The Z Machine!
Wooden Bullets & Yellow Ribbons
Hemingway and Dietrich?
Chimps and Gorillas & More!
The Z Machine!
Sandia National Laboratories Press Release

PHILADELPHIA April 7, 2003 — Throwing its hat into the ring of machines that offer the possibility of achieving controlled nuclear fusion, Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine has created a hot dense plasma that produces thermonuclear neutrons, Sandia researchers announced today at a news conference at the April meeting of the American Physical Society in Philadelphia.

The neutrons emanate from fusion reactions within a BB-sized deuterium capsule placed within the target of the huge machine. Compressing hot dense plasmas that produce neutrons is an important step toward realizing ignition, the level at which the fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining.

The amount of energy a larger successor to Z could bring to bear offers the still-later possibility of high-yield fusion — the state in which much more energy is released than is needed to provoke the reaction initially to occur. The excess energy could be used for applications such as the generation of electricity, said Tom Mehlhorn, a project leader on the machine.

Z causes reactions to occur neither by confining low density plasmas in dimensionally huge magnetic fields, as do tokomaks, nor by focusing intense laser beams on or around a target, as in laser fusion, but simply through the application of huge pulses of electricity applied with very sophisticated timing. The pulse creates an intense magnetic field that crushes tungsten wires into a foam cylinder to produce X-rays. The X-ray energy, striking the surface of the target capsule embedded in the cylinder, produces a shock wave that compresses the deuterium within the capsule, fusing enough deuterium to produce neutrons.

"Pulsed power electrical systems have always been energy-rich but power-poor," said Ray Leeper, a Sandia manager. "That is, we can deliver a lot of energy, but it wasn’t clear we could concentrate it on a small enough area to create fusion. Now it seems clear we can do that."

A partial confirmation of the result came about when theoretical predictions and lab outcomes were determined to be of the same order of magnitude. Predictions and measurements of the neutron yield were both of the order of 10 billion neutrons. The predicted neutron yield depends on the ion density temperature and volume. Those quantities were independently confirmed by X-ray spectroscopy measurements.

Neutron pulses were observed as early as last summer but researchers were wary that the output was produced by interactions between the target and ions generated by Z’s processes, rather than within the capsule itself. Ion-generated neutrons were not the point of the experiment, since they would not scale up into a high-yield event in any later, more powerful version of Z.

But a series of experiments completed in late March demonstrated that the production was within the capsule itself. To show this, researchers inserted xenon gas within the capsule. The gas prevented the capsule from getting hot during compression. Thus, the neutron yield dropped dramatically, as predicted.

The action takes place within a container the size of a pencil eraser, called a hohlraum, at the center of the Z machine, itself a circular device about 120 feet in diameter.

Sandia researchers Jim Bailey and Gordon Chandler led the experimental team and Steve Slutz performed theoretical calculations. Sandian Carlos Ruiz and Gary Cooper of the University of New Mexico performed the neutron measurements.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia web site -
Syria Next US Target for 'Regime Change'
By Toby Harnden

Belfast April 8, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - One of the main subjects on the agenda of the Belfast summit yesterday was Syria, the Pentagon's next likely target for "regime change" amid suspicions it allowed Saddam Hussein to transfer weapons of mass destruction within its borders.

Although President George W Bush did not include Syria in his "axis of evil" of Iran, Iraq and North Korea in January 2001, since then American officials say they have seen growing evidence of support for terrorism by Damascus.

American officials stress, however, that regime change can be achieved without military action. There are strong hopes in Washington for a popular revolution in Iran by democratic opposition groups inspired by what has happened in Iraq.

President Bashar Assad, Syria's leader, has led Arab opposition to the Iraq war, stating that he hoped Saddam would remain in power. Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defense Secretary, recently accused Syria of providing military equipment to Saddam.

Some US officials are also convinced that Mr. Assad has actively collaborated with Saddam and agreed to take weapons, including Scud missiles, from him so they would not be discovered in Iraq by United Nations inspectors.

"Significant equipment, assets and perhaps even expertise was transferred, the first signs of which appeared in August or September 2002," a Bush administration official told The Telegraph. "It is quite possible that Iraqi nuclear scientists went to Syria and that Saddam's regime may retain part of its army there."

Increasingly tough rhetoric from the Bush administration had made little fundamental difference to the Syrians, he added.

"They behave only slightly when they're scared to death but the change is only limited and tactical." Satellite photographs revealed heavily guarded convoys moving from Iraq to Syria last year. "Put it this way, they wouldn't have needed that kind of security to move cattle."

The official said that there were also well-founded fears that Iraq and Libya had also been co-operating and that weapons proliferation in the Middle East was one of the major problems facing the world. Colonel Gaddafi's regime was "scary close" to developing a nuclear weapon, he said.

