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Volume 9
Number 14
April 7, 2004

Editor: Joseph Trainor

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"What fate the stars hold for Paul Martin," Canada's prime minister, "may be unknown. But one thing's certain." Martin "recently had a high-flying encounter with a UFO."

"Martin and his entourage were circling above Alberta (province) when their Challenger jet came within an otherworldly whisker of a luminous object streaking across the night sky."

"In a report to Edmonton air traffic controllers, the pilot of Martin's plane noted seeing 'a very bright light falling' through the air, with smoke trailing, while the aircraft passed over Suffield, Alta. on Sunday, March 21, 2004."

"People on two other planes saw the plummeting object, which was travelling 'at a very fast rate of speed' from a high altitude, says the report."

"A copy of the one-page form, entitled UFO Procedures, was provided to Canadian Press by Chris Rutkowski of the Winnipeg-based group, Ufology Research of Manitoba (UROM)."

"Rutkowski, a longtime tracker of UFO sightings, obtained the report from the (Canadian) federal Transport Department, which routinely forwards him data on unidentified flying objects."

"So was an extraterrestrial envoy trying to convey a message to Canada's new leader?"

"Unlikely, says Rutkowski. What those on Martin's plane saw that night was almost certainly a chunk of a comet or an asteroid that entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up."

"An amateur astronomer in Calgary captured the blazing streak in a video. And it appears one or more such fireballs were seen by people across the Prairies and as far east as Quebec."

"In any event, it's unclear if Martin or his aides even glimpsed the object that crossed the plane's path. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office said he had no additional information."

"Ufology Research of Manitoba publishes an annual study of UFO sightings in Canada, including many cases involving meteors. The group's 2003 survey found a record 673 reports of unidentified flying objects made to various organizations and investigators in Canada." (See the Canadian Press of March 20, 2004, "Martin has close encounter with UFO." Many thanks to Jim Hickman for this newspaper article. Be sure to visit Jim's Web site at http://www.thehickmanreport.com)


"Residents of the Outback town of Winton," in Australia's Queensland state, "saw a flash 'like 50,000 floodlights' as a large fireball crashed to Earth somewhere in central Queensland late yesterday (Wednesday, March 31, 2004)."

"Authorities are trying to track down the source of a large fireball seen in the sky over the state's north and central west."

"Speculation has ranged from space junk to a satellite."

"'We only know it wasn't an aircraft,' a spokesman for the Australian Parks and Reserves Organization said."

"But, in Winton, Elsa Nelms and her partner, Graeme East, had front row seats for the spectacular light show, sitting on their verandah at dusk, talking business with a friend."

"'Suddenly, there was this flash, it's the only way I can describe it--it was so bright it was a white flash and it lit everything up,' Ms. Nelms said."

"'It was like somebody had turned on 50,000 spotlights.'"

"'We all looked up in the sky, and there was a white smoke trail coming from the northeast--like a familiar smoke trail but it was too high to ever be an aircraft.'"

"Ms. Nelms said she had gone into her backyard to lock her dog in when the house shook."

Winton, Qlnd. is located about 600 kilometers (360 miles) northwest of Brisbane. (See The Age of Melbourne for April 1, 2004, "Fireball crashes to Earth in Queensland." Many thanks to Trevor Griffett for this newspaper article.)


On Saturday, March 27, 2004, at 8:15 p.m., eyewitness T.B.W. reported, "I was driving north in my car and was probably around half a kilometer (0.3 miles) from the intersection" with Main North Road in Templers, a small town near Gawler, South Australia. "The object flashed across the intersection at the top of a small rise from east to west. It lit up the top of the trees, but the glow from it did not reach the road. The object appeared to be 20 meters (66 feet) off the ground, judging by the height of the trees."

"The road is straight. A truck was travelling ahead of me, and the object caused him to brake suddenly, although he drove off quickly and didn't stop. I pulled over and got out. Other people who were in their garden came out and stood with me in the road, while it flew off to the west over farmland, keeping level with the ground as far as I can tell. There was no sound from the object."

"It seemed to be round like a ball, glowing white like phosphorescence. There was a crescent moon in the sky, and the object seemed to be about the size of a newly-risen full moon."

Gawler, S.A. is about 70 kilometers (42 miles) north of Adelaide, the state capital. (Email Form Report)


On Wednesday, March 24, 2004, at 9 p.m., twenty orange UFOs suddenly appeared over Tabio, a town located 30 kilometers (18 miles) northeast of Bogota, the capital of Colombia.

"Residents of the town observed the objects for 30 minutes," reported William Chavez, director of Bogota's Contacto OVNI research group. "The UFOs were described as 'bright lights, orange in color, and approximately 20 of them.'"

