|Is Mars Dead? |
Toto's Tale & more!
|Martian Life Dealt Critical Blow |
|Arizona November 20, 2001 (Arizona State University) - When, in 1996, a group of NASA researchers presented several lines of evidence for fossil bacteria in a Martian meteorite, a wave of excitement passed through the public and the scientific community alike. Of course, that wave was followed by a storm of controversy. |
Five years of scrutiny and debate over the NASA group's claims have since brought all but one of their arguments unceremoniously back to Earth. Non-biological processes and contamination could explain the "bacterium-shaped objects" and organic chemicals found in the meteorite, other scientists have argued.
Only one line of evidence for bacterial life in the meteorite still stands: Microscopic crystals of a mineral called magnetite. According to the NASA scientists, the magnetite crystals found in the meteorite are so structurally perfect, chemically pure, and have such unique, distinctive three-dimensional shapes that only bacteria could have produced them, not any inorganic process. This claim, too, is now being assailed by new data and criticisms from an Arizona State University research team and their collaborators.
Peter Buseck, Regent's Professor of geological sciences and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at ASU, and Martha McCartney, a research scientist at the ASU Center for Solid State Science, argue that the match between the meteoritic crystals and those in bacteria is at best ambiguous. At worst, they say, the data used in the NASA group's analysis is mistaken.
In their paper, "Magnetite Morphology and Life on Mars," published November 20, 2001, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Buseck and his co-authors assert that the evidence for bacterial magnetite crystals on the Martian meteorite is inadequate. In doing so, they may have cut the Martian meteorite's last tenuous hold on life.
The magnetite crystals in the meteorite are tiny, even by an electron microscopist's standards, at only 40 to 100 billionths of a meter wide. And there's the rub. The technology necessary to accurately describe the three-dimensional shape of such small crystals has become available only in the last few years, and has not yet been used to study the magnetite grains in the meteorite. Therefore, says Buseck, it is too early to say for sure what the exact shapes of the meteoritic crystals are, let alone whether they provide identical matches to those in bacteria.
The only kind of microscope powerful enough to produce clear images of such small crystals is a transmission electron microscope, or TEM. By using a beam of electrons rather than a beam of light to view the sample, the TEM allows researchers to see objects smaller than one billionth of a meter wide. But a TEM sees only in two dimensions. It generates a spectacular silhouette image of the sample, but conveys little about its thickness.
An accurate description of the crystals' complex three-dimensional shapes requires that they be examined from a variety of perspectives. Discriminating between their flat facets and tapered edges is a particular challenge - when viewed in profile, the two are indistinguishable straight edges. Only by tilting each crystal at dozens of angles can scientists unequivocally identify their three-dimensional shapes, says Buseck.
At the time of the NASA group's study, the tilting experiments could be done only by hand, with great technical difficulty. "It's a lot of work and it's not very precise," says McCartney. The NASA group used this approach to create images of the magnetite crystals from both the meteorite and from one strain of bacteria.
Since then, scientists studying the three-dimensional shapes of crystals have upgraded TEM technology and merged it with computer technology. "The microscope stages and beam shifts and focuses have come under computer control, which makes the experiments much more doable" and more precise, says McCartney.
Only two laboratories, Buseck and McCartney's and that of their co-authors in Cambridge, have applied the new technology to study magnetite crystal shapes. Using these new developments, they have reexamined the evidence described in the NASA team's study.
"The shape [the NASA group] came up with disagreed with what we thought the shape was," says McCartney. This difference calls into question whether the shapes of the meteoritic crystals are accurately known and whether the claim of an exact match - the only remaining evidence for bacterial life on the meteorite - is accurate.
Buseck's team also criticizes several other underpinnings of the Martian life claim. The NASA group selected only 27 percent of all the magnetite crystals present in the Martian meteorite for comparison with bacterial crystals. The Buseck group implicitly questions both the objectivity of their selection and the effect of such a limited comparison on their conclusions.
Further, Buseck and McCartney's team demonstrates that the shapes of bacterial magnetite grains vary more than scientists had previously thought. The shapes and sizes differ among bacterial strains and even within individual bacteria. That expanded variety makes it more likely that bacterial and meteoritic magnetite grains could appear to match by simple chance. Lacking sufficiently precise data and resting on a restricted analysis, the NASA team's claims must be considered best guesses, Buseck and his co-authors argue.
However, they have not eliminated the possibility that the Martian crystals could have a biological origin. With more advanced technology now at their disposal, Buseck and his collaborators plan more conclusive studies of the magnetite crystals from both the meteorite and several strains of terrestrial bacteria.
"We will look at them in far greater detail than others have been able to do before," says Buseck.
Buseck and McCartney's co-authors on the paper are Rafal Dunin-Borkowski, Paul Midgley, Matthew Weyland (all of Cambridge University, England), Bertrand Devouard (of Blaise Pascal University, France), Richard Frankel (of California Polytechnic State University), and Mihály Pósfai (of the University of Veszprem, Hungary).
|Particle Physics Telescope Explodes |
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Science Editor
Japan November 19, 2001 (BBC) - One of the world's leading particle physics instruments has been severely damaged in an accident. The underground Super-Kamiokande Observatory in Japan detects elusive neutrino particles from space by using photomultiplier tubes to register the flashes of light they produce when they pass through a huge tank of water.
On 12 November, one of the photomultiplier tubes exploded causing a chain reaction that resulted in most of the other 11,200 light detectors also blowing up. Scientists say the accident is a major setback, as Super-Kamiokande has produced spectacular results, helping to answer long-standing questions about the Universe. Super-Kamiokande was the very first detector to establish that neutrinos can change into different types. It was also one of the first detectors to help establish a mass for neutrinos.
Officials are still trying to determine what happened, and why the explosion of a single photomultiplier tube should have resulted in the destruction of most of the rest. One British physicist told BBC News Online that he was puzzled why a single event could have such devastating consequences. "Questions should be asked," he said.
Commenting on the disaster the director of the observatory, Yoji Totsuka, said: "As a director of the Kamioka Observatory, which owns and is responsible to operate and maintain the Super-Kamiokande detector, it is really sad that I have to announce the severe accident that occurred on 12 November and damaged the significant part of the detector. "We will rebuild the detector. There is no question."
Koichiro Nishikawa, a spokesman for the K2K experiment, which uses the observatory, has released another statement.
He said: "On behalf of the K2K experiment, I thank all the concern expressed on the accident at Super-Kamiokande. K2K will fully support the Kamioka Observatory and will put the first priority on the recovery of Super-Kamiokande as early as possible."
Technically it is not very difficult to repair the detector but logistically it is a major problem. 50,000 tons of super-pure water will have to be pumped out and the debris from the shattered tubes removed. Then thousands of new detectors will have to be fitted and tested, and then the water replaced.
