|French Art Cave, |
2001 KX76 and
|Cave News! |
Cave Engravings Found in France
By PIERRE SAUVEY
Associated Press Writer
PERIGUEUX, France July 4, 2001 (AP) — Vivid prehistoric engravings that could date back as far as 28,000 B.C. have been found in a cave in western France, regional officials said Wednesday.
An archaeologist characterized the engravings as a major discovery. They are believed to predate the world's oldest cave paintings — the 18,000-year-old paintings in the famed Lascaux caves, also in western France.
"It is as important for engraving as Lascaux is for painting,'' Dany Baraud, chief archaeologist at the Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs of Aquitaine, said of the cave discovered in the hamlet of Cussac.
Officials said hundreds of yards of detailed engravings in the Cussac cave depict animals — including bison, horses and rhinoceroses — and human figures.
Seven graves containing human skeletons were also found in the cave. Radiocarbon-dating tests on the skeletons were not expected to produce results for several weeks, said Jean Clottes, a Culture Ministry official. It isn't known if the graves date back to the same period as the engravings.
"The presence of graves in a decorated cave is unprecedented,'' Clottes told a news conference.
Experts were also still analyzing age tests on the engravings, but did not consider them to be the oldest ever discovered. In 1994, a cave was found in the Ardeche region containing drawings and some engravings dating back 32,000 years.
Ministry officials said the Cussac engravings were notable mainly for their exceptional condition. The designs are particularly elaborate and remain deeply etched in the cave walls.
The site was discovered by an amateur cave explorer in September but not announced by experts until Wednesday.
Experts Rave Over French Prehistoric Cave Art Find
By Crispian Balmer
PARIS July 5, 2001 (Reuters) - Stunning prehistoric engravings uncovered in a cave in western France could be just a foretaste of the treasures held in the dank interior, but the public will probably never get a glimpse, an archaeologist said on Thursday.
Art experts have hailed the find at Cussac in the Dordogne valley as a major discovery, with the grotto chamber covered in spectacular drawings of wild animals, hybrid beasts, birds and women and erotic imagery.
"This site is of world importance," said Dany Barraud, the Culture Ministry's head of archaeology in the Dordogne region.
Initial estimates have suggested the vivid engravings are between 22,000 and 28,000 years old -- much earlier than famous wall paintings in the nearby Lascaux cave complex that are reputed to be more than 16,000 years old.
"We are talking about monumental engravings. We have found more than 100 engravings so far, but we think that there are many more. The trouble is that it is an extremely fragile site which is hindering our work," Barraud told Reuters.
The cave floor consists of unstable clay, while the limestone walls are flaky and susceptible to temperature changes, preventing large groups from visiting the chamber.
In addition, there is a high level of carbon gas in the underground passages, which means that archaeologists can only spend a maximum of three hours on site before having to return to the surface for fresh air.
REPLICA PLANNED FOR TOURISTS
"It will not be opened to the public, but the local authorities are considering creating a replica of the site in a nearby cave for tourists," said Barraud.
The Cussac cave was uncovered by speleologist Marc Delluc last September, but the importance of the finding was only made public this week.
The engravings are dotted along a chamber 900 meters (yards) long, some 15 meters wide and more than 10 meters high.
Among the artwork is a picture of a bison some four meters long -- one of the biggest single prehistoric engravings ever found -- and one scene featuring up to 40 figures.
Among the line carvings are animals with deformed heads, a bison with a horse's head, silhouttes of women and half a dozen representations of female erotica.
"There is undoubtedly a very special atmosphere at Cussac... There is an originality here," said Jean Clottes, an adviser on Prehistoric Rock Art at the Culture Ministry.
Archaeologists have also found human remains in the cave, although they are not yet sure if the relatively well-preserved skeletons date from a later age than the artwork.
The Cussac discovery is the second major prehistoric art site found in France in less than a decade.
In 1994, potholers stumbled across a complex of galleries full of paintings in the Ardeche gorge. Experts believe the animal pictures there are some 32,000 years old and, as with Cussac, the public has been barred access to safeguard the site.
Prehistoric Cave to Be Off-Limits
By JOCELYN GECKER
Associated Press Writer
PARIS July 6, 2001 (AP) — A locked iron gate and double metal doors now block the entrance to a cave in western France that archaeologists say contains the most important prehistoric engravings ever discovered in Europe.
Just past the newly erected barricade to Cussac cave is a winding succession of galleries decorated with engravings of women, beasts — including bison, mammoth and Paleolithic horses — and erotic imagery dating back as early as 28,000 B.C.
But the public is unlikely ever to glimpse the prehistoric art because of the high levels of carbon dioxide that fill the cave's passageways, said Norbert Aujoulat, director of the Culture Ministry's department for prehistoric cave art and the chief archaeologist for the Cussac excavation.
