|RAF Warning To Jets Over London |
|London September 13, 2001 (Daily Record) - Planes venturing into airspace over central London will be shot down, it was revealed yesterday. The RAF have been put on standby to take out any aircraft breaching the no-fly zone over the capital. |
One aviation expert said: "The military are now guarding London and we must expect the RAF to shoot down any intruders.
"If there was an incident involving a passenger aircraft, air traffic controllers would be straight on to the Ministry of Defense."
The Government have ordered an indefinite ban on planes flying over the heart of London in the wake of the New York terrorist attacks. Yesterday, airlines altered their flight paths to comply with the ban. Light aircraft and helicopter flights have also been banned from British skies.Scotland-based RAF Tornados and American F15 fighters are on patrol around the country, ready to intercept any aircraft approaching our airspace. And as the full horror of the American atrocities began to sink in, security at British airports was massively stepped up.
Police with machine guns stood guard at departure desks and passengers were frisked for anything that could be used as a weapon. Penknives, letter-openers, screwdrivers and nail files were confiscated before passengers were allowed to board any aircraft.
An anti-terrorist squad source said: "We are putting a total block on anyone carrying any blade, no matter how small, aboard a flight. We are taking no chances."
As a total of 2000 extra police officers were deployed to British airports, UK airlines - including British Airways, Virgin and British Midland - held emergency meetings to thrash out ways to make their planes hijack-proof.
Immediate measures will include turning flight decks into sealed units, with stronger doors and locks. All passengers leaving British airports will now be hand-searched. And hold baggage as well as hand luggage will be checked. Airlines are even considering bringing in armed "sky marshall" security guards on all flights, the vetting of passengers by Special Branch and MI5 and a ban on hand baggage.
In addition, bosses of major UK airports are planning to hire 2000 more security guards to protect airport perimeters, terminals, hangars and air freight warehouses. A former Scotland Yard terrorism expert said drastic measures had to be taken.
Former commander Roy Ramm, said: "We are going to have to give up a lot of our freedoms in return for greater protection. I think we will see airlines and the security services doing detailed background checks on passengers before they fly. We may end up not being able to fly unless we have bought a ticket a week in advance, so we can be thoroughly checked out."
The New York attacks have also triggered a major intelligence operation in Britain.
Former MI5 officer David Shayler said the country's spy organizations are on Code Amber - which means they believe the World Trade Centre terrorists pose "a very real threat" to Britain.
Hundreds of operatives have been mobilized to search for any clues here to the American attacks.
They will review past intelligence from agents, scour hours of CCTV video tape and carry out surveillance on suspects in Britain.
Meanwhile, Special Branch and anti- terrorist squad officers will be monitoring around 1000 people in the UK thought to have links to militant Islamic groups.
Police know that about 200 people wanted for terrorist crimes in Algeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Afghanistan have entered Britain in the last three years, claiming to be asylum-seekers. Some are followers of terror chief Osama bin Laden.
A Special Branch spokesman said: "Some of these people are involved in fundraising in direct support of the factions thought to be involved in the New York attacks."
|School Bus Carrying Muslim Children Stoned |
|BRISBANE September 13, 2001 (AP) - A school bus carrying Muslim children was stoned and vandals tried to set fire to a Lebanese church in apparent acts of retaliation for this week's terrorist attacks in the United States, officials said Thursday. |
Queensland state Islamic Council chairman Sultan Deen said stones and bottles damaged the side of the bus Wednesday in the northeastern city of Brisbane. Nobody was injured.
"The children are quite shaken up," Deen said.
Three Australians are confirmed dead and a further 85 are missing in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States, the government said Thursday.
Deen said public outrage over the attacks had also led to abusive phone calls to mosques.
"It is very disturbing. They are saying things like, 'You will be held responsible' and 'We'll get you,'" Deen said.
Suspicion for the terrorist attacks has fallen on Saudi national Osama bin Laden, who has been accused of numerous attacks against U.S. targets, including the bombing of its embassies in Africa three years ago. He is believed to be sheltered by the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan.
In Sydney overnight, vandals attempted to set fire to the St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox church - which has a Lebanese congregation - and racist slurs and swastikas were scrawled on the walls of another Lebanese church, said police inspector Norm Russell.
Meanwhile, pro-Islamic slogans were daubed on a building in Melbourne's central business district overnight, police said.
Australia's Islamic community condemned the terrorist attacks.
"Terrorism, the killing of innocent people, is a crime against God and against humanity," said Yasser Soliman, chairman of the Islamic Council of Victoria.
Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock urged Australians to not seek scapegoats.
"One of the important values we have in a multicultural society is the tolerance and outward looking view of people from a different background," Ruddock told Sydney radio 2GB.
|Kuala Lumpur's Twin Towers Evacuated After Bomb Threat |
By SEAN YOONG
KUALA LUMPUR September 12, 2001 (AP) - The tallest buildings in the world, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers, were evacuated Wednesday morning after a bomb threat.
The threat came during morning working hours, some 12 hours after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
Police confirmed that a threat had been phoned in from a public telephone to Petronas' building management about 8:30 a.m. and that the caller said that a bomb would explode at 9 a.m.
Police said that people would be allowed to return to work once the building was declared safe.
Police officials said that no chances were being taken in the wake of the attacks in New York and Washington, where a hijacked jetliner was also crashed into the Pentagon.
Workers and witnesses said that thousands of people in both the 1,483-foot towers were told to leave the buildings. When they reached the ground, they were told there had been a bomb threat.
"We were told on the P.A. system that there was an emergency situation at the towers, so we were asked to evacuate," said Tarajit Singh, a finance supervisor for Petronas, the national oil company.
"We had to walk down and leave the building," Tarajit said. "I walked down 58 floors. Only those who were sickly or expecting got to use the elevators."
About 2,000 people milled around the wide esplanade and park around the building. Police and fire crews were on standby.
|EBay Bans Trade Center and Pentagon Items |
|SAN JOSE CA September 11, 2001 (AP) - The massive Internet auction site eBay is banning the sale of any items relating to the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, out of sensitivity to Tuesday's terrorist attacks. |
Managers of the site took down several listings offering debris or other items purportedly from the buildings, eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said Tuesday evening.
As the day went on, the company decided that it would not be appropriate to allow even legitimate items related to the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, Pursglove said. The company wanted to eliminate the chance someone would try to profit from the tragedy, he said.
Items already up for sale even before the attacks - such as dozens of postcards, posters and other collectibles related to the World Trade Center and Pentagon - were expected to be taken down later Tuesday. The ban will last until Oct. 1, Pursglove said.
|Man Arrested for 1971 Air Canada Hijacking |
NEW YORK September 11, 2001 (Reuters) - A man sought for hijacking an Air Canada flight to Cuba almost 30 years ago was arrested after his fingerprints were identified on a New York City Board of Education job application, the FBI said on Monday.
