|O Starry Night! |
Beagle 2 Mars! MESSENGER!
Nuclear Fusion! Spitzer Treks!
Where's Osama bin Hiding?
|O Starry Night!|
December 19, 2003 - After a nearly five-year chase, the Stardust spacecraft will finally meet comet Wild 2 on the day after New Year's. It's a moment Donald Brownlee has anticipated for nearly 25 years.
"This gives us a real opportunity to find out if our long-held suspicions are right, that comets played a major role in the origin of life," Brownlee said. "No one really knows how life began, but we're certain that carbon was key to the process. Comets are the most carbon-rich materials in the solar system, and we know they are full of organic compounds that fall on the Earth all the time."
In addition, comets delivered a significant share of the Earth's water.
Five years later he and a team of NASA scientists tried to formulate a mission to Halley's comet, but that proved to be unworkable. However, technological advances and the fortunate orbit change made a mission to Wild 2 possible.
|Beagle 2 Mars Mission!|
Scientists Await First Call From Beagle
Mars Beagle Timeline
The separation marked the first key landmark at the beginning of a tense week for the Beagle 2 team. From now on, Beagle 2 will be on its own and looking after itself in terms of stability, power, thermal control and entry sequencing.
Following a carefully targeted ballistic trajectory, the 68.8 kg probe will remain switched off for most of the 5 million kilometer coast phase to Mars. Then, a few hours before entering the Martian atmosphere, an onboard timer will turn on the power and boot up Beagle's computer. Beagle 2 must rely on its own battery until its solar arrays are fully deployed on the surface.
Attached to ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, it was launched by a Soyuz/Fregat rocket from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 2 June 2003.
BY HELEN R. PILCHER
"We were surprised that these mice develop into adulthood with little effect," says Elena Feinstein of Quark Biotech, in Nes Ziona, Israel, who produced the animals1.
|MESSENGER to Mercury!|
JHU Applied Physics Laboratory Press Release
With features ranging from a lightweight composite structure and miniaturized instruments to a heat-radiation system and protective ceramic-fabric sunshade, MESSENGER (short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is well equipped for a 5-year cruise through the inner solar system and a yearlong study of Mercury starting in July 2009.
"Each part of the spacecraft has passed individual vibration and environmental tests, and under tougher conditions than we expect they will see at Mercury," says James C. Leary, MESSENGER mission systems engineer at APL. "Now we’re looking at MESSENGER as a whole system. By the time it launches MESSENGER will have been thoroughly tested."
|Cats Try to Eat Owner|
|LOS ANGELES December 18, 2003 (AP) - A group of hungry cats began to eat their 86-year-old owner after she suffered an apparent stroke and couldn't get up for nearly a week, officials said Thursday. |
Mae Lowrie, who lives with seven cats, was discovered unconscious and riddled with bite marks Wednesday night at her Panorama City apartment, Fire Department and hospital officials said.
She was listed in fair condition at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Lisa Kort.
"The cats were trying to survive in the conditions that they were in, faced with the outcome they had. They did what they had to do to survive," animal control Officer Ernesto Poblano told KABC-TV. "The cats were all emaciated, very, very emaciated."
Lowrie may have suffered a stroke, said Jim Wells, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The woman's apartment manager alerted authorities after neighbors realized they hadn't seen Lowrie in several days.
Wells said Lowrie, who was believed to have been stricken about a week before she was found, was also dehydrated.
The cats, apparently without food for that time, also tried to eat Lowrie's small dog, said Jackie David, a spokeswoman for the city Animal Services Department. The terrier showed signs of hypothermic shock, severe dehydration, respiratory illness and was later euthanized, she said. One of the cats, a kitten, was found dead.
|Nuke News: Nuclear Fusion|
|Nuclear Fusion is Back! |
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Science Editor
Washington December 19, 2003 (BBC) - Scientists involved in the next step to harness nuclear fusion - the power of the Sun - are meeting to decide where to put the $5bn fusion reactor. It will take a decade to build the fusion machine which releases energy in a similar way to the Sun's furnaces.
