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Casting Out Demons!
Don't Eat Pets! Cyberbabes,
Robin Hood, Gravity Assists,
Kecksburg UFO & More!
Casting Out Demons!

[University of Cincinnati program director for Religious Studies John Brolley gives us the following sample charm to use during the upcoming All Hallows Eve festivities. Ed.]

Translation of Part of a Syriac Charm Text
By John Brolley

The holy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the message of John. In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And God was with the Word. This (then) was with God in the beginning. Everything was by his hand. And without him not one thing came to be (of any sort) that came to be.

Through him life came to be and life was the light of humankind. The light shone in the darkness. And the darkness did not overtake it. By the power of these ten sayings glorious Godhead.

By the name I am that I am, El Shaddai, Adonai, Lord of Hosts. I bind and I repel , and I remove all pains and diseases and the evil and covetous eye. And fear and terror and trembling. And every kind of fright. And dehydrating heat-sicknesses and all sicknesses and all pains and all illnesses and the hot and cold fever and throbbing of the head and splitting and the "spirit of the heart." And the "spirit of the bone" from the body and from the members of the bearer of this writing. Amen.

University of Cincinnati Press Release
By Dawn Fuller

October 20, 2003 - Have you ever suffered from headache or back pain?
Many of us would look for relief in our medicine cabinets. If you were called to court, you'd probably get a lawyer.

And while many people in the present day may still whisper a prayer for support, the words of a Christian charm, copied by a priest, were the protection of choice for a population a couple of centuries ago.

John Brolley, University of Cincinnati program director for Religious Studies, has been at work for more than a year translating four little books of Syriac charms that are among the rare collections at Harvard University.

Brolley believes the leather-bound books, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, may have once belonged to a priest who would have lived in Urmia, a region in Kurdistan that is one of a handful of Aramaic-speaking regions worldwide.

Syriac, though now used almost exclusively in church liturgy, is one dialect of Aramaic.

Brolley points out that near-eastern literature dating back thousands of years shows that religions would use incantations to ward off "demons" blamed for illness and other troubles.

Brolley says he is translating and analyzing the 17th and 18th century books of Syriac charms in hopes of placing them in the context of 5,000 years of ritual texts.

Each book – the texts so fragile that they cannot be microfilmed – contains about between 50-100 written charms.

"Two things appear to have happened with the Syriac charms. First of all, the incantation formulas have been 'Christianized,'" says Brolley.

"You don't see references to Zeus here – if anything, deities other than the God of Judaism and Christianity are demonized. This is all about invoking the power of God and Jesus.

"What's also interesting, because this tradition is so late compared to the others, is that there are charms that are not just against the 'Evil Eye' or some sort of illness, but there are also charms designed to correct a disobedient child.

"There was a charm to ward off gunfire, and a charm to make the judge favorable to you when you had a court appearance. So, the notion of protection really expands as we get closer to the modern era."

And because the majority of the population could not read or write, Brolley says the charms were thought to give them protection just because they were wearing amulets containing the Christian Word of God.

"So, for example, if I were a farmer who had somehow ended up with a sick cow or a sick spouse, the priest, probably for some small amount of money, would copy down a charm from one of the books and the farmer would take it and wear it as an amulet. Many of the local villagers may not have been Christian, but they appear to have considered the local priest what you and I would call a medicine man, and were able to trust him."

Compared with more ancient charms dating back several thousand years, Brolley is noticing that although the Syriac Christian charms involve less ritual, it's the "Word of Power" that has survived.

"But now it's a Christian 'Word of Power.' Instead of demonstrating to the demon, 'I may be just a mortal human, but you can't hurt me. I have the national God of Babylon on my side,' they'll be wearing a biblical text that protects them with the Power of the Word, often represented by a brief Bible quote.

"In later traditions, what we call the cult aspect of the charms is gone, meaning there doesn't seem to be any accompanying physical ritual. So it really becomes the power of the words themselves that are thought to drive the demon away. The word of power is one of the most durable features of this religious tradition."

Once he has translated and analyzed these particular charm texts, Brolley says he doesn't plan on stopping there. "There's a lot of similar material out there, and there are some excellent scholars working in this field. Every incantation or charm formula tells us something about the relationship of magic, ritual and religion."

In the meantime, does Brolley believe these formulas carry any power?

"No comment," he says, with a smile.

Vampire Harassment Trial

By Stewart Payne

Eling UK October 14, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - A man who claimed to be a reincarnated vampire was seen chasing bell-ringers through a churchyard, a jury was told yesterday.

Scott Bower, 26, hounded the ringers at St Mary the Virgin parish church, Eling, near Southampton, Hants, as part of a campaign against the vicar and his family.

Sheila Downs, 75, who lives opposite the church, told Southampton Crown Court she saw Bower making strange noises as the ringers left after a practice.

"I looked from my upstairs window and saw Bower and three other people follow the ringers. They were making noises and catcalls."

Bower, Ben Lewis, 25, and Natalie Gibson, 19, made life a misery for the Rev Christopher Rowberry, 45, his wife and two children, by posting obscene material on the church notice board, letting off fireworks, making late night nuisance calls and howling outside their home. They targeted him because of his Christianity.

