|Elephants in Space! |
Atlantis, Russian Stonehenge,
Pot News, Nanocables, Chernobyl,
30M Americans Hungry & More!
|Elephants in Space! |
Wildlife Conservation Society News Release
NEW YORK November 17, 2004 – Scientists with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have recently been counting their zoo animals from a lofty perch: namely, outer space. Using high-tech cameras fixed to an orbiting satellite 280 miles overhead, a WCS scientific team tallied some of the zoo's own animal collection to see if satellites can help count wildlife populations in remote locations throughout the world.
The WCS team is currently analyzing high-tech maps produced by the satellite, which orbited the zoo last Wednesday, Nov. 10th. So far, everything from giraffes to Thomson's gazelles have been spotted with startling clarity. If the technology proves accurate, WCS is hopeful that it can be used to monitor endangered wildlife populations that live in hard-to-reach locations.
Dr. Eric Sanderson, a WCS landscape ecologist who is managing the study said, "Imagine being able to monitor a herd of elephants in the Serengeti, or a flock of endangered flamingos in Bolivia, from a lab in New York. This technology may allow us to do just that."
"This experiment is another powerful example of how WCS can use its world-class zoos in New York City to help save wildlife living half a world away," said Richard L. Lattis, General Director of WCS's zoos and aquarium.
The satellite, called Quickbird, is owned by DigitalGlobe, a private company. WCS plans to use similar imagery to count wildlife in exotic locations, including elephants and giraffes in Tanzania, flamingos in South America, and elk, bison and antelope in Wyoming. WCS scientists will analyze those images as well to compare counts of wildlife living in other wild places. The project was funded in part by a grant from NASA.
According to members of Dr. Sanderson's team, the detail of the images taken from so far away has been particularly impressive.
"We're counting individual gazelles in the zoo's African Plains exhibit from a satellite 280 miles up," said Dr. Scott Bergen. "That's like standing on top of the Empire State Building and spotting a deer in Maine."
Wildlife Conservation Society - http://www.wcs.org
NASA Will Aid Endangered Species
By Daniel Lovering
BANGKOK Thailand November 19, 2004 (AP) - While NASA is best known for putting a man on the moon, the U.S. space agency will now help keep plant and animal species on Earth.
NASA agreed Friday to provide satellite data to boost nature conservation efforts by monitoring endangered plants and animals and their habitats, a space agency official said. It will also help environmental groups build a globally accessible database of maps and ecological data.
"This opportunity for NASA to help advance conservation efforts globally reinforces our vision to use our unique vantage from space to improve life here on Earth," said Ghassem Asrar, NASA's deputy associate administrator for science.
The announcement came during the World Conservation Union's meeting in Bangkok attended by more than 6,000 government officials, scientists, business representatives and environmentalists.
The deal will give member organizations of the World Conservation Union -- an umbrella group known as IUCN -- greater access to NASA's mapping technology, said Stuart Salter, the IUCN's Species Information Service manager.
Monitoring pachyderms in far-away places
"We want to begin to map out over time the relationship between different habitats and species," he said. "You can see land use changing, you can see species disappearing or moving. That's really fundamental stuff."
Salter said the maps will help scientists assess the impact of human development projects -- from roads to towns -- on species and their habitats.
The IUCN has warned that more than 15,500 animal and plant species face extinction, mainly because of exploitation and habitat destruction by humans.
The NASA project is expected "to help improve the quality and effectiveness of environmental decision-making, and ultimately to improve conservation," according to an IUCN statement.
The California-based software company Oracle is also planning to donate software for the project, Salter said.
"The potential for the beneficial use of this information in the area of the environment and conservation is enormous," said Achim Steiner, the IUCN's director general.
"Yet until now, it has remained largely untapped, particularly in the developing world."
Scientists are presenting research on a variety of species and ecosystems, from tropical coral reefs to the Himalayan mountains, at the Bangkok talks, which end November 25th.
|eXoNews Pix of the Week Dept. |
|Bush Throttles Pardoned Turk |
But seriously, folks... U.S. President George W. Bush takes no chances for a mishap as he grabs a turkey named 'Biscuit' by the neck during a photo opportunity at the turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House November 17, 2004. Biscuit will be allowed to live out his days on a Virginia farm. (Kevin Lamarque/ Reuters)
|Atlantis Not Found - Again! |
Digital mockup of the temple that Sarmast believes
lies under the Mediterranean
BERLIN November 16, 2004 (AFP) - The remains of the lost city of Atlantis which a United States researcher claims to have found off the Mediterranean island of Cyprus are in fact submarine volcanoes, according to a German physicist.
US researcher Robert Sarmast claimed Sunday to have found proof that the mythical lost city of Atlantis actually existed and is located under the Mediterranean seabed between Cyprus and Syria.
