|Tomb of Gilgamesh! |
High School Hellmouth, Dr. Spock,
Hunting Hedgehogs, Killer Coffee,
Onions in Space, BeppoSAX & More!
|Tomb of Gilgamesh Found|
|Munich April 29, 2003 (BBC) - Archaeologists in Iraq believe they may have found the lost tomb of King Gilgamesh - the subject of the oldest book in history. The Epic Of Gilgamesh - written by a Middle Eastern scholar 2,500 years before the birth of Christ - commemorated the life of the ruler of the city of Uruk, from which Iraq gets its name. |
Now a German-led expedition has discovered what is thought to be the entire city of Uruk - including, where the Euphrates once flowed, the last resting place of its famous King.
"I don't want to say definitely it was the grave of King Gilgamesh, but it looks very similar to that described in the epic," Jorg Fassbinder, of the Bavarian department of Historical Monuments in Munich, told the BBC World Service's Science in Action program.
In the "book" - actually a set of inscribed clay tablets - Gilgamesh was described as having been buried under the Euphrates, in a tomb apparently constructed when the waters of the ancient river parted following his death.
"We found just outside the city an area, in the middle of the former Euphrates river, we detected the remains of a such a building which could be interpreted as a burial," Mr. Fassbinder said. He said the amazing discovery of the ancient city under the Iraqi desert had been made possible by modern technology.
|High School Hellmouth in Beverly Hills?|
|By Dan Whitcomb |
LOS ANGELES April 29, 2003 (Reuters) — Environmental activists Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry filed claims with the city of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills High School Monday on behalf of 25 alumni who believe they contracted cancer from gases lurking beneath the campus.
The claims are a precursor to lawsuits Masry and Brockovich, subjects of the popular film Erin Brockovich, expect to file against the city and the school, along with five oil companies.
The claims are a legal precursor to suing the governmental agencies, which almost always reject them.
"We have over 200 alumni with cancer, and the rates go out at over 20 times the national average," Masry said. "I've never heard of a rate like that in any lawsuit I've handled. You get to two or three times the national average: That's huge."
Representatives of the Beverly Hills Unified School District could not immediately be reached for comment.
But in an "environmental fact sheet" published in March, school superintendent Gwen Gross said that the South Coast Air Quality Management District, a regional environmental agency, and had found no evidence of toxic gases at the campus.
Masry and Brockovich believe that 50 years of oil drilling on school property released toxic levels of such chemicals as benzene and hexane.
|Stolen Masterpieces Found in Public Loo|
|Manchester, England April 28, 2003 (AFP) - Paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin, stolen over the weekend from a Manchester museum, were recovered on Monday in a disused public toilet, police and museum officials said. |
An anonymous telephone tip-off led police to the three works - stuffed into a tube - at the toilet not far from the Whitworth Art Gallery, from where they had been stolen overnight Saturday, a police spokesperson said.
Experts were examining them Monday to determine if they had suffered any damage from heavy rain during the time they went missing, a spokeswoman for the Whitworth said.
"Undoubtedly there will be some work to be done on them by the conservator before they go back on the wall," she told AFP.
Vincent Van Gogh's The Fortification of Paris with Houses, Pablo Picasso's Poverty and Paul Gauguin's Tahitian Landscape were together worth £4-million (R46-million).
They were apparently taken sometime late on Saturday, as gallery staff only discovered their theft upon opening the premises at noon the next day.
The robbery was the latest in a string of art thefts to hit Britain in recent years. Each year an estimated £300-million to £500-million worth of artwork is stolen from galleries throughout the nation.
The Whitworth, in central Manchester, houses 40 000 works of art, including a dozen Picassos and two pieces by Van Gogh.
|Spock's Influence Still Felt|
|University of Alberta Press Release |
April 28, 2003 - On May 2, popular baby doctor Benjamin Spock would have turned 100. The world-famous pediatrician changed the face of parenting with his soothing words of practical advice and his conviction to use instinct as a guide. A University of Alberta researcher has analyzed Dr. Spock--particularly his advice on infant feeding and how it has changed over his decades of work.
Spock has always been an advocate of breastfeeding and even more radical was his recommendation to nurse the baby on demand rather than on a strict schedule. The U of A's Stephanie Knaak studied the changes from Spock's first edition of his book, Baby and Child Care, to his last, noting that the importance of breastfeeding was always apparent but the doctor's reasons for why to nurse changed.
