Category Archive 'Mysteries'
18 Dec 2018

“Bermuda Triangle of the Himalayas”, Sure!

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Full-of-crap Outside Magazine peddles a magical mystery tale about disappearing tourists in the Himalayas.

There is only one road in and out of the Parvati Valley. It’s a narrow track—roughly paved in parts, washed-out dirt in others—along which rattletrap buses swerve and screech to a crawl with inches to spare as they pass. Mountains rise up one side, and cliffs drop precipitously down the other, often hundreds of feet to the Parvati River below. The milky blue waters, named after a benevolent Hindu goddess of fertility and devotion, seem inviting but can be a powerful, violent force.

The valley’s hillside hamlets and postcard mountain vistas attract tens of thousands of tourists every year, but those who come here are different from those who speed through the Taj Majal on a Golden Triangle tour or backpack from vibrant temple to sparkling beach as the mainstay of India’s tourism. The travelers who feel drawn to the Parvati Valley, more than a full day’s bus ride north of New Delhi into the Himalayas, quickly settle into a pace of life common in this remote corner of India: a blur of weeks or months spent meditating, practicing yoga, and consuming copious amounts of hash grown in clandestine plantations or from plants that sprout wild along river and road.

The valley, where gods are said to have meditated for 3,000 years, is particularly alluring to the spiritually curious. Every summer, the valley hosts a Rainbow Gathering, a counterculture congregation that promotes anti-consumerism and utopianism. Many visitors come to venerate Shiva, husband of Parvati and one of the most exalted and popular gods in the Hindu pantheon. Among Shiva’s most resolute followers are the sadhus who dress and live in emulation of the gods, but many Westerners are also lured by his familiar symbolism as the dreadlocked master of meditation and yoga and the supreme renouncer of possessions, and follow suit. Those who follow this path view the Parvati Valley as a penultimate stage or even the culmination of their quest for enlightenment. It is a place where wandering ascetics, New Age neophytes, and determined religious tourists flock, believing that the bumpy road to nowhere instead leads to long-sought answers or higher understanding. While Parvati is purifying water, Shiva is transforming fire.

The valley may appear idyllic, but it holds a dark past. Over the past 25 years, according to both official and unofficial reports, at least two dozen foreign tourists have died or disappeared in and around the Parvati Valley. Among the vanished are people from Canada, Israel, Japan, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Australia. Distraught loved ones post stories of the missing on social media, online message boards, and travel forums with scattered details and few clues.

Many cases reek of foul play. In 1996, Ian Mogford of the UK disappeared in the Parvati Valley after reportedly telling his father over the phone that he had befriended a sadhu. “It is not beyond the realms of possibility that… for some reason my son got attacked and is lying on the bottom of a gorge,” Mogford’s father told the Telegraph. Others might have been targeted after being caught up in the lucrative drug trade, buying hash at the source and selling it to tourists. After Bruno Muschalik, a backpacker from Poland, went missing in the summer of 2015, his father maintained that local drug mafias were to blame. Some of the missing are presumed murdered; in 2000, a British man, his fiancée, and her teenage son were brutally attacked while camping above the Parvati Valley. Only the man survived. Most simply vanished without a trace in this one sliver of the subcontinent.

When a body does turn up, it is often pulled from the torrential churn of the Parvati River, which during the monsoon summer is capable of carrying a person downstream or consuming one in its undertow in a blink. But it is the dearth of bodies that turns the Parvati Valley into India’s backpacker Bermuda Triangle.

In the rest of the country, hotel and guesthouse owners are required by law to log their patrons into an online database, but in the Parvati, the vast majority travel in and out without record. The isolation and lack of regulation only add to the draw. It’s not difficult or unusual for foreigners to deliberately drop off the radar for the full duration of or even illegally beyond their travel visas. One Israeli man lived in the valley for decades, growing and dealing hash, getting married and having a child, until he was arrested for overstaying his visa.

With conditions ripe for vanishing without trace, a question arises: Did all of these travelers get lost or murdered in the wild, or did some not want to be found?

RTWT

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Well, it’s neither so spiritual nor so mysterious as all that. It turns out that the Parvathi Valley is the Himalayan equivalent of Humboldt County, doing a booming trade in Charas, an exceptionally potent local version of hashish.

Bayside explains:

The Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh is an extraordinarily beautiful region, but most people know it more for its charas than its beauty. Even till a decade ago, the valley remained underground, somewhat surprisingly, and mostly saw foreign tourists, as Indian tourists preferred other destinations in the Himalayan state. But as awareness about cannabis (the source plant of charas) and its forms increased in India over the years, the Valley has seen more and more young Indians pour in. While that has definitely helped tourism in the Valley’s villages, its environment, along with its reputation, has suffered a lot.