But German physicist Christian Huebscher said he had identified the phenomenon as 100,000 year-old volcanoes that spewed mud.
Huebscher, of the Hamburg Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, is quoted in Wednesday's edition of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as saying he and two Dutch colleagues had sailed in a boat to the same area at which Sarmast claimed to have located Atlantis and made their findings.
Sarmast's team claims to have found man-made structures located about one mile (some 1.5 kilometers) below sea level and 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the southeast coast of Cyprus.
In his book Discovery of Atlantis, Sarmast argued Cyprus was once part of that lost continent -- at its highest peak -- and said his findings matched almost perfectly every clue in the philosopher Plato's description of the legendary city state.
Plato's famed account in Timaeus and Critias is the sole source of the Atlantis myth dating back to 9000 BC.
The privately-funded 200,000-dollar expedition seeks to confound skeptics by bringing back scientific side-scan sonar data which supports evidence revealing man-made structures such as a three-kilometer (two-mile) wall.
Plato said an epochal flood "swallowed up" the mountainous island of Atlantis.
Other theories place the lost civilization in the South China Sea, the Azores, the Aegean or the Atlantic Ocean. Greek mythology has it Atlantis was destroyed as punishment by Zeus for the greed and corruption that befell the city.
|Bush Nominee Is Expert at Cover-Ups |
|NEW YORK November 16, 2004 (Editor and Publisher) - A new report from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press paints a picture of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales -- who has been nominated to replace U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft -- as someone who has worked tirelessly to keep information from the press and public if he believes it could hurt the president, and does not appear ready to change. |
"Every attorney general has a significant impact on the media's ability to gather and report news, as well as the public's right to know what its government is doing," the report states. With that in mind, the Reporters Committee staff researched Gonzales' performance both in Texas, where he was a top adviser to then-Gov. Bush before serving on the state's Supreme Court, and as White House counsel since January 2001.
"Based on what I've seen, I don't think concerns about the media enter into his thinking," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee. "I think he is going to be even more aggressive than Ashcroft in making sure the executive right to keep secrets is protected."
One interesting item the report found from Gonzales' time in Texas: "Gonzales was instrumental in getting Bush excused from jury duty in 1996 -- a move that allowed the governor to avoid having to disclose that he had been arrested for drunken driving in Maine in 1976, the Houston Chronicle reported. Bush was able to keep it a secret until the final days of his 2000 presidential campaign."
Gonzales appears to have offered support for press rights during his service as a Texas Supreme Court justice, from Jan. 14, 1999 to Dec. 22, 2000, the reports say: "Gonzales joined the majority in upholding the rights of the media -- while in some cases also declining to adopt increased protections recognized in other jurisdictions -- in all four Texas Supreme Court decisions involving free press or freedom of information issues that were published during his tenure."
President George W. Bush and White House legal
counsel Alberto Gonzales. (REUTERS/ Jason Reed)
At the White House, however, the report points out Gonzales' interpretation of executive privilege, which he has sought to broaden under the Bush Administration, as potentially the most troubling of his actions as White House counsel:
"Alberto Gonzales has been an active defender of what is best described as a quasi-executive privilege, invoked repeatedly by the Bush administration in attempts to keep government information from public scrutiny."
The Reporters Committee points to several instances of Gonzales defending executive privilege, including Gonzales supporting its invocation against requests for official testimony and government documents by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which was appointed to study the circumstances surrounding 9/11 and the United States' preparedness for and response to those attacks.
Those included blocking efforts to have national security adviser Condoleezza Rice testify, withholding 360 of the President's Daily Briefing (PDB) reports after Rice indicated a specific reference to potential terrorist attacks in one of them, and preventing the House Government Reform Committee from seeing documents pertaining to three criminals pardoned by President Clinton.
"Gonzales recommended that Congress not be allowed to see [pardon] documents related to the prosecutor's decision-making process," the report states. "He further recommended Bush claim executive privilege if House Government Reform Committee subpoenaed memos or tried to question Attorney General John Ashcroft about the pardons."
On Gonzales's involvement in the grand jury investigation into apparent White House leaks of the identity of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame, the report says "not much is known." But, it mentions that Gonzales did not seek to limit information, distributing memos to all White House staff telling them to preserve anything they had concerning Plame or contacts with several journalists, including newspaper columnist Robert Novak, who had identified Plame in a column.
Gonzales has "played a key role in keeping presidential records out of the public eye and asked for several extensions to deadlines for turning over papers of past presidents," the report says. "Earlier this year, Gonzales also pressured the nation's archivist, John Carlin, to resign, according to Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record) (D-Mich.). Carlin's departure -- he resigned without giving a reason -- sparked speculation that he was forced out in order to protect the records of the first President Bush."
