UFOs In Iran!
Contrail Dangers, Frankenfish!
Neanderthals, Quantum Leap
Atlantis, Clone King & More!
UFOs In Iran!
[The following reports trailed under a CNN broadcast the other night, but we didn't see anything else about it on any of the "big" networks or the BBC, so we thought we'd do a little investigating. Turns out Iran's UFOs could be The Russians? Read on, Alf. Ed.]

UFOs In Iran?

Tehran April 29, 2004 (Reuters) - Is Iran about to be invaded by little green men or are the Americans racing through the night sky in spaceships to spy on the Islamic Republic? 

Flying saucer fever has gripped Iran after dozens of sightings in the past few days. Fanciful cartoons of alien spacecraft have adorned the front pages of local newspapers. 

State television has shown a sparkling white disc it says was filmed over Tehran on Tuesday night. 

More colourful Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) have been spotted beaming out green, red, blue and purple rays over the northern cities of Tabriz and Ardebil and in the Caspian Sea province of Golestan.

Newspapers and agencies reported people rushing out into the streets in eight towns on Tuesday night to watch a bright extraterrestrial light dipping in and out of the clouds.

UFOs in Iranian Skies?

Tehran April 28, 2004 (UPI) - Iranians are busy watching the night skies in search of unidentified flying objects, which have lit their air space for the past few nights, reports said.

The Iranian news agency, IRNA, said a beaming object was spotted twice over several Iranian cities in the past few days, including the western city of Kasr Shirin where people stormed the streets to watch the suspected UFO.

They said the body which appeared in the sky Tuesday night is circular and beaming white and blue lights. It was visible for 20 minutes and then disappeared, witnesses said.

The UFO was first spotted over the city of Kankaro, three days ago, but it was beaming violet, green, red and blue lights and stayed visible for an hour.

[Strange Coincidence Department: the day before the UFO spotting in Iran, the following article appeared in Russia. Ed.]

Saratov to Produce "Flying Saucers" for US Navy Department

Moscow April 27, 2004 (RBC) - The US Navy Department intends to subsidize the development of an advanced Russian aircraft, which will eventually be extinguishing forest fires on US territory, the Russia Journal reported. The flying machine is called the EKIP (Russian acronym, Ecology and Progress).

This UFO-shaped flying machine is currently being designed by the Saratov aviation concern. The Saratov aircraft enterprise, which is located in Russia's Volga region, started assembling UFO-shaped flying machines in the 1990s; however, this R&D project was then moth-balled because of financial snags.

Designers managed to overcome vibration being caused by turbulence flows, after opting for the flying-saucer concept; this problem was also solved with the help of some other know-how. Hovercraft's special coating enhances lift by 40 percent (with the help of turbulence flows). Consequently, the EKIP's payload accounts for only 40-45 percent of its mass; meanwhile the relevant aircraft ratio is 20-25 percent. The EKIP can transport 100-ton loads over several thousand km at 500-700 kph and at 8-13-km altitudes. This unique hovercraft can skim along at 160 kph just above the surface.

Many foreign companies had repeatedly suggested establishing a joint venture together with the Saratov factory in the late 1990s; however, the US naval-aviation research center offered acceptable terms. Terms of the contract terms were not disclosed.

More on Saratov's UFO

[The following was excerpted from the History of the Saratov Aircraft Manufacturing Company - http://www.yak40.com/saratov_hist.htm - Ed.]

The Saratov factory was founded in 1929 as an agricultural machinery manufacturer. On October 28, 1938 the first Saratov-made airplane, R-10, took off the factory airfield. R-10 was used as a high-class scout plane and could fly at the amazing speed of 370 km/h.

During the WWII Saratov factory made over 13,000 Yak-1 and Yak-3 fighters.

Today, the main Saratov (SAZ) product is the Yak-42 and its modifications Yak-42D and Yak-42A. Working in close cooperation with Yakovlev Design Bureau, SAZ currently develops the production of the Yak-242.

In June 1992 SAZ received the documentation on the new air vehicle of the next generation. The invention was given the name "Equip". "Equip" is a highly economical wide-body vehicle of the new type that does not require an airfield to take off and land.

Aerodynamic body of the vehicle combines the functions of the wing and fuselage enabling "Equip" to transport cargoes that are 8 to 10 times heavier and bigger in size than those modern airplanes can take on board.

This air-cushion vehicle can take off and land almost anywhere including the water surfaces. The use of efficient boundary layer control system ensures excellent aerodynamic qualities of "Equip".

National UFO Reporting Center - http://www.ufocenter.com

Contrail Dangers: Is Aircraft Exhaust Warming US Climate?
NASA Press Release

April 28, 2004 - NASA scientists have found that cirrus clouds, formed by contrails from aircraft engine exhaust, are capable of increasing average surface temperatures enough to account for a warming trend in the United States that occurred between 1975 and 1994. 

"This result shows the increased cirrus coverage, attributable to air traffic, could account for nearly all of the warming observed over the United States for nearly 20 years starting in 1975, but it is important to acknowledge contrails would add to and not replace any greenhouse gas effect," said Patrick Minnis, senior research scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The study was published April 15 in the Journal of Climate. "During the same period, warming occurred in many other areas where cirrus coverage decreased or remained steady," he added. 

"This study demonstrates that human activity has a visible and significant impact on cloud cover and, therefore, on climate. It indicates that contrails should be included in climate change scenarios," Minnis said. 

Minnis determined the observed one percent per decade increase in cirrus cloud cover over the United States is likely due to air traffic-induced contrails. Using published results from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (New York) general circulation model, Minnis and his colleagues estimated contrails and their resulting cirrus clouds would increase surface and lower atmospheric temperatures by 0.36 to 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. Weather service data reveal surface and lower atmospheric temperatures across North America rose by almost 0.5 degree Fahrenheit per decade between 1975 and 1994. 

Minnis worked with colleagues Kirk Ayers, Rabi Palinkonda, and Dung Phan from Analytical Services and Materials, Inc., of Hampton, Va. They used 25 years of global surface observations of cirrus clouds, temperature and humidity records from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis dataset. They confirmed the cirrus trends with 13 years of satellite data from NASA's International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project. 

