CIA Secrets,
Human Clones

Mir Bacteria and
Machu Picchu!
CIA Reports Declassified!
WASHINGTON March 9, 2001 (AP) - The formerly secret analytical reports released by the CIA on Friday touch on a wide variety of topics. Among them:

In October 1978, the CIA forecast that the Vatican's elevation of the archbishop of Poland to the papacy earlier that year would make it "even more difficult'' for Moscow to check Poland's political gravitation to the West. "The election of a Polish pope will contribute to an increase in nationalism in East Europe,'' it said. Two years later the Solidarity movement in Poland sparked waves of social protest that led to the downfall of communism in Poland and, years later, throughout East Europe.

Western news reports about advances in U.S. stealth aircraft technology, starting in the mid-1970s, may have helped the Soviet Union guide its military intelligence efforts. But such reporting also "complicates the job faced by those Soviet analysts struggling to determine the capabilities of U.S. stealth systems,'' an August 1988 CIA report said. The blending of fact and speculation in news accounts kept the stealth program "shrouded in mystery'' and perpetuated false rumors, it said.

A report on Cuba in March 1963, just months after the missile crisis that brought the United States and the Soviet Union close to nuclear war, saw potential military danger in Cuba's announced plan to build a Soviet-financed fishing port in the Bay of Havana. The CIA feared the port would provide Moscow with a base that could extend the effective range of operations of trawler types of vessels for military and space surveillance missions along the U.S. Atlantic coast.

See this page at the CIA site for info on how to access the documents:

US and Italian Experts Plan to Clone Humans
By Jane Barrett

ROME March 9, 2001 (Reuters) - Scientists from the United States and Italy said on Friday they planned to create the first cloned human beings, despite religious outrage and opposition from many scientists.

American Panayiotis Zavos and Italian Severino Antinori, who has already gained notoriety by helping a 62-year-old woman give birth, said they wanted to clone babies to help infertile couples have children.

"Cloning may be considered as the last frontier to overcome male sterility and give the possibility to infertile males to pass on their genetic pattern," Antinori told a packed auditorium of scientists and journalists.

"Some people say we are going to clone the world, but this isn't true... I'm asking all of us in the scientific community to be prudent and calm," he said.

"We're talking science, we're not here to create a fuss."

Antinori and Zavos, a reproductive scientist based in Kentucky who runs companies working on genetics and cloning, say 10 infertile couples have volunteered to participate in the experiment to produce cloned infants.

The plan has come under heavy fire from mainstream scientists and religious groups, with the Vatican describing their proposals as "grotesque."

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, head of the John Paul II Institute for Bioethics at Rome's Gemelli hospital, said human cloning raised profoundly disturbing ethical issues.

"Those who made the atomic bomb went ahead in spite of knowing about its terrible destruction," he told Reuters Television before the cloning meeting started. "But this doesn't mean that it was the best choice for humanity."

"The forecasts (about human cloning) sadden us but don't scare us," he said, adding it would be a betrayal if the Roman Catholic Church's voice was not heard in the debate.


The scientists have said they will conduct the experiment in an unidentified Mediterranean country in order to try to escape the mounting flak, and since several countries already have banned human cloning research.

Dr. Ian Wilmut, who created Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep, said it took 277 tries to get it right. Other cloning attempts have ended in malformed animals and experts say the technique fails in 97 percent of cases.

Last year, Britain proposed allowing human cells to be cloned for research purposes while other European countries, including Spain and France have banned human cloning altogether.

Zavos told a conference in January that he and Antinori would use regular cells or undifferentiated stem cells from a man and insert them into an ovacyte, a woman's egg stripped of its genetic material.

Zavos said the cell would be stimulated to divide and create an embryo equipped with all the specialty cells which make up a copy of the man, and then implanted in the woman's uterus.

The woman could also be the one cloned, he said, depending on a couple's choice.

"It's not the easiest thing," he told the scientific conference in January. "The stability of the genetic information is what's important. We're cloning a human being now, we're not trying to create a Dolly. You don't want to create a monster."
Drugs Firm Puts Clone Dolly Into Quarantine
London March 2, 2001 (ITN) - Dolly the sheep - the cloned animal pioneered by pharmaceuticals firm PPL Therapeutics - is spending this weekend in strict quarantine to protect her from foot-and-mouth disease.

Her owners acted swiftly after foot and mouth was discovered near Lockerbie, around 70 miles from Dolly's farm.

