|British UFO Cover-up! |
The Oldest Skull in America,
Gas Giants, Whale Deaths, Roswell,
The Smothers Brothers & More!
|British UFO Cover-up!|
|London December 3, 2002 (BBC) Details of one of Britain's most famous UFO scares was among information repeatedly suppressed by government defense chiefs, according to a Westminster watchdog. |
Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had broken open government rules three times in recent months over cases including the Rendlesham Forest UFO scare.
Details of the alleged sighting at an RAF base more than 20 years ago were released last week after the Ombudsman ruled the MoD were wrongly suppressing them.
The so-called 'Rendlesham File' details the sighting of a "glowing" triangular object by US Air Force police in Rendlesham Forest, near RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk.
The documents had only previously been made available to about 20 people who used the American Freedom of Information Act to gain access to them.
In the early hours of 27 December 1980, a number of US Air Force men witnessed the object hover in the darkness, transmitting blue pulsating lights and sending nearby farm animals into a "frenzy".
In a report titled "Unexplained Lights", USAF Lt Col Charles I Halt, Deputy Base Commander at RAF Bentwaters, adjacent to Woodbridge, told how he witnessed an object emitting a "red sun-like light" moving through the trees.
Sceptics say the witnesses were fooled by the beam from a lighthouse on the nearby coast.
While the actual documents had not been released, the details were widely known, the Ombudsman said in her report.
"Given their age and the fact that these documents contained no information not already in the public domain, the Ombudsman saw no reason why they could not be disclosed," the report said.
Complaints about the MoD's refusal to list countries prioritized for arms sales or reveal details of an armed services survey were also upheld.
Former defense minister Peter Kilfoyle said the examples outlined in the report on the Ombudsman's work between May and October were symptomatic of a "culture of secrecy" in the MoD.
"It is one of those departments that have always opposed freedom of information and are not very attuned to what is required in a modern, open and accountable government," he said.
The Ombudsman also partially upheld complaints against the Cabinet Office, DVLA, Driving Standards Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions, the report revealed.
[Were you "Taken" by our Rendlesham UFO? Truth is - we made it ourselves! Ed.]
|Court Blocks California Offshore Drilling|
|By Michael Kahn |
SAN FRANCISCO December 03, 2002 (Reuters) — A U.S. appeals court Monday upheld a block on new oil and natural gas exploration off the California coast, ruling that future exploration cannot go forward without a state environmental review.
The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals does not cover existing offshore production in state and federal tracts. But it is a blow to the Bush administration, which had sought to open up 36 offshore leases to exploration.
Environmental groups, which had joined California in lawsuits to stop any renewed exploration, hailed the decision involving tracts that could hold an estimated 1 billion barrels of oil off the state's central coast. The move to extend the 36 leases was widely seen by environmental groups as a prelude to renewed oil prospecting in California, which has been halted since 1989.
"After losing twice in federal court, it is time for the Bush administration to stop fighting for more oil drilling and to start protecting California's coast," said Drew Caputo, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Interior, which is named in the lawsuit, said lawyers were still reviewing whether to appeal the decision to the full court. The spokesman emphasized the case was about the government's right to extend the leases and not about allowing drilling.
California sued to block the new exploration soon after President Clinton's Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt extended the offshore leases in 1999 as they were set to expire while ordering a review of their impact on the environment. These tracts were exempt from the Clinton administration's 1998 ban on new oil drilling because the leases were so old.
The state, however, argued against the department, saying California had been illegally denied the right to review the leases for environmental issues before any action at the federal level.
U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken agreed and in June 2001 halted exploration and drilling in the 36 offshore tracts, pending environmental review and approval by the California Coastal Commission.
While the state's suit did not explicitly seek cancellation of the leases, Davis has expressed reservations about offshore oil drilling, and environmental groups have loudly condemned any move which could threaten the state's famous coastline.
Environmentalists have also argued that the Interior Department should scrap the leases, which cost oil companies more than $1 billion when they were granted 25 to 30 years ago.
