Chuck Berry 75!
Cat Robots,
Mata Hari and
Stephen Hawking!
Chuck Berry At 75


ST. LOUIS October 18, 2001 (AP) — Chuck Berry still unleashes the bent-kneed duck walk and one-legged hop that helped make him famous in the days of sock hops and soda shops.

"Sometimes I forget, and the fans remind me I can still do it. So I'll fire back,'' says Berry, who turns 75 on Thursday. "If they want it, they got it.''

For the flashy showman behind "Johnny B. Goode,'' life hasn't been bad.

"Rock's so good to me. Rock is my child and my grandfather,'' he said a few days before his birthday bash Thursday night at The Pageant, a club in his hometown of St. Louis. He was to perform, along with his friend Little Richard.

"I'd live this life again, with the exception of a few mistakes,'' Berry said. "But you can't live without the negatives, and the positives have outweighed the negatives.''

One of rock 'n' roll's most important architects, Berry pioneered a musical revolution that began decades ago when couples bopped to his guitar-driven hits like "Maybellene,'' "Roll Over Beethoven,'' "Sweet Little Sixteen,'' "Rock and Roll Music'' and "No Particular Place To Go.''

He helped inspire Elvis and the Beatles, was inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters halls of fame and last year got one of the nation's highest awards as a Kennedy Center Honor recipient.

"I think he's enduring,'' says Little Richard, who with Berry was among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1986. "I think he's a great songwriter, great entertainer and one of the greatest businessmen — black or white — in the business. He knows what he's doing.''

Berry learned to play guitar in his teens. Even Little Richard can't believe he's turning 75.

"I didn't know he was that old. I was really shocked,'' the 68-year-old says. "But I'm glad to see him make that age and still be energized to do what he's doing, still doing the split and all that stuff. That's a blessin' and a lesson.''

Together, Berry and sideman Johnnie Johnson — another St. Louisan and the inspiration for "Johnny B. Goode'' — blended blues, boogie and country to help shape rock music in the early 1960s. Johnson composed the music on piano, and Berry converted it to guitar and wrote the lyrics.

Along the path to fame, Berry hit some sour notes. At 18, he spent time in prison for armed robbery. More prison time followed in the 1960s after he illegally took a 14-year-old girl across state lines. In 1979, he was sentenced to a few months behind bars for tax evasion.

In the past dozen years, Berry pleaded guilty to harassment and paid a small fine after being accused of punching a woman in New York; the woman sued him for $5 million. Another lawsuit alleged Berry secretly videotaped women using a restroom in his one-time St. Louis-area eatery.

Lately, he's been fending off a federal lawsuit by Johnson, who says Berry took sole copyright for some songs they co-wrote, depriving Johnson of royalties.

To Berry, such matters are among the "negatives'' he doesn't care to revisit.

"Even the Kennedys had difficulties,'' he says. "I'm not an angel.''

Berry hasn't made an album in nearly two decades, but he still draws crowds. On the road, he plays hour-long gigs in venues ranging from ballparks to casinos, amphitheaters to armories.

"I'm glad to be anywhere,'' says Berry, who has four children and six grandchildren. "I'll be doing the same thing as long as it doesn't hurt anybody, especially if it brings somebody happiness.''

He isn't worried about his legacy, and casts himself only as a man "trying to do my best.''

"I have very little concern for sure about time and age,'' he says. "If I feel 14, I act like it. If I feel old, I'll lay down.''

"My grandfather smoked a pipe when they found him lying deceased in his bedroom. I'm hoping I'll have just finished a practice in my room, with a guitar in my arms. That's the way I want to go.''

Japanese Troops Will Aid US in Retaliation
Associated Press

TOKYO October 18, 2001 (AP) - Lawmakers on Thursday approved a measure to allow Japanese troops to support U.S. military strikes, handing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a key political victory ahead of an international summit with President Bush.

The move enables Japan to send its military overseas to transport weapons and other supplies for the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign. It also approves the provision of logistic and humanitarian support.

The legislation limits Japanese units to areas where combat is not taking place. It is a sensitive issue because Japan's post-World War II constitution bans the use of force to settle international disputes, and its Asian neighbors have raised concerns about the prospect of Japanese troops being sent outside its borders.

Koizumi, who has pushed to expand Japan's military contribution, was reportedly eager to see the measures pass before this weekend's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Shanghai, China, where he will meet Bush and other leaders.

With Parliament's lower house approving the three anti-terror bills Thursday, the legislation is virtually assured of becoming law. It cannot be blocked by the weaker upper house, which takes up the issue Friday.

The bills loosen restrictions on dispatching Japan's Self-Defense Forces abroad and expand its role in protecting military bases and other vital installations on its soil from terrorists.

Koizumi's three-party ruling coalition holds a majority in both houses and can force bills past the opposition.

The government tried to make a show of seeking consensus with its political foes. Talks broke down Monday between Koizumi and the leader of Japan's largest opposition party over the language of a compromise bill, paving the way for Thursday's vote.

Japan's pacifist constitution renounces the use of force as a means of resolving international disputes, and any proposal to send the military outside the nation's borders is politically sensitive.