Both air traffic and cirrus coverage increased during the period of warming despite no changes in the NCEP humidity at jet cruise altitudes over the United States. By contrast, humidity at flight altitudes decreased over other land areas, such as Asia, and was accompanied by less cirrus coverage, except over Western Europe, where air traffic is very heavy.

Cirrus coverage also rose in the North Pacific and North Atlantic flight corridors. The trends in cirrus cover and warming over the United States were greatest during winter and spring, the same seasons when contrails are most frequent. These results, along with findings from earlier studies, led to the conclusion that contrails caused the increase in cirrus clouds. 

"This study indicates that contrails already have substantial regional effects where air traffic is heavy, such as over the United States. As air travel continues growing in other areas, the impact could become globally significant," Minnis said. 

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air and determines how long contrails remain in the atmosphere. Contrails that persist for an extended period of time are most likely to impact the climate. 

Contrails form high in the atmosphere when the mixture of water vapor in the aircraft exhaust and the air condenses and freezes. Persisting contrails can spread into extensive cirrus clouds that tend to warm the Earth, because they reflect less sunlight than the amount of heat they trap. The balance between Earth's incoming sunlight and outgoing heat drives climate change. 

NASA's Earth Science Enterprise funded this research.

NASA's Earth Science Enterprise is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth System Science to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space. 

Information about this research - http://www.larc.nasa.gov

Asthma Epidemic from Pollution
By Maggie Fox
Reuters

WASHINGTON April 30, 2004 (Reuters) — Poor and minority children are likely to develop asthma at worsening rates due to global warming and air pollution, environment experts predicted Thursday. 

They released a report showing that as the climate gets warmer, allergens such as pollen and mold will flood the air, interacting with urban pollutants such as ozone and soot to fuel an already growing epidemic of asthma.

"It is affecting the trees, the molds, the subsurface organisms," Dr. Paul Epstein of Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, told a news conference.

"The combination of air pollutants, aeroallergens, heat waves, and unhealthy air masses — increasingly associated with a changing climate — causes damage to the respiratory systems, particularly in growing children, and these impacts disproportionately affect poor and minority groups in the inner cities," the report reads.

The report finds that asthma among U.S. preschool children, ages 3 to 5, grew 160 percent between 1980 to 1994.

"This is a real wake-up call for people who think global warming is only going to be a problem way off in the future or that it has no impact on their lives in a meaningful way," said Christine Rogers, a senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The problem is here today for these children, and it is only going to get worse."

Rogers, Epstein, and the American Public Health Association worked together on the report.

Most climate experts agree that the world is becoming steadily warmer and that human activity is much to blame. Burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas releases carbon dioxide into the air.

The carbon dioxide forms a kind of invisible blanket that traps the sun's radiation.

While average temperatures warm, the effects are not predictable and even. Storms may become more severe and some areas may get colder weather. The report finds that in some regions, winter is ending weeks earlier than before and plants are releasing their pollen earlier than ever, accelerating the hay fever season.

Pollen and fungal spores can worsen asthma, a serious medical condition whose symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, chest pain, or tightness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 9 million U.S. children have been diagnosed with asthma and more than 4 million have had an asthma attack in the past 12 months. It says 4,487 people died from asthma in 2000, most of them adults.

Asthma affects blacks more than any other group and affects 16 percent of children from poor families, as opposed to 11 percent of children living above the poverty line.

The CDC also says 9 million U.S. children were reported with respiratory allergies in 2002.

The report makes clear links among asthma, allergies, and urban air pollution.

"Rising levels of carbon dioxide, in addition to trapping more heat, promote pollen production in plants, increase fungal growth, and alter species composition in plant communities by favoring opportunistic weeds like ragweed and poison ivy," the report reads. "Diesel particulates help deliver and present pollen and mold allergens to the immune system in the lungs," it adds.

"The good news is we can do something about this," Epstein said. "Green" buildings with roof gardens to keep them cool and insulation to keep heat from leaking would help, as would improving public transport and encouraging the use of hybrid vehicles that rely less on fossil fuels.
Son of Frankenfish?
By Bryan Sears
Reuters

BALTIMORE April 30, 2004 (Reuters) — Maryland state workers plan to drain a suburban lake after the discovery of the same voracious, "walking" fish that two years ago prompted them to poison a smaller body of water, officials said Thursday. 

In what some locals are calling the "return of Frankenfish," a northern snakehead fish — a top predator in China known for its voracious appetite and ability to "walk" on land using its fins — was pulled this week from a lake near Washington, D.C.

Workers dumped 100 gallons of poison into a Maryland pond in 2002 in a bid to eradicate a colony of snakeheads, which are capable of devouring all native species. There are concerns that if left unchecked, the fish could upset the local ecosystem.

Marion Joyce, community relations manager for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said crews could begin pumping Pine Lake as soon as Thursday if state and federal officials approve.

Workers earlier this week sent electric shocks through the five-acre lake in an effort to stun fish to the surface, but the procedure did not reveal any additional snakeheads. Workers also erected barriers to keep the fish from spreading into nearby waterways.

The northern snakehead eats smaller fish, crustaceans, and even frogs or other small amphibians. Females lay as many as 15,000 eggs up to five times per year. Those eggs hatch as little as 28 hours later.

Normally at home in the rivers and lakes of Asia where they are a delicacy, snakeheads found their way to Maryland several years ago when a local resident bought the fish from a live seafood market in New York to make soup for a sick relative.

The soup was never made and the man dumped the fish into the Crofton pond, where they bred rapidly. About 100 baby snakeheads were later found in the pond.
Killing 20,000 Australian Koalas?
SYDNEY April 30, 2004 (Reuters) - A koala population explosion on an Australian island has prompted calls for 20,000 of the furry, native marsupials to be shot to stop them destroying their island habitat and end a koala famine.

Some 30,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island, off the coast of the state of South Australia, are stripping the island of its native gum trees, destroying the ecosystem and causing a koala famine, say environmentalists and national parks officials. 

"We are talking thousands of starving koalas," said Sandra Kanck from the Australian Democrats, Australia's third major political party. 

"While they may be cute and cuddly we need to get beyond emotion to reality...my suggestion is professional shooters do it quickly and cleanly," Kanck told Reuters on Friday of the proposed cull. 

