Friday, January 6, 2012

Mass Bird and Fish Deaths in Arkansas a Cause for Concern?

By: Lauren Williams | Posted: January 3, 2011


Like the scene out of some horror movie, about 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead New Year's Eve in Beebe, Ark., littering the ground with bird carcasses. If that's not weird enough, over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of dead drum fish have been found floating in the Arkansas River, in an area about 125 miles from Beebe.


The folks at Jezebel joke that this is the beginning of a biblical plague, but scientists say the bird deaths were most likely caused by severe weather conditions, and the fish could also have died because of drastic weather or maybe just disease. Still, the last way we want to start 2011 is with creepy, mysterious mass animal deaths.

The return of Arkansas' mass bird deaths

By The Week's Editorial Staff | The Week – Mon, Jan 2, 2012

Ominously, scores of blackbirds once again fell from the sky above a small southern town on New Year's Eve. But this time, intentional mischief may be to blame

Here we go again? Last New Year's Eve, some 5,000 blackbirds dropped from the sky in Beebe, Ark., a small town about 35 miles from Little Rock. The subsequent media frenzy fueled plenty of dire apocalyptic theories. This weekend, the New Year once again brought scores of dead blackbirds to Beebe. Here, a concise guide to the seemingly eerie coincidence:

~ For the second New Year's in a row, flocks of blackbirds, disoriented by local fireworks, flew into buildings and trees, their dead bodies littering an Arkansas town.

Why did the birds die last year?
The conventional wisdom says: Fireworks. The celebratory explosions unexpectedly caused the birds to become disoriented and "fly all over the place," according to Arkansas officials. Birds slammed into buildings, telephone poles, and trees, according to state officials.

Why were blackbirds specifically afflicted?
They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Beebe is home to a large roost of blackbirds. The birds, who don't usually fly at night, have poor vision in the dark. That makes them particularly vulnerable to mishaps after being unnerved by fireworks.

And this year?
Fireworks were again involved, but this year's spooking seems to have been premeditated. Officials say the roughly 200 dead birds appear to have been the victims of an intentional crime. "We know that there was evidence of fireworks set off in the middle of the roost, and it wasn't a coincidence," reads an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission statement. Indeed, says one resident. "We started hearing the fireworks going off, and some gun shots going off in the air, and it really seemed like people were trying to recreate last year's New Year's."

Does everyone buy that explanation?
No. Plenty of people are doggedly interpreting this year's incident as yet another sign of the apocalypse. Indiana pastor Paul Begley, for one, remains convinced that the bird deaths prove God is fulfilling the Hosea prophecy, in which humanity is punished for its many sins. "It's time to listen to the word of the Lord," he says.

More Than 100,000 Fish Die Miles From Site Of Arkansas Bird Deaths

Written by NewsOne Staff on January 3, 2011 11:38 am


Arkansas — First birds dropped dead from the skies, now thousands of fish have died in Arkansas.Officials are investigating what may have killed some 100,000 fish in the Arkansas River in the northwestern section of the state, authorities said on Sunday.

Deceased drum fish littered 20 miles of the river near Ozark, Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission told CNN. The dead fish were first found on Thursday, and fisheries officials are conducting tests to understand what killed them.

“The fish kill only affected one species of fish,” Stephens said. “If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish.”

This fish mystery took place more than 125 miles from the town of Beebe, where officials are still trying to determine what caused 5,000 blackbirds to suddenly fall from the sky on New Year’s Eve.

From NYDailyNews

Hantu Penanggalan

By Susan Tam | Yahoo! Malaysia Newsroom – Tue, Jan 3, 2012

~ Hantu Penanggalan

A flying head with long hair and dangling stomach sac and intestines.
This is the image of the most horrifying type of vampire known in Malay and Indonesian folklore - the Hantu Penanggalan, a vampire that thirsts for the blood of a newborn baby.

The demon — described as a ghostly head dismantled from its body gets its name from the root word "tanggal", which means to disengage.
There are different versions of how her head was separated from her body, but all versions share the same story about her origin - the Hantu Penanggalan was a result of a beautiful woman dying at childbirth.

Two versions of how the separation process or "penanggalan" happens.
The first involves the death of a beautiful woman after becoming disengaged or "tanggal" from her baby during childbirth. Mediums and black magic practitioners would dig up bodies of these women to create the Hantu Penaggalan.
"The medium or bomoh will use the blood of the dead mother to call or seru its spirit to form this vampire," University Malaya's associate professor Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan told Yahoo! Malaysia in an interview.

The Malay animism expert explained that the medium or bomoh could become masters of the Hantu Penanggalan if they made yearly offerings to it.
This vampire could appear as an ordinary woman in the day, and turn into the ghastly being by nightfall. Some believed she disguised herself as a midwife to give her access to newborns.

The second dismantling process or "penanggalan" takes place when the woman's head becomes disengaged from her body when she turns into a Hantu Penanggalan.
Carol Laderman, author of Wives and Midwives: Childbirth and Nutrition in Rural Malaysia, wrote that there were two accounts on how the vampire's head separated from her body.

The first involved a woman studying black magic with the devil or syaitan. She was taught how to disengage her head to fly around and hunt for women in labour.
The second was about a woman who desired supernatural powers and was told to bath naked in a large wooden vat of palm wine or vinegar. The practice of bathing naked was unheard of in a traditional Malay village, because women were expected to bath with a sarong to maintain modesty.

"When a man came upon her unexpectedly, she was so startled that, on trying to escape, she slipped and kicked her chin with such force that the skin split around her neck. Her head was tied to the intestines and separated from her body and flew off. Her internal organs' twinkled like fireflies through the night," wrote Laderman.

Malay folklore believers find that the Hantu Penanggalan usually sits on a roof or a tall tree, surveying the area for a child to be born. You could spot her if you happen to pick up the smell of vinegar.

~ Hantu Penanggalan - arguably the scariest demon in Malaysian folklore

Trapping or killing the Hantu Penanggalan is not easy, but Malay folklore believers suggest several practical measures to destroy this terrifying woman-vampire.

Ask any midwife (who is not a Hantu Penanggalan herself) on how to deter this vampire and they would tell you to keep knife or scissors nearby a newborn infant. The vampire fears sharp metal instruments as her entrails could get caught in them.

New mothers were advised to have a midwife who was skilled with chants that could be used to protect the infant from this vampire. The midwife would have to prepare a concoction made out of rice, salt, diced turmeric, tamarind and soot. Together with a special chant, this would prevent the mother and child from being victims.

Other remedies offered by the Malay community was to place sharp and thorny pineapple plants under the houses of women in labour, or scatter thorny Mengkuang leaves in the surrounding areas of homes of new mothers. The Hantu Penanggalan's dangling intestines would get caught in the thorny leaves and once captured, you could kill the Hantu Penanggalan with a machete.

If you're braver, follow the Hantu Penanggalan to find out where her body is. Before her head could return to the body, pour pieces of broken glass into the cavity, these bits of glass would cut her intestines when her head returns.