Japan drew fire for contributing only money during the 1991 Gulf war. Stung by that criticism of "checkbook diplomacy," Koizumi and other conservative leaders said they want to play a more visible role in the latest U.S.-led campaign.

Utah Bus Passengers Overpower Hijacker
Associated Press Writer

SALT LAKE CITY October 18, 2001 (AP) — Passengers on a Greyhound bus overpowered a hijacker who grabbed the steering wheel and threatened to flip the vehicle, authorities said. The man and a woman accomplice fled after the driver safely stopped the bus. Two people were later taken into custody early Thursday.

No one was injured.

Troopers arrested suspects Troy Matzek, 34, and Becky Hyde, 25, of Wichita, Kan., said Highway Patrol Sgt. Daniel Fuhr. The unarmed couple gave themselves up at a downtown Salt Lake City truck stop. The Utah Highway Patrol described the incident as an attempted hijacking.

Bus driver Gene Savage told television station KUTV that he kicked the man away after he grabbed the steering wheel. Several passengers wrestled with the hijacker as Savage stopped the bus, said Doug McCleve, spokesman for the Utah Highway Patrol.

"That's what allowed the bus driver to get it over to the side of the road,'' he said. "It may have saved a real tragedy here.''

The man and woman got out of the bus, which had stopped about 15 miles east of Salt Lake City, and flagged down a passing car, McCleve said. The driver took them to a gas station, and the couple stopped traffic and jumped into a truck a truck claiming their lives were in danger. The truck driver called 911 while the two were in the cab, Fuhr said.

"Apparently they weren't aware what was going on,'' Fuhr said. According to McCleve, the man had been ranting about hijackings before the attack. It is not clear if he had a weapon, although some of the passengers said he had threatened them with a bomb. A check of the bus turned up no explosives.

The bus was bound from Portland, Ore., to Nashville, Tenn., with 44 passengers aboard said Greyhound spokeswoman Jamille Bradfield, who characterized the man as an "unruly passenger,'' rather than a hijacker.

Earlier this month, a Croatian man slashed the neck of a Greyhound bus driver in Tennessee, causing a crash that killed seven passengers.
US Sent Guns To Bin Laden In 1980s

WASHINGTON October 16, 2001 (AP) -- More than a decade ago, the U.S. government sent 25 high-powered sniper rifles to a group of Muslim fighters in Afghanistan that included Osama bin Laden, according to court testimony and the guns' maker.

The rifles, made by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc. of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and paid for by the government, were shipped during the collaboration between the United States and Muslims then fighting to drive the Soviet Union from Afghanistan.

Experts doubt the weapons could still be used, but the transaction further accentuates how Americans are fighting an enemy that U.S. officials once supported and liberally armed.

In a trial early this year of suspects in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, Essam Al-Ridi, identified as a former pilot for bin Laden, said he shipped the weapons in 1989 to Sheik Abdallah Azzam, bin Laden's ideological mentor. The weapons had range-finding equipment and night-vision scopes.

During the late 1980s, the United States supplied arms worth $500 million a year to anti-Soviet fighters including Afghanistan's current Taliban rulers, bin Laden and others. The supplies included a range of weapons from small arms to shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

Al-Ridi, an American citizen born in Egypt, testified that Azzam liked the rifles because they could be "carried by individuals so it's made in such a way where you could have a heavy cannon but mobile by an individual.''

While in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al-Ridi said he saw bin Laden several times with Azzam.

Ronnie Barrett, president of Barrett Firearms, likened sale of the .50-caliber armor-piercing rifles to the supply of the Stinger surface-to-air missiles given to anti-Soviet guerrillas in Afghanistan.

"Barrett rifles were picked up by U.S. government trucks, shipped to U.S. government bases and shipped to those Afghan freedom fighters,'' Barrett said.

The sale was publicized by the Violence Policy Center, gun-control advocates who want for more restrictions on the sale of high-powered weapons such as the specialized Barrett exports.

"These .50-caliber sniper rifles are ideal tools for terror and assassination,'' VPC analyst Tom Diaz said.

Firearms expert Charles Cutshaw of Jane's Information Group said he was more worried about the Stingers than long-range sniper rifles.

"It seems to me that there are easier ways for a terrorist to get at a high-value target than this,'' Cutshaw said. "If they wanted to bring down an aircraft, the best way would be to bring it down with a Stinger.'' Guerrillas using Stingers were credited with shooting down more than 270 Soviet aircraft.

Cutshaw said the sniper rifles are "sort of overkill'' for shooting people; more appropriate targets would be vehicles or fuel tanks. But the Irish Republican Army used the weapon to kill 10 British soldiers and policemen patrolling the Northern Ireland border in the 1990s.

The rifles could be used only with U.S.-made ammunition, but such ammunition can be obtained in neighboring Pakistan, Cutshaw said.

The Barrett rifles sold for $5,000 to $6,000 each, and both Barrett and Cutshaw had doubts they would still work due to dust and a lack of spare parts.

But the rifles could be functional if they have been kept in storage since the purchase, Barrett said. The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan months after the rifles were sold.

"If it's not used, it could work,'' Barrett said. "Age will not bother the gun, just usage.''

