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Earth's Oceans Dying!
Spidey vs. Gecko,
Solar Wind,
Nuke News! The SpaceGrid!

Iraqi Art Auction & More!
Saving Earth's Dying Oceans
Conservation International Press Release

Los Cabos Mexico June 3, 2003 - For the first time ever, the world's largest environmental organizations, working with scientists, the business community and international governments, met specifically to develop a comprehensive and achievable agenda to reverse the decline in health of the world's ocean.

The five-day Defying Ocean's End (DOE) conference marked the launch of a new, science-based international effort to restore and maintain the health of marine systems. The gathering resulted in several preliminary recommendations:

Promote a World Ocean Public Trust: 60 percent of the world's ocean falls in international waters, outside any country's jurisdiction. International waters, largely open to uncontrolled exploitation, must be proactively managed. This marks a major reversal in thinking in ocean policy, since the ocean has for centuries been available for open access and exploitation.

Expand the Global System of Marine Parks: A vital component of ocean management includes formal protection for critical areas to restore and maintain ocean health. Less than one percent of the world's ocean currently enjoys full protection. Seamounts, or mountains that rise from the ocean floor, are areas that offer refuge for a high percentage of marine life. They are of particular concern, since they primarily fall in unregulated international waters.

Assess Global Priorities: The conservation status of countless marine species and the health of many marine systems is unknown. A massive effort, to begin immediately, is required to even more accurately assess conservation priorities in the ocean, particularly those marine species most vulnerable to extinction.

Create an Ocean Ethic: An urgent global communication and education campaign is needed to shatter myths about the ocean's limitless ability to withstand human neglect and abuse.

"The health of humankind is directly related to the health of the ocean - and the ocean and the marine life that calls it home is in real trouble," said Sylvia Earle, Executive Director of Conservation International's Global Marine Program and DOE co-convener. "We couldn't afford yet another meeting where we just sat around and created a wish list, so we formed Defying Ocean's End to take unprecedented and bold steps forward."

To ensure the agenda from Defying Ocean's End becomes reality, an anonymous donor today provided Conservation International, the coordinating organization of the DOE conference, a $5 million, five-year grant.

The grant requires $4 million in matching funds, to bring the total to $9 million of funding.

The world's ocean and the marine life it harbors are collapsing.

A major study in Nature last month reported that fully 90 percent of large, predatory fish populations, including tuna and marlin, have disappeared, mostly due to over-fishing and destructive fishing methods. Other threats, such as coastal development, pollution and climate change, are also devastating marine life.

"It's stunning to consider that in the past few decades, we have done away with the vast majority of large fish in the ocean and significantly altered the way marine systems operate," said Intel founder Gordon Moore, co-convener of the DOE conference. "By using sound science and implementing an achievable action plan, we still have a small window of opportunity to reverse these trends."

On Wednesday, the Pew Oceans Commission will release its long-awaited report, offering specific recommendations for the United States. Commission member Julie Packard presented the results to the DOE participants earlier today, who overwhelmingly supported the recommendations. Many top international priorities identified by DOE participants reinforce the recommendations issued by Pew.

"The world's ocean is the last living frontier on Earth. Its diversity and productivity exceed that of any on land, but has barely been explored," said Graeme Kelleher, DOE conference chair. "We have an opportunity and obligation now to protect the ocean for the future welfare of humans, other animals, and marine plants. This conference was a major step toward defying ocean's end. Prevention now is better than scrambling for a cure later."

The Defying Ocean's End conference was convened to help reverse the decline in health of the world's ocean. Leaders from Conservation International, Environmental Defense, International Seakeepers Society, IUCN-World Conservation Union, Natural Resource Defense Council, Ocean Futures Society, Seaweb, The Nature Conservancy, The Ocean Conservancy, Wildaid, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund attended among others, as did representatives from government, industry and academia. In total, more than 100 marine experts from 20 countries participated. The conference was convened by Sylvia Earle and Gordon Moore and was supported by The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

For more information about the Defying Ocean's End conference and a fact sheet profiling 10 marine species on the brink, visit

Spidey Meets Gecko!
By Richard Black
BBC Science Correspondent

London June 1, 2003 (BBC) - Scientists in the UK have created a sticky tape which works in the same way as gecko feet. The researchers say the material clings so well to a surface that by covering the palm of one hand with the tape, a person could hang from the ceiling - just like the remarkable lizard.

So far, however, Professor Andre Geim and colleagues have only been able to make a very small square of their gecko tape because of the difficulties involved in the fabrication process.

Nonetheless, the University of Manchester scientists are confident they can refine their work so that commercial quantities of the new sticky material can be produced.

Hairy Feet

It is three years since a team from California cracked the secret of how geckos are able to perform extraordinary climbing antics.

The researchers confirmed that tiny intermolecular forces - so called van der Waals forces - were produced by literally billions of tiny hair-like structures, or spatulae, on each gecko toe.

These forces, which arise when unbalanced electrical charges around molecules attract one another, allow the animal to scurry up walls and even hang upside down on polished glass.

