10Best: Conspiracies and legends around the USA

USA Today  2014-09-15 15:53:38

AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you." ? Joseph Heller, Catch-22The items on this varied list may not all warrant heightened vigilance and tin foil hats, but better safe than sorry. So we're all better prepared for welcoming the Lizard People, when they finally choose to reveal themselves, and assimilating to the New World Order, here are some of the best conspiracy theories and urban legends in the U.S.Area 51, probably underground, Nev.Arguably, the country's most famous conspiracy theory is focused on this remote part of Edwards Air Force Base in Southern Nevada. Also known as Groom Lake, it's assumed the base is used to test aircraft and weapons systems. The air space overhead is absolutely restricted. Even Air Force pilots aren't allowed to breach the perimeter. The extraordinary secrecy surrounding the base has fueled several Area 51 conspiracy theories over the years ranging from a lab/prison for studying aliens (both living and dead), a meeting place for Earthlings and aliens working in tandem on various projects, reverse engineering and testing of captured/recovered alien technology, developing a weather control system, time travel and teleportation technology and much more. All that said, nothing can be certain as everything that occurs in Area 51 is classified as "Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information." The CIA didn't publicly acknowledge the existence of the base until July 2013.Denver Airport, Colo.Another conspiracy theory layer cake spot is Denver International Airport. That it was built while Denver had a perfectly good airport much closer to the city is the jumping off point for these theories. (For the record, experts have pointed out that the runway layout at the old airport was no longer efficient enough for the increased traffic.) It's believed that building the new airport allowed for the secret construction of an underground headquarters for the Illuminati, or the New World Order, or the Neo-Nazis, or the Lizard People and so on. There are, in fact, buildings underground, which were built then buried for questionable reasons and are now being used for storage according to airport officials. The vaguely Swastika-shaped runways, the (admittedly) disturbing murals and sculptures, and odd words engraved in the floor also fuel the theories. Furthermore, there is the question of funding. A stone in the terminal says the airport was funded by "The New World Airport Commission," a nebulous entity, sanely theorized to be a group of local businesses, though many claim it doesn't exist.UFO cover-up, Roswell, N.M.Though it's now mainly fueled by local businesses wanting to cash in on tourist interest, the (alleged!) Roswell UFO incident of 1947 is the most popular (alleged!) UFO cover-up of all time and still merits time and energy among conspiracy theorists and movie/TV writers. Various people claim that a spacecraft with alien occupants crashed on a ranch near Roswell in June or July 1947, which was quietly hauled away for study, possibly by our friends at Area 51. The Air Force reported at the time that the object was a surveillance balloon. The conspiracy chatter didn't flare up until 1978 when Major Jesse Marcel, who was involved with the recovery of the debris, gave an interview describing a spacecraft crash cover-up by the military. Since then additional witnesses have emerged, describing the cover-up and alien autopsies. These days, even passionate pro-UFO advocates generally dismiss Roswell as a hoax.Grassy knoll in Dallas, TexasThe Warren Commission concluded that there was no conspiracy involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. However, after Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby, an event that also brims with conspiracy, the theories that Oswald didn't act alone ? or maybe wasn't involved at all ? started flying. The situation was exacerbated in 1979 when the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations announced "...a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President." Furthermore, while he was living in Belarus, it's said Oswald was such a terrible shot that friends were afraid to go hunting with him. The dazzling list of conspiracy theories put forward at one point or another involve the collusion of one or more parties including the CIA, the FBI and/or FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, Castro himself, then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the KGB.Kensington Runestone, Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minn.Evidence that Scandinavian explorers pushed as far as the Midwest of the future United States in the 14th century or a 19th-century hoax? The Kensington Runestone is a 200 lb slab of greywacke inscribed with runes on the face and side. The story goes the stone was found in 1898 in the rural township of Solem, Minnesota (it gets its name from Kensington, a nearby settlement) by Swedish immigrant Olof Olsson Ohman. The Stone appears to describe an expedition of Norwegians and Swedes who camped in the area, then retreated to their boat at "the inland sea" after 10 were slaughtered by unknown assailants. Runologists and linguistic experts overwhelming agree that the