|Will Kerry Grow War? |
Endangered Boxing Orangutans,
Red Storm Rising, Mad Cows,
Amazon Dying & More!
|Will Kerry Grow War?|
|By FLAtRich |
Proud Independent Voter
August 1, 2004 (eXoNews) - I watched parts of the DemCon last week and I was very impressed by some of the speakers. Mrs. John Kerry was cool. Bill Clinton was excellent (after a boring intro from his wife.)
Illinois Senator Barack Obama was positively riveting!
I felt like I'd slipped through a Star Trek time rift and was watching a speech by the first Black president of these United States sometime in the future.
Our own favorite Borg, Miss Jeri Ryan from Star Trek: Voyager, set in motion a series of events that, for better or worse, destroyed the political career of her ex-husband Jack Ryan. Not a violation of the temporal prime directive, just a dicey divorce record, but Jack Ryan was Barack Obama's Republican rival in his race for the US Senate. Obama now runs virtually unopposed.
Most of the other speeches were tedious and non-essential. I would file all speeches by the children of candidates in this category, unless they are running for something other than, say, child of the vice-president.
If you really think we need a royal family, just take a look around the world and see what a mess other countries have made of their kings and queens.
What a boring guy he turns out to be after all those excellent campaign sound bites. And what about that hair? Is that hair real? I kept staring at his part all through his speech. Could that be a comb-over? A rug?
John Kerry was pretty good. Not as good as Bill Clinton and he doesn't hold a candle to Barack Obama, but his hair is definitely real. He seems genuine enough.
I have protested every war since in some way or another.
So I thought Kerry's well-documented and logical opposition to that out of control Viet Nam War was a connection between us. But Kerry surprised me in his speech.
He promised to grow the military.
Mr. Kerry was referring to anti-terrorist "special forces" in his speech, but what does that mean? Aren't US troops in Iraq there to fight terrorists? That makes them "special forces to conduct anti-terrorist operations" - doesn't it?
"And we need to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us.
|Endangered Orangutans Forced to Fight in Thai Boxing Bouts|
|BANGKOK July 29, 2004 (AFP) - An international animal rights group has called on Thailand to ban controversial kickboxing fights between endangered orangutans held daily at a Bangkok wildlife park. |
The orangutans, wearing boxing gloves and garish Thai shorts, are put in a ring and encouraged to fight their opponents using fists, knees, elbows and feet.
The operators of the Safari World animal park say the fights -- which start with the Rocky movie theme and include chimpanzees wearing bikinis carrying cards with the bout number -- are choreographed and that no animal is harmed.
But animal rights groups said the apes were being exploited for easy profits and they were destined for a short and miserable existence after their days in the ring were over.
"It's outrageous. There's no question of it being justifiable in any sort of way," said Cyril Rosen, a board member of the International Primate Protection League. "Most young animals are very flexible and they do what they are told, it's what happens to them afterwards. Their eventual fate is an early death."
Rosen said that such treatment of the endangered orangutans could have a long-term effect on the species' survival and called for a tourist boycott of the park. If orangutans are deprived of their long upbringing, they lose their maternal instincts, which in turn hits their chances of breeding, he said.
"They are doing no good to the animals, no good to the species and making a mockery of the animal," he said.
After watching a fight Wednesday with some 400 Thai primary schoolchildren, one spectator from California said he would not have brought his three children to the show if he knew it was going to be an animal brawl.
"It was all about hitting and violence and as the audience was mostly very young children it was very inappropriate," said the tourist, who gave his name only as Nick. "It was basically about teaching the animals and the children watching to hit one another," he said.
Not everyone was concerned. The Thai audience cheered enthusiastically as two orangutans named Sum Luck and Num Singh pummeled each other and a young British couple described it as "harmless fun".
"If we were doing a cruel show we do not have to let anyone tell us. We would cancel it ourselves," Safari World managing director Pin Kewkacha told AFP. "This show has been there for 20 years without anyone complaining about it because it is merely an action show," he added.
But Thai animals rights groups say they have contacted Safari World about the orangutan fights many times in the past.
