Happy Birthday Mr. Hope!
Mars Ice, Tasmanian Tigers,
Ice Age Faces, Monkey Business,
All You Need Is Love & More
!
Bob Hope is 99!

By FLAtRich

Hollywood May 29, 2002 (eXoNews) - Amazing as it may seem, the great old hoofer made it through another year. From all indications he'll make it to 110!

If you are a Bob Hope fan, you can email him a birthday greeting this week at the Bob Hope Enterprises web site ( http://www.bobhope.com ), which is a wonderful site with just about everything you might want to know about Bob and his long journey through show business. 

The site also features a new Bob Hope message board where you can trade notes with other fans, and a Bob Hope store where you can get Bob's latest DVD (I'm not kidding!) If you are just discovering Mr. Bob Hope, this is the place to start.

Crosby must be flipping in his grave, not to mention George Burns, Jack Benny and Milton Berle! That kid with the Pepsident Smile has outlived them all!

But seriously, I just wanna tell him:  Happy Birthday, Mr. Hope!

For a great retrospective on Bob, including great photos, original joke manuscripts, some classic portraits and even covers of those Bob Hope comic books I wish I still had, check out the Library of Congress' Bob Hope and American Variety site at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/bobhope 

The Will for Wind Power

Bali, Indonesia 28 May 2002: Greenpeace and the wind energy industry today released a global blueprint to provide 12% of the world’s future electricity by 2020 to prove to governments meeting at the final pre-summit meeting in Bali that the only thing that stands in the way of a renewable energy revolution is the lack of political will. 

“Governments coming to the table to sort out the energy needs for the future through the Earth Summit will fail in their mandate if they ignore the industrial potential of wind power. Twelve per cent is the equivalent total amount of electricity used today in Europe, or twice that of China,” said Corin Millais of Greenpeace. “Wind power works, it’s time for politicians to do the same. The only barrier is political blindness, and a woeful ignorance of what wind power can deliver for the world. If governments ceased their perverse subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear power - $250-300 billion world-wide a year - we will have clean affordable energy for the world.” 

“Wind power has established itself as the fastest growing energy source in the world. The growth has been impressive, but this is only the beginning,” said Christian Kjaer of the European Wind Energy Association. “Wind Force 12 shows that there are no technical barriers or resource limits preventing the world from enjoying the dual benefit of affordable energy and a sustainable environment. The technology is available and the resource will never run out. The wind industry is ready and capable of meeting this target, we have the 
resources and capabilities, yet need stronger political signals to deliver.” 

The report was endorsed by Mark Moody Stuart, former Chairman of Shell and Co-Chair of the G8 renewable Energy Task Force. In the foreword to Wind Force 12 he states “for wind and other renewable energy sources to spread world-wide, we have to ensure that the international finance institutions and export credit agencies are as willing to make finance available for renewable energy projects as they have been for what was conventional power....we also have to ensure that market distorting subsidies are removed.” 

The report demonstrates that, by 2020, wind power can deliver: 

  • 12% of global electricity demand, assuming that global demand doubles by then
  • Creation of 1.475 million jobs
  • Cumulative carbon dioxide savings of 11,768 million tons
  • 1,261,000MW wind energy installed generating 3,093 Terrawatt hours (TWh)
  • 3,093 TWh is equivalent to the current electricity use of all of Europe, twice that of China, two thirds of North America, or three times that of Latin America

The wind energy industry is confident it can meet the ambitious target – already wind power world-wide: 

  • Employs around 70,000 people
  • Has an annual turnover of more than US $5 billion
  • Has been growing at an average rate of 40% annually over the past 5 years
  • Meets the electricity needs of around 14 million households, more than 35 million people
  • By the end of 2001, global wind power installed was almost 25,000 MW
  • New installations of wind power capacity have surpassed new nuclear capacity installation in the past three years
  • During2001 alone, 6,800 MW of new capacity was installed

Download the full report at http://www.greenpeace.org 

Bush Administration Turns Back on Energy Efficiency
Washington, DC May 23, 2002 (Earthjustice) - The Bush administration finalized today a rule that weakens energy efficiency standards for central air conditioners and heat pumps. Earthjustice’s White House Watch program criticized the new rule, which was published in today’s Federal Register.

“The Bush administration has been trying to open public lands and coastal areas for drilling in the name of energy independence,” said Maria Weidner of Earthjustice. “Today’s weakening of energy efficiency standards demonstrates that the Bush administration is more concerned with lining industry’s pockets than with conserving our limited resources with common sense initiatives.”

The original rule increasing energy efficiency standards for central air conditioners and heat pumps by 30 percent was finalized and published in the Federal Register in January 2001. The rule was delayed under the Bush administration's "Regulatory Review Plan" for 60 days, and the administration announced its intent to weaken the energy efficiency standard by one-third last April.

Coincidentally, the 20 percent standard finalized today by the Bush administration was precisely what industry had asked for. Shortly after filing suit against the rule, the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, called on the administration to lower the standard by one-third. Just a week later, the Department of Energy issued a press release announcing it would do exactly what the industry requested. ARI issued a release on the same day congratulating DOE on their wise decision.

“We’ve seen a number of situations where the Bush administration has engaged in one-sided settlement talks with industry,” said Weidner. “This is the first time we’ve seen a settlement negotiated by press release.”

Today’s action finalizes the weakening of the energy efficiency standards, making this standard the latest in a list of environmental protections that have faced elimination or substantial weakening at the Bush administration chopping block. Others include:

The phase-out of snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, which has been delayed another year pending the outcome of a supplemental study requested by industry.

The roadless rule, which would ensure protections for nearly 60 million acres of pristine areas in our national forests. This rule has been challenged in the courts, where the Justice Department has completely failed to defend the case on the merits.

Though a recent court case upheld portions of the diesel rule that were the subject of litigation, key portions of the rule that were severed from the case are still the subject of one-sided settlement talks between government and industry.

The Bush administration’s bid to weaken tougher standards for arsenic in drinking water came to a halt when the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the levels set by the original rule might not be strong enough.

“This is just the latest example of an administration that puts the needs of corporate special interests before the consumer,” said Weidner. “Energy efficient appliances, already widely available in Europe, should be required in the USA to help solve our ‘energy crisis.’ Increased energy efficiency would help protect our natural resources and protect the pocketbook of every American consumer who pays a utility bill.” 

