Urban Blight!
Green Diesel! Red Tide! Rulison!
Ransomware, Arctic Lakes,

Deadly Airbags & More!
Urban Blight: One Planet Many People

World Environment Day (WED)

United Nations Environment Programme News Release

San Francisco ~ London ~ Nairobi June 3, 2005 - The dramatic and, in some cases, damaging environmental changes sweeping planet Earth are brought into sharp focus in a new atlas launched to mark World Environment Day (WED).

Produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), One Planet Many People: Atlas of our Changing Environment compares and contrasts spectacular satellite images of the past few decades with contemporary ones, some of which have never been seen before.

The huge growth of greenhouses in southern Spain, the rapid rise of shrimp farming in Asia and Latin America and the emergence of a giant, shadow puppet-shaped peninsula at the mouth of the Yellow River are among a string of curious and surprising changes seen from space.

They sit beside the more conventional, but no less dramatic images of rain forest deforestation in Paraguay and Brazil, rapid oil and gas development in Wyoming, United States, forest fires across sub-Saharan Africa and the retreat of glaciers and ice in polar and mountain areas.

This year WED is hosted by San Francisco, California with the global theme of Green Cities—Plan for the Planet!

The atlas, produced in collaboration with organizations including the United States Geological Survey and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), highlights this theme showing the explosive growth and changes around some of the major cities of the world such as Beijing, Dhaka, Delhi and Santiago (see below).

Also covered are developed world cities including Las Vegas, the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States, and Miami. Miami’s spread westwards may endanger Florida’s famous everglades and their important wildlife and water supplies.

Specially commissioned images of Bucharest, London, Nairobi and San Francisco supplements One Planet Many People.

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: “ People living in San Francisco or London may look at these images of deforestation or melting Arctic ice, and wonder what it has to do with them. That these changes are the result of other people’s lifestyles and consumption habits hundreds and thousands of kilometers away. But they would be wrong.”

“Cities pull in huge amounts of resources including water, food, timber, metals and people. They export large amounts of wastes including household and industrial wastes, wastewater and the gases linked with global warming. Thus their impacts stretch beyond their physical borders affecting countries, regions and the planet as a whole,” he added.

“So the battle for sustainable development, for delivering a more environmentally stable, just and healthier world, is going to be largely won and lost in our cities,” said Mr. Toepfer.

“I thank San Francisco for being the WED 2005 host city in this 60th anniversary year of the United Nations and in this important year of reform. And I urge city dwellers everywhere, especially in developed countries, to help to do their bit to make their city more resource efficient and less resource wasteful for the sake of the local and for the sake of the global environment,” he added.

It is hoped that the atlas and its images will concentrate the minds of mayors coming to San Francisco for the week long WED celebrations. The mayors are set to agree on a series of “Environmental Accords” designed to promote more environmentally-friendly, resource efficient, cities.

One example of how space technology and its application has proven important is that of the Casey Trees Endowment Fund in the District of Columbia, United States. It was set up in 2001 following a generous donation by philanthropist Betty Brown Casey. Mrs. Casey was moved to action after seeing satellite images, published in 1999, showing the dramatic loss of trees in the District since the 1970s.

Researchers hope that One Planet Many People Atlas of Our Changing Environment will have a similar impact on governments, private business, non governmental organizations and the private individual by highlighting how globalization is driving local and regional change.

The publication “One Planet Many People: Atlas of our Changing Environment ” can be purchased at Earth Print http://www.earthprint.com/go.htm?to=DEW0657NA

Highlights from One Planet Many People Atlas of Our Changing Environment

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees has now led to
widespread deforestation as trees are felled for fuel, construction
materials and more crops. (NASA)


The impact of the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone on the environment of neighboring Guinea is highlighted in the story of Parrot’s Beak. In 1974 the area was well forested with the local villages and agricultural areas showing up as patches of light gray in a near continuous sea of green.

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees has now led to widespread deforestation as trees are felled for fuel, construction materials and more crops. This is clearly seen in the latest satellite image from 2002 with the green color in retreat and a gray landscape advancing in all directions.

The population growth around Lake Victoria, East Africa, is the highest in Africa as a result of the natural resources found there such as fish. The phenomenon is shown in a series of images from the 1960s to the present with the population rise charted as a rapid spreading area of red zones.

Of the surrounding countries, Kenya seems to have experienced the largest increase in people within 100km of the lake’s shoreline. The infestation of Lake Victoria by the invasive, alien weed known as water hyacinth is also spotlighted in a satellite image of 1995.

Large swathes of the weed, which can clog water intake pipes, affect shipping and fishing and act as a habitat for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, are clearly visible as green swirls in places like Uganda’s Gobero Bay, Wazimenya Bay and near the port of Kibanga.

However, the recent introduction of natural insect predators appears to be paying off. The latest satellite image of the Ugandan section of the lake shows that it is almost totally hyacinth-free.

African Cities

Nairobi, Kenya, has undergone dramatic growth since 1979. Its population at independence in 1963 was 350,000. Nairobi is now home to well over three million making it the largest African city between Johannesburg and Cairo.

The growth is clearly depicted in satellite images from 1979 and the present with the city sprawling to the new suburbs and slums north, east and west. The growth of development along the edge of Nairobi National Park and out to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is also underlined.

Asia Pacific and West Asia

The dramatic disappearance of what was once the world’s biggest date palm forest is highlighted. Along the Shatt al-Arab estuary in Iraq and Iran, there once stood up to 18 million palms or a fifth of the world’s date trees.

War, pests and the salting-up of the region as a result of dams and the desiccation of the Mesopotamian marshlands have now taken a heavy toll. Satellite images indicate that more than 14 million trees, or 80 per cent of what were there in the 1970s, have gone. The date trade from the Shatt al-Arab was once second only to oil. The livelihoods of millions of people dependent on dates for food and income are in ruin.

The OK Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea has had a controversial history. Annually the 20 year-old mine, sited in the rain-forested Star Mountains of the country’s western province, discharges 70 million tons of waste. This has spread 1,000km down the OK Tedi and Fly rivers.

Satellite images, taken in 1990 and last year, clearly show changes to the width of a nearby tributary, the OK Mani river, which has now become the primary recipient of the mud, sludge and other wastes. The wastes have raised the height of local riverbeds triggering more frequent flooding, damaged forests and the area’s rich biodiversity.

Mexico City in 1973 and 2000 (UNEP)

The Huang He or Yellow River is the world’s muddiest. It brings huge amounts of sediments, mainly mica, quartz and feldspar, from areas such as the plateaus of north-central China. A quite remarkable change in the mouth of the river is now seen from space when compared with an image from May 1979. Here a giant animal-like head has formed, stretching out into the Bohai Sea, as a result of sedimentation from the interior.

The drying up of Lake Balkash, Kazakhstan, is graphically illustrated from space. Asia’s second largest lake after the Aral Sea, Balkash is crucial for supply water to farmers, towns and cities and industry. It also supports an important fishery. But excessive water use is causing the lake to dry up and it may disappear altogether unless the trend is reversed. The atlas shows the drying out round the lake’s edges and the rapid disappearance of two smaller, neighboring lakes to the southeast.

The Wadi As-Sirhan region of Saudi Arabia was once so barren and dry that it could barely support the towns of Al’Isawiyah and Tubarjal. Seen from space, the area is now a series of curious green dots set against the desert background. It is a result of a method of high-tech irrigation known as center-pivot-irrigation, which was introduced in the early 1990s. The farms are tapping into ancient, up to 20,000 year-old, underground water supplies.

