400 Dead Whales!
Anti-ICBMs, Seeing Auras, IQ
Tiwanaku, NanoNews, Mag-Beam
ST: New Voyages & More!
400 Dead Whales!

Fishermen slaughter a whale at the Wada port,
east of Tokyo. An international animal welfare
group brought a landmark legal case accusing
Japan's last commercial whaling company of
killing more than 400 whales in an Australian
whale sanctuary. (AFP/ Kazuhiro Nogi)
SYDNEY October 19, 2004 (AFP) - An international animal welfare group brought a landmark legal case accusing Japan's last commercial whaling company of killing more than 400 whales in an Australian whale sanctuary.

Humane Society International (HSI) told AFP the case against Kyodo Sepaku Kaisha was aimed at pushing the Australian government to adopt tough tactics to protect whales in its territorial waters near Antarctica.

Spokeswoman Nicola Beynon said public information released by Japan to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), detailing the geographic coordinates at which so-called "scientific" kills of minke whales took place, showed they were within the sanctuary.

If its application in Australia's Federal Court succeeded, she said, HSI would seek an injunction in the hope of getting Canberra to protect whales in its Antarctic territory more forcefully.

"It is very clear that it is a breach of Australian law," Beynon told AFP. Since the sanctuary was established in 2000, nearly a quarter of all whales killed under Japan's Antarctic research program were caught in Australia's whale sanctuary.

HSI campaign director Michael Kennedy said the chances of victory were very good. "Lawyers assure that the law is black and white in this regard and we have a very good chance of achieving our injunction," Kennedy said.

The company, which is run from Japan, could not be contacted for comment.

However, an official at the Japanese embassy called the case "funny" and said Japan's whalers complied with international law.

"Why hasn't the Australian government noticed that and why has it not indicated some kind of protest?" the official said.

Despite the vast size and problems of policing Australia's enormous Antarctic possessions, Canberra in recent years has taken aggressive action against illegal fishing there.

A series of mainly South American fisherman have been hauled back to Australia with their ships and prosecuted after they were caught fishing near southern Heard Island, and HSI said it hoped to see similar action against whalers.

"That is the sort of action we would like to see when it comes to whaling," Beynon said.

The case, which has taken three years to prepare, was adjourned until November 9.

Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act created the sanctuary in 2000.

The organization said it hoped the case would embarrass the whaling company and the Japanese government.

Kyodo Sepaku Kaisha has long been a target of environmental activists but the case involves some thorny issues of international law.

The International Whaling Commission imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. Japan still kills whales under the guise of scientific research, although whale meat still ends up on Japanese supermarket shelves.

Japan says the hunts are legal and that under commission rules it is entitled to catch 440 whales a year in southern waters for scientific purposes. Other nations, including Australia, dispute any such right.

eXoNews Pix of the Week Dept.
Get Yer John Kerry War Game!

Hawking the candidate: an image from the new video game 'Kuma War,' from Kuma Reality Games shows the likeness of Sen. John Kerry in military attire fighting in Viet Nam. (Kuma Reality Games - http://www.kumawar.com)

Anti-ICBMs: Bush Missile Defense Plan Flawed
American Physical Society News Release

Boost-phase defense (disabling ballistic missiles while
their rockets are still burning) has received much
attention as one possible element of a National Missile
Defense system. However, the report shows that issues
of timing severely limit the feasibility of this approach.

College Park MD October 15, 2004 - Intercepting missiles while their rockets are still burning would not be an effective approach for defending the U.S. against attacks by an important type of enemy missile. This conclusion comes from an independent study by the American Physical Society (APS) into the scientific and technical feasibility of boost-phase defense, published in the latest issue of the APS Reviews of Modern Physics.

President Bush has expressed confidence in US missile defense programs, which are currently planned to include boost-phase defenses as well as other defensive measures, and plans to spend $10 billion on the effort in 2005.

Senator Kerry supports the development of a missile defense system that works and is fully tested, but he has questioned the Bush Administration's extraordinarily strong focus on such a system at the expense of more vigorous attempts to halt the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Boost-phase defense (disabling ballistic missiles while their rockets are still burning) has received much attention as one possible element of a National Missile Defense system. However, the report shows that issues of timing severely limit the feasibility of this approach.

The short time window available for disabling an enemy missile means that interceptor rockets would have to be based close to enemy territory to have a chance of intercepting the missile in time, if it is possible at all.

The study found that defending the United States against solid-propellant ICBMs would be impractical in many cases, because of their short burn times. According to the U.S. intelligence community, countries of concern could deploy such ICBMs within 10 to 15 years, about the same time the study judged would be required for the United States to field a boost-phase defense against ICBMs. Even against the longer burning liquid-propellant ICBMs that North Korea or Iran might initially deploy, a boost-phase defense would have limited use due to the requirement that interceptors be based close to potential missile flight paths.

Only two to three minutes would be available to achieve a boost-phase intercept, even assuming substantial improvements in systems for detecting and tracking missiles, according to Study Group findings. Consequently, even fast interceptors could have difficulty catching liquid-propellant ICBMs and would be unable to catch solid-propellant ICBMs in time. In the most optimistic scenarios, the defense would have only seconds to decide whether to fire interceptors and could be required to make this decision before knowing whether a rocket launch were a space mission or a missile attack, the group finds.

However, boost-phase defense against short- or medium-range missiles launched from ships off U.S. coasts appears technically possible, provided ships carrying interceptors could stay within about 40 kilometers of the threatening ships.

"This report takes a detailed look at the technical issues involved in creating such a system,” said APS President Helen Quinn. “The study group includes scientists and engineers with experience and expertise in a range of missile-related areas. The study provides a reasoned basis for public discussion of the capabilities and limitations of this approach to missile defense. APS is proud to contribute this work for the information of policy makers and the general public."

The APS Study Group looked at boost-phase defense systems utilizing land-, sea, or air-based interceptors, space-based interceptors, or the Airborne Laser.

Airborne Laser deployment - ABL engagement geometry chart shows
a laser beam aimed at a pressurized feul or oxidizer tank. "Energy on
the target over time causes catastrophic tank rupture." (Boeing)

The effectiveness of interceptor rockets would be limited by the short time window for intercept, which requires interceptors to be based within 400 to 1,000 kilometers of the possible boost-phase flight paths of attacking missiles. In some cases this is closer than political geography allows. Even interceptors that were very large and fast and that pushed the state of the art would in most cases be unable to intercept solid-propellant ICBMs before they released their warheads.

A system of space-based interceptors, also constrained by the short time window for intercept, would require a fleet of a thousand or more orbiting satellites just to intercept a single missile. Deploying such a fleet would require a five- to tenfold increase in the United States' annual space-launch capabilities.

The Airborne Laser currently in development has the potential to intercept liquid-propellant ICBMs, but its range would be limited and it would therefore be vulnerable to counterattack. The Airborne Laser would not be able to disable solid-propellant ICBMs at ranges useful for defending the United States.