Authorities are considering creating a replica of Cussac cave for tourists as they did with the famed Lascaux cave, which holds the world's oldest cave paintings that date back about 18,000 years. Both caves are located in France's Dordogne valley.
The cave was discovered by amateur explorer Marc Delluc in September, but the find was not announced until this week.
"It is as important for engraving as Lascaux is for painting,'' said Dany Baraud, chief archaeologist at the Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs of Aquitaine in western France.
Cussac is notable for what experts say is the remarkably well-preserved condition and vivid imagery of its art. Experts suspect that after months of exploration they've seen only the beginning of the cave's treasures.
"There is no other cave with engravings that compare to Cussac — in France or the rest of Europe,'' Aujoulat said.
Cussac's narrow passageways open into large galleries at intervals of about 165 feet, experts said.
Most impressive is a gallery 825 feet from the entrance that shows about 50 well-defined figures of animals and voluptuous female figures.
Among the artwork is a picture of a bison that measures 13 feet long, thought to be the largest prehistoric engraving ever found, Aujoulat said.
Archaeologists have also found seven graves containing human skeletons but have not yet determined whether they date to the same period as the art. Test results are expected by next month.
So far, experts have only been able to advance just over a half mile into the cave, partly because the carbon dioxide has forced them to limit their time inside to four hours at a time.
Also, the cave's delicate limestone walls and soft clay floor — dotted with hand and footprints that are believed to be ancient — could be damaged by hasty exploration.
"We've only had a partial viewing. The big question is, 'What haven't we seen?''' Aujoulat said. "We expect to be pleasantly surprised.''
|Bush Wants to Cut Global Warming Aid |
By JOHN HEILPRIN
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON July 6, 2001 (AP) — President Bush, after faulting the Kyoto climate treaty for excluding developing nations from its requirements, wants to cut U.S. aid for helping Third World countries combat global warming.
While asking Congress for nearly $4 billion to address climate change, roughly the same as last year, Bush proposes reducing assistance to other countries by $41 million from last year's $165 million. He calls for shifting more responsibility to private industry.
The figures are contained in a June 29 report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, that Bush sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the Senate president pro tem. The White House had no comment Friday.
The 52-page report provides the first public look at an inventory of Bush spending on climate change. The issue, along with Bush's related energy policies, has become increasingly prominent with Bush's reversal of a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide pollution and his rejection of the 1997 Kyoto accord that has been broadly supported but not ratified by any U.S. allies in Europe.
Much of Bush's climate change budget amounts to shifting about $400 million toward areas such as burning coal more cleanly, insulating homes to use less energy and giving tax credits for electricity produced from wind and less-polluting agricultural waste.
Europeans have been unhappy with Bush's condemnation of the Kyoto agreement, which commits industrialized countries to reduce emissions such as carbon dioxide that are believed to trap heat in the atmosphere, warming it like a greenhouse.
Just before heading to Europe, Bush told reporters on June 11 the U.S. should help reduce heat-trapping pollution from Third World countries. "We want to work cooperatively with these countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and maintain economic growth,'' he said.
However, his budget would reduce money for programs intended to assist countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine increase their industrial development with only minimal contributions to global warming.
In his report, Bush says several U.S.-backed projects are ready to be privatized. Those include projects creating more efficient lighting in Mexico and wind power in India, using agricultural waste as fuel for electric power and heat in Brazil and expanded coal-bed methane recovery in China.
"Some programs were reduced to eliminate unrequested earmarks or certain projects approaching commercialization that are more properly funded by the private sector,'' Bush's report says. "Other higher priority programs were increased.''
Critics say the report hurts Bush's credibility.
"The president has said he wants to be a leader on global warming and instead he's not only undermined the Kyoto agreement but slashed the programs he's telling the public are important to him. That's not leadership — that's a sham,'' said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.
Bush also proposes:
—$1.1 billion in energy tax credits over 10 years for solar and renewable energy sources to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
—Federal environmental regulators in 2002 "will demonstrate technology for an 85-mile-per-gallon, mid-size family sedan that has low emissions and is safe, practical and affordable.''
—Cutting NASA's climate change research by $90 million, or almost 8 percent from last year's $1.2 billion.
Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and 35 other Democrats had told White House budget director Mitch Daniels he must turn over any budget and planning documents related to the Bush administration's policies on global warming. The documents were required to be submitted to Congress as part of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
The report notably excludes any price tags for the new initiatives Bush announced last month to study the rise in the Earth's temperature, fund research for technology to cut heat-trapping emissions and bolster coordination among research institutions throughout the world.