Satellite images from 1973 to the present day reveal just how bad the situation in the Dead Sea has become. Both Israel (Europe) and Jordan draw off water from rivers entering the sea and there have been extensive development of evaporation ponds for salt production. Other developments, including water impoundment projects and land reclamation schemes, are taking their toll. As a result, it is estimated that water levels in the Dead Sea are dropping by about one meter a year.

The images not only chronicle the huge expansion of evaporation ponds in the southern section of the sea, but also the rapid exposure of arid land around the coastline. Levels have fallen so much that the southern section is becoming a lake after now being almost cut off from the rest of the sea.

Asia Pacific Cities

It may come as no surprise that Beijing, China’s capital city, has undergone tremendous growth since the start of economic reforms in 1979. Its population now numbers some 13 million. The satellite images underline just how tremendous this has been with Beijing mushrooming from a small central area to one that has turned towns some distance away, such as Ginghe and Fengtai, into suburbs. The expansion is seen to have also gobbled up the deciduous forests to the west and the rice, winter wheat and vegetable plots that once surrounded the city.

A similar, huge expansion is seen for Delhi, India’s capital. In 1975, the city had a population of 4.4 million or 3.3 per cent of India’s urban population. By 2000, the city had well over 12 million inhabitants. By 2010, it is set to rise to nearly 21 million. The latest satellite images show Delhi’s growth concentrated in the suburbs of Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon.

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has grown from a city of 2.5 million in the early 1970s to one with more than 10 million. The images chart the spread of urbanization north into Tonji and towards Turag.

Sydney is Australia’s largest city with over four million inhabitants. Its growth is seen spreading west towards the Blue Mountains. The urbanization is leading to more and more homes being built in the bush making them vulnerable to summer fires.

Las Vegas in 1973 and 2000 (UNEP)

West Asia Cities

The rapid expansion of Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, since 1972 is starkly portrayed.

Over the past 30 years it has grown from 500,000 people to more than two million as a result of migration from urban areas, a decrease in death rates and high birth rates.

The growth has been made possible by Saudi Arabia’s big investments in desalination plants that extract drinking water from seawater.

Seen as small dark and red patch in 1972, the latest satellite image shows a grid-like network of blue lines that are roads and a more than trebling of the urban area.


The atlas focuses on the large, Romanian city of Copsa Mica, which is believed to be one of the sickliest in the world. The 1986 image shows very high level of air pollution (black). In the image of 2004, the air pollution level has substantially decreased – a positive change in the environment.

The Almeria region of southern Spain was once a typical rural agricultural area, satellite images from 1974 show. The latest image tells a different story showing how an area of around 20,000 hectares has been transformed into a vast glass-house for producing greenhouse crops. The development has important implications for Spanish water supplies with the government looking at technologies such as desalination plants.

The Ataturk Dam was built in Turkey on the Euphrates River in 1990. It generates 8.9 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, which is equivalent to over a fifth of the country’s anticipated needs in 2010. Its impact on the landscape, as seen from space, is dramatic. The flooded areas appear as a large jagged mass of black.

South of the dam, around the town of Harran, the landscape has become green as a result of irrigation schemes made possible by the dam.

Europe Cities

Within the European Union, London is the mostly densely packed city after Copenhagen, Brussels and Paris. It is also culturally rich with over 300 languages spoken and nearly a third of its over seven million residents from an ethnic minority.

The population is forecast to rise eight million in around 2020. Satellite images from 1976 and 2004 indicate that London’s shape and area has changed little in the past 30 years.

Bucharest, Romania, has undergone quite important changes over the last 30 years. In the late 1970s satellites reveal that it was a compact, well defined, city of some seven km in radius.

During the 1980s, during the Presidency of Nicolae Ceausecu, villages on the outskirts were dismantled to make way for expansion and centrally planned projects. Today, partly as a result of the re-privatization of land, people are moving out of the center into new suburbs.

Latin America

The massive growth of shrimp farming is brought into sharp focus by satellite images of the Gulf of Fonseca, Honduras. Honduras is second only to Ecuador in the cultivation and export of shrimp from Latin America. Over a period of 12 years, the images reveal how shrimp farms and ponds have mushroomed carpeting the landscape around the Gulf in blocks of blue and black shapes.

Enhanced satellite photos show the historical urban boundaries of Mexico City
in 1910, 1929, 1941, 1959 and 1970 (UNEP)

There are concerns that the shrimp farms are causing significant environmental problems. Mangroves, natural coastal defenses and nurseries for wild-living fish, have been cleared to make way for farms. The shrimp farms are also linked with pollution and damage to the Gulf’s ecosystems. This is as a result of indiscriminate capture of marine-life during the collection of shrimp larvae to re-stock ponds.

Similar images emerge from the Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Between 1984 and 2000, shrimp aquaculture grew by around 30 per cent to cover 118,000 hectares. Around 70 per cent of Ecuador’s shrimp farms are located in and around the Gulf of Guayaquil.

The border between Mexico and Guatemala was once biologically diverse. On the Guatemalan side, partly as a result of relatively low populations and the protected status of the Sierra de Lacondon and Laguna del Tigre National Parks, the closed forest canopy remains pretty intact. But on the Mexican side the atlas tells a different story. Between 1974 and now, huge swathes of the Chiapas forest have disappeared as a result of a rapidly growing population in need of croplands and pasture.

A similar story emerges from the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay from two astonishing images separated by just 30 years. In 1973, the unique Paranaense tropical rain forest was largely intact. A satellite image from 2003 confirms the loss of over 90 per cent of the forest to agriculture, mainly soybeans and corn.

Most of the loss, seen as a mosaic of colors, is on the Paraguayan and Brazilian borders with far less lost in Argentina reflecting different land use priorities by the countries concerned.

A government worker sprays insecticide on a
garbage dump as greater adjutant storks, one
of the endangered birds, fly overhead in Gauhati,
India, Sunday, June 5, 2005. (AP Photo/
Anupam Nath)

Latin American Cities

Mexico City is one of the fastest growing in the world, as the satellite images clearly show. In 1973 it had a population of about nine million rising to 14 million in 1986 and almost 18 million in 1999. The population now is likely to be over 20 million.

The city and its infrastructure, shown as gray, can be seen sweeping and sprawling in all directions causing significant deforestation in the mountains west and south.

Similar images reflect the doubling of the population to five million in Santiago, Chile.

North America

The rapid development of Canada’s first diamond mine, located in the Northwestern Territories, is clearly seen from space. Only a tiny airstrip is seen in the pre-mining image of 1991. Today the Ekati Mine site, including roads and other infrastructure, is clearly visible as a large spreading area of white. Wildlife officials are radio-tracking caribou herds, which range in size from 350,00 to a million animals, in order to gauge if the mining activities are affecting their behavior.

The impact of logging on the temperate forests of British Columbia, Canada is also clearly visible by satellites. The landscape around Great Beaver, Carp and McLeod lakes switches from a reasonably pristine one in 1975 to what is now a brown patchwork quilt due to accelerated logging.

A massive development of oil and gas wells in the Upper Green River, Wyoming, United States, is visible from space. In 1989 the area, which is home to large herds of migrating pronghorn antelope and mule deer, is seen as a relatively undisturbed landscape.

