Save The Orangutans!
Lennon's Killer, The Draft,
Agent Orange,
Black Rhino,
Spyware, EF Eridanus & More!
Save Orangutans!
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.

The conference will also consider a resolution from the European Union - put forward by Ireland, which formerly held the EU presidency -- urging CITES members "to bring worldwide attention to the ape crisis, raise funds for conservation and develop a global conservation strategy for all great ape populations."

Redmond said the situation was critical in the face of habitat destruction, the trade in wild bushmeat and the ebola virus in Africa.

Millions of chimpanzees were once found in Africa but now their fragmented populations are believed to number only between 100,000 and 200,000 between Senegal and Tanzania.

Eastern lowland gorillas may only number a few thousand. A decade ago the western lowland gorilla was believed to number 100,000, but Redmond said now it was believed to be "significantly reduced" from that level.

Only a few hundred mountain gorillas are left in the lush volcanic hills straddling Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And there are believed to be only between 15,000 and 50,000 bonobos left, Redmond said.

"The great apes may vanish in our lifetimes," he said.

FreeTheMonkey -

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.

Two years ago, the board noted Chapman's "very positive" behavioral record, but added that progress in such a controlled and structured environment "cannot predict your community behavior" if released.

In a rare interview several years ago with the British press, Chapman, who is serving his time in Attica maximum security prison in northern New York state, said he was sure that Lennon would have forgiven him and wished his release.

"I think he would be liberal, I think he would care," he said.

This year marked the 40th anniversary since The Beatles, on the back of their first US number one, flew into New York for a tour that took America by storm and heralded the start of the "British invasion" of the US music charts.

Only two of the Fab Four, Lennon's songwriting partner Paul McCartney and drummer Ringo Starr, are still alive. George Harrison died of cancer in 2001.

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

The Draft: House Nixes Bill 402-2
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."

Strell said his group's Web site has seen a huge spike in recent days in downloads of voter registration forms, now up to about 40,000 a day.

The draft legislation was introduced by Rangel, a fierce critic of both the Iraq war and the Bush administration.

"I would not advise anybody that's running for election as a Democrat to vote for this," said Rangel, who contended Republicans abused parliamentary standards to rush a vote to the floor without hearings or discussion. "It's a prostitution of the legislative process," he said.

The measure would require two years of military or civilian service of men and women aged 18-26.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ruled out consideration of a companion bill in that chamber, saying, "To the leadership of the United States Senate, it's a non-issue and it's one that's not going to be addressed."

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

It takes around 10 kg of plutonium-239 or 16-25 kg of HEU enriched to around 90 percent uranium-235 (U-235) to fuel a weapon. ISIS estimates that at the end of 2003 there was a total of 1,855 tonnes of plutonium and 1,900 tons of HEU globally.

Most of the plutonium was in civilian hands, while the HEU was mostly in military stocks.

Some of the weapons-useable nuclear material produced around the world is disposed of, but the total amount keeps growing, Albright and Kramer say in their article.

"This is worrisome not only because the world has yet to come up with an accepted method of plutonium disposition but also from a security standpoint: How safe is that plutonium and HEU?"

Coastal countries like Ireland, New Zealand, and Peru complain about the security of transporting nuclear materials through their territorial waters. These countries say that dangerous shipments of fissile or highly radioactive materials are often moved through their waters without their knowledge.

The environmental pressure group Greenpeace says on its Web site that 140 kg of plutonium — enough for at least 14 weapons — is now en route to France, where it is to be converted into nuclear reactor MOX fuel.

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.

The committee said it was up to the government to decide whether to apologize and offer compensation to veterans of the war, many of whom now suffer health problems they say are related to Agent Orange.

A total of 3,890 New Zealanders served in South Vietnam between 1965 and 1972, mainly in artillery and infantry. Thirty-seven of them were killed.

Two previous official reports and successive government statements have said New Zealand troops were not significantly exposed to Agent Orange.

The committee said however that there was "overwhelming evidence" of direct and indirect spraying of the defoliant and the toxicity of the environment.

