|Duck and Cover! |
Nuke News! Toxic Corn Flakes?
Microsporidia! Columbus Bones!
Magnetosphere Waves & More!
|Duck and Cover - National Preparedness Month|
|U.S. Department of Homeland Security Press Release |
August 10, 2004 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), The America Prepared Campaign, the American Red Cross, the National Association of Broadcasters and the U.S. Department of Education have joined a coalition of more 50 national organizations to engage Americans in emergency preparedness by launching National Preparedness Month on September 9. The launch event at the United States Capitol is co-chaired by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Representatives Christopher Cox (R-CA) and Jane Harman (D-CA). In addition, all 56 state and territorial governors have pledged to mark National Preparedness Month with local events.
“National Preparedness Month brings together an amazing coalition of partners to make citizen preparedness a priority for every city, every neighborhood and every home across America,” said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. “Homeland security is a shared responsibility and I am pleased that so many organizations and so many national leaders are working together to help get this information out into communities across the nation.”
National Preparedness Month will provide Americans with a variety of opportunities to learn more about ways they can prepare for an emergency, get an emergency supply kit, establish a family communications plan, and become better aware of threats that may impact communities. It will also provide them with several opportunities to volunteer or get first aid or CPR training.
State and local governments, individual communities, private businesses and nonprofit organizations will host events or promote preparedness steps around the country during September to encourage all Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools.
Below is a list of the organizations participating in National Preparedness Month as of today:
The Advertising Council
The American Legion
American Legion Auxiliary
The America Prepared Campaign, Inc.
American Red Cross
The American Safety and Health Institute, Inc.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
Boy Scouts of America
Church World Service
The Council of State Governments
Emergency Management Accreditation Program
Fraternal Order of Police
Girl Scouts of the USA
Hispanic Business Roundtable
Hispanic War Veterans of America
International Association of Chiefs of Police
International Association of Emergency Managers
International Association of Fire Chiefs
International Union of Operating Engineers
Jewish War Veterans of the USA
The Latino Coalition
The Medical Reserve Corps
National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Counties
National Association of State EMS Directors
National Cable and Telecommunications Association
National Crime Prevention Council
National Emergency Management Association
National Fatherhood Initiative
National Governors Association
National League of Cities
National Organization on Disability
National Retail Federation
National Safety Council
National Sheriffs Association
Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Persons
Outdoor Advertising Association
The Points of Light Foundation
Reserve Officers Association
The Safe America Foundation
The Salvation Army
Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners
United Service Organization
The United States Chamber of Commerce
United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce
USA Freedom Corps
The U.S. Conference of Mayors
U.S. Department of Education
U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Washington Metro Area Transit Authority
World Vision of the United States
Details about the official launch of National Preparedness Month and local events will be distributed in late August.
|Radiation Is Good for You! |
London August 11, 2004 (BBC) - The widely held view that even low levels of radiation damage health has no basis in hard science, a leading expert has said. Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski, former chairman of a United Nations committee on radiation effects, believes low levels may even be beneficial.
Four Killed in Japanese Nuclear Plant
Mihama Japan August 10, 2004 (AP) - A non-radioactive steam leak killed four people and injured seven in the worst accident at a Japanese nuclear power plant ever. Another worker was reportedly in a critical condition.
The steam was believed to be about 270 degrees.
|Japan Deploys Solar Sail Prototype|
|Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency News Release |
August 9, 2004 - ISAS [Institute of Space and Astronautical Science] succeeded in deploying a big thin film for solar sail in space for the first time in the world.
ISAS launched a small rocket S-310-34 from Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima, Japan, at 17:15, August 9, 2004 (Japan Standard Time). The launch was the culmination of a historic new technology, and the success this time has really made a great achievement in the history of solar sail.
A solar sail is a spacecraft without a rocket engine. It is pushed along directly by light particles from the Sun, reflecting off its giant sails. Because it carries no fuel and keeps accelerating over almost unlimited distances, it is the only technology now in existence that can one day take us to the stars.
Although both scientists and science-fiction authors have long foreseen it, no solar sail has ever been launched until now.
It is because superlight material for thin film which could bear extremely critical environment in space. Now due to the development of material and production technology, we can utilize promising film materials for solar sail, and the experimental deployment trials toward realization of solar sail have been initiated in some countries.