Spock's book was first published at the start of the World War II baby boom and soon became an authoritative and reliable guide for parents.
With its nearly 50 million copies in more than 40 translations, the book is said to be second in sales only to the bible.
"He didn't offer any assurances for bottle feeders in terms of bonding and that surprised me a bit."
|Rome April 22, 2003 (Reuters) - Twelve young priests have raised eyebrows in Italy by joining the ranks of housewives and porn stars in posing for a glossy calendar, albeit sombrely dressed in long, dark robes and broad-rimmed, traditional hats. |
The priests featured in Calendario Romano 2004, which aims to promote tourism in the Italian capital, are photographed standing in front of famous Rome landmarks.
"I usually photograph gondoliers for Venetian calendars, but this time I wanted to do something Roman, and what better than priests?" the photographer Piero Pazzi said of his work, which is not an official Vatican publication.
Critics have said the pictures are inappropriate because people will inevitably compare the priests to the naked pin-ups commonly associated with Italian calendars. They also complain that profits are not going to charity.
"The priests are young and good looking, but that doesn't make them sex symbols. That depends on the imagination of the viewer," Pazzi said.
|Hedgehog Massacre Continues!|
|BY JOHN ROSS |
Scotland April 29, 2003 (Scotsman UK) - The hedgehog cull in the Western Isles was stepped up yesterday with the arrival of specialist sniffer dogs which are being used to locate the animals.
The two dogs, which have been brought in from the mainland, will not catch the hedgehogs but will indicate to their handlers where they are.
So far, only 30 of the estimated 200 hedgehogs in North Uist have been caught and killed as part of a project to eradicate the 5,000-strong hedgehog population from the Western Isles, where they have been eating the eggs of important wading birds.
Animal welfare groups have "rescued" about 80, although it is thought the number from North Uist is still below double figures.
A spokesman for Scottish Natural Heritage said:
"Our work this year concentrates in North Uist to head off the hedgehog spread. We are therefore searching for relatively few animals across a large area. We think the dogs will be a great help in taking us right to these hard-to-find animals."
|Roma of Rome|
|By Bruce Johnston |
Rome April 22, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - Rome celebrated its 2,756th birthday yesterday, amid claims that the city may have been founded by a Trojan woman called Roma and not, as legend has it, by Romulus.
According to Rome's Il Messaggero newspaper, a fragment of writing by the Graeco-Sicilian poet Stesichorus (638-555 BC) recounts how a woman named Roma arrived with a Trojan fleet in an idyllic place that could easily be Rome.
The scene was described as one of enchanting beauty, where before the setting sun the visitor was "enticed to dream while being caressed by the off-shore breeze".
Roma fell so in love with the spot that she conspired with the other women to burn all the ships, so that the party would have to stay. Once they were stranded, the group all agreed that they should name the place after her.
The tale's claims are strengthened by the fact that Stesichorus was born just 115 years after the founding of Rome.
According to legend, Romulus, one of the male twins descended from Aeneas, prince of Troy, and suckled by a she-wolf after being cast adrift on the Tiber, founded ancient Rome in 753 BC, after slaying his brother Remus.
As latter-day Romans mulled over the significance of Stesichorus's tale, about 1,000 people dressed as gladiators, centurions, emperors and maidens marched through the city yesterday led by the "Goddess Roma" clutching a spear and an orb.
|French Laundry Named Best Restaurant in World|
|By Michael Paterson |
London April 29, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - A British-dominated panel of food critics has decreed that the best place to eat in the world is the French Laundry, a French restaurant run by Americans in California.
Eleven of the top 50 restaurants are in Britain, up from five last year, according to the Restaurant magazine poll of 300 chefs and restaurant reviewers.
The French Laundry opened in 1994 in a two-storey 1890s steam laundry in Yountville, Napa Valley. Thom Hetherington, of Restaurant, said: "The stunning location in the hills of the Napa Valley was a big plus factor. But their cuisine was deemed better than any restaurant in France because, while they had a French-trained chef, they were not restricted by the more conservative tastes of many French clientele." There is a two-month waiting list for customers to pay around £80 a head plus wine.
Britain's highest-rated restaurant, at five, was Gordon Ramsay's establishment bearing his name in Chelsea, west London. According to the magazine, it only slipped from second in last year's inaugural list because of the exceptional standard of those above it. Mr. Hetherington said the poll was dominated by British tastes, although voters were based around the world.
