Aurora Borealis!
The Lost City of Naachtún,
Black Pharaohs, Flapping Dinos,
Chocolate Good! Meet The Aardvarks!
Aurora Borealis Revealed!

January 20, 2003 - The spectacular aurora borealis displays that light up the northern nights could be powered by a gigantic "slinky" effect in Earth's magnetic field lines, according to research performed at the University of Minnesota. 

Earth's magnetic field resemble a slinky in that when "wiggled," it undulates in waves that travel down the field lines at speeds up to 25 million miles per hour. These waves can pass energy to electrons, accelerating them along the magnetic field lines toward Earth.

When the electrons hit atoms in the atmosphere, the atoms become excited and produce the colors of the aurora.

Using electric and magnetic field data and images from NASA's POLAR satellite, the researchers showed that energy from such waves is sufficient to power auroras and that statistically, the waves occur in the same locations as auroras -- in a ring around the poles. The work will be published in the Jan. 17 issue of Science. 

"We don't know exactly what wiggles the field lines, but similar processes could explain the heating of the solar corona [the sun's atmosphere], the release of energy during solar flares and the acceleration of the solar wind [a stream of charged particles from the sun]," said physics associate professor John Wygant, second author of the study.

"At the edges of sunspots, other researchers have actually seen magnetic field lines waving. Understanding how such waves are caused and how they transmit energy is important to unraveling the complex processes behind larger-scale particle accelerations that occur, for example, in jets of material being ejected from black holes at the centers of galaxies."

The paper's first author is Andreas Keiling, who headed the study while a doctoral student and, later, a research scientist at the University of Minnesota. He is now at the Center for Space Research on Radiation in Toulouse, France. 

The ultimate source of energy for auroras is the solar wind. Flowing with the wind -- which is mostly single protons and electrons -- is a magnetic field that encounters Earth's own field tens of thousands of miles above the planet surface.

Earth is like a huge bar magnet, with magnetic field lines coming out near the poles, curving through space, and re-entering near the opposite pole.

When the solar wind's magnetic field sweeps by, it joins with some of Earth's magnetic field lines and stretches them into space on the night side of Earth.

The stretching energizes this part of the magnetic field until it suddenly "snaps" away from the solar wind and reconnects with Earth. This process, called reconnection, may send waves rippling through the magnetic field, like wiggling a slinky, said Wygant.

Energy from the waves then passes to electrons, sending them in beams along the magnetic field lines into the atmosphere. The color of the aurora depends on how deeply the electrons penetrate the atmosphere and which atoms they excite.

Measurements of electrical energy at altitudes near 12,000 miles, where the electrons are accelerated, showed sufficient energy from the waves to power auroras, Wygant said. 

Auroras also occur in south polar regions, where they are known as the aurora australis. Waves in the magnetic field lines are called Alfven waves, after Hannes Alfven, a Swedish physicist who helped found the field of plasma physics, said Wygant. 

POLAR's electric field measurements were performed by an instrument built by the University of California at Berkeley. Other authors of the paper are Cynthia Cattell, physics professor, University of Minnesota; Forrest Mozer, professor of physics, Berkeley; and Christopher Russell, professor of physics, UCLA. The work was supported by NASA.

Jubilee Celebrates Black Culture
Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON January 21, 2003 (AP) - Blacks have created their own forms of religion, music, art, language and literature appreciated or adopted by other Americans and are not just victims of slavery, declares an exhibit opened for the birthday of Martin Luther King. 

"Unlike many previous accounts, it does not focus on blacks as victims," says director Howard Dodson of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture. "It is the story of the ways in which enslaved Africans became makers of history and culture." 

The show is called "Jubilee," after the celebration described in the Old Testament, scheduled by the ancient Israelites every 50 years. It included the freeing of slaves. 

Mounted by the National Geographic Society with Dodson's help, the exhibit highlights objects and photos that have emotional impact. One case houses the small leg-irons used on children brought from Africa in slave ships.

Another shows a small square of colorful needlepoint from just after the Civil War, with two awkwardly dancing black figures and the words: "We's free."

There's also a handsome blanket from South Carolina, with emblems special to an African god of thunder and lightning.

It recalls faiths of African origin still widely practiced in Florida and Latin America, like Santeria. 

Photos show Christian services adapted to African American expressions of devotion. 

A concert poster from 1868 celebrates "Blind Tom's Concerts... Musical prodigy ... Son of Ordinary Southern Field Hands ... Composer and Musician ... Can Compose Gems of Rare Artistic Ability." 

A dignified cakewalk is illustrated in a photo from the 1890s, with formally dressed blacks in performance. 

The exhibit emphasizes the economic importance of slavery to the development of the Western Hemisphere.
Of 6.5 million immigrants who arrived in the hemisphere between the time of Columbus and U.S. independence in 1776, 1 million were European while the rest were Africans, according to exhibit organizers. 

"While the slave trade disrupted Africa's economic, political and social life, it provided the labor force that fueled the economic growth of Europe and the Americas," Dodson wrote. 

National Geographic site - 

Interior Department Gets Failing Grade on Indian Trust Reform
By David Melmer
Indian Country Today

WASHINGTON January 20, 2003 (ICT) - The National Congress of American Indians is joining the Cobell v. Norton class action lawsuit with an amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief that will address the tribes’ side of the Trust fund issue.

The Cobell litigation deals primarily with the Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts held by approximately 300,000 descendants of tribal members whose land assets have been managed, or mismanaged, by the Interior Department since the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887.

NCAI attorney John Dossett said the tribes have been sitting on the sideline in the case and it was time to get more involved. According to tribal officials, Cobell v. Norton deals only with the IIM accounts while the tribal trust accounting system is also in disarray.

Some tribal leaders are also angry that the plan includes very little of their input. 

