Green Murder,
Rosetta Flyby,
Saturnian Dragon, New Raptor,
Haptic Cells, North Pole & More!

A squad of UFOs over Phoenix

By FLAtRich

New York February 27, 2005 (eXoNews) - Millions of Americans saw UFOs last Thursday night for two hours as Peter Jennings and ABC News provided an accounting of the phenomena in a primetime special entitled UFO: Seeing is Believing.

Peter Davenport, Director of the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), our favorite UFO site here at eXoNews, was one of those interviewed and seemed pleased by ABC's take on unidentified flying objects. The NUFORC site has geared up to welcome new human visitors and guide them through the process of reporting saucers of their own.

When we come back: that was
no UFO, that was my wife!

Check out the latest NUFORC reports at http://www.nuforc.org

Jennings, who also executive produced the ABC special, managed to present various facets of UFO history in a straight forward manner and with a straight face (although he did visit Jon Stewart's Daily Show the night before for a few laughs.)

The history lesson was far better organized than previous TV attempts, notably recent shabby UFO specials on Sci Fi Channel and the continuous rehashing of old UFO documentaries on the History Channel.

Hardcore believers and genre fans probably found a lot wrong with ABC's UFO chronology.

There was no mention of reported ancient sightings (Ezekiel's wheel in the Bible, for example) and The X-Files began on Fox in 1993, not in 1995 as Jennings said.

UFO: Seeing is Believing also inexplicably re-assigned Project Blue Book to the late 1960s when it actually began in 1951.

The traditional cigar-shaped object (eXoNews)

There was no mention at all of Erich von Däniken's "Chariots of the Gods", admittedly a rather silly book that nevertheless once captured the best-seller list, exploded public interest in extraterrestrial visits and won the tweedy author an interview with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show.

There was no mention of the much-reported 2004 Mexican Air Force sightings over Mexico.

There was the usual rehash of Roswell and ABC did have some nice photos of the secret weather balloons the US government trotted out to prove the Roswell saucer never existed. Compelling non-evidence. No mention of Max and Liz, of course.

Mr. Jennings interviewed lots of people. Some, like radio icon Art Bell, are familiar faces to the UFO crowd but ABC also corralled a number of lesser known scientists and professionals.

While this Paul Allen-sponsored array searches
for alien life in the cosmos...

There was nothing new in the parade of believers and non-believers defending and doubting the existence of extraterrestrial flybys.

Jennings didn't ask Jimmy Carter, although he did allude to the former US president's UFO experience. There was no mention of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, towels or Vogon poetry. They didn't ask Bill Shatner what he thought either. (Denny Crane!)

ABC did present several earnest victims of alien abductions in sympathetic fashion but minus any illustrations of the abductors or their spacecraft. This was a clever workaround.

A similar group of abductees Sci Fi gave us during their Taken mini-series promotion was far less credible because of the wild range of such descriptions. All of the aliens in the Sci Fi report were notably unique, from the small big-eyed "grays" (everybody knows them now as the Asgard in Sci Fi's Stargate SG1) to big lurking tall guys with long fingers.

...the search for intelligent life on
TV continues. [Commercial break]

Variety is where UFO reports usually come apart, of course. A quick look at incoming NUFORC data for February 2005 reveals sightings of a green light, a cylindrical object with small white and red lights, a silver spinning football shaped object, a bight blue fireball object, a light orange object, a tiny reddish dot, a traditional cigar-shaped object, a Huge Black Triangle, a circle of pale green lights, a shiny chrome metallic craft and two diamonds flying in the sky.

Earth, it seems, has become a tourist attraction for visiting spaceships from all over the galaxy (and perhaps beyond!)

But the tone of Mr. Jennings' entirely non-conclusive report indicated that there is no reason to dismiss the UFO phenomenon as some sort of mass hallucination either.

As one scientist working on a Paul Allen-sponsored galactic search for life pointed out, although the chances of finding life out there by listening for it are slim, the chances of finding it without listening are zero.

Ah! I get it! The odds of seeing a flying saucer increase if you believe there could be flying saucers!

The chances of selling a UFO related product also follow a similar logic.

Purported US Army photo of an alien corpse at the Roswell crash

Some might wonder, given the success of ABC's Lost, if the network could be on a fishing expedition with UFO: Seeing is Believing?

Maybe if enough viewers in the right demographic Want To Believe, ABC will bank on a new generation of alien hunters next fall?

Don't count on it. UFO: Seeing is Believing won ABC an average 8.0/11 in the overnights, 11.68 million viewers and a 3.2/8 among adults 18-49 against ratings winners Survivor and CSI on CBS.

Good numbers, but nothing to phone home about.

Forget alien visitors. Genre TV fans really are alone. Girls with big breasts eating worms in bikinis and dead people are still network reality.

Resistance is futile!

[eXoNews has lots of UFO stories available in our archives - some with neat fake pictures - Search eXoNews for more! Ed.]

eXoNews Pix of the Week Dept.
Martian Snow = Life?

European Space Agency scientists think that there was and could even still be life on Mars and want a new European mission to the red planet to take samples, a conference heard on February 25, 2005 in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. This hand out image taken from the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft shows the Martian north polar ice cap with layers of water, ice and dust for the first time in perspective view. The image shows cliffs which are almost two kilometers high, and the dark material in the caldera-like structures and dune fields could be volcanic ash. (ESA/Reuters)

Green Murder: 2nd Environmentalist Murdered!

Brazilians carry the coffin of Dionisio
Ribeiro Filho, 59, during a funeral in
Rio de Janeiro, February 24, 2005.
(REUTERS/ Ygor Filho)

By Rodrigo Gaier

RIO DE JANEIRO February 24, 2005 (Reuters) — A Brazilian environmentalist was killed in an Atlantic rain forest Tuesday night, only 10 days after a U.S. nun and activist against illegal logging was murdered in the Amazon jungle.

Dionisio Ribeiro Filho, 59, was shot in the head with a shotgun at the Tingua federal reserve, about 19 miles from Rio de Janeiro city, after he defended it for over 15 years from poachers and illegal palm tree cutters, police said Wednesday.

"We suspect some of those people he opposed may have murdered him," local police superintendent Roberto Cardoso told Brazil's O'Globo national television network.

His death followed the Feb. 12 killing of prominent U.S. human rights and environmental activist nun Dorothy Stang.

She was gunned down in a suspected contract killing by illegal loggers and ranchers encroaching on a federal peasant farming reserve she helped establish in the state of Para.

