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Dolphins of War!
Baby Clones, Quasar Winds,
Lenny Kravitz, Salam Pax,
Suicide Terrorism & More!
Dolphins of War!
PARIS March 25, 2003 (AFP) - The US military's use of trained dolphins to help demine southern Iraqi waters ran into crossfire from animal-rights groups and biologists, who branded the scheme both unethical and unreliable. 

"We are strongly opposed to keeping these mammals in captivity, and we're not happy with this exploitation," Cathy Williamson of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, a British-based agency, told AFP. "The animals could get hurt, and that's not justified."

Stephanie Boyles, a wildlife biologist at the US campaign group PETA (People for the Ethical Treaty of Animals), slammed the US military for "absolutely" exploiting animals. 

"It is very cruel to put an animal in harm's way," she told AFP. "But our concern isn't just for the animals, it's also for the troops." 

"These animals are being taught basically to do tricks and animals, especially animals as intelligent as sea lions and dolphins, have minds of their own, and the chance of their failing to fulfill a mission when life and death are at stake is quite possible," Boyles said. 

Similar doubts were expressed by a French expert, Olivier van Canneyt, an expert on marine mammals at the Sea and Coastline Institute in La Rochelle, western France. 

Dolphins are quite hardy animals and could probably survive the long transport and change of sea temperature quite well, he said. 

"However, I have to say I am very skeptical as to whether they will be effective," he said. Van Canneyt said that a rival dolphin-training program by the Soviet Union, and then Russia, had been abandoned several years ago because of disappointing results. 

"It has to be said that the reliability is low, and even if dolphins are trained for years they may not do what you want them to do," Van Canneyt said. 

Even though these animals had known no other life other than captivity, "it is quite a pity that they are being used as objects and for military use," he said. 

In Qatar on Tuesday, US General Victor Renuart said that dolphins were being used to help demine the Khawr Abdullah waterway linking the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr to the Gulf to help bring in shiploads of relief supplies.

The aid should start to arrive in Iraq on Wednesday, officers said in Umm Qasr. 

The dolphins are among a unit of 70 dolphins and 20 sea lions that have been trained by the US Navy's Marine Mammal Program to spot underwater mines and enemy scuba divers who may be trying to plant explosives in deep waters. 

The program was launched in 1960 when US researchers began studying dolphins to get clues as to how to design new streamline torpedoes to strike Soviet submarines at the height of the Cold War. 

The dolphins first went into action during the Vietnam War and again in the 1990-1991 Gulf War. 

The animals are acquired from sea parks and are born in captivity, their trainers told AFP earlier this month. The program has funding of between 10 and 20 million dollars a year (9.39-18.78 million euros). 

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), said it could not comment on the use of dolphins in demining. 

"We work on conservation issues. These are dolphins that have been bred in captivity, so it does not come within our remit," a spokesman said at the agency's headquarters in Britain said.

Clonaid Shows Baby Picture
SAO PAULO, Brazil March 25, 2003 (Reuters) - A company that claims to have produced five cloned humans but has not provided any evidence has showed for the first time a photograph of what it said was a cloned baby. 

Clonaid, a company linked to the Raelian movement that believes extraterrestrials created mankind, said the baby's parents would soon prove in Brazil that it had the same DNA as its dead, older sibling.

Previously Clonaid has failed to live up to such pledges to give evidence of its cloning claims. 

The photograph's presentation on Monday was the latest episode in what many scientists say is a hoax to publicize the Raelians. 

Clonaid said in December it cloned the first human, "Eve". 

Rael, the movement's founder, and Clonaid President Brigitte Boisselier showed a computer with a picture of the 3-month-old Japanese baby they said was the third clone. 

The picture, to be put on Clonaid's Web site, showed a normal-looking baby in diapers in a hospital incubator. Its eyes appeared to be bandaged. 

Boisselier and Rael, whose real name is Claude Vorilhon, were in Brazil to present Rael's book on cloning.

Clonaid Web site - 

[OK. Let's get serious, here. Would you let this woman anywhere near a human child? Ed.]

Nose News!
How Humans Lost Their Scents
Weizmann Institute Press Release

March 18, 2003 - In at least one type of endeavor, humans can't even begin to compete with their best friends. Dogs can be trained to sniff out drugs and explosives or to track down a crime suspect by smell. Why can't we do the same? Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology propose an explanation for this ancient quandary. 

All mammals, including humans, have about 1,000 genes encoding smell-detecting proteins, or olfactory receptors. These receptors, located in the mucous lining of the nose, identify scents by binding to molecules of odorous substances.

However, not all olfactory receptor genes are functioning in all species. It is the percentage of the working olfactory genes that determines the sharpness of smell in animals and humans. 

In previous studies, the team of Prof. Doron Lancet of the Weizmann Institute's Molecular Genetics Department discovered that more than half of these genes in humans contain a mutation that prevents them from working properly.

In a new study, published in the March 18, 2003 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the scientists tackled the next question: is the genetic "loss" a relatively old phenomenon affecting all primates, or did it occurr only in humans? 

To resolve this issue, the researchers compared the DNA sequences of 50 olfactory receptor genes that are common to humans and different species of apes and monkeys.

They found that 54 percent of the genes were impaired in humans, as opposed to only 28 to 36 percent in the other species.

This research has made it possible to reconstruct this sense's deterioration over the course of evolution: apparently, its decline took place within an "evolutionary moment" – only 3 to 5 million years– and occurred four times faster in the branch leading to humans compared to other primates.