A key breakthrough for the inquiry was the emergence of a map kept by retired officer John Masters, commander of 161 Battery Royal New Zealand Artillery in Vietnam, which showed that areas in which New Zealanders served were subject to chemical defoliation.

"It happened not once but 350 times," committee member Judith Collins said.

Agent Orange was a herbicide developed for military use and was a 50/50 mix of weedkillers 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T), and contained the toxic chemical dioxin.

In the early 1960s the United States sprayed Agent Orange -- named for the orange band on the drums it was stored in -- on wide areas of the Vietnam to kill jungle being used by Vietnamese forces.

An estimated 72 million liters (19 million gallons) was sprayed on Vietnam up to 1971.

Washington has argued that there is not enough evidence to link the spraying of millions of liters of Agent Orange to generations of birth defects and other diseases.

The New Zealand government has yet to formally respond to the committee report.

Minor parties New Zealand First and the Greens, both represented on the committee, called on the government to make a public apology.

"It is time to allow some closure on what has been a long and dispiriting battle for validation and recognition of their war experiences by those veterans," New Zealand First committee member Pita Paraone said.

The Greens' health spokeswoman, Sue Kedgley, said the government should apologize because successive administrations had refuse to accept that New Zealand soldiers were exposed to Agent Orange.

"The government now accepts that the vets were exposed to a toxic environment, and so it should apologize for 30 years of denial," Kedgley 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.

Shambala, called Shang Shung in Tibetan, is an ancient religious and philosophical center which is believed to border Persia and Tajikistan. The center of the country – its internal or hidden part was located near Mount Kailas in the Himalayas. The 6714-meter-high Mount Kailas is considered sacred by Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and the traditional Tibetan faith called Bon.

Zakharov said that before his trip many researchers had considered Shambala just an esoteric concept and that the recent discovery made by Russians proved that the ancient country really existed.

The expedition headed by Zakharov traveled in the internal or hidden areas of Shambala. The scientists also managed to climb Mount Kailas to the altitude of 6200-6300 meters and fly the Russian flag there. Zakharov said that this was the highest altitude they could climb without special equipment.

The scientist also stressed that the “de-mystification” of Shambala was not the goal of his expedition. “The main goal was to prove that Shambala is in reality a scientific concept,” Zakharov 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.

South Africa had asked for a quota of 10 black rhinos but reduced it to five at the start of the meeting to address the concerns of conservationists. The proposals will be raised again during the plenary session next week but are almost certain to pass because they have overwhelming support.

"We appreciate this recognition of our conservation achievements," said Malan Lindeque, the top civil servant at Namibia's Environment Ministry.

Africa's black rhino has been snatched from the brink of extinction and its numbers are on the rebound, but it still faces many threats, conservationists say.

"We know rhinos are still being poached for their horns and the poachers are indiscriminate, so we think this proposal sends out the wrong signal," said Jason Bell-Leask, director of the southern African branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Demand for rhino horn in East Asia, where it is valued for medical purposes, and in the Middle East, where it is used for dagger handles, has left a bloody trail in its wake. Rampant poaching drove black rhino numbers down to about 2,400 in the mid-1990s from an estimated 65,000 just two decades before. Poachers typically hack off the horns and leave the hulking carcasses to rot under the African sun.

But today there are about 3,600 of them — some estimates are even higher — and Namibia and South Africa say only old males who are no longer breeding would be targeted, so the impact on the populations would be negligible.

The cash raised will also be plowed into conservation programs. Black rhinos are expected to fetch tens of thousands of dollars apiece. There is already limited hunting of the more numerous white rhino in southern Africa.

Leopards Are Also in Hunters' Sights

Annual hunting quotas for leopards in Namibia and South Africa were also raised on Monday, a move sure to please big game hunters seeking the thrill of tracking big and dangerous animals. South Africa's quota was raised to 150 from 75 and Namibia's to 250 from 100.

Rhino and leopard are two of Africa's so-called "Big 5 game animals" — which also include lion, water buffalo, and elephant — celebrated by American novelist Ernest Hemingway, an avid hunter. But for many conservationists, they are symbols of a vanishing wilderness where hunting for sport should be banned.