Now, the British researchers have managed to create an artificial version of the spatulae.

Spider hands

They have fabricated arrays of plastic pillars that are little more than two thousandths of a millimeter tall; the spacing of the pillars is on a similar scale. They are attached to a flexible base that moves to bring the minute synthetic hairs into contact will all the small undulations that exist even on the smoothest of surfaces.

So far, a piece of tape just a couple of centimeters square has been produced, and, according to Professor Geim, it is just as sticky as a the real gecko foot.

He told BBC News Online: "We demonstrated this actually with a small toy of Spider-man which we found in the nearest shop.

"We covered his hand with the gecko tape and he can stick to horizontal glass plate from underneath."

Lab tricks

Producing the gecko tape involves processes similar to those used in making computer chips. It is long and expensive.

"There are some problems we have to solve before this could be used commercially; the main one is that it doesn't stay sticky for long enough. So we have to solve this, and that's why we're publishing the research now in Nature Materials. We hope some other people might be able to help us."

Professor Geim has high hopes for the gecko tape and is convinced its remarkable properties will eventually find many applications.

"We had this idea of making some tape the size of a hand and suspending someone outside the laboratory window. We decided not to do it because it would have taken a long time and cost thousands and thousands of pounds, and wouldn't have proved anything scientifically. But we had lots of volunteers."

NYC Fur Protesters Turn Vogue Sidewalk 'Bloody'
NEW YORK June 2, 2003 (Reuters) - Animal rights activists soaked themselves in fake blood and spat insults to mark a big day for Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, who was set to accept a prestigious fashion industry award on Monday.

Five protesters draped in fur coats drenched themselves in the fake blood and crawled up the sidewalk to the facade of publisher Conde Nast's building in New York's Times Square, where Vogue's offices are located.

The protesters smeared red fluid down the front of the building and clogged a revolving door with their bodies. Lunchtime passers-by stepped through pools of the red liquid as it oozed off the building into the street gutter.

Wintour, Vogue's influential editor in chief, was to receive a lifetime achievement award at a dinner held by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which staged the protest, has long criticized Wintour and Vogue for promoting designers who use fur. Animal rights activists have left pools of blood at the door of Wintour's home, slapped a dead raccoon onto her plate at a restaurant and sent a box full of maggot-infested animal guts to her office.

A spokesman for Vogue said the magazine had no comment.
The Mystery of Solar Wind

May 25, 2003 - Solving the mystery of the solar wind has been a prime task for ESA's SOHO spacecraft. Its latest findings may overturn previous ideas about the origin of the 'fast' solar wind, which occurs in most of the space around the Sun.

SOHO established that the gas of the fast wind leak through magnetic barriers near the Sun's visible surface. Straight, spoke-like features called plumes have been seen rising from the solar atmosphere at the polar regions, where much of the fast wind comes from.

Most of the fast wind leaves the Sun via the plumes themselves, which are denser than their surroundings.

Alan Gabriel of the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale and his team tracked gas rising at about 60 kilometers per second to a height of 250 000 kilometers above the Sun's visible surface.

SOHO has also investigated the origin of a slower wind, half the speed of the fast wind, which comes from the Sun's equatorial regions. The gas of the 'slow' wind leaks from triangular features called 'helmets', which are plainly seen protruding into the Sun's atmosphere during a solar eclipse.

Blasts of gas called 'coronal mass ejections' also contribute to the solar wind in the equatorial zone of the Sun.

The relative importance of the fast and slow winds was established by the ESA/NASA Ulysses spacecraft, which has twice passed over the poles of the Sun. Its measurements show that the fast wind predominates in the heliosphere, which is a huge bubble blown into interstellar space by the Sun's outpourings, and extending far beyond the outermost planets.

In interplanetary space, the fast wind often collides with the slow wind. Like the mass ejections, the collisions create shock waves which agitate the Earth's space environment.


Pizza Dough Stalls Traffic
ELBERFELD IN June 3, 2003 (AP) - A tractor-trailer carrying 35 tons of pizza dough overturned in southwestern Indiana, dumping a gooey mess onto the highway that stopped traffic for hours.

The truck was bound for a Henderson, Ky., milling company Sunday when the driver lost control of the rig on an off-ramp at Interstate 164 and Indiana 57 near the border of Gibson and Warrick counties. The driver was uninjured.

Firefighters and an environmental services company used a backhoe to clean up the mess.
Nuke News!
80 US Air Bases May Contain Nuclear Waste

NEW YORK June 3, 2003 (Reuters) — The U.S. Air Force is investigating whether there may be radioactive waste underneath more than 80 past and present air bases around the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The Journal reported that the Air Force, responding to written questions from the newspaper, said the burial sites would not pose a health risk if undisturbed. But many of the sites have already been approved for public use, the paper said.

One of the sites, in Atwater, Calif., hosts a federal prison, the Journal reported. Previously, the site held munitions that the Air Force Safety Center suspects included nuclear weapons.

The Journal also cited a 1972 internal Air Force survey that named 46 bases where radioactive waste was known to exist.

