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Shock Waves! Vampire News!
Spiders, Worms, Mutant Bread,
Tru Calling Arrives & More!

By FLAtRich

Hollywood October 29, 2003 (eXoNews) - Nowadays, monsters are running amuck everywhere and a lot of them are in the United States.

The Associated Press reports that the FBI says violent crime "rose slightly in 2002 but remains well below the levels seen a decade ago."

2002 was well below, but that's a year ago, right?

"The 11.9 million crimes reported to the FBI by city, county and state law enforcement agencies represented an increase of less than 1 percent when compared with 2001 figures. The number of crimes was 4.9 percent lower than in 1998 and 16 percent below 1993.

"Crime in cities was down 1.9 percent but up 1 percent in the suburbs. Rural areas saw a decrease of 1.2 percent in 2002.

"About 71 percent of murders last year involved a firearm. Cutting instruments such as knives accounted for 13 percent, hands and feet 7.1 percent and blunt objects 5 percent.

"There were about 95,100 forcible rapes in 2002, an increase of 4.7 percent.

"For the ninth consecutive year, the number of aggravated assaults dropped. Overall, assaults are down by 21 percent compared with the 1993 level."

Maybe that's good news to law enforcement, but keep in mind that these figures are a year old and only represent the "11.9 million crimes reported to the FBI."

They don't count suicide bombers killing people in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Oblivious to those insidious creatures on the street, my apartment building started celebrating Halloween last month. It's a family building, and filled to the brim with first generation immigrant kids who think Halloween is much better than New Years or 4th of July or Christmas or Thanksgiving or Martin Luther King's Birthday and certainly Earth Day.

It really has nothing to do with monsters. They think this because they get free candy from strangers, and that is something cool for a first generation immigrant kid.

Suburban brats in Reseda would rather die than get dressed up in a Pay 4 Less plastic Terminator mask and knock on doors begging for one-ounce Snickers bars, but not these little newbies.

Halloween is something special!

It is an economic opportunity. It is a chance to compete with all the other kids in the building for the biggest stash. It is an introduction to the American Dream!

The next day the kids can brag, or even sell off their goods and maybe buy some new Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards or whatever it is that they huddle over and argue about daily on the apartment building stairways after school.

So the last week in September these urban children tell their confused parents to put up plastic skeletons on the front doors of their apartments and paste plastic pumpkin stickers on the big windows overlooking the common balcony. Icons in place, they drag their moms to the drug store for the latest plastic costumes.

"Halloween is coming, Mom!" they yell in English and their moms curse under their collective breath in non-English and wish they never left The Old Country.

Times were simpler back then.

On All Hallows Eve you put up a cross or a bit of garlic and when the moon appeared you nailed the shutters down and hoped that relatives you long ago consigned to the local graveyard stayed put.

Maybe you told a few ghost stories after dinner and went to bed.

You didn't have to pay $30 for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre Leatherface mask (in the movie it's made of human flesh) for the boy or buy a genuine Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life replica outfit for the girl.

You didn't have to worry about apples laced with Anthrax or some suicide bomber blowing up a Halloween party.

Those were the days!

Garlic charm -

Leatherface mask -

Lara Croft costume -

Halloween Contact Lenses Can Be Dangerous

American Academy of Ophthalmology Press Release

SAN FRANCISCO October 27, 2003 - They can turn brown eyes blue or human eyes to monster eyes. Decorative, or costume, contact lenses can be a fun way to change one's looks, especially for Halloween. However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Eye M.D. Association, warns consumers about the dangers associated with illegally sold costume contact lenses. The over-the-counter contact lenses have been sold by unlicensed vendors at beauty salons, video stores, gas stations and flea markets.

A study appearing in this month's issue of Eye & Contact Lens, the clinical journal of the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, presented six case studies of patients, teenagers and young adults, who experienced problems associated with these lenses. The vision-threatening problems included bacterial infections, corneal abrasions and allergic reactions. One 14-year-old patient needed a corneal transplant following a serious eye infection that required hospitalization and another patient was left legally blind in one eye.

"Many people mistakenly think decorative contact lenses are just like sunglasses. If you're not wearing the lenses to correct refractive errors, you don't need a prescription," said study author Thomas L. Steinemann, MD, of the MetroHealth Medical Center Eye Clinic in Cleveland and associate professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University. "This is a dangerous misconception. People who wear lenses purchased from unlicensed vendors have been given no instructions and often practice risky behavior. They don't clean or disinfect the lenses. They sleep in them. They even swap them with their friends." Another risk is the lens not fitting the cornea properly. "Imagine trying to fit a size nine foot into a size six shoe," Dr. Steinemann said.

Concerns about these contact lenses prompted the Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning earlier this month. "These decorative lenses can cause permanent eye injuries and may potentially lead to blindness," the FDA stated in a news release.

Dangers associated with these contact lenses have also caught the attention of the nation's lawmakers. Senators Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., introduced a bill (S. 1747) that would amend the "Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act" to recognize and regulate both corrective and non-corrective contact lenses as medical devices. Unlike contact lenses worn to correct refractive errors, the FDA does not review costume contact lenses for safety or effectiveness before they are sold to the public. The U.S. House of Representatives may vote on a companion bill (H. 2218) this week, but bureaucratic wrangling has thus far stalled action on the bill. The Academy urges the public to contact their congressional representatives immediately in support of both bills.

