Ancient Mayans,
Perry Como,
Circinus Galaxy,
Yoko and Paul!
Mayan City Is Older Than Believed

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON May 18, 2001 (AP) - Chac, a Mayan city in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, flourished hundreds of years earlier than previously believed, according to new evidence that also shows extensive outside influence on the community.

Chac is one of several Mayan cities in the northern Yucatan - a region increasingly popular with tourists - that were believed to have flourished between A.D. 800 and 1000.

But new research, including radiocarbon dating, indicates that Chac existed as early as A.D. 300, growing to as many as 6,000 residents, Michael P. Smyth, an anthropology professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., said in a telephone interview.

Smyth, preparing to return for his seventh season of research in Mexico, said he also has uncovered carvings, pottery and other indications that the community was heavily influenced by the great city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico.

While Teotihuacan had a large sphere of influence, that had not been thought to extend to the northern Yucatan until much later.

At the time Chac was flourishing, wars in southern Mexico disrupted trade routes between that area, Guatemala and Teotihuacan, located near the site of present day Mexico City.

With trade disrupted, Teotihuacan may have begun looking elsewhere for products it wanted to import and the Yucatan would be a likely area to go, said Smyth, whose research is supported by the Washington-based National Geographic Society.

"Radiocarbon dating of objects found at the site indicates Chac's origins date from about A.D. 300, at least two centuries earlier than any other known settlement in the area," Smyth said.

He said Chac appears to have been abandoned and ritually destroyed in the late eighth century, when other sites in the Puuc hills region of the Yucatan underwent rapid growth and development. It is located near the ancient sites of Uxmal and Sayil.

Smyth said that in exploring a 60-foot-tall pyramid, he discovered that two earlier pyramids lie beneath it. Numerous substructures have been discovered beneath other buildings excavated at the site.

And he said buildings at the site incorporate elements from Teotihuacan into Mayan architecture. For example, there are many early serpent images in the Great Pyramid Plaza. Serpents are more reminiscent of architecture at Teotihuacan than the decorations of early Maya.

Smyth also reported finding 19 burial sites at Chac with pottery and mortuary patterns typical of Teotihuacan native.

While the Teotihuacan culture dominated a large part of what is now Mexico, much remains to be learned about it, Smyth said.

With as many as 200,000 people in A.D. 500, Teotihuacan was probably one of the four or five largest cities in the world, he said, but much of the language and culture of the people there remains a mystery.


The Maya on the Web:

Mesoweb -

The Maya of Guatemala -

Mayan History -

Mayan Archaeology -

Write your name in Mayan Glyphs -

Mayan Prophecies -

Mayan Languages and Fonts -

Mayan Civilization Ended By Sun Cycle

Scripps Howard News Service

May 17, 2001 - A cyclical brightening of the sun may have prompted a severe 150-year drought that brought down the civilization of some of the ancient world's most accomplished astronomers, the Mayans, according to a study published Friday.

Writing in the journal Science, researchers at the University of Florida and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California report that evidence from lake sediments indicates the Yucatan Peninsula, center of the Mayan empire, undergoes a drought every 208 years.

This interval is almost identical to a known 206-year cycle in the sun's intensity, said David Hodell, professor of geology at the university and lead author of the study.

"Looking at this series of sediment cores, it looks like changes in the sun's energy output are having a direct effect on the climate of the Yucatan and causing the recurrence of drought, which is in turn influencing the Maya evolution," Hodell said.

Hodell and colleagues had suggested in a 1995 study that the ninth-century collapse of the classic Mayan civilization came in the midst of a period that was the driest in more than a thousand years.

They based the conclusion on analysis of a sediment core from Lake Chichancanab, on the north-central Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Sediments deposited layer-by-layer give scientists a time line of changes in climate, vegetation and land use.

In a return trip to the lake last year, the researchers collected a new series of core samples and noted layers of gypsum concentrated at certain levels in the cores. The lake's water is nearly saturated with the mineral, but during dry periods, more water evaporates and the gypsum builds up at the bottom of the lake, giving a marker for ancient droughts.

Although they vary in depth, and thus the intensity of the drought they represent, the deposits occur almost exactly every 208 years. The researchers found that this cycle closely matched a previously documented solar cycle that's tracked by measuring certain radioactive substances in the soil. These tend to peak during the most intense part of a 206-year cycle of activity by the sun.