"We have tried to talk for so many years, to try to stop this but they won't stop because it is good for business and not illegal," said Roger Lohanan from the group, Thai Solidarity for Protection of Animals. "There is not an animal cruelty law in Thailand covering this sort of thing."
Orangutans are native to Indonesia and Malaysia but hunting and loss of habitat has seen their numbers tumble to fewer than 20,000, according to the Orangutan Foundation. The demands are growing for an end to the animal brawling, with Taiwanese animal activists also calling on tourists to boycott the safari park. Taiwan's Ping Tong Technology University Wild Animal Protection Centre called for the boycott after its director saw the orangutan fights while in Thailand, according to the Bangkok Post.
Indonesia also criticized Safari World and Thailand and is demanding the return of at least 100 allegedly smuggled orangutans discovered during a raid by Thai wildlife officials on the park last year.
The government was set to fast-track DNA testing of the apes to check their origin after stone-walling on previous demands by Indonesia, according to reports.
|Saint Louis University Press Release |
ST. LOUIS July 28, 2004 - Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, affects a much larger proportion of the U.S. population than previously reported, according to new research.
Dee Anna Glaser, M.D., professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University, said that an estimated 7.8 million people in the United States suffer from hyperhidrosis.
"I was a little surprised at the high percentage of those affected," she said. Glaser conducted a national survey of 150,000 households to determine the prevalence of hyperhidrosis in the United States population and assess the impact of sweating on those affected by axillary hyperhidrosis. Results will be published July 28 in the August issue of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
People suffering from hyperhidrosis experience excessive sweating on the underarms, palms of hands, soles of feet and the face, to name a few places. Cold, wet handshakes, soiled or damaged shirts, papers and shoes are just some of the symptoms of hyperhidrosis. Anxiety and stress often accompany hyperhidrosis, as well.
"The results suggest that in axillary hyperhidrosis, sweating often impedes normal daily activities and can result in occupational, emotional, psychological, social and physical impairment in a substantial proportion of individuals," Glaser said.
Prior to this survey, there was very little research available regarding the prevalence or impact of hyperhidrosis.
The findings include:
Hyperhidrosis affects a much larger proportion of the U.S. population than previously reported. An estimated 7.8 million individuals, or 2.8 percent of the population, have hyperhidrosis.
Of this population, 50.8 percent (4.0 million) have axillary hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating of the underarms.
The prevalence rates were significantly higher among people 25-64, which is the prime working-age population.
Females are far more likely to discuss their condition with a health care professional (47.5 percent of women versus 28.6 percent of men.)
"This condition is a not a mild nuisance experienced by a few people," Glaser said. "This is a big problem for many people."
Saint Louis University - http://www.slu.edu
|Red Storm Rising|
|Sandia National Laboratories News Release |
ALBUQUERQUE July 27, 2004 — Red Storm will be faster, yet smaller and less expensive, than previous supercomputers, say researchers at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sandia National Laboratories, where the machine will be assembled.
The first quarter of the $90 million, 41.5 teraflops (trillion operations/second) machine should be installed at Sandia by the end of September and fully up and running by January, says Bill Camp (Sandia’s Director of Computation, Computers, Information and Mathematics), who heads the effort to design and assemble the innovative machine.
Performance testing will begin in early 2005.
By the end of 2005, the machine should be capable of 100 teraflops, after each single-processor chip is replaced with a new chip that contains two independent processors, each running 25 percent faster than the original chip.
The machine has 96 processors in each computer cabinet, with four processors to a board. Each processor can have up to eight gigabytes of memory sitting next to it. Four Cray SeaStars — powerful networking chips — sit on a daughter board atop each processor board. All SeaStars talk to each other “like a Rubik cube with lots of squares on each face,” says Camp. “Cray SeaStars are about a factor of five faster than any current competing capability.”