It is a task that will take at least a year. Officials say that they will take the opportunity to modify the detector, in particular to reduce the number of the photomultiplier tubes by about a half. They say this will not affect the detector's performance and will make another mishap less likely.
The observatory achieved a major goal in 1998 when it found evidence that neutrinos can change from one type into another on their way through the Earth. The main emphasis recently has been to study this phenomenon with neutrinos produced by an accelerator at the KEK laboratory, 250 kilometers from the Kamioka Observatory and beamed through the Earth towards it (hence the name K2K for the experiment).
The aim will be to resume this experiment as soon as possible, possibly within a year.
|FDA OKs First Contraceptive Skin Patch |
By LAURAN NEERGAARD
AP Medical Writer
WASHINGTON November 21, 2001 (AP) — American women may soon buy the world's first birth control in a skin patch.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Ortho-Evra on Tuesday, a patch that prevents pregnancy by emitting the same hormones used in birth-control pills. Studies found it is as safe and effective as the pill — but women must remember to apply a patch just once a week as opposed to taking a pill every day.
The patch was eagerly awaited, the easiest-to-use method yet in the nation's trend toward longer-acting birth control, said one contraception expert.
"You're just going to slap it on your skin,'' said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, medical vice president of Planned Parenthood. "It gives women more control ... and it's less invasive than other long-term methods.''
But the patch may not be a good option for every woman, the FDA cautioned. Women who weigh more than 198 pounds may not get a high enough contraceptive dose, said FDA medical reviewer Dr. Dena Hixon.
In clinical trials that gave 3,319 women the patch for varying amounts of time, 15 got pregnant — and one-third of them weighed 198 pounds or more. Such women should discuss the patch versus other options with their doctors, Hixon advised.
Manufacturer Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals said the patch would begin selling next year, by prescription only. The price will be similar to birth control pills, which cost about $40 a month.
Ortho-Evra is the fourth new contraceptive option to win FDA approval in the last year. The other new products include a monthly injection, a hormone-emitting IUD, and a hormone-emitting contraceptive ring slipped into the vagina once a month. They join other long-acting methods including Norplant, a contraceptive implant that lasts for years, and a once-every-three-months injection.
With Ortho-Evra, women would use one patch a week for three weeks, and then go patch-free for a week for their menstrual period.
Each patch should be applied to the lower abdomen, buttocks or upper body — pick a slightly different spot each week, the FDA advised. Never put it on the breasts, the agency warned.
The patch is designed to stick to skin despite bathing or swimming. But if one slips off and won't restick, Ortho-McNeil will sell packages of single replacement patches.
If a patch falls off for more than a day, start a new four-week cycle of patches and use a backup method of contraception for the first week, the FDA advised. In studies, about 5 percent of women had at least one patch that slipped off.
The FDA was convinced the patch would prove reliable, citing one study where 90 percent of patch users properly replaced it once a week compared with 80 percent of women who remembered to take a birth control pill every day.
The patch delivers continuous low levels of estrogen and progestin, the same hormones found in birth control pills, to prevent ovulation. That means the patch carries the same risks as the pill: short-term side effects including nausea or breast tenderness, and rare risks of blood clots, heart attack and stroke, particularly if women smoke while using the contraceptive.
Also, Ortho-Evra users may experience skin irritation at the patch site.
Food and Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov
|Beer Ad Banished In Salt Lake |
By Barry Janoff
Salt Lake City November 21, 2001 (Mediaweek) - The 2002 Winter Olympic Games promise to make Salt Lake City a celebration of commercialism in February, but one ad is getting censored for striking too close to Utah's founding fathers.
Reagan Outdoor Advertising, a local billboard company, has decided not to rent space to Wasatch Beers to promote its Polygamy Porter, whose label pictures a man with several women and boldly declares "Why have just one!" The billboard execution suggests consumers "Take some home for the wives."
Greg Schirf, owner of Park City-based Watsatch Beers and Brew Pub, has a penchant for pitches of questionable taste for a state rife with Mormons. He previously touted his brews as "Utah's other local religion" while advising drinkers to "Baptize your taste buds."
Polygamy, officially banned more than a century ago as a condition for Utah to obtain statehood, remains a sensitive topic -- one the state would rather let lie, particularly under the worldwide spotlight of the Olympics.
Next thing you know, Schaefer beer will resurrect its 1950s slogan aimed at East Coast drinkers: "The one beer to have when you're having more than one."
|Harry Potter's Ancestors Revealed |
By Roger Highfield
UK November 11, 2001 (Daily Telegraph) - Experts in fields as diverse as history, archaeology and botany are about to report on how Harry Potter and other wizards were far from being fictional many thousands of years ago in Britain.
The word wizard means "wise man" and next week the truth behind Harry Potter will be unveiled in Real Wizards on Channel 4 when experts look at the evidence for wizardry in the days before Christianity.
Fictional wizards rely on a magic wand. Examples might have been found on the south coast of Wales, says the historian Ronald Hutton, of Bristol University, an authority on witchcraft.
In the Paviland Caves, archaeologists found "wands" 26,000 years old in an ancient sacred site where the Red Lady of Paviland is buried.
Discovered two centuries ago, the so-called Red Lady is a young man and scattered about the remains are pieces of ivory, rather like beads, which could be broken wands.
"The most likely explanation is these are magical objects symbols of power, an extension of people's wills," said Prof Hutton.
When Potter went to Hogwarts, he was asked to bring a pewter cauldron. A stunning example has been found in a bog in Denmark, called the Gundestrup Cauldron.
About 3ft 4in wide and more than 2,000 years old, is this the inspiration for the magic pot so essential to all fictional wizards?
"A cauldron is now one of the key bits of equipment for a decent wizard, or witch because it's one of the central magical symbols of the ancient world," said Prof Hutton.
"It's also a tremendous symbol of rebirth, just as food can be transformed in it, so a human soul can be transformed. It's a symbol of death and drowning, a symbol of fire, because a blaze is beneath it."
Around the silver Gundestrup cauldron is a series of disturbing images of gods, goddesses and fantastic animals, some of which may depict ancient acts of sacrifice and destruction. More clues to the origins of wizardry come from Tollund man, preserved in a Danish bog since 400 BC.
Studies reveal that he had eaten a mixture of cereals and berries mushed up into a porridge which contained ergot, a fungus blight found on rotting rye that causes hallucinations and sensations of burning along with cramps and contortions.
Tollund man might have eaten this gruel to commune with the spirits, acting as a link between his ancestors and the earthly world after he died.
Ergot was not the only substance used in ancient wizardry, said Monique Simmonds of the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew. But she said little was known about this dark art because those who understood the power of plants kept that wisdom very close to their chests".
Ancient books provide some clues on what the witches and wizards believed could be achieved, from herbs that "bringeth away dead children" to those that boost fertility.