During those periods, the energy received by Earth from the sun increases by less than one-tenth of 1 percent, Hodell noted. But the additional energy could have been enough to change any of several circulation patterns that affect tropical weather generally and rainfall over the Yucatan specifically, the researchers said.

Climate scientists remain uncertain how much effect the long-term solar cycles have on global temperatures. Most doubt the sun has more than a minor influence on the global warming trend that's been going on for several decades, but some contend the influence is still poorly understood and may turn out to be significant.

"The Maya were highly dependent on rainfall and surface reservoirs as their principal water supply," the researchers said, so dry spells lasting decades and even centuries would have had a particularly "detrimental impact on Maya food production and culture."

The scientists found evidence not only for arid events in the ninth century, but also for several other long droughts before and after that period. Archaeological evidence suggests social upheaval resulting from each of the droughts, reflected by a slowing or stopping of new building and carving activity, or the total abandonment of cities that relied on good harvests to be sustained.

"It is ironic that a culture so obsessed with keeping track of celestial movements may have met their demise because of a 206-year cycle," Hodell said.

Pre-Mayan Mexican Settlers Were Farmers
AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON May 17, 2001 (AP) - Ancient farmers in a lost civilization grew corn-like plants on a Mexican coastal plain more than 6,000 years ago. Researchers say traces of pollen from the crude grain may be the earliest evidence of maize farming in North America.

Researchers dug deep pits in fields just off the Gulf of Mexico near San Andres in Mexico and sieved tons of dirt to find traces of an agricultural civilization that spent thousands of years growing crops and cultivating crude grains that later were developed into corn.

"We know nothing about these people, but we know they were growing crops long before people there were thought to be farmers," said John G. Jones, a Texas A&M researcher and co-author of a study appearing Friday in the journal Science. "These were hunters and gatherers who also planted crops."

Jones said the scientists found pollen from plants in the botanical family known as Zea that includes teosinte and maize, the ancestors of modern corn.

"The pollen we found cannot be identified beyond the genus of Zea," Jones said. "We believe it may have been maize in the process of becoming domesticated."

The researchers found traces of charcoal, such as from domestic fires, but no bones, tools or other clues to the ancient farmers, Jones said.

Zea is thought to have originated in western Mexico, far from the gulf site. Finding the pollen so distant from its native habitat, Jones said, is proof that people transported seed from the west and then planted it when they settled at a site in what is now the Mexican state of Tabasco.

Jones said that ancient farmers selectively bred Zea plants over thousands of years until it finally evolved into the familiar corn, with rows of seeds on a cob. Eventually maize or corn became a common crop throughout the prehistoric Americas.

But when the ancient farmers first were planting it, Jones said, Zea was just a type of grass with large seeds that provided a dependable source of food.

Jones said the pollen for corn's ancestor was found in sediments dated at 5100 B.C. Jones said this may be the oldest evidence yet of cultivation in the Americas and certainly predates other known farming of cornlike plants.

The researchers also found pollen that suggests the ancient farmers may have been the first to domesticate sunflowers as a food crop. The pollen was 4,000 years old.

Also found was the pollen of cotton. It was dated at 2500 B.C.

Jones said the pollen was found in a basin that apparently trapped water and debris washed out of an adjacent field. The pollen was found in different sediment layers, each carefully dated, down to 24 feet below the surface.

The researchers used radiocarbon techniques to age-date the soil and bits of wood at each sediment level. They then keyed the resulting ages to the pollen found at that level.

Jones said the research team, which included six other scientists, has not found any tools, shelters or bones that would give clues about the ancient farmers. More digging in the area is planned.

Gayle J. Fritz, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, said it is clear that Jones and his group have found the oldest evidence for the cultivation of sunflowers. She is less certain about the conclusions about maize.

"There was a lot of maize grown at that site in later years," she said, noting that is possible that pollen from more recent production was mixed with soil samples from an earlier time. This would distort the dates, Fritz said.

"This is excellent work, but I would be more comfortable about the dates if they excavate a cob and get direct dates from it," She said.

Pollen is notoriously difficult to date, she noted, adding that other researchers have gotten solid radiocarbon dates of 4300 B.C. from corn cobs uncovered in a site south of Mexico City.

Jones said the farmers in the Tabasco area would have predated by thousands of years the Mayans, a famous civilization that built temples, pyramids and large cities in areas of the nearby Yucatan.


