|Save The Orangutans! |
Lennon's Killer, The Draft,
Agent Orange, Black Rhino,
Spyware, EF Eridanus & More!
|By Ed Stoddard |
BANGKOK October 5, 2004 (Reuters) - A U.N. meeting on endangered species could help secure the survival one of humanity's closest living relatives, the orangutan, by saving its forest home from loggers, a leading expert said on Tuesday.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) could also extend a helping hand to other great apes -- all critically endangered -- if countries follow a European resolution to develop a global blueprint for their survival.
"These (CITES) submissions could really help to save the great apes," said Ian Redmond, the chief consultant for the U.N.'s Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP).
One key proposal involves trees, not apes.
Indonesia is proposing to impose restrictions on trade in all species of ramin, a hardwood in high demand for furniture production.
"Orangutans do not feed on ramin but its removal greatly disturbs them," Redmond told Reuters on the sidelines of the two-week CITES conference in Bangkok, which began on Saturday.
"Loggers also build canals to float the logs out of the forest and these canals drain the peat swamps where the orangutans live," he said.
Orangutans are only found today on the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra and Redmond said the most recent scientific estimates put their number at 45,000 -- higher than some but still alarming.
|Lennon's Killer Denied Parole|
|NEW YORK October 6, 2004 (AFP) - Mark David Chapman, the man convicted of murdering John Lennon outside the former Beatle's Manhattan apartment building, was denied a request for parole, officials said. |
The New York State Board of Parole refused to grant Chapman's request for release from prison.
Chapman, now 49, was sentenced to 20 years to life after shooting Lennon five times in the back on December 8, 1980.
"Following a personal interview, a review of your records, and deliberation, your release to parole supervision at this time is denied," the Board said in a statement, citing the "extreme malicious intent" exhibited when Chapman fired on Lennon "multiple times."
Tuesday was the third time Chapman applied for parole since becoming eligible in 2000. In both previous cases, the board denied his request.
Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, opposed the parole, arguing that Chapman continues to pose a risk to herself and her family.
"Your course of conduct over a lengthy period of time shows a clear lack of respect for life and subjected the wife of the victim to monumental suffering by her witnessing the crime," the board added.
"During the interview your statements for motivation acknowledges the attention you felt this murder would generate. Although proven true, such rationale is bizarre and morally corrupt."
To release Chapman on parole "would significantly undermine respect for the law," the board concluded.
Chapman may seek a new parole review in October 2006.
Lennon fans also organized an online petition calling for Chapman to remain in prison for the rest of his life, garnering about 2,000 signatures.
"Chapman committed a heinous crime, unprovoked and without remorse. He shot to death John Lennon, a man who had signed an autograph for him only six hours earlier. He deserves to pay for this with life in prison," the petition said.
"It is also a matter of public safety that he not be released. He should not be free to harm anyone else. Please remember that Mark David Chapman is forty-nine years old, and John Lennon never got to be older than forty."
In 1990, Chapman expressed his remorse for having killed Lennon but his first parole request in 2000 was denied because board members said he still had the same desire for "fame and notoriety" that led to the murder.
|Government Terrorist Warnings Boost Bush Ratings|
|Cornell University News Release |
ITHACA NY October 4, 2004 - When the federal government issues a terrorist warning, presidential approval ratings jump, a Cornell University sociologist finds.
Interestingly, terrorist warnings also boost support for the president on issues that are largely irrelevant to terrorism, such as his handling of the economy.
Robb Willer, assistant director of the Sociology and Small Groups Laboratory at Cornell and a doctoral candidate in sociology who expects his Ph.D. in May 2005, tracked the 26 times that a federal government agency reported an increased threat of terrorist activity in the United States between February 2001 and May 2004. He also tracked the 131 Gallup Polls that were conducted during the same period. He then conducted several time-series and regression analyses on the relationship between government-issued terror warnings and Gallup Poll data on approval ratings of President George W. Bush.
"Results showed that terror warnings increased presidential approval ratings consistently," says Willer. "They also increased support for Bush's handling of the economy. The findings, however, were inconclusive as to how long this halo effect lasts."
When Willer linked the warnings to presidential ratings from 2001 to 2004, he found that each terror warning prompted, on average, a 2.75 point increase in the president's approval rating the following week.
