Was Adolph Gay?
Baby Recall Alert,
Poison Comet Tails
and David Lynch!
Book by German Historian Claims Adolph Was Gay

By MELISSA EDDY
Associated Press

FRANKFURT October 10, 2001 (AP) - A German historian's new book revives old speculation that Adolf Hitler was a closet homosexual.

Lothar Machtan, author of "The Hidden Hitler," said in an interview with The Associated Press that long-ignored evidence strongly suggests the Nazi dictator had homosexual tendencies but that he masked his leanings because they conflicted with his ruthless drive for power.

"You can reduce it to one sentence: Adolf Hitler was attracted to men," said Machtan, 52, a Bremen University professor whose book was launched this week at the Frankfurt Book Fair. "Or, he had homosexual leanings."

Historians have long assumed that Hitler never consummated his relationships with women, including his longtime companion Eva Braun. Previous biographers have raised questions about Hitler's sexual orientation.

But no major biography has claimed outright that Hitler was gay.

English historian Alan Bullock, author of "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives" said that not enough was known about Hitler to make such a statement.

"You can make a case that maybe he was, but it seems highly improbable," Bullock said in a telephone interview. "I'd want more evidence."

Machtan said his key evidence was a letter written in 1948 by Hans Mend to a German diplomat saying that he had seen Hitler lying in the hay with "his male whore" while serving in France during World War I in 1915.

The letter has been examined by other historians, but Machtan says he is the first to take it seriously.

Machtan theorizes that Hitler's internal struggle with his sexuality formed part of his charisma and created a bond with his closest associates.

"The Hidden Hitler" was released Wednesday in 12 languages, including English. Machtan is launching a U.S. book tour on Friday.

First Lady Kicks Off Campaign To Fight Prejudice

WASHINGTON October 11, 2001 (AP) - First lady Laura Bush opened a nationwide drive Thursday to break the cycle of prejudice, speaking to schoolchildren about fighting hate.

Bush visited a Barnes & Noble bookstore to lend her name to the chain's "Close the Book on Hate" campaign in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League.

She prodded some two-dozen children from a nearby school to talk about their own experience with prejudice. Little girls complained about being excluded from games because they were too young. One boy said he was hurt when a teammate told him he "stinks at soccer."

Bush told them they should speak up when people say mean things and should read books to understand different people and cultures. "If you can be educated about everything - for instance, about every religion - you can be tolerant," she said.

A crumpled tissue in her fist, she solemnly nodded as ADL's national director, Abe Foxman, told the second-graders he was a "child of hate," having grown up during the Holocaust.

Reflecting on the Sept. 11 attack on the United States by suicide hijackers, Foxman said: "It didn't begin with a box cutter, it didn't begin with a plane. ... It began with ugly, evil, hateful words. We fight it with words of love."

In a black suit brightened only by a tiny sparkly flag pin, Bush later accompanied her husband to the Pentagon and a memorial service for the victims of last month's attacks.

As a military chorus sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic," she held a small American flag in one hand, wiped tears from her cheek with the tissue in her other hand.

Brits Select 'Jedi Knight' For Religious Affiliation

LONDON October 10, 2001 (AP) - Centuries after King Arthur, a new type of knight is apparently wandering around Britain - and Luke Skywalker would be proud.

When asked their religious affiliation on the 2001 census forms, many Britons are writing in "Jedi Knight," government officials said Wednesday.

So many, in fact, that the government has been forced to give "Jedi Knight" its own category when compiling census results.

Jedi Knight was given its own code in processing the census forms because a large group of people entered it, an Office for National Statistics spokesman said on condition of anonymity. He added that the office was not saying that Jedi Knight is an official religion.

Jedi Knights are the warriors who battle evil through the ages in the "Star Wars" movies, in which Jedi is a force created by all living things.

Press Association, the British news agency, said an e-mail campaign had encouraged Britons to put "Jedi Knight" on their forms. It said it was unclear who was responsible for the campaign, which sought to convince up to 10,000 people.

Government officials said they don't know how many people wrote Jedi Knight in as a faith because the census results are still being counted and will not be published until next fall. But the numbers were large enough to cause some disruption.

The statistics office spokesman referred to the census entry as nonsense and said authorities said had urged people not to make such entries when filling out their forms.

Officials said data on the number of self-proclaimed Jedi Knights will not be included with information about more mainstream religions in the final census results, but that they would consider compiling the results if asked.

Sir Alec Guinness, a real knight who receive the honor after his role in "The Bridge on the River Kwai," played the wise Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars."

LucasFilm Official Site - http://www.lucasfilm.com

Firm Sells Bin Laden Toilet Paper

DETROIT October 9, 2001 (Reuters) - A Detroit-area company, tapping into an emerging strain of dark humor after last month's attacks on America, has hit on the idea of selling toilet paper rolls decorated with caricatures of Osama bin Laden.

"We're letting the American people get their crack at Osama," said Aaron Todd, a marketing specialist with the company called America Wins, which sells the unusual bathroom tissue through it's Web site (http://www.makempay.com).