According to Tex Hall, president of the NCAI, the plan submitted by Interior does not have the proper standards for trust fund management for which tribal leaders were asking. He denounced one provision of the plan that provided for a selected group of tribal leaders to work with Interior on trust reform.

"There is an indication she (Norton) doesn’t listen to the tribes," Hall said. "Like the task force, they walked away, which shows they don’t listen to the tribes. No way will any plan be successful without the tribes."

Said Keith Harper, attorney for the Native American Rights Fund and a lead attorney in Cobell v. Norton, "They keep saying the normal trust standards don’t apply, but what standards do apply? It can’t be standardless. With trust you have to have standards; they haven’t identified those. How can they come up with a plan with standards not articulated? It’s not surprising they have a plan that does nothing."

Harper said that Interior’s selection of an advisory committee resembled the days when treaties were drafted. He said the government selected a certain group of people, gave them medals and called them leaders. 

"They are looking for individual tribal leaders to take interest in actions that are not in the best interest of Indian country. They are in a desperate place and are looking for salvation. They can make it look very attractive to individual tribal leaders. We have an obligation to the account holders who have been abused through the century not to undermine the justice they are seeking at the last minute by betrayal," Harper said. "We have to be aware of medal ‘chiefing’ by this administration. Interior wants to control the process with their handpicked men."

Harper accused Interior of organizing clandestine meetings with a group of handpicked leaders and excluding the National Congress of American Indians, one of the lead organizations in trust reform.

Interior holds more than 10 million acres in trust for individual Indians and manages the oil, mineral and agricultural leases on land that involves some 4 million interests. Some accounts, at least 20,000 in the IIM system, are only worth $1.

The tribal leaders behind the NCAI brief also dispute the management of the IIM funds and the tribal funds. The leaders said a year ago their basic premise was that standards provide adequate accountability, management and record keeping at the lower levels, nearer the land owners.

The new plan still maintains a central office with some lower level personnel at the tribal level. The tribal opposition also demands an independent oversight group. Interior continues to argue that an internal oversight office will be sufficient and resists outside control.

"We are where the rubber hits the road," Harper said. "All these things are fine, but I think the debate has to surround how we get a trust management system. When push comes to shove, how do we build one? Nothing the government says furthers the debate. They once again submitted a plan to make a plan, contrary to what the court asked for."

Hall said the chance of getting a good plan that Indian country could live with still lies in Congress. Tribal leaders from the Task Force will submit legislation, he said.

"The main issue for us is that we are getting to a resolution in this case, with or without the government with us. This court wisely set the foundation for a structural injunction with how courts go about resolving things like this, and the next step may be receivership," Harper said.

"The court increasingly mandates the government take action and the government responds with defiance. We will get to a place where they will have justified in everyone’s minds to have a receivership," he added.
The Lost City of Naachtún
By Mario Toneguzzi 
Calgary Herald 

Calgary January 18, 2003 (Calgary Herald) - Calgary archeologist Kathryn Reese-Taylor walked two days behind a mule in the Guatemalan jungle last summer to reach the tantalizing remains of a Mayan city. 

The lost city of Naachtún -- mysteriously abandoned at the height of its powers -- beckoned Reese-Taylor, one of only a handful of archeologists in the past 80 years to visit the site. 

"It was a huge building -- standing masonry architecture, half-shrouded in jungle vegetation," said Reese-Taylor, associate professor with the University of Calgary's archeology department. "It was one of the most impressive sites I've ever seen. It was incredible to see. I'd hardly ever seen anything like this. It was awe-inspiring."

Searching for more inspiration like the kind she found last July, Reese-Taylor will head back next month to seek approval from the Guatemalan government for a 10-year project that could start in February 2004.

If approved, it will be the first time the Mayan city has ever been the focus of a scholarly inquiry.

Naachtún is situated in the heart of the Maya region, just one kilometer south of the Mexican border in northern Guatemala, or about 60 kilometers north of the historic Mayan city of Tikal. It was rediscovered by western archeologists in 1922 and remains one of the most remote sites in the Maya area.

Archeologists know little about the site because of its remoteness. A survey team took pictures and mapped the area in the 1930s, but there have been few expeditions to the area since then. 

"Naachtún has a long history of occupation, likely beginning at about 400 BC and continuing until its abandonment by AD 800," said Reese-Taylor. "Because of its lengthy history and because it was the capital of an important kingdom, Naachtún is one of the most important sites in the Maya lowlands.

"Additionally, it is a veritable treasure trove of impressive architecture that stands to this day, including structures 20 to 30 meters high, and carved stone monuments that contain important written information."

The project has already attracted worldwide attention. A BBC crew also visited the site in July 2002 and it became the focus of the joint BBC/History Channel production, Lost Cities of the Maya. 

The program aired Friday in Great Britain and will likely be broadcast soon by the History Channel in the United States. It may also air in Canada in the future.

Reese-Taylor will be joined in the jungle by Peter Mathews, a former U of C archeology professor who is now at La Trobe University in Australia; Ernesto Arredondo Leiva, a Guatemalan archeologist; and Marc Zender, a U of C grad student who reads ancient Mayan writings.

"It's going to be difficult to logistically provide food and water, but it's such an incredible research opportunity. It's worth it," said Reese-Taylor.

The team will start its archeological investigation by focusing on the warfare that shaped classic Mayan civilization. Naachtún was strategically important in the Mayan world because it was located between two competing superpowers who were at war for a number of years.

Researchers want to know why and how this city survived for so long under those circumstances.

"Ultimately, the site was abandoned," said Reese-Taylor. "We want to know what was the straw that broke the camel's back. Why was it abandoned?

"It's a very fascinating area to investigate . . . there is no smoking gun we can point to as the reason for the collapse," said Reese-Taylor. 

"These people had hundreds of years invested in building these incredible cities -- you don't just suddenly walk away from that."