The S-310 rocket which was launched from Uchinoura Space Center at 15:15 of August 9, 2004, carried two kinds of deploying schemes of films with 7.5 micrometers thickness. A clover type deployment was started at 100 seconds after liftoff at 122 km altitude, and a fan type deployment was started at 169 km altitude at 230 seconds after liftoff, following the jettison of clover type system. Both experiments of two types deployment were successful, and the rocket splashed on the sea at about 400 seconds after liftoff.
On February 4, 1993, a 2—meter thin film structure onboard Progress M-15 was deployed for the first time in the solar sail development history. By this experiment, the first illumination from space was demonstrated before sunrise over Western Europe.
And in 2001, the Cosmos 1 test spacecraft was launched from a submerged Russian submarine, but the command for separate the spacecraft did not function, and the solar sail experiment by this sub-orbital flight not carried out. This experiment was done by the Planetary Society and the Cosmos Studio who are going to launch a Voina missile in a few months from a Russian nuclear submarine to carry out a solar sail.
As is shown on its Website, the spacecraft is now being built in Russia by the Babakin Space Center and the Space Research Institute. The spacecraft will begin the mission in a near circular orbit, 800 kilometers above the Earth, and gradually increase its altitude by means of photonic pressure on its luminous sails. The goal of Cosmos 1 is to achieve a controlled solar sail flight, demonstrating the feasibility of solar sail propulsion.
JAXA is now planning to launch the next deployment experiment onboard a large scientific balloon from Sanriku Balloon Center this fall.
Planetary Society - http://www.planetary.org/solarsail/index2.html
ISAS - http://www.isas.jaxa.jp
|Toxic Kellogg's Cereal?|
|Denmark August 14, 2004 (Guardian UK) - Danish health officials this week banned the cereal company Kellogg's from adding vitamins and minerals to its products, saying they could damage the health of children and pregnant women. |
The company, which expressed incredulity at the decision, had hoped to enrich 18 breakfast foods and cereal bars with iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and folic acid, just as it already does in many countries.
But the Danes said the manufacturer wanted to include "toxic" doses which, if eaten regularly, could damage children's livers and kidneys and harm fetuses in pregnant women.
Paolo Drotsby, of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, said: "We have turned down applications for a number of enriched products which will have toxic effects in the doses Kellogg's uses".
The rejection was delivered last month after a government laboratory conducted a scientific examination of ingredient lists provided by the company.
The company retorted that it had been adding vitamins and nutrients to products since the 1930s and that its products enriched by other ingredients would remain on sale.
Denmark does not have recommended daily allowances of nutrients.
Chris Wermann, director of corporate affairs for Kellogg's in Europe, said: "Most of us are a bit incredulous."
The extra B6 and folic acid accounted for a quarter of a person's daily allowance, and the calcium and iron just 17 per cent, he said.
"It is quite clear from nutritionists that diets around the globe are deficient in vitamins and minerals. We are quite worried about the Danish authorities challenging this. We don't believe there is any danger at all. There is every reason for people to have these."
Details of added ingredients were labeled clearly and were well within recognized international guidelines, he said.
"The Danish diet is pretty frugal or austere at the best of times. They are protective of their diet. Equally the Government is working in their country to take extra vitamins and minerals in their diets. We are not too sure where they are coming from on this one."
The company is seeking discussions with the authorities.
|British News Goes Naked|
|London August 12, 2004 (AFP) - A 35-year-old black belt karate expert with a psychology degree will be the first ever British Naked News presenter. |
Samantha Page, who also has a degree in zoology, will appear on Naked News from Monday on Get Lucky TV, accessed on Sky Digital.
In the show, each of the 12 female anchors begin their segment fully clad before gradually disrobing as they continue to speak.
Page and colleague Lily Kwan, 27, demonstrated the stripping-while-you're-reading technique as photographers snapped her during a central London press conference today to launch the show.
Asked whether women would find it degrading, she said: "Fair enough, I recognize some people will feel that way. But I think this is an empowering position. Nudity is okay."
She said there had been a lot of positive feedback from female viewers but added that stripping while reading the news had proved hard at first.
"It required a certain amount of coordination and it was difficult. But I have a great cast to work with," she said.
"We are not perfect women," she said. "We are normal women and viewers accept that we are no better than they are."
|Deadly Microsporidia Carried By Mosquitoes |
Rutgers Newark University News Release
NEWARK August 11, 2004 – Brush, then squash. Remember those three words and that technique the next time you catch a mosquito dining on your arm or leg, and you’ll go a long way to protecting yourself from a potentially lethal parasitic micro-organism that may be in the mosquito, and is especially dangerous to those with weakened immune systems.