Willer points to the aftermath of the Sep. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States as an example of the tendency. After Sept. 11, 2001, approval of Bush's job performance jumped from 51 percent on Sept. 10, 2001, to 86 percent on Sept. 15, 2001, in a Gallup Poll. Similarly, approval for Bush's handling of the economy jumped from 54 percent on July 11, 2001, to 72 percent on Oct. 5, 2001, says Willer. The findings are consistent with social identity theory, says Willer. The theory postulates that individuals tend to identify with a specific group to the extent that they see themselves as more similar to the members of the group than to its most significant out-group.
"Once individuals identify with a group, they develop significant biases toward their group, which help them maintain high self-esteem as members of their group. From the perspective of social identity theory, threats of attacks from foreigners increase solidarity and in-group identification among Americans, including feelings of stronger solidarity with their leadership," explains Willer.
When the out-group threat includes terror, Willer says that the social-identity effects are further heightened. He notes that his findings also are consistent with terror management theory, which indicates that threats involving mortality not only increase in-group biases but also nationalism. "This research suggests that individuals may respond to reminders of their mortality, like terror warnings, by supporting their current leaders," Willer says.
Right-click to download Willer's study in the Sept. 30 issue of Current Research in Social Psychology , a peer-reviewed online journal, at http://www.uiowa.edu/%7Egrpproc/crisp/crisp10_1.pdf
|The Draft: House Nixes Bill 402-2|
|By DEVLIN BARRETT |
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON October 6, 2004 (AP) - House Republicans sought to quash a persistent Internet rumor that President Bush wants to reinstate the draft if he is re-elected, engineering an overwhelming vote Tuesday killing legislation that would do just that.
Republicans accused Democrats of feeding the rumor mill to scare young voters and their parents into voting against Bush.
"This campaign is a baseless, malevolent concoction of the Democratic Party and everyone in this chamber knows it," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.
The House voted 402-2 to defeat the draft bill offered last year by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Even he urged Democrats to vote against the bill, and charged Republicans were cynically trying to use the measure to escape election-season questions about the war in Iraq.
Just two lawmaker, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., struck off on their own and voted for the measure.
"We are in a war, and not only a small segment of the population should fight in that war," said Murtha.
The specter of a wartime military draft like that of the Vietnam era has lingered around the presidential campaign for the past few weeks, fueled by an e-mail driven rumor mill and a campaign by Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan group that seeks to boost voting among young people.
The White House on Tuesday accused opponents of President Bush of trying to scare voters with false rumors.
Much of the Internet gossip circling the World Wide Web has suggested that Republicans, including the president, have a plan to surreptitiously bring back the draft in a second Bush term. Democrats say worries about it are spurring voter registration on college campuses and among people in their 20s in urban areas.
"Everywhere they go on the Internet, all they see is the draft, the draft, the draft," said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. "The Rock the Vote effort among kids in this country is afire and they (Republicans) know it. They're trying their best to tamp down this fire."
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., called the talk of a draft "the hoax of the year."
The Bush administration has strongly denied any plan to reinstate the draft, but the denials have not killed the rumor.
"There are some who have tried to bring this up as a scare tactic and that is highly unfortunate," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday. "The president does not believe we need a draft and he's made that repeatedly clear."
Speaking to Iowa voters Monday, Bush said, "We will not have a draft so long as I am president of the United States."
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has suggested the draft could be reinstated if voters re-elect Bush.
Kerry said his plan for Iraq, which calls for a summit and for allies to share a greater part of the burden, would not need a military draft.
Campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday, Kerry told reporters, "I've never said they're going to have a draft. I've said I don't know what they're going to do. I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to pursue a policy that guarantees we don't have to have a draft."
At a time that the Army is already struggling to meet recruitment targets, Kerry has proposed boosting the U.S. military by tens of thousands of troops, though he argues any increases in Iraq would come from foreign allies.
Rock the Vote said it is raising the draft issue because the presidential candidates haven't addressed it.