Violence Policy Center:


Baboons Show Signs of Abstract Thinking

Associated Press

October 14, 2001 (AP) - Baboons in laboratory experiments showed signs of abstract thinking by picking out various images on a computer screen, a surprising finding that raises new questions about evolution and what distinguishes humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Scientists in France and the United States cautioned that only two baboons participated in the comparative tests, and those monkeys were veterans of earlier cognitive experiments.

And, the baboons had to repeat the tests thousands of times to learn how sets of images were the same or different.

Even so, researchers said, the results suggest baboons are capable of analogical judgment - the kind of "this-is-to-that" comparisons that psychologists say is fundamental to reasoning.

Previously, chimpanzees were the only non-human primates to demonstrate similar skills in experiments. Baboons are Old World monkeys that split from humans and apes on the primate family tree 30 million years ago.

"Although discriminating the relation between relations may not be an intellectual forte of baboons, it nevertheless is within their ken," reported Joel Forte of the Center for Research in Cognitive Neuroscience in Marseille, France.

Forte's research, with Edward Wasserman and Michael E. Young of the University of Iowa, was published in the October issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Other researchers said the finding is important because it shows that understanding the relationships between things - what is the same and what is different - does not necessarily require language to identify or describe them.

The experiment holds "clear implications for understanding the evolution of the mind," said psychologist Kimberly Kirkpatrick of the University of York in England, who was not involved in the experiment but reviewed the findings.

"The baboon's ability to match relations may be a precursor to human analogical thinking," Kirkpatrick said. "Studying the cognitive abilities in non-humans is analogous to using the fossil record to construct the course of evolution in the body."

In the experiments, researchers showed baboons, one male and one female, sets of 16 images. One image set comprised rows of little pictures - the sun, a light bulb, a brain, a hand. Another set repeated the same image - all telephones, for example.

One image or set of images was shown, and the baboons had to pick images similar to or different from those shown, depending on the test. Using a computer joystick, the baboons had 10 seconds to move the computer cursor to images on the screen.

When the baboons made a correct choice they would hear a high musical tone and be rewarded with a banana-flavored food pellet. Incorrect choices were met with a low tone and a 7-second time out, then the test would be repeated.

The baboons needed as many as 700 trials before they would consistently distinguish between the two image sets, the researchers reported.

Subsequent tests added new image sets - some with variety (clock, brain, hand, triangle) others repeating the same image (all flowers). The baboons had to sift through the new images alongside the sets they already had learned.

For example, in early tests, a task might be to match the sets of all-flower images. But in more advanced tests, baboons might be shown a set of all-flower images, then shown a set of all-triangles and sets containing a variety of images.

The correct answer? Flowers and triangles. It wasn't important to match the actual images. The abstract lesson was to find like sets.

In these experiments, the baboons needed as many as 7,000 tries before they could perform the tests with 80 percent accuracy.

Humans who took the same tests were able to master them in 100 tries or less, they said.

Stanford biologist Robert Sapolsky, who has studied wild baboons in Africa for 23 years, said the monkeys might have demonstrated sharper intellect if the tests had used items that were important to baboons' lives.

"The learning would take place even faster if they had been shown pictures of the foods that baboons eat, pictures of different members of the baboon troop, pictures of different predators," Sapolsky said.

Full Journal of Experimental Psychology Article -

Japanese Firm Lets Robot Cat Out of the Bag

TOKYO October 16, 2001 (Reuters) - Japan's biggest toy maker pioneered the world's first virtual pet, the Tamagotchi, and the nation's most famous electronics maker rolled out the No. 1 robot dog, Aibo.

Now one of its biggest makers of automated factory systems, Omron Corp., has weighed in with a robot cat: NeCoRo.

Like most household cats, it doesn't respond to commands or perform tricks.

Nor can it walk, but Omron officials said it does what is most important: purring contentedly when stroked, and otherwise giving cuddly emotional feedback to its owner with feline sounds and movements.

"Individual contact was our priority,'' Toshihiro Tashima, head of Omron's e-pet project, said at the robot cat's coming-out party on Tuesday.

Only 5,000 of the acrylic-furred felines will be up for sale, and only in Japan, with a retail list price of 185,000 yen ($1,530) each.

That compares with 98,000 yen for the latest version of Sony Corp's Aibo pets, which can recognize 75 simple words, take photos and mimic human intonation.

When it debuted in 1999, a limited offer of 3,000 Aibos sold out over the Internet in Japan in less than 20 minutes, commanding 250,000 yen a piece.

For Japan's mechanical cat-lovers, NeCoRo, whose name derives from the Japanese for cat, will be available at select Takashimaya Co department stores or over the Internet at


The robot pet has tactile sensors behind and beneath its ears and on its back, where cats are particularly sensitive, as well as audio and visual sensors enabling it to recognize loud noises, sudden movements or the calling of its name.

Its "vocabulary'' includes 48 different cat noises. It can also perk up its ears, squint its eyes, tilt its head or stretch its legs to express such feelings as surprise or fatigue.

NeCoRo's most difficult achievement, Tashima said, was the fake-fur skin that expands and contracts with its various body movements and facial expressions.

