John Agar, Chernobyl,
Kon-Tiki, Robo-Soldiers,
Chinese Sex Toys,
The Big Bang
& More!
John Agar Dead at 81

By BOB THOMAS
Associated Press 

LOS ANGELES April 9, 2002 (AP) - John Agar, the Air Force sergeant who married Shirley Temple and took up acting until alcoholism damaged both his marriage and his career, has died. He was 81.

Agar, who lived in the North Hollywood area, died Sunday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, hospital secretary Linda Willeford said Monday night.

Agar was serving as a physical training instructor at March Field at Riverside, Calif., in 1945 when a friend arranged for him to escort Temple to a Hollywood party given by her boss, David O. Selznick.

Agar was 24, the child star 16. A romance ensued, and against her mother's wishes, the pair became engaged. They were married later that year at a Selznick-produced wedding attended by Hollywood celebrities and California Gov. Earl Warren.

Temple wrote in her 1988 biography "Child Star" that Agar complained on their wedding night that she wasn't a virgin, as she had said. She explained that proof of her virginity had been removed surgically by her doctor three days before.

Then at a dinner in the newlyweds' honor, Agar danced with a tall model, ending with a long, passionate kiss. Temple wrote that on the way home Agar remarked, "Always wanted to marry a long-legged model, not someone like you."

At 6-feet-2 with strikingly good looks, Agar was often asked why he didn't turn to acting. "No, thank you," he replied. "One star in the family is enough." To Temple's surprise, Selznick signed him to a $150-a-week acting contract and sent Agar to drama school.

The pair appeared together in two films, "Fort Apache" and "Adventure in Baltimore," and she gave birth to a daughter, Susan, in 1948. Troubled by Agar's excessive drinking and many flirtations, Shirley filed for divorce in 1949.

Agar continued acting in Westerns such as "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" and "Along the Great Divide," and war movies "Sands of Iwo Jima" and "Breakthrough."

His divorce from Temple and his alcoholism, which led to arrests for drunk driving, lowered his appeal. He later made quickie movies with titles such as "Revenge of the Creature," "Tarantula," "The Mole People," "Daughter of Dr. Jekyll" and "Journey to the Seventh Planet."

John Wayne had appeared with him in "Fort Apache" and "Sands of Iwo Jima," and tried to revive Agar's career by casting him in "The Undefeated," "Chisum" and "Big Jake." Agar's last major film was the 1976 remake of "King Kong." In later years he sold insurance and real estate.

Agar was born into an old-line Chicago meat packing family on Jan. 31, 1921. He was expected to follow in the family business until the marriage to Temple, and his entry into acting.

After the divorce, Agar appeared at the Las Vegas courthouse in 1951 for a license to marry fashion model Loretta Combs. The clerk, believing Agar was intoxicated, suggested the couple think it over and return in a couple of hours. They did, and were married, only after the judge made Agar swear he was sober.

Agar eventually joined Alcoholics Anonymous. "Yes, I drank too much, and I drank at the wrong time," he admitted in 1987. "Heck, I drank no more than John Wayne or Ward Bond or Spencer Tracy or Alan Ladd or Robert Walker. But it got me into a lot more trouble."

Got Water?

By Michael Byrnes
Reuters

SYDNEY April 09, 2002 (Reuters) — A lack of clean water will be the biggest issue facing the world in the next 50 years, and governments and business are failing to face up to the challenge, a senior Australian researcher said on Monday. 

Graham Harris of the state-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) told an environment conference in Melbourne that business needed to understand its dependence on the environment and create a new economic framework that focused on longer-term returns. 

"Even if human populations were to level off in the next 50 years, we will require double the present supply of energy, materials, and water. Water is the big issue for the next 50 years," Harris said in a prepared speech. "The vast majority of the world's people already have only limited access to clean water, basic shelter, and adequate food, and the situation is not going to get any better. Without water, food, shelter, and compassion, we are all lost." 

Harris told delegates at the ENVIRO 2002 conference that the Australian government's actions, for instance, "fail to reflect the urgency.... We talk too much and act too slowly." 

The conference followed another in Melbourne last week that focused on the impact cities have on the ecosystem with more than 50 percent of the world's population living in urban areas. At the end of that earlier meeting, around 40 environmental experts from around the world called on governments to control urban water use as a key part of creating sustainable cities. 

GREEN CITIES NOT SO GREEN 

"A lot of people think 'if I've got lots of green parks and gardens, that's fantastic,'" said Harry Blutstein, director of sustainable development for the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of the Australian state of Victoria. "But hang on. They're using enormous amounts of water, often not recycled water. Perhaps an Australian city has to look a bit browner during its summer," he said. 

The meeting issued its final statement on Monday. Convened by EPA Victoria for the U.N. Environment Program, its findings will contribute to a World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg later this year. 

For cities to become sustainable, they had to be treated as ecosystems, the experts said. This required much more recycling and reuse of water rather than simply spending large sums on dams. 

It also meant new housing developments should incorporate stormwater tanks, so that city people would drink their own roofwater, as occurs in the Australian bush, Blutstein said. 