The South Australian state government has rejected calls for a cull, preferring sterilization and relocation. 

The Australian Koala Foundation also opposes a cull of the koalas, which on the Australian mainland are struggling to survive as urban development destroys their habitat. 

Kangaroo Island tourist operators say a koala cull would severely damage the island's tourist industry. 

"The koalas are so hungry they are eating pine needles," said Kanck. "What will tourists think of a habitat of denuded trees with desperate, starving koalas roaming the damaged landscape?"
Neanderthals Were Adults at 15
By Paul Rincon 
BBC News Science Staff 

Europe April 28, 2004 (BBC) - Neanderthals reached adulthood at the tender age of 15 according to a report in the journal Nature. 

French and Spanish researchers analysed growth records preserved in the teeth of Neanderthals, modern humans and two other human species. 

Breaks in the deposition of crown enamel reveal how fast teeth grow. Neanderthals formed their crowns 15% quicker than we do, reaching adulthood when modern humans of the same age were still floundering in adolescence. 

Perikymata are disturbances in the deposition of crown enamel which are preserved on the tooth's surface as a series of horizontal ridges. 

More closely spaced perikymata indicate a slower rate of growth, while more widely spaced perikymata point to faster growth. 

In modern humans (Homo sapiens), tooth growth slows dramatically after the formation of the top half of the crown. This leads to more closely spaced perikymata in the bottom half of the crown. 

In the Nature report, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi and Jose Bermudez de Castro analysed incisors and canines from 119 individual human remains from Europe spanning a time period of about 800,000 years. 

They found that perikymata were generally more widely spaced in primitive humans such as Neanderthals, Homo heidelbergensis and Homo antecessor than in our own species. 

But Neanderthals had the most widely spaced perikymata of all.

The authors argue that this indicates Neanderthals grew more rapidly overall. This rapid rate of growth could have been an evolutionary outcome of high adult mortality in Neanderthal populations, they claim. 

"When you have a high mortality, you have two evolutionary solutions. One is to have a short growth period, the other is to have many offspring at once," Dr Ramirez Rozzi, of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, France, told BBC News Online. 

"But in humans it is not a viable option to have more than two or three offspring at once. So I would suggest that the high mortality in Neanderthals was the selective pressure responsible for their rapid growth." 

Professor Christopher Dean of University College London told BBC News Online: "I sense that the authors are right. But they haven't looked at any internal histology on the teeth and they haven't looked at molars. 

"I think in future, the priority needs to be to look at the molars because they're really crucial in establishing life history." 

Some researchers have linked slower development to increased brain size over the course of human evolution.

But the Neanderthals seem to follow a reverse evolutionary trend, with fast growth and a big brain. The results might suggest this trend could be completely random, said Dr Ramirez Rozzi. 

Dr Christoph Zollikofer, an anthropologist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, said the work agreed very well with examinations of Neanderthal and modern human skulls he has carried out with his co-collaborator Marcia Ponce de Leon. 

"Neanderthals had probably the same pace of brain development as modern humans," he told BBC News Online. 

"But as soon as this was approximately finished, by the age of three or four, Neanderthals were still on a very fast time course to reach adulthood. 

"Modern humans gained time in terms of their cognitive development. If you develop more slowly you can learn more." 

The results bolster the theory that Neanderthals were committed carnivores.

They must have had a very high-calorie diet to fuel their rapid growth and sustain such a large brain.

Controlling Pain with Your Brain
By Helen Phillips 

San Francisco May 1, 2004 (New Scientist) - It could be bad news for the makers of painkillers. A small study suggests people can learn to suppress pain when they are shown the activity of a pain-control region of their brain. 

This new biofeedback technique might also turn out to be useful for treating other conditions. 

Biofeedback techniques based on electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings of brainwave patterns, in which electrodes are placed on the scalp, are used with some success to treat epilepsy and attention problems such as ADHD. 

But no one has found a way to use this method for controlling pain in people, says Peter Rosenfeld of Northwestern University in Chicago, one of the pioneers of biofeedback. 

Twenty years ago Rosenfeld found that he could change the pain threshold in mice by training them to alter their brainwave patterns through a process called conditioned learning, where an altered brainwave state was rewarded by direct stimulation of the reward centers in their brains. Since this meant placing an electrode into the brain, however, his team never tried the technique on people. 

Now Fumiko Maeda, Christopher deCharms and their colleagues at Stanford University in California have tried showing people real-time feedback from a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. 

The difference between EEGs and fMRI, says Rosenfeld, is that fMRI allows you to show volunteers how much activity there is in specific areas of their brains. "From scalp recordings, you don't really know what you are recording," he says. 

The eight volunteers saw the activity of a pain-control region called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex represented on a screen either as a flame that varied in size, or as a simple scrolling bar graph. 

This brain region is known to modulate both the intensity and the emotional impact of pain. During the scans the volunteers had to endure painful heat on the palm of their hand. They were asked to try to increase or decrease the signal from the brain scanner and to periodically rate their pain sensations. 

It took just three 13-minute sessions in the scanner for the eight volunteers to learn to vary the brain activity level, and thus to develop some control over their pain sensations, the researchers reported at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting in San Francisco last week. 

The effect seemed to last beyond the sessions in the scanner, although the researchers have yet to determine how strongly and for how long. The volunteers could not explain how they did it. The researchers ruled out other explanations for the effect through a series of controls. They gave people false feedback data, no feedback at all, or feedback from a part of the brain unrelated to pain control. They also sometimes asked people to pay attention to the pain or distracted their attention away from it. 

The technique might prove useful not only for training patients to control pain, but perhaps also for treating other illnesses where brain activity is altered, such as depression or dementia. It might even help boost normal brain function. It could also prove a valuable research tool, helping establish links between specific patterns of brain activity and behavior. But its use is likely to be limited by the high cost of fMRI scanners. 

New Scientist - http://www.newscientist.com
Quantum Leap for Quantum Computers
Purdue University News Release

WEST LAFAYETTE April 29, 2004 – A new breed of faster, more powerful computers based on quantum mechanics may be a step closer to reality, report scientists from Purdue and Duke universities.