Shock Waves from Sun!

By Patricia Reaney

LONDON October 29, 2003 (Reuters) - A massive bubble of gas that could wreak havoc with power grids and satellite systems hit the Earth's magnetic field Wednesday morning and is likely to have the biggest impact in Alaska and the Far East.

Scientists said the cloud of charged particles unleashed at high speeds by a hyperactive sun and known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at about five million miles an hour.

"It arrived at six this morning (1:00 a.m. EST) and was going much faster than people thought," Dr. Mike Hapgood, a space expert at the Appleton Laboratory in England, told Reuters.

The gaseous cloud that dumps energy into the magnetic field that surrounds Earth, creating a geomagnetic storm, was expected to have more of an impact in Alaska and the Far East and have less effect on Europe. Some problems with radio communication had been expected.

"The higher up you are ... the bigger the effect you see," said Dr. Lucie Green, a solar physicist at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in England.

Fortunately there are not many large power grids in the far north so energy disruptions would be minimized, scientists said, although out in space it could cause interference with satellites and spacecraft.

"There were some problems starting yesterday because of the effects that precede the arrival of this shock wave from the sun. Satellites would certainly be affected and that may persist over several days," Hapgood added.


CMEs come around every few years but the one that arrived on Wednesday is one of the strongest. Described as more of a nuisance than a danger to human life, they disrupt mobile phone signals and can cause major headaches for power, satellite communications and navigational companies.

"If you're very unlucky these things can cause power grid failures but it is very rare," Hapgood said.

The effects of a CME could last a few hours or a few days. In 1989, a CME affected power grids in Canada.

"That was the wake-up call. I think most of the power companies are aware of these problems. If they know it is coming they can take precautions," Hapgood added.

Green believes Canada could experience more problems because it is so far north and its power grids stretch east to west, which happens to be the right configuration to be affected by the particles that hit Earth.

Wednesday's massive CME was propelled toward Earth by a huge solar flare that erupted Tuesday. It was classified as a G-5, the strongest category, and was traveling much faster than other CMEs.

The scale of it and the fact that it was heading toward the Earth is what makes this one so special.

"There is a whole period of activity on the sun that is driving this. It may continue for a week or two so we may get more of these events coming from the Sun," said Hapgood.

Indiana Wolfman Accused Of Preying On Tampa Teen


TAMPA Oct 17, 2003 (Tampa Tribune) - A 35-year-old Indiana man, who went by the name "Crowwolf Prowler," is accused of preying on a 16-year-old Hillsborough County boy he met on an Internet site dedicated to werewolves.

John Robert Davidson referred to the teen in instant message conversations as "my little wolfey pup," and said he dreamed of making love, running and playing and howling at the moon, states an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, where Davidson had an initial appearance Thursday on a charge of attempting to lure a child into a sexual act via the Internet.

The boy told an investigator with the FBI's Innocent Images Task Force that he had feelings for the man because he believed he was half werewolf, told the boy he loved him and said nice things, according to the affidavit prepared by Hillsborough sheriff's Detective Philippe Dubord, who is assigned to the task force.

The FBI was contacted Sept. 15 by the boy's mother, who discovered messages on her son's computer from Davidson, who talked about how much he loved the boy and about the possibility of setting up a meeting.

The boy invited the man to be an adult chaperon for a Boy Scout camp that had been scheduled for September but was moved to Nov. 1, the affidavit states.

Working with the boy and his mother, investigators arrested Davidson when he appeared at a fast food restaurant Wednesday in Riverview expecting to meet with the boy, court records show.

Vampire News!

Germans Elect Dracula!

POTSDAM, Germany October 27, 2003 (AFP) - Voters in a district southeast of Berlin chose a self-proclaimed descendant of Count Dracula Sunday to represent them in a local council, election officials said Monday.

Ottomar Berbig, known as Ottomar Rodolphe Vlad Dracula Prince Kretzulesco, won 726 votes in the Dahme-Spreewald local elections, standing for the liberal Free Democrats. His name appeared as Vlad Dracula Kretzulesco on the ballot.

Kretzulesco is not a blood relative of the infamous fictional Romanian noble but was adopted by a direct descendant of Transylvania-born Vlad the Impaler in 1987.

Vlad was notorious for impaling Turkish prisoners on wooden stakes and was the inspiration for author Bram Stoker's villain Count Dracula.

Last year, Berbig, a former Berlin pastry-chef and antiques dealer, made headlines when he tried to establish an independent principality in Germany -- in the name of his blood-sucking "ancestor" -- to block his village's forced merger with another town.

Berbig's adopted ancestry has allowed him to draw about 100,000 Dracula fans a year to his castle in Schenkendorf.

The stronghold is complete with a stone gate, watchtower and medieval restaurant furnished with coffins. It hosts blood donor parties on behalf of the German Red Cross.