The scientists conclude that the drop in the sharpness of smell is a purely Homo sapiens feature. It probably stemmed from the development of the brain in the human direction – a direction that entailed increased emphasis on vision, development of the ability to distinguish colors and the capacity to identify other members of the species by facial appearance rather than by smell. 

The research team included Yoav Gilad, a Ph.D. student at the Weizmann Institute's Feinberg Graduate School who conducted collaborative research at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, his adviser Prof. Doron Lancet, Weizmann graduate student Orna Man, and Prof. Svante Pöäbo, head of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig.

Three Die Retrieving Phone from Latrine

NAIROBI March 14, 2003 (Reuters) - Three Kenyans died trying to retrieve a mobile phone that slipped down an open-pit latrine while its owner answered a call of nature, a newspaper reported on Friday. Anxious to recover her phone, the owner in the coastal town of Mombasa offered 1,000 shillings ($13.09) to anyone who would recover it, the Daily Nation said. 

Well over half the Kenyan population of 30 million people lives on less than $1 a day. 

The first to try -- a 30-year-old radio technician -- failed to resurface after disappearing down a ladder into the latrine. His friend went after him but slipped and fell. The third casualty, trying to rescue the others, was hauled out of the pit by neighbors after he inhaled the fumes and lost consciousness. 

The man was rushed to hospital but died on the way. 

"The fumes inside must be extremely poisonous considering the short time it was taking to disable the retrievers," acting Mombasa police chief Peter Njenga was reported as saying. 

The Daily Nation said police prevented a fourth man from climbing into the latrine and the search for the phone was eventually abandoned.

Quasar Winds Spur New Stars
Penn State News Release

March 25, 2003 - Supermassive black holes, notorious for ripping apart and swallowing stars, might also help seed interstellar space with the elements necessary for life, such as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and iron, scientists say.

Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton satellite, scientists at Penn State and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found evidence of high-speed winds blowing away copious amounts of gas from the cores of two quasar galaxies, which are thought to be powered by black holes.

"The winds we measured imply that as much as a billion suns' worth of material is blown away over the course of a quasar's lifetime," said Dr. George Chartas of the Penn State Astronomy and Astrophysics Department, who led the observations.

The winds might also regulate black hole growth and spur the creation of new stars, according to the science team, which includes Drs. Niel Brandt and Gordon Garmire of Penn State and Dr. Sarah Gallagher of MIT.

These results are presented today in a press conference at the meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society at Mt. Tremblant, Quebec. Different from high-speed jets shooting off subatomic particles, the newly identified gusts arise from the disk of matter orbiting the black hole, called the accretion disk, once thought to be a one-way ticket into the black hole.

Black holes are objects so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational attraction. But this only applies once matter crosses the theoretical border of a black hole, called the event horizon. Outside the event horizon, the tug of gravity is strong, but matter and light can escape.

Theorists have suggested that a wind could blow away material from its accretion disk and pepper the interstellar region with heavier elements. The wind is created by radiation pressure, analogous to earthly winds created by varying high and low air pressure systems.

Chartas and his colleagues observed two quasars, which are exceedingly distant star-like objects thought to be the bright cores of galaxies fueled by a supermassive black hole. With Chandra, the team observed a quasar called APM 08279+5255; and with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, they observed a quasar named PG1115+080.

Both quasars are billions of light years away from Earth. However, APM 08279+5255 was naturally magnified by a factor of about 100 and PG1115+080 by a factor of about 25 through a process called gravitational lensing.

Essentially, their light, while en route to us, was distorted and magnified by the gravity of intervening galaxies acting like telescope lenses.

With the natural boost in magnification, coupled with the X-ray observatories' abilities, the scientists could ascertain several key properties in the quasar light, such as the speed of the gas that absorbed the light, as well as the material's proximity to the black hole.

The team found the first observational evidence of a wind component transporting a substantial amount of carbon, oxygen and iron into the interstellar and intergalactic medium. The wind was moving at 40 percent light speed, considerably faster than predicted.

Brandt said the observation may spur new theoretical work about black hole winds and their effect on their environs. For example, Brandt said, "the wind might provide insight to the relationship between black hole mass and the central bulge of its host galaxy."

Chandra, launched in July 1999, is the third in NASA's Great Observatory series, a sister craft to the Hubble Space Telescope. ESA's XMM-Newton was launched from French Guiana in December 1999 and carries three advanced X-ray telescopes.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program, and TRW, Inc., Redondo Beach, Calif., is the prime contractor for the spacecraft. The Smithsonian's Chandra X-ray Center controls science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass., for the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters, Washington.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory -

ESA's XMM-Newton -

Civilian Iraqis Hunt for Water and Food
By Michael Georgy

NEAR ZUBAYR, Iraq March 25, 2003 (Reuters) — Iraqis drink dirty water from wells. Others comb hospitals searching for medicine. Civilians pose as soldiers and try to surrender, hoping U.S. or British forces will feed them.

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in southern Iraq five days into the U.S.-British invasion aimed at toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The biggest grievance is lack of water, with supplies cut off by a thunderous ground and air assault in the south, home to Iraq's Shi'ite Muslims, many of whom are eager to see Saddam go.

"We need water. All we can do is dig for water in wells. It is water that even animals would not drink," said 30-year-old Muhammad Ali, who is unemployed.

The voices on the ground in this southern town, 12 miles south of the major city of Basra, give weight to the crisis warnings from aid agencies and the United Nations.

Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for rapid action to help the people of Basra, home to 2 million people and Iraq's second largest city, get adequate water supplies.