Companies holding the leases include Aera Energy; the combined California exploration and production operations of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Shell Oil Co., a unit of Royal Dutch/Shell Group; ConocoPhillips; Nuevo Energy; and Samedan Oil Corp., a subsidiary of Noble Affiliates.
|Redford Says Oil Equals Homeland Insecurity|
|LOS ANGELES December 2, 2002 (Reuters) - Actor Robert Redford, in an op-ed opinion piece published in the Los Angeles Times, accused the Bush administration on Monday of "lack of leadership" for failing to wean the United States from dependence on fossil fuels. The actor, a longtime solar power advocate, warned that the nation's wasteful use of gas and oil created political problems abroad and air pollution at home. |
"Prolonging our dependence on fossil fuels would guarantee homeland insecurity," the actor wrote. "If you are worried about getting oil from an unstable Persian Gulf, consider the alternatives: Indonesia, Nigeria, Uzbekistan."
He touted San Francisco's $100-million bond initiative, passed last year by voters to pay for solar panels, wind power and energy efficiency for public buildings as the template for a pollution-free United States.
"American rooftops can be the Persian Gulf of solar energy," Redford wrote. "...wind and solar power generate less than 2 percent of U.S. power. We can do better."
The 65-year-old actor also demanded that the U.S. auto industry use existing technology to increase fuel economy standards to 40 miles per gallon.
"Phasing in that standard by 2012 would save 15 times more oil than Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is likely to produce over 50 years," Redford said.
Innovation in energy policy, he concluded, "would keep energy dollars in the American economy, reduce air pollution and create jobs at home."
|The Oldest Skull in America|
|By Steve Connor |
London December 3, 2002 (Independent UK) - Scientists in Britain have identified the oldest skeleton ever found on the American continent in a discovery that raises fresh questions about the accepted theory of how the first people arrived in the New World.
The skeleton's perfectly preserved skull belonged to a 26-year-old woman who died during the last ice age on the edge of a giant prehistoric lake which once formed around an area now occupied by the sprawling suburbs of Mexico City.
Scientists from Liverpool's John Moores University and Oxford's Research Laboratory of Archaeology have dated the skull to about 13,000 years old, making it 2,000 years older than the previous record for the continent's oldest human remains.
However, the most intriguing aspect of the skull is that it is long and narrow and typically Caucasian in appearance, like the heads of white, western Europeans today.
Modern-day native Americans, however, have short, wide skulls that are typical of their Mongoloid ancestors who are known to have crossed into America from Asia on an ice-age land bridge that had formed across the Bering Strait.
The extreme age of Peñon woman suggests two scenarios. Either there was a much earlier migration of Caucasian-like people with long, narrow skulls across the Bering Strait and that these people were later replaced by a subsequent migration of Mongoloid people.
Alternatively, and more controversially, a group of Stone Age people from Europe made the perilous sea journey across the Atlantic Ocean many thousands of years before Columbus or the Vikings.
Silvia Gonzalez, a Mexican-born archaeologist working at John Moores University and the leader of the research team, accepted yesterday that her discovery lends weight to the highly contentious idea that the first Americans may have actually been Europeans.
It formed part of a collection of 27 early humans in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City that had not been accurately dated using the most modern techniques.
Robert Hedges, the director of Oxford's Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, who also dated the age of the Turin shroud, carried out the radiocarbon analysis, which is accurate to within 50 years.
At 13,000 years old, Peñon woman would have lived at a time when there was a vast, shallow lake in the Basin of Mexico, a naturally enclosed high plain around today's Mexico City, which would have been cooler and much wetter than it is today.
The findings have a resonance with the skull and skeleton of Kennewick man, who was unearthed in 1996 in the Columbia River at the town of Kennewick in Washington state. The skull, estimated to be 8,400 years old, is also long and narrow and typically Caucasian.
Kennewick man became the most controversial figure in American anthropology when native tribes living in the region claimed that, as an ancestor, his remains should be returned to them under a 1990 law that gave special protection to the graves and remains of indigenous Americans.