Real Vampires
By Stephen Khan
The Observer

London October 26, 2003 (Observer UK) - Blood from a slit in his victim's throat trickled into a small cup. Allan Menzies raised the vessel to his lips. Convinced he was on the brink of immortality, the 22-year-old killer was attempting to fulfill a sick dream: to become a vampire.

The chilling murder of Thomas McKendrick in a small Scottish village was brutal and ritualistic. He was sacrificed to satisfy a lust for blood and an obsession with the occult. Yet his killer's fixation with bloodsuckers is far from unusual. Vampirism is a rapidly growing youth cult and its followers are increasing in numbers.

Vampire films and magazines are thriving, while specialist shops meet the outlandish clothing requirements of those who fantasize about being Dracula. In cities throughout the UK, vampire societies meet on a weekly basis and act out scenes from their favorite movies.

Films such as Underworld, starring Kate Beckinsale as a vampire warrior, become box-office smashes, while the horror studio Hammer Films is back in production for the first time in 30 years.

The next Blade film, in which Wesley Snipes battles against powerful vampires with ambitions of taking over the world, starts filming this autumn.

Meanwhile, thousands of websites have sprung up on which vampire fans can trade material and chat about matters occult.

Stirling University's Dr Glenice Byron lectures on the UK's only postgraduate course in Gothic imagination.

She said: 'We are moving towards another high point in vampirism. I don't think the general public are aware of the extent to which it permeates our culture. On the internet it's an entire culture: people write their own vampire stories as hobbies'

But for some it is not enough merely to fantasize. Menzies, from the village of Fauldhouse, near Edinburgh, claimed the character Akasha from the movie Queen of the Damned - starring the late US singer Aaliyah - had visited him and promised immortality if he murdered someone.

And on the pages of a Gothic novel Menzies wrote: 'I have chosen to become a vampire. The blood is the life. I have drunk the blood and it shall be mine, for I have seen the horror.'

Yet the real horror awaited the mother of Thomas McKendrick. Sandra French was shopping in her local supermarket last December when Menzies - the man she thought had been her son's lifelong friend - approached her and asked if she knew how to remove bloodstains. The chilling query only made sense three weeks later when the butchered remains of her son were discovered.

Forensic tests revealed that he had been stabbed 42 times and suffered 10 hammer blows to the head. Menzies ate part of his friend's head, before placing the lifeless body on its side so he could perform the blood-draining ritual.

A year earlier, the remains of a Welsh pensioner, Mabel Leyshon, were found mutilated at her home on Anglesey. She had been stabbed 22 times before her heart was removed and placed in a saucepan on a silver platter next to her body. Pokers were placed at her feet in the shape of a cross. Last week the killer, Matthew Hardman, was refused right to appeal his conviction. Aged just 17, he was obsessed with vampires and drank his victim's blood in a quest for immortality.

The Edinburgh-based forensic psychologist Ian Stephen, whom the television drama Cracker was based on, said such obsessions can be difficult to detect. 'So many teenagers become obsessed with parts of culture like this young man. It's very difficult for parents to pick up these changes from normal interests to something that can become quite scary.

'The cult of vampirism is to do with power and dominance, using blood to give you energy and immortality. If someone had ridiculed him, he may have needed to compensate for this - something like vampirism may have given him what he was looking for.'

It is a cult that also appears to have consumed two young Hampshire men. They face jail, having been being found guilty last week of religiously harassing a vicar. A judge told Scott Bower, 26, and Ben Lewis, 25, they had displayed 'outrageous and disturbing' behavior towards the Reverend Chris Rowberry, his wife and two children.

During a seven-day trial at Southampton Crown Court a jury was told that the trio targeted the 45-year-old vicar because he represented the Christian faith. Both men believed themselves to be vampires, drinking each other's blood. They also made howling noises in the churchyard late at night, posted obscene material on the parish notice board, let off fireworks and made nuisance telephone calls.

Despite such chilling episodes, vampire-followers argue that their hobby is no more threatening than keeping goldfish or following a football team. 'Any vampire fans I have met are drawn to the creature's immortality. But most just like watching vampire films and maybe read the occasional book,' said Arlene Russo, the editor of Bite Me magazine.

By day 32-year-old Paul McKie is a senior systems IT and finance analyst for a property firm. But by night he sheds the suit and becomes a vamp in the Glasgow Vampire Live Action Role-playing Group, a club combining pool and pints with improvisation.

He said: 'I don't really believe in vampires, although I know some people do. For me this is just a bit of fun and great escapism.'

For Sandra French, though, it is all too real. She cannot escape the world of horror and pain Allan Menzies plunged her into. 'I'll never be able to forgive or forget the horrific things I've heard,' she said, describing the killer's account of her son's murder. 'Why did he have to take my Thomas? Menzies has not shown any remorse. When asked if he wished he could turn back the clock, he said "No". He's wicked. He's an evil man who enjoys inflicting pain and violence on other people.'

Dracula Park to Suck in Vampire Tourists
By Radu Marinas

BUCHAREST October 10, 2003 (Reuters) - Vampire lovers with a thirst for a thrill could soon be Romania-bound after investors said on Thursday a Disneyland-style Dracula theme park was back on track.