Messages encoded in MPI (the Message Passage Interface standard) move from processor to processor at a sustained speed of 4.5 gigabytes per second bidirectionally. The amount of time to get the first information bit from one processor to another is less than 5 microseconds across the system. The machine is arranged in four rows of cabinets. There are a total of 11,648 Opteron processors and a similar number of SeaStars.
|Please Don't Eat My Submarine!|
|Australia July 30, 2004 (BBC) - Australian researchers have built what they claim is the world's smallest submarine: a 40cm-long, self-controlling submersible called Serafina. |
The tiny submarine, no bigger than a toy, can dive to around 5,000 meters (16,500 feet), turn, somersault and perform a range of scientific tasks.
Its designers say the Serafina could be used in shipwreck recovery, in search and rescue and may have military uses.
The Serafina has a plastic hull, five propellers and rechargeable batteries.
It can travel at the relatively fast underwater speed of one meter per second, equivalent to walking pace, and can hover, tilt and right itself if overturned.
Dr Uwe Zimmer said his department of systems engineering team at Canberra's Australian National University had refined the design so the submersibles could be produced relatively cheaply, starting at about A$1,000 (US$700) each. Its development and production costs were a tiny fraction of what autonomous submersibles usually cost.
"Being small, for a submersible, is not only a very good thing to have but is actually a very excellent thing," Dr Zimmer said. "To handle a fully-blown autonomous submersible, you need to have a crane, you need to have a specialized boat, you need to have a calm sea, you need to have a full crew on the sea to operate the vehicle. This is a big improvement."
Dr Zimmer added that the Serafina's small size made it much easier to pressurize than larger submersibles. The only possible problem with the submarine's size, is that it could possibly be eaten by an aquatic creature.
It can be programmed in advance and last on a mission, with its current battery capacity, for up to a day.
|Bush Mad Cow Position Angers Everybody|
|By Carey Gillam |
LOUISBURG KANSAS July 30, 2004 (Reuters) — The brown-and-white spotted calves appear happy and healthy as they amble through the tall grass of a northeastern Kansas field, never straying far from their mothers. But back at the barn — and in countless barns, feedlots, slaughterhouses, and packing plants around the United States — the health of cattle like these has become a hot-button issue.
Calls for widespread testing of the nation's beef supply have stretched from Tokyo to Arkansas City, Kansas, after the United States detected its first-ever case of mad cow disease in December.
The news sent shock waves through domestic markets and triggered an immediate halt to important international trade, including deals with Japan, which typically buys about $1.4 billion of U.S. beef annually.
Still, the U.S. government has refused to support widespread testing of the nation's cattle herds.
Instead, the Agriculture Department has launched a limited voluntary testing program that its own inspector general said may be scientifically invalid. Critics are also accusing the government of favoring big businesses that oppose extensive testing, at the expense of small cattle companies that back it.
|Condom Necklaces Banned|
|MEDFORD OR July 23, 2004 (AP) - A nylon necklace strung with condoms has sparked outrage at the county fair. Chris Borovansky, manager of the Jackson County Fair, said he has asked Planned Parenthood to stop teaching teenagers how to make "condom leis" after numerous complaints were filed with fair officials. |
"We talked to them today and asked them not to do that," said Borovansky. "We asked them not to flaunt something or make something more than it is."
But a bowl of free candy-colored condoms was allowed to remain in the booth according to the terms of Planned Parenthood's fair contract, he added.
More than 15 people e-mailed or called to complain about the project in which older teens were allowed to make condom necklaces fashioned of nylon netting, condom packets and pipecleaners. Planned Parenthood representatives said the activity was aimed at removing the stigma and secrecy from contraceptive use.
"The intent is to make condoms a normal part of life," said Paul Robinson, community relations director. "You do what attracts the older youth."
The necklace project was so popular among older teens that the booth ran out of supplies, said Deanna Leitner, public affairs field organizer with Planned Parenthood. But younger children were not allowed to make the necklaces or take free condoms.
"We were talking about condoms and being safe," she said. "I'm certainly not doing what I'm accused of doing, which is distributing condoms to very young children."
The presence of condoms at the fair outraged Niquita Wilkinson, 45, of Eagle Point. She said she saw two teenage girls stringing condom necklaces Tuesday night.