Charas is a black, sticky substance that is extracted from cannabis plants by continuously rubbing the plants, and it has been cultivated and used by the locals for decades. Lord Shiva is said to smoke it, which makes it a substance of immense religious importance in a region that is predominantly Hindu.

When foreigners, mostly backpackers, and hippies, first stumbled upon the valley and discovered the potent charas, they couldn’t wait to take it back with them, as it had immense value in the west. More interestingly, the natives of the valley had little idea of the prices their products would fetch, as they kept selling it for extraordinarily low prices.

Thus started a drug trade that grows stronger with every passing year. The natives are now fully aware of their products’ value in the international markets. As a result, thousands of acres of Himalayan lands, located in the upper reaches of the valley, remain full with cannabis plantations from April onwards. They are allowed to thrive and grow till September when the rubbing process begins, and the charas is extracted. It’s hard work, but it definitely pays; to what extent, however?

Earnings may have skyrocketed for the locals in recent years thanks to the charas trade, but most people these days venture into the Valley in the only for charas, and they rarely want anything more.

Cultivators tend to object to Western tourists messing with their crops, and local badmashes may simply prefer to harvest Western currency from the pockets of Kumbaya-humming tourists instead of actually delivering any of the dope. Relieved of his money, camera, and smart phone and given a head-start in the direction of his next incarnation, the naive Western tourist’s remains can simply be tossed into the local river.

15 Jul 2018

A Pennsylvania Mystery

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(from the Danville Morning News)

Narratively:

On a damp Thursday morning in May 1938, hundreds of workers from Western Pennsylvania oil fields, given the day off to look for a missing girl, walked through the Allegheny Forest at arms’ length. They traversed the tangled underbrush alongside police with bloodhounds, World War I veterans, Cornplanter Indians, coal miners, and assorted others who’d responded to the local mayor’s call for 1,000 volunteers. They killed rattlesnakes and were careful not to drop a foot down into one of the hundreds of oil wells dug during the area’s petroleum boom in the 1870s.

But by nightfall, the “haggard, sleep-robbed faces of scores of men,” as the Bradford Era newspaper described them, told onlookers the grim truth: another day had passed without finding the little red-haired four-year-old, Marjorie West.

Eighty years ago today, Marjorie vanished while at a Mother’s Day picnic in the forest with her family. To this day she is the subject of one of the oldest unsolved cases recorded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Her search was one of the largest for a child since the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping six years earlier. Residents of Western Pennsylvania and Marjorie’s surviving relatives still hold out hope she’s alive. If she is, she may yet celebrate her 85th birthday next month.

RTWT

08 Apr 2018

Who Made These Ancient Sculptures of Horsemen Near the Pir Panjal Range?

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Scroll.in:

The Pir Panjal is a sub-range of the Great Himalayan mountain system that stretches from Murree in Pakistan to the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh. Across the Pir Panjal were ancient trade routes connected by passes locally known as Galis. Strewn along these old trade routes through the passes, between the Kashmir Valley and Jammu, you will come across mysterious and spectacular sculptures of soldiers on horseback. Mostly unknown outside the region, these ancient sentinels are only known to trekkers and locals who make their way through here.

The Horsemen of the Pir Panjal are found mostly at the foot of the Galis or on the main Gali itself and they usually have a natural water spring and accompanying pond nearby. There is no doubt that these sculptures mark important strategic points on ancient routes that connected various villages in the Pir Panjal. These were probably markers to identify milestones or resting places for weary horses and men. However, little is known about who built them and when.

The sculptures are mostly of horsemen along with some other reliefs of what seem to be local Gods and Devtas. This has led to a fair bit of speculation. Locals believe that the horsemen were put here by the Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharata when they visited the place millennia back. Others point to the attire of the horsemen and the unique geometric shapes, as motifs, to say that these horsemen may have Bactrian origins.

RTWT

30 Mar 2018

What Was Actually in the Briefcase in “Pulp Fiction” (1994)?

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Kind of a disappointment really.

19 Feb 2018

What’s Happened to Pryam Farll?

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He used to call himself “Arcangelo Corelli,” but Facebook started hassling him for using a pseudonym, so he changed over to “Pryam Farll.” Facebook evidently was satisfied at the time. Maybe he had ID.