The report also cited Bush's efforts to protect his advisors from being forced to testify, saying, "Gonzales picked one battle in particular to doggedly fight: that the president and those working closely with him must be able to receive counsel from advisers without public inquiry. Gonzales argued throughout the summer of 2002 that Vice President Cheney and the records of his energy policy task force should not be subject to open-government laws."
The report also cited Gonzales' comments following the release in June 2002 of memos and documents detailing the administration's decisions on the use of torture. In "a rare appearance at a news conference later, Gonzales hinted that secrecy would remain the norm for related documents. 'The government is releasing an extraordinary set of documents today, and this should not be viewed as setting any kind of precedent,' Gonzales said. 'But we felt it important to set the record straight. Additional documents may be withheld in the future for national security and other reasons.'"
In a related action, after President Bush signed a military order in 2001 allowing suspected terrorists to be tried in military tribunals rather than regular courts, The New York Times published an op-ed piece by Gonzales defending the use of the tribunals. "They spare American jurors, judges and courts the grave risks associated with terrorist trials," the report quotes from the column. "They allow the government to use classified information as evidence without compromising intelligence or military efforts. They can dispense justice swiftly, close to where our forces may be fighting, without years of pretrial proceedings or post-trial appeals."
The complete report is available at the Reporters Committee Web site.
|Russian Stonehenge |
Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England
By Jennifer Viegas
Ryazan Russia November 17, 2004 (DN) — Russian archaeologists have announced that they have found the remains of a 4,000-year-old structure that they compare to England's Stonehenge, according to recent reports issued by Pravda and Novosti, two Russian news services.
If the comparison holds true, the finding suggests that both ancient European and Russian populations held similar pagan beliefs that wove celestial cycles with human and animal life.
Since devotional objects and symbols are at the Russian site in the region of Ryazan, their meanings might shed light on pagan ceremonies that likely also took place at Stonehenge.
Just as the location of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, appeared to be significant for the megalith's creators, so too did Ryazan for the Russian builders. The site overlooks the junction of two rivers, the Oka and Pronya.
It was highly traveled by numerous cultures in ancient times.
Ilya Ahmedov, lead archaeologist of the Ryazan excavation and a researcher in the State History Museum of Russia's department of archaeological monuments, described the remains of the structure to Novosti.
Ahmedov said he and his team found ground holes indicating a monument with a 22.97-feet diameter circle consisting of 1.6-foot thick wooden poles spaced at equal distances from each other. Inside the circle is a large rectangular hole with evidence that four posts once stood in that spot.
The archaeologists believe the central structure would have led to spectacular views.
"Within the circle, two couples of the poles (in the rectangular area) make up gates," Ahmedov told Pravda. "Sunset can be seen through the gates if an observer stands in the center of the circle. One more pole outside the circle points at the sunrise."
The researchers found a small ceramic vessel in the central hole. The vessel is decorated with a zigzag design, which Ahmedov said resembles the rays of the sun, and wavy lines that he believes symbolize water. Lying next to the vessel was a bronze awl in a birch bark casing and an "altar of animal bones," according to a press release from Informnauka, the Russian science news agency .
Outside of the circle, the archaeologists excavated two other vessels without any ornamentation. The research team said forest dwellers that originally came from Iran likely made these two objects. They lived in the Ryazan area during the Bronze Age 4,000 years ago.
There are no known connections between Russia and Britain at the time
Stonehenge was built. (Reuters)
Fragments of human bones and teeth also were found outside the circle's boundary. Ahmedov and his colleagues think they might have belonged to a tribal chief who was posthumously sanctified. Burial tombs also exist near Stonehenge.
Ahmedov explained that solar and lunar cults were related to a fertility cult and to the mythological link between life and death. The circular shape was thought to hold magical properties because it has no beginning or end and was regarded as a symbol of eternity.
"(A) parallel can be drawn to Stonehenge, which is close to our monument in terms of the erection date and initially also was made of wood," Ahmedov told Pravda. "However, no blood relationship could have existed between the peoples who erected Stonehenge and the Ryazan observatory. The latter evidently indicates the influence of (an) alien population (the Iranian forest dwellers) from the South-East of the Eurasian steppe."
Mike Pitt, author of the book "Hengeworld" and the editor of British Archaeology magazine, told Discovery News that he doubts Stonehenge directly influenced the construction of the Russian monument.
"There are no known connections between Russia and Britain at the time Stonehenge was built, so if there were any similarities between the two structures, they would have to be coincidence," Pitt said.
He added, "Stonehenge is unique, but it is possible to see precursors and inspiration for its design in timber structures that are now quite common in Britain, not least around Stonehenge, but as yet seen nowhere else, not even across the Channel in France."