The woman later died as a type of microsporidia called B. algerae, known to reside in the tissues of mosquitoes, systematically consumed muscle fibers in her body, leaving the muscles unable to contract and respond to mental commands.
Mosquitoes secrete an anti-coagulant to keep blood from clotting as they drink, temporarily leaving a clear passage directly into the bloodstream.
Cali notes that AIDS patients, organ-transplant recipients and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy – who have a low white blood-cell count – need to take extra care to avoid ingesting microsporidial parasites. She recommends that they always boil tap water before consuming it or stick to bottled water – as long as the source of the bottled water is deep springs or wells where microsporidia are unlikely to be present due to the absence of food sources.
Taking garlic capsules, which cause the release of an odorless vapor through the pores that insects find unappetizing, also can be effective.
Ants Attack Oz!
Melbourne August 13, 2004 (BBC) - A giant colony of ants stretching 100km (62 miles) has been discovered in the Australian city of Melbourne, threatening local insect species. The ants, which were imported from Argentina, are ranked among the world's 100 worst animal invaders.
"When they arrived in Australia, in 1939, a change in their structure occurred, changing their behavior so that they are not aggressive towards one another. This has resulted in the colonies becoming one super colony."
|Columbus Bones Not in Spain|
|By Giles Tremlett |
Madrid August 11, 2004 (Guardian UK) - A centuries-old historical row over the whereabouts of the body of Christopher Columbus appeared to have been solved yesterday when scientists in Spain conceded that the corpse buried at Seville's gothic Santa Maria cathedral was not that of the famous explorer.
Instead, the bones they studied were probably those of his lesser known son, Diego, who was a small and weedy man, unlike his father.
Christopher Columbus's body, the experts say, almost certainly lies back in the "new world" he sailed to 500 years ago.
The exhumation by Spanish anthropologists appears to have settled a row between Spain and the Dominican Republic, which has contested the claim that Columbus's bones ended up in Seville.
Although DNA tests have not been done, the anthropologists have already concluded that the body in Seville is too young and puny to have belonged to the rugged, hefty sailor who, depending on which version of history you prefer, was either Italian, Spanish or Portuguese.
"This was a man who never developed his musculature and died at around the age of 45," said Marcial Castro, who is leading the investigation. "Columbus was a strong man who was aged between 55 and 60 when he died."
The corpse lying under the Columbus Lighthouse monument in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, appears to be of someone around 60 years old who had taken a lot of physical exercise, he said. "I am convinced that Columbus is buried in the Dominican Republic," Mr Castro added.
Spanish investigators are now seeking permission to open the coffin in Santo Domingo, which was found in 1877 by workmen who discovered a small lead box of bone fragments inscribed "Illustrious and distinguished male, Don Cristóbal Colón".
Columbus's corpse is known to have had several resting spots in the years after he died in relative poverty in the Spanish city of Valladolid in 1506.
His body spent three years in Valladolid before an 18-year rest at a monastery in Seville. It was finally shipped to Santo Domingo, along with Diego's body, and interred in the cathedral. In 1795, when Spain handed Santo Domingo to France, some of the bones were carried to Cuba. These were taken back to Seville when the Spaniards were thrown out of Cuba in 1898.
|Shanghai Gets 2000 Years Older|
|Shanghai August 11, 2004 (AFP) - China's thriving and modern metropolis of Shanghai was first established nearly 6,000 years ago, about two millenniums earlier than previously estimated, experts and state press have said. |
Newly discovered artefacts in Shanghai's outskirts prove the first inhabitants migrated from neigbouring Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces more than 6,000 years ago, Song Jian, director of the Shanghai Cultural Relics Management Commission, told AFP.
Mr Song said new archaeological evidence, including pieces of a human skull, show that today's teeming city of 17 million was first populated some 2,000 years earlier than thought.
Experts previously thought the first people to arrive here came from central Henan province some 4,000 years ago, even though in the 1960s relics from a tribe originating from Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces were discovered.
"This April, we found a human skull that proved to be one of the first human beings in Shanghai," the China Daily quoted Zhang Minghua, a curator at the Shanghai Museum, as saying.