Today traditional medicine is being re-evaluated because there is often a grain of truth to what the ancients claimed. Mistletoe, a holy plant for druids, is being studied for its anti-cancer properties, and St John's Wort, used to ward off evil spirits, is used to treat depression.
As for the idea of wizards casting spells, Prof Hutton said: "Everybody knows that words can calm people, can make them fall in love, can whip them up into a frenzy, can turn them into killers, and there was no reason for the ancients to suppose the natural world doesn't respond just the same way, and so it's no use smearing a particular chemical on yourself unless you say the right words over it while you're doing it."
The modern counterpart of wizards are those who "claim special knowledge that other people don't have", said Dr Piers Vitebsky, an anthropologist at Cambridge University.
Modern wizards "could be economic gurus, high-technology scientists, maybe politicians, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, anybody who claims some realm of special knowledge.
|Politician Says Harry Potter Could Harm Small Kids |
|BERLIN November 21, 2001 (Reuters) - The Harry Potter blockbuster about an English boy wizard could be bad for small children, a German conservative politician warned Tuesday. |
"The Harry Potter film is concerned with the occult and black magic and I don't think that it is a suitable topic for children under 10 years old," Benno Zierer, a Christian Social Union MP, told Reuters Television. "It is not a fairy tale and it could have negative influences on the further development of children."
Zierer, who comes from the Catholic southern region of Bavaria, said he was particularly concerned about children seeing crosses turned the wrong way up in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
"If a child is accompanied or if parents talk with their child before the film then that might be alright, but otherwise a six-year-old could come out and not know what is reality."
The film, called "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in Britain, opened on both sides of the Atlantic last weekend. It grossed $90.3 million during its first weekend in the United States and Canada.
But others defended the film, which is also expected to be a big hit in Germany, where it opens Thursday, and where J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter children's books are hugely popular.
"Black magic is also banned in Harry's magic school. Children don't identify with evil, but with Harry. He is fair, a hero who fights for good," Ulrich Dehn, of the policy body of Germany's Evangelical Church, told the Bild daily.
|Fat Albert And Friends Go Hollywood |
Hollywood November 20, 2001 (AP) - Fat Albert and his boys are about to jump off the front of that Platinum FUBU sweatshirt of yours and onto the big screen. According to the Associated Press, Bill Cosby has finished co-writing the script for the Fat Albert movie, based on the 1970's cartoon show he created.
Cosby, who did the voices of Fat Albert, Bill and Mushmouth, is trying to decide if he will make a comeback or let someone younger step into his shoes.
"I don't know if my Fat Albert [voice], if it's a little too full and robust now and old, and what I would like to try is perhaps to find or have auditions for someone who could really imitate what's on the track,'' the 64-year-old comedian told AP Radio. "Would they prefer to hear something that's very, very close, or the fellow that used to do it, 36 years older?''
Forest Whitaker, who recently crafted the "Goodbye" music video for Jagged Edge, will be in the director's chair when shooting begins.
The film, which will be part animation and part live action, is scheduled for release in summer 2003.
|Turkey Substitutes To Homeless Shelters |
|By SONJA BARISIC |
NORFOLK, Va. November 21, 2001 (AP) - An animal rights group known for its outrageous tactics has rethought how to get across its vegetarian message following the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Instead of banners saying "Thanksgiving is Murder on Turkeys" hanging from overpasses, this year People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sending meatless, soy-based turkey substitutes and faux-beef roasts to more than 50 homeless shelters nationwide.
The group is also shipping tofu jerky samples to the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, now deployed in the bombing campaign in Afghanistan.
"Obviously, everybody in the country has been profoundly affected by the events and aftermath of Sept. 11," spokesman Bruce Friedrich said. "We're trying to focus on things that are positive and that pull us together, rather than things that unsettle people."
PETA will retain some outlandish stunts such as having supporters in animal costumes and women clad in bikinis made of lettuce passing out vegetarian information to holiday travelers at airports.
One shelter taking PETA up on its offer is a homeless shelter for men near Washington, D.C. Administrator Robert Walker said the Thanksgiving Day meal will include turkey and the tofu alternative.
"Every little bit helps," said Walker, a vegetarian. "Even if we're unable to use it here, there are other food pantries we can share it with."
PETA contends that before turkeys end up on Thanksgiving dinner tables, the birds suffer in various ways such as being crammed into warehouses and being killed while conscious.
The National Turkey Federation, a Washington-based group representing the turkey industry, disputes those claims.
"It's simply not in the economic interest of turkey growers to mistreat animals," spokeswoman Sherrie Rosenblatt said. "It costs more to grow a stressed animal to market weight; it lowers the quality at the end of the product."
The federation estimates about 45 million turkeys will be eaten this Thanksgiving.
|Women Warriors Feed Amazon Myth |
By DAVID KELLY
LA TIMES STAFF WRITER
Ventura CA November 15, 2001 (LA Times) - The find was stunning. More than 150 ancient graves were strung along the border of Russia and Kazakhstan, filled with skeletons of women flanked by swords, iron daggers, arrowheads and leather quivers.
The implications weren't lost on Jeannine Davis-Kimball, the Ventura archeologist who was excavating the site. The expert on central Asian nomads had studied history. She knew the story of the Amazons, female warriors who reportedly killed their male children, shunned traditional women's roles and were crack shots with the bow and arrow.
As tantalizing as the find was, Davis-Kimball said the remains probably were not Amazons--they were too far from the Black Sea. But she believes these fighting female nomads, who lived about 600 BC, helped fuel the Amazon stories. "I believe we had women warriors evolve to protect the herds when the men were gone," she said. "But they were not out raping and pillaging like Genghis Khan."
Davis-Kimball has lived with nomads in Mongolia, studied their trade routes through Afghanistan and examined their mummified bodies in western China.
What she has learned has been the subject of five documentaries, numerous articles and five books, the newest titled "Warrior Women, An Archeologist's Search for History's Hidden Heroines."
The book was prompted by the excavations of Sauromatian graves in southern Russia between 1992 and 1995. Other tribes of the area, such as the Sarmatians and Scythians, also had women warriors, along with women priests, politicians and homemakers.
"The women in these nomadic cultures were incredibly strong and had a much bigger impact politically and economically than we realized," Davis-Kimball said.
Saw First Nomads on Stone Reliefs
It was this independence and pluck that drew her to central Asian nomads. She saw her first nomads carved on stone reliefs in the ruins of Persepolis, Iran. She later sought out the real thing on the steppes of Russia, Kazakhstan and the Altai Mountains of Mongolia.
"I wanted to develop an understanding of the nomadic way of life as it was lived 2,500 years ago and it was still very much the same," she said. "These were tough women. I was impressed with their calmness, peacefulness and their impeccable hospitality to strangers."
