Sunday, February 28, 2010

Child Sorcery In The Congo

12 year-old, Henri, which is not his real name, points at a large fresh looking scar on his midriff. "People accused me of sorcery and my mother believed them," he says. "Look, here on my stomach. She tried to kill me with a knife. It really hurt and I cannot understand why my mother did it." Henri, who is now being given help by a children's charity, had been playing outside his home in Goma, eastern Congo, when the accusations began. His eyes begin to water as he remembers pleading with his mother, telling her that the claims were completely untrue. Not that this made any difference. "She threw me out of the house and told me to go away," he says. Henri was then forced to live on the streets until charity workers convinced his mother that the allegations were untrue. His is just one of a fast growing number of children accused of sorcery to come to the attention of Unicef's head of child protection in Congo, Alessandra Dentice. "Children accused of witchcraft is unfortunately one of the major increasing child protection issues in the country," she says. Unicef's latest available statistics show that around one hundred cases of child sorcery allegations were referred to them in 2008 in the North Kivu province of Eastern Congo alone. That number increased nearly fivefold to 450 in the same area last year. Alessandra Dentice believes this may be explained by a growing awareness of the problem that has led to more reports rather than more cases. But, she says, recent events in violence-plagued Eastern Congo might also explain the rise. "This is a country where is no social cohesion any longer, there is no sense of community, no sense of family," she says. "So, whenever anything happens at family or community level it is very easy for them to blame someone who is powerless and seems to have no rights." Ms Dentice went on tell me how serious sorcery allegations can be for the children concerned. "A lot of these children are beaten up or burnt. Unfortunately it is very common," she says. "I have just received this morning a report about a girl of 12-years-old who has been burnt because she was accused of witchcraft." The Anglican Bishop of Bukavu, Josue Bulambo Lembelembe, is also very concerned by the apparent increase in sorcery allegations against children here. "It only takes somebody in a family to fall ill and a child can be accused of sorcery," he says. "Particularly if the youngster accused lives on the street. Then they point to him or her and say they caused the illness or other problem." Not far across Goma, I approached the offices of the charity, Childrens Voice. Having heard that I was coming, more than 200 youngsters, standing in long neat lines, burst into song as I drove through the gates. In charge was the charity's local Director, Monossay Bodween Odette. "We found many of these children on the streets without parents or any kind of support," she says. "When children accused of sorcery of sorcery are abandoned on the streets life is very hard for them.People throw stones at them and many get badly hurt. "That is why we go from house to house telling people not to listen to claims of child sorcery. We know that if our message fails to get through, some children will die." It is here that I met 14 year-old, Jean, though I have been asked not to give his real name because of past threats against him. A tall sullen looking boy, Jean seems nervous and withdrawn. But when I ask him to tell me about the witchcraft accusations against him he sits up straight and begins to tell me his story. It all started, he says, after he went to see a Nigerian horror film about zombies. "In this movie one person was raising the dead with a stick. I was with a friend and we went to a cemetery to play and try and act out the movie," he says. "But when my friend saw me doing this he ran away and accused me of being a sorcerer to his parents." Jean goes on to tell me that his friend's parents came to his grandparents house where he was living and told them that he was a sorcerer and would have to be burned. Then, he says, his grandparents gave him a beating before taking him down to the offices of the local authority. "The head of the authority beat me with a stick and told me to say that I was a sorcerer. He forced me to say it. People were waiting outside to kill me," he says. Jean was then brought before a local priest who confirmed that he was a sorcerer. It was only after the Children's Voice charity visited his grandparents and warned them that making witchcraft allegations against children is now illegal, that the matter was finally dropped. But the existence of a recently introduced law under the Child Protection Code is one thing. Enforcing it can be quite another, according to local lawyer, Antonie Famber. "The trouble is that most people here still believe in witchcraft so this makes the law very hard to enforce," he says. "To make matter worse even some government officials believe in sorcery themselves. Take the case of a colleague of mine who is also a lawyer. He knows that the law does not recognise sorcery be he has accused his own children of witchcraft." But Unicef's, Alessandra Dentice says the new law, which took eight years to get on the statute books and carries a maximum penalty of three years jail, is helping. She believes that it has helped make people take a current radio and television campaign seriously and may also have prompted more people to report accusations made. Not that such legal threats are making everyone here contrite. 12-year-old Henri, who revealed how he was stabbed by his mother after neighbours accused him of sorcery, told me how she responded after accepting that he was not guilty after all. "She didn't say sorry to me. She didn't say anything."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Midland Man Believes Chupacabra Killed Three Of His Goats