Patrick Dolan Critton, 54, was arrested at his home in Mt. Vernon, New York, on Saturday after authorities matched the fingerprints on the job form to those on a soda can he touched during the Dec. 26, 1971, flight he allegedly hijacked from Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Critton, a U.S. citizen, has been wanted by the Canadian government since January 1972 when it filed kidnapping, armed robbery and extortion charges against him.
Court papers said Critton's whereabouts have been unknown from the time of the hijacking until this year. Authorities believe he returned to the United States in 1994.
Critton was arrested on a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court with the expectation he will be extradited to Canada.
According to court papers, Air Canada flight 932 was en route to Toronto when Critton allegedly produced a gun and a grenade and demanded he be taken to Cuba. During the hijacking, he showed a U.S. passport that allegedly gave his real name.
The aircraft landed in Toronto and all passengers were allowed to leave the plane. The plane was refueled and then flown to Havana with the crew of six and the hijacker.
Once in Cuba, the hijacker exited the plane and it returned to Toronto.
During the investigation, police found a soda can that Critton was thought to have handled. In addition, five of the six crew members identified Critton as the alleged hijacker from a passport photograph.
According to the New York complaint, an investigation over the last few months led authorities to Mt. Vernon and Critton's fingerprints were obtained last month from the job application.
|Former Heathrow Guard Reported Break-in Before Lockerbie Crash |
LONDON September 11, 2001 (AP) - A newspaper reported Tuesday that a former security guard at Heathrow airport says he discovered a break-in at a Pan Am baggage facility early on the day that 270 people died in the bombing of a New York-bound jumbo jet.
Ray Manly, 63, was quoted as saying he was surprised the incident was not mentioned during the trial of two Libyans for the bombing, The Mirror reported.
The Scottish Office, the government executive office in Scotland, said Tuesday that it could not comment on the report because an appeal is pending.
Manly said anti-terrorist police questioned him after the bombing, but the report was not mentioned in the trial that led to the Jan. 31 conviction of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent. A co-defendant, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.
Prosecutors alleged that the bomb had been hidden in a suitcase and put aboard an aircraft in Malta. It was then routed through Frankfurt to London and the Pan Am flight, they said.
Manly's statement suggested the possibility that the bomb was sneaked into a luggage area in London.
In sworn affidavits, he said he had found that a padlock had been cut from a door that led to Pan Am's baggage about 18 hours before Flight 103 took off, the tabloid said.
"I believe it would have been possible for an unauthorized person to obtain tags for a particular Pan Am flight then, having broken the ... lock, to have introduced a tagged bag into the baggage buildup area," Manly was quoted as saying.
The Mirror reported that al-Megrahi's lawyers may use the new information in an appeal scheduled to begin Oct. 15 at Camp Zeist, a former U.S. air base in the Netherlands where the initial trial was held.
If the appeal is rejected, al-Megrahi, 48, will serve his life sentence in a Scottish prison. Judges recommended a minimum term of 20 years.
During the proceedings, defense attorneys suggested a bomb could have been introduced into the inter-airport luggage system, either in Frankfurt or London. The defense also tried to throw suspicion onto two Palestinian groups.
The New York-bound Pan Am flight was over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, when it exploded, sending 259 passengers and crew to their deaths. Eleven people were killed on the ground.
|Biden Says Missiles Could Trigger Race |
By CAROLYN SKORNECK
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON September 10, 2001 (AP) - Sen. Joseph Biden said Monday the United States could trigger a new arms race by abandoning the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and forging ahead with a missile defense system despite allies' concerns.
"I don't believe our national interest can be furthered - let alone achieved - in splendid indifference to the rest of the world,'' the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told a National Press Club audience. "Our European allies should never think that America ignores international opinion or that we're ready to go it alone.''
Biden, D-Del., considered a possible presidential candidate in 2004, denounced what he called "the administration's almost theological allegiance to missile defense.'' It usurps money desperately needed to combat more realistic threats and could prompt a new arms race in Asia, he said.
"Missile defense has to be weighed carefully against all other spending and all other military priorities,'' Biden said, noting the tight budget situation created by President Bush's 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut and the declining economy.
"Our real security needs are much more earthbound and far less costly than missile defense,'' he said. "We should be fully funding the military and defending ourselves at home and abroad against the more likely threats of short-range cruise missiles or biological terrorism.''
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said he will recommend that Bush veto Congress' defense authorization bill if it cuts the $8.3 billion he sought for missile defense, an increase of $3 billion. The Senate Armed Services Committee Democratic majority cut it by $1.3 billion Friday, leaving $7 billion intact. The Republican-led House Armed Services Committee last month cut it by $135 million, leaving $8.2 billion.
The measure would provide $343 billion for the nation's defense - including the Defense and Energy departments - in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, a $33 billion increase over this year.
The full House is to consider its defense authorization bill Tuesday.
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., indicated Monday he would seek $6 billion more to make emergency improvements to bases and equipment and to purchase urgently needed spare parts. Weldon recently toured 20 bases over four days to call attention to the problems. The service chiefs have said they face more than $30 billion in unfunded needs.
Biden, meanwhile, expressed concern that by breaking an arms control agreement and making foreign nations feel vulnerable, the United States could "raise a starting gun on a new arms race,'' prompting China to test its weapons, and India and then Pakistan to follow suit.
He also criticized cuts in efforts to safeguard and dismantle weapons of mass destruction held by former Soviet states and to find legitimate jobs for their nuclear scientists to prevent them from selling that expertise to rogue nations or terrorists.
The administration is seeking $1.2 billion for such programs, down nearly $140 million from this year. The request includes $100 million in cuts from Energy Department efforts to find jobs for the scientists. However, the Senate has voted to restore that $100 million, plus $7 million more. The House has voted to restore $72 million, representing a cut of $28 million.
Reflecting that he does not oppose all missile defense, Biden called for research and development of an intercept system that would target missiles as they launch, when they are slowest. At the same time, he estimated missile defense proposals would cost $60 billion to $500 billion over 20 years, but even the most expensive would leave America vulnerable to an incoming missile.
Biden praised Bush's trip to Europe, saying it "quelled a lot of concerns and nerves on the part of our European friends, who are always upset and always nervous with any transition in power in the United States.''
And Bush "did an extremely good job,'' Biden said, regarding China's detention of U.S. service members after the collision of an American surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet.
Missile Defense Debate Resumes
By CAROLYN SKORNECK
WASHINGTON September 12, 2001 (AP) - The terrorist attack on America was used as ammunition Wednesday to support arguments for and against President Bush's prized missile defense plan.
