|Springtime for Neptune! |
Chimps Are Human?
W32/Palyh@MM, Turkey Gas,
Danny Glover, Leader Lies & More!
|Springtime for Neptune!|
|SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE |
May 15, 2003 - Springtime is blooming on Neptune! This might sound like an oxymoron because Neptune is the farthest and coldest of the major planets.
But NASA Hubble Space Telescope observations are revealing an increase in Neptune's brightness in the southern hemisphere, which is considered a harbinger of seasonal change, say astronomers.
"This change seems to be a response to seasonal variations in sunlight, like the seasonal changes we see on Earth."
Also like Earth, Neptune spins on an axis that is tilted at an angle toward the Sun. The tilt of the Earth, at a 23.5-degree inclination, is the phenomenon responsible for the change of seasons. As the Earth orbits the Sun over the course of a year, the planet is exposed to patterns of solar radiation that mark the seasons. Similarly, Neptune is inclined at a 29-degree angle and the northern and southern hemispheres alternate in their positions relative to the Sun.
|Dracula Convention Draws Blood|
|Bucharest May 18, 2003 (SAPA-AFP) - Aficionados of Vlad the Impaler, the 15th century Romanian prince who inspired the Dracula legend, gathered on Friday to sink their teeth into a weekend of organ music, Bloody Mary cocktails and graveyard tours. |
About 30 Vlad enthusiasts from eight countries met in the baroque splendor of the town hall in Sighisoara, regarded as Vlad's birthplace, for three days of discussions at the annual Transylvania Dracula Society conference.
"The topics are very diverse: from the supernatural to the fear of evil to the vampire in Japanese literature," Mihai Soneriu, one of the conference organizers, told reporters. "What brings us together is the wish to know more about this fascinating blood-soaked individual, Dracula," he said.
"Our researches have shown us that the Romanian prince Vlad Tepes (nicknamed the Impaler), who inspired the Dracula legend, was not following the Turkish tradition of impaling non-believers but rather that of Germans living in Transylvania."
Every year hundreds of foreign tourists make the trip (ideally in daylight) to Sighisoara in central Romania to pay homage to Vlad, whose feats inspired the Irish author Bram Stoker to publish his novel Dracula in 1897.
The house where Vlad was born, on the town's main square, has been temporarily transformed into a restaurant, though it was not clear whether garlic would be used in the cooking.
|More Ape News: Chimps Are Human!|
|Detroit May 19, 2003 (New Scientist) - The latest twist in the debate over how much DNA separates humans from chimpanzees suggests we are so closely related that chimps should not only be part of the same taxonomic family, but also the same genus. |
The new study found that 99.4 percent of the most critical DNA sites are identical in the corresponding human and chimp genes. With that close a relationship, the two living chimp species belong in the genus Homo, says Morris Goodman of Wayne State University in Detroit.
The closeness of relationship between chimps and humans has become an important issue outside taxonomy, becoming part of the debate over the use of chimps in laboratory experiments and over their conservation in the wild.
Traditionally chimps are classified with the other great apes, gorillas and orangutans, in the family Pongidae, separated from the human family Hominidae.
Within Hominidae, most paleoanthropologists now class virtually all hominid fossils in three genera, Homo, Australopithecus, or Ardipithecus.
Among these, he found that 99.4 percent were identical in humans and chimps. He found a lower correspondence for bases that could be changed without affecting the amino acid, with 98.4 percent identical for chimps and humans and the same for the "junk" DNA outside coding regions. Goodman believes the differences are larger for non-coding DNA because their sequences are not biologically critical.
[Check out the world's oldest chimp - Tarzan movie star Cheeta - in last week's eXoNews. Ed.]
|Trinity Delights Nmap Author|
|Hollywood May 19, 2003 (BBC) Reloaded may be wooing some of its audience with its gung-ho gunplay and ferocious special effects but one group of fans are impressed for entirely different reasons. |
The web's hacking community has been impressed by the film's depiction of a hack attempt that employs future versions of tools and techniques widely used now. Net-based message boards have been buzzing with mentions of the realistic depiction and photos of the hacking scenes from the film are being passed around the web.