By linking a pair of tiny "puddles" of a few dozen electrons sandwiched inside a semiconductor, researchers have enabled these two so-called "quantum dots" to become parts of a transistor – the vital switching component in computer chips. 

Future computers that use quantum dots to store and process digital information might outperform conventional computer circuits because of both the new transistors' smaller size and their potential to solve problems that would take centuries on today's machines. 

"This is a very promising candidate for quantum computation," said Albert M. Chang, who is an adjunct professor of physics in Purdue's School of Science.

"We believe this research will allow large numbers of quantum-dot switches to work together as a group, which will be necessary if they are ever to function as a computer's brain, or memory. 

"For the market, quantum computers mean better encryption methods and heightened data security. For science, our research may help address the longstanding mystery of the relationship between the classical physics of the world we see every day, and the peculiar world of quantum physics that governs the tiny particles inside atoms." 

The research will appear in the current (April 30) issue of Physical Review Letters. The lead author is Jeng-Chung Chen, who received his doctorate at Purdue and is now at the University of Tokyo. Co-authors are Chang, who in 2003 relocated from Purdue to Duke University, where he is a professor of physics, and Michael. R. Melloch, a professor in Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

As computer circuits grow ever smaller, manufacturers draw nearer to the time when their chips' tiny on-off switches – representing the 1's and 0's of binary information, or bits – can be made comparable in size to a single molecule. At smaller scales, the laws of classical physics will no longer apply to the switches, but will be replaced by the laws of the subatomic world. These laws, described by quantum physics, can appear strange to the uninitiated. 

"An electron, for example, can behave like a particle or a wave at times, and it has the odd ability to seemingly be in two different states at once," Chang said. "Physicists need a different set of words and concepts to describe the behavior of objects that can do such counterintuitive things. One concept we use is the 'spin' of an electron, which we loosely imagine as being similar to the way the Earth spins each day on its axis. But it also describes a sort of ordering electrons must obey in one another's presence: When two electrons occupy the same space, they must pair with opposite spins, one electron with 'up' spin, the other 'down.'"

Spin is one property that physicists seek to harness for memory storage. After collecting 40 to 60 paired electrons in a puddle within a semiconductor wafer of gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide, the team then added a single additional unpaired electron to the puddle. This extra electron imparted a net spin of up or down to the entire puddle, which they call a quantum dot. The team also built a second quantum dot nearby with the same net spin. 

"When isolated from one another, the two net spins would not seek to pair with each other," Chang said. "But we have a special method of 'tuning' the two-dot system so that, despite the similar spins, the two unpaired electrons became 'entangled' – they begin to interact with one another."

The team used eight tiny converging wires, or "gates," to deposit the electrons in the dots one by one and then electronically fine-tune the dots' properties so they would become entangled. With these gates, the team was able to slowly tune the interacting dots so they are able to exist in a mixed, down-up and up-down configuration simultaneously. In each dot, an up or down configuration would represent a 1 or 0 in a quantum bit, or "qubit," for possible use in memory chips.

"Entanglement is a key property that would help give a quantum computer its power," Chang said. "Because each system exists in this mixed, down-up configuration, it may allow us to create switches that are both on and off at the same time. That's something current computer switches can't do."

Large groups of qubits could be used to solve problems that have myriad potential solutions that must be winnowed down quickly, such as factoring the very large numbers used in data encryption. 

"A desktop computer performs single operations one after another in series," Chang said. "It's fast, but if you could do all those operations together, in parallel rather than in series, it can be exponentially faster. In the encryption world, solving some problems could take centuries with a conventional computer." 

But for a quantum computer, whose bits can be in two quantum states at once – both on and off at the same time – many solutions could, in theory, be explored simultaneously, allowing for a solution in hours rather than lifetimes. 

"These computers would have massive parallelism built right in, allowing for the solution of many tough problems," Chang said. "But for us physicists, the possibilities of quantum computers extend beyond any single application. There also exists the potential to explore why there seem to be two kinds of reality in the universe – one of which, in everyday language, is said to stop when you cross the border 'into the interior of the atom.'"

Because a quantum computer would require all its qubits to behave according to quantum rules, its processor could itself serve as a laboratory for exploring the quantum world. 

"Such a computer would have to exhibit 'quantum coherence,' meaning its innards would be a large-scale system with quantum properties rather than classical ones," Chang said. "When quantum systems interact with the classical world, they tend to lose their coherence and decay into classical behavior, but the quantum-dot system we have built exhibits naturally long-lasting coherence. As an entire large-scale system that can behave like a wave or a particle, it may provide windows into the nature of the universe we cannot otherwise easily explore." 

The system would not have to be large; each dot has a width of only about 200 nanometers, or billionths of a meter. About 5,000 of them placed end to end would stretch across the diameter of a grain of sand. But Chang said that his group's system had another, greater advantage even than its minuscule size. 

"Qubits have been created before using other methods," he said. "But ours have a potential advantage. It seems possible to scale them up into large systems that can work together because we can control their behavior more effectively. Many systems are limited to a handful of qubits at most, far too few to be useful in real-world computers."

For now, though, the team's qubit works too slowly to be used as the basis of a marketable device. Chang said the team would next concentrate on improving the speed at which they can manipulate the spin of the electrons. 

"Essentially, what we've done is just a physics experiment, no more," he said. "In the future, we'll need to manipulate the spin at very fast rates. But for the moment, we have, for the first time, demonstrated the entanglement of two quantum dots and shown that we can control its properties with great precision. It offers hope that we can reach that future within a decade or so."

EPA Delays Mercury Rule
By Chris Baltimore
Reuters

WASHINGTON April 30, 2004 (Reuters) — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday delayed finalizing rules to reduce harmful mercury emissions from aging power plants until March 2005 to consider whether stricter rules are needed. 

The EPA faced a Dec. 15 legal deadline to finalize the rules, which, as written, would require utilities to reduce mercury emissions by 70 percent by 2018. Mercury contaminates water and seafood and has been linked to neurological disorders in infants.

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt said final rules will be delayed by four months because of "the complexity of the issue and the desire to assure that it's done in the proper and informed way." The agency extended a public comment period set to end on Friday.

Democrats and environmental groups have complained that the rules are weak and make too many concessions to industry.

