Author Archives: iainthegreat

About iainthegreat

I am half way between A and B personality. I shot guns, went camping, play consoles. For meeting people and entertainment,

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.

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Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.

When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened … on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”

In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015.

That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.

But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.

Spokesmen for Holder and Clinton did not return calls seeking comment. The Justice Department also didn’t comment.

Mikerin was a director of Rosatom’s Tenex in Moscow since the early 2000s, where he oversaw Rosatom’s nuclear collaboration with the United States under the Megatons to Megwatts program and its commercial uranium sales to other countries. In 2010, Mikerin was dispatched to the U.S. on a work visa approved by the Obama administration to open Rosatom’s new American arm called Tenam.

Between 2009 and January 2012, Mikerin “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire confederate and agree with other persons … to obstruct, delay and affect commerce and the movement of an article and commodity (enriched uranium) in commerce by extortion,” a November 2014 indictment stated.

His illegal conduct was captured with the help of a confidential witness, an American businessman, who began making kickback payments at Mikerin’s direction and with the permission of the FBI. The first kickback payment recorded by the FBI through its informant was dated Nov. 27, 2009, the records show.

In evidentiary affidavits signed in 2014 and 2015, an Energy Department agent assigned to assist the FBI in the case testified that Mikerin supervised a “racketeering scheme” that involved extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks that were both directed by and provided benefit to more senior officials back in Russia.

“As part of the scheme, Mikerin, with the consent of higher level officials at TENEX and Rosatom (both Russian state-owned entities) would offer no-bid contracts to US businesses in exchange for kickbacks in the form of money payments made to some offshore banks accounts,” Agent David Gadren testified.

“Mikerin apparently then shared the proceeds with other co-conspirators associated with TENEX in Russia and elsewhere,” the agent added.

The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.

Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI. The probe is not focused on McAuliffe’s conduct but rather on whether McCabe’s attendance violated the Hatch Act or other FBI conflict rules.

The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year.

Its many twist and turns aside, the FBI nuclear industry case proved a gold mine, in part because it uncovered a new Russian money laundering apparatus that routed bribe and kickback payments through financial instruments in Cyprus, Latvia and Seychelles. A Russian financier in New Jersey was among those arrested for the money laundering, court records show.

The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show.

One of Mikerin’s former employees told the FBI that Tenex officials in Russia specifically directed the scheme to “allow for padded pricing to include kickbacks,” agents testified in one court filing.

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval.

The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.

The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with serious national security implications had been uncovered.

On Dec. 15, 2015, the Justice Department put out a release stating that Mikerin, “a former Russian official residing in Maryland was sentenced today to 48 months in prison” and ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million.

Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told The Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal.

“Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators and engage appropriate congressional committees has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them,” he said. “The Russian efforts to manipulate our American political enterprise is breathtaking.”

Solar Warden and Blue Sphere Alliance

By now, many people have heard about the Solar Warden group that hacker Gary McKinnon talked about uncovering in one of his hacking sessions.

In 2010, investigative reporter Darren Perks requested more information about the Solar Warden Program from the Department of Defense through the Freedom of Information Act.

 
He received the following response confirming the Solar Warden project existed:

About an hour ago I spoke to a NASA rep who confirmed this was their program and that it was terminated by the President. He also informed me that it was not a joint program with the DoD. The NASA rep informed me that you should be directed to the Johnson Space Center FOIA Manager.

I have ran your request through one of our space-related directorates and I’m waiting on one other division with the Command to respond back to me. I will contact you once I have a response from the other division. Did NASA refer you to us?

Parks additionally stated:

When Gary McKinnon hacked into U.S. Space Command computers several years ago and learned of the existence of “non-terrestrial officers” and “fleet-to-fleet transfers” and a secret program called “Solar Warden”, he was charged by the Bush Justice Department with having committed “the biggest military computer hack of all time”, and stood to face prison time of up to 70 years after extradition from UK. But trying earnest McKinnon in open court would involve his testifying to the above classified facts, and his attorney would be able to subpoena government officers to testify under oath about the Navy’s Space Fleet.