"Few of the components exist for deploying an effective boost-phase defense against liquid-propellant ICBMs and some essential components would take at least 10 years to develop," said Study Group co-chair Daniel Kleppner. "According to U.S. intelligence estimates, North Korea and Iran could develop or acquire solid-propellant ICBMs within the next 10 to 15 years. Consequently, a boost-phase defense effective only against liquid-propellant ICBMs would risk being obsolete when deployed."

Although a successful intercept would prevent munitions from reaching their target, live nuclear, biological, or chemical warheads could strike populated areas short of the target in the United States or in other countries, shows the study. This "shortfall problem" is inherent in any boost-phase defense and difficult to avoid.

American Physical Society - http://www.aps.org

More about ABLs on Boeing's Airborne Laser System page - http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/abl/mission.html

Indian Fisherman Fear Mercury in US Waters

Native American dip net fishing

By Ashley H. Grant
Associated Press

ST. PAUL October 19, 2004 (AP) — American Indians are adding their voices to the controversy over mercury in the nation's waters, saying they are among the biggest consumers of fish and therefore more at risk from contamination.

"It is a real issue," said Bob Shimek, a member of the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, who says he fishes to put food on the table.

"It's not something abstract."

A recent report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which analyzed 2003 data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency, showed that 44 states including Minnesota had active mercury consumption advisories last year.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency listed about 1,900 lakes and streams as "impaired," meaning they contain harmful levels of pollutants like mercury or excess nutrients like nitrogen.

People who buy their freshwater fish at markets usually aren't at risk because most of it is raised on farms.

It's a different story for tribal members like Shimek, 51, who fish on their reservation. The practice is a treaty right and something members of his tribe have relied on as a dietary staple for generations.

"What good is a treaty-reserved right if it's not safe?" said Shimek, who works for an Indian environmental group on a mercury education project.

Shimek believes he suffered mercury poisoning in 1996 from eating fish he netted regularly from a lake on the reservation. He said he initially believed he had suffered a stroke when tingling in his left hand spread and affected his feet and speech.

Though Shimek never saw a doctor for his symptoms — he said he wasn't able to take time off from work — he's sure of the cause.

"Once I ran out of (fish), over a period of quite a number of weeks, the symptoms began to diminish," said Shimek.

Mercury can be harmful to the nervous system if consumed in large quantities, especially by children or pregnant women.

The EPA recently announced a mercury-reduction plan that envisions a 70 percent cut in mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants by 2018, from the current 48 tons a year to 15 tons.

Seeing Auras

In GW's case, people acquired a synaesthetic color as she
got to know them...

University College London News Release

October 18, 2004 - Supposed psychic powers that enable people to see auras around others may simply be a quirk of the brain, according to a University College London (UCL) study of a rare form of synaesthesia where some people see colorful 'auras' around their loved ones.

The case study, reported in the October issue of Cognitive Neuropsychology, shows how some people can experience colors in response to people they know or words that evoke emotions – a condition known as emotion-color synaesthesia.

Dr Jamie Ward, author of the study, says: "A popular notion is that some people have a magical ability to detect the hidden emotions of others by seeing a colorful 'aura' or energy field that they give off. Our study suggests a different interpretation. These colors do not reflect hidden energies being given off by other people, rather they are created entirely in the brain of the beholder."

In the study, Dr Ward of UCL's Psychology Department documented a woman known as GW who could see colors like purple and blue in response to people she knew or their names when read to her. Words triggered a color which spread across her whole field of vision, whilst people themselves appeared to have colored 'auras' projected around them. For example, "James" triggered pink, "Thomas" black and "Hannah" blue.

A similar test using 100 words rated on a scale of 1 to 7 for their emotional impact showed that highly emotive words such as fear or hate also triggered colors. Words associated with positive emotions tended to elicit pink, orange, yellow, and green, whereas words associated with negative emotions triggered brown, grey, and black.

Whilst it is quite common to describe people or emotions metaphorically in terms of colors, GW actually reported vividly seeing them. Indeed, when "James" (a pink word) was written in the wrong color (e.g. blue), her reaction times were slowed.

Some scientists believe it might be caused
by a cross-wiring in the brain...

Synaesthesia is a condition found in 1 in 2000 people in which stimulation of one sense produces a response in one or more of the other senses. For example, people with synaesthesia may experience shapes with tastes or smells with sounds.

It is thought to originate in the brain and some scientists believe it might be caused by a cross-wiring in the brain, for example between centers involved in emotional processing and smell perception. Synaesthesia is known to run in families.

GW, 19-year old with an IQ of 112, became aware of her condition around the age of seven but refrained from telling her family or friends. In GW's case, people acquired a synaesthetic color as she got to know them and the color was then triggered whenever she was presented with the person's name or face.

In contrast, a case discovered in the 1930s documents a seven year old boy who also associated colors with people, but saw strangers in bright orange with a black outline which faded to a mild blue and finally pink when he got to know them.

Dr Jamie Ward continues: "The ability of some people to see the colored auras of others has held an important place in folklore and mysticism throughout the ages. Although many people claiming to have such powers could be charlatans, it is also conceivable that others are born with a gift of synaesthesia.

"GW does not believe she has mystical powers and has no interest in the occult, but it is not hard to imagine how, in a different age or culture, such an interpretation could arise.

"Rather than assuming that people give off auras or energy fields that can only be detected by rigged cameras or trained seers, we need only assume that the phenomenon of synaesthesia is taking place."

University College London - http://www.ucl.ac.uk

Bush Shoots Down Outdoorsmen

Bush dove hunting in 1994.
(AP/ David J. Phillip)

By Judith Kohler
Associated Press

DENVER October 19, 2004 (AP) — Bob Elderkin's vote would appear to be a sure bet for President Bush on Nov. 2. He is a hunter, part of a conservative-leaning group of outdoors people that is 38 million strong and avidly supports gun rights.

But after backing Bush in 2000, Elderkin and some like-minded outdoorsmen say the Republican won't get their vote again because of his environmental policies.

"I can't vote for Bush knowing what it's going to be like the next four years," said Elderkin, a retired Bureau of Land Management employee in western Colorado where natural-gas drilling is booming. "With John Kerry, it's an unknown. As far as Bush goes, it's going to be, `Katie, bar the door.'"

Sid Evans, editor of Field & Stream magazine, said American sports people are divided on the president's environmental policies, finding themselves torn in some cases between the GOP's Second Amendment backing and a push to make more public land available for energy development.

"I think that more will vote for Bush. I think they feel more comfortable with him in general," said Evans, who estimated there are at least 38 million hunters and fishers nationwide with an annual economic impact of $70 billion.

Kerry has made a strong effort to be seen as a supporter of the Second Amendment, despite failing grades from the National Rifle Association for Senate votes on gun legislation. He has gone on public hunts, taken time out for target practice during the campaign, and declared flatly that he wouldn't take away the firearms of sports people.

"Kerry is paying attention to this group in a way they have not been paid attention to by a Democratic candidate for a while," Evans said.

Campaigning in Ohio on Saturday, Kerry picked up a hunting license in a pitch to socially conservative Democrats motivated by values and gun rights.