The delay stems from an offer this week from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the environmental group that sued the EPA in 1997. That lawsuit spurred the EPA to draft its mercury proposal.

The NRDC said it would permit a delay if the agency would rethink the proposal it originally released in late January.

The nation's 1,100 coal-burning power plants emit about 48 tons of mercury each year, the largest unregulated U.S. source.

The EPA had proposed two possible ways to reduce emissions: a cap-and-trade system and requiring utilities to install "maximum achievable control technology" at plants.

Both options are still under consideration, Leavitt said. "We will do what analysis is needed to assure that the proper decision is made," he told reporters on a telephone call.

Critics say the Bush administration shunned traditional rule-writing procedures and allowed utility officials to dictate terms to the detriment of public health.

"The rule wasn't even written by the EPA; it was written on K Street," said Sen. James Jeffords, Vermont independent, referring to the Washington street lined with lobbyist offices. "The Bush Administration has lost sight of its obligation to protect public health and safeguard the natural environment," Jeffords said, calling for tighter standards.

Utility lobbyists cautioned the EPA not to enact rules that were too strict.

"We think a two-thirds reduction in a decade and a half is a pretty steep cut in (mercury) emissions," said a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, a utility lobbying group.
In Search of Atlantis
Cyprus Atlantis Expedition 2004 Press Release

Cyprus April 30, 2004 - After several weeks of successful lecture tours and fundraising in Cyprus this Spring, American author Robert Sarmast is this week launching the official Atlantis Expedition Programme.

At exactly midnight on Friday, on board ship 5 hours out from Limassol harbour, his international launch team will send a capsule containing the Cyprus, EU and specially created Atlantis flags one mile down to the sea floor at the edge of the submerged continental shelf which Sarmast believes was once the plain of Atlantis.

"As Cyprus celebrates being put on the European map, we this week wish to share in the celebrations and launch what we believe will put Cyprus right at the centre of the world map - forever", said Sarmast today.

He has pledged to remain at his Limassol base in Cyprus for several months to see through the fulfillment of the project which will cost a total of at least 100,000cyp and which has taken 10 years of his life to prepare.

With growing support from the Government and with partial funding now secure, the team anticipate that the expedition proper - which will involve using ROV, multi-beam and side-scan technology to film the sea bed - will take place soon once the remaining funds are secured through corporate and private sponsorship.

As with previous possible Atlantis sites, massive worldwide media interest in the project is already beginning and at least one major UK/US TV documentary looks likely.

With tourism standing to benefit considerably, the official Cyprus Tourist Organisation (CTO) has already committed some funding to the programme and is sending a representative to the pre-launch press conference - which will be held on board ship this Thursday 29th at the New Port of Limassol at 11am.

Skeptics may be impressed by the fact that several accomplished international salvage experts and deep-sea divers have been willing to stake their reputations on becoming involved with the Expedition Team.

Providing the ship for the launch event is Darios Melas, whose Limassol-based company EDT was involved with filming the Titanic wreck for a major US film. Also on the team is Axel Schoeller from AQUATEC - INNERSPACE OPERATIONS LTD. , specialized in deep dive exploration and hydrographic operations.

The international launch team has members from USA, UK, Europe and Cyprus.

Whether Sarmast will succeed where others have failed - persuading the seabed to yield up the Holy Grail of Archaeology - time alone will tell. But with so much at stake for Cyprus in this expedition, Sarmast is calling upon the people of Cyprus to help him raise the remainder of the funds.

Serious potential supporters are invited to attend an Atlantis Investors Event on Friday 7th May at 7.30 pm at the Ajax Hotel, Limassol, at which he will outline the potential financial rewards for investors. There will be similar events in Paphos and Nicosia.

"We believe that we are on the brink of the most important archaeological discovery in history," he said. "I ask you to help give me the chance to prove, as ancient historians believed, that Atlantis was a real place and not a myth - and moreover that today's Cyprus is what remains of the original mountaintops of Atlantis."

Members of the public wishing to learn more about Sarmast's theories should go to his website or read his book: 'The Discovery of Atlantis: The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus' (Origin Press).

Official website - http://www.discoveryofatlantis.com

Genre News: Clone King, Tru Calling, Angel, Charmed, Serenity, Van Helsing, Wicked, Philo Farnsworth & More!
Kill Ugly TV: The Clone King
By FLAtRich

"Every time you think television has hit its lowest ebb, a new program comes along to make you wonder where you thought the ebb was." - Art Buchwald.

New York May 1, 2004 (eXoNews) - I am a long-time TV viewer and it takes a lot to shock me, but I saw an ad for 20/20 this week that stopped me cold. I was amazed that even ratings-loser ABC and Barbara Walters would stoop so low as to mount a reality show based on child adoption.

Now ABC claims their ads were all a "mistake" and Walters echoes: "This is not one of those scripted 'reality shows' -- it is reality." [See news report below. Ed.]

And just what is "reality" on the boob tube, Barbara? Unfortunately, few "reality show" viewers realize that "those" shows are scripted or, even if they do know, they are fooled into thinking that what they are seeing is real but just a little tweaked to bring it into their living rooms. ABC wants them to think that - so do all the networks.

You work for the networks, Barbara. You wouldn't know reality if it came up and ripped your clothes off in the middle of a Super Bowl halftime show. [Now that would wake up Congress! Ed.]

I saw your commercial. There was no mistake. It was aimed at reality show fans. It was tasteless. It was intentional. It was targeted.

TV programmers need to grow up and stop pandering to the mob. TV needs a reality fix, all right, but not in the form of self-righteous politicians screaming about seeing Janet Jackson's tits or Howard Stern saying fuck.

TV needs an art injection.

There are far too many "news magazine" programs serving far too little hard news. There are far too many game shows tagged with the word "reality". There is far too little original, unique entertainment on TV networks. Network "comedies" are 99% talking heads. Most "dramatic programming" just means cops chasing.

Television is the Clone King. The latest line of clones are "real" people in "real" situations. It's easy to do a "reality show" and the pay-off is big.

Well, reality programming may pull in 20 million people, but 20 million people can be wrong. Whole nations of 20 million or more have gone to war believing they were right when they were very, very wrong. Sometimes they were convinced by mass media propaganda.