Scientists say the new reactor will be the first such prototype to give out a lot more power than it consumes. Two venues are in contention, Cadarache in southern France and front-runner Rokkasho-mura in Japan. Competition between the two sites has been intense. The winner is expected to be announced on Friday or Saturday at a meeting in Washington, DC.
In a conventional nuclear power station the splitting atoms inside radioactive material take place in a controlled chain reaction whose by-product is heat, which is used to generate electricity.
"If our site is chosen, Japan will cover the costs that are needed," said Hidekazu Tanaka, a senior official of the Japanese Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology ministry.
But they are all agreed that taming the power of the Sun will not be easy.
Rather than abandon the site, the Energy Department changed the rules and declared it suitable, the lawyers said.
|NY Times Reporters Defy Order to Reveal Sources|
|By Caroline Drees |
WASHINGTON December 18, 2003 (Reuters) - In a case that has raised concerns about journalists' rights, two New York Times reporters on Thursday defied an order by a U.S. federal judge to disclose their sources in a lawsuit filed by a scientist once suspected of spying.
New York Times reporters James Risen and Jeff Gerth are among five journalists subpoenaed by Wen Ho Lee, who has filed a lawsuit against the government for allegedly violating the federal Privacy Act by leaking personal information from his employment records to the reporters.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson denied the journalists' motions to quash the subpoenas in October and ordered them to appear on Thursday and disclose the identity of their sources on Lee.
"Risen and Gerth answered the questions, although on some of the questions they chose to take advantage of their First Amendment privilege on identifying sources," New York Times' Vice President for Corporate Communications Catherine Mathis told Reuters.
Journalist advocacy groups and lawyers say the importance of Jackson's order goes far beyond the Lee lawsuit, and threatens what they argue are First Amendment rights of freedom of the press.
Making reporters reveal their sources destroys their credibility and independence, they argue.
"The New York Times and its journalists have had a long-standing practice of protecting confidential sources, a principle we believe is critical for the press to provide a free flow of information to the public," Mathis said.
But in his order, Jackson said "the court has some doubt that a truly worthy First Amendment interest resides in protecting the identity of government personnel who disclose to the press that the Privacy Act says they may not reveal."
NO ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE
Lee subpoenaed the reporters in hopes their testimony would prove the U.S. Departments of Justice and Energy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation violated his privacy rights.
U.S. law does not grant absolute privilege to journalists which would be comparable to that of a priest or doctor.
The other subpoenaed reporters are Robert Drogin of the Los Angeles Times, Josef Hebert of the Associated Press and Pierre Thomas, formerly of CNN and now working for ABC News. Neither the reporters nor their companies were immediately available for comment.
A source close to the case said the three other journalists were due to give their depositions in early January.
"There is no question that we are in very dangerous territory here. No question at all," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of advocacy group Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
"It's very seldom that you see such an all-out attack on the reporters' privilege like this," she said.
Lee was fired from his job at the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory in March 1999 amid allegations of spying for China. He was never charged with espionage and pleaded guilty to one count of downloading nuclear weapons design secrets to a nonsecure computer after the government's case against him collapsed.
|Spitzer Treks Where No Telescope Has Gone Before|
By PAUL RECER
Embedded within the clouds of the galaxy are organic molecules, such as carbon dioxide and cyanide, that are thought to be the chemical building blocks of life.
|Miami Police May Have Broken International Laws|
|MIAMI December 19, 2003 (AP) — Police in Miami may have violated various international laws and covenants on civil rights and use of force when they crushed protests against a free trade meeting last month, rights group Amnesty International said. |
In a letter to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, dated Dec. 16 and made public Thursday, the human rights watchdog repeated a call for an independent inquiry into police actions that led to more than 200 arrests and dozens of injuries.
"Concerns include reports of the indiscriminate and inappropriate use of nonlethal weapons on nonviolent protesters resulting in scores of injuries, the obstruction of those providing medical treatment, multiple and random arrests ... and the denial of the right to freedom of expression and association," Americas program director Susan Lee wrote.