Mr Rowberry's daughter, Hannah, 17, told the jury Bowers howled at her as she put out bags of rubbish. "It was quite dark and I could hear laughter coming from the graveyard," she said.

Bower, unemployed, Lewis, a hotel porter, and Gibson, 19, a student, denied religiously aggravated harassment.

Perfectly Real Cyberbabes

By Jo Twist
BBC News Technology Reporter

London October 22, 2003 (BBC) - Software cyberbabes, created by powerful computers, sophisticated modeling packages and active imaginations are getting extremely human-like. Virtual cyberbabes are used in advertising campaigns, hit shoot-em-up games, and the pop industry, from Lara Croft to virtual pop idols, T-Babe and Diki or DK-96.

Some of the best 3D models around are currently on show at an exhibition which has just opened in London called Perfectly Real: Women in Bits and Bytes. But they raise questions about what people might be able to do with the models if they get too realistic and we cannot tell the difference anymore. Better processing power and 3D graphics programs mean creating your own, virtual human is much easier to do.

Hyper Real

While the technology is maturing, many of the women created from the hard drives and fantasies of mostly male designers are not.

The beauty of many of the images in the exhibition is striking. But their impossibly perfect limbs, lips and looks, are still pretty far removed from what a "real" woman looks like.

Rene Morel, who worked on many of the main characters in the sci-fi film Final Fantasy, has created an incredibly beautiful and engaging figure.

She has a stunning, highly human-like face, but as soon as you pan down her body, it is obvious she has borrowed a few diet tips from Barbie.

They are the "hyper-reality" of women who only exist in a plastic surgeon's dream.

The exhibition's curator, Niki Gomez, says this is no different to the "hyper-reality" of manufactured pop bands and airbrushed celebrities which are so far removed from normal people anyway.

For years, women learned to deal with images of the "perfect woman", celebrities, super-skinny supermodels and slinky pop kittens.

Nonetheless, four in 10 women still worry about their body shape every day and more than one in three dream of losing at least two stones, says a recent survey.

"It is interesting that the women are being made more than women. I think that is partly because it is men who are mainly making them," she says.

Imperfect Present

Brazilian creation Kaya has what the artist describes as a large mouth and teeth, far-apart eyes and thick eyebrows, deliberately designed to represent "realistic woman with slight imperfections".

You can even see her pores, and these touches supposedly make her more real.

Her makers intend to give her a strong character and let her live online, "so people can control what she says and her movements through the web," Ms Gomez explains.

She does look more "realistic" than many of the airbrushed creations which grace the pages of both men and women's magazines every day.

But perhaps some might ask why far-apart eyes, thick eyebrows, gaping pores should be seen as "imperfections".

"In this time of real perfection in terms of plastic surgery, when it comes to the digital, we only believe them if they are not 100% perfect and that is where the power lies," says Ms Gomez.

Manipulating Reality

Some might argue advances in software and processing power should be used render images that break a few gender stereotypes.

But maybe the bigger issue is about the potential problems of creating women so realistic complete with imperfections, that we cannot tell the difference anymore.

Take Webbie Tookay, who was signed up by modeling agency Elite when she was born, as an example.

"They can control her as much as they want, there are no personality clashes, she will never grow old or fat and can be in any one place at any time," says Ms Gomez.

Such realistic-looking constructs could be put to use in a variety of "entertainment industries".

The ethical implications of their use when these 3D models finally do make it off the screen and try to pass off as real could be enormous.

"That is not really at this stage a concern because they still can't make a virtual woman seem real in a real space and time," says Ms Gomez.

"If that happens, then that will be a problem. But it still quite a way off."

Perfectly Real site -

Kaya pix and QuickTime animations -

Environmental Protests
Indians Threaten to Block Mackenzie Pipeline
By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA October 22, 2003 (Reuters) — A major Canadian native band threatened to block a C$4 billion (US$3 billion) natural gas pipeline to southern markets from the Arctic Tuesday because of what it said was wrongdoing by a senior federal official.

The Deh Cho First Nation — the only Indian community in the vast Northwest Territories that has yet to agree to the Mackenzie Valley pipeline crossing its territory — said the entire process of deciding the path of the future pipeline should be started again.

Canada is already the top energy supplier to the United States, and major oil companies are working to develop new natural gas supplies in the Far North to make up for the depletion of traditional sources on both sides of the border.

Deh Cho land covers about 40 percent of the 1,350-km (840-mile) pipeline route from the Mackenzie Delta on the Arctic Ocean.

The Deh Cho said the federal official in question worked for a government environmental agency dealing with the pipeline and was involved in a clear conflict of interest. The band has already asked police to investigate the case.

"We believe the actions of this individual have tainted the whole pipeline process. As a result, we're demanding the whole process be scrapped and started again," Deh Cho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian told a news conference.

Chris Reid, chief negotiator for the Deh Cho, said he was preparing a suit for damages and an injunction against government plans to streamline approval of the pipeline by various regulatory agencies.

