Visit eXoNews for more recent news!

Holiday UFOs!
Glaciers Melt! Animal Rights!
Black Black Holes! Termites!
Orgasmatron Testers & More!
Holiday UFO Reports!
Earth December 1, 2003 (eXoNews) - Don't waste time looking for Santa and his magic sled! Aliens are appearing in the skies everywhere just in time for the year-end holidays. Yes, dear readers, here's another eXoNews UFO wrap-up, culled from the files of the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC). While some Americans were sitting down to turkey and football, others were faithfully reporting recent sightings that make those old Sci Fi Channel "investigations" seem dull. These reports are exactly as received by NUFORC except for a little reformatting and spelling correction. [Photos courtesy of our own spaced-out UFO expert, and not to be believed. Ed.]

Ready? Here are our Holiday UFO Reports!

Bright Object at Amazing Speed

St. Albans WV 11/26/2003 12:42:52 AM (NUFORC) - I'm a little uncomfortable writing this. I like the idea of aliens and all that, but I tend to be skeptical about the whole thing. I got out of my car and headed toward my apartment door. I was looking at the sky, a habit of mine, looking at stars and looking for comets. At first I noticed nothing at all, then I must've blinked or looked away for a moment, but all of a sudden a star seemed to be particularly bright--and large.

If all the stars around it looked like periods on a paper, this one looked like the lower-case letter "o" beside a regular period. (o.) I didn't know what in the world it was, but then it began to get very large, as if coming closer to me. It got to the size that I don't think I could've blotted it out with a nickel if I held it out at arms length. I don't know how to describe the appearance other than a ball of light. I didn't notice anything that seemed at all metallic or fire-like. Just a big ball of extremely bright light, I can't emphasize how bright this was.

It was at this large size for only about two seconds it seemed, and I pushed the door open to call for my wife to come see. Right as I pushed the door, it began to get a little smaller--and then the speed at which the size decreased became incredibly fast. At last I found myself looking at a small dot, and eventually it vanished. There was no sound at all that I could hear coming from it.

It did seem as if, if possible, the object's "brightness" pulsed once it paused after moving toward my area. That is, once it flew toward me and paused, there were two very quick pulses of extra brightness and then it flew away. The thing is, it was so bright before the two short pulses, it's hard to imagine that it could've gotten any brighter.

I have no idea what this was. It could've been some rare terrestrial phenomena, I don't know. The only thing I can say is that it was not a plane, jet, helicopter, or balloon. It wasn't something that we see flying around in the sky. I don't know what the thing was. I'd like to know if anyone else around here saw it. Maybe the light of a burst star reached our planet, whatever it was I'm dying to know. Speculating is only driving me crazy.

Area of occurrence: I live in a small apartment complex. As far as I know, I was the only person standing outside. However, there must've been people all around this area who saw it. Surely I wasn't the only one standing outside looking at the sky. There's a busy road not far from where I live, all one would have to have done to see it from a moving car going east is to look out the right side of the car. Someone else must've seen this thing.

Bright Stationary Object(s) Filmed for 5 Minutes

Colorado Springs CO 11/25/2003 2:42:24 PM (NUFORC) - I have this event on tape, I cannot believe that this happened right under NORAD.

The same mountains. The tape I shot clearly depicts the mountains and craft(s) above it, not moving North to South or East. West is the Rockies.

The very bright object was extremely white, then changed shape to a square looking craft and changed colors from red, to blue-white. I showed this to my roommate so far.

I have not contacted the military or media.
NORAD would be embarrassed to find this craft close to its own location. This is not a plane, balloon, helicopter. It is very strange and was there for about 5-6 minutes.

The "thing" next to it was very strange. Glowing type thing, smaller than the bright object and reflected (at times) from the other craft, it did change its position from the craft near the end of my filming.

I really couldn't get the craft very well in focus, but in slow motion there are very strange events, designs, colors. Strangest thing I ever have seen.

No mention of this in last nights television. That too surprised me.

NUFORC Note: Witness is forwarding film to our Center. PD.

Triangle Shaped - Cloaked?

Colorado Springs CO 11/24/2003 9:23:39 PM (NUFORC) - I went out to my vehicle to get my wife a pack of cigarettes, it was dark, very cold and a virtually cloudless sky. As I shut the door to my vehicle I looked up and immediately noticed what I first thought was a piece of clear plastic or cellophane floating or blowing in the sky.

There was no wind and it was very calm. As I watched it closer I noticed its form and was very shocked and exited by what I witnessed. It was way up there. It was huge, two or three football fields wide if not larger. It was clear, I could see the stars right through it. I could see the shape of a triangle, it did not have lights on it, but I could could see the shape of what I thought was the front.

The pointed end was facing in the direction it was traveling in. It was absolutely silent. No sound at all. I lost sight of it. I ran around to the other side of the house and was able to see it again. It started to move very fast - several hundred miles an hour. As I was watching it I could tell it was some kind of craft. The sky behind it seemed to get distorted. It was what I could only describe as it was being cloaked.