Amnesty said preliminary investigations suggested police violated the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other covenants.
Miami was shut down for the Nov. 17 to Nov. 21 Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting, at which little progress was made toward creating the world's biggest free trade zone.
Phalanxes of riot police, backed by helicopters and armored cars, chased protesters through the city center after the main opposition rally on Nov. 20 by firing volleys of rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas.
While a few protesters threw rocks, the great majority of the 15,000 unionists, environmentalists, retirees, small farmers, anarchists, and civil rights activists who took part in the Nov. 20 march against the FTAA were peaceful.
Amnesty said many were shot with rubber bullets while running away from police. Volunteer medics appear to have been targeted while helping the injured.
Miami Police Chief John Timoney has promised an internal review of police tactics, and has won the firm backing of city officials for the "restraint" shown by officers in preventing a repeat of the 1999 world trade riots in Seattle.
Critics say a police review is far from adequate.
A fledgling Citizens Investigative Panel, set up after a series of police corruption scandals, also plans hearings.
WASHINGTON December 19, 2003 (AP) - Al-Qaida suspects are being interrogated. Afghan and Pakistani villagers are being courted. Troops and unmanned aircraft are poised to strike.
But finding Osama bin Laden remains enormously difficult, much more so than capturing Saddam Hussein, say American intelligence officials, lawmakers and analysts.
"The United States does not have unlimited military resources," said Larry Johnson, a former State Department deputy chief of counterterrorism. "If you're going to devote air assets to lifting troops in Iraq, those assets are no longer available to lift troops in Afghanistan."
U.S. personnel have considerable flexibility to pursue intelligence leads and conduct raids in Afghanistan. But across the border, they must be mindful of Pakistani sovereignty.
|Genre News: Boreanaz Best Actor, Nip/Tuck, Keanu Superman, Peter Pan, Passion, Firefly & More!|
Angel, Fred and Lorne Get the Nod
Angel's Amy Acker (Fred) and Gina Torres (Jasmine) were both nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and Andy Hallett (Lorne) was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum (Lex) was also nominated in the Best Supporting category, as was Mary Steenburgen for Joan of Arcadia.
Amber Tamblyn was nominated for Best Actress for Joan.
For the entire list of nominations - http://www.pressacademy.com/satawards/ipa-satelliteawards-nominees.html
Angel on The WB - http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||139,00.html
The eXoNews Angel Fan Poll - http://flatdisk.net/angel
LOS ANGELES December 18, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - FX's "Nip/Tuck," Fox's "Arrested Development" and the BBC's "The Office" were the big surprises on the TV side of this year's batch of Golden Globe Award nominees.
As expected, HBO's six-hour miniseries "Angels in America", based on Tony Kushner's award-winning play, dominated the nominations overall for TV programs with a total of seven bids.
(HBO's critical fave "The Sopranos" was not eligible for Globe consideration this year because it did not air new episodes during the 2003 calendar year.)
On the comedy series side, the Globe nomination can only be a boon to Fox's critically praised but little-watched new sitcom "Arrested Development." The critically lauded BBC comedy "The Office" also got the attention of Globe voters, landing a nomination for its airings on the BBC America cable channel. Rounding out the category were NBC's "Will & Grace", HBO's "Sex and the City" and USA Network's "Monk". (Last year's comedy series winner, HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," was also ineligible for Globes glory this year.)
"I'm five months pregnant, so I've been thinking about that quite a lot recently," Williams told reporters at a news conference to promote Pan. "One of the lovely things that Janet Patterson, ... who designed ... the costumes, said [is that] there are no movies for little girls. And that if little girls don't like Toy Story or Superman or whatever comic strip is ... fashionable at the time, there is nothing."
Keanu To Play Superman?
LOS ANGELES December 19, 2003 (Reuters) - In the midst of a film industry crackdown on digital movie piracy, filmmaker Robert Greenwald is urging rampant, unauthorized copying of his documentary criticizing the Bush administration's reasons for invading Iraq.