The toilet rolls are decorated with a series of cartoon-like drawings of bin Laden, the Islamic militant accused by the United States of masterminding the Sept. 11 hijacking attacks in New York and Washington.

In one of the drawings, bearing the words "You look flushed," a surprised-looking bin Laden is shown with a gun pointed menacingly at his face. In another, captioned "Time's up! You lose!," he is shown in cross-hairs of a sniper's rifle.

"We want to give the American people something tangible, and some relief through humor," Todd said on Monday.

America Wins, the brainchild of a local businessman who prefers to remain anonymous, has been in business for a week.

The toilet paper sells for $4.95 per shrink-wrapped roll and Todd said 20 percent of the profits have been earmarked for families of the victims of the World Trade Center disaster.

Poison Comet Tails Signal Starbirth

European Space Agency October 11, 2001 (ESA) - Centuries ago it was commonly believed that comets carried disease in their tails. Nowadays we know the only 'disease' you can get from a comet is a cold - if you stay out too long at night watching it!

But these old beliefs were not completely wrong: comet tails do contain an extremely poisonous chemical compound - hydrogen cyanide. Now a team of Dutch and German astronomers using ESA's Infrared Space Observatory and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii have discovered that this poison can help them to understand the birth of massive stars - its presence is a sign that a massive baby star has begun to warm up.

Annemieke Boonman (Leiden University) and Ronald Stark (Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn) studied a massive protostar (a star in the very early stages of development) called GL 2591, located 3000 light-years away. GL 2591 is embedded in a cloud of dust and gas a thousand times larger than our entire Solar System, and it is spewing out powerful jets of hot gas at hundreds of kilometres per second. The team detected hydrogen cyanide deep in the interior of this cloud, and realised that this meant that the massive baby star was already hot at its core.

As Boonman explains, "Detecting large amounts of hydrogen cyanide toward the centre of a massive protostar means that it has already started to warm up. From this information we can determine the degree of evolution, and therefore the age, of the star."

Astronomers now know that GL 2591 is between a few tens of thousands and a hundred thousand years old, which means that in a few hundred thousand years more its birth process will be over and a new star, ten times more massive than our Sun will be shining in the sky. Will anyone be there to see it?

A cold cocoon warming up

Stars are huge balls of hot gas, heated by nuclear fusion processes in their cores. They form within large clouds in galaxies, but their birth process is not yet very well understood. In the case of massive stars, those with at least ten times as much mass as the Sun, scientists know even less since most of the regions in space where massive stars are formed happen to be farther away from Earth than low-mass star-forming clouds. As a result, there is a long list of pending questions regarding how massive stars form.

For instance, when does the star-to-be begin to get 'warm'? The cloud of dust and gas is initially very cold, at about minus 250 degrees Celsius, and obviously it gets warmer as the star-forming process proceeds. In principle, astronomers can trace the increase in temperature by studying the chemical composition of the cloud. As soon as the core of the massive embryo-star reaches room temperature the chemistry in the cloud changes: the existing molecules start to combine, and more complex compounds are formed. So the presence of complex molecules in the cloud tells astronomers that the baby star has begun to warm up.

But there is a technical problem: current instrumentation only permits the detection of complex molecules in the cloud when there are plenty of them, that is, when the chemical changes are well advanced. If astronomers want to mark the true birth of the star's hot core, then they have to identify a molecule that not only needs warm temperature for its synthesis, but that is also much easier to detect than the complex molecules used so far as indicators. The Dutch-German team found that the toxic hydrogen cyanide molecule fits the bill.

A revolution in astro-chemistry

The idea for this approach came when they observed the protostar GL 2591 with ESA's Infrared Space Observatory. ISO, a pioneering telescope for infrared space astronomy, has proven to be a powerful tool for astro-chemists, astronomers who study the chemistry of the Universe. It was the first instrument to be able to detect a whole range of molecules in space which emit only in the infrared, triggering what many astronomers called 'the infrared revolution'.

When the group observed GL 2591 with ISO they detected large amounts of hydrogen cyanide. The astronomers found that this hydrogen cyanide gas was very hot and abundant, and therefore it could be a telltale sign pointing to the existence of a newborn hot core. In April last year the Dutch-German team again observed GL 2591 with the ground-based James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and confirmed that the hydrogen cyanide was located deep in the interior of the cloud.

"We chose hydrogen cyanide because it is one of the few molecules we detected with ISO that is also observable from the ground and present in large amounts in the hot gas. Then we used ground-based observations to exclude the possibility that this compound had been formed by other high temperature phenomena that can occur throughout the cloud and are not related to the hot core," explains Boonman.

"We used a new, highly sensitive instrument (the MPIfR/SRON heterodyne spectrometer) on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii to observe GL 2591," explains Stark. "The sensitivity of this spectrometer is such that it could reveal the origin of the hydrogen cyanide detected by ISO."

The European Space Agency's infrared space telescope, ISO, operated from November 1995 until May 1998. As an unprecedented observatory for infrared astronomy ISO made nearly 30 000 scientific observations.