A mystery in Midland County after three goats are killed in one week and the man who owns them wants to know what's killing his animals. He believes it could be the mythical chupacabra. The legend of the chupacabra lives on in Midland. Daniel Hernandez raises goats on his property in Midland County. But after three of them were killed in one week, he started wondering what was going on. Hernandez says the way that his animals died is a mystery.He says each of the goats had bite marks on their necks and it looked like something was sucking the blood out of them. Hernandez doesn't believe a dog or coyote is responsible. He says he's never believed in the chupacabra until now. Hernandez said the animal's deaths cost him about $300. He did contact the Sheriff's Department to report what happened, as they're urging anyone whose animals are killed to contact Animal Control. Of course, we'll let you know what happens, especially if Hernandez catches the culprit on camera.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Is A Woodbridge California Restaurant Haunted? Owner Says Maybe

A Woodbridge restaurant owner thinks the eatery she's owned for 17 years may be haunted by the ghost of a man named Frenchie. This weekend, a self-styled paranormal investigator from Sacramento will try to find out if she's right. No one's quite sure what to expect Saturday when Cactus Mexican restaurant on N. Lower Sacramento Road in Woodbridge plays host to a paranormal investigator. The goal: to determine whether the 19th-century brick building is -- as legend would have it -- haunted. "What our staff says is that they just get the feeling that somebody is present with them or behind them or something and, you know, that makes them uneasy," Cactus owner Mia Lane-Gomez said. Lane-Gomez and her husband say they've seen plenty of strange goings-on at the restaurant since they opened the place in 1992.
In just the past six months, Lane-Gomez said there were at least three potentially paranormal events. Six months ago, six blender lids mysteriously vanished. Then a stack of papers inexplicably caught fire on Super Bowl Sunday last month. Then, just last Monday, a water faucet in the men's room suddenly turned on - all by itself. The culprit, Lane-Gomez theorizes, is a man named Frenchie, who supposedly died in a fall while refurbishing the building 30 years ago. Some believe Frenchie's ghost is still there. "Our basement, we do have a huge basement, probably most of our staff won't go down there," Lane-Gomez said. Paranormal enthusiast Paul Dale Roberts will be at the Cactus at 7 p.m. Saturday to discuss the basics of paranormal activity. Then at 10 p.m., Roberts will use his equipment to investigate once and for all whether any unusual otherworldly forces call the Cactus home. The public is invited to attend, but Lane-Gomez advised those looking for dinner to call ahead to make sure a table is available.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

UFO Seen And Photographed In Budapest, Hungary

An account, along with a photograph of a UFO event that occurred in the skies above Budapest, the capital city of the Central European nation of Hungary, has been doing the rounds of the various related internet forums popular with UFO enthusiasts and researchers. The sighting took place on 4 february at 10:45. The witness, who managed to get a photo of the object, worte in relation to their experience: I was having trouble sleeping and went onto my balcony to get some fresh air when I heard an odd sound. It was like magnetic pulsations rather than a standard engine noise. All the sudden I saw this object, or UFO about 500 meters away. It went silent and hovered for a while. Then the pulsating resumed and the object just disappeared.I managed to get a photo, it is not that great but was the best I could get. I talked to some neighbours in the morning and none of them saw anything at all but they did concede that they heard the odd noise and had problems sleeping. 'I cannot believe myself that with so many events like this happening around the world there are still people that our skeptical about UFOs and alien visitation. I realise that on publicizing my UFO experience people will call me mad and tell me that I imagined the whole thing.'