Ahmedov and his team plan to excavate the Ryazan site again in the summer, when they hope to investigate another line of pole holes that they spotted 32.8 feet away from the circular monument.
|Gnome Liberation Strikes Again? |
BERLIN November 19, 2004 (Reuters) - Thieves have stolen scantily clad garden gnomes from a gnome peepshow in an eastern German amusement park, park manager Frank Ullrich said on Thursday.
"The gnomes display naked body parts -- the same ones you'd expect to see in a human peep show," Ullrich said of his missing stars.
The adults-only attraction at Dwarf-Park Trusetal, where visitors peep through keyholes to see the saucy German miniatures in compromising poses, was smashed open early on Thursday morning.
Ullrich said he feared the gnomes would not be traced.
"I doubt they're standing in someone's garden, they'll have to have been hidden inside."
GLF Site - http://www.barganews.com/gnomes
|Pot News! |
|Swiss Dope? |
ZURICH November 19, 2004 (Reuters) - Swiss teenagers smoke more cannabis than their peers in every other European country, a survey said Thursday, casting a pall over the country's prim and wholesome image.
One in three Swiss 15-year-olds has lit up a joint within the past year, while the number of teenagers regularly smoking or getting drunk rose 10 percent between 1998 and 2002, the Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse said in their survey.
The dreaded weed
"For a large number of young people, falling back on alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis is part of a response to growing social pressures and a failure to engage with the future," survey leader Holger Schmid said in a statement.
Britain and Spain trailed Switzerland as the top cannabis consumers, while British and Scandinavian teenagers stood out for "drinking in order to get drunk," the survey of children aged 11-15 in more than 30 European countries showed.
Dispelling the image of the Netherlands as a haven of hash-lovers, young people in this country showed only an average level of cannabis use.
THE HAGUE November 19, 200 (AFP) - The mayor of the Dutch city of Maastricht wants to ban all 16 cannabis cafes in the city centre and set up a "weed boulevard" to keep drug tourists and criminals out of town, his spokesman said.
Maastricht is close to the border with both Belgium and Germany and attracts almost 1.5 million drug tourists yearly, who flock to the so-called coffee shops where cannabis is sold legally. Most come from Germany and France.
Maastricht mayor Gerd Leers told ANP news agency he wants all coffee shops in the centre to move to one location outside of town to limit the nuisance caused by drug tourism.
Although travelers can buy cannabis in coffee shops legally in the Netherlands it is illegal to take it back over the border to Germany, Belgium and France.
Marijuana was decriminalized in the Netherlands in 1976, and is sold legally in licensed coffee shops but cultivating cannabis is illegal.
The south of the Limburg province where Maastricht is located has three times the level of drug-related crime as the urban ring in central Netherlands, which includes Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht.
Leers, a Christian Democrat known for his zero tolerance policies crime, want legal cannabis cafes moved out of the town centre within five years. The plan is to move the coffee shops south, the direction were most of the drugs tourists come from, his spokesman said.
|University of California - Davis News Release |
November 16, 2004 - Tiny nanocables, 1,000 times smaller than a human hair, could become key parts of toxin detectors, miniaturized solar cells and powerful computer chips.
The technique for making the nanocables was invented by UC Davis chemical engineers led by Pieter Stroeve, professor of chemical engineering and materials science. They manufacture the cables in the nano-sized pores of a template membrane. The insides of the pores are coated with gold. Layers of other semiconductors, such as tellurium, cadmium sulfide or zinc sulfide, are electrochemically deposited in the gold tube until a solid cable forms, then the membrane is dissolved, leaving finished cables behind.
Stroeve envisions many uses for these nanocables. For example, the cables' ability to conduct electricity changes when they are exposed to different chemicals or toxins. Earlier nano-devices could only detect whether a toxin was present, said Ruxandra Vidu, a postdoctoral scholar working with Stroeve. But nanocables will go further, measuring the quantity of toxins.
Stroeve's team can also construct arrays of nanocables. "You put a copper tape on the tops of the nanocables before the template is dissolved," Stroeve said. "You're left with nanocables sticking up at right angles from the tape."
These arrays have a very large surface area -- 1000 times greater than on a flat device of the same size. They could be used to efficiently capture sunlight in a tiny solar cell.
Nanocables could also be used to make computer chips more powerful by packing transistors closer together. Computers now contain silicon chips with metal transistors affixed to the surface. "With our new technique, we could embed transistors into the silicon chips to begin with," Stroeve said.
The work is published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
University of California - Davis - http://www.ucdavis.edu
|47 Million Year Old Mystery Solved |
|University of Bonn News Release |
November 18, 2004 - Since 1875 a large number of well preserved fossils have been discovered in the brown coal mine at Messel near Darmstadt. Paleontologists have long puzzled over what could have been the reason for this annihilation of so many creatures.