And like Bandai Co. Ltd.'s hit Tamagotchi -- a small, egg-shaped toy displaying a virtual bird that requires virtual care and feeding -- NeCoRo will develop personality traits based on how it is treated by its owner.

"If you hold it a lot, it'll develop a gentle personality, but if you don't play with it much, it'll ignore you,'' Tashima said.

Omron, known for sensor technology used in products from factory tools to automatic tellers, also hoped the artificial intelligence and other technologies tested in NeCoRo would find applications in more practical items, such as user-friendly vending machines for train tickets.

"As machines become a bit smarter, they'll be easier to use,'' Tashima said.

Omron executives also acknowledged that NeCoRo had room for improvement, although they disclosed no concrete plans for future generations.

"We'll decide on our next step depending on how the market reacts to this,'' Tashima said.

Composer Jay Livingston Dies at 86

Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES October 17, 2001 (AP) — Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Jay Livingston, whose collaboration with Ray Evans led to such hits as "Silver Bells,'' "Que Sera, Sera'' and "Mona Lisa,'' died Wednesday. He was 86.

Livingston, whose songwriting partnership with Evans spanned 64 years, died of pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, family spokesman Frank Liberman said.

Often called the last of the great songwriters, Livingston and Evans had seven Academy Award nominations and won three — in 1948 for "Buttons and Bows'' in the film "The Paleface,'' in 1950 for "Mona Lisa'' in "Captain Carey, USA,'' and in 1956 for "Que Sera, Sera'' in "The Man Who Knew Too Much.''

They wrote the television theme songs for "Bonanza'' and "Mr. Ed,'' and were honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for "the most performed music for film and TV for 1996.''

The members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame also produced such hits as "The Cat and the Canary'' from the 1945 film "Why Girls Leave Home,'' "Tammy'' from the 1957 movie "Tammy and the Bachelor,'' "Almost in Your Arms'' from the 1958 film "Houseboat'' and the title song of the 1964 film "Dear Heart.''

Livingston was born on March 28, 1915, in the Pittsburgh suburb of McDonald. He met Evans in 1937 at the University of Pennsylvania, where they were both students.

The team's final project was the recording, "Michael Feinstein Sings the Livingston and Evans Song Book,'' due for 2002 release.

Beatle Harrison Writes New Single With Son

LONDON October 17, 2001 (Reuters) - Former Beatle George Harrison has recorded his first single since being treated for cancer earlier this year, a music industry source said Wednesday.

Harrison, 58, co-wrote "A Horse to Water" with his son Dhani and recorded it with British musician Jools Holland.

"It was wonderful to work with one of the great, legendary artists in the world," Holland said in a statement. "George suggested we do a track and this finally happened this month."

Harrison recorded the song at home on Oct. 1, less than six months after undergoing radiotherapy for a brain tumor. He was treated for throat cancer in 1997.

A spokesman for Holland described the new song as a cross between 1960s Bob Dylan and early 1970s John Lennon. "It is not a ballad and it is not rock -- I think George Harrison fans will be intrigued," the spokesman added.

Harrison, the youngest Beatle, survived being stabbed in the chest by an intruder at his home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, west of London, in 1999.

He was widely reported to have moved to a luxury villa in the Swiss canton of Ticino in August as he recovered from the latest bout of surgery.

His single will appear on Holland's album "Small World, Big Friends," to be released in Britain on Nov. 19, in which Holland plays duets with some of the biggest names in music, including Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler, Van Morrison and Eric Clapton.

Angel, Buffy and X-Files News:

Denisof Takes Flight In Angel

Hollywood October 17, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - Alexis Denisof, who plays Wesley on The WB's Angel, told SCI FI Wire that his character was never meant to last beyond two episodes of the series' progenitor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"We were shooting the second of the two episodes," Denisof said in an interview, "when [creator] Joss [Whedon] said to me, 'You know, we were going to kill off Wesley, but we're thinking we might keep him alive a little longer. Are you going to be around to do another episode?' I said, 'Yeah. Sure. I'd love to.' That would happen every episode."

Denisof ultimately turned up in nine third-season Buffy episodes, ranging from "Bad Girls" to "Graduation Day, Part 2." He then joined spin-off series Angel as a regular, beginning with "Parting Gifts," the 10th episode of Angel's first season. The character has developed from an annoying, wimpy guy into a likable, forceful presence who's very much the equal of Angel (David Boreanaz), Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) and Gunn (J. August Richards) in Angel Investigations.

"You need to understand that [Wesley] wasn't invented to be liked in those first few episodes of Buffy," said Denisof, who is romantically involved with Buffy co-star Alyson Hannigan (Willow). "From the moment they decided to put Wesley on Angel, Joss, [series co-creator] David Greenwalt and I all got together and started looking at ways in which we could evolve the character into somebody people would want to have around week in and week out. Because the guy who arrived in Sunnydale was not somebody you'd want around all the time. It was a gradual process, and I get the impression now that people accept Wesley more. He's grown a lot, and there are more qualities that people enjoy and like."

Angel airs Mondays at 9PM on the WB.

Official Angel Home Page -  - (This site is pretty horrible, WB!)

Buffy The Musical?