Democratic lawmakers said the fact that airlines, not missiles, were the weapon of choice demonstrated that more attention should be paid to non-missile, terrorist threats. But Republicans said the attack showed more than ever why a missile defense is needed.
"Unfortunately, today our threat is not a threat of somebody launching nuclear missiles at us," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., an opponent of Bush's emphasis on missile defense.
Leahy noted that a nuclear bomb would be more likely to carry "a return address" that would invite a certain and swift counterattack.
"The problem with an open, complex society like the United States is our Achilles' heel has always been well-organized terrorist attacks," he said.
But House Armed Services Committee Chairman Bob Stump said the next terrorist attack could easily take the form of a relatively short-range missile carrying chemical or biological weapons.
"They have the capability, they have chemical warfare materials, they have biological warfare materials," said Stump, R-Ariz. "And they have, through China and Russia, the technology to deliver that on a missile."
"It's only a matter of time before we face that," he said. "I think we're only fortunate that they didn't employ chemical or biological weapons in this last attack."
Stump acknowledged the need for more work in areas such as human intelligence, which relies on people, in addition to technology, to uncover crucial information. He bemoaned Congress' reluctance to approve more money to put people on the ground abroad.
"People don't like to vote for human intelligence or a lot of intelligence generally because they don't a get a big shiny plane or a big tank out of it," Stump said.
|Russia Orders Salvation Army to Cease Operations |
MOSCOW September 12, 2001 (AP) - A Moscow court on Wednesday instructed the Salvation Army to shut down its operations in the Russian capital in the latest fallout from a strict 1997 law that has raised concerns about religious freedom in Russia.
After two years of legal wrangling, Judge Svetlana Grigoryeva reached a ruling quickly in Wednesday's proceedings in the Tagansky district court, the Salvation Army's headquarters for Eastern Europe said in a statement.
The Moscow government sought to shut down the Salvation Army, accusing it of not registering on time and failing to regularly report its activities to authorities.
The missionary group, which operates soup kitchens and does other charity work, says the Moscow government unfairly denied it registration based on the 1997 law. The group said it would appeal the ruling.
It was unclear what immediate effect the ruling would have on the Salvation Army's religious services and aid work with the homeless, elderly and prison inmates in Moscow.
The 1997 law, championed by the influential Russian Orthodox Church, requires all religious groups to register with Russian authorities. Several groups, particularly foreign-based, have had legal troubles since it was passed and say it limits religious freedoms won with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Salvation Army is also active in other Russian regions where it has not had serious registration troubles.
On Tuesday, Grigoryeva refused the Salvation Army's request to postpone the case. Russian lawyers for the religious charity had argued that the case in Moscow should be postponed pending decisions on appeals filed in higher Russian courts and the European Court of Human Rights.
Col. Kenneth Baillie, who heads the Salvation Army's operations in Russia and four other former Communist countries, said the group has faced worse problems in Russia than in any other country under his supervision.
The Russian Orthodox Church has denied it is behind the attempts to shut down the Salvation Army but has said it regards humanitarian activities by the Salvation Army as an attempt to win over believers.
Next month, the Salvation Army will mark its 10th anniversary of operating in post-Soviet Russia. It also operated briefly in czarist Russia before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
|Declassified CIA Documents Depict Spy Ideas |
|By JOHN J. LUMPKIN |
WASHINGTON September 11, 2001 (AP) - Soviet-tracking psychics and cats wired as mobile eavesdropping platforms didn't work out very well. But CIA proposals for spy planes and satellites to peer on America's adversaries from above turned into resounding successes.
Recently declassified documents, released Monday by the National Security Archive, detail some of the successful - and silly - research of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology.
The CIA designed and operated spy satellites for years, until the separate National Reconnaissance Office took over many of those duties, said Jeffrey T. Richelson, a researcher with the archive and author of "The Wizards of Langley," a book detailing the directorate's efforts. The directorate also developed the U-2 and A-12 spy planes. Another of its advances turned into an integral part of the pacemaker.
In the 1960s, under a program code-named Palladium, scientists trying to design stealthy aircraft figured out how to insert ghost planes on Soviet radar screens. Assisted by the National Security Agency, the CIA eavesdropped on Soviet radar operators and determined the sensitivity of particular Soviet radars.
While the CIA's scientific successes have become part of the U.S. inventory of spy techniques, its follies are notable as well, Richelson said.
Many of those have been previously documented in books about the CIA. The multi-agency plan to use psychics - called "remote viewers" - to map Soviet military bases and 1950s research into interrogation drugs are well-known.
Another project, known as "Acoustic Kitty," involved wiring a cat with transmitting and control devices, allowing it to serve as a mobile listening post.
A heavily redacted 1967 government memo released by the archive Monday suggests that cats can be altered and trained, but concludes the program wouldn't work.
"The program would not lend itself in a practical sense to our highly specialized needs," it says. "The environmental and security factors in using this technique in a real foreign situation force us to conclude that, for our ... purposes, it would not be practical."
In the first test of feline surveillance, the cat was run over by a taxi, according to Richelson.
Central Intelligence Agency: http://www.cia.gov
National Security Archive: http://www.nsarchive.org
|NASA Spacecraft To Fly Near Comet |
By ANDREW BRIDGES
AP Science Writer
PASADENA September 9, 2001 (AP) - A battered NASA spacecraft will attempt to fly within 1,240 miles of the heart of a comet this month to give scientists only their second glimpse of the dark heart of a glowing space snowball.
The Deep Space 1 spacecraft will swoop past the comet Borrelly on Sept. 22, snapping up to 32 black-and-white images of its nucleus.
If it succeeds in sending back close-up images of the nucleus during its approach - and the odds are slim - it will be the first to examine the dark yet dynamic core of a comet since the Giotto spacecraft flew past Halley in 1986.
"We expect to see an irregularly shaped, black potato spewing fountains of gas and dust,'' said Donald Yeomans, a comet expert at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The flyby is anything but a sure thing for the spacecraft, which is on its swan song assignment.
"There is a very real chance none of this is going to work,'' said Marc Rayman, the mission's project manager at JPL.
"Deep Space 1 is flying on duct tape and good wishes,'' he said.
The probe was launched in October 1998 and completed its main mission of testing a suite of a dozen innovative technologies a year later.
Shortly thereafter, however, it lost use of its navigational camera. Engineers fashioned a replacement by reprogramming the probe's science camera with hastily written software.
But it continues to run into problems, most recently last month when it lost its orientation in space. And its supply of hydrazine fuel is dwindling, leaving little for maneuvering.