Dr Gonzalez said that the identification of Peñon woman as the oldest known inhabitant of the American continent throws fresh light on the controversy over who actually owns the ancient remains of long-dead Americans.
The Solutreans were the technologists of their day, inventing such things as the eyed needle and the heat treatment of flint to make it easier to flake into tools. They also built boats and fished.
Dr Bradley said that the flint blades that came into America with the early Asian migrants were totally different in concept and mode of manufacture. Both the Clovis point and the Solutrean flints shared features that could only mean a shared origin, according to Dr Bradley.
|Professor Salter's Rainmaking Machine|
|By Jill Stark |
Edinburgh December 3, 2002 (Daily Record UK) - A rainmaking machine could help end drought and famine and even help Middle East peace, according to its inventor. Engineering professor Stephen Salter has been given a £105,000 Government grant to develop the wind-driven cloud-maker, which looks like a giant egg-beater. And yesterday the Edinburgh University scientist spoke of his hopes for the device.
Rain could bring barren deserts to life and help to grow crops in countries which have been badly hit by droughts in the past.
Prof Salter added: "It could definitely reduce tensions in the Middle East. The problem is Israel is taking a lot of water from the Palestinian territories and there's a great issue over letting go control of that. If there was more water, then life wouldn't be quite as miserable. The areas we've been thinking about are the Sahara, and the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. Politics could be changed a lot if there was more water because there are a lot of troubles stemming from lack of water."
The device would stand more than 130ft high and cost more than £200,000 to make.
Prof Salter believes it could spray 10 to 30 million cubic meters of water a year. It uses wind power to drive a turbine that sucks water out of the sea, turns it into water vapor, sprays it into the atmosphere and creates clouds. The machines would be placed on catamarans off the coast of desert land in areas where rain was needed.
Prof Salter believes the process could even help to solve the problem of rising sea levels caused by global warming. He said he had had some opposition from meteorologists, who believed he should not be interfering with the weather.
But he added: "It's great fun when things work and your critics are proved wrong. I have had several ideas where the establishment says it doesn't work and it does - it's really quite satisfying."
|Roomba The Robot|
|By Sue Lowe |
December 4, 2002 (SMH) - It could be the world's first useful and affordable household robot. It's called Roomba, it looks like an oversized CD player and it automatically cleans floors.
While Sony's $3000 robotic dog was attracting attention last year, a small US firm, iRobot, was busy creating a device that could free millions from drudgery. And it costs just $355.
This is not iRobot's first attempt to crack the market for cheap household robots; last year it offered My Real Baby - an ill-fated doll that responded to a child's behavior with human-like emotions. With Roomba it could be different. Roomba cannot "see" the dirt but instead aims for maximum coverage. It starts with concentric circles until it first hits an obstacle, then switches to parallel lines.
iRobot says it will back off from stairs, and a "virtual wall" accessory stops it leaving the room it has been told to clean.
Roomba uses brushes and rubber sweepers to flick debris into a small sucker and is said to work on wooden floors, tiles and short-pile carpets, but takes about five times as long as a well-practiced human.
The robot turns itself off if a child or pet gets in the way.
Roomba was launched in September and is still in short supply due to high demand.
There is no word on when Roomba will be available outside America.
Janene Baxter, a sociologist at the University of Queensland, says the telling factor will be whether the robot is appealing enough as a cutting-edge gadget to cause a gender shift in responsibility for floor cleaning.
In previously published research, Professor Baxter concludes that women average 25 hours of domestic duties a week compared to 10 hours for men. "Men don't appear to like gadgets such as irons and washing machines.
"It would be interesting to see if this could change that," she said yesterday.
Louise Shaw, owner of the Wife without Strings household management firm, was unthreatened by the possibility of a mass market in automated vacuum cleaners.
"Vacuuming is just a small preparatory task in cleaning a floor properly. You may also need to mop it. Can it do that?" she said. "And how does it cope with that precious Ming vase?
|The Secret of Gas Giants|
|UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON NEWS RELEASE |
November 29, 2002 - An accepted assumption in astrophysics holds that it takes more than 1 million years for gas giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn to form from the cosmic debris circling a young star. But new research suggests such planets form in a dramatically shorter period, as little as a few hundred years.