"We would prefer to negotiate agreements with Canada and with Imperial Oil that meet the Deh Cho's legitimate concerns," he said. "If that's not going to happen, then the Deh Cho will have no choice but to stop the pipeline."

A spokeswoman for Environment Canada — which is responsible for the agency involved — said the official in question had approached the federal ethics commissioner to determine whether there had been a conflict of interest.

The consortium planning the pipeline includes Imperial Oil Ltd., Shell Canada Ltd., ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., TransCanada Corp., and Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which is made up of native communities along the proposed route.

A spokesman for lead industry partner Imperial said the dispute was among the Deh Cho and federal regulators, not the oil firms.

In October 2001, several native chiefs threw their support behind the pipeline proposal in exchange for the Aboriginal Pipeline Group getting a one-third stake, a structure they hope will bring northern communities years of economic and social benefits instead of just short-term cash.

The Deh Cho, who wanted other issues such as land claims resolved, were the only holdouts. Norwegian denied the band was trying to use the case of alleged conflict of interest as a way of gaining more benefits from Ottawa and the oil firms.

"We did not set out to prove there was something fishy about the pipeline deal.... This is not an excuse to stop the pipeline, just to ensure it's done right," he said.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Jones in Calgary)

30,000 Ecuadoreans Sue Texaco Over Amazon Pollution
By Edison Lopez
Associated Press

LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador October 22, 2003 (AP) — A decade after Texaco pulled out of the Amazon jungle, the U.S. petroleum giant went on trial in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 30,000 poor Ecuadoreans who say the company's 20 years of drilling poisoned their homeland.

The case is the first time a multinational oil company has been subjected to Ecuadorean jurisdiction for allegedly damaging the environment in this small Andean nation, which depends on oil for its development.

Former Ecuadorean Supreme Court Justice Alberto Wray, with the assistance of an American legal team, wants California-based ChevronTexaco to pay for cleanup and medical monitoring costs, which the plaintiffs say could reach US$1 billion.

Judge Alberto Guerra rejected an opening challenge Tuesday to the court's authority by the oil company's lawyers, who argued the judge did not have the authority to bring ChevronTexaco to trial for alleged damage caused by Texaco, which merged with the parent company in 2001.

ChevronTexaco "is not the successor to Texaco. Therefore it cannot be held responsible for anything," said ChevronTexaco lawyer Adolfo Callejas.

Wray dismissed that argument, saying "we believe that ChevronTexaco assumed Texaco's obligations."

Some 300 people — including Indians in body paint and feathers — marched outside the courthouse in Lago Agrio, a ramshackle town about 175 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of Quito. Among the 30,000 plaintiffs are an estimated 5,000 Indians whose ancestral jungle homelands have allegedly been polluted.

The lawsuit alleges that Texaco took advantage of lax Ecuadorean environmental standards to cut costs by pouring wastewater brought to the surface by drilling into some 350 open pits instead of reinjecting it deep underground.

"We have water studies that show that people are drinking contaminated water caused by this pollution, caused by the oil — that they are drinking contaminants that are known to cause cancer," said Steve Donziger, a U.S. lawyer representing the Ecuadorean plaintiffs.

A ruling in favor of his clients would send "a powerful message to the oil industry that they have to adhere to the best technical practices when they drill in the Third World," Donziger said.

ChevronTexaco has denied the allegations, saying it followed Ecuadorean environmental laws and spent $40 million under a clean-up agreement with the Ecuadorean government in 1995. The government certified the clean-up three years later.

The plaintiffs' lawyers originally wanted the case tried in U.S. courts, arguing the Ecuadorean government's dependence on oil revenues would make the country's courts unlikely to deliver justice. Oil exports account for about 40 percent of Ecuador's revenue.

The case was sent to Ecuador in August 2002 when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled it should be heard where the damage allegedly occurred.

For settler Jose Aguilar, the legal arguments mean little, compared with damage to crops and farm animals and the health of the region's inhabitants.

"It is irreparable damage," he said outside the courthouse, as protesters read testimonials from cancer victims. "Everything has been damaged. People have died. Everything has been lost."

Swamps and streams are frequently covered with a thin layer of oil. The region's inhabitants complain of stomach cramps, sore throats, and difficult-to-treat skin rashes, which they blame on the pollution.

Ricardo Beija, a vice president and legal adviser for the oil company, told reporters the damage caused by drilling was "minimal" and "normal for any operation." He added, "We have confidence in the Ecuadorean courts."

In the company's opening arguments, Callejas also warned the case would scare away other multinational corporations considering investing in Ecuador.

Robin Hood's Grave

By Brady Haran
BBC News Online

East Midlands UK October 17, 2003 (BBC) - The bones of legendary outlaw Robin Hood may have been dug up in the mid-18th Century, according to a history buff.  Author Richard Rutherford-Moore, who has published two books about Robin Hood, bases the claim on research and a series of experiments with a bow and arrow.