In December, Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, said: "We are certain that Iraq has recently moved chemical or biological weapons into Syria."

This claim was subsequently investigated by John Bolton, US under-secretary of state for arms control and a prominent hawk in the Bush administration. Israeli sources said Mr. Bolton told Mr. Sharon that war with Iraq would force Syria and Libya to "come off the fence".

When asked by The Telegraph last week whether Saddam had exported some of his weapons to Syria, Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defense secretary said: "We just don't know."

There is firm resistance within the US State Department to Mr. Rumsfeld's hardline stance on Syria with many officials arguing, like their British counterparts, that Syria can be a partner in the war against terrorism if it is given encouragement rather than being threatened. Richard Murphy, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 1983 to 1989, said he did not believe armed conflict with Syria was on the immediate horizon.

"Talk of a broader military conflict with Syria does not represent a decision taken by American policy makers. This is the view among the neo-conservatives, some of whom are in the administration. There's a perception that the time has come to spread democracy in the Middle East. Their view is that the US paid heavily on September 11 for having not stood by its principles in dealing with autocracies in the Middle East."

But neo-conservatives, former Democrats with socially liberal views but a hawkish and ambitious vision of the use of American power abroad, include Mr Wolfowitz and Mr. Bolton and enjoy growing influence within the White House.
Protest News: Wooden Bullets and Yellow Ribbons
Police Fire Wooden Bullets at Oakland Protesters 
AP National Writer

OAKLAND April 7, 2003 (AP) - Police opened fire with non-lethal projectiles at an anti-war protest at the Port of Oakland on Monday, injuring at least a dozen demonstrators and six longshoremen standing nearby.

Most of the 500 demonstrators were dispersed peacefully, but police shot the projectiles at two gates when protesters refused to move and some of them allegedly threw rocks and bolts. The longshoremen, pinned against a fence, were caught in the line of fire.

Police spokeswoman Danielle Ashford said officers fired bean-bag rounds and wooden dowels. They also used "sting balls," which send out a spray of BB-sized rubber pellets and a cloud of tear gas and feel like a bee sting when they hit someone.

Demonstrators said they targeted the port because at least one company there is handling war supplies. They said it was the first time they had been fired upon in Bay area protests since the Iraq war began last month.

"Oakland police are being the most aggressive of any department I've seen in the Bay Area since the war began," said protester Damien McAnany, a database manager. "The San Francisco Police Department never used any of this stuff against us."

Liz Highleyman, a San Francisco writer who has been at many of the major protests across the country in recent years, said the police response reminded her of the World Trade Organization riots in Seattle four years ago.

"This is a level of injury as high as I've seen anywhere since Seattle in 1999," she said.

About 200 of the port demonstrators later marched to the federal building in Oakland, blocking a street and chanting: "Out of the office and into the streets! U.S. out of the Middle East!" They were joined by Oakland City Council members Jane Bruner and Jean Quan.

"They should not have been using the wooden bullets," Bruner said. "Given what's happening in the world today, we're going to be seeing more of this. And we should be prepared to handle it."

Oakland Police said at least 24 people were arrested.

"Some people were blocking port property and the port authorities asked us to move them off," said Deputy Police Chief Patrick Haw. "Police moved aggressively against crowds because some people threw rocks and big iron bolts at officers."

Six longshoremen were treated by paramedics, some of whom had bloody welts the size of a silver dollar.

"I was standing as far back as I could," said longshoremen Kevin Wilson. "It was very scary. All of that force wasn't necessary."

Steve Stallone, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said most of the dockworkers went back to work after the protesters left. A few were too shaken up to return.

He said a union arbitrator was evaluating the situation, trying to determine whether the longshoremen should cross the protesters' picket line and go to work, when police started firing.

"They didn't care," he said. "They just attacked the picket line. They declared it an illegal assembly and gave people two minutes to disperse. The police did not move to arrest anyone, they just started shooting."

Protests also took place Monday at the federal building in San Francisco and at the Concord Naval Weapons Station. And seven people were arrested when they temporarily blocked an exit ramp off Interstate 280 in San Francisco.

Nuns Convicted in Missile-silo Protest 
Associated Press 

DENVER April 7, 2003 (AP) - A federal jury convicted three Roman Catholic nuns Monday of defacing a missile silo by swinging hammers and painting crosses on it with their own blood.

Sisters Ardeth Platte, 66, Jackie Hudson, 68, and Carol Gilbert, 55, were arrested for breaking into a Minuteman III missile silo site on Colorado's northeastern plains Oct. 6. They were charged with interfering with the nation's defense and causing property damage of more than $1,000.

The nuns are peace activists and have said they were compelled to act as war with Iraq moved closer and because the United States has never promised not to use nuclear weapons. Their defense lawyers argued the nuns' action was symbolic and never jeopardized national security.