"Eyewitness Esteban Montenegro contacted our group and said he had successfully videotaped the UFOs as they maneuvered in the night sky over Tabio. He also sent us a close-up image of a large, powerful orange light, with smaller white lights circling its middle like a belt. The video has been turned over to Contacto OVNI and the Engineering Department of the University of the Andes in Bogota for more detailed analysis."

"Our group has received other videos which showed similar UFOs hovering over the peak of Cerro de Huaika (mountain) in northern Colombia." (Muchas gracias a William Chavez del grupo Contacto OVNI para esto informe.)


On Wednesday, February 25, 2004, at 11 p.m., eyewitness Abdullah S. "was sitting at a coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur," the capital of Malaysia "when I saw three orange lights flying in unison. Two broke away and flew all over the sky. They travelled at a very high speed. Then one joined the other, and they broke away again. Then they both flew upward, becoming smaller and smaller until they disappeared. I would say I had them in view for about 20 minutes. I think they were at the same flight level that airliners fly (35,000 feet or 10,500 meters--J.T.).
We have had UFOs in Malaysia before, but these were quite striking. They departed to the west over Kelang." (Email Form Report)


On Friday, March 26, 2004, eyewitness Jill E. reported, "At approximately 7:50 p.m., while trying the five-planet alignment over the moon, my 13-year-old son and I noticed two saucer-like shapes heading towards us," as they were facing Palma Sola Bay in Bradenton, Florida (population 49,504), located 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of St. Petersburg.

"They were appearing to be racing one another but side by side, sometimes crossing each other's path," Jill reported, "They were quite large, no blinking lights, no sound at all, greyish in color."

"When they were positioned just under the moon, they turned sharply and headed south. It looked like they briefly slowed down over the baseball park (the park lights were on--J.E.) and then rapidly headed southbound, remaining next to one another but occasionally crossing paths."

"While they were side by side, they were in identical formation and going at the same speeds. One or twice, when they crossed, it seemed that they got out of sync but quickly went side by side again. We watched them head south until we could see them no longer from our balcony."

"The sky was quite clear, some small, light clouds, the temperature approximately 73 degrees (Fahrenheit), a light breeze coming off the bay."

"The shape of the crafts was almost almond, with some type of haze surrounding them, moving very, very rapidly. There were some distant planes in the sky, but none were moving at any rate close to the speed these two crafts were going."

"I had a small map of the planet alignment that I was holding up and trying to relate Jupiter and Saturn to the left of the moon. My son first saw the objects and yelled at me to put the paper down. They approached from the west directly towards us but underneath the moon and definitely closer to us than the planets and the stars. I would say that they were much larger than a plane that's far away, and in the width especially. I would venture a guess that they were maybe around an altitude of 40,000 feet (12,000 meters). They darted up and down and horizontally in front of us for less than a minute and then darted towards the baseball park, where they didn't go directly over but more to the north side. Almost as if they hovered and then sharply flew north for a moment and then took a serious turn and headed south very quickly."

Jill described the saucers as "greyish, illuminated from inside, with no lights or trails, just surrounded by a brownish haze of sorts." (Email Form Report)


On Sunday, March 28, 2004, Holly McGrath reported, "Beginning around 9 p.m., me and my boyfriend noticed two low-flying objects moving north on the horizon" in Elk, Washington state. "The objects were lights, and they appeared to be red and white. They spun circles, ying and yang type formations, as well as covering enormous distances vertically. The animals in the woods were going nuts."

"We began to experiment by flashing our front floodlights at the object and, to our amazement, they responded."

"Two black helicopters were present and circling the area on (March) 28th. They also appeared to witness our communication as their flight pattern abruptly changed. The helicopters were not seen yesterday (Thursday, April 1, 2004)."

"We were not home on (March) 29th but last night (April 1, 2004) they were present and responding without fail, although they continue to grow distant and appear as yellowish stars now until they move."

"We called friends to witness the phenomenon, and now the witness tally is four. Their (UFO) movements are becoming harder to observe as their maneuvers appear smaller the further away they get."

Holly advises ufologists in the USA's Pacific Northwest to "look to the Big Dipper (constellation Ursa Major--J.T.) due north above the horizon and to the left of the moon for yellowish stars that perform tight circles in the sky. There was a third object behind our home, but it is no longer visible." (Email Form Report)

(Editor's Comment: Holly's sighting of the UFOs in the vicinity of Ursa Major is very interesting. UFOs have been seen consistently disappearing in the region of space between the stars of "the Big Dipper's handle." This has led some ufologists to speculate that there is an alien stargate in a geosynchronous orbit above Earth in that location, where the UFOs enter hyperspace on their way home.)