The Air Force, however, said it only became aware of the waste a few years ago, the Journal said.

CIA Says Al Qaeda Ready to Use WMD

WASHINGTON June 3, 2003 (Reuters) - An internal CIA report concludes that a likely goal of al Qaeda and related groups is to launch attacks using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to cause "panic and disruption," The Washington Times reported on Tuesday.

The four-page report obtained by the newspaper said no information proves the group now is planning an attack in the United States, but noted that "such an attack cannot be ruled out," The Washington Times said.

According to the newspaper, the unclassified report identified several deadly toxins and chemicals that al Qaeda could use in attacks, including nerve gases, germ weapons and radiological dispersal devices, also known as "dirty bombs."

A CIA spokesman could not be reached for comment late on Monday.

The Washington Times report said the CIA document was produced by the agency's intelligence directorate.

It said most attacks by al Qaeda and associated extremists probably would be small-scale, using relatively crude delivery means and easily produced or obtained chemicals, toxins or radiological substances.

The newspaper also quoted the CIA document as saying that the group's success in any attack would depend on planners' technical expertise. However, one likely goal of any attempted attack would be "panic and disruption."

Iran Asks US Help Building Nuclear Plants
By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN June 3, 2002 (Reuters) — Iran said on Monday the United States could help it build nuclear reactors as a way of ensuring that Tehran kept its word not to develop atomic weapons.

"If the Americans are really worried about our nuclear ambitions, they could take part in constructing our nuclear power plants," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi.

U.S. officials have already dismissed the idea, floated last week by Russia. On Sunday, the U.S. and Russian presidents said they had narrowed their differences over Iran at a meeting in St Petersburg. But Moscow has yet to heed Washington's pleas that it stop building Iran's first nuclear reactor, at Bushehr.

Having taken over Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush has increased pressure on the rest of his "axis of evil" — Iran and North Korea — accusing them of developing nuclear weapons, though stopping well short of threatening Iraq-style military action.

Unlike North Korea, Iran denies seeking nuclear arms. But U.S. officials question why else the oil- and gas-rich Islamic republic would be investing in power-generating reactors.

Asefi told a news conference Washington was simply using the reactor program as a "pretext to put pressure on Iran," with which it has been at odds since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

He said Tehran welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin's call on Sunday for tighter controls on atomic weapons:

"We totally agree with Putin's remarks regarding weapons of mass destruction. Iran was the first country that suggested the whole region must be void of such weapons," Asefi said. "Russia has acknowledged our nuclear activities are peaceful."

Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but has yet to sign the Additional Protocol, which allows U.N. inspections with minimal advance notification. Analysts say Iran's signing of the Additional Protocol would go a long way toward easing concerns over Tehran's nuclear intentions.

"We will sign it when the current limitations and embargoes are lifted and when we make sure that signing another agreement will not impose more limitations to Iran," Asefi said.

Iran's suggestion of U.S. cooperation in its civil nuclear program bears some comparison with a 1994 deal under which the United States agreed to give North Korea reactors unsuitable for developing weapons material in return for Pyongyang abandoning efforts to build an atomic bomb. However, North Korea has now admitted it has built nuclear weapons, U.S. officials say.

UN Nuclear Inspectors Limited in Iraq
By Louis Charbonneau

VIENNA, Austria June 2, 2003 (Reuters) — The United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said Monday it would only have access to a small area outside Iraq's main nuclear site, which diplomats complained fell far short of the agency's original hopes.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to head back to Baghdad Friday to probe reports of looting at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, Iraq's biggest nuclear site. But they are not allowed on to the main plant.

Vienna-based diplomats complained privately that the IAEA only has the task of counting missing containers of radioactive material and can neither measure environmental contamination nor look into reports of radiation sickness among nearby residents.

"The inspection will be confined to Location C, the nuclear material storage facility where they will independently identify, verify, repack, seal, and secure nuclear material," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.

Washington only agreed to let the U.N. mission into Iraq after repeated warnings by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei. He said a radiological and humanitarian emergency was brewing based on eyewitness reports that nearby residents had dumped uranium on the ground and taken the radioactive containers home.

"Location C is located near the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center but is outside the gate which encloses the main Tuwaitha site," Fleming said, adding the job would last around two weeks.

Not only are the inspectors limited to counting what is missing from Tuwaitha, south of Baghdad, but they have no access to six other nuclear sites in Iraq that were allegedly looted in the post-war chaos.

There were more than 500 tons of natural uranium and 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium stored at Tuwaitha as well as smaller amounts of highly radioactive caesium, cobalt, and strontium.

Caesium 137 is a highly radioactive powder that would be especially dangerous if used in a so-called dirty bomb. In 1987, a canister of caesium powder found in a Brazil junkyard exposed 249 people to radiation, killing four.

U.S. officials said Saturday they were recovering barrels looted from Tuwaitha that had stored processed uranium and were being used by local residents to wash clothes.