NASA will turn off the spacecraft in late November, but scientists hope to use data from the Borrelly flyby to plan for four other NASA missions scheduled to fly past comets in the next few years.
"The little we know about comets is that they are really individual beasts and that probably no two comets are alike,'' said Joseph Ververka, a Cornell University professor of astronomy and principal investigator on the Comet Nucleus Tour, or CONTOUR, mission to study at least two comets at close range.
While comets are celebrated for how brilliantly they shine, at their heart they are thought to be cloaked in a pitch black crust. When they swing close to the sun, the heat boils off the mix of dust and ice that lies beneath.
When illuminated by the sun, that vaporized material glows brightly, giving comets their distinctive head, or coma.
In Borrelly's case, the coma is as big as the Earth, dwarfing a nucleus thought to be just 5 miles long and perhaps half as wide.
That means NASA scientists will have to guess about pointing the spacecraft's camera and setting its exposure, because they won't know exactly where or how bright the nucleus will be.
"We make our best estimate and then plunge into the coma,'' Rayman said.
The closest nucleus images will be taken from about 4,960 miles away, but other instruments will continue gathering information as the craft nears the nucleus.
Borrelly may well mean the death of Deep Space 1. Debris will batter the spacecraft as it flies past the comet at a relative velocity of 36,900 mph. At that speed, particles no larger than a human hair is thick can damage the probe or send it spinning.
But NASA officials say the flyby is icing on the cake for the $152 million Deep Space 1 mission. The flyby cost an additional $12 million.
"That's nothing compared to the cost of building a new spacecraft,'' said Paul Hertz, the Deep Space 1 program executive at NASA headquarters.
Deep Space 1 - http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1
|Archaeologists Condemn Concerts at Ancient Sites |
By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
BELKIS Turkey September 11, 2001 (Washington Post) - The 1,800-year-old Aspendos amphitheater here has survived gladiator fights, wild animal combat, pillaging armies and collapsing empires.
Now, archaeologists warn, one of the best-preserved antiquities of the Roman Empire faces new threats: pop music stars, wall-rattling decibel levels and frenzied, stone-stomping fans.
"We don't need to wait until the stones start falling," said Nevzat Cevik, an archaeologist and professor at Mediterranean University in the nearby southern coastal city of Antalya. "It's already clear -- when 10,000 people are jumping at the same time, it's an earthquake."
Across Turkey this summer, Roman theaters, ancient Ionian cities and Ottoman fortresses -- which normally provide picturesque settings for sedate classical music and opera -- were opened to pop stars and dance extravaganzas as never before in an effort to draw more tourists and their cash to this financially foundering country.
The activity has ignited a blistering debate involving the government, which is eager to show off Turkey's unique historical sites, production companies that are vying for access to dramatic settings, and archaeologists who are concerned about the impact of 21st-century loudspeakers and unruly fans on fragile, if not crumbling, ruins.
"We want to bring these sites to life, make them living places," said Mustafa Erdogan, art director and choreographer for "Sultans of the Dance," a lavish Turkish dance production currently performing at the Aspendos theater on Turkey's southern Mediterranean Sea coast. "They [archaeologists] would prefer to leave them ruins."
These are some of the same sites where, nearly two millennia ago, thunderous crowds egged on roaring lions or gladiators in bloody battles to the death or where wild beasts were set against each other for the benefit of screaming mobs. In fact, the government only recently banned camel wrestling at the 2,000-year-old amphitheater set amid the marble and stone of Ephesus, Turkey's most famous ancient city on its southwestern Aegean coast.
"These are ruins," said the archaeologist Cevik, 38, who has spent much of the past 13 years surveying archaeological sites in southern Turkey. "They are like an old man. After 1,800 years, they are very tired. They aren't so strong as when they were young."
While Cevik concedes that pop concerts alone won't bring down the walls of the antiquities, he and other archaeologists say the wear and tear of frequent performances will add to the threats that the sites already face from weather exposure, the trampling feet of millions of tourists and the encroachments of modern civilizations' highways and urban sprawl.
"Damage to the structure of the monuments is caused by vibrations of the deep basses transmitted by amplifiers," said Fritz Krinzinger, who heads the Austrian excavation team working on restorations at Ephesus. "These are especially harmful to the mortar filling already disintegrated by salt and air pollution. More damage is caused by the thousands of people who do not care about where they sit, what they drink, or how they dispose of their garbage."
Krinzinger said that during a concert several years ago at Ephesus, a stone fell from the upper part of the amphitheater, nearly injuring some people in the audience.
Although the government's Culture Ministry, which is responsible for the preservation of historic sites, several years ago barred the use of ruins for rock concerts and stage extravaganzas, officials this summer began granting high-profile exceptions.
Elton John played to a packed amphitheater at Ephesus in July. Turkey's top pop icon, Tarkan, performed before a gyrating throng at Aspendos last month and at the 15th-century Rumeli Hisari Fort in Istanbul recently. The "Sultans of the Dance" staged shows at Ephesus and recently at Aspendos theater as well.
"The institutions organizing these events are making a lot of money using the ancient monuments," said Krinzinger, noting the issue is creating controversy in dozens of countries with ancient ruins. "The people in charge often do not respect the balance between the requirements of the monuments . . . and the needs of the mass of visitors who expect security, space, refreshments, and sanitation."
In a news release responding to criticism of its decision to allow this summer's shows, the Culture Ministry said it supported using historical sites for cultural and art activities. "This practice contributes significantly to better recognition of our antique treasures, cultural tourism and the artistic improvement of our country."
But some ministry officials say that by relaxing the rules on what is acceptable for centuries-old stages, the integrity of historic structures is being threatened.
"Sounds cause vibrations," one ministry official said. "It is not possible to say these kinds of big productions are not damaging. The only thing that can be debated is how much damage."
An architect named Zeno is believed to have designed the soaring Aspendos theater in about 161 A.D., when the city by the same name sat at one of the major commercial crossroads of its time. Archaeologists describe it as the best-preserved Roman theater in Turkey, if not in all of the former empire. Like all the theaters of its day, it was built with such perfect acoustics that a whisper at a certain spot center stage could carry to the highest seats in the coliseum.
Zeno never envisioned a Tarkan -- Turkey's 29-year-old reigning king of pop -- when he created such a sound-sensitive natural acoustical setting.
|Regular Aspirin Use Seems to Prolong Life |
|By LINDSEY TANNER |
CHICAGO September 12, 2001 (AP) - People who regularly take aspirin to reduce their risk for heart attack may also be substantially extending their lives, new research suggests.
The study of 6,174 adults with suspected heart disease found that regular aspirin users faced a 33 percent lower risk of dying during a follow-up period averaging three years than patients who didn't take aspirin.