"South African botanists say they have failed to explain the mysterious round patches of bare sandy soil found in grassland on Namibia's coastal fringe."

"They looked at possible causes of the 'fairy circles'--radioactive soil, toxic proteins left by poisonous plants, and termites eating the seeds."

"But tests failed to support any of these theories for the 'rings,' which measure 2 to 10 metres (6.6 to 66 feet) in diameter."

"For now, they say, they are left with 'fairies' to explain the phenomenon."

"Lead scientist Gretel van Rooyen is now exploring the theory that, somehow, toxic elements are deposited in the shape of a circle, making it impossible for plant life to get established there, Agence France Presse reported."

"'But even if we find them, how came they there is the next problem--for the moment, we're left with the fairies,' Ms. van Rooyen, a botanist at the University of Pretoria, said."

"Tests of soil samples taken from 'fairy circles' found all to be negative for radioactivity, and desert plants were successfully grown in the lab on soil on which only milk bushes had grown."

"As for termites, the team dug trenches up to 2 metres deep in and around the circles, but found no sign of these insects or their nests."

"'Fairy circles' occur in a broken belt in the pro- Namib region, from southern Angola to the Orange River in South Africa and have become so famous that they are included in various (African) tours." (See the Agence France Presse report for March 31, 2004. Many thanks to Robert Fischer for this news story.)


"A construction fence stands sentry at the nearby National World War II Memorial" in Washington, D.C. The memorial is located midway between Constitution Avenue and the Tidal Basin, about a quarter-mile west of the Washington Monument.

"It's due to be dedicated on Memorial Day weekend (2004) when up to one million visitors are expected."

"The National World War II Memorial opens to the public next month, although it will not be dedicated until (Saturday) May 29 (2004), just before Memorial Day."

"Prominently situated on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, the handsome memorial honors the 16 million veterans and more than 400,000 members of the (USA's) armed forces who died in World War II. It also pays homage to those supporting the war effort on the home front."

"A plaza, paved in granite and flanked by two arches representing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the two sides of the (North American) continent, is the central element of the 7.4-acre site, complemented by fountains and pools."

"Fifty-six granite pillars representing the 1940s-era states, territories and the District of Columbia are connected by a bronze rope that symbolizes the bonding of their citizens."

"Two dozen bronze bas-relief panels along the ceremonial entrance depict domestic and foreign scenes from the war years."

However, like its neighbor on the Mall, the Washington Monument, the new memorial is fraught with Masonic symbolism, which might make it a target for Islamic extremists or the Al-Qaeda terrorist group.

"In the original blueprints for Washington D.C., French architect Pierre L'Enfant, who was also a Mason, envisioned today's Mall as a 'Grand Avenue,' shooting east and west from the Washington Monument, intended to be the heart of the capital," UFO Roundup editor Joseph Trainor explained. "From the air, the National World War II Memorial resembles a solar temple of ancient times. A kind of Stonehenge on the Potomac."

"The two arches are positioned north and south of the reflecting pool," Trainor added. "The choice of arches is interesting. In his book, The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital, David Ovason points out that the Royal Arch in Freemasonry is symbolic of the 'arch' of the Zodiac. The layout looks like a direct lift from the ancient Greek religion."

According to Ovason, "One of the most influential arcane texts from ancient times is the short essay, On the Cave of the Nymphs by the Third Century A.D. Neoplatonist, Porphyry. It is a commentary on the mysterious cave on the island of Ithaca (in Greece--J.T.), mentioned by the Greek poet Homer in his Odyssey."

"Porphyry recalls that the ancient philosophers insist that in the heavens are two gates, one of which is the Gate of Cancer, the other the Gate of Capricorn. Cancer is the gate through which souls descend into earthly birth, while Capricorn is the one through which they ascend in the postmortem return to the spiritual realm."

The North/South arches in the National World War II Memorial are reminiscent of the Greek heavenly gates, Trainor said.

"Another mystery is the number of pillars circling the pool," he added, "It's supposed to represent the then- 48 states of the USA, its territories and possessions, as they existed in 1941. When I did that, I came up with a count of 58, and that doesn't include the Marianas and the Gilbert Islands. So what does the number 56 stand for?"

"In numerology, if you add 5 plus 6, you get the number 11. This number could be a symbol for the two pillars, Boaz and Jachin, which stands in every lodge and represent Solomon's lost temple. The number 11 could also be a symbol for the Twin Towers of New York City's World Trade Center, which were destroyed on September 11, 2001."

"The bronze rope encircling the memorial symbolizes the Bronze Serpent, one of the rites of Freemasonry that leads the initiate to the coveted 33rd degree."

