Among Believers

"Welcome to Earth!"

We held up our arms in a communal Y and half-heartedly chanted the phrase three times in unison.

"That's all, you can sit down now," raspy Dr. Roger Leir told those gathered at the River Palms for his lecture on the surgical removal of alien implants. He explained that spotters were sitting outside the Laughlin, Nev. casino, gazing into the skies to see if our collective thoughts of goodwill had attracted any mind reading extraterrestrials.

"A little experiment is all."

No one reported that a UFO had shown up; if it had it would have been the ninth time in 11 years that a flying disk made its presence known to the faithful at the International UFO Congress, held in Laughlin in recent years. It's always easy to find the convention -- just look for the giant inflatable green alien outside. The plastic creature is a bit of camp, a little humor for those who see little in what they firmly believe is ongoing, multi-species visits to Earth by beings from outer space. And of the 30 or so speakers who spent the week in Laughlin, these weren't your run-of-the-mill, armchair ET experts. Leir, a California physician, joined ex-high ranking military officials, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard Medical School professor, anthropologists, a Las Vegas psychologist, physics professors and even a journalist or two.

Though the event this year drew fewer people, about 450 versus 1,000 in 2001 -- attributed to the aftereffect of 9/11 -- the information was fascinating and, if believed, potentially explosive. It went beyond merely trying to prove that UFOs have extraterrestrial connections -- that's old hat. The effort now is to get the United States government -- or, more precisely, a "shadow government" that speakers say not even George Dubya has access to -- to release the super-advanced technologies back-engineered from downed spacecraft. These include anti-gravitational propulsion engines, pollution-free and virtually perpetual energy machines and medicines to extend life hundreds of years.

To the believers, this science could mean the difference between a world destroying itself and a virtual utopia.

Non-believers will always consider it just another way for the weak-minded, the gullible and the idealistic to fantasize about such utopias, and aliens and flying saucers are merely the modern-day equivalents of gnomes, faeries, leprechauns and gods.

Of course, they didn't attend the 11th Annual International Congress. If they had, they might have come away believing those ancient peoples deserved a little more credit.

Then again, they also might have come away believing the world is crazier than they first thought.

The Alien Baby of Russia

An unexpected fallout from the collapse of the Soviet Union was the opening of former state secrets, including KGB files and now, it seems, video footage of UFO encounters in space.

Then, of course, there's the alien baby corpse.

Author Michael Hesemann brought videotape of both to Laughlin. A week before the Congress, Hesemann, of Duesseldorf, Germany, purchased the tape from the grandson of a former Soviet military leader who had died. The tape included many shots of lights moving around the Mir space station. Hesemann also had interviews with three- and four-star generals readily testifying about military encounters with UFOs.

"It was a cover-up," said one general. "We were again and again confronted (by UFOs) and it was always covered up."

The military men revealed that the UFOs became so common around Russian nuclear facilities that they had developed a "conditional relationship" with the craft: They knew that all they'd have to do was move or fiddle with a nuke and the UFOs would appear.

Hesemann also showed KGB footage taken from stationary cameras affixed to an American space shuttle. Against the black-on-black of space, tiny white lights hovered around the Mir space station in 1997.

"But you don't know it, because they don't want you to know it," Hesemann said, admonishing his audience. "I had to come all the way from Germany to show it, and they should show it to you. You paid for the shuttle, didn't you?"

People clapped. Hesemann quieted them. Then he rolled the alien corpse tape.

Hesemann -- his crisp accent reminiscent of Mike Myers' German "Dieter" character on "Saturday Night Live" -- said on June 3, 1996, a 79-year-old woman living in the mountains of the Republic of Georgia came upon a baby "creature" in the middle of the road. It appeared sick, so the woman took it home and nursed it. All it would eat were sweets. Three weeks in, the woman became sick and saw a doctor, who told her she probably had cancer. Though she complained that she had to get home -- "Oh, I have the creature and I have to take care of it," Hesemann mimicked -- she remained hospitalized for six weeks.

When authorities finally decided to check her home, they found the creature dead.