McKinnon also found out about the ships or craft within Solar Warden. It is said that there are approx eight cigar-shaped motherships (each longer than two football fields end-to-end) and 43 small “scout ships. The Solar Warden Space Fleet operates under the US Naval Network and Space Operations Command (NNSOC) [formerly Naval Space Command]. There are approximately 300 personnel involved at that facility, with the figure rising.

Solar Warden is said to be made up from U.S. aerospace Black Projects contractors, but with some contributions of parts and systems by Canada. United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Russia, and Australia. It is also said that the program is tested and operated from secret military bases such as Area 51 in Nevada, USA.

Project Camelot’s Kerry Cassidy interviewed military whistleblower Mark Richards, who also confirmed the existence of this program:

 

We’ve recently heard about the ET group, the Blue Avians, who are associated with the Blue Sphere Alliance and how they began to arrive into our solar system since 1999. According to contactee Corey Goode, there are over 100 Blue Spheres helping our planet to push for complete disclosure and the release of suppressed technology. Goode stated that some of these spheres are as large as some of the biggest planets in our solar system.

 

 

This is a brief synopsis of Goode provided by Dr. Michael Salla:

Corey Goode (aka GoodETxSG) has revealed more about his claimed contact experiences with a group of extraterrestrials called the Sphere Alliance that is cooperating with an alliance of secret space programs indigenous to Earth. He has earlier revealed that there are five secret space programs belonging to our current Earth civilization, as well as between five to seven space programs belonging to ancient human civilizations that are still operating. Several of these secret space programs indigenous to Earth make up what he calls the Secret Space Program (SSP) Alliance, which should not be confused with the Sphere Alliance which he claims comprise five different extraterrestrials races that are here to assist humanity deal with an upcoming “Event” that will change life dramatically on the planet.

Corey claims to have attended several off-planet meetings where three of these extraterrestrial races belonging to the Sphere Alliance, have appeared. The alien race which he has communicated with the most is called the Blue Avians – one of whom he met with as recently as this past weekend is called “Tear-Eir”. In addition to his recent contact experiences, Corey also claims to have earlier served, from 1987 to 2007 with several secret space programs as an Intuitive Empath. In an earlier question and answer email exchange, Corey described the five secret space programs as follows:

Solar Warden – mainly focused on policing the Solar System and surrounding Star Clusters;
Interplanetary Corporate Conglomerate (ICC) – focused mainly on development and aquisition of technology by any means.
Dark Fleet – worked almost entirely outside the Sol System, Very Military (Offensive),
“NATO TYPE SSP” – Recently in Alliance Conferences they were referred to as the “League of Nations Program.”
Various Special Access Program SSP’s that were small, usually had the newer technology, very secretive and worked for some of the Secret Earth Governments
This is David Wilcock’s account:

“100 spheres the size of either Neptune or Jupiter have entered our solar system in the last 2-3 years. There were many others the size of our Moon that came in between 1999 and 2001…

The Cabal used an advanced weapon to fire on one of the Moon-sized ones in mid-December. The object lit up, becoming a bright red spot in the sky that people saw… and redirected the beam back to the base it came from. This caused serious damage and some loss of life… Since that time we have had the no-fly zone around the earth and the quarantine around our solar system. No one who was already here is being allowed to leave — either from Earth or any of the “colonies,” as they are called.

The group that has appeared from the spheres is called the “Blue Avians.”… One of the five main factions in the Space Program, named Solar Warden, is allied with them now, and they are working with the Alliance on earth, but never the Cabal… The… main thing they said was that Cabal people were defecting over into the Alliance and altering the plans.

 
The key is that the Avians want us to move into a loving and peaceful world. They want this transition, similarly, to be as peaceful as possible.”

Goode gave further confirmation of the Solar Warden in his interview with Wilcock on the Jimmy Church Show:

 

In Dr. Salla’s Q&A session with Goode, Salla asked:

“Is there currently a disclosure race happening between the Cabal/Illuminati and the Solar Warden/Sphere Alliance in terms of how much information should be released and how this frames key issues?”