"It's not a bar, it's not a truck stop, it's not a bowling alley," said Wilkinson. "The fair is like the biggest kids' thing around. It's just not appropriate here," she said.
|Deforestation Threatens Amazon River! |
By Vivian Sequera
BRASILIA, Brazil July 30, 2004 (AP) — Deforestation has provoked drastic changes along many Amazon tributaries and scientists warned it was only a matter of time before it affects the main trunk of the river.
A four-year study on the effects of deforestation found many of the Amazon's 7,000 tributaries were drying up, while fertilizers and pesticides have profoundly altered their ecosystems.
"So far this hasn't affected the Amazon river ... and we don't want to get to that point," Alex Krutsche, a biologist at the University of Sao Paulo who was involved in the study, said Thursday.
Although the Amazon rain forest has lost as much as 20 percent of its original forest cover — some 6 million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles) — Krutsche said little environmental damage was apparent along the main trunk of the 6,800-kilometer-long (4,223-mile-long) river.
The forest is being cut down at an ever faster pace to make way for cattle ranching — and more recently, large grain plantations, especially soybeans which require lots of fertilizers and strong pesticides to flourish in the equatorial region.
"For now it's speculation to say whether the Amazon will disappear or not," said Reynaldo Victoria, a University of Sao Paulo researcher, who added that the smallest tributaries are among the most affected. "To save them we only have to follow the law."
To keep the river from drying up, Brazilian law requires that farmers not disrupt the forest within 50 meters (165 feet) of any river bank.
Another law limits clear cutting to only 20 percent of the forest property — though the remaining 80 percent can be logged selectively with a government-approved forestry management plan.
But these and other tough environmental laws are routinely flouted in the massive Amazon region that covers an area larger than Europe. The government has few environmental inspectors in the rain forest.
The results were presented at the final day of the third conference on the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia.
The experiment, which began in 1998 and is expected to continue through 2006, studies the interaction between the Amazon rain forest, the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness, and regional and global weather patterns.
It involves more than 1,000 scientists and specialists from over 100 research institutions including NASA, and is being called the largest international environment research project ever.
Save the Rainforest - Eat a Tree?
July 29, 2004 - A University of Utah experiment conducted in Peru's Amazon Basin shows insects increase the diversity of the rainforest when they munch on trees. Such seemingly destructive behavior keeps dominant tree species under control but allows other trees to thrive.
Unprotected, the red clay trees transplanted onto white sand soil died at twice the rate of trees that normally live on white sand soil.
Coley says: "Most people think of herbivores as detrimental pests – bugs eat plants, which is not good for the plants. Yet without insects, clay tree species would take over all forest types. Bugs beget tree diversity."
Fine and Mesones conducted the experiment from May 2001 to February 2003.
Amazon Greenhouse Gas Estimates Too Low
BRASILIA, Brazil July 30, 2004 (Reuters) — Many estimates of the amount of greenhouse gas given off by burning and deforestation in the Amazon are far too low because they fail to take account of gas released by rotting vegetation, researchers reported to a deforestation conference this week.
It started in 1998 and is being conducted by Brazilian and foreign organizations, including the U.S. space agency NASA.
|Genre News: Catwoman, West Wing, Sperm Race, Hercules, Strangers With Candy and Eugene Roche|
|Catwoman Purrs and Yawns |
July 31, 2004 (eXoNews) - Within the comic book to live action movie genre, where The Hulk was an F and Spider-man (either film) is an A, I'd call Catwoman a B-movie. There are extenuating circumstances to consider, however, which raise the newest incarnation of the DC Comics character to a B+.
Catwoman was a classically minor Bob Kane dark horse in his Batman universe until the delightful Adam West TV series of the 1960s presented viewers with a changing array of cat ladies. According to comic book historians, our feline phantom first appeared in issue #1 of Batman comics as The Cat in 1940.
Catwoman remained a Batman Comics enigma until she finally got popular enough for a book of her own after Michelle Phieffer cracked the whip in Batman Returns.