The IAEA mission to Tuwaitha is separate from the prewar weapons inspections mandated by the U.N. Security Council, which ended days before the U.S.-led war to disarm Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Fleming said the IAEA team planned to fly from Vienna to Kuwait City Wednesday and then to Baghdad Friday. It was unclear when they would reach Tuwaitha.f

Man Can Sue US for Selling Him Pot Car
LOS ANGELES June 3, 2003 (Reuters) - A Mexican national may sue the U.S. government for selling him a car with a hidden load of marijuana, and then arresting him when he tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in it, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found Monday the government's argument that it should be immune from Jose Aguado Cervantes' lawsuit was "so off the mark as to be embarrassing."

The appellate panel reinstated Cervantes' negligence claims against the government for allegedly failing to find and remove the drugs from the car he purchased in July of 1999 at a U.S. Marshals Service Auction in San Diego, California.

Four months earlier, the car was seized by the Immigration and Naturalization Service after it was used to transport illegal immigrants into the United States but agents apparently failed to notice 199 pounds of marijuana secreted in its bumpers, the court said.

But the justices decided that Cervantes, a resident of Mexico, could not sue for false imprisonment or false arrest because U.S. Customs agents who found the pot when Cervantes tried to cross the border from Mexico to the United States in October of 1999 "had reasonable cause to believe his arrest was lawful."

Cervantes spent three and a half months in jail, charged with drug smuggling. He was released after U.S. investigators realized that the marijuana, which had been welded into the bumper, was so decomposed that it could not have been placed there just months earlier, Cervantes' attorney Stephen Estey of San Diego said.
European Space Agency Press Release

May 29, 2003 - Almost two years have gone by since ESA set up the SpaceGrid study to see how the emerging use of the electronic grid could increase and improve the use of space applications.

The study is now complete and last week representatives of industry and academia met to discuss the outcome.

So what is the Grid?

To paraphrase Ian Foster, an early mentor of grid computing for research, "Grid computing is the large-scale integration of computer systems, via high-speed networks, to provide on-demand access to data-crunching capabilities not available to one individual or group of machines".

For instance, young value-added companies or private individuals with limited computer capacity can select heavy files, such as Earth observation images and data, and then give instructions for these to be processed in order to receive crop yield estimates. Once the processing is complete, the relatively 'light' files with the results can be sent to their computer for further use. The benefits - in terms of time, money and resources - are clear.

Other benefits include the possibility of setting up ‘virtual organizations’ for research and study; that is, a group of scientists and technicians can work in different organizations in different countries but share information and data.

Where’s the Grid going?

Participants at the workshop do not need to be convinced about the benefits of the Grid. As representatives of academia, space institutes, the information and space industries, and the European Commission, they all have an active interest in grid projects.

The general consensus among participants is that the Grid – seen as the next step up from the internet and the world wide web - will bring many benefits to both research and industry. To quote Giacomo Cavallo, head of the ESA Grid Interest Group "Basically the Grid is the only evolutionary path we have in front of us beyond Internet, and we had better follow it". However, as Cavallo pointed out at the workshop "we are still at the beginning of Grid technology".

The SpaceGrid study show that a number of concerns need to be addressed before the Grid comes ‘of age’, concerns echoed by many of the participants in their presentations. These can be summed up as the need for:

  • standardization of grid language and codes
  • high performing middleware – the Grid term for software
  • further research into grid systems
  • improved Grid interoperability and interoperability with other accessible web services
  • improved network connection speed across data centers, computing facilities and users
  • a safe grid environment, encompassing grid-compatible firewalls and security
  • a legal framework enabling the exploitation of Grid resources
  • guaranteed quality of services
  • education and outreach

According to Max Lemke of the European Commission, other challenges facing the whole of the Grid community are "the need to move from research applications to applications for industry and business, to work with industry and technology providers, to think ahead to see what technology will be needed to get added value for industry and to have prototypes to check the feasibility of developments".

As Wyn Cudlip of QinetiQ, a leading UK science consultancy company, who represented the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites pointed out at the workshop: "scientific institutes are research oriented and happy to use systems in the development stage, industry however is more reluctant to make a big investment unless they can clearly see the advantages and a guaranteed return".

Space related applications, as presented by the various contributors at the workshop, represent interesting challenges for the utilization and further development of Grid-related technologies. These applications should be considered as very good cases for further funding at European level.

What next for ESA

Now the study has been completed, ESA’s next step is to pass from the study phase to implementation of real applications in domains for which the SpaceGrid study has demonstrated that the Grid could be better exploited, namely Earth observation, solar science, teletesting, and telemonitoring for spacecraft engineering and concurrent design.

In Europe, Earth observation and solar science communities are good examples of multi-institutional or even multi-enterprise endeavors. In addition, their computing, archiving and also human resources, in the case of Earth observation ground segments, are geographically distributed.

The demand for a better approach to distributed resource exploitation and application management is therefore high.

The objective of the proposed follow-on work is to demonstrate that Open Grid Service Infrastructure (OGSI) technology can provide the basis for a distributed middleware for Earth observation and solar science by distributing access to metadata, catalogues, inventories and archival data, and providing on demand data processing via distributed services.