Space News: Mars Ice, Europa, and Pulsars!

Mars Ice Could Flood Planet

By Dr David Whitehouse 
BBC News Science Editor 

Arizona May 28, 2002 (BBC) - Scientists have revealed the full technical details of their discovery of vast reservoirs of ice beneath the Martian surface. So much ice has been found in the polar regions that if it were to melt it would deluge the planet. 

The ice may stretch far underground to regions where it is warm, raising the possibility of warm caverns of meltwater in which scientists hesitantly speculate conditions could be suitable for life.

But they caution that we may never know until we have rock and ice samples returned to Earth by an unmanned probe for analysis. 

William Boynton, of the Lunar and Planetary Institute of the University of Arizona, US, is lead author on one of a trio of pioneering Mars papers published in this week's issue of Science magazine. He regards the sensational findings of ice below the surface of Mars as third time lucky. 

"Twice I was close to this," he told BBC News Online. "We detected the subsurface ice using an instrument on Mars Odyssey that was also on the Mars Observer spacecraft. That probe reached Mars 10 years ago, but blew up when it got there - so, we could have found [the ice] then." 

And Dr Boynton could also have found it with the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander spacecraft. It crashed into the planet's polar regions in 1999. 

"It would have landed on precisely the place where we now see the ice. Polar Lander had a scoop that would have been able to dig and reach the ice so just think what we could have seen if that mission had been a success." 

Fortunately, Mars Odyssey has been a resounding success. 

"We started seeing the signal from the ice within a few days of starting our survey of the planet," he said. "We saw ice where we had expected to. The signal was so strong it just knocked us over." 

The Gamma-Ray Spectrometer, one of several sensors on board Mars Odyssey able to find evidence of ice reserves, is only able to look about a meter (three feet) beneath the surface.

"We can see an awful lot of water there," said Dr Boynton, "but why should it stop there? It may go down 10 meters, a 100 meters or even kilometers." 

The underground ice solves one of the deepest and longstanding mysteries about the Red Planet: where did the water go? All over its surface there is evidence that in the distant past copious amounts of water flowed. We can see dried up river lakes, ancient shorelines, and vast, empty canyons. Now, scientists know where all this water has gone - it is frozen deep underground. 

"This is where the lost oceans have gone," Dr Boynton told BBC News Online. 

It has been found exactly where it was predicted - Poleward of 60 degrees south, where the average temperature and soil properties would allow ice to form. If Mars were to become much warmer for some reason and the ice melted, it would drench the planet to an average depth of between half and one kilometer. 

"Well, it's a little hard to say," speculated Dr Boynton. "If the ice is deep enough, there could be regions where it gets warm enough to melt and that would mean pockets of warm water underground. That would be very exciting - but we will not know for sure until we bring back a sample for analysis." 

And the Mars Odyssey data has provided another ironic twist in the history of exploring the Red Planet. In 1976, two sophisticated American spacecraft, Vikings 1 and 2, landed on the planet. They scooped up some soil and looked for life. Most scientists believe they found none. But Viking 2 may have come close. 

"Our findings indicate that perhaps just a meter below Viking 2, there may have been a lot of ice. It may have got so far yet so close to finding ice on Mars," said Dr Boynton. 

And the scientist who endured two failed missions and 17 years to solve one of the greatest planetary mysteries chuckles to himself.

Odyssey Finds Water Ice in Abundance Under Mars' Surface

May 28, 2002 (NASA Press Release) - Using instruments on NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, surprised scientists have found enormous quantities of buried treasure lying just under the surface of Mars -- enough water ice to fill Lake Michigan twice over. And that may just be the tip of the iceberg. 

"This is really amazing. This is the best direct evidence we have of subsurface water ice on Mars. We were hopeful that we could find evidence of ice, but what we have found is much more ice than we ever expected," said Dr. William Boynton, principal investigator for Odyssey's gamma ray spectrometer suite at the University of Arizona, Tucson. 

Scientists used Odyssey's gamma ray spectrometer instrument suite to detect hydrogen, which indicated the presence of water ice in the upper meter (three feet) of soil in a large region surrounding the planet's south pole. "It may be better to characterize this layer as dirty ice rather than as dirt containing ice," added Boynton. The detection of hydrogen is based both on the intensity of gamma rays emitted by hydrogen, and by the intensity of neutrons that are affected by hydrogen. The spacecraft's high-energy neutron detector and the neutron spectrometer observed the neutron intensity. 

The amount of hydrogen detected indicates 20 to 50 percent ice by mass in the lower layer. Because rock has a greater density than ice, this amount is more than 50 percent water ice by volume. This means that if one heated a full bucket of this ice-rich polar soil it would result in more than half a bucket of water. 

The gamma ray spectrometer suite is unique in that it senses the composition below the surface to a depth as great as one meter. By combining the different type of data from the instrument, the team has concluded the hydrogen is not distributed uniformly over the upper meter but is much more concentrated in a lower layer beneath the top-most surface. 

The team also found that the hydrogen-rich regions are located in areas that are known to be very cold and where ice should be stable. This relationship between high hydrogen content with regions of predicted ice stability led the team to conclude that the hydrogen is, in fact, in the form of ice. The ice-rich layer is about 60 centimeters (two feet) beneath the surface at 60 degrees south latitude, and gets to within about 30 centimeters (one foot) of the surface at 75 degrees south latitude. 

"Mars has surprised us again. The early results from the gamma ray spectrometer team are better than we ever expected," said Dr. R. Stephen Saunders, Odyssey's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "In a few months, as we get into Martian summer in the northern hemisphere, it will be exciting to see what lies beneath the cover of carbon dioxide dry-ice as it disappears." 

"The signature of buried hydrogen seen in the south polar area is also seen in the north, but not in the areas close to the pole. This is because the seasonal carbon dioxide (dry ice) frost covers the polar areas in winter. As northern spring approaches, the latest neutron data indicate that the frost is receding, revealing hydrogen-rich soil below," said Dr. William Feldman, principal investigator for the neutron spectrometer at Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico. 