On the Net:
National Academies: http://www.nationalacademies.org
United Nations: http://www.ipcc.ch
|Ancient Remains Block High-Rise in Miami |
|MIAMI July 5, 2001 (AP) — Archaeologists say they have found human remains up to 2,500 years old in a downtown city park near a mysterious stone circle believed to have been used as a trading post by Tequesta Indians. |
Test holes dug in 2.4-acre Brickell Park have exposed the bones of at least 12 people, an archaeologist, Bob Carr, told The Miami Herald. Mr. Carr said the remains were probably been buried between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500.
The discovery immediately ended plans for a high-rise building on the site. Gotham Partners of New York, a development firm that conditionally agreed last month to buy the site for $18 million, has bowed out.
Mr. Carr called the discovery of the bones "an astonishing development."
"This appears to be the selected mortuary for the Tequesta town on the south side of the Miami River," he said. "These were the people who were using the Miami Circle."
The fact that scientists dug only 41 small holes but found so many remains means there could be 50 to 100 bodies buried at the spot, Mr. Carr said.
|Progress Seen at 'Blood Diamond' Meeting |
MOSCOW July 5, 2001 (Reuters) - Representatives of 34 nations and diamond industry executives said Thursday they had agreed on the main principles of a certification scheme to end the trade in so-called blood diamonds which help finance wars.
South Africa, the world's biggest producer of uncut diamonds, chaired the meeting in the Russian capital.
Russia produces 25 percent of the world's diamonds.
"Blood diamonds'' or "conflict diamonds'' are believed to account for less then four percent of the world's $7 billion trade in uncut stones, but they bring enough money to finance long-running wars in countries such as Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Officials said the Moscow meeting had made progress in defining minimum acceptable standards for an international certification system, aimed at helping track sales and exports of diamonds and stop trade in stones from countries at war.
"The final result is that there is an agreement that we will put in place a regulatory system in the world to ensure that all conflict diamonds are removed,'' said Nchakha Moloi, a special adviser for South Africa's Minerals and Energy Ministry.
Industry and governments are anxious to devise effective policing measures before diamonds, like fur coats, become a target of worldwide protests and boycotts.
Ivan Ivanov, Russian deputy foreign minister and co-chairman of the conference, said participants had agreed on the main principles of a certification system.
They included a proposal for government agencies to be responsible for confirming the legitimacy of diamonds and that producers be required to give guarantees to their governments.
Ivanov said the basic elements of the system would be elaborated further ahead of the next meeting in London from Sept.11-13 of the countries and the diamond industry, brought together in what is known as the Kimberly Process.
"This will include the format and content of certificates accompanying rough diamonds, plus minimum standards which support the certificates and underpin the system,'' he said.
He said participants expected to report on the progress required from the Kimberley Process, named after the South African town where the efforts against "blood diamonds'' began, to the 56th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The United Nations threw its weight behind a global certification system last year after publication of a controversial "name and shame'' report, that exposed violations of a diamond and arms ban against Angola's rebel UNITA movement.
|China Kills 1781 in 'Execution Frenzy' |
|BEIJING July 6, 2001 (Reuters) - China has executed at least 1,781 people since it launched a nationwide campaign against crime in April, the human rights group Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday. |
Those executed were among at least 2,960 people condemned in the "Strike Hard'' campaign, which started as a drive against organized crime but has expanded to target crimes ranging from embezzlement to pimping and ethnic separatist activity, it said.
"The campaign is nothing short of an execution frenzy -- a huge waste of human life,'' the London-based group said.
Many of the condemned prisoners were brought to public sentencing rallies in front of huge crowds or paraded through the streets on the way to the firing squad, it said.
The tally, based on state media reports, "is only the barest minimum figure because we know that cases are only selectively reported and what national statistics there are a still a state secret,'' said Catherine Baber of Amnesty's Hong Kong office.
Information on executions tends to be especially hard to obtain in regions such as Buddhist Tibet and Muslim Xinjiang, minority areas where Chinese policies come under intense international scrutiny, rights activists say.
Amnesty, a leading opponent of capital punishment, said police and prosecutors were given orders to achieve "quick approval, quick arrest, quick trial and quick results'' and lawyers were told to work with the police and prosecution.
"Curtailed procedures plus great pressure on police and judicial authorities mean that the potential for miscarriages of justice, arbitrary sentencing and the execution of innocent people is immense,'' it said.
WORLD'S LEADING EXECUTIONER
Provincial official media have reported almost daily batches of executions since the drive began with a campaign against organized crime late last year and accelerated in April, claiming convicted killers, robbers and corrupt officials.
There was a huge spike of executions of drug traffickers for International Anti-Drugs Day on June 26, accounting for most of the death sentences and executions in June, Baber said.