"I think urgent measures should be taken to restore electricity and water to that population," he said. "A city of that size cannot afford to go without electricity or water for long. Apart from the water aspect, you can imagine what it does for sanitation."

Basra's main Wafa al-Qaed water treatment plant has been out of action due to a power outage since Friday. And while other plants can supply about 40 percent of usual needs, the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva describes the situation as an emergency.

Near Zubayr, some civilians can be seen walking to the checkpoints set up by the invading forces. The civilians pretend to be Iraqi soldiers who want to surrender, a move to secure U.S. military meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) and bottles of mineral water. But they are turned away after failing to present proper identification.

"I would like to surrender," said one man, who was quickly rejected by a British soldier.

U.S. and British troops expect humanitarian aid shipments to arrive in the next few days. But Iraqis appear unaware of this.

It also depends on the invading forces' ability to secure the area and make it safe for aid workers. The U.S. and British troops are moving through the south more slowly than expected, raising the prospect of prolonged hardship for Iraqi civilians.

"We can't drive because petrol (gasoline) is running out. There is no gas. What can we do?" asked Abdullah, who was riding a bicycle past the Southern Gas Company through a British checkpoint protected by tanks.

In Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman said President Vladimir Putin urged President Bush by telephone to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Iraq. People there have already been weakened by two previous wars in two decades and years of international sanctions. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), one in four children in Iraq already suffers from malnutrition.

Concerns about basic needs are mixed with fear, as militias loyal to Saddam resist the invading troops and spread panic among the civilian population, said several people interviewed.

At another checkpoint, Iraqis with blankets and pots piled in the back of trucks streamed out of the town of al-Zubayr. They said armed members of the ruling Baath party were intimidating the civilians in the town which was why many were leaving.

"They took my three sons and executed them this morning behind the hospital in al-Zubayr," said Adil Sughayar, waving his hands in the air.

The Baath Party is not the only object of rage.

Frustrated Iraqis wander to checkpoints looking for relatives they said had been arrested by the U.S. or British forces.

"We go and we try to find water because it has been cut off in our area, and then the Americans and British arrest people who are not even soldiers," said Mohsen Ibrahim. "They've arrested my brother. Where can I find him?," he asked a British soldier.

When Iraqis are not worrying about food and water supplies, they dread what could happen if Saddam survives the U.S. and British military firepower.

The southern port city of Umm Qasr has been pounded by shells for days. But according to at least some citizens, it is the Baath Party members who have paralyzed the town with fear.

"The Americans think there are Republican Guards in the city. It's only 10 men with old rifles who are resisting," said Ali Muhammed, an army deserter. "Everyone else wants the Americans to free Umm Qasr. We would like to kill the 10 men, but we are afraid that if the Americans don't win, Saddam will slit our throats."

Lenny Kravitz Releases Peace Song with Iraqi Star
By Sue Zeidler 

LOS ANGELES March 25, 2003 (Reuters) - Rocker Lenny Kravitz released a peace anthem with an Iraqi pop star on Tuesday, joining a growing list of recording artists to release protest songs directly to the Internet to bypass a cautious and sometimes hostile radio market. 

R.E.M., the Beastie Boys, John Mellencamp and former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha have all released anti-war songs via the Internet in recent weeks. 

Kravitz issued his song, "We Want Peace," which he recorded last week in Miami with popular Iraqi musical star Kadim Al Sahir, on the Web site of Rock the Vote, a national organization which encourages young people to become involved in politics. 

Kravitz, who in 1991 put together an all-star ensemble to cover John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," said he had chosen to tie up with Rock the Vote "because of its strong stance with young people as defenders of free expression." 

With opinion polls showing a majority of Americans supporting the war against Iraq, radio companies have been cautious to play anti-war songs. 

Earlier this month, country music superstars the Dixie Chicks were hit by a nearly 30 percent drop in airplay on country music stations after they criticized President Bush's war plans in Iraq. 

"Anti-war songs usually are not a very popular choice for program directors during a time of war. Program directors follow the lead set by their listeners. In this case, two-thirds of the American public say they back the war," said Rich Meyer, president of Mediabase, a division of Premiere Radio Networks. "It could be a dangerous move for stations to step out and take a stand against."

Premiere is a unit of Clear Channel, which syndicates 60 programs to more than 7,800 radio affiliates. One of its biggest personalities, Glenn Beck, has been leading pro-war demonstrations called "Rally for America," across the country. 

The one notable success for the anti-war movement on the radio airwaves has been "Peacekeeper," a new Fleetwood Mac single recently debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at 93. 

Other artists, however, have sought to steer clear of controversy. Handlers for the soon-to-be-released Madonna single, "American Life," are saying the song is not "anti-war" but intended to promote peace. 

"Madonna's single, 'American Life', is not at all anti-war or political in any way shape or form," her spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg said. 

The song's controversial video, however, reportedly shows the diva in military fatigues, tossing grenades while images of fashion models, soldiers and bloody babies flash on screen. 

Kravitz too stresses his song is about peace, not war. The song features Palestinian musician Simon Shaheen on strings and Lebanese artist Jamey Hadded on percussion. 

Kravitz is currently signed to EMI Group Plc's Virgin Records, but the record label had no participation in the single.

Lenny Kravitz Official site -

Madonna's Official site -

Rock the Vote -

Peace Activists Transition to War
By Kim Campbell
Staff Writer
Christian Science Monitor 

USA March 24, 2003 (CSM) - They couldn't stop the war, but US peace protesters are stopping traffic - reminding Americans and the world that despite what polls say, antiwar sentiments remain strong on President Bush's home turf.