Ribeiro had received death threats for some time, said Luis Henrique dos Santos, head of the Tingua reserve and a federal employee.

"We are working against illegal palm cutting and this upset a lot of people," said dos Santos, who said he and other workers also received threats.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched Brazil's biggest ever crackdown on crime in the Amazon rain forest after Stang's murder caused world outrage at death squads used by illegal loggers and ranchers to invade jungle areas.

Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva called on federal police to investigate Ribeiro's murder.

Some of his friends and colleagues were at a protest against Stang's murder when they heard of his killing.

U.S. human rights and environmental
activist nun Dorothy Stang, murdered
on February 12th

"This business of shutting up ecologists and environmentalists with violence, it's not going to stop," said Edson Bedin, head of Brazil's federal environmental agency IBAMA in Rio de Janeiro state, which operates the reserve. "Threats against agents, workers have become routine."

IBAMA has asked the federal police to protect its workers in the 96 square-mile area of rolling, rain forested hills that are home to flea toads, jaguars, spider monkeys and other rare and threatened species.

Ribeiro, a gray-haired man with a moustache and glasses, was a member of a non-profit environmental organization that helped set up the park in 1989.

Since he retired, Ribeiro had dedicated his life to defending the reserve against people harvesting palm trees for heart of palm, a gastronomic delicacy, and trapping tropical birds and animals for illegal trafficking and for food.

Police in Rio de Janeiro state said they would make the hunt for Ribeiro's killers a priority.

Police have found two gunmen and an intermediary suspected of planning and carrying out Stang's killing. They are searching for a rancher who is said to have paid $19,300 for her murder.

Brazil has already deforested 97 percent of its Atlantic rainforest, which runs along its coastline and was once a third the size of Brazil's Amazon jungle.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Hay in Brasilia)

Bush Ignores Science, Hurts Earth
By Paul Recer
Associated Press

WASHINGTON February 23, 2005 (AP) — The voice of science is being stifled in the Bush administration, with fewer scientists heard in policy discussions and money for research and advanced training being cut, according to panelists at a national science meeting.

Speakers at the national meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science expressed concern Sunday that some scientists in key federal agencies are being ignored or even pressured to change study conclusions that don't support policy positions.

The speakers also said that Bush's proposed 2005 federal budget is slashing spending for basic research and reducing investments in education designed to produce the nation's future scientists.

And there also was concern that increased restrictions and requirements for obtaining visas is diminishing the flow to the U.S. of foreign-born science students who have long been a major part of the American research community.

Rosina Bierbaum, dean of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, said the Bush administration has cut scientists out of some of the policy-making processes, particularly on environmental issues.

"In previous administrations, scientists were always at the table when regulations were being developed," she said. "Science never had the last voice, but it had a voice."

Issues on global warming, for instance, that achieved a firm scientific consensus in earlier years are now being questioned by Bush policy makers. Proven, widely accepted research is being ignored or disputed, she said.

Government policy papers issued prior to the Bush years moved beyond questioning the validity of global warming science and addressed ways of confronting or dealing with climate change.

Under Bush, said Bierbaum, the questioning of the proven science has become more important than finding ways to cope with climate change.

One result of such actions, said Neal Lane of Rice University, a former director of the National Science Foundation, is that "we don't really have a policy right now to deal with what everybody agrees is a serious problem."

Among scientists, said Lane, "there is quite a consensus in place that the Earth is warming and that humans are responsible for a considerable part of that" through the burning of fossil fuels.

And the science is clear, he said, that without action to control fossil fuel use, the warming will get worse and there will be climate events that "our species has not experienced before."

Asked for comment, White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said, "The president makes policy decisions based on what the best policies for the country are, not politics. People who suggest otherwise are ill-informed."

Kurt Gottfried of Cornell University and the Union of Concerned Scientists said a survey of scientists in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that about 42 percent said they felt pressured to not report publicly any findings that do not agree with Bush policies on endangered species. He said almost a third of the Fish and Wildlife researchers said they were even pressured not to express within the agency any views in conflict with the Bush policies.

"This administration has distanced itself from scientific information," said Gottfried. He said this is part of a larger effort to let politics dominate pure science.

He said scientists in the Environmental Protection Agency have been pressured to change their research to keep it consistent with the Bush political position on environmental issues.

Because of such actions, he said, it has become more difficult for federal agencies to attract and retain top scientific talent. This becomes a critical issue, said Gottfried, because about 35 percent of EPA scientists will retire soon and the Bush administration can "mold the staff" of the agency through the hiring process.

Federal spending for research and development is significantly reduced under the proposed 2005 Bush budget, the speakers said.

"Overall the R&D budget is bad news," said Bierbaum.

She said the National Science Foundation funds for graduate students and for kindergarten through high school education has been slashed.

NASA has gotten a budget boost, but most of the new money will be going to the space shuttle, space station and Bush's plan to explore the moon and Mars. What is suffering is the space agency's scientific research efforts, she said.

"Moon and Mars is basically going to eat everybody's lunch," she said.

Lane said Bush's moon and Mars exploration effort has not excited the public and has no clear goals or plans.

He said Bush's moon-Mars initiative "was poorly carried out and the budget is not there to do the job so science (at NASA) will really get hurt."
ESA's Rosetta Flies by Earth On the Way to Comet 67P

Rosetta flies by Earth (ESA/ AOES Medialab)

European Space Agency News Release

February 23, 2005 - ESA's comet-chaser Rosetta will make a fly-by of planet Earth on 4 March 2005, and sky watchers should be able to see it with telescopes or binoculars if the sky is clear!

Read on for details of ESA's 'Rosetta Up Close' photo contest.

Rosetta is approaching Earth from an area in the sky between the constellations Leo and Sextans, and should first become visible to large amateur telescopes around 26 February 2005.

The spacecraft will make its closest approach to Earth at about 23:10 CET and come within 1900 kilometers, at which time it will be over Mexico, having already passed over Europe.

Watchers in Europe may have best evening view.

Rosetta will reach the comet in 2014, enter into orbit and
deliver a lander, Philae, onto the surface. (ESA)

On the evening of the closest approach, sky watchers in Europe will be favorably placed to follow this event using smaller telescopes or binoculars. Unfortunately, Rosetta is not expected to become visible to the naked eye from Europe as it will still be about 10 000 kilometers away until it disappears below the horizon.