"We have suspected for some time that Mars once had large amounts of water near the surface. The big questions we are trying to answer are, 'where did all that water go?' and 'what are the implications for life?' Measuring and mapping the icy soils in the polar regions of Mars, as the Odyssey team has done, is an important piece of this puzzle, but we need to continue searching, perhaps much deeper underground, for what happened to the rest of the water we think Mars once had," said Dr. Jim Garvin, Mars Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. 

Another new result from the neutron data is that large areas of Mars at low to middle latitudes contain slightly enhanced amounts of hydrogen, equivalent to several percent water by mass. Interpretation of this finding is ongoing, but the team's preliminary hypothesis is that this relatively small amount of hydrogen is more likely to be chemically bound to the minerals in the soil, than to be in the form of water ice. 

JPL manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Investigators at Arizona State University, Tempe; the University of Arizona, Tucson; and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, operate the science instruments. The gamma-ray spectrometer was provided by the University of Arizona in collaboration with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, which provided the high-energy neutron detector, and the Los Alamos National Laboratories which provided the neutron spectrometer. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 

Additional information about the 2001 Mars Odyssey and the gamma-ray spectrometer is available on the Internet at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey  and http://grs.lpl.arizona.edu 

Crater's Show Europa's Thick Ice Shell

Houston May 27, 2002 (LPI News Release) - Detailed mapping and measurements of impact craters on Jupiter's large icy satellites reveal that Europa's floating ice shell may be at least 19 kilometers thick. These measurements, by Staff Scientist and geologist Dr. Paul Schenk, at Houston's Lunar and Planetary Institute, are reported in the May 23 issue of Nature. The results are based on stereo and topographic analysis of images of impact craters on these satellites acquired from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, currently orbiting Jupiter and heading toward its final plunge into Jupiter in late 2003. 

Geologic and geophysical evidence from Galileo supports the idea that a liquid water ocean exists beneath the icy surface of Europa. Debate now centers on how thick this icy shell is and the implications for life forms that could exist in the ocean. An ocean could melt through a thin ice shell only a few kilometers thick exposing water and anything swimming in it to sunlight (and radiation). A thin ice shell could melt quickly and then refreeze, giving photosynthetic organisms easy access to sunlight. A thick ice shell--tens of kilometers -- would be more difficult to melt through and, since sunlight cannot penetrate more than a few meters into the ice, would preclude photosynthetic organisms. It would also require other processes to expose any ocean material on the surface, where we can search for it. 

Dr. Schenk's estimate of the ice thickness is based on a comparison of the topography and morphology of more than 200 impact craters on Europa and on its sister satellites, Ganymede and Callisto. Although both Ganymede and Callisto may have liquid water oceans inside, they also have extremely thick ice shells (roughly 100-200 kilometers). Thus the final surface expression of most craters will be unaffected by the warmer ocean and can be used for comparison with Europa, where the depth to the ocean is uncertain but likely to be much shallower. 

Dr.Schenk found that the shapes of Europa's larger craters differ significantly from similar-sized craters on Ganymede and Callisto. His measurements show that this begins with craters larger than 8 kilometers in diameter. The difference is caused by the warming of the lower part of Europa's less-thick ice shell by the ocean. Warm ice is soft and flows relatively quickly (as in glaciers on Earth). 

Craters larger than ~30 kilometers show even more dramatic differences. Craters smaller than this are several hundred meters deep and have recognizable rims and central uplifts (standard features of impact craters). Craters on Europa larger than 30 kilometers have no rims or uplifts and have little topographic expression. Instead, they are surrounded by sets of concentric troughs and ridges. This observation implies a fundamental change in the properties of Europa's icy crust at increasing depths. The most logical is a transition from solid to liquid. The concentric rings may be caused by wholesale collapse of the crater floor. As the originally deep crater hole collapses, the material underlying the icy crust rushes in to fill in the void. This inrushing material drags on the overlying crust, fracturing it and forming the observed concentric rings. 

Larger impacts penetrate more deeply into the crust and are sensitive to the crustal properties at those depths, providing clues to thickness of the ice shell. Dr. Schenk estimated how big the original crater was and how shallow a liquid layer must be to affect the final shape of the impact crater. Numerical calculations and impact experiments by other researchers were used to produce a "crater collapse model" that is used to convert the observed transition diameter to a thickness for the layer. Hence, a crater 30 kilometers wide is sensing or detecting layers 19-25 kilometers deep. Although there are some uncertainties in this model (10-20% because of the difficulty of duplicating impacts mechanics on Earth), Schenk concludes that the icy shell cannot be only a few kilometers thick, as some have proposed. 

Does a thick ice shell mean there is no life on Europa? Dr. Schenk says. "No! Given how little we know about the origins of life and conditions inside Europa, life is still plausible. If organisms inside Europa can survive without sunlight, then the thickness of the shell is of only secondary importance. After all, organisms do quite well on the bottom of Earth's oceans without sunlight, surviving on chemical energy. This could be true on Europa if it is possible for living organisms to originate in this environment in the first place." 

He points out that Europa's ice shell could have been much thinner - or even nonexistent -- in the distant past, allowing a variety of organisms to evolve. If the ocean began to freeze over, the organisms could adapt to new environmental niches over time, allowing life of some sort to survive. 

A 19-25- kilometer-thick crust will, however, make drilling or melting through the ice with tethered robots impractical! "The challenge will be for us to devise a clever strategy for exploring Europa that won't contaminate what is there yet find it nonetheless.

The prospect of a thick ice shell limits the number of likely sites where we might find exposed oceanic material. Most likely, ocean material will be embedded as small bubbles or pockets or as layers within ice that has been brought to the surface by other geologic means," comments Schenk. 

He suggests several processes that could allow us to sample ocean material. Impact craters excavate crustal material from depth and eject it out onto the surface, where we might pick it up. Unfortunately, the largest known crater on Europa, Tyre, excavated material from only 3 kilometers deep, not deep enough to get near the ocean. If a pocket or layer of ocean material were frozen into the crust at shallower depth, it might be sampled by an impact. He notes that the floor of Tyre has a color that is slightly more orange than the original crust. 