SpaceGrid website -


Artifacts for Sale on Iraqi Highways
By Edmund L. Andrews

AFAK, Iraq May 29, 2003 (IHT) - The meeting took place as planned, in a battered van on the side of the highway. Closing the curtains on the windows facing the road, Khalil quickly got down to business.

Opening a cigarette pack, he extracted a wad of cotton and then unwrapped a small polished stone cylinder engraved with the icons of ancient Mesopotamia: Ishtar, the warrior goddess; Adad, god of weather, and Ea, god of water.

Out of a black plastic bag came nearly a dozen other ancient artifacts: cuneiform tablets with their writing immaculately preserved, and more cylinders, which ancient leaders used to print their seals on clay tablets.

All of it had been stolen from the vast archaeological sites of southern Iraq. Some pieces, like the black cylinder, were potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everything was on sale now, at prices of $1,500 and up.

"These are just a sample of what I have," said Khalil, who declined to provide his last name. "I have more than a thousand tablets. I have big statues made of stone. Just tell me what you want, and I can show it to you. We need to make another appointment."

Khalil is one of the middle links in a global network of plundering that is rapidly depleting the immense reserves of ancient art and historical data that lie buried in cities that once made up the Babylonian and Sumerian empires. The looting has been underway on a smaller scale for years, but it has exploded into an open orgy of theft in the weeks since American forces overturned the government of Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi police force, which disintegrated at the end of the war, is not only powerless but afraid to stop the heavily armed groups that now prowl over dozens of sites. American soldiers are generally too occupied with reducing street crime and restoring basic services like electricity to pay much attention.

As for the people who live near the big archaeological sites in southern Iraq, they became so poor under Saddam that they are grasping at any means to make money. Khalil is one of many local dealers who buy looted treasures and resell them to foreign buyers. A single sale of $2,000 is more than what many people earn in a year. Experts say the prices demanded by Khalil are a fraction of what those objects can fetch in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Europe and the United States.

"This would not be happening if there were not a network of buyers from around the world," said Donny George, director of research at Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.

Though Iraqi officials say the scale of current archaeological looting is unprecedented, the buying and smuggling networks are well-established.

"The networks go from Iraq to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, or, if you have very good connections, through Jordan," said Joanne Farchakh, an archaeologist and journalist who is based in Beirut and has studied the looting of Iraqi sites for much of the past decade. "Almost everything being sold here has already been seen in Saudi Arabia. The dealers used to meet each other at the border."

After American forces first entered Baghdad, looters raided Iraq's major museums and its main library, which is a repository for thousands of cuneiform tablets.

Contrary to initial news reports, much of the art stolen from museums was relatively obscure and quickly abandoned by the thieves. As of last week, American and Iraqi investigators had recovered more than 900 pieces.

The looting of archaeological sites, if unchecked, could prove far more devastating. At least a dozen major sites are believed to be under siege, with looters in some locations extracting more in two weeks than archaeologists had unearthed in two decades.
Looted Iraqi Art Auction: Artists Respond
Chicago June 2, 2003 (eXoNews) - The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago is sponsoring an art auction of works by contemporary artists on Saturday, June 14th to benefit the restoration of ancient works lost in Iraq during the recent war.

The text of the auction announcement follows:

To counter the senseless destruction of our cultural heritage in Iraq, we have come together as a community to show our support and respect for those artists before us who provided the basis for our civilization.

We are donating our works for auction to generate funds on their behalf.

The beneficiary of our collective efforts will be the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

The Institute has undertaken numerous important excavations in Iraq where many of the objects from the Iraq Museum are now feared to be lost.

Scholars at the Oriental Institute have started an "Iraq Museum Database Project", a comprehensive database of objects from the Iraq Museum rooted on the Institute's own extensive records, but also incorporating information from other institutions. This database will not only help in the recovery of many artifacts but also create a valuable resource to educate the public about the splendors of the Iraq Museum and Mesopotamia in general.

Oriental Institute research projects are funded mostly by donations from private sources or foundations; any type of unrestricted funding for emergency projects, such as the Iraq Museum Database Project, is very limited.

We, therefore, look forward to your support of this exciting event that promises to include works from over eighty prominent artists from the Chicago area and from as far away as The Netherlands and Spain.

The Auction will take place Saturday, June 14th at 7 p.m. at Gallery Mornea at 624 Davis St. in Evanston. Speaking on behalf of the Oriental Institute will be Dr. Clemens Reichel. Iraqi poet Melysha Sargis Meraee will also be performing.

There will be a Pre-Sale Preview Party at Gillock Gallery, 930 Ridge Avenue, Evanston, June 7th from 7 to 9 p.m. June 13th will be an Artist Thank You and Press Night Party at Gallery Mornea.

All tickets for the Auction itself will be $20 and are tax deductible. Free parking is available. For more details call (847-864-1906).

