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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Area 51 De-Classified and Uncovered

As information from the top secret US military base is declassified, The Independent talks alien conspiracy theories, the Cold War and UFOs with a man who was there

Interview by Jonathan Owen

Rumours that the U.S government had proof of visiting alien life hidden away in a top secret military installation known as Area 51 have persisted for half a century.
One of the most famous secret military bases in the world, Area 51 has been shrouded in secrecy since it was set up during the early years of the Cold War.
Access to the Nevada base has always been highly restricted and those who worked there were sworn not to speak of it.

 A U-2 pilot is being fitted into a partial pressure suit at Area 51. These early pressure suits bore a cunning resemblance to the alien costumes of 1950s B-movies.
A U-2 pilot is being fitted into a partial pressure suit at Area 51. These early pressure suits bore a cunning resemblance to the alien costumes of 1950s B-movies.

But now early veterans have spilled the beans for a documentary Area 51: I Was There being broadcast on National Geographic Channel on Sunday.
The documentary combines personal testimonies with recently declassified information, photos and video (some of which can be found above).
Here T.D Barnes, 74, one of the documentary participants and a man who was commissioned to test secret aircraft by the CIA at Area 51 in the late ‘60s, shares his experiences:
I think the people selected were all the same. We weren’t really nosy. There were 23 of us but we protected our own secrets from each other. You didn’t snoop into what each other was doing and we still don’t today because some of it is still classified.
You didn’t volunteer to tell people what you were doing. You only reported to what we called ‘the customer’, which could be the CIA or it could be any other agency, could be air force foreign technology division.
I decided to talk about my experiences because about eight or ten years ago we started realising that we were losing our people and that the stories of what we did have never been told. When the CIA started declassifying information, I started gathering these stories together.
The more we talked to the historians and the military the more we realised that they simply did not know what we did. A lot of the technical stuff that we did that was classified so the world never knew about it and today they had gone ahead and reinvented the wheel that we had invented back in the 1960s.
For example a lot of [the work I was doing] had to do with high speed flight and the radar- that was one of my specialties. I came from a programme where I was used to dealing with tracking planes so one of the things I did at Area 51 was radar tracking. We were developing the very first stealth plane but we didn’t know what the radar would see when it was flying overhead at 2,200 miles an hour.
They brought me out there because I was used to dealing with high speed radar [monitoring]. The plane would fly overhead and we would look for it with the radar. Technology like that that was really primitive back then, we marvel today they can do the same thing with computers, but we didn’t have computers back then.
When I was in the army I became a specialist in electronic counter measures. The CIA was evaluating the capabilities of the Soviet Union, would we be able to shoot this plane down, that sort of thing. So when the Russians set up camp in Cuba that made it really easy for the CIA to evaluate the equipment.
A lot of activity took place not necessarily at the area [Cuba]. That’s what few people know about. And that less than 5 per cent of all the people working on the programme even knew the CIA was involved.
I was on a special project working for the CIA. I was a consultant/contractor. I left them in 1975 and have always been available for consulting and that sort of thing and they call me up on different things but after that I went into private business, the oil and gas business.
I was loaned out to the Nevada test site [by the CIA] for a period to work on the rig that was drilling the holes for the atomic bomb and I got familiar with the drilling equipment and the geology and that sort of thing.
When I was in the army my wife knew I was working on top secret projects. The wives were very important in the screening process. Anyone who had a wife that was a security risk didn’t get into the programme. They’d vet the wives and families almost as strongly as they did us.
I think the reason [there are so many conspiracy theories] is that for many years no-one knew about Area 51. Then all of a sudden the general public found out that it had been there all these years and it was like “What had they been doing there?” and “Oh, it must be tied in with the aliens”.
We brought some of this on ourselves. For instance the A12 - we flew 2,850 missions out of area 51 from 1952 to 1958. So people were obviously seeing things. Even flying 90,000ft at 2,200 miles an hour, which is faster than a bullet, people would occasionally see it or maybe an airline pilot or people on a commercial airline - and to them it was a UFO.
We were so secret even our own military didn’t know that we existed. No-one knew that we existed. So the air forces started investigating the sightings and they would start getting too close to finding out what we were doing and they would hit that security block where someone said “That’s a top secret programme, make up a story, go home and don’t say another word about it”.
So they would make up a story to explain the UFO sighting and the stories were just not very good and the people just didn’t believe them and rightly so.
The rumours of aliens are not true. It was so primitive back when we drilled the first water wells out there in the desert, you just didn’t have anything, it was just desert. I think it was because it was such a mystery what was going on that’s what attracted the conspiracy theories.
The Soviets had satellites looking at us all the time, every 45 minutes one came over the horizon. If [there had been anything to do with aliens] going on Russia would have certainly known about it.
We got our hands on a Soviet Mig-21 [a jet fighter aircraft], to find out why they were giving us such a rough time and that was exciting. We were flying the enemy’s planes, tracking it with their radar. During the Six-Day War Israel captured a lot of Soviet radar and, of course, that was my area of expertise. We brought them out to Nevada and actually got them operating so that we could see what the Russians were seeing when they would track us.
That was a big part of the Stealth programme, we realised that we needed to have all these various radars scattered around the desert
Some of [the stuff I know] will probably never be declassified. A lot of it is political or based on technical details. A lot of it is just plain political.
I believe in secrecy. There’s a lot of stuff that should never be secret that is, but then when the CIA started declassifying the documents in 2007 they were putting major documents on their website. I told the CIA security people then “Are you crazy, the enemy would love to have this knowledge even though its 50 years old, it’s never been reinvented.” So we started working together on some of the sensitive things. They didn’t realise because they didn’t know enough about what we did.
Secrets don’t stay secret very long now, not like they used to.
Area 51: I Was There premieres on Sunday at 9pm on National Geographic Channel