In addition, there is strong evidence that Europa's icy shell is somewhat unstable and has been (or is) convecting (that is, blobs of deep crustal material rise toward the surface where they are sometimes exposed as domes several kilometers wide). Ocean material imbedded within the lower crust could then be exposed to the surface.

This process could take thousands of years, and the exposure to Jupiter's lethal radiation would be hostile, but we could investigate and sample what remains behind. 

The Galileo imagery recently returned shows clear evidence of resurfacing of wide areas of Europa's surface, where the icy shell has literally torn through and split apart. These areas have been filled with new material from below. Although these areas do not appear to have been flooded by ocean material, but rather by soft warm ice from the lower crust, it is very possible that oceanic material could be found within this new crustal material. 

New studies of Galileo imagery and new orbital missions with advanced instruments are needed to investigate these possibilities and to search for potential landing sites on Europa.

Pulsar Whittles Away Stellar Companion

MIT NEWS RELEASE May 26, 2002 - Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a pulsar in a binary star system that has all but completely whittled away its companion star, leaving this companion only about 10 times more massive than Jupiter. 

The system has one of the lowest-mass companions of any stellar binary. The finding provides clear evidence that neutron stars can slowly "accrete" (i.e., steal) material from their companions and dramatically increase their spin rate, ultimately evolving into the isolated, radiowave-emitting pulsars spinning a thousand times per second - the type commonly seen scattered throughout the Milky Way galaxy.

The maligned companion, once a bright orange gem probably more than half the mass of our Sun (equivalent to 500 times the mass of Jupiter), has slowly grown dimmer and dimmer and will eventually vanish without even a whimper. 

Dr. Ron Remillard of the MIT Center for Space Research discovered the pulsar along with Drs. Jean Swank and Tod Strohmayer of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The X-ray source, named XTE J0929-314, was found in mid May, 2002, during a routine survey of the sky with NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. Dr. Duncan Galloway, a postdoctoral associate at MIT, performed the follow-up observation that revealed the pulsar system's unique properties. Other members of the MIT observation and analysis team include Dr. Edward Morgan and Professor Deepto Chakrabarty. 

"This pulsar has been accumulating gas donated from its companion for quite some time now," said Galloway. "It's exciting that we are finally discovering pulsars at all stages of their evolution, that is, some that are quite young and others that are transitioning to a final stage of isolation." 

A pulsar is a neutron star that emits steady pulses of radiation with each rotation. A neutron star is the skeletal remains of a massive star that exhausted its nuclear fuel and subsequently ejected its outer shell in a supernova explosion. The remaining core, still possessing about a sun's worth of mass, collapses to a sphere no larger than Cambridge, about 12 miles in diameter. 

Neutron stars in "low mass" binary star systems such as the one observed here (where the companion has less mass than the Sun) have been suspected as the sites where slowly spinning neutron stars are spun-up to millisecond spin periods. A neutron star has a powerful gravitational field, and it can accrete gas from its companion. Matter spirals toward the neutron star in the form of an accretion disk, a journey visible in X-ray radiation. In doing so, it transfers its orbital energy to the neutron star, making it spin faster and faster, in this case, 185 times per second. 

In the XTE J0929-314 system - only the third known "accreting" millisecond pulsar of its kind and the second identified with the Rossi Explorer in the past two months - the pulsar orbits its companion every 43 minutes. In fact, the entire binary system would fit within the orbit of the Moon around the Earth, which takes a month, making this one of the smallest binary orbits known. 

While the first two accreting, millisecond pulsars discovered lie near the direction of the galactic center, the latest discovery lies in a completely different direction. "One advantage of XTE J0929-314," notes Morgan, "is that observations are less affected by crowded star fields and interstellar gas and dust." 

"This binary system is a rare find", says Chakrabarty, who works extensively on neutron stars in the Galaxy. "It will help us to understand the link between slow-spinning pulsars in binary systems, which are quite common, and fast-spinning isolated pulsars, which are commonly seen by radio astronomers." 

With XTE J0929-314 and its 10-Jupiter-mass companion, MIT scientists have stumbled upon a pulsar that may be further along its path to becoming isolated. The companion will eventually vanish as a result of both the force of gravity pulling matter onto the neutron star (accretion), and the pressure from the resulting X-ray radiation emitted from the neutron star blowing matter away from the companion (ablation). 

Also, this is one of the faintest transients yet discovered with the Rossi Explorer's All-Sky Monitor. "It was found by superposing on the sky the thousands of snapshots that our three panning cameras provide in a given week of observations," said Remillard. "The results demonstrate the value of this analysis exercise and the fact that important science is not confined to the sources with the brightest or most dramatic outbursts." 

The Rossi Explorer's All-Sky Monitor is an instrument designed and constructed at MIT. Follow-up observations were made with the Rossi Explorer's Proportional Counter Array instrument, which was built by a team at NASA Goddard.

Convict's Bid to Mail Sperm to Wife Denied

SAN FRANCISCO May 24, 2002 (Reuters) - It could be the definition of a seminal decision. 

A federal appeals court on Thursday narrowly rejected a California inmate's request that he be allowed to mail semen to his wife, saying U.S. prisoners have no constitutional right to procreate. 

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing its own earlier decision in the case, said convicts give up many rights upon being sentenced to prison -- and the right to father children is one of them. 

"We hold that the right to procreate while in prison is fundamentally inconsistent with incarceration," the appeals court ruled in its 6 to 5 decision. 

The appeals court reversed an earlier opinion in favor of William Gerber, a California inmate who won national attention last year when he sued for the right to mail his semen to his 46-year-old wife. Gerber was convicted of several gun-and narcotics-related crimes in 1997 and sentenced to life in prison under California's "three strikes" law, a sentence which ruled out conjugal visits with his wife. 

Noting his wife's age and his own long-held desire for parenthood, Gerber had argued that mail-order fatherhood was the only option left open to him. 

But prison officials turned down his request to use a mail-order lab to send a sample to his wife, saying he had not demonstrated that it was medically necessary or that he had a constitutional right to the lab's service. A lower court judge agreed, ruling that Gerber gave up the right to artificial insemination when he entered prison.

Bugs in the Clouds: Do Microbes Control Weather?

London May 27, 2002 (BBC) - Tiny microbes could be controlling our weather in an attempt to secure their own survival, according to scientists. A team of University of East London (UEL) researchers believe the airborne bugs may be behind the formation of clouds and rainfall. 