How Old is Calcutta?
By Krittivas Mukherjee

Kolkata January 16, 2003 (Indo-Asian News Service) - The eastern metropolis of Kolkata, believed to have been founded over three centuries ago by the British, may actually owe its origin to an urban settlement over two millennia previously.

Archaeologists excavating on the city's northern outskirts have stumbled upon artifacts and "habitational deposits" that are believed to be the remains of an urban settlement dating back to the 2nd century BC.

Scientists of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), carrying out an excavation near the Dum Dum neighborhood, say the artifacts and potsherds seem to be from the Sunga Kusana period.

ASI superintendent archaeologist Bimal Bandopadhyay says indications are that an urban population lived in the area continuously for centuries without a break.

It is yet to be known how the settlement died out.

The discovery calls into question the credit given to British trader Job Charnock for founding the city in 1690.

The ASI has not only found artifacts, potsherds and seals from the Dum Dum site, but also human skeletons that have been sent for laboratory tests. Although the test results are awaited, scientists are confident that the human remains are at least two millennia old.

The city's birthday has long fuelled an academic debate with some historians challenging the popular belief that Charnock founded it on August 24, 1690. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee believes the city was neither born on August 24, 1690 nor was Charnock its founder.

"The name Kolkata (Calcutta is the Anglicized pronunciation) finds mention in documents dated much before August 24, 1690. In fact, the name occurs in documents like 'Chandimangal', which was written between 1598 and 1606," argues Mukherjee.

He says 'Calcutta' finds mention even in a map drawn in 1660. The ASI's discovery at Dum Dum bolsters Mukherjee's claim.

Besides the debate in academic circles, an ancient aristocratic Bengali family, believed to have 'owned' much of what is today Kolkata, has challenged in court the city's birthday and history.

The Sabarna Roychoudhury Parivar Parishad (SRPP) and some historians have filed a suit in Calcutta High Court disputing the popular notions about the city's history and birthday.

According to SRPP joint secretary Gora Chand Roychoudhury, documentary evidence show that the Sabarna Roychoudhury family sold Sutanuti, Kalikata and Gobindapur (the three villages make up Calcutta) to the East India Company, which Charnock represented, for Rs 1,300 on November 10, 1698. Charnock's elder son-in-law Sir Charles Iyer signed the deal for East India Company while Ramchandra, Mahadev, Pran and Rambhadra Roychoudhury represented the sellers. SRPP claims the deal was illegal because Mahadev and Rambhadra Roychoudhury were minors. Recently, the SRPP obtained a copy of the 1698 sale deed from the British Library in London.

Presently August 24, 1690 is accepted as the city's birthday because Charnock was believed to have set foot on Kolkata (Calcutta) that day. But some historians hold that Charnock had landed in Calcutta in 1676.

The SRPP claims that if Kolkata were to have a birthday, it should be on November 10, 1698 and not August 24, 1690, which was "neither the first day of Charnock's visit nor was the land then owned by EIC". SRPP counsellor Smarajit Roychoudhury claims that Charnock died on January 10, 1692 - six years before East India Company signed the deal.

"How then can Job Charnock be the founder of Calcutta?" he wonders.

The SRPP claims the actual founder of the city was Laxmikanta Roychowdhury (1570-1649), a landlord who received the ownership rights over eight villages, including the three that make up today's Kolkata, from emperor Akbar as a token of appreciation for his services. The SRPP claims the lawsuit will "set right a historical wrong".

The court is still hearing the case. It formed a five-member experts' committee to dig out the actual facts. The committee has submitted its report.

Numismatic evidences show that human settlement began in Calcutta about 1,500 years ago. The first European traders to arrive were the Portuguese (around 1510). Before that the Chinese, Arabs and the Malays formed part of the trading community. The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch, the Danes, the English and the French. The Armenians settled in Calcutta at least 60 years before the arrival of Charnock.

The latest ASI excavation turns all arguments upside down, and is expected to spark off renewed interest in the region among archaeologists and historians.

How Flapping Dinos Learned To Fly
By Maggie Fox

WASHINGTON January 21, 2003 (Reuters) — A small dinosaur desperately flapping its arms as it fled a predator may have been making key steps in the evolution of wings, a U.S. researcher says.

Flapping their wings can help birds scoot up steep hills and even defy gravity without taking to the air, an expert in bird flight reports in Friday's issue of the journal Science. 

Dinosaurs with feathered forelimbs that had not yet evolved into wings probably used similar mechanisms, said Kenneth Dial of the avian flight laboratory at the University of Minnesota. He proposes that such creatures eventually evolved into birds. 

"It turns out the proto-wings — precursors to wings birds have today — actually acted more like a spoiler on the back of a race car to keep the animal sure-footed even while climbing up nearly vertical surfaces," Dial said in a statement. 

"In the proto-bird, this behavior would have represented the intermediate stage in the development of flight-capable, aerodynamic wings." 

It is easy to test partial, or proto-wings — baby birds use them all the time. Dial noted that baby partridges can scurry up a 45 degree incline using just their strong legs.

But when they flap their developing wings, they can go straight up a 90 degree slope. Mature partridges can actually run up and over an overhang of 105 degrees when flapping their wings, Dial found. 

Dial, who is also a licensed pilot, tested partridges using accelerometers, devices that measure g-force. He also used a high-speed camera to film them. He tested baby birds and also trimmed the wings of adults. 

His findings support theories that flight evolved gradually in land-dwelling animals. Other theories hold that tree-dwelling creatures used their early wing-like structures to glide between and from trees.

Feathers could have first evolved to protect from cold and wet weather, and later acted to aid in running. 

Scientists currently believe birds evolved from a dinosaur that lived 225 million years ago.

Several fossils have been found that show structures common to both birds and dinosaurs, and some fossils of dinosaurs that clearly never flew carry what look very much like feathers. 