Gary Marcuse, a documentary filmmaker from Canada, recently worked with the archeologist on a program called "Ancient Clues" for the Discovery Channel.
"We put her on a boat and dropped her on the shore of the Sea of Azov," the northern arm of the Black Sea, Marcuse said. "The purpose was to re-create the path of Jeannine's research to show there were women warriors among the Sauromatians. We were also following in the footsteps of the Amazons."
Marcuse spent two weeks with Davis-Kimball, hiking through plains and mountains in sweltering heat.
"She is extremely good at making this stuff interesting," he said. "We never stopped talking."
Suzanne Lettrick, formerly Davis-Kimball's assistant at the Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads in Berkeley, recalled a 1998 trip to Mongolia where Davis-Kimball hoped to unearth the frozen body of a nomadic priestess rumored to be buried there. They dug for two months but found nothing.
"We had a makeshift toilet with plastic bags tied around four wooden posts and a hole in the ground," said Lettrick, who now lives in Los Angeles. "We were really out there. Jeannine lives for that kind of stuff."
Davis-Kimball grew up among the horses and mountains of southern Idaho before moving to Ventura in 1963. A nurse who raised six children, she made a midlife career change in 1983, returning to college to study art history.
"I was always interested in art history and became interested in ancient art history," she said. "And that's what took me to archeology."
She began at Ventura College, then transferred to Cal State Northridge and got her bachelor's degree in art history. She later received a master's and doctorate in history and archeology from Berkeley.
In 1989, she founded and became executive director of the Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads.
Davis-Kimball participated in a 1999 Nova documentary called "Mysterious Mummies of China," where she helped investigate the origins of Caucasian mummies found in western China.
Time Now Given to Institute's Web Site
She found a huge petroglyph in the mountains of China depicting a fertility ritual. It was similar to a pottery carving she found during a dig in Moldova. The mummies, she believes, were nomads from southern Russia and the Ukraine who grazed their herds in the rich pastures of China.
These days, Davis-Kimball spends much of her time working on her institute's Web site - http://csen.org - where various scholars post papers and reviews. She also spends time with her husband, children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
The silver-haired scientist, who won't divulge her age, shows no signs of slowing down.
Asked if she believes there really were Amazons, she pauses a moment.
"I have no reason to believe the Amazons ever existed," she said. "But we have reason to believe the ancient Greeks drew upon societies they knew to come up with the Amazon story."
|UN Committee Backs Global Anti-Cloning Pact |
|By GERALD NADLER |
UNITED NATIONS November 20, 2001 (AP) - A key U.N. committee supported a resolution Monday calling for a global treaty to ban human cloning. The initiative by France and Germany for an international pact to outlaw the procedure, which they say is unacceptable and incompatible with human dignity, won endorsement from the General Assembly's legal committee.
Under the draft resolution, a group would meet twice next year to define what should be negotiated in an international convention to ban the practice. Approval by the 189 nations in the General Assembly is virtually certainty.
The draft resolution says "the rapid development of life sciences opens up tremendous prospects for the improvement of human health." But it would put the General Assembly on record as saying it is "determined to prevent an attack on the dignity of the individual."
"It's an excellent first step," said France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-David Levitte.
Christian Much, legal adviser to the Germany's U.N. Mission, welcomed the endorsement but said a final treaty might still be three years away.
"On an ethical level, Christianity and Islam and all religions think that cloning would be an intrusion in God's power to create a life," he said. "From a scientific point of view, cloning means asexual reproduction - the opposite of sexual reproduction - which means this would be the end of evolution of mankind."
Cloning involves the nucleus of an egg being mechanically replaced by the nucleus from a different cell. The reconstructed egg is then charged with electricity or submerged in chemicals to stimulate cell division and growth into an embryo. The resultant human life is genetically identical to the person from whom the cell was extracted.
|Genre News: Roswell, X-Files, and Farscape |
Roswell Still Alive
Hollywood November 21, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - Jason Katims, executive producer of UPN's teen alien series Roswell, told SCI FI Wire that he's still waiting to hear, but is hopeful that the network will order nine final episodes of the show's third season. The show is currently shooting its 10th episode, "A Tale of Two Parties," which is the first script from fledgling staff writers Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, the editor and author who created the Roswell High young adult novels on which the series is based. "Parties," dealing with New Year's Eve celebrations, will air on Jan. 1.
"We're waiting to hear about our back order right now, and my understanding is they will give us a back order, yes," Katims said in an interview. "It should be imminent. I'm waiting to hear. I'm not sure whether we'll get the full nine episodes. ... I have not heard from anybody directly about this, so I can't say for certain. But my understanding is that we will be getting a back order."
Roswell has been "on the bubble" since it moved to the Smackdown network from The WB, which canceled it at the end of last season.
The show has averaged a 1.4 rating/3 share among adults 18-49 and 3.2 million total viewers, compared with 2.7/7 and 5.6 million viewers for its lead-in, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Roswell faces stiff competition from The WB's hit series Smallville, as well as ABC's NYPD Blue.
Roswell airs Tuesdays at 9 PM on UPN.
Unofficial Roswell Site - http://www.crashdown.com
Morgan and Wong Pitch SF TV Show
Hollywood November 19, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - James Wong, director of The One, told SCI FI Wire that he and partner Glen Morgan are pitching a new SF television series to NBC along with Gentry Lee, a onetime NASA scientist, co-writer of TV's Cosmos and collaborator with SF author Arthur C. Clarke. The as-yet-unnamed series, based on an upcoming book from Lee, will center on a 22nd-century historian's look back at the 21st century and a family living through that time period, Wong said in an interview.
"It's sort of a historical perspective of the future," Wong said. "It's really a kind of family drama set in the future, with the implications of what the future brings ... and sort of the ethical and moral problems, and also the day-to-day problems, that Gentry has envisioned in the near future or [what] the next 100 years will be for us."
Wong and Morgan have a TV development deal with DreamWorks and NBC, who produced their last short-lived supernatural series, The Others. The writing/directing/producing duo are TV genre veterans, with credits that include The X-Files, Millennium and Space: Above and Beyond. Their current SF thriller movie, The One, which stars Jet Li, ranked No. 6 in the box-office tally the weekend of Nov. 16.
Lee held positions in NASA's deep-space exploration program, was a screenwriter on Carl Sagan's 1980 Cosmos miniseries and collaborated with Clarke on Cradle and books in Clarke's Rama series, according to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
Mulder Is History, But Agent Doggett Is Still on the Case
By Ian Spelling
Hollywood November 16, 2001 (Entertainment News Daily) - John Doggett is the new Fox Mulder.
"In this season's first two episodes, you realized that Doggett totally picked up where Mulder left off,'' says Robert Patrick, who's early into his second season as Special Agent John Doggett on "The X-Files.'' "I'm treated just like Mulder was at the FBI. Events make Doggett the man people snicker at when he walks down the hall, a man alone in the FBI.''