Goode stated:

Yes, When FULL Disclosure occurs it will also come with the disclosure of massive crimes against humanity that will send the bulk of society into shock for some time. The fact that there are aliens will not be as disruptive or shocking as what all the “Elites” have done in secret during the time they were hiding the existence of aliens and most of all the high technology that would have ended the financial system decades ago.

IF the “CABAL/ILLUMINATI” can control the Disclosure they can also control the narrative and spin of disclosure they think to make themselves come out looking better in the end. They had planned on being off planet when all this info broke. Now that they are stuck here with everyone else they are all turning on each other and spinning and cutting deals as fast as they can. They know what the population will call for if there is full and unfettered disclosure of our true history along with the release of suppressed technologies and the existence of alien life.

They MUST do everything they can to control the narrative and manner that this information is disclosed. This is a much more complicated situation than most realize. Complete disclosure is going to leave many of the world’s population calling for “heads to roll”.

Apparently, negative factions are trying to flee the planet and solar system but are unable to due to help from the Sphere Alliance, to which Goode stated:

“The Sphere Alliance has setup 2 “Energy Barriers” that cannot be penetrated by any beings or technology (be they 3/4D or 4/5D beings). One is the “Outer Barrier” which completely closes off the entire Sol System (including Gate/Portal travel) from travel into or out of the system. The other is a “Barrier” that surrounds the Earth. It keeps every Being and Craft/Technology that was either On Earth or in Near Earth Orbit from leaving a certain distance from the Planet. There are active Gates/Portals that allow travel between Planets within the Sol System. However those Portals are affected by these “Energetic Tsunami Waves” at times and regular travel is ill advised and can be dangerous.

There are also a lot of recent skirmishes between different “Cabal” factions since they have realized that their “Royal White Reptilians” have tried to negotiate their safe passage out of the Sol System by giving up all of their Illuminati/Cabal followers as well as their lower cast Reptilian and Other Allied Races in their Federation. There is chaos among these groups who are following the example of their masters and turning on each other. Though they are heavily denying this publicly and putting their most clever disinformation agents out to control the narrative as best they can.”

You can find updates on Corey’s website, Sphere Being Alliance.

Corey will be doing weekly interviews with David Wilcock on GaiamTV. The first one is July 14th, 2015. Click here to subscribe.

This falls into alignment to what Dr. Simon Atkins stated about CERN… that it’s being used to prevent the incoming intergalactic wave of energy that will transform consciousness. If this happens, it would immediately expose everyone who has committed crimes against humanity.

The ruling elite and ET factions may be trying to use CERN as a means of creating a portal to escape but because of the barriers placed over the planet by the Sphere Alliance, this cannot happen. Basically, they’re all screwed and will be turning on one another while trying to save their own asses.

If all of this comes to fruition, you can expect to see a world like you’ve never seen before! Imagine if all of the suppressed technologies were released? Imagine receiving advanced technologies from our galactic neighbors, such as a replicator that can instantly manifest anything you want to eat?

While it all sounds like science fiction right now, there are enough sources and confirmations to give this information credibility.

Switch is Nintendo’s last console

“Nintendo Switch. Starting to feel a little hype, not gonna lie.”

That was me in October, following Nintendo’s reveal of the upcoming console. I was perfectly fine with with the initial reveal of the Switch, feeling that glimmer of hope that, as an admitted Nintendo fangirl, I have grown all too familiar with. However, I am also familiar with disappointment.

The Wii U was an epic flop, so much so that recapping the ways in which the system fell short is unnecessary. And in all honesty, the Switch is what the Wii U should have been in the first place. The Switch gives players multiple ways to play without the limitations of its predecessor, offering a bridge between traditional gameplay on a TV and the on-the-go appeal of the 3DS. Unfortunately, the upcoming system is coming just a bit too late, and brings with it plenty of red flags of its own.

switchcastle fb

The price is too high at $299, especially when you factor in that there will be no bundled game and the included Joy-Con grip will not charge the Joy-Con controllers – you’ll need to buy that separately. In addition, the replacements and peripherals revealed for the console are also too high. A pair of replacement Joy-Con controllers will set you back $80, while individuals will cost $50. A replacement dock set is $90, and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is $70. While the console itself feels overpriced, particularly when noting the absence of a bundled game, the replacements and the peripherals are almost shockingly expensive.