Jurors deliberated for about three hours Friday and about three hours Monday before delivering the verdict in U.S. District Court.

After the verdicts were read, the women spoke to the jury.

"They will discover that we are not guilty under God's law," Gilbert said to jurors.

Platte made the sign of the cross and said, "Bless the jury."

All three, dressed in bright orange prison jumpsuits, sang a religious song as they left the courtroom. They could be released without bond, but have chosen to return to jail until their sentencing July 25.

The three are members of the Dominican order. Gilbert and Platte lived at Jonah House, a communal residence for pacifists founded by the late peace activist Philip Berrigan, a former Catholic priest, in Baltimore. Hudson belongs to a similar group in Poulsbo, Wash.

"We are bitterly disappointed and it appears that free speech is the first casualty of war," defense lawyer Walter Gerash said. The nuns face up to 30 years in prison. The lead prosecutor, though, said it's unlikely they will receive the maximum penalty.

"They're not going to get 30 years. They're not going to get 20 years," said Robert Brown, assistant U.S. attorney.

The women entered the Minuteman III missile silo as part of a symbolic disarmament, reading Bible verses about pounding swords into plowshares and singing hymns, Gerash said during the trial. They pounded on the 110-ton concrete lid with hammers.

Brown said the sisters refused to leave the missile site when officers ordered them to do so through a bullhorn. He said the Minuteman and other nuclear missiles have been vital to the nation's defense and have deterred other nations from using their nuclear weapons.

Protesters Stop Australian Warship

SYDNEY April 8, 2003 (Reuters) — Anti-war protesters stopped an Australian warship on Tuesday leaving Sydney Harbor for Iraq by attaching themselves to the ship with mountain climbing gear and laying an underwater object in front of the vessel. 

Despite Australia being on heightened security post-September 11 and the Bali bombings, protesters surprised water police as the guided-missile frigate HMAS Sydney steamed towards the entrance to Sydney Harbor.

Television footage showed one protester attached to the bow of the ship and unfurling a "No War" banner, while another hooked on to the stern after two small boats carrying protesters broke through a water police cordon. 

Police played cat and mouse with another inflatable boat of protesters. 

But halfway to the heads that mark the entrance of the harbor HMAS Sydney stopped and sat dead in the water. Media reports said protesters had laid an underwater cable or possibly a fishing net in front of the ship. 

The ship was forced to reverse at one stage and it was unclear whether it would continue on its journey. 

Greenpeace said in a statement it had stopped HMAS Sydney from leaving by using a flotilla of yachts, small craft, swimmers, and divers. 

"The best contribution Australia can make to peace would be to withdraw all armed forces from Iraq now," said Greenpeace Executive Director Peter Mullins. 

Australia has sent 2,000 military personnel, two warships, attack aircraft, and special forces troops to the Persian Gulf to join larger contingents from the United States and Britain.

NJ Residents Protest Yellow Ribbon Ban

Associated Press Writer 

FIELDSBORO NJ April 6, 2003 (AP) - Unhappy with the mayor's policy banning yellow ribbons on municipal property, ralliers marched through town Saturday, tacking the offending emblems on everything from the front door of the town hall to the mayor's car. 

Led by Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, about 100 marchers left ribbons along the main street, then affixed dozens more to a pine tree when they reached an old school building that now serves as town hall for this central New Jersey borough's 522 residents.

The crowd whooped and cheered when Sliwa bedecked the hood ornament of the mayor's Lincoln with a big yellow bow. 

All the while, Mayor Edward "Buddy" Tyler was upstairs in his second-floor office. He has been harshly criticized for ordering yellow ribbons taken down from public property in the town he has presided over for most of the past 22 years. 

"It's their right" to protest the decision, Tyler said. He then added, "We do not allow anything on government property without permission from the governing body." 

Yellow ribbons are widely used as a symbol of support for U.S. troops and express hope for their safe return. Saturday's ralliers, wearing yellow ribbons themselves, waved American flags, shouted patriotic slogans and sang songs. 

Sliwa said Tyler's stance did not reflect residents' patriotism and called the mayor stubborn for refusing to back down. 

Others were less subtle, calling for Tyler's resignation and referring to him as "Bonehead Buddy." Elsewhere, a protester wearing a Saddam Hussein mask carried a sign, "Mayor Tyler is my Buddy."

Get the biggest yellow ribbon on your block! Creatable Inflatables -

Bush Tax Cuts Give Each Millionaire $62,500
WASHINGTON April 8, 2003 (US Newswire) - The Bush Administration's January 2003 tax package would give $62,500 on average to each millionaire even if its featured stock dividends tax break is eliminated according to calculations made today by the Children's Defense Fund.