Still, some hunters equate Democratic politics with gun control.

"It's kind of hard to hunt without having access to firearms," said Mike Freeze, vice chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and co-chairman of the state's Sportsmen for Bush group.

Sports people like Elderkin worry that proliferating gas wells dotting private and public land will affect some of the nation's largest deer, elk, and pronghorn herds. "If there's nothing to hunt out there, what use is a gun?" he said.

Last spring, Bush invited hunters and others to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and he also revamped rules on wetlands after meetings with hunters and anglers. He told Field & Stream that the nation can protect the environment while producing fuel "that will enable people to be able to live the lives they want to live."

Bush spokesman Danny Diaz said, "Sportsmen represent a very important constituency to this campaign. They reflect, in many cases, the interests and views of a majority of Americans and rural America."

Alan Lackey of Raton, New Mexico, and Stan Rauch of Victor, Montana, both Bush voters in 2000, said they are angry about the administration's proposal to allow logging and new roads on up to 58 million acres of national forest that were declared off-limits by a Clinton-era rule.

"Kerry, I believe, would be better on environmental policies, which to me equates to taking care of habitat and wildlife," said Rauch, a retired Air Force pilot.

A recent National Wildlife Federation poll said many sports people disagree with the administration's environmental policies, federation spokesman Vinay Jain said. The poll, conducted in July, found that 75 percent believe carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced and 49 percent think the oil and gas industry have the most input into Bush's conservation and hunting and fishing policies.

"The poll affirmed what we'd been hearing for years anecdotally about increasing hunter and angler backlash," Jain said.

The backlash is as strong in other parts of the country as in the West, said Christopher Camuto, an outdoors writer in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

"Everybody is looking at how little is left in the East. Most sportsmen would want to hold the line at the roadless backcountry we have left," Camuto said.

A Bush proposal would require governors to petition the government to keep roadless areas undeveloped. Kerry supports the Clinton administration's protection for roadless areas in national forests.

Lackey, a car dealer in northern New Mexico and a former hunting and fishing guide, has helped organize opposition to a proposal by Houston-based El Paso Corp. to explore for oil and gas in half the 100,000-acre Valle Vidal. It is home to the state's largest elk herd and some of the few remaining populations of native wild trout.

"Sportsmen are predominantly Republican and very patriotic," Lackey said. "But the federal government has become an instrument to convey the public wealth into private hands at our expense."

IQ Testing Obsolete
University of Alberta News Release

October 18, 2004 - Measuring a child's IQ is an obsolete way to determine intelligence, and in fact, labels youngsters unfairly, according to a University of Alberta professor.

Building on a theory he began researching almost 20 years ago, Dr. J.P. Das has developed ' rules and tools of intelligence' which point to factors other than IQ (Intelligence Quotient) in measuring how 'smart' a child is.

"A child growing up in the slums or in a household with no literacy or books could be very street-smart, yet not have the school learning required for the traditional measurement of IQ," says Das, Professor Emeritus in educational psychology at the University of Alberta.

Das presented his Rules and Tools of Intelligence: How IQ became obsolete in a keynote address at the 28th International Congress of Psychology held in Beijing, China in August, and the system is now being used all over the world, and is being translated into several languages. Using a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Das is currently working with children in an Alberta aboriginal community to explore learning problems.

Das identifies four 'rules of intelligence' that go into information processing. The rules include a belief that intelligence is not fixed, but is influenced by such factors as learning and cultural demands, cognitive abilities, even school attendance, as well as individual ability to process information such as language and face recognition.

The rules guide the research on PASS theory, developed by Das and two colleagues in 1994. PASS (an acronym for Planning, Attention, Simultaneous and Successive processing) has shown that intelligence should not be measured alone by school learning and IQ testing, but by information processing that occurs during this learning.

"What goes into intellectual abilities and how a person solves a problem is more important than a score itself," said Das.

A system for cognitive assessment based on PASS has been available since 1997, following standardized testing on 3,000 children and teens, and has been adopted by school districts in the United States, including Los Angeles.

IQ testing can stigmatize a child permanently, causing more harm than good, Das said.

"When a child is labeled as gifted, you are happy. But when he is labeled as borderline intelligent, as a parent you think, 'What did I do? I must have committed a sin.'"

Using the PASS rules of intelligence, teachers in the classroom can individualize their program planning for students, Das says. "Rather than categorizing and labeling, a teacher can explore the different thought process of each child as unique."

Das is a founding member of the University of Alberta's Developmental Disabilities Centre, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, in recognition of his contributions to the study of intelligence.

University of Alberta - http://www.ualberta.ca

Mary Poppins Denied Vote

Miss Poppins

DEFIANCE OHIO October 19, 2004 (AP) - Elections officials knew something was wrong when they got voter registration cards for Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy, Michael Jordan and George Foreman.

They notified the Defiance County sheriff, who arrested Chad Staton on Monday on a felony charge of submitting phony voter registration forms. Investigators also were looking into allegations that he was paid with cocaine in exchange for his efforts.

Staton, 22, had fraudulently filled out more than 100 voter registration forms, Sheriff David Westrick said.

"Staton was to be paid for each registration form that he could get citizens to fill out," the sheriff said. "However, Staton himself filled out the registrations and returned them to the woman who hired him from Toledo."

Staton was charged with false registration and was released without bond pending arraignment.

No other charges had been filed in the case Monday, authorities said.

According to Westrick, the NAACP's National Voter Fund had submitted the false registrations to the elections board in Cleveland. George Forbes, Cleveland chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Monday that the voter fund operates independently from his chapter.

Officers said they interviewed a Toledo woman who claimed that she had paid Staton with cocaine for the registrations. Officers said they obtained a search warrant and took voter registrations and drug paraphernalia from her home.

The woman claimed she had been recruited by a Cleveland man to obtain voter registrations, Westrick said.


A vessel representing an old man carrying a
water fowl ranks among the most impressive
finds of the excavations on Pariti. (AFP /
Antti Korpisaari)

HELSINKI October 19, 2004 (AFP) - Ceramic artifacts found by Finnish archeologists during a dig in Bolivia have shed new light on the prehistoric Tiwanaku people, of whom little is known, Helsinki University officials said.

"The discovery demonstrates that the Tiwanakus made the highest quality ceramics in the Andean region, with very naturalistic portraits, and thanks to this we now know what they looked like," Martti Paerssinen, a professor from Helsinki University who led the excavations, told AFP.

The Tiwanaku people settled on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca in the Andean mountains around 400 BC.

They built their administrative centre, the city of Tiwanaku, around 300-500 AD, and their influence in the region continued to grow for several centuries.

Knowledge about the Tiwanakus is however limited as they left no writings and their culture died out in the 11th century.

Today, the former Tiwanaku capital, some 75 kilometers (45 miles) west of La Paz, is Bolivia's most important archeological site. The Finnish university has carried out excavations in the area around Lake Titicaca, which is shared between Peru and Bolivia, together with Bolivian archeologists for some 15 years.