ESA Homepage - http://www.esa.int

Io Spits Tallest Volcanic Plume Ever Seen

By Dr. David Whitehouse
BBC News Online Science Editor

NASA October 6, 2001 (BBC) - NASA's Galileo spacecraft has turned up a surprise at Jupiter's moon Io: the tallest volcanic plume ever seen, and it came from a previously unknown volcano.

Close-up observations of Io made by Galileo several months earlier saw a different volcano lofting a giant plume into space, but Galileo saw no sign of the current plume.

Adding to the surprise, for the first time a Galileo instrument has caught particles freshly released from an eruption, giving scientists a direct sample of Io material to analyze.

"This was totally unexpected," said Dr Louis Frank of the University of Iowa. "We've had wonderful images and other remote sensing of the volcanoes on Io before, but we've never caught the hot breath from one of them until now."

Io is the innermost of Jupiter's four largest moons and the most volcanically active world in the Solar System. Galileo, in orbit about Jupiter since December 1995, has been transmitting to Earth new pictures and data from its flight over Io's north pole in early August.

According to Dr Eilene Theilig of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, "Io just keeps amazing everyone. Now we're eager to see what will be happening there when Galileo flies near Io's south pole in two weeks time."

'Two great volcanoes'

Galileo scientists had expected that the early August flyby might take the spacecraft right through gases rising from a volcano named Tvashtar, which is situated near Io's north pole.

Tvashtar had been lofting a high plume when last seen seven months earlier by both Galileo and the then passing Cassini spacecraft.

However, the Tvashtar plume has not been found in images from the August flyby. Researchers were startled to find, instead, that a previously unknown volcano just 600 kilometers (370 miles) from Tvashtar was spewing a grand plume as Galileo passed.

"Galileo flew between two great volcanoes," volcanologist Dr Rosaly Lopes said. "The plume we knew about might have settled down before we got there, but this new one sprang up suddenly."

The latest plume appears as a back-lit bulge above Io's surface in two newly-released images. A third new image shows a white ring of material from the plume that has fallen back to the moon's surface, painting a circle around the source of the eruption. A fourth shows another new large plume deposit near Io's north pole.

"After not seeing any active plumes at all in Io's high-latitude regions during the first five years of Galileo's tour, we've now seen two this year," said Dr Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Close encounter

The new plume rises at least 500 km (more than 300 miles) above the surface, an estimated 10% higher than the tallest ever seen before on Io.

Galileo is on course to fly close to Io again at 0123 GMT on 16 October. This time its trajectory will take it over Io's south pole, which may provide a look at details of another new hot spot near there identified from infra-red mapping data this year.

Galileo will get its sixth and final encounter with Io in January 2002. During its mission it has also flown 27 close approaches to Jupiter's other three large moons: Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

Since it began orbiting Jupiter, Galileo has survived more than three times the radiation exposure it was designed to withstand. It is still in good overall health, but performance of some instruments has been down-graded.

Galileo Home Page - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo

Angel and Buffy News:

Angel Aims For Profit

Hollywood October 11, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - David Greenwalt, co-creator of The WB's Angel, told TV Guide Online he'd like to pair the tormented vampire with an earlier creation--Jim Profit, the lead character in Fox's short-lived Profit, which Greenwalt also produced. Adrian Pasdar played the dark character.

"I have a big love of Adrian," Greenwalt told TV Guide. "But right now, Adrian's doing an NBC show [Mysterious Ways], and it's doing very well, so I don't know about availability." Getting the rights to the character might be tricky, too, the site reported.

"I'd love to bring him in as a lawyer at Wolfram & Hart," Greenwalt said. "There might be some arc for him to play. We've talked about that for years over here, and I still dream of it."

Another Profit alumnus, Keith Szarabajka, has already joined Angel as a vampire hunter.

Sarah Michelle Gellar's Father Found Dead

New York October 11, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar's long-estranged father was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Oct. 9, the New York Daily News reported. Arthur Gellar, 60, was discovered in the bed of his residence; a friend who hadn't heard from Arthur in several days called police.

Authorities are investigating whether he may have died of a drug overdose, since medication was found at the scene, the newspaper reported. Arthur Gellar had been battling cancer and was "suffering from depression," a family friend told the paper. The medical examiner's office is scheduled to do an autopsy on Oct. 11.

Sarah Michelle Gellar had no comment on the elder Gellar's death. In the past, the Buffy star has expressed disdain for her father, who divorced her mother, Rosellen, when Sarah was 8. The famous father of Sarah's fiancé, Freddy Prinze Jr., died in 1976 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Amber Benson's Film 'Chance' Completed

Hollywood October 11, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast member Amber Benson (Tara) has completed her independent film Chance, which she wrote, produced, directed and starred in, Variety reported. Other cast members of Buffy and its spin-off series, Angel, reportedly appear in the romantic comedy.

Official Amber Benson Home Page - http://www.efanguide.com/~amber

Angel airs Mondays at 9PM on the WB.

Official Angel Home Page - www.thewb.com/angel  - (This site is pretty horrible, WB.)

Angel Fan Site - http://www.cityofangel.com 

Buffy airs Tuesdays at 8PM on UPN.