In the latest issue of the Paläontologische Zeitschrift researchers from the University of Bonn have put forward a new theory: the cause of the deaths of these animals may have been poisoning by cyanobacteria.
Five pair of 47 million year old turtles found at
Messel died during copulation. (U Bonn)
The fossil site of Messel, near Darmstadt (central Germany) is a world heritage site; it is famous throughout the world for the fossils of animals and plants from a tropical landscape 47 million years ago, all of them excellently preserved. Nowhere else have so many bats and birds been found in lake deposits. Among the mammals even the contents of the stomach are usually preserved.
But how did these animals die? The well-filled stomachs are not exactly an indicator of disease or fatal debility. Until recently the cause of death was assumed to be, inter alia, gases of volcanic origin which may have collected over the lake.
This might explain why the animals suffocated. But such clouds of gas – if they indeed existed – must have dispersed rapidly, given the size of the lake. It is still a moot point whether, after hundreds of thousands of years, gas was still escaping from the volcanic subsoil which formed the extinct volcanic crater lake of Messel.
The University of Bonn paleontologists on Professor Wighart von Koenigswald's team have proposed a new theory in the latest issue of the Paläontologische Zeitschrift which sheds light on the possible cause of death.
While examining the fossils the researchers became aware that the deaths must have occurred at the same time of year in different years. The five pregnant mares which were found at completely different levels in the oil shale at Messel all died at the same time of year, as the fetuses were at the same stage of development. Among the tortoises there were also five pairs which died during copulation, i.e. during the breeding season.
One more piece of the puzzle was provided when the Bonn lecturer Dr. Andreas Braun noticed that there are lime deposits in the sedimentary structures of Messel.
A very similar structure occurs in lake deposits which Professor von Koenigswald's doctoral student Thekla Pfeiffer discovered in Neumark-Nord. In deposits which were about 200,000 years old she was able to detect traces of the highly toxic microcystine, a poison which is produced by cyanobacteria.
The researchers assume that the sedimentary structures in Messel are also due to these microbes, also known as 'blue-green algae'. The animals may therefore have died from microcystine poisoning due to the seasonal algal bloom caused by deadly cyanobacteria.
From Canada we know that during algal bloom cyanobacteria cause toxic foam to collect in the surface water. Anything that drinks this water collapses almost immediately.
This is true of both land animals and birds. Observations have shown that even the tiny quantities of water drunk by bats when flying low over the water can be fatal. Many aspects of the fossil finds of Messel which were not previously understood can be explained by this theory of a seasonal growth of highly toxic cyanobacteria which was repeated year after year. The theory still awaits further confirmation. One difficulty, however, is already apparent: it will be very difficult to provide direct evidence of toxic agents after 47 million years.
University of Bonn - http://www.uni-bonn.de
|Chernobyl Caused Cancer in Sweden |
Radioactive emissions were carried by the
wind to Sweden
Swedish Research Council News Release
November 19, 2004 - A statistically determined correlation between radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident and an increase in the number of cases of cancer in the exposed areas in Sweden is reported in a study by scientists at Linköping University, Örebro University, and the County Council of Västernorrland County.
It is the first study demonstrating such a correlation. It is being published in the scientific journal Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
A rise in cancer cases related to the Chernobyl accident has previously been established in studies carried out in the former Soviet Union.
After the nuclear power accident at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, some of the radioactive emissions were carried by the wind to Sweden. Heavy rain caused a relatively large amount, about 5 percent of the Cesium-137 released in the disaster, fell on Sweden, above all along the coastal area of Northern Sweden and northern central Sweden.
The fallout in Sweden was unevenly distributed and, compared with the areas close to the nuclear power station at Chenobyl, considerably less. Knowledge of the possible consequences of radioactive fallout on health prompted a number of measures to be taken to reduce these consequences at the time of the Chernobyl accident.
The study now being published aims to help answer the question of whether there is increased cancer morbidity that can be tied to this fallout. The study divides the parishes in the seven northernmost Swedish counties into six classes on the basis of ground coverage of cesium 137.
Most of the parishes in the seven counties, 333 out of 450, were impacted by the fallout. One class comprising 117 parishes received no fallout, and the individuals in these parishes were used as a control group. Those people aged 0-60 who were resident in the counties in question and who had the same address on December 31, 1985 and December 31, 1987, were monitored for development of cancer.
At the outset of the study 1,143,182 individuals were included, and 22,409 cases of cancer were registered during the years 1988 through 1996.