Many believe birds are the only living relatives of dinosaurs. 

Dial's studies can aid more than curiosity, said William Zamer of the National Science Foundation, which funded the study. "The results may also one day help humans design better vehicles for both land and air travel," he said in a statement.

Blackbeard's Bell?

BEAUFORT NC January 19, 2003 (JD News) - The inscription on a bell in the Blackbeard display at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort clearly reads "IH S Maria" and "ANO DE 1709." 

And museum signs accompanying the display date the bell at 1709. 

But looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to 18th century artifacts, state archaeologists and historians found out when experts in Spain deciphered the date on the bell at 1705. 

"That's for some strange reason the way the Spanish - nobody else - but the way the Spanish were doing the number five," said David Moore, nautical archaeologist and Blackbeard expert with the Maritime Museum. 

That the bell was cast four years earlier than was previously believed makes little difference to those trying to link it to Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, which ran aground in Beaufort Inlet in 1718, Moore said. State archaeologists have been mounting evidence to prove the shipwreck found in 1996 is Queen Anne's Revenge.

State archaeologists had hoped the bell, one of the first artifacts to be retrieved from the shipwreck site, might hold some secret link to North Carolina's most famous pirate. As it turns out, the bell simply helps date the shipwreck site to the appropriate period during which Blackbeard was an active pirate. 

"There's no great revelations, unfortunately," said Mark Wilde-Ramsing, director of the Queen Anne's Revenge Shipwreck Project with the Underwater Archaeology branch of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. 

Three experts from two foundries in Spain agreed that because the bell had only one handle that it was meant to be stationary, as on a boat or in a church, Ramsing wrote in a report. The bell is Spanish, and "IH S Maria" was a common inscription in Spain in the 17th and 18th centuries that translates to "Jesus and the Virgin Mary." 

"It's a fairly ordinary bell, probably made by an itinerate bell-caster," Wilde-Ramsing said. Any records of the bell would be obscure, he said.

Wilde-Ramsing believes the bell was more likely made for a mission than a ship. 

"Normally a ship's bell had its name on it," Wilde-Ramsing said. "I don't think the IH S Maria would be the name of a ship." 

How the bell got on a pirate's vessel is not known. 

Historical records show that Blackbeard captured the Concorde, a French slave ship, in 1717 and renamed it the Queen Anne's Revenge. But the earliest known voyage of the Concorde was in 1713, Moore said.

Some historians think - and the bell gives some credence to this theory - that a privateer in Queen Anne's War may have previously used the Concorde, Moore said. In that war, which lasted from 1702 to 1713, England fought both Spain and France. 

After the war, a privateer who continued to plunder would have been outlawed as a pirate. 

"If indeed we do have the Concorde out there she had an extremely interesting career," Moore said. Moore does not necessarily hold to the privateer theory, though. 

Rene Montaudoin, who owned the Concorde, was extremely rich, Moore said. He was the biggest slave dealer in Nantes and owned fleets of fishing and merchant boats. 

"I would have expected somebody of that stature to at the very least cast a new bell," Moore said. Blackbeard could have claimed the bell as a prize or booty or it could have simply been in the cargo of another ship the pirate took, Moore said. 

"There's too many possible answers to explain why we have that bell on this ship," Moore said.

Genre News: Monte Walsh, Beatles, Faith on Angel, Witchblade, Firefly, Richard Crenna & The eXoGlobes!
Monte Walsh: Don't Fence Me In
By FLAtRich

Hollywood January 21, 2003 (eXoNews) - Tom Selleck rode back into town last week and proved once again that the Western genre is far from dead. If you didn't see it the first time around, watch for a rebroadcast. You can thank me later, pardner.

Based on a novel by Jack Schaefer (Shane), TNT's Western drama Monte Walsh takes us to the turn of the 19th century and the end of the Old West. Monte (Tom Selleck) and his sidekick Chet (Keith Carradine) are the last of a breed of men who have no homes except the bunkhouse and would rather die than trade their lives on horseback for putting up fences.

The film was directed by Simon Wincer, who won an Emmy for directing Lonesome Dove and also directed Selleck in his highly underrated western feature Quigley Down Under.

When they're not out on the range rounding up strays in the dead of winter, Monte and Chet are boozing and boasting and roughhousing and nailing local women. Chet romances a local widow with flowers and Monte's main squeeze is the town prostitute Martine (Isabella Rossellini).

It's all part of the cowboy life and they operate strictly within the unwritten code of the West. 

As with other Western films that depict the final days of the American cowboy (some probably swiped from Schaefer, who wrote Shane in 1949 and Monte Walsh in the early 60s), the big bad in Monte Walsh is progress - personified by a faceless land grabbing corporation who is shutting down the cattle ranches.

The story is familiar, but Selleck and company make it their own and deliver a compelling tale with little cliché and loads of realism, action and heart. The locales are convincing and the production design should bring a lump to the throat of Western lovers everywhere. The direction and camerawork is inspiring, even in the square confines of the television screen. 

In a recent Biography on A&E, Tom Selleck said that he prefers to play a flawed character to a seamless action hero. Magnum was such a character. Quigley was less so - more John Wayne than Selleck at times - but Monte is the ultimate Tom Selleck role.

Monte Walsh mixes the stoic fatalism of a dying age with just the right measure of humor and romantic idealism. We feel Monte's despair at losing his world, his profession, and his gal. We share his anger at the changes, but we know that nobody sits in the saddle quite like Monte Walsh. He is unique and he will somehow prevail.

In the end, Monte Walsh is an American hero and the film is a testament to all American heroes - especially the pioneers who built the Old West.

Monte Walsh TNT web site -,5918,437110,00.html 

McCartney's Abbey Road Cigarette Airbrushed

London January 21, 2003 (BBC) - United States poster companies have airbrushed the classic Beatles Abbey Road album cover to remove a cigarette from Paul McCartney's hand. The move was made without the permission of either McCartney or Apple Records, which owns the rights to the image. 