Official Buffy Home Page - http://buffy.upn.com

Photographer Will Counts Dead at 70

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. October 8, 2001 (AP) - Will Counts, whose photograph of a white crowd jeering a black girl captured the drama of the 1957 Little Rock, Ark., desegregation crisis, died of cancer at the age of 70.

Counts, who died Saturday, taught photojournalism at Indiana University for 32 years, retiring in 1995. He had lived in Bloomington since 1960.

Before turning to teaching, Counts worked as a photographer-editor for the Arkansas Democrat in Little Rock, Ark., and for The Associated Press in Chicago and Indianapolis.

He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for photographs he took during the September 1957 desegregation battle at Little Rock's Central High School. Despite a court order, Arkansas Gov. Orval E. Faubus ordered the National Guard in to prevent black students from entering. Faubus' action prompted President Eisenhower to dispatch federal troops to desegregate the school.

One of the photos showed a 15-year-old black student, Elizabeth Eckford, outside the school with a crowd jeering in her wake. It was named by The Associated Press as one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th century.

Counts visited Little Rock in 1997 for the events marking the 40th anniversary of the crisis. He said something touched him inside when Eckford walked to the school alone.

"From the time Elizabeth first approached the National Guard, you knew this was a major confrontation between the governor and the federal government," Counts recalled. "She became a symbol for the Little Rock crisis.

"I felt empathy, but this is a job. That's what you're trained to do. You just hope you have film," he said.

Hazel Bryan Massery was the white teen jeering at Eckford in the photograph. She later apologized to Eckford and spoke out publicly against racism, and in 1997, Counts took a picture of the two women together in front of the school. Eckford told her: "I think you're very brave to face the cameras again."

Counts' work is contained in books including "The Magnificent 92: Indiana Courthouses," and "A Life is More Than a Moment: The Desegregation of Little Rock's Central High."

Counts earned an education degree at Arkansas State Teachers College and later earned master's and doctoral degrees from IU.

Survivors include his wife, Vivian; his daughter, Claudia Counts, former Associated Press enterprise photo editor; a son, Wyatt Counts; a stepdaughter, Katie Lattimer; and a stepson, Bob McRae.

Senate Subcommittee OKs Stem Cell Legislation
By ALAN FRAM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON October 10, 2001 (AP) - Federally financed but limited stem cell research would be explicitly allowed for the first time, and President Bush would have discretion over how to do it, under legislation approved by a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.

The language, written by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., would let Bush follow through on his proposal to restrict the research to the 64 stem cell lines that he said already exist.

But it would also permit him to go further, as long as the embryos used for the research would otherwise be destroyed and permission for their use has been granted by the people whose fertility treatments created them.

The measure's fate seemed uncertain as White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush would stand by his earlier decision on stem cell research policy. McClellan said the White House prefers a House version of the measure, which makes no changes in current law.

Specter's language was included in a measure providing $123.1 billion for federal education, labor and health programs for the new fiscal year. The provision is supported by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee that approved the legislation.

The House plans to vote Thursday on its version of the spending bill.

It was initially unclear what reception the proposal would get from congressional critics of Bush's policy.

Some lawmakers and others believe Bush opened the door too far for the research, while others felt the president's plan was too restrictive. But even before last month's terrorist attacks put the stem cell issue onto Washington's back burners, neither side sensed that it had the votes to force changes in Bush's policy.

After weeks of deliberation, Bush announced in August that he would only permit the research on those stem cell lines that he said already existed. Critics said they believed Bush had overstated the number of those lines and said many of them would prove unsuitable for use by scientists.

Embryonic stem cells develop into the body's various organs. Researchers hope to learn how to use them to create healthy cells that can heal ailing hearts, livers and other organs.

Federal law bans the use of tax dollars for research that destroys embryos - which is what removing stem cells from embryos does.

The Clinton administration got around this by saying that as long as private dollars paid for the extraction of the stem cells, then federal money could be used for research on those cells.

Meanwhile, House-Senate bargainers signed off on the first compromise spending bill for fiscal 2002, which began Oct. 1. Leaders hope to finish all 13 spending bills for this year by late October or early November so Congress can go home for the year.

The $19.1 billion measure, which finances the Interior Department and other smaller agencies, is $300 million more than last year and $1 billion above Bush's request.

It provides increases over last year for land conservation, energy programs and restoration of Florida's Everglades.
Baby Product Recall Alert!
 [eXoNews was stunned to see the large number of recalls on baby products reported this week. With the US media focused tightly on the war against terrorism, we felt they might be overlooked. Please check with product manufacturers directly to confirm model and product numbers reported in these stories. Ed.]

Baby's Death Leads To Playpen Recall

WASHINGTON October 10, 2001 (AP) - An Indiana company is recalling about 102,000 Cosco brand playpens after receiving reports from hundreds of people who experienced mechanical problems and a report that one baby died when his playpen collapsed.

Dorel Juvenile Group, of Columbus, Ind., has received 421 reports of the playpen rails not locking or collapsing, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday. Plastic tabs that lock the rails into the corners can break or loosen over time.

