The Pentagon’s once secret department that hunts and investigates UFOs has continued to operate over the past decade despite previous claims it had been disbanded.
The Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force has been tucked away inside the Office of Naval Intelligence, and is now being called on to reveal at least some of its findings to the public every six months, according to the New York Times.
Information on mysterious encounters with unidentified aerial objects has formerly only been discussed in classified briefings, and Pentagon officials are still not at liberty to discuss the program, which deals with classified matters.
The new calls for greater transparency come as officials who previously worked with the unit reveal some of the objects discovered in their investigations were items humans ‘couldn’t make ourselves’ and ‘vehicles not made on this earth’.
In April 2020, the Pentagon released footage from three sightings of unidentified objects but may now be forced to reveal more after the Senate Intelligence Committee called for its UFO unit to reveal at least some new information to the public every six months
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is among those pushing for more information
Last month, US senators demanded to see the Pentagon’s UFO files as they pushed for influence over the secretive Navy program.
The Senate Intelligence Committee wanted defense chiefs to publish a report on the Pentagon’s UFO program and any phenomena it observes.
The committee says it ‘supports the efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force’ – appearing to confirm that such a program still existed.
In 2017, the Pentagon acknowledged funding a secret multi-million dollar program named the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program to investigate UFO sightings, although defense chiefs claimed it had ended in 2012.
‘It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change,’ a spokeswoman said at the time.
But the Pentagon had been less clear about whether the UFO program continued to hover somewhere in the vast universe of the US defense establishment.
‘The DoD takes seriously all threats and potential threats to our people, our assets, and our mission and takes action whenever credible information is developed,’ the spokeswoman said.
People who worked with the UFO program through to 2017 and beyond have now confirmed to the New York Times that it continued to exist, but under a different name and a different office.
The program first began in 2007 under the the Defense Intelligence Agency but has now moved to the Office of Naval Intelligence, where last month the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed it to be called the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force.
‘It no longer has to hide in the shadows,’ Luis Elizondo, a former military intelligence official and the program’s previous director, told the New York Times.
The force was revealed in a Senate bill in June as senators now want to regulate the program, saying the public should be better informed of its activities.
The Senate’s focus on the program stems less out of a concern over extraterrestrials, however, and more from the threat posed by real-world US adversaries such as China.
The Pentagon admitted in June that a nuclear detonation in space by Russia or China was among the possible threats to US interests.
The US is particularly worried about China’s espionage capabilities, including use of drones and other aerial technology.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the acting chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has said he is concerned about unidentified aircraft flying over military bases
Earlier in July, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the acting chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told CBS that he was concerned about unidentified aircraft flying over US military bases.
He claimed that China or Russia may have made ‘some technological leap’ that ‘allows them to conduct this sort of activity’.
‘Maybe there is a completely, sort of, boring explanation for it. But we need to find out,’ he added.
The UFO program is responsible for ‘collection and reporting on unidentified aerial phenomenon, any links they have to adversarial foreign governments, and the threat they pose to US military assets and installations’.
But senators said that information sharing had been ‘inconsistent’ and called for a detailed report on the program’s progress and any phenomena it observes.
The provision is part of the 2021 intelligence authorization bill. If it passes, the Pentagon will have 180 days to submit a report to Congress.
Yet despite the push from senators for intelligence on US adversaries, there are reports that the unit may have discovered some items in its investigations that are more extraterrestrial.
Elizondo is among those who told the New York Times that he believed ‘objects of undetermined origin’ have been found during the study.
It some cases, an earthly explanation had been found and even when one isn’t, experts say that it does not make an extraterrestrial explanation more likely.
Luis Elizondo (pictured left), a former military intelligence official and the program’s previous director, and former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (pictured right), believe extraterrestrial objects have been found by the unit and have called for greater transparency
Yet Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader who pushed for the initial creation of the UFO program, is convinced that vehicles from other worlds have crashed into the US and have been retrieved and investigated.
‘After looking into this, I came to the conclusion that there were reports — some were substantive, some not so substantive — that there were actual materials that the government and the private sector had in their possession,’ Reid said to the Times.
‘It is extremely important that information about the discovery of physical materials or retrieved craft come out.’
‘We couldn’t make it ourselves,’ Eric W. Davis, an astrophysicist who previously worked as a consultant on the program, added of some of the items.
Davis claims he gave a briefing to a Defense Department agency in March about ‘off-world vehicles not made on this earth’ that have been retrieved.
He told the Times he also gave two other briefings on unidentified objects to Senate committees in October 2019.
No evidence has been produced, however, with some blame placed on the constraints of discussing classified material.
There have already been moves this year to improve the level of information provided to the public from the UFO intelligence unit, a step which was welcomed by Senator Reid.