The top 10 were: 1 French Laundry, California; 2 El Bulli (last year's No 1), north of Barcelona; 3 Le Louis XV, Monaco; 4 Jean Georges, New York; 5 Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London; 6 L'Arpege, Paris; 7 Comme chez Soi, Brussels; 8 Rockpool, Sydney; 9 L'Ambroisie, Paris; 10 Gramercy Tavern, New York.
French Laundry website - http://www.sterba.net/yountville/frenchlaundry
[Viva la California, but look at those prices! Merde! Ed.]
|Cheap Coffee Kills Tigers!|
|Wildlife Conservation Society Press Release |
NEW YORK April 24, 2003 - How's this for a bitter aftertaste? Cheap coffee, the kind that comes in industrial-sized cans, may be contributing to the loss of tigers, elephants and rhinos living half a world away, according to a study by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, published in the journal Science.
The study says that increased production of robusta coffee, the inexpensive variety commonly sold in cans and used in instant coffee, is leading to deforestation of lowland forests in Indonesia, home to that country's last remaining populations of wild tigers and other species.
Falling coffee prices worldwide has led to the need for more production, which in turn has resulted in more forest being cleared, even in national parks. According to the study, the spike in coffee production can be traced to 1989, when international coffee agreements ended and the U.S. left the International Coffee Organization (ICO), an international cartel formed by the U.N. to balance supply and demand and ensure fair prices.
What followed was a free-for-all that resulted in oversupply that cut worldwide prices in half. Ironically, long-term trends of consumer prices in the U.S. continue to rise.
In recent years, Indonesia's coffee production has jumped. Between 1996 and 2001, land cleared for coffee increased by 28 percent in Lampung Province, the heart of the country's robusta coffee region. Seventy percent of Lampung's coffee production occurs inside and adjacent to Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, one of a few remaining strongholds of Sumatran tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses, all of which are declining due to fragmentation and loss of their forest home.
|Search-and-Rescue Robots at RoboCup|
|Carnegie Mellon University Press Release |
PITTSBURGH April 24, 2003 — Carnegie Mellon University researchers and their colleagues from other institutions will demonstrate teams of urban search-and-rescue robots in a special "disaster arena" developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) during the RoboCup American Open robot soccer competition being held at the university April 30-May 4.
Search-and-rescue demonstrations will take place hourly May 2 and 3 in Rangos Hall at the University Center on the Carnegie Mellon campus.
The semi-autonomous, interactive, teleoperated robots will be put through their paces in a two-level site replete with dim lighting and lifelike mannequins that give off heat and carbon dioxide and utter cries of distress so that the robots working with human rescuers can find them. The site contains rubble, mirrors, stairs and other obstacles to simulate the challenging environments robots may encounter when searching for disaster victims.
"It's a human-robot disaster team," said Illah Nourbakhsh, assistant professor of robotics and one of the organizers of this event. "We're designing robots that will demonstrate the convergence of robot design and artificial intelligence."
Official RoboCup2003 web site - http://www.robocup2003.org
[Hope it goes better than their horrendous web site. Ugh! Ed.]
|Hamburgers Resist Name Change|
|By Dave Graham |
Hamburg April 28 2003 (Reuters) - The German port of Hamburg has been offered €10,000 (almost R80,000) to change its name to Veggieburg by animal rights activists who are unhappy about the city's association with hamburgers.
"Hamburg could promote animal welfare and court sympathy for animals by changing its name to Veggieburg," the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote in a letter sent to Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust on Monday.
The German chapter of PETA, which claims 750 000 members worldwide, said the organization would give Hamburg's childcare facilities €10 000 worth of vegetarian burgers if the city changed its name. But city officials in Hamburg, Germany's second largest city which traces its roots the ninth century, were unmoved.
"I cannot afford to waste my time with this. I don't even want to look at nonsense like this," said Klaus May, a city government spokesperson. "But that doesn't mean we Hamburgers don't have a sense of humor."
In its letter, PETA said the name Hamburg conjured up images of "unhealthy beef patties made of pulverized dead cattle".
"Millions of people fall ill each year with fatal ailments like heart disease, cancer, strokes and diabetes from eating hamburgers," PETA said in the letter obtained by Reuters.