While the Wii U has been heavily criticized for coming out too strong and failing to maintain third party support and a healthy, consistent flow of games, Nintendo appears to be doing the exact opposite with the Switch in what is too drastic a pendulum swing. The lineup – both at launch and during its first year on the market – is concerning. At this point, the Nintendo Switch will be releasing with ten games in the US – Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 1-2-Switch, Just Dance 2017, Skylanders Imaginators, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, I Am Setsuna, World of Goo, Little Inferno, Human Resource Machine, and Super Bomberman R. The two Nintendo launch titles are Zelda, which will be releasing simultaneously on the Switch and Wii U, and 1-2-Switch, which is a collection of mini-games that should have been bundled in with the console but will instead set you back $50 so that you can pretend to eat a hoagie or milk a cow while making awkward eye contact with your friends.

As of right now, Nintendo has fewer confirmed Switch games releasing in all of 2017 than the Wii U had at the time of its launch.

As of right now, Nintendo has fewer confirmed Switch games releasing in all of 2017 than the Wii U had at the time of its launch. While it’s possible more will be revealed, this isn’t the most comforting list to have in front of you with less than two months to launch – and, if there was going to be another large title launching alongside the console, I have to assume we would have heard something about it by this point. According to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, this is intentional. Speaking with CNET, Fils-Aime stated that Nintendo has a “great ongoing march of content to motivate you to jump into the platform.”

“Launch day is not the be-all and the end-all,” Fils-Aime said. “It really is the steady pacing of content that continually reinforces for the people who bought into the platform why they made a smart choice, as well as what compels people who might be sitting on the sidelines to jump in.”

However, it is questionable how long this content will last, even when released at a steady pace. In the 2017 state of the industry report issued by the Game Developers Conference, more than 4,500 developers answered a variety of questions – including what consoles they were currently developing for. Only 3% confirmed that they are currently developing for the Nintendo Switch, while 22% are developing for Xbox One/Scorpio, 27% are developing for PlayStation 4/Pro, 38% are developing for Smartphones and Tablets, and 53% are developing for PC/Mac. Fewer developers admitted to developing for the Switch than confirmed development for Apple TV.

The release schedule is hardly the biggest hurdle that the Switch faces. Prior to last week’s detailed Switch presentation, I penned an editorial, laying out a list of must-haves for the console to be a sure success. Looking back, I realize I was too optimistic with what I had thought were simple expectations. While a strong launch and strong third party support were the first points I argued for – and, sadly, am unable to check off – I also argued that the Switch needs good battery life. If one of the major points is that it’s a hybrid, with equal importance given to both docked and undocked play, then the battery has to reflect that. However, Nintendo has revealed that the battery on the Switch between charges will last 2.5 to 6.5 hours, depending on the game you are playing, with Breath of the Wild able to last three hours between charges. The one bonus here is that you can charge the Switch with a USB-C, and you are able to play while charging. However, unless you’re carrying around a compatible power bank this will drastically limit the portability of the console.

Price for value is another issue. The Switch has 32GB of internal storage, making digital downloads very unattractive for gamers. While the console’s storage can be expanded via micro SD card, a good SDXC card with a capacity of 256GB retails for up to $200, giving you less internal storage than a 500GB PlayStation 4 at a greater cost. While the portability does add value to the Switch, the above issue of battery life makes it a bit less appealing.

The truth is, Nintendo’s consoles are what we put up with in order to access the games we want to play.

The Escapist‘s Steven Bogos shared his hands-on impressions of the Switch from PAX South, stating that the Switch, when viewed as a new handheld, is impressive enough to replace Nintendo’s 3DS, but that as a home console “the Nintendo Switch is a bust.”

“It’s not as powerful as a PS4 (made obvious by the framerate issues I had on Breath of the Wild) which means that it’s going to have the same third-party issues that the Nintendo always has,” he added.