I ran down the block trying to keep sight of it. The event lasted no more than half a minute. I did not imagine this event, nor am I making it up. I was totally sober. I can not imagine this type of vehicle being of this planet.

NUFORC Note: We spoke with the witness via telephone, and he seemed quite credible to us. He reported that there were no lights on the object. PD.

UFO sighted over US - Mexico Border Town

Laredo TX 11/24/2003 9:37:06 PM (NUFORC) - On 11-24-2003, at approximately 1920 hrs, in Laredo, Texas a UFO was seen in the southwestern sky. The UFO seemed to be suspended in the sky in the vicinity of the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, across the Rio Grande river from Laredo, Texas.

The UFO was the shape of a circle and gave off a bright white glow, though not shiny or glaring.

Several witnesses initially confused it with an airplane on approach to Laredo International airport. However, the UFO´s glow suddenly intensified, with a slight light blue tinge, and it appeared to expand its diameter (this may have been the visual effect of the glow).

The object then moved at an incredible rate of speed, at approximately a 45 degree angle upward and in a southwesterly direction into Mexico. And with a second burst of speed the object disappeared into the night sky.

At approximately 1927 hrs, two aircraft flying in formation, coming from the northeast (possibly Kingsville Naval Air Station) and at a very high altitude followed the direction of the UFO´s flight path.

These jets crossed into Mexican airspace. This event was witnessed by 12 Federal Officers.

NUFORC Note: We spoke with this individual via telephone, and found him to be quite serious-minded and credible. PD.

UFO in California

Los Gatos CA 11/21/2003 4:22:33 PM (NUFORC) - I was driving South on Highway 17 towards Santa Cruz right past H-85 in Los Gatos. Suddenly a VERY large light the shape of a cylinder, dropped straight down out of the sky traveling at a speed I have never comprehended.

It was solid white light. It appeared to be in our outer atmosphere. But it was so large seeing it out in space, it had to be absolutely enormous. It just dropped out of space straight down toward earth.

It had white light trailing behind it similar to a comet. It was so large it size, and just dropped behind Mount Umunhum (mountain that separates Santa Cruz from San Jose). I thought it was going to crash into earth and was expecting to feel and see some impact.

I thought I would feel the earth shake when it hit the earth. But nothing happened.

I couldn't believe what I had seen. I called 911 but it rang for 3 minutes until I finally hung up. The phone lines were obviously jammed.

I called a friend and asked if they had seen it. They hadn't.

This morning, they said there was a meteor shower last night. This was NO METEOR SHOWER. It was a single large solid light in a rounded cone shape with a light tail behind it traveling at a enormous speed.

It had to be the size of a small planet. It was gigantic.

[Seen any UFOs of your own lately? Don't send your reports to us here at eXoNews, but you can report all the sightings you want to NUFORC. Remember: The Truth Is Out There! Ed.]

National UFO Reporting Center -

Billions Face Water Shortages as Glaciers Melt!

MILAN, Italy November 27, 2003 (Reuters) - The world's glaciers could melt within a century if global warming accelerates, leaving billions of people short of water and some islanders without a home, environmentalists said Thursday.

"Unless governments take urgent action to prevent global warming, billions of people worldwide may face severe water shortages as a result of the alarming melting rate of glaciers," the WWF group said in a report.

It said human impact on the climate was melting glaciers from the Andes to the Himalayas, bringing longer-term threats of higher sea levels that could swamp island states.

Officials from 180 nations will meet in Milan on December 1-12 to discuss international efforts to rein in a rise in global temperatures, blamed by scientists on emissions of gases from factories and cars that are blanketing the planet.

"Simulations project that a 4.0 Celsius (8.0 F) rise in temperature would eliminate nearly all of the world's glaciers by the end of the century," WWF said.

Himalayan glaciers feed seven great rivers of Asia that run through China and India, the world's most populous nations, ensuring a year-round water supply to two billion people.

WWF said that nations most at risk also included Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, where melt water from Andean glaciers supplies millions during dry seasons.

Island states like Tuvalu in the Pacific, meanwhile, could be submerged by rising sea levels triggered by melting glaciers.

Sea levels could rise even further if two of the world's largest ice caps, in Antarctica and Greenland, melt substantially, though the report left them out of its reckoning because of their unpredictability.

Glaciers are ancient rivers of packed snow that creep through the landscape, shaping the planet's surface.

Fire Marshal Freezes Ice Hotel
Fairbanks Alaska November 30, 2003 (AP) - The state fire marshal has put a freeze on construction of an ice hotel near Fairbanks, but the man behind the subarctic architecture is still chipping away.

On November 21 the Alaska Fire Marshal's office ordered a halt to construction of the planned Aurora Ice Hotel at Chena Hot Springs Resort, citing unspecified building code and public safety concerns.

The nine-meter-high, seven-room Gothic palace was intended to be a tourist draw similar to ice hotels in Scandinavia and Quebec. Creator Bernie Karl had planned to charge guests $878 for a two-person, two-night stay that included Arctic-grade sleeping bags and other survival gear.