An image from 2004 tells a different story highlighting the emergence of some 3,000 wells. According to the Bureau of Land Management, the rate of well establishment exceeds its development plan by 300 per cent.

North America Cities

San Francisco from space

San Francisco, as seen from space, is a densely populated city with 15,000 people per square mile. It is the second most densely populated area in the United States after New York, which has 24,000 people per square mile.

One of the most striking features of satellite images of San Francisco is the preservation of its urban forests over the past 30 years.

The growth of Las Vegas, set in the Nevada desert, has been spectacular since the early 1970s. In the 1950s it was home to just over 24,000 people. Today, the population tops one million, not including tourists, and may double by 2015. The images reveal how the city has spread in all directions displacing the few vegetated lands and replacing natural desert with housing and irrigated golf courses.

Lake Meade, formed by the Hoover Dam, dropped 18 meters from 2000 to 2003.

Despite the regions third worst drought in recent history, new golf courses continue to be developed.

The atlas chronicles the growth of the Fort Lauderdale-Miami area over the past 30 years clearly showing the conversion of farmland into cityscapes and the spread of Miami south and west towards the Everglades National Park.

The Everglades is not only home to important wildlife, such as the Florida panther. The Everglades filter groundwater and re-charge the Biscayne Aquifer. Part of the mission of the Federal “Smart Growth” Task Force is to try and better manage urban sprawl in the area in order protect the Everglades and the ecosystem services it provides.

More photos from the atlas can be viewed and downloaded at www.unep.org

Information on the day, logos, posters, fact sheets and ideas on how to celebrate WED can be found at www.unep.org/wed/2005

eXoNews Pix of the Week Dept.
Volcano of Fire!

Mexico's Volcano of Fire, also known as the Colima volcano, is seen in a time exposure photograph during an explosion as lava and hot rocks flow down its sides and lightning flashes over its crater late June 1, 2005. Villagers living in the shadow of Mexico's fiercest volcano, which this week fired its angriest blast in at least 15 years, shrug off the danger of lava and falling rocks with stoic fatalism. The 12,540-foot volcano spewed debris almost three miles into the sky since Monday, forcing emergency services to consider an evacuation of nearby poor villages. The photograph was taken with a four minute exposure.  (REUTERS/ Eduardo Quiros)

Green Diesel

University of Wisconsin-Madison News Release

MADISON June 2, 2005 - University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering researchers have discovered a new way to make a diesel-like liquid fuel from carbohydrates commonly found in plants.

Reporting in the June 3 issue of the Journal Science, Steenbock Professor James Dumesic and colleagues detail a four-phase catalytic reactor in which corn and other biomass-derived carbohydrates can be converted to sulfur-free liquid alkanes resulting in an ideal additive for diesel transportation fuel. Co-researchers include chemical and biological engineering graduate students George Huber, Juben Chheda and Chris Barrett.

"It's a very efficient process," says Huber. "The fuel produced contains 90 percent of the energy found in the carbohydrate and hydrogen feed. If you look at a carbohydrate source such as corn, our new process has the potential to create twice the energy as is created in using corn to make ethanol."

About 67 percent of the energy required to make ethanol is consumed in fermenting and distilling corn. As a result, ethanol production creates 1.1 units of energy for every unit of energy consumed. In the UW-Madison process, the desired alkanes spontaneously separate from water. No additional heating or distillation is required. The result is the creation of 2.2 units of energy for every unit of energy consumed in energy production.

"The fuel we're making stores a considerable amount of hydrogen," says Dumesic. "Each molecule of hydrogen is used to convert each carbon atom in the carbohydrate reactant to an alkane. It's a very high yield. We don't lose a lot of carbon. The carbon acts as an effective energy carrier for transportation vehicles. It's not unlike the way our own bodies use carbohydrates to store energy."

About 75 percent of the dry weight of herbaceous and woody biomass is comprised of carbohydrates. Because the UW-Madison process works with a range of carbohydrates, a wide range of plants, and more parts of the plant, can be consumed to make fuel.

"The current delivered cost of biomass is comparable or even cheaper than petroleum-based feedstock on an energy basis," Huber says.

"This is one step in figuring out how to efficiently use our biomass resources."

University of Wisconsin-Madison - http://www.wisc.edu

Herring Museum Stinks!

A plate of herring. (AFP)

STOCKHOLM June 3, 2005 (AFP) - A new museum dedicated to the smelly Swedish delicacy of fermented Baltic herring opens its doors this weekend in northern Sweden, giving visitors a unique and, well, interesting, olfactory experience.

Fermented Baltic herring, or surstroemming as it is called in Swedish, is known for its pungent, some say dreadful, odor and is a specialty from the northern part of the Scandinavian country.

"This is the only place in the world where herring is eaten this way. We want to show off our culture," Sten Bylin, the project leader for the Surstroemming Museum, tells AFP as the finishing touches are put on the exhibit.

The museum opens on Saturday in Skeppsmaln, a small fishing village just north of the northern town of Oernskoeldsvik, and gives visitors a historical, cultural and culinary overview of the dish as well as an opportunity to taste it -- if they dare. Traditionally eaten in August, even lovers of the dish recommend that the tins be opened outdoors...

But only a fraction of Swedes claim to actually enjoy it. So why dedicate an entire museum to the dish?

"Because this is part of our culture up here in the north. It's unique to eat herring this way. And there's a whole culture and history surrounding it," Bylin says.

Visitors to this small, cozy shrine to herring, built in the shape of a boat, will learn that the dish originated back in the 15th century, when fish was traditionally preserved in salt. The story goes that a cook failed to use enough salt one day. The fish began to ferment, and a new tradition was born.

The museum describes the process by which surstroemming is made.

The herring is caught in late spring, then placed in a salt mixture in wooden barrels for several days. It is then moved into the sun, which shines almost around the clock this far north in summer, for a few months to ferment. After that it is shipped to stores in small tins. It's only sold in shops as of the third Thursday in August -- in order to allow for the proper fermentation period -- and is usually served with boiled new potatoes and sides of onions, sour cream and tomatoes, all washed down with aquavit or beer.

For sceptics, the museum offers a "sniffing box" where the lift of a cork gives you a whiff. For the brave, the museum restaurant will whip up your very own portion. And if you're feeling a little uncertain about how to proceed once the waitress has brought you your food, a movie will tell you what to do. Once that's settled, all you have to do is pick a drinking song from the jukebox to accompany your shot of aquavit, or "snaps" as Swedes would say, and you're ready to go.

While those who dislike the dish say it smells putrid and rank, fans of the stuff wax lyrical. In other words, you either love it or hate it.

"I think it's delicious! When the tin is opened you get almost hysterical! You just want to start eating it right away. Something strange and psychological happens," gushes Bylin.

The museum will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about herring. For example, at the entrance is a large black barrel into which visitors are encouraged to lower their heads to hear how the herring communicate with each other. (Answer? They fart.) Bylin, who is also a parish vicar, said he was excited about giving tourists a reason to stop in the town, until now usually only known by Swedes for its spot on the radio's daily shipping news.

"We are hoping to have at least 10,000 visitors a year. And there has been some interest from abroad" for the museum which has been in the planning since 1982. There's been some interest from Germans, Russians, Finns and even some French people," he said.

Red Tide!

By Jay Lindsay
Associated Press

BOSTON June 3, 2005 (AP) — One of New England's worst "red tides" in decades continued its southward expansion this week, rounding Cape Cod and forcing the closure of some of the region's most prolific shellfish beds.