Bad timing and bad choices have led Nintendo to a pivotal moment. The gaming industry has always benefited from competition, but everything that we know of the Switch shows that Nintendo only appears to be competing with one company – itself. The Switch is too limited to replace smartphones and tablets, and it is far too weak and limited, in both its hardware and third party support, to be a true home console competitor. As much as I would love to see Nintendo succeed, I cannot shake the feeling that the Switch will be yet another hardware flop. Nintendo’s value is not in its hardware, as the company is more interested in weird gimmicks than actual gamer-friendly home consoles. No, Nintendo’s value is in its IPs – Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Splatoon, METROID (cough, cough) – which are still gaming staples with the ability to captivate players. What these franchises deserve, more than anything, is a home worthy of them. The truth is, Nintendo’s consoles are what we put up with in order to access the games we want to play.

Nintendo giving up on consoles and focusing on software is an idea I’ve tossed around for the past few years, particularly since the company began teasing the new console. “If this doesn’t work, Nintendo should just focus on games,” I’d say, and even the most stalwart of fans have struggled to argue against that point. While I love the 3DS, and can easily see Nintendo maintaining a strong presence in the portable gaming market, there is still so much untapped potential in franchises that have suffered by the lack of suitable hardware.

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are both successful because they’re more alike than they are different. The Wii U went a totally different way, and as a result was difficult for developers to create games for, and it appears that the same will likely be true for the Switch. But no one should count on the lights being turned off at Nintendo – the company just needs to “switch” to more energy efficient bulbs.

Top 50 horror films

The Shining
The Thing (1982)
The Mist
Antichrist
Silence of the Lambs
The Exorcist
The Omen (1976)
Let the Right One In
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Silent Hill
Alien
The Descent
In the Mouth of Madness
The Ring
Triangle
The Cell
Thirst
The Evil Dead
Psycho (1960)
Christine
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Event Horizon
Sleepy Hollow
The Re-Animator
Insidious
Eden Lake
Creepshow
Creepshow 2
The Fly (1986)
28 Weeks Later
[REC]
[REC 2]
Martyrs
Misery
The Wicker Man (1973)
The Devil’s Backbone
A Serbian Film
Hellraiser
Cronos
Skeleton Key
The Orphanage
Inside
Day of the Dead (1985)
Saw
Cabin by the Lake
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Ghost Ship
The Hitcher (1986)

Top 50 Films of the 90s

1. Goodfellas
2. The Shawshank Redemption
3. Neon Genesis Evangelion end of Evangelion
4. Ninja Scroll
5. Ghost in the Shell
6. Macross Plus
7. The Matrix
8. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
9. Jurassic Park
10. Saving Private Ryan
11. Reservoir Dogs
12. The Silence of the Lambs
13. Fight Club
14. Leon: The Professional
15. Heat
16. Forrest Gump
17. Braveheart
18. The Lion King
19. Toy Story
20. Beauty and the Beast
21. The Lion King
22. Aladdin
23. Princess Mononoke
24. Unforgiven
25. American Beauty
26. Trainspotting
27. Good Will Hunting
28.Fargo
29. Eyes Wide Shut
30. Independence Day
31. The Nightmare Before Christmas
32. The Fugitive
33. Batman Returns
34. Dazed and Confused
35. 10 Things I Hate About You
36. Clueless
37. Titanic
38. Romeo + Juliet
39. Goldeneye
40.. Leon: The Professional
41. Richard III
42. Tomorrow Never Dies
43. Rushmore
44. Wayne’s World
45. Austin Powers; International Man of Mystery
46. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
47. Sling Blade
48. Wayne’s World 2
49. The Fifth Element
50. A Few Good Men

The Most Talked about Game

A lot of exciting things have happened in the games industry since 2013. That time has seen the mobile game space rise to maturity; it’s seen Sony return to console dominance with PS4, and Nintendo bounce from its greatest heights to its lowest ebb.
And yet one thing has stayed consistent throughout that entire four-year period. Through it all, Grand Theft Auto V has steadily, unstoppably continued to sell huge numbers every single week. In 2017 so far, it’s the best-selling game in the UK; in the United States it charts in fourth place.
Previous entries in the Grand Theft Auto series were, of course, landmark titles in their own right – both culturally and commercially. Their content sparked controversy and, from the point when the series shifted into an extraordinary open world with Grand Theft Auto 3, their enormous sales pushed them into a mainstream consciousness that had generally glossed over videogames up to that point. Grand Theft Auto came to be the series that defined perceptions of games in the 2000s, perhaps even more so than Mario or Sonic had done in the 1990s.