Karl, is continuing work with champion ice carver Steve Brice, but now says what he's building isn't a hotel, but one of Alaska's largest works of art.

"Under my First Amendment rights, I have the right to create an ice sculpture and that's what we're doing," Karl told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for a story in Saturday's edition. "I suppose that this could be a long, lengthy battle, but under my First Amendment rights, they can't stop me from making a work of art, I believe."

Karl said the structure, which he expects to complete by Christmas, will be very similar to the plans for the hotel.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Tom DePeter Jr said the order to stop construction was issued because officials have many unanswered questions about the project, but he added that hotel construction could resume if the safety concerns are addressed.

"I think it's a great idea and hopefully it will be a real boon to the local economy and Mr Karl," DePeter said.

Plans called for the structure to have 2,4-metre-thick side walls of snow and ice, reinforced with laminated wood arches, metal bands, chicken wire and refrigeration lines.
Animal Rights: Wild and Domestic Animals at Risk!

Wild Animals Dying for Fashion
By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON November 28, 2003 (Reuters) - The return of fur to the world's fashion catwalks has spelled death to thousands of endangered animals with a boom in demand for their skins, a top wildlife protection officer said on Friday.

John Sellar, senior enforcement officer for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), said there had been a surge in seizures of tiger and leopard skins as the fashion industry embraced fur once again.

"In the 1980s and 1990s the illegal skin trade virtually ceased to exist because it was not fashionable," he told a gathering of wildlife enforcement officers. "But we are seeing models going back into it and a consequent boom in the trade."

Only last month, Chinese officials impounded 1,276 illegal pelts in their biggest seizure to date. They said the skins had come from 32 tigers, 579 leopards and 665 otters.

Sellar, tasked with monitoring and encouraging international enforcement of the CITES bans and restrictions on trade in endangered animals and plants, said London was a significant transit hub in the illegal trade, but not a major consumer.

"A lot of the fur trade is heading for China these days. It is a huge and increasingly affluent market," he said.

Sellar, who works from CITES headquarters in Geneva, admitted that patrolling, let alone preventing, the illegal trade was a one-sided struggle as the lone operators of old were increasingly sidelined by organized crime syndicates.

And it was not just easily identifiable animal skins that were involved. The trade covered skins and products from reptiles, birds, snakes, rhinos, and elephants as well as bushmeat, caviar and plants for use in traditional medicines.

Sellar said that for every sturgeon legally taken in Russia for its caviar, up to 12 more were taken illegally and emptied of their eggs which were then fed into the lucrative legal trade using fake or purchased papers.

Those involved in the highly profitable and illicit trade were not averse to using bribery or violence to get their way.

There had been numerous cases of investigators and officers being killed in mysterious circumstances, Sellar said.

But the threat of violence aside, in most cases enforcement officers were hugely overstretched just trying to catch the poachers, he said, let alone tracking down the merchandise.

In Tibet, the endangered Chiru antelope is slaughtered for its under-fur, which is made into a very fine, cashmere-like material called Shahtoosh but the country has just 15 officers to police an area larger than Switzerland.

And even when caught, the penalties were in most cases too feeble to act as a deterrent -- except in China which had executed 28 wildlife smugglers in the past 14 years.

Domestic Animal Brutality in China

GUANGZHOU China November 26, 2003 (Reuters) — Using a pair of giant clippers, the bare-chested Chinese man lunges into one of many wire cages on a truck and pins down a yelping dog. Exhausted and terrified, the animal shakes uncontrollably, leaving trails of urine as she is dragged off the truck and hurled into a cage on the ground.

The scene is repeated countless times a day in this wholesale market in the southern city of Guangzhou, where dozens of animals — from ordinary domestic pets to exotic creatures such as civet cats — are destined for the the dinner table.

Trucks arrive stacked high with scores of cages packed with dogs who have not been fed or watered for days ahead of their slaughter.

Dogs, more than anything else, seem to be a staple in this part of China, where consumers believe their meat helps to keep them warm during winter. But public awareness of the practice — and opposition to it — is beginning to grow.

A Chinese current affairs magazine shocked its readers last month when it published a picture of the market showing dogs crammed into a cage. It was flooded with letters from readers decrying the brutal nature of the trade.

Experts also fear the close contact between humans and wild animals in such markets could help unknown viruses jump the species barrier and spark deadly epidemics, such as the SARS outbreak earlier this year.

Some scientists believe the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus jumped to humans from civet cats, and some Chinese press reports have traced the origin of the epidemic to one of the many wild animal markets in Guangdong.

Rights Campaign

Despite the fears and anger, the trade is thriving.

"It is a very tough and unpleasant work. But I have no choice. I either do this or go hungry," said Ah Shui, a migrant laborer who has worked at the market for three years. As he speaks, two tiny pink bundles fall onto the ground from the truck. Upon closer inspection, they turn out to be pups, hairless, with eyes still shut.