Under pressure from UNESCO and other activists, Romania changed its plans to build the horror tourist draw near the historic birthplace in Transylvania of Vlad the Impaler -- said to have been the inspiration for the fictional Dracula.

UNESCO, the culture arm of the United Nations, and others said building the park near Sighisoara would have ruined the 13th century town, a World Heritage Site.

"All I can say is that the Dracula project is going ahead. We're drafting a detailed plan, subject to shareholder approval by the end of this year," Sorin Marica, the chairman of the Dracula Park SA firm which oversees the project told Reuters.

The theme park will now be sited in the Snagov Lake area, north of the capital, and not in Transylvania, which is a region of Romania.

Consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers said Snagov, 17 km (11 miles) from Bucharest airport and 40 km (25 miles) from the center of the capital of 2.5 million people was the most appropriate site.

Marica said horror rides, labyrinths and catacombs were still part of the plan for the park, due to be built on 100 hectares (250 acres) of state land with private funds to try to lure more tourists to the poor ex-communist country.

"We also aim to create a separate area (in the park) to promote the historic truth for Vlad Tepes," Marica said.

The headless body of Vlad Tepes, the real life 15th century Wallachian hero prince who fought off Ottoman invaders and defended Christendom, is believed to be buried at a monastery in the middle of Snagov Lake.

Vlad is believed to have been born in Sighisoara around 1431 to Vlad Dracul or Dragon. The young Vlad was named Dracula -- meaning son of Dracul -- by his father. But in Romanian, the word also means the devil.

The government had trumpeted the plan saying it would draw about one million tourists annually by 2006 -- 20 percent from abroad but appeared to lose interest.

But government spokeswoman Despina Neagoe said on Thursday: "I don't have any information on the Dracula park project."

Female Wolf Spiders Prefer Old Lovers

Cornell University Press Release

ITHACA, NY October 27, 2003 - Sometimes familiarity does not breed contempt: A Cornell University behavioral scientist has found that female wolf spiders prefer mates that are comfortably familiar. However, the researcher has discovered, a male wolf spider unlucky enough to attempt to mate with an unfamiliar female probably is doomed to be killed and eaten by the female.

"Finding this behavior is really surprising. Social experience influences mate choice," says Eileen Hebets, a Cornell postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, whose findings will be published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This shows that invertebrates have social recognition, and it can be maintained and remembered even through the molting process. These influences affect adult behavior and possibly the evolution of traits."

Many male wolf spiders have different looks, or phenotypes. They might have ornamental tufts of hair on their forelegs, or their exoskeletons might be of different colors. "Males of most other spider species look alike. I studied this species because there is variability among the males," says Hebets.

Previously, researchers had explored spider behavior with young males and females collected in the field, kept in isolation and then brought together in a laboratory. In the wild, male wolf spiders mature earlier than females and often intermingle. Thus, the pre-adult females often are exposed to sexually mature males. Hebets notes that pre-adult female spiders cannot mate until their sexual organs have matured, which does not happen until their final molt. In her research, 81 immature females were exposed to mature males of specific phenotypes. About 73 percent of the immature females were exposed to more than one male phenotype and no female was exposed to more than nine different males.

Once the females entered adulthood, the highest proportion of mating occurred with familiar males. "These results clearly demonstrate that a female wolf spider's experience during her penultimate life stage can affect her mate choice as an adult," she says. "The socially influenced origin of female mating preference could impose incredibly strong selection pressures on male maturation times, male mating strategies and, ultimately, secondary sexual ornamentation, since exposed females are choosing mates versus meals."

Hebets said that cannibalization rates among unfamiliar males are higher than she found in previous laboratory studies. This finding is perhaps a more realistic representation of spider wolf cannibalization rates in the wild.

The research, "Subadult experience influences adult mate choice in an arthropod: Exposed female wolf spiders prefer males of familiar pheontypes," was funded through a training-fellowship grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Worms Hold Secret of Eternal Life!

October 23, 2003 (BBC) - A tiny round worm can live six times longer than normal if certain genes and hormones are tweaked, according to a report in the journal Science. The worms, Caenorhabditis elegans, had a metabolic hormone inhibited and their reproductive systems removed.

They went on to stay healthy and active for a human equivalent of 500 years, which is the longest life-span extension ever achieved by scientists. Researchers say some of these findings may hold true for mammals.

Scientists from the University of California found they could double the lifespan of C. elegans, if they caused a mutation that inhibited insulin signaling.

Insulin, which is a metabolic hormone, regulates the energy molecule glucose within the body. Researchers discovered that if they inhibited insulin signaling more strongly, the worms lived even longer, but they entered a quiescent - or lethargic - state.

Removal of the animals' reproductive systems also had a dramatic effect - the worms' life span increased by 60%.

This was not due to infertility, the researchers said, but altered hormone signaling.

Manipulation of the worms' insulin signaling combined with removal of their reproductive systems, produced life spans of six times longer than normal.

"In human terms, these animals would correspond to healthy, active 500-year-olds," said Dr Arantes-Oliveira. "This indicates that extreme longevity can be un-coupled with quiescence."