There is a statistically established correlation between the degree of fallout and an observed rise in the number of cancer cases. The increase involves all types of cancer in the aggregate. On the other hand, no clear effect can be seen for individual forms of cancer, not even for those types that have been regarded as especially susceptible to radiation, such as leukemia or thyroid cancer.
It is remarkable that an increase in cancer morbidity could have occurred after such a relatively short time following the accident, but just such a short time period has been described for groups exposed to radioactive radiation. If the correlation found here is not a product of chance, or other unknown disturbances than those corrected for in the analysis, then one possible explanation is that the radiation hastened the growth of already established tumors in their early stages, rather than that new tumors occurred.
Swedish Research Council - http://www.vr.se
|30 Chinese Tigers |
BEIJING November 19, 2004 (Reuters) - South China tigers, among the rarest of the five remaining tiger subspecies, are on the verge of extinction in the wild with less than 30 remaining, Xinhua news agency said on Friday, citing a recent survey.
Scientists from the State Forestry Administration of China and the World Nature Fund conducted the study of the wild tigers, most of which are scattered on mountains along the borders of Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong provinces in south China, Xinhua said.
The survey's findings were released at a symposium on South China tigers held in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.
Xinhua said China had 66 South China tigers raised in 19 zoos but the animals are all offspring of six wild tigers seized in 1956.
The South China tiger, also known as the Chinese tiger, is native to southern China and used to be found in mountain forests in the country's south, east, centre and southwest.
But war, hunting and environmental deterioration over the past century has pushed the species to the verge of extinction and it is listed on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Red List of endangered species.
International experts predict tigers will disappear by 2010 if they are not protected, Xinhua said. To help save the big cats, China would send five to 10 South China tigers to South Africa to help re-acquaint them with the ways of the wild.
The Chinese tigers and their offspring would be returned to China in time for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Xinhua said.
The other four tiger subspecies are the Siberian, Bengal, Indochinese and Sumatran tigers.
|36 Million Americans Hungry |
Would you like food with that?
Washington November 19, 2004 (US Newswire) - As many families rush to long grocery store lines this weekend in preparation for Thanksgiving, a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report released today shows 36 million Americans -- including 13.3 million children -- are food insecure. The report, based on Census Bureau surveys, demonstrates an increase in the number of hungry and food insecure Americans for the fourth straight year.
In 2002, the number of people living in food insecure households was 34.9 million -- including 13.1 million children. The report found Black and Hispanic households are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity at double the national average.
Of the 36 million food insecure Americans, 23 million are adults, and more than 9 million of the individuals are living with hunger. On average, households living with food insecurity or hunger experience this condition in eight or nine months out of the year.
"It is clear that tough economic times in recent years have had a terrible impact on the food insecurity and hunger in America," said Robert Forney, President and CEO of America's Second Harvest-The Nation's Food Bank Network. "It is disheartening that as a country we produce enough food to feed every American and the rest of the world, but we continue to see hunger on the rise."
The USDA report included food insecurity and hunger rates for every state. States with the highest food insecurity, with rates above 12.9 percent of households, were Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Idaho, South Carolina, Oregon and Georgia.
"An increase in the number of hungry Americans means our Network needs more food to meet the rising demand," said Forney. "Lawmakers should review these numbers while assessing priorities in the coming year."
Food insecure households are those that are not able to access enough food to meet basic nutritional requirements. Hungry households are those in which one or more household members experienced hunger due to lack of financial resources in the past year.
America's Second Harvest - http://www.secondharvest.org
|Genre News: Enterprise, Evil Dead, Stargate Renewed, Flash Gordon, Golden Girls & More! |
New Rumors and Axings
Enterprise - no news is good news.
New York November 20, 2004 (eXoNews) - No renewal news on Enterprise, despite a growth in ratings generated by the three-part Brent Spiner arc. TV Guide's Max Roush says it's still too early to tell if the Archer crew will be back for another season.
Enterprise does seem to have found an acceptable creative balance with the Spiner episodes (although the second part was largely unnecessary) and may have gotten a second wind if the current Vulcan two-parter is a taste of what's to come.
Trek's fifth series has finally returned to what hardcore fans like best with Archer and T'Pol investigating a splinter group of Vulcan dissidents on the Vulcan home world.
Jolene - no tits and ass (Paramount)
Well-crafted trivia lore, lots of pointy ears and a plot that gets us out of that cramped little ship and into action is just what Enterprise needs to win back fans who got bored with the third-season Xindi pursuit.
Growing the traditional Trek universe mythos worked for DS9 when they brought in Worf and did lots of Klingon stories and it can work for Enterprise too, if the producers let it.
None of this stopped Enterprise star Jolene Blalock (T'Pol) from slamming unnamed Franchise executives for holding the show back. Blalock made her comments to SFX Magazine, where she zapped a certain Trek bigwig: "You have this head guy who's some kind of ancient old croaker with no concept of the real world outside..."