Middle-income taxpayers earning on average $30,000 a year would receive only $236 in 2003 under this same portion of the president's tax package. 

The House and Senate this week are expected to resolve differences in the size of the Bush Administration's proposed tax cut that will be included in the final congressional budget resolution. The House included the Bush Administration's full January package of tax cuts -- a package that would give each millionaire an average tax cut of $90,000 this year alone, according to the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. The Senate included a somewhat smaller tax cut in its budget resolution. 

Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman noted that both the proposed House and Senate budgets represent misplaced national priorities. 

"Congress must not approve any new tax cuts to hand $62,500 on average to each millionaire," said Edelman. "Millionaires didn't need the tax cut Congress gave them two years ago and they don't need a new one now, especially when there is a surge in jobless parents, more and more children are falling into extreme poverty, and a million American children are homeless each year." 

The Children's Defense Fund earlier this year reported that the cost of repealing the tax on stock dividends alone could provide comprehensive health care for all 9.2 million uninsured children in America and Head Start for all preschool children who need it. The $62,500 provided to each millionaire in a scaled back tax cut could either: 

-- pay the average annual public college tuition for 17 undergraduates, 
-- provide Head Start for 9 disadvantaged preschool children, 
-- provide 24 disadvantaged youth with employment training for a full year, 
-- pay the annual salary for 2 new public school teachers, 
-- pay the annual salary for 3 child care workers, or 
-- fully immunize 97 children against preventable diseases.

[George Bush's net worth before he was elected President? $16.9 million. (Source: ABC News) Ed. ]

Children's Defense Fund website -

Elephants Liberate Herd of Antelope!
Empangeni, Zululand April 8, 2003 (SAPA) - A conservation team were left baffled when 11 elephants arrived at their camp in Empangeni to rescue a herd of antelope who were being held in a boma.

Conservationist Lawrence Anthony said on Tuesday that a private game capture company had been working on the Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve capturing antelope that were to be relocated for a breeding programme.

Shortly before relocation the antelope were being housed in a boma enclosure.

The team were settling in for the night when a herd of 11 elephants approached the boma, he said.

"The herd circled the enclosure while the capture team watched warily, thinking the herd were after lucerne being used to feed the antelope," Lawrence said.

"This went on for quite a while until the herd seemed to back off from the boma perimeter fence."

The herd's matriarch, named Nana, approached the enclosure gates and began tampering with the metal latches holding the gates closed. She carefully undid all the latches with her trunk, swung the gate open and stood back with her herd.

"At this stage the onlookers realized this was not a mission for free food, but actually a rescue," said Lawrence.

The herd watched the antelope leave the boma and dart off before they walked off into the night.

Thula Thula resident Ecologist Brendon Whittington-Jones said: "Elephant are naturally inquisitive, but this behavior is certainly most unusual and cannot be explained in scientific terms".
Ernest Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich?
By Greg Frost 

BOSTON April 7, 2003 (Reuters) - Thirty letters written by author Ernest Hemingway to screen siren Marlene Dietrich along with several early drafts of his stories and poems have been donated to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, the library announced on Monday. 

Deborah Leff, director of the library in Boston, called the donation a "rich addition" to the center, which is already home to 95 percent of Hemingway's manuscripts and correspondence. Library staff acknowledged that they only learned of the documents' existence within the past few years. 

"Here are two of the most iconic figures of the 20th century -- one of the great American writers and one of the great actresses, both of them larger than life -- and shared among them are these extraordinary, intimate and loving letters," Leff told Reuters. 

The documents, which were given to the library by Dietrich's daughter, Maria Riva, will be made public in 2007. Riva has kept them since her mother died in Paris in 1992. 

Peter Riva, Maria's son, has seen the letters and said they depict a relationship of sincere "camaraderie" that was more than friendship but fell short of an all-out physical romance. 

"You read these letters and you come to understand that theirs was a relationship of firm, fast friendship based on an experience of the world they lived in," he said. "They could bare their souls in a way that was unusual then, and probably still is today." 

Riva, a literary agent based in New York state, said his grandmother and the Nobel and Pulitzer prizewinning author never escalated their relationship to the height of physical love, but they nonetheless felt great passion for one another. 

"Marlene was this firm, independent, capable human being who just happened to be a beautiful woman, (and) Hemingway brought to the table the ability to celebrate and understand women in a way that she thought was the right way," he said. "He knew how women ticked." 


Hemingway once said about Dietrich: "If she had nothing more than her voice she could break your heart with it. But she has that beautiful body and the timeless loveliness of her face. It makes no difference how she breaks your heart if she is there to mend it." 

Born in 1901, Dietrich became the quintessential blonde bombshell. She struggled through the roaring 1920s in local theaters as a singer and small-time actress before her breakthrough as a vamp in the movie "The Blue Angel" in 1930. 