Welcome to Gulliver’s Kingdom, the unhappiest place on Earth


The Japanese theme park Gulliver's Kingdom was only open from 1997-2001 before a lack of visitors shuttered it. Until its decaying remains were demolished in 2007, the park and its 147-foot-long Lemuel Gulliver statue were prime destinations for urban explorers.
Gulliver's Kingdom was located 2.5 hours away from Tokyo and in the sights of Mt. Fuji. That sounds like prime real estate, but the Kingdom was in a curious neighborhood. Other nearby landmarks included the village of Kamikuishiki (the former location of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult's sarin gas manufacturing facilities) and the "Sea of Trees," a bucolic forest that is also Japan's most popular suicide destination.
Welcome to Gulliver's Kingdom, the unhappiest place on EarthOf course, Gulliver's Kingdom brought the disconcerting all on its own. After the park's finances dried up, a giant, dead-eyed model of Jonathan Swift's literary hero laid forever supine, exposed to the elements and Lilliputian graffiti artists. Gulliver and his ghostly playland may be gone, but you can see many photos of his dead duchy over at Web Urbanistand Sleepy City.
[Top photo by MutantMandias; middle photo by Yamanashi via Sleepy City.]

Chile’s Volcano Eruption Looks Like Hell on Earth

If you need a reminder on how fucking scary volcanoes can be, check out the explosion of Puyehue volcano in southern Chile. The volcano hadn't erupted for half a century but blew up this past weekend, painting the sky red.
I mean seriously, this volcano looks unreal. 3,500 people were evacuated from the area and ash from the volcano even rained down in Argentina. [Denver Post via Mappeal]

New Moms Sell Excess Breast Milk for Cash on Internet


PHOTO: Women all over the country are cashing in on what people are calling a mother's natural liquid gold: human breast milk.

Women all over the country are cashing in on what people are calling a mother's natural liquid gold: human breast milk. A month's supply can cost anywhere from $300 up to $1,200 dollars. In contrast, a month's worth of formula costs an average of $200.

For Kamilla Vainshtok and other women like her, the transactions – all done online – can literally "pump up" their income. " is basically a Craigslist for breast milk," Vainshtok told "Good Morning America." "There's buyers and sellers, there's an opportunity for them to meet each other."

Vainshtok, 25, is now in the unpaid portion of her maternity leave. Four months after her daughter was born she started producing an abundance of milk. It's been a source of extra money for her.

"I Googled breast milk for sale, milk for donation, and I came across … within the first week that of my listing, I found a family in Ohio that needed some breast milk and I shipped it out to them," the Brooklyn, N.Y., resident said.

Chang asked Vainshtok of if pumping her milk and putting it in the mail didn't "seem weird" to her.
"It definitely did seem weird to me but I knew I was helping a family in need," she replied. "Their child wasn't responding well to formula, was having a lot of tummy aches and spit-ups. So I figured if I was able to help this child with breast milk because their mother wasn't able to, then I might as well help them out."

Moms Earn Needed Cash

It was a win-win situation for both the buyer and Vainshtok. She shipped 300 ounces to the buyer in packed ice. That one-month supply added several hundred dollars to her bank account.

Allee Kincaid's excess milk has earned her the family nickname "the dairy cow."

"My husband and I just added it up and over the last 9.5 months, we've had about 16,000 ounces," the 26-year-old from Baxter, Iowa, said.

Kincaid is a stay-at-home mom. She also found the niche industry online -- which has been fueled by a slew of medical studies which have concluded that breast milk can boost everything from babies' immune systems to their I.Q.s.