During surveys on the island of Pariti in the lake this summer, the team of archeologists found a Tiwanaku burial site containing more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of ceramic artifacts, which have been dated to between 850 and 1050 AD.

"The ceramics also tell a lot about their costumes and jewelry, which we knew little about before since the textiles from this period have almost all disappeared," Paerssinen noted.

Reality TV
EUGENE Oregon October 19, 2004 (Reuters) - TV hardly gets much better than this.

An Oregon man discovered earlier this month that his year-old Toshiba Corp. flat-screen TV was emitting an international distress signal picked up by a satellite, leading a search and rescue operation to his apartment in Corvallis, Oregon, 70 miles south of Portland.

The signal from Chris van Rossmann's TV was routed by satellite to the Air Force Rescue Center at Langley Air Base in Virginia.

On Oct. 2, the 20 year-old college student was visited at his apartment in the small university town by a contingent of local police, civil air patrol and search and rescue personnel.

"They'd never seen signal come that strong from a home appliance," said van Rossmann. "They were quite surprised. I think we all were."

Authorities had expected to find a boat or small plane with a malfunctioning transponder, the usual culprit in such incidents, emitting the 121.5 MHz frequency of the distress signal used internationally.

Van Rossmann said he was told to keep his TV off to avoid paying a $10,000 fine for "willingly broadcasting a false distress signal."

Toshiba contacted Rossmann and offered to provide him with a replacement set for free, he said.
NanoNews: Oligophenyleneethynylene Rocks?

Nanowires: good candidates for components in nanoelectronic

Brookhaven National Laboratory News Release

UPTON NY October 18, 2004 - Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators have discovered that a short, organic chain molecule with dimensions on the order of a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) conducts electrons in a surprising way: It regulates the electrons’ speed erratically, without a predictable dependence on the length of the wire. This information may help scientists learn how to use nanowires to create components for a new class of tiny electronic circuits.

"This is a very unexpected and unique result," said John Smalley, a guest scientist in Brookhaven’s Chemistry Department and the lead researcher of the study, described in the October 16, 2004, online edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The conducting chain molecule, or "nanowire," that Smalley and his collaborators studied is composed of units of phenyleneethynylene (PE), which consists of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Like the links that make up a chain, PE units join together to form a nanowire known as oligophenyleneethynylene (OPE). PE, and therefore OPE, contains single, double, and triple carbon-carbon bonds.

The double and triple carbon-carbon bonds promote strong electronic interactions along OPE such that it conducts an electric current with low electrical resistance. This property makes OPE nanowires good candidates for components in nanoelectronic circuits, very small, fast circuits expected to replace those currently used in computers and other electronics.

Smalley and his collaborators found that as they increased the length of the OPE wire from one to four PE units, the electrons moved across the wire faster, slower, then faster again, and so on. In this way, OPE does not behave like a similar nanowire the group has also studied, called oligophenylenevinylene (OPV), which contains single and double carbon-carbon bonds. When they made OPV wires longer, the electrons’ speed remained the same. They observed the same result when they studied short wires made of alkanes, another group of hydrocarbon molecules that contains only single carbon-carbon bonds.

The researchers think that the unusual behavior of OPE may be due to its tendency to slightly change its three-dimensional shape. Increasing the wire’s length may trigger new shapes, which may slow down or speed up the electrons as they cross the wire.

This variable resistance could be a benefit. "If the odd behavior is due to the conformational variability of the OPE wires, figuring out a way to control the tendency of OPE to change its shape could be useful," said Smalley. "For example, diodes and transistors are two types of devices based on variable electrical resistance."

The scientists made another significant finding: They dramatically increased the rate at which the electrons moved across the wire by substituting a methyl hydrocarbon group onto the middle unit of a three-unit OPE wire.

"Because OPE seems sensitive to this substitution, we hope to find another hydrocarbon group that may further increase the electrons’ speed, and therefore OPE’s ability to conduct electrons," said Smalley.


Experimental Background

In the experiment, Smalley and his group created an OPE wire "bridge" between a gold electrode and a "donor-acceptor" molecule. To measure the electron transfer rate across the bridge, they used a technique they developed in which a laser rapidly heats up the electrode. This causes a change in the electrical potential (voltage) between the electrode and the donor-acceptor, which disrupts the motion of electrons crossing the bridge. The group used a very sensitive voltmeter to measure how quickly the voltage changed in response to the altered electron movement. From these measurements, they determined how fast the electrons were moving through the wire.

This research, performed in collaboration with Marshall Newton of the Brookhaven Chemistry Department and researchers at Stanford University, Clemson University, and Motorola, is funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

Longer Nanotubes
University of California - Irvine News Release

Thin bundle of carbon nanotubes with some impurities
deposited across two AuPd electrodes. (ORNL)

Irvine October 18, 2004 – UC Irvine today announced that scientists at The Henry Samueli School of Engineering have synthesized the world's longest electrically conducting nanotubes. These 0.4 cm nanotubes are 10 times longer than previously created electrically conducting nanotubes. The breakthrough discovery may lead to the development of extremely strong, lightweight materials and ultradense nano-memory arrays for extremely powerful computers, ultralow-loss power transmission lines, and nano-biosensors for use in health care applications.

A nanotube is commonly made from carbon and consists of a graphite sheet seamlessly wrapped into a cylinder only a few nanometers wide. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, about the size of 10 atoms strung together.

Peter Burke, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, conducted the research along with graduate students Shengdong Li, Christopher Rutherglen and Zhen Yu.

"We are extremely excited about this discovery," said Burke. "Recently there have been several key advances around the world in synthesizing very long carbon nanotubes. Our research has taken a significant step forward by showing we can pass electricity through these long nanotubes. Significantly, we have found that our nanotubes have electrical properties superior to copper. This clearly shows for the first time that long nanotubes have outstanding electrical properties, just like short ones."

Researchers grew the carbon nanotubes using a simple procedure: Burke allowed natural gas to react chemically with tiny iron particles or "nanoparticles" inside a small furnace.

By placing a small amount of gold under the iron, Burke's group found that ultralong nanotubes grow; whereas without the gold, only short nanotubes grow. Because nanotubes are so small, it is difficult to connect regular wires to them. Using gold in the growth process, Burke solved this problem by growing nanotubes that come out already attached to gold wires.

An added scientific benefit is that Burke was able to accurately determine how the electrical resistance of a nanotube depends on its length. The relationship between resistance and physical size (length) is a key property of any new material.

Burke's finding indicates that the electrical conductivity is greater than for copper wires of the same size, a world record for any nano-material of this length.

Who Swiped Iraq Nuclear Materials?

By Louis Charbonneau

VIENNA October 15, 2004 (Reuters) — The mysterious removal of Iraq's mothballed nuclear facilities continued long after the U.S.-led invasion and was carried out by people with access to heavy machinery and demolition equipment, diplomats said on Thursday.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog told the Security Council this week that equipment and materials that could be used to make atomic weapons had been vanishing from Iraq without either Baghdad or Washington noticing.