Hollywood October 17, 2001 (Creators' Syndicate) - "Everyone will be amazed by Sarah Michelle - the lady can sing!" announces Sarah Michelle Gellar's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" costar James Marsters.

The "Buffy" company is in the midst of shooting a musical extravaganza episode composed and lyricized by none other than "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon - who has had no experience writing musicals, "and says he can't play the piano. He's doing a lot of different musical styles -- you might say Stephen Sondheim to Hank Williams," adds Marsters, himself a singer and musician.

"Some of Joss's music is surprisingly complicated. Maybe it's a Beatles kind of thing - he doesn't know enough to know what he can't do, and he's smashing rules everywhere."

With "Buffy" having helped raise UPN's status markedly this season, the network "is letting Joss have anything he wants," as Marsters divines it. The musical has been intermittently in production since the beginning of the month - with scenes being lensed in-between scenes of regular "Buffy" episodes. "We're actually shooting two and a half-to-three episodes at once. We all feel like we're doing a really cool show, and we're tired."

The hour-long musical show, targeted for mid-November airing, incorporates all the "Buffy" arcs Whedon has been weaving this season, so that all the stories build up to the singing 'n' dancing spectacle, according to Marsters. Gellar definitely shines in the terpsichorean department. "She's been a figure skater and a dancer, you know. She's arguably the best dancer in the company - and we have a lot of fine dancers."

Marsters makes the point that Whedon "is being called by a lot of people to go into the fancy world of movies. A lot of producers in his position would be tempted to leave Sunnydale ("Buffy's" hometown) and never come back. Instead, he decided to challenge and terrify himself with us. God help us next year."

Buffy airs Tuesdays at 8PM on UPN.

Official Buffy Home Page -

Renewed X-Files On Tap

Hollywood October 17, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - The X-Files executive producer Frank Spotnitz told The Hollywood Reporter that the series begins its ninth season with new characters joining longtime regular Gillian Anderson (Agent Scully). Cary Elwes joins the show and Annabeth Gish starts her first season as a regular.

"There are new characters who are sharing the stage with the old characters, and, by necessity, they're driving the show in new directions," Spotnitz told the trade paper. "So it's definitely the X-Files television series that we've all come to know so well over the past eight years, but it feels very fresh and different."

Central to this year's arc: Scully's baby, whose birth was the series' eighth-season finale. "There's something afoot, and it involves what could be looked at as a new conspiracy, but one far different from the one that Agent Mulder [David Duchovny] pursued all those years," said X-Files creator Chris Carter.

Though Duchovny is long gone, there will be other familiar faces this fall. The Lone Gunmen, whose spin-off series bombed in the ratings, return to The X-Files, bringing with them more humor.

"Last year we were establishing Robert [Patrick]'s character [Agent Doggett], so we didn't do any lighthearted episodes like we've been known to do over the previous seven years of the show," Carter said. "This year, I think you will see a number of those."

The X-Files returns to Fox at 9 PM on Nov. 4.

Official X-Files Site -

Nice Alternate X-Files  site (ahem) -

Bing Crosby's Heirs Seek Unpaid Royalties

SANTA MONICA October 17, 2001 (AP) - A lawsuit accusing Universal Music Group of underpaying royalties on Bing Crosby's recordings is slated for a Nov. 5 hearing in Superior Court.

The heirs of Crosby, who died in 1977 at age 73, filed the lawsuit, which seeks $16 million.

It alleges that the singer, who did most of his recording for Decca Records from the 1930s through the 1960s, negotiated a deal calling for royalties on all songs recorded before 1949 to be paid at 15 percent of their wholesale price, with royalties for recordings made after then to be paid at 7 percent of their retail price.

Decca subsequently was acquired by MCA and Universal Music.

According to the lawsuit, filed in July 2000, an audit showed Universal was paying royalties of 7 percent on all Crosby recordings.

"The numbers are large," family attorney Mark Brodka said Tuesday.

Universal Music declined to comment, saying the company does not discuss pending litigation.

Brodka said the claims in the Crosby estate lawsuit are "remarkably similar" to allegations singer Peggy Lee made in a lawsuit against Universal Music in 1999 for underpayment of royalties on a Decca contract. That action remains unresolved.

Besides the Crosby and Peggy Lee lawsuits, singer-actress Courtney Love recently filed two lawsuits challenging royalty payments and seeking to nullify contracts with Universal Music. One is on behalf of herself and the other is on behalf of the estate of her husband, Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide in 1994.

Jailed Chinese Reporter Wins Press Freedom Award
BEIJING October 17, 2001 (Reuters) - A Chinese journalist accused of revealing state secrets after he published articles on official corruption has won an international award from a journalists' rights group.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) chose Jiang Weiping as one of four recipients of its annual International Press Freedom Award, the group said in a statement on Wednesday.

The other recipients were Geoff Nyarota, editor of Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News; Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's leading investigative journalists and Mazen Dana, a Reuters cameraman in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The statement said China brought Jiang to trial in September but no verdict has been announced.

Jiang's reports in the Hong Kong tabloid Front Line implicated prominent Liaoning province officials, including provincial governor Bo Xilai, in bribery schemes, the group said.