"Finally, there is the peculiar date of the dedication--May 29, 2004," Trainor said, "Why that day? Why don't they dedicate the memorial on May 8, 2005 or September 2, 2005, which will be, respectively, the sixtieth anniversaries of VE-Day and VJ-Day. Or even June 6, 2004, the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day. It's not even Memorial Day, which falls on May 31 this year."

In his book, Ovason points out that, at certain times of the year, the Mall lies directly beneath Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. Occultists consider Virgo one of the ruling astrological signs of the USA. Masons laid the cornerstone of the Washington Monument at just such an auspicious time, on July 4, 1848.

"This may explain why completion of the World War II memorial was held up for almost six decades," Trainor added. "It's another case of Masonic stellar magic, just like the Washington Monument. They couldn't build it right after 1945. They had to wait six decades until 'the stars were right.'"

"Friedrich St. Florian, a Rhode Island architect, designed the memorial, underwritten primarily by private donations."

"The Memorial Day weekend celebration will include events across the city" beginning on Thursday, May 27, 2004.

"Jim Deutsch, curator of the World War II Reunion that will be staged on the National Mall, expects up to 800,000 people. While tickets for the dedication ceremony on May 29 are sold out, giant screens will be set up between the Washington Monument and Seventh Street for up to 30,000 people."

"Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, was born in Egypt, is a nephew of the Grand Mufti of Cairo, and joined the Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1960s," Trainor added, "I am pretty sure Dr. Zawahiri is an initiate of the Egyptian mysteries. As such, he is probably hostile to anything that smacks of Scottish Rite Masonry. It would be just like him to try to disrupt some Masonic hoodoo hootenanny. Maybe set off a few bombs or something. It's no problem for Dr. Zawahiri to figure out the exact moment to strike. He has plenty of Sufi astrologers at his beck and call." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for March 28, 2004, "Monument rises on the mall," page 10D, and USA Today for April 2, 2004, "Visitors to USA's capital find construction projects in bloom," page 1D.)


Two more outlandish incidents erupted in Fayette County, Pennsylvania last week, causing paranormal researchers to puzzle over the sudden surge in weird events in this predominantly rural area south of Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Fayette Factor is a little-understood phenomena in which strange and bizarre incidents repeatedly break out in areas named for Marie-Joseph de Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, one of the USA's Founding Fathers and a prominent Freemason.

In the first incident, a mysterious fire broke out at an animal shelter in Fayette County's North Union Township.

"Crews rushed to battle a fire at the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals--J.T.) Humane Shelter in Fayette County, Pa."

"Chopper 11 was live over the scene of the blaze in North Union Township at 3 p.m. on Wednesday," March 31, 2004.

"Dispatched crews received the call for help, saying that the roof of the building was on fire and animals were trapped inside."

"Two people, an employee and a customer, were inside the building when they were informed of the blaze and told to get out."

"After running out of the building, the two realized that the doors had locked behind them. They reportedly broke glass to regain entry into the building and were able to rescue some of the animals."

"Shelter officials said 37 dogs were inside; 23 died and 14 survived the blaze. All four cats that were in the building died. Officials said all of the animals who perished had died of smoke inhalation."

"The surviving dogs were taken to local animal hospitals for treatment."

"A nearby shelter said it would assist in housing the animals after they recover."

"Flames destroyed part of the building, leaving a large hole in the roof."

In other news, "Police say one of three suspects wanted for murdering a Fayette County man last week killed himself when officials knocked on his door to arrest him."

"Authorities have been looking for three men from Cleveland for strangling Eric Thomas, 30, and stuffing his body in a closet last Wednesday," March 24, 2004, "at a house in South Union Township."

"Authorities say Timothy Atwater, 25, tried to hide in a Cleveland apartment building; but, as U.S. Marshals closed in, he shot himself in the head."

"Pennsylvania State Police last week issued arrest warrants for Atwater and two other men in the March 24th strangulation death."

"State Police say Thomas was tied up, strangled and then shoved in a closet. Thomas' body was found by another man that police say was lured to the house by Atwater and the other two men and then beaten, bound, robbed and shoved in a closet."

"Authorities say they don't know where the two suspects are."

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman commented, "It appears that even in the most petty of crimes, media attention comes to those, some of the strangest ones, that just happen to have the link to the Fayette Factor, as for example, this one here on Fayetteville Road in Durham," North Carolina.

"A Durham man was arrested Thursday afternoon," April 1, 2004, "after he allegedly crashed his car into another man's car and then allegedly ran the man over with his car on Fayetteville Road near Woodcroft Parkway, police said."

"According to a preliminary investigation, Jason Green, 24, of 612 Martha Street saw his girlfriend and two children in a car driven by another man around 12:03 p.m., police said."