She added: "These lifespan extensions, which are the longest mean lifespan extensions ever produced in any organism, are particularly intriguing because the insulin pathway controls longevity in many species, including mammals."

Pumpkin News!

Man Attempts Underwater Pumpkin Record

MAQUOKETA, Iowa October 27, 2003 (AP) - A scuba diver who also owns a pumpkin patch said he hopes he broke the world record for underwater pumpkin carving with a stunt he successfully completed Sunday.

Mike Frantz wrestled underwater with 1,028-pound pumpkin near this eastern Iowa town in an attempt to break a Guinness World Records title.

The 28-year-old Walcott man squeezed into scuba gear and carved the mammoth pumpkin under 17 feet of water at a rock quarry. Frantz thinks he broke the current record, which he said was set when a 955-pound pumpkin was carved underwater last year. There was one glitch, however. The pumpkin's newly carved jack-o'-lantern face caved in when it emerged from the water.

"It's kinda ugly looking," Frantz said. "The pumpkin was so far destroyed it went back in the water for the fish to eat."

But he still thinks he made the record.

"As far as I'm concerned it was completed and completely carved underwater," he said.

Frantz, who owns Mike's Giant Pumpkin Patch, got the idea from the Internet.

"I kind of heard through the pumpkin vine there that someone had attempted this last year," he said. "Being a scuba diver, I thought that if I could get a hold of a bigger pumpkin I would try it myself."

He did get his hands on a colossal pumpkin, which was donated by Dan Carlson of Clinton.

Frantz said it took about 18 men to haul the pumpkin onto a trailer at Carlson's farm and take it to the quarry. He had a crew of seven people to help with Sunday's attempt. About three dozen people came to watch, said Frantz, an assistant manager at a steel plant in Montpelier.

The pumpkin carver had one break in his attempt: the seeds in the pumpkin were removed before it was plunged into the 58 degree water. Because it was buoyant, it had to filled with a half-dozen sandbags to keep it underwater, he said.

Using sharp knives and saws, Frantz said he created the design - two triangle eyes, a circle nose and a grin with one tooth.

Guinness Book World Records officials will be given a videotape of the underwater stunt.

Guinness World Records:

Punkin Chunkin Champ to Defend Title

HOWELL MI October 29, 2003 (AP) - Most people prefer them baked in pies or decoratively carved. But for Bruce Bradford, the preferred method of serving up pumpkin is to have it shot out of an air cannon. That is, after all, how he became the world champion of Punkin Chunkin — a sport where winning is a matter of distance, not taste.

This Halloween, Bradford will defend his title at the Punkin Chunkin World Championship in Delaware's Sussex County. His team triumphed in the air cannon division last year after the pumpkin they shot out of their cannon sailed 4,594 feet.

"It's something to do," Bradford told The Daily Oakland Press. "It looked interesting. It was a challenge."

The sport began in the late 1990s in Delaware. The objective is to see who can shoot, propel or fling a pumpkin weighing between seven to 10 pounds the farthest.

Bradford, who is president of S&G Erectors in Howell, became interested in Punkin Chunkin in 1998 after reading a magazine article about the sport. That year, he and a few friends went to watch the competition in Sussex County.

"We couldn't see the shots and they wouldn't let us in the pits," he said. "We told them we were reporters...and they gave us press passes."

They came back the following year, armed with the aptly named Second Amendment — an 18,000 pound compressed air cannon which Bradford built. It sports a 100-foot long barrel. Their first year in the competition, the group took fifth. In 2000 and 2001, they finished third.

The big win came in the 2002 championship, which was televised as part of a Discovery Channel documentary. But the win was not without controversy. One of their pumpkins overshot the field and the judges refused to count it. It was a decision Bradford dismisses as politics since most punkin chunkers are from Delaware and weren't eager to be shown up by a group from Michigan.

"They'll drink beer with you and compete with you, but they don't want you winning."

In preparation for this year's championship, Bradford and his team have been making adjustments to the cannon. To fine-tune it, they fired 15 pumpkins at a dilapidated van about 150 yards away.

"We did a number on a van," said Bradford.

Mutant Bread!


New Zealand October 26, 2003 (New Zealand Herald) - Japanese Subway chain stores have stopped selling sandwiches after discovering their New Zealand-made bread dough contains an unauthorized genetically engineered (GE) micro-organism.

The incident comes as the New Zealand Government prepares to lift its moratorium on GE material on Wednesday, which will allow people to apply for permission to use GE material outside a laboratory.

GE opponents in New Zealand have been swift to say the Subway case -- which comes soon after the July rejection by a Japanese pizza-maker of a consignment of GE sweetcorn grown in Gisborne -- was evidence the moratorium should not be lifted.

"To argue that this not a GE release and therefore has nothing to do with lifting the moratorium misses the point," Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said in a statement.

"This episode has everything to do with our lax regulatory systems. Lifting the moratorium will only increase the likelihood of this sort of thing happening more often."

The Japan Times reported Subway Japan stopped selling sandwiches on Friday after its import dealer -- Sumitomo Corp -- learned about the GE enzyme. Subway's website says it has 94 stores in Japan.

