Tag: Congress

“Let’s See Them Aliens”: The Comic Futility of #StormArea51

Listen to “E43 7-27-19 “Let’s See Them Aliens”: The Comic Futility of #StormArea51” on Spreaker.

Article by Kate Knibbs                      July 17, 2019                      (theringer.com)

• Believing in aliens used to automatically catapult a person into kook territory, but things have changed. Prominent public figures are treating the UFO and extraterrestrial phenomenon seriously, from Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, to aerospace billionaire Robert Bigelow, to the New York Times, to members of Congress demanding briefings. All of this has lent credence to a Facebook event called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” (see previous ExoArticle) Well over a million Facebook users have pledged to show up at a Nevada tourist spot, to invade en masse the secret military base known as ‘Area 51’ at 3 am, September 20th.

• A similar online phenomenon happened in 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached the Florida coastline. Ryon Edwards created a Facebook event called “Shoot at Hurricane Irma.” Over 80,000 people responded with interest in attacking the hurricane, though no one did. It was a way to diffuse a frightening situation with a lighthearted meme.

• Like the Irma event, this is an obvious stunt. The post reads: “If we naruto run (like an animated video game character), we can move faster than their bullets.” And the Facebook page itself is called “Shitposting cause im in shambles”. Many attendees responded tongue-in-cheek: “I only RSVP’d for the memes” and “Let’s see them aliens.”

• Samantha Travis, the manager of the Little A’Le’Inn tourist spot where the invaders are scheduled to convene, said people have been calling “nonstop, all day,” and all of their rooms are booked. University student, Jackson Weimer, imagines that it will turn into a big party. Travis noted that there is plenty of available campground space.

• While the vast majority of participants are openly kidding around and not seriously planning to attack a military base, the military itself appears to be treating this as a matter of real concern. An Air Force spokesperson told the Washington Post that it is “ready to protect America and its assets.”

• There’s a good chance “Storm Area 51” will be a distant memory by the time September 20th actually rolls around. In the same way that people took a moment to laugh at the concept of attacking a hurricane, the punch line to “Storm Area 51” is how cartoonishly futile life can feel. It is the sort of joke that can puncture the terrors of climate change and evil governments. The popularity of “Storm Area 51” reflects a larger mood of low-grade fatalism and hyperbolic violence that is percolating online this summer.

 

Over a million people have RSVP’d to an event on Facebook called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” The military has warned people to stay away. It’s just a gag—but one particularly well-suited to this summer.

In 2017, as Hurricane Irma twirled menacingly toward the Florida coastline, a young Floridian named Ryon Edwards coped with storm-related anxiety in a very modern way. He logged onto Facebook and created an event called “Shoot at Hurricane Irma.” Over 80,000 people responded that they were interested in staging an attack on the “GOOFY LOOKING WINDY HEADASS NAMED IRMA.” No one ever opened fire on Irma; at least, there is no documentation of such an event. The Facebook post was a joke, a way to diffuse a frightening situation with a lighthearted meme. Despite some hand-wringing by local authorities, it wasn’t actually worth fretting over.

In recent days, a similarly playful Facebook event has reached an even greater height of popularity. “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” an event scheduled for 3 a.m. on September 20 at the famously mysterious Nevada military base, has racked up over 1.4 million RSVPs over the past week, with more than a million other people expressing interest in storming Area 51 en masse. “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry. If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets,” the post reads. (“Naruto” is a reference to Naruto Uzumaki, an anime character who runs with an awkward stride.) “Lets see them aliens.”

Like the Irma event, it’s an obvious stunt. The viral appeal is equally obvious, as it is fun to imagine a ragtag group of strangers liberating Martians from one of the most notoriously locked-down places in the country, like the plot of a pleasantly stupid action movie.

“Honestly I only RSVP’d for the memes,” one event attendee told me via Facebook Messenger. A Discord chat room created to “strategize” about the attack is filled with memes about adopting aliens and chatter about role-playing. “I think we need a division of vapers. To make an escape cloud,” one participant suggested. “I don’t think no one is going to this,” another said. When I identified myself as a journalist and asked people on the event page whether they’d speak with me, I was repeatedly called a “Fed”—exactly what I deserved for posting on an event page co-created by an account called “Shitposting cause im in shambles.”