Gee, who could that be? Maybe the same guy who chose the Enterprise theme song?
Blalock also decried some of last season's rather seedy developments in her own character in the name of ratings. "You can't substitute tits and ass for good storytelling," she told SFX.
Enterprise writers turned on T'Pol's emotion chip last season to instigate an affair with Enterprise Chief Engineer Trip Tucker. Considering the Vulcan model established by Leonard Nimoy's Spock and later Vulcan characters, the result was ambiguous at best.
Boston Legal still alive (ABC)
TVG's Roush also thinks that Boston Legal, which wasn't picked up for a full season order with it's night-mate Desperate Housewives, is doing well enough, and ABC is pleased with the law show's "high-income demographics". Marc Berman at Mediaweek thinks that Shatner and company will get that pick-up.
Lost was also confirmed for a full season, of course. (I predict that Terry O'Quinn will be in line for an Emmy for his work on Lost.)
In the Who Cares Department, ABC has canceled The Benefactor and also picked up Rodney and Wife Swap. The WB has dumped Drew Cary, Studio 7 and Commando Nanny, while giving the go to Jack & Bobby and Blue Collar TV. WB's The Mountain is probably a molehill.
Not much to be proud of here (NBC)
UPN has renewed Veronica Mars and Kevin Hill, but what else could they do as they don't really have any other shows to consider?
Fox tastefully canceled Method & Red, The Casino, The Jury and will probably axe North Shore, which was their choice to replace Tru Calling. Tru is not coming back as far as anyone knows, but there is a rumored DVD box on the way including the half dozen episodes that Fox never aired.
NBC has Father of the Pride on hiatus, but they might as well dump it because it sucks.
As I predicted here at eXoNews, Hawaii is also dead and LAX is dying but much to my surprise Medical Investigation has a full season order. Has anybody ever seen Medical Investigation?
CBS has tentatively ordered more of the John Goodman sitcom Center of the Universe, which is good because, as I just said, Goodman's Father of the Pride on NBC sucked. No surprise that CSI: NY was picked up and Clubhouse and Dr. Vegas were canceled. (I also predicted Dr. Vegas would fail.) CBS also picked up Listen Up, whatever that is.
Raimi Raises Dead Again
November 18, 2004 (Sci Fi) - Spider-Man 2 director Sam Raimi and his Evil Dead producing partners Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell will remake the 1981 cult hit that launched their careers, Variety reported.
Raimi wrote, directed and produced The Evil Dead, which tells the story of five friends holed up in a remote cabin who discover a Book of the Dead that raises demons.
Raimi will not direct the remake and is looking for a helmer to reinvent the franchise before a script is written, the trade paper reported.
The movie will be produced by Ghost House Pictures, the joint venture of Raimi, Tapert and Senator International.
The original movie spawned Evil Dead II (which was essentially a remake of the first film) and Army of Darkness, all of which starred Campbell as the demon-fighting Ash.
Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis Renewed
LOS ANGELES November 15, 2004 (Zap2it.com) Fresh off its highest rated summer and early fall ever, the Sci Fi Channel is renewing two of the shows that helped jump-start its ratings.
The cable network has ordered a second season of "Stargate Atlantis" and a ninth season of "Stargate SG-1."
Both dramas come from MGM Television Entertainment and will begin production in March 2005 or 20-episode seasons to premiere in the summer of 2005.
The cast of Stargate Atlantis (Sci Fi)
"Stargate Atlantis" premiered in July to an audience of more than 4.2 million viewers, breaking numerous Sci Fi records.
The show's stars, including Joe Flanigan, Torri Higginson, David Hewlett, Rainbow Sun Francks, Rachel Luttrell and Paul McGillion, are all signed on to return in the second season.
Many of the records that "Atlantis" broke were originally held by "SG-1," which will tie "The X-Files" as the longest-running sci-fi drama series on American television when it returns for its ninth installment, according to Sci Fi. The cable network will only say that MGM is in negotiations with the show's stars to return.
Robert C. Cooper and "SG-1" co-creator Brad Wright will continue to serve as executive producers on both shows.
Although Sci Fi is already looking forward to the future seasons of the "Stargate" franchises, there are still new episodes of both series ready to go in January 2005. That month will also see the premiere of the new series adaptation of "Battlestar Galactica."
Sci Fi Channel - http://www.scifi.com
Flash Gordon Returns
Dale Arden and Flash in the 30s
November 18, 2004 (Sci Fi) - Producer Bob Ducsay, who is developing an updated Flash Gordon movie with Van Helsing director Stephen Sommers, told Now Playing Magazine that he envisions a return to the venerable SF serial's roots and not a reprise of the campy 1980s movie.