"This process carried on at least through 2003 ... and probably into 2004, at least in early 2004," said a Western diplomat close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitored Iraq's nuclear sites before last year's war.

That contrasted with statements by Western and Iraqi officials, who have played down the disappearance of the equipment.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Tuesday he believed most of the removals took place in the chaos shortly after the March 2003 invasion.

The United States and Britain said they invaded to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. Both countries now admit toppled ruler Saddam Hussein had no such weapons.

Several diplomats close to the IAEA said the disappearance of the nuclear items was not the result of haphazard looting.

They said the removal of the dual-use equipment — which before the war was tagged and closely monitored by the IAEA to ensure it was not being used in a weapons program — was planned and executed by people who knew what they were doing.

"We're talking about dozens of sites being dismantled," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "Large numbers of buildings taken down, warehouses were emptied and removed. This would require heavy machinery, demolition equipment. This is not something that you'd do overnight."

Proliferation Fears

Diplomats in Vienna say the IAEA is worried that these facilities, which belonged to Saddam's pre-1991 covert nuclear weapons program, could have been packed up and sold to a country or militants interested in nuclear weapons.

The diplomats said that among the sites that had been stripped were a precision manufacturing site at Umm Al Marik, a site connected with Iraq's nuclear weapons activities at Al Qa Qaa, and an engineering facility at Badr.

One diplomat said there were "dozens of others" that gradually disappeared from satellite photos analyzed by IAEA experts at its headquarters in Vienna.

Independent expert Alex Standish, editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest, said Iraqi nuclear and weapons-related material that was monitored by the U.N. before the invasion had since been found in Europe. Raw "yellowcake" uranium, apparently from Iraq, was found in Rotterdam last December, he said.

"It seems extremely negligent for the authorities in Iraq to allow this quantity of material to have been exported from the country," Standish said.

In 1991, the IAEA detected Saddam's clandestine nuclear weapons program and spent the next seven years investigating and dismantling it. By the time U.N. inspectors left the country in December 1998, Iraq's covert atom bomb program was gone.

After returning in November 2002 until they were evacuated in March 2003, the IAEA was confident none of the dual-use nuclear equipment in Iraq was being used in a weapons program.

(Additional reporting by Peter Graff in London.)

Mag-Beam Plasma Propulsion - Round Trip to Mars in 90 Days!

In this artist's conception, a plasma station (lower left) applies a magnetized
beam of ionized plasma to a spacecraft bound for Jupiter. (John Carscadden /
University of Washington)

University of Washington News Release

October 14, 2004 - A new means of propelling spacecraft being developed at the University of Washington could dramatically cut the time needed for astronauts to travel to and from Mars and could make humans a permanent fixture in space.

In fact, with magnetized-beam plasma propulsion, or mag-beam, quick trips to distant parts of the solar system could become routine, said Robert Winglee, a UW Earth and space sciences professor who is leading the project.

Currently, using conventional technology and adjusting for the orbits of both the Earth and Mars around the sun, it would take astronauts about 2.5 years to travel to Mars, conduct their scientific mission and return.

"We're trying to get to Mars and back in 90 days," Winglee said. "Our philosophy is that, if it's going to take two-and-a-half years, the chances of a successful mission are pretty low."

Mag-beam is one of 12 proposals that this month began receiving support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Institute for Advanced Concepts. Each gets $75,000 for a six-month study to validate the concept and identify challenges in developing it. Projects that make it through that phase are eligible for as much as $400,000 more over two years.

Under the mag-beam concept, a space-based station would generate a stream of magnetized ions that would interact with a magnetic sail on a spacecraft and propel it through the solar system at high speeds that increase with the size of the plasma beam. Winglee estimates that a control nozzle 32 meters wide would generate a plasma beam capable of propelling a spacecraft at 11.7 kilometers per second. That translates to more than 26,000 miles an hour or more than 625,000 miles a day.

Mars is an average of 48 million miles from Earth, though the distance can vary greatly depending on where the two planets are in their orbits around the sun. At that distance, a spacecraft traveling 625,000 miles a day would take more than 76 days to get to the red planet. But Winglee is working on ways to devise even greater speeds so the round trip could be accomplished in three months.

But to make such high speeds practical, another plasma unit must be stationed on a platform at the other end of the trip to apply brakes to the spacecraft.

"Rather than a spacecraft having to carry these big powerful propulsion units, you can have much smaller payloads," he said.

Winglee envisions units being placed around the solar system by missions already planned by NASA. One could be used as an integral part of a research mission to Jupiter, for instance, and then left in orbit there when the mission is completed. Units placed farther out in the solar system would use nuclear power to create the ionized plasma; those closer to the sun would be able to use electricity generated by solar panels.

The mag-beam concept grew out of an earlier effort Winglee led to develop a system called mini-magnetospheric plasma propulsion. In that system, a plasma bubble would be created around a spacecraft and sail on the solar wind. The mag-beam concept removes reliance on the solar wind, replacing it with a plasma beam that can be controlled for strength and direction.

A mag-beam test mission could be possible within five years if financial support remains consistent, he said. The project will be among the topics during the sixth annual NASA Advanced Concepts Institute meeting Tuesday and Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seattle. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Winglee acknowledges that it would take an initial investment of billions of dollars to place stations around the solar system. But once they are in place, their power sources should allow them to generate plasma indefinitely. The system ultimately would reduce spacecraft costs, since individual craft would no longer have to carry their own propulsion systems. They would get up to speed quickly with a strong push from a plasma station, then coast at high speed until they reach their destination, where they would be slowed by another plasma station.

"This would facilitate a permanent human presence in space," Winglee said. "That's what we are trying to get to."

More details on advanced propulsion concepts can be found at: http://www.ess.washington.edu/Space/propulsion.html

The Web site for the Research Institute for Space Exploration is http://www.ess.washington.edu/RISE

Genre News: Star Trek New Voyages, William Shatner, Beatles, The Grudge, Steve McQueen & More!

The original Enterprise returns in the Star Trek New Voyages
episode In Harm's Way (Cow Creek Films)
Star Trek New Voyages - Episode Two: In Harm's Way
Review by FLAtRich

October 20, 2004 (eXoNews) - Picture yourself in an alternate universe where Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) had 21st Century computer-rendered special effects. Just think of the impact Gene Roddenberry's creation would have made with that future tweak back in 1966!

William Shatner might have won an Emmy!

Enter Star Trek New Voyages, a fan-driven, web-based TOS revival led by Cow Creek Films, and dedicated to continuing the five-year mission begun by the 1960's crew of the USS Enterprise.

The first New Voyages episode, Come What May, was released in January and I gave it a break. New Voyages is not quite a TV series and certainly not a Franchise-sanctioned remake. It is created by fans out of love, working for free on no discernable budget. The first episode acting ranged from unmentionable to pretty good, effects were cheap but not too bad, sets were cardboardy, camerawork static, lighting sort of awful and the scripting was a bit too fanfictionish to impress anyone outside of the hardcore Trekker universe.