The successful hack attack is carried out by Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss, on a power company computer towards the end of the film.
When actors in films start using computers, reality usually flees the scene. But The Matrix Reloaded is winning praise from the net's computer experts and hackers because Trinity is seen using a free, popular scanning tool called Nmap.
Nmap, or Network Mapper, is used to remotely scan a computer or set of servers to find out what a target is doing and to see if it has any vulnerabilities or loopholes to exploit. Writing about the scene, the author of Nmap, known as Fyodor, said he almost danced in the aisles of the cinema when he saw Trinity using his creation.
Fyodor wrote that the film makers seem to have changed the text output of Nmap to help it fit better on the display Trinity uses in the movie. He also said that in the future the Matrix films depict, Nmap seems to run much faster than it does now.
Trinity goes on to use Nmap to reveal the existence of a vulnerability in computer she is targeting which she then exploits with another, fictional, program called SSHnuke. SSH stands for "Secure Shell" and is a program often used to make the remote use of a computer secure. Holes in it can be used to allow people without proper permission to compromise a machine and make it do what they want.
In the film Trinity gets the highest level of access to the target machine by using a real-world loophole called "SSH1 CRC32".
Fyodor asked people going to see the film to take a photo of Trinity using Nmap and got some images back 20 minutes after posting his request. Despite its mention in the first Matrix film there has, so far, been no explanation of how Trinity "broke the IRS dbase" and gained her reputation as a legendary hacker.
The Wachowski brothers are perhaps saving that for the final film Matrix Revolutions, which is due out in November.
|W32/Palyh@MM: Papa's Got a Brand New Worm|
|By FLAtRich |
Hollywood May 20, 2003 (eXoNews) - Everybody's talking about the new worm in town, that nasty W32/Palyh@MM. Before the relatives send you an email about it (don't you hate emails warning you about viruses?) here's the story.
The subject matter varies. Some of the subjects noted so far: Approved (Ref: 38446-263); Re: Movie; Re: My application; Screensaver; Your details; Re: My details; and the ever popular Your password.
Here's where to read more http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/?url=/technet/security/virus/alerts/palyh.asp
|Cremated Ashes Found at Kentucky Fried Chicken|
|SAN ANTONIO May 19, 2003 (Reuters) - Workers at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant discovered the cremated ashes of a man who died last December -- in the drive-through takeout lane. |
How the ashes got there is a mystery, police said, but they weren't waited on.
An employee noticed a suspicious box sitting in the middle of the drive-through lane on Thursday. Officers who investigated found a certificate of cremation on top of the box. Inside, they found a plastic bag with the ashes of Robert Rogers, who died Dec. 12.
The man's daughter told police the box and the ashes had been inside a bronze urn in her home, which had been stolen.
Police said the urn's thief or thieves probably tossed the box out of a car. Officers had no suspects.
|Put a Turkey in Your Tank|
|By Bill Bergstrom |
PHILADELPHIA May 16, 2003 — The versatile turkey has been chopped, pressed, and processed into foods as diverse as burgers and bacon. Now a Long Island entrepreneur wants to put a turkey in your tank.
Brian S. Appel, chief executive of Changing World Technologies, has developed a process for cooking and pressurizing waste turkey parts — and lots of other things — into a golden liquid that can be refined into heating oil, diesel fuel, or gasoline.
He has attracted the attention of former CIA Director James Woolsey, who says the process can reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. An adviser to Appel's West Hempstead, N.Y., company, Woolsey traveled to Philadelphia last month for a demonstration of how the process could turn tires into oil.
Appel's process, called thermal depolymerization, is essentially an accelerated version of "the oldest of technologies, one that the Earth uses when it puts vegetables and dinosaurs under pressure" to form petroleum deposits, Woolsey said.