The findings extend the known benefits for heart patients in taking aspirin at least every other day, which previous studies have shown can reduce the risk of heart attack and the short-term risk of death in heart attack sufferers, said the authors, led by Dr. Patricia Gum of The Cleveland Clinic.
"Up until now it really had not been very well established" that aspirin had long-term survival benefits for heart patients, said co-author Dr. Michael Lauer, clinical research director in the clinic's cardiovascular medicine department.
The study appeared in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Lynn Smaha, a cardiologist at Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pa., said patients often ask him if they should regularly take aspirin, which improves blood flow through the arteries by making it less sticky and less likely to clot.
For those who've had previous heart attacks, "it's pretty clear that that's an appropriate recommendation," said Smaha, past president of the American Heart Association.
The new study "lends credence to the possibility that long-term aspirin therapy may be of significant benefit" even for patients with no previous heart attacks, Smaha said.
Lauer stressed that patients should consult with their doctors about whether to start taking aspirin on a regular basis.
Study participants were male and female patients who underwent ultrasounds called echocardiograms and stress tests to evaluate suspected heart problems. Included were 2,310 people who were taking about one aspirin daily or every other day at test time and 3,864 nonusers.
There were 276 deaths during about three years of follow-up. While there were about equal numbers of deaths in both groups, the aspirin users were older when they were tested - aged 62 on average compared with 56 for the nonusers, and had more diagnosed heart disease. Adjusting for those factors, the authors found aspirin users were 33 percent less likely to die than nonusers.
The greatest benefits were seen in patients who were physically unfit, over age 50 or who had known heart disease. Lauer said most of the deaths likely were heart-related, though exact causes weren't available.
|Greenpeace Condemns European Patent for GM Fish |
|PARIS September 10, 2001 (Reuters) - Ecologist group Greenpeace condemned on Monday the granting of a European patent for a genetic tweak that can make salmon grow eight times larger than normal. |
Greenpeace France said the Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO) granted Canadian company Seabright Corporation a patent for a genetically modified Atlantic salmon and all other fish species carrying an additional gene for faster growth.
It said EPO granted the patent using EU legislation on ''Biotechnological Inventions'' even though patents on living beings are not allowed under the European Patent Convention.
EPO was not immediately available for comment.
"This legislation is open to all kinds of abuses. Patents on living beings are an encouragement to putting the environment at risk and carrying out questionable experiments as shown in the case of the transgenic fish,'' Greenpeace France GM expert Eric Gall said in a statement.
A/F Protein, a Seabright branch, said on its Web site that when its transgene antifreeze protein was introduced into Atlantic salmon, it "resulted in the production of salmon that grow at a rate dramatically faster than standard salmon.''
|Rogue Black Hole Orbiting Our Galaxy |
By Dr. David Whitehouse
BBC News Science Editor
September 13, 2001 (BBC) - Astronomers have discovered an ancient black hole speeding through the Sun's galactic neighborhood.
The rogue black hole is devouring a small companion star as the pair travel in an elliptical orbit that takes it from the outer reaches of our Galaxy to its inner regions.
It is believed that the black hole is the remnant of a massive star that lived out its brief life billions of years ago and was then gravitationally kicked from its home star cluster to wander the Galaxy.
The discovery was made with observations from the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (Vlba) radio telescopes and the Rossi X-ray satellite in Earth orbit. The object, called XTE J1118+480, was discovered by the Rossi X-ray satellite on 29 March 2000. Later observations with optical and radio telescopes showed that it is about 6,000 light-years from Earth.
Astronomers call it a "microquasar" in which material sucked by the black hole from its companion star forms a hot, spinning disk that emits jets of subatomic particles that in turn gives off radio waves.
Observations pulled from various archives resulted in data about the object spread over 43 years. The long timespan enabled astronomers to calculate the object's orbital path around the galactic center.
"This discovery is the first step toward filling in a missing chapter in the history of our Galaxy," said Felix Mirabel, an astrophysicist at the Institute for Astronomy and Space Physics of Argentina and the French Atomic Energy Commission.
"We believe that hundreds of thousands of very massive stars formed early in the history of our Galaxy, but this is the first black hole remnant of one of those huge primeval stars that we've found.
"This also is the first time that a black hole's motion through space has been measured," Mirabel added.
A black hole is a concentration of mass with a pull of gravity so strong that not even light can escape.
"There are two possibilities (about how it may have got into its orbit): either it formed in the Galaxy's plane and was somehow kicked out of the plane, or it formed in a globular cluster and was kicked out of the cluster," said Vivek Dhawan, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, New Mexico.
Most of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy are within a thin disk, called the plane of the Galaxy. However, globular clusters, each containing hundreds of thousands of the oldest stars in the Galaxy, orbit the Galaxy's center in paths that take them far from the Galaxy's plane. XTE J1118+480 orbits the Galaxy's center in a similar path.
Simulations of the gravitational interactions in globular clusters have shown that the black holes resulting from the collapse of the most massive stars should eventually be ejected from the cluster.
The research is reported in the journal Nature.
Rossi Homepage - http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/xte/XTE.html
|Baby Talk More Than Babble |
|Montreal Quebec September 10, 2001 (AP) - Babies with normal hearing but deaf parents babble with their hands, supporting the notion that vocal babbling reflects attempts to use the natural rhythms of language, researchers say. |
While parents might strain to hear words in baby babble, some researchers have suggested it is unrelated to language and just the result of moving the mouth and jaw. Others say it reflects babies' sensitivity to specific patterns of human language and their ability to use them. The new work supports this second idea.
Scientists studied three hearing babies of profoundly deaf parents and three other babies regularly exposed to spoken language.
Analysis found that the babies of deaf parents, in addition to showing hand movements like those of the other babies, also tended to produce a kind of movement that resembled signing: It was done in the proper place in front of the body and mimicked the rhythmic patterning of adult sign syllables.
That shows the babies were picking up the specific rhythmic patterns that underlie human language, wrote the researchers, from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and elsewhere, in the Sept. 6 issue of the journal Nature.
|Starbucks Denies Tea Contains Ephedrine |
LOS ANGELES September 10, 2001 (AP) - In a statement obtained Monday, the Starbucks Corp. denied adding the stimulant ephedrine to its tea products without warning consumers.
The Seattle-based coffee company was sued last week in Los Angeles Superior Court by a group that claimed the chemical was placed in Starbucks' Tazo Chai Tea product without approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Starbucks officials said that as a matter of policy it normally does not comment on pending litigation, but felt that it was important for customers to know that ephedrine has never been used as an ingredient in Tazo's Chai Tea or any other Tazo product.
"We have tested Chai Tea for the presence of ephedrine and the results have been conclusively negative," the statement obtained Monday said. "There is no basis for the claims raised by the plaintiff and we intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit."