If all people ever get to eat is rice, eventually that's all they'll ever want to eat.

But you know that, don't you Barbara?

[The article where ABC claimed their TV commercials were a "mistake" follows. Ed]

ABC Regrets 'Reality' Promo for Adoption Program

LOS ANGELES April 29, 2004 (Reuters) - ABC apologized on Thursday for promoting an upcoming "20/20" program on adoption as a competition between parents vying for a child, a reality television spin that led to viewer objections. 

The Barbara Walters piece "Be My Baby," is scheduled for Friday and follows five couples who apply to a prospective 16-year-old mother in an "open adoption" process. 

The network ditched an original promotion that said the show followed five couples who were "desperate to adopt, all competing for her baby." 

"It took a topic that people do not know that much about and took it to a sensational place. That clearly didn't reflect the thoughtful nature of this hour documentary," ABC spokesman Jeff Schneider said.

Walters called the promotions a "mistake." 

"This is not a reality show that we set up," she said on the program "The View" on Wednesday. 

A new promotion refers to a teenage mother "choosing adoptive parents for her baby from these five couples," but viewers were still angry on Thursday. 

"A baby is not a game or a reality show. ABC and B. Walters should be ashamed to even think America would want to watch this disgusting program," one viewer wrote on ABC's Web site discussion forum. 

One of the prospective parents is quoted on the ABC Web site as saying he had jokingly compared the process to reality television show "The Bachelor," but ABC said the news program does not present the adoption as a competition. 

"This is not one of those scripted 'reality shows' -- it is reality," Walters wrote on the ABC Web site. 

ABC is owned by Walt Disney Co.

Tru Calling Hangs Up
By FLAtRich

Hollywood May 1, 2004 (eXoNews) - The Tru Calling finale, two excellent hours on Fox last Thursday, failed to score any last minute surge with a mere 3.6/5 overnight rating. Tru won only 4.43 million viewers and pulled a 1.9/5 share of adults in the hallowed 18-49 age demographic. (That's a lower overnight than the most recent Angel episode on The WB - not good for the Zorro Network.)

Opposite Tru, Friends won the 8PM slot with 18.3/28 in the overnights. The NBC sitcom garnered 23.80 million viewers and a 10.8/31 share of 18-49 adults. CSI led the 9PM slot for CBS as usual. (Source: Mediaweek)

We were right about Tru, though. Jack was the Angel of Death. There hasn't been such a well-played setup for good versus evil on Fox since the demise of MillenniuM.

Good setup for a second season as well.

Maybe someone else will pick Tru up if Fox passes on a second season?

We figure we'll all know before too long.

In a recent Eliza Dushku Metro (UK) interview with Ben Sloan, our Tru talked about the difference between leading a show and being a featured player (Faith on Angel and Buffy):

Ben: "Is it daunting to have a show resting on your shoulders rather than being part of the cast?"

Eliza: "Physically yes, psychologically no, because I've always said that I wanted to try everything, and it feels like an accomplishment. But, physically, I gained a lot of respect for Sarah Michelle Gellar and Rose McGowan [of Charmed] and other women who headline shows. We were doing 16 hour days every day Monday to Friday for eight months, and I'm in every single frame of every single shot. I would whine sometimes when I was driving home at eight o'clock on a Saturday morning feeling like a crack-head going to bed while everyone else was waking up to start their day."

Read the rest of the interview here - http://www.metro.co.uk/metro/interviews/interview.html?in_page_id=8&in_interview_id=823

Angel Fan Choice Marathon
By FLAtRich

Canada May 1, 2004 (eXoNews) - Nope. Not on The WB. Unlike Angel's home network (or former home network, depending on how pessimistic you are about "possible Angel TV movies" aired on The WB), Canada's SPACE Network will give Angel fans a chance to relive the past and choose their favorite 10 Angel episodes off all time.

You can vote here - http://www.spacecast.com/events/angel_vote

SPACE Says: "This Victoria Day, we pay tribute to the end of five seasons of Angel. Viewers unite to commemorate this sad event by voting for their favourite Angel episodes of all time. On May 24, starting at noon ET/ 9am PT, SPACE will count down the Top 10 episodes as chosen by you."

Meanwhile, Angel's final episodes are underway. Darla, Drusilla and minor Buffy sidekick fav Andrew are destined to return this Wednesday. 

Based on our own eXoNews Angel Fan Poll, which has been running since the beginning of Season Five with thousands of voters naming their favorite episode, we predict that the top three will be:

#1: Damage - Season 5, Episode 11 - "Dana the psycho slayer" - Writers: Steven S. Deknight and Drew Goddard - Director: Jefferson Kibbee 

#2: I Will Remember You - Season 1, Episode 8 - "Buffy visits LA" - Writers: David Greenwalt, Jeannine Renshaw - Director: David Grossman 

#3: You're Welcome - Season 5, Episode 12 - "Cordelia awakes" - Written and Directed by David Fury

The eXoNews Angel Fan Poll top three are culled from scores of nominations. Other top favorites are Destiny, Smile Time, Hellbound and To Shansu in LA.

eXoNews voters have also so far picked Season Five as their favorite, Spike as their favorite character and Charisma Carpenter as their favorite actress. James Marsters is besting David Boreanaz as favorite actor (James currently has 51% and David 40%), but Angelus remains the overall Favorite Big Bad.

Voters suggested 32 different Big Bads in that category, ranging from obvious favs like Lilah and Lindsey to more obscure villains like Pavayne and Roger Wyndham Price. Darla is the Big Bad second choice favorite. Some fans also voted The WB their Favorite Big Bad.

Buffy is the non-regular Season Five character that most voters wanted to return, followed by Cordelia, Willow, Darla, Faith and Drusilla. Visitors suggested 37 returnees in this category, including Andrew, Anya, Buffy, Caleb, Clem, Connor, Cordelia, Darla, Dawn, Doyle, Drusilla, Ethan Raine, Faith, Forrest, Giles, Glory, Groo, Gwen, Holland, Holtz, Jhiera, Jonathan, Kate, Kennedy, Lilah, Lindsey, Merle, Oz, Robin Wood, Skip, Sweet, Tara, The Host, Virginia, Whistler, Willow and Xander.