The "Strike Hard'' campaign, which began in April and will run for two years, has seen the death penalty used to punish ethnic separatism and "illegal religious activities'' in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, Amnesty said.
It said China was by far the planet's busiest executioner in 1999 with an official tally of 1,263 people put to death -- more than the rest of the world combined. But the group said that was only a fraction of the actual total.
Diplomats said the torrid pace of executions put the 2001 tally on track to match the 4,367 people executed under the previous nationwide Strike Hard campaign, in 1996.
China insists it is not ready to do away with capital punishment and rejects outside pressure to stop executing criminals.
Calls within China for the abolition of capital punishment are rare among a public concerned about increasing crime spawned by widening income disparities with two decades of market economic reforms putting millions out of work.
|Farmers Force Open Canal in Fight With US |
Klamath Falls OR July 5, 2001 (NY Times) - With the sheriff's department here refusing to intervene, federal officials asked for help today from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States marshals after farmers, angry about being cut off from irrigation water, opened an irrigation canal's headgate three times in the past week.
"We now have people who have entered federal property and done damage to federal property," Jeff McCracken, a spokesman for the United States Bureau of Reclamation, said. "We have no choice but to involve law enforcement and are asking for their guidance."
Bureau workers have closed the gates after each instance because workers for the Klamath Irrigation District, which contracts with the bureau to operate the sites, have refused.
In April, the bureau ordered the gates closed to protect the endangered bottom-feeding suckerfish and the threatened coho salmon during a year of record drought. But the move cut off water to about 1,400 family farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin.
About 200,000 acres, kept green through damming and diversion since 1909, are parched.
The Klamath County sheriff, Tim Evinger, has refused to take action against the protesters, saying no state or local laws had been broken.
"It's desperate times for these desperate measures," Sheriff Evinger said today, explaining why he did not intervene while he watched protesters open the headgates on Wednesday. "We absolutely support it if it's peaceful."
On Wednesday, 100 to 150 people formed a human chain and shielded men who cut off the headgate's lock using a diamond-bladed chainsaw and a cutting torch, sending water from Upper Klamath Lake into the canal. The headgate had been opened two other times since Friday night in defiance of the bureau's order
The water flowed for more than four hours on Wednesday until a bureau official closed the gate, according to the newspaper here, The Herald and News.
"It just appears to me that they are trying to save their lives," Sheriff Evinger said of those who opened the gate. "There were women and children at the headgates. It was a nonviolent situation, other than some media got pushed around. I had no business stepping in."
The sheriff said he was concerned about the potential for violence and hoped that when federal officials stepped in "they use a very measured and well-thought-out process and not invoke a riot situation."
Mr. McCracken said the bureau had no enforcement ability, and because "the sheriff and the local police are describing this as a federal and not a local matter," the bureau had no choice but to look to the F.B.I. and the marshals.
Dave Solem, the manager of the irrigation district, which has challenged the cutoff in court, said the district refused to close the gates because the matter was "a contractual issue we didn't agree with."
"Our contract is to deliver water," Mr. Solem said. "We didn't turn it on, so it's not our responsibility to turn it off."
The order cutting off water "was a devastating blow," he said. "It's not about just not planting crops, but affects established crops. The alfalfa is just burning up to nothing. The bottom line is, people have to have water to grow those crops to make a living."
The F.B.I in Washington and the marshals' office in San Francisco said this afternoon that they were not yet aware of the matter.
Few protesters were at the canal today, but some took their plight before the county commission and to a local mall for a town meeting this afternoon.
Barbara Martin, a real estate agent who was among the demonstrators at the headgates on Wednesday, said today that residents went before the commission to seek support for a proposal that would "help us take more control over our county instead of having the federal government be in control."
"All of the sudden we were told by the federal government `we're shutting the water off,' " Ms. Martin said.
She said the commission did not seem receptive.
Wendell Wood, southern Oregon field representative for the Oregon Natural Resources Council, said the council saw the protesters' action "as a case of vandalism or sabotage, and we condemn it whenever we see it, on any side."
But, Mr. Wood said, "we see this as a case in which the wise use and property rights groups, along with agricultural interests, are using the Klamath Basin issue as a way to beat up on the Endangered Species Act."
"The E.S.A. should not be blamed," he said. "It is the messenger and not the cause."
Ms. Martin, the real estate broker, is unconvinced. "The suckerfish are not at all endangered," she said, "and the coho are running at a higher rate than they have been."
|Kids Demonstrate In Support of Paula Poundstone |
By LINDA DEUTSCH
SANTA MONICA CA July 4, 2001 (AP) - Children supporting Paula Poundstone demonstrated outside the courthouse where the comedian pleaded innocent Tuesday to child molestation in a case her lawyer said is "ripping her guts out."