“Never before has there been a game like GTAV, which has served as a touchstone for an entire era of gaming”

Grand Theft Auto V, however, has quietly gone beyond that and become something even more. I say quietly, because it’s not necessarily something that you see if you’re an ordinary game consumer. For most of us, Grand Theft Auto V was a game – a really great, beautifully made, fantastic game – that we played for a pretty long time a few years ago. We’ve moved on, though sometimes it comes up in conversation, or you see a really crazy stunt video on YouTube; it’s part of gamer consciousness, but arguably no more than a number of other superb games of the same era.
Yet unlike all those other games, GTAV keeps on selling. People keep walking into shops and buying it; 340,000 copies in the UK alone this year. The only way to explain those sales is to assume that they are representative of GTAV being purchased along with, or soon after, the upgrades being made by many consumers to next-gen consoles or higher spec PCs. Far more than its predecessors, the game has become a cultural touchstone – something that you simply buy by default along with a new game system.
Of course, individual game consoles have had must-own games before; how many people bought Halo with the original Xbox, or Mario 64 with the Nintendo 64? Never before, however, has there been a game like GTAV, which has served as a touchstone for an entire era of gaming. The closest point of comparison I can think of is something like The Matrix, which was the go-to DVD for people buying new DVD players in the late 1990s, or Blade Runner’s Directors’ Cut, which served a similar role for Blu-Ray. Nothing before now in the realm of videogames comes close.

“Something we don’t know, however, is what people are actually doing with those new copies of GTAV”

Something we don’t know, however, is what people are actually doing with those new copies of GTAV; the huge question is whether they’re buying them for the game’s excellent single-player experience, or whether they’re diving into GTA Online. The online game has been a runaway success for publisher Take Two, and has definitely helped to prolong the longevity of GTAV, but it’s hard to quantify just how much it has to do with the continued strong sales of the game itself.
That question is important, because if people are primarily buying GTAV as an online game, it makes it a little easier to categorise that success. In that case, it would belong alongside titles like League of Legends, World of Warcraft or Destiny; enormous, sprawling games that suck up years upon years of players’ attention.
From a commercial standpoint, the industry is still a little unsure what these games are or what to do about them; they are behemoths on the landscape that everyone else needs to navigate around, but while many people share an intuition that they collapse revenues for other games in the same genre, it’s not entirely clear as yet what influence they really have on everything else on the market. If GTAV fits in with those titles, albeit on a level of its own to some degree, then it makes sense; it fits a pattern.

“GTAV became embedded in our collective consciousness until it was The Game You Buy When You Finally Get A PS4”