The ability to manipulate the environment in this way would facilitate the microbes' dispersal and reproduction, the UK scientists claim. 

Using a £130,000 grant the team plans to spend 18 months testing the theory that a self-sustaining ecosystem exists in clouds. The study will also help scientists understand the movement of airborne pathogens like foot-and-mouth. 

Team leader Dr Bruce Moffett said a revolutionary "cyclonic cloud catcher" would be used to collect samples of cloud water from uplands across the UK. The samples will then be analyzed to discover the composition and activity of any microbes present. 

Early tests around Oxford have already shown the presence of micro-organisms in low-lying cumulus clouds. 

Dr Moffett said: "We are looking for evidence that microbial metabolism could have a major influence on patterns of climate and weather today. 

"A really exciting possibility is that microbes have evolved ways of triggering cloud formation and rainfall to facilitate their own dispersal and reproduction. In other words, they could be controlling the weather." 

Dr Moffet hopes the research could be significant for scientists working in the medical and biotechnology fields. He believes some of the microbes which may be discovered by his team could have natural defenses against ultraviolet rays. 

Until now, scientists have been unable to accurately detect, identify and analyze microbial communities in harsh conditions. Funding for the project has been provided by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Cloning The Extinct Tasmanian Tiger

By Michael Perry 

SYDNEY May 28, 2002 (Reuters) - Australian scientists announced on Tuesday a breakthrough in efforts to clone the extinct Tasmanian Tiger, saying they had replicated some of the animal's genes using DNA extracted from preserved male and female pups. 

The scientists from the Australian Museum in Sydney said they hoped to clone a Tasmanian Tiger in 10 years if they were successful in constructing large quantities of all the genes of the Tasmanian Tiger and sequencing sections of the genome to create a genetic library of Tasmanian Tiger DNA. 

"We are now further ahead than any other project that has attempted anything remotely similar using extinct DNA," Mike Archer, director of the Australian Museum, told a news conference. 

"What was once nothing more than an impossible dream has just taken another giant step closer to becoming a biological reality," he said, adding that the ultimate aim was to clone a viable reproducing population of Tasmanian Tigers. 

The Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine) was a dog-like carnivorous marsupial with stripes on its back that lived on the southern Australian island state of Tasmania.

The creature originally roamed Australia and Papua New Guinea, but sometime between 2,000 and 200 years ago disappeared from the Australian mainland, only to be found in Tasmania. 

It took man only some 70 years to make the Tasmanian Tiger extinct, as farmers in the 1800s began shooting, poisoning, gassing and trapping the animal, blaming it for attacking sheep. The last known Tasmanian Tiger died in 1936 and it was officially declared extinct in 1986.

COMPLEX OF GUILT 

The project to bring the Tasmanian Tiger back from extinction began in 1999 when Australian Museum scientists extracted DNA from an ethanol-preserved female pup in its collection.

In 2001, further DNA was extracted from two other preserved pups -- the tissue source for this DNA was bone, tooth, bone marrow and dried muscle. Archer said the alcohol-preserved female pup's DNA had given scientists the Tasmanian Tiger's X chromosome and the other samples the male Y chromosome. 

In May 2002 the museum's scientists, using the extracted DNA, replicated some of the Tasmanian Tiger's genes using a process called PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction). 

"The supposedly dead DNA in fact reacts in the way live DNA does. Clearly the DNA we collected was not extinct -- it works," Archer said. "It makes molecule cloning possible." 

Archer said if the museum was successful it would seek to clone a viable population of Tasmanian Tigers, using the Tasmanian Devil, another carnivorous marsupial, as a host. 

"We want a viable population. We don't want a strange animal pacing back and forth in a laboratory. What we want to do is put that animal back in the wild and for that we need a viable, reproducing population," he said. 

But Archer said the technology for the final stage of cloning, putting the Tasmanian Tiger's genetic material into a Tasmanian Devil host cell which has been stripped of the devil's genetic material was still to be developed. 

"We don't know the length of this journey. Its up to the speed with which technology keeps pace with the vision. But I am optimistic," he said. "The Tasmanian Tiger is an iconic Australian animal, its woven in a complex web of guilt because Australians made it extinct. We need to lift this burden of guilt."

Pet Hippo Seized From Man's Yard

SAN DIEGO May 28, 2002 (Reuters) - California fish and game officials are investigating a San Diego-area man who kept a rare 500-pound pygmy hippopotamus as a pet in his suburban backyard for at least a decade, a newspaper reported on Saturday. 

Surprised state officials seized the female hippo, believed to be 12 to 15 years old, from Arthur Stehly, a resident of Escondido, who has more than 100 animals living on his property, including emus, peacocks, geese, goats and ducks, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. 

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it," state game warden Zeke Awbrey told the newspaper. "No one expects to find a giant hippo living in someone's backyard." 

The newspaper reported that officials were investigating Stehly for allegedly not having a permit to own a hippo. It said officials seized the animal in late January after a tip from a real estate agent showing a nearby home. 

Neither the hippo's owner nor fish and game officials could be reached for comment. 

The hippo is now at a local center for wild animals and would be shipped on June 1 to a refuge in Florida that houses other pygmy hippos, the newspaper said. The animals, found along streams, forests and swamps in West Africa, number between 2,000 to 4,000 in the wild. 

Neighbors in Escondido, about 30 miles from San Diego, said they had known about the hippo for years, but had never seen it, the newspaper said. 

"I know he used the hippo manure on his garden," said Bill Ritcher. "It can smell pretty dang bad."

Ice Age Faces Found in France

By Dr David Whitehouse 
BBC News Online science editor 

La Marche May 28, 2002 (BBC) - What could be the oldest lifelike drawings of human faces have been uncovered in a cave in southern France. The images were first recognized over 50 years ago, but were then lost after doubts were cast on their authenticity. 

Now, one German scientist, Dr Michael Rappenglueck, of Munich University, says it is time the pictures were reassessed. And there could be other surprises awaiting archaeologists, he believes, when they look not at the walls of prehistoric painted caves, but at the floor. 