According to most Robin Hood legends, the ailing outlaw determined his own burial site by shooting an arrow from his death bed. He is said to have died in the gatehouse of Kirklees Priory, in West Yorkshire.

A monument in the privately owned grounds claims to mark Robin Hood's grave, but Mr. Rutherford-Moore says it is impossible the outlaw's final arrow could have traveled the full 650 meters from the gatehouse.

Using measurements of the old priory building and his knowledge of archery in the 13th Century, Mr. Rutherford-Moore fired 20 "test arrows" to re-enact the event.

He performed the experiment near his home in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, because it was unsafe to do so at Kirklees.

The tests were based on research and a number of "educated assumptions", such as the position of the former priory building relative to the bed, the type of bow being used and Robin Hood's health at the time.

Based on his shots, Mr. Rutherford-Moore believes he determined the probable arrow landing site to within a five-meter radius.

Subsequent research has shown bones were removed from an unmarked grave at that spot during estate improvement work in the mid-18th Century, he says.

The whereabouts of those bones is unknown.

So if these bones were uncovered, were they the remains of history's most famous outlaw?

Earlier this year, a Cardiff-based academic announced that Robin Hood never existed, basing his conclusion on 20 years of study.

The idea of finding Robin Hood's bones sounds fanciful and, by Mr. Rutherford-Moore's own admission, some of his research is based on legends dating back hundreds of years. But it is also founded on legitimate research and the bones found at Kirklees 250 years ago may have been significant, he says.

Mr. Rutherford-Moore says: "Bones were found when they were laying a lead pipe... and they are at the exact spot where I calculated an arrow would have landed. That is a pretty big coincidence."

However, like any tale about Robin Hood, the truth will never be known for sure.

"You can never totally prove it, but people can make their own conclusions."

Detailed article by Mr. Rutherford-Moore and more about Robin -

Real-Time Holographic Movies

Penn State Press Release

October 21, 2003 - The addition of buckyballs or carbon nanotubes to nematic liquid crystals changes their properties and makes them low-cost alternatives for holographic and image processing applications, according to Penn State electrical engineers.

"By incorporating nanotubular and nano carbon 60 structures into liquid crystals, we make the nonlinear optical properties a million times bigger than all other existing materials," says Dr. Iam-Choon Khoo, professor of electrical engineering.

Khoo, working with Jim Ding, Yana Zhang, Ken Chen and Andres Diaz, dissolved carbon nanotubes in a liquid crystal.

"We know it is dissolving because there is a color change," says Khoo.

They also dissolved carbon 60 or buckyballs into the liquid crystals. While the tubes produce slightly more of an optical effect, they are more difficult to dissolve in the liquid crystal. In fact, only about one one-thousandth of the liquid crystal mixture is carbon nanotubes.

The addition of these carbon structures alters the crystalline alignment of the liquid crystals and changes the optical properties. Just as some materials react to an electrical current, these doped liquid crystals react to light. The liquid crystal, when exposed to light, changes its axis of refraction.

"A basic problem with these materials is their rather slow buildup times, which are typically in the tens of seconds to minutes for low optical illumination intensity," the researchers reported in Applied Physics Letters. "With suitable choice of dopants and applied fields, . . . these films are on the supranonlinear scale. These values are a thousand times larger than those observed previously. Furthermore, the response times of these effects can be improved to the millisecond time scale."

One image processing application where this doped liquid crystal film can be used is in focusing optical telescopes. Using the film as the capture material for a holographic image of the starfield, the garbage created by optically viewing very distant and weak stars can be eliminated and a holographic view of the starfield in real-time provided.

"Right now the device that is used in the telescope application is very, very expensive, but this film costs only a few pennies," says Khoo. "It would cost a thousand times less."

These films can also be used to create real-time holographic movies and can also be used in low light situations as they are very sensitive to light.

"Another application would be to convert, in real time, an image captured in infra red, to a visible light image," the Penn State researcher notes.

Other potential uses include filling hollow fiber optic fibers with the liquid crystal to control light pulses in the fiber and create a tunable nonlinear photonic crystal fiber.

"At Cambridge, researchers are using the material to make a Dick Tracy type watch," says Khoo. "A watch that can process images and communications."

Gravity Assists Speed Spaceflight

European Space Agency Press Release

October 22, 2003 - 'Fly-bys', or 'gravity assist' maneuvers, are now a standard part of spaceflight and are used by almost all ESA interplanetary missions.

Imagine if every time you drove by a city, your car mysteriously picked up speed or slowed down. Substitute a spacecraft and a planet for the car and the city, and this is called a 'gravity assist'. These maneuvers take advantage of the fact that the gravitational attraction of the planets can be used to change the trajectories, or the speed and direction, of our spacecraft on long interplanetary journeys.

As a spacecraft sets off towards its target, it first follows an orbit around the Sun. When the spacecraft approaches another planet, the gravity of that planet takes over, pulling the spacecraft in and altering its speed. The amount by which the spacecraft speeds up or slows down is determined by the direction of approach, whether passing behind or in front of the planet.