Not that Mulder (David Duchovny) - the believer who spent eight years on the job, teaming with skeptic Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they sought the truth about government conspiracies and thwarted possible alien invasions - is entirely forgotten.
"His DNA is all over the X-files,'' Patrick says by telephone from his Los Angeles home on a rare day off. "We're constantly going to be dealing with Mulder and the legacy of Mulder and the work that Mulder has done. Mulder will be talked about and he will be remembered. Even though he's not there physically, he's still there.
"We're trying to carry on his work,'' Patrick says, "and David's, too. And every time we see little baby William you're going to think about Mulder.''
Now that Mulder's gone as a corporeal presence, creator/producer Chris Carter and co-writer/producer Frank Spotnitz have changed the show's dynamics considerably. As such upcoming episodes as "Daemonicus,'' "Hellbound,'' ''4-D'' and "Lord of the Flies'' hit the airwaves, Doggett and Reyes (Annabeth Gish) are partners, with Scully often contributing from her new post in Quantico. Deputy Director Kersh (James Pickens Jr.) remains an enigma and a threat, Assistant Director Follmer (Cary Elwes) looms large as a villain in the making and Doggett has no idea anymore what to make of Skinner (Mitch Pileggi).
"I love the show and I love what Chris and Frank are doing with it,'' Patrick says. "There was stuff in the first couple of episodes that you hadn't seen before, that didn't even look like `The X-Files.' We're also an ensemble show now, which I like because it eases the load on everyone, in terms of the hours we all have to work, and we've got some really great actors who've joined the cast.
"Cary is so f---ing great,'' the actor says enthusiastically. "Lucy Lawless did a great job in her two episodes, and I hope she'll do more, but I'm not sure about the full extent of her involvement. All I can say is that she's done two at this point and she was fantastic. And the scenes between Doggett and Kersh are exciting, because the very man who put me on the X-files has me seriously wondering about him. I'm investigating him and I'm looking at him in a totally different way - let's put it that way.
"As far as Doggett himself, I really want to explore his relationships with Scully and Reyes some more,'' Patrick says. "And I hope we'll do more with the whole missing-son angle and the fact that Doggett may have had a premonition or may have had some sort of psychic awareness that he denied himself the right to believe.
"He wants to believe that he'd done everything that he could as a father and a cop to catch the killer of his son,'' the actor says, "and I think he's going to have to let out some of the vulnerability he's kept inside. He's going to have to be honest with himself and deal with it, and I'm excited about the challenge of playing that. I hope we make time for it.''
For all the new faces and all the fresh intrigue, some fans require more convincing. With all due respect to Patrick, Anderson and Carter, they feel that the X-files was Mulder's deeply personal quest. Without Mulder, they believe, there's no X-files and no "X-Files.''
"They are entitled to their opinion,'' Patrick says. "That is certainly one way to look at it. The other way to look at it is, if Mulder is forced to leave the FBI and he is forced to give up the X-files, Mulder, the character, would be happy to know that there's somebody there who will carry on his work on his behalf, and that the X-files will not die and will not go away.
"And that somebody is John Doggett and whoever partners up with John Doggett.''
X-Files airs Sundays at 9PM on Fox
Official X-Files Site - http://www.xfiles.com
Nice Alternate X-Files site (ahem) - http://flatdisk.net/keyox
500 Farscape Pulse Pistols for Xmas
[This isn't an advertisement, honest! I just thought that some of you Farscape fans might want to know about this! - Ed.]
For the first time, exclusively from CREATION ENTERTAINMENT, comes this Limited Edition prop replica of the PEACEKEEPER PULSE PISTOL, seen on many occasions on FARSCAPE. It was CAPT. CRAIS' weapon of choice, as displayed in this photo, and now it can be yours.
Creation will release only 500 of these prop replicas WORLDWIDE, and each comes with a Certificate of Authenticity indicating that your numbered limited edition prop was cast and molded to the exacting standards of the original and approved by the producers of FARSCAPE and THE JIM HENSON COMPANY.
For those that wish a museum-grade display option, we have sourced the best quality acrylic display box (open bottom) at contract prices. For the discriminating collector!
PEACEKEEPER PULSE PISTOL: available by special order and strictly limited to 500 pieces WORLDWIDE $299.99 plus $15.00 shipping/handling domestic ($60.00 international).
MUSEUM QUALITY ACRYLIC HOUSING: available by special order for $259.99 plus an additional $5.00 shipping/handling domestic and international.
Official Farscape Fan Site - http://www.farscapefans.com
Farscape airs Fridays at 9 PM on the Sci Fi Network
|Man Dies In High Speed Crash With Duck |
|DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. November 20, 2001 (AP) - A man racing across a lake on a customized personal watercraft was killed in an apparent collision with a flying duck. |
Leon Resnick, an employee of Riva Yamaha, was testing the water jet-propelled craft Thursday on a lake about 20 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, investigators said Monday. He was traveling at about 55 mph. A co-worker who was watching turned to pick up a radar gun to check Resnick's speed, and when he turned back Resnick was no longer aboard the craft.
Resnick, 31, of Hollywood, died of a blow to his head, the Broward County medical examiner's office said.
"Our theory is that the bird was airborne and clocked him in the head," said David Bamdas, an owner of the dealership.
At the speed Resnick was traveling, the 10- to 15-pound duck "might as well have been a cinder block," Bamdas said.
The bird's carcass was found nearby and there were feathers on the water bike's handlebars, said Broward County sheriff's spokesman Hugh Graf.
|Geologists Use Lichens To Track Climate Changes |
Wednesday, November 21, 2001 (ENN) - Lichens — those ubiquitous plants that dot rocks around the globe — may help provide answers to where, and how rapidly, the Earth's climate is changing.
Many of the Earth's great glaciers have been retreating since the last Little Ice Age reached its most recent advanced position in the mid-1800s. But scientists are not sure how fast that change has occurred or whether the dramatic changes reported in Europe also occurred in other parts of the world.
Katie Schoenenberger, a recent University of Cincinnati master's graduate now at the University of Dayton, has turned to lichens in hopes of getting answers. In a recent poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, Schoenenberger explained how a modified version of a technique called lichenometry can help track the most recent glacial changes.
Traditional geological dating methods are not always useful in tracking such recent climate changes. Radiocarbon dating does not always work, and neither does a technique called denodrochronology, which relies on counting tree rings. There are not always trees to measure, which rules out using that technique in some areas.
It turns out tiny, durable little lichens might serve as a useful biological calendar for the time period up to 300 years ago.
Lichens are hardy combinations of fungi and algae that can grow on rocks and live for hundreds of years. Rhizocarpon geographicum, the lichen used in lichenometry, is widespread in areas where glaciers have recently retreated and grows at a relatively constant rate. Schoenenberger set out to create a geologic time clock based on lichen sizes.