Poundstone, 41, was tearful before her arraignment on four felony charges - three of committing a lewd act on a girl under the age of 14 and one of endangering two other girls and two boys.
If convicted of all charges she could face up to 13 years and four months in prison.
"Not guilty, your honor," Poundstone said in a near-whisper when Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Roberta Kyman asked for her plea. She stood before the bench in a bright lime green suit with a pink shirt and plaid necktie, an outfit similar to the signature costumes she wears onstage.
Kyman ordered Poundstone, 41, to keep away children unless their guardians or independent observers are present and ordered her not to threaten, harass or sexually molest children. The prosecutor said such orders were standard in these kinds of cases.
Deputy District Attorney Gina Satriano was granted another request - an order sealing all documents in the case including those detailing specific charges.
"Because Ms. Poundstone is a celebrity, this is to protect the children from media attention in this case," Satriano said.
The arraignment was originally scheduled for late this month but a judge agreed to reschedule it for Tuesday. Poundstone's lawyer, Steven M. Cron, said the performer wants her day in court to prove the charges are unfounded.
"It is ripping her guts out," Cron said. "I can't tell you how upset she is. She cares about children. In many ways, she is a big kid. She loves to laugh with children."
Poundstone has three adopted children and two foster children. All five are in protective custody.
She posted $200,000 bail a short time after being arrested on June 27 in Malibu.
Outside court a group of neighbors, including several children, demonstrated, carrying signs saying, "We love you, Paula."
"She always throws parties for the kids and goes way out of her way to show them a good time," neighbor Paul Shepherd said.
"She deserves an award for best mom" said Shepherd's 12-year-old daughter. "She's like Mary Poppins," said another girl.
The children, who are neighbors of Poundstone, wore T-shirts given to them at the adoption birthday party for Poundstone's 3-year-old son.
For that party, Shepherd said Poundstone rented a fire truck for neighborhood children to take rides.
"She's just a super person," Shepherd said. "This would be totally out of character."
Poundstone was ordered to return to court July 30 for a status conference. A date will be set then for a preliminary hearing.
|Doctors Warn of Vitamin D Poisoning |
|BOSTON July 4, 2001 (Reuters) - Researchers treated a 42-year-old man who overdosed on vitamin D because he took an over-the-counter vitamin supplement containing as much as 430 times the amount of vitamin D listed by the manufacturer. |
Dr. Polyxeni Koutkia and the other members of the Boston University Medical Center team said in a letter in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine that the man was admitted after being diagnosed with abnormally high calcium levels.
High calcium levels can be associated with mental retardation and heart defects. Vitamin D increases the body's absorption of calcium.
The man had been taking vitamin D-3 supplements manufactured by Prolongevity of Markham, Ontario. Tests of three different lots showed that the vitamin D-3 levels in each gram of the product were 26 to 430 times the amount Prolongevity listed on its labels.
The letter did not say exactly what symptoms led the patient to seek medical attention. He was hospitalized with symptoms of hypercalcemia -- or excessive calcium in the blood -- of a few weeks' duration, it said.
Because the patient was taking one teaspoon of the powder each day, the Koutkia team reported he was getting 78 to 1,302 times the recommended safe upper limit of vitamin D.
Prolongevity declined the Journal's invitation to respond.
More than one-third of Americans regularly take vitamin supplements, which are exempt from many federal controls.
|Elvis Hits Sung in Sumerian |
FINLAND July 3, 2001 (Reuters) - A Finnish academic whose quirky recordings of Elvis Presley songs in Latin have gained cult status has now put the King of Rock 'n' Roll back a few thousand more years - with a record in the ancient Sumerian language.
Mr Jukka Ammondt will on Thursday release his record featuring the rock classic 1Blue Suede Shoes in Sumerian, one of the world's oldest languages spoken in 4000-1800 BC in southern Mesopotamia, an area that now lies in southern Iraq.
"I'll be wearing a loin cloth and blue sandals," Mr Ammondt said, describing his attire for the launch to be held at an international conference of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archae ology in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, this week.
Prof Simo Parpola, who translated the lyrics, settled for sandals in the song's famous refrain: "Do anything that you wanna do, but uh, uh honey, lay off of my shoes."
In his version it comes out "but my sandals of sky-blue leather do not touch", or in the world's oldest written language: "Nig-na-me si-ib-ak-ke-en, e-sir kus-za-gin-gu ba-ra-tag-ge-en."
"I believe this record will give people an understanding of their roots and that we here in Finland respect those roots," Mr Ammondt said.