On the Net:

Science journal: 
EPA Committee Concludes Dioxin Is Carcinogenic
Associated Press

WASHINGTON May 15, 2001 (AP) - A scientific advisory committee on Tuesday voted to send a long-stalled report to federal regulators that concludes dioxin causes cancer in laboratory animals and possibly in people.

The conclusions - affecting everything from milk, beef and fish to medical products and the chemical and paper industries - puts another far-reaching environmental issue in the Bush administration's lap.

After more than a decade of study, the Environmental Protection Agency committee findings could provide the basis for federal regulators to impose limits on dioxin that would be costly to the chemical, beef and poultry industries that have opposed them.

The committee split over whether to change wording in their draft report a year ago that said dioxin should be classified as a known human carcinogen.

"It is important that EPA continue to try to limit emissions and human exposure to this class of chemicals in view of their very long biological and environmental persistence," the new version says.

Chlorinated dioxin is an air pollutant that comes from burning plastic and medical waste with chlorine. It settles in grass and feed, which is then eaten and becomes fat in livestock and poultry.

Dioxin also is a generic term for a group of compounds, some of which are more toxic than others.

The contaminant used in Agent Orange, a defoliant sprayed during the Vietnam War, includes the most toxic form of dioxin. Agent Orange exposure has been associated with cancer, birth defects and miscarriages, though a direct link to those health problems remains unproven.

William Glaze, a University of North Carolina professor who chairs the advisory panel, called the report "a huge step forward" toward possibly stricter controls. He said its key finding is that "diet is the principal root of exposure" for people who consume even small amounts of dioxin in dairy products and fatty foods.

"We think that the agency should take action to continue to try to limit emissions of dioxin in the environment. How the agency chooses to do that is up to them," Glaze said in an interview. "This committee felt that regulating emissions is desirable."

He said his panel planned to send the report to EPA Administrator Christie Whitman by June 1. Whitman repeatedly has declined to comment on the report and how her agency intends to use it.

At the 17-member panel's meeting Tuesday, industry representatives questioned the science behind the report's conclusions.

"Despite thousands of studies, great uncertainty remains in our understanding of the effects of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds," Marcie Francis, the science policy director of the Chlorine Chemistry Council, told Glaze's panel.

Environmental groups were pleased the report is going forward.

"The fact that this report has been in draft form for the last 10 years has been a stumbling block for community groups and elected officials who have been working together to develop strong dioxin regulations," said Monica Rohde, the dioxin campaign coordinator for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.

The latest EPA dioxin study is the result of a series of official assessments and reassessments.

In 1985, the agency first looked at the health risks of dioxin and found it to be potentially one of the chemicals posing the greatest cancer threats to humans. But protests from the chemical industry led to another reassessment in 1991, from which the current draft report evolved.
Singer Perry Como Dies at 87

Associated Press Writer

JUPITER INLET COLONY, Fla. (AP) — Perry Como, the crooning baritone barber famous for his relaxed vocals, cardigan sweaters and television Christmas specials, died Saturday after a lengthy illness.

Como died in his sleep at his home of natural causes, said Officer Phil Hardin of the Jupiter Inlet Colony Police Department. Some sources listed Como's age as 88; others said he was 87.

"We spent two beautiful hours (Friday) with dad, me and my grandson, Holden,'' Como's daughter, Terry Thibadeau, told The Palm Beach Post. "We shared ice cream. It was a wonderful moment for us.''

The charming Italian-American whose name became synonymous with mellow performed through seven decades, starting in the 1930s. His idol, the late singer Bing Crosby, once called Como "the man who invented casual.''

Como left his job as a Pennsylvania steel town barber to sing with big bands in the 1930s, and his songs were a mainstay of radio and jukeboxes in the late 1940s. He helped pioneer variety shows in the 1950s and performed on television specials over the last four decades.

In 1945, Como had his first million-selling hit, "Till the End of Time.'' It was among many songs including "Prisoner of Love'' that topped the charts. He competed with Frank Sinatra and Crosby to be the era's top crooner.

While Como emulated Crosby in his early years, some of his best-known numbers were light novelty songs like "Hot Diggity'' and "Papa Loves Mambo.'' He made a brief foray into wartime movie musicals in Hollywood, but decided to pursue a career in radio.