"It in fact is actually going back to a lot more of the original source material for Flash and is not based on the 1980 movie," Ducsay told the magazine. "And tonally, as sort of broad entertainments as the films we make are, clearly we haven't ever worked at that level of camp. So we're not moving in that direction at all. There's all kinds of material. There's comics. There's serials. So all of those things provide source material."
Ducsay worked with Sommers on the two Mummy movies as well as on this year's Van Helsing. He added that it's still unclear who will actually write or direct Flash Gordon.
"[Sommers] is not committed to directing," Ducsay said. "What really happens is he comes across a screenplay or he writes a screenplay that he's interested in. And it really always comes down to the script, and since these things are works in progress, it's really hard to say. For him as a director, I don't think he's really settled on what it is that he's going to do next."
[Ever see Flesh Gordon? Now that was Flash with flash! Ed.]
Fox Online Music Store
By Ben Fritz
Hollywood November 17, 2004 (Variety) — Fox has become the first studio to enter the fast-growing digital music space, launching an online music store Thursday that sells downloads from its collection of songs and scores.
Like Apple's iTunes and its many competitors, store on the FoxMusic.com site sells 99¢ downloads of individual tracks.
In a bid to take advantage of another booming digital music segment, it offers ringtones based on Fox music that users can order and download directly to their cell phones.
Fox already sells its music through many of the online stores and ringtone services and partners with labels to create soundtrack albums. But the music store will let the studio get into the business of selling its own catalog for the first time.
"This is an opportunity to see if for a little investment we can start a viable digital business and not simply cede all of our distribution," said Fox Music prexy Robert Kraft.
Studio will post nearly all its themes and cues from music and television scores along with those original songs for which it was able to maintain the rights. Music store has about 10,000 tracks.
Kraft noted that digital stores have let his division identify and promote individual queues from film scores that prove popular. Studio took one from "Man on Fire" that sold well on iTunes, for instance, and created a techno remix that generated additional sales online.
While 99¢ downloads have proved popular, their low price makes for minimal profits. Launching its own store lets Fox take a larger chunk of the revenue.
It also lets the studio cross-promote other products. Music store will give users loyalty points for downloads that, when collected, can be redeemed for DVDs, HarperCollins books and other products from parent company News Corp.
Store is being built and managed by digital commerce company Navio Systems.
Golden Girls Reunited
BY MIKE CIDONI
Associated Press Writer
Betty, Rue and Bea do DVD
BEVERLY HILLS November 19, 2004 (AP) - Nearly 20 years after they first appeared on television's "The Golden Girls," stars Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White were together again.
They reunited at The Museum of Television & Radio Thursday night to celebrate the DVD release of "The Golden Girls: The Complete First Season."
"We're just like sorority sisters who haven't seen each other since college," bubbled McClanahan. "We just pick right up."
"The Golden Girls," which aired on NBC from 1985-92, followed the misadventures of three middle-aged women and one senior citizen, played by Estelle Getty, living together in suburban Miami. The DVD release serves up each episode from the 1985-86 season, "When we were all oh, so young and beautiful and fresh," noted McClanahan.
"Well, two out of three ain't bad," joked White, 82.
White said she knew she struck gold the minute she read the show's first script, AP Television News reported.
"Oh, and it was such a thrill," she said. "You do a lot of shows over the years. I've been in the business for 55 years."
Enter McClanahan: "She started out in silent television."
"Yeah, I was a pioneer in silent television," White fired back. "But the fact that, after all these years, you've read a lot of bad scripts, you've done a lot of bad shows. We kind of knew after the first show that, `Whoops! We're onto something.'"
"The Golden Girls" is a programming staple on the Lifetime cable network, where it fills some 30 hours of the weekly schedule. But success isn't limited to the United States.
"We get mail from all over," White explained. "Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Finland, I just did a half-hour interview with Finland. And you think, `What do they see in these countries in these four old broads?' But somehow it works."
Still on Lifetime 30 hours a week
The DVD celebration included a big-screen showing of the series' pilot episode, as well as a brief question-and-answer session with the stars and some key crew members.
Arthur, White and McClanahan had done some work together in late spring for a Lifetime special "TV's Greatest Sidekicks," airing Nov. 25.
But, Arthur noted, getting together now isn't at all like the old days.
"No," she said, flatly.
After all, Getty, 81, was conspicuously absent. Getty retired in 2000, after announcing she had Parkinson's disease.
Arthur could barely get through a sentence, choking up when talking about how Getty's memory had faded.
And McClanahan detailed her own recent phone conversation with her former co-star.
"I said, `Hey, Estelle, how ya doin'?' And all she said was ... `Yes.'
[I love Betty White. There, I said it. Ed.]
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