The faces on this page were discovered carved on the floor of a cave at La Marche in the Lussac-les-Chateaux area of France. The cave system was discovered in 1937 by French scientist Leon Pencard, who excavated it for five years. Over 1,500 slabs were found on which images were etched. 

The pictures are difficult to interpret. Sometimes several images are superimposed on one another. But to the trained and expectant eye they reveal extraordinary wonders. From the La Marche caves there are lions, bears, antelope, horses - and 155 lifelike human figures. 

These images of "real people" - male and female faces, people in robes, hats and boots - may date back 15,000 years.

This was long before the rise of the great civilizations and a time when Europe was firmly in the grip of an Ice Age. 

If correct, this would make them far older, for example, than the symbolic face recently recognized, carved into a rock at Stonehenge.

"They have been completely overlooked by modern science," Dr Rappenglueck told BBC News Online. "They were mentioned in a few books many decades ago and dismissed as fakes - and since then nothing." 

The portraits were carved into limestone slabs that were then carefully placed on the floor. The illustrations are not the stick-like figures seen in prehistoric cave paintings such as the images in the more famous Lascaux cave system that probably date back 17,000 years; or at Chauvet that go back more than 30,000 years.

However, it has sometimes been asked why the animals painted on the walls of such caves are so much more lifelike than the human forms depicted with them. 

Could it be because the more sophisticated human pictures were placed on the floor, asks Dr Rappenglueck? If so, such treasures on the floors of other prehistoric caves may have been accidentally destroyed. 

One of the first things that archaeologists used to do when examining such caves was to level and strengthen the floor, not thinking that what was under their feet could be just as significant as what was on the cave walls. In Lascaux, for example, the floor was obliterated to make way for visitors in the 1950s. There is no way of knowing if anything significant was destroyed. 

Dr Rappenglueck speculates that many archaeological wonders could have been covered up. 

"On the floors of one cave I noticed a series of pits arranged in the shape of the Pleiades (also known as the Seven Sisters) star cluster," he said. 

Drawings of the Pleiades have been found by Dr Rappenglueck on the walls of many Neolithic caves in several parts of Europe, but until now no cosmic marks had been found on cave floors. He speculates that the small holes could have been filled with animal fat and set alight mimicking the flickering stars in the sky. 

"Perhaps this is the origin of the candlelit festivals of the Far East where lighted candles are held in the shape of the Pleiades. Perhaps it is a tradition that stretches back tens of thousands of years into our Stone Age past."

Hurricane Exposes Ancient Maya-Olmec Mystery

By WILLIAM J. BROAD
THE NEW YORK TIMES

Guatemala May 22, 2002 (NY Times) - For half a century, scholars have searched for the source of the jade that the early civilizations of the Americas prized above all else and fashioned into precious objects of worship, trade and adornment.

The searchers found some clues to the source of jadeite, as the precious rock is known, for the Olmecs and Mayas. But no lost mines came to light.

Now, scientists exploring the wilds of Guatemala say they have found the mother lode -- a mountainous region roughly the size of Rhode Island strewn with huge jade boulders, other rocky treasures and signs of ancient mining. It was discovered after a hurricane tore through the landscape and exposed the veins of jade, some of which turned up in stores, arousing the curiosity of scientists.

The find includes large outcroppings of blue jade, the gemstone of the Olmecs, the mysterious people who created the first complex culture in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, which encompasses much of Mexico and Central America. It also includes an ancient mile-high road of stone that runs for miles through dense forests.

The deposits rival the world's leading source of mined jade today, in Myanmar, formerly Burma, the experts say.

The implications for history, archaeology and anthropology are just starting to emerge. For one thing, the scientists say, the find suggests that the Olmecs, who flourished on the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico, exerted wide influence in the Guatemalan highlands as well.

"We were thunderstruck," said George Harlow, a jade specialist at the American Museum of Natural History. "This is the big one."

In part, the discovery is a result of the devastating storm that hit Central America in 1998, killing thousands and touching off floods and landslides that exposed old veins and washed jade into river beds.

Prospectors picked up the scraps, which found their way into Guatemalan shops and, eventually, to astonished scientists.

"'Lordy,' I said, 'this is Olmec type,'" recalled Russell Seitz, who decades earlier directed a jade hunt in Guatemala for the Peabody Museum at Harvard. "Where did it come from?"

Led by Seitz and local jade hunters, scientists scoured the forested ravines of the Guatemalan highlands for more than two years. In the end the scientists made a series of discoveries culminating in bus-size boulders of Olmec blue jade, some astride creeks.

"It kept getting better and better," said Virginia Sisson, a geologist at Rice University, who has recently examined jades in Myanmar as well as Guatemala. The blue jade, she said, "is all over the hillsides."

The exact location is not being given, to protect the site.

Monkey Business!

Chimp Nut Culture Unearthed

By Margaret Munro
National Post (Australia)

Ivory Coast May 24, 2002 (National Post) - In a clear example of cultural diversity in the ape world, clever chimpanzees in a remote West African rain forest have devised exceptional nut-cracking skills.

The animals spend years honing their skills, carefully selecting heavy stones to use as hammers and roots to use as anvils to smash open tough-shelled nuts, say researchers, who were so intrigued by the "nut processing technology" they did an archaeological dig at one of the sites.

Their findings, described in the journal Science today by a German-US team, give a rare glimpse into the industrious chimp culture and may also lead to a reinterpretation of early hominid sites.

"Some of the stone by-products of chimpanzee nut-cracking are similar to what we see left behind by some of our early ancestors in East Africa,'" said Julio Mercader, the lead author, who is a specialist in rain forest archaeology at George Washington University.

Tough-shelled nuts -- which require a force of close to 1,100 kilograms to crack open -- are found throughout tropical Africa. But only chimpanzees from western Ivory Coast, Liberia and southern Guinea-Conakry seem to have figured out how to get at the calorie-rich nuts, Mercader and his collaborators report.

"Nut-cracking is a cultural behavior, which, like human culture, can help distinguish one population from another," says Christophe Boesch, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, who has been clambering through the dense rain forest since 1979 to watch the chimps in action.

Female chimps do more of the nut-cracking than males, the scientists report, and it can take up to seven years for them to get proficient. But the pay-off is huge. A single chimp may crack up to 100 nuts, and swallow upward of 3,000 calories a day.

