Earth Day,
Joey, Alice,
Jack the Ripper
and Beatles!
Special Report: Month of Protests Mark Earth Day 2001

Earth Day 2001 (eXoNews):

With the whole world watching, police and protesters clashed repeatedly at the site of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, Canada.

Americans my not have paid much attention, still feeling the impact of a week of riots in Cincinnati Ohio over the death of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas, who was killed by a white officer.

Cincinnati resident Norma Payne said that when she looks at city officials she sees "the same old slave masters," and "the same Gestapo of Hitler's regime."

"When I look at you, I think you may be the KKK in disguise," the black woman said. Six of Cincinnati's nine City Council members are white; the city of 331,000 people is 43 percent black.

Click here for our Special Protest Feature with stories on the Cincinnati situation and other protest reports from Quebec, Paris, Spain, Zambia, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Washington DC, Washington State and New York City.

Punk Rocker Joey Ramone Dead at 49
NEW YORK April 15, 2001 (AP) -- Singer Joey Ramone, the punk rock icon whose signature yelp melded with the Ramones' three-chord thrash to launch an explosion of bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols, died Sunday. He was 49.

Ramone, the gangly lead singer with the leather jacket, tinted glasses and permanently-torn jeans, was hospitalized last month with lymphoma. His death was confirmed Sunday by Arturo Vega, the Ramone's longtime artistic director.

The Ramones -- its four members adopted the common last name after forming the band in 1974 -- came out of Queens, a motley collection of local losers with limited musical skills. Joey became the lead singer only after his drumming proved too rudimentary to keep up with his bandmates' thunderous riffs.

While British bands such as the Sex Pistols and Clash received the media attention once punk rock exploded, both were schooled by the Ramones' tour of England that began on the U.S. Bicentennial -- July 4, 1976.

"They changed the world of music. They rescued rock and roll from pretentiousness and unnecessary adornments,'' said Vega.

Their "do-it-yourself,'' garage-rock influence still echoes today in bands like Green Day and the Offspring. The low-tech Ramones spent just two days and $6,000 recording their 1976 debut album.

"They're the daddy punk group of all time,'' said Joe Strummer, lead singer of the Clash, in a recent Spin magazine interview.

Despite their influence and critical acclaim, the Ramones never cracked the Top 40.

Bruce Springsteen, after seeing the Ramones in an Asbury Park, N.J., club, wrote "Hungry Heart'' for the band -- but his manager convinced The Boss to keep the eventual hit single.

The Ramones' best-known songs reflected their twisted teen years in Queens: "Beat on the Brat,'' "I Wanna Be Sedated,'' "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,'' "Teenage Lobotomy,'' "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.''

Joey Ramone was born Jeffrey Hyman on May 19, 1951. His career started during the early 1970s glam-rock era, when he played in several New York bands -- occasionally under the name Jeff Starship.

But his collaboration with Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy Ramone was something special. They became fixtures in downtown clubs like CBGBs and Max's Kansas City, joining fellow punkers like Patti Smith and Richard Hell.

The scene eventually produced commercially successful bands like Blondie and the Talking Heads.
A Ton of Gold?
BANGKOK April 18, 2001 (Reuters) - Hopes that a vast treasure trove had been found in a Thai cave and could rescue the economy from crisis have turned out to be a mirage, but an elderly monk will offer a consolation prize -- one ton of gold.

Luang Ta Maha Bua (Grandpa Bua), as the monk is known, said in a statement he would give Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra the gold and $1 million in cash Saturday in his latest donation to the country.

The monk has been raising funds from his followers for three years to replenish the country's foreign reserves in the wake of the collapse of the baht and the Asian financial crisis that ravaged the country in 1997.

Saturday's donation will bring his total contributions to 2.062 tonnes of 99.99 percent gold and $5.278 million in cash.

Thailand was gripped by gold fever this month after a maverick senator said 2,500 tonnes of World War Two booty left behind by the Japanese army was hidden in a cave near the Myanmar border, stashed inside a train and surrounded by the skeletons of Japanese soldiers who had committed hara-kiri.

Thaksin took the story seriously enough to fly to the cave by helicopter Friday, and senior politicians said the treasure was valuable enough to pay off Thailand's 2.8 trillion baht ($61.61 billion) national debt.

But red-faced government officials were forced to admit this week the story was almost certainly a hoax, amid a chorus of jeering newspaper headlines.
Alice in Wonderland On Auction Block
NEW YORK April 19, 2001 (AP) - One summer day in 1862, Oxford mathematician Charles Dodgson went on a boating trip on the Thames with 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters Edith and Lorina.

