|Gorillas Vs. Ebola! |
Terrorist Vs. Tourist, Hippies,
George Washington, Genesis,
The Dead Zone & More!
|Ebola Threatens 20,000 Gorillas!|
|Conservation International News Release |
August 27, 2004 (Torino, Italy) – Scientists fear that emerging evidence may suggest a new outbreak of the Ebola virus, which, in addition to threatening human lives, would threaten tens of thousands of great apes – in this case gorillas and chimpanzees – in the Republic of Congo.
The announcement was made by the International Primatological Society (IPS) and Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) at the IPS's 20th Congress, being held this week in Turin, Italy.
But whereas 45 groups of gorillas (each with an average of eight individuals) were once normally observed there, the number since May has plummeted to only nine groups.
Fewer than 100,000 western lowland gorillas remain on Earth. A study published in the journal Nature last year suggested that when an ebola outbreak affects a given area, more than 80 percent of all great apes living in that area die of the disease.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often-fatal disease that affects humans and non-human primates, such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees. Researchers believe the disease, which first emerged in 1976, is zoonotic, or animal-borne. Many scientists believe it is spread through the butchering and handling of primate bushmeat. The disease has been confirmed only in six African nations: the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, and Uganda.
Short, thin, grey-black to brown-black hair covers their entire body, except the face. Many bear a distinctive ginger-colored crown. In comparison to mountain gorillas, western lowland gorillas have wider and larger skulls. They are characterized as quiet, and peaceful animals that almost never attack unless provoked.
|Terrorist Vs. Tourist|
|University of Warwick Press Release |
August 26, 2004 - New research from the University of Warwick is set to reveal some striking similarities between the actions of groups of people who travel on flagship airlines, seemingly at random, between the major cities of the world.
An ongoing research project into airlines and international tourism shows in many cases it is only motivation that distinguishes the terrorist from the tourist, and may be the cause of big headaches for the world’s national carriers.
What’s more failure to appreciate the fact that international terrorism and international tourism share as many similarities as they do differences would be a significant oversight.
Both tourism and terrorism involve citizens of different countries who visit internationally famous buildings, sites, hotels and shopping centers.
Both tourists and terrorists frequently carry bags and back-packs, travel alone or in small groups, and the anonymity of both groups enables them to blend into their surroundings.
Further comparisons could also be made with other national carriers that operate across boarders. Cruise liners have been targeted in the past, and both Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel have potential added risks in their operational activities.
For an airline that provides both business and leisure travel, these circumstances lead to complex planning and decision making.
[Just as long as they can tell the difference when I'm on vacation. Ed.]
|Australia August 27, 2004 (BBC) - Australian engineers have created an electricity generator fuelled by decomposing bananas, and hope to build a full size fruit-fired power station. At present, much of Australia's annual banana crop goes to waste, because the fruit are too bruised or small. |
But rather than just letting them rot, the researchers would like to put the rejects to good commercial use.
If all goes according to plan, a banana-fuelled power plant capable of powering 500 homes could be built. Engineering lecturer Bill Clarke, from the University of Queensland, said he hit upon the unusual idea when the Australian Banana Growers' Council approached him, looking for ways to use a mountain of waste fruit.
"In North Queensland, bananas are abundantly available and could be a great source of renewable energy," Dr Clarke said.
About one third of tropical Queensland's banana crop - which is more than 20,000 tons a year - never makes it into the shops. Normally they are just left to rot on the ground, but Dr Clarke says this damages the soil - and wastes a potentially useful resource. He has successfully used bananas to generate electricity in the laboratory, and is assessing whether a power plant could be commercially viable.
Dr Clarke lets the bananas decompose in sealed vats and uses the methane from the rotting fruit to power an electricity turbine. So far so good, but the real test is whether this idea can be a commercial winner.
|Dig it! The Hippie Dictionary!|
|By Greg Frost |
BOSTON August 24, 2004 (Reuters) - Are you feeling screwed, blued and tattooed because the man slipped it to you? Like, stay loose, hit the pad and share a thumb with your pash. Huh?
If that made no sense to you, check out "The Hippie Dictionary" by John McCleary. Using the new book to translate, readers come up with the more conventional: Are you feeling mistreated by the authorities? Relax, go home to bed and share a very large marijuana cigarette with your significant other."
Those expecting the dictionary, published by Ten Speed Press, to be a stodgy reference work are in for a jolt.
McCleary's book is chock-full of pointed editorializing, slang and swear words culled from the vernacular of the 1960s and 1970s hippie youth, who questioned authority and created their own counterculture.
[Note: Neo-hippies, don't be confused. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters were the first hippies. For the true language of hipdom, read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. Ed.]
"If the hippies had been listened to (then) 9/11 would not have happened," he added. "Had the hippie ideals been followed, we would be in a different world altogether right now."