When the spacecraft leaves the influence of the planet, it once again follows an orbit around the Sun, but a different one from before, either on course for the original target or heading for another fly-by.

'Slingshot' effect

The first spacecraft to experience a gravity assist was NASA’s Pioneer 10.

In December 1973, it approached a rendezvous with Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, traveling at 9.8 kilometers per second.

Following its passage through Jupiter’s gravitational field, it sped off into deep space at 22.4 kilometers a second – like when you let go of a spinning merry-go-round and fly off in one direction.

This kind of acceleration is also called the ‘slingshot effect’.

Mission: Impossible?

Even before this encounter, Italian astronomer Giuseppe ‘Bepi’ Colombo had realized the potential of such maneuvers and had used them to design a ‘Mission: Impossible’ to Mercury, the innermost planet of our Solar System.

To reach Mercury, a spacecraft launched from Earth needed to lose more energy than a conventional rocket would allow.

Colombo’s brilliant idea was to realize that gravity assists could also be used to slow a spacecraft.

On 10 March 1974, the NASA Mariner 10 spacecraft flew past Venus, lost speed and fell into its rendezvous orbit with Mercury.

Extraordinary maneuver

The ESA/NASA Ulysses mission used one of the most extraordinary gravity assists to allow it to see the polar regions of the Sun, places that are forever hidden from any observing location on Earth.

In October 1990, the Ulysses spacecraft left Earth to voyage towards Jupiter. There, it used a gravity assist to throw it out of the plane of the planets into a gigantic loop that passed over the south pole of the Sun in 1994, and then the north pole 13 months later.

More maneuvers coming up

Also in 2004, ESA’s Huygens probe will arrive at the Saturn’s moon Titan. It is carried on the NASA spacecraft Cassini which used four gravity assists (one with Earth, two with Venus and one with Jupiter) to accelerate it towards Saturn. ESA’s comet-chaser Rosetta will use a similar number of gravity assists to speed it to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Over the next eighteen months ESA’s lunar scout SMART-1 will become the first spacecraft to use gravity assists in conjunction with a revolutionary propulsion system, the solar-electric ion engine. This will pave the way for ESA’s Mercury mapper, appropriately called BepiColombo, which will use the same technique to orbit the inner planet early in the next decade.

As well as affecting spacecraft, the gravitational influence of planets also affects the distribution of asteroids and comets. There are families of small bodies, for example the Apollo and the Plutino asteroids, which converges on a particular shape and size of orbit because their members have been repeatedly subjected to small gravitational attractions from the planets.

There are also individual, one-off gravitational effects that can send objects such as comets either plummeting into the inner Solar System or hurtling out beyond the planets.

Watching for these ‘wild cards’ is a prime area of study for ESA, as the geological record on Earth shows that asteroids have occasionally collided with our planet in the past.

European Space Agency -

Genre News: Kecksburg UFO, Carmen Electra, Cordy & Willow, Mrs. Peel, John Lennon, Rodney Clone & More!

Kecksburg UFO - There's a Man With a Gun Over There!
By FLAtRich

Hollywood October 22, 2003 (eXoNews) - OK. I want to believe. I admit that much, but Sci Fi Channel is not making it any easier.

Last season Sci Fi did a two-hour documentary on Roswell to promote their Taken mini-series. That resulted in digging up nothing but a bunch of dirt that they put in bags and stored in a Roswell bank vault. Now they are resurrecting the story of a UFO crash in Kecksburg Pennsylvania back in 1965.

Don't the folks at Sci Fi ever look at anything new? The National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) had 107 reports just this month, guys!

I suppose it's a lot easier for Sci Fi to "investigate" the mythological past and cry cover-up. No real work to do with a dead issue - no worry about law suits or alien revenge.

Even the citizens of Kecksburg are inclined to agree that their near-forgotten home incident is a "bunch of hooey."

According to an August article in the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, Sci Fi brought host Bryant Gumbel and a camera crew to Kecksburg and sponsored a town meeting at the local fire station. Only 50 people showed up.

Sci Fi's dedicated Kecksburg website says "an object" landed near Kecksburg in December 1965 after being seen as "a fireball in the sky across several U.S. states and Canada."

Sci Fi continues, "Witnesses provided signed statements and independent, corroborated descriptions of the object and its location. Firefighters, reporters and a radio news director described a military presence at the crash site - and some saw a military truck quickly leaving with a large, tarpaulin-covered object.

"At the scene, officials told residents a meteor crashed. But the next day, the U.S. government declared nothing fell ... or was found."

The current residents of Kecksburg don't seem so sure.

Chuck Hilland, Jr. was interviewed by Gumbel, but he was "2 at the time" and could only tell the host that his "parents really believe nothing significant happened that night."

Dave Newhouse, who was a teenager on the scene, didn't see the fireball or crash but he did see soldiers.

"The Army was definitely there. It's irrefutable. I saw them," Newhouse told Tribune-Review reporter Ann Saul Dudurich. Newhouse said an Army guard stopped him when he and a pal tried to get closer to the site.

"He pointed his rifle at me and said get out. So, something was definitely there. I don't have any idea what it was, but the Army doesn't come out to guard a patch of woods."