Some 50,000 copies have been sold, raising nearly $800,000, since the campaign began in November, organizers said.
It's a strategy that runs contrary to current Hollywood studio policy to carefully control film distribution and safeguard intellectual property at all costs.
The film features former CIA officials, diplomats, weapons inspectors and military experts rebutting administration prewar assertions that Iraq posed a threat to the United States. They conclude the White House exaggerated, ignored or manipulated intelligence to fabricate reasons for deposing Hussein.
New Zealander Andrew Adamson, best known for the Oscar-winning animated feature "Shrek," will direct the film and Walden Media will produce it.
Stripperella and Gary The Rat Officially Dead
"These networks have tried to use the celebrity angle as a marketing tool and, in their eagerness, bet on some bad shows," he says. "At the end of the day, Comedy Central may figure out how to grow an audience, but if anyone was hoping for the next 'South Park,' this batch ain't it."
Pamela Anderson -starrer "Stripperella" premiered well to 2 million viewers, but has plummeted with male auds, nabbing just 214,000 men 18-49 in its newest episode. Still, Kay trusts in Pam to keep the guys gawking and will launch an additional six segs on Spike early next year.
The pope's apparent approval of "The Passion" follows similar praise from several top Vatican officials, who have rejected complaints by some Jewish leaders who say the film suggests Jews were responsible for Christ's death.
Young TV Viewers Leaving Prime-Time
Oddly, another network taking advantage of this trend is Nickelodeon, which airs reruns of classic TV shows under the Nick at Nite banner between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Firefly on DVD!
[This review is a rerun from last week for those of you who haven't bought Firefly: The Complete Series DVD Set yet. Wait 'til you see "Mrs. Reynolds"! Wow! Ed.]
December 14, 2003 (eXoNews) - I just got the coolest Xmas gift! Well, it wasn't really an Xmas gift, it was a birthday gift from last October, but it is still the coolest Xmas gift because it was on my Wish List at Amazon since last October and it finally came out the other day and I remembered I had the Amazon Virtual Gift Certificate (or whatever it's called) waiting there for it to come out so while I was buying Major Powers & The Star Squad toys and Animal Planet Reptile Buckets for the kids I found the number and typed it in and added Joss Whedon's Firefly: The Complete Series DVD Set to my order and here it is, sitting right next to my keyboard waiting to be watched!
I'm cool because I was unashamedly one of those die-hard Firefly fans who supported the show right up to and after Fox cancelled it.
Yeah, I was one of those fans who wrote it up and sent postcards and cheered when Joss Whedon announced that all of the missing episodes would be included in the DVD set at some future time and waited until now faithfully and have finally been rewarded by The Powers That Be with, count 'em, fourteen Firefly episodes and additional special features including Joss Whedon actually singing the Firefly Theme!
I so deserve to sit back and watch these DVDs until my eyeballs drop out or the Firefly movie that Joss Whedon is currently writing in a sure thing deal with Universal appears in my local theater, even if I'm sounding a bit like Fred after Angel rescued her from Lorne's alternate demon dimension.
And you're cool too if you go out and get your very own Joss Whedon's Firefly: The Complete Series DVD Set and don't even wait for somebody to maybe give it to you as a holiday gift in two weeks.
You're cool because you will finally get to see what the dimwits at Fox never understood, namely the reason that TV is a dying thing except for Angel and a few other shows.
TV just can't handle Quality.
DVDs are the future of great science fiction, man, not broadcasts pockmarked with inane commercials and network proselytizing about what's on next or what sub-mutant reality babe will do when asked to eat worms for money in a string bikini on Tuesday while she marries some guy pretending to be a stockbroker who is really an out-of-work fast food server, not meaning any disrespect to those citizens who are currently flipping cow entrails onto stale buns and asking you if you want extra ketchup.
You can get it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble or probably at a store near you.
Firefly Fan Site - http://www.fireflyfans.net
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