A $20 million facility at ConAgra's Butterball turkey plant in Carthage, Mo., is undergoing testing and is expected to start using the technique by the end of May, said Terry Adams, chief technology officer for Changing World Technologies. The plant ultimately will grind up, heat, pressurize, and process 200 tons a day of leftover turkey innards, bones, feathers, fats, and grease — enough to produce 600 barrels of oil daily, officials say.
Appel recently showed off the techniques at a pilot plant at the Philadelphia Naval Business Center. In one end went tires, ground to quarter-inch bits by a giant industrial shredder. Out the other end came a caramel-colored liquid that resembles crude oil. The plants can sell the oil to fuel blenders for use in home heating or power-generating fuel. Refineries could process it as they do crude oil. Utilities could burn it for power. The process will digest just about anything: garbage, medical waste, hog manure, old tires.
Robert C. Brown, an engineering professor at the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies at Iowa State University, said scientists have known for years how to use thermal depolymerization to convert waste into energy. The problem, he said, is cost.
Biological materials, like turkey byproducts, contain water that must be removed before they can be turned into fuel. Brown said biomatter also contains oxygen, which gives it less explosive kick than fossil fuels. "I'd be surprised if they can do it at a good price," he said.
Appel acknowledged his process isn't competitive with crude oil. The Missouri plant will need to spend $15 a barrel to turn turkey waste into oil, compared with about $13 a barrel for small exploration and production companies and $5 for a major oil company, he said. Appel, 44, said the cost will fall as more plants are built. He is also pushing Congress for a clean-fuel subsidy to help it compete.
"If we take the plastics and the tires and the fats and the bones and we turn that into fuels, that will mean much less fossil fuel will need to be dug up out of the ground," Appel said.
Appel said byproducts from the process can be recycled: water pumped into a community water treatment facility, carbon and minerals sold to make tires and fertilizer, and gases like methane piped to generate the plant's electricity.
Environmental officials have shown interest. In 2001, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced a $5 million grant to help develop the Missouri plant.
Changing World Technologies and the $27 billion ConAgra Foods conglomerate formed a partnership to share the rest of the $20 million cost and continue to commercialize the technique. ConAgra sees it not only as a business opportunity but also as a way to get rid of its own waste, said company spokeswoman Julie DeYoung.
Appel said 11 more projects are planned, including ones at a ConAgra turkey plant in Longmont, Colo.; a poultry plant in Enterprise, Ala.; and an onion dehydration plant in Fernley, Nev. The three projects received nearly $10 million in grants from the Department of Energy.
|Mars Puts on a Happy Face|
|NASA/JPL/MSSS PRESS RELEASE |
May 17, 2003 - Every day, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) wide angle instruments obtain a global view of the planet to help monitor weather and seasonal patterns of frost deposition and removal.
The picture shown here was taken from the daily global image mosaic.
The picture shows Galle Crater, informally known as "Happy Face," as it appeared in early southern winter.
The pattern of frost distribution gives the appearance that "Happy Face" has opened its mouth.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, California and Denver, Colorado.
|Southern Anti-lynch Law Used Against Blacks|
|BY ALLEN G. BREED |
The Associated Press
JENKINSVILLE SC May 18, 2003 (AP) - From the time his son was old enough to understand, Kamau Marcharia has told Ramon the story of an ancestor who was tied to the bumper of a Model T Ford and dragged to his death.
Lynching is part of black Southerners' heritage.
But Marcharia was not prepared for the call that came three years ago, when Ramon and three other black boys got into a fight with a white boy at middle school and were summoned to court - to answer charges of lynching.
"I didn't even know there was a law like that," the veteran civil rights activist says. "I was outraged. See, a 13-year-old fighting because somebody either pushed him or punched him is not lynching. ... When I hear that term, psychologically I cannot get that out of my mind, the picture of some horrible event."