"This is not an Internet rumor," said Rock the Vote spokesman Jay Strell. "Young people in America deserve an honest and open debate about the possibility of a draft. Neither side has offered up what they're going to do to meet the current and future military needs."
|Nuke Bomb Material Growing|
|By Louis Charbonneau |
VIENNA October 5, 2004 (Reuters) — The world's stockpiles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium useable in atomic weapons are growing, despite increasing fears about the security of nuclear materials, a U.S. based think tank says in a new report.
The estimates of civilian and military stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) — information treated by most governments as classified — were prepared by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), run by former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright.
"At the end of 2003, there were more than 3,700 metric tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium — uranium enriched to 20 percent or uranium-235 — enough for hundreds of thousands of nuclear weapons, in about 60 countries," Albright and Kimberly Kramer wrote in an article to be published in the next issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Most of the weapons-useable material is in Russia, followed by the United States.
In response to intelligence reports that terrorists are interested in acquiring nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia are working with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to recover and secure all U.S. and Russian bomb-grade material spread across the globe.
Other states with some plutonium or HEU include the other declared nuclear powers — Britain, France, and China — as well as Belgium, Italy, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and former nuclear power South Africa, ISIS says. North Korea, which withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) last year, had some 15 to 39 kg of plutonium and two to nine nuclear weapons at the end of 2003, according to a table in the article.
The article says that military plutonium stocks are also growing in Israel, Pakistan, and India — countries known to possess nuclear weapons but which have not signed the NPT and are therefore not subject to IAEA safeguards.
The fact that states outside the NPT continue to make bomb material highlights the need for "an international ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons," it says.
Albright and Kramer are not optimistic: "Civil plutonium stocks are not expected to decrease in the next 15 years," they write.
Worries About Security
|Agent Orange - New Zealand Troops Were Exposed|
|WELLINGTON October 5, 2004 (AFP) - After nearly three decades of official denials, a high-level parliamentary committee formally acknowledged that New Zealand soldiers in the Vietnam War were significantly exposed to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. |
Parliament's multi-party health select committee released its findings after a new investigation into allegations of the exposure to the substance, which contained the toxin dioxin that many argue causes long-term damage to people.
"Overwhelmingly, the committee accepted that New Zealand Vietnam veterans were exposed to a very toxic environment," committee chairwoman Steve Chadwick said.
|Russians Find Mystical Shambala|
|Moscow September 30, 2004 (MOS) - A Russian expedition headed by a member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences Yuri Zakharov has established the exact location of the capital of the ancient state of Shambala – the mystical center revered by many religions and philosophers all over the World. |
“We saw what no European had ever seen before,” Zakharov claimed. Speaking at a press conference organized by the Russian Information Agency Novosti, Yuri Zakharov said that the expedition was unique.
“Nothing similar has been done before,” the researcher said.
|Hunting Black Rhino OK?|
|By Ed Stoddard |
BANGKOK October 5, 2004 (Reuters) — A global ban on hunting rare black rhinos was lifted on Monday to the chagrin of some conservationists, who say the lumbering titan is still in danger. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) adopted a Namibian proposal that will allow the southern African country an annual quota of five black rhinos for trophy hunters.
A proposal by neighboring South Africa to allow five of the animals to be hunted each year was also passed at the two-week conference, which began on Saturday.
|Astronaut Gordon Cooper Dies|
|LOS ANGELES October 5, 2004 (Reuters) - Gordon Cooper, one of the Mercury Seven astronauts who helped pioneer human space exploration, piloting the last of the Mercury missions and the troubled Gemini 5 flight, died on Monday. He was 77. |
Cooper, who along with his six fellow Mercury astronauts became an American hero in the space race against the Soviet Union the 1950s and 60s, died at his home in Ventura, California, NASA said.
"As one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Gordon Cooper was one of the faces of America's fledgling space program," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said in a statement.
"He truly portrayed the right stuff and he helped gain the backing and enthusiasm of the American public so critical for the spirit of exploration."
Cooper's death means that of the original group of seven astronauts named in 1959 to take America into space, only three survive -- John Glenn, Scott Carpenter and Wally Schirra.
Alan Shepard, the first American in space and one of the last to walk on the moon, died in 1998 at the age of 74.
The seven astronauts were immortalized in the 1983 film "The Right Stuff," based on the best-selling book by Tom Wolfe. Cooper was played by Dennis Quaid in the film, which won four Oscars (news - web sites).