"Green allegedly chased the car on Fayetteville Road and crashed into it several times, causing the other driver to lose control of his car, police said. The Herald-Sun does not routinely identify victims of crime."

"The victim's car then spun into a water-filled ravine on the side of the road near a construction site, police said."

"When the victim got out of the car and started to run across the street, Green turned his car around, drove towards the other man and struck him, according to investigators."

"Police said Green then allegedly grabbed a 4-year- old child out of the car and took a 1-year-old child after a struggle with his girlfriend. According to police, Green then took the children to a relative's house and returned to the scene, where he surrendered to police."

"The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment of leg injuries. No one else was injured."

"Police charged Green with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury and four counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He was taken to the Durham County Jail on a $50,000 secured bond." (See the WPXI-TV of Pittsburgh news broadcast for March 31, 2004, "Animal shelter catches fire;" the KDKA-TV of Pittsburgh news broadcast for March 31, 2004, "Fayette murder suspect shoots self in Ohio;" and the Durham, N.C. Herald-Sun for April 1, 2004, "Man allegedly runs over rival." Many thanks to Loren Coleman for these news stories.)

(Editor's Comment: Last week, when I asked UFO Roundup readers to "keep an eye on" Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and asked rhetorically, "What's next?" I never, ever counted upon such immediate and dramatic answers. No question about it--the Fayette Factor jinx is running red- hot in that corner of Pennsylvania. But why? There's the real mystery.)


Mel Gibson's controversial movie, The Passion of the Christ, is breaking box-office records in the Arab countries of the Middle East, winning raves from Muslim religious leaders and stirring both Christians and Muslims alike.

In Kuwait, "a top Shiite cleric on Saturday," March 27, 2004, "urged Kuwait to let Mel Gibson's controversial film, The Passion of the Christ, to be shown in this predominantly Muslim state because 'it reveals crimes committed by the Jews against Jesus Christ.'"

"'We have called upon the (Kuwaiti) information minister to release the movie,' the Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Mehri said in a press statement."

"The ayatollah heads the congregation of Shiite (Muslim) imams in Kuwait. Cinemas in this small, oil-rich nation in the Persian Gulf are owned by a state company, and the Information Ministry has to censor and approve films before they are screened."

"The Ayatollah al-Mehri said Sunni Muslims, who control Kuwaiti politics, do not approve of" actors portraying "prophets in movies, but many Shiite senior clerics have no objection. It was not immediately clear if the Kuwaiti government had banned the movie from Kuwaiti cinemas" as a favor to the State of Israel. (Editor's Note: Muslims believe that Jesus is a Last Days prophet of Allah, who will announce the return of the Prophet Mohammed--peace be upon him--to Jerusalem right before the end of the world.)

"The Ayatollah al-Mehri said he has seen the movie and believes that 'it is good, and there is nothing wrong with it.'"

"Jewish organizations, however, have described the film as anti-Semitic and expressed fears that it would cause attacks on Jews."

In Syria, "The Passion of the Christ, accused by some Jewish organizations of encouraging anti-Semitism, is drawing a sizable audience while apparently touching an emotional nerve in the Syrian capital, Damascus."

"'Coming out of the theatre, I saw a lot of people in tears,' reported Fayez Wehbe, who saw the film--with Arabic subtitles--in Damascus."

"Many scenes are in Aramaic, the language that was dominant in the Holy Land at the time of Jesus," circa 30 A.D.

"Moviegoers in Maalula and Saadnay, outside of Damascus, were delighted," reported Ayesha al-Khatabi, UFO Roundup's Middle East correspondent. "Aramaic is their native language. They had no need of the subtitles."

"Some members of the audience could not conceal their astonishment on hearing expressions such as Ya Illah (Aramaic for My God--A.K.) that are close to Arabic,' said Wehbe."

"Many Muslims enjoyed the scenes with Bibi Miraim

(the Virgin Mary, Jesus' mother--birth name: Miriam bat- Joachim--J.T.). In al-Quran (the Koran--J.T.), she is described as a great prophetess of Allah, and an entire chapter is devoted to her," Ayesha added.

"Given its popularity in Damascus, a fourth showing has been added to the three that had initially been offered, with people buying tickets first thing in the morning to be sure of getting a seat. The film has sparked reams of controversy because of its unflinchingly graphic portrayal of Christ's crucifixion. In some quarters, it has been seen as promoting anti-Semitism by a repulsive depiction of Christ's fellow Jews, while that view has been strongly rejected by others."

In neighboring Lebanon, the movie broke box-office records in Beirut, the national capital. "The film has been warmly received. Lebanon's Maronite Christian Church has described it as 'impressive' and found it not to be anti-Semitic."