Mr Ammondt's Elvis songs recorded in Latin won him a following around the world and an honorary medal from the Pope.
1Ed Notes: Blue Suede Shoes was, of course, written by the great Carl Perkins. How much Mr. Ammondt actually sounds like Presley singing in Sumerian or any other language remains to be heard.
|Euro Report 'downplays Echelon dangers' |
|By Peter Sayer |
Germany July 04, 2001 (InfoWorld) - A motion calling on the European Parliament to ask Germany and England to stop U.S. intelligence services from intercepting further electronic communications on their territory unless they agree to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was approved by the Parliament's Echelon committee on Tuesday.
But the committee's report, of which the motion forms part, was criticized by members of the European Parliament Green group, who said it "plays down the dangers of Echelon," according to a statement issued Wednesday by German MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Ilka Schröder.
The report found that a global telephone-tapping service dubbed Echelon has been intercepting messages and conversations on behalf of the U.S. intelligence services since 1978. Published at the end of May, it was seen as the first official acknowledgement by the Parliament of the existence of the electronic eavesdropping network.
"The report makes an important point in emphasizing that Echelon does exist, but it stops short of drawing political conclusions," Schröder said in the statement.
Among the resolutions contained in the report of the Temporary Committee on the Echelon interception system are calls for the monitoring bodies responsible for scrutinizing the activities of the secret services to "attach great importance to the protection of privacy, regardless of whether the individuals concerned are their own nationals, other EU nationals, or third-country nationals."
In addition, the report calls for the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom to "make the authorization of further communications interception operations by U.S. intelligence services on their territory conditional on their compliance with the ECHR." The report goes on to explain this to mean "to stipulate that they should be consistent with the principle of proportionality, that their legal basis should be accessible, and that the implications for individuals should be foreseeable."
The report -- which was approved by 27 votes to 5, with 2 abstentions, in a vote of the committee on Tuesday night local time -- will be presented to a plenary session of the European Parliament this autumn, most likely on Sept. 5, said David Lowe, head of the committee's secretariat. The plenary debate gives the European Union presidency and the Council and the European Commission an opportunity to make a statement, bringing all views out into the open, he said.
"We've been working on this report for a year," and now the committee's work is all but finished, Lowe said. It will be complete when the plenary debate is over.
The report of the Temporary Committee on the Echelon interception system is available online at www.europarl.eu.int/tempcom/echelon/prechelon_en.htm
|Woman Ahead in Custody Battle Over Possessed Lizard |
BANGKOK July 5, 2001 (Reuters) - A Thai woman has won round-one of a custody battle with officials over an endangered monitor lizard which she believes is possessed by the spirit of her dead son.
Sympathetic Forestry Department officials who went to rescue the five-foot reptile on Wednesday from her shanty on the outskirts of Bangkok relented out of concern for her grief.
"Although it is illegal to own a protected animal like the monitor lizard, this is a sentimental issue and we need to bear her sorrow, as well as public sentiment, in mind," forestry official Thanit Palasuwan told Reuters.
Chamlong Taengniem, 51, whose 13-year-old son Charoen died in a motorcycle crash, told Reuters last month that the lizard sleeps on her son's mattress and loves his favorite drinks -- fresh cartoned milk and drinking yogurt.
Large crowds have been thronging her house daily, offering their respects and showering the creature with gifts, or scratching the lizard's back and stomach and hunting for numbers for the state lottery on its skin.
People in the mainly Buddhist country believe in reincarnation and that people's spirits can roam around after death and inhabit other people, animals and haunt trees and buildings.
Thanit said forestry officials will visit Chamlong's shelter every day to give proper advice and care to the reptile, which is thought to have fallen ill.
"After her sorrow has receded, we will take the animal back and look after it by ourselves," he said.
|2001 KX76: Large World Found Near Pluto |
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online Science Editor
ARIZONA July 3, 2001 (BBC) - Astronomers have found one of the largest objects ever detected orbiting the Sun.
It was seen in a deep space survey looking for bodies circling our star out near Pluto, the most distant planet. Only planets are larger than this new object, dubbed 2001 KX76.
The icy, reddish world is over a thousand kilometres across and astronomers say there may be even larger objects, bigger than planet Pluto itself, awaiting discovery.
"What we have seen may be only the tip of the iceberg," co-discoverer Dr Lawrence Wasserman told BBC News Online.
The world - it is big enough to be called a world - has a typical reddish hue and is probably covered in ice. It orbits the Sun beyond Neptune in the so-called Kuiper Belt - a region that extends far beyond the known planets.
Since 1992, over 400 Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) have been detected. Their discovery has revolutionised our view of the distant reaches of our Solar System. It is the sheer size of 2001 KX76 that is exciting astronomers.