However, amateur astronomers using video or photo-imaging in conjunction with a telescope should have a great viewing opportunity — weather permitting. They may even be able to see Rosetta's solar panels, which extend over 32 meters; the high-gain antenna may also be distinguishable.

After sunset on 4 March, it will appear to travel from south east to south west, moving from the constellation Sextans towards the setting Sun, crossing the complete sky. It will move faster as it heads west, disappearing below the horizon around 23:00 CET. As seen from Europe it will only reach a 'magnitude' of about +8 or +9 on the brightness scale used by astronomers. This is dimmer than a typical faint star and not readily apparent to the eye.

Rosetta swings between Earth and Mars

This fly-by maneuver will swing the three-ton Rosetta spacecraft around our planet and out towards Mars, where it will make a fly-by on 26 February 2007, only to come back again to Earth. Fly-bys are necessary to accelerate the spacecraft, using planetary gravity, such that the orbital velocity of the target comet can eventually be matched.

This is the first of four planet fly-bys (three times with Earth, once with Mars) that Rosetta will carry out in its long journey to its target, Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta will reach the comet in 2014, enter into orbit and deliver a lander, Philae, onto the surface.

Moon to serve as 'dummy' asteroid

A number of activities are planned during the current fly-by. A few hours before the closest approach the spacecraft will be pointed towards the Moon and the remote sensing and several other instruments will be switched on for calibration purposes.

After this fly-by, one of the two Navigation Cameras will be switched on to test Rosetta's ability to track asteroids using the Moon as a 'dummy' asteroid.

Rosetta is scheduled to fly past two asteroids, Steins in September 2008 and Lutetia in July 2010, during which this tracking mode will be used to keep the spacecraft instruments centered on target.

'Rosetta Up Close' photo contest

Sky watchers everywhere are invited to submit their photos of Rosetta passing Earth to ESA's 'Rosetta Up Close' photo contest. Details of the contest, rules, prizes and submission procedures will be posted shortly on the ESA web site.

European Space Agency - http://www.esa.int

The Saturnian Dragon

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

NASA News Release

Saturn February 24, 2005 - A large, bright and complex convective storm that appeared in Saturn's southern hemisphere in mid-September 2004 was the key in solving a long-standing mystery about the ringed planet.

Saturn's atmosphere and its rings are shown here in a false color composite made from Cassini images taken in near infrared light through filters that sense different amounts of methane gas. Portions of the atmosphere with a large abundance of methane above the clouds are red, indicating clouds that are deep in the atmosphere. Grey indicates high clouds, and brown indicates clouds at intermediate altitudes. The rings are bright blue because there is no methane gas between the ring particles and the camera.

The complex feature with arms and secondary extensions just above and to the right of center is called the Dragon Storm. It lies in a region of the southern hemisphere referred to as "storm alley" by imaging scientists because of the high level of storm activity observed there by Cassini in the last year.

The Dragon Storm was a powerful source of radio emissions during July and September of 2004. The radio waves from the storm resemble the short bursts of static generated by lightning on Earth. Cassini detected the bursts only when the storm was rising over the horizon on the night side of the planet as seen from the spacecraft; the bursts stopped when the storm moved into sunlight. This on/off pattern repeated for many Saturn rotations over a period of several weeks, and it was the clock-like repeatability that indicated the storm and the radio bursts are related. Scientists have concluded that the Dragon Storm is a giant thunderstorm whose precipitation generates electricity as it does on Earth. The storm may be deriving its energy from Saturn's deep atmosphere.

One mystery is why the radio bursts start while the Dragon Storm is below the horizon on the night side and end when the storm is on the day side, still in full view of the Cassini spacecraft. A possible explanation is that the lightning source lies to the east of the visible cloud, perhaps because it is deeper where the currents are eastward relative to those at cloud top levels. If this were the case, the lightning source would come up over the night side horizon and would sink down below the day side horizon before the visible cloud. This would explain the timing of the visible storm relative to the radio bursts.

The Dragon Storm is of great interest for another reason. In examining images taken of Saturn's atmosphere over many months, imaging scientists found that the Dragon Storm arose in the same part of Saturn's atmosphere that had earlier produced large bright convective storms. In other words, the Dragon Storm appears to be a long-lived storm deep in the atmosphere that periodically flares up to produce dramatic bright white plumes which subside over time. One earlier sighting, in July 2004, was also associated with strong radio bursts. And another, observed in March 2004 and captured in a movie created from images of the atmosphere ( http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06082  and http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06083 ) spawned three little dark oval storms that broke off from the arms of the main storm. Two of these subsequently merged with each other; the current to the north carried the third one off to the west, and Cassini lost track of it. Small dark storms like these generally get stretched out until they merge with the opposing currents to the north and south.

These little storms are the food that sustains the larger atmospheric features, including the larger ovals and the eastward and westward currents. If the little storms come from the giant thunderstorms, then together they form a food chain that harvests the energy of the deep atmosphere and helps maintain the powerful currents.

Cassini has many more chances to observe future flare-ups of the Dragon Storm, and others like it over the course of the mission. It is likely that scientists will come to solve the mystery of the radio bursts and observe storm creation and merging in the next 2 or 3 years.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

For images visit the Cassini imaging team home page http://ciclops.org

Mystery Tiger Shot and Killed in LA
LOS ANGELES February 24, 2005 (Reuters) — Wildlife officials shot and killed a tiger Wednesday that had been roaming loose for 10 days near homes in rugged terrain, north of Los Angeles.

Prints left by a large wild cat had been spotted for more than a week near the hilly Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks residential areas.

California wildlife officials said they were called in early Wednesday morning when a homeowner saw the tiger on the edge of a housing development in Moor Park, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The tiger, thought to weigh between 400 and 600 pounds, was shot several hundred yards away from soccer and baseball fields.

"We had set traps and we were prepared to use tranquilizers. But unfortunately it was spotted in an area not far away from a shopping center, a highway and a residential area and we didn't feel we could risk having someone hurt," said Lorna Bernard, spokeswoman for the Department of Fish and Game.

Officials with the Department of Fish and Game said no one had reported losing a tiger and they have been unable so far to determine where it came from. Tigers and other exotic cats can be kept by permit in California if safety conditions are met.
Patagonian Raptor Found!

Artist's rendering of a new species of raptor
dinosaur, Neuquenraptor argentinus.
(Fernando Novas, Argentine Museum of
Natural History)

Ohio State University News Release

COLUMBUS Ohio February 25, 2005 - Scientists at Ohio State University and the Argentine Museum of Natural History have identified a new species of raptor dinosaur from fossils found in Patagonia -- the very southern tip of South America.