Hemingway became the second most-translated author in English after Agatha Christie with masterpieces such as "The Sun Also Rises," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "A Farewell to Arms," and "The Old Man and the Sea," which led to a Nobel Prize in the early 1950s. 

Like his characters who exhibited grace under fire, he gained a reputation for drinking and womanizing (he married four times) and became a larger-than-life expatriate on the frontlines of battlefields and bullfighting rings. He committed suicide at age 61. 

The donation comprises 30 letters, cards and other documents that both Hemingway and his wife, Mary, wrote to Dietrich from 1949 to 1959. They were mailed from Idaho, Kenya, Italy, and other disparate postmarks. 

Apart from the correspondence, the donation also includes drafts of three Hemingway stories -- "Across the River and Into the Trees," "The Good Lion," and "The Story of the Faithful Bull" -- and two Hemingway poems, "First Poem to Mary in London" and "Poem to Mary." 

Peter Riva said it is believed that the other half of the correspondence -- Dietrich's letters to Hemingway -- may still be in Cuba, where the author lived for several years. An effort is under way to bring more of the author's property back to the United States from the communist Caribbean island nation.
Unlocking Prime Numbers
By Dr David Whitehouse 
BBC News Science Editor 

Germany April 4, 2003 (BBC) - A pair of mathematicians has made a breakthrough in understanding so-called prime numbers, numbers that can only be divided by themselves and one. Other mathematicians have described the advance as the most important in the field in decades. 

It was made by Dan Goldston, of San Jose State University, and Cem Yildirim, of Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. It has just been announced at a conference in Germany on Algorithmic Number Theory. 

The advance is related to an idea called the twin prime conjecture. This idea, still unproved, is that there are an infinite number of pairs of prime numbers that differ only by two. 

"Neither of us ever expected to get particularly good results by this method. It's actually completely amazing to me," says Goldston. 

Commenting on the breakthrough, Hugh Montgomery, a mathematician at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, US, says that Goldston has really broken a barrier. 

Primes have always fascinated mankind. The third century BC Greek mathematician Eratosthenes developed a way to find the prime numbers. Over the years, mathematicians such as Pierre de Fermat in the 17th Century, Georg Riemann in the 19th Century and Godfrey Hardy in the 20th have advanced our understanding of these strange numbers. 

One of the important things about primes is that they are the building blocks of the integers - whole numbers. Primes can be multiplied to obtain all of the other integers. 

A curious observation is that primes occur in twins with a surprising regularity. For example: 11 and 13; 17 and 19; 29 and 31; 41 and 43; 59 and 61.

Just as with single primes, the frequency of twin primes decreases as one gets to larger numbers. But do they completely fizzle out beyond some very large number? That is the big question. Around a trillion, for instance, only about one in every 28 numbers is a prime. 

To tackle this problem, Goldston did what clever mathematicians do when they want to solve a difficult problem - they avoid it.

Or rather, he approached the dilemma by first tackling a more manageable piece of the problem. He asked if it was possible to find prime numbers that might not be twins, but that were much closer together than average?

After many years of study, he was able to show it was.

According to Brian Conrey, of the American Institute of Mathematics, the way Goldston went about solving the problem was just as important as the result. 

"It's a brand new technique that opens the door," Conrey says. "A lot of the excitement is we don't know how far this thing is going to go. There are going to be a lot of applications, I think. It's an incredible breakthrough." 

His paper is called Small Gaps Between Primes, and co-authored with Cem Yildirim. It places mathematicians closer to the tantalizing goal of identifying the frequency and location of twin primes. 

"This result blows out of the water a whole line of previous records, as if someone were to run a three-minute mile," says Carl Pomerance, of Bell Laboratories, US. 

The distribution of primes is closely related to one of the most renowned unsolved questions in mathematics, the Riemann hypothesis, which concerns an infinite sum of numbers called the zeta function. 

In 2000, the Clay Mathematics Institute, US, offered $1m to anyone who could settle the Riemann hypothesis. Goldston is optimistic that the new result will say something about the zeta function.

More on Goldston's research paper -

Democrats Criticize Bush Forest Plan
WASHINGTON April 8, 2003 (Reuters) — The Bush administration should drop proposed rules to streamline forest management because the changes would reward the U.S. timber industry while damaging pristine wilderness and wildlife habitat, 107 Democratic members of the House of Representatives said Monday. 

In a letter to President Bush, the Democrats said the administration wanted to remove public participation in forest planning and ease rules designed to protect 192 million acres of national forests. 

"We are deeply disturbed by the scope and breadth of recent initiatives undertaken by your Administration to transform national forest policy," the letter said. 