The actual mysterious toxic exposure and Midnight resurrection scenes almost make up for a yawnable overabundance of Patience backstory, but the screenplay also insists on providing us with a fallback "chosen one" destiny thing and even a catty lady "watcher" character to be Patience's spiritual advisor.
Holy slayer, Batman! Buffy strikes again!
The "chosen one" devices are obviously needed to explain and protect previous Selina Kyle / Warners Batman franchise Catwoman characters from obsolescence should Miss Berry or someone else continue to portray Patience Phillips / Catwoman on the silver screen.
After all, there are all the animated versions of Selina to consider and a new Batman movie is on the drawing board.
Too bad the new Catwoman didn't have Joss Whedon at her typewriter. The movie definitely needed something more than that worn-out evil cosmetics company cliché previously rewritten for every female-starring TV series from Charlie's Angels to Murder She Wrote and beyond.
Ironically, Catwoman's director Pitof (a.k.a. Jean-Christophe Comar) worked as visual effects supervisor on the Whedon-penned Alien: Resurrection (1997), but the Catwomen team seems to have missed required Buffyverse lessons on constructing empowered super women plots.
Lambert Wilson is absolutely dreadful doing his Edward Fox imitation as cosmetics king George Hedare, out-hammed only by the lovely and equally humorless Sharon Stone as the evil cosmetics queen and toxic face cream addict Laurel Hedare. Alex Borstein was good if not non-essential as Patience's buddy Sally.
And isn't that precious naming him Tom? Catwoman goes for a tomcat kind of guy, get it?
There are some nice scenes between Berry and Bratt, including a lick that pays homage to earlier lives. Berry acknowledges Eartha Kitt and other TV Catwomen (Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar) in a lot of her mannerisms and the one nostalgic Catwoman wisecrack:
The fault is in the script, not Miss Berry.
She's a delight as always and a perfectly believable choice for the role - we all know she can kick ass with the best of them from Jinx in Die Another Day to Storm in X-Men. Catwoman will surely satisfy most fans as the introductory entry in a series of Catwoman movies.
For Catwoman purists, DC Comics released a special comic "Catwoman: Nine Lives of a Feline Fatale" in June 2004. The new book is a 208-page collection of nine tales spanning the sixty-year history of the dark heroine.
The writers are Bill Finger, Edmond Hamilton, Leo Dorfman, Gardner Fox, Frank Robbins, Doug Moench, Devin Grayson, Ty Templeton, and Ed Brubaker. Art is by Bob Kane, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Charles Paris, Kurt Schaffenberger, Frank Springer, Sid Greene, Irv Novick, Joe Giella, Tom Mandrake, Jan Duursema, Jim Balent, John Stanisci, Rick Burchett, Terry Beatty, Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Manley, with a cover by Brian Bolland.
BOSTON July 28, 2004 (AP) - Apparently term limits apply to "The West Wing."
Sperm Race - Dutch Reality Programming
AMSTERDAM July 29, 2004 (Variety) - Endemol's controversial new reality titles "Sperm Race" where men compete for the title of "most virile man" and "Make Me a Mum" where the winner is likely to provide sperm for a childless woman, may run afoul of Dutch law.
BLOOMINGTON IL July 30, 2004 (AP) - Filmmaker Michael Moore's Bush-bashing documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" apparently has upset more than Republicans.
It also is seeking compensatory damages of $1.
LOS ANGELES July 28, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - Sean Astin, Leelee Sobieski and Timothy Dalton are set to star in NBC's four-hour miniseries "Hercules."
NEW YORK July 28, 2004 (AP) - Production has begun on a movie based on Comedy Central's now defunct cult TV show "Strangers With Candy." The film has a working title — not surprisingly, "Strangers With Candy: The Movie."
LOS ANGELES July 30, 2004 - Eugene Roche, a paunchy character actor who played the kitchen-cleaning "Ajax man" in commercials and had memorable roles in such television shows as "All in the Family" and "Magnum P.I" has died at age 75.
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