"'It is very sad, extremely impressive,' commented Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the spiritual leader of the Maronite Church. 'We don't see any anti-Semitism there.'"

"North of Beirut, in the predominantly Christian region of Junieh, the film is selling well, although it is off-limits to youth under the age of 15."

In the West Bank, "Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat watched the film at his headquarters in Ramallah and pronounced it 'moving.'"

On Sunday, March 28, 2004, The Passion "premiered in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar."

"'We submitted The Passion of the Christ to the (Qatari) Censorship Committee which has no objection to its screening,' said Abdul Rahman Mohsen, the director- general of a privately-owned Qatari film distribution company. 'The committee usually censors scenes or images depicting prophets from the holy books. The film is being shown three times a day in Doha and will be screened for at least one month.

"The film opened in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday (March 31, 2004)," Ayesha noted, "Thus far, there has been no political agitation against the Jews, at least not in Islamic lands. This is as it should be, for it is written in al-Quran that should any believer maliciously harm a Jew 'he will not even smell the fragrances of Allah's Gardens of Bliss.'" (See the Arab news sources Al-Ahram and Al-Jazeera for March 29, March 30, March 31 and April 1, 2004. Many thanks to Ayesha al-Khatabi for these news stories.)


"Mel Gibson's controversial film, The Passion of the Christ, drew large audiences across the country" of South Africa "this weekend (Sunday, March 28, 2004) and sharply divided religious leaders."

The Passion had the biggest opening since 1980's Breaker Morant, an Australian film about the Boer War (1899-1903).

"The film, which opened in the U.S. last month (Wednesday, February 25, 2004), was the highest-grossing film for three weeks, raking in more than $300 million around the world. It is expected to become one of the most profitable films of all time, a maximum payoff for the Catholic Gibson, who gambled $30 million of his own money to make it."

"Diki van Zyl, marketing director for Nu Metro film distribution, said the takings on opening weekend were 'beyond expectations.' He said, although exact figures are not yet available, Nu Metro cinemas throughout the country teemed with moviegoers on Friday and Saturday," March 26 and 27, 2004.

"George Strong, the manager of Cinema Nouveau in Rosebeck," a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city, "said the film had created a buzz the like of which was last seen 'a very long time ago.'"

"Madjie Jappie, an usher at Nu Metro Century City in Cape Town, said: 'Some people cry when they walk out of here. Others, even if they're not physically crying, you can see they are sad.'"

"Cinemas in Krugersdorp, Polokwane and Bloemfontein said churches were driving demand by making block bookings."

"'This is the first time we see church folk filling up theatres to see a movie,' said John Ramatlama of Bloemfontein's Ster-Kinekor (theatre)."

"The film has sparked controversy because it appears to blame Jews for the crucifixion and includes harrowing scenes of violence."

"South Africa's Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris and Methodist leader Bishop Ivan Abrahams have spoken out strongly against the film. But the president of the South African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Wilfred Napier, Port Elizabeth's Anglican Bishop Bethlehem Nopece, Shembe church spokesman Enoch Mthembu and Pastor Ray McCauley of Rhema (evangelical Christian) Ministries have defended it as 'historically accurate.'"

"Rabbi Harris said the film was 'very disappointing.'"

"'This film is so physical and brutal and so covered in blood and gore that it smothers all the vestiges of spirituality,' he said, 'Resurrecting this kind of thing could be the spark for even more anti-Semitism. I'm very anxious that this again pins the blame on the Jews...for killing Jesus,' he said."

"Rabbi Harris said he would advise Jewish schools to provide background to the movie so that Jewish children do not 'get the wrong end of the stick.'"

"The head of the Methodist Church in South Africa, Bishop Abrahams, shared Harris's concerns, saying The Passion of the Christ 'borders on heresy' and that he was not advising anyone to go and watch it."

"'We've worked so hard in this country to build religious tolerance,' Abrahams said, 'In my view, the movie unequivocably has an anti-Semitic slant.'"

"But Cardinal Napier insisted the film did not portray Jews in a bad light. 'The ones expressing brutality are the Romans. The Jewish priests were there, but this is what the Gospels say, and we mustn't be politically correct and try to change the historical version of the Gospels,' said Napier." (See The Argus of Cape Town for March 30, 2004. Many thanks to John Gadsbury for this newspaper article.)

(Editor's Comment: Hmmmm, this might be a good time to watch one of my favorite movies on TV tonight...Napimosis: Traitor to Pharoah...Ooops! I mean, The Ten Commandments.)


"Before Toma Petre's relatives pulled his body from the grave, ripped out his heart, burned it to ashes, mixed it with water and drank it, he hadn't been in the news much."