The original copy shows a barefoot McCartney third in line on the famous road crossing holding a cigarette.

But politically correct US poster companies have airbrushed out the offending cigarette, to the delight of anti-smoking campaigners. 

"We have never agreed to anything like this," said an Apple spokesman. "It seems these poster companies got a little carried away. They shouldn't have done what they have, but there isn't much we can do about it now." 

The move comes 14 months after guitarist George Harrison died from cancer, which he blamed on smoking. 

All of the Beatles were heavy smokers during the 1960s and 70s. 

The 1969 image has been a poster classic since it was taken near Abbey Road studios in north London, where the group recorded most of their music. The shot is one of pop's most controversial album covers. Photographer Iain Macmillan was given just ten minutes to take the picture outside the studios. He balanced on a stepladder and took six photographs of the four walking across a zebra crossing. 

It was McCartney who selected the cover shot. He had, in fact, come up with the original idea for the sleeve and had presented Macmillan with a sketch for it.

A myth suggesting that Paul McCartney had died in a car crash and been replaced by a look-a-like grew up around the picture soon after it was released. Clues could supposedly be found in the image. The white-suited John Lennon symbolized the preacher heading the funeral procession, while the bare-footed McCartney was the corpse. 

According to the rumors, proof positive of the impostor theory was the fact that Paul was holding a cigarette in his right hand, despite being left-handed.

Discovery Channel to Shoot Dinosaur Film 

PENDLETON OR January 21, 2003 (AP) - The Discovery Channel will shoot the fourth part of an animated four-hour "dino-drama" in the Wallowa Mountains of northeast Oregon. 

The segment, titled "Prehistoric North America," will include animated dinosaurs that graze near the town of Flora and swoop down from rocks overlooking Imnaha, the Snake River and the Seven Devils mountains of Idaho. 

The series is expected to draw up to 300 million viewers from around the globe, said director Pierre de Lespinois, who surveyed possible locations with producer John Copeland recently. 

Copeland said the area's wide open spaces, rugged canyons and mountain vistas with little sign of human life will allow the crew to shoot big, sweeping scenes. 

"It's nice to find all these diverse locations in one area," said de Lespinois. "The logistics on a film like this are so technical that you don't want to spend hours and hours and hours traveling from one place to the next." 

The first three segments of the dinosaur series were filmed in Europe, Asia, Georgia and Costa Rica.

Discovery Channel - 

Faith Returns to Angel

Hollywood January 14, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Amy Acker, who plays Fred in The WB's Angel, told SCI FI Wire that the cast is currently shooting the first of three episodes that will feature the return of the errant Slayer Faith, played once more by Eliza Dushku.

"Right now, we have Faith on the show, and she's doing three episodes with us, and then she's going to [UPN's] Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] to do five episodes there," Acker said in an interview. "So that's sort of the closest thing to a crossover we've had. We're in the middle of it."

The upcoming storyline contains a few surprises, including the return of Angelus, the evil version of Angel (David Boreanaz), who is conjured to battle the Beast.

When plans go awry, the gang summons Faith to deal with Angelus.

"The Angelus plan didn't go quite as planned, which seems to frequently be the case with our show, and many TV shows," said Alexis Denisof, who plays Wesley, in an interview. "And desperate situations require desperate measures.

"Enlisting Faith's help is pulling a step back from just going out and killing Angelus, so it's really kind of a last-ditch attempt. It's that, or try to destroy him, because he's wreaking such havoc on L.A. and the world at large. So there are some kick-ass scenes with Faith. I mean, she's an intense character. Obviously, she has a history with Angel, Angelus and Wesley, as you know.

"And ... they left each other with cuts and bruises and burns, so it's pretty interesting when they get back together again."

Both Denisof and Acker had nothing but praise for Dushku. "She's great," Acker said. "Fred and Faith haven't had too much interaction. But it's a good, you know, tough energy to have on the set."

Denisof added, "I love her character, and she's great to work with. She just gives you so much, and she's spontaneous and fun and dangerous, and it's a blast. I'm always happy when they put our characters together. Because I think exciting things happen when our characters are together."

Watch Angel Wednesdays on the WB 9PM/8c.

Angel's Official Site -,7353,||139,00.html

Rose Red Is Back With Prequel 
By Nellie Andreeva 

Hollywood January 15, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - ABC is revisiting the haunted Seattle mansion Rose Red with "The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer," a telefilm based on the book of the same name released as a prequel tie-in to the net's hit miniseries "Rose Red."

Written as a first-person account by young Ellen Rimbauer, the diary documents the eerie events in the house built by her husband, oil magnate John Rimbauer, in 1907 and features many of the "Rose Red" characters. Lisa Brenner ("The Patriot") and Steven Brand ("The Scorpion King") have been cast to play Ellen and John Rimbauer in the project from the team behind "Rose Red," with helmer Craig Baxley back to direct, Mark Carliner to executive produce and Thomas Brodek to produce.

The best seller "Diary" was marketed as written by Rimbauer and edited by Stephen King and "Rose Red's" central character, psychology professor Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis). Reardon's "discovery" of the diary is what triggered her quest to explore Rose Red in the mini. Ridley Pearson, the actual author of "Diary," has also penned the script for the ABC movie.

It is not clear at this point if King, writer/executive producer of "Rose Red," will be involved in "Diary," which co-stars Kate Burton ("Swimfan") and Brad Greenquist (ABC's "The Pennsylvania Miners' Story").

Disney Settles $20M 'Whistle-Blower' Suit 

LOS ANGELES January 21, 2003 (AP) - Walt Disney Co. has settled a $20-million "whistle-blower" lawsuit brought by a former executive who says she was fired for refusing to help the company allegedly cheat the IRS. 