Dodgson entertained the children with a story he made up as he went along. Alice was the heroine, while Lorina and Edith became the Lory and the Eaglet. Alice later pleaded with Dodgson to write the story down, which he did, eventually publishing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland under the pen name Lewis Carroll.

Nearly 140 years later, a collection of the original Alice's letters, manuscripts and photographs - including famous images of her taken by Carroll - is expected to sell for $3.5 million (U.S.) at Sotheby's.

Highlights of the collection will be exhibited at Sotheby's in New York starting Friday and will be shown in Chicago, Los Angeles and London before the June 6 auction in London.

The collection is being sold by Mary Jean St. Clair, the only grandchild of Alice Hargreaves, nee Liddell.

''We've decided that the moment's come to sell it,'' said St. Clair, who was three when her grandmother died in 1934 and hardly remembers her.

Besides being one of the most beloved authors in the English language, Carroll was an important figure in the early days of photography.

The auction includes Alice's personal print of Carroll's most famous study of her, Alice Liddell as a Beggar Girl.

The young Alice, dressed in graceful rags, gazes intently at the camera in this 1858 photograph inspired by a Tennyson poem. Sotheby's estimates it will sell for $144,000 to $217,000 (U.S.).

There is also an album presented as a gift to the Liddell family that includes more images of Alice and her sisters as well as portraits of Carroll's Oxford contemporaries. The auction house estimates that the album could sell for up to $1.1 million (U.S.).

The original manuscript for Alice's Adventures Under Ground, as it was then called, was sold by Sotheby's in 1928, but the current auction features Alice's copy of the bound volume, inscribed by Carroll ''to her whose namesake one happy summer day inspired this story.''

And there is a nostalgic 1891 letter from Carroll to the adult Alice recalling their earlier friendship. In the letter, one of only 11 from Carroll to his muse still in existence, he invites her to tea along with her husband, whom he had recently met.

''It is hard to realize that he was the husband of one I can scarcely picture to myself, even now, as more than seven years old,'' he wrote.

Carroll's relationship with the girls he photographed has been the subject of speculation over the years, with some scholars suggesting that his devotion to his young models was unhealthy.

By all accounts, Carroll, who never married, simply preferred children's company to that of adults.

''He was very shy and he just loved children,'' St. Clair said. ''And in those days children were looked on as pure and inviolable.''

Peter Selley, a specialist in English literature at Sotheby's, acknowledged that a friendship between a bachelor and a young girl like Alice ''would be difficult to have these days without suspicion.''

St. Clair, in New York for the exhibit, said the collection was lovingly preserved by her father, Caryl Hargreaves, who ''kept everything to do with his mother.''

Hargreaves was the youngest of Alice's three sons; the other two were killed in the First World War. St. Clair said her father, who died when she was 23, never told her much about his mother and her famous friend.

''I think he was saving it up and was going to tell me,'' she said. ''I think he thought I was too young to be interested.''

Agent Orange and Children of Vietnam Veterans
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID

WASHINGTON April 20, 2001 (AP) - Vietnam veterans may have passed down the dangerous aftereffects of the chemical Agent Orange to their children, according to a study released Thursday.

The Institute of Medicine reported that the children of veterans exposed to herbicides such as Agent Orange seem to have a greater chance of being afflicted with a certain type of leukemia called acute myelogenous leukemia.

The new analysis makes the first connection between the childhood disease and the pesticide, although it stops short of saying the link is conclusive.

"I'm deeply concerned about the implications for the children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange," Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi said in a telephone interview. He called the report "very serious."

Principi said President Bush has directed him to prepare legislation to assist children with the disease. Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., said he will introduce a bill to provide compensation and medical care for these children.

Acute myelogenous leukemia is a fast-spreading form of leukemia that originates in bone-marrow cells. It accounts for about 8 percent of all childhood cancers, the report said. It is also known as acute myloid leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

Rick Weidman, vice president of Vietnam Veterans of America, said his group is "pleased that they recognized one additional birth defect in children born to Vietnam veterans." But, he added, it is also very sad news because most of these children have already died. The median life expectancy for children diagnosed with this type of leukemia is two years, he noted.

Dr. Linda Schwartz, head of the association's health care task force, said that last year Congress approved a broad program to assist female Vietnam veteran's children with birth defects. She called for a similar program for the children of male vets.

"No firm evidence links exposure to the herbicides with most childhood cancers, but new research does suggest that some kind of connection exists between (acute myelogenous leukemia) in children and their fathers' military service in Vietnam or Cambodia," said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina.

Hertz-Picciotto was chair of the institute committee that prepared the new report: "Veterans and Agent Orange, Update 2000."