Reid welcomed the Pentagon’s UFO video release earlier this year
The grainy black and white footage had previously been leaked and the Navy acknowledged they were genuine videos when they officially released them in April
In April this year, the Pentagon released three videos taken by US Navy pilots showing mid-air encounters with unexplained objects.
The grainy black and white footage had previously been leaked and the Navy had acknowledged they were genuine videos.
One of the videos was shot in November 2004 and the other two in January 2015.
In one, a weapons sensor operator appears to lose lock on a rapidly moving object which seconds later suddenly accelerates away to the left and out of view.
In another video which is tracking an object above the clouds, one pilot wonders if it is a drone.
The Department of Defense said it was ‘releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.’
Another video shows the notorious 2004 ‘Tic Tac’ incident (pictured) that was recorded over the Pacific Ocean. The videos were released by the Pentagon earlier this year
‘The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified,” the Pentagon statement said.
Retired US Navy pilot David Fravor, who saw one of the ‘UFOs’ in 2004, said the object he saw had been moving erratically.
‘As I got close to it … it rapidly accelerated to the south, and disappeared in less than two seconds,’ Fravor told CNN in 2017.
‘This was extremely abrupt, like a ping pong ball, bouncing off a wall. It would hit and go the other way.’
Former Nevada senator Harry Reid, whose state hosts the top secret Area 51 Air Force facility, welcomed release of the videos.
‘I’m glad the Pentagon is finally releasing this footage, but it only scratches the surface of research and materials available,’ he tweeted.
‘The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed.’
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Two are killed and 14 wounded in mass shooting at backyard party in Rochester
A mass shooting at a backyard party has claimed two lives and left 14 people hospitalized in Rochester, New York.
Police responded to the shooting on the 200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue at around 12.25am, with about 100 people running wildly around a ‘very chaotic scene,’ said Acting Police Chief Mark Simmons.
Investigators are still trying to piece together who opened fire and why. Simmons said it was too early to say whether more than one person was shooting or who the intended targets may have been.
It comes just five days after Simmons took over as top cop, after his predecessor was ousted following weeks of Black Lives Matter protests and unrest over the death of Daniel Prude, who was fatally injured while being arrested in March.
Rochester Acting Police Chief Mark Simmons briefs the press on a shooting that killed two and wounded 14 at a house party early Saturday. He was appointed just five days ago
‘We have 16 confirmed victims of shooting. And I’m sad to announce that two of those 16 received a fatal wound,’ Simmons said at a news conference.
A man and woman, estimated to be in their late teens or early 20s, were killed, Simmons said. None of the wounded people were believed to have life-threatening injuries. They were being treated at two area hospitals.
‘This is truly a tragedy of epic proportions,’ Simmons said in a news conference held near the home. ‘I mean 16 victims is unheard of, and for our community, who´s right now going through so much, to have to be dealt with this tragedy, needlessly, for people who decide to act in a violent manner is unfortunate and shameful, and we’re going to do everything that we can as a department to bring those people involved to justice.’
Simmons said it was unclear if the shooting was a targeted or random act of violence. The wounded were being treated in hospital and their injuries were not thought to be life threatening.
Police said that several dozen shots were fired in the shooting. One witness told WHAM-TV that the gunfire sounded like ‘an all-out warzone.’
‘So many people going in so many directions, so many different ways, driving on the grass, trying to get out of here,’ said Billy, who did not want to give his last name.
Police responded to the shooting at around 12.25am, with about 100 people running wildly around a ‘very chaotic scene,’ said Acting Police Chief Mark Simmons
The shooting comes as the city’s police department has been rocked by days of protests over Prude’s death, caused when officers put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then pushed his face into the pavement until they noticed he had stopped breathing.
On Monday the city’s mayor fired Police Chief La´Ron Singletary, who she said initially misled her about the circumstances of the death. Other senior police officials announced they would retire or leave top command positions.
Simmons expressed frustration early Saturday that someone had held a large, late-night party amid that tumult, apparently in defiance of a state ban on large gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘This is yet another tragedy where individuals are having these illegal, unsanctioned house parties taking place in these properties, which – number one – is not safe because of COVID, because of the conditions. And then you add in alcohol and violence and it just becomes a recipe for disaster,’ Simmons said.
Investigators are still trying to piece together who opened fire and why. Simmons said it was too early to say whether more than one person was shooting
Officers responded to calls of shots fired and found ‘approximately 100 people’ running from the scene, Simmons said. Before the call, police were not aware of the party and had received no complaints about noise, he said.
The acting chief said no suspects were in custody, but there was no reason to believe the neighborhood was unsafe.