Hanging from a nearby ceiling are a handful of freshly plucked dogs. Using a brush, a young woman paints them with sweet barbecue sauce before roasting them with an open flame.

"They cost four yuan a catty (US$0.50 for 1.3 pounds), but that will double when it starts getting very cold," said one worker.

In Hong Kong, animal rights lobby group Animals Asia Foundation is also trying to change eating habits. Though eating dogs is illegal in Hong Kong, many people flock to China in winter to tuck into what they consider a delicacy. Through a 14-minute video, which it hopes to release early next year in schools and perhaps even on television in China, the group is trying to bring home the message that dogs are really humans' best friends.

Fried or Food

The film follows the terrifying journey and miraculous rescue of Eddie, a mixed terrier that was saved from the squalid animal market in 2001 and given a new lease of life. Told as if from his perspective, the film shows how Eddie and about 200 other dogs are used for human therapy in Hong Kong. It takes viewers into a school for the blind, a hospital, and a home for the elderly. Inside, blind children and bedridden patients come alive, chuckling and playing with the dogs.

"The dogs give them a lot of spiritual support. These patients look forward to these visits," says a nurse in the film.

Spending time with companion animals is widely known to ease stress and bring a sense of well-being to patients.

"We are trying to get people thinking it may not be OK to eat dogs. They should come away thinking, 'That is something I don't want to do'," said Annie Mather of the foundation.

But in China, where growing affluence is feeding palates that are fond of anything exotic, Mather's job will be an uphill one. Her group estimates 5 million dogs a year are eaten in China, many from farms in the North that are now breeding imported mastiffs, St. Bernards, and dobermans with local dogs.

"They are breeding a super dog with a strong constitution, which will grow to its maximum weight in the shortest possible time, so they are ready to be sold at eight or nine months instead of a year," said Anneleise Smillie of the foundation. "These are not your backyard farms but really specialized operations ... because they know they can make a lot of money."

Animals Asia Foundation -

Immortal Sea Urchins

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Science Editor

Oregon November 24, 2003 (BBC) - The red sea urchin found in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean is one of the Earth's longest-living animals.

The small, spiny creature can last for more than 200 years with few signs of age-related disease, a US research team from Oregon and California has found.

The animal, which grows to more than 15 cm across, grazes on marine plants and uses its spines to deter predators.

"No animal lives forever, but these red sea urchins appear to be practically immortal," said Dr Thomas Ebert.

The urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) were once considered the scourge of the sea. They ate plants in kelp forests and people believed they were at least partly responsible for the decline of that marine ecosystem - and so tried to poison them.

However, the spherical echinoderms became valuable in the 1970s when the US sold them to Japan, where their sex organs were considered a delicacy. They brought high prices, and at one point in the 1990s were one of the most valuable marine resources in California.

Now, studies indicate red sea urchins grow a lot more slowly and live a lot longer than had been believed - certainly longer than the seven to 15 years previously assumed.

The latest work on sea urchin growth rates uses measures of the isotope carbon-14, which has increased in all living organisms following the atmospheric testing of atomic weapons in the 1950s.

"Radiocarbon testing in this type of situation provided a very strong test of growth rates and ages," says Dr Ebert, from Oregon State University. "Some of the largest and we believe oldest red sea urchins up to 19 centimeters in size have been found in waters off British Columbia, between Vancouver Island and the mainland. By our calculations, they are probably 200 or more years old.

"They can die from attacks by predators, specific diseases or being harvested by fishermen. But even then they show very few signs of age. The evidence suggests that a 100-year-old red sea urchin is just as apt to live another year, or reproduce, as a 10-year-old sea urchin."

In fact, the indications are that the more mature red sea urchins are the most prolific producers of sperm and eggs, and are perfectly capable of breeding even when incredibly old.

"Among other things, [the radiocarbon data] confirmed that in older sea urchins, there is a very steady, very consistent growth that's quite independent of ocean conditions or other variables, and once they near adult size our research indicates they do not have growth spurts."

The research is published in the US Fishery Bulletin, by scientists from Oregon State University and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Black Black Holes!

European Space Agency Press Release

November 26, 2003 - ‘Black holes’ are truly black. When an object gets within a certain distance from a black hole, it will get swallowed forever with no chance to escape. That includes light, which means that black holes do not shine.

How do astronomers detect black holes if they are unable to see them? Well, to be precise, astronomers do not detect black holes. But they do detect the phenomena that can only be explained by the existence nearby of objects that match the description of black holes!

The strong gravitational attraction of a black hole affects the motion of nearby objects. When astronomers see a star circling around something, but they cannot see what that something is, they may suspect it is a black hole, or a neutron star - the ultra-dense ‘corpse’ of a star.

Astronomers can even infer the mass of a black hole by measuring the mass of the star and its speed. The same kind of calculation can be done with supermassive black holes that lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

In the Milky Way, observations have revealed the existence of stars and gas moving very fast near the centre, a behavior that can only be explained if a mass of several million times that of the Sun is at the centre of the galaxy.