The report is the most recent in a series by the institute, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, looking at the effects of the herbicides used in Vietnam.

During Vietnam, thousands of veterans were exposed to Agent Orange, a defoliant used to clear areas of jungle so the Viet Cong could be seen and attacked from the air.

The new study also reaffirms earlier findings linking herbicide exposure with the development of soft tissue cancer, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and chloracne in veterans.

The committee said it based its new finding on two studies published last year.

While the studies lacked a direct measure of exposure to the herbicides, both were conducted with Vietnam veterans and an association was indicated with childhood AML, though not other forms of childhood leukemia.

One study, for example, looked at 50,000 Australian veterans of the Vietnam War. It found 13 cases of AML in their children, while in a normal population that size the number of cases expected would be between zero and six.

The strongest link was seen in children who developed the disease at the youngest ages, which suggests that the cause may stem from a parent, the report added.

In addition, a third study found that childhood development of AML was more likely in the offspring of men who use pesticides or herbicides in their work.

The committee listed the connection as suggestive rather than conclusive, saying that the evidence wasn't strong enough to be sure that chance or other factors didn't influence the results.

Previous studies evaluated by the institute have found suggestive but not conclusive evidence of a link between herbicide exposure and respiratory cancers, prostate cancer, type two diabetes, spina bifida in children and other conditions.
Gag Order Imposed in Alabama Church Bombing Trial
By BOB JOHNSON

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. April 19, 2001 (AP)) - Upset with news reports about secret FBI recordings, a judge issued a gag order Thursday on attorneys in the trial of a 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls.

"I felt like we need to try this case in the courtroom and not in the news media," Circuit Judge James Garrett said.

The order came after defense lawyer John Robbins said news reports about secret recordings of his client, Thomas Blanton Jr., had tainted the jury pool and warranted a mistrial.

Garrett said no mistrial motion had been filed as of Thursday and that he could not rule on one until jury selection was complete. That isn't expected until at least Monday.

Blanton, 62, is charged with murder in the dynamite bombing at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on Sept. 15, 1963. The blast killed 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson.

The church had become a gathering place for civil rights activists.

Garrett on Monday had ordered prospective jurors to avoid news reports about the case.

Before the gag order was imposed, Robbins said he would ask for a mistrial partly because of a story Tuesday by The Associated Press and an ABC news report Wednesday on tapes of Blanton secretly recorded in the 1960s by FBI informant Mitchell Burns.

Burns, a former Klansman, recorded Blanton on a tape recorder the FBI had hidden in the trunk of Burns' car.

Burns told the AP that Blanton once said: "They ain't gonna catch me when I bomb my next church." He also said he was uncertain if there was enough evidence for a conviction.

"He never admitted he did it. It's all circumstantial," Burns told the AP.

A lawyer for Blanton asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to exclude other secret FBI recordings from the trial. The devices installed in Blanton's kitchen in 1964 lacked clear government approval in violation of a 1967 Supreme Court ruling against unauthorized surveillance, the motion said.

The request has been rejected by Alabama appeals courts.

The prosecutor has argued that no legal protection from surveillance existed when an FBI agent posing as a trucker drilled through a common wall into Blanton's kitchen.

Another former Klansman, 71-year-old Bobby Frank Cherry, was indicted along with Blanton, but his trial was delayed by questions over his mental competence. Ex-Klansman Robert Chambliss was convicted of murder in the bombing in 1977 and died in prison. A fourth suspect died without ever being charged.

Real-life Debate Over Virtual Temple
JERUSALEM, April 18, 2001 (AP) — Deep in the cool recesses of the remains of an ancient Muslim palace, tourists gaze at a computer screen, transforming into pilgrims as they are led to the Jewish Temple destroyed 2,000 years ago.

THE COMPUTER SIMULATION is part of a new interactive museum that opened Wednesday, just outside the Al Aqsa Mosque that sits on land where Jews believe the remains of their two Temples — one built by King Solomon and the second by King Herod — are buried.

The sacred compound revered by Muslims and Jews is the most sensitive spot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A dispute over final control over the hilltop helped derail peace talks and triggered fighting that began seven months ago.

RELIGIOUS DEBATE OVER HISTORY

Muslim clerics who administer the compound, known to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, claim there is no archaeological proof that the Jewish Temples once stood in the place of the Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques.

The new Israeli display “is not a museum of historical events, but a factory of lies,” said Adnan Husseini, director of the Islamic Trust that administers the site.

Israel, in turn, bitterly complains that Muslims have recklessly discarded important archaeological artifacts, including those tracing the compound’s Jewish history, as part of the construction of underground prayer halls.