Como often said he far preferred singing romantic ballads to some of the lightweight numbers, but the novelty songs were a frequent audience request.

"They get tired of hearing `Melancholy Baby' and those mushy things,'' Como said in a 1994 interview. "But those are the songs that, as a singer, you love to sing.''

Some music experts say Como, with his naturally melodic baritone voice, might have carved a deeper niche if he had taken firmer control of his material.

Will Friedwald, author of "Jazz Singing'' and an expert of music from Como's era, once called Como "a marvelous singer'' who "seemed to do everything they put in front of him.''

Como made his television debut in 1948 on NBC's "The Chesterfield Supper Club'' and in 1950 he switched to CBS for "The Perry Como Show,'' which ran for five years. Como then returned to NBC for a variety show that ran for eight years, first on Saturday nights opposite Jackie Gleason, then on Tuesday night.

In 1963, he gave up the regular television show and began doing occasional specials. Rock 'n' roll had crowded out the crooners who once charmed hordes of screaming bobby-soxers.

His career saw a resurgence in the 1970s with songs like "It's Impossible,'' "And I Love You So'' and several best-selling Christmas albums. In 1987, President Reagan presented Como with a Kennedy Center award for outstanding achievement in the performing arts.

In 1994, Como put out a three-CD boxed set including his most popular songs since he started recording in 1943. And his former hit, "Catch a Falling Star'' — for which Como won a Grammy in 1958 — became familiar to a new generation of fans when it became part of the Clint Eastwood-Kevin Costner movie "A Perfect World.''

Como said he occasionally tired of the jokes about his somnambulant style, although he found a skit on the SCTV comedy show particularly amusing. The spot showed a Como impersonator lying on the floor nearly comatose with a microphone in front of his barely moving lips as dancers leaped about him.

His casual legend grew from his first pressure-packed appearances on the pioneering medium of live television — with its crashing scenery, misplaced cue cards and camera confusion.

"I decided the only thing to do was take it as it came,'' he recalled in a 1985 interview. "People wrote in asking how I could be so casual. It all started to grow.''

Pierino Roland Como was born May 18, in 1912 or 1913, in Canonsburg, Pa., the middle offspring of 13 children of Italian immigrants.

At age 11, he went to work sweeping floors after school at a barbershop in the town just south of Pittsburgh. He got lessons on how to cut the hair of coal miners and other workers, and by the age of 14 he had his own barber business earning $150 a week. His pay dropped off during the Depression when he went to work for another barber.

But he got an offer to sing with Freddie Carlone's band in Cleveland in the early 1930s. He began his rise in show business when he was signed to sing with Ted Weems big band in 1936, a relationship that continued for six years.

In 1943, he began what turned into a 50-year contract with RCA-Victor Records with the recording of the song "Goodbye Sue.''

In his later years, Como lived in a private semiretirement with his wife Roselle, whom he met at a picnic when he was 16 and married in 1933. They divided their time between the North Carolina mountains and the Palm Beach County town of Jupiter where he played golf, took long, brisk walks and entertained his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mrs. Como died in August 1998, less than two weeks after she and Como celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

He reappeared on television periodically for Christmas television specials from exotic, international locales. Even as he grew older, the graying Como retained a tanned, fit appearance and youthful charm.

Indian Casino Blocked In Wisconsin
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. May 14, 2001 (AP) - Gov. Scott McCallum has refused to give his consent to an off-reservation casino proposed by three tribes, effectively killing a project that was the focus of an investigation of former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

McCallum said Monday he sent a letter to the federal government saying the proposed casino would not be in the best interests of the tribes or the state's residents.

He also said he disagreed with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs' decision in February that the casino in Hudson would not harm the surrounding community.

The agency had agreed to place into federal trust 55 acres of land at the financially troubled St. Croix Meadows dog racing track for a casino with 1,500 slot machines. But under federal law, the governor had to concur with that decision.

The three tribes have filed a lawsuit claiming the 1988 federal law that gives state governors the power to veto off-reservation Indian casinos is unconstitutional.

In 1999, a special federal prosecutor closed out a 19-month investigation by deciding against seeking charges against Babbitt in connection with a 1995 decision to reject a permit for the casino.

Independent Counsel Carol Elder Bruce found there was insufficient evidence to seek criminal indictments against Babbitt or anyone else involved.

The three tribes had complained that the 1995 rejection came about because of pressure from the White House after rival tribes that opposed the casino promised campaign contributions to the Democratic Party.