"They brought Shanghai advanced tools and skills. Ruins of a well were found which marked the first time Chinese stopped being totally dependent on rivers and lakes.
"People used to consider Shanghai as a booming new city with a history of only several hundred years, but that's wrong," Mr Zhang added.
|Magnetosphere Waves and The Aurora Borealis|
|UC Berkeley Press Release |
By Robert Sanders
BERKELEY August 11, 2004 – A bevy of satellites buzzing around in the Earth's magnetosphere has found at least part of the answer to a long-standing puzzle about the source of the charged particles that feed the aurora.
The charged particles come from explosions on the sun and smash into the Earth's magnetic field, which repels the bulk of them. But many slip through, often via a physical process called magnetic reconnection, where the magnetic field traveling with the particles breaks and reconnects with the Earth's field, opening a window for the particles to surge through. Once inside, these excited particles can spiral down toward the poles and create brilliant auroras when they hit the atmosphere.
But magnetic reconnection happens only when the solar wind's magnetic field direction is 180 degrees opposite from that of the magnetic field of the Earth. When the two fields are aligned, there is no obvious physical process allowing entry of charged particles, at least at the leading edge of the Earth's magnetosphere.
Three years ago, however, the four satellites of the Cluster mission, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), passed through the tail of the Earth's magnetic field, which stretches hundreds of thousands of miles in the shadow of the Earth, and observed a new process that could allow entry of the solar wind particles.
The satellite data revealed eddies and vortices in Earth's magnetosphere. These waves are kicked up by the solar wind as it blows past the magnetosphere. If these vortices, called non-linear Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, detach and spin off into Earth's magnetosphere, they could carry charged particles from the solar wind inside - enough to explain the hot, magnetically charged gas, or plasma, stored inside the tail of Earth's field.
"The Kelvin-Helmholtz instability has often been ignored as an important solar wind entry process," said Tai Phan, a space physicist at the University of California, Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory and a co-author of the paper. "Thanks to its multi-spacecraft measurements, Cluster has now proven the existence of these large-scale vortices that could lead to substantial entry of solar wind to populate the Earth's magnetosphere."
Phan, lead-author Hiroshi Hasegawa of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, and their colleagues in Japan and Europe report their conclusions in the Aug. 12 issue of Nature.
A solar wind of charged particles blows incessantly past the Earth, compressing its magnetic field and pulling it into a teardrop shape pointing away from the sun. Periodic solar storms pump up the wind and send more particles toward Earth, which create atmospheric disturbances - auroras, magnetic storms, and radiation belt storms - that can affect satellites as well as radio communications. The goal of the Cluster mission and numerous other Earth satellites is to understand how space weather affects the Earth environment.
One big question is how these charged particles penetrate the protective magnetic field and fill up the magnetic bubble around Earth, and what triggers these particles to suddenly flame down onto the poles, creating colorful auroras. Magnetic reconnection explains the entry of charged particles when the solar wind magnetic field is anti-parallel to the Earth's field, but when the fields are parallel, they should present an impenetrable barrier to this flow. Spacecraft measurements dating to 1987 clearly show, however, that the magnetosphere is three to five times fuller when the fields are aligned than when they are not. So how is the solar wind getting in?
Part of the answer came on Nov. 20, 2001, when the Cluster flotilla was heading around from behind the Earth and had just arrived at the dusk side of the planet, where the solar wind slides past the Earth's magnetosphere. There it began to encounter gigantic vortices of gas at the magnetopause, the outer edge of the magnetosphere.
"People have seen waves on the surface of the magnetosphere, but they couldn't tell if they were small ripples or crashing, rolling waves," Phan said. "You have to have big vortices to get the solar wind inside."
|Genre News: Roddenberry Effect, Buffy News, Harsh Realm, Shark Tale, War of the Worlds, Marvel DVDs & More!|
|The Roddenberry Effect |
August 15, 2004 (eXoNews) - The Great Bird flies again! Late last month, Roddenberry.com mounted a virtual campaign called The Roddenberry Effect, a project dedicated to capturing the almost religious recognition of the philosophies of television visionary and producer Gene Roddenberry.
Fans of the shows that Gene Roddenberry created or inspired are usually more than happy to define Gene's influence with familiar catchphrases like "Live long and prosper", but how far can the Prime Directive really reach out of the box and into the real world?