University of Chicago Iraq site -

Genre News: Dead Zone, Sean Penn, Galactica, V, D.W. Griffith vs. DJ Spooky, Milla Jovovich & More!
Dead Zone Returns with Summer Shows
By FLAtRich

Hollywood June 2, 2003 (eXoNews) - According to the Dead Zone website USA's hit show The Dead Zone will return Sunday, July 6 at 10PM/9C with the first of six new episodes.

Executive Producer Michael Piller says, "The second season isn't over!"

The Dead Zone, starring Anthony Michael Hall and Nicole de Boer (DS9) is based on the bestseller by Stephen King. The series rushed back into production on May 5th.

"Our goal is to create a 'summer of fun'", Piller tells fans in his online journal on the website, promising "a group of big, summer blockbuster, popcorn-munching episodes designed to put Johnny into some of the most amazing adventures he has yet encountered."

The Dead Zone began life as a summer show in June 2002 and was such a major ratings hit that USA brought it back for a second season in prime time 2003.

Piller, who co-produces The Dead Zone with his son Shawn, got his start as a writer/producer with the Star Trek franchise and created STTNG spin-offs Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager. As a Star Trek writer, Piller penned some of Star Trek's most memorable episodes, including The Best of Both Worlds (where Captain Picard meets the Borg.) Piller also wrote the much-underrated feature film Star Trek: Insurrection.

Piller says Karl Schaefer (Strange Luck and Eerie, Indiana) has been hired as the new head writer for The Dead Zone. Piller previously drafted Trek vets Joe Menosky, Michael Taylor, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Andromeda). The Dead Zone really is a "writers' show" in the tradition of STTNG and the golden age of television, with some of the most inventive scripts on TV. Dead Zone episodes have garnered critical acclaim and various award nominations in both seasons.

Piller has also picked up some talent from the 2002 Saturn award-winning Farscape, one of The Dead Zone's competitors for Saturn's Best Syndicated Series award.

"Mike Cassutt has joined the writing staff as a creative consultant," Piller says. "Mike is a fellow fugitive from CBS, where we worked together as censors 20 years ago. He's gone on to a fine writing career, specializing in genre television, including The Twilight Zone, Max Headroom, Beauty and the Beast, and Farscape."

The first season of The Dead Zone will be released on DVD on June 17th.

Dead Zone Official Site -

Actor Sean Penn Bashes Bush, Iraq War in Newspaper

NEW YORK June 1, 2003 (Reuters) - Actor Sean Penn published a 4,000-word open letter in the front section of the New York Times on Friday defending his December trip to Baghdad and criticizing the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Penn would not comment on why he chose to place the full-page advertisement, preferring to "let the essay speak for itself," the actor's publicist Mara Buxbaum said.

Penn wrote that he was moved by a sense of patriotism to question the underlying purpose of U.S. policy to force out Saddam Hussein, who he described as a "beast among men."

"Our flag has been waving, it seems, in servicing a regime change significantly benefiting U.S. corporations," said Penn, questioning whether rebuilding the nation would benefit the "people of either Iraq or the United States."

Penn said U.S. claims that an invasion was necessary over fears of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were false.

"We found that our secretary of state presented plagiarized and fictitious evidence of WMD's in Iraq to the American people and the world," he wrote. "Any responsible person must ask, in whose hands our flag now waves and what perception the world may have of it in those hands."

Penn's agent declined to comment on how much the advertisement cost. A Times spokeswoman said the standard price for a full page ad in that section of the newspaper is about $135,000.

"We see Bechtel. We see Halliburton. We see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld," Penn wrote. "We see dead Iraqi civilians. We see no WMDs. We see chaos in the Baghdad streets. But no WMDs. We see the disappearance of a murderous Iraqi dictator, who relented his struggle and ran without the use of WMDs."

Friday's piece was not the first Penn has placed in a major newspaper. He wrote an open letter to President Bush published in October 2002 by The Washington Post at a reported cost of $56,000, expressing his anti-war views and concerns about the administration's "intolerance of debate."

Penn wrote in the Times that following the October letter, "I was hit by a tidal wave of media misrepresentation, and even accusations of treason."

Lord of the Rings - The Musical
By Peter Griffiths

LONDON May 28, 2003 (Reuters) - Hobbits, dwarves and elves are heading for the London stage in the world's first major musical of the "Lord of the Rings," its backers said on Wednesday.

West End producer Kevin Wallace said the reworking of British author JRR Tolkien's fantasy epic will cost $13 million.

"It will stimulate audiences' imaginations in a way they've never felt before," he told Reuters.

A cast of 50, lavish sets and a full orchestra will help recreate Middle Earth, the mystical setting for the swords and sorcery trilogy.

The show will be co-produced by Saul Zaentz, the veteran Hollywood producer behind "The English Patient" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

It is due to open in London in Spring 2005 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the complete trilogy and may be put on around the world.

Rob Howell, who worked on London productions of "The Graduate" and "The Caretaker," will be in charge of stage design.

Interest in the Rings has rocketed after the huge success of director Peter Jackson's big screen adaptations of the first two books. The third film, "The Return of the King" is due out later this year.