The opening of the multimillion-dollar museum near the southwestern corner of the Al Aqsa compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, came at a time of crisis in the tourism industry caused by the unrest that has claimed more than 470 lives.

Israel hopes the show will draw foreigners back to visit.

The computer simulation is housed in what used to be the basement of a palace from which Muslim Caliphs ruled the area in the 7th century.

In the high-tech computer simulation, developed with the University of California at Los Angeles, visitors are guided by computer images under a high gateway, known today as Robinson’s Arch, and up a grand staircase to the majestic Second Temple, as it stood before the Romans destroyed it in A.D. 70.

The computer program, like a flight simulator, takes the audience into the wide plaza surrounding the Temple. The royal portico adorns one side of the courtyard with four rows of columns. The square sanctuary, decorated with a gold frieze, rises high above the covered heads of virtual Jewish pilgrims on the other side.

Not every detail was clear when they reconstructed the Temple in the computer model.

Though he led excavations near the Temple Mount, archaeologist Ronny Reich said he had conflicting information, or not enough, and had to use educated guesswork to complete the model, answering questions posed by Lisa Snyder, a computer expert with the UCLA Urban Simulation Team.

“I couldn’t leave a white area and say, ‘I don’t know,’” said Reich. “The crowd would go crazy from a very empty picture.”

He based his conclusions on historic sources, such as religious texts, archaeological evidence and his knowledge about the architecture of the period.

Snyder, 39, from Los Angeles, said she spent 1,500 hours developing the computer simulation, taking more than 900 digital photographs of the area around the Temple Mount.

21ST-CENTURY REALITY

Emerging from the dark chambers, visitors face 21st-century reality, including some of the structures pictured in the simulation.

A few hundred yards away is the Western Wall, one of the remaining structures of the Temple compound, situated under the Dome of the Rock Mosque.

For Reich, aware of the political questions his work poses, the project gave him a perspective on life and history.

“There were turbulent days in ancient Jerusalem as well,” said Reich. “A lot happened in this city in history, and maybe this (center) will help us learn a lesson about troubles.”

Ghostbusters Probe Phantom Menaces
By Ed Cropley

EDINBURGH April 18, 2001 (Reuters) - Phantom pipers, headless drummers and ghostly hounds have lured visitors to Edinburgh's ancient alleyways for decades, but scientists now believe they could be more than figments of the tourist board's imagination.

A team of ghostbusters, led by psychologist Richard Wiseman from Hertfordshire University in southeast England, claimed some spooky findings Tuesday after a 10-day probe of dingy vaults and dungeons across the Scottish capital.

Spurred on by hundreds of reported sightings, Wiseman sent 240 volunteers into the cells of Edinburgh Castle -- one time home of 17th century French prisoners of war -- and cellars in the bowels of the medieval 'Old Town'.

Nearly half the guinea pigs, drawn from visitors from across the globe, reported ghostly goings-on, although few were more hair-raising than a sudden drop in temperature, a few uncomfortable drafts or a feeling of being watched.

Other phantoms were more menacing: one person reported a burning sensation on the arm, and another was nearly reduced to tears by breathing noises in the corner of the room.

"The events that have been taking place in the vaults over the last 10 days are much more extreme than we expected," Wiseman said.

Others felt something touch their face and tug at their clothes, Wiseman said, while another saw a man in a leather apron -- tallying with other recorded sightings.

"We are delighted by this," said Fran Hollinrake, who runs walking tours through some of the darkest doorways of the city. "People from all over the world are seeing the same things, so there must be something in it."

Importantly, Wiseman said, the highest number of "experiences" came in vaults already reputed to be haunted. Relatively spookless chambers, with no recorded sightings, registered far lower on the scale even though the volunteers were never told which was which.

HIGH-TECH GHOST HUNT

Wiseman recently exposed the spirit of Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII's fifth wife who was beheaded in 1540 but is said to still stalk the corridors of London's Hampton Court Palace, as nothing more than some freak cold spots and a couple of drafty doors.

An array of high-tech gadgets checking the Edinburgh vaults for drafts, temperature, magnetic fields and lights, only came up with a large round green blob on two photographs.

Although still a skeptic, Wiseman, admitted he was intrigued.

"These are only preliminary results, but already they look quite interesting. I'm closer now to being a lot more curious. Something is going on, but I won't be a believer until we get something on film."

He hopes to take further readings from other celebrated hauntings -- the Tower of London could be next -- but is unlikely ever to put himself in the hot spot. "I'm terrified of the dark," he said.
Original Jack the Ripper Letter Released

LONDON April 19, 2001 (AP) - In a scrawled, smudged letter written in Cockney English, a man claiming to be the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper described a foiled attempt to kill a woman and promised to find another victim soon.