The 20-page suit sought an injunction barring use of the additive and did not seek cash damages.
Ephedrine has been used by dieters to increase metabolism and is popular with athletes because it can increase performance. It also is used to treat asthmatics. The stimulant, however, has been linked to strokes and heart attack, and is blamed for the deaths this year of several college football players.
The lawsuit was filed by the newly formed Berkeley-based Council for Education and Research on Toxics.
|Gordon Sinclair Editorial Resurfaces |
|TORONTO September 15, 2001 (AP) - A strong message of support written to America 28 years ago by Canadian journalist Gordon Sinclair has reappeared on the Internet following this week's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. |
Called "The Americans," the commentary recorded by Sinclair praises the United States for the help it has given other nations through the years and calls for people to rally to America's side in times of trouble.
"Our neighbors have faced it alone and I am one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around," Sinclair wrote in 1973, the end of the Vietnam era. "They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles."
Sinclair's son, Gordon Sinclair Jr., said Friday he has been inundated with e-mail about his father's words.
"I've spent over five hours yesterday just answering these things," he said.
Some people, unaware that the elder Sinclair died in 1984, congratulated his son for the commentary. Sinclair Jr. said his father would have been pleased at the reaction.
"He loved any attention," the son said. "He'd be ranting and raving at anybody that said anything anti-U.S. at a time like this."
Sinclair wrote the piece and read it on the radio after hearing reports that the American Red Cross was facing financial collapse. At the time, the United States had just pulled out of Vietnam amid economic troubles and the Watergate scandal.
Later, Sinclair made a record of "The Americans," reciting it with the "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" playing in the background. Sales of the recording earned more than $500,000 that was donated to the American Red Cross.
When Sinclair died, his widow, Gladys, received a letter from then-President Ronald Reagan about "The Americans."
"I know I speak for all Americans, in saying that the radio editorial Gordon wrote in 1973, praising the accomplishments of the United States, was a wonderful inspiration for our nation," Reagan wrote.
Link to text of "The Americans" - http://www.rcc.ryerson.ca/ccf/news/unique/am_text.html
|WWII Internment Victims Speak for Arab-Americans |
|By JON SARCHE |
DENVER September 16, 2001 (AP - John Tateishi was only 3 years old when he and his family were taken from their Los Angeles home to an internment camp 200 miles away after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Today he hopes the nation will not punish Arab-Americans who had nothing to do with Tuesday's attacks the way his family was punished 60 years ago.
"Unless the political leadership in this country is determined not to abridge the rights of a certain segment of the population, there's no question in my mind it could happen again," said Tateishi, executive director of the San Francisco-based civil rights group the Japanese American Citizens League.
Since the attacks, people who appear to be of Middle Eastern heritage have been harassed, threatened and hounded by angry Americans looking for someone to blame. It all sounds too familiar to many of the nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans locked away in camps from California to Arkansas during World War II.
Bill Hosokawa, an 86-year-old retired Denver journalist sent to an internment camp, said he was glad the nation's leaders have urged Americans not to threaten people "who may be thought to be linked purely because of ethnic or racial background."
"We, as a society, have become much wiser, much more understanding," said Hosokawa, who was among the 11,000 Japanese-Americans interned at the Heart Mountain camp in northern Wyoming.
The government has acknowledged that the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack was based on racial bias rather than a threat to national security. From 1988 to 1999, the government paid $1.6 billion in reparations to more than 82,000 internees and their families.
Seichi Hayashida, 83, of Caldwell, Idaho, was interned in southern Idaho. She said she now understands the reasons behind the relocations, but doesn't want to see them happen again.
"They couldn't tell just by looking at you whether you was loyal or not, and we looked like the enemy," Hayashida said.
|Bone Marrow Dashed Across the Atlantic |
London September 14, 2001 (BBC) - One of the first Britons to leave the US following the terror attacks was a hospital manager on a mercy mission for a transplant patient.
Nick Hulme, a manager at King's College Hospital in London, was able to commission a private jet on Thursday afternoon so that he could get back to the UK as quickly as possible.
He brought with him a precious cargo of bone marrow cells needed for a leukemia patient to undergo potentially life-saving transplant surgery.
The operation finally went ahead on Friday afternoon. Any further delay could have seriously jeopardized the chances that his patient would pull through.
Mr Hulme was in Washington on his mercy mission when the terrorists struck on Tuesday, just an hour before he was due to collect bone marrow harvested from a patient at a local hospital.
Unable to leave the country, he managed to get the delicate cells frozen to keep them alive while he negotiated frantically with US authorities to be allowed to fly back to the UK.
Eventually, Mr Hulme was given "life guard" status so air space could be opened up for his flight from Martin State Airport in Baltimore.
Mr Hulme said: "It was a remarkable chain of events and really shows how inter-dependent we all are.
"The patient could have been another victim of the attack on the USA.
"Thankfully, despite all the difficulties, we all worked together to arrange a private charter flight to get the bone marrow here just in time and to give him a fighting chance."
The patient, 42, who wishes to remain anonymous, told of his "terror" as he watched news of the attacks unfold on TV in his hospital room.
"It was terrible. My wife and I suddenly realized `this affects me'.
"For all we knew, perhaps the donor was on one of those planes, or maybe stranded unable to get to the hospital. The bad news was that the bone marrow was now stuck in Washington because no flights were leaving.
"We were incredibly worried. The last few days have been emotionally overwhelming. The news of the attacks and my own personal situation are exhausting.
"I don't have the words to say thank you to the donor, the people who arranged the flight, and to Nick Hulme."
|China and Mexico Finalize WTO Agreement |
|BEIJING September 13, 2001 (AP) - Beijing's official Xinhua News Agency has reported that Mexico and China reached an agreement Thursday on China's entry to the World Trade Organization. |
Mexico is the last WTO member to strike a deal on China's joining world trade's rule-making body, and the agreement could offer crucial momentum as the WTO faces a self-imposed deadline next week for ironing out final details on Beijing's entry.
Members had set a Thursday deadline, but postponed that until Monday following the terror attacks in the United States.
WTO members are struggling to solve disputes over the insurance industry and price controls on products such as cotton and sugar before finalizing an agreement between the world trade body and China.
An agreement between China and the WTO would open the way for China's formal approval at a November meeting of WTO trade ministers in Doha, Qatar. China could then become a full member early next year, capping a 15-year effort.
Xinhua said the bilateral agreement between Mexico and China was signed by Sha Zukang, China's ambassador to the United Nations office, and Mexican ambassador to the WTO, Eduardo Perez Mota.