Such mass has to be concentrated within a radius of only 10 light-days - roughly 40 times times the distance from the Sun to Pluto - and is most likely to be a black hole.

In fact, at the very centre of our galaxy, radio and X-ray telescopes have detected a powerful source called ‘Sagittarius A’, identified as the candidate to be this massive black hole.

This idea has recently received strong support, with the measurement for the first time of the orbit of a star that approaches this mysterious object to within 17 light-hours - only three times the distance between the Sun and Pluto - while traveling at speeds of than 5000 kilometers per second!

Shining to death

Another piece of evidence in favor of the idea of supermassive black holes in the centre of galaxies is the existence of quasars, discovered in 1967. Quasars are very distant and very luminous at the same time - the most luminous objects in the Universe.

To explain the incredible amount of energy they must release, astronomers also need black holes: just before disappearing into a black hole, the matter being swallowed heats up and emits great amounts of energy - its ‘last cry’. So quasars are believed to be caused by black holes with masses of one million to several billion times the mass of the Sun.

The ‘last cry’ of matter about to be swallowed is best detected with x-ray and gamma-ray telescopes, because the energy released is given off in the form of hard x-rays. In fact, ESA’s orbiting observatories XMM-Newton and Integral have already shown their skills in studying black holes in several discoveries.

For example, XMM Newton has recently discovered a small black hole whirling in our galaxy, in the Ara constellation of the southern sky. Integral has detected what could be the first significant hard x-ray emission from the black hole in the centre of our galaxy.

European Space Agency Press -

War on Termites!

University of Melbourne Press Release

November 25, 2003 - In the world’s largest experiment of its kind, scientists have set up 80 model homes on termite-infested land in the Northern Territory to test a range of novel anti-termite solutions.

In a bid to curb the $780 million that termites cost Australians each year, The University of Melbourne, the Sunshine University, Queensland and the local Yolngu people have placed houses of either slab or raised floor construction with a variety of the latest defense systems against termites in Yolngu territory, Arnhem Land. The area harbors virtually every economically important species of termite known in Australia.

The research is funded by the Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Corporation and the details and preliminary findings of some of the research will be revealed at a University of Melbourne and Cooperative Research Centre for Wood Innovation-hosted workshop on termites being held in Melbourne tomorrow – see below for details.

The model homes are testing novel preservatives for the timbers and a range of chemical and physical barriers in the soil.

“We are also learning from the Yolngu people about termite behavior and biology, says Dr Berhan Ahmed, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne and the project’s principal researcher.

“The Yolngu people helped set up the project and are now responsible for its maintenance. We have also begun discussions on developing local training schemes for timber pest management,” he says.

The Melbourne workshop will bring together industry, scientists and government to discuss the challenges and the latest research on how to defend homes against termites.

Since the banning of organo-chlorines the hunt has been on for effective, yet environment-friendly alternatives.

CEO of the CRC for Wood Innovation, Professor Peter Vinden says timber is the one of the few renewable construction materials, so our research is directed to maximizing timber protection in buildings.

“To do this, a multi-faceted approach to timber protection, is required so that customers have confidence in timber-built housing. This includes incorporating appropriate building design with effective timber protection, chemical and physical barriers,” he says.

“Industry, research institutes, regulatory authorities and consumer advocates will need to become partners in the challenge to build out termites.”

One such technology that could soon help this process is a new University of Melbourne developed treatment plant for preserving wood against termites. The plant has the capacity to treat a timber pack suitable for an entire house in just 2 minutes. The plant is patented and the University is currently in negotiation with an industry partner to commercialize the technology.

Teen Who Killed Dad Goes Hollywood
GLOUCESTER CITY NJ November 28, 2003 (AP) - A teenager who fatally stabbed her father has sold her story to a Hollywood production company, her lawyer said.

Robert DePersia said a television division of Sony Pictures paid Jasmine Karo for the rights to her story, but he did not disclose the amount. A message left with a Sony spokeswoman was not immediately returned Friday.

Karo, 19, stabbed her father, Alan Karo, with a kitchen knife during an argument at their home May 6. She had broad support in the tight-knit Philadelphia suburb of Gloucester City; a state assemblyman posted her bail and several lawyers offered their services. She and community members said her father was abusive.

Prosecutors had charged the teen with murder, but a grand jury in June declined to indict her.

Though Karo has rarely spoken publicly about the incident, she traveled to New York on Nov. 12 to tape an interview scheduled to air in January on Montel Williams' syndicated talk show.

"A lot of shows have been contacting us — nonstop," DePersia told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill in a story that appeared Friday. "We were very hesitant because we wanted to make sure it wasn't going to be simply a tabloid."
Orgasmatron Testers Wanted!

November 26, 2003 (New Scientist) - Women who cannot have orgasms can now have a device implanted in their spines that will trigger the sensation for them. Clinical trials of the "orgasmatron" have begun in the US, with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.

The device was the focus of massive media attention two years ago, after New Scientist broke the news of its existence and used the term orgasmatron to describe it. But despite all the coverage, few people are volunteering for the trial.