The original "hamburger steak", a dish made of ground beef, traveled west with German migrants to the United States in the 19th century. The first mention of "hamburgers" appeared on a menu in a New York restaurant in 1834. Some historians trace its origins to a minced beef sandwich once popular with sailors in Hamburg.
The city's name comes from the old Saxon words "ham" (bay) and "burg" (fortress).
PETA recently made a similar offer to the US town of Hamburg, New York. But their $15,000 (about R105,000) bid was also rejected.
PETA site - www.peta.org
|Onions in Space!|
|Rutgers University Press Release |
NEW BRUNSWICK NJ April 24, 2003 - Scientists may have peeled away another layer of mystery about materials floating in deep space. Tiny multilayered balls called "carbon onions," produced in laboratory studies, appear to have the same light-absorption characteristics as dust particles in the regions between the stars.
"It's the strongest evidence yet that cosmic dust has a multilayered onion-like carbon structure," said Manish Chhowalla, assistant professor of ceramic and materials engineering at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Chhowalla used transmission electron microscopes to study radiation absorption of the laboratory-produced onions and found characteristics virtually identical to those reported by astrophysicists studying dust in deep space.
A carbon onion is a miniscule but intricate component of nanotechnology - the study of structures and devices on a scale that can approach one-millionth the width of a human hair.
Discovered in 1992, carbon onions were considered difficult to produce in the laboratory until 2001 when Chhowalla, then at Cambridge University in the U.K., was part of a group that discovered a way to synthesize sizable quantities of the nanoparticles in water.
Their findings are reported in a study called "Carbon Onions: Carriers of the 217.5 nm Interstellar Absorption Feature" published in the April 18 edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.
"There will be many uses related to nanotechnology," he said. "Carbon onions can be used in energy storage and fuel cells. We can also envision them as immensely tiny ball bearings that may be used in nanomachines built on the scale of molecules."
|Rocket Fuel Contaminating US Lettuce|
|LOS ANGELES April 29, 2003 (Reuters) — California's winter crop of lettuce contains unhealthy levels of a rocket fuel component that can harm developing fetuses, according to a small study conducted for an environmental group by Texas Tech University. |
The study, commissioned by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, showed that lettuce produced in California's Central Valley farmland between October and March each year absorbs four times as much perchlorate from the Colorado River as is considered safe by federal environmental authorities.
Although just 22 samples of lettuce were examined for traces of the solid rocket fuel component, the study's organizers hoped it would spur a more comprehensive look at the situation.
"We are a small nonprofit organization, and we are hoping that the results from our admittedly small sample will spur the federal government to do a more definitive study," Environmental Working Group spokesman Bill Walker said on Monday. "This question has been around since 1997, yet the federal government has failed to clear it up."
Perchlorate is the explosive component of rocket and missile fuel and is highly soluble in water. Exposure to perchlorate can cause mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skill deficits in developing fetuses.
Perchlorate contaminates the drinking water of 20 million people in 20 states and the Colorado River, which irrigates 70 percent of the nation's winter lettuce, the study said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tentatively set the standards for safe perchlorate levels in water at one microgram per liter, but there are now no enforceable standards or widespread testing for the substance, the study found.
In January and February, the scientists bought 22 commercial lettuce samples for analysis, including prepackaged and head lettuces, adult and baby greens, both organically and conventionally grown, from several different distributors.
Four of the samples contained an average of four micrograms per liter, the study said. Although the rest did not have measurable levels, researchers cautioned that the detection level for perchlorate in foods is relatively high.
|The Return of BeppoSAX|
|Rome April 28 2003 (Reuters) - Italy said on Monday it had alerted 39 countries to the risk that a satellite it deactivated last year could crash in their territories within the next 48 hours. |
The 1 400kg satellite was expected to fall to earth between 17h10 GMT on April 29 and 14h00 GMT on April 30 somewhere in a band straddling the equator that would include Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Italian Space Agency said it was keeping all 39 countries up to date on the uncontrolled re-entry of the BeppoSAX satellite, but there was a higher probability that it would fall into one of the oceans rather than on land.
The satellite should explode into about 140 pieces, with only 700kg expected to remain solid and potentially posing a threat, the agency said.
Agency officials said it was impossible to assess in advance how much damage might be caused.
"We have taken measures unprecedented in the world to prepare ourselves and the countries concerned to this phenomenon," Vincenzo Spaziante, head of a special task force set up three months ago, told a news conference in Rome.