Subway reported the findings to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which was investigating the case.

"The officials said Subway used four types of frozen bread dough containing an enzyme not approved by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare," the Times reported.

The dough is made by Taranaki firm Yarrows. Paul Yarrow told the Sunday Star Times the company had removed the enzyme believed responsible for the contamination, and had not known it had been genetically modified.

Japan's Kyodo News quoted Subway's marketing department as saying the sandwich chain removed the dough as a precautionary measure, even though it posed no health risk. The department said the dough was in use in the United States and other countries.

Sumitomo Corp told Kyodo News it failed to spot the enzyme case as the bread dough was not mentioned as an ingredient during customs checks.

Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand's reputation as a supplier of fresh, clean, safe food was "plummeting", and current food labeling laws -- under which food processing additives like enzymes don't have to be labeled -- meant New Zealanders did know whether they were eating GE material or not.

"The regulatory regime is a shambles yet in at midnight on Wednesday this Government will press ahead and lift the moratorium," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"If this is the way the Government handles routine food ingredients now, why should we believe they are ready to handle GE release?"

Greenpeace GE spokesperson Steve Abel said blame for the Subway case lay with the Government.

" New Zealand has no traceability requirement of non-viable GE foodstuffs imported into New Zealand," Mr. Abel said in a statement.

"GE soy feed is also imported without any labeling or documentation required so producers may not even know that they are using GE inputs in their production. This places New Zealand producers and exporters a significant step behind Europe where all GE organism derived imports must now be documented and traced."

Mr. Abel said the use of the enzyme in New Zealand showed the Government was unprepared for GE release, and that the GE moratorium should be kept in place.

Food Safety Authority spokeswoman Sharon Williams told NZPA the agency was investigating the case.

If the enzyme proved to be a food it would fall under their jurisdiction, but several government agencies were investigating.

"There is a question whether it is a food or not," she said.

Mothers Against Genetic Engineering (MAdGE) -

Genre News: Tru Calling, Elvis, Kecksburg, Kyle MacLachlan, Jinx, Bowie, Iman, Thelonious Monk & More!

Tru Calling and Various Other Bits
By FLAtRich

Hollywood October 29, 2003 (eXoNews) - Variety critic Brian Lowry turned in a lukewarm review of Tru Calling, the new series from Fox with Eliza Dushku (Buffy, Angel) debuting Thursday October 30th at 8PM /7c.

"Although fraught with silliness, the familiar premise does yield a modicum of suspense and appears destined to go about as far as Eliza Dushku's adorableness can take it..."

"With her whiskey voice and sultry features, it's hard to believe Dushku was that same little girl seen clinging to a plane in 'True Lies.' She certainly possesses star quality, though the material initially places more emphasis on her wardrobe (tight, low-cut) than character (pouty, angry).

"The second episode does give her acting chops a bit more of a workout, involving a handsome fireman and young girl killed in an arson blaze.

"For network executives, there's doubtless inherent appeal in the fantasy of turning back time and preventing things from dying prematurely, as they have a habit of doing right before the November sweeps. That said, if this mildly entertaining series faces the executioner's ax, it wouldn't be the kind of unnatural death that merits Tru's heroic measures."

[We'll decide for ourselves, won't we fans? Got this excerpt and the unauthorized pix from Watch the show and form your own opinion. Ed.]

Official Tru Calling site -

TruCalling Fans check out

Joss Appears!

Speaking of Faith, Joss Whedon will appear at the LA Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention on December 21, 2003 to talk about Firefly and sign copies of the new DVD release. The LACBSFC website says some Firefly actors and writers may also be there.

LA Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention

For Firefly freaks who need to know, here is a listing of what will be included in the DVD set (available December 9th) -

Angel Mag Arrives!

Angel Magazine Issue #1 is out on the newsstands.

The first issue offers an interview with David Boreanaz, an exclusive live on the set report, and an "Ultimate Guide to Angel". Executive producer Jeff Bell will also answer fan questions each issue.

The address to ask what David eats for lunch is  ("please put ‘Question for Jeff Bell’ in your subject header.")

You can also snail mail at ‘Question for Jeff Bell’, Angel Magazine, PMB #1-296, 8205 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90046-5977.

For more info about Angel Magazine visit

Vote for yer Angel favorites, get Angel weekly ratings, our own Ultimate Fan Site List and more - eXoNews Angel Fan Poll

Elvis Is Top-Earning Dead Celebrity

NEW YORK October 28, 2003 (AP) - Elvis Presley is No. 1 on's list of top-earning deceased celebrities for the third consecutive year, earning an estimated $40 million.

"Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz is No. 2, earning $32 million, followed by writer J.R.R. Tolkien, $22 million; former Beatle John Lennon, $19 million; and former Beatle George Harrison, $16 million.

The third annual list, edited by senior editor Lisa DiCarlo, is based on estate earnings, the Web site said Friday.

Rounding out the top 10: children's book author Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, $16 million; race car driver Dale Earnhardt, $15 million; rapper Tupac Shakur, $12 million; reggae star Bob Marley, $9 million; and movie star Marilyn Monroe, $8 million.