"Everything I did, including the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, I'm proud of because it was an experimentation, a statement of joy," he said.
|Bush Flip-Flops on Global Warming|
|By Tom Doggett |
WASHINGTON August 27, 2004 (Reuters) — Warmer temperatures in North America since 1950 were likely caused in part by human activities, the Bush administration said in a report that seems to contradict the White House position there was no clear scientific proof on the causes of global warming.
In a report sent to Congress this week, the administration noted a recent government-sponsored study supported the view of many scientists that human action from driving automobiles to running power plants helped cause global warming.
"North American temperature changes from 1950 to 1999 were unlikely to be due only to natural climate variations," the report said. Warmer temperatures that occurred from 1900 to 1949 were "likely due" to natural causes, the report added.
The brief passage in the report was surprising because President Bush and other senior administration officials have long insisted there was no clear scientific proof to link human activities to global warming.
White House spokesman Trent Duffy said this one study does not change the administration's position and more research on the causes of global warming is still needed. "The president's policy is the same.... we need to fill in the knowledge and the scientific gaps," he said.
Bush withdrew the United States from participating in the Kyoto treaty that sought to reduce global warming emissions produced mostly by industrialized nations. He said the accord's tough requirements would be too costly to the U.S. economy.
The White House has promoted a voluntary program for U.S. power plant and oil refinery owners and other industries to cut their so-called greenhouse gas emissions.
The specific study on temperature changes from 1950 to 1999 was included in a list of research projects on climate change sponsored by various government agencies that were recently completed or are under way.
In its report to Congress on the research, the administration said the studies did not "make any findings of fact that could serve as predicates for regulatory action."
However, one environmental group said the report put pressure on Bush to address the global warming issue when the president lays out his plans for a second term at the Republican convention next week in New York.
"It will be interesting to see whether he plans to do something about global warming or just continue ignoring it for political reasons," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.
Other recent government-sponsored studies listed in the administration's report found:
+ 5.6 million hectares (13.8 million acres) of U.S. farmland set aside from production across a 13-state region soak up 5.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.
+ Emissions from the oil and natural gas industries in the Southwestern United States raised quantities of ethane, propane, and butane in the near-surface atmosphere of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas in autumn and spring that were comparable to urban smog.
+ The portion of the Arctic Ocean covered by perennial sea ice has declined by about 9 percent per decade since 1978.
|The Real George Washington|
|By Jill Oestreicher Gross |
Mount Vernon VA August 24, 2004 (Reuters) - Americans know George Washington as the dour founding father with white hair and ponytail depicted on their currency, but most people have little idea what the nation's first president really looked like beyond this stock image.
Researchers are hoping to change that by embarking on a massive detective hunt to flesh out his appearance in every detail. Specialists at Washington's home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, 25km outside Washington, DC, are gathering dozens of artifacts including snippets of hair and clothing that will be analyzed over the next year.
Based on that information, they will make life-size models of the former president at three different points in his life that will go on display in 2006 as part of a new $85-million education centre and museum at Mount Vernon.
Sculptures, moulds, busts, dentures, imprints and masks of Washington's face and body will be scanned with lasers. Hair samples, spectacles, personal clothes and all available written descriptions of Washington's physique, including those written by the president himself, will also be scrutinized.
"We want to show visitors the real George Washington and showing visitors how he looked is critical to that goal," said James Rees, Mount Vernon's executive director.
Schwartz and Razdan will explore various computer-generated images of Washington with and without his dentures, and as a result will able to see how his face might have changed.
"It's like Madame Tussaud's, but better," said Schwartz, director of Brooklyn, New York-based StudioEIS, referring to the wax models made of celebrities. "This is the marriage of the science and the craft."
He had a major role in the French and Indian War in the 1750s and later as commander of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War, which ended in victory for Washington in 1781.
|Bush Toots His Own Intelligence Horn|
|By JENNIFER LOVEN |
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON August 29, 2004 (AP) - President Bush said Saturday his newly enacted changes in the nation's intelligence community will "improve America's ability to find, track and stop dangerous terrorists," while Democratic critics said the election-season moves fall short of what is needed.
The president said the four executive orders he signed Friday, which give the CIA director additional power over the intelligence community until a new post of national intelligence director is created, establish a national counterterrorism center and promote intelligence-sharing across the government, "reflect specific recommendations" of an independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"All of them are essential to America's security as we wage the war on terror," Bush, speaking in his weekly radio address, said of the orders.
But critics immediately questioned whether Bush was going as far as the commission advised.
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said the executive orders are the latest example of Bush acting only "dragging and kicking" on important national security matters.
"Now they say they're willing to embrace a director of national intelligence, but they're not really willing to embrace it because they won't give him budget authority," he said.