The money Kincaid earns from mothers who're unable to breast feed themselves helps to pay her bills.
"We're a one-income family, my husband works … We actually just bought a new truck that would fit all of us, because my car that I had before was kind of smaller," she said. "So it definitely helped us buy things that we wouldn't be able to afford otherwise." Desiree Espinoza's milk money gave her the wedding of her dreams – including her dress, his tuxedo, the decorations – and even their rings.

"In the first month I made close to $1,200. It was quite a bit … ," Espinoza, 22, said.

The Phoenix woman has used that money to fill lots of needs: a computer, clothes for her growing daughter, wipes, medicine, "anything else that she needed that we didn't have the money for," she said.

But the exchange is not without risk. What little screening there is is all based on the honor system.
That allows for so many unknowns -- such as the donor's medical background, said Dr. Judy Goldstein, a pediatrician with Global Pediatrics in Manhattan. Purchasers also don't know if the donor mother has been on drugs.

"The skin of the mother could be contaminated … then the breast pump has to be sterile…," Goldstein added.

In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recommend buying breast milk on the open market. Such transactions could lead to the transmission of disease. However, it does recommend buying milk from approved milk banks. It may cost more, but the dangers are reduced.

Seller Mom Not Sure She'd Use 'Stranger's' Milk

"I would never do anything to harm anyone else's baby," Kincaid said.

"I feed my baby the same milk that I'm selling … I've had thousands of e-mails, back and forth, between people before they buy milk because they want to make sure it's the best for their baby and I as a mother can understand wanting to be cautious," she added.

Ironically, Vainshtok isn't so sure she could overlook the caveats if the tables were turned.

"Not from a perfect stranger – maybe if I knew the person, I might be willing to do it. But doing it over the Internet from a perfect stranger, just seems a little bit strange to me. And yet you're the perfect stranger. Absolutely and of course I have all good intentions so I'm definitely doing it the proper way. But you never know," she said.

Plaxico Burress Released From Prison

By Ohm Youngmisuk

N.Y. SportsCenter
ROME, N.Y. -- In his first precious moments as a free man again, Plaxico Burress embraced his wife and cradled his two young kids after being released from prison for serving nearly two years on a gun charge.
In the kind of heartfelt emotion that can only come from being away from family for so long, Burress soaked up the reunion with his loved ones. He looked like a giddy kid, even finding a few touching minutes to play with his two dogs.
AP Photo/Heather AinsworthPlaxico Burress told reporters: "As far as football is concerned, if and when everything gets settled, when they get back on the field, I'll be ready."

"I just want to thank God for bringing me through one of the most trying times in my life," said Burress, who wore an old-school Philadelphia Phillies cap, a black zip-up hoodie and shorts. "It's a beautiful day. It's a beautiful day to be reunited with my family. I want to go home and spend some quality time with them.
"I'd like to thank everybody for their prayers and words of encouragement," Burress continued in his brief time with reporters outside the prison. "I'd like to thank all my fans all around the world for the thousands of letters, for their unwavering support. As far as football is concerned, if and when everything gets settled, when they get back on the field, I'll be ready."

Shortly after walking out of the Oneida Correctional Facility around 9 a.m. ET, Burress' lawyer, Peter Frankel, drove the wide receiver to the nearby Lodge at the Turning Stone Resort-Casino for his emotional reunion with his wife Tiffany, his son Elijah, 4, and daughter Giovanna, 1.

After spending more than an hour at the hotel with his family, Burress -- who was followed by a camera crew that was with the family -- spent a few minutes playing with his two dogs in front of the hotel while an SUV was loaded with luggage.

Burress looked incredibly happy and humbled. He played peek-a-boo with his daughter while she was sitting inside the car and he was standing outside before later hopping into the back seat with his children.

Drew Rosenhaus, Burress' agent, said earlier on Monday morning that his client would travel to his home in South Florida and immediately begin training with other football players to begin his NFL comeback.

Rosenhaus, who jumped into Burress' arms moments after he walked out of the prison, also said Burress isn't ruling out a possible reunion with the New York Giants.
"I wouldn't rule out any team, I wouldn't rule out the Giants, I wouldn't rule out any club," Rosenhaus told reporters. "I really won't talk about specific teams because I don't want to hurt his position. As far as the Giants, my personal opinion is he wouldn't rule them out. I certainly wouldn't.

"We are going to be open to all 32 teams," Rosenhaus added. "Ultimately this will be Plax's decision, not mine. I am here to help him pick the best spot and get the very best contract. And that is what we will do."
Brandon Jacobs, one of Burress' best friends on the Giants, said last Thursday that "there is no chance Plaxico Burress is a New York Giant after he comes home" and that the wide receiver was looking for a fresh start, perhaps with the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, on Monday, Jacobs was a tad hesitant to close the door completely on a Plaxico-Giants sequel but did reiterate that Burress will have options. He mentioned the Eagles, Saints, Rams and Colts as potential options.