UK's Soldier, Soldier and UFO Head for Hollywood
By Steve Brennan

London October 28, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Two popular British TV dramas, "Soldier, Soldier" and the sci-fi series "UFO," might be headed Stateside as new U.S.-produced series.

Carlton America, the U.S.-based television arm of the United Kingdom's Carlton International Media Group, has partnered with leading U.S. producers to develop the drama formats for the States.

Carlton has teamed with writer-producer-director John Sacret Young ("The West Wing," "China Beach") on "Soldier, Soldier".

Pen Densham, Neil Kaplan and John Watson of Trilogy Entertainment Group ("The Outer Limits," "The Twilight Zone") will work on "UFO."

Carlton America president and CEO Stephen Davis said Monday in announcing the deal that both dramas are being offered as formats to the major U.S. networks and talks are "actively under way."

Soldier, Soldier is described by by Carlton as "Soldiers, wives and girlfriends learn to live with the highs and lows of mixing military and domestic life in this compelling series." This show ran for years in the UK.

UFO was a live-action series by Gerry Anderson and Reg Hill (Thunderbirds) that aired in 1970 and was set in 1985.

Gerry Anderson's UFO DVD web site -

NASA Opens Kecksburg Docs

Pasadena October 24, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - NASA has agreed to turn over documents relating to the alleged crash of a UFO in Kecksburg, Pa., in 1965, the SCI FI Channel announced. The news comes a day after SCI FI said it would pursue legal action against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to release its records on the incident.

NASA informed Lee Helfrich, attorney for the Channel-sponsored Coalition for Freedom of Information, that it is releasing 36 pages of documents, the Channel said.

The release comes after 10 months of pursuing the records through the Freedom of Information Act. The Department of Defense and the U.S. Army have yet to release any records under similar requests, the Channel said.

"For more than four months we have received no response from NASA, but one day after John Podesta, President Clinton's former chief of staff and member of the Moynihan Commission, and Bonnie Hammer, president of SCI FI Channel, called on government agencies to make public records that are over 25 years old, lo and behold, NASA responds," Helfrich said in a statement.

"I think it's fair to say that we have truly entered the realm of science fiction in Washington, D.C., when it's fair game to disclose the identity of a clandestine CIA agent, but not the records of an unexplained crash in Kecksburg, Pa., that occurred 38 years ago," Podesta said at a news conference this week.

On Dec. 9, 1965, witnesses described seeing a fireball in the sky, a controlled landing and the systematic military recovery of an object. The incident is the subject of the original SCI FI Channel documentary The New Roswell: Kecksburg Exposed, hosted by Bryant Gumbel, premiered Oct. 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Sci Fi's Kecksburg site -

Pamela Anderson - Chickens Have Rights Too!

NEW YORK October 27, 2003 (AP) - Pamela Anderson wants to meet with the chief executive officer of Kentucky Fried Chicken's parent company to discuss what she calls "reasonable, positive changes for KFC's chickens."

The former star of "Baywatch" and "V.I.P." faxed a letter Monday to David Novak of Yum! Brands Inc., asking to talk about animal-welfare guidelines that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is recommending.

Anderson, a spokeswoman for the animal-rights group, called for a boycott of the fast-food chain a few weeks ago.

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and Paul McCartney also have joined the PETA-led criticism of the company.

"I must admit from the outset that I can't understand why a company that claims to care about animal welfare would continue to allow chickens to be bred and drugged to be so top-heavy that they can barely walk, to be gathered in a manner that breaks their wings and beaks, and to be scalded to death or drowned in feather-removal tanks," she wrote in the letter, which PETA released.

KFC spokeswoman Bonnie Warschauer said Monday that executives with Yum! Brands hadn't seen the letter, and she declined comment on Anderson's request.

Patrick Stewart Meets Kyle MacLachlan in The Caretaker
By Ernio Hernandez
Playbill On-Line

New York October 24, 2003 (Playbill) - Harold Pinter's The Caretaker returns to Broadway, courtesy of The Roundabout Theatre Company, with Patrick Stewart, Kyle MacLachlan and Aiden Gillen starring. The drama starts at the American Airlines Theatre Oct. 24.

The Broadway revival will open Nov. 9 for a limited engagement through Jan. 4, 2004.

Director David Jones who helmed Pinter's No Man's Land for Roundabout in 1994 with Christopher Plummer and Jason Robards directs the work, which explores the changing relationship between two brothers when a vagabond enters their lives.

Stewart, last seen in the "X-Men" sequel "X2," has appeared on the Broadway stage in productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest and his own solo take on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The veteran thespian known for his television turns in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" more recently appeared in The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Shakespeare Theatre's race-reversed production of Othello and the West End run of the Ibsen drama The Master Builder.

MacLachlan makes his Broadway debut with the play after a turn on the London stage last year opposite Woody Harrelson (The Rainmaker) in On an Average Day at the Comedy Theatre. The actor is known for his big and small screen work in "Sex and the City," "Blue Velvet," "Twin Peaks," "Showgirls," and the 2000 update of "Hamlet" with Ethan Hawke.