Demonstrations from New York to San Francisco over the weekend drew hundreds of thousands of participants and punctuated a week of high-profile antiwar activities that included closing down major thoroughfares and lighting candles for peace.

Activists have been quick to dismiss charges that such protests are unpatriotic when troops are at risk. But at the same time, they've been waging a nuanced internal debate, struggling with how to transition from peace to wartime.

From determining the effectiveness of civil disobedience to identifying a position on a post-invasion regime, those opposed to the war are trying to define what their role in public discussion should be now that bombs are falling. Some organizers maintain that their mission remains the same: to effect long-term change.

"It's not just about stopping this war, it's about stopping the war system," says Brian Corr, who co-chairs the national board of Peace Action. The challenge now, he adds, is to transform new activists "from people who are working against the war in Iraq to people who are stopping the chain of war."

In the short run, the goal is to end the war as quickly as possible, with some activists planning to lobby Congress to cut off the funding so the troops can come home. In the meantime, organizers are providing information about where to send donations to relief organizations that help Iraqis and offering ways to send e-mail messages of support to military personnel in the Gulf.

"I am very much antiwar, I'm not anti-US troops," says Kendra Hoyt, who attended a rally in Boston on Friday and echoes the sentiment of many protesters.

The rally Ms. Hoyt attended featured speakers from different faiths, including Rabbi Sheila Weinberg, who drew on the Bible to offer encouragement to activists as they proceed: "Our most ancient Book of Psalms enjoins us to 'Seek peace and pursue it,'" she told a few hundred peaceful protesters. "Not only must we seek peace, we must pursue it when it is running away from us. We must not lose hope in the possibility of peace, as its light seems to dim in the world."

Why stop traffic?

One of the peace movement's biggest advantages is its ability to mobilize Americans quickly - thanks in large part to the Internet. Despite winning praise from some observers for its effective organizing in the last week, however, the movement is being held to high standards by critics who charge that activists should be doing more than shutting down streets in major cities like Chicago.

"I don't think any useful purpose is served by blocking Lake Shore Drive," says Bill Galston, who directs the University of Maryland's Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. "The issues [at hand] are of the utmost gravity for the future of the country, and shrill voices and guerrilla tactics are inappropriate for those issues."

Professor Galston, who opposes the war, recalls how quickly antiwar sentiment during the Vietnam War turned into anti-Americanism, and is concerned that current movement, with some of its more strident factions, could run the same risk.

He'd like to see a clearer message from activists, and offers these suggestions: that the movement insist on a serious commitment to decency and democracy in Iraq and that it critique the changed basis of post-9/11 US foreign policy, which appears to suggest that any country who may give weapons to terrorists is a threat to the US - and could be invaded.

Diverse opinions

But the range of opinions in the current movement is so wide that it's nearly impossible to have a single message other than "No War," note activists and those who study social movements.

And not all agree that it's the responsibility of the movement to provide the heady solutions. Rather, they say, their role is to make it known that opposition exists.

Moving forward, social observers see ways the peace movement could use its momentum to raise issues - such as healthcare, education, and the economy - that are related to the war but affect more than foreign policy.

"I think we're going to see the peace movement carry on whether it's a short war or not," says Cecelia Lynch, a political science professor at the University of California at Irvine. Unlike Galston, Professor Lynch sees a place for civil disobedience. She says it served, at least last week, as an outlet for the anger and despair the activists were feeling over the start of the war.

"They saw this week as a moment of crisis that needed a dramatic response," she says. "The metaphor here is that this administration is embarking on a new assault that is dangerous for the world, and by shutting down roadways we are objecting to this change in business as usual."

War's onset, through one protester's eyes

When war breaks out, a peace activist can be as busy as a battalion commander - discussing the situation with friends, participating in protests, and reflecting on what it means that US tanks are rolling into someone else's backyard.

"This is really not a war, it's an invasion," says Vicky Steinitz, a grass-roots organizer and professor at the University of Massachusetts. "I mean, the very idea that anybody could be concerned that we might lose this war is just absurd."

Here's a chronicle of Ms. Steinitz activities, and her thoughts, as the first days of the US-led war in Iraq evolved:

Thursday. The morning after the first US attack on Iraq, Ms. Steinitz contemplates the president's speech and wonders if the initial attack on the bunker reportedly housing Iraqi leaders might keep casualties down. "I had this thought of, on the one hand, the idea of assassinations being illegal, against international laws, but on the other hand feeling that maybe this would ward off the massive 'shock and awe' ... choreographed extravaganza that had been planned."

For Steinitz, fighting for peace began right after Sept. 11 when she helped a local group - United for Justice with Peace - get off the ground. Though not a pacifist, she believes in nonviolent solutions to problems.

And in the first two days of the war, she returns often to her concern about how many Iraqi civilians might die as a result of the war - deaths that she calls "morally unconscionable."

In the afternoon, she attends a rally in Boston's Government Center, one of many such "day after" demonstrations around the country. The crowd chants "peace now," as the petite Steinitz considers whether the Iraqi president was killed in the first US attack the night before.

She guesses no, because the US "usually misses," she says, recalling the times the government announced that it almost had Osama Bin Laden.

That evening she is heartened to see the extent of the continuing protests on television.
"I think the numbers of people around the world willing to put themselves on the line clearly shows that anger and outrage about this is not something temporary, and it's not going to go away."

Friday. She joins a noon rally held by an interfaith group, where she holds hands in a circle formed by the crowd of several hundred and sings along with a song offered by a rabbi. She is unaware that across the world in Baghdad, the "shock and awe" air war is about to commence.