CITES is the global regulator of trade in wild plant and animal species and usually meets every two years.

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

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 bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., provides guidelines for technology companies that distribute software capable of most types of electronic monitoring. It requires that consumers explicitly choose to install such software and agree to the information being collected.

The House voted 399-1 to approve the bill. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who often votes against spending measures, cast the lone dissenting vote Tuesday.

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 chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said Goodlatte's anti-spyware bill was preferable because of its criminal sanctions, and Barton said he will work to combine both proposals for a final vote by year's end.

Barton acknowledged that experts had recently found more than 60 varieties of spyware installed on the panel's own computers. He said all the spyware programs had been installed without the permission of computer users.

The committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, called the proposal approved Tuesday "a bill whose time has come."

"People are increasingly finding their home pages have been changed or their computers are sluggish," she said. "Their computers are no longer their own, and they can't figure out why."

The House bill approved Tuesday explicitly permits snooping software built by the FBI or spy agencies secretly collecting information under a court order or other legal permissions affecting federal departments.

The bill's bans against spyware would begin 12 months after it becomes law and would automatically expire after 2009.

The House bill approved Tuesday is H.R. 2929; the bill expected to pass as early as Wednesday is H.R. 4661.

[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.

Color collection

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.

Unified theory

"This theory was an important contribution to the Standard Model, the theory that describes all physics connected with the electromagnetic force (which acts between charged particles), the weak force (which is important for the Sun's energy production) and the strong force (which acts between quarks)," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in awarding the prize.

"Thanks to their discovery, David Gross, David Politzer and Frank Wilczek have brought physics one step closer to fulfilling a grand dream, to formulate a unified theory comprising gravity as well - a theory for everything," the academy's citation added.

These ideas continue to be investigated in the world's particle accelerators.

Gross is attached to the Institute for Theoretical Physics, at the University of California-Santa Barbara; Politzer is from the California Institute of Technology; and Wilczek works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Theoretical Physics.

On Monday, two US scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for uncovering the secrets of the human sense of smell.

Official Nobel -

EF Eridanus
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.

"Like the classic line about the aggrieved partner in a romantic relationship, the smaller donor star gave, and gave, and gave some more until it had nothing left to give," said astronomer Steve Howell, who works with the Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO telescope and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.

"Now the donor star has reached a dead end -- it is far too massive to be considered a super-planet, its composition does not match known brown dwarfs, and it is far too low in mass to be a star," Howell said. "There's no true category for an object in such limbo."

The binary system EF Eridanus is made up of a recipient, a faint white dwarf star -- a sunlike star that has progressed to the final phase of its life -- and the donor object, which has about one-twentieth of our sun's mass.

It is located about 300 light-years from Earth in the constellation Eridanus (The River). A light-year is about 6 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year.

Howell and Thomas Harrison of New Mexico State University made high-precision infrared measurements of EF Eridanus using the Gemini North and Keck II telescopes, both on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, in December 2002 and September 2003, respectively.

EF Eridanus is a type of binary star system known as magnetic cataclysmic variables, which may produce many more of these "dead" objects than scientists previously realized, Harrison said.

Images are available online at

Genre News: Lost, Desperate Housewives, Roswell, George Harrison, Charlie Watts, Janet Leigh
Lost, Housewives Score for ABC
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.

Two other potential bright spots for ABC: "Wife Swap" is holding up well against strong competition and "Boston Legal," the drama created out of the ashes of "The Practice," had 13.8 million viewers Sunday.

"I think this is going to be a turnaround season for them," said Steve Sternberg, a television analyst for ad buyers Magna Global.

Both "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" represent something different for broadcast networks, which have depended heavily on procedural crime dramas and reality shows recently, he said.

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.

The network also hired people to plant plastic bottles on dozens of beaches, containing the message, "Help me, I'm lost. You can find me on Wednesday, Sept. 22 on ABC," the premiere date for "Lost."

Not everything ABC touches turns to gold, though. Fewer than 5 million people bothered to watch millionaire Mark Cuban give away money on "The Benefactor." The comedy loosely inspired by Mel Gibson's home life, "The Savages," had just 5.7 million viewers, Nielsen said.