"When we spotted it, we just wrote 'wow' on the image," Lawrence Wasserman, of the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, US, said. "We knew right away it was a big one."
Lowell Observatory Director, Robert Millis, added: "This object is intrinsically the brightest Kuiper Belt Object found so far."
"The exact diameter of 2001 KX76 depends on assumptions that astronomers make about how its brightness relates to its size. Traditional assumptions make it the biggest by a significant amount, while others make it larger by at least 5%."
2001 KX76 could be as large as 1,270 km (788 miles) across, bigger than Ceres, the largest known asteroid (an object that orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter). It is even larger than Pluto's moon Charon, which has an estimated diameter of 1,200 km (744 miles).
2001 KX76 was discovered in the course of the Deep Ecliptic Survey, a Nasa-funded search for KBOs. It was seen on 22 May in deep digital images of the southern sky taken with the 4-metre Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo in Chile.
Astronomers estimate that 2001 KX76 is currently at a distance of just over 6.4 billion km (4 billion miles) from the Sun. Its orbit is inclined by approximately 20 degrees with respect to the major planets, but the detailed shape of its orbit remains uncertain.
Available evidence suggests that the newly discovered KBO may be in an orbital dance with Neptune, orbiting the Sun three times for each time that Neptune completes four orbits.
"2001 KX76 is so exciting because it demonstrates that significant bodies remain to be discovered in the Kuiper Belt," Robert Millis explains.
Lawrence Wasserman agrees: "We have every reason to believe that objects ranging up to planets as large or larger than Pluto are out there waiting to be found."
Dr David Jewitt of the University of Hawaii who has discovered many KBOs, including the first one ever seen, told BBC News Online: "We're inching up to Pluto. It is just a matter of time until we see Pluto 2, Pluto 3, and so on."
Robert Millis said: "Until the Kuiper Belt has been thoroughly explored, we cannot pretend to know the extent or the content of the Solar System."
The researchers hope that other astronomers who have access to large telescopes over the next few weeks will be able to turn them on 2001 KX76 in the hope of gathering enough light to get a spectrum of the object.
|Stray Dog Foils Mass Prison Break |
|RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil July 5, 2001 (Reuters) - For 180 fleeing Brazilian prisoners, a dog's bark was indeed worse than its bite. |
A floppy-eared mutt adopted by Rio de Janeiro prison guards foiled a mass prison break with its barking as a gang of inmates tried to scale the prison walls shortly before dawn on Tuesday, a prison spokesman said on Wednesday.
"Guards ran up to the towers to see what was happening," the spokesman said. "The prisoners were armed and had tied bedsheets together to try and get out."
In the ensuing shootout, one inmate was killed and seven prisoners, one guard and the dog named Pam were injured, but no one escaped.
The guards had let Pam, a 10-month-old stray, sleep inside the prison for the past few months.
"I guess he earned his keep," the spokesman said. "Pam is going to be fine -- we are paying for a private veterinarian so he can get special care."
Prison escapes and riots are common in Brazil where the penal system is notoriously overcrowded and understaffed.
|Lawyers' Wigs Debated in Britain |
LONDON June 29, 2001 (AP) — Could curled horsehair wigs on working lawyers really be going out of style?
Britain's top legal official bowed to the forward march of fashion Friday, conceding that the hairpieces still worn in courts here were out-of-date.
Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, said it might be time to abandon the wigs in civil court — but he urged criminal lawyers and judges to keep them.
"We stopped as a society wearing them in the 18th century, but the lawyers continued, and probably the wearing of wigs doesn't contribute to the most modern of images for barristers,'' he said.
"I exclude the criminal courts ... because there is an argument that wigs give much greater solemnity and anonymity to advocates in the criminal courts.''
The white wigs with elaborate curls are standard courtroom attire for judges and most lawyers, who also wear long black gowns.
Lord Irvine said his musings were prompted by a group of lawyers who are not allowed to wear wigs because of their lesser court credentials but said they wanted to so juries would take them more seriously.
He called that "a rather retrograde suggestion.''
Lawyers' groups were split over his position.
A spokeswoman for one professional association, the Law Society, called the wigs a "relic of the past,'' and said they should be tossed out. But another group, the Bar Council, said they should stay firmly perched on legal heads.
It's not the first time the subject has been broached.
Lord Mackay, one of Lord Irvine's predecessors, opened debate on eliminating wigs in 1992, but decided a year later to keep them.
Last year, Michael Martin, then speaker of the House of Commons, won admiring notices in the British press when he bared his balding head, deciding not to wear the a wig, black stockings and silver-buckled shoes customary in the speaker's job.
|Ashcroft Faces Ethics Complaint |
By GINA HOLLAND
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON July 3, 2001 (AP) — Two groups angered by Attorney General John Ashcroft's public support of gun rights accused him Tuesday of ethics violations.