The toxic algae bloom began in the waters off Maine last month and spread quickly. It had already shut down shellfish beds as far north as New Hampshire. On Thursday, Massachusetts officials closed the highly productive flats of the Monomoy Natural Wildlife Refuge, off Chatham, to shellfishermen. About half the state's shellfish beds are now closed.

For the first time ever, the red tide also traveled through the Cape Cod Canal into Buzzards Bay, but it's unlikely to have any impact on summer beachgoers on the Cape and elsewhere, experts said.

Still, it's the worst red tide to hit Massachusetts since 1972, when the state enacted a blanket closure of all shellfish beds, said Don Anderson, a red tide expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

And this year's red tide shows little sign of abating, said state shellfish biologist Michael Hickey.

"It's spreading," he said.

The algae that causes red tides off New England's coast is not the same as that growing in the waters off southern states like Florida, causing noxious fumes, shutting down beaches and poisoning sea life.

Scientists say the northern algae contaminates only shellfish, making them unsafe for animals and humans to eat. Swimmers, fish, and popular sea foods such as lobster or shrimp are unaffected, as are scallops because people don't eat the part that absorbs the poison.

Anderson said shellfish that reaches the market is safe because testing standards are so rigorous. But retailers and shellfishermen say prices could rise if local beds are shut down much longer and the state's shellfish industry, with an annual wholesale value of about $24 million, sees its catch drop.

Rob McClellan, a Wellfleet seafood retailer who also raises quahogs and oysters, said many shellfishermen are fine for now because they dug up the bulk of their catch for the Memorial Day holiday. But if new clams reach market size while the red tide keeps clam flats closed, businesses will take a hit, he said.

"If it does drag on four to six weeks, that's going to hurt," McClellan said.

Terry Cellucci, owner of J.T. Farnham's Seafood & Grill in Essex, said this may be the first time the red tide has lasted long enough to affect business. Already, publicity about the red tide has dampened demand for clams, and that's kept prices down.

But with Fourth of July weekend the busiest time of the year, she anticipates a major price hike over the next month. In the meantime, she's telling customers that her clams, which come from Maine, are safe.

"You have to verbally reassure them," she said.

The toxic algae, called Alexandrium, is called red tide because it colors the water a rusty color at extremely high concentrations, Anderson said. Each year, a bloom of the algae moves from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Ann, off Boston's North Shore. Usually, the wind isn't right to push it into westward into Massachusetts Bay, but this year, strong east and northeast winds, including from two May nor'easters, blew in a particularly heavy algae bloom, and it flourished in the bay's warmer waters.

The number of Alexandrium cells is about 100 to 200 in a typical liter of water, but on Saturday, cell counts of 40,000 were found near Cohasset and Sandwich. The state closes shellfish beds when it hits 1,000.

"It's pretty amazing. Astounding is probably a good word," said Hickey.

The bad news is it may not be confined to the current outbreak. Recent sampling indicates some of the algae were transforming into armored cysts that drop to the ocean floor and act like seeds for future red tide blooms. In addition, a second, particularly toxic bloom is now headed south from Maine. If weather and water conditions are right, the state could take another hit soon, Anderson said.

"I'm sure (the algae cells) are coming down here," he said. "It's just a matter of whether they're in the right place at the right time."

The Man Who Invented the Instant Noodle

Momofuku Ando, founder of Japan's Nissin Food
Products Co., stands beside packets of the company's
historic first bag of chicken ramen which was
introduced in 1958 as the first instant noodle.
(AFP / Kazuhiro Nogi)

TOKYO June 2, 2005 (AFP) - Momofuku Ando, the man credited with inventing instant noodles, will bow out of the business frontline at age 95 after seeing his cups of quick, hot and inexpensive meals sweep the world.

The entrepreneur who entered the food business when Japan was hungry after World War II lived to watch his invention stocked on the shelves of omnipresent convenience stores and become an international favorite for people on the go.

Ando, who remains in excellent health and comes to the office every day, will resign as chairman and representative director at Nissin Food Products Co Ltd on June 29 at his own request, said the company in the western city of Osaka.

The business tycoon, born in 1910, founded the predecessor to Nissin Food Products in 1948 and invented the world's first instant noodle, Chicken Ramen noodles sold in bags, in 1958.

He launched the cupped version in 1971. As "Cup Noodles" have swept the world -- and been widely replicated -- the Nissin group now boasts annual sales exceeding 300 billion yen (2.7 billion dollars).

"I am 95 years old. I have lived for nearly a century," Ando said in a statement on his resignation, noting he sometimes "bothered other people" or got "tossed about by the waves of the time" before and after World War II.

"I decided to devote myself to the food business when I saw people starving to death amid a post-war food shortage. I was sure the world could be peaceful only after having enough food.

"I invented instant noodles ... because I could imagine how happy people would be if I delivered to households Ramen they can eat any time, anywhere and safely. It was as simple as that," he said.

Ando added he wanted to pass the baton to younger management while he was fine.

The resignation does not mean he will retire, though.

"The company accepted his resignation as he was firmly determined. But he agreed to hold a newly created post of 'founding chairman' and keep advising the company from a broad perspective," a spokesman said.

Ando will continue to head the foundation he established to promote sports and food culture for children.

"Countless people took care of me and helped me in my long life and many people love instant noodles and incorporated them in their life. I want to repay their kindness from now on," he said.

A cheerful Ando received high-profile guests including former prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and Osaka Governor Fusae Ota when he unveiled his refurbished Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka last November.

The museum, originally opened in November 1999, displays the pedigree of Nissin instant noodles and actual packages.

His culinary contributions to the world led him to be made an honorary citizen of Los Angeles in 1981 and be decorated by the governments of Brazil in 1983 and Thailand in 2001.

Drilling at Rulison

Demonstrators protest atomic testing
near Grand Junction, Colorado, in
1969. (Museum of Western Colorado)

Associated Press Writer

DENVER June 4, 2005 (AP) - A company says it plans to drill for natural gas near the site of an underground nuclear blast nearly four decades ago, despite opposition from local residents and the concerns of Energy Department officials.

Presco Inc., based in the Houston area, had received permission from county commissioners to drill one well inside a state-imposed buffer zone around Project Rulison in western Colorado.

Project Rulison was part of a federal project to explore peaceful uses for nuclear devices. The Atomic Energy Commission detonated a 43-kiloton bomb at the site in 1969 to free gas below the surface.

But local officials withdrew their support of Presco's drilling project this week after learning that Presco planned to drill four wells inside the buffer zone.

That decision prompted the state agency that issues drilling permits to cancel plans to consider a rule change that would have allowed the company to drill inside the buffer zone if the bottom of the well is outside the prohibited area.

In the 1967 GASBUGGY experiment
as part of Project Plowshare, a
nuclear explosive was lowered down
a 4000-foot hole and detonated in a
sandstone formation in New Mexico
to increase natural gas production.
Gasbuggy, along with the Rulison
and Rio Blanco gas stimulation events
were the subject of a 1973 piece in the
NY Times Magazine. (LLNL)

Tresi Haupt, the only commissioner who opposed allowing the company one well in the buffer zone, said she believes there should be no drilling inside the zone until the Department of Energy determines it is safe.

"I don't understand why they feel the need to drill in this location until everyone has cleared it," she said.