The inefficient design of high-rise buildings, which failed to take into account the environment, was also costly. Studies showed that the productivity of people could be increased by 15 percent or more by providing natural light, natural ventilation, and other inputs from nature. Malaysian architect Ken Yeang, for instance, was building high rises with windows that open and with gardens throughout the structure to filter the air. 

"We're used to having a totally sterile environment in which the temperature doesn't vary within a degree. There are no breezes. This is not a natural environment," Blutstein said. 

The meeting included environmental officials and experts from Australia, the Netherlands, Malaysia, India, United States, Canada, South Africa, the Philippines, Germany, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Japan.

No Ice on Comet Borrelly

Pasadena April 7, 2002 (NASA/JPL) - Comets are sometimes described as "dirty snowballs," but a close flyby of one by NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft last fall detected no frozen water on its surface. 

Comet Borrelly has plenty of ice beneath its tar-black surface, but any exposed to sunlight has vaporized away, say scientists analyzing data from Deep Space 1, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 

"The spectrum suggests that the surface is hot and dry. It is surprising that we saw no traces of water ice," said Dr. Laurence Soderblom of the U.S. Geological Survey's Flagstaff, Ariz., station, lead author of a report on the Borrelly flyby results appearing in the online edition of the journal Science. 

"We know the ice is there," he said. "It's just well- hidden. Either the surface has been dried out by solar heating and maturation or perhaps the very dark soot-like material that covers Borrelly's surface masks any trace of surface ice." 

The Deep Space 1 science team released pictures and other initial findings days after the spacecraft flew within 2,171 kilometers (1,349 miles) of the comet's solid nucleus on September 22, 2001. This week's report provides additional details about the nucleus and the surrounding coma of gases and dust coming off of the comet as measured by one of Deep Space 1's scientific instruments. 

"Comet Borrelly is in the inner solar system right now, and it's hot, between 26 and 71 degrees Celsius (80 and 161 degrees Fahrenheit), so any water ice on the surface would change quickly to a gas, " said Dr. Bonnie Buratti, JPL planetary scientist and co-author of the paper. "As the components evaporate, they leave behind a crust, like the crust left behind by dirty snow." 

Borrelly is unusually dark for an object in the inner solar system. The comet's surface is about as dark as a blot of photocopy toner, possibly the darkest surface in the solar system. It is more like objects in the outer solar system such as the dark side of Saturn's moon Iapetus and the rings of Uranus. 

"It seems to be covered in this dark material, which has been loosely connected with biological material." Buratti said. "This suggests that comets might be a transport mechanism for bringing the building blocks of life to Earth." Comets may have played an important role in supplying organic materials that are required for life to originate. 

Soderblom points out that Borrelly's old, mottled terrain with dark and very dark spots -- different shades of black -- are apparently inactive. Ground-based observations estimated that 90 percent of Borrelly's surface might be inactive, and the observations taken by Deep Space 1 show that this is indeed true. 

"It's remarkable how much information Deep Space 1 was able to gather at the comet, particularly given that this was a bonus assignment for the probe," said Dr. Marc Rayman, project manager of the mission. Deep Space 1 completed its original goal to test 12 new space technologies and then earned extra credit by achieving additional goals, such as the risky Borrelly flyby. "It's quite exciting now as scientists working with this rich scientific harvest turn data into knowledge." 

Deep Space 1 was launched in October 1998 as part of NASA's New Millennium Program, which is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages JPL for NASA.

Pulitzer Cartoonist Clay Bennett

By Kim Campbell
The Christian Science Monitor 

New York April 10, 2002 (CSM) - When it comes to editorial cartooning, maintaining a special brand of slightly cantankerous humor ranks right up there with being politically savvy. 

For the Monitor's Clay Bennett – who can now add the words Pulitzer Prize winner to his credentials – that blend of wit and wisdom was honed around the dinner table while he was growing up in the South.

It was there that his two older sisters, passionate liberals, would take on his father – a career Army officer and well-informed conservative. Mr. Bennett had known since age 4 that he wanted to be a cartoonist, but it wasn't until he was 13, and had spent some time around that table, that he decided on editorial cartoons.

On Monday he won journalism's top honor, becoming the seventh Monitor staff member to do so since 1950, the first since David Rohde's 1996 award for international reporting for his investigation of mass executions in Bosnia.

Eight of the 14 awards given by Columbia University this year focused on the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, with the The New York Times winning a record seven Pulitzers – including those for public service, international reporting, and commentary. Previously, the most any paper had won at once was three.

The Wall Street Journal was honored for its breaking-news reporting. The paper continued to publish even after the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 forced it out of its offices. The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times each took two prizes, and Newsday and the Monitor each won one.

According to jurors who decided the cartoon finalists (the winners are determined by the Pulitzer Board), the number of cartoon submissions was up by about 25 percent this year. Bennett's cartoons, about everything from science to privacy, stood out for their European style – largely captionless – and their execution.