Using rocks weighing between three and 15 kilograms, the animals hammer nuts that they carefully place on roots of hardwood trees or on rocks that serve as anvils. Favored nut-cracking stones, which are often pitted and flaked from heavy use, are so coveted that the chimps will haul them several hundred meters when they move to new nut-cracking sites.

Archaeologists have traditionally avoided the remote African rain forest, which can be a logistical nightmare to work in. But Boesch says it is work well worth pursuing since rain forests -- and their food -- were likely important in early human evolution. "The excavation of a chimpanzee stone tool site in the Ivory Coast is a good example that discoveries relevant to human ancestry may indeed come from unexpected places," he says.

For their dig, the scientists chose a spot in Tai National Park, Ivory Coast, where chimpanzees had been seen cracking "panda" nuts for years. The researchers had noticed pieces of stone breaking off the hammers as the chimps worked, indicating that there should be evidence of past nut-cracking activity buried in the ground.

The 479 stone fragments they subsequently unearthed near one tree confirms that the chimps had for generations been transporting nuts and stones to the site for processing. Some of the stone tools, they report, could have come from up to two kilometers away.

"Due to the low visibility across the rain forest floor, chimpanzees have to mentally calculate all of these movements, keeping transport costs to a minimum," Boesch says.

The scientists found close to 40 kilograms of nutshells and four kilograms of stone chips at the nut-processing site, which they believe chimps used for more than 100 years.

They then compared the artifacts with some of the oldest known stone tools made by human ancestors, and found that the tools were fairly similar. Some of the simplest early human stone tool sites might therefore have been nut-cracking sites, they say.

"A fascinating aspect of this discovery is that the size of the stones, the shape of flakes and the many small pieces of debris left by chimpanzees are similar to the stones left behind by some of our early ancestors in East Africa during a period called the 'Oldowan,' " they report.

"We know that flaked stone tools were used 2.5 million years ago, but stone tools may have been used by hominids as long as five million years ago," says Melissa Panger, at George Washington University. "If we look for assemblages of stone pieces like those we have found left behind by the chimpanzees, we can infer that those assemblages may relate to tool use, even if we don't have the tools."

UK Group Blasts Cambridge Over Monkey Experiments 

LONDON May 24, 2002 (Reuters) - A British anti-vivisection group said on Friday it had uncovered "horrific" experiments being carried out on hundreds of monkeys at Cambridge University as part of medical research into brain diseases. 

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) said some monkeys died following the experiments or had to be put down. Others suffered bleeding head wounds, fits, vomiting, severe bruising, body tremors, mental and physical disabilities. 

A Cambridge spokesman said the university was taking the matter extremely seriously and had launched a full-scale investigation into the allegations. 

BUAV said in a statement that hundreds of marmoset monkeys underwent surgery in which their skulls were cut open, muscle scraped away and an area of the brain deliberately damaged. 

"The BUAV...expose throws the spotlight of public scrutiny on one of the most secret areas of animal experimentation at what is claimed to be a flagship laboratory," BUAV chief executive Michelle Thew said. 

The Cambridge spokesman said the university rigidly enforced government protocols for the use of animals in medical research experiments and carried out its work in consultation with government inspectors and under license. 

"These claims have very far-reaching implications and every possible effort is being made to establish the facts surrounding them," the Cambridge spokesman said in a statement. 

BUAV said the Home Office had underestimated the level of suffering when issuing licenses for the experiments and had failed to review the licenses once the project, which involves research into Parkinson's Disease and strokes, was under way. 

BUAV said one of its investigators spent 10 months making secret undercover films of experiments being performed on marmoset monkeys at the university.

Genre News: Fall TV, Buffy, X-Men II, Indiana Jones IV, Yancy Butler, Firefly, Ian Fleming & More!
Fall TV Genre Schedule

Hollywood May 29, 2002 (eXoNews) - According to Zap2it, the fall schedule for returning TV genre favorites and promising new shows will look something like this:

Sundays
Charmed (WB) at 8PM and Angel (WB) at 9PM. The WB will also repeat previous week's episodes of drama shows (not sure which at this point) in a 5PM to 7PM time slot on Sundays.

Mondays
Boston Public (Fox)

Tuesdays
Buffy (UPN) and Smallville (WB), Haunted (UPN) , and 24 (Fox)

Wednesdays
Enterprise (UPN) and Twilight Zone (UPN), Birds of Prey (Fox) and West Wing (NBC)

Thursdays
Dinotopia (ABC) and Push, Nevada (ABC)

Fridays
Firefly (Fox) and John Doe (Fox) and RHD/LA (CBS)

[That's not rock musician/actor John Doe (X and Roswell) on Fox Friday, BTW. RHD/LA is a new show from Michael Mann with a lot of talent signed up on the production side and excellent performers, and we're including Boston Public here because it got pretty good this year. Ed.]

Buffy Game Rises At Last

Hollywood May 28, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - The producers of the long-awaited Buffy the Vampire Slayer video game told SCI FI Wire that the title is about two weeks away from completion and is slated for a July release.

"Buffy is ... an actual lost episode from [the show's] season three," assistant producer Harish Rao said in an interview at the Electronics Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles last week. "It's actually about two episodes rolled into one. It's certainly not a rehashing of an existing episode. It's actually brand new and exists in the [Buffy] universe. [The main villain] is kind of a secret, but it is somebody from Buffy's past that everyone is going to be able to recognize." The game will feature Buffy's allies from the show--Willow, Xander, Giles and Spike--as well as Angel and his evil alter ego, Angelus.

Joss Whedon, creator of UPN's Buffy series, and fellow producers had a say in the game's storyline, Rao added.

"Initially, we were going back and forth with them," he said. "We wanted their creative input, and then they signed off on our script. They liked the design and the direction of the game, so we kind of just went with it." The Collective developed and Electronic Arts will publish Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the Xbox gaming platform, with a suggested retail price of $49.95.

Aaron Stanford Ignites X-Men 2 
By Zorianna Kit 

Hollywood May 28, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - Newcomer Aaron Stanford has been cast as Pyro, the newest superhero-in-the-making in 20th Century Fox's "X-Men 2" for director Bryan Singer.