In June, an 11-month-old baby in Elyria, Ohio, died when his chest was caught in the V-shape created by the collapsed sides of his playpen, the agency said.

The recalled Cosco "Zip n Go," "Okie Dokie," and "Carters" playpens were manufactured between May 1995 and December 1997. Only model numbers 05-361, 05-362, 05-363 and 05-364 are included in the recall.

The model numbers are located on the playpen's bottom, on the metal tubular frame near one of the corners. The label reads in part, "MANUFACTURED IN CHINA FOR COSCO INC."

The 28-inch by 40-inch playpens have four mesh sides on a folding metal frame. The padded floorboard forms a carrying case for the playpen.

Stores nationwide sold the "Zip n Go" and "Carters" playpens. JC Penney stores nationwide sold the "Okie Dokie" brand playpens exclusively. The playpens were sold from May 1995 through December 1999 for between $40 and $70.

The safety commission said consumers should stop using the playpens. For a refund or replacement, consumers can call Dorel Juvenile Group toll-free at 1-800-314-9327 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday.

Evenflo Recalls Thousands of Wooden Baby Gates

WASHINGTON October 10, 2001 (AP) - An Ohio company is recalling about 20,500 wooden baby gates because the mounting hardware can break, creating small parts that children can choke on and allowing the gates to unlatch.

Evenflo Company Inc., of Vandalia, Ohio, have received nine reports of children falling down stairs after the hardware broke or cracked, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday. The falls caused bumps and bruises on three children and loosened teeth on another.

The Home Decor Swing gates have wooden spindles and were sold in oak or cherry finishes.

Only model numbers "1555/6" with manufacture dates before September 2001 are included in this recall. Model numbers and date codes are on the bottom of the gate.

Catalogs and stores nationwide sold these baby gates from June 1999 through September 2001 for about $100.

The safety commission advises consumers to stop using these gates and call Evenflo toll-free at 1-800-576-0507 to receive free replacement hardware.

Safety 1st Recalls 1.5 Million Folding Booster Seats

WASHINGTON October 10, 2001 (AP) - Safety 1st is recalling about 1.5 million folding booster seats because the top half of the seat inserts can separate, causing a child to fall.

The Canton, Mass.-based company has received 32 reports where the seat halves separated, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday. Seven reports of injuries included bumps, cuts, bruises and a broken arm.

The Fold-Up Booster Seats are intended for children who can sit unassisted through about 4 years of age. Only seats with model numbers 173, 173A and 173B are included in this recall. The model number is located on the seat back, inside the left arm panel.

The booster seat is made of blue plastic with green and red arms and includes a yellow feeding tray. The seat insert is made up of two halves fitted together and has a smooth bottom with "SAFETY 1ST" on both sides.

Stores nationwide sold these seats from January 1994 through August 1999 for about $18.

The government said consumers should stop using these seats and contact Safety 1st to receive a free repair kit. Consumers can call the company toll-free at 1-888-579-1730 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday.

Miniature Bikes Recalled For Lack Of Safety Features

WASHINGTON October 10, 2001 (AP) - A California company is recalling about 95,000 "Runt" brand mini-bicycles because they don't have brakes or chain guards that keep fingers, toes and clothing away from the gears.

Wysco Inc., of Baldwin Park, Calif., has not received any reports of incidents or injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday. Federal rules requires brakes and chain guards on this type of bicycle.

The mini-bicycles are about 24 inches long and 26 inches high with 6-inch wheels. They have adjustable seats and handlebars. The bicycles are red, blue, black or chrome in color with black seats and handle grips.

The word "RUNT" and the Runt logo of a dog's face are on the front of the steering column.

Stores nationwide, mail order catalogs and Web sites sold these mini-bicycles from January 2001 through July 2001 for about $100.

The safety commission said consumers should stop using the bicycles immediately and order free repair kit from the company by calling Wysco toll-free at 1-866-868-7868 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. PDT Monday through Friday.

Little Tikes Recalls 250,000 Swings

WASHINGTON October 10, 2001 (AP) - An Ohio company is recalling about 250,000 swings because buckles can break and the shoulder straps can come loose, causing young children to fall.

Little Tikes Company, of Hudson, Ohio, and the government have received 14 reports of problems with the swings, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday. Five injuries to children included scrapes, bruises, cuts and bumps to the head.

The "2-in-1 Snug 'n Secure" swings are plastic and have a blue seat with a red T-shaped restraint bar on the front. The swing hangs from four yellow ropes. Only swings with blue or white buckles are included in this recall.

The model number 4117-00 is molded under the seat. The "little tikes" logo is written on the restraint bar.

Stores nationwide sold the swings from December 2000 through September 2001 for about $20 for children ages 9-months through 4-years old.

The safety agency said consumers should stop using the swings and contact Little Tikes at toll-free at 1-800-815-4820 to receive a repair kit.

Child-Resistant Caps for Baby Oil?
By DAVID HO
Associated Press

WASHINGTON October 10, 2001 (AP) - Teresa Bryson never considered baby oil a dangerous substance for her twin sons.