The state has asked Presco to revise its application or submit a new one because of the county's concerns, Beaver said. The commission then will schedule a hearing on the concerns of officials and residents.

"Our intent is to develop the area to the extent that it's safe and reasonable to do so," said Dave Wheeler, Presco executive vice president.

The DOE expects to complete a study by the fall of 2007 examining whether radioactive gas or other material is spreading underground. Pete Sanders, the agency's manager of the site, said that while the DOE can provide that data, the state decides whether or not to permit drilling.

Still, "we would be more comfortable if drilling didn't take place until we're done with our study," he said.

After the 1969 nuclear blast, the gas was considered too radioactive to be sold commercially. The Department of Energy — the Atomic Energy Commission's successor — began deactivating and cleaning the surface of the site in the 1970s, finishing in 1998.

Monitoring has not found any increase in radioactivity in surface or groundwater above normally occurring levels, a DOE report released in January found. Sanders, the site manager, said officials must determine whether radioactivity is spreading underground.

Garfield County, which is experiencing a boom in natural gas drilling, projected that allowing Presco to operate the one well inside the buffer zone would have provided some of that information.

"No one realized they were talking about four wells," said county administrator Ed Green.

More info on Project Plowshare and related nuclear experimentation - http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A685109

Driving Music?
University of Southern California News Release

June 3, 2005 - A new University of Southern California computer system lets a user "drive" a piece of music, using a wheel and foot controls. The Expression Synthesis Project (ESP) interface, devised by a team led by Elaine Chew of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, could be in the hands of consumers within two years.

Chew presented ESP May 28 at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) 2005 conference at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

The image shows the controller (left), and the road (right).

Chew, an assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, is also pianist performing a schedule of concert appearances in addition to her work at the Viterbi School's Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She says ESP "allows everyone a chance to experience what it's like to perform. It lets them appreciate the decisions made by a musician in interpreting the music."

ESP "attempts to provide a driving interface for musical expression," according to Chew's published description. "The premise of ESP is that driving serves as an effective metaphor for expressive music performance. Not everyone can play an instrument but almost anyone can drive a car. By using a familiar interface, ESP aims to provide a compelling metaphor for expressive performance so as to make high-level expressive decisions accessible to non-experts."

Created by Chew, Alexandre R.J. François, a research professor in the Viterbi School, and graduate students Jie Liu and Aaron Yang, ESP starts with a piece of music the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) format, one that has been converted from the printed score. MIDI is the standard control language for driving musical synthesizers or other devices. François' Software Framework Architecture for Immersipresence and Modular Flow Scheduling Middleware, devised in 2001, is an important enabling element in the design of the system.

The score used as the test case in the development of ESP is the Hungarian Dance No. 5 in G-minor by Johannes Brahms. The piece was selected because it contains numerous moments of extreme speed ups and slow downs. To guide the musical performance, Chew and her colleagues used information from the score to create a "road" that corresponds to the structure of the piece. This is necessary, says Chew, because crucial cues from the score and its analysis, necessary for an informed performance, are not captured in the MIDI file.

The group is building tools to automate the process of creating such roads, applying artificial intelligence techniques to the analysis of the score. "Having the road build itself will be the most difficult part," says François.

The road's turns suggest to the driver when to slow down and speed up. however, the ultimate decision on what to do at each turn is entirely in the driver's hands (or foot). The foot pedals control both the tempo and the volume of the music. Additionally, buttons mounted on the wheel (see photo) act as the equivalent of the pedals on the piano, making the notes either sustain or cut off crisply.

Chew has carried on the ESP research at the Viterbi School's Integrated Media Systems Center, where she is Research Director for Human Performance Engineering. She is the winner of an Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation.

She hopes ESP will open new doors into music for non-musicians, a chance "to try making and evaluating musical decisions themselves, to see what it's like to perform."

Video demonstration at:  http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~mucoaco/ESP/ESP_20050509_360x240.mpg

University of Southern California - http://www.usc.edu

The Ransomware Virus!

Criminals have designed a virus that
encrypts documents stored on a PC
until the owner pays a ransom to
unlock them...

New Scientist News Release

June 1, 2005 - Extortion, one of the oldest crimes in the book, has taken on an alarming technological twist. The FBI is warning that computer-savvy criminals have designed a virus that encrypts documents stored on a PC until the owner pays a ransom to unlock them. While the virus has so far only used weak encryption that is easily overcome, the fear is that it could be made tougher and start demanding large sums of money.

The virus searches a victim's hard drive and encrypts any text-based documents it finds there. The existing version then displays a ransom note that demands $200 for supplying the software that will decode the encrypted data so that it can be read again.

The novel attack exploits encryption technology originally designed to protect data, not kidnap it. To add insult to injury, it stores the kidnapped data in front of the victim's eyes, on their own personal computer.

The virus was discovered last week by the web-filtering company Websense of San Diego, California, when one of its clients' computers became infected. The malicious code is designed to take advantage of a vulnerability in the victim's web browser to download itself onto their hard drive.

Despite having the filename Pgpcoder, the virus does not use the popular and highly secure encryption algorithm, Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). The name may have been designed to hide the true nature of the file or perhaps to besmirch PGP's good name with the digerati.

Once Pgpcoder has infected a computer, it searches the victim's hard drive for 15 common file types to encode, including Word, Excel and html files. A message then appears demanding money for the decoder.

"It's just another version of extortion," says Dan Hubbard, director of security and defense at Websense. He would not reveal any details of the FBI investigation into what he calls "ransomware", but did point out that a rather obvious weakness in the attack is that the ransom includes a contact email address and an electronic cash account number, both of which could be traced.

"This is the only case so far," Hubbard says, and the encryption algorithm it used was not very sophisticated. By reverse engineering the algorithm, Joe Stewart, a computer security consultant with Chicago-based IT firm Lurhq, was able to write a decoder that allowed the encrypted data to be recovered. The danger now is that the virus writers might turn to using strong military-grade encryption systems instead.

"That would make it impossible to decrypt the files," Stewart says, leaving people with little option but to pay up.

The best defense against such attacks is to buy antivirus software and keep it up to date, and ensure that the latest operating system and browser security patches are installed. And with webmail services like Gmail offering 2 gigabytes of free storage, it doesn't hurt to back up precious documents elsewhere.

This is not the first time "malware" has been written to extort cash. Criminals have tried- and in some cases succeeded- in blackmailing internet betting firms by threatening to bring down their websites with a so-called distributed denial of service attack.

The new virus differs in that it targets individual users. Criminals are increasingly turning to malware to make money, Stewart says. One recent instance he quotes is a worm called Myfip, which targets a company's product designs and emails them to product counterfeiters in China.

This article appears in New Scientist Magazine Issue: 4 June 2005

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

Arctic Lakes Disappearing!

Photo by Karen Frey UCLA

University of Alaska Fairbanks News Release

June 3, 2005 - Continued arctic warming may be causing a decrease in the number and size of Arctic lakes. The issue is the subject of a paper published in the June 3 issue of the journal "Science." The paper, titled, “Disappearing Arctic Lakes" is the result of a comparison of satellite data taken of Siberia in the early 1970s to data from 1997-2004.

Researchers, including Larry Hinzman with the Water and Environmental Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, tracked changes of more than 10,000 large lakes over 200,000 square miles.