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 it's good for the corporate culture here," McPherson said. "It's been a place where a lot of talented people have worked really hard and been kind of beaten down a little bit.

"I hope people can feel in their bellies that they have the ability to compete now."

[I'm shocked that either of these surprisingly delightful shows scored so high in the ratings! Both have excellent casts and kept me glued to the tube. Thank you, Teri Hatcher! Is it possible that "reality shows" are really nothing more than another "passing fancy"? Stay tuned! Ed.]

Lost Official Site -

Desperate Housewives Official Site -

Roswell Fans Push For Film

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.

Sponsored by the Web site, the effort involves a 30-day blitz in which fans are encouraged to mail out customized postcards, movie tickets and merchandise every day for a month beginning Oct. 1.

Similar campaigns involving the mailing of postcards and bottles of Tabasco sauce—a popular condiment with the aliens on the show—to key network executives is credited with saving Roswell from cancellation in its first and second years. Jodi Moore, one of the organizers of the recent campaign, said in a statement that the goal is to raise awareness among studio executives of the fans' continuing devotion.

"The key message is letting those in charge—Fox, the Roswell creators—know that our passion and dedication to the show are still very much alive," Moore said.

"They already know that a fan-driven push for a movie is in place, but it is up to us, the fans, to show them how much we want the story to continue, and how much we are willing to work to get it."

[Definitely time for the movie! We miss these guys! Ed.] -

Roswell Movie Petition -

George Harrison Photos Stolen

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

Lou Harrison said someone shattered a window of her car and stole a briefcase containing photos of her and her brother and the lyrics to a number of her brother's songs.

"(The items are) precious to me obviously because I don't have my brother in person any more," she told KTHV-TV of Little Rock.

Harrison had driven from her southern Illinois home to donate memorabilia to the downtown Little Rock library, which is scheduled to open Nov. 18. She had taken most of the items to the library when she discovered the break-in.

Harrison asked Beatles fans to help her recover the pictures. "Maybe they could keep an eye on the Internet," she said.

Harrison said she decided to donated the items because she sees a connection between Clinton and The Beatles.

"I feel that really, Clinton is the Beatle president," Harrison said. "There's not enough things to leave for my grandchildren. So I thought maybe if I could house them at the Clinton Library, where they could be on display, that all the Beatle people could enjoy seeing them."

Shatner's 'Invasion' Hoax
By Kimberly Speight

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.

Shatner and a crew of producers, writers and actors spent more than a year planning the hoax, which involved a fake sci-fi time-travel feature titled "Invasion Iowa" that Shatner purportedly wrote, directed, produced and starred in. The cast and crew spent 10 days shooting on location in the small town of Riverside, Iowa, where several local residents were hired to be cast and crew members but unwittingly became the stars of the new reality series.

During the shoot, Shatner played the role of an increasingly over-the-top version of himself.

"This is a breakthrough concept," said Peilin Chou, vp original series at Spike TV and the executive in charge of production, in a statement. "The complexity and intricacy of how the show is orchestrated coupled with the warmth of the people of Riverside makes this truly extraordinary television."

"Invasion Iowa" was created and executive produced by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and William Shatner, with Gary Benz also executive producing. Brendon Carter is director of the series, which is produced for Spike TV by Reese Wernick Prods. and GRB Entertainment.

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.

Watts, 63, was diagnosed with cancer four months ago and recently finished a successful six-week chemotherapy treatment at a London hospital.

"Charlie has had all his treatments and he's now been cleared and is free of any illness," Jagger told the Daily Mirror for Saturday's editions.

The chemotherapy left Watts weak, and he will spend time recovering with his wife, Shirley, before going back to work, the Mirror reported.

The drummer has recently split his time between the Stones and his jazz band, Tentet. Jagger said he hoped to record new material and schedule a tour in the near future for the Stones.

"Keith Richards and I have been writing lots of songs for the new Rolling Stones album," Jagger said. "We haven't booked the tour yet and when we do we'll let you know, but there will definitely be another one."

CBS News: Scared to Report?
AP Television Writer

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."