When she finally sees the television coverage the air assault on Baghdad a few hours later, she has only one word to describe it: "Horrible."

Salam Pax, The Baghdad Blogger
By Jonathan Wright 

WASHINGTON March 25, 2003 (Reuters) - A mysterious Iraqi who calls himself Salam Pax, writing a Web log from the heart of Baghdad, has developed a large Internet following with his wry accounts of daily life in a city under U.S. bombardment. 

Salam Pax, a pseudonym crafted from the Arabic and Latin words for peace, came back on line on Monday after a two-day break because of interruptions in Internet access. 

The traffic on his Web site caused the server to go down and Salam's e-mail folder has filled with inquiries about his true identity. 

Salam, who writes in English, is the only resident of Iraq (news - web sites) known to be filing accounts of the war directly to the Web. 

He has spoken against the invasion but clearly has no great love for Iraq's Baathist leaders. 

"Freaks. Hurling abuse at the world is the only thing left for them to do," he said last week after media appearances by Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf and Interior Minister Mahmoud Diyab al-Ahmed. 

But he does not like seeing his city bombed either. "The only thing I could think of was 'why does this have to happen to Baghdad'. As one of the buildings I really love went up in a huge explosion I was close to tears," he wrote on Saturday. 

Salam and his family have been out on reconnaissance missions around the city to inspect the damage and they report the bombing has been accurate but dangerous to civilians. 

"Today before noon I went out with my cousin to take a look at the city. Two things. 1) the attacks are precise. 2) they are attacking targets which are just too close to civilian areas in Baghdad," he wrote on Sunday. 

On Saturday he reported a rare eyewitness account of Iraqi policemen setting fire to the oil in trenches dug around Baghdad, apparently to confuse the guidance system of bombs. 

"My cousine (sic) came and told me he saw police cars standing by one and setting it on fire. Now you can see the columns of smoke all over the city," he wrote. 

Salam reports that the streets of Baghdad are busy but few shops are open. Vegetable prices shot up in the first days of the war but by Sunday they had fallen back to normal. 

In the first days of the U.S. and British invasion, Salam gave the impression of calm resignation but his tone changed on Sunday when Iraqi resistance surfaced and casualties rose. 

"If Um Qasar (the port of Umm Qasr in the south) is so difficult to control what will happen when they get to Baghdad? It will turn uglier and this is very worrying," he wrote. 

"People (and I bet "allied forces") were expecting things to be mush (sic) easier. There are no waving masses of people welcoming the Americans nor are they surrendering by the thousands. People are doing what all of us are, sitting in their homes hoping that a bomb doesn't fall on them and keeping their doors shut." 

The electricity has gone out in parts of Baghdad and the Bush administration has launched another e-mail blitz on Iraqis, sending him five messages, he reported. 

"Three of them are to army personnel and two to the general public. In those they gave us the radio frequencies we are supposed to listen to. They are calling it 'Information Radio'," he said.

Salam Pax blog -
Brains on Booze
Oregon Health & Science University Press Release

PORTLAND OR March 25, 2003 – Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) have discovered a new region of the brain involved in chronic alcohol consumption. This research may be used to develop new or improved drugs and therapies aimed at combating alcoholism. The finding also presents a more complete picture of the brain's important role in alcohol abuse. 

The research, which is printed in the March 25 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, centers on a peptide called urocortin. The peptide is connected to alcohol craving. Scientists at OHSU and collaborators at Indiana University tracked urocortin to a group of brain cells located in the midbrain. The group of cells is called the Edinger-Westphal (EW) nucleus. 

"This research is the first to tie this region of the brain to alcohol abuse," said Andrey Ryabinin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine and senior author of the paper. "It is also the first time urocortin levels have been tied to alcohol consumption." 

To conduct this research, Ryabinin and his colleagues studied mice bred to crave alcohol compared with normal mice that will drink alcohol served with a sugar solution. Researchers found that levels of urocortin in the brain corresponded with each animal's desire to drink alcohol. Animals with high urocortin levels consumed large quantities of alcohol. Conversely, animals with low urocortin levels craved less alcohol. The scientists also tracked communications between cells containing urocortin and a region of the forebrain involved in regulating alcohol consumption and brain reward mechanisms. 

"While there is much more research to be done, we think that either this small group of neurons or the peptide urocortin may be good targets for drugs or therapies for treating those with alcohol addiction in the future," explained Ryabinin. "For instance, it is worth testing whether reducing urocortin levels may reduce alcohol craving." 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a component of the National Institutes of Health, funded this research.
The Logic of Suicide Terrorism
University of Warwick Press Release

March 26, 2003 - Suicide terrorism seems to many to defy logic. Economists find the idea particularly hard to understand in the context of economic theories that are usually based on ideas of self interest: surely self interest must preclude self killing? But now a new research paper by Professor Mark Harrison an economist at the University of Warwick says that the value placed on personal identity by suicide terrorists provides some of the answers. 

The paper examines three elements involved in the emergence of suicide terrorism: how young people build their identities, the role of conflict and oppression in their environment, and the "contract" they make with the terrorist factions.

As we grow up we try different roles in our search for an identity. Identity is very precious. We need it to function in society; without it, we cannot enjoy income, physical health, marriage, or friendship. Through trial and error each of us eventually establishes an identity that we hope will pay better than others. That identity is concerned with how we are expected to live, but may also define how we should die. In particular circumstances some may conclude that their identity’s value can only be preserved by death and will be devalued or completely destroyed by continuing to live. Examples include a mother dying entering a burning house in a futile attempt to save her children, because if she didn’t she would have to live on without her identity as a loving parent, or someone who accepts a death sentence rather than recant their religious faith. 