South Carolina's antilynching law, the only one of four in the nation that is still routinely used, was enacted to end the state's long history of white vigilante justice against blacks. But that law has borne strange fruit.
Today in South Carolina, blacks are most often the ones charged with lynching - defined in the statute as any act of violence by two or more people against another, regardless of race.
Though they make up just 30 percent of the state's population, blacks account for 63 percent of the lynching charges, according to an Associated Press analysis of crime statistics.
For every 1,000 blacks in South Carolina, 2.07 were charged with lynching, compared with 0.46 charged per 1,000 whites - meaning blacks are charged with lynching at 4 1/2 times the rate for whites.
In all but two of the state's 46 counties, blacks are charged with lynching out of proportion to their representation in the population. In Oconee County, for instance, blacks comprise 8 percent of the residents but 44 percent of those charged with lynching.
Prosecutors and police argue there is no racial profiling behind the law's application, noting that blacks are charged with other violent crimes more often than whites. But its the use of the word "lynching" that trips Marcharia and others.
"Obviously, the law has outlived its purpose," says J. Wayne Flynt, a professor of Southern history at Auburn University. "Its intent was to stop extralegal violence, essentially aimed at blacks."
For many, the term "lynching" conjures images of black men, accused of some real or perceived crime, pulled from jail cells by torch-carrying white mobs, strung up from trees and mutilated.
When South Carolina's legislature passed its antilynching law in 1951, it was responding to just such a case - the highly publicized murder of Willie Earle, who was dragged out of jail by a white mob and gunned down in retaliation for the death of a cabbie.
Earle's slaying occurred in Greenville County in the state's western Appalachian foothills - and that is where the statute is invoked most often today.
Between 1998 and 2002, 446 people in Greenville County were charged with lynching. Blacks make up 18 percent of the county's population; they comprised 47 percent of the lynching defendants whose race was specified.
At the other end of the state lies Charleston, where nearly half the slaves entering the country arrived. Charleston County charges more blacks with lynching than any other - 271 in the past five years. That county is 34 percent black; blacks accounted for 69 percent of those charged.
Of the nearly 4,000 adults charged by police with lynching since 1998, only 136 have been convicted of the offense. Most charges are amended to assault or dismissed. But of those convicted, blacks account for 67 percent - twice the rate of whites.
During the same five-year period, nearly 1,400 juvenile lynching charges were filed; it was unclear how many of those ended up in adult court.
Still, the statistics suggest the racial gap among minors is even wider than for adults. In 2002, the only year for which a breakdown was immediately available, 231 black youths were charged with lynching - more than 10 times the number of white juveniles.
"It's ironic at least," says William Gravely, a University of Denver history professor who as a boy of 7 lived in Greenville County when Earle was lynched. "... It's a kind of denial of the large historical record going back to the late 19th century."
It's worse than ironic to Tom Broadwater, a former attorney who travels the country with an exhibit on lynching's horrors.
When Broadwater practiced law in South Carolina, he represented many fellow blacks on lynching charges. Most, he says, stemmed from what he considered simple assaults.
"There's an attempt to minimize the seriousness which the word 'lynching' carries with it," Broadwater says.
Of course, some lynching charges in South Carolina have involved brutal attacks, and the penalties for convictions are stiff - up to 40 years for first-degree lynching, involving a death, and 20 years for second-degree.
The other states with antilynching statutes are California, Virginia and West Virginia, though the laws are rarely used.
Charleston Police Chief Reuben Greenberg isn't surprised that blacks are charged with lynching twice as often as whites. In his jurisdiction, it's like that with just about all crimes.
Greenberg - a descendant of Southern blacks and Russian Jews - says he was surprised at the term lynching's local usage when he arrived in Charleston 22 years ago. But he's been enforcing the law for two decades, mainly as a tool against gang activity.