"She is in her own accommodation in special housing," said Harry Griffin, a member of the team which cloned Dolly at the Roslin Institute.

The research centre, which has become a popular visitor attraction since Dolly came into being in July 1996, has also been closed in line with Government regulations.

But Mr Griffin warned that the barn reserved for Dolly and the other cloned sheep at Roslin would not protect them if foot and mouth did strike on the farm.

"She is along with several other of the cloned sheep, but that is not going to protect her over and above any other animals on the farm," he added.

Professor Ian Wilmut, of the institute, said the precautions were the same as those being taken at other farms, but acknowledged that Dolly was a special case.

He said: "She is valuable to us, but any farmer would be concerned to try to prevent the infection of animals on their farm.

"We are doing whatever other people have done - we are as vulnerable as anyone else and we are taking sensible precautions."

Last week PPL Therapeutics said it had succeeded in creating a beating heart cell from a cow's skin cell.

So-called stem cell research is being used to develop treatments for diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Sheep Shoots Shepherd Dead
MARSA MATROUH, Egypt March 9, 2001 (Reuters) - An Egyptian Bedouin shepherd was shot in the chest and killed on Thursday when one of his flock jogged his loaded shotgun as he slept, police said.

They said the accident occurred in the northern coastal governorate of Marsa Matrouh. Other Bedouins found the body of 20-year-old Mokhtar Fadl and took it to hospital.

Police seized the gun, which was not licensed.
Inca Jewel Machu Picchu May Collapse

LONDON March 7, 2001 (Reuters) - Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca citadel perched 8,366 feet high in the Peruvian Andes, could collapse at any time, New Scientist magazine said Wednesday.

The earth beneath the hallowed city, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and one of Latin America's best known tourist attractions, is shifting and at risk of a major landslide.

Japanese geologists who have been monitoring the movement said the back slope is moving downward at about 0.4 inches per month.

"This is quite fast, and it's a precursor stage of a rockfall or rock slide," said Kyoji Sassa of Kyoto University's Disaster Prevention Research Institute.

"It's not possible to say exactly when the landslide might occur, but that will be the focus of the next stage of our research."

Sassa and his team believe the landslide could destroy all of Machu Picchu. Rockfalls have already damaged some structures.

"There is a distortion line running north-south inside the citadel and buildings along the line show signs of damage," the magazine reported.

The Japanese researchers are trying to find a way to preserve Machu Picchu, which is visited by more than 1,000 tourists a day.

Machu Picchu was abandoned at the time of the 16th century Spanish conquest. In 1911, U.S. archaeologist Hiram Bingham rediscovered the ruins, which historians regard as an important religious center for the Inca empire.

Cigarette Packets Could Tell Smokers to Quit
LONDON March 8, 2001 (Reuters) - Smokers could soon find it harder to ignore danger warnings on cigarette packets.

British engineering firm Molins, which supplies machines to make cigarettes, has patented a talking packet that could remind smokers how harmful cigarettes are every time they open it.

"We are continuously proceeding with research and development projects," said a spokesman for Molins.

But he declined to divulge exactly what the talking packets would say, claiming it was confidential.

"It could be a variety of things," he added.

The talking packets will not be limited to cigarettes and could be used for packaging of any sort if it has a hinged lid.

As well as warning about the dangers of smoking, the packets could also be used to advertise products.

Whether or not the tobacco companies would welcome the device, which uses a plastic strip to connect the lid to a microchip and miniature loudspeakers, is still uncertain.

"We haven't discussed it with them in detail," the spokesman added.
Man Sucked Down Drain To Death
NEW YORK, March 3, 2001 (AP) — A city worker clearing debris from a drainage pipe in a nearly empty reservoir basin drowned after he was sucked more than 200 feet down the drain, officials said.

Archie Tyler, 43, was standing in about 2 to 3 feet of water as he tried to unclog the drain Friday, Department of Environmental Protection officials said.

When he removed the debris a vortex was created, causing him to lose his footing and get sucked into the 20-inch-wide drainage pipe.

"It’s very similar to what happens when you drain a bathtub," said Environmental Protection Commissioner Joel Miele. The 60-acre reservoir is linked to an upstate aqueduct that provides more than 10 percent of the New York City’s water.
Mutant Bacteria Next Threat From Russia's Mir
MOSCOW March 6, 2001 (Reuters) - Forget the danger of heavy-weight debris raining down from space when Russia sends the Mir orbiter to a watery grave this month -- the real threat could be mutant fungi, a researcher said Tuesday.