It is the first raptor ever found in the Southern Hemisphere, but compared to other raptors, Neuquenraptor argentinus wasnt much of a standout. It was only of average height and weight for its kind, measured six feet from head to tail, and brandished a razor-sharp claw for slashing prey.

Now, its bones provide the first uncontroversial evidence that raptors roamed the prehistoric world beyond the Northern Hemisphere 90 million years ago, said Diego Pol, a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State. Before this, the extent of the dinosaurs range wasnt certain.

Pol and Fernando Novas of the Argentine Museum of Natural History published their finding in the current issue of the journal Nature.

With joint appointments in Ohio State's Mathematical Biosciences Institute and the Department of Biomedical Informatics, Pol represents a kind of new species himself. He is one of a growing number of scientists who are using todays powerful computers to confront grand challenges in the life sciences.

He spends most of his time developing software to map the genes of living creatures, from bacteria to humans, to show how different species are related. He used similar techniques to study the relationships of the new raptor. Because fossils don't preserve DNA, Pol mapped the dinosaur's anatomical and skeletal characteristics to place it on the raptor family tree.

Novas discovered the fossils in Patagonia with colleague Pablo Puerta in 1996. They found fragments of the dinosaur's vertebrae and ribs, as well as parts of its legs and a left rear foot, complete with the signature raptor claw.

Since then, scientists from around the world have worked to record all the data that could be used to identify the dinosaur, such as the size and shape of its bones and where the muscles and ligaments connected to them. All in all, they measured 224 separate characteristics.

That may sound like a lot of information, but Pol is accustomed to working with much larger data sets. He routinely assembles family trees based on genetic sequences that number in the thousands.

He's working with experts in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, the Ohio Supercomputer Center, and the University of Tucuman in Argentina to develop software to sort through those mammoth databases and find connections between species.

"We can use gene sequences, or any physical characteristic like bones or muscles, or even behavior. We find the tree structure that is most compatible with whatever data we have," Pol said.

Once Pol entered the dinosaur data into the software, the final analysis took only minutes. The conclusion: the bones definitely belonged to a raptor.

Not only the claw, but also finer details such as the pointed shape of some of the foot bones provided key proof, he explained.

Neuquenraptor lived 90 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period -- roughly the same time that the Velociraptor of Jurassic Park fame and its cousin Utahraptor roamed what are now Asia and North America. And thats what makes Neuquenraptor so special.

According to current geologic theory, the Earth of 90 million years ago featured two giant supercontinents -- one called Laurasia that eventually split into Europe, Asia, and North America, and another called Gondwana that became Australia, Africa, Antarctica, and South America.

Fossil foot of new raptor dinosaur species, Neuquenraptor
argentinus. (Fernando Novas, Argentine Museum of
Natural History)

Because Neuquenraptor was found in Patagonia, it must have lived on Gondwana, Pol said. All other verified species of raptor have been found on land that was once Laurasia.

"That's what was most striking," Pol said. "Given the geographic location, you wouldn't expect to find a raptor there. So from the beginning we knew we had an interesting finding."

Since Gondwana and Laurasia were completely separated by ocean 90 million years ago, the find suggests that a common raptor ancestor probably roamed both supercontinents before they split apart from an even larger land mass, Pangea -- some 150 million years ago, during the late Jurassic period.

"Up to now, all known raptor species were exclusive to the Northern Hemisphere," Pol said.

"And they all date to a time way after the splitting of the two land masses."

Now, he said, scientists can make a more complete map of raptors biological and geographical history -- where they lived, how old the various species lineages were, and how long ago they diversified from each other.

The scientists named the raptor based on the Patagonian province where it was found, Neuquén.

Counting Neuquenraptor, the raptor family tree now has eleven official branches, including Velociraptor, Utahraptor, and pint-sized Microraptor. All share a common ancestor with modern birds.

The National Geographic Society and the Agencia de Promocion Cientifica in Argentina funded Novas research and the fieldwork for the study. Pols analysis of the fossils was funded by Ohio State.

Ohio State University - http://researchnews.osu.edu

Diesel Exhaust Kills 20,000 a Year


By Devlin Barrett
Associated Press

WASHINGTON February 23, 2005 (AP) — Emissions from old diesel engines cause more than 20,000 Americans a year to die sooner than they would have otherwise, an environmental group estimated Tuesday.

An industry group criticized the findings as outdated and misleading.

The metropolitan areas with the highest number of early deaths from diesel engines were New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, according to the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force. The study included the surrounding suburbs, so New York's estimated total of 2,729 deaths included parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.

The states with the most deaths were New York with 2,332, California with 1,784, and Pennsylvania with 1,170, according to the group. The group said it based its figures on the most recent government emissions data -- from 1999 -- and from public health studies of the effects of various types of air pollutants.

Conrad Schneider, co-author of the report, said regulations designed to make new diesel engines cleaner don't affect millions of older trucks, buses and construction engines.

"Those are great rules, they will hold new engines to higher standards. ... In the meantime, we're stuck with a legacy of dirty diesel engines," said Schneider, advocacy director for the Clean Air Task Force, a coalition of regional and local groups.

The Environmental Protection Agency last year required new diesel engines on trucks and buses to cut in half the amount of nitrogen oxides produced. In 2007 emissions are to be cut further. Since many older diesel engines can run for 30 years, more action is needed by federal, state, and local governments to retrofit existing diesel engines to run more cleanly, the group said. Retrofits for a typical transit bus can cost about $5,000 to $7,000.

The head of a Washington-based industry group criticized the report's assumptions and conclusions.

"I think they have overstated the risk here using data that's six years old," said Allan Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

Schaeffer said it takes eight modern tractor trailer engines to produce the same amount of pollution generated by one such engine made twelve years ago, and that diesel exhaust comprises just 4.4 percent of fine particle pollution.

"Our industry is getting cleaner faster than most other industries out there," Schaeffer said.

Diesel pollution is blamed for contributing to asthma, respiratory diseases, and heart attacks. The study estimates the risk of health complications from diesel exhaust for people living in cities is three times higher than the risk for those in rural areas.

Haptic Cell Phones Can Slap You?

By Celeste Biever
New Scientist News Release

February 23, 2005 - At the end of March Samsung will release a mobile phone with a difference. Not only will it be able to send images and streaming video, but the phone can vibrate in such a way that you can add the sensation of a playful tickle to your text message, or make the person on the other end of the phone feel as if their handset has slapped them across the face.