Yes, Virginia, there is still time to vote in the eXoNews Angel Fan Poll, and you don't have to live in Canada to see the results.

eXoNews Angel Fan Poll - http://richlabonte.net/angel

Charmed Ones Last Spell?

Hollywood May 1, 2004 (eXoNews) - Alyssa Milano tells TV Guide online this week that the Charmed Ones could be heading for the last coven.

The WB has already announced Charmed's renewal for a seventh season, but the current rise of dumbed down network "reality" programming is killing off genre shows.

Charmed is a survivor, so far.

"I think we all feel like we want to go out on top," Milano told TVG's Lauren Kanter.

"So if our ratings are as strong as they are this year, we'll probably go for an eighth season. And if it starts to slip, we'd all decide to end after the seventh season."

Milano, who is also an Executive Producer for Charmed, says the show also knows what viewers would want to see happen before the final spell is cast.

"I think definitely Piper and Leo being back together," Alyssa says. "I know that they're really invested in that relationship. They all wish Cole, my demon boyfriend (Julian McMahon), would come back, too. But I don't think that's going to happen, since he's busy on his own show (Nip/Tuck on the FX cable channel] now."

[Yes to Piper and Leo! As for Cole, I'd rather watch him on Nip/Tuck anyway. Ed.]

Official Charmed - http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||156,00.html

Whedon Gets Good Effects for Serenity
By Sheigh Crabtree

Hollywood April 30, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - Zoic Studios has been recruited to produce the visual effects for Joss Whedon's upcoming "Serenity" for Universal Studios. Zoic creative director Loni Peristere will serve as the visual effects supervisor for the sci-fi feature. 

The Culver City-based visual effects boutique is perhaps best known for its work for Whedon on Fox's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly" -- the small-screen predecessor to "Serenity" that Fox canceled after airing 11 episodes.

"Loni Peristere and Zoic constantly expand my concept of what can be done with digital effects," Whedon said. "They're masters of the new technology, but not slaves to it. What they did on my TV show I had never seen in a movie. What they'll do on my movie ... I'm just really excited to be working with these lunatics."

In other Joss news, Mr. Whedon will be appearing Saturday August 14th and Sunday August 15th at Wizard World Convention in Chicago. Other guests at the Chicago comic fest include Joe Quesada (Marvel Comics Editor In Chief) and Neil Vokes (The Black Forest artist).

Wizard World - http://www.wizarduniverse.com/conventions/chicago/WW20040430-joss.cfm

Van Helsing's Monsters

Hollywood April 30, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Shuler Hensley (Frankenstein's monster) and Will Kemp (Wolf Man) told SCI FI Wire that their performances in the upcoming monster movie Van Helsing don't incorporate much from previous movie versions of their iconic characters.

Kemp, who comes to film from the world of ballet, said in an interview that he "watched all the old [werewolf movie] classics, which were fantastic," but added that he was "very keen to not use anything from or be swayed by anyone else's performance."

What was really important was focusing on "things like lycanthropy and working out where it comes from, the actual folklore," in order to get a sense of "what it would actually be like to change into a wolf," he said.

Kemp added that previous depictions of the Wolf Man's transformation—such as that in the 1941 George Waggner film The Wolf Man—were "all about the makeup. And so during that transformation [Lon Chaney] hardly moves," he said.

"Whereas we were able to do the opposite. I was able to move, to flail around and portray that transformation very physically."

Hensley, whose background is mostly in musical theater, echoed Kemp in saying that he wasn't influenced by previous film incarnations of his famous character.

"My first and lasting impression of Frankenstein's monster was not a film, it was the book [Mary Shelley's original SF novel]," he said.

"It was one of the first books I read as a kid."

Hensley added that he didn't think it necessary to do much more research than that. "These monsters are such a part of our culture," he said. "We all grew up with them. We all dressed as Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man at Halloween. They're so ingrained in us, such a part of all our lives in unique ways. So Frankenstein was a part of me, which is why I didn't do much film-watching."

Van Helsing, from Universal Pictures, opens May 7. Universal is owned by Vivendi Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

Van Helsing Official site - http://www.vanhelsing.net

Nick Brendon Takes The Cure

LOS ANGELES April 29, 2004 (Zap2it.com) - Nicholas Brendon, Xander to a legion of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans, announced on Wednesday (April 28) that he has voluntarily entered an undisclosed alcohol treatment center.

"After realizing that I had a disease that was taking control of my life, I decided that the best way for me to regain my health was to enter a treatment facility," Brendon says in a statement on his official website. "I'm grateful for the love and support I've gotten from my wife, Tressa; my entire family; my business associates; and my friends."

Prior to the 1997 launch of "Buffy," Brendon was best known as a basketball playing extra in "Children of the Corn III." In his seven seasons on the cult WB and UPN hit, Brendon's Xander Harris helped save the world ... a lot, ditched a former vengeance demon at the altar and never entirely forgot the military training he acquired in the show's first Halloween episode.

Brendon thanks the "Buffy" fans in his statement.

"Over the past eight years I've discovered that Buffy fans are the most caring and supportive fans in the world," he says. "Knowing that they will be behind me, rooting for me as I go through this process, makes everything that much easier. I'm looking forward to leading a happy, sober life." 

Indeed, messages of support are slowly beginning to appear on his site's message boards.

In addition to his work on "Buffy," which ended its run last May, Brendon has appeared in the features "Psycho Beach Party" and "Demon Island," as well as the ABC Family movie "Celeste in the City."

Last spring, Brendon co-starred in the FOX comedy pilot "The Pool at Maddy Breakers," though the series failed to find a place in the network's schedule.

The Gentleman

Hollywood April 27, 2004 (Variety) - FX and feature scribe Sheldon Turner ("The Longest Yard") are teaming up for original one-hour drama series "The Gentleman." 

Scott Foley is said to be circling the project to star. 

Cabler has made a script commitment to the project, which follows the day-to-day life of a likable medical supplies salesman from the Midwest who happens to be fending off a penchant for murder. 

Twentieth Century Fox TV would produce "The Gentleman" with producer Jennifer Klein in what would be the first joint series effort between FX and 20th. Turner inked a blind script deal with 20th earlier this year. 