“This is the first paper that demonstrates that the changes we are seeing in Alaskan lakes in response to a warming climate is also occurring in Siberia,” said Hinzman, who has also compared satellite data of tundra ponds on the Seward Peninsula near Council, Alaska and found that the surface pond area there had decreased over the last 50 years.

In this latest study, comparing data from 1973 with findings from 1997-98, the total number of large lakes decreased by around 11 percent. While many did not disappear completely they shrank significantly. The overall loss of lake surface area was a loss of approximately 6 percent. In addition, 125 lakes vanished completely and are now re-vegetated.

Laurence Smith, an associate professor of geography at the University of California Los Angeles, is the article's lead author. Smith and his co-authors were surprised by the overall loss in surface water.

“We were expecting the lake area to have grown with climate change,” said Smith. “And while it did do so in the north where the permafrost remains intact, lake area did not increase in the south where permafrost is warming.”

In permafrost regions, summer thaw produces meltwater, which is typically unable to infiltrate into the ground because of the ice-rich frozen soils found in permafrost. Data gathered from the latest measurements indicate that warming temperatures lead to increased numbers of surface water bodies in the colder permafrost regions.

Many lakes decreased in size or dried up completely, while other lakes actually increased in size. Researchers say as the climate warms, additional meltwater accumulated in the lakes located in the colder regions of thicker permafrost increase their size; however, if climate warming continues, even those lakes would eventually be susceptible to loss.

“We expect areas of continuous permafrost to continue to thin and move steadily northward, resulting in the disappearance of more lakes,” said Smith.

In regions with thin or discontinuous permafrost, surface soils also become drier as the permafrost degrades.

“The changing lakes are a consistent, measurable indication of the overall changes to hydrology in the Arctic,” said Hinzman. “The loss of surface water will inevitably impact local ecosystems, which will have a cascading effect. Changes could include loss of migratory bird habitat resulting in an effect on subsistence activities as well as changes to local and regional atmospheric conditions, including more localized wind and more frequent and more severe wildland fires.”

Co-authors include Yongwei Sheng, an assistant professor of environmental science and forestry at State University of New York, and Glen MacDonald, chair of UCLA's geography department. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation. Researchers will discuss their findings this week at the Spring 2005 Freshwater Initiative All-Hands Meeting at Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Wash.

University of Alaska Fairbanks - http://www.uaf.edu

Deadly Airbags!
University of Georgia News Release
By Philip Lee Williams

Athens GA June 1, 2005 – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that airbags installed in automobiles have saved some 10,000 lives as of January 2004. A just-released study by a statistician at the University of Georgia, however, casts doubt on that assertion.

In fact, said UGA statistics professor Mary C. Meyer, a new analysis of existing data indicates that, controlling for other factors, airbags are actually associated with slightly increased probability of death in accidents.

“NHTSA recorded 238 deaths due to airbags between 1990 and 2002, according to information about these deaths on their Web site,” said Meyer. “They all occurred at very low speeds, with injuries that could not have been caused by anything else. But is it reasonable to conclude that airbags cause death only at very low speeds? It seems more likely that they also cause deaths at high speeds, but these are attributed to the crash.

“For any given crash at high speed, we can’t know what would have happened if there had been no airbag; however, statistical models allow us to look at patterns in the data, and compare risks in populations, in a variety of situations.”

The study was published this week in the magazine Chance.

The new analysis directly contradicts earlier studies about the effectiveness of airbags, which have been required for drivers and front-seat passengers in all cars since the 1998 model year in the United States.

While the value of airbags seems dubious in the new study, the value of seatbelts is not. The analysis found that proper use of a seatbelt reduces the odds of death by 67 percent for any given speed category and airbag availability. Airbags, however, cause no statistical difference in car-crash deaths, except for unseatbelted occupants at low speeds, where the odds of death are estimated to be more than four times higher with an airbag than without.

It has been known for some time that airbags pose special risks to children and small women. Auto manuals routinely say young children, especially those in car seats, should not be put in front seats where they might be injured or killed by an inflating airbag.

The reason earlier studies have found that airbags save lives is that they used only a special subset of the available data, said Meyer. The Fatality Analysis and Reporting System (FARS) is a high-quality compilation of information about every highway accident for which a death occurred. The Crashworthiness Data System (CDS) is another high-quality dataset, containing random samples of all accidents. The previous studies used FARS, and Meyer’s study used CDS.

“When we look at the random sample of all accidents, we find that airbags are associated with increased risk of death,” she said, “and this increase is due to more deaths with airbags in low-speed crashes and no seatbelts. However, if we limit the dataset to include only collisions in which a fatality occurred, we get a significantly reduced risk of death due to airbags.”

By way of analogy, the Meyer explained it this way:

“If you look at people who have some types of cancer, you will see that those who get radiation treatment have a better chance of surviving than those who don’t.

"However, radiation is inherently dangerous and could actually cause cancer. If you give everyone radiation treatments, whether they have cancer or not, you will probably find an increased risk of death in the general population.

“Making everyone have airbags and then verifying the effectiveness using only fatal crashes in FARS is like making everyone get radiation and then estimating the lives saved by looking only at people who have cancer.

"Overall, there will be more deaths if everyone is given radiation, but in the cancer subset, radiation will be effective.”

The new study directly contradicts assertions about airbag safety on the NHTSA Web site, said Meyer. The correct analysis is important to obtain now, because in only a few years, there will be virtually no cars on the road without airbags.

“We are confident that our analyses better reflect the actual effectiveness of airbags in the general population [than earlier studies],” said Meyer. “The evidence shows that airbags do more harm than good.”

University of Georgia - http://www.uga.edu

Genre News: 2005 SPACEY and Saturn Awards, Serenity, Triangle, Cirroc Lofton, Harlan Ellison & More!

Favourite Limited TV Series - Battlestar
Galactica (Sci Fi)
2005 SPACEYs Versus 2005 Saturns
By FLAtRich

Canada June 5, 2005 (eXoNews) - Few surprises among the results of this year's third annual SPACEY AWARDS but that was a good thing because most of the viewers' choice awards and the non-viewer awards were well-deserved.

I was surprised that Andromeda didn't pick up a goodbye nod from fans for Best Canadian Series after its final season (Stargate SG-1 won this SPACEY category again - it always does.) Enterprise got one of those, less deserved. And I was rather shocked that the latest Harry Potter sequel won best movie. Zeus save us from any more Harry Potter anything!

On the other hand, only one of my personal viewers' choice picks won (Battlestar Galactica) and competition was fair with all that yummy sci fi and fantasy stuff out there.

Here are the 2005 SPACEY Viewers Choice Winners:

Favourite TV Series - Enterprise

Favourite Canadian TV Series - Stargate SG-1

Favourite TV Series - Enterprise (Paramount)

Favourite Limited TV Series - Battlestar Galactica

Favourite Male TV Character - Jack ONeill (Richard Dean Anderson on SG-1)

Favourite Female TV Character - T'Pol (Jolene Blalock on Enterprise)

Favourite Movie Villain - Doc Ock (Alfred Molina in Spider-Man 2)

Favourite Movie Hero - Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2)

Favourite Video Game - Halo 2 (Microsoft)

Favourite Movie - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I'm not sure who votes in the main block of SPACEYs below. The SPACE web site is one of those Flash-driven things with few particulars, but the results were certainly OK with me. As a fan of 1930s style sci fi, I was particularly pleased that Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow finally got some recognition.