Welcome to the world of haptics - the technology of recreating touch and texture through artificial stimuli.

The most widespread use of haptics so far is in video gaming, in the vibrating game pads and force-feedback steering wheels that accompany Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox.

These devices give you a sense of how good a virtual golfing shot was from the force feedback on the joystick, or let you feel how close you are to being run off the road in racing games.

But Samsung's phone is the first mass-market use of haptics. When you send a text message you can add one of a number of sensations from a menu. When the person reads the message, "vibrotactile" motors in their phone are activated. These are basically more complex versions of the motors that allow many mobile phones to vibrate when ringing.

The precise frequency and amplitude of the vibrations generated by the motors simulates the desired sensation.

"I have been waiting for this for a few years. It's a challenge to develop systems that are low-cost and lightweight," says Ed Colgate, a mechanical engineer who works on haptics at Northwestern University in Chicago.

The haptic technology behind game pads and the Samsung phones has been developed by Immersion of San Jose, California, which is one of the leading companies in this fast-growing field.

From these simple beginnings, analysts think the technology will have many applications, for example, in haptic gloves and pads designed to give online shoppers a feel for products.

Imagine being able to feel the quality of a cashmere sweater before you buy it, experience the roadholding of a car or feel the finish of a piece of furniture.

"Physical involvement creates a real attachment and is lacking in online interactions," says Colgate.

Just like graphics and sound, touch can be coded as digital bits. They are sent in packets over the internet or a cellphone network then reassembled or "rendered" in some form at the other end. So why has it taken so long for the technology to develop?

"Haptics is fundamentally more difficult over the internet than sound or vision," says Colgate. This is partly because touch encompasses a wide variety of physical factors including force, vibration, temperature and texture, and unlike light or sound, it can be sensed over the whole body.

But there are ways to simplify the problem. In 1996 three researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology built a three-jointed robotic arm called the Phantom that lets you experience the feeling of doing surgery.

On the end of the arm is a stylus that you grip like a pen, and as you manipulate it, the forces in the arm mimic the sensation of cutting through tendons or placing a catheter, for example. The Phantom gives medical students experience of surgery without putting patients at risk.

Another problem is that touch is interactive - you have to press something to feel it. This two-way quality is difficult to achieve over the internet because of delays called latencies, which can mount up and disrupt the interaction.

Although a delay of more than 200 milliseconds may be acceptable for holding a phone conversation or watching video, touch needs a fairly immediate reaction to be realistic, says Kenneth Salisbury of Stanford University, California, one of the inventors of the Phantom.

For haptics to reach their full potential, the technology also has to be able to convey a wide range of tactile sensations. Sile O'Modhrain of Media Lab Europe in Dublin, Ireland, says that "pre-packaged" haptics have barely scratched the surface.

For example, a student at MIT has built a phone that can transmit a squeeze of varying strength. Accelerometers in the phone measure the strength and speed of the squeeze and reproduce the effect at the other end of the line, making it feel a bit like holding hands. Much of the technology needed to achieve such effects already exists, O'Modhrain says.

O'Modhrain has a personal interest in haptics: she happens to be blind. A touch-based internet could be a real boon, but efforts so far have not been impressive. They have concentrated on reproducing the raised outline of shapes such as graphs and pie charts.

But as Curtis Chang of the Iowa-based National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science points out: "If you grew up blind, they don't mean anything to you."

This article appears in New Scientist issue: 26 FEBRUARY 2005

New Scientist - http://www.newscientist.com

Bono and the Pope Among Nobel Prize Contenders

Pope John Paul II (Reuters)

OSLO February 24, 2005 (AFP) - A record 199 individuals and organizations have been nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Institute said, with Irish U2 rock star Bono, Pope John Paul II and Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko in the running.

The list, which generally remains a well-kept secret, consists this year of 163 people and 36 organizations, the influential director of the Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, told AFP on Thursday.

While the Nobel Institute does not reveal the identities of the candidates, those entitled to submit nominations for the prize -- including past laureates, members of parliament and cabinet ministers from around the world and some university professors -- are allowed to disclose their suggestions.

Those known to be in the running this year include Bono, former US secretary of state Colin Powell, Pope John Paul II, former Russian dissident Sergei Kovalev and Indian spiritual leader Ravi Shankar. Also nominated are leaders representing democratic change in eastern Europe such as Ukraine's President Yushchenko, Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which launched a massive aid effort for those hit by the December 26 tsunamis, are also tipped for the prestigious prize, according to experts who cited the names of groups such as Oxfam and Save the Children.

The fight for nuclear non-proliferation could also be given the honors this year, as nuclear issues with Iran and North Korea (news - web sites) top the world agenda on the 60th anniversary of the use of the first atomic bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, and the Japanese association Hidankyo grouping survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings could also be winners.

The Nobel Committee normally makes its choice in September, and the name of the winner or winners -- a maximum of three -- are announced around mid-October. The five members of the committee held their first meeting on Tuesday to discuss the nominations.

"Since they are allowed to do so at their first meeting, they also nominated their own candidates," Lundestad told AFP.

"They made good use of this prerogative to 'cover themselves' in case there is a positive development in one part of the world or another. But that does not mean that these candidates have a greater chance of winning," he added.

The prize is traditionally awarded in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death of the Nobel Prize founder, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. The Nobel Prize consists of a diploma, a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (1.46 million dollars, 1.10 million euros).

Last year, when a then-record 194 nominations were received, the prize went to Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the award.

North Pole Mystery Solved!

North Pole (NASA)

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona News Release

February 24, 2005 - Ice has been building up in the Arctic for 2.7 million years. Until now, no-one has been able to prove what mechanism brought about this accumulation of ice. However, a team of international scientists led by Antoni Rosell, a researcher for the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and Gerald H. Haug of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany) has discovered the mechanism that set off the accumulation of ice.

A sudden fall in average world temperatures 2.7 million years ago caused the Arctic Ocean to freeze and Europe and North America to become covered in ice. The reason seems obvious: the cold temperatures caused ice to build up.

But the drop in average temperatures is not enough to explain why so much ice built up and has remained to this day. For many years, scientists have been speculating on what caused this accumulation of ice and have proposed many theories.