"I thought people would be beating my door down to become part of the trial," says Stuart Meloy, the surgeon who patented the treatment. "But so far I am struggling to find people."

That does not surprise some experts, who think an implant is too radical a treatment for sexual problems.

"Why would you do it invasively if you can do it with a vibrator?" asks Marca Sipski of the University of Miami, who studies sexual function in women with spinal cord injuries.

Only one woman has completed the first stage of the trial, and one other is now being signed up. Meloy hopes to find eight more to complete the first stage of the study, in which wires connected to a battery pack are inserted through the skin and into the woman's spinal cord.

The procedure is no riskier than an epidural, Meloy says. But epidurals can cause complications such as backache in up to a fifth of women. In the second stage, a self-contained device resembling a pacemaker will be implanted beneath the skin, switched on and off with a remote control.

Meloy, a pain specialist at Piedmont Anesthesia and Pain Consultants in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, stumbled on the idea while performing a routine pain-relief operation on a woman. During this procedure, two electrodes are inserted in the patient's spine and tiny pulses of electricity are applied. Patients are kept conscious throughout the operation so that they can say when they feel less pain. During one such operation, the patient began exclaiming emphatically. When Meloy asked what was up, she said, "You're going to have to teach my husband to do that."

This effect was already familiar to many surgeons performing such operations, but Meloy patented the idea of using it to treat sexual dysfunction. He tried to sell his idea to a company called Medtronic, but when the company lost interest he decided to go it alone. He expects a full implant to cost around $13,000.

In October, he implanted wires in a married woman who responded to his call for volunteers in the local media. "When the device was switched on, the patient reported being almost instantly aroused. She described it as 'really excellent foreplay'," says Meloy.

The woman, who had not had an orgasm for four years, wore the device for nine days and had sex with her husband on seven occasions. Meloy says she had an orgasm every time. "She even told me she had the first multiple orgasm of her life using the device," he says.

But Sipski thinks that as long as the required nerves in the body are intact, using a vibrator should work just as well.

"My research shows that orgasm is a purely reflex response. Even the sensation associated with orgasm does not require the brain. Women with complete injuries to the spine can still experience orgasm."

Paula Hall, a sex therapist with the counseling service Relate in the UK, says that most cases of sexual dysfunction are caused by psychological factors.

"Lack of self-awareness and not experimenting enough are the most common reasons," she says. "In situations where all else has failed, some people might consider surgery, but I don't think having an operation is going to catch on." But Meloy is confident that it will. "I don't see it any differently from procedures such as breast implants," he says.

New Scientist -

Genre News: Buffy & Spike, Angel, Tru Calling, John Lennon, Katherine Heigl, Yancy Butler, Tony Twist & More!
Bites and Pieces: Buffy and Spike, Angel Talks, Monk Reruns
By FLAtRich

London November 30, 2003 (eXoNews) - Bad week for showbiz news, what with reruns in full swing and everybody on vacation, but there's always something happening out there.

The UK's Channel 4 100 Greatest Sexy Moments Poll puts the Buffy and Spike trysts in Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Number 40. Sex is relative, of course. These guys think the Number 1 spot belongs to Ursula Andress - when she emerged from the water in Dr. No (1962) - and Roger Rabbit's toon wife Jessica also made the top 20.

The Number 2 spot did go to Sarah Michelle, but surprisingly with Ryan Philippe in Cruel Intentions (1999). Was there sex in that movie?

Personally, I didn't agree with any of the Channel 4 results until they got to Sherilyn Fenn as Audry in Twin Peaks (1990) - remember Audry's cherry stem audition for a job at One Eyed Jack's? Check out the poll here -

Totally David Boreanaz (in the UK) reports that Angel Season 5 begins there in January 2004.

Also a transcript and some clips and stills of David Boreanaz interviewed on the Wayne Brady Show -

If you are panicked at the thought of Angel reruns until January, check out these suggestions at the Angel Fan Poll site -

The Futon Critic is now predicting a final gasp for The Lyon's Den on NBC, BTW, after feeding rumors of the show's return with new casting news.

Now FC says there is no room on NBC's schedule for the Rob Lowe lawyers after a brief return this week.

Rene Echevarria's (STTNG, DS9, etc.) Ricochet is among the new projects Fox is considering for a new year round schedule in 2004.

Fox has quick-ordered a Ricochet pilot. If you saw the movie Memento, the concept will seem familiar - telling the story backwards from the climax - but don't most of the CBS CSI-type shows already do that?

USA's Monk will return to ABC's schedule as a replacement for the always boring LA Dragnet, but Monk fans shouldn't expect anything much - the "new" ABC episodes are just eight reruns from Monk's second season on USA.

EPIC Awards Honor Buffy

New York November 2003 (eXoNews) - The White House Project's second annual EPIC Awards Television Movies and Series Honorees included Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lifetime's The Division among others.

The EPIC (Enhancing Perceptions in Culture) Awards "recognize those who present positive images of women leaders in pop culture venues."