The videotape shows local police, half-smirking and looking dumbfounded, holding the blackened thing with bare hands and measuring it with a metric ruler. There are five bone plates to its head, fused together to form a pointed ridge down the middle from forehead to the back base; and a right-angled ridge is formed along the base, making it look somewhat like a helmet (go to www.michaelhesemann.com for pictures). Like most people there, I was swept up by Hesemann's presentation, wishing it to be real -- but thinking it looked a bit like a homemade prop for a Halloween costume. I didn't laugh, though. No one did.

Hesemann vows the footage is authentic -- not the phony stuff that became the basis of a cable TV special last year. He's putting his footage where his mouth is: He's asking scientists to take a look.

"I want the research community to be involved with this because I want their opinion," he said.

Perpetual Motion (And Other Alien Toys)

More than 20 years ago, businessman James Gilliland, a Southern California native, almost drowned. His quest to relive the bliss that he felt at death's door finally drew him to Trout Lake, Wash., at the base of Mt. Adams.

Not only is the ranch a rural slice of heaven, secluded and wooded with a magnificent view of Mt. Hood, but Gilliland thinks it is at the mouth of a dimensional portal -- a gateway, if you will -- through which extraterrestrial spaceships travel to and from Earth. At least, that's how he explains the numerous nighttime sightings of morphing and speeding lights that respond positively to people who yell "Light up!" or "Go brighter!" With video footage, he showed time and again how the lights grew brilliantly bright when asked.

"We don't watch TV up there, we watch UFOs," said Gilliland. He added that the ranch has a no-drug policy.

The place has drawn physicists, retired military personnel and others who wait outside at night and gaze at the stars, awaiting the lights. The light displays have led to revelations from some of these people -- revelations about government work with alien technologies. Now, Gilliland said, he's forged relationships with former U.S. scientists and military personnel who want to work with him to unveil advanced technologies that have been hidden from the world for 50 years. He's already begun construction of a "Galactic University" for scientists and lay people.

"Some of these things are going to be earth-changing," Gilliland said. "They're going to change our future."

These include pollution-free energy generators that cost little to nothing to operate. Anti-gravity is "old stuff," Gilliland said. "I want to assure you, we have counter-gravity -- that's on the Earth right now."

Then there are devices that increase oxygen levels in water by 2,000 percent, giving water drinkers more energy and better health.

All these things may be needed, he added, if humanity keeps screwing up its environment. He noted that the phenomenon known as "chem trails" -- essentially, these are contrails in the sky that don't dissipate over time; instead they grow into clouds -- is a man-made attempt to save the Earth from global warming gone awry.

"They're trying to create a blanket to block out the sun, but instead, it's only heating the Earth," said Gilliland, who is not a scientist but said he's getting his information from both ETs and others scientists. In addition, because some of the chemicals being sprayed include aluminum, Gilliland said the ETs believe more cases of Alzheimer's disease, which has been linked to high levels of aluminum in the blood, will result.

"We have the keys to utopia," he concluded, adding that extraterrestrials want us to have the devices, but they won't interfere. "They're not going to trespass on free will. I do know that they aren't going to allow a nuclear exchange, however. That, they've made very clear."

Again, the desire to believe is strong. Who wouldn't want free energy, roadless vistas and a disease-free humanity? But after the presentation, I got into a little spat with some septuagenarians, after noting that it'd be nice to have some physical proof to go with the presentations.

"These people have been through a lot of hell!" one woman scolded me. "We're not here to judge."

And Gilliland admits that the devices aren't his passion. He's more concerned with spirituality and how these technological miracles would help humanity attain a higher spirituality. He's not the only one: Our extraterrestrial overseers are also waiting.

"They're waiting for us to wake up and be worth saving."

After his presentation, I asked Gilliland for a spot of the high-octane water. He didn't have it right away, but he gave me an "oxygen pill," which he warned me not to take before going to bed. "You'll be bouncing off the walls." He said the pill had been developed at Zenith for doctors and others who work long hours -- it's supposed to keep them awake and calm.

So I waited till morning and chewed the pill. Sugary. Then I went down to his booth and told the guy there that James said I could have a glass of the high-02 water. I drank 8 ounces. Didn't taste all that good, nothing like pure well water; more like processed stuff fresh from Lake Mead to the faucet. Then I waited.