Galactica Mixes Old And New

Hollywood May 30, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - A recent visit to the set of the upcoming SCI FI Channel original miniseries Battlestar Galactica revealed that the "reimagined" show will mix design elements from the original 1970s TV series with new designs. The miniseries is currently shooting on soundstages in Vancouver, B.C.

The new Galactica's Vipers are essentially identical to the original's. But the miniseries will also introduce a new ship, the Raptor.

Built for reconnaissance, not combat, the Raptor looks like a bulkier version of the Viper, bristling with antennas and sensors. The fighter pilot helmets will lose their Egyptian influence and be more streamlined.

The Colonial coins ("cubits"), on the other hand, are modeled on the original series' props.

As for the Cylons? Whatever new form those killer robots will take is being kept under wraps. But an actual Cylon costume from the original series will make an appearance—in a museum case. Battlestar Galactica visual special effects supervisor Gary Hutzel told SCI FI Wire that this old-style Cylon has been renamed "the harbinger of doom" and will be on display as an example of what the Cylons looked like in the past.

Battlestar Galactica will debut on Sci Fi in December 2003.

Sci Fi's Classic Galactica site -

The Official New Galactica site -

Hope's Humor Still Relevant
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON May 31, 2003 (AP) - Looking for a little levity in troubled times? War, terrorism and stock market slumps have been unlikely fodder for decades' worth of reassuringly goofy jokes. The Library of Congress has a half-million of them, courtesy of Bob Hope.

"I don't understand terrorists," Hope quipped 10 years before the Sept. 11 attacks. "How could anyone get so angry, so involved, so worked up about anything? ... I mean outside of golf."

Another vintage riff begins, "The airlines are really getting security-conscious. You can still fly, but they won't tell you where you're going."

And today's investors can relate to Hope's humor from 1966: "Three of my stocks went off the financial page, into the help-wanted section. What bothered me was the speed of the drop — I called my broker last week and his busy signal cost me $8,000."

Hope, who turned 100 on Thursday, is no longer up to performing, but his jokes still stand at the ready at the nation's top library. Visitors can touch a computer screen to sift through digitally scanned images of more than 85,000 pages of jokes, some with Hope's penciled notations, all indexed by subject. They are the virtual contents of Hope's famous "joke file" — rows of filing cabinets lovingly maintained in a fireproof vault next to his North Hollywood home.

Hope donated the 500,000 or so jokes, and memorabilia dating back to his vaudeville days, for an exhibit that opened three years ago in the library's Jefferson Building. The jokes are the work of more than 100 writers employed by Hope. He performed many on radio or TV or in live appearances; others didn't make the initial cut but were set aside for future reference.

Hope's file covers enough subjects and moods to whip up a timely act anytime — whether it feels like morning in America or an overcast late afternoon. Indeed, the archive proves that if you stick with comedy long enough, even topical jokes can be dusted off and replayed every few decades. Another tax cut or tax hike, war against inflation or real war is sure to come along.

And few subjects, it seems, are too serious for another golf joke.

"The way you dispel your fears is to laugh at them," said Randolph-Macon College professor M. Thomas Inge, who studies comics. "It restores a kind of healthy balance in our perspective."

Although many of Hope's jokes tackle up-to-the-minute anxieties, they are "a very traditional, conservative, safe kind of humor," Inge noted.

Like this one: "Everyone's nervous these days. Ronald McDonald has hired six bodyguards, and that's just to protect his buns."

If the one-liners about hijackings and airport security sound quaint in a post-Sept. 11 world, there's some comfort in remembering that travelers endured similar fears and hassles three decades ago.

"The other day at L.A. airport they searched Raquel Welch for three hours. And she was getting OFF the plane," goes one joke from 1975. "What bugged her most was, six of the guards were from another airport."

Today there's SARS. In 1976, it was swine flu, and President Ford offered citizens free vaccinations: "That's what I like about Washington — even when they give you something for free, it still hurts."

If Hope were in better health, he would probably be recycling a recession joke that shows up in various versions dating back to at least 1958: "Everybody stopped spending money and the politicians can't figure out why. Maybe it's because they didn't have any."

War jokes from as far back as World War II — often tossed out to a crowd of grateful G.I.s on some foreign shore — are unflaggingly patriotic and untainted by nuance.

The first Persian Gulf War "ended faster than the Iraqis could get their hands up."

As for the U.S. troops, "It's hard to keep your morale up when in each direction you look, all you see is sand. I know, I go through it every time I golf."

Bob Hope Library of Congress exhibit:

Bob Hope Official site -

V Returns?

Hollywood May 30, 2003 (Cinescape) - There are rumors that a new V mini-series is on the horizon.

The first tip came from an anonymous scooper who told us to check out Ilana's V website, a fansite devoted to tracking the stars of the NBC sci-fi mini-series from the 1980s. The webmaster has been in contact with the show's cast members including Jane Badler, who played the role of lizard lady Diana on the show.