Lawmakers said proposed changes to the National Forest Management Act and National Environmental Protection Act were nothing more than "radical proposals" that give the U.S. Forest Service more power to change forest policy with little public input. 

"The cumulative effect of these Administration proposals would be to significantly lower environmental standards for our national forests to a level far below what is now required for other public lands," said Rep. Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat who signed the letter. 

"The U.S. Forest Service would be much less accountable to the public, or the judiciary, regarding commercial logging and other land-use decisions," he said. 

The letter was also signed by Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce committee. 

The Bush administration said the proposed forest rules were not intended to boost access to forests by large timber companies, but were needed to remove some unnecessary and cumbersome environmental requirements that slow down efforts to protect forests. 

Among the rules proposed by the administration include the "Healthy Forests Initiative" that would trim some environmental regulations in 10 million acres (4 million hectares) of fire-prone forests to speed the removal of dangerous underbrush and dead trees that serve as fuel in spreading wildfires. 

And in November, the administration unveiled a plan it said would "cut out red tape" and reduce court appeals that have muddled forest policy by giving local forest managers greater control over commercial activities in 155 federal forests. 

Both proposals have yet to be approved by Congress.
Chimps and Gorillas Critically Endangered!
Wildlife Conservation Society Press Release

NEW YORK April 6, 2003 - Scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, Princeton University and other organizations have reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature that a dramatic decline of gorillas and chimpanzees is taking place in western equatorial Africa, the last stronghold for great apes on the continent. Ravaged first by a wave of commercial hunting, and more recently by an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, gorillas and chimpanzees could be pushed to the brink of extinction during the next decade without immediate protective measures, scientists warn. 

Looking at populations in the central African nation of Gabon, which still retains 80 percent of its forest cover, scientists discovered a 56 percent drop in chimpanzee and gorilla numbers had taken place between 1983 and 2000. Such a decline justifies that both species should be reclassified from "endangered" to "critically endangered" according to World Conservation Union criteria, the authors of the study say. 

"This is a catastrophic decline of great apes in an area that contains the bulk of the world's remaining populations. If chimps and gorillas continue to disappear at the current rate, our closest relatives will be confined to a few small pockets in a matter of years," said the paper's lead author, Dr. Peter Walsh, a WCS biologist based at Princeton University.

"If chimpanzees and gorillas are in trouble in Gabon, an area known for its pristine, unbroken forests, than we have a species-wide crisis on our hands when it comes to saving these animals," said WCS conservationist Dr. Lee White, who has worked in Gabon for the past decade.

Dr. Walsh and his colleagues say that aggressive investments in Ebola prevention, law enforcement and protected area management are needed to ensure the survival of these two species.

The head of WCS's Field Veterinary Program, Dr. William Karesh, says that experts agree that expanded field research on Ebola transmission in wildlife populations is urgently needed, as current knowledge is inadequate to intervene effectively in the epidemic. 

More support is also required to fight the wave of ape poaching that has followed the intrusion of mechanized logging into once remote areas. Scientists believe the great ape decline is not restricted to Gabon.

Neighboring Republic of Congo and other countries in the region have higher human densities and worse deforestation than Gabon.

An outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Gabon nearly a decade ago may have wiped out tens of thousands of gorillas and chimps. The disease has emerged again more recently in Gabon and the Congo with gorillas and chimpanzees rapidly dying.

Scientists also suspect that widespread civil unrest in Democratic Republic of Congo has caused further declines among gorillas and chimps in that region. 

"Western equatorial Africa is the last natural refuge for the western gorilla. To see the results of a data-rich study such as this one – it's mind-boggling how bad this news is," said Dr. John Robinson, senior vice president of WCS's International Conservation Programs. "While WCS is already addressing many of the issues affecting great apes including bushmeat hunting, logging and Ebola, clearly this study is a call to action that conservationists have to double their efforts if we want to continue to save great apes in the wild."

Genre News: Angel and Buffy, John Lennon, Thunderbirds, Ghosts of the Abyss, DreamKeeper & More!
Is Angel Coming Back? With Giles and Spike?
By FLAtRich

Hollywood April 8, 2003 (eXoNews) - The rumor mills are at it again, and we're all a part of that so why not? First there was the Superman-tied rumor that Angel would return in the fall. An informant to Dark Horizons claimed this was the reason David Boreanaz was not tagged by Warners to don the red cape for the upcoming three-picture Superman deal.

That one was kinda crushed when the WB announced six shows would return next fall and Angel was not among them. The WB announcement was about "early renewals", though, so Angel fans were undeterred.

Now Kristin, E! Online's mistress of word of mouth, says the prospect of Buffy cast actors jumping to Angel has the WB "very excited."

Kristen supplies quotes from James Marsters and Anthony Stewart Head saying they may show up on Angel next season. That, of course, leads again to the yet unfounded conclusion that Angel's return is a sure thing.