My sense, however, is that GTAV is something entirely different. It’s not quite, as Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick rather bombastically claimed at E3, that there are no “other titles… clustered around GTA from a quality point of view.” GTAV is a brilliant game, but it’s hard to support the claim that there’s nothing else out there of similar quality.
Rather, it’s that GTAV has struck a series of notes perfectly, stitching together a combination of elements each of which is executed flawlessly and which combined to make a game that is memorable, replayable, funny, challenging, and – vitally in this era – a never-ending source of entertaining video clips for YouTube or Twitch. Almost every aspect of GTAV is good, but there’s no single part you can point to and say, “this is why this is the game that defines an era.” The magic lies in the sum, not the individual parts.
And perhaps it’s something more than even that; perhaps GTAV isn’t just the right game, it’s also a game that’s appeared at the right time.
Think of the average age of a game consumer, which is well into the thirties at this point. Think of how games have come to be a part of our cultural conversation; no longer in a dismissive way, but as a field of genuine interest, a source of inspiration for other media, a topic of watercooler conversation. Think too of how videogames have begun to inform the aesthetics of the world, from the gloss of Marvel’s movies to the more obvious homages of Wreck-It Ralph or (god help us) Pixels. Somehow they’ve even managed to rope Spielberg into adapting inexplicably popular execrable teenage gamer fanfiction novel Ready Player One. Games are embedded as part of the world’s culture and, more importantly, part of how we talk about that culture.
GTAV arrived, in stunning, endlessly discussable, endlessly uploadable form right at the moment when that transition was being completed. There’s no way to quantify this, but I’ll wager GTAV holds a special record that’ll never go in Guinness’ book. I’ll wager it’s the most talked-about game of all time. Not because of controversy or scandal; it’s a game that’s just been talked about in conversation after conversation, four years of discussing stunts and jokes and achievements and easter eggs, until the game became embedded in our collective consciousness until it was The Game You Buy When You Finally Get A PS4.
There’s never been a game that occupied a place in the public consciousness quite like GTAV; but now that such a place exists for games in our collective cultural consciousness, perhaps it won’t be very long before more fantastic games roll up to take on similar roles.

Was NASA Technology Predicted in Ancient Indian Writings?

Is it possible that ancient cultures 7000 years ago knew how to create flying machines to traverse the sky and beyond using a technology that NASA engineers are still trying to harness today?

The first artificial satellite launched famously into orbit was the Russian satellite Sputnik, in 1957. Prior to this, rockets had been used to launch missiles for warfare. The first rocket able to fly high enough to get into space was the German A4/V-2 rocket family launched in 1942. Considering early powered flight and early models of the aeroplane these advances still only date back to the beginning of the 20th century. However there are many books and websites which forcefully and passionately assert that technologically advanced aircraft and spacecraft were in common use over the Indian subcontinent thousands of years ago. These same sources claim that advanced space propulsion techniques being researched by NASA are in fact directly inspired by ancient flying machines.

Flying Vimanas, is this inspiration for current NASA technology? Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Flying Vimanas, is this inspiration for current NASA technology? Seriously? (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Could these amazing stories be true? The answer will be obvious to anyone with any knowledge of science or history but let us try to look at the claims as fairly as we can.
In Hindu mythology, demon King Ravana of Lanka (ancient Sri Lanka) brought to the country something called the Pushpaka Vimãna. Vimãna literally means to traverse or to measure. Other uses of the word refer to a temple or a flying machine. The Pushpaka Vimãna is thought to be King Ravana’s flying palace which was shaped like a giant peacock. Every country has their myths and legends. In Ireland, Finn McCool is a familiar character in ancient stories. So where does fiction meet fact? How is this ancient flying machine relevant to today?
Ten headed King ravana, inventor of ancient flying machines? Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Ten-headed King Ravana, inventor of ancient flying machines? (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Some say that “ancient scriptures” tell of these ancient aeronauts, but there is no record of these documents prior to the last century. A publication called the Vaimãnika Shastra or the Science of Aeronautics, is a 20th century text written by one Subbaraya Shastry sometime between 1918-1923. However the information provided in this book is believed to have been obtained by psychic channelling with the ancient Saint Bharadvaja. Subbaraya Shastry was believed to have contracted leprosy. He left his home and spent nine years living in the forest. During this time he is supposed to have spoken with the ancient saint (sage Bharadvaja) and was enlightened with this new found knowledge of flying machines. He later returned home (as he also had been cured of leprosy), but Shastry could not read or write so he dictated his new knowledge over the period of 5 years,( 25 years after the psychic experience itself). The dictated text was apparently discovered in 1952 by G.R Josyer who later translated it into English in 1973. This publication contains eight chapters claiming that ancient vimãnas from the King Ravana legend were actually feasible flying machines, perhaps even similar in ability to rockets. The text indicates that propulsion was provided using rotating gyroscopes of electricity and mercury.
The existing text is said to only be a small section of larger (lost) works. It aims to provide information to pilots on the secrets of hearing and destroying enemy planes at the same time remaining motionless, unbreakable and invisible. According to American author David Hatcher Childress (born 1957), another ancient Indian piece of work that he decoded, Samarangana Sutradhara reveals that these ancient flying vimãnas, referred to in ‘Vaimãnika Shastra’ were powered by the metal mercury. He states in the text is says “By means of the power latent in the mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion, a man sitting inside may travel a great distance in the sky…” This powerplant is referred to as a “mercury vortex engine”.
The ‘Vaimãnika Shastra’ although dubbed an ancient text in reality was written less than 100 years ago. It was supposedly dictated by psychically channelling an ancient saint; however it was written almost 25 years after the author actually had the experience. The author was believed to be a leper, spending years in isolation. Coincidentally in history, a treatment solution for leprosy was mercury. Perhaps this was inspiration for the fuel of the vimãnas? American author David Hatcher Childress has published over 200 books mostly on unusual topics such as ancient astronauts and the lost city of Atlantis, however Childress’ works have been criticised by historical archaeologists for being factually incorrect. He is also the owner of a publishing house and no doubt mysterious topics gather more interest in sales.
A study by the aeronautical and mechanical engineering department at the Indian Institute of Science in 1974, referred to the crafts as “poor concoctions” and the crafts themselves were unfeasible for flight. The text also does not explain how the vimãnas actually get up into the air and the information appears as though the author has knowledge of some modern machinery (that is to say modern for the early 1900s), yet there appears to be little to no understanding of aeronautics. The illustrations provided were based upon the text, and are more comparable to steampunk flying machines. So despite the fact that these creations are masquerading as ancient designs, in truth this is far from the reality.