The names of the two people killed were not immediately released.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren issued a statement asking for ‘prayers and support for all involved,’ according to WHEC-TV.
‘I’m begging everyone to remain calm and exercise deep restraint as RPD investigates what happened here and seeks those responsible,’ she said.
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Modern-living communities now come with schools, GPs, shops and bars
On A fresh early autumn morning, Lakeview, just outside Keinton Mandeville deep in rural Somerset, appears to be the archetypal English village.
Houses, made of the local bluey-grey lias stone, surround the village green. There are allotments, orchards and wildflower meadows.
Stand still and the only sounds to be heard are the squeals of children playing in the primary school yard.
User-friendly: Tadworth Gardens in Epsom, Surrey, is a London Square village
Yet although Lakeview has the look of a centuries-old settlement, it is newly built. So why create a replica of a village when all around there is the real thing?
The answer is to satisfy demand. In times of crisis, people yearn for the simple life in the countryside. The pandemic has been just such a crisis.
According to Savills estate agents (savills.com), four in ten property owners now find a village location more appealing than before, with 71 per cent of younger buyers craving more outdoor space.
The problem is that although buyers may love the ‘idea’ of country life, the reality is often different. Traditional, chocolate-box cottages can be dusty and dark, with low ceilings and heating bills that are far from ‘olde worlde’.
Modern ‘oven-ready villages’ — such as Lakeview — make rural life more user-friendly.
‘We have the best of both worlds here,’ says Alison Gibbon, 61, who downsized with her husband to Lakeview having lived in Buckinghamshire.
‘The house, with its wood burner, has a country feel, yet it has high ceilings. It is energy-efficient and we don’t have to worry about the maintenance problems that can crop up in old properties.’
Although the development is in the middle of lush Somerset dairy farmland, it perfectly suits the lifestyle of Covid-19 city emigres who work part-time from home.
‘Castle Cary, on the main line to London, is only five miles away, so people can report to the office on an occasional basis,’ says Victoria Creber, Galion Homes sales and marketing director.
‘The houses have studies and we’re about to build a cafe with laptop space, so people can meet up while keeping one eye on their screens.’
Prices start at £85,000 for a third shared ownership and rise to £1.05 million for a five-bedroom home (lakeview-keinton.co.uk).
At Chilmington Lakes, outside Ashford in Kent, Hodson Developments claims to have built one of ‘only five or six official Garden Villages in the country’.
The site, which comprises 5,750 homes, is rather big to be a village, but Alan Hodson, the company CEO, stands by the claim. ‘We have all the amenities — shopping, doctors, schools, cafes and wine bars — that constitute a modern village,’ he says.
Only 600 of the 1,000 acres on this site are developed, the rest is landscaped for the residents’ enjoyment. Three, four and five-bedroom homes are priced from £399,995 to £750,000 (struttandparker.com).
The Mosaics development near Oxford — one of the Government’s ten flagship NHS Healthy New Towns — prioritises access to beautiful green spaces.
‘The houses all overlook gardens and the country park, where people meet up when they are out walking,’ says Mitchell Tredgett, 27, a regeneration manager in London. ‘It already has a villagey sense of community.’ Prices go from £599,950 to £1,250,000 (mosaicsoxford.co.uk).
Some developers go to considerable lengths to ensure their homes are an approximation to the local style. Tadworth Gardens in Surrey has been designed for London Square (londonsquare.co.uk) following the Local Distinctiveness Design Guide to the Surrey vernacular.
‘There is a green core of woodland at the centre, which is a haven for wildlife,’ says Mark Smith, development director at London Square. ‘The blocks of houses surrounding it follow a village-style layout.’
Although the A217 passing near by does nothing to add to the rural feel of Tadworth Gardens, the Surrey Hills, a renowned beauty spot, is a short drive away. Prices start from £299,950 for a one-bedroom flat.
Villages form a comforting backdrop to serials such as BBC Radio 4’s The Archers but how well do they work today?
‘Traditional amenities can be used for 21st-century activities,’ says Victoria Creber in Somerset.
‘At Lakeview, Pilates and short-mat bowling take place in the village hall, while on the green we plan to have an outdoor cinema. Village life lives on. Just not as we knew it.’
On the market… Modern living
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How the late Sir Terence Conran changed all our habitats
The late Sir Terence Conran – designer, furniture maker, entrepreneur, restaurateur — will be remembered for the chicken brick, the beanbag and for introducing the British to the duvet. The last of these changed our sex lives. Or so he claimed.
For Conran, who died last week aged 88, blankets and traditional bedmaking with hospital corners represented the stultifying world of the 1950s from which he aimed to liberate the nation.
French food and uncluttered Scandinavian design, combined with a hint of the exotic, were the way forward.