A team of international scientists led by Antoni Rosell, a researcher for the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and Gerald H. Haug of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany) has discovered the mechanism that set off the accumulation of ice. The researchers have worked mainly with existing data from the remains of marine organisms that have built up over the years, as well as with climate models.

According to the research, the most important change during the period was a 7ºC (13ºF) increase in the difference between summer and winter temperatures within just a few centuries. The summers became warmer and the winters cooler, causing more water to evaporate from the sea into the atmosphere during the summer. The air became more humid and snowfall increased. When Winter set in, the sharp decrease in temperatures enabled ice to build up.

A Sturgeon-class, nuclear powered, Navy attack submarine
pops up at the North Pole in 1999 (SCICEX)

But what brought about this difference in temperatures? The researchers are the first to find evidence showing that this was caused by the stratification of ocean water, due to an increase in freshwater. This means that water mixed less than previously, forming layers of different densities in different strata and at different depths. When spring came, the layers closest to the surface began to heat up. Since the water did not mix, the temperature of those layers continued to rise, and increasing amounts of water evaporated. During the summer months, this effect intensified, as higher temperatures increase stratification; in winter, however, the water began mixing again, and temperatures dropped more than in previous years.

The authors of the research have reconstructed the seasonal changes in temperature in the North Pacific by reinterpreting the data obtained from analyzing the remains of marine organisms and by checking these temperatures using a climate model. This reconstruction shows how the ocean, in terms of its surface temperature and its size during different seasons, and water evaporation from the sea can generate significant general changes to the climate, as well as more intense glacial cycles and a general cooling of the planet's temperatures.

According to Antoni Rosell, "through this research we can understand in greater detail why climate change occurs, and more specifically, the role of the ocean in producing climate change. This information will improve climate models used to predict how today's climate will change in the future".

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona - http://www.uab.es

Genre News: Joss Meets Wonder Woman, Trek Protests, Terry O'Quinn, Charmed, Battlestar & Simone Simon

Charisma is fans' top choice.
Joss Whedon Meets Wonder Woman?
By FLAtRich

Hollywood February 26, 2005 (eXoNews) - The web is abuzz from reports on Dark Horizon and in The New York Post and TV Guide that Buffy / Angel creator Joss Whedon is being sought by producer Joel Silver for the big screen version of Wonder Woman.

Makes sense. Who in Tinseltown is better equipped to reinvent the comics' original empowered female? Got to wonder about Silver's rumored choices for leading lady being Jessica Biel (23) and Kim Basinger (52) though, as former Whedon co-star Charisma Carpenter (35 - can that be true?) previously announced her intention to kill for the part of the super Amazon queen if necessary.

Seems like Kim is a little too old (unless we're going for a Dark Wonder sort of thing here.)

If Joss needs someone to play Jessica or Charisma's mom he should just ask Lynda Carter. I know I would.

Over at the Imagine Casting website, where fans pick stars they'd like to see in upcoming films, Miss Carpenter is the Number One choice for the role of Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman.

Lynda could play Amazon Mom

That's right, kids, WW has a secret identity! So who do you think looks best in glasses?

My vote is for Cordy, oops, Charisma. After all, she missed out on playing Buffy (it was between her and Gellar at one point, according to Sarah Michelle) and got killed off evil on Angel so it seems only fair to give her a lead where she finally gets to kick some ass!

Unless Joss is thinking Gina Torres, maybe?

Vote for your favorite Wonder Woman at Imagine Casting - http://imaginecasting.com/imagine/topPicks.php?Movie_ID=121

Stranger Things, the best Charisma Carpenter board - http://www.stranger-things.net

Trek Fans Protest Enterprise Cancellation
By Ben Berkowitz

Wouldn't Gene be watching Joan
of Arcadia?

LOS ANGELES February 25, 2005 (Reuters) - "Star Trek" fans from around the world gathered at the gates of Paramount Studios in Hollywood on Friday to protest the impending cancellation of the television series "Star Trek: Enterprise."

Carrying signs reading "It's Not Just a Show, It's a Responsibility" and "18 Years of Loyalty and This Is the Thanks I Get?," more than 100 people massed at the gates of Paramount, where "Enterprise" is produced, to show support for a franchise that has perhaps the most loyal fan base in the world.  None wore costumes, however, in a departure from many gatherings of "Trekkies."

The UPN network, which like Paramount is a unit of Viacom Inc., said earlier this month it would end "Enterprise" in May after four seasons on air. But the fans are not letting it go quietly.

Paramount and UPN officials declined to comment.

"'Star Trek: Enterprise' ... is quality television, unlike a lot of the reality you see on TV today," said Candice McCallie, the Texas-based publicity director for Web site TrekUnited.com and an organizer of Friday's protest.

And organized it was -- attendees had professional laminated badges, posters and even permits from the L.A. Police Department to block the sidewalks around the studio.

Although the original series created by Gene Roddenberry ran only from 1966 to 1969, at least one version of "Star Trek" has constantly been on air since 1987 -- "The Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine," "Voyager" and now "Enterprise."

Hey! Maybe a prequel wasn't such
a good idea? (UPN)

The current series is something of a prequel, set in the earlier days of human space exploration and the "Star Trek" universe, well before those other series took place.

"Enterprise" is tied for 150th place in ratings this season, according to Nielsen Media Research, but McCallie argued "Enterprise" peaked creatively this year.

"It's some of the best 'Star Trek' we've seen in the 18 years it's been on," she said.

Fans are so dedicated that TrekUnited has raised more than $48,000 to give to Paramount to potentially produce a fifth season of the show.

[If you are really a diehard Trek fan, ask yourself this philosophical question - if Gene Roddenberry was alive and well in 2005, which show would he watch on Friday night: Enterprise or Joan of Arcadia? Trek has clearly forgotten the intent of The Great Bird's vision. Maybe it is time to give it a rest? Ed.]

Enterprise Official - http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/series/ENT/index.html

Vote for the Best 5 TV Shows of All Time - http://flatdisk.net/tvvote

Terry O'Quinn
AP Television Writer

Terry O'Quinn appears in his role as Locke in
the ABC adventure drama 'Lost.' (AP Photo/
ABC /Mario Perez)

NEW YORK February 24, 2005 (AP) - As the mysterious Locke on ABC's suspenseful "Lost," Terry O'Quinn glories in his rich role. Locke, of course, was stranded on a tropical island with dozens of other passengers after their jetliner crashed in the opener.

Since then, he has emerged as the series' mystical patriarch, a shamanic presence living his back-to-nature dream after a lifetime spent as a clerical schlub.