Monitor editor Paul Van Slambrouck says of Bennett: "This man is obsessed, in a good way, with his work. This award is so richly deserved because he cares so much about what he does."

For Bennett, his decision on which cartoons to submit changed after Sept. 11, with 12 of the 20 submissions created after the attacks. "When you get to the end of 2001," he says, "cartoons on tax cuts and political wranglings in Washington seem fairly insignificant."

Still, he says, not every issue he tackles has great gravity to it. To him, humor is something that can be used to win people over to a certain point of view – it sneaks up on them, and while making them laugh, also makes sure the message stays with them. He calls it "bringing it in through the back door."

Bennett started out as an editorial cartoonist for his college paper at the University of North Alabama, eventually working for The St. Petersburg Times for 13 years and as a syndicated cartoonist before joining the Monitor.

His cartooning style has changed little over the years, but he says technology – specifically the computer – has given him more control. "It made me a better artist."

Last year, he was named Editorial Cartoonist of the Year by Editor & Publisher magazine. This year, Bennett has won two other industry honors, the John Fischetti Award – named for the late Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist – and a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists, which he also found out about on Monday.

In the weeks before the Pulitzer Prizes were announced, he struggled to keep his mind on his work. As in the previous three years when he'd been a finalist, Bennett knew in advance that he was on the short list.

Though Bennett says he is by now skilled at putting thoughts of winning out of his head, sometimes the anticipation would prove to be too much for the 22-year veteran, and he would let off steam in a way that his family now affectionately refers to as "Pulitzer tension."

When word came that the prize was finally his, he praised the paper that hired him in 1998, at a time when he had thought about giving up on the profession he'd pursued since he was a teen. "It's been a really good run ever since I've been at the Monitor," he said. "All good things have happened to me since coming here."

In his victory speech, Bennett jokingly expressed but one regret about his employer: "I finally win it, and I'm at a paper that doesn't drink champagne!"

Chernobyl a Forgotten Crisis?

GENEVA April 08, 2002 (Reuters) - A top United Nations official said on Monday that Chernobyl, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster almost 16 years ago, still needed international aid but was in danger of becoming a "forgotten crisis." 

Kenzo Oshima, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, was speaking after a trip to the contaminated region in and around the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, where he put forward a 10-year recovery strategy. 

"The human dimension of the Chernobyl disaster has tended to be driven into a forgotten crisis despite the continuing nature of the very serious problems and hardship suffered by a large population," Oshima told a news conference. 

On April 26, 1986, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine exploded, releasing a deadly cloud of radioactivity. 

Ukraine, Belarus and Russia--the countries of the former Soviet Union most affected by the accident--wanted to work with UN agencies to implement self-help recovery projects, UN officials said. 

"We propose to make a shift from an attitude people have where they have often been passive recipients of assistance to making them more active participants in their own life," said Neil Buhne, UN resident coordinator in Minsk. 

Between $50 million and $80 million would be needed to address the region's future needs, the officials said. 

Oshima said a meeting on Monday of UN agencies and donor countries was not intended to gather pledges, but he did not rule out a new appeal to rekindle the interest of international donors. 

Much of the aid for Chernobyl has been used for medicines, hospital care and food for those poisoned by the radioactive cloud. But Oshima said future assistance should focus on longer term economic, social and environmental problems in the region.

Alaska Conference Reports on Ancient Adamagan

By Doug O'Harra 
Anchorage Daily News 

Anchorage April 8, 2002 (Anchorage Daily News) - From the windswept tundra along the Bering Sea to Gold Rush boomtowns to the soggy bottoms of rain forest caves, archaeologists and their crews sifted and dug across Alaska last year, uncovering a past more complex and varied than once thought.

In Anchorage, scores of scientists from Alaska and other states, Canada and Russia presented about 120 reports on their findings and research during the annual four-day meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association.

Among the projects discussed was the multiyear excavation of a massive, ancient Aleut community that thrived for 1,200 years on an Alaska Peninsula ridge with direct access to both Bering Sea salmon and Pacific Ocean marine mammals. 

Other sessions focused on evidence that the first people to settle North America could have traveled along the coast; compared tool-making technologies on both sides of the Bering Strait; and discussed how traditional Native people view animals and heritage differently than modern bureaucrats and city dwellers.

One talk was titled "White People Think Heritage' Is a Bunch of Old Buildings."

Vast stretches of Southeast Alaska would have been dry while glaciers locked up the Interior, enabling ancient people to move south, possibly in skin boats, according to one report. Other scientists presented information about excavations at village sites throughout the region.

Archaeologist E. James Dixon, of the University of Colorado Museum, conducted a survey of glaciers and snowfields in the northern Wrangell and Saint Elias mountains based on an analysis of habitat, wildlife surveys and historic trails. He found 32 sites with evidence of animal or human use at the toe of glaciers or in high-elevation snowfields. One site even produced horseshoe nails and horse hoof rinds -- the remnants of a midglacier shoeing operation during the Gold Rush.

Presentations Saturday were to discuss the technology of people who lived when Alaska and Asia were connected by a 1,000-mile-wide land bridge.