Ahead of its time: A 1970s Habitat advert. Sir Terence’s first store opened on London’s Fulham Road in 1964
His first Habitat store, which opened on London’s Fulham Road in 1964, stocked clean-lined furniture alongside colourful Persian kilim rugs, copper pans and crockery.
It was affordable, fashionable and fun, a mix that seemed revolutionary at the time. Some of Conran’s ideas on how to make each room in your home look better and work better may now seem basic or even obvious, but they are still effective and cost-conscious.
Conran was driven by a dislike of waste born from wartime rationing, and by the belief that everything in a home should be ‘economic, plain, simple and useful’.
Living room rules
Conran, who married four times, drew on his experience of starting over after a divorce to form his guidelines on making the most of a living room.
He advised that you should take everything out of the room, put it in the garden (this bit is optional) and assess the space.
If you need to redecorate, your choice of paint should be based on the light. A cooler white suits a sunny room, but a creamier white is better if the natural light is poor.
In his own homes, Conran often used a bright white in combination with Conran blue, a deep tone which was also his favourite shirt colour.
When replacing the furniture and other pieces, you should move back only those you either love or see as practical. You may be surprised how much you decide you can live without.
Conran would extol the delights of a ‘comfortable, well-used sofa with plump cushions’.
Sir Terence Conran died last week aged 88. He will be remembered for the chicken brick, the beanbag and for introducing the British to the duvet
But he also favoured a lounge chair with a footstool and was famously pictured, with his trademark cigar, relaxing in a Karuselli chair. This was created by Finnish designer Yrjö Kukkapuro in 1964 — a significant year for Conran.
The fibreglass shell of the chair is upholstered in leather, one reason it costs £5,736 in The Conran Shop (no longer owned by the family).
Wayfair, however, has a range of lounge chairs with footstools in sharp 1960s styles, including the Carmean (£199) and the Horatio (£339, wayfair.com).
The beanbag, another Conran contribution, is a suitably budget-priced form of seating. Dunelm’s Gallery Direct Malmo range of floor cushions (£65, dunelm.com) would add a touch of 1960s casual elegance to a room.
Conran was also responsible for popularising the paper lampshade, an inexpensive way to soften the glare from a central light that originated in Japan.
The Wilko Coolie paper shade costs £2 (wilko.com). In keeping with tradition, Habitat has a large range, including the £6 Boule Japonaise shade (habitat.co.uk).
Conran was big in low-priced flat-pack — or ‘knockdown’ — furniture before IKEA rose to global dominance.
But although a proponent of affordability, he was, in later life, an enthusiast for handmade Savoir beds. The No 1 Savoir bed starts at about £46,000 (savoirbeds.com).
This purchase would have followed plenty of homework, which Conran recommended, however much you planned to spend on a piece of furniture.
Nothing should stand between you and a good night’s sleep: ‘No distracting clutter, no overflowing wardrobes, no dust-catching knick-knacks.’
Today, we would call this the Marie Kondo approach but Conran was influenced by the 1930s minimalism of the Bauhaus school.
The duvet appealed to Conran’s love of simplicity, but so foreign was this item in 1964 that Habitat provided a guide to its use. The catalogue explained: ‘A few shakes and in 20 seconds the job is done. That’s how you make your bed.’
The ‘smart chicks’ of the era, as they were called in a magazine, who bought this bedding could not have imagined the sheer variety of duvets available 56 years later.
At John Lewis, you can now pay anything from £120 to £760 for a goosedown duvet or from £10 to £240 for a hollow-fibre filled version (johnlewis.com).
Cutting kitchen clutter
Conran championed French cuisine, promoting the recipes of the British writer Elizabeth David and the kitchen implements used by the French. Every picture of the kitchens in his own homes showed a pleasing line of copper pans (from £5 at johnlewis.com).
But despite his attachment to such cookware, Conran is best remembered for the chicken brick, which acts like a mini-steam oven, and the wok. Habitat continues to stock the chicken brick (£30) and it is popular among those who grew up with it as a family favourite.
Meanwhile, the wok, which once seemed equally exotic, is now a standard kitchen item. The Range stocks them from £12.99 to £29.99 (therange.co.uk).
A passion for food led Conran to found a restaurant empire that began with The Soup Kitchen in the 1950s — it boasted one of the first Gaggia coffee machines to be found in Britain — and included the swish Le Pont de la Tour at London’s Shad Thames. His exacting standards meant that the kitchens looked as good as the dining rooms.
His rules for kitchens in homes were equally rigorous. You should have on display only appliances that you use regularly.
Other appliances may not be worth keeping, especially if they are difficult to clean. Maintaining order should ensure that ‘daily chores seem less of an imposition’.
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