Hey! Who blew up NCC-1701 in 2254? (Cow Creek Films)

But the newest New Voyage, In Harm's Way erases all doubt that Cow Creek and its minions will have an impact on the Star Trek timeline and the science fiction genre as well. The New Voyages project has undergone a makeover that puts it in a class by itself. Episode writers Max Rem and Erik Korngold weave obscure story threads from the original series into a new and rather exciting plot. Director of Photography Scott Moody photographs scenes stylishly. Director Jack Marshall tunes his actors to mostly excellent performances. Rem embellishes everything with delightful special effects.

Perhaps most important, Marshall and Rem have mastered editing. The first episode suffered here, but In Harm's Way never loses pace.

How our intrepid band of fans accomplished all of this is beyond me. STNV Fan Relations tells me that production on In Harm's Way began last March and director Jack Marshall worked on the project 40 hours a week. Production designer James Cawley (who also plays Kirk) built all the sets. Everything you see on your computer screen - costumes, makeup, sound effects, etc. - was handcrafted by dedicated volunteers.

James Cawley as Kirk. He also designed and
built the sets. (Cow Creek Films)

STNV has the Roddenberry blessing (Eugene Roddenberry, Jr. is a Consulting Producer) and this episode should delight any science fiction fan.

Even the most jaded Trekster must sit forward in awe.

In Harm's Way did arrive later than the official website originally promised, but that is hardly surprising given the intricacy of the story and number of shots and effects. These guys even brought in some genuine Star Trek Special Guest Stars, but before I tell you who let me dangle some of the plot in front of you.

There may be a few little spoilers here, but I'm only going for a tease.

The opening segment of In Harm's Way gives us the Enterprise under attack 14 years ago in 2254, commanded by Captain Christopher Pike (Kurt Carley). (Trekkers know that Pike appeared in the classic TOS first pilot episode "The Cage" and TOS episodes "The Menagerie" 1 & 2.) The Enterprise is being chased by the wormy doomsday planet destroying berserker (from the TOS Season Two episode "The Doomsday Machine").
Pike asks "Lt. Spock" (Jeffery Quinn) for a status report and we notice that Pike's Executive Officer (Shannon Quinlan) is a woman. (Reference first TOS pilot, where Majel Lee Hudec, AKA Majel Barrett Roddenberry, played Pike's Number One.)

But wait, something is wrong here! No, it's not Spock. We know he served with Pike on the Enterprise before Kirk came aboard, but wasn't it Kirk, not Pike who encountered the doomsday machine when his friend Commodore Matthew Decker (played in the TOS episode by William Windom) attempted to thwart the berserker by flying down the throat of the thing and blowing up his shuttlecraft?

OK, maybe that's hardcore trivia but while we are wondering, the Enterprise is blasted to space dust and everyone knows that doesn't happen in the TOS timeline. [Fade to opening credits, TOS theme music.] The game is afoot!

The Guardian of Forever time portal makes a guest
appearance (Cow Creek Films)

Fade back to the present on the Gateway planet, the location of Project Timepiece (which is undoubtedly the alien Guardian of Forever time portal from "The City on the Edge of Forever", an all-time favorite TOS episode written by Harlan Ellison.) Spock is at the Project Timepiece base, conferencing with Captain Kirk (James Cawley) and asking Kirk to bring his ship to Gateway. Kirk reluctantly agrees and sets his crew in motion, but hey! Wait a minute! Kirk's First Officer is a Klingon commander named Kargh (John Carrigan)?

The rest of Kirk's crew are TOS regulars - Doctor McCoy (John Kelley), Uhura (Julienne Irons), Navigator DeSalle (Ron Boyd), Scotty (Charles Root) and Rand (Meghan King Johnson) are all there. So is Chapel, who looks suspiciously like the First Officer we saw on Pike's destroyed Enterprise (mainly because, in a bow to Majel Roddenberry, both parts are played here by Shannon Quinlan.)

But as the camera pulls back through the observation bubble in the ship's saucer section, we see that Kirk and crew are flying the USS Farragut, not their beloved Enterprise.

When Kirk and the Farragut crew arrive at the Gateway planet, Spock and Project Timepiece scientist Dr. MacGregor (Becky Bonar) explain that time is awry. The timeline has been altered and Kirk must take his crew through the Guardian of Forever portal to set things right.

Malachi Throne, Barbara Luna and William Windom. Genuine
TOS Guest Stars who grace In Harm's Way (Cow Creek Films)

And you must download In Harm's Way to find out what happens next. I will tell you that Kirk and his crew run into a lot of action and some delightful surprises.

Oh, and those genuine Special Guests include Barbara Luna, Malachi Throne and William Windom reprising his TOS role as Commodore Matthew Decker.

People who read my rants here at eXoNews know that I am unashamedly at the end of my rope with the producers of Star Trek Enterprise for their limp reliance on temporal warping to come up with a plot (see my review of Storm Front last week), but here we have a bunch of unpaid Star Trek fans who have used the same device in a way that really works.

Director Jack Marshall and Consulting Producer
Eugene Roddenberry, Jr. on the set of In Harm's
Way (Cow Creek Films)

In Harm's Way returns to the days when Star Trek was Star Trek, not just another TV allegory for the George Bush War on Terrorism. This New Voyages trip transcends cliché while drawing on the best of the classic Treks to evolve a valuable addition to the mythos.

In Harm's Way also sets a precedent reminiscent of the success of writer Harlan Ellison. Ellison began as a rabid sci fi fan and rose to respected professional scribe. Cow Creek's STNV opens a portal for new fan-driven projects. Perhaps fan productions will someday reveal the fate of Captain Vansen and Hawkes of Space: Above and Beyond? What really happened to Dale Cooper after Twin Peaks or the moose in Northern Exposure? Return to Harsh Realm? The list is endless!

My advice, take the time to download In Harm's Way. You could face six hours or more with a dial-up connection, but the episode is divided into five separate files (plus two more if you want the trailers) and it is certainly worth the price.

Did I mention that this is a free download?

All you need is a fairly recent computer, graphics and sound card to play In Harm's Way in one of several formats for different operating systems. (Windows users with Windows Media Player 9 on board can go with the Windows Media Format files.)

(Cow Creek Films)

To find the download site that suits you, go to http://www.newvoyages.com  and click on Episodes. Newbies should beware of the first download site on the list, which features a Bit-Torrent File version and may require software you don't have (I didn't know what Bit-Torrent File meant either - see link below), but Windows Media Player and QuickTime versions are available.

Hint: Windows Media Player users can scroll down all the way through the list of download sites to Mirror 9 like I did and go for the .WMV files.

Also check out the Official Site for pix and other info on Star Trek New Voyages - http://www.newvoyages.com

Live long and download!