The forming planets have to be able to survive the effects of nearby stars burning brightly, heating and dispersing the gases that accumulate around the giant planets.
If the process takes too long, the gases will be dissipated by the radiation from those stars, said University of Washington astrophysicist Thomas R. Quinn.
The existence of gas giant planets, it turns out, seems to be fairly common. Since the mid-1990s, researchers have discovered more than 100 planets, generally from the mass of Jupiter to 10 times that size, orbiting stars outside the solar system. Those planets were deduced by their gravitational effect on their parent stars, and their discovery lends credence to the new research, Quinn said.
|The Mysteries of Venus|
|EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY PRESS RELEASE |
November 30, 2002 - What kind of mysteries and scientific intrigue await the European Space Agency's Venus Express once it has left Earth for its nearest planetary neighbor in 2005? A closer inspection promises to reveal a planet that is hugely different from our own despite a few similarities.
Astronomers often call Venus the Earth's twin because both are about the same size and have the same mass. In other ways, however, Venus seems to be an altogether different class of planet. Scientists are keen to take a closer look at this cloudy, mysterious planet.
After a 150-day cruise from Earth, Venus Express will maneuver into an orbit that loops over the poles of the planet once every 10 -16 hours. What will we see?
Instead they continuously strike Venus's upper atmosphere. Scientists want to know more about how this process takes place.
|Whale Deaths Puzzle Scientists|
|By PEGGY ANDERSEN |
Associated Press Writer
SEATTLE December 2, 2002 (AP) - Over a period of about eight weeks, three cargo ships pulled into Northwest ports apparently unaware of the dead fin whale draped over their so-called bulbous bow, a fuel-conserving device projecting from just below the waterline into the ship's path.
Fin whales, the world's second-largest creatures and a protected species, have been struck and killed by ships before, but these cases are different.
"To have three come in so close together is something we've not seen before," said Brent Norberg, marine-mammal coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. Ships' crews "are as surprised as anyone when they pull in and the animal is there," Norberg said.
The vessels weigh in at tens of thousands of tons.
"That's a massive object moving through the water," Norberg said, and striking a whale would be "kind of like hitting a noodle with your car."
The first dead fin whale arrived at the Port of Seattle Aug. 9 on the bow of the container ship Tokyo Express. Another whale came into Portland Sept. 2 on the auto-transport vessel Ruby Ray. A third reached a Cherry Point refinery Oct. 2 on the bow of an oil tanker.
Why three whales have perished in such rapid succession is anyone's guess, though scientists speculate the whales may have changed feeding patterns — moving into traffic lanes in search of prey. It appears "the food they're grazing on happens to be on a freeway," Norberg said.
And there may well be more such cases.
"We don't have any feel at all for what the frequency is of animals that get struck at sea and dislodged (from the ship) at sea," he said.
Ship-whale collisions and other encounters — net entanglements and propeller hits — have been an increasing factor in whale deaths off the nation's coast for some years now, raising concerns among whale biologists. Ships are getting bigger and faster while populations of the whales are increasing.
|Marijuana Does Not Lead to Hard Drugs |
WASHINGTON December 2, 2002 (Reuters) - Countering a basic principle of American anti-drug policies, an independent U.S. study concluded on Monday that marijuana use does not lead teenagers to experiment with hard drugs like heroin or cocaine.
The study by the private, nonprofit RAND Drug Policy Research Center rebutted the theory that marijuana acts as a so-called gateway drug to more harmful narcotics, a key argument against legalizing pot in the United States.
The researchers did not advocate easing restrictions in marijuana, but questioned the focus on this substance in drug control efforts.
Using data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse between 1982 and 1994, the study concluded teenagers who took hard drugs were predisposed to do so whether they tried marijuana first or not.
"Kids get their first opportunity to use marijuana years before they get their first exposure to hard drugs," said Andrew Morral, lead author of the RAND study.