The eerie note to a London doctor, made public by the government Thursday, is filled with spelling errors mimicking the Cockney accent and gives the gruesome details of an attempted murder.

''I was goin to hopperate agin close to your ospitle just as I was goin to dror mi nife along of er bloomin throte then cusses of coppers spoilt the game,'' it said. ''But I guess I wil be on the job soon and will send you another bit of innerds.''

The letter, dated Oct. 29, 1888, and once part of the original police file, was released Thursday by Britain's public records office under rules which require many government documents to be made public eventually.

It was given to the public records office about 30 years ago by Donald Rumbelow, a police officer. Rumbelow would not explain how he got the letter, but said police files were often mislaid before Scotland Yard hired its first archivist in 1951.

The letter also refers to a human kidney that had been sent to authorities in a cardboard box.

''Old boss you was rite it was the left kidny,'' the writer says.

The letter, signed ''Jack the Ripper'' was sent to Dr. Thomas Horrocks Openshaw, curator of a London hospital's pathological museum.

It is one of many letters purporting to be written by the Victorian murderer who killed at least seven prostitutes in London's East End during a three-month period in 1888. A person claiming to be the killer wrote a series of taunting notes to police, but the murders remain one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in British criminal history.

''Of course the letter is genuine in terms of it being sent in 1888, but if it is from the real killer, I do not know,'' Rumbelow said.

Stewart Evans, author of the forthcoming book Jack the Ripper, Letters from Hell, said it was ''better than most'' alleged Ripper letters.

''Who can say it is not genuine? You cannot categorically prove it is a hoax,'' Evans said.

Check out http://www.casebook.org for more on The Ripper.

'Hard Day's Night' Back Again After 37 Years

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - First the anthology, now the film -- Beatlemania shows no sign of fading 30 years after the world's most famous pop group split up.

An album of their number one hit singles has sold more than 27 million copies and topped the charts in more than 30 countries around the world since its release last November.

Now it is the turn of "A Hard Day's Night" -- the critically acclaimed 1964 box office smash. It was directed by Richard Lester and hailed by New York's Village Voice as "the Citizen Kane of jukebox movies."

The grainy black-and-white film is being re-released in Britain -- and Paul McCartney is set to attend a gala screening Monday in Liverpool, birthplace of the Beatles.

The Sunday Times, celebrating the film's return to the big screen in a digitally re-mastered print, said: "It is still the greatest music movie of all time ... . The magic of the Beatles has not dated at all.

"And all in wonderfully evocative monochrome, of course, because United Artists wouldn't pay for color in case the band's fame had evaporated by the time the movie was released," the paper recalled.

In his script, Alun Owen captured the claustrophobia of fame suffered by the most famous pop group on the planet.

Director Lester is eternally grateful to the "Fab Four."

"The Beatles gave me a film career," he said. "I was able to trade on that for 40 years. So in terms of gratitude I owe them a lot more than they owe me.

"All I did was to try to make sure that they were presented in a way that was as respectful and honest as it could be, and is as close to what I think they would have liked to have made as a film," he told the Mirror.

Lester thought George Harrison was the best Beatle actor in the film and he felt McCartney's performance suffered because he tried too hard. He loved Ringo Starr because he looked so lugubrious.

He said of Lennon: "John is one of the three or four most interesting people I've ever met ... . John was unique in that he suffered fools very badly, and he was quick-witted and cynical. He hated pomposity and hated people in authority who treated them as hired servants."

Yesterday and Today: McCartney,  Powell and Land Mines
WASHINGTON April 19, 2001 (AP) - British singer Paul McCartney advocated the worldwide abolition of land mines when he met Thursday with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The United States, which has declined to sign a 139-country treaty outlawing land mines, has a stockpile of the weapons estimated at 11 million.

The former Beatle was in Washington with his girlfriend, Heather Mills, who spearheads a charity campaign that provides limbs for victims of wars around the globe. Mills' left leg was amputated below the knee in 1993 after a road accident.

"We had a really good meeting. General Powell was very helpful," McCartney said outside the State Department after the morning meeting.

Powell "expressed his support for Adopt-A-Minefield, which is hoping to clear all the mines in the world and to allow people to go back to their fields and their towns and get on with life," McCartney said.

The U.S.-based Adopt-A-Minefield organization buys minefields for $25,000 a plot and clears them.

McCartney said the meeting with Powell was the start of a worldwide campaign to raise awareness of the horrors of land mines and to urge people to push their governments to support a ban.


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