Bo, the son of Communist Party elder Bo Yibo, is still respected as a young, promising leader in China.

Jiang -- a former reporter for the official Xinhua news agency and bureau chief in the northeastern city of Dalian for the Hong Kong-based, Communist Party-backed Wenhui Bao -- had also helped expose a spectacular graft scandal in Shenyang.

He reported that a vice mayor of China's fifth largest city, Ma Xiangdong, had gambled 30 million yuan ($3.8 million) in public funds in casinos in Macau, the CPJ said.

Ma was sentenced to death last week as courts convicted 16 officials for their involvement in the web of corruption linking mobsters to city hall.

At least 25 journalists are imprisoned in China, more than in any other country, the CPJ statement said.
Mata Hari Innocent of Espionage?

By Rebecca Harrison

PARIS October 16, 2001 (Reuters) - Eighty-four years after France shot the legendary striptease artist Mata Hari for espionage, lawyers Monday lodged a bid to clear her name.

Lawyers acting for Mata Hari's Dutch birthplace Leeuwarden and the Mata Hari foundation said the femme fatale, who was accused of selling state secrets to Germany during World War One, was not a spy but the victim of a state conspiracy.

They want the French Ministry of Justice to give the green light for a new trial in the hope of annulling the guilty verdict that sent her to death by firing squad in 1917.

"Mata Hari was in the wrong place at the wrong time and forced by the French state to take on the sins of an era," Thibault de Montbrial, the lawyer in charge of the case, told a news conference.

Mata Hari, whose real name was Margaretha Zelle MacLeod, was an opportunist who lived the high life and took money from Germany and France during the war, he said.

But she never gave out classified information in return.

"The French military was determined to see her shot, partly to show the efficiency of their own anti-espionage system and partly because public opinion was tired of seeing rich Parisians living the high life when men were being shot on the battlefield," de Montbrial said.

Some say Mata Hari ranks second only to fictional hero James Bond in spy mythology. Her name has become synonymous with sex, intrigue and betrayal.

French authorities accused her of revealing secrets, including information about a new French tank, to an official at the German embassy in Madrid. She was also accused of receiving money from the German consulate in the Netherlands.

Mata Hari, whose name means "eye of the morning" in Malay, was alleged to have slept with some 20 German officers and was famed for her exotic oriental dancing.

German writer Leon Schirmann spent some 10 years scouring archives in France, Britain and Germany to try to prove her innocence and has penned a book based on his findings.

De Montbrial said the research revealed not only that the proof against Mata Hari was insufficient, but official documents also showed French intelligence had concocted evidence to implicate her.

"She was the victim of a campaign of false information by the French secret service that was approved at all levels," the lawyer said. "The truth was deliberately hidden."

Lawyers cannot automatically file an appeal to clear her name because under French law this is a right reserved for family members. No relatives of the dancer are known to be alive.

The appeal to the Ministry of Justice was the first step in a lengthy legal process to try to clear her name. Only Justice Minister Marylise Lebranchu has the right to sanction a retrial, and de Montbrial said this could take months.

British intelligence released papers in 1999 that showed they could find no evidence Mata Hari had worked as a secret agent.

California Allows Emergency Contraception
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO October 18, 2001 (AP) - California is now the second state to allow pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptive pills without a prescription.

The new law, which has no age limit, was signed Sunday by Gov. Gray Davis and takes effect Jan. 1.

"California is a bellwether state for many other parts of the country," said Jane Boggess, director of the Public Health Institute's Pharmacy Access Partnership.

The so-called morning-after pill is a high dose of birth control pills taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

Opponents say the law lets pharmacists act beyond their training.

Christine Thomas, acting executive director of California Right to Life, said the group believes the drug induces abortion and therefore would have opposed the bill even if it had excluded minors.

Washington state has a similar law. Eleven other states considered bills related to emergency contraception this year.

Morning-after pills differ from the so-called abortion pill RU-486, which is for women who already know they are pregnant and want a non-surgical abortion. RU-486 can be used up to seven weeks after the beginning of their last menstrual period.

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, a co-sponsor of the bill, estimates that about half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, and about half of those will end in abortion.
National Park Service Buys Hopewell Earthwork

Columbus, OH October 17, 2001 (AP) - The National Park Service announced yesterday that it has purchased 122 acres in southern Ohio that includes part of a prehistoric earthwork to protect the land from plowing.

The land makes up nearly half of the Seip earthwork and is next to the Seip Mound State Memorial, which the Ohio Historical Society manages.

The area is known for artifacts of the Hopewell, a lost civilization that built dozens of mysterious mounds across Ohio before vanishing about 1,500 years ago.

"There are other earthworks that may be larger, but for Ohio, these certainly are our pyramids' . . . and they are known throughout the world and need protecting," said Martha Otto, curator of archaeology at the society.

The land 12 miles southwest of Chillicothe will be added to the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. Congress created the park in 1992 to protect the site and four other earthwork sites that dot the area.

Earthworks include burial mounds and surrounding walls that make circular or square patterns.

The land was being used to farm soybeans, and the Park Service bought the property for $311,000 from a private owner. The Trust for Public Land, a national organization that helps communities protect land, contributed the final $50,000.