The report about the ancient settlement near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula comes after archaeologists have found increasing evidence that Aleut people often developed large communities as they took advantage of the rich marine resources.

Between about 1,100 B.C. and A.D. 100, hundreds of families were drawn to what is now Morzhovoi Bay west of Cold Bay, where they settled on a ridge that would have offered direct access to the Pacific and the Bering Sea. The team found remains of 19 kinds of mammals, 17 kinds of shellfish, 13 kinds of fish and 41 kinds of birds, including species from both sides of the peninsula.

At the site, now called Adamagan, a team from Idaho State University has uncovered evidence of at least 250 houses and hundreds of storage pits, thousands of sophisticated tools and tons of ancient garbage. Adamagan clearly evolved into a regional center with as many as 1,000 residents, lead archaeologist Herbert Maschner said during an introductory talk about the project.

At the time, Maschner added later, it would have been the largest settlement in the Arctic, suggesting a sophisticated, stratified society that had worked out the logistics for food gathering, waste management and land use.

Yet Adamagan gradually disappeared, with most traces consumed by the tundra more than 1,000 years ago. Why? 

Though no one can know for sure, Maschner's students and associates found clues in rising sea levels and changing coastal geography. For instance, a spit closed off access to the Bering Sea, creating a lake where there had once been a tidal channel.

King Minos Ring Declared Genuine
ATHENS, GREECE April 5, 2002 (Chicago Tribune) - A gold ring long held in folklore to have belonged to the legendary King Minos but dismissed by experts as a fake has been found to be a real 3,500-year-old artifact.

Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told Greek television Thursday that the engraved "Minos Ring" was worth about $350,000 on the antiquities market and would be displayed in a museum.

The thick gold seal ring depicts a boat at sea between two ports where Minoan women sit among houses and plants. It was discovered in 1928 in the ruins of Knossos on Crete. Authorities then declared it a fake.

Local lore said King Minos hurled his ring into the Aegean Sea only for it to be found by Theseus, the hero who killed the Minotaur in the Knossos labyrinth. A local priest held on to it for decades despite its dubious origin. A descendant found it after the priest's death and delivered it to Greece's archeological authorities.

Venizelos said the descendant would be rewarded.
Kon-Tiki Theory Floats Again

Guimar, Canary Islands April 7, 2002 (AP) - Thor Heyerdahl's theories on ancient seafarers spreading civilization were initially ridiculed by scientists, but a younger generation is studying his ideas from five decades ago as the basis for new ideas about early cultural exchanges. 

Robson Bonnichsen, who studies how the American continent became populated, calls Heyerdahl "a visionary ahead of his time". 

Bonnichsen, director of the Centre for the Study of the First Americans at Oregon State University, said that many experts now give serious consideration to the idea that people in boats sailed along the Pacific Rim. 

"Our perception of the peopling of the Americas is changing" and encompasses more than one colonization, including an early population from south-east Asia, he said. 

"A lot of new ideas are on the table - and Thor Heyerdahl led the way years ago," he said. 

The new theories suggest that American settlement was much more complex than first thought and that migrants arrived more than once and from different parts of the world. 

Dennis Stanford, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, has even suggested some American ancestors could have come from Spain during the Ice Age, arriving in Maine after skirting the ice of the North Atlantic in boats. 

Walter Neves of the University of Sao Paulo is gathering evidence suggesting that early South Americans originated in Australia or South Asia and possibly crossed the Pacific.

Erika Hagelberg, a geneticist at the University of Oslo, says the study of DNA in the Pacific has not proven Heyerdahl's theories right or wrong. "There is definitely a genetic connection between Polynesians and Native Americans, but it probably traces back to a common origin in Asia," she said. 

Hagelberg, who has received some Kon-Tiki Museum grant support, says there is no genetic data that indicates a strong South America influence in Polynesia, but "that does not rule out a connection, as there are many reasons why South American genes might not be detected in Polynesia today". 

She noted that it will probably take scholars from various sciences to thoroughly examine Heyerdahl's work and lauded him for the way he crossed the boundaries between scientific disciplines. 

Further praise for Heyerdahl is evinced by the 11 honorary doctorates he has received from universities in the Americas and Europe. 

In his 1997 memoir, "In the Footsteps of Adam", he frequently makes the point that academic specialists often fail to see the wood for the trees. 

"The more I do and the more I see, the more I realize the shocking extent of ignorance that exists among the scholarly circles that call themselves authorities and pretend to have a monopoly of all knowledge," he wrote.

Elders Defend Secrets of Sacred Sites

By Ron Selden
Indian Country Today

BOZEMAN, Mont. April 07, 2002 (ICT) - Prodding the federal government to protect American Indian sacred sites may place them in greater danger because subsequent publicity typically increases unwanted visitation and vandalism, tribal leaders warned at a recent conference here.

The current protection process also devalues tribal religious freedom, because practitioners of other religions, particularly Christianity, are not required to submit "proof" of their beliefs and the importance of their sanctuaries, tribal activists told participants at the recent 2nd Annual Native American Issues Conference at Montana State University-Bozeman. 