"That's the way with vampires. Quiet lives, active deaths."

Villagers in Marotina de Sus, Romania "aren't up in arms about the undead--they're pretty common--but they are outraged that the police are involved in a simple vampire slaying. After all, vampire slaying is an accepted, though hidden, bit of national heritage, even if illegal."

"'What did we do?' pleaded Flora Marinescu, Petre's sister and the wife of the man accused of rekilling him. 'If they're right, he was already dead. If we're right, we killed a vampire and saved three lives...Is that so wrong?'"

"Yes, according to the Romanian national police. Its view expressed by Constantin Ghindeano, the chief agent for the region, is that vampires aren't real, and dead bodies in graves aren't to be dug out and killed again, even by relatives."

"He doesn't really have much more to say on this case, other than noting that Petre had been removed from his grave, his heart cut out, and it was presumed to have been consumed by his relatives. Ghindeano added that police were expanding the investigation, which began in mid-January (2004) to include the after-deaths of others in the area."

"'The investigation is ongoing, and we expect to file charges later,' he said, referring to possible charges of disturbing the peace of the dead, which could carry a three-year jail term. 'We are determining whether this was an isolated case or whether there is a pattern in the village.'"

"Romania has been filled with news of the vampire- slaying investigation, and villagers admit there's a pattern, but they argue that that's the reason these matters shouldn't make it to court. There's too much of it going on, and too few complain about the practice."

"Vampire slaying is a custom that's been passed down from mother to daughter, father to son, for generations beyond memory, not just in this tiny village of 300 huts astride a dirt cart path about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Bucharest," the national capital, "but in scores of villages throughout southern Romania."

"Little has changed since the days that Turkish invaders rolled through 500 years ago, seeking the mineral riches of Transylvania just to the north. By day, the people are Roman Catholics. At night, they fear the strigoi or vampires."

"On a recent afternoon, the village's single store, which also serves as its lone bar, was filled with men drinking hard as they explained the vampire facts. Most had at least one vampire in their family histories, and many were related to vampire victims. Most had learned to kill a vampire while still children."

"Theirs is not a Hollywood tale, and they laugh at Hollywood conventions: that vampires can be warded off by crosses or cloves of garlic, or that they can't be seen in mirrors."

"Utter nonsense! Vampires were once Catholics, were they not? And if a vampire can be seen, the mirror can see him. And why would you wear garlic around your neck? Are you adding taste?"

(Editor's Comment: It might have helped if Abraham Stoker had learned Romanian before he went on his railroad tour of the Carpathian Mountains.)

"No, vampires are humans who have died, commonly babies before baptism or people unfortunate enough to have black cats jump over their coffins. Vampires occur everywhere, but in busy cities, no one notices, the men said."

"Vampires are obvious when dug up because while they have been laid to rest on their backs, arms folded neatly across their chests, they will be found on their sides or even their stomachs. They will not have decomposed. Beards will have continued to grow. Their arms will be at their sides, as if they are clawing out of their coffins. And they will have blood--sometimes dried, sometimes fresh--around their mouths."

"But the biggest tipoff that a vampire is near is his or her family, for vampires always prey on their families. If family members fall ill after a death, odds are a vampire is draining their blood at night, looking for company."

"'That's the problem with vampires,' said Doru Morinescu, a 30-year-old shepherd who, like many in the village, has a family connection to the current case. 'They'd be all right if you could set them after your enemies. But they only kill loved ones. I can understand why, but they have to be stopped.'"

"Ion Balasa, 64, explained that there are two ways to stop a vampire, but only one after he or she has risen to feed."

"'Before the burial, you can insert a long sewing needle just into the belly button,' he said, 'That will stop them from becoming a vampire.'"

"But once they've become vampires, all that's left is to dig them up, use a curved haying sickle to remove the heart, burn the heart to ashes on an iron plate, and then have the ill relatives drink the ashes mixed with water."

(Editor's Note: Believe it or not, this actually happened once in the USA. In 1892, Mercy L. Bowen (1874-1892) died of tuberculosis at the family farm on Nooseneck Hill in Coventry, Rhode Island. When Mercy's younger siblings began seeing her prowling the farmyard after dark, weeks after her death, and residents claimed that "something" was sucking their blood in the night, angry farmers dug up Mercy's remains, cut out her heart and burned it on a flat pasture stone. H.P. Lovecraft makes a brief mention of Mercy in his story The Shunned House.)

"'The heart of a vampire, while you burn it, will squeak like a mouse and try to escape,' Balasa said, 'It's best to take a wooden stake and pin it to the pan, so it won't get away.'"