"Recent work at nearby sites has indicated a need to protect these fragile remains sooner rather than later," said Dean Alexander, superintendent of the Hopewell park.

Last summer, archaeologists using powerful sensors discovered a mysterious underground "circle" nearly 90 feet across.

Scientists believe similar features may exist on the land acquired yesterday, which includes an area near Paint Creek believed to have once been a large Hopewell settlement.

The land was first excavated in the 1820s, and most of the artifacts already have been found. Otto said scientists expect to learn other information about the site through the use of ground-penetrating radar, infrared aerial photography and other tools.

"We know a lot about their burials from the mounds, but we don't know much about how they lived," she said.

"We are not expecting to find artifacts . . . but there is still an important story to tell and so much more we can learn," Otto said.

[The real name of the Hopewell people appears to be unknown. The "Hopewell Group," an earthwork complex with mounds and enclosures located northwest of Chillicothe, Ohio, is named after a farm once owned by Captain M. C. Hopewell.

Man Jumps to His Death and Kills Beach-Goer
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil October 15, 2001 (Reuters) - A Brazilian man jumped to his death on Saturday from a Rio de Janeiro apartment building, landing on a passer-by who died on the spot.

Police said the falling body apparently killed the man as he returned from a day of fun at the famed Copacabana beach.

[Apparently... Ed.]

Electric Circuit Made From Organic Molecules

By Daniel Sorid

NEW YORK October 17, 2001 (Reuters) - Scientists from Bell Labs have built transistors, or electric switches, a million times smaller than a grain of sand, in an advance that could play a key role in developing minuscule computer chips that use tiny amounts of power.

Transistors, in a much larger form, are crammed together to make up the brains of computers and all other electronic devices. Using organic molecules and a chemical self-assembly process, the scientists have shrunk the size of the transistors to about one or two nanometers, or a billionth of a meter, which is an unprecedented scale.

In research to be presented in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, the scientists also said they built a simple circuit module commonly used in computers, known as a voltage inverter, from the transistors.

"This is a beautiful, simple and clever approach,' said Paul Weiss, a professor of chemistry at Pennsylvania State University. "It circumvents many of the difficulties inherent in other nano-fabrication approaches."

Molecular switches have become something of a Holy Grail in the development of advanced electronics. Physical limits of the current generation of chips, made from silicon, are expected to block the development of more powerful devices within the next 10 to 15 years.

As computer chips are filled with more and more transistors, their ability to crunch numbers and process information grows. Some experts have envisioned microscopic computers that could be placed virtually anywhere without the need for constant recharging.

The research from Bell Labs, owned by Lucent Technologies Inc., adds to a growing list of successful experiments in molecular electronics, including work by International Business Machines Corp., which in August announced a circuit made up of carbon atoms rolled together into tubes.

The Bell Labs research, led by Hendrik Schon, used a separate class of organic material, known as thiols, in its research. The molecules, the researchers observed, worked well at both regulating and amplifying the flow of electricity.

"It's very hard to figure out how to electrically switch a molecule," and no one has ever made an electrical "gate" out of this type of molecule, said Tom Theis, the director of physical sciences at IBM's research division. "If that's in fact what's going on, then its a very important step forward."

The transistors were assembled using a novel approach in which the molecules in essence assemble themselves between electric conductors, or electrodes, made of gold.

The assembly technique is relatively easy and inexpensive, the researchers said, and it allows the production of very dense transistors. With a distance of only one and two nanometers between the electrodes, the so-called channel length of the transistor is the smallest every made.

Bell Labs -

Stephen Hawking Warns Colonies In Space May Be Only Hope

By Roger Highfield

Cambridge October 16, 2001 (Daily Telegraph) - The human race is likely to be wiped out by a doomsday virus before the Millennium is out, unless we set up colonies in space, Prof Stephen Hawking warns this week.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Prof Hawking, the world's best known cosmologist, says that biology, rather than physics, presents the biggest challenge to human survival.

"Although September 11 was horrible, it didn't threaten the survival of the human race, like nuclear weapons do," said the Cambridge University scientist.

"In the long term, I am more worried about biology. Nuclear weapons need large facilities, but genetic engineering can be done in a small lab. You can't regulate every lab in the world. The danger is that either by accident or design, we create a virus that destroys us.

"I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars."

Current theories suggest that space travel will be tedious, using spaceships traveling slower than light. But Prof Hawking, Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, says that a warp drive, of the kind seen in Star Trek, cannot be ruled out.

This method of space exploration and colonization, apparently the stuff of science fiction, could be one possible escape from the human predicament.

Prof Hawking believes that genetic engineering could be used to "improve" human beings to meet the challenges of long duration space travel.

Cyborgs, humans with computers linked to their brains, will be needed to prevent intelligent computers taking over. "I think humans will have to learn to live in space," he said.

More From The Daily Telegraph Interview

By Roger Highfield

Highfield: How do you react to claims that, through your efforts to combine current theories of the very small (quantum mechanics) and the very big (relativity) into a single theory of everything (quantum gravity), you are the modern day equivalent of Einstein?