On May 2, her 16-month-old sons Jaiden and Jaziah were alone in a playroom in their Hanford, Calif., home when one climbed up to a shelf and tipped over a baby shower gift basket. A bottle of baby oil tumbled out.

Jaiden grabbed it and drank some. The next day, he had trouble breathing and was taken to a hospital.

He died there about a month later with oil in his lungs.

Bryson never thought that basket contained anything that could hurt her boys.

"It wasn't a cleaning product or alcohol, or a medicine," she wrote the government's safety agency. "With knowledge of the danger of this product or a safety cap on the bottle, my son, Jaiden Wayne Bryson, would still be here."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering that very precaution and will hold a hearing Thursday on whether to require child-resistant caps on all such oily household products. The three-member commission has scheduled a vote for Oct. 24.

Four other children have died from swallowing similar products since 1993, the agency said. Two died from swallowing baby oil, one from hair moisturizer and one from automotive cleaner.

From 1997 to 1999, the agency said, about 6,400 children younger than 5 were treated in emergency rooms after swallowing these kinds of chemicals, which contain hydrocarbons and can cause a deadly form of pneumonia.

"Once it gets into the lungs, there's no medical process to rid the lungs of these oily substances," Ann Brown, the safety commission chairwoman, said Tuesday. She said it would cost less than 2 cents per package to make the products child-resistant.

The proposed packaging rules apply to thin, watery hydrocarbon products that flow freely and can be inhaled when swallowed. Hydrocarbon products are usually based on petroleum or mineral oils.

The products include some baby oils, sunscreens, cleaning solvents, water repellents, automotive cleaners and cosmetics such as makeup removers and bath oils.

Thicker, more syrup-like liquids are less likely to be inhaled.

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, an industry group, originally disagreed with the proposed regulations but expressed support Tuesday for a government decision that would require child-resistant packaging.

Groups representing manufacturers of paints and automotive chemicals had supported the regulations but said the rules shouldn't apply to aerosol sprays containing hydrocarbons, which have been linked to no deaths. Safety agency spokesman Ken Giles said those sprays are being studied separately and may be regulated in the future.
Burundi Detains Stork As 'Spy'

By Mohammed Allie

Cape Town October 9, 2001 (BBC) - Police in Burundi have arrested a bird suspected of spying.

The South African stork, which had a satellite tracking device attached to its body, was found by villagers after it injured a wing.

The alleged spy is called Saturn and was a member of a flock of five that formed part of a University of Cape Town research program to monitor the migration patterns of the birds. The other four birds, which were also fitted with the same devices, died in February after heavy rains in Mozambique.

Saturn apparently crash landed in a village in Muyinga Province in north-eastern Burundi after injuring a wing.

Upon closer inspection, local villagers were intrigued by the suspicious looking electronic device strapped to the bird's body. Understandably, there was great consternation and the bird was immediately handed over to the local police for investigation. The Burundian police then enlisted the assistance of English-speaking Mary Murphy who lives in the area.

Fortunately, the satellite device had the e-mail address of Professor Les Underhill of the University of Cape Town written on it. Ms Murphy e-mailed Professor Underhill saying the sick bird, together with its suspicious device, had been taken into custody.

She added that Saturn's right wing was healing and that he was being cared for by the police. There was no mention whether the bird was being held under 24-hour armed guard in the police cells.

Professor Underhill said he understood the police's concerns, especially in today's environment of terror attacks.

"The device looks pretty space age with an aerial and a little solar cell to charge the battery," he said. But he remains hopeful that both the bird and the satellite device will eventually be returned unharmed.

Sperm Protein Discovery

By MARK EVANS
Associated Press

October 10, 2001 (AP) - Biologists have identified a protein that gives sperm the power to penetrate an egg - a discovery that could someday lead to new contraceptive drugs for men and treatments for male infertility.

The protein, dubbed CatSper, is found only in sperm tails. Researchers found that mice genetically engineered so that they lacked the protein produced sluggish sperm with markedly less "whiplash" motion in their tails. The sperm did not penetrate eggs, and conception failed.

"The reason they were infertile is that their sperm don't swim very well. They don't have enough force to penetrate an egg," said Dr. David Clapham of Harvard Medical School, who led the study. The findings were published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

The lack of the CatSper protein did not limit the mice's ability to produce sperm or otherwise affect the animals' sexual behavior. And the sperm without the protein could indeed fertilize - but only after an egg's tough outer membrane, the zona pellucida, was removed artificially.

Clapham said the discovery could lead to new understanding of male infertility. Scientists might zero in on possible defects in the gene that produces a similar CatSper protein in humans.

Moreover, he said, the finding may one day lead to contraceptive drugs that temporarily block the protein and render sperm far less likely to penetrate an egg. Depending on the duration of such a drug, a man or woman might take it just before or even after sex.

"If you had a good blocker of this thing, it would only have to be taken during the life of the sperm inside the female, and could be taken by either males or females," Clapham said.