"I'm not consumed by the race issue," says Greenberg. "The historical meaning of the thing has no effect on me whatever."
Marcharia has asked lawmakers about amending the law to reflect the word's historical meaning, but to no avail.
Trey Walker, a spokesman for state Attorney General Henry McMaster, says that while McMaster is "sensitive and sympathetic to feelings associated with the term," there is nothing racial about the antilynching law's construction or its application.
"There's no reference to race in the statute, so it applies to anyone, any two or more people who commit an act of violence," Walker says. "The law is colorblind."
|Danny Glover Attacked for Political Views|
|BY SONYA ROSS |
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON May 19, 2003 (AP) - "Lethal Weapon" actor Danny Glover is the latest celebrity facing an icy brand of national pride that puts the pinch on public figures who question American foreign policy.
A threatened boycott seeks to force telecommunications company MCI to dump Glover as its pitchman because of views he expressed about Cuba and against the Iraq war.
Similar frostiness extended to the Dixie Chicks and to actors Martin Sheen, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon when they came out against war in Iraq.
Glover said this chill comes from right-wing factions that he denounced as self-appointed thought police.
"The whole idea is to crush any kind of dissent," he said. "Something is happening now that is very dark and very sinister in this country, and for us to not admit it is happening is, in some ways, for us to be blind."
|Leader Lies the Price of Democracy?|
|Economic & Social Research Council Press Release |
May 18, 2003 - Democrats should accept that some political deception is not only inevitable in a democracy but can be legitimate where it is conducted by elected politicians in the public interest where they have the tacit support of the electorate.
That is the key conclusion of Dr Glen Newey, a reader in politics at Strathclyde University, in his new research which is published today. The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
"There has been a lot of concern in recent years about political deception and spin under successive governments. But the more the electorate expects from the politicians they elect, the more likely it is that politicians will be economical with the truth," says Dr Newey. "Such deception where it is in the public interest may be the price of a healthy democracy."
Dr Newey reached his conclusions after analyzing material from the Arms to Iraq archive and studying key American political events including Watergate, Iran-Contra and Bill Clinton's impeachment.
"We try to apply different moral standards to the public and to politicians, yet the more we do so the more likely it is that politicians resort to deception," he argues. "Demands for openness and accountability create a culture of suspicion which makes it even more likely that politicians will resort to evasion and misrepresentation.
"These demands often arise because of increasing alienation by voters from the political process that they democratically control. Yet the greater the demands for truthfulness, the less autonomy we give to our democratic institutions and the harder it is for democracy to function effectively."
Dr Newey adds that the electorate will decide in the end whether deception is justified: "In a democracy, the popular will is sovereign. The only general way to determine that will is through democratic procedures which must decided whether the people have willed a given course of action. They can make clear their support or opposition in subsequent elections.
"But the public interest must flow from this understanding and we should accept that where democratic bodies such as the electorate retrospectively sanction deception as being required to secure certain public goods, then that deception is in the public interest. It is in the nature of deception that the legitimacy of some acts of deception cannot be made public at the time since their efficacy depends on keeping the fact of deception out of the public realm."
However, Dr Newey argues that there should be a tougher standard as to whether or not public officials are lying. And there should be a stricter understanding of mendacity imposed on public servants. Ambiguity should be as frowned upon as straight lies. He explains: "If a speaker states the black is white, while believing this not to be true, but intending to deceive his audience, he is lying. Intent would be assumed where an audience could reasonably be expected to deduce that black was white from what the speaker said, and there are no strong independent reasons to assume he meant something different." And democratic procedures should include scrutiny bodies, such as public inquiries, to assess politicians' claims that given acts of deception are in the public interest.
"Discontent with democratic politics is both the cause and the consequence of political deception," he concludes. "Deception brings politics into disrepute, while politicians in their efforts to assuage popular disaffection impose on themselves unsustainably demanding standards of truth-telling. Unless we are more honest about this, we are in danger of causing lasting damage to our democracy."