"Marijuana is not a gateway drug. It's just the first thing kids often come across."
Morral said 50 percent of U.S. teenagers had access to marijuana by the age of 16, while the majority had no exposure to cocaine, heroin or hallucinogens until they were 20.
The study, published in the British journal Addiction, does not advocate legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, which has been linked to side-effects including short-term memory loss.
But given limited resources, Morral said the U.S. government should reconsider the prominence of marijuana in its much-publicized "war on drugs."
"To a certain extent we are diverting resources away from hard drug problems," he said. "Spending money on marijuana control may not be having downstream consequences on the use of hard drugs."
Researchers say predisposition to drug use has been linked to genetic factors and one's environment, including family dynamics and the availability of drugs in the neighborhood.
Marijuana's Distant Relative The Next Prozac
University of California Press Release
Irvine CA December 2, 2002 - Man-made chemicals that are distant relatives of marijuana may eventually become new drugs to combat anxiety and depression, according to a UC Irvine College of Medicine study. The study is the first to show how anxiety is controlled by the body's anandamide system, a network of natural compounds known for their roles in governing pain, mood and other psychological functions.
This is similar to the way Prozac works on serotonin, another natural anti-depressant neurotransmitter. With this gentler biochemical approach, URB532 and URB597 were able to keep brain anandamide levels high for many hours after a single dose without producing visible side effects.
|Weird and Wonderful Words|
|BY DAVID LEE |
Oxford December 3, 2002 (The Scotsman) - If you call someone with receding hair a "pilgarlic", the chances are they won’t know you are being rude. And rather than referring to a tall, ungainly girl as a beanpole, why not try "gammerstang"; she will probably shrug, grin awkwardly and have no idea what you are talking about.
Pilgarlic (a bald person) and gammerstang (a tall and awkward woman) are among a new dictionary containing 400 "weird and wonderful" words to improve your word power.
According to the publishers, Oxford University Press, the book contains "interesting alternatives to everyday words". Also included are gricer (a train-spotter) and pollinctor (someone who prepares bodies for cremation and embalming).
An angletwitch sounds like it might be rude, but is actually a worm used as bait in fishing, while onolatry is the worship of donkeys.
Still on the donkey theme, a zedonk is the offspring of a male zebra and a female donkey, while the art of bee-keeping was also known as meliturgy in the 17th century.
Erin McKean, the book’s author, said most of the words came from the full Oxford English Dictionary.
"You can find weird words everywhere if you keep your eyes open," she said.
"Quite a few came from random reading on the internet, and equally random reading of periodicals."
Check the book out at the Oxford website - http://www.oup-usa.org/isbn/0195159055.html
|Genre News: Firefly, Roswell, Deep Space Nine, Nemesis, Will Smith, Taken, Lara Croft and The Smothers Brothers!|
|Firefly Fans Taken Note |
Hollywood December 5, 2002 (eXoNews) - Fox wants you all to know that just because they put Joss Whedon's new space western show on hiatus last week, that doesn't mean they aren't going to be showing new episodes of Firefly for the next two weeks in its regular time slot at 8 PM Friday.
So anyway, tape Taken (you won't miss anything - it isn't that good) and watch new episodes of Firefly this Friday, December 6th at 8pm/7c and next week on December 13th, same time, same station, on FOX!
See what the critics have to say: http://www.fox.com/firefly/watchit/
Firefly Official Site: http://www.fox.com/firefly/
And you can continue to show your support for Firefly at these fine sites :o)>
Firefly: Immediate Assistance - http://www.fireflysupport.com
Vote for Firefly at SaveMyShow.com - http://www.savemyshow.com/shows/firefly.htm
Firefly Fan Site - http://www.fireflyfans.net
Hollywood December 4, 2002 (eXoNews) - Finally! Sci Fi Channel has started promotion for the return of Roswell. For those who didn't watch it on the WB or UPN, Roswell is a romantic science fiction tale of star-crossed teenaged lovers set in Roswell, New Mexico.
Some of the kids are literally from the stars and others are just plain folks trying to cope with interspecies love.