Unfounded because ratings are everything and, despite a slight rise since Angel was assigned the WB's Wednesday at 9PM slot, Angel still averages far lower ratings than Smallville and the other WB headliners who were renewed.

A quick analysis shows Angel's ratings consistent since the move, and it did move up in the ranking against other WB shows in March, but if the WB expected a surge of viewers for the Faith episodes, they were probably not overjoyed with the numbers. (Get all the ratings for Angel at )

In this week's Sci Fi Wire survey, 40% of 6677 respondents put on Angel top of the list for renewal over other wavering favorites Miracles, Enterprise, The Twilight Zone and John Doe. Enterprise was running second with 27% at press time.

In related rumor news, there is also a March 30th report by the TV Tome website that "an anonymous source at 20th Century Fox" says "serious production problems" and "cost overruns" are delaying the final episodes of Buffy. That's UPN's problem if it's true, but it's all in the family.

Even with the Buffy era coming to an end, fans should take solace in the overall success of genre entertainment on TV and in the movies this year. It's a Golden Age for sci-fi and fantasy! Some of the old favorites are going away, but the creators and actors who gave them life are still around to come up with something new.

Buffy is making her exit, but Sarah Michelle Gellar will be back soon in Scoobie 2. (Hollywood Reporter says that Buffy alumnae Seth Green (Oz) recently joined the cast as Patrick, the curator of the Coolsonian Museum.)

Enterprise ain't no TOS or STTNG (ask Bill Shatner), but ex-ST producer/writer Michael Pillar has given us new hope for quality TV with The Dead Zone.

Whedon's Firefly burned out prematurely, but Gina Torres just emerged as the "beautiful" Big Bad on Angel, Nathan Fillion is due as Caleb in the final Buffy episodes, and Alan Tudyk has the title role opposite Will Smith in the feature version of Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot".

So don't despair. The battle between Good and Evil will never run out of subplots!

For the full Buffy scoop from Kristin at E!, including quotes from Buffy actors who won't be jumping to Angel and a short interview with Joss Whedon, go here:

TV Tome is here:

Dark Horizons is here:

Buffy is here (for a while, at least):

Vote for Angel (or maybe Enterprise) in the Sci Fi Poll at

Angel is here:,7353,||139,00.html

And rabid fans who want to join a campaign can go to

Lithgow and Tucci Join Sellers Biopic 
By Nellie Andreeva 

Hollywood April 07, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - John Lithgow is set to play writer-director Blake Edwards and Stanley Tucci has signed to portray late filmmaker Stanley Kubrick in HBO's "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers," a biopic of the late British actor.

The two join the film's star-studded cast, led by Geoffrey Rush, who will portray the "Pink Panther" star. The cast also includes Emily Watson and Charlize Theron as Seller's first and second wives, respectively.

Stephen Hopkins is directing the film, which is scheduled to begin production April 16 in London. 

Tapes of John Lennon and Kyoko Auctioned
By Judith Crosson

DENVER April 4, 2003 (Reuters) - He was one of the biggest rock stars in the world and she was just a little 5-year-old girl as they sat on the floor in 1969, singing and telling stories with a tape recorder running. 

Sounds like just a normal family activity, except the man was Beatle John Lennon and the little girl was the stepdaughter he barely knew, Kyoko Cox. 

In 1969 fans worried the Beatles would break up.

But instead of attending the last Beatles recording session, Lennon was in Denmark with his second wife Yoko Ono. 

They were there to visit Ono's ex-husband Tony Cox, an avant-garde artist. Cox had introduced Lennon and Ono at one of Ono's art exhibits.

"Cox told me that was the worst mistake of his life," Chris Lopez, who now owns the tapes, said. 

And he was right. Ono and Lennon fell in love. She divorced Cox and a bitter custody battle for Kyoko followed. 

So it must have been with some trepidation that Lennon and Ono showed up unexpectedly at Cox's farm in Denmark. During the next several weeks, Lennon got to know his stepdaughter and made six audio tapes of conversations between them. Lennon sings and plays the guitar and even refers to Ono as the "queen." 

And Cox, knowing those tapes would be of value, kept them until 1995 when he sold them to Lopez who lives in Denver, saying the price should not be disclosed. 

"I was selling my mom's car and had an ad in the newspaper," Chris Lopez said, explaining how the two met. 

Cox was living in Denver at the time, working on a film project. The two became friends and when Cox, who needed money, asked Lopez if he were interested in buying the tapes, he jumped at the chance. 

"I knew it was big," Lopez said. 