But for all the jokes, the event has sparked real-world uptick in interest in traveling to the Area 51 region. People have been calling the local hotel and bar Little A’Le’Inn, for instance, “nonstop, all day,” manager Samantha Travis told The Ringer. “Our rooms have been booked for a few days now.” (Travis noted that the area does have plenty of available campground space.) “I think that people actually might go and have a party,” Jackson Weimer, a University of Delaware student who runs a popular meme account and accepted that I was not a cop, told me. “Some idiots will probably take it too far and try and rush the base but I hope everyone is smart enough to realize when a meme is a meme.” While the vast majority of participants are openly kidding around and not seriously planning to attack a military base, the military itself appears to be treating this as a matter of concern. An Air Force spokesperson told the Washington Post that it is “ready to protect America and its assets.” (The Air Force did not respond to The Ringer’s request for comment.)

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What We Get Wrong When We Talk About UFOs

Listen to “E22 7-7-19 What We Get Wrong When We Talk About UFOs” on Spreaker.
by Faye Flam                       June 25, 2019                         (bloomberg.com)

• Navy pilots have reported seeing alien UFOs is the skies, and Congressmen are being briefed on it. These UFO sightings should be investigated in a scientific way, but errors in thinking are undermining the effort. There are two reasons why we should not conclude that these are extraterrestrial craft.

• But the pro-extraterrestrial visitation arguments rest on two serious errors. One is the confusion of observations with interpretations, and the other is a slight twist on an error called ‘god of the gaps’.

• The first error is that Navy pilots cannot know a flying object’s speed or acceleration without knowing whether these were little things seen up close, or bigger things farther away. Former NASA engineer James Oberg says, “The bizarre events reported by Navy pilots are not ‘observations’; they are interpretations of what the raw observations might mean.”

• The second error is that when a scientist cannot explain something, they go to the supernatural explanation or an “act of God”. The same thing is happening with UFOs, with alien visitors being used to fill gaps in our understanding of the latest detection technology, the sky and human vision. Extraterrestrial visitors and gods fall into the same category of unscientific explanation because they haven’t shown themselves to humanity in a coherent enough way for claims about them to be tested.

• The arguments for extraterrestrial UFOs falsely equate the possibility that extraterrestrial life exists with the plausibility that it’s visiting us. Yes, there are other planets out there, and some might harbor life forms. But why should we assume they’d want to come here? Are we really that exciting?

• Many UFOs have been explained scientifically. The Air Force conducted studies starting in 1947, and continuing through the 1960’s, when the matter was turned over to a panel of civilian scientists headed by physicist Edward Condon at the University of Colorado. The committee explained most of the outstanding cases as reflections, equipment glitches, balloons, astronomical phenomena and human-built craft. So what about the unexplained cases?

• Len Finegold, a retired UC physics professor who consulted on a few Condon cases says there are plenty of unexplained phenomena left in physics, “so we’re used to that.” Mysteries of life may one day be solved, but in the meantime, let’s get comfortable with the gaps.

[Editor’s Note]    This is a hard core Deep State response to the UFO phenomenon, which the government has maintained since the 1940’s. They roll out their greatest hits of half-baked, irrational arguments to prove that UFOs and aliens do not exist. First, experienced Navy pilots have no idea what they are looking at. Second, the ignorant public tends to attribute outrageous religious or supernatural explanations to natural but as yet undiscovered phenomenon. Thirdly, the government has thoroughly and scientifically examined the UFO phenomenon and proclaimed that there is nothing to it. Lastly – and this is the best one – why would any extraterrestrial want to come here? It appears that the Deep State has shifted its ‘deny and cover-up’ strategy from all-out ridicule to a reasoned argument that we’re all just a bunch of idiots who should leave the heavy thinking to the ‘experts’.

 

If you’re reluctant to believe the latest round of media claims that alien spacecraft are lurking around our airspace and surprising Navy pilots, well, you are not alone.

The New York Times leaned toward aliens as the reason Navy pilots have seen unexplained flying objects, and the Washington Post made a similar case in its news coverage followed by a guest editorial: “UFOs exist and everyone needs to adjust to that fact.” Others followed suit. Congress is getting classified briefings.

But the pro-extraterrestrial visitation arguments rest on two serious errors. One is the confusion of observations with interpretations, and the other is a slight twist on an error called god of the gaps. The UFO sightings should be investigated in a scientific way, but the errors are undermining the effort.