The case, scheduled to go to trial Jan. 27, was settled late last week, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. The terms were not disclosed. 

In her March 2001 suit, Judy Denenholz said she was wrongfully terminated after a series of clashes with the company's chief lawyer. Disney general counsel Louis Meisinger allegedly was angered by her refusal to sign off on Disney's response to an IRS audit. 

Denenholz, who was senior vice president of the company's worldwide anti-piracy division, claimed that Disney had substantially understated what it owed the IRS. In response to the suit, Disney said it had investigated the allegations leveled by Denenholz and found them to be "shameful and untrue." 

Meisinger announced Wednesday that he would be leaving the company to serve as an adviser to a Los Angeles law firm and would continue to be a consultant to Disney. A Disney executive speaking on condition of anonymity told the Times that there was no connection between Meisinger's departure and the case settlement. 

The IRS audit focused on how Disney was accounting for taxes stemming from legal and professional expenses incurred in copyright and trademark lawsuits for 1993, 1994 and 1995. 

Denenholz said her bosses were angered when she refused to approve a statement to the IRS indicating that Disney owed back taxes of $676,000. She believed the company was omitting millions of dollars in legal expenses. Soon after, in January 2000, Meisinger told Denenholz her services were no longer needed, according to the suit, ending a nearly 20-year career at Disney. She sued under the state's labor code that protects a whistle-blower from retaliation by his or her employer. In the suit, Denenholz also accused another former colleague and Disney attorney of sexual harassment. 

Disney has said Denenholz was not fired, only that her contract was not renewed after it expired and that her allegations were baseless.

Witchblade's Yancy Butler Faces Charges

LOS ANGELES January 21, 2003 ( - Yancy Butler, who starred in the TNT series "Witchblade," is facing several criminal charges stemming from three separate incidents earlier this month.

All three incidents took place in Suffolk County, on New York's Long Island. In the first case on Jan. 2, the 32-year-old actress is accused of punching and trying to bite her uncle, Henry Jerome, Newsday reports.

The next day, Butler was arrested on a charge of violating an order of protection relating to her father, Joseph Butler. (Joseph Butler was the drummer for the 1960s band the Lovin' Spoonful.) While in custody on that charge, Butler head-butted a female officer, police say.

Butler is scheduled to appear in court on the charges in February. 

The actress did a voluntary stint at an alcohol rehabilitation center last summer, while "Witchblade" was in production on its second season. TNT decided not to renew the series for a third season, saying the show had "reached a fitting conclusion."

Firefly's Last Gasp: Syndication?
By FLAtRich

Hollywood January 19, 2003 (eXoNews) - Joss Whedon's space western Firefly may still have one last chance if Whedon can convince someone to pick the show up for syndication, but Sci Fi Wire reports that Christopher Buchanan, president of Whedon's Mutant Enemy production unit, says syndication seems unlikely.

Cable and broadcast outlets are filled with syndicated sci-fi. From Marvel's Mutant X to X-Files reruns, syndication is the lifeblood of TV. Original productions are less common than reruns, but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine thrived in syndication for seven years. Producers like Majel Roddenberry have done quite well in syndication outlets with original shows like Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda. Andromeda often scores as top drama in syndicated ratings wars, where a 2.0 audience share is considered a winner.

By comparison, Firefly's premiere on Fox scored a 4.0 national rating, but the show declined after that. The final broadcast on Fox scored a 2.7 national. (See  for the complete Firefly ratings breakdown.)

The Los Angeles-based National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) is "a global alliance of business professionals engaged in the creation, development and distribution of content, as well as advertising and financial activities." The annual NATPE convention runs from Jan 20-23 in New Orleans this year, and that's where future syndication deals are made.

20th Century Fox may try to sell Firefly at the NATPE show, but Buchanan said "the reality is, it's a pretty expensive show. And the budget would have to come down significantly. And just given [20th Century Fox's] investment and all the people involved and stuff, it's pretty unlikely that we would go on, I think, in syndication."

Firefly cost around $2 million an episode. UPN and Sci Fi Channel were approached by Fox and Firefly fans but declined to pick up the show. Sci Fire Wire reported that the big three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, also turned down a chance to revive Firefly.

As of last week, Firefly's sets are still up and ready to resume production. Whedon has indicated that he will make every effort possible to bring Firefly back.

There are three unaired Firefly episodes in addition to the two-hour pilot and ten episodes that were shown on Fox.

Firefly fans continue their revival efforts as well.

Firefly S.O.S. is coordinating a "brown coat drive." Here's the skinny from their latest email:

"Firefly inspires viewers to consider the misfortunes of others with empathy and a heroic determination to change things for the better.

"In this spirit, the Brown Coat Drive has been created to bring important resources to needy members of local communities, while at the same time drawing attention to the unswerving focus of the Firefly fans on finding a new home for this innovative television series.

"Firefly fans, known as Browncoats, will donate coats and jackets to the less fortunate across the United States and Canada on 25 January 2003."

The coats will be delivered to the Salvation Army through regional coordinators (see the Firefly S.O.S. site for one near you) or you can just do it yourself.

You can go to  to find contact information for the coordinator in your area.

Firefly S.O.S - 


Sci Fi Wire -

Firefly: Immediate Assistance -

Richard Crenna Dies at 76 

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES January 19, 2003 (AP) - Richard Crenna, the Emmy award-winning character actor who starred as a lovesick teenager on "Our Miss Brooks" and Sylvester Stallone's Green Beret mentor in the "Rambo" films, has died. He was 76.

Crenna, whose credits also included "Wait Until Dark," "The Flamingo Kid," and television's "The Real McCoys," died Friday of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, daughter Seana Crenna said Saturday. 

"This came very sudden," she said. 

Crenna's role on the CBS drama series "Judging Amy" was recently put on hold as he battled cancer.