According to an email sent by the actress to the website in April, "NBC and Warners have closed a deal to do another V. Now all we need is a great script from Kenny [Johnson] that they approve."

It's been almost 20 years since the broadcast of the two V mini-series. The show was created by Ken Johnson (THE INCREDIBLE HULK) and followed the invasion of Earth by a reptilian alien race. A group of human resistance fighters eventually proved to the world that the aliens were not friends of humanity and drove them off the planet. An ongoing series eventually followed but it was soon cancelled.

Doherty and Heitmeyer in Nightlight
By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO May 29, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Shannen Doherty (Charmed), Michel Francoeur and Jayne Heitmeyer (Earth: Final Conflict) lead the cast of the telefilm "Nightlight," which began shooting in Montreal on Wednesday.

The film, helmed by Louis Belanger ("Post Mortem"), is Montreal-based JB Media's third telefilm this year.

Doherty stars as a young woman who unwittingly becomes the victim of a stalker and voyeur.

Hearst Entertainment holds international rights, while Incendo Media is the distributor in Canada, the United States and all French-speaking European and African territories. Producer credits on "Nightlight" go to Jean Bureau, Josee Mauffette and Serge Denis. Stephen Greenberg, Jean Bureau and Jodi Ticknor are executive producing the project.

JB Media produced an earlier telefilm starring Doherty, entitled "The Rendering."

Racist Classic D.W. Griffith Remixed
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK May 30, 2003 (AP) - In 1915, "The Birth of a Nation" changed the art of filmmaking. It also celebrated the Ku Klux Klan as heroes of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Now the movie itself is under reconstruction. The artist and musician DJ Spooky is treating the seminal but racist film like a piece of music — he's doing a "remix." Spooky's work-in-progress, titled "Rebirth of a Nation," was shown at the American Museum of the Moving Image this week.

Spooky chose D.W. Griffith's "Birth" precisely because it deals with issues of race. By manipulating it, and showing how it can be changed, he hopes to show how images and ideas about race are mutable as well.

"In one era, race is one thing. In another ... it changes," the DJ said. "There's never one final answer for any of this, it's always a remix."

Carl Goodman, curator of digital media at the museum, called it "sampling cinema."

"By allowing people to play with and remix and reconfigure the media of the past, it becomes a powerful form of commentating," Goodman said.

On Thursday night, Spooky projected the film onto a large screen, adding layers of visual effects. An image of a fully robed Klansman underlay the scene depicting the South's surrender at the end of the war. An image of a young Southern woman looking at cotton cloth for a dress was followed by an image of slaves picking the cotton.

Spooky also added material, such as images of a dance performance inspired by Southern history. And the soundtrack was of course his creation, a mix that ranged from a rendition of "Dixieland" to the type of beat-driven music one would hear in a club.

Spooky, born Paul Miller, has recorded with musicians ranging from Yoko Ono to Wu-Tang Clan's Killa Priest. His artwork has appeared in the Whitney Biennial, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany and the Andy Warhol Museum, among others.

Spooky said he planned to travel with the project and was working out arrangements to show it internationally. His ultimate goal is to show it on three screens at a time, accompanied by an orchestra.

"Birth" is a milestone in American screen history, an epic production that changed how movies were filmed and edited with its use of massive numbers of extras, on-location shoots and camera close-ups.

It also outraged many people with its stereotypical, racist portrayals of black people and its embrace of the Klan.

Timothy Shary, an assistant professor of screen studies at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., said Griffith made a movie that was admirable for its artistic innovations, but not much else.

"You have to wonder what Griffith was thinking," he said.

Shary was curious at the idea of a film being remixed, but expressed a cautionary note as well.

"If you take a lot of scenes out of that film out of context, they do play very violently and they generate a lot of vehement reactions," he said, adding it could create misinterpretations of the originator's intent.

However, Shary said, "if you are very thoughtful about it, you will extract even more meaning from it."

The American Museum of the Moving Image:

DJ Spooky:

Other Genre News
By FLAtRich

Hollywood June 2, 2003 (eXoNews) - According to Variety, Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil) will play Violet in Kurt Wimmer's Ultraviolet. Milla is a genetically engineered heroine trying to protect a nine-year-old boy in a future war between humans and genetic mutants.

Dark Horizons reports that a UK company was making the rounds at Cannes trying to raise money for a Twin Peaks sequel. The official David Lynch site is pay-as-you-go if you want to find out more.

David Lynch Official site -

Hollywood Reporter says Ron Howard's daughter Bryce Dallas Howard will make her feature film debut in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Woods".

Kate O'Hare's Zap2it story on the future of Smallville includes something for comic book fans to get excited about. Executive producer Al Gough gave Kate this news about Lois and Batman:

"While Gough says that Superman's true love, Lois Lane, probably won't show up until Season 4, expect a few other visitors from the Superman universe -- and DC Comics in general -- in the coming year.

"'Our hope is in Season 3, and I put it out there, is that you will see Bruce Wayne. This year, we really want to make it happen. You could also see Perry White and Jimmy Olsen this year.'"

Read the rest of Kate's Smallville news at

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