Pryam claimed to be an Old Etonian, an American related to a variety of European royal houses (Britain, Norway, the Netherlands), to have graduated from the University of Colorado, to being a Lieutenant-General in the Marine Corps working in Intelligence, to being very rich, to reading Vladimir Putin’s mail regularly in his professional capacity, to having purchased recently a 17th Century townhouse in Talinn, Estonia and furnishing it with expensive antiques, to have stocked a wine cellar and hired a personal chef. He also claims to be 6′ 5″ tall, irresistible to the ladies, and 67 years old.

Pryam’s more sophisticated FB friends assumed his persona was an elaborate spoof, but found him amusing and entertaining. Pryam used to post profusely and daily on Facebook, taking colorful and reactionary positions, defending Christianity, and predicting WWIII imminently. He disappeared without explanation in late January and has been missing since.

Facebook jail? Assassination by Putin? Health problems or a personal crisis? No one knows.

But people are beginning to ask, on FB here, and in a major posting here by “Ragnar Musashi.”

In my travels through social media, I may have—by complete accident—stumbled upon one of the greatest cases of Stolen Valor I’ve ever seen. I found this guy in the comment threads of a fairly prominent history professor and author, making some rather outlandish claims about not just himself but the geopolitical landscape as a whole.

“Pryam Farll,” the name he uses (he used to go by “Arcangelo”), claims to have the highest of high security clearances and, get this, is a Lieutenant General (who is getting his third star just before retirement) in the United States Marine Corps. His Facebook posts are usually from “NATO HQ” in Brussels and filled with talks of simulated wargames with Russia because, true story, World War III is just around the corner.

Sounds obviously fake, right? So why even bother to write this up?

Two reasons:

One, the guy isn’t stupid. I have seen enough of his writings to realize he’s a sharp dude who has fairly extensive knowledge of the military. This leads me to question whether or not he’s actually in uniform and maybe an assistant to a real General Officer—something that could cause some major issues (more on this at the end, as it goes back to the title of the article).

Two, making this information public allows the magic of crowd-sourcing to happen. Someone in the military community may realize who this is and uncover a bigger problem (also more on this at the end).

So let’s go through his most repeated claims and what my research has shown, then I’ll offer a conclusion as to why this is important.

Claims:

-to be a 2 star general officer in the Marine Corps who personally knows GEN James Mattis “like a brother” (and served with Mattis in Vietnam—despite my inability to find record of GEN Mattis serving in Vietnam).

-to speak and read several languages at a high level of fluency (to include Russian).

-to read the emails of high-level Russian officials (including Putin).

-to regularly hang out with the King of Belgium, Pope Emeritus Benedict (Cardinal Ratzinger), and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

-to have multiple PhDs (plus is a graduate of seminary).

-to be 6’ 5” tall, an undergraduate of University of Colorado, and is currently 65 years old (as of 30 December 2016).

All of these are “facts” (among others) that he has dropped during numerous conversations on social media while continuing his largest claims that World War III is just around the corner—something he says he knows because he regularly reads the emails of Russian officials—and that it will involve collusion between Russians and Chinese forces. In a comment thread he mentioned that China was one of the top issues facing the United States. When asked why, he responded, “Because they’ve decided with Russia on WW3…. which is why Mattis got this job [of SECDEF]. I read their mail. Every day.”

When asked why he was saying this on Facebook and whether or not it was classified, he responded by saying that “it isn’t classified to say it’s classified.”

RTWT

19 Nov 2017

D.B. Cooper, Be Like Him; Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win.

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All these years later, the Daily Mail has news.

A letter newly released from the FBI’s archives may prove that DB Cooper – the 1971 hijacker last seen leaping out of a plane with a fortune in cash – survived his apparent death.

The letter, which was sent 17 days after the hijacking appears to contain information that was not released into the public domain until 13 years later.

If that’s the case it might reveal not only that Cooper lived to tell the tale of his extraordinary heist, but that the FBI covered it up to hide their embarrassment at his escape.

RTWT

05 Oct 2017

Lots of Questions About Las Vegas

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Tyler Durden asks 16 Unanswered Questions About The Las Vegas Shooting That Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want To Talk About.

The authorities are keeping too much to themselves.

Yeah, and while we’re at it, Mike Adams has Five MORE things that don’t add up about the Las Vegas massacre… Where is all the expended brass?

Sorry, liberals, I want to have the answers for all of these before I surrender my deer rifle.

08 Aug 2017

Jack the Ripper Left a Diary?

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A Victorian diary found in a suburb of Liverpool may have established the identity of history’s most infamous serial killer. Telegraph:

[T]he true identity of Jack the Ripper may have finally been confirmed, after researchers said they had proven the authenticity of a much disputed Victorian diary.