Brian's BitTorrent FAQ and Guide Microsoft Windows - http://btfaq.com/serve/cache/8.html

[UPDATED 10/22/04 - Picky, picky! Fixed the Kirk-Pike error that a few readers noticed in the plot summary above. It's always a risk depending on the little gray cells when reviewing Trek stuff! I thought those hardcore fans who were precise enough to bring this to my attention might also enjoy the following transcript from a 1997 MSN chat with Majel. The event was hosted by DJ Nelson Aspen, who had a "show" on MSN at the time, and attended by only a very few MSN beta testers (myself included.) Majel's answer about the original pilot is below followed by a link to the entire transcript. Ed.]

Majel Roddenberry on the Original Star Trek Pilot
from Nelson's World MSN Chat, circa 1997

What was the story behind the original Trek pilot? You were originally cast as second-in-command, right?

MajelR: Right.

MajelR: Gene wrote that part first, last, and always for me. As a matter of fact, that was the first part that he wrote. He wanted a woman second in command and I was going to be that woman.

MajelR: So, when we did it we thought isn't this innovative and fun. NBC said, "No. Our people don't think so. We want you to recast the role, get rid of the woman because no one will believe a woman second in command."

MajelR: They said, "This show was too cerebral." And, they were going to try to make another pilot, but they wanted changes.

MajelR: Number one, WAS "Number One", which was my character name. Number two was, the guy with the ears had to go because he was too "Satanic" looking. so, Gene knew that it was going to break my heart, but he wanted to Spock character so badly that he figured, "Ok. I'll marry the woman and I'll keep the Spock character because I don't think Leonard would have it the other way around."

Nelson: LOL

MajelR: And, the third thing they wanted was instead of 50% men, 50% women, was to have mostly men, because otherwise it was going to look like there was too much "hanky panky" going on on board the Starship.

Nelson: LOL

MajelR: Well, Gene figured he was going to have to fight to get some of what he wanted anyway, this one he could live with because 30 good women could handle a crew of 300 anyway.

Nelson: LOL

Click here for full Majel Roddenberry chat transcript.

Shatner Sings Again
Associated Press Writer

Is this a trick or a treat?

NEW YORK October 16, 2004 (AP) - Just in time for Halloween comes a CD from a guy more likely to inspire a holiday costume than a musical following — William Shatner. The one-time James T. Kirk of "Star Trek" fame has released an 11-song collection this month, a follow-up to his 1968 spoken-word debut that garnered such critical infamy it became a camp classic.

So it must be asked: Is this a trick or a treat?

"It's a treat for me," Shatner, 73, said by telephone from Los Angeles, where he was taping an episode of "Boston Legal," his latest TV show. "I hope nobody turns a trick on it."

The new album — slyly titled "Has Been" — once again puts Shatner's choppy, emphasis-added words to music. But this time he's penned his own lyrics and tempered the cheese quotient with a few musical friends. Ben Folds, who produced and arranged the new album and co-wrote many of the songs, wrangled guest appearances by Joe Jackson, Aimee Mann, Henry Rollins and Brad Paisley.

Still smirking?

As the music veers from lush pianos to soul, from gospel to cowboy twang, Shatner's lyrics explore, among other things, his fear of aging, the death of a loved one, reconnecting with estranged children and the fickleness of fame.

Take the title track, "Has Been," in which Shatner wrestles with critics who have called him washed up: "Has been implies failure / Not so / Has been is history / Has been was / Has been might again."

"I'm standing in front of you with my heart exposed," Shatner said in the interview. "But it's time for me to do that, and I did it willingly. If it doesn't work, it's my deficiencies."

As is often the case with Shatner's projects, the CD seems to forever flit between self and self-parody.

"It's really interesting musically," said Garson Foos, president of the Shout! Factory record label, which released the album and is targeting fans of intelligent, alternative rock. "We have modest expectations but we're hopeful that we'll exceed them."

Foos, with his brother Richard, previously ran Rhino Records, a fact that made things a little sticky at first: Rhino had included two of Shatner's songs on its first "Golden Throats" album — advertised as "embarrassing musical moments from celebrities you thought would know better."

Shatner's 1968 album "The Transformed Man" was a gold mine of such moments, a bizarre attempt to meld contemporary pop songs like "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" with excerpts from classic literature like "Hamlet."

It was a record that launched a thousand titters and more than a few dead-on impressions from comedians mocking Shatner's start-and-stop, overly dramatic phrasing. Think Kevin Pollak crooning "Mr. Tam-bou-rine maaaan!"

So when the Foos brothers approached Shatner with the idea of a new album, Shatner was wary: "I recall feeling they wanted to see if there was another self-mockery item here — and I'm not going to go there," he said.

Shatner called in reinforcements. Folds, a friend since the two collaborated on a song for Folds' "Fear of Pop" album, eagerly signed on — much to the delight of the record company. Then Shatner got spooked.

"I asked Ben, 'What am I going to write?' He said 'Tell the truth.'"

Apparently, Shatner took the advice to heart. In the song "Real," he warns his fans "just because you've seen me on your TV / Doesn't mean I'm any more enlightened than you." And in "You'll Have Time," he bluntly counsels "Live life like you're gonna die / Because you're gonna / I hate to be the bearer of bad news / But you're gonna die."

It's not all gloomy, as one can expect from the Priceline pitchman.

A duet with Black Flag's Henry Rollins?

In "I Can't Get Behind That," Shatner and Rollins playfully rail against high gas prices, student drivers, leaf blowers and car alarms. Full of mock anger, Shatner offers the line "I can't get behind so-called singers that can't carry a tune, get paid for talking, how easy is that?"

Then he pauses, reconsiders: "Well, maybe I can get behind that."

Shatner has high hopes for the album, even though he knows it may be ridiculed.

"I'd love for it to sell a lot of records," he says. "If some Philistine wanted to pull a song and make fun of it, that would be all right. I would have accomplished what I set out to do."

As for whether he expects to give teenybopper artists like, say, Christina Aguilera a run for their money, Shatner is coy.

"I've got the same moves," he said, "but I'm not allowed to show them."

William Shatner Official - http://www.williamshatner.com

Beatles Go Hollywood
By Liza Foreman

LOS ANGELES October 18, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - The Beatles are headed to Hollywood.

Or, more precisely, Sony-based Revolution Studios is developing a film musical, "All You Need Is Love," that will feature more than a dozen cover versions of Fab Four tunes.

Your mother should know (AFP)

The project, from veteran British screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, is a romance about a British boy and an American girl set against the backdrop of the social upheaval of the 1960s.

Although not about the Beatles, the musical will use their songs to drive the narrative, with the actors singing and dancing to the classic tunes. The filmmakers are in negotiations to secure re-recording rights for the project, set to feature 17-18 Beatles songs.

"Everyone loves the Beatles," Clement said. "No matter how old or young someone is, where they're from or what they're background is, the music is universal."

Added La Frenais: "Everyone has a memory associated with the Beatles. Whether it was your first kiss or the first time you saw that girl standing across from you at the high school dance, chances are that the DJ was playing a Beatles song."

The film's producer, Matthew Gross, noted that Clement and La Frenais knew late Beatles guitarist George Harrison and drummer Ringo Starr personally.