Best Sci-Fi movie to Sky Captain and The World
of Tomorrow (Paramount)

2005 SPACEY Award Highlights:

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie - Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow (Paramount)

Best Horror Movie - Shaun of The Dead (Rogue Pictures)

Best Comic Book Adaptation Movie - Spider-Man 2 (Columbia Tri-Star)

Best Animated Movie - The Incredibles (Disney/Pixar)

Best Movie SFX - Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow (Paramount)

Lifetime Achievement Award to
Marvel's Stan Lee (AP)

Best Movie Action Sequence - Spider-Man 2 (Columbia Tri-Star) - subway save

Special Achievement Award - Director George Romero (Dawn of the Dead)

Lifetime Achievement Award - Stan Lee (Marvel)

For more on the SPACE and the SPACEYs go to http://www.spacecast.com

The Canadian SPACEYs, as noted, are 50% fan awards. In comparison, the US-based Saturn Awards are presented by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, which is open to the public, so one might say the Saturns are 100% hard-core fan awards (you have to pay for membership, but it's cheap.)

The 31st Annual Saturns were announced in early May and here are the results for the TV Saturns:

Best Network Television Series: Lost

Claudia Black and Ben Browder (Farscape)

Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series: Stargate SG-1

Best Television Presentation: Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars

Best Actor on Television: Ben Browder (Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars)

Best Actress on Television: Claudia Black (Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars)

Best Supporting Actor on Television: Terry O'Quinn (Lost)

Best Supporting Actress on Television: Amanda Tapping (Stargate)

Not that I disagree with Claudia Black's award this year, of course, but why do the Saturns always label Amanda Tapping as a "supporting actress"? This is the second time she's won a "supporting" award when she should be getting Best Actress nominations as the lead actress on SG-1!

Best Supporting Actor to
Terry O'Quinn for Lost (AP)

In the film categories, Spider-Man 2 took five Saturn Awards including Best Fantasy Film, Best Actor (Tobey Maguire), Best Director (Sam Raimi), Best Writer (Alvin Sargent) and Best Special Effects.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 also received multiple honors for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film, Best Supporting Actor (David Carradine) and Best Supporting Actress (Daryl Hannah).

In a very fan-like tribute, this year's Saturn Special Recognition Award acknowledged the Star Trek television sequels from (1987 - 2005) and the Best DVD Retro Television Release Saturn went to Star Trek (The Original Series).

For the rest of the 31st Annual Saturns, go to http://www.saturnawards.org

Firefly Serenity Action!

Hollywood June 5, 2005 (eXoNews) - Need Serenity? Missed all the special previews? Here are a couple of placebos for fans of Joss Whedon's upcoming movie who can't keep their brown coats on.

Male dolls from Serenity

Serenity Action Figures

Firefly fans and doll collectors will probably want to place advance orders at Entertainment Earth for the newly announced case of 10 individually packaged Serenity action figures due to arrive in October.

The set is pricey at $139.99, but EE says the collection includes "4x Captain Malcolm Reynolds, 3x Jayne Cobb, 1x Jayne Cobb with cigar, and 2x Reaver.

Each figure stands 6-inches tall, features 14 points of articulation, and includes authentic, movie accessories."

If you have less coin to spend, you can also pre-order the Mal Action Figure separately for $14.99. EE says Mal "is sure to please newcomers and Browncoats alike! With accessories from the movie, Capt Reynolds features 14 points of articulation and stands 6-inches tall."

[I want a licensed companion doll myself. Ed.]

Entertainment Earth - http://www.entertainmentearth.com/hitlist.asp?theme=Serenity

Serenity comics

Firefly Serenity Comic Books

Dark Horse Comics will release a special three-issue series of Firefly comic books on July 6 written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews.

Will Conrad will do the art (Dark Horse's "The Scorpion King", "Star Wars Tales" and Buffy the Vampire Slayer #35.)

Details at IGN - http://comics.ign.com/articles/621/621787p1.html

Lost Dumas Released in France

PARIS June 3, 2005 (AFP) - A previously unknown novel by the author of "The Three Musketeers", Alexandre Dumas - a 1,000-page adventure story about the start of the Napoleonic empire - hit French bookstores.

"Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine" (The Knight of Sainte-Hermine) first appeared in serial form in a French newspaper and lacked just a few chapters when Dumas died in 1870.

Claude Schopp (AFP)

Claude Schopp, the Dumas expert who found the book at France's National Library, has added a short section to bring the tale to its conclusion.

The novel completes a trilogy of works set in the aftermath of the French revolution, which begins with "Les Compagnons de Jehu" -- written in 1857 -- and continues with "Les Blancs et Les Bleus," completed in 1867.

The chevalier is an aristocrat -- the brother of two men who are killed in the previous books -- who is caught between his royalist past and his fascination with the emerging Napoleonic empire.

The book includes a swashbuckling account of the battle of Trafalgar, and explains who killed British naval commander Admiral Horatio Nelson, according to Jean-Pierre Sicre of Phebus press, which published the book.

"The description of Trafalgar is indescribably brilliant. And in it we learn that it is the hero of the book -- the chevalier himself -- who shoots Nelson," Sicre said.

Nelson led the English fleet in its victory over the French and Spanish off the cape of Gibraltar in 1805, but died on board his flagship when he was hit by a bullet from an unknown French sniper.


Sam Neill and Eric Stoltz brave the
Bermuda Triangle for Sci Fi Channel

LOS ANGELES June 1, 2005 (Zap2it.com) - The Sci Fi Channel is starting production on its long-in-development miniseries "Triangle," with Eric Stoltz and Sam Neill heading the cast of the miniseries.

Shooting on the six-hour miniseries begins this week in Cape Town, South Africa, Sci Fi says. "Triangle," executive produced by Dean Devlin and Bryan Singer and written by Rockne S. O'Bannon, the creator of "Farscape," is targeted for a December premiere.

In addition to Neill ("Jurassic Park," "Dead Calm") and Stoltz ("Once and Again," "Some Kind of Wonderful"), the cast also includes Catherine Bell ("JAG"), Bruce Davison ("X-Men") and Michael Rodgers ("Auto Focus").

"The Triangle" kicks off with a billionaire (Neill), concerned about the rate at which he's losing cargo ships in the Bermuda Triangle, assembling a team to investigate the region's mysteries. They include a skeptical tabloid reporter (Stoltz), a thrill-seeking scientist (Rodgers), an engineer (Bell) and a psychic (Davison), all lured by the promise of unlimited funding for their expedition.

Soon after, though, a series of "bizarre, unexplainable occurrences" affects the life of each team member, and the government starts poking around their research as well.

O'Bannon is writing all three installments of "Triangle," from a story by exec producers Devlin ("Independence Day") and Singer ("X-Men," "House"). Craig Baxley ("Storm of the Century," "Kingdom Hospital") will direct.

Cirroc Lofton Raps Deep Space

Cirroc with former Deep Space Nine
dad Avery Brooks

Los Angles May 31, 2005 (Sci Fi Wire) - Cirroc Lofton, who grew up playing Jake Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, told SCI FI Wire that he is working on a rap album that will include some mentions of his character and his work for seven years on the series.

"Sure, the Jake Sisko character will have some lines dropped in here and there," Lofton said in an interview at Enigma Con at the University of California, Los Angles, over the weekend. "One beat will use the original Star Trek theme song and have that beat in a hip-hop type of mode."