Or is he just a nut job acting out a long Wild Man Weekend? Or a psycho ready to blow?

Don't ask O'Quinn, who "Lost" viewers first met planted on the beach silently gazing out to sea. While the camera rolled, "I tried to think of heavy things: `What does this mean?' That's what I thought. And `What the hell do we do now?'"

Months later, he is still not sure if Locke is sinister or noble, delusional or divine — or all the above. And he was as surprised as anyone by perhaps the series' most electrifying episode. Locke, in a flashback before the flight, was revealed to have been a paraplegic. Then, seen in the present on the beach, he rose, almost biblically, to his feet: Somehow he was healed!

"I didn't even know that I had been handicapped until we shot that episode," O'Quinn says with a laugh.

What he does know is that "Lost" is a genre-busting smash (by turns thrilling, spooky and tantalizing) that, from its September premiere, had critics agog and viewers snagged. (It airs 8 p.m. EST Wednesday.)

He also knows that "Lost" is steady, challenging work for a journeyman actor who has waited 30 years for this kind of break.

A rangy man with a shaved head and a where-have-I-seen-that-guy? kind of face, O'Quinn has been around plenty. Films include 1984's "Places in the Heart," the "X-Files" feature, "Old School" and (in the title role) 1987's horror classic "The Stepfather." He has been on Broadway, and his scads of TV appearances include recurring roles on "JAG," "The West Wing" and the spy series "Alias," which was created by J.J. Abrams, the mastermind of "Lost."

But as 2004 began, O'Quinn and his wife, Lori, had logged "a couple of years from hell." An actor who has chosen never to live in Los Angeles and long ago took his leave from New York, "I was at home in Maryland, no work, nothing going on. I told Lori, `We gotta toughen up. We can fold, or we can lean on each other and play the cards that were dealt us.'

"Then J.J. called about `Lost.' I said, `I'll take it' — not a strong negotiation stance.

"He said, `You won't have a lot to do in the pilot, but it will develop into a more satisfying role.' I said, `I'll still take it.' I counted my blessings, and Lori and I flew to Hawaii."

O'Quinn as General Omar Santiago with Sarah-Jane
Redmond as Inga Fossa in the failed Chris Carter cult
favorite Harsh Realm. (Fox)

On "Lost," O'Quinn joined an enormous cast of featured regulars who also include Matthew Fox (as a sexy doctor), Evangeline Lilly (a dishy jailbird), Dominic Monaghan (a rock-star junkie), Jorge Garcia (a fat guy who says "Dude" a lot), Naveen Andrews (a terrorist?) and eight others. In all, there are supposedly 48 refugees trying to gain rescue and, in the meantime, forge some semblance of a civilized community.

Good luck. Desperation and conflict keep these castaways at odds. Spectral beasts and island cohabitants stalk them. And everyone, it seems, has secrets — secrets to which even the actors aren't privy until each script arrives.

Otherwise, O'Quinn reports, the show's producers "don't tell anybody much about what's going to happen, or has happened before. But I don't have any problem with that. I go on what I've got. It gives me the freedom to play things the way I want. Then, if they want it another way, I do it another way."

The series is filmed on Oahu, with five or six of each episode's eight shooting days spent outdoors, often at the beach location on the island's north shore.

The pilot was shot there a year ago. Then filming resumed July 15, which happened to be O'Quinn's 52nd birthday.

Revealing his bent for numerology, O'Quinn notes that five and two equal seven, and that July is the seventh month, then reels off other instances of seven looming large in his life.

"I told Lori, `Things are at a crossroads. And if "Lost" isn't the crossroads, it's the bridge to the other side.' I believe in fate."

Fate has been mighty good to "Lost" so far. But even a believer like O'Quinn has kept his head: "I'm always being the old warrior, telling everybody, `Don't buy a house. Let's be patient and see how it goes. Do good work — that's all.'"

Terry O'Quinn (L) as Peter Watts in Chris
Carter's MillenniuM (Fox)

A native of a small town on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, O'Quinn fell into acting in his teens, then, as his college graduation neared, "I didn't want to look for a real job. So I decided to see if I could make it as an actor."

He met his wife-to-be a few years later, when, appearing in a play in Baltimore, he learned he was cast in Michael Cimino's Western epic "Heaven's Gate."

With a sudden need for riding lessons, he tracked down Lori, an instructor on her family's farm outside the city.

Then, when his play closed and he ran out of money waiting to be summoned to Montana to shoot his scenes, he struck a deal with Lori's parents to muck stalls in exchange for a room and more lessons. Three months later, in September 1979, he left to do "Heaven's Gate." In November he and Lori were married. "Heaven's Gate" was a legendary disaster. But they've been together 25 years (which adds up to seven).

Now, with their two sons off at college, "I feel like we're back to how we were when we first got together," O'Quinn says. On Oahu, they rent a house in the hills "with live boar outside our window and cocks crowing in the morning. It's paradise."

On the most recent "Lost," Locke declared that "Everyone gets a new life on this island." And that maybe includes the actor who plays him, a long-familiar face who might at last be a star.

"It would be nice to think about more doors opening, to be able to pick and choose roles," O'Quinn freely admits. "But I'm not anxious to go anywhere else right now. I could do this for a while."

By his reckoning, at least seven years should be a Locke.

Lost Official - http://abc.go.com/primetime/lost

Julian McMahon Returns To Charmed

Julian McMahon

San Francisco February 24, 2005 (Sci Fi Wire) - Julian McMahon, who will reprise the role of Cole in an upcoming episode of The WB's Charmed, told SCI FI Wire that his reappearance bookends his involvement with the show.

"I loved working on the show," McMahon (Fantastic Four) said in an interview at WonderCon in San Francisco last weekend. "And I love playing that character. And the show and the show runners and that character really kind of gave me a lot as far as an actor is concerned. And I feel like where I'm at now is really attributed to what they allowed me to do on Charmed. ... And so for me going [back] is a no-brainer."

McMahon returns as Cole Turner, the half-human/half-demon ex-husband of Phoebe Halliwell (Alyssa Milano). Though Cole died in an earlier episode, his spirit will meet Piper's (Holly Marie Combs) in the cosmic space between life and death, where he will help reunite her with Leo (Brian Krause), according to a report on TheCharmedOnes.com.

Since leaving Charmed, McMahon has gained fame as one of the stars of F/X's Nip/Tuck and will soon appear as the villainous Dr. Doom in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. But there is a certain symmetry to his guest appearance on the show where he first got noticed, he said.