Professor Harrison suggests that sometimes young people choose identities that can only limit or end their lives. They invest in identities that turn out not to be viable because they lack the ability or resources to carry them off or they choose identities based on wrong information or defined too narrowly to cope with change. This is made more likely if they are trying to construct such identities in a conflict riven and or oppressive environment that further limits that identity and may overcome the innate will of children to love life. This idea may give insights into some key puzzles about suicide attackers such as: 

Why are they not old? Because their choice emerges from a crisis of the young person.

Why are they mainly men? The range of possible identities available to them may be restricted by their gender. Young women are often expected to invest in identities that emphasize their attachment to the rest of humanity through caring and nurture. Young men are limited to more rigid, introverted roles that are more fragile and less resilient under the pressures of growing up.

Why has the proportion of women suicide terrorists risen recently? Draconian attempts to combat terrorism may hinder normal family life and the formation of new families, lowering the opportunity costs facing adolescent women who choose to step outside their normally expected caring nurturing roles. Also, with the rising number of male attackers the relative distinction of the identity to be won by young men may decline, prompting recruitment of more women for whom the distinction of volunteering may be higher.

Why are they not uneducated? Young people often make substantial efforts to get an education but if the efforts invested fail to pay off the identity of a warrior martyr may become more attractive.

Finally, why may they behave irreligiously before they die, for example by drinking and smoking? Because their identity will be affirmed by how they died, not by how they lived.

Professor Harrison notes that terrorist organizations play a crucial role. Suicide terrorism is the outcome of a contract. The suicide attacker and the terrorist faction enter voluntarily into this contract in expectation of mutual benefit. The volunteer trades life for identity. He will die to promote the faction’s terrorist objectives. In return the faction agrees to affirm the volunteer’s identity in the community as a warrior martyr, and also provides the means of destruction to distinguish this identity through violence. However, such a contract risks being broken because it involves one party dying who cannot then observe its fulfillment by the other party. This risk is covered by the widespread promotion of the “living martyr”: a few days before the event the bomber records a final statement of joy at becoming a martyr in photographs, videos, and letters. When the recording has been distributed and the letters and photographs have been sent each side is fully committed and neither can draw back since each will now lose more by breaking the contract than by implementing it.

Professor Harrison’s paper “The Logic of Suicide Terrorism” presented to a conference on “Weapons of Catastrophic Effect: Confronting the Threat” at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, 12-14 Feb 2003, is published in the current issue of the RUSI Security Monitor (Feb 2003).

A longer draft paper, “Suicide Terrorism”, is available from -

Jane's Intelligence Review article on the global threat of suicide terrorists -

Genre News: Angel Returns, Michael Moore, Farscape Ends, Buffy, Three Stooges and Shazam!
Angel Returns! And Maybe Batman too?

Hollywood March 24th (eXoNews) - According to a report by Dark Horizons' informant Jill Millionaire, the infamous Superman movie is still very much on track and there will be an announcement of a new director this week.

But more important, Jill says Angel's David Boreanaz was a serious contender for the role of Krypton's most famous son and spills some news about Angel's future.

DH reports that Boreanaz, "believing that his series mightn't be coming back for another season - was eager to do it (Superman). But at the 11th hour, word was through that his series would be continuing and he wouldn't have time to do the film."

This seems to confirm fan prayers that Angel, the lone surviving Joss Whedon series, will return in the fall, although DB did not profess to know that on a recent E! Chat and nothing is ever official until the WB makes series' renewal announcements in May.

Dark Horizons also added: "There are rumours that (Warners) liked David though, so are considering him for the next 'Batman' movie which 'Memento' genius, Chris Nolan is doing."

Angel as the Dark Knight? That seems appropriate somehow!

Catch Angel Wednesdays at 9 PM PT/8C on the WB.

Charisma's Little Angel
By Lia Haberman 

Hollywood March 27, 2003 (E!) - Unencumbered by centuries of bloodlust, blinding visions or demon spawn, Charisma Carpenter successfully gave birth to a baby boy on Monday.

It's a first child for the WB star and hubby Damian Hardy. The newborn made his debut into a vamp-free Hell-Ay late Monday, nearly a week after Carpenter's original due date. 

"Baby and mother are doing very well," said a rep for the actress. No other details were released. 

Carpenter, 32, and the baby's father, a psychology major at Santa Monica College, wed in a shotgun ceremony in Las Vegas last October attended only by their immediate families. The couple was waiting for baby to make three before throwing a glitzier bash in Tinseltown. 

Mom and Dad reportedly met five or six years ago, dated, got engaged, broke up and then got back together (at least nine months ago by our calculations). 

Carpenter, 32, is best known for playing head case Cordelia Chase first on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and currently on Angel, where her visions direct the demon-fighting group to Los Angelenos in trouble. Cordelia spent much of this season on a higher plane (i.e., out of sight) because of her real-life pregnancy, until it was revealed that Cordy (or at least her evil double) was preggers with Connor's baby--Connor being Angel's bundle of broodiness who grew up faster than any TV kid in tube history. 

Born in Las Vegas, Carpenter kicked her heels up as a San Diego Chargers cheerleader in 1991 before moving to Los Angeles where she caught the attention of TV titan Aaron Spelling, who cast her in the short-lived series Malibu Shores. 

