When you have been an experienced, highly accurate professional journalist for as long as I have, you develop a "sixth sense" for spotting a news trend that has the two elements that are absolutely essential for a major story:

DTC 1. The potential destruction of all life on the planet.

2. Cows.

I regret to report that we are experiencing such a trend now.

Consider the following true items:

Item one: According to newspaper articles sent in by many alert readers, livestock in England are experiencing an epidemic of "Mad Cow Disease," a disorder that strikes the brains of cows (Yes! Cows have brains!) and causes them to act even stupider than usual. Recent reports state that the disease has now crossed the English Channel to France, and there is no reason to believe that it could not come here, what with the cheaper air fares.

Item two: According to a Columbus Dispatch article sent in by alert reader Polly Dix, a McConnelsville, Ohio, woman was recently awarded $85,000 by a jury for injuries she suffered when she was attacked by a "crazed cow." The article states that "a few days after eating wilted wild cherry leaves . . . the cow became hostile," and then, "with saliva running from its mouth," chased the woman down an embankment. "I grew up around cows all my life," the woman is quoted as saying. "Then one turned on me."

Item three: Alert reader Ralph Grummett wrote in to report that one time in New York state his cousin left his clothes on a tree limb while he went swimming in a creek, and a cow ate his undershorts. "This account is true," states Ralph.

Item four: Dozens of alert readers mailed in a Seattle Times article that begins: "Work crews in east King County are racing the clock in an effort to dispose of hundreds of drowned livestock before the decomposing animals explode."

Item five: Hundreds of alert readers sent in articles concerning the Washington State University researchers who will receive a $210,000 federal grant to strap monitoring devices on cows to measure how much methane gas they (the cows) emit when they belch, to see if this is contributing to the greenhouse effect.

When we analyze the above items, we see a clear pattern of Bovine Terrorism, wherein the world cow population, which for so many years was content to just stand around producing dairy products, has suddenly gone on an international rampage, attacking people, salivating from the mouth, consuming intimate garments, threatening to explode and making a concerted effort to melt the polar ice caps.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "Surely the scientific community is doing something about this!" Hah. This is what the scientific community is doing, according to an Associated Press article sent in by alert reader David Carl Scharff:

"Amherst, Mass. -- Using computers, sophisticated imaging equipment and genetic mapping, university scientists are trying to develop 'supercows' in the laboratory."

Great! Just what we need! Cows are running amok, and scientists want to make them stronger, perhaps even giving them X-ray vision and the power of flight! Nobody's undershorts would be safe!

But the scariest element in this story is an article from the Feb. 18 Arkansas Gazette, sent in by the parents of alert baby Zachary France. This article, by John Rice, has the following headline:




I am not making this up, either. The story states that a farmer named James Thorne in Berryville, Ark., had five of his cows die under what he believes were mysterious circumstances. The local sheriff claims they died of a bacterial disease, but Mr.

Thorne claims that they had mysterious cuts, and that "each of the cows had her sex organs removed."

The story quotes Mr. Thorne as saying: "I know no animal killed 'em and I know that no human killed 'em without anybody seeing it or alarming the dogs around here." The story adds that Mr. Thorne began to suspect alien beings after two "UFO investigators" from Forsyth, Mo., came out to inspect one of the deceased cows:

"Mr. Thorne said the team concluded . . . that aliens had visited and used a laser to kill the cow and remove the organs.

" 'They were very professional,' Mr. Thorne said of the UFO team. 'They went over that cow with a fine-tooth comb.' "

OK. Let's try to stay calm here, and just review the basic facts:

1. Cows are acting weird.

2. Alien beings appear to be making off with intimate bovine organs.

3. There are people from Forsyth, Mo., willing to comb dead livestock.

What does all this mean? Are we in danger? Should we take precautions? Until we get some solid answers, I am urging everyone to remain on the alert, and to heed the advice of the U.S. attorney general, who, when asked about these developments in a recent news conference, responded, and I quote: "Moo." *

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