Ashcroft, in a May 17 letter on Department of Justice stationary to the National Rifle Association, indicated that he believed the Second Amendment guarantees individual rights to guns.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the public advocacy group Common Cause said the letter could impact a pending case over Second Amendment rights. They filed ethics complaints with the Department of Justice inspector general, a court professional responsibility board and the White House counsel.
Ashcroft did nothing wrong by stating the views of the Justice Department, spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said.
"The attorney general has said all along there are responsible restrictions to gun ownership and that he does not intend to change the department's position in that case,'' Tucker said.
Georgetown University Law Center professor Samuel Dash said that Ashcroft's letter conflicts with the government's position in a case against Timothy Joe Emerson, a Texas physician accused of violating a 1994 law barring people under restraining orders from having guns.
"This act of disloyalty to his client, the United States, constitutes an impermissible conflict of interest,'' Dash wrote in a statement submitted with the complaint.
A judge agreed last year with Emerson's claim that the 1994 law violated his Second Amendment rights. A Justice Department appeal is pending before an appellate panel. It claims the Second Amendment does not extend to an individual right to guns. The NRA has filed arguments in support of Emerson.
In the letter to NRA executive director James Jay Baker, Ashcroft wrote, "While some have argued that the Second Amendment guarantees only a 'collective' right of the States to maintain militias, I believe the amendment's plain meaning and original intent prove otherwise.''
On the Net:
Brady Center: http://www.bradycampaign.org
Common Cause: http://www.commoncause.org
Justice Department: http://www.usdoj.gov
|Doors Fans Flock to Paris |
|By JAMEY KEATEN |
Associated Press Writer
PARIS July 3, 2001 (AP) — On ordinary days, a few hundred fans flock to Jim Morrison's grave in eastern Paris, leaving behind flowers and poetic scrawled messages.
On Tuesday, thousands were expected to turn up at Pere Lachaise cemetery to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of the mythic singer of The Doors. Police will be on watch for outbreaks of rowdiness that have marked similar anniversaries in the past.
"It's important to not get too excited,'' said Thierry Bouvier, the cemetery's director. "We aren't going to kick out the ones who are just dead drunk.''
Between 10,000 to 20,000 fans were expected to turn up, said Marie Arnal, a spokeswoman with the Paris parks department, which operates Pere Lachaise.
On most days, hundreds of visitors make the pilgrimage to Morrison's grave. Under normal conditions, one security officer keeps watch, and sometimes cameras are focused on the site.
"The word is out that it's the 30th,'' said Jacquelyne Ledent-Vilain, a London-based executive for record label Elektra. "The Doors' flame is still shining.''
In 1991, the 20th anniversary turned unruly, prompting police to disperse fans with tear gas. Five years ago, police closed the cemetery early to the disappointment of hundreds of fans.
Ledent-Vilain said she doesn't expect rowdiness: "I've heard that people will just go smoke a joint, drink something and kind of just talk among themselves.''
Morrison, who was 27 when he was found dead in the bathtub of his Paris apartment on July 3, 1971, continues to reap devotion from thousands of young people inspired by his rebelliousness.
His face and brown mane still adorn T-shirts, and the band's records continue to sell into the millions each year.
Cemetery officials said they don't have figures on how many people come to Pere Lachaise just to pay tribute to the Doors front man. But about 1.5 million people visit the cemetery every year to see the graves of Morrison and other artistic notables, including playwright Oscar Wilde, singer Edith Piaf and composer Frederic Chopin.
Police and cemetery officials said the number of people visiting the Morrison grave has declined over the years. There was a boost in 1991 with the release of "The Doors'' by filmmaker Oliver Stone.
As the 30th anniversary approached, speculation re-emerged that the lease on Morrison's cemetery plot would expire July 6, 2001. That would require exhumation and transfer to the United States.
Cemetery officials say he has a permanent place at Pere Lachaise.
"It is totally unfounded,'' said Henri Beaulieu, assistant director with Paris' Central Cemetery Service. "Jim Morrison isn't moving.''
Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and band publicist Danny Sugerman, who co-wrote the best-selling Morrison biography "No One Here Gets Out Alive,'' will take part in the commemoration in Paris.
They plan to show a one-hour special on Morrison, a 1967 video clip of the song "Break on Through,'' and footage of the band that hasn't yet been aired for the public.
The Doors produced six albums from 1967 to 1971. Among their top hits were "L.A. Woman,'' "Love Me Two Times,'' "Light My Fire,'' and "Riders on the Storm.''
The Official Doors Web Site: www.thedoors.com