The following year the thespian auditioned for the title role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer but wound up being cast as snotty Cordelia instead. The move paid off for Carpenter, who got Buffy's true love all to herself in 1999, when she and David Boreanaz left to star in their own spinoff series, now in its fourth season. 

Carpenter is expected to return to work soon, albeit briefly, to wrap up the season. It's possibly the series' last--Angel wasn't among the slate of six shows given an early pick up date by the WB this week.

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

Moore Guns for Bush

Hollywood March 23, 2003 (eXoNews) - For those who might have missed it, here's the full text of director Michael Moore's Oscar acceptance speech for his anti-gun film "Bowling for Columbine". Moore got a mixed reception of boos and cheers from the shocked members of the Academy for his remarks and the music drowned out the last two lines.

"Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to - they're here in solidarity with me because we like non-fiction.

"We like non-fiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. 

"Whether it's the fiction of duct tape or fiction of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much."

Farscape Ends and Reruns
By FLAtRich

Hollywood March 22, 2003 (eXoNews) - Pretty shabby way to go for a show that Sci Fi Channel banners as "...the best science fiction series on TV. - TV Guide". I won't spoil it for you if you are still waiting for it, but let's just say that the season four finale of Farscape depressed me.

It wasn't much of an escape from bombs falling on Baghdad.

After four years serving as the flagship original series for the USA's science fiction C-movie and rerun haven, Farscape died on the Sci Fi Channel with minimal respect for Farscape fans (Scapers).

Sci Fi dumped Farscape before the show even had time to film a proper series finale.

The final frame of season four promised "To be continued", but Scapers know this isn't likely. The Sci Fi Channel corporate elite - in an orchestrated performance worthy of Ming the Merciless - claimed that Farscape's audience was too small to support production costs and gave Farscape the boot at the end of season four.

Was it production cost that killed Moya? Or was it bad spending habits?

We'd be in a different reality if Sci Fi had passed on some of the awful "original" movies they've given us this year and used the money to promote Farscape instead.

Ask the average person on the street if they've ever heard of Farscape and they'll give you a blank look before they hit you for spare change. Farscape was worthy of exaltation, but all it got from Sci Fi this season was a one line "thank you" message to Scapers as the final frame went to black. Frell that!

As my Scaper sister pointed out, the show ended more like Morgan and Wong than Henson. Maybe the Muppet masters will bring back John Crichton and company as a feature or TV movie? Maybe Sci Fi will have a change of heart? Maybe they'll have a change of management.

Unfortunately I must add that Sci Fi Channel is a pretty damn good place to be when you need to escape the near-apocalyptic real world. Despite fumbling Farscape and the presence of puzzling reruns like Knight Rider (NOT science fiction guys! What's next? Charlie's Angels? Baywatch?), Sci Fi Channel does score regularly.

They surprised me when Taken got good in the last few episodes (overall the most colossal cliché I've ever seen.) They did pull a big rabbit out of the hat with Children of Dune, a most satisfying, albeit soapy sequel to their miserable remake of Frank Herbert's Dune. (David Lynch movies are sacred ground, children, no matter what. Like Hitchcock.) 

They did give us Roswell reruns. (God, I miss those kids!) And eternal X-Files and Stargate showings. (Stargate is fast becoming Sci Fi's answer to M*A*S*H reruns.)

They gave us Babylon 5 in wide screen! They're giving us Shannen Doherty! (Is that a good thing? The boys say "Yes!")

Unfortunately, Sci Fi Channel also lost Star Trek's spin-offs to TNN, passed on Joss Whedon's Firefly, canceled The Invisible Man, and has elected to resurrect Battlestar Galactica, arguably one of the worst science fiction clones of all time! (Star Wars meets demographically correct family entertainment! Pah!)

Sorry, Galactica fans. I'm off on a rant again and maybe Buck Rogers was worse. Remember that squeaky midget robot? Horrible! Sorry. Stick to the subject, I know.

As a final attempt to placate Scapers, Sci Fi will be repeating all four seasons of Farscape, Sundays through Thursdays at 12 AM ET/PT, starting Monday March 31st. I'll leave it to you to figure out how to get that to work on your VCR timer.

Sci Fi's Farscape site - 

Official Henson Company Farscape site -

The World of Tomorrow 
By Ian Mohr

NEW YORK March 24, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Casey Affleck has come aboard the big-budget sci-fi thriller "The World of Tomorrow," starring the A-list triumvirate of Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, sources said. Affleck steps into the role that Giovanni Ribisi had been in negotiations to play, but that deal fell through.

"World" is currently in production in London for first-time writer/director Kerry Conran. The project is being financed by Aurelio De Laurentiis, who is executive producing, along with Raffaella De Laurentiis and Bill Haber. Jon Avnet and Marsha Oglesby are producing through their Brooklyn Films unit, and Law and his wife, Sadie Frost, are also producers.

Set at the turn of the 20th century, "World" follows a reporter (Paltrow) and two pilots (Law, Jolie) who team up on an adventure. "World" has been described by the film's producers as "retro sci-fi" in the vein of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Affleck, who co-wrote and co-stars in the current release "Gerry" with Matt Damon, is the brother of actor Ben Affleck and repped by CAA. 

Hollywood Reporter also had some TV casting news this week: Rachel Ticotin has been added to the cast of Fox's drama pilot "Skin". Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen has been tapped to star in Barbara Hall's drama pilot for CBS "Joan of Arcadia," for which Amber Tamblyn has been recruited for the title role of a girl who has weekly conversations with God.