The satellite was fuelled by hydrazine but engineers said the fuel had been used up and posed no threat.
Spaziante, whose task force is constantly monitoring the satellite's trajectory, said Italy was prepared to send civil protection experts to any country needing assistance. The Brazilian Space Agency said last week the satellite could crash in the Amazon jungle, but Italy said there was no way of telling yet where it would land.
Spaziante said the international community should set up permanent structures to deal with uncontrolled re-entries by satellites.
The BeppoSAX, launched in 1996 to monitor space radiation, is owned by the Italian Space Agency. It was built by Alenia Aeronautica, a unit of state-controlled defence group Finmeccanica. Previous uncontrolled re-entries have included a 3 200kg United States satellite that plummeted to earth over central Egypt in January 2002. It is not known whether any debris struck the ground.
The Russian space station Mir was ditched into the Pacific Ocean in 2001 after 15 years of service, but that was a controlled descent.
|Genre News: TV Pilots, Angel Rumors, JAG, Chewbacca, Matrix Reloaded, Milla Jovovich & More!|
|TV Pilot Time |
By Cynthia Littleton
Hollywood Reporter Deputy Editor
LOS ANGELES April 27, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - It's the time of year when bleary-eyed network executives huddle in dark rooms, wring their hands and try to read one another's body language. The pilot screening process begins in earnest this week at most of the six major broadcast networks. While there's no such thing as a sure thing in TV development until it's touted at an upfront presentation for advertisers (NBC kicks off the parade of 2003-04 network schedule unveilings May 12 in New York), early buzz is starting to build on selected projects.
ABC first and foremost needs a few new dramas. Network brass are said to have high hopes for "111 Gramercy Park," an "Upstairs, Downstairs"-esque look at life in a swanky New York apartment building.
"Karen Sisco," the female marshal drama inspired by "Out of Sight," is said to have a shot, along with Steven Weber's bid for justice in "The DA," "Better Days" (formerly known as "The Flannerys"), about a former hotshot lawyer's rebirth with a practice based in a strip mall, and John Grisham's "The Street Lawyer."
"Platonically Incorrect," about two friendly co-workers, has good buzz, as does the Kelly Ripa-Faith Ford starrer "Hope and Faith," "I'm With Her," about a regular guy who finds himself married to a celebrity, Michael J. Fox's "Hench at Home" and an untitled project about a marriage between the son of conservatives and a daughter raised by a gay couple.
The comedies getting talked up around the halls at Fox include the spinoff of "About a Boy" and "Cracking Up," starring Molly Shannon as a psychology grad student who lives with a nutty Beverly Hills couple. Projects starring Luis Guzman ("Luis") and Norm Macdonald ("A Minute With Stan Hooper") are also getting some attention.
Never Mind the Pilots, What About Angel?
The dying bit ain't a big surprise and of curse Spike can return - he's a vampire, ain't he? According to an article on Zap2it this week by Kate O'Hare, everybody wants Spike on board.
"He's a great character and a great actor. I don't know what configuration it would be, whether he would be involved in an arc, whether he would be recurring or what. We talked to David about it, and he was totally on board. He loves playing scenes with James."
David also said: "We live in the town of rumors so I don't believe anything. Like when I started the show, I'm just focusing on my day-to-day activities. It's already in the cards if the show's going to come back."
Boreanaz, Hopper Resurrect 'Crow' Franchise
David James Elliott into JAG Season Nine
Classic Characters Return for Episode III
Reprising their classic roles from the original trilogy are actors Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker. They return to Star Wars as Chewbacca the Wookiee, C-3PO and R2-D2.
Matrix Sequels Will Go Imax
Large-screen theater operator Imax said Wednesday that Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow's upcoming "Matrix" films, "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions," will be released on Imax's 15 frames-per-second/70mm screen format to accompany the standard theatrical releases debuting this year.
The Imax version of "The Matrix Revolutions" will bow day and date with the film's November 5 theatrical release, marking the first time a Hollywood event film is released concurrently in both formats.
[Hey! You can even write in your favorite news site! eXoNews of course! Ed.]
[If you haven't seen "The Million Dollar Hotel", look for it in yer local DVD stacks! Amazing Milla (and co-stars Jeremy Davies and Mel Gibson) in this brilliant film by Wim Wenders! Ed.]
Milla's Official site - http://www.millaj.com
Resident Evil Official site - http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/residentevil