"Which is exactly what happened with Petre, according to Gheorghe Marinescu, a cheery, aging vampire slayer who was Petre's brother-in-law."

"Marinescu's story goes like this: After Petre died, Marinescu's son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter fell ill. Marinescu knew the cause was his dead brother-in- law. So he had to go out to the cemetery."

"Marinescu said he found Petre on his side, his mouth bloody. His heart squeaked and jumped as it was burned. When it was mixed with water and taken to those who were sick, it worked."

"His wife, Petre's sister, interrupted his story with a broom, swinging it at him. She was worried that he would incur the wrath of the police, who would jail him."

"But then his son Costel called. What happened next was a miracle. After weeks in bed, Costel got up to walk. His head wasn't pounding. His chest wasn't aching. His stomach felt fine."

"'We were all saved,' he said, 'We had been saved from a vampire.'"

"But how could he be sure his illness came from a vampire?"

"'What other explanation is possible?' he asked." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for March 28, 2004, "For Romanians, slaying vampires is in the blood," pages 1A and 9A.)


"NASA reported more signs of ancient underground water on Mars" last week.

"The rover Spirit found fractures filled with waterborne salt sediments in volcanic rock at its Gusev Crater landing site. Spirit is one half of an $820 million mission to look for geologic evidence of water on Mars" and the first of the two rovers to safely land on the Red Planet in January 2004.

Her sister rover "Opportunity found signs of an ancient salty sea on the opposite side of Mars" two weeks ago. (See USA Today for April 2, 2004, "More evidence of past water on Mars," page 3A.)

From the UFO Files...


"At Chalfont St. Giles, and at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, and possibly at other sites in Great Britain...there have been unexplained noises which seem to come from underground."

"These noises were first heard in September, 1953. They became very audible around Christmas, 1953. The sound was described as a persistent humming of deep vibration and regular pulsation. On occasion, it kept people awake at night when the sounds intensified to a noise like a plane 'revving up' its engines, or a motor truck climbing a hill."

So wrote Harold T. Wilkins in his book, Flying Saucers Uncensored. Fifty years ago, during April of 1954, one of Wilkins' correspondents visited Chalfont St. Giles, Bovingdon and Hemel Hempstead to further look into those mysterious reports. This is what he found:

"I can say with fair certainty that I do hear the sound, but only faintly. I hear a sound in various parts of that area which I certainly do not hear elsewhere, and it is always the same sound, and distinguishable from other sounds."

"It sounds to me like a very heavy machine working a long way off, and it has a regular pulse of vibration, which suggests that the machine passes through a regular phase of vibration, or else there is a regular periodic build-up of sound waves. The unchanging pitch indicates that the machine always runs at the same speed. I know of no normal machine which could do this, day and night for months."

"One cannot tell the direction of the sound. It is simply there. One may lose it by moving a short distance from a point where it is audible. Go back to that point, and the sound is still there."

"Another odd feature is that Mrs. Craig, in particular, and several other folk have searched for miles in every direction, on foot and by car, no one has ever succeeded to getting close to the cause of it."

"It seems completely elusive. One can go away from it, but not apparently approach it beyond a certain limit. Either it must be very deep below the surface or else--a wild surmise--it might be located in a fourth dimension! As a matter of fact, I do not get the impression that it is subterranean in origin. More like an effect of 'over the hills and faraway.' It is an oddly disturbing sound. It is harsh, daunting and chilling."

"I have listened for it at Bovingdon, near Hemel Hempstead, in the still of night, but definitely it is not there. There must be some reason for it being heard in the Chalfont area."

"Near the bungalows are two large dells, close to a lane. I managed to enter one, but saw nothing very much. And the sound did not appear any louder there. I could not enter the other dell, because of the perpendicular sides bordering on the lane. Also, both dells are on private ground (private property in the USA--J.T.), limiting one's movement."

"This lane itself is one of the points where the

mysterious sound is audible. It is in a small valley. Going over a footpath up the slope, I lost the sound at the top. Returning down the slope, I got it again."

"Mrs. Craig sometimes hears it very loudly, as if, she says: 'It was going up and down the walls of the room,' but even then, the sound always appears to come from outside...from over there."

Like the more recent cases at Round Knob, Illinois and Kokomo, Indiana, here in the USA, the source of the mysterious hum at Chalfont St. Giles in 1954 was never found. (See Flying Saucers Uncensored by Harold T. Wilkins, Citadel Press, New York, N.Y., 1955, pages 161 to 167.)

Well, that's it for this week. Join us next time for more UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth--and occasionally Mars--brought to you by "the paper that goes home--UFO Roundup." See you then.

UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 2004 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their Web sites or in news groups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.


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