Don Sebastian made it around the Army roadblock and saw soldiers, "maybe 100 guys ... armed at hip level and walking single file parallel to the crash site." The way Sebastian tells it, there was also an alien scream.

"This was a terror scream," Sebastian told the Tribune-Review, "and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up." A second scream "didn't sound human" and Sebastian left the scene. "I figured this was a place where I could get shot. So, I was out of there."

Tune in to Sci Fi this month for the rest, but don't expect much beyond "hooey."

Oh, and the ads on Sci Fi are promising to reveal the results of their analysis of the bags of earth in the Roswell bank vault.

My guess is that it will prove to be a dirty cover-up.

Look here for a lot more recent UFO sightings - NUFORC -

Sci Fi Channel Goes After UFO Documents Again
By Michael Learmonth

NEW YORK October 21, 2003 (Reuters) - The truth is out there, and the SCI FI Channel is determined to find it, even if that means suing NASA, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army and Air Force for documents related to unidentified flying objects.

SCI FI, a cable channel that airs fictional programming such as Battlestar Galactica, as well as documentaries that explore the line between fact and science fiction, is part of a group pressuring the federal government to de-classify UFO information.

Last year SCI FI joined forces with an investigative journalist, a Washington, DC law firm, and former President Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, to gain release of documents relating to an incident it calls "the new Roswell," a UFO sighting in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania in 1965.

"Now, one year later, despite serious effort to uncover the facts, NASA and the Department of Defense are still maintaining their wall of silence," said SCI FI Channel president Bonnie Hammer. "Whether or not this has anything to do with UFOs the public has the right to know."

Now the SCI Fi Channel is supporting what could turn into a series of lawsuits, first against NASA and then against the Department of Defense, the Army and Air Force, to get classified documents released to the public.

The group said it expects to file the suit against NASA within a week. Representatives from NASA and the Department of Defense were not immediately available for comment.

NASA was chosen as the first agency to be sued because SCI FI and the groups' attorney, Lee Helfrich of the Washington, DC-based firm, Lobel, Novins and Lamont, believe that they've fully exhausted their administrative options with the agency, a prerequisite for a judge to agree to hear the case.

While news organizations routinely pursue Freedom of Information Act requests with the government, it's relatively rare for a cable channel, especially one focused on fantasy, not the gathering of news, to pursue such a course of action.

But Hammer sees a great deal of programming potential in pursuing government documents related to UFO sightings, part of the channel's effort to "find the line between science fiction and science fact."

"As we grow the channel, this will become more and more important," Hammer said.

In December 1965, residents of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania watched a fireball descend into a heavily-forested area 40 miles from Pittsburgh. That night the area was cordoned off by the military, trucks and helicopters came and went, and the town was briefly placed under martial law.

The next day, headlines in the Greensburg, Pennsylvania Tribune-Review read "Unidentified Flying Object Falls Near Kecksburg" and "Army Ropes Off Area," but residents of Kecksburg were never told why the military cordoned off the area and what, if anything, was found.

The results of SCI FI's new investigation into the incident will air Friday in a documentary hosted by Bryant Gumbel called "The New Roswell: Kecksburg Exposed."

In Kecksburg it hired a forestry expert from West Virginia University who discovered growth patterns and core damage to trees there that support a "traumatic event" in 1965.

SCI FI, a unit of Vivendi Universal, is among the assets recently sold to General Electric Co.'s NBC. Hammer sees the integration with a network news operation as a potential boon for SCI FI's newsgathering efforts.

"If it's something that seems credible, absolutely," said Hammer on the potential of working with NBC journalists. "But we're not going to do it just to create buzz."

The New Roswell: Kecksburg Exposed first airs Friday October 24, 2003 on Sci Fi Channel at 9PM/8c.

Sci Fi's Kecksburg site -

Rumors and Stuff
By FLAtRich

Hollywood October 21, 2003 (eXoNews) - With the entertainment industry frozen by the World Series and Robert deNiro's prostrate cancer news, it might be time to look around for some hot rumors. Here are a few we found.

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan and Juliet Landau are all set to appear on Angel this season, according to Kristin at E! She also reports that Spike will appear in the buff (his own, that is.)

E! may be wrong about Gellar, however. Joss Whedon has cast some doubt on Buffy's return (see article below.)

E! reports that the rumored end of Crossing Jordan may be true. The show went on hiatus for star Jill Hennessy's new baby, but now word is that Hennessy has decided to call it quits.

Six new Jordan episodes were in the can but not completed.

Zap2It reports that CBS has ordered an additional six episodes of their hit drama Joan of Arcadia, NBC has ordered nine more episodes of Las Vegas and five more for Whoopi.

As we told you last week, the WB upped Angel from 13 episodes to a full season.

E! reports that CBS has also ordered six more episodes of Cold Case and NBC has sidelined Boomtown after two less than successful seasons.

Fox has ordered three more episodes for its yet to be seen Still Life.