Production is scheduled to begin in the summer for a May 2 release, with Ralph Winter, Lauren Shuler Donner and Avi Arad producing from a script by David Hayter.

Pyro is a young mutant and student who gets caught up with returning characters Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Cyclops (James Marsden), Dr. Grey (Famke Janssen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), among others.

MTV Reports Indiana On The Way
By CHRISTOPHER ALLAN SMITH 

Hollywood May 28, 2002 (Cinescape) - While hyping his latest, STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES, to the Britney and Puffy fans of MTV, George Lucas shed some light on his other massive series, INDIANA JONES.

When asked for probably the 5434th time about the chances for a fourth installment of the film, Lucas said, “We're in the process of hiring a writer and hopefully we'll be able to start shooting ... not next year, but probably the year after. It'll take a while to write the script and all that sort of thing." 

More on this when that writer is named, which seems just around the corner (wink, wink). 

No word on what the plot would be, but in recent interviews Steven Spielberg confirmed his wife and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM co-star Kate Kapshaw would be in a scene as her original Willie Scott character. More vague indications (the chief one being Indiana Jones himself Harrison Ford’s advancing age) are that the film takes place in the 1950s.

Butler-Witchblade Update 

Hollywood May 24, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - Production on the TNT series Witchblade is on hold while star Yancy Butler seeks alcohol treatment, Variety said, confirming earlier reports. A statement released about the subject on May 23 and reported yesterday on SCI FI Wire, citing Cinescape Online, came not from TNT but the show's producers.

Variety today went on to state that "insiders close to the show" plan to resume filming in the next several weeks, hopefully with Butler back in action as Sara Pezzini. The same insiders noted that while the producers "plan to stick with Butler if at all possible, they have put feelers out for a replacement." Witchblade will kick off its second season as planned on June 16 with back-to-back airings of two of the six episodes completed before Butler's departure.

Universal Books 'Timeless' for Shady Acres 
By Zorianna Kit 

Hollywood May 24, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - Universal has optioned the graphic novel "The Man Who Grew Young" for Tom Shadyac's studio-based Shady Acres and has tapped author-screenwriter Daniel Wallace to adapt and expand the project into a feature film titled "Timeless."

The novel, written by author Daniel Quinn, is the story of a man who wakes up in a world where time has stopped and started going backward -- for everybody but him. The project, being developed as a possible directing vehicle for Shadyac, is being shepherded by Shady Acres producer Michael Bostick and development executive Amanda Morgan Palmer. The duo was introduced to the novel by Bostick's assistant, Greg Messina.

FOX's 'Firefly,' CBS' 'R.H.D./L.A.' to Get Cable Rebroadcasts
By Brian Ford Sullivan

Hollywood May 24, 2002 (Zap2It.com) - Not home on Friday nights next season? No problem for those looking to check out Joss Whedon's "Firefly" or Michael Mann's "R.H.D./L.A." Both series have signed repurposing deals with cable's Sci Fi Channel and USA network respectively in an effort to ease production costs and offer viewers a second chance to check out the series.

Both networks will shell out $100,000-$150,000 for the encore broadcasts which will run several days after their original runs in non-primetime time slots. "R.H.D./L.A." joins "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," both of which already have repurposing deals with USA.

"Firefly" marks Sci Fi's first foray into the increasingly popular split window venue.

The specific days and times for the encores will not be decided upon until closer to the start of the 2002-2003 season. Continuing their split windows next season are the previously mentioned "Law & Order" spin-offs with USA, "24" on FX and "Charmed" on TNT. The WB had previously sought to repurpose both "Smallville" and "Gilmore Girls" however instead decided to use the network's new Sunday afternoon block to encore new episodes of the young Superman series and repeats of "Gilmore Girls" first two seasons.

Lastly in an interesting twist, TNN will begin airing once-a-week repeats of "C.S.I.'s" first season - not encores of its original Thursday airings on CBS - Mondays at 11:00/10:00c beginning in September. Don't be too surprised if more split window deals are announced this summer as they have turned out to be profitable for both networks involved.

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Thriller Writing 
By CHRISTOPHER ALLAN SMITH 

Hollywood May 28, 2002 (Cinescape) - The estate of Ian Fleming is honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the first James Bond book, CASINO ROYALE, by creating a new award for thriller writing named after the iconic British author. 

Starting later this year, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award will honor the best thriller of the year, with the only stipulation the book first be published in Britain. 

This news comes along with the announcement that Fleming’s catalogue of books will be reissued by Penguin books. The books (almost all of them the early James Bond books which provided the basis for the first 15 or so Bond films) have been out of print for some time now. 

The first Steel Dagger award will be this November.

All You Need Is Love - Queen May Sing With Paul

By Hugh Davies
Entertainment Correspondent

London May 28, 2002 (Telegraph UK) - The Queen is to join Sir Paul McCartney on-stage at the Golden Jubilee rock concert at Buckingham Palace next Monday - and "almost certainly" sing along as he performs John Lennon's All You Need Is Love.

The 1967 hit opens with the French anthem, La Marseillaise, and goes on: "Love, love, love. Love, love, love. Love, love, love. There's nothing you can do that can't be done."

It ends: "She loves you. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" Palace officials pointed out last night that such a sing along was not unprecedented. On VE Day jubilee in 1995 the Queen sang with Dame Vera Lynn, Sir Cliff Richard and Elaine Page.

However, that song was We'll Meet Again and contained no "yeah, yeah, yeahs".

Although the Queen is hardly noted as a Beatles fan - Sir Paul once joked that he had smoked "pot" in the Palace lavatories - she has been impressed by the work involved in staging the £4 million concert.

It has involved up to 1,500 people, including hundreds of "roadies", under the supervision of the BBC. Four hundred lorries are being used for the equipment and there are 20 television control vehicles.

Borrowing effects from the 1969 Woodstock festival, the organizers are having the guitarist Brian May of Queen play the National Anthem from the top of the palace.

The plan is for the Queen to go on stage, with Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales, Princes William and Harry, as Sir Paul, his band and an orchestra strike up the finale.

Among other stars on the stage will be Ozzy Osbourne, Mis-Teeq, The Corrs, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Cliff, Annie Lennox, and Eric Clapton.


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