"It’s just a question of when the next one will be revealed," Tim Mentz, a prominent member of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said of sacred places located on public lands". The federal process was never made for tribes. It’s almost becoming mandatory that we reveal [the sites] so they can be protected."

Mentz, a former tribal council member and the first tribal historical preservation officer in the nation, said wholesale reform is needed in federal land management policies so religious sites can more easily be exempted from development without ruining them in the process. A huge black market in Indian artifacts also makes it crucial that the locations of burial plots and other cultural areas be kept as secret as possible, he said.

But Mentz, among others, noted that current federal policies are geared toward development of natural resources and the protection of private property rights, not Indian cultural values.

"How much do we have to compromise to say these areas are sacred to us?" he asked dozens of Indian and non-Indian students and others attending the event. "How much do you give to have a chance to protect?"

"I don’t feel we should have to justify ourselves, our sacred history," added Bill Redfield, a Crow tribal member.

"We were created out of the ground," said Jimmy St. Goddard, a member of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council. "We didn’t cross the Bering land bridge. We didn’t crawl out of the ocean like a salamander. We’re the most powerful people on this earth, but for some strange reason we were repressed. But that’s going to change."

The conference focused on Weatherman Draw, a rugged, 4,200-acre stretch of land near the Montana-Wyoming border south of Billings. Eyed for oil by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp., the so-called Valley of the Chiefs is also home to one of the most prolific displays of American Indian rock art on the Northern Plains. 

The area served as a cultural crossroads for the Crow, Comanche, Blackfeet, Northern Arapahoe, Eastern Shoshone, Cheyenne and Sioux, among other tribal groups, and is still the site of religious renewal for many of their members.

"It’s truly a chapel, even though Indian people don’t call our places chapels," said Howard Boggess, a Crow historian and a leader in the fight to protect the area.

"Rock art is our heritage," added George Reed Jr., a Crow cultural leader and instructor at Little Bighorn Community College. "The white man doesn’t know where I come from, and it’s better that he doesn’t know."

Darren Old Coyote, a Crow cultural affairs official, observed that Europeans could go back to their continent to sample traditional culture and learn their native languages. American Indians, however, are already home.

"As a Crow, I can’t go across the oceans," he said. "I have no place to go. I have to go to my elders. At Weatherman Draw and other places, that’s the only written history we have. With non-Indians, they leave a paper trail."

Although the BLM knew that the draw was significant to at least some neighboring tribes, it didn’t try to stop Anschutz from securing mineral leases in the valley in 1994. It then took the agency five years more years to determine that the site should be an "area of critical environmental concern," which puts brakes on some -- but not all -- types of development. 

While one part of the BLM’s mission emphasizes preservation, the agency’s core focus now is finding ways to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil, conference participants said. But, said Hamon Wise, an Eastern Shoshone tribal member, the issue really boils down to money versus religion.

"We can’t put a price on our spirituality," Wise said. "There’s no price. ‘In God We Trust’ is the wrong word to put on a dollar because there’s a lot of evil with that dollar. People kill for that dollar."

At the beginning of the fight over Weatherman Draw, "people from BLM wanted us to drop it, just leave," said Boggess, who traveled to Washington, D.C., last year to lobby on the issue. "They didn’t want to tell us anything. I was told by at least three people I should just go mind my own business."

"The U.S. government is like God," added Reed. "They do as they please."

Now at least 20 tribes, the Sierra Club/and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have teamed up to keep road builders and drilling rigs out. 

BLM officials, arguing that there would be no significant impacts to tribal cultural values, approved a revised permit for Anschutz early last year. The decision has since been appealed, largely on the basis that the government’s proposed mitigation measures can’t offset the damage that would be caused to tribal religious rights.

"I think there’s some structural problems with the agencies," said Abigail Dillen, an attorney with the environmental group Earth Justice, which has also been involved in the battle. "It’s simply ridiculous to say that putting an oil well in the middle of Weatherman Draw is not a significant impact."

"We’re all assailed every day as Indian people with what they call assimilation," said Dewey Tsonetokoy, a member of Oklahoma’s Kiowa Nation. "But no matter who you are, you come to a crossroads in your life where you have to decide if you’re going to keep your culture or not. People are starting to understand what sacred ground is all about. But some folks have called (the rock pictographs) old graffiti. They’re not old graffiti. They are sacred drawings."

BLM officials say they’re getting an independent appraisal to determine how much the drilling permit is worth. At this point, according to BLM project coordinator Sandy Brooks, the exploration company, led by billionaire sports club owner and major Republican donor Philip F. Anschutz, has agreed to stay out of Weatherman Draw until Sept. 1. 

In the meantime, agency officials are hashing over the appeal, and Anschutz is still weighing the consequences of giving up its leases and looking for oil elsewhere, perhaps on the Crow or Blackfeet reservations. Tribal leaders there have offered alternative exploration sites to get the company out of the Valley of the Chiefs.