Six tapes were made and Lopez has sold four of them and is now putting the final two -- that run about 45 minutes in all -- up for sale with MastroNet Inc., which auctions high value collectibles, including the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card for $1.2 million. He said some of the four tapes he sold fetched six figures but he declined to give exact prices or say what he paid originally for them.

Lopez said he has not listened often to the audio tapes. "There's an eerie feeling -- a voice from the grave," Lopez said. Lennon was shot to death by a deranged fan in New York City in December 1980. 

On the tapes Kyoko, now a grown woman who works as a teacher in the Denver area, according to Lopez, tells her own stories. Cox, who worried about drug use in the Lennon home, fled with the girl. Yoko Ono did not hear from her daughter for 15 years. 

"A number of years ago Yoko and her daughter were reunited," Ono's spokesman Elliot Mintz said.

[An AP story from April 7, 2003 adds: On the tapes, Lennon starts making up a song he was going to call "The Teapot Song," but Cox says no and instead calls it "The Radiant World of Natural." Lennon then sings about birds and bees and cheese and wax, before pretending to cry and say, "Oh, what a sad one!" 

The tapes also captured Ono saying, "Dinner's ready!" with Lennon commenting, "Said the queen." Ed.]

Get out your wallets, Lennon fans! The auction is being held through MastroNet and will end on April 23rd.

MastroNet -

Paxton Pilots Thunderbirds 

England April 4, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Bill Paxton, who will portray patriarch Jeff Tracy in the live-action adaptation of Thunderbirds, told SCI FI Wire that the film will be more of an action movie than an homage to the 1960s marionette series.

"They've retooled it as a live-action action-adventure, with some comedy for the Harry Potter crowd," Paxton said in an interview. "Most of the story revolves around the youngest son of my character. He wants to be a Thunderbird."

Paxton said that he begins filming in one month and has already adopted some of Tracy's characteristics.

"I'm already starting to evolve into him," he said. "The haircut's getting shorter. I don't know if I'm up for the big eyebrows."

Paxton added that his only worry is that critics will make puns comparing his acting to the marionette animation of the original series.

"I think they're going to say they haven't seen a performance this wooden since the original," he joked. Thunderbirds also stars Ben Kingsley as the Hood and Anthony Edwards as Brains.

Jonathan Frakes directs, with an anticipated July 2004 release.

Thunderbirds Online -

Roles Got Paxton Ready for Undersea Trip

LOS ANGELES April 5, 2003 (AP) - His experiences on a make-believe space trip helped prepare Bill Paxton for a real voyage to the bottom of the sea. 

Paxton accompanied longtime friend and collaborator James Cameron on dives to the wreck of the Titanic in summer 2001. 

In his first theatrical release since 1997's "Titanic," Cameron chronicles their journey in the documentary "Ghosts of the Abyss," opening April 11 in huge-screen IMAX cinemas and some specially equipped regular theaters. 

His work on Ron Howard's dramatization "Apollo 13," about the ill-fated moon expedition, proved good training for Paxton's 2 1/2-mile dives aboard Cameron's mini-subs. 

"You deal with the same kind of mind-set. A very tight command module, a three-man team. Everybody has to be doing something and working together all the time," Paxton told The Associated Press in an interview. 

"Ghosts of the Abyss" is told largely through the eyes of Paxton, who says he hammed it up a bit with some fearful faces during the dives. 

He did approach the trip with some trepidation, though. 

"Obviously, I didn't want to embarrass myself if I had to be pulled out of the sub kicking and screaming, or they had to hit me over the head with a wrench," the 47-year-old actor said. "But very quickly, I got acclimated to it."

Ghosts of the Abyss Official site -

ABC Bumps 'DreamKeeper' to November

LOS ANGELES April 4, 2003 ( - The miniseries "DreamKeeper," which was to have been a cornerstone of ABC's May sweeps lineup, has been moved back to November.

ABC says it's not a lack of confidence that caused the move -- indeed, it's just moving the four-hour miniseries from one sweeps to another.

The network says it wants to give "DreamKeeper" a solid spot on the schedule, and the network's commitment to covering the war in Iraq doesn't allow for set-in-stone programming decisions.

"Given the uncertainty of programming due to news coverage of the war, we feel ['DreamKeeper'] deserves a more secure place on our schedule at a time when it can receive our best promotional efforts," says Quinn Taylor, head of movies and miniseries at ABC. 

The four-hour miniseries, produced by Hallmark Entertainment, interweaves tales of Native American legends with a contemporary story of a troubled Lakota teenager driving his grandfather to a tribal ceremony in New Mexico. Executive producer Robert Halmi Sr. says he's pleased with the move.

"ABC has truly taken a brave step to give 'DreamKeeper' the honor it deserves, and we are thrilled that they have timed it appropriately to coincide with American Indian Heritage Month," Halmi says.

A specific date for the miniseries hasn't been set.

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