The Ed Bradley story questions a crucial piece of evidence used by the Bush administration to support the war. CBS decided it was inappropriate to air so close to the election.

That prompted an e-mail campaign by supporters of Democrat John Kerry urging CBS to run the completed story. The liberal watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy in Media has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to find and post a copy on the Internet.

And the Web site summarized Bradley's story after receiving a copy before CBS decided to postpone it.

All this shows the scrutiny facing CBS journalists since the network's discredited report last month on Bush's National Guard service. The famous CBS corporate symbol of an eye, it seems, is now turned on the network itself.

The Iraq story, scheduled to air on Sept. 8, was bumped for the infamous Dan Rather story that now appears to have been based on forged memos about the president's time in the National Guard.

"Yeah, I'm disappointed that it didn't run," Bradley said. "But I completely understand why CBS made the decision that it did."

Bradley's report focuses on supposedly forged documents that showed Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger. Salon said the story "contains little new information, but it is powerfully, coherently and credibly reported."

The decision to put it off troubles media critics who were watching CBS News for signs of timidity following the Guard controversy.

"The idea that you would withhold journalism because you think it would have an effect on the world runs contrary to the whole idea of what journalism should be," said Peter Hart, a FAIR analyst.

There is, however, a long tradition among media organizations about taking particular care with stories that might be politically damaging so close to an election, for fear of being accused of trying to sway results.

That was on CBS' mind in making the judgment call. The Bush administration also declined several requests to comment for the story, Bradley said. And if, as Salon indicates, the report broke little new ground, those factors would have likely put CBS squarely in the crosshairs of those who accuse its journalists of a liberal bias.

Then there was the supreme irony for CBS News: It was a report about forged documents.

"The idea of CBS accusing anyone of relying on forgeries is laughable at this point in time," said Matthew Sheffield, managing editor of the Web site

The story will eventually air, much like CBS's interview with Jeffrey Wigand did in "The Insider" case. CBS had been accused then of backing off from the Wigand interview because lawyers were nervous about offending the tobacco companies.

But CBS News President Andrew Heyward said the piece would run after the election. "It will run and it would be inappropriate for us to succumb to partisan pressure to air it earlier," he said.

This is the new world facing CBS News, besieged by both sides of a bitterly divided public that can make itself heard instantly through the Internet.

CBS used to be more insulated from such criticism because it had less competition and benefited from the public's high level of trust in the press, said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University. That trust and exalted position have been chipped away.

The network's initial response to the Guard controversy indicated it was slow to realize that, he said.

"We're in somewhat uncharted waters here," Rosen said. "You have an attempt to discredit an already weakened news organization in an environment where things are already hotly politicized. You're going to see opportunistic attacks on CBS that really come out of a larger ideological agenda."

The heat on Dan Rather has subsided slightly during an independent panel's investigation into what went wrong with the Guard story. But there's still an active petition campaign going on to remove Rather's CBS colleague, Bob Schieffer, as a presidential debate moderator.

And an Internet flurry about a "CBS Evening News" story last week on the prospects of a military draft showed how quickly critics can mobilize.

A Philadelphia woman who expressed worry for her two grown sons was interviewed for a story about the possibility of reinstating a military draft. (motto: "Watching CBS News so you don't have to") found evidence that the woman, although a Republican, was active in an anti-draft organization dominated by Democrats.

That association wasn't mentioned in the report, which critics believe was a sign of an anti-Bush bias.

"I find it amazing that more of the people who watch like hawks and attack us for things they don't agree with don't write or call when people who are supportive of the president or his policies are the predominant part of stories," said Jim Murphy, executive producer of the "CBS Evening News."

Said Heyward: "We certainly intend to continue to report on the campaign and all the issues without fear or favor. It will be up to the viewers and listeners and Internet users to judge whether we have met that standard. The fact that we're getting scrutinized is not going to stop us from pursuing that goal."


Rather Biased -

Crime Shows Affect Political Opinions?
Ohio State University News Release

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.

In three related studies, researchers found that viewers of crime dramas were more likely than others to view crime as one of the top issues – and often the top issue – facing our country.