CatSper belongs to a unique family of proteins, so a drug targeting it would be unlikely to affect other tissues in the body, he said. It thus might have fewer side effects than female birth control drugs that contain hormones.

Previous research aimed at creating male contraceptives also has focused on blocking sperm's capacity to penetrate eggs. Some of that work has examined proteins on the head of sperm that may trigger enzymes that dissolve the outer shell of the egg.

The newly discovered CatSper protein allows calcium to enter the sperm.

Other researchers said the work is an exciting first step toward developing new contraceptives.

"It's the first case where we have a calcium-permeable channel on the sperm tail, which is the right place to do this important regulatory step," said Dr. Harvey Florman, a cellular biologist at the University of Massachusetts. "And if it is sperm-specific, then you could start rationally designing drugs that would block it."

City Sets Up Drive-In Brothels

BERLIN October 8, 2001 (Reuters) - The German city of Cologne has set up drive-in brothels in a bid to move the red light district away from near its landmark cathedral, authorities said.

The complex is located on the outskirts of the city and includes an "approach zone" where clients drive their cars past prostitutes to select them.

When they have made their choice, the prostitute is driven into one of the covered parking spaces adjoining a bedroom with a shower.

"The old red light district was more or less uncontrolled," a city spokesman said, adding that it had become a blight on the cathedral area with passers-by sometimes mistaken for prostitutes.

The complex is open from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Prostitution is legal in Germany and police or city administration officials are on the site, together with a Catholic charity to provide support for the prostitutes, many of whom are drug users.

The project, the first publicly funded scheme of its kind in the country, cost the taxpayer 830,000 marks ($387,100).

John De Lancie Revamps Shakespeare

PASADENA October 8, 2001 (AP) - John de Lancie went from playing Q on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to reconstructing a musical version of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for the Pasadena Symphony.

"I sat for hours reconciling the loose pages of music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and the script I had written," de Lancie said Sunday. "It was very labor intensive and fascinating for someone who isn't a trained musician."

De Lancie is credited as the artistic director, writing the script for the Oct. 20 performance that includes the orchestra, two choirs, soloists and dancers. It also features actor Kurtwood Smith, the loving but square dad in Fox's "That '70s Show," who will play Bottom, the weaver.

"Our goal has been to invigorate the concert hall with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in a manner that's multidimensional and accessible to a diverse audience," de Lancie said. "We want to attract people who may not normally attend symphonic concerts."

The actor has had speaking parts with the New York and Los Angeles philharmonic orchestras, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony.

De Lancie also has appeared in the films "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle," "The Fisher King" and "Multiplicity."

Lynch Keeps His Eye On The Doughnut

By JANE WOLLMAN RUSOFF
Tribune Media Services

LOS ANGELES October 10, 2001 (LA Times) - After you've seen David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," you're sure to think about it, maybe even for a long time. But America's premier avant-garde filmmaker and auteur of the mesmerizing TV series "Twin Peaks" doesn't want you to try too hard to understand the movie's complex plot.

"In life, we don't worry about understanding everything - things are one way on the surface but (another way) through intuition. But with a film, (people) want to contain everything in a narrow interpretation. Abstractions can be exciting. The language of film is so beautiful in telling abstractions," says Lynch. The cult favorite, 55, is in his Los Angeles office discussing "Mulholland Drive" (opening Oct. 12), a surrealistic, noir mystery about love and murder in Hollywood that he wrote and for which he won the Best Director Award at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Tingling with fascinating twists and turns, the violent, sexual spellbinder embraces, in part, innocence against a background of the cut-throat, high-stakes movie business. It stars Naomi Watts ("Tank Girl") as a new-gal-in-town, Laura Elena Harring (TV's "Elian Gonzalez Story") as a sultry sexpot, Justin Theroux ("American Psycho") and veteran MGM musical star Ann Miller. The film starts out with Harring's character felled by amnesia and Watts' would-be actress trying to help uncover her identity.

Any preconceived notion about the surface disposition of Lynch, writer-director of such quirky, moody thrillers as "Wild at Heart," "Blue Velvet" and "Lost Highway," quickly vanish upon hearing him say hello. He is upbeat and friendly, not, as one might expect, weird or eccentric.

"I'm pretty much always happy," he says.

But what about those strange, dark movies of his? "I like to go to different places mentally," Lynch replies, advising that he's "taken marijuana only seven times in my whole life" and has never used hard drugs.

The former Eagle Scout, born in Missoula, Mont., is quite proud of having been an usher, at age 15, at John F. Kennedy's presidential inauguration, so chosen because of scouting activities in his then home state of Virginia. "A Secret Service man let me stand right next to him as the limos came out of the gate to the White House. It was something," he recalls.

Twice Oscar-nominated for best director - 1980's "The Elephant Man" and "Blue Velvet" in 1986 - Lynch says he'd be thrilled "if people went to see `Mulholland Drive' in droves. I'd love to make a commercial movie. But," he adds, "what's more important is to make a picture you believe in."

The ideas he generates are the only reasons behind his moviemaking, he says.