The study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues.
Economic & Social Research Council - http://www.esrc.ac.uk
|Genre News: Fall TV Schedule 2003! Saturn Awards! Tru Calling, Tarzan and Jane, Wonderfalls, Fearless & More!|
|Fall TV Schedule 2003: |
Glimmers In The Dust
Hollywood May 19, 2003 (eXoNews) - The renewal suspense is over and we all know that John Doe, the show Fox declared a hit over Joss Whedon's Firefly, was canceled. So was UPN's attempt at The Twilight Zone.
Angel will return to the WB. Enterprise will be back on UPN. Clark Kent will also return to the Frog (but he'll stay a virgin, according to the WB. So will everyone else in Smallville, I presume.) The Charmed Ones will get new boyfriends on the WB as well.
So, what else can genre fans expect in the fall? Is there something in the works that will fill the gap left by Buffy and make up for endless summer network reality shows?
The six US broadcast networks have announced their fall schedules, and the answer is a resounding probably not, but there are a few glimmers in the dust. Here are some new and old shows you might be watching in a few months.
The fourteen newbies you see above are:
Cold Case: Kathryn Morris (Minority Report) as a cop who handles unsolved crimes with science.
Tarzan and Jane: Contemporary tale of young Tarzan in NY.
Las Vegas: Starring James Caan as a former CIA guy with "the best surveillance company in Vegas."
Navy CIS: Mark Harmon leads the Navy Criminal Investigative Service in a JAG spin-off.
Fearless: FBI femme without a fear gene. [Whatever the hell that means. Ed.]
Karen Sisco: Based on J. Lo's character in the movie "Out of Sight".
Fox is also holding two interesting "mid-season" shows (translate as late summer debuts).
Still Life: A spiritual drama from a "dead son's point of view." (The rest of the plot is too complex to explain here.)
Todd Holland (Malcolm in the Middle) and Bryan Fuller (Star Trek: Voyager) are responsible for Wonderfalls. I read somewhere that Joss Whedon partner, Angel's executive producer Tim Minear was working on Wonderfalls too, but that may have been before Angel was renewed.
Marti Noxon, another Whedon alumni, is on the producing team for Still Life, and here's a bit of controversy about Noxon that surfaced this week. In a review of Still Life, Zap2It said "Marni Noxon had a mixed track record with pathos on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and there are fans of that show who blame Noxon for the show's every misstep."
This slur on Ms. Noxon was also picked up by TrekToday (and that was Zap2It's misspelling of Marti's name above, BTW.)
I don't know what Buffy "fans" Zap2It is talking about, but they must be a small bunch of malcontents because this remark is absurd. Marti Noxon wrote 22 episodes of Buffy, starting in Season 2, and most of them were outstanding. She's best known for Buffy vs. Dracula (Season 5 opening), but she also wrote Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered in Season Two when a spell gone awry causes all the women in Sunnydale to fall for Xander.
Noxon penned two of the all-too-few Oz as a werewolf episodes, created the lovable leathery Lesbian alternate world Willow in The Wish (Season 3), wrote Angel's crossover return to Buffy in Forever (Season 5), and Giles' return to Sunnydale with apprentice slayers in Bring on the Night (Season Seven.) Noxon also co-executive produced Buffy with Whedon for years.
There are lots of sitcoms and more cop shows and reality shows filling in the Fall Season, but who cares, right? You might be more interested to know what the networks passed on. Some of them actually sounded promising.
Here are two comedy pilots that didn't get picked up:
Fox also passed on that rumored remake of Mr. Ed and a talking dog sitcom was put to sleep at CBS. [Anybody out there remember Cleo the Basset Hound on The People's Choice with Jackie Cooper? Ed.]
Some dramas that got the pass, at least for now, included:
ABC Fall Preview - http://abc.abcnews.go.com/primetime/schedule/index.html
Saturn Award Winners Announced!