Official Angel site -,7353,||139,00.html

Official Joan of Arcadia site -

Carmen Electra Goes to Monster Island

Hollywood October 20, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Carmen Electra has been cast as herself in the upcoming MTV original movie Monster Island, a satire of classic monster movies, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Electra will play the celebrity host of a fictional MTV beach concert that goes awry when a giant creature crashes the party and flies away with her in its beak, the trade paper reported.

The teen cast tries to rescue her with the help of a mad scientist, who will be played by Adam West, star of the 1960s TV series Batman, the trade paper reported. The cast includes Daniel Letterle, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Harrison, Chelan Simmons, Case Beddow and Joe MacLeod.

Monster Island is scheduled to air in the first quarter of 2004.

LA Film Critics Cancel 2003 Awards
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES October 20, 2003 (AP) - The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has canceled its 2003 awards to protest an industry ban on sending special DVDs and videos to award voters.

The association voted Saturday not to hand out the awards, which can boost interest in a film and predict its Oscar chances. Members said they would consider resuming the awards if the studios again hand out videos and DVDs of new films.

The major studios and their trade group, the Motion Picture Association of America, agreed in September to stop sending "screener" copies to the 5,600 Academy Awards voters and other groups that hand out awards, including the Los Angeles Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics.

The studios hoped to prevent piracy, but the decision angered supporters of smaller movies who say voters may miss independent pictures if they have to see them at screenings in theaters. Opponents of the ban say screener distribution has led to several Academy Awards for smaller films, include best actress wins for Halle Berry in 2001's "Monster's Ball" and Hilary Swank in 1999's "Boys Don't Cry."

Ella Taylor, a critic for the LA Weekly, suggested the cancellation and said she hoped other critics groups also would withhold awards.

She said there were many films released toward the end of the year, and that voters may not be able to see them all without screeners.

"Unless they rescind the ban we just don't feel that we can really do our work properly," she said.

Jean Oppenheimer, the president of the association, said many critics see films in theaters but use screener copies to view films again as they decide the best pictures of the year.

"This really helps inform us better," said Oppenheimer, who reviews films for New Times, National Public Radio and other outlets.

MPAA officials did not immediately return calls for comment Sunday.

Cordy and Willow on Angel

Hollywood October 17, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Joss Whedon, co-creator of The WB's vampire series Angel, told the Associated Press that he hopes to bring back former regular cast member Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) sometime this season, even if it's just to wrap up her character's story. Carpenter left the show at the end of last season, the show's fourth, and her character was left lying in a coma.

"We definitely want to see Charisma again," Whedon told the AP, according to a report on "She has an important part to play this season to bring some closure." If things work out, there's a chance viewers could see Cordelia around the midway point of the season, Zap2it reported.

Whedon was less sanguine about a guest appearance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, the former star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which spawned Angel. "I'm not banking on it," Whedon said.

Meanwhile, Angel co-star Alexis Denisof (Wesley) repeated to the AP that he's hopeful that his new wife, Alyson Hannigan, will appear on the show as Willow. "I hope they can talk her into it," Denisof said. "I'll certainly be trying to talk her into it."

[Alyson Hannigan was recently signed to a sitcom development deal by NBC. Ed.]

Official Angel site -,7353,||139,00.html

Take our Angel Fan Poll, find fan links and get the latest Angel ratings at

Read more about Angel in Kate O'Hare's recent Zap2it article on Mercedes McNab (Harmony) at,1002,274|84171|1|,00.html

Mrs. Peel Wins Libel Suit

LONDON October 21, 2003 (AP) - Actress Diana Rigg has accepted $48,000 libel damages from the publisher of two tabloids she said portrayed her as an embittered woman who held British men in low regard.

Dame Diana, 65, was at London's High Court Monday for the settlement of her libel action against Associated Newspapers.

Her lawyer, Tom Amlot, told the court that articles appeared about her in September 2002 in the Daily Mail, and the following month, in both the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard.

Among other things, they said she was critical of British men and had retired to live a reclusive existence in France, Amlot said.

The first Daily Mail article had incorrectly suggested that she had referred in an interview to the reasons for the break up of her second marriage to businessman Archie Stirling and had discussed her first marriage to painter Menachem Gueffen, he added.

Amlot said Rigg was also concerned that the incorrect suggestion she was retiring would harm her professional reputation and ability to secure work.

[Diana Rigg is best known for her role as Mrs. Emma Peel in the 1960's hit British TV series The Avengers and as the host of the PBS series Mystery in the US. She is a classically trained actress with many stage and film credits. Ed.]

Matt McKenzie, representing the newspapers, said that they had apologized. Apart from damages, they had also agreed to pay Rigg's court costs — estimated at around $128,000 — and make a donation to the Children with AIDS charity, he said.

Phenomena Launched

Los Angeles October 20, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Former CBS president Jeff Sagansky has launched Phenomena, a new bimonthly magazine dedicated to the exploration of the unexplained, publishers announced. Mania Entertainment (Cinescape) will publish the magazine, whose first issue is on newsstands now.

