internet are FICTITIOUS and may in violation of criminal statutes concerning the issuance of erroneous and misleading information.
Any organization wishing to speak with members of the NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT is asked to contact me at (504) 826-2828.
---Lieutenant Marlon Defillo, Commander, Public Affairs, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT (JG)
How come the most ordinary tasks are often the most daunting? Find out how to tie a necktie, fix a leaky faucet, carve a turkey, and other life lessons at the Learn2.com. (Source: NET GUIDE, 5/4/97)
With two out of five American homes regularly looking for medical information on the Web, the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (DHHS) has just launched the Healthfinder Web site to provide reputable, reliable (the material is screened for accuracy) health information as a counterpoint to the dizzying morass of health data already on the Internet. Healthfinder includes links to more than 500 other sites of health information and databases that can be searched by topic. Cautions a spokesman for DHHS, "This is not meant to replace a trip to the doctor." (Sources: Anita Manning, USA TODAY, 4/15/97; NEWSWEEK, 5/26/97)
THE DRUDGE REPORT
This online gossip sheet has become a must read for anyone hungry for news, and threat to anyone in the business of supplying it. Founder and Editor, Matt Drudge, has become the most widely-sourced columnist since Walter Winchell. It was only in 1995 that Drudge, out of his LA apartment, set up his Web site to link all the major newspapers, wires, and columnists. 51,000 subscribers pay for his hard-boiled "flashes." Sample subscriptions are available for free. (Source: Rick Marin, NEWSWEEK, 5/26/97)
David Sunfellow (DS)
James Gregory (JG)
Gail Rossi (GR)
Joya Pope (JP)
Palden Jenkins (PJ)
Kathleen-Blake Frankel (KBF)
Mary Koch (MK)
Robert Perry (RP)
Steve Haag (SH)
Chris Czech (CC)
Sandy Ezrine (SE)
Mark Nijenhuis (MN)
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