"The confidence and courage that girls get from seeing other girls take charge, compete and win helps girls realize their own dreams," Marie C. Wilson, WHP's president said at the ceremony.

The White House Project works to "create a climate in America where it is normal for women to be governors, CEOs and presidents."

[This organization of strong ladies is not otherwise related to the big White House in Washington DC, BTW. I suppose there are some girls out there who would actually want to be corporate executives? Mixed feelings on that mission statement! Ed.]

White House Project site -

Tru Calling - Not Dead Yet!
By Brian Ford Sullivan

CHICAGO November 25, 2003 ( - FOX is planning to stick by another one of its struggling series as the network announced today it has ordered seven additional episodes of its freshman drama "Tru Calling." The news, given via press release, brings the show's season total to 20 episodes.

Through four airings this season the series has averaged just 4.02 million viewers, making it the network's least-watched drama this season, behind even the short-lived "Skin" (5.17 million). Overall only the failed comedy "Luis" (3.43 million) has performed worse this season on average for the network.

"Tru Calling," a co-production of 20th Century Fox Television and Original Film, was created by executive producer/writer Jon Harmon Feldman ("Dawson's Creek," "American Dreams"). Marty Adelstein ("Still Life"), Neal Moritz ("The Fast And The Furious," "I Know What You Did Last Summer"), Dawn Parouse ("Still Life," "Fear") and R. W. (Bob) Goodwin ("The X-Files," "The Fugitive") are also executive producers.

[Our advice: Fox should consider taking out some of the confusing edit tricks in Tru Calling episodes - especially the insultingly unnecessary recap/replay of events at the half-hour mark -  and concentrate on expanding Tru's rather cramped universe. Let Eliza's talents rule. She's good but the show is a stiff - pun intended. Ed.]

Futon also reports that Chris Carter crony Frank Spotnitz has joined a FX Channel series project about "a lawyer who serves as an advocate for dead people." Spotnitz will also direct and produce a FX remake of the 1983 Michael Douglas thriller The Star Chamber.

Official Tru -

TruAlliance fan site -

Album Lennon Signed for His Killer for Sale

NEW YORK November 28, 2003 (Reuters) - The album John Lennon autographed for his assassin just five hours before the former Beatle was killed went up for sale on Friday for $525,000.

The copy of Lennon and wife Yoko Ono's "Double Fantasy," which sold for $460,000 four years ago, is being sold in part due to the recent frenzy of interest in Beatles memorabilia, according to the owner of the Web site selling the album.

"Beatles memorabilia is at an all-time peak," said Gary Zimet, owner of "For years, their material was grossly undervalued."

Last week, Lennon's handwritten lyrics to the song "Nowhere Man" were sold at Christie's for $455,000 -- more than four times the expected price.

According to the site, the album's cover and dust jacket contain the "forensically enhanced" fingerprints of Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman.

Chapman shot the pop star outside the Dakota apartment building, Lennon's Manhattan home, on Dec. 8, 1980. The album was later found in a flower planter near the building and was used as evidence against Chapman.

Black Films Rescued

DALLAS November 26, 2003 (AP) - Forgotten films discovered in an old warehouse 20 years ago now enjoy a new life across Texas, thanks to technology and an effort to preserve movies made for and by blacks during the 1930s and '40s.

Southern Methodist University got a grant last year to digitize nine feature films and seven shorts it obtained in 1983, when then-professor G. William Jones got a call about some old films found in Tyler, a town about 90 miles southeast of Dallas.

The collection, known as the Tyler Texas Black Film Collection, comes from about 400 films made in the early 20th century, including mysteries, comedies and vaudeville-like shorts, that gave black audiences an alternative to the stereotypes portrayed in Hollywood productions.

Among the movies found were "Juke Joint," about two down-and-out men who pose as theatrical experts to get free room and board for helping the landlord's daughter prepare for a beauty pageant, and "Murder in Harlem," about a lawyer defending a man framed on a murder charge.

The films were restored and copied onto DVDs, and this fall the university distributed about 1,000 three-DVD box sets to about 900 school districts and black museums statewide.

Actor Ossie Davis offers an introduction on the DVD collection. He said it shows the "do-for-self" spirit of blacks just after the turn of the century.

"They had to make do with nothing. And look what they did."

The so-called race films fell out of favor as the civil rights movement gathered momentum in the late 1950s and actors such as Sidney Poitier and Lena Horne got more and better roles in Hollywood films.

[Cost for the 3-DVD set, including narrative booklet and introductory commentary for each film is $250.00 plus shipping, handling and state sales tax. Ed.]

Order online from Southern Methodist University -

Katherine Heigl in Love with Ringer
By Chris Gardner

Hollywood November 25, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Katherine Heigl of "Roswell" fame will star as the female lead opposite Johnny Knoxville in Fox Searchlight Pictures' "The Ringer." Barry Blaustein is directing the Farrelly brothers comedy from a script by Ricky Blitt.

"Ringer," which is lensing in Austin, Texas, finds Knoxville's character posing as a mentally disabled man competing in the Special Olympics in order to pay off a debt and dethrone reigning champ Jimmy. Heigl will star as the love interest of Knoxville's character.