McCallum has said repeatedly he opposes the expansion of gambling operations in the state but would not work to undermine existing casinos. He said Monday the state has enough legal gambling opportunities.

The Lac Courte Oreilles, Red Cliff and Mole Lake bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe had hoped to open the casino this summer on the site in western Wisconsin, just east of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.
McCain and Lieberman Promote Gun Bill
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON May 15, 2001 (AP) — Gun control advocates have a new ally as they try to close what they see as a loophole that can allow criminals to buy firearms.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is sponsoring a bill with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., that would mandate criminal background checks for buyers at gun shows with at least 75 weapons on sale.

McCain has opposed such legislation in the past but said his thinking has changed because of high-profile acts of gun violence such as the mass killing at Columbine High School near Denver.

Previous versions of the bill have failed. Lieberman encouraged opponents "to open up your minds, look at the details of what we're proposing.''

"There is nothing in this proposal that compromises at all the rights of law-abiding citizens to buy and possess firearms,'' he said at a news conference Tuesday.

Jim Baker, the National Rifle Association's chief lobbyist, said the NRA will strongly oppose the measure. He also said McCain's support of it is distressing.

"Yeah, that's a concern. It lends it more credibility,'' Baker said. "That's one vote less that we have, obviously. We've come to enjoy the senator's support over the years. We're disappointed.''

The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., would impose three-day waiting periods on gun show purchases to allow time for background checks. It also would support additional prosecutors to pursue gun crime cases and money for gun-tracing technology, ideas similar to parts of a proposal announced Monday by President Bush.

After three years, states could reduce the wait from three days to one if federal authorities were to find their records sufficiently automated to do a thorough check in 24 hours. The bill would offer money to improve the technology.

Many gun control advocates favor a more restrictive measure proposed by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. It would impose permanent three-day waiting periods for shows in which 50 guns were for sale. It also would order tougher licensing and registration.

"I don't believe we should start off in the Senate with a weakened version,'' Reed said.

Baker said both bills would address an overstated problem.

"We're talking about a very, very small problem that they've approached with a sledgehammer in terms of individual rights,'' he said. "It's the beginning of a registration system.''

McCain said his bill is essentially the same as a measure adopted in Colorado after the Columbine shootings.

"Colorado is not known particularly as a liberal state, and yet this same bill passed on a ballot initiative with over 70 percent of the vote with the support of the Republican governor. So thinking has evolved,'' he said.

Bush said during the campaign that he supports closing gun show loopholes, but he didn't mention that Monday when he announced a two-year, $550 million effort that involves hiring assistant U.S. attorneys and state and local prosecutors to work specifically on gun cases.


On the Net: Lieberman:



National Rifle Association:

X-Ray Observatory Probes Circinus Galaxy's Black Hole

AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON May 14, 2001 (AP) — Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory suggests a galaxy 13 million light years from Earth contains a supermassive black hole emitting X-rays that vary in intensity on a cycle of about 7 1/2 hours, researchers report.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University announced Monday the X-ray views captured by Chandra suggest that the black hole discovered in Circinus is about 50 times more massive than the sun.

A report on the research will appear in the July edition of the Astronomical Journal.

Circinus is a galaxy that was undetected until about 25 years ago because it was obscured by dust in the Milky Way, the galaxy of Earth's solar system.

The Penn State team found that the X-ray intensity from Circinus rose and fell every 7 1/2 hours in an action called periodic variability. The researchers said this cyclic action in X-rays has not been found previously in a galaxy so distant from the Milky Way.

The observations include detection of two different gas fields around the X-ray source. One gas field is warm, heated by radiation from the black hole, and contains argon, calcium, iron, magnesium, neon, silicon and sulfur. The other gas field is cooler and has a high content of iron.

A black hole is a celestial object so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational grip. A supermassive black hole generally is near the center of a galaxy and has a mass many times that of the sun. Stellar black holes are much smaller and are thought to be formed from the collapse of a single massive star.

The gravitational pull of a black hole causes dust and gas to spiral toward the object's center at extremely high velocities. This speed causes the matter to heat, eventually reaching temperatures torrid enough to emit X-rays.

Since black holes cannot by seen directly, astronomers detect evidence of their presence by studying radiation, such as X-rays, as it streams from extremely hot gas and dust surrounding the objects.