"I mean, I think there's a chance the Giants, I mean, I know they probably want him back," Jacobs said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL radio. "But with him having more options to pick from, I don't know how that's going to work out."

Several Giants players want Burress back with the team, which has missed the postseason the last two years without him. Coach Tom Coughlin has said that there hasn't been much discussion about a possible reunion.
"First of all what I can say about (Burress being released) is I am happy that he is home with his family," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said on the Stephen A. Smith show on 1050 ESPN New York. "And that's really about all I can say, you know, he is a free agent and I am not at liberty to talk about free agents - Plaxico or any other free agent at this time. I am just happy that he is home with his family."

Former Giants teammate Osi Umenyiora told ESPN in a "SportsCenter" interview on Monday that Burress looked like he was in "tremendous shape" when he visited the receiver in prison.

"I think he'll be able to make an impact immediately," he said. "A guy with that kind of physical ability and that kind of talent ... All you have to do is throw him the ball and he'll be able to make the same kind of plays he was able to make before."

At a quick glance, Burress, who will turn 34 in August, appeared to be in good shape. Rosenhaus said Burress did all he could to stay in shape while in prison.

"He's been very strong," Rosenhaus said. "He did a lot better than I would have. No question worked out, maintained a very positive attitude, always driven to get back to the NFL, be with his family again. As well as you could for 21 months of incarceration.

"Running, staying in shape, sprints, jogging, lifting weights, as much as you can do in a facility like this," Rosenhaus added. "Running routes, didn't have a quarterback here unfortunately. But he did very well -- push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, a lot of core strength, as much as you can imagine in this type of environment."
Burress will become a free agent once the lockout ends and free agency begins. Rosenhaus believes there will be a strong interest in his client. Teams like the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins and Eagles could be interested in the 6-foot-5 receiver, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants' 17-14 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots during the 2007 season.
I wouldn't rule out any team, I wouldn't rule out the Giants, I wouldn't rule out any club.”
-- Agent Drew Rosenhaus
"Before the lockout started and during that very brief window, right around the time of the draft, the feedback was excellent," said Rosenhaus, who along with all other agents is not allowed to talk to teams until the lockout is lifted. "Plaxico is going to be a top free agent, there are going to be multiple teams interested in signing him. I expect him to get a good contract, I expect him to absolutely be playing. I think he'll be coveted. He'll be one of our top free agents."

Burress has not played football since late November in 2008 when a handgun that was tucked in his sweatpants slipped from his waistband and went off as he tried to grab the gun while in a New York City nightclub. Burress shot himself in the thigh. Nearly a year later, he entered prison to serve his sentence in September of 2009.

Burress was released about three months early for good behavior.

Because he was a high-profile inmate, he was placed in a protective custody unit at the prison, which has 930 inmates, 20 in protective custody. While in prison, he completed an aggression management program and worked as a lawn and grounds laborer, according the state's Department of Correctional Services.

Burress violated prison rules and regulations three times: He lied to a guard about having permission to use the phone; gave another inmate a pair of black and silver sneakers that were deemed contraband; and had too many cassette tapes and an unauthorized extra pillow in his "filthy" cell.

Burress will be on parole for two years. He has to get and keep a job, undergo substance abuse testing, obey any curfew established by his Florida parole officer, support his family and undergo any anger counseling or other conditions required by his parole officer.

"I think he's learned an awful lot," Rosenhaus said. "He knows that he obviously made a mistake and certainly the maturation from being in this type of environment for so many months to reflect on your life and the things you might do differently. To miss two NFL seasons in the prime of your career, to not be with your family, most importantly, to lose out on millions and millions of dollars -- these are things that have forced him certainly to evaluate his life and we all would become a better person."

It didn't take long for friends and former teammates to transmit their good wishes.

In response to a tweet that said: 'Just In!. Plaxico Burress Just Released from Jail!" former Giants star Michael Strahan responded: "About time!!"

Former Giants linebacker (and current ESPN NFL analyst) Antonio Pierce, who was with Burress the night his life unraveled, tweeted the following a couple of hours before Burress was released: "17.. Time well over due.. Great teammate, friend, person and better yet Man. Always a Champ.. Only 1 way to go ... Back to the TOP."

Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade also commented.

James tweeted: "Welcome home Plaxico! Best of luck in the near future both on and off the field. #17 Jersey coming to a city near u."

Wade, who is from Chicago, tweeted what many Bears fans likely are thinking.

"1st I'm happy for Plaxico Burress that he can b reunite with his love 1s that I'm sure he missed more than football .. but as a Bears fan i would love to c him in a Bears uniform," Wade wrote.

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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