"It's their 150th episode," he said. "I was killed in the 100th, and I come back in the 150th. I'll go back for the 200th if they have one. And if I was asked. But, you know, it was just ... a great character to play. It was great fun going back and [filling] those shoes again. It really was."

The 150th episode, "The Seven Year Witch," is slated to air in April. Charmed now airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on the WB.

[There is a rumor around the web that Julian McMahon is being considered for the part of James Bond in Casino Royale, which is the next announced Bond film. As much as I like McMahon in Nip/Tuck and Charmed, he has the wrong accent for Commander Bond. Hugh Jackman, on the other hand... Ed.]

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

Natalie Portman Kiss Enrages Orthodox Jews

Oscar nominee Natalie Portman films a
scene with Israeli actor Aki Avni at the
Western Wall. (Gil Cohen Magen/ Reuters)

JERUSALEM February 24, 2005 (AP) - Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jewish worshippers confronted Natalie Portman and her co-star, objecting to the couple kissing during the filming of a scene beside Jerusalem's Western Wall.

The incident Tuesday evening underlined the sensitivity of the site, a remnant of the biblical Jewish temples, the holiest place where Jews can pray.

The site is controlled by strictly observant Jews. Male and female worshippers are separated by a barrier perpendicular to the wall, following Orthodox Jewish rules forbidding casual contact between the sexes.

Police said they had to step in when worshippers spotted Portman and Israeli actor Aki Avni embracing and kissing as part of a scene for "Free Zone." The daily Yediot Ahronot said ultra-Orthodox Jews charged the couple, shouting, "Immoral, immoral!"

Police said they asked the actors to leave and return later, and they agreed.

The rabbi in charge of the site, Shmuel Rabinovitch, said that codes of conduct under religious and state law prohibit acting or romantic interaction near the wall. "That code was not followed," he said.

The Israeli-born Portman, 23, has been studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in recent months.

Battlestar Officially Renewed

Galactica confirmed (Sci Fi)

LOS ANGELES February 23, 2005 (Zap2it.com) Although regularly described in reviews as a science fiction show for people who hate science fiction, "Battlestar Galactica" is getting much love from the good people at the Sci Fi Channel. The NBC Universal Cable entity has ordered a second season of "Galactica," allowing the remake to already top the season run of its '70s predecessor.

Sci Fi has ordered 20 new episodes of "Galactica," with production set to begin in Vancouver in March. Fresh episodes should be ready to anchor Sci Fi's Friday lineup by the summer.

After premiering as a two-part miniseries in late 2003, "Battlestar Galactica" was launched as a 13-episode series which premiered in October of 2004 in England and in January 2005 on this side of the pond.

In addition to earning some of Sci Fi's best-ever reviews, the new "Galactica" has become the network's biggest hit, averaging more than 3 million viewers per episode. The "Galactica"-anchored Friday night, which also includes both members of the "Stargate" family, is a consistent ratings winner for Sci Fi.

Series stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer and Grace Park are signed on for the second season, as are executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick.

The original series, which featured Richard Hatch (a guest star on the update), Dirk Benedict and Lorne Greene, premiered in 1978 and lasted for a single 24-episode season.

[I don't know where Zap2it got that "a science fiction show for people who hate science fiction" bit? That's nonsense, but no surprise coming from a site that once championed genre shows and now devotes most of its space to "reality". Make no mistake, Battlestar Galactica is the best science fiction show on TV right now and it is a sci-fi fan's delight. Ed.]

Battlestar Galactica Official - http://www.scifi.com/battlestar

Dirty Harry goes Xbox? Think first
person shooter.

Dirty Harry - The Video Game?
By Chris Marlowe

LOS ANGELES February 24, 2005 (Hollywood Reporter) - Fans everywhere will be judging how lucky they feel now that Clint Eastwood is bringing the Dirty Harry franchise to video games.

Eastwood will lend his voice and likeness to reprise his internationally famous role of Inspector Harry Callahan. Even more significantly, the Academy Award winner is consulting on key creative aspects of the game design.

"This will be an opportunity to satisfy the many requests over the years to continue the Dirty Harry legacy, only now in the video game medium," Eastwood said. "Creating Dirty Harry video games will also introduce this memorable film character to new generations on a medium they appreciate."

Eastwood's Malpaso Prods. banner is partnering on the project with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which is overseeing development of what will be the first title in a game franchise.

The project is in an early stage, so no release date has been set. However, all of the franchise's titles will be for the imminent next generation of consoles such as Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox.

Cat People Star Simone Simon Dies

Simone Simon in the Val Lewton / Jacques
Tourneur 1943 classic "Cat People"

PARIS February 24, 2005 (AP) - French screen star Simone Simon, best known for her delicate beauty and lead role in the 1942 thriller "Cat People," has died. She was 93.

Simon, one of the few French starlets of her time to achieve success in Hollywood, died in the evening between Tuesday and Wednesday, her family said.

In Jacques Tourneur's "Cat People," Simon played a Serbian-born artist living in New York who is haunted by a fear that intimacy will prompt her to turn into a deadly panther. The film was remade in 1982 with Nastassja Kinski playing the lead.

"With Simone Simon, we have lost one the most seductive, most radiant actresses of French cinema in the first part of the 20th century," Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres said in a statement.

Born April 23, 1911, in the southern French city of Marseille, Simon started out as a model before becoming a stage actress, then turning to film.

With James Stewart in "Seventh

Her first major role came in 1938 in Jean Renoir's "La bete humaine" (The Human Beast), a movie adaptation of the novel by Emile Zola. She starred opposite legendary French actor Jean Gabin, famously telling him: "Don't look at me that way, you're going to wear out your eyes."

It was Darryl Zanuck, co-founder of 20th Century Fox, who took Simon to America and launched her career in Hollywood.

The actress starred in about a dozen Hollywood pictures through the 1940s, including two Robert Wise films from 1944, "The Curse of the Cat People," a sequel of Tourneur's film, and "Mademoiselle Fifi," based on Guy de Maupassant stories.

Back in France in the 1950s, Simon starred in "La Ronde" and "Le Plaisir," before returning to the stage.

She made her very last movie appearance in the 1973 film "La Femme en Bleu."

"Years have passed but have erased nothing of Simone Simon's charm," the culture minister said.

"We will keep in memory for a long time the trace of that indefinable something that made this very beautiful actress so endearing."

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