Skein revolves around a seemingly straight-arrow guy -- battling the occasional urge to kill -- who moves to the city to help straighten out his alcoholic younger brother at the behest of his parents. Turner said the show would primarily be dramatic in tone with some elements of comedy. 

"He's the boy next door, if the boy next door was a serial killer. Charming, handsome, trying to be a good big brother, but just when you start to like the guy he does something deplorable," he said. "We sort of treat (serial killing) -- and here's where it gets controversial -- as an addiction." 

Story also concerns the quirky IRS investigator tracking him. 

"They'll be contemporaries in age, but the cop is antisocial and struggles to talk to women. He fits more into the stereotype of a killer," Turner said. 

Last year, Turner set up a pilot script at Fox for 20th and John Woo's Lion Rock about the world of gunrunning. He also scripted the upcoming remake of "The Longest Yard" for Paramount with Adam Sandler attached to star and Peter Segal ("Anger Management") directing. 

Foley last produced and starred in the NBC laffer "A.U.S.A." Credits include the upcoming thriller "Cursed," "Scream 3" and the WB's "Felicity." 

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

Wicked of Oz Scores Top Nominations
By Leonard Jacobs

New York April 30, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - "Wicked," a musical that looks at the early history of some of the characters in "The Wizard of Oz," scored a leading 11 nominations for the 49th annual Drama Desk Awards, announced Thursday.

The musical "Assassins" and the Lincoln Center Theater's revival of Shakespeare's "Henry IV" were next with seven noms apiece.

"Wicked" captured a nom for best musical; two for best actress in a musical (Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel); one for director of a musical (Joe Mantello); one each for music, lyrics and book (the first two for Stephen Schwartz and the other for Winnie Holzman); one for orchestrations (William David Brohn); and one each for set, costume and lighting design (Eugene Lee, Susan Hilferty and Kenneth Posner, respectively).

Mantello also was nominated for directing "Assassins," which arrived on Broadway for the first time courtesy of the not-for-profit Roundabout Theatre Company.

The Stephen Sondheim show also was recognized with a nom for best musical revival, featured actor (Marc Kudisch), orchestrations (Michael Starobin), and set design (Robert Brill).

"Assassins" also got noms for lighting design (Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer) and sound design (Dan Moses Schreier).

Networks Not Endangered, Say Networks 
By ALEX VEIGA
AP Business Writer 

BEVERLY HILLS April 30, 2004 (AP) - Cable, computer games and the Internet have cut into network television's audience, and now technology that lets viewers skip commercials has some fearing a hit to ad revenues — but don't write off the networks yet, top media executives said Wednesday.

Network television's traditional audience has become increasingly fragmented as technology and the Internet have created more entertainment options for consumers. Once the leader, network television programming now accounts for 45 percent of the total entertainment audience. 

But executives speaking at the Milken Global Conference Wednesday were optimistic about network television's prospects and earning power. 

"What time has shown is the unbelievable power of network TV," said Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer of News Corp., which owns the Fox Group. "The fact that people are still watching that much network television is a testament to its remarkable strength." 

Chernin and Sumner Redstone, chairman and chief executive of Viacom Inc., were also upbeat when asked if broader use of TiVo and similar devices that allow users to record broadcast shows while bypassing commercials could hurt networks' long-standing source of revenue — ad sales. 

"The only way you reach all American people is through network television," said Redstone, whose company owns CBS and several cable channels, including MTV and Nickelodeon. 

Hollywood film studios have also not escaped the effects of new media and technology. 

The number of moviegoers has remained statistically the same as in the 1970s, according to market data presented at the conference. The film industry saw ticket revenues increase in the past decade mostly because the price of a movie ticket has increased over the years. 

Meanwhile, Internet use, DVD sales and video game sales have surged. 

But despite the revenues DVD sales represent for movie studios, the cost of making movies continues to rise, squeezing studios' bottom line. 

The average cost of a feature film is $63.8 million, not including promotion costs, which can soar above $40 million. 

Chernin said the studios must harness production costs. 

"We've already seen the era of the $100 million write-downs," Chernin said. "You're going to see the era of the $150 million write downs and it will rock the industry." 

Michael Lynton, chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Robert Kotick, chairman and chief executive of Activision Inc., were among those on the media panel Wednesday. 

Lynton declined to address reports that Sony is in talks to acquire film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. 

The panel also took on the recent debate over indecency on the airwaves. 

Redstone, whose network aired the Super Bowl and the breast-baring halftime show with Janet Jackson, said the government's crackdown on broadcasters and shock jocks like Howard Stern would have a "chilling effect" on the industry. 

"Howard Stern has a great audience. His program may not suit everybody's taste, but I doubt it's obscene," Redstone said. "The danger really lies in government interference."

West Wing's Father of TV
By Michael Fleming

Hollywood April 28, 2004 (Variety) - In their first project since exiting "The West Wing," Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme will join forces at New Line on "The Farnsworth Invention," a drama about how Philo Farnsworth invented TV technology and was robbed of the glory by broadcast pioneer David Sarnoff. 

Project was sold as a spec package. After entering into exclusive negotiations early this week, New Line agreed to pay $2.5 million against 2% of gross for Sorkin to write and produce, with Schlamme receiving just north of $1 million to direct the film and produce. 

Script is set in the late 1920s, when the 22-year-old genius from Utah became the first to capture a moving image in a box.

That led to a skirmish with rival scientist Vladimir Zworykin, who years earlier had filed a patent for the technology even though he hadn't made it work until Farnsworth's invention. 

Since Zworykin was under the employ of radio giant RCA and Sarnoff, the young mogul who ran the broadcasting giant engaged in a take-no-prisoners battle for control of the invention that would change the world. 

New Line president Toby Emmerich made the buy and will oversee the project. "The way (Sorkin) portrayed Philo and Sarnoff on the page, I'd say (they were) two of the best characters I'd read in a movie script over the last 10 years.

" They are adversaries, but it is subtle and sophisticated. It is a compelling drama that will have the feel of 'Seabiscuit' in that it covers one of those periods in the country where everything changed." 

Sorkin and Schlamme met while working on the Sorkin-created series "Sports Night," and then became exec producers on "The West Wing."

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