Born in Los Angeles, Crenna's career began at the age of 10 when he broke into radio. The squeaky-voiced youngster appeared on "Burns and Allen"; later, he played love-sick teen Walter Denton on "Our Miss Brooks," moving with the show when it switched to television. 

"For the first 20 years I was almost exclusively a radio actor — until television came in," Crenna told The Associated Press in 1999. "In those days, radio actors were considered actors who could talk, but they couldn't walk and talk at the same time." 

Crenna disproved that theory, playing pitcher Daffy Dean in 1953 film "Pride of St. Louis" and bringing his Denton character to television and the big screen. 

From 1957 through 1963, he played opposite Walter Brennan on the television series "The Real McCoys." In the show's last two seasons, Crenna directed some episodes; he later directed episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Lou Grant." 

In 1966, Crenna appeared with Steve McQueen in "The Sand Pebbles," and played one of three con men who terrorized a blind Audrey Hepburn in the 1967 thriller "Wait Until Dark." 

Crenna moved easily between television and the movies, and worked steadily through the years. He appeared in several critically hailed movies, including roles as the cuckolded husband in the steamy 1981 film "Body Heat," and as the conniving card shark opposite Matt Dillon in 1984's "The Flamingo Kid."

The latter role earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor. 

He also portrayed Col. Samuel Trautman, the mentor to Stallone's "Rambo" character, in all three of those films.

Crenna later spoofed that role in the 1993 comedy "Hot Shots! Part Deux," a parody of such high-testosterone films.

His character's name: Col. Denton Walters, a nod to his old radio persona.

He earned an Emmy for his 1985 performance as the title character in "The Rape of Richard Beck," where he played a macho, sexist police officer whose world changes after he becomes the victim of a sexual assault. 

Crenna's work as a tough-guy cop became a staple. He played Lt. Frank Janek in a series of television movies during the '80s and early '90s, and appeared in 1999 in a four-hour television series about three generations of a police family. 

Most recently, he appeared as the love interest opposite Tyne Daly on CBS' "Judging Amy." An episode featuring a wedding between the two characters was recently postponed because of Crenna's illness. 

Crenna is survived by wife Penni and three adult children. 

Family members were arranging a public service to be held Jan. 25.

Mad As Hell!
By FLAtRich

Hollywood January 20, 2003 (eXoNews) - For the last few years I have suffered the Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys and multitudes of other award shows handing out their little statues to the biggest earners or most hyped and ignoring the shows I actually watch.

I was sitting through part of the Golden Globes last night, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (picture a bunch of people drinking martinis on overstuffed sofas in dashikis, monocles, berets and turbans), and it occurred to me that I live in Hollywood and I write a lot about TV and nobody ever asks me to vote awards to anyone!

I'm not even foreign, but I got mad as hell and decided I'm not going to take it anymore!

And so I give you - without any presenters, voters, awardees, statues, academy, sponsors, red carpets, tuxedos, E! coverage, opening numbers, bad jokes, or boring speeches - The 2002 eXoNews eXoGlobe Television Genre Awards!

Click here to see the winners!

Come back next year and maybe I'll let you vote! Feel free to write me if you have comments!

The Black Pharaohs
Pharaonic Statues Found in Northern Sudan
MidEast Online

KHARTOUM January 21, 2003 (MEO) - Granite statues and stelas of pharaohs who ruled from northern Sudan some 2,600 years ago, including the last "black pharaohs," have been found by a team of French and Swiss archeologists, a statement said Sunday.

The artifacts represented kings Taharqa and Tanutamon, the last of the "black pharaohs," as well as monarchs Senkamanisken and Aspelta, who all lived about 600 years BC, the French embassy here said in the statement.

These discoveries "represent a significant contribution to the history of ancient Sudan and without a doubt count among the masterpieces of sculpture worldwide," the team said in the statement.

The artifacts were found in a grave in Kerma, south of the Third Cataract of the Nile, by a team from the University of Geneva headed by Charles Bonnet, and including French archeologist Dominique Valbelle.

Like the Egyptian kings, the kings of Kush were also buried in pyramids.

Taharqa (690-664 BC) inherited a dynasty that ruled Egypt until the Assyrian conquest began and his reign was pushed back to between the third and fourth cataracts.

[Further info on this find appeared in the BBC story below. Ed.]

Nubian Kings
By Ishbel Matheson 
BBC Nairobi 

Egypt January 20, 2003 (BBC) - A team of French and Swiss archaeologists working in the Nile Valley have uncovered ancient statues described as sculptural masterpieces in northern Sudan. 

The archaeologists from the University of Geneva discovered a pit full of large monuments and finely carved statues of the Nubian kings known as the black pharaohs. The Swiss head of the archaeological expedition told the BBC that the find was of worldwide importance. 

The black pharaohs, as they were known, ruled over a mighty empire stretching along the Nile Valley 2,500 years ago. The pit, which was full of ancient monuments, is located between some ruined temples on the banks of the Nile.

It had not been opened for over 2,000 years. 

Inside, the archaeologists made a breathtaking discovery. The statues of the black pharaohs are highly polished, finely carved and made of granite. The name of the king is engraved on the back and on the feet of each sculpture. 

The head of the expedition, Charles Bonnet, described them as very beautiful. He told the BBC they were sculptural masterpieces.

They were important not just for the history of Sudan but also for world art.

The Nubians were powerful and wealthy kings who controlled large territories along the Nile. Their land was known as the Kingdom of Kush.

They controlled the valuable trade routes along the river but were eventually conquered by their neighbors from the north.

The ancient Egyptians made the pit into which the monuments and statues were piled.

Many of the sculptures were savagely destroyed, with smashed heads and broken feet.

Professor Bonnet says that this shows that the Egyptians were not content with simply conquering Kush. 

They also wanted to obliterate the memory of the black pharaohs and their unique culture from the face of the earth.