 

 

NASA (and other research organisations) have been experimenting with the ion propulsion concept since the 1950s. In an ion propulsion engine, the gas is held in a chamber surrounded by magnets. An electrical charge causes the atoms to lose electrons, therefore turning them into ions. As the ionised gas jet is expelled out of the craft, it is then propelled in the opposite direction.In the 1970s when this technology was being trialled in earthbound laboratories, mercury or caesium was used as propellant. Mercury is liquid at room temperature and caesium is a solid. Therefore, they were both relatively easy to store. In order to be used as a propellant both elements needed to be heated to become a gas.

 

The problems arose when some of the gases condensed and leaked onto the ground. Caesium is radioactive, can be corrosive and is very dangerous. Mercury is also a neurotoxin and is thought to be one of the more dangerous metals and exposure to it can cause various health problems. After determining that both these elements were much too toxic and dangerous to use, scientists turned to using Xenon, an odourless, colourless gas which is generally unreactive. This futuristic idea was used on the Dawn spacecraft. This craft was launched in 2007 and travelled towards the asteroid belt using ion propulsion engines visiting Vesta. It is intended to reach the dwarf planet Ceres located in the asteroid belt in February of 2015. These experiments by NASA in the 1970s may have been the inspiration for the legend that NASA is trying to build space vehicles pushed along by the mercury vortex engines of legend.

The Dawn spacecraft with the dwarf planet Ceres. Ion propulsion takes a little longer than other methods to manoeuvre into orbit: Credit: NASA/JPL.
A stylised artist’s impression of the Dawn spacecraft with Ceres (created before the mission reached the dwarf planet). Ion propulsion takes a little longer than other methods to manoeuvre into orbit. (image credit: NASA/JPL)

 

So despite claims that ancient scholars were aware of flying machines that used mercury as a propellant, this not something which NASA are harnessing today. Although ion engines using mercury were tested in the past they are not in use now. Equally the ancient text explaining the science of aeronautics is really not that ancient at all as it was written less than 100 years ago and doesn’t actually explain the science of how to actually get into the air. In terms of myths and legends the story of the flying peacock seems like a great one but in reality there are no mercury vortex engines and especially not ones from the era of King Ravana.
(Article by Martina Redpath, Senior Education Support Officer)
(Notes:

We are very happy to see your comments, but please be civil and polite.
Comments about individuals, ethnic groups, nations or religious groups judged to be abusive or insulting will not be published.
The movie The Objective (2008) which deals with US soldiers encountering vimanas in Afghanistan is fiction and not a documentary. It in no way constitutes evidence of ancient technology.