And nothing. No difference. With a double dose of oxygen -- pills and water form -- I felt the same level of alertness as always, the same level of fatigue.

Aliens Among Us

They say men in black are real. That a shadow government -- power-hungry bureaucrats and corporate entities run amuk -- operates in the United States without oversight of the president, the Congress or the courts.

Why? One reason might be because Earth is being visited by extraterrestrials -- perhaps dozens of species, some tens of millions of years more evolved than we -- on a regular basis. And the fact that we have absolutely no control over that fact, said folks down here, frightens the government.

But even though "maybe three or four" species of aliens visiting us are up to no good, the majority are benevolent, said Gilliland, who has made psychic contact with ETs. The ones that are not benevolent, he notes, are responsible for abducting people -- he estimated that one in 50 people worldwide has been abducted, though very few people have memories of it.

The others? Well, there are the Andromedans. And the Pleiadians, who come from a planet 420 light years away and who look just like humans because they are our genetic ancestors. There are reptilian aliens, noted Dr. John Mack, a Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry who has spent years studying abductions. One man showed photos of them with horns "materializing" through his wall. Then there are the archetypal "grays" or "blues," those skinny, wispy aliens with the big black eyes, no chins and tiny slits for mouths.

This is the kind Dr. Jonathan Reed said he met in October 1996.

While walking his dog, Suzy, in the woods of Washington state, Reed claims that he attacked the alien after it killed his dog, apparently in self-dense. Reed, who bashed the alien's head with a branch, raced home and got a video camera. Then he returned, wrapped up the injured creature -- along with its time-shifting bracelet -- and went home.

Reed's ensuing nightmare is encapsulated in his book, "Link." In it, he claims that the Men in Black came to his house and demanded information about his contact. When he didn't comply, he learned that his job at the University of Washington had been eliminated -- there were no records of him and his colleagues were scared into denying he ever worked there. Then his bank account with some $80,000 was wiped clean. And his house was ransacked. Reed claims that people who eventually tried to help him were threatened, and two were killed.

The story's controversial among those who believe because it almost seems too good to be true. Reed has photos of the alien's ship; he has photos and video of the alien -- with its eyes blinking -- and he has photos of the alien's bracelet, now called The Link. Reed returned to Laughlin to build a case against his detractors. He brought video of colleagues and bank officers -- their faces blurred out -- who said they'd been threatened into denying Reed's existence.

"We were told that we didn't know him," said the bank's loan officer. "No ifs, ands or buts."

He also brought email evidence that he had, at one time in 1996, been a member of the University of Washington faculty. And he brought audiotape of his conversations with the alien he attacked. It survived, he said, and he has been in contact with it over the last few years. The clicks and chirps and beeps on the tape-recording were reminiscent of the sounds made by dolphins. A test done on blood samples left by the creature, he said, revealed it to be largely human, but also with some reptilian DNA.

Reed claims that he is now being aided by something called The Alliance, a group that runs counter to the U.S. government's Men in Black. The Alliance, he said, is confiscating extraterrestrial artifacts and waiting for the perfect time to release them to the public. Reed tried The Link three times, he said, at least once in the presence of paranormal investigator Dan McEvoy, who's been investigating the Reed case. McEvoy told the faithful in Laughlin that when Reed put it on, "he started to vibrate ... all of a sudden, he was gone."

He disappeared for a few moments, then reappeared.

"The bracelet has the ability to teleport an individual," McEvoy said. "And it allows for contact with beings of light."

Reed said The Link takes him into a bright egg-shaped space with loving beings of light.

"It was transcendent," he said.

And everyone in the audience waited, hoping that Reed had either brought The Link with him or had at least videotaped himself disappearing.

He hadn't.

I asked Dan Iaria, a researcher who's spent two years looking into Reed's case, why not? Why not put this thing to rest and make a compelling case by videotaping it?

"You're right, that would be compelling," said Iaria. He then made a series of statements, smiling, not exactly admitting he made a videotape, but hinting that one exists.

When we get to see it, he couldn't say.

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