Yuri Karash, an expert on the Russian space program, said there was a possibility that micro-organisms, which have spent the last 15 years mutating in isolation aboard Mir, could present a threat if they survived the fall to Earth.

"I wouldn't overstate it ... but a realistic problem exists," Karash told a news conference.

Karash, who has undergone cosmonaut training and is an aerospace advisor, said his conclusions were based on research carried out by Russia's Institute of Medical and Biological Problems.

Researchers have said that the fungi could be especially virulent if mixed with earth varieties that attack metal, glass and plastic.

Western health officials have in the past expressed concerns about micro-organisms that could be brought back to earth after a Russian microbiologist 13 years ago discovered the first of many aggressive forms of fungi inhabiting Mir.

Russian space officials have played down the threat, but visitors to the orbiter have found numerous types of fungi behind control panels, in air-conditioning units and on dozens of other surfaces.

Though surprisingly destructive, they give off corrosive agents like acetic acid and release toxins into the air.

Russia Plans Insurance if Mir Debris Misses Target
MOSCOW March 7, 2001 (Reuters) - Russia will take out $200 million insurance against the chance of its Mir space station raining debris onto populated areas when it plunges to Earth this month, an insurance industry official said Wednesday.

The aging orbiter is due to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean tentatively around March 20 and about 1,500 fragments are expected to reach Earth, some at speeds high enough to smash through 6.5 feet of reinforced concrete.

The financial news service Prime-Tass quoted a source at the Rosaviakosmos space and aviation agency as saying details of the third-party risk policy were being finalized.

But an insurance industry official told Reuters three Russian firms would insure the risk. The official named them as Megaruss and Industrial-Insurance Company, with 40 percent of the risk each, and AVIKOS with the remaining 20 percent.

The risk was re-insured, the official said.

Space expert Yuri Karash sparked new fears Tuesday when he said mutant space fungi clinging to Mir could be dangerous if they survived the space station's passage through the atmosphere.

Russian officials have said they are confident they can bring Mir safely down within the target zone.

Leonid Gorshkov, one of Mir's designers, told a news conference Tuesday that the Earth was bombarded by hundreds of objects from space each year, ranging from meteorites to spent booster rockets, and that to the best of his knowledge no one had ever been injured by them.

The 15-year-old station, once the pride of the Soviet space program, is supposed to splash down some 3,000 km (1,850 miles) east of New Zealand's southern tip and away from major sea and air routes.

Most of the craft should be burned up by friction during its journey through the atmosphere, but up to 40 tons of debris are expected to reach Earth.

No Money for Playmate Smith
Associated Press Writer

HOUSTON March 7, 2001 (AP) — A jury Wednesday ruled that former stripper and Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith and the oldest son of her late Texas oilman husband are entitled to none of his multimillion-dollar estate.

The jury affirmed that the oilman, J. Howard Marshall II, had named his younger son, E. Pierce Marshall, 61, as his sole heir.

Smith, 33, had already dropped her claim on her later husband's estate earlier in the trial, after a federal bankruptcy judge in California awarded her $475 million. But the verdict in Texas could ultimately undermine the California ruling, which is still under appeal.

After Smith dropped her claim in Texas, the five-month trial was reduced mostly to a battle between the two Marshall brothers.

The jury found that Los Angeles businessman J. Howard Marshall III, 63, had no oral agreement with his father to receive a portion of the estate. The jury also found that Smith had no agreement with her late husband to get half his fortune. She was not named in any will documents.

The jury also ordered J. Howard Marshall III to pay more than $30 million in damages to his brother and other family members for interfering with their inheritance rights.

Smith met J. Howard Marshall II in 1991 when she worked as a stripper in Houston. She was 26 and he was 89 when they were married in 1994. He died 14 months later.

Pierce Marshall said he hopes Wednesday's verdict will help overturn the judgment in California, which he is contesting.

Smith's lawyer, Tom Cunningham, said the jury did not get to hear his client's full side of the story.

Smith took the stand for five days, telling the jury her husband promised to leave her half his estate and to adopt her son from a previous marriage. She produced no evidence to support either claim.

She caused a stir on her last day of testimony, Feb. 14, by wearing a top with the word "Spoiled'' beaded across her chest in rhinestones. Smith explained her husband liked to spoil her on Valentine's Day.

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