"Weatherman Draw is a gift from the past to the future," said Alexandra New Holy, an instructor in the MSU Native American Studies program. "It can help us define who we are and who we will be. What we decide defines us."

Cow News: Drugged Milk and Water Beds

New York Dairy Farms Report Tampering 

By CAROLYN THOMPSON
Associated Press 

JAVA CENTER, N.Y. April 8, 2002 (AP) - Someone has been sneaking onto dairy farms in western New York, putting antibiotics into milk storage tanks and also injecting cows with the drugs, police say.

The tampering has ruined about 44,000 gallons of milk worth about $49,000 to farmers, state police Lt. John Hibsch said. Authorities have no suspects in the 14 cases under investigation since the fall, Hibsch said. The most recent cases were reported late last month. Authorities said none of the tainted milk made it to store shelves or into milk products like cheese because milk is tested for contaminants before being unloaded from the trucks that take it to processing plants. Only someone allergic to antibiotics like penicillin would be at risk if exposed to the tainted milk, Hibsch said.

Investigators said they are looking for suspects in any number of places, from animal rights groups opposed to dairy farm practices to disgruntled farmers or employees. Dairy farming is a $116 million industry in Wyoming County, New York's largest dairy producer, where 11 of the cases were reported. With no obvious motive for the apparent sabotage and no claims of responsibility, anxiety among farmers is high.

"Who it is we don't know. If we knew why, we'd at least know what direction to look," said farmer Mark McCormick, whose 200-head Mar-Dan Dairy Farm in Wyoming County was among the latest targets. "That's one of the frustrating parts. We don't have a clue."

McCormick lost more than 4,000 gallons of milk and estimated his financial loss at $6,200 to $6,500.

"It's going to be very hard to overcome," said McCormick, who said that with milk prices set by the government, raising his rates to make up the loss is not an option. As it is, he said, he is paid only slightly more for his milk than his father was 20 years ago.

New York Farm Bureau spokesman Chris LaRoe said there have been isolated cases of angry employees tampering with milk tanks in the past, but "we've never seen it this widespread before."

The introduction of bovine growth hormone in the early 1990s touched off protests by health activists and others around the country, but the Farm Bureau said New York has not seen such demonstrations for several years. The artificial hormone is injected into cows to increase the amount of milk they produce. Critics of such biotechnology products contend that too little is known about their health and environmental effects.

The Farm Bureau is urging farmers to limit access to storage tanks, but that is difficult. Dairy farms, in general, are easily accessible because of the need to keep barns housing hundreds of animals open for ventilation. The milking areas containing the tanks may have open walls to enable cows to be moved in and out. Investigators initially had to determine whether a mix-up by a farmer or an employee had caused the contamination. Most dairy farms store antibiotics on the premises to treat ill cows or those that are about to give birth.

It would take only a minute amount of antibiotics to contaminate a load of milk, authorities said. A vial dumped into one storage tank would contaminate not only that tank, but an entire truckload. That is because in dairy farming, collection trucks make numerous stops on a single run and the milk from each farm is mixed together along the way. 

Farmers Pamper Cows with Water Beds 

By JOSEPH B. FRAZIER
Associated Press 

MOUNT ANGEL, Ore. April 8, 2002 (AP) - They say content cows are more productive cows. Arie Jongeneel is hoping his herd of Holsteins, resplendent on their water beds, will bring forth a dairy deluge.

In his quest to bump up production, Jongeneel, a dairy farmer for 32 years, is joining farmers in Europe and elsewhere who say such bovine pampering pays off. Jongeneel, who began experimenting with 15 specially made water beds in January, said he is ordering 80 more for his 1,600 cows in Oregon's lush Willamette Valley.

"If it's better for the cows it will increase milk production, there's no doubt about that," Jongeneel said.

On a recent afternoon at his farm, eight or nine Holsteins lounged on the water beds, looking thoughtful as they chewed their cud. The water beds - rubber bladders filled with 18 gallons of water and covered with thick rubber mats - undulated when the 1,400-pound cows shifted their weight. By conforming to the shape of the cows, the theory goes, the beds give the animals a more comfortable rest. Distributors claim the beds reduce wear and tear on the cows' joints and prevent swelling and burning of hocks.

The Dutch- and British-made water beds have been in use in Europe for seven or eight years, mostly for dairy cattle. They began appearing in the New York-Pennsylvania area and the Midwest about three years ago, and are catching on in the West.

"The cows liked it right away," said Jongeneel. "They laid right down and were comfortable."

The water beds - which go for about $150 each - are easier to clean than stalls, said Jongeneel. Mike Gamroth, a dairy cattle specialist at Oregon State University, said the beds seem to be a good idea for the cows, who lie down for six to eight hours a day to digest their food.

"We have learned a lot in the past eight or 10 years about fine-tuning cow comfort," he said. "Milk production is so high you have to do all the small things to push it any further."