The first error made in most of the news coverage was to claim that Navy pilots observed craft that accelerated, rose upwards or turned faster than was physically possible. But pilots can’t know any object’s speed or acceleration without knowing whether these were little things, seen close up, or bigger things, that were farther away. It’s just one clue that the vocabulary is being blurred.

James Oberg, a former NASA engineer turned space journalist, pointed out: “The bizarre events reported by Navy pilots are not ‘observations’; they are interpretations of what the raw observations might mean.” To start an investigation from a conclusion rather than from data is, he says, “a recipe for confusion and frustration and dead-ended detours.” 1

The other error cropped up many times when I wrote newspaper stories about evolution. Readers would sometimes write in to argue that if scientists couldn’t completely explain some phenomenon – say, the origin of DNA – then it must be an act of God. Theologians sometimes use the term “god of the gaps” to describe the erroneous use of supernatural explanations for natural phenomena that aren’t yet explained. The same thing is happening with UFOs, with alien visitors being used to fill gaps in our understanding of the latest detection technology, the sky and human vision.

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Why Have There Been So Many UFO Sightings Near Nuclear Facilities?

“E17 Why Have There Been So Many UFO Sightings Near Nuclear Facilities?”
by Adam Janos                     June 23, 2019                        (history.com)

• Former high-ranking US defense and intelligence officials, aerospace-industry veterans, academics and others associated with ‘To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science’ are asking: ‘why are so many UFOs being reported near nuclear facilities—and why isn’t there more urgency on the part of the government to assess their potential national-security threat?’ Their investigations are the subject of HISTORY’s limited series “Unidentified.”

• In the past century, more than a few UFO sightings have been reported in military contexts. In late World War II, U.S. airmen called the bright orange UFOs flying along the French-German border “foo fighters”. During the Korean War, soldiers claimed that a blue-green light emitting “pulsing rays” made their whole battalion sick with radiation poisoning.

• In the last 75 years, high-ranking U.S. military and intelligence personnel have also reported UFOs near sites associated with nuclear power, weaponry and technology—from the early atomic-bomb development and test sites of the past to active nuclear naval fleets in the present. “All of the nuclear facilities—Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River—all had dramatic incidents where these unknown craft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there,” said investigative journalist George Knapp.

• “There seems to be a lot of correlation there,” says Lue Elizondo, who from 2007 to 2012 served as director of the Pentagon UFO study program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.

• Robert Hastings, a UFO researcher and author of the book: UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites, says that ‘Nuclear-adjacent’ sightings go back decades. Witnesses to these incidents are often highly trained personnel with top security clearances. In recent years, their reports are being corroborated by sophisticated technology.

• In late 1948, “green fireballs” were reported in the skies near atomic laboratories in Los Alamos and Sandia, New Mexico, where the atomic bomb was first developed and tested. A declassified FBI document from 1950 mentions “flying saucers” measuring almost 50 feet in diameter near the Los Alamos labs. Over a dozen workers from the Nevada desert atomic test site told Knapp that UFO activity was commonplace.

• In the 1960s and ’70s, repeated UFO sightings emerged at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, a storage site for nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. At one such sighting in 1967, former Air Force Capt. Robert Salas reported several of those missiles becoming inoperative, or “unlaunchable”, at the same time that base security reported seeing a glowing red object, about 30 feet in diameter, hovering over the facility.

• In December 1980, the US Air Force secretly housed nuclear weapons in 25 fortified bunkers beneath the Royal Air Force base at Bentwaters in Suffolk, England. USAF master sergeant Ivan Barker saw an object on radar having remarkable speed and maneuverability, covering 120 miles in a matter of seconds. He looked out of the window and saw a craft hovering over a water tower. “It was between about 1,500 and 2,000 feet high. The thing was…at least a city block…in diameter,” said Barker. Barker says it was shaped like a giant basketball, with portholes around the center, from which lights were emanating outward. “I was shocked… There was nothing aerodynamic about it. Basketballs don’t fly.” Then in a second it was gone. But Barker didn’t report the sighting to his superiors. “You don’t understand what the Air Force did to people who reported UFOs,” he said.