Moreover, these concerns about crime significantly influenced the viewers’ overall opinions about the president, the findings showed.

"The entertainment media can have a significant impact on political attitudes," said R. Andrew Holbrook, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in political science at Ohio State University.

"Entertainment programs that have just a small bit of political content may serve as a cue for people about how to think, especially for those who watch regularly."

And crime dramas aren’t the only entertainment programs influencing voters. In a new study still underway, preliminary evidence suggests that doctor dramas like ER affect political views about health care.

Holbrook conducted the studies with Timothy Hill, an assistant professor of political science at Doane College who received his PhD from Ohio State. Their crime drama results will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Political Communication.

The results are surprising, Holbrook said, in part because they were unexpected.

Holbrook and Hill didn’t start out to explore how crime dramas affected political views. They wanted to see how NBC’s political drama The West Wing, about a fictional president, affected attitudes towards the real president.

So they had 213 undergraduate college students watch either an episode of The West Wing or NBC’s crime drama Third Watch. After viewing an episode of one of the two shows, the students were asked a variety of political questions, including one in which they were to list the most important problem facing the nation.

Viewers of Third Watch were supposed to be a control group, one that the researchers could use as a comparison to the group they were really interested in, The West Wing viewers.

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.

"The difference was so striking that we knew we had to investigate this further," Holbrook said.

So they did a second experiment, nearly identical to the first, in which they had 154 undergraduates watch one of two crime dramas – Without A Trace and Robbery Homicide Division – or two family dramas, Everwood and American Dreams.

In this experiment, the participants were asked, immediately after viewing one of the programs, to list the three most important issues facing the country. While only 10 percent of the participants viewing a family drama listed crime as one of their choices, 30 percent of those watching a crime drama did so.

"What is surprising is that just watching one crime drama seems to increase the importance of crime as an issue to viewers," Holbrook said.

In this study, done in 2002, the researchers also wanted to see how watching the crime drama might affect how viewers rated the performance of President George W. Bush.

Results showed that viewers of the crime dramas were more likely to use evaluations of the president’s handling of crime in rating his overall performance. These crime drama viewers had lower overall approval ratings for President Bush.

"We believe that watching crime drama can be a negative experience as people view the violence, and they may misattribute these negative feelings to the president," he said.

While the results were strong in these controlled experiments, Holbrook said he and Hill wanted to see if the findings held true in the outside world.

So they examined data from the 1995 National Election Study (NES) Pilot Study. Along with a variety of political questions, the survey asked the nationwide sample how often they viewed the crime drama NYPD Blue.

The researchers found that weekly viewers of NYPD Blue were almost twice as likely as others to report crime as being the most important problem facing the nation. This was after taking into account a variety of factors – including demographics and overall media and television use – that might also affect the results.

But the findings only held true for weekly viewers, Holbrook said. People who watched only occasionally were no different in their views of crime than people who didn’t watch at all.

This suggests that the earlier experiments, in which people watched just one episode of a crime drama, might be capturing only short-term effects.

"We believe that the way these programs really affect political attitudes is by frequently emphasizing the crime issue, so that it becomes ingrained in the minds of viewers," Holbrook said.

This study also reinforced the earlier findings that viewers of crime dramas are more likely to judge the president on how he handles crime. In this case, regular viewers of NYPD Blue were more likely to judge President Clinton on his handling of crime than were others. And their ratings of Clinton’s handling of crime also were a significant contributor to their overall opinion of the president.

In new studies currently underway, the researchers are replicating these studies looking at how viewing of the drama ER, set in a hospital emergency room, impacts viewers’ opinions about health care.

The preliminary results are nearly identical, Holbrook said. Regular viewers of ER are more likely than others to view health care as a top issue, and they are more likely to evaluate the president on his handling of the health care issue.

The results of all these studies cast new light on the debate about the blurring of lines between news and entertainment programs, said Kathleen McGraw, Holbrook’s faculty adviser and professor and interim chair of Ohio State’s Department of Political Science.

"Political scientists and communication scholars have tended to focus on the news media -- television and newspapers -- in their search for media effects that are politically consequential," McGraw said.

"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."