Irish-born Gillen broke stateside with a turn in the cable drama "Queer as Folk." The actor who also makes his Broadway debut has appeared on London's Almeida Theatre stage in productions of Platonov, The Tempest and The Playboy of the Western World. He was also seen in the films "Shanghai Knights" and "The Low Down."

The design team for The Caretaker features John Lee Beatty (sets), Jane Greenwood (costumes), Peter Kaczorowski (lights) and Scott Lehrer (sound).

The original Broadway staging of the work opened in 1961 at the Lyceum Theatre starring Alan Bates. In 1986, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre brought their revival of the play to New York with star Gary Sinise under the direction of John Malkovich.

Tickets to The Caretaker at Roundabout's AA Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street are available by calling (212) 719-1300 or online at

Jinx Canceled, Bond Returns

Hollywood October 27, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Jinx, the proposed James Bond spin-off that was to star Halle Berry, will not go forward, Variety reported.

MGM has pulled the plug on the project, which was to be produced by Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson at Eon, the trade paper reported.

Jinx, based on Berry's CIA spy character from Die Another Day, was being written by Bond writers Neal Purvis and Rob Wade and was due to be directed by Stephen Frears, the trade paper said.

But last week, MGM told Eon to put the project on ice and instead press ahead with a 21st James Bond movie, due to shoot in 2005.

Bowie and Iman Model Hilfiger
By Carla Hay

NEW YORK October 28, 2003 (Billboard) - David Bowie and his wife Iman have inked a deal with fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger for the rock icon and supermodel to appear in their first ad campaign together. The campaign will be for the new H Hilfiger line, to be launched in spring 2004.

The Tommy Hilfiger company describes the new H Hilfiger collection as "sophisticated, sexy and refined" and that it will be a high-end "gold standard among Hilfiger's diverse product offerings."

The ad campaign with Bowie and Iman will debut in American men's and women's magazines in April 2004. Famed photographer Ellen Von Unwerth shot the campaign this month in Amsterdam while Bowie was on a break from his current world tour in support of his latest ISO/Columbia Records album, "Reality."

"I very much admire Tommy's ability to weave so many influences into his work," Bowie said in a statement. "Iman and I are thrilled to be working with him."

Hilfiger noted, "David Bowie and Iman bring everything I'm looking for to represent this brand -- music, style, elegance, creativity, sophistication. Together they communicate the essence of the H Hilfiger lifestyle perfectly, and I'm honored to feature them in my new campaign."

Bowie -

Shining Scene Scariest Ever

LONDON October 27, 2003 (Reuters) - Actor Jack Nicholson's cry of "Here's Johnny!" as he axes his way through the bathroom door in "The Shining" has been voted the scariest big screen moment by viewers of Britain's Channel 4 Television.

The terrifying scene from director Stanley Kubrick's 1980 chiller beat Linda Blair's rotating head and projectile vomiting in William Friedkin's 1973 "The Exorcist" into second place.

A severed head popping out of the bottom of an abandoned boat in Steven Spielberg's 1975 shark thriller "Jaws" was third.

Viewers voted over six weeks in an online poll for Channel 4's "The 100 Greatest Scary Moments," which was broadcast over the weekend.

Fourth place went to the moment when a baby alien burst out John Hurt's chest in Ridley Scott's 1979 "Alien," with fifth going to Heather Donahue in tears in the low-budget 1999 horror movie "The Blair Witch Project."

Thelonious Monk in 2004
By Ian Mohr

NEW YORK October 28, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - An independent film about jazz legend Thelonious Monk is targeting an early 2004 start date.

The project will be directed by Leon Ichaso, who previously shot "Pinero," a biopic about Latino poet Miguel Pinero, starring Benjamin Bratt.

"(Monk) had the name, the look and the sound," said Ichaso. "(He was) an interesting, uncompromising man, cursed with genius. He invented cool and redefined jazz."

The pianist's longtime manager, Harry Colomby -- whose film production credits include "Breakdown" and "Mr. Mom" -- will serve as a producer.

Growing up in New York, Monk began playing piano at age 5 and ultimately became one of the architects of bebop. In the early 1940s, the pianist played in the house band at venerable Harlem haunt Minton's, where he worked with fellow innovators Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, among others.

Perceived as an eccentric for his avant-garde style and enigmatic demeanor, Monk went on to lead his own bands before finally being recognized as a seminal artist in the 1950s while leading a quartet featuring John Coltrane.

Monk rose to iconic status just as Harlem was in the throes of a postwar surge in creativity and jazz was a burgeoning revolutionary force. The composer of such classic tracks as "Round Midnight" and "Straight No Chaser," Monk abruptly retired in 1973 and spent the later years of his life in seclusion.

Colomby was a 21-year-old high school teacher when he started as Monk's manager.

"I had no idea what lay ahead when I agreed to be his manager," he said. "I still can't fathom to this day why he asked me. I didn't have a clue about managing anybody, let alone this underappreciated genius. I was just a fan. The passion and artistry (Ichaso) brings to all of his work will make this a memorable film -- a film that Thelonious Monk more than deserves."

The film is being produced by GreeneStreet Films, which also made "Pinero."

Cool Monk site - Thelonious Sphere Monk

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