Details were not reported, but one sticking point had been a timeline for Mexico to phase out protective duties on Chinese imports that violate WTO rules.
|Chinese Lawyer Sentenced for E-mailing Pro-Democracy Journal |
|BEIJING September 16, 2001 (AP) - A Chinese lawyer has been sentenced to serve three years in a labor camp for distributing a pro-democracy journal using e-mail, according to a political activist group Sunday. |
A court sentenced Zhu Ruixiang to nine months, but Communist Party officials ordered the longer sentence, the Free China Movement said in a statement.
Zhu, a veteran of pro-democracy protests in 1989, was arrested May 8 in the southern city of Shaoyang in Hunan province, the group said.
A woman who answered the telephone at police headquarters in Shaoyang said no one was available to talk about the case.
Zhu was accused of passing on "VIP Reference" to 12 people, the Free China Movement said. The journal is produced by U.S.-based dissidents and distributed by e-mail.
The Free China Movement said Zhu's case was related to that of Li Zanmin, a member of the banned China Democracy Party. Li was arrested after police found copies of "VIP Reference" at his home, and is awaiting trial, the group said.
|Japan Processes Suspected Mad Cow Into Feed |
TOKYO September 14, 2001 (AP) - The animal involved in what could be Asia's first case of mad cow disease was not destroyed as previously announced, but instead was processed into meat and bone meal, a government spokesman said Friday.
Agriculture Ministry spokesman Toshimichi Kado said the investigation revealed that a meal plant and a feed mill in two different Japanese states were in possession of tons of meal that included processed meat and bones from the suspect 5-year-old Holstein milk cow.
Earlier the government said the animal had been slaughtered and burned. Kado said a misunderstanding between ministry officials and local authorities had resulted in the erroneous announcement. He did not give details, but said no feed or other products containing the meat and bone meal had been sold to customers.
The suspect cow, from a farm just east of Tokyo, was slaughtered in August after mysteriously losing its ability to stand. Its meat and bones were apparently sent to be processed into meal before the results of a test for mad cow disease were known, Kyodo News agency said.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is thought to cause the fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans who eat infected beef. CJD kills its victims by tearing holes in their brain tissue.
The ministry announced Monday that the test showed evidence of the disease. A panel of scientists is supposed to make a final determination. If confirmed, the case would be the first in Asia.
The announcement prompted a torrent of inquiries from frightened Japanese consumers, and several Asian countries responded by banning imports of Japanese beef.
Thousands of officials began inspections this week of 140,000 farms and 142 animal feed mills looking for more evidence of mad cow disease. No other cases have been reported.
The disease has ravaged Europe's cattle industry. Cows are believed to have become infected through feed containing bone meal from infected sheep.
|Oldest Hominid Fossils in Southern Africa Found |
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG September 13, 2001 (Reuters) - Scientists announced on Thursday the discovery of the oldest known hominid fossils yet found in southern Africa, dating back 3.5 million years.
The limb-bones and cranial remains were uncovered at the world-renowned Sterkfontein Caves, north of Johannesburg, by a team headed by Dr. Ron Clarke of the University of the Witwatersrand, the university said in a statement.
Sterkfontein is the richest site in the world for remains of early members of the family of humanity (hominids) and the surrounding area is a World Heritage Site.
Witwatersrand scientist Dr. Phillip Tobias told Reuters that the latest fossils found were 3.5 million years old.
"They have been dated but they have not yet been studied. We don't even know how many individuals they represent,'' said Tobias, who is widely recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on early human evolution.
He said specimens were still being extracted from the hard earth and a fuller announcement regarding the find would be made in two to three months time.
"The number of hominid fossil specimens recovered from Sterkfontein now stands at a record 606,'' Tobias added.
The oldest remains previously uncovered at Sterkfontein dated back 3.3 million years.
They included a foot, lower leg, lower thigh bones and skull, all found in the early to mid 1990s. The same creature's complete hand and arm were discovered in 1999.
That creature and the most recent discovery belong to the genus Australopithecus, but neither has been assigned a species classification. There are several species of Australopithecus.
Older hominid fossils have been uncovered in East Africa, with finds in Kenya and Ethiopia dating back to 5.7 million years and more, boosting Africa's claim to being the "cradle of humankind.''
Scientists hope the Sterkfontein and East Africa finds will shed light on our distant origins and provide clues to why and when we diverged from the apes on the evolutionary ladder.
"From the molecular evidence such as DNA it had been held for many years that humans and apes, chimpanzees in particular, parted company five to seven million years ago,'' said Tobias.
"But new evidence in Ethiopia and Kenya is forcing us to push that parting of the ways back further in time to perhaps as far back as seven to nine million years ago,'' he said.
The Sterkfontein findings are more closely related to modern man than they are to the apes.
|Gene 'Protects Human Life' |
September 14, 2001 (BBC) - Scientists have uncovered evidence that one specific gene may play a crucial role in preserving human life under conditions of stress.
The gene appears to protect tissues not only against cancer but also other potential threats, such as oxygen starvation. The discovery also raises the possibility that the gene could be used to develop more potent and less harmful anti-cancer drugs.
It has been known for some time that the p53 gene plays a significant role in preventing cancer. However, humans have three forms of the p53 gene with overlapping functions which has made it difficult to pin down its exact role.
But scientists from the University of California have discovered that a rudimentary worm called a nematode carries only one version of the gene.
This made it far easier for the researchers to reveal what role the family of p53 genes plays in all animals.
They found that the gene plays a crucial role in killing off cells damaged by exposure to harmful substances such as radiation.
Unchecked, cells that have suffered this "genotoxic stress" can become cancerous. However, the researchers also found that the gene extends the life span of worms that are starving, and helps to keep worms alive when they are struggling in conditions where oxygen is in short supply.
In humans, a lack of oxygen is responsible for widespread tissue damage caused by heart attacks and stroke.
Lead researcher Professor Joel Rothman said the findings indicate p53 helps the animal react to quite different environmental stresses.
He said: "It is apparently a kingpin for supporting life under a variety of stress conditions.
"Our discovery now makes it possible to use these simple animals to discover new cancer target genes and drugs with unprecedented speed, at much lower cost, and with much greater breadth than was heretofore possible."
Nicola Hawe, science information officer at the Cancer Research Campaign, said the work stressed how important it was to carry out research on organisms that on the surface seem to have little relevance to human disease.
She said: "Some of the major breakthroughs in understanding the development of cancer and its devastating effect on the human body have come from studies of humble creatures like the worm, the fruit fly and yeast.
"Simple organisms like these allow scientists to dissect the functions of individual genes, a task which can be impossible amid the complexity of the human system."
She said that although p53 was possibly the most studied gene in the world, the Californian research team had managed to shed new light on its function through studying the nematode worm.