Marvel Extends Superhero Rights to 20th Century Fox 
News Editor 

Hollywood March 21, 2003 (Cinescape) - As part of their agreement with 20th Century Fox over the MUTANT X lawsuit resolution, Marvel Enterprises has extended the terms of Fox's licensing deal for the X-Men, Daredevil and Fantastic Four characters. The length of Fox's extension for these three properties was not disclosed.

Also agreed upon was for Fox to negotiate up to three film and television deals for other Marvel properties during the next two years. It would seem that both compaies have repaired the damage done when the movie studio sued Marvel and the two companies behind the syndicated MUTANT X television show for violating Fox's rights held for Marvel's X-MEN franchise. Fox alleged that the MUTANT X series trespassed on the material that they had rightfully optioned from the comic book publisher. The lawsuit was dropped earlier this month. 

Greenwalt Ponders Buffy's End 

Hollywood March 20, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - David Greenwalt, former executive producer of UPN's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, told SCI FI Wire that he's sorry to see the show conclude its run, but added that he thinks it's better to pull the plug now than wait until after the series has grown stale. "I think it is time for the show to end," Greenwalt said in an interview.

Greenwalt added, "Seven years is a great run by any standard. [Creator] Joss [Whedon] never likes anything to get stale." He said that there may still be stories to tell. "Have they done everything they could do on Buffy?" he asked. "No, because it's such a fertile idea. I would hope to see some Buffy movies. But I do think seven years is terrific. Get out while you're still good."

Greenwalt has moved on and is now executive producer of ABC's Miracles and remains a consultant on The WB's Buffy spinoff series, Angel, which Greenwalt co-created with Whedon. Naturally, he knows what's in store for the Scooby Gang. "What they have [planned] for the finale is so extraordinary," he said. "It's like the size of The Lord of the Rings, in terms of the bigness of the battle. It's just great. It will pull out all the stops."

Buffy airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on UPN.

Official Buffy -

Woody Harrelson Hosts Stooges Special

Hollywood March 24, 2003 (Zap2It) - Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson ("Cheers," "The People Vs. Larry Flynt") hosts the Three Stooges 75th Anniversary Speial on NBC April 1, 2003. 

[Really? Or are you just foolin', Woody?]

The special marks three-quarters of a century of entertainment from The Three Stooges -- one of the world's most-beloved comedy teams. This appreciation of The Three Stooges allows new and old fans alike to enjoy the most classic and knuckleheaded Stooge moments starring the six characters who ultimately embodied the trio through the years - Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser and Curly- Joe DeRita.

Celebrity appearances include Bridget Fonda, Michael Chiklis, Tracy Morgan, Cheryl Hines, Tom Arnold and Peter and Bobby Farrelly.

In addition to favorite routines, there will be ultra-rare shorts, feature-film clips, solo appearances and TV performances, with many of these scenes new to network television audiences.

Stooge family members will share home movies, photos and treasured personal memories and there will be special "Stooge Factoids." Earl M. Benjamin, Robert N. Benjamin and George Paige will serve as executive producers for the special.

Comedy III Productions, Inc. is a C3 Entertainment, Inc., company which was formed by Larry, Moe and Curly-Joe of The Three Stooges in 1958.

Canadian Insurer Sues Hall for $612,000 

VANCOUVER March 20, 2003 (AP) - Anthony Michael Hall, who stars in the television series "The Dead Zone," is being sued for more than $900,000 (U.S. $612,000) by the show's insurer, which says he failed to disclose a mental illness. 

In the negligent misrepresentation lawsuit, Chubb Insurance of Canada claims production of the series in Vancouver was disrupted when Hall was admitted to St. Paul's Hospital on May 11, 2001, following an episode of "bipolar affective disorder depression with psychotic features." 

He was discharged from the hospital a day later and returned to his home in New York, according to documents filed last week in British Columbia Supreme Court. 

Hall had stopped taking his prescribed medication for the illness, previously known as manic depression, according to the court filing. 

After filming was delayed until Aug. 14, 2001, the production company, Lions Gate Film Corp., submitted an insurance claim and received $912,042.28, which Chubb is trying to recover. According to the court filing, cast members filled out a form asking, among other questions, whether they'd been "under a doctor's care for any physical or mental condition during the past five years." 

Hall replied only that he'd been under a doctor's care for a broken finger in 1994, Chubb's lawyers wrote. Lawyers said Hall would respond to the lawsuit. No trial date has been set. 

The 34-year-old actor gained fame in his teens with "geek" roles in such movies as "National Lampoon's Vacation," "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club." 

He plays Johnny Smith in "The Dead Zone," the USA Network series based on a Stephen King novel in which a teacher emerges from a six-year coma with psychic powers.

The Dead Zone Official Site -

William Goldman Sez Shazam!
By Josh Spector

Hollywood March 24, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - New Line Cinema has struck a deal with two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Goldman to pen its big-screen version of DC Comics' "Shazam!"

Goldman will adapt the title, a 1970s revival of the 1940s Fawcett Comics character Captain Marvel, in which mild-mannered boy Billy Batson discovers that he can call on the powers of an ancient Egyptian wizard.

The "Shazam" name is an acronym for six gods and heroes of the ancient world: the wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles and speed of Mercury.

"Shazam!" is being executive produced by "Batman" executive producer Michael Uslan and is being overseen at New Line by production execs Chris Godsick and Mark Kaufman.

Goldman, who has penned such classic films as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "All the President's Men," most recently adapted the Stephen King novel "Dreamcatcher," which opened Friday. He is repped by WMA.

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