language used on the stone is too modern (circa the 19th century, coincidentally) and didn't match other writing samples from the 1300s. However, the legend persists, being occasionally revived with new evidence and arguments, some as recently the 1990s.D.B. Cooper airplane hijack, ransom and parachute jump, somewhere in the Pacific NorthwestThe only unsolved case of air piracy in U.S. history was perpetrated by an unidentified man who the media came to call "D. B. Cooper." (The hijacker purchased his ticket using the alias "Dan Cooper.") On November 24, 1971, Cooper hijacked a passenger plane (a Boeing 727) during a Portland-Seattle flight. Claiming he had a bomb, he made his ransom plans known to the crew. On the ground in Seattle, Cooper released the passengers after officials gave him the requested $200,000 (equivalent to $1,160,000 today) and two parachutes. With only Cooper and the crew aboard, the plane then took off heading for Mexico. When they stopped in Reno to refuel, Cooper was gone, having jumped from the rear stairs while the plane was likely still over Washington State. Cooper was never found and it's widely believe he couldn't have possibly survived the fall, over remote mountainous wilderness, at night, wearing a trench coat and loafers, no helmet, into an initial wind chill at the airplane's altitude of ?70° F. The FBI investigation into the case remains open to this day.Atari E.T. game landfill burial, Alamogordo, N.M.For decades an urban legend spread about the dumping, burying and subsequent concrete covering of as many as 3.5 million copies of Atari's video game "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" in a landfill in Alamogordo, N.M. Said to be "one of the worst video games ever released," the unsold E.T. games were believed to have been crushed and buried along with broken and returned Atari gear in 1983. Conflicting stories and doubts about the initial reports caused the story to unravel into urban legend. In April, 2014, an excavation of the site began to determine the true contents of the landfill as part of a documentary. About 1300 E.T. game cartridges and others were quickly uncovered, though the excavation was soon called off when it was determined that the hardware was much deeper and more difficult to access than originally believed. A former Atari manager revealed that in fact only about 700,000 E.T. cartridges were buried in the area.Yale Skull & Bones Secret Society, New Haven, Conn.Yale's Skull and Bones secret society dates from 1832, meets in a building known as "the Tomb" and operates under a veil of delectable mystery. Made up of undergraduate seniors and run by alumni, "Bonesmen" include former Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, U.S. Secretaries of Defense, U.S. Secretaries of State, founders of major companies, and prominent political advisors. Each spring, the society selects 15 men and women composed of "campus leaders and other notable figures" from the junior class to join the following year. Women were finally allowed into the society in 1992. Popular conspiracy theories claim members and alumni actively plot for globalist/corporatist world control, are members of the Illuminati and/or control the CIA.Mothman, Point Pleasant, W.V.Though the legend of Bigfoot is indisputably more famous in the arena of mutant or supernatural creatures, the so-called Mothman that was sighted by dozens of people between November 1966 and December 1967 is far more compelling. Initial sightings were reported by the Point Pleasant Register under the headline "Couples See Man-Sized Bird... Creature... Something." Witnesses re-interviewed years later maintained their stories of seeing the creature, described as a "large flying man with ten-foot wings" whose red eyes glowed "like bicycle reflectors." A biologist has suggested the creature was actually a sandhill crane, which grow nearly as tall as a man, with a seven foot wingspan and reddish circles around the eyes. The Mothman was later popularized by John Keel in his 1975 book "The Mothman Prophecies," which was made into a film in 2002, starring Richard Gere. Point Pleasant started holding an annual Mothman Festival in 2002. A 12-foot-tall metallic statue of the Mothman, complete with red, glowing eyes, stands in Mothman Park.Elvis Presley is still alive, possibly in Kalamazoo, Michigan or Tennessee, but who knows?Though sightings and apparently serious journalism about the subject have dropped off sharply since the 1980s and '90s, the rumors that Elvis Presley is still alive are still, erm, alive! Many strongly believe that Elvis faked his death to escape his oppressive celebrity status or possibly to dodge a debt he owed to someone in the Mafia. Thousands of alleged Elvis sightings have been reported, with the flame being happily fanned by the media, mostly notably Gail Brewer Giorgio who published the book "The Most Incredible Elvis Presley Story Ever Told" in 1988, later re-titled "Is Elvis Dead?" Her key evidence was a tape of a male voice speaking about the alleged conspiracy to fake Elvis' death. A voice analyst concluded that voice on the tape was Elvis'. Bill Bixby later hosted two TV specials on the subject: "The Elvis Files" (1991) and "The Elvis Conspiracy" (1992).

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