Schoenenberger has sampled lichen populations in New Zealand, Iceland, and the Canadian Rockies over the last two years. This August, she sampled four different glaciers in south central Alaska with the help of students from the University of Cincinnati.
"The idea is to sample the whole population to reduce error," explained Schoenenberger. Previous lichenometry techniques focused solely on the largest lichen in a particular area.
Schoenenberger has shown that lichen size can be used to track the retreating glaciers in New Zealand. She was also able to confirm her findings using historic records and other dating techniques. Now she hopes to establish a similar calibration curve for North American glaciers.
Schoenenberger worked in collaboration with University of Cincinnati geology professor Thomas Lowell and Jessica Black from the University of Maine. Lowell said the work should help answer questions about how severe the Little Ice Age was in less populated areas of the world.
"There's a people filter Katie's trying to eliminate," said Lowell. "The traditional view is that Europe was hit hardest, but that's also where most of the population was at the time."
The ultimate goal of the research is a better understanding of how quickly climate can change and whether there are differences in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
|Kabul Men Fling Off Trousers for Death-Free Soccer |
|By Mark Chisholm |
KABUL November 16, 2001 (Reuters) - A group of Kabul men flung off their baggy trousers and tunics Thursday for a game of post-Taliban soccer, free from the threat of interruption by the fundamentalist militia carrying out a public execution.
"In the past, soccer matches were interrupted and executions would be carried out for everyone to see," said Ahmed Marof in the middle of a practice soccer match in the same Kabul football ground that the Taliban used for shooting criminals. "What could we do?"
Bullet casings could still be seen on the pitch.
The Taliban, who tried to turn Afghanistan into their vision of a pure Muslim utopia, retreated from Kabul before dawn on Tuesday -- freeing residents from their draconian rules.
Women appeared on the streets without the head-to-toe burqa veils the Taliban forced them to wear, music was heard for the first time since the militia took the city in 1996, children flew kites, men shaved off the beards the Taliban made compulsory -- and played soccer.
The Taliban allowed soccer on special occasions, but with bizarre restrictions. Players had to wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers -- preventing the showing of skin, which the Taliban denounced as un-Islamic. Applause was banned -- spectators were told the appropriate way to show enthusiasm was to shout "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest).
Last year, a match in the Taliban's stronghold Kandahar against players from the Pakistani border town Chaman ended in disarray when members of the feared religious police raced on to the pitch to arrest the Pakistani players for wearing shorts. Five of the Pakistani players managed to flee to the safety of their consulate in Kandahar while the rest had their heads shaved before being released. Pakistani diplomats lodged a protest.
The Taliban's interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic, law imposed the death penalty for several offences. Executions were often carried out in public, sometimes by the family of the victim. With few other sources of entertainment, Afghans often flocked to stadiums to watch.
But Thursday's players were left to play interrupted, and dared to wear shorts.
"Before, the Taliban used to make us play in long garments, and today you see us in short sleeves and shorts," said Ahmed Zaia. "It's wonderful."
|Christopher Lee Honored By Queen Elizabeth |
LONDON November 20, 2001 (AP) - Queen Elizabeth II met Dracula on Tuesday and honored him for his achievements.
At an investiture at Buckingham Palace, the monarch awarded 79-year-old actor Christopher Lee the title Commander of the British Empire, or CBE, for his services to entertainment.
"The queen said, 'You've had a long career' - it's 55 years now - and she asked me what I was doing now," said Lee, a longtime star for Britain's Hammer horror studio whose many films include "Horror of Dracula" and "The Curse of Frankenstein."
Lee plays 8,000-year-old wizard Saruman the White in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, which opens in the United States on Dec. 19. Lee also plays the villainous Count Dooku in the latest "Star Wars" prequel, due out in May.
Born in London, Lee was educated at the prestigious Eton and Wellington schools. He joined the Royal Air Force at 17 and served as an intelligence officer during World War II. He took up acting after returning to civilian life at the end of the war. His many villainous roles include the powerful Russian monk Rasputin in "Rasputin the Mad Monk."
Official Christopher Lee Site - http://www.christopherleeweb.com
|'Dog Boy' Flees Care Center |
|SANTIAGO, Chile November 15, 2001 (Reuters) - A homeless boy who shocked Chile in June when he was found living with a pack of dogs has run away from a children's home where he was being looked after, childcare workers said on Wednesday. |
The 10-year-old, named by authorities as Axel, fled from the home in the southern city of Concepcion last week, a spokeswoman for the National Children's Service said.
"He was responding well to psychiatric treatment and his relations with other people were improving but last week he got up and left," spokeswoman Miriam Olate told Reuters.
She said the boy, whose name cannot be revealed under Chilean law, is believed to have escaped by climbing over a wall at the center.
Police found Axel, dubbed "Dog Boy" by the Chilean media, on the streets in the port town of Talcahuano. He had been scavenging for food with a pack of about 15 dogs and sleeping with them in a cave on the outskirts of the town at night. The boy told childcare workers and national television that he had sucked the milk of a pregnant dog for sustenance.
"Yes, because I was hungry. It was my breakfast," he said at the time. His case upset Chile, a South American nation that treasures family values.
Axel was abandoned by abusive parents at the age of five and had escaped a children's home at least once before. He was aggressive and uncommunicative when rescued from the dog pack. Childcare workers said they had been holding talks with potential foster families before the boy fled last week. "We were preparing him for a family atmosphere. His self control and attention were improving." Olate said.
She said police were searching for him.
|Cannabis Still Europe's Favorite Illegal Drug |
By Martin Roberts
LISBON November 20, 2001 (Reuters) - Cannabis remains the most commonly used illicit drug in the European Union, with at least one in 10 adults in the 15-nation group having used it, according to a report published on Tuesday.
The Lisbon-based European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said in its annual report for 2001 that use of amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin was far less common than that of cannabis. However, heroin accounted for a high level of health, legal and social problems.
The EMCDDA said the proportion of adults who had used cannabis ranged from 10 percent in Finland to 20-25 percent in Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Between one and nine percent of EU adults have used cannabis in the past 12 months, the report added.
Cannabis was also the most common drug used by EU schoolchildren. The number of 15- to 16-year-olds having tried it at some time ranged from eight percent in Sweden and Portugal to 35 percent in France and the UK.
The injecting of drugs and long-term use seemed to be highest in Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and the UK, at between five and eight users per 1,000 adults, the report said. These kinds of use were lowest in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, at two to three per 1,000.
It said many local factors determined such use, and the impact of tough or liberal drug laws was not clear.
"However, comprehensive national drug policies are of high importance in reducing the adverse consequences of problem drug use, such as HIV infection, hepatitis B and C and deaths from overdose," the report said.