Cooper, the youngest of the Mercury Seven, was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma and served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force before being selected for the astronaut program.
After he left NASA and retired from the Air Force in 1970, Cooper founded a consulting firm. According to NASA, he continued to design and test new aircraft into his 70s.
|Government Attacks Spyware|
|By TED BRIDIS |
WASHINGTON October 5, 2004 (AP) - Companies and others that secretly install "spyware" programs on people's computers to quietly monitor their Internet activities would face hefty federal fines under a bill the House passed Tuesday.
The most egregious behaviors ascribed to the category of such software — secretly recording a person's computer keystrokes or mouse clicks — are already illegal under U.S. wiretap and consumer protection laws.
The House proposal, known as the "Spy Act," adds civil penalties over what has emerged as an extraordinary frustration for Internet users, whose infected computers often turn sluggish and perform unexpectedly.
The House separately was expected to approve another anti-spyware bill as early as Wednesday. That bill, sponsored by Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., provides for additional criminal penalties.
[The Information Highway is glutted with billboards! We recently installed PestPatrol after discovering some 250 spyware related items on the office computer. Ed.]
|US Scientists Win Nobel Prize for Quark|
|Stockholm October 5, 2004 (BBC) - US scientists David Gross, David Politzer and Frank Wilczek have won the 2004 Nobel Prize for physics. They have been honored for their insights into the deep structure of matter - the materials that build atoms and the forces that hold them together. |
The Swedish committee behind the prize said their work on quarks and the strong force brought science closer to its dream of "a theory for everything".
The physicists will each receive a medal and share of the $1.3m prize. The honor is named after Alfred Nobel, the wealthy Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite.
This year's physics Nobel follows in a tradition that goes back to the very first awards in 1901, celebrating discoveries about the most fundamental constituents of the Universe.
Three decades ago, Gross, Politzer and Wilczek came up with a theory to describe the force that holds together quarks, the elementary particles with which nature constructs the neutrons and protons that make up the nuclei of atoms.
They fancifully described their force in terms of "color", saying that quarks could be red, green or blue, rather like electrical charge can be positive or negative; and just as electrical opposites attract, so combinations of quark color can make for stable collections of quarks.
Their theory successfully explained why quarks tended to group in threes. It also explained why, paradoxically, the "color charge" weakens as the quarks move together and strengthens when they move apart.
It is a property that has been compared to a rubber band. The more the band is stretched, the stronger the force.
The researchers' discoveries, published in 1973, led to the theory of quantum chromodynamics, or QCD.
|WASHINGTON October 5, 2004 (Reuters) - Some stars take, some give. |
Then there is the tortured relationship in EF Eridanus, where the smaller of two stars gave so much to its larger companion that it reached a dead end, and scientists said on Tuesday they haven't seen anything like it.
Doomed to orbit its more energetic partner for millions of years, the burned-out star has lost so much mass that it can no longer sustain nuclear fusion at its core and has become a new, indeterminate stellar object, astronomers said in a statement.
|Genre News: Lost, Desperate Housewives, Roswell, George Harrison, Charlie Watts, Janet Leigh|
|Lost, Housewives Score for ABC |
By DAVID BAUDER
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK October 5, 2004 (AP) - For a network desperate for hits, "Desperate Housewives" provided quite the tonic for ABC. The drama about suburban angst drew a stunning 21.3 million viewers for its premiere Sunday night, according to Nielsen Media Research. It follows the success of another new ABC drama, "Lost," which has also intrigued viewers during the first two weeks of the TV season.
They're encouraging early signs for a network that slumped to fourth place behind CBS, NBC and Fox last year and has been one of parent Walt Disney Co.'s biggest problem spots.
"Desperate Housewives" drew more viewers for a season premiere than any ABC series since "Spin City" eight years ago, Nielsen said. It was the best debut of any non-spinoff series since "Inside Schwartz" on NBC in 2001.
"It's good for broadcast TV that people are coming out in droves to things that are different and things that they're excited about," said Stephen McPherson, ABC entertainment president.
Two weeks ago, ABC had 18.7 million viewers for "Lost," its drama about tropical island castaways that are a carnivore's potential snack. "Lost" had 17 million viewers for its second showing, considered a strong audience retention rate for a new series.