Twenty five years ago ‘Ripperologists’ around the world were stunned by the discovery of a previously unknown memoir, claiming to have been written by Liverpool cotton merchant, James Maybrick.

In the 9,000 word volume, Maybrick confessed to the brutal murders of five women in the East End of London, as well as one prostitute in Manchester.

He signed off the diary: “I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentleman born. Yours Truly, Jack The Ripper.”

RTWT

19 Jul 2017

Swiss Couple Missing 75 Years Found in Glacier

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Daily Mail:

The remains of 75-year-old remains found preserved in a receding glacier in the Alps have been confirmed as a couple who went missing after going to milk their cows.

Marcelin Dumoulin and wife Francine, who have now been pictured, were found lying near each other in the Diablerets massif in southern Switzerland, along with backpacks, a bottle, a book and a watch.

The confirmation came from a DNA test, and ends decades of uncertainty for their seven children.

Marcelin, a 40-year-old shoemaker at the time, and Francine, a schoolteacher aged 37, had left their village of Chandolin to milk their cows in a meadow above Chandolin in the Valais canton on August 15, 1942.

The couple never returned from their trip, and officials at the Glacier 3000 ski resort said that the couple had likely fallen into a crevasse.

RTWT

04 Apr 2017

Another Good Argument For Privatization

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John Billman, at Outside, reports that 1,600 people went missing from our public lands without a trace.

[H]undreds or maybe thousands of people [ha]ve gone missing on our federal public lands. Thing is, nobody knows how many. The National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice, calls unidentified remains and missing persons “the nation’s silent mass disaster,” estimating that on any given day there are between 80,000 and 90,000 people ac­tively listed with law enforcement as missing. The majority of those, of course, disappear in populated areas.

What I wanted to know was how many people are missing in our wild places, the roughly 640 million acres of federal lands—including national parks, national forests, and Bureau of Land Management prop­erty. Cases like 51-year-old Dale Stehling, who, in 2013, vanished from a short petroglyph-viewing trail near the gift shop at Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park. Morgan Heimer, a 22-year-old rafting guide, who was wearing a professional-grade personal flotation device when he disappeared in 2015 in Grand Canyon National Park during a hike after setting up camp. Ohioan Kris Fowler, who vanished from the Pa­cific Crest Trail last fall. At least two people have recently gone missing outside the national forest where I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There are scores more stories like this.

The Department of the Interior knows how many wolves and grizzly bears roam its wilds—can’t it keep track of visitors who disappear? But the government does not actively aggregate such statistics. The Department of Justice keeps a database, the ­National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, but reporting missing persons is voluntary in all but ten states, and law-enforcement and coroner participation is voluntary as well. So a lot of the missing are also missing from the database.

Full story.

13 Mar 2017

Mysterious Super Long Revolver

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This photo of a chap in the uniform of Brazil’s Polícia Militar do Distrito Federal (PMDF) holding a strange super long revolver has been appearing recently on social media. On the wall behind him is what looks like the coat of arms of a municipality, but I have not been able to identify it. The photograph seems to have originated from one of those Russian-language “cool photo” sites that publishes images entirely without captions or explanations.

My source: All Outdoor.

13 Dec 2016

Dyatlov 9 Mystery

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From Quora, comes the story of the never-explained deaths of nine young Russian skiers on an outing in the Northern Urals in 1959:

Peering through the windswept snow on a dark February day, the rescue party finally came on the first sign of life — the flapping remains of a tent pitched on ski poles on an uppermost slope of Kholat Syakhl, ‘Mountain of the Dead’ in the native language of northern Siberia.

But where were the nine young Russian students who should have been sheltering beneath the canvas?

Curiosity turned to mystery as human tracks were seen in the snow heading downhill away from the tent in single file for a third of a mile… barefoot human tracks.

In temperatures of minus 24! And mystery became horror when an inspection of the tent showed its front flaps still buttoned tightly together but huge knife slashes down the sides — through which the occupants apparently fled.

Inside was like the Mary Celeste, with everything intact — warm clothes, waterproof jackets, blankets and sweaters that would have been essential to survive in the Siberian weather; plus cameras, diaries and cooking utensils, all apparently abandoned in a moment of madness.

So began the story of what became known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident, one that has baffled the world for more than half a century since whatever horrific tragedy overtook the nine in February 1959.

They had been missing for almost a month after trekking out into the bleak wildness of the Ural mountains — seven men and two women, all of them fit, hardy and experienced hikers on what was supposed to be a short and invigorating break from their graduate studies.

Whole thing.

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