Bradley Thomas and John Jacobs are producing, with Peter and Bobby Farrelly serving as executive producers. Heigl most recently starred in MTV's "Wuthering Heights."

Butler Ordered to Rehab

DELRAY BEACH FL November 24, 2003 (AP) - Actress Yancy Butler, who starred in the canceled TNT series "Witchblade," was ordered Monday to enter a substance-abuse treatment program after her weekend arrest for disorderly intoxication.

Butler was taken to jail Saturday after cars had to swerve to avoid hitting her as she wandered in and out of traffic, police said.

A Palm Beach County judge ordered that Butler be sent to The Renaissance Institute in Boca Raton while she awaits a Dec. 18 court appearance. It could not be determined Monday whether she had an attorney.

Butler told police Saturday that she was an alcoholic who was on medication, according to a Delray Beach Police report. At first, she said she'd been kicked out of a halfway house, but later said she was still in one, the report said.

Officers took the 33-year-old actress to the Drug Abuse Foundation of Palm Beach County, a substance abuse center.

When she became hostile and struggled with police, the foundation declined to admit her, the report said.

Butler was handcuffed, jailed and charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer without violence.

She previously was arrested Jan. 2 after a fight at her uncle's Hauppauge, N.Y., home. The fight allegedly involved Butler's father, Joe, the former drummer for the '60s folk-rock band The Lovin' Spoonful. She was charged with criminal contempt for violating an order of protection, and two counts of harassment.

In 2002, filming on "Witchblade" was postponed for nearly three weeks to await Butler's release from alcohol rehabilitation.

John Corbett Stays in ABC's Hotel
By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES November 26, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - John Corbett is returning to broadcast TV following his buzzworthy performances on FX's "Lucky" and HBO's "Sex and the City."

The actor, who got his break on "Northern Exposure," has been tapped to star in ABC's untitled drama pilot set in a luxury hotel in the Bahamas.

The show revolves around the interactions among guests and hotel staffers. Initially developed this past development season for fall 2003 consideration, it was pushed to midseason in March.

Corbett will play the hotel's manager, while Michael Rispoli will play the chief of security. Jenny Wade (MTV's "Undressed") will play the assistant manager, and Sara Ramirez (HBO's "Baseball Wives") a housekeeper.

Corbett received an Emmy nomination for his role on CBS' quirky "Northern Exposure." On the big screen, Corbett he a hot commodity following his starring role in the smash hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" last year. He recently completed Garry Marshall's comedy "Raising Helen," in which he stars opposite Kate Hudson) and Joan Cusack, and Joel Zwick's "Elvis Has Left the Building," which he toplines with Kim Basinger.

Rispoli is a recurring on the ABC freshman dramedy "10-8," playing star Danny Nucci's brother. His credits also include the series "The Sopranos" and "Bram and Alice."

Supreme Court Comic Book Case
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON November 28, 2003 (AP) - Hollywood has a message for the Supreme Court: comic books are good, constitutionally protected fun.

A who's who from the entertainment world asked the court this week to review a case involving a comic book creator accused of defaming former professional hockey player Tony Twist by naming a nasty mafia character after him, Antonio "Tony Twist" Twistelli.

The real Twist, a former National Hockey League tough guy known more for his fighting than his skating, was awarded more than $24.5 million by a Missouri jury. The award was overturned on appeal.

Justices soon will decide whether to use the case to clarify whether artists have free-speech protection when they poke fun at public figures.

Encouraging the court to intervene are: Michael Crichton, creator of the television series "ER;" Larry David, co-creator of "Seinfeld;" novelists Scott Turow and Jeremiah Healy; actor-comedian Harry Shearer from "The Simpsons;" Elmore Leonard, author of "Get Shorty;" Paul Weitz, co-director of the film "American Pie;" and Ron Shelton, writer and director of movies "Bull Durham" and "White Men Can't Jump."

So far, the court's only major free-speech case this term involves a challenge of the new federal campaign finance law. Justices could rule in that case as early as next week.

Twist claims the character in the "Spawn" comic series, a violent mob enforcer, hurt his image and cost him endorsements. The creator, Todd McFarlane, says he's an avid hockey fan and has acknowledged he named his character after the player.

But McFarlane said the resemblance stopped there, arguing in documents filed during his appeal in Missouri that "Spawn" characters "are purely fictional fantasies, and no reasonable person could confuse the plaintiff with the fictional fantasies and characters portrayed therein."

Lawyers Erik Jaffe and Eugene Volokh, representing the artists and The Authors Guild Inc., told the Supreme Court in a filing that public figures have long provided artistic value for creators. What about the opera-singing bird on "Sesame Street" named Placido Flamingo, they asked, among many other examples.

"The names and personalities of famous people are a proper part of the author's palette," the lawyers wrote in the filing.

The case is McFarlane v. Twist, 03-615.

Supreme Court:

Click here for last week's Genre News!

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