The level of HIV -- the infection which causes the deadly AIDS virus -- appeared to have stabilized in most EU countries since the mid-1990s. But rates varied widely between countries, and preliminary data showed infection might be increasing among some intravenous drug users. New users of cannabis and cocaine seeking treatment were on the rise in most EU countries, while those new to heroin were decreasing.
Many EU trends found an echo in central and eastern European countries, such as an increasing percentage of people, especially schoolchildren, who had used illegal drugs at some time. The EMCDDA said candidate countries for EU membership had adequate drug polices. However, "overall capacities to implement the adopted measures effectively, as well as the resources allocated, remain limited."
|Coat Hanger in Throat Hangs Coke User |
|WICHITA November 20, 2001 (Reuters) - A Kansas man who got a coat hanger stuck in his throat while trying to dislodge a balloon of cocaine he had swallowed faced possible criminal charges after doctors trying to remove the hanger discovered the drugs, police said Tuesday. |
According to police, the man decided to stick the hooked end of a coat hanger into his throat in an effort to retrieve a small balloon he said he accidentally swallowed while at a party.
"He just bent it and forced it down his throat," said police spokeswoman Janet Johnson.
The hooked end of the hanger became lodged in the man's throat and he was rushed to a Wichita-area hospital where doctors initially were baffled by the bizarre circumstances, police said.
But in operating on the man to remove the hanger, police said surgeons found the drug-filled balloon.
The man was expected to remain hospitalized for more than a week but was expected to recover. Police said they were recommending to prosecutors that the 33-year-old man be charged with felony possession of cocaine.
|Seahenge In The News |
Should Seahenge Be Reburied?
Norfolk UK November 19, 2001 (BBC) - A Bronze Age timber circle discovered on a Norfolk beach should be conserved rather than returned to its original site, says English Heritage. The 4,000-year-old structure, known as Seahenge, was found off Holme two years ago.
Despite protests by local residents and Druid groups, who said it was a religious monument, the timbers were dug up in the summer of 1999 for scientific study and to protect them from the waves.
English Heritage, which oversaw and financed the removal, said the wooden circle could be destroyed by the North Sea if it is returned to its original site as some have requested.
Seahenge is made up of 55 oak posts, which surround an upturned tree stump. Three-dimensional laser scanning is currently helping archaeologists to discover new facts about the monument.
The research has so far found the community that built the structure was more highly developed and organized than expected. The new digital-imaging techniques pick out detail in the axe marks left on the wood during construction.
Francis Pryor, director of archaeology at Flag Fen Archaeological Centre near Peterborough, said: "The widely different 'fingerprints' of each of the axes show up clearly in the high resolution images. It is remarkable that this tiny community was able to lay hands on such a large number of tools only about 100 years after the knowledge of how to make bronze arrived in this country."
Scanning of the timber circle's posts and central stump began last month and is due to end in December. It will produce an accurate and permanent record of the timbers, which are some of the earliest ever found. They have been precisely dated to the spring of 2049 BC when the trees were cut down.
"The scan will enable us to examine other features of the timbers, such as the insides of the "tow holes" in the central stump, through which honeysuckle ropes were threaded to haul it into position," said Dr Pryor.
Dr Pryor and his wife Maisie Taylor, an expert on prehistoric wood working, are starting to understand how the circle was set out. They can see where timbers from the same trees have been used and plot the sequence in which they were erected.
The central stump was placed first, then a back panel and an entrance opposite were set out, followed by marker timbers in an arc. The spaces between the markers were then filled in. Debris left from dragging the timbers reveals that a stockpile of wood was kept to one side of the circle, while woodworking was carried out on another.
English Heritage has agreed to pay for the conservation process it has recommended. It is estimated to take about five years and will cost about £40,000.
The organization said in a statement: "Such a unique prehistoric structure of international importance should be conserved so as to be available for future generations, rather than be reburied deeply on the beach at Holme."
A public meeting is to be held at Holme on 27 November to discuss English Heritage's recommendation. The conservation group said it was also exploring with the timber circle's owner and local organizations the possibilities for the future display of Seahenge.
Seahenge Clue To Ancient Axes
By Maev Kennedy
Arts and Heritage Correspondent
Norfolk, UK November 20, 2001 (Guardian UK) - The oldest metal axe cuts in Britain have been detected in the timbers of Seahenge, felled more than 4,000 years ago.
The marks of dozens of axes prove that metal tools were being used for complex wood work within a century of bronze technology arriving in Britain from the continent.
The scars in the ancient wood are of such interest to archaeologists that they have saved the timbers from being reburied, near the Norfolk beach where the circle emerged from a stormy sea three winters ago. English Heritage had concluded that the best way to preserve the timbers was to rebury them, a decision which angered some archaeologists. But yesterday it agreed to pay for conservation so that they can be displayed.
The work will cost at least £40,000, and take up to five years. The circle has been studied at Flag Fen near Peterborough by Maisie Taylor and her husband Francis Pryor, experts on ancient timbers.
Dr Taylor had warned that the timbers were likely to decay into "tankfuls of sludge" while argument continued about their fate.
Yesterday Dr Pryor said the marks showed at least 38 different axes were used on the timbers. "It is remarkable that this tiny community was able to lay hands on such a large number of tools, only about 100 years after the knowledge of how to make bronze arrived in this country."
Seahenge has been a source of bitter controversy. The circle of 55 posts, around the up ended roots of a giant oak, had originally been built on swampy land well inland. After winter storms laid them bare, English Heritage removed the timbers from the beach for study more than two years ago, despite the protests of druids, new age travellers and local tourism interests.
English Heritage will hold a meeting next week to discuss the display.
Channel 4 Seahenge Site - http://www.channel4.com/plus/timeteam/2000seahenge.html
Druid Seahenge Site - http://druidry.org/obod/news/woodhenge.html
|Jagger World Tour Gig at El Rey |
Hollywood November 16, 2001 (Dot Music) - Mick Jagger took to the stage last night to promote his new solo album, 'Goddess In The Doorway'. The Rolling Stones front man played Los Angeles' 700-seater El Rey Theater for what will be his only live date of the year.
"This is the world tour for this album", Jagger told the audience. "You can say you were at every gig, OK?"
The 58-year-old rocker, wearing black cords and a sleeveless red t-shirt, got through seven tracks including two Stones' classics, 'Respectable' and 'Miss You'.
He also played his new single, 'God Gave Me Everything', due to be featured in the forthcoming ABC documentary, 'Being Mick'.
Led Zepplin legend, Jimmy Page, who saw the gig, told Reuters: "It felt like it was 1978 and people were worshiping the idea that Mick looked exactly like he did 23 years ago. He looked great."
Also in the crowd were Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, former Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan, Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, and Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. Actors Kate Hudson, Heath Ledger, David Spade and Meg Ryan were also spotted, alongside supermodel, Naomi Campell.
