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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Top 5 Places You Can’t Go

5. Area 51

I have put this so high on the list because it is the one place most readers are likely to expect to see. Area 51 is a nickname for a military base that is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles (133 km) north-northwest of downtown Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large secretive military airfield. The base’s primary purpose is to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems. The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore. The sign above states that deadly force can be used if people enter the Area 51 zone.

4. Room 39

Room 39 or Bureau 39 is arguably one of the most secretive organizations in North Korea that seeks ways to obtain foreign currency for Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s Chairman of the National Defense Commission. Room 39 was established in the late 1970s. It has been described as the lynchpin of the North’s so-called “court economy” centered on the dynastic Kim family. It is unknown how the name originated. Very little is known about Room 39 due to the secretive nature surrounding the organization, but it is widely speculated that the organization uses 10 to 20 bank accounts in China and Switzerland for the purposes of counterfeiting, money laundering, and other illicit transactions. It is also alleged that Room 39 is involved in drug smuggling and illicit weapon sales. It is known, however, that the organization has 120 foreign trade companies under its jurisdiction and is under the direct control of Kim Jong-il. North Korea has denied taking part in any illegal activities. Room 39 is believed to be located inside a ruling Workers’ Party building in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea.

3. Ise Grand Shrine

The Ise Grand Shrine in Japan (which is actually a series of over 100 shrines) is the most sacred shrine in Japan. It is dedicated to Amaterasu (the Sun goddess) and has been in existence since 4BC. The main shrine is alleged to hold the most important item in Japan’s imperial history: the Naikū (the mirror from Japanese mythology which eventually ended up in the hands of the first emperors). The shrine is demolished and rebuilt every 20 years in keeping with the Shinto idea of death and rebirth (the next rebuilding will be in 2013). This ranks very high on the list of places you will never go because the only person who can enter is the priest or priestess and he must be a member of the Japanese imperial family. So unless we have a Japanese prince or princess reading the site, no one here will ever see anything more than the thatched roof of the Ise Grand Shrine.

2. Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center

This is a place that is not only closed to the public, but it is a place that the public hope to never have to enter! In most “end of the world” films we see these days, there is always a highly classified area where US government officials and a chosen few get to go in the hopes that they can escape the impending doom. The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is the real thing. It was set up in the 1950s due to the cold war but continues to operate today. It is a “last hope” area. For obvious reasons its operations are highly classified. It is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The center is already functioning and even in small local disasters in the US, much of the telecommunications traffic is routed through it.

1. RAF Menwith Hill

RAF Menwith Hill is a British military base with connections to the global ECHELON spy network. The site contains an extensive satellite ground station and is a communications intercept and missile warning site and has been described as the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. The site acts as a ground station for a number of satellites operated by the US National Reconnaissance Office, on behalf of the US National Security Agency, with antennae contained in a large number of highly distinctive white radomes, and is alleged to be an element of the ECHELON system. ECHELON was reportedly created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s, but since the end of the Cold War it is believed to search also for hints of terrorist plots, drug dealers’ plans, and political and diplomatic intelligence. It has also been involved in reports of commercial espionage and is believed to filter all telephone and radio communications in the nations which host it – an extreme violation of privacy.

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