Lofton said that he's been working on the album ever since he first heard rap music six or seven years ago, about the time he joined the DS9 cast. Now 26, Lofton said he is planning on releasing his album, called Divine Intervention, by September through Infinity World Entertainment.

"For me, it's a natural transformation from poetry to this," Lofton said. "I'm a rap lyricist. Rap is a very powerful tool and either can be used correctly and incorrectly, and I hope I can get my messages out there. I want it to be enjoyable, inspirational and educational."

Not that it'll be squeaky clean: Lofton admitted that the music will feature a few four-letter words sprinkled about. "It's part of life," he said. "Kids in school are cursing, but at younger age than when I was in school. I might emphasize the words for emotion, but not use it in a song because I have nothing else to say."

Lofton added that he'll bring his music to future Star Trek conventions, but said that he's not concerned that his music will be relegated to the same bin as William Shatner's disco album. "Some people have tried and not done so well, but I'm willing to take that risk," Lofton said. "If you don't take that risk you're stifling yourself."

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Gets Picked Up

LOS ANGELES June 2, 2005 (Zap2it.com) CBS has added to its roster for 2005-06, picking up the Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy "Old Christine" for a midseason run.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The show, in which the "Seinfeld" Emmy winner plays a newly divorced mother, earned a 13-episode pickup. The show was considered a strong contender to make the CBS schedule going into last month's upfronts, but the network and producer Warner Bros. TV didn't seal a deal in time to make the announcement then, the showbiz trade papers report.

Among the sticking points was the length of the initial order, although it ended up being the standard 13 episodes that most new shows receive.

Created by "Will & Grace" veteran Kari Lizer, "Old Christine" will follow Louis-Dreyfus character as she adjusts to being single again and deals with her ex-husband and his new girlfriend, also named Christine. The show also stars Clark Gregg ("State and Main," "The West Wing") and Emily Rutherfurd ("Married to the Kellys").

Andy Ackerman, who directed Louis-Dreyfus in more than 90 episodes of "Seinfeld," has also signed on to "Old Christine" as director; he'll also executive produce the show with Lizer.

Louis-Dreyfus was nominated for seven Emmys during "Seinfeld's" run, winning the award for best supporting actress in a comedy in 1996. She has most recently guest-starred on several episodes of "Arrested Development"; prior to that, she starred in and executive produced NBC's "Watching Ellie."

Harlan Ellison's War of The Marching Morons

War of the Worlds author H.G. Wells
and angry protector Harlan Ellison

Los Angeles June 2, 2005 (Sci Fi Wire) - SF writer Harlan Ellison questioned why director Steven Spielberg didn't give more credit to fellow author H.G. Wells in his upcoming film adaptation of The War of the Worlds.

Speaking to SCI FI Wire at Enigma Con at the University of California, Los Angeles, Ellison said: "What annoys me is that Spielberg is such an egomaniac these days that it has to be 'Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. No, you puss-bag. It's H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, and it wouldn't kill you to put his f--king name on it."

Ellison, author of such books as I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, added: "That shows his arrogance. It's like Disney. Disney didn't write Snow White or Robin Hood or Bambi, but it's 'Walt Disney's universe.' It's the universe according to frozen Walt."

Ellison hosted a 90-minute panel at the conference, which he titled "How Does SF Stay in Business in a World of Marching Morons?"

"Spielberg is only a craftsman, that's all he is," Ellison said. "He's not a genius. He's not a trendsetter. There isn't one moment of any Spielberg film ... that matches the least moment of a Kurosawa film. Kurosawa was a blinding genius of cinema. His vision was astonishing."

Ellison said that he has little interest in seeing remakes and added: "We live in a society that values less and less the original."

War of the Worlds opens June 29th.

[We love you, Harlan, but give us a break. Spielberg's megalomania is well-earned. :o)>Ed.]

Official Harlan Ellison - http://harlanellison.com

TCA Award Nominations
Television Critics Association News Release

Los Angeles June 2, 2005 - The Television Critics Association today unveiled its 2005 TCA Award nominations.

ABC’s smash hit "Desperate Housewives" had the most nominations, five. ABC’s "Lost" and Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" were next with 4 nominations each.

ABC's Lost got 4 TCA nominations (ABC)

The 21st annual TCA Awards honor the finest work of the 2004-05 season as selected by the association's 200-plus member critics and journalists. The winners will be announced at a July 23rd ceremony at Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Craig Ferguson, host of CBS’s "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson," will open the awards show.

This year, ABC leads the list with eleven nominations. Fox programs received eight nominations and HBO received seven nods.

In addition to "Desperate Housewives," ABC received accolades for another first-year series, "Lost." Another newcomer gaining the critics’ praise is Fox’s "House."

Past winners up for honors this year include Jon Stewart ("The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"), Ian McShane ("Deadwood"), Fox’s "24," Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," Fox’s "Arrested Development," PBS’s "Frontline," ABC’s "Nightline" and Nickelodeon’s "Nick News."

For the fourth year in a row, the TCA chose candidates for its Heritage Award, which recognizes a long-standing program that made a lasting cultural or social impact. PBS has two shows nominated in this legacy category: "Sesame Street" and "Frontline."

The TCA also voted for Outstanding Achievement in Children's programming with Nickelodeon series receiving three of the five nominations.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
got 4 nominations (AP)

Below is a complete list of this year’s TCA Award nominations. Please note, career achievement nominees are not listed, but a winner in that category will be chosen by TCA members.

"Arrested Development" (Fox)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central)
"Deadwood" (HBO)
"Desperate Housewives" (ABC)
"Lost" (ABC)

"Arrested Development" (Fox)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central)
"Desperate Housewives" (ABC)
"Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS)
"Gilmore Girls" (The WB)

"24" (Fox)
"Deadwood" (HBO)
"House" (Fox)
"Lost" (ABC)
"Rescue Me" (FX)

Fox's House and star Hugh Laurie picked up 3 (Fox)

"Lackawanna Blues" (HBO)
"The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers" (HBO)
"The Office Special" (BBC America)
"Something The Lord Made" (HBO)
"Sometimes In April" (HBO)

"Desperate Housewives" (ABC)
"House" (Fox)
"Lost" (ABC)
"Rescue Me" (FX)
"Veronica Mars" (UPN)

Teri Hatcher ("Desperate Housewives")

Jason Bateman ("Arrested Development")
Marcia Cross ("Desperate Housewives")
Teri Hatcher ("Desperate Housewives")
Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond")
Jon Stewart ("The Daily Show With Jon Stewart")

Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars")
Matthew Fox ("Lost")
Hugh Laurie ("House")
Ian McShane ("Deadwood")
Kiefer Sutherland ("24")

"DeGrassi: The Next Generation" (The N)
"Dora The Explorer" (Nickelodeon)
"Nick News" (Nickelodeon)
"Postcards From Buster" (PBS)
"SpongeBob SquarePants" (Nickelodeon)

Heritage Award Nominee Sesame Street

"60 Minutes" Sunday edition (CBS)
"The Daily Show" (Comedy Central)
"Frontline" (PBS)
"Meet the Press" (NBC)
"The News Hour With Jim Lehrer" (PBS)
"Nightline" (ABC)

"Frontline" (PBS)
"M*A*S*H" (CBS)
"Nightline" (ABC)
"Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
"Sesame Street" (PBS)

[The Television Critics Association is comprised of 220 critics in the US and Canada and has presented awards for 20 years. Ed.]

Television Critics Association - http://tvcritics.org

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