Monday, February 8, 2010

Exorcism Chapel Opened In Mexico

A Mexican church in the central city of Queretaro has opened a chapel in which exorcisms can take place. There are no accurate figures for the number of exorcisms in Mexico. But the Roman Catholic Church says that in Mexico City alone there are about 10 cases a month - and the phenomenon is on the rise. Critics say that priests often mistake mental illness or epilepsy for signs of possession. The new church will only treat people already seen by doctors. Belief in possession and exorcism is common in a country where more than 90% of the population is Catholic. Nevertheless, Mexico now has a church where exorcisms can be performed: La Capilla de las Benditas Animas del Purgatorio.Exorcism predates the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th Century. Aztec healers burned herbs and prayed to eliminate the influence of bad spirits. Nowadays the Roman Catholic Church follows the guidelines contained in a book published by the Vatican. Signs of possession could be, for example, speaking in a foreign language that the person does not know, or being familiar with events that happened in far away places or in other times. In a common exorcism, a priest performs a ceremony that includes sprinkling holy water over the possessed person and reciting prayers ordering the devil to depart. Critics argue that priests commonly mistake mental illness such as schizophrenia or epilepsy and think instead they are confronting a demonic possession. But one priest, Rogelio Cano, told the BBC that the new church will only accept cases that have been already been treated by doctors and psychiatrists.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Physicist Sees Michael Jackson’s Face In Polymer Solution

First it was in clouds over New York, then it was an ancient Egyptian sculpture, a tree stump, and an ultrasound: now, a British physicist has seen what looks like Michael Jackson’s face in a droplet of hardened polymer solution. The ugly-looking globular mound is a droplet of polymer solution, the kind of substance you might find in the ink cartridges of your printer. As the solution began to dry, [physicist David] Fairhurst noticed a number of small “spherulites” begin to crystallise on the droplet surface revealing what appears to be a tiny human face.“I noticed it immediately and showed it to the other guys – we had a really good laugh about it,” Fairhurst told The physicist and his group of PhD students reckon the face looks like a small girl, or possibly even the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Alas, when PhysicsWorld’s James Dacey ran a picture of the polymer through facial recognition software (now that’s taking it to the next level), the software turned up Marlene Dietrich and Iggy Pop, but by our troth, the MJ connection isn’t too much of a stretch.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

X-Shaped Space Object Baffles Astronomers

An X-shaped object whizzing through space at 17,700km/h is believed to be the debris left behind after two asteroids collided. Scientists believe the object — nicknamed P/2010 A2 — is from the same cluster of space rocks that killed off the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. If the collision theory proves to be true it will be the first time the remnants of an asteroid smash have been seen by humankind — even though astronomers say collisions happen all the time.The Hubble Space Telescope photographed P/2010 A2, which orbits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, earlier last week. "What Hubble saw indicates that P/2010 A2 is unlike any object ever seen before," astrophysicist Dr Robert Nemiroff from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre told reporters."At first glance, the object appears to have the tail of a comet ... close inspection, however, shows a 140m nucleus offset from the tail centre, very unusual structure near the nucleus, and no discernable gas in the tail." Scientists say the orbit of P/2010 A2 is related to a group of asteroids known as the "Flora family", which produced the same asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs. NASA described the object as "comet-like" but pointed out it is different because there is no gas in its trail. The object was travelling 144 million kilometres from earth.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ghost Told Me To Stab Family, Says Youth

A youth claimed that a “ghost” directed him to stab his family members, which caused the death of his father during a scuffle at their home in Kampung Duyung Wan Su, Duyung Besar, here. However, police are probing the 20-year-old boat repairer under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder, and also screening him for suspected drug abuse. In the 2am incident on Wednesday the suspect, wielding a 32cm survival knife, ran amok before stabbing his elder brother, who was asleep in one of the bedrooms in the house. His 30-year-old brother sustained serious injuries and is currently warded in critical condition at Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah. His 51-year-old father, who heard his eldest son’s cry for help, ran to his aid and attempted to grab the knife from his youngest son.State deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Hamzah Md Jamil said the father was stabbed during the scuffle and later succumbed to his injuries. The suspect, who was also injured in the brawl, finally handed over the weapon to his mother. The family is involved in boat maintenance and the service industry here. SAC Hamzah said preliminary investigations revealed that the incident had not been triggered by family disputes. However the suspect, during interrogation, claimed that a “ghost” had directed him to stab his family members. “We are still continuing our probe to determine the actual story behind the incident, and will conduct drug tests on the suspect,” SAC Hamzah added.