Dairy cows might appear to be lazy because they lie around much of the time, but there's a lot of work going on inside their bodies. The cow's udder extracts nutrients from blood to produce milk. Five-hundred gallons of blood have to circulate through the udder to provide the nutrients in a gallon of milk. Besides water beds, researchers have tested sand, a traditional bedding material that requires a lot of upkeep because it scatters easily. Other options are plain rubber mats and mats containing tubes filled with shredded rubber from old tires.

Some milk producers have reported an increase in yield they attribute to the water beds, Gamroth said, but there are no hard numbers available. John Marshman, a dairy farmer in Chenango County, N.Y., said he's seen cows wait for a shot at the water beds.

"The first ones who come back from the milking parlor fill those stalls first," said Marshman, who has bought 150 of the beds.

U.S. Robo-Soldier on the Way

By Jane Wakefield 
BBC News Technology Staff 

Massachusetts April 10, 2002 (BBC) - The soldier of the future could be able to leap buildings, heal his own wounds, deflect bullets and become invisible. 

These are just some of the futuristic plans of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which has been selected by the US army to create the battlefield equivalent of Robocop. 

The $50m research centre will be known as the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN). 

Among the goals of the newly-created ISN will be gadgets that can heal soldiers, uniforms that are nearly invisible and clothing that can become a rigid cast when a soldier breaks his or her leg.  An exoskeleton could be developed to provide protection from bullets, transform into a medical cast and even activate an offensive weapon. Shoes with built-in power packs could release bursts of energy to endow the soldier with super-strength and agility. 

With a nod to the durability of medieval armour, the institute will also develop a futuristic light-weight chain mail, made up of molecular materials. 

The soldier of the future will not only be protected, but present a greater threat to the enemy said director of the ISN Professor Ned Thomas. 

"Imagine the psychological impact upon a foe when encountering squads of seemingly invincible warriors, protected by armour and endowed with superhuman capabilities, such as the ability to leap over 20-foot walls," he said. 

The ISN will be staffed by 150 people, including 35 MIT professors, 80 graduate students as well as specialists from the army. 

The research group will focus on six key areas:

  • threat detection
  • threat neutralization such as bullet-proof clothing 
  • concealment 
  • enhanced human performance
  • real-time automated medical treatment
  • reducing the weight of equipment from today's 145-pound loads to the 45 pounds carried by Roman soldiers

MIT already has a history of helping out the army in times of war. During World War II MIT developed radar that warned of incoming aircraft and at the time of the Cold War, the university developed guidance systems for missiles. 

Many of the technologies being developed at MIT for the soldier of the future will not be available for at least a decade.

Genre News: New Pilots, Angel, Roswell, Galactica, Cleese, Tarantino, Uma, Malkovich & More...

Network Pilots Announced

Hollywood April 9, 2002 (eXoNews) - The Hollywood Reporter has published a "complete" list of new pilots underway by the major networks for fall. As usual, most of them are sitcoms, cop shows, and clones (not the good kind), but here are some "dramas" that we thought sounded interesting (which is not to say they all sound like they might be anything worth watching, mind you.)

In production for ABC:
Astronauts (Fox) - Astronauts competing for a place on a mission to Mars.
Untitled (Touchstone) - Father-and-son archaeology team a la "Indiana Jones".
Miracles (Spyglass/Touchstone) - Vatican-based investigator probes reports of miracles.
Nancy Drew (Touchstone) - Based on the books by Carolyn Keene.
Paranormal Girl (Touchstone) - Teenage girl with paranormal abilities recruited by the FBI.
Push, Nevada (Touchstone /LivePlanet) - Interactive mystery-drama
(Ben Affleck is a producer).
That Was Then (Touchstone) - 30-year-old man goes back in time to high school.

In production for CBS:
Sharon McCone Mysteries (Warner Bros /Spring Creek) - Based on Marcia Mueller's mystery novels.
Vanished (Bruckheimer Films/ Warner Bros) - FBI agents investigate missing persons.

In production for Fox:
Eastwick (Warner Bros) - 15-year-old sons of the original witches of Eastwick.
Firefly (Fox) - Sci-fi drama about the crew of a small transport spaceship.
(Joss Whedon show.)
John Doe (Regency) - Amnesiac knows everything in the world except who he is.
Keen Eddie (Paramount) - Cop goes to U.K. to solve the mystery that ruined his career.
Time Tunnel (Fox /Regency) - Based on Irwin Allen '60s TV series. (The original sucked. Ed.)

In production for NBC:
Arthur (NBC) - A look at the famed king's early years.

In production for The WB:
Birds of Prey (Warner Bros /Tollin/ Robbins) - Based on DC Comics offshoot of the Batman comics.
Lost in Oz (Warner Bros) - Melissa George in updated version of L. Frank Baum's books.
The Lone Ranger (Turner) - Contemporary spin on the classic TV series.

Those last two for the WB sound suspicious - "updated" and "contemporary" usually mean cops and car chases. We reported earlier that actress Mia Sara was also signed for Lost in Oz. Both she and Melissa George are too old to play Dorothy, unless they're making Dorothy an FBI agent this time...