Executive Producers Jason Katims and Jonathan Frakes experimented a lot to create a show with plenty of heart, humor and suspense.
The series features guest shots from JULIE BENZ, RICHARD SCHIFF, TERRY O'QUINN, DIANE FARR, JOE PANTOLIANO, KEITH SZARABAJKA, CARROLL BAKER, MORGAN FAIRCHILD and other familiar faces.
Fans Want Deep Space Nine!
Hollywood December 4, 2002 (eXoNews) - Last week Star Trek Executive Producer Rick Berman told us that bringing DS9's Captain Sisko to the big screen for the future 11th Star Trek feature film was less likely than Jeri Ryan.
The Official Star Trek site - http://www.startrek.com
The Most Excellent LCARS Star Trek fan site - http://www.lcarscom.net
All Good Things!
There will be one airing nightly, beginning with "Star Trek The Motion Picture" on Wednesday, December 4th, and leading up to "Star Trek: Insurrection" on Thursday, December 12th.
Star-Studded Line-Up of Nemesis Chats at StarTrek.com
Hollywood December 3, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - Marina Sirtis, who reprises the role of Deanna Troi in the upcoming Star Trek Nemesis movie, told SCI FI Wire that she hopes the latest Next Generation film is Troi's last.
"As much as one thinks that, OK, well, I have these big breaks in between [Trek films], as long as in the back of your mind there's the thought that there's possibly going to be another movie, you never really let go," she said. "And I do feel that until one can physically say, 'OK, it's over. Really over. And now I can move on with the rest of my life,' it does kind of hold you back. And it is a safety net. I mean, it is. To think that every few years you're going to get that nice fat check that's going to support you for the next few years, and that's probably gone now. So I probably need to get another job."
"She's in the 24th century, but she's very old-fashioned on a certain level," Sirtis said. "She's not like a funky streetwise kind of girl that they want. She's not a Debra Messing or a Maura Tierney or whatever, who's kind of more street. So it's an image that I'm going to have to try and change, possibly do something, not wear makeup, I don't know. Whatever it's going to take."
Official Marina Sirtis site - http://www.marinasirtis.tv
Official Star Trek nemesis site - http://nemesis.startrek.com
Will Smith Does Asimov's I, Robot!
Will Smith Online - http://www.willsmith.com
Julie Is Taken Too (and Nick's Piñata)
Hollywood December 3, 2002 (eXoNews) - Just for the record, Julie Benz has more experience with aliens than any other Taken cast member. Who sez? Well, any Roswell fan can tell you that.
Jolie Returns As Lara Croft
Official Tomb Raider site - http://www.tombraidermovie.com
Taken: Nothing Beyond The Sky?
And, from what we got in episode one of Sci Fi Channel's Taken miniseries, we been there and done that. Oh, Sci Fi and Mr. Spielberg have the special effects down. Those starry Spielberg skies and preternatural glows! Nobody does those better than Spielberg. Some of the CGI stuff didn't work for me - the WWII bombers looked fake and one shot where a curious Captain Owen Crawford (Joel Gretsch) stands in front of a downed saucer - but I'm a picky kind of guy. Sci Fi shows like Farscape have spoiled me.
Homage is all very well and good, but Beyond The Sky stirred up far too many memories of images and threads from The X-Files, The Visitor, Martian Chronicles, The Invaders, Starman, and even First Wave - not to mention every saucer film made between 1950 and 1960, Roswell (the series), and DS9's Little Green Men episode and other Star Trek stories of first contact.
Leslie Bohem and the Taken Schedule
HOLLYWOOD December 2, 2002 (AP) - For the star of "Steven Spielberg Presents Taken," the sci-fi romp is kind of close to home.
Check out the rest at the main Taken site - http://taken.scifi.com/index_main.html
Smothers Brothers Remembered on Bravo
Just ask the Smothers Brothers, whose wrangle with CBS and the rest of the Establishment unfolds in "Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'." Airing on Bravo Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST, it's the saga of a long-defunct show that endures as a time capsule.