"We wanted to create a story that stood entirely on its own merits," Gross said. "Even without the music, their story is dramatic, moving and powerful. That being said, no matter what we wanted to convey in a scene, there was always a Beatles song available to help us push the narrative and emotional beats forward."

Clement and La Frenais, who first teamed in the '60s on such swingin' London titles as "The Jokers" and "Otley," have written dozens of movies including two films for Harrison, whose Handmade Films produced 1985's "Water" and 1983's "Bullshot," both of which Clement directed.

Clement and La Frenais are collaborating with AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson on a Broadway musical. They also wrote "The Commitments." Their credits also include the classic British TV series "Porridge" and "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet."

Jason Behr on The Grudge

Hollywood October 18, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Jason Behr, who stars in the horror remake The Grudge, told SCI FI Wire that Japanese writer/director Takashi Shimizu made the story clearer for American audiences, while still keeping some of the mystery from his original Japanese film, Ju-on.

Jason Behr

"The first Ju-on was so fractured in its storytelling that you had to kind of put the pieces of the puzzle back together," Behr said in an interview while promoting the film.

"If it wasn't as clear as it should be, it's OK, because it doesn't need to be explained. All the loose ends don't need to be tied up nice and neat. Shimizu tied up a few more loose ends, but there's a lot of stuff that is still kind of unanswered, which is interesting to me."

The Grudge, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, deals with the effects of a curse on a house in Tokyo and the people who come into contact with it. The movie marks the first time a Japanese film has been adapted by the same director for American audiences.

Behr said that the film's American producers trusted Shimizu's vision and allowed him the freedom to remake his own film without interference. "It was refreshing in the sense that everyone sort of let Shimizu do what he wanted to do," Behr said.

"[Producer Sam Raimi] was very, very trusting in what Shimizu had to do. I mean, Sam has been doing some amazing movies for a long time now, and he knows good stories, and he knows good storytelling and good storytellers, and that's why he kept Shimizu telling this one. He's incredibly innovative, very intelligent and unique. We as the actors might have needed a translator to understand his vision, but I don't think the audience will."

The Grudge opens in theaters Oct. 22.

The Grudge Official site - http://doyouhaveagrudge.com

Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg?
By Liza Foreman

Burt Reynolds (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES October 15, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson are in final negotiations to join Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson in the big-screen version of "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Reynolds, most recently in theaters with the hit comedy "Without a Paddle," would play the evil Boss Hogg, a role played in the original 1979-1985 CBS show by the late Sorrell Booke.

Nelson would play Uncle Jesse, stepping in the shoes of the late Denver Pyle. Knoxville and Scott will play his good ol' boy nephews, Luke and Bo Duke, respectively, with Simpson on board as their sexy cousin, Daisy Duke.

Jay Chandrasekhar is directing the Warner Bros. project.

Reynolds' films include "The Longest Yard," "Cloud Nine" and "Instant Karma." Nelson, better known as a country music legend, has appeared in such films as "Wag the Dog" and "Red-Headed Stranger."

Darwin's Children on Sci Fi
By John Dempsey

NEW YORK October 14, 2004 (Variety) - The Sci Fi Channel has signed Michael De Luca -- former New Line Cinema topper and DreamWorks production chief -- to produce his first TV project, a miniseries about genetically altered births called "Darwin's Children."

De Luca joins a roster of showbiz biggies who have agreed to do minis for Sci Fi: Steven Spielberg ("Nine Lives"), Ridley Scott ("The Andromeda Strain"), Martin Scorsese ("The Twelve"), Bryan Singer and Dean Devlin ("The Triangle"), Frank Darabont ("The Thing") and Gale Anne Hurd ("Red Mars").

Based on two novels by Greg Bear, "Darwin's Children" concerns the advent of speeded-up evolution, which creates a new generation of superchildren called virus babies. The clash of generations leads to worldwide unrest.

Howard Braunstein, one of the executive producers of "Darwin's Children," said he's not surprised that Sci Fi Channel has enticed so many top producers to work on projects.

"Science fiction is such a rich genre, and many creative people are drawn to it," Braunstein said. "And the network will spend big money on the production and special effects," he added, citing such projects as the 20-hour "Taken" and the forthcoming "Earthsea Trilogy."

Sci Fi is coming off its best quarter ever, solidifying itself as a top-10 basic cable network in total viewers, adults 18-49 and 25-54. Increasing advertising revenues have allowed the network to spend $10 million or more on a four-hour Sci Fi movie. That kind of budget is music to the ears of the creative community.

Braunstein's partner Michael Jaffe is an exec producer of "Darwin's Children," along with De Luca, Ralph Vicinanza and Vince Gerardis.

Sci Fi Channel - http://www.scifi.com

Ford Raises Steve McQueen From The Dead

But would he have done car commercials?

DEARBORN MI October 14, 2004 (AP) - The late Steve McQueen is making a return appearance starting next month in commercials for the 2005 Mustang. The ads draw on the actor's appearance behind the wheel of a Mustang in the 1968 action movie "Bullitt."

Marketing experts say the ads are right on target because of the mystique surrounding McQueen, who died of cancer in 1980.

The ad is an homage to the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams," in which Kevin Costner portrays a dreamer who conjures the spirits of Shoeless Joe Jackson and other baseball players when he builds a playing field on his farm.

In Ford's commercial, a farmer builds a winding racetrack, which he circles in the 2005 Mustang, due in showrooms next month. Out of the cornfield comes McQueen.

The farmer then tosses his keys to McQueen, whose likeness is created by a body double and some digital editing wizardry. The spot ends with McQueen driving off in the new Mustang.

Mustang enthusiasts have been buzzing for days on Internet chat rooms about the high-concept commercial. Ford confirmed the accuracy of the story line described on the Internet, The Detroit News said Thursday.

Marketing experts say the Ford ad is pushing the right buttons because the McQueen legend and the Mustang evoke fond memories for movie-goers and car buffs alike.

"It's a very positive association," said Wes Brown, a partner in the California consulting company NexTrend.

The Mustang commercial is part of a comprehensive marketing effort Ford is launching to generate some excitement about the blue oval brand.

The automaker is counting on a strong start for a group of new models to bolster sales and put an end to a long market share slump. The Ford brand is on track to drop to 16.6 percent of the U.S. market in 2004, its ninth consecutive year of decline. Through September, Ford's total car sales were down 13.5 percent from last year.

The brand also has increased its fourth-quarter advertising budget to $170 million, about 50 percent more than was spent during the final three months of 2003.

Using computer magic to transcend the passage of time isn't new to commercials. Ten years after his death in 1987, Fred Astaire's image was featured in a TV ad that showed him dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner.

"If it's executed properly and well, it can be a very effective tool," Brown said.

The Mustang commercial was conceived by Detroit-based J. Walter Thompson and shot by Believe Media, an international production company whose clients have included Coca Cola Ltd., Nike and McDonald's.

[Funny how nobody seems to wonder Steve McQueen would think about using his likeness in a car commercial. I don't remember him doing any when he was alive. Ed.]

Ford Motor Co. - http://www.ford.com

J. Walter Thompson - http://www.jwtworld.com

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