Holbrook noted that some observers have been especially concerned about programs like The Daily Show, which has elements of news and entertainment. Some believe that such shows might be confusing to viewers.

"That’s not the real issue," Holbrook said. "Our results suggest that people don’t have neat dividing lines in their brains between entertainment and political news.

"People go back and forth between the two rather easily. That doesn’t mean they don’t know the difference between entertainment and reality. But they find they can use examples from television programs to illustrate points in real life."

Janet Leigh
AP Movie Writer

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, who died Sunday, insisted she always took baths after seeing the finished cut of Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," in which her character was slashed to death in a motel shower in what may be the silver screen's most memorable murder.

"I know she used to get very scared about that scene," said the director's daughter, Pat Hitchcock, who had a small part in "Psycho" as a co-worker of Leigh's.

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.

"She died peacefully," Heidi Schaeffer, a spokeswoman for Jamie Lee Curtis, said Monday.

Leigh had suffered from vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, for the past year.

The blond beauty had 60-odd film and TV roles in a career whose highlights included playing Frank Sinatra's romantic interest in "The Manchurian Candidate" and Charlton Heston's abducted bride in Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil."

"She was a doll," said Dick Van Dyke, whose big-screen break came starring opposite Leigh in the 1963 musical "Bye Bye Birdie." "She was always in good humor despite the fact that to a newcomer like me, she was a big movie star. She had no ego, no vanity at all. She was as nice a lady as I've ever met."

The shower scene in "Psycho" became Leigh's defining moment, the role earning her an Academy Award nomination for supporting actress.

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.

"`Psycho' scared the hell out of me when I saw it finished. Making it and seeing it are two different things," Leigh told The Associated Press in 2001, when "Psycho" was picked No. 1 on the American Film Institute's top 100 list of most thrilling U.S. movies. "That staccato music and the knife flashing. You'd swear it's going into the body. I still don't take showers, and that's the truth."

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.

"I think first of all it was having a big movie star playing the part and dying early in the movie," said Pat Hitchcock. "That was the shock value."

Leigh had a classic storybook introduction to Hollywood. Born in Merced, Calif., on July 6, 1927, she was attending the University of the Pacific when retired screen star Norma Shearer saw her photograph at a ski resort. Shearer recommended the teenager to talent agent Lew Wasserman, who negotiated a contract at MGM for $50 a week.

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.

Among her films: "Act of Violence" (with Van Heflin), "Little Women," "Holiday Affair" (Robert Mitchum), "Strictly Dishonorable" (Ezio Pinza), "The Naked Spur" (James Stewart), "Living It Up" (Martin and Lewis), "Jet Pilot" (John Wayne) and "Safari" (Victor Mature).

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.

In 1951, she married Tony Curtis when their stardoms were at a peak. Both their studios, MGM and Universal, worried that their immense popularity with teenagers would be hindered if they were married.

Aided by a splurge of fan magazine publicity, their appeal rose. They appeared in four films together, including "Houdini" and "The Vikings." The "ideal couple" divorced in 1963. In her 1984 autobiography, "There Really Was a Hollywood," she refrained from criticizing Curtis.

"Tony and I had a wonderful time together; it was an exciting, glamorous period in Hollywood," she said in an interview. "A lot of great things happened, most of all, two beautiful children (Kelly Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis)."

Her 1964 marriage to businessman Brandt was longer lasting.

Leigh appeared in Jamie Lee's 1980 thriller "The Fog" and co-starred again with her daughter in one of her last roles in 1998's slasher sequel "Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later."

In recent years, Leigh was very choosy about acting projects and except for her daughter's flicks, declined regular offers to trade on her "Psycho" fame with other horror roles, said her agent, John Frazier.

"Every year at this time of the year, she would be approached to do something tied into Halloween," Frazier said.

"She never did that. She thought it would have cheapened it."

Associated Press writer Bob Thomas contributed to this story.

[Although my favorite Leigh film is Touch of Evil, I always liked her best with Tony in The Vikings, which is finally out on DVD. A great lady. We will miss her. Ed.]

Click here for last week's Genre News!

Paperback books by Rich La Bonté - Free e-previews!