"Film can tell ideas so beautifully. I have a feeling there's an ocean of ideas out there. Sometimes, if we're lucky, we catch some and fall in love with them. Then our job is to stay true to those ideas and translate them into one medium or another."

Lynch captures his ideas on random pieces of paper.

"Sometimes, when I'm searching for stuff, I'll go through scraps I've saved. You never know if an idea is going to jump out, and the time will be right for it. It gets you really excited because such an idea comes with a little piece of electricity. It's like a magnet, drawing other pieces of the puzzle. Suddenly, you may see a story forming," he explains.

His idea for "Mulholland Drive" originally took shape as a television pilot. When ABC - which had aired "Twin Peaks" - ultimately passed on it, a vexed Lynch "didn't want to think about television anymore." About a year later, he made a deal with French company Studiocanal to turn the "half-baked pilot," as he dubs it, into a feature.

"The most thrilling part was changing it from open-ended to a closed piece. One night I sat down - and lo and behold, the ideas came. There had been many, many more things going on that were just threads with no end. So everything had to be restructured and thought about in a completely different way."

Lynch declines to explain precisely what's going on during much of his cryptic picture except to say, cryptically, "some things are implied ... All things are open to interpretation. For me, (the plot) is very specific. But it doesn't do any good for me to say what I think it is. Make up your own mind. The abstraction of film allows you to come up with your own meanings."

The director is known for recurring themes, such as the madonna vs. whore, angel vs. demon. He often focuses on eroticism and death. "I like the high and the low. Contrast is a beautiful thing. You can't just tell a straight line," he says.

"There are always curves and ups and down and forces opposed. That's what makes a story something to fall in love with. The ideas I fall in love with might have certain similarities. But I (consider) each film as its own thing."

Lynch rarely goes to the movies, but he counts among his favorites Fellini's "8-1/2," Hitchcock's "Rear Window," Billy Wilder's `Sunset Boulevard" and "The Apartment," plus "any film Stanley Kubrick ever made."

Lynch set out to be a painter, but shifted to filmmaking while studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. One day, "all of a sudden I saw the painting I was working on move. And I heard a sound," he remembers. The picture showed six men vomiting. "It took about 45 seconds before they actually got sick. It was building up to that."

The perceived movement led Lynch to animate his painting. At the end of the school year, he presented a film, "Six Figures Getting Sick," at the Academy's experimental painting and sculpture competition. He next made "The Alphabet," then "The Grandmother," the latter winning him a 1968 American Film Institute grant.

Lynch still paints - but only for himself - with mixed media, including tile cement, cotton and gauze. "They're very bad, crude, really pitiful paintings," he says. Sometimes he sets fire to parts of them, "and the sun helps, as well, because it cooks certain things."

"Eraserhead" was Lynch's first feature, a 1977 fantasy-horror movie, now a cult classic. His most recent works include "The Straight Story," a drama co-written by Mary Sweeney ("Mulholland Drive's" co-producer and editor) that he directed in 1999, and the documentary, "Crumb," which he produced only.

Lynch is also a sometime actor, having appeared in "Twin Peaks" on TV and in his feature, "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me," a 1992 prequel to the 1990-91 series. In both, he plays an FBI bureau chief. "Going in front of the camera gives directors a whole new appreciation for what actors do," he says.

Lynch pays scant attention to reviews of his films. "I would if it were constructive criticism. But reviews now are fast and furious and not too deep. It's a very painful process to bring a film out, but the beauty is in the work. As they say, keep your eye on the doughnut, not on the hole." In 1994, Lynch's sci-fi epic, "Dune," famously misfired.

But speaking of doughnuts, Lynch, every afternoon for seven years was wont to visit one of L.A.'s Bob's Big Boy coffee shops, where he'd down a chocolate shake and coffee, "trying to catch ideas and write them down on napkins. I caught many ideas." "One day," he says, "I crawled into the trash bin and read the ingredients of what I'd been drinking - and had to give it up." Now Lynch drops in at Bob's only once a year - to indulge in a Big Boy burger combo.

A two-time divorcee, the filmmaker has three children: director-writer Jennifer Chambers Lynch, and two sons, 19 and 9. The mother of his youngest is Mary Sweeney, his "significant other." In the '80s, Lynch had a steamy affair with the star of "Blue Velvet" and "Wild at Heart," Isabella Rossellini.

But his love life isn't something the filmmaker is keen on examining. He'd rather discuss the October launch of the website (http://www.davidlynch.com) he's been developing for two years. It will have experimental work; new series; his recycled cartoon strip, "The Angriest Dog in the World"; and paintings. "Twin Peaks" won't be available because Lynch doesn't own the rights. "This town is cut up and sewn back together with legal problems," he remarks.

But "the Internet is the future. The (streaming video) quality is pretty bad; (still), the quality of things influences ideas. There are some ideas that can be told in bad quality; and, in a way, bad quality is extremely beautiful ... like early films."

Returning to "Mulholland Drive," the director reiterates that this is a movie that can be neither explained nor contained in a neat little package. Yet, "it all does make sense." Then he adds with a chuckle, "if anyone can help me figure it out, that would be beautiful!"


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