Both shows drew good reviews and were the subject of aggressive marketing campaigns.
Since its viewership has dwindled, ABC had to depend on something other than ABC to get the word out on its new shows. It advertised heavily on cable networks ESPN and Lifetime, and placed ads on billboards and on the side of buses.
Since "Desperate Housewives" had the tag line "Everybody has a little dirty laundry," ABC printed ads with that line on thousands of dry cleaning bags.
And the network still has to prove it has something strong to replace "Monday Night Football" when the NFL's regular season ends, Sternberg said.
Still, it's a signal to television producers that ABC's "not in the toilet anymore," he said.
Before McPherson's hiring earlier this year, the network drew wide criticism for a dysfunctional management that let hits like "The Apprentice" slip to other networks.
One big caution: It's still early, and ABC must hope these shows are more than a passing fancy.
"I hope people can feel in their bellies that they have the ability to compete now."
Hollywood October 1, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Fans of the television series Roswell have organized a month-long mailing campaign to gain support for a theatrical version of the teen-alien show which ran for three years on the WB before being canceled in 2002.
[Definitely time for the movie! We miss these guys! Ed.]
LITTLE ROCK October 5, 2004 (AP) - Pictures of former Beatle George Harrison were taken from his sister's car while she was donating memorabilia to the Clinton Presidential Library, she said Monday
Shatner's 'Invasion' Hoax
LOS ANGELES September 3, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - Spike TV and William Shatner have just revealed that a film shot on location in Iowa is actually an elaborate hoax that will be the basis of a reality series set to air on the cable network early next year.
During the shoot, Shatner played the role of an increasingly over-the-top version of himself.
Charlie Watts Licks the Big C
LONDON October 3, 2004 (AP) - Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has won a battle with throat cancer, lead singer Mick Jagger said.
NEW YORK Octiber 3, 2004 (AP) - A postponed "60 Minutes" report about whether Iraq had nuclear capabilities has quickly become CBS's most famous shelved story since the 1995 tobacco piece made famous in the movie "The Insider."
And the Web site Salon.com summarized Bradley's story after receiving a copy before CBS decided to postpone it.
Rather Biased - http://www.Ratherbiased.com
COLUMBUS October 4, 2004 – Television viewers don’t develop their views about the president and national politics just by watching the news. New research suggests that crime dramas like NYPD Blue and Third Watch may have an influence on political attitudes as well.
But when they were analyzing the data, the researchers found something surprising: while only 11.5 percent of The West Wing viewers mentioned crime as the most important problem facing the nation, 27 percent of Third Watch viewers indicated so.
"This study is an important contribution to the media-effects literature because the researchers argue that entertainment shows, such as crime dramas like NYPD Blue, can also systematically influence citizens’ political views."
LOS ANGELES October 3, 2004 (AP) - Janet Leigh's most famous scene was so terrifying it put her off showers for the rest of her life.
Leigh died at her Beverly Hills home, with husband Robert Brandt and her daughters, actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Kelly Curtis, at her side. She was 77.
Leigh had suffered from vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, for the past year.
Leigh played embezzling office worker Marion Crane, who checks into the Bates Motel and never checks out. Dressed as his own mother, psychotic hotel clerk Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) repeatedly stabs Marion in the harrowing sequence, which was accompanied by the shrieking violins of composer Bernard Herrmann's score.
The scene left countless moviegoers sneaking the occasional peak around the shower curtain to make sure the bathroom was clear of knife-wielding lunatics.
It also was a drastic departure from Hollywood convention, defying expectations of audiences who until that point had identified with Leigh as the movie's main character.
Dubbed Janet Leigh (her birth name was Jeanette Helen Morrison) she starred at 19 in her first movie, "The Romance of Rosy Ridge," opposite Van Johnson, and her salary was quickly boosted to $150 a week. She became one of MGM's busiest stars, appearing in six movies in 1949.
Leigh had been married twice before coming to Hollywood: to John K. Carlyle, 1942, the marriage later annulled; and Stanley Reames in 1946, whom she divorced two years later.
Her 1964 marriage to businessman Brandt was longer lasting.
"She never did that. She thought it would have cheapened it."
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