• Colonel Charles Halt was the deputy commander at RAF Bentwaters that night. Halt led a patrol to investigate the strange colorful lights seen descending into the nearby Rendlesham Forest. He saw a red light moving horizontally though the trees, “obviously under some kind of intelligent control.” A laser-like beam, he said, “landed 10-15 feet away from us. I was literally in shock.” Then the object flew north towards the base. Says Halt, “We could hear chatter on the radios that the beams went down into the weapons storage area.” The Air Force generals closed the case without investigation.

• In recent years, the US Navy has reported several UFO encounters off of both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Navy F-18 fighter pilots saw UFOs almost daily for several months between the summer of 2014 and the spring of 2015 along the Eastern seaboard between Virginia and Florida. “Wherever we were, they were there,” said Ryan Graves, an F-18 fighter pilot who holds a degree in aerospace engineering. The objects appeared in three shapes, Graves says—some were discs, others looked like a cube inside a sphere, while smaller round objects flew together in formation. All lacked visible engines or exhaust systems. Some tilted, mid-flight, like spinning tops, as seen in cockpit video. One UFO almost caused a collision by zipping dangerously between two jets. Graves said that the UFOs also appeared in the Persian Gulf.

• In November 2004, Navy pilots and radar operators from the USS Nimitz carrier fleet saw a 40-foot long tic-tac shaped object flying just above the ocean, 100 miles off the coast of California near San Diego. When F-18 fighter jets were scrambled to approach the object, it accelerated and easily outran the supersonic Navy craft.

• Chris Mellon, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence said that a carrier battle group being shadowed by UFOs all the way across the Atlantic to the Middle East “makes an extremely compelling case for the existence of technologies we didn’t think were possible.”

• There is an increasing openness in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill to taking these sightings seriously as potential threats. In April 2019, the US Navy announced that it was updating its guidelines for how pilots and personnel should report unexplained aerial phenomena—making it easier for military members to report sightings to superiors without facing stigma and backlash. And now Congress has taken more interest in these UFO briefings.

• George Knapp says there is more UFO activity now than he has seen in three decades. Knapp notes that personnel at the military facilities, bases, ships and submarines where nuclear weapons are built, tested and deployed “have seen these things”. “Are they all crazy?”

 

Why are so many UFOs being reported near nuclear facilities—and why isn’t there more urgency on the part of the government to assess their potential national-security threat?

Those are questions being asked by a team of high-ranking former U.S. defense and intelligence officials, aerospace-industry veterans, academics and others associated with To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science. The team has been investigating a wide range of these sightings—and advocating more serious government attention.

Their investigations are the subject of HISTORY’s limited series “Unidentified.”

Throughout history, unexplained aerial phenomena (UAPs) have shocked, frightened and fascinated sky watchers. And in the last century, more than a few have been reported in military contexts. In late World War II, U.S. airmen called them “foo fighters”: strange orange flying lights by the French-German border. During the Korean War, some soldiers claimed a blue-green light emitting “pulsing rays” made their whole battalion sick with what, to some, resembled radiation poisoning.

Less known: In the last 75 years, high-ranking U.S. military and intelligence personnel have also reported UAPs near sites associated with nuclear power, weaponry and technology—from the early atomic-bomb development and test sites to active nuclear naval fleets.

“All of the nuclear facilities—Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River—all had dramatic incidents where these unknown craft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there,” says investigative journalist George Knapp, who has studied the UAP-nuclear connection for more than 30 years. Knapp has gathered documentation by filing Freedom of Information Act requests to the departments of defense and energy.

“There seems to be a lot of correlation there,” says Lue Elizondo, who from 2007 to 2012 served as director of a covert team of UAP researchers operating inside the Department of Defense. The program, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), received $22 million of the Pentagon’s $600 billion budget in 2012, The New York Times reported. Elizondo now helps lead To the Stars’ investigations.

The UFO-nuclear Connection Began at the Dawn of the Atomic Age.

Nuclear-adjacent sightings go back decades, says Robert Hastings, a UFO researcher and author of the book UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites. Hastings says he’s interviewed more than 160 veterans who have witnessed strange things in the skies around nuclear sites.

“You have objects being tracked on radar performing at speeds that no object on earth can perform,” Hastings says. “You have eyewitness [military] personnel. You have jet pilots.” Witnesses to these incidents are often highly trained personnel with top security clearances. In recent years, their reports are being corroborated by sophisticated technology.

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