After the release earlier in the summer of the 9/11 commission's report, political pressure grew for Congress and the president to get behind the recommendations the panel made to reform the government in response to the attacks. Key recommendations included the creation of a national intelligence director, separate from the director of the CIA, with real authority over budgets and personnel across the intelligence community and a central national counterterrorism center to handle intelligence operations and analysis.
Debate has been most fierce over the powers of the new post.
The White House says that the intelligence director should have oversight over spending and hiring and firing, but has yet to endorse full budget authority for the proposed position.
It is up to Congress whether to change the law to create the new position, and lawmakers are working to draft legislation that would do that as part of a broader overhaul of U.S. intelligence.
"America faces a great threat, and our government is doing everything in its power to confront and defeat that threat," Bush said. "In all that lies ahead, America will stay focused and determined, and we will prevail."
|Genesis - A Piece of the Sun|
|August 19, 2004 (NASA) - In a dramatic ending that marks a beginning in scientific research, NASA's Genesis spacecraft is set to swing by Earth and jettison a sample return capsule filled with particles of the Sun that may ultimately tell us more about the genesis of our solar system. |
"The Genesis mission -- to capture a piece of the Sun and return it to Earth -- is truly in the NASA spirit: a bold, inspiring mission that makes a fundamental contribution to scientific knowledge," said Steven Brody, NASA's program executive for the Genesis mission, NASA Headquarters, Washington.
On September 8, 2004, the drama will unfold over the skies of central Utah when the spacecraft's sample return capsule will be snagged in midair by helicopter. The rendezvous will occur at the Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range, southwest of Salt Lake City.
"What a prize Genesis will be," said Genesis Principal Investigator Dr. Don Burnett of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "Our spacecraft has logged almost 27 months far beyond the moon's orbit, collecting atoms from the Sun. With it, we should be able to say what the Sun is composed of, at a level of precision for planetary science purposes that has never been seen before."
The prizes Burnett and company are waiting for are hexagonal wafers of pure silicon, gold, sapphire, diamond and other materials that have served as a celestial prison for their samples of solar wind particles. These wafers have weathered 26-plus months in deep space and are now safely stowed in the return capsule. If the capsule were to descend all the way to the ground, some might fracture or break away from their mountings; hence, the midair retrieval by helicopter, with crew members including some who have performed helicopter stunt work for Hollywood.
"These guys fly in some of Hollywood's biggest movies," said Don Sweetnam, Genesis project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "But this time, the Genesis capsule will be the star."
The Genesis capsule -- carrying the agency's first sample return since the final Apollo lunar mission in 1972, and the first material collected beyond the Moon -- will enter Earth's atmosphere at 9:55 am Mountain Time. Two minutes and seven seconds after atmospheric entry, while still flying supersonically, the capsule will deploy a drogue parachute at 33 kilometers (108,000 feet) altitude. Six minutes after that, the main parachute, a parafoil, will deploy 6.1 kilometers (20,000 feet) up. Waiting below will be two helicopters and their flight crews looking for their chance to grab a piece of the Sun.
Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA's Johnson Space Center contributed to Genesis payload development, and the Johnson Space Center will curate the sample and support analysis and sample allocation.
|PETA in Underwear Not Indecent|
|CAMBRIDGE MASS August 27, 2004 (Reuters) - Wearing underwear and nothing else in public does not constitute indecency, a Massachusetts court declared on Thursday as it tossed out charges against six animal rights protesters. |
Members of the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were arrested and charged with indecency and disturbing the peace after a chilly rally in March near Harvard University where they stripped to their skivvies and staged a nearly naked pillow fight to protest against fur.
Six months and three court dates later, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, judge threw out the indecency charges against all six PETA members.
All but one of the protesters -- PETA Vice President Dan Mathews -- were also cleared of disturbing the peace. Mathews was ordered to pay a $300 fine.
Mathews told Reuters he was relieved that the indecent exposure charges were dismissed, noting that a conviction on such a charge would have forced him and the other demonstrators to register as sex offenders in Massachusetts.
|Genre News: Dead Zone, Dakota Fanning, Reality Harmful, Sky Captain, Summer Ratings, Kevin Sorbo & More!|
|The Dead Zone - Season Three Finale |
Review by FLAtRich
August 29, 2004 (eXoNews) - Executive producer Lloyd Segan tells us that "prospects for a fourth season of The Dead Zone look promising" and I hope that will be a certainty by the time you read this. Tipping Point, the wrap-up episode for Season Three of USA's superb genre show does leave us hanging there on the cliff in the grand tradition, so it seems that the producers are confident of a return.
Like much of series TV, Dead Zone Season Three has begun to eat its own - giving us too many episodes with Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) using his gift to save his family and buddies, staying close to home rather than searching out less personal mysteries.