"This content has been a passion of mine for some time, and Phenomena presents a forum to let readers in on the latest research and speculation from writers all over the world," Sagansky said in a statement. Simon Cox (the CD-ROM magazine DUAT) will be the editor-in-chief of Phenomena.

The November/December 2003 premiere issue features an article by Cox, Robert Kirby and Sam Parnia examining near-death experiences from a medical point of view.

Phenomena website -

John Lennon on Broadway?

NEW YORK October 15, 2003 (Reuters) - Imagine a Broadway musical based on songs by John Lennon - Yoko Ono has and on Wednesday producers announced she had given the go-ahead for a show using her late husband's work.

Tentatively titled "The Lennon Project," the stage musical will explore the turbulent times of the 1960s and 1970s with some 30 songs drawn from more than 200 Lennon wrote after the Beatles break-up. The legendary band released their last album, "Let It Be," in 1970 but had already dissolved as a act.

"Over the past two decades, I have been experiencing the feedback from the world to John's life, statements and music," Ono said in a statement.

"I realized what John had meant to the world. He was a catalyst who brought down the hypocrisy and the old world establishments by saying 'Gimme Some Truth.'

"What we present on stage should again give people insight, encouragement, inspiration and fun, so they can go on with their lives with some assurance and hope."

The show, which is planned for the 2004-2005 season, will be produced by Edgar Lansbury and Don Scardino.

Scardino will also direct the show with a script he plans to write with Eric Overmyer.

The Lennon show follows several recent Broadway shows based on preexisting songs by a composer.

The long-running "Mamma Mia" is based on music by Abba; the Tony-winning, rock-ballet "Movin' Out" is performed to Billy Joel's music; and this season marks the opening of "The Boy from Oz," a musical biography of Australian cabaret singer Peter Allen.

Ono says Lennon's message still resonates in the world today. "His message of love and peace is very, very important, especially now," Ono told Reuters in a recent interview.

"It is really taking off without me pushing too much. And I think it is really important that his words and music are communicated, especially to the younger generation."

No Respect for a Dangerfield Clone
By Ray Richmond

LOS ANGELES October 20, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Something crossed my desk last week that was more frightening than anything I'd seen in many a year. It caused me to almost tremble, then fill with a sense of immense, all-encompassing dread.

I'm talking, of course, about the news that Rodney Dangerfield may be the first in line to have himself cloned. Imagine it: a Dangerfield Mini-Me, eyes bulging, flop sweat dripping onto his too-tight collar, pulling on his tiny tie, whining about how even after being reborn he gets "no respect, no respect at all."

Why would anyone want to clone this? Shouldn't some human genes and DNA simply go to the grave?

It's that whole immortality thing. Rodney's wife, Joan, told that respected compendium of human endeavor -- the New York Post -- that she and her husband are "clone-curious."

I recall having once interviewed Dangerfield by telephone in the 1980s. I wanted to play a bit, and I said to him, "So, are you finally getting a little respect now?" He was in no mood, shooting back, "What are you talking about? I've always gotten respect. That's just my act, you know? Just a gimmick. You understand?"

So much for the theory that double the Rodney would make for double the fun.

According to the Post, Joan Dangerfield spoke to the mystical folks at the human cloning company Clonaid, who reportedly told her that they could create a clone of Rodney by taking a swab of cells from his cheek. I guess that's what you do with cheeky comedians. It's unclear what region you might take the cells from if you were cloning, say, Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

But just imagine the can of worms this could open. Reproducing in your own image could now be literal. The term "born again" would apply to celebrities and have nothing to do with religion or belief in anything save replication.

I don't believe that human cloning is a crime against humanity, as some charge. But subjecting future generations to the same quirks and foibles of a person in show business just might be.

Ask yourself: How many versions of Angelina Jolie can a single planet tolerate? How many Ben Afflecks? How many Jerry Springers and Howard Sterns and Madonnas?

It's disturbing enough that so many celebs are procreating. Cloning, however, would take it to another level entirely. It's a threat that, quite frankly, must be nipped in the bud lest it be held over our heads like a collective, insidious menace.

One can almost see this becoming a trump card in contract negotiations: "Sure, I could accept the mid-level trailer over the deluxe, but you'll have to bankroll my cloning." Oh, dear God, no! Anything, anything but that! Name your price!

The only people who figure to be thrilled with this is the tabloids. Cloning stands to double their celebrity pool and, thus, the amount of potential dirt. This hardly qualifies as a compelling reason.

When they can start making would-be celebrities in a laboratory, it's all over. Think about the sense of entitlement these "offspring" would be growing up with. You would no longer be Katie Couric's kid but Katie's living reincarnation.

Talk about a legacy to have to live up to. There's enough pressure on celebrity progeny as it is. But being a clone, well, you've eliminated the layer of excuse for why you haven't succeeded like mom or dad.

So, I implore Rodney not to go there. Don't approach Clonaid and ask, "So, you want a piece of me?" In return, we'll give you all the respect you want. In this lifetime.

[Too bad Hope and Berle didn't sign up for this before they left us. Rodney's clone won't get any respect anyway. Ed.]

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