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On The Light Side

May 7, 1988

URBANA, Ohio (AP) _ David Channell could be forgiven if he thought someone was giving him a load of bull at 6:30 in the morning when a caller said one of Channell’s steers had fallen into a basement.

But when the 17-year-old peered into his neighbor’s cellar Friday, ″I just started laughing. It’s something you don’t see very often.″

There, staring up at him, was 1,100 pounds of beef.

Channell said the steer, one of three he’s raising for a 4-H project, had smashed through a gate to take an early morning stroll. But its wanderings ended abruptly when it fell through a board covering the entrance to the basement of the neighbor’s trailer home.

While the bull story was making the rounds of the rural area, the trailer’s owner, Channel’s father and several others worked for almost two hours to free the animal, David Channell said.

The steer was spooked by the cellar steps, so they built a wooden ramp and covered it with dirt so the animal wouldn’t slip, Channell said.

Through it all, the steer was unfazed.

″He was real calm. I just walked up right to him, and put a halter on him. He was just staring up at us,″ Channell said.

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BOSTON (AP) - ″I was immobilized. I couldn’t move and I didn’t think to speak. I just watched.″

So begins Joann Berte’s account of the night of Dec. 10, 1979, when she claims she was awakened on a friend’s porch in Rhode Island and carried in a paralyzed state aboard an alien spacecraft.

Berte’s story should be repeated in dozens of variations this weekend at a national conference expected to draw more than 250 UFO experts and people who claim to have been abducted by extraterrestrials.

″It makes you very angry,″ said Berte, who said she recalled the abduction under hypnosis years later. ″They don’t ask your permission. They just take you away.″

Arthur Myers, a coordinator of the conference, said the Waltham gathering is one of the first public meetings of people who claim to have been held hostage by aliens.

″It reminds me a lot of alcoholism or homosexuals coming out of the closet,″ said Myers. ″There’s a stigma attached to the abductees. But once someone comes forward with their story, others are willing to speak.″

Myers, a member of a Unitarian Universalist church group interested in the study of the paranormal, decided to sponsor the conference after attending a private UFO seminar in November in Connecticut.

″At first, people thought it was too sensational a topic,″ said Myers. ″But it is something the public should hear.″

Author Ray Fowler said about 80 percent of the UFO sightings can be explained.

″But there are those instances that defy any explanation,″ said Fowler, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer scheduled as a keynote conference speaker. ″It’s imperative that we study these things with an open mind, not gullibly accept them or reject them out of hand.″

From 1951 to 1955, Fowler studied UFO reports for the U.S. Air Force Security Service. He currently heads the Mutual UFO Network, an international group that documents UFO sightings.

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