His powers were less directed and more spontaneous, as if some higher power might be pointing him toward answers that no one else could ever see.
Season Three finds Johnny crossing worlds between an apocalyptic future and his own rather soapy present. There is a future guy (Frank Whaley) who shows up in Johnny's visions, cryptically warning of disasters ahead.
Johnny has become involved with Rebecca Caldwell (Sarah Wynter), the sister of a woman murdered while filming a documentary about Johnny's nemesis Greg Stillson (Sean Patrick Flanery). Stillson is a crooked politician who Johnny fears may someday destroy the world.
Stillson also has shady ties to Reverend Gene Purdy (David Ogden Stiers), who manages Johnny's trust fund and the Faith Heritage Church.
And there is the old relationship between Johnny and Sarah Bannerman (Nicole deBoer), wife of Johnny's sometime ally Sheriff Walt Bannerman (Chris Bruno). Sarah and Walt have a son, J.J. (Spencer Achtymichuk) who has only just learned that Johnny is his real father.
This all may sound complicated to the uninitiated, but think Stephen King and you'll find that the characters in the television version of The Dead Zone give the show the thickness of a novel despite the confines of your TV receiver.
Or, at least they do when the writers keep them far enough out of the box.
This depends somewhat on the too infrequent presence of Johnny's physical trainer and friend Bruce (John L. Adams) who usually signals a more off-the-wall episode like this season's Shadows, which USA chose to air just before the finale. (You won't find any trace of John L. Adams in the King original, BTW, which may be why this character is so important to the show.)
Bruce doesn't appear in Tipping Point, but Johnny is still crossing worlds.
Future guy comes back to tell him that the not so good Reverend Purdy lied about the suicide of his Faith Heritage crony Mike Kennedy, who supposedly murdered Rebecca Caldwell's sister Rachel.
Rebecca is back for this episode too, which means that the Greg Stillson thread is important to the finale. (As King fans know, Stillson is a character from the original book.)
John has been getting headaches for several episodes and now he decides to seek treatment. At Rebecca's urging, he allows a brain specialist to scan him while having a vision.
We get this in a wonderful holodeck sort of trance gone bad where Johnny is relaxing on a sunny beach with Rebecca, suddenly swallowed by the sand as his vision takes hold.
Johnny is telling Sarah Bannerman to pull the plug if one of his painful visions puts him back in a coma.
The Reverend Purdy is having a nervous breakdown, putting his bible through a paper shredder.
The big hanging climax of Tipping Point was no surprise to me. It was such a set-up that there was nowhere else for the plot to turn. (And where was Bruce when we needed him, man?)
Although Tipping Point is a tight, well-played drama of consequences, it does smack of much typical network TV fare where writers are strain to give all the producers' contracted actors something to do for their paychecks. (I pray the recent acquisition of USA by NBC doesn't have anything to do with this.)
The Dead Zone was originally more an anthology of Johnny Smith stories, a series construction much like Chris Carter's early X-Files seasons and MillenniuM's first and third seasons and less the grand opera of Michael Piller's earlier Trek masterpiece, Deep Space Nine.
LOS ANGELES August 26, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - Dakota Fanning could soon be slipping on Alice's shoes and heading off to Lewis Carroll's magical Wonderland. The young actress is close to a deal to star in her own potential franchise in adaptations of Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" for DreamWorks.
The trio worked together on Spielberg's miniseries "Taken" for Sci Fi Channel. Spielberg created the series, which Bohem wrote and in which Fanning starred.
I grew up loving it and buried in it. My mother would collect any edition -- she even had one in Swahili. It was all there my whole life and so right in my face, but it never really occurred to me to think, 'How about a movie with Alice?"'
LOS ANGELES August 26, 2004 (AP) - Blood-and-guts director Quentin Tarantino may be going soft.
EDINBURGH August 29, 2004 (Variety) - One of the BBC's most highly regarded anchors has launched a devastating attack on the "mind-numbing, witless vulgarity" of reality TV and its "coarsening" impact on British society.
Sky Captain Is Near
Hollywood August 26, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Jude Law, star of the upcoming SF epic film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, told SCI FI Wire he signed up to star in and produce the film on the spot after viewing writer-director Kerry Conran's six-minute demonstration reel. "I saw an incredible filmmaker in those six minutes," Law said in an interview. "I saw an incredible understanding of filmmaking in the script that he had written."
USA Dominates Summer Cable Ratings
LOS ANGELES August 26, 2004 (Zap2it.com) Kevin Sorbo, the former TV Hercules and current spaceship commander on "Andromeda," is looking for a more earthbound role in his next gig.
The ABC deal comes as "Andromeda," which airs on the Sci Fi Channel, is about to enter its fifth and final season. Sorbo is just beginning the process of meeting with writers to hash out a concept for the comedy.
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