Professor Hawking: Among physicists, I'm respected I hope. But I'm just one of a number of people who have helped shape our modern view of the universe. Comparisons with Newton and Einstein are media hype.

Highfield: In A Brief History of Time you say that black holes are not so black: they evaporate to give off what is now called Hawking radiation. You now say in The Universe in a Nutshell that if Hawking radiation could be detected around black holes, you would win the Nobel prize. How close are we to this?

Professor Hawking: Only black holes of very low mass would emit a significant amount of radiation. Searches have been made for low mass black holes that might have been produced in the early universe, but none have been found so far.

Highfield: Some say that the forthcoming Large Hadron Collider (atom smasher) could one day make mini black holes which would then evaporate with a splash of Hawking radiation.

Professor Hawking: Much as I would like small black holes to be detected, I don't think that it is likely in the LHC. But I would be delighted if they were.

Highfield: In Nutshell, you discuss how four dimensions are not enough for a theory of everything. The three dimensions we see could actually be a membrane ("brane") floating, like a bubble, in a space of half a dozen dimensions. Why are you excited by the suggestion that extra dimensions could be a millimetre or more?

Professor Hawking: Brane worlds and large extra dimensions could be detected by the next generation of particle accelerators. This would make quantum gravity an experimental science.

Highfield: Some scientists claim that the Big Bang occurred when two branes collided. What do you think of this Ekpyrotic universe proposal?

Professor Hawking: I think that it is rubbish

Highfield: You were accused of hubris when you said in Brief History that we would one day "know the mind of God" and gave the odds as 50/50 that a theory of everything would emerge by the millennium. Given we have not got one yet, do you feel more or less confident (and do you want to give new odds)?

Professor Hawking: Twenty years ago, I thought we might find the theory of everything, by the end of the 20th century. However, although we made a lot of progress, our ultimate goal still seems about the same distance away. I have revised my expectations downwards, but I still think there's a good chance of finding it by the end of the century, only now it is the 21st century.

Highfield: You use God as a metaphor for the laws of nature but, from what I remember, you are not religious in any way. Is this still the case?

Professor Hawking: If you believe in science, like I do, you believe that there are certain laws that are always obeyed. If you like, you can say the laws are the work of God, but that is more a definition of God than a proof of his existence.

Highfield: But there are limits to what can be done with science. Indeed, you say in Nutshell: "We have not had much success in predicting human behavior from mathematical equations." Even if scientists know the mind of God, they will be far from omniscient.

Professor Hawking: Because of the uncertainty principle (one of the cornerstones of quantum theory, this principle gives limits to what we can know about subatomic particles), even God won't have omniscience. The existence of the Earth and everything it contains is the result of quantum fluctuations in the early universe that are random. Even without the difficulty of solving the equations in complex systems, our ability to predict the future is limited by the uncertainty in the initial state of the universe.

Highfield: In Nutshell, you still rely on imaginary time. I realize it is a mathematical tool but wondered if we had a clearer physical picture of what imaginary time actually is?

Professor Hawking: Any picture of time is a mathematical tool according to the positivist philosophy of science I adopt. In this, a physical theory is a mathematical model. We cannot ask if a model corresponds to reality, because we have no independent test of what reality is. All we can ask is whether the predictions of the model are confirmed by observation. Models of quantum theory use imaginary numbers, and imaginary time in a fundamental way. These models are confirmed by many observations. So imaginary time is as real as anything else in physics. I just find it difficult to imagine.

Highfield: Although you don't approve, you think the creation of GM humans is inevitable. But you also argue that it is necessary because you fear artificial intelligence will overtake human intelligence.

Professor Hawking: With genetic engineering, we will be able to increase the complexity of our DNA, and improve the human race. But it will be a slow process, because one will have to wait about 18 years to see the effect of changes to the genetic code. By contrast, computers double their speed and memories every 18 months. There is a real danger that computers will develop intelligence and take over. We urgently need to develop direct connections to the brain so that computers can add to human intelligence rather than be in opposition.

Highfield: Given that your motor neuron disease has a genetic component, it may one day be possible to screen the unborn child for this condition with a view to termination. Would you approve of this?

Professor Hawking: Some forms of motor neuron disease are genetically linked but I have no indication that my kind is. No other member of my family has had it. But I would be in favour of abortion if there was a high risk.

Highfield: In 1992 you told me you had received a very attractive offer to work abroad. Today, would you be interested in leaving Cambridge?

Professor Hawking: Cambridge is one of the best universities in the world, especially in my field. I'm better off here scientifically and closer to my family. I get the best of both worlds with a visit to Caltech each year.

Highfield: You backed Labour in the general election. Do you still feel good about Mr Blair?

Professor Hawking: Better than the alternative.

Highfield: For the US election, you videotaped an endorsement of Al Gore. What do you think of George W Bush?

Professor Hawking: Star Wars, Alaskan oil, Kyoto - need we say more?

Highfield: Have you considered writing an autobiography?

Professor Hawking: I don't want to write an autobiography because I would become public property with no privacy left. I haven't read the biographies of me that other people have written because they would only annoy me by how wrong they were.

Professor Hawking's Home Page -

Visit eXoNews for more recent news!


Paperback books by Rich La Bontι - Free e-previews!