On the Net: Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center:

Chandra's NASA link:

One Small Step For Europe
May 14 2001 (London Times) - Europe may finally get its own, independent, manned space programme.

The new director of science at the European Space Agency (ESA), Professor David Southwood, has admitted that it is “foolish” for ESA not to consider developing the capability to launch its own astronauts. Although the agency has an astronauts corps, they travel as guests of either Nasa or the Russian Space Agency.

“If you really constrain yourself to the limitations of your life now, you go nowhere,” Southwood told the monthly magazine Astronomy Now. “We would still be living in caves if there hadn’t been a caveman who decided perhaps it would be interesting to try something different . . . If I sit here and say Europe does not have the independent capability to put someone into space now, therefore it never will, I might as well have stayed in the cave.”

In addition, Southwood did not rule out the agency exploring the issue of space tourism. “If anyone offered me the opportunity to go into space, I would be very interested,” he said.

Parrot Calls Out Police in Emergency

LONDON May 17, 2001 (Reuters) - Police in the northern English city of Manchester found they had been called by a parrot when they rushed to respond to an emergency 999 telephone call.

Peering through the window of the house from which call was made, police spotted a cockatiel, an Australian parrot, standing on the push button phone with the receiver off the hook lying next to it. No one else was in the house.

"It is not unusual to receive silent 999 calls, but this is the first time we have been called by a parrot," Superintendent Martin Harding said of the incident Wednesday.

"I would like to congratulate the officers who responded calmly to this incident and managed not to get in a flap."

Police said they could not name the parrot for legal reasons.

'Cookie Monster' Convicted
AMSTERDAM May 16, 2001 (Reuters) - A con artist dubbed the "cookie monster," who robbed tourists in Amsterdam after giving them biscuits laced with a strong sleeping drug, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years jail Tuesday.

Riyad al-Khatib, a 32-year-old Syrian, approached tourists in the Dutch capital last autumn offering them biscuits containing Rohypnol, and robbed them when they fell unconscious.

Dutch media reports said he had stolen more than $2,000.

A court in Amsterdam found him guilty of robbery on two occasions and said he had put his victims' lives at risk, a spokeswoman said.

The court also ordered him to pay damages to one of the victims, a Japanese tourist. Public prosecutors had originally accused Khatib of several other robberies, but decided not to pursue them due to lack of evidence.
McCartney Says Ono Denied Him Yesterday

LONDON (AP) — Paul McCartney longed for "Yesterday'' to be acknowledged as his song, but Yoko Ono wouldn't permit it, the former Beatle says.

"Yesterday,'' like most of the Beatle songs, was officially credited to McCartney and John Lennon.

"At one point Yoko earned more from `Yesterday' than I did,'' McCartney said in an interview published Tuesday in Radio Times.

"It doesn't compute, especially when it's the only song that none of the Beatles had anything to do with. I asked as a favor if I could have my name before John's on the `Anthology' credits for `Yesterday,' and Yoko refused.''

McCartney also said "it's not true'' that he is worth more than $1 billion, as The Sunday Times newspaper recently reported.

"I don't even know how much I'm worth, and I'm not sure my accountants know either,'' McCartney said.

"But I'm very well off, which is great because as a working-class lad from Liverpool, that was my intention.''

Pix: Paul McCartney stands in front of one of his paintings at the Matthew Marks Gallery in New York. (AP Photo)

Yoko Ono Bars Use of John Lennon Picture
LIVERPOOL May 13, 2001 (AP) - Yoko Ono ordered her attorneys to prevent a British artist from using portraits of John Lennon to raise money for his old school, the artist said Sunday.

Ono's New York lawyers sent Joanne Shaw, 26, a letter ordering her not to sell the pictures, because Lennon's widow has exclusive rights to his image, Shaw said.

Shaw had sent two drawings to Dovedale County Infant School, where Lennon attended primary school, when she heard it was trying to raise money for repairs.

Dovedale sent one to Ono as thanks for a donation she made and put the other on display.

Soon after, Shaw said she received a warning letter from Ono's attorney saying, "Because of other exclusive arrangements that Miss Ono has with others about using Mr. Lennon's likeness in merchandising areas, she would not be in a position to grant you the right to utilize your print for fund-raising purposes."

"It just seems funny that she has gone over the top on it," Shaw said.

A call to Ono's office in New York went unanswered Sunday.

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