Producer Rod Roddenberry - Gene's son and a syndicated success on his own with shows like Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda - invites the faithful to define his father's message by sending in their own photograph of the Roddenberry Spirit. Contributors are also asked to provide a 150-word caption that explains how their photo captures Gene's message.
Considering the whacky world of Star Trek fans, it's safe to assume that most photos will not make the cut. (Pictures of your butt dressed up as your favorite Star Trek captain, your pet turtle in his Porthos costume, the model of the Enterprise you made from a Coke bottle, etc.)
Buffyverse Movies - Joss Is Willing
Hollywood August 12, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel creator Joss Whedon told SCI FI Wire that he's ready to return to the Buffyverse with television films once he receives a green light from The WB, home of Angel, or another network.
"I had some ideas," he said. "I'm sort of trying to look at the marketplace and say, 'What kind of idea will actually go?' Because I'm not really interested in making things that don't.
"So I'm not sure if what I have is what the world wants right now."
"And TV is, you know, … a medium that I love in a very different way than I love movies.
"You know, I've waited my whole life to make movies, but movies don't do that. … You either write novels that are way too long, or you make TV if you want to do that. And … I can't write novels that are long."
LOS ANGELES August 10, 2004 (Zap2it.com) The Federal Communications Commission has rejected indecency complaints against episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Will & Grace."
Harsh Realm on DVD!
August 15, 2004 (eXoNews) - Stop whining, soldier! At long last, Chris Carter's aborted 1999 Harsh Realm TV series will appear as a complete DVD set in the USA. The 3-disc set will be released on August 24th, 2004 and includes the entire series, all nine episodes in widescreen* format and:
Most important, it is under $40 and you can get it online directly from the Fox Store ($29.95) or at Amazon.
For those of you who don't know, Harsh Realm was X-Files creator Carter's first series failure on Fox - the story of a group of rebels fighting a scurrilous dictator in a virtual reality world. Harsh Realm starred Scott Bairstow as Lt. Tom Hobbs, D.B. Sweeney as Mike Pinocchio, Vinnie as Dexter the Dog, and Rachel Hayward as Florence. Supporting and guest roles were filled by a bevy of genre favorites, including Terry O'Quinn (MillenniuM), Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville) and Lance Henriksen.
Carter executive produced and also wrote a couple of the nine episodes. Some of the best of his X-Files and MillenniuM crew participated in the experiment, including Carter's long time collaborator Frank Spotnitz and directors Kim Manners and Daniel Sackheim.
Vinnie (the dog) was a real scene stealer.
The best episode was Cincinnati, written by Carter and directed by Larry Shaw. It was never shown on broadcast TV in the USA (the entire series did appear briefly on Fox's FX Network in 2000.) Cincinnati features a largely Native American cast rebelling against the abovementioned scurrilous dictator (played by Terry O'Quinn) and is definitely worth the price of the entire DVD set.
The show was based on a 1993 comic book series, created by James D. Hudnall and Andrew Paquette. It ran into unexpected legal challenges by the comic authors after the first episodes, who objected to a "Created by Chris Carter" credit on the show. Fox was typically inept at publicizing Harsh Realm (as it was with MillenniuM, The Lone Gunmen, Wonderfalls, etc.) and the series garnered low ratings and was dumped after just three episodes aired.
Production was halted with only the pilot and eight episodes in the can.
International viewers, some still caught up in early seasons of X-Files and MillenniuM, rallied to Harsh Realm as it appeared in syndication around the world. It was a big hit earlier this year in Finland.
Visit VRContinuum's Unofficial Harsh Realm fan site - http://richlabonte.net/hr/hr1.htm
DeNiro Shark Defames Italians?
In the film, DeNiro plays the voice of a shark that the society says is a classic godfather figure.
Shark Tale Official - http://www.sharktale.com
Hollywood August 12, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - A new film based on H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise, has been put on a fast track for production, Variety reported.
Hollywood August 12, 2004 (Variety) - Months after inking a deal with Lions Gate to produce direct-to-DVD titles, Marvel Enterprises has tapped Eric Rollman to oversee the venture.
[If these DVDs succeed, Marvel's move could lead the way for more direct-to-DVD productions. Kill ugly TV, buy a DVD! :o)> Ed.]
The (Bloomington) Pantagraph says the headline, flashed briefly in the film, came from a letter to the editor about the 2000 presidential election recount but was doctored to look like a news story. Even the date was changed.
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