'Goddess In The Doorway', Mick's fourth solo album, is released in the UK on November 19.
|35 Western Protesters Detained in China |
|By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN |
BEIJING November 20, 2001 (AP) - Police on Tuesday detained more than three dozen Westerners who chanted slogans and unfurled a banner on Tiananmen Square to protest China's brutal crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement. They were quickly hustled away by police as hundreds of surprised Chinese looked on. State media said the 35 were given warnings and would be expelled.
Falun Gong said 36 people took part in the protest - from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
The men and women, most in their 20s and 30s, initially appeared to be tourists as they talked among themselves and took photographs. Then they sat down together, legs crossed, eyes closed and hands pressed as if in prayer. "Purge the evil," some chanted in Chinese.
One protester wore a T-shirt depicting the Canadian flag, another carried a German flag. A demonstrator briefly ran around in circles, waving a yellow banner, until police stopped him.
"America knows, China knows, the world knows! Falun Gong is good," the man said.
Police vans quickly encircled the protesters. Uniformed officers separated those who interlocked arms. After brief resistance, police loaded them onto vans and drove away. The incident lasted 10 minutes. State television said 35 foreigners were given warnings and would be expelled. "Their behavior violated Chinese laws governing parades and demonstrations and cults," the official Xinhua News Agency said.
U.S. Embassy officials said they were trying to get information about those detained. The Swiss and Swedish governments confirmed that their citizens were among those held. They included three Swiss and a Spaniard living in Switzerland. It was the first Falun Gong protest to involve Westerners exclusively. Until now, the vast majority of the thousands of protesters detained on or around Tiananmen Square since the government banned Falun Gong in July 1999 have been Chinese.
Protests had tailed off in recent months, in part because of intense security on the vast square, which is the symbolic heart of China. Many followers are in jail, others have renounced the group under government pressure or have switched to covert protests. In a statement distributed by Falun Gong representatives in New York, the protesters said they wanted to draw attention to persecuted Chinese adherents.
"We appeal today for the benefit of all Chinese citizens, to let them know that Falun Gong is good and that its practitioners are good people from all over the world," the statement said.
Falun Gong says more than 300 followers have died of torture and abuse in custody, and thousands have been imprisoned or sent to labor camps. The sect, which says its philosophies and slow-motion exercises promote health and good citizenship, attracted millions of Chinese followers in the 1990s. China's communist government accuses Falun Gong of causing more than 1,600 deaths, mostly followers it says were encouraged to use meditation instead of medicine to cure ailments.
Falun Gong "hurt many innocent people," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said Tuesday. "By doing away with a such a cult organization, the Chinese government aims to protect the rights of its citizens and protect China's constitution."
Xinhua claimed Tuesday that a U.S. resident serving a three-year jail sentence for helping to publicize China's crackdown on Falun Gong has renounced the group.
"I am pleased to shake off the spiritual shackle of the Falun Gong cult and return to normal life," the news agency quoted Teng Chunyan as saying.
Teng, who was born in China, returned last year and, under the pseudonym Hannah Li, tipped off foreign reporters to protests by Falun Gong practitioners and arranged interviews with them.
Convicted of spying, she is being held in a Beijing re-education center, Xinhua said.
|Toto's Tale Told At Last In Autobiography |
By Kristina Paledes
Hollywood November 19, 2001 (San Antonio Express-News) - Once upon a time and somewhere over the rainbow, a little female cairn terrier with an "accident'' problem came to belong to a dog trainer who subsequently turned her into a cultural icon.
I speak of none other than Toto of "The Wizard of Oz,'' who entered this world in 1933 and was named Terry. Her tale is told through her voice in a slim volume by self-professed "Oz'' fanatic Willard Carroll, who reports that he found her story buried in the dirt of a former dog kennel that had been plowed under for the Ventura Freeway in California. While making a nostalgic visit to the kennel site during a highway expansion, he unearthed a tin box containing a scrapbook of a most famous dog.
Terry, of course, did not start out famous. Her early owners, frustrated by her continuing accidents, took her to a well-known dog trainer in the San Fernando Valley. Carl Spitz had begun training dogs in Germany and specialized in training dogs to be used by the deaf. He emigrated to the United States in 1926 and moved to California, where he opened the pioneering Spitz's Hollywood Dog Training School.
Starting with silent movies, which incorporated Spitz's early work with dogs for the deaf, he then moved to sound film assignments. His first was the Al Jolson movie "Big Boy'' that featured two Great Danes. The 1930 John Barrymore version of "Moby Dick'' helped seal his reputation as a master handler of dogs.
Spitz's first "star'' dog was Buck, Clark Gable's Saint Bernard in "Call of the Wild.'' Others included the Great Dane Prince in "Wuthering Heights'' and Musty in "Swiss Family Robinson.'' But all those dogs would be eclipsed by Terry.
Terry's owners abandoned her at Spitz's kennel, and Carl Spitz and his wife, Alice, decided to keep her. Before long, according to Terry, Spitz drove her to Paramount Studios in Hollywood where she performed a number of tricks for three men in suits.
Unable to make a decision, the men agreed to let the movie star pick from the several dogs auditioning for a movie role. Shirley Temple, who had "director approval'' on her films, fell in love with Terry and hired her for "Bright Eyes.''
That was Terry's first movie and Terry goes into a bit of detail about the filming and the "wrap'' party that followed where Shirley bid the dog goodbye. Shortly afterwards, Terry landed a role in the Paramount film "Ready for Love'' and then was cast in a United Artists film called "Dark Angel,'' which starred Frederic March and Merle Oberon.
Her next film was "Fury'' with Spencer Tracy and then the costume drama "The Buccaneer.'' While filming a "B'' picture called "Barefoot Boy,'' Spitz got a call from MGM Pictures.
Before long, Terry and Spitz were in MGM offices where they were told Terry looked just like the dog on the cover (which Terry took some exception to, she said, because the dog on the cover didn't look like anything in particular). No audition tricks were necessary - Terry got the job of Toto in "The Wizard of Oz.'' And she was henceforth known as Toto through the remainder of her film career and to her legions of fans, including the many who trooped through Spitz's kennel to visit her.
"I, Toto'' is filled with illustrations from "Oz'' books, movie stills and posters, newspaper clips and miscellaneous promotional materials. In addition to the "Oz'' stills, some other top ones are photos of Terry with Shirley Temple and Jane Withers in "Bright Eyes'' and with Spencer Tracy on the set of "Fury.''
But for "Oz'' fans, this book's real appeal is Terry as Toto. For a nostalgic trip down the Yellow Brick Road, "I, Toto'' is a delight - no matter who wrote it.
"I, Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, the Dog Who Was Toto'' By Willard Carroll. Steward, Tabori & Chang, $19.95
Autographed copies for sale here - http://www.beyondtherainbow2oz.com/index.html