The research is published in the journal Science.
|Rare Rhino Born at Cincinnati Zoo |
CINCINNATI September 14, 2001 (AP) - For the first time 112 years, a Sumatran rhinoceros has been bred and born in captivity, and experts say that lifts their hopes that the species can be saved.
Officials at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden hailed the birth of the healthy male calf Thursday as a historic event. Sumatran rhinos once roamed across much of Southeast Asia, but there are only about 300 left, making them among the world's most endangered mammals.
The mother is 11-year-old Emi, whose previous five pregnancies ended in miscarriages. She and the father rhino, named Ipuh, are the only breeding pair of Sumatran rhinos in the United States.
"I believe that the probability of survival of this species has moved from somewhere below 50-50 to significantly above it,'' said Tom Foose, program director of the International Rhino Foundation.
Foose called the birth an "epochal'' event, adding that what has been learned about the rhinos' reproductive cycle from the Cincinnati birth is being put to use elsewhere. The last time a Sumatran rhino was bred and born in captivity was in India in 1889.
Emi and Ipuh are on loan from the Indonesian government as part of a multinational captive breeding program that began in 1984. But until Thursday, the program had not produced a single Sumatran rhino calf.
The Indonesian government gets the honor of naming the newborn, zoo spokeswoman Barbara Rish said.
The only other adult Sumatran rhino in this country, a female named Rapunzel, is at the Bronx Zoo in New York. She had been at Cincinnati but experts concluded she was too old for the mating program.
On the Net:
Cincinnati Zoo: http://www.cincyzoo.org
International Rhino Foundation: http://www.rhinos-irf.org
|Search for Noah's Ark Continues |
By Veselin Toshkov
SOFIA Bulgaria September 14, 2001 (AP) - Could it be that Noah's Ark lies well-preserved somewhere in the inky depths of the Black Sea?
A joint US-Bulgarian scientific expedition is combing the Black Sea for traces of a lost civilization, a mission that could shed more light on the date and site of the biblical Great Flood.
Under the supervision of American underwater explorer and Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard, the team of 19 scientists left the port city of Varna, about 300 miles east of Sofia, last month on a 30-day expedition. Their ship, the Akademik, is using sonar technology to search the mouths of the Provadiyska and Kamchia rivers.
The scientists are looking for undersea evidence of human habitation in the Black Sea region before the flood described in the Old Testament book of Genesis. The Bible says that Noah built an ark in which he, his family, and living creatures of every kind survived the flood. Numerous towns are believed to have been situated along both rivers.
Some scientists theorize that a society predating those of Egypt and Mesopotamia was submerged by the Black Sea at the time of a massive flood 7,600 years ago. The flood transformed a lake into the saltwater sea.
Ballard, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, is best known for finding the remains of the sunken Titanic in 1985. He also operates the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Conn. Three years ago, he found indications of an ancient coastline miles offshore from the current Black Sea coast.
Although he did not join the current expedition, Ballard is in constant satellite communication with the crew. If the expedition is successful, he plans to return in 2003 to continue the search with Hercules, a robot being developed for underwater archaeological excavations.
The expedition is sponsored by the National Geographic Society, which is planning a book and television programs on Ballard's Black Sea research.
''We are looking for evidence of settlements where people had been living before the flood,'' Ballard told journalists during a brief stay in Bulgaria ahead of the expedition. Flooding occurred all over the world 7,600 years ago, he said, but ''this was the flood of floods.''
In 1999, Ballard's team discovered a wooden ship in ''absolutely astounding'' condition, despite being up to 1,500 years old, in the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey. ''When archaeologists saw the ship, they said that it could have sunk a week ago,'' he said.
Unlike other oceans, the Black Sea's deep water does not circulate, and the lack of oxygen at those depths prevents the development of microorganisms that destroy wooden shipwrecks.
In addition to the preserved ship, three other wrecks were found in shallower water where there is some oxygen. Those suffered some worm damage.
According to a theory to which Ballard and his Bulgarian colleagues subscribe, when glaciers melted at the end of the Ice Age, water flowing from the Mediterranean surged over the Bosporus at a speed 200 times greater than that of Niagara Falls.
''Our mission now is to find the ancient shoreline 510 feet down and find evidence of human habitation before the flood,'' Ballard said. ''We are undertaking the expedition thanks to maps prepared by Professor Petko Dimitrov and his colleagues, which show the ancient shoreline.''
Dimitrov, who heads Bulgaria's Oceanological Institute, also believes evidence of a lost civilization could be found in the depths of the Black Sea.
He noted a Neolithic necropolis containing the oldest tomb discovered in Europe was found near Varna in 1972. The necropolis, which dates back to 4600-4200 B.C., contained various tools of flint and stone and religious objects, he said.
During a Bulgarian-Russian expedition in 1985, Dimitrov also found an ancient stone plate 40 miles offshore. He later called it ''Noah's Plate.''
''My impression was that it had not fallen from a sunken ship, but had been used there by people,'' Dimitrov said.
|Cannabis Spray Helps 77 Percent of Pain Patients |
LONDON September 10, 2001 (Reuters) - A British company developing the world's first cannabis-based medicines said Monday its under-the-tongue spray had delivered significant benefit for 77 percent of chronic pain sufferers in clinical trials.
GW Pharmaceuticals Plc, which grows its cannabis in secret glasshouses in southern England, tested the new drug against placebo on patients suffering from multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.
It found that 41 out of the first 53 patients enrolled in the Phase I and II studies derived statistically significant benefit, including reduced pain, improved sleep and overall symptom relief.
Side effects, including headaches and nausea, were ''predictable and generally well tolerated,'' it added.
Some patients did become intoxicated -- as the best known effect of cannabis kicked in -- but generally the ability to control dosage with the spray mechanism allowed users to strike a balance between reducing pain and getting high.
Results of trials at three centers were presented at the American Academy of Pain Management in Arlington, Virginia.
Dr. William Notcutt of James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth in eastern England had last week outlined promising results from one of the studies at a scientific meeting in Scotland.
GW also announced that Britain's Medicines Control Agency had approved the extended use of its cannabis-based medicines from 12 to 24 months of treatment, following the submission of safety data.
GW, which floated in London in June but has seen its shares fall by more than 40 percent on uncertainties about whether cannabis will ever become a mainstream medicine, said the results were very encouraging.
"The half-term report is -- so far, so good,'' said Executive Chairman Geoffrey Guy.
Although the use of cannabis is illegal in most countries, patients with diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis have been lobbying to use cannabis for medicinal purposes.
The company is already undertaking final Phase III study and aims to file for regulatory approval of its spray in 2003, with the aim of bringing the first prescription medicine made from cannabis extracts to the market early in 2004.