Woman Lives with Dead Aunt for 18 Months!
BERLIN January 21, 2003 (Reuters) - A German woman from southwestern Germany lived with her dead aunt tucked up in bed for 18 months, police said. Police entered the house in a suburb of the city of Stuttgart Wednesday to discover a skeleton in the bed of the house occupied by a 54-year-old woman, officials said Friday. 

The woman told police her aunt had died, aged 89, in June 2001. An autopsy revealed the aunt had died of natural causes. The niece has since been admitted to a psychiatric clinic. 

"Neighbors described both women as rather peculiar," a police spokesman said. 

The two women had run a corner shop, but the store had only opened on odd occasions recently, leading neighbors to become curious. 

Last July, police discovered a German man had lived with his dead father in an apartment in the western city of Wiesbaden for at least a year to avoid eviction. Firemen found the decomposed body of the father sitting on the couch after neighbors reported an unusual smell.
Chocolate Is Good For You!
American Chemical Society Press Release

January 17, 2003 - Who knew that chocolate - the traditional Valentine's Day gift - had so much more to offer the recipient than simply a token of someone's affection? Of course, like most enjoyable treats, the "food of the gods" should be embraced in moderation, but research suggests that chocolate may have some redeeming health features.

The good news was presented at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

And this doesn't just mean reveling in a box á la Bridget Jones when lonely. According to several scientists, chocolate contains polyphenols - chemical compounds renowned for their heart-helping properties.

Polyphenols, which are present in a chocolate bar in about the same quantities as in a glass of red wine, have been shown to prevent LDL cholesterol (the 'bad' cholesterol) from oxidizing into a form that damages arteries. In addition, Joe A. Vinson, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, in Scranton, Pa., says that chocolate has been shown to "raise good cholesterol 10 percent, therefore lowering the risk of heart complications by 20 percent." That should make your heart swell with love! 

Antioxidants, found in everything from green tea to bread crust, are commonly believed to fight cancer. Cocoa's antioxidant capacity tops that of long-trusted sources like strawberries and garlic. Vinson has determined that cocoa liquor, the derivative of the cocoa bean used in milk and dark chocolates that is absent from white chocolate, contains most of the antioxidants.

Rich, dark chocolate lovers should celebrate: the darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants. Not only does chocolate contain a large quantity of antioxidants, Vinson discovered that chocolate contains high quality antioxidants.

"The higher quality the antioxidants, the more work they can do," Vinson explained. "We've found that the antioxidants in dark chocolate are higher quality than even vitamins C and E." 

Here are two chocolate recipes courtesy of the American Chemical Society's historic Belmont Conference Center in Elkridge, Md.

Chocolate Truffles


6-½ oz bittersweet chocolate chopped in small pieces
6 ½ oz heavy cream
Melted and tempered bittersweet chocolate for dipping


Bring cream to a boil. Pour onto chocolate pieces and stir until melted and smooth. Refrigerate overnight.

Scoop with size 100-portion control scoop (small sorbet scoop) and place on parchment lined sheet.

Freeze for 2 hours.

Dip in melted chocolate and chill until set.

Serve at room temperature for best flavor and texture.

Molten Chocolate Cake 


7 oz bittersweet chocolate
7 oz butter
7 oz confectioner's sugar
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
1 ½ cups cake flour
Pinch salt


In double boiler, melt chocolate, butter and confectioner's sugar. Whip salt, eggs and yolks in mixer until lemon yellow.

Pour in melted chocolate and whip. Stir in sifted cake flour.

Pour into greased 4 oz. ramekins and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.

Turn out onto dessert plates and serve warm.

[eXoNews takes no responsibility for weight gain or bad teeth as a result of reading this article :o)> Ed.]

Meet the Aardvarks!
Matieland SA January 20, 2003 (BBC) - The ancient ancestor of all mammals that give birth to live young - including humans - probably had genetic similarities with the aardvark. The elusive African mammal is a close match to our early cousin in the way its DNA is packaged into distinct bundles, or chromosomes, say scientists.

The last common ancestor of all placental mammals - possibly a shrew-like creature - scurried over the planet hundreds of millions of years ago. It was probably nothing like the modern-day aardvark but could have had a similar set of chromosomes. 

The aardvark, which feeds on ants and termites, is something of a genetic oddity. It looks nothing like an elephant but has been lumped in with jumbo and co when it comes to its genetic make-up.

Many scientists think both are members of the group from which all placental mammals evolved. 

The order of mammals - known as Afrotherians - arose in Africa at a time when the continent was isolated from the rest of land by the movement of the Earth's plates.

Six animals - the aardvark, elephant, hyrax, manatee, elephant shrew and golden mole - belong to the group, on the basis of their genetic sequences. 

The last common ancestor of all placental mammals - including humans - may also have been a member of the group. The aardvark appears to be the closest match to this ancient relative in terms of how little its DNA has changed over time. 

Professor Terence Robinson of the University of Stellenbosch in Matieland, South Africa, is author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He told BBC News Online: "All mammals essentially had one common ancestor if you go back in distant time. 

"By looking at the chromosomes of living species and extrapolating backwards, the aardvark seems to have retained a large number of primitive chromosomal characteristics." 

The analysis is based on how much the chromosomes of related animals change over time during the process of evolution. Co-author Professor Malcolm Ferguson-Smith of the University of Cambridge, UK, describes this as a bit like "shuffling a deck of cards". 

For some reason, as yet unknown, the chromosomes of the aardvark have undergone "very few shuffles" since the last common ancestor of all placental mammals walked the Earth. 

"The animal seems to have conserved the ancestral karyotype [number and form of the chromosomes of an organism] in a way that other mammals haven't," he said. What is clear is that we are "not in the least bit like aardvarks".

However, like all mammals that bear live young, we once shared a common bond.

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