With heroines all the rage, Nancy Drew could be a winner. Nancy has had little success on American TV (Pamela Sue Martin in 1977), but the literary run of the girl detective is rather astounding, and there is a classic series of entertaining Drew movies with Bonita Granville (1938-39). If ABC plays it right this time, Nancy could run for decades.

Check out the enormous list of Nancy Drew books at http://mysterynet.com/nancydrew .

The Reporter didn't have anything for UPN, but CBS owns that network at the moment, so who knows what they may dump there next.

Nothing really sounds like a Need-To-Watch biggie, other than Whedon's Firefly and maybe the Ben Affleck's Push, Nevada. As Bucky Fuller once said: "Television is chewing gum for the mind."

Changes, News and Rumors

Angel Returns - WB Meets the Mummy

Hollywood April 9, 2002 (eXoNews) - According to Zap2it.com, the WB is planning a new dance to try to fix the holes that a flock of bad new shows made in its schedule. Sagging hopefuls Jaimie Kennedy Experience and Off Centre get feature films as a lead-in, including the network premier of Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy". The new "Flix From the Frog" feature started with "I Know What You Did Last Summer" on April 7th and will continue to air Sundays at 7:00. 

WB will also put Angel back where he belongs at 9 PM on Mondays. David Boreanaz and his Angel gang are the all-time best lead-out to the WB's highest rated show, 7th Heaven. WB's "hiatus" replacement Glory Days only pulled half the ratings of Angel's most recent new episode. We suspect that a 4th Season renewal for everybody's favorite vampire may be a dead certainty.

Angel returns with new episodes on Monday April 15th at 9 PM and "The Mummy" shows up on May 5th.

UPN Cancels Roswell

LOS ANGELES April 10, 2002 (Zap2it.com) - In a move that is more expected than surprising, UPN has pulled the plug on its teen alien drama "Roswell." Thus ends months of rumor and speculation that the sets have been struck and oblique references from members of the cast and crew that the show's days were numbered.

The series, which has been fan-resurrected twice -- once on The WB, the second time when UPN picked it up -- will say its final good-byes on May 14 in what the network is calling a "bittersweet," "powerful" and "heartrending" series finale.

Despite loyal fans that could organize mass mailings of Tabasco campaigns at the drop of a hat, the show just couldn't draw the ratings numbers to continue making it viable for the network and advertisers.

In the 15 episodes that have aired so far this season, "Roswell" has averaged three million total viewers a week -- ranking it 151st out of a total 186 series that have aired on the six broadcast networks. Among the target demo of 18 to 49-year-olds, it has only managed to average a 1.4 rating/3 share on a weekly basis. 

"I would like to thank Twentieth Century Fox Television, UPN and especially our fans whose combined efforts helped get us a third season for 'Roswell,'" says executive producer Jason Katims. "[Executive Producer] Ronald D. Moore and I had the fans very much on our minds when we were writing this final episode. We felt they deserved a great ending." 

The final four episodes of "Roswell" will begin airing on Tuesday, April 23 at 8 p.m. ET and promises have been made that they will resolve the many outstanding storylines, as well as offering a few plot twists along the way.

[Sci Fi Network recently picked up all three seasons of Roswell for your rerun pleasure. Ed.]

Say goodbye at the Ultimate Roswell Fan Site - http://www.crashdown.com 

Fans Protest Galactica Plans 

Hollywood April 9, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - Some fans of Battlestar Galactica have taken to the Internet to challenge the SCI FI Channel's plans to produce a four-hour miniseries based on the 1970s TV show. At least two petitions have gone up, signed by about 700 fans, protesting the channel's announcement that it will "re-imagine" the show and asking for the channel to involve either original star Richard Hatch (Apollo) or X-Men producer Tom De Santo, whose previous attempt to revive the series failed.

The first petition asks producers to "embrace the original series by including core members of the original cast in their original roles," among other things. The second says fans "will not support any new production of Battlestar Galactica that drastically changes the series format and re-imagines it to something different than what it originally was."

Earlier this month, SCI FI announced that it would produce the miniseries, to be written by longtime genre writer Ronald D. Moore (Roswell, several Star Trek series) and directed by Breck Eisner (Steven Spielberg's Taken). David Eick (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, American Gothic) will executive produce. The miniseries is slated for a 2003 premiere.

[Hate to mention it, but Ben Cartright is dead, guys. Ed.]

Cleese Promoted To Q 

London April 9, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - John Cleese told the Calgary Sun that he will take on the role of Q in the upcoming 20th James Bond film, Die Another Day--a role played for decades by Desmond Llewelyn, who died in 1999. "I am Q now--I actually have a name," said Cleese, who made his debut in the franchise as Q's assistant, R, in 1999's The World Is Not Enough.

"It was terrific fun," Cleese told the newspaper. "I like the new director [New Zealand's Lee Tamahori], and I always got on with [star] Pierce [Brosnan]. He's a very clever actor. He's fascinating, because when you're working with him, he seems to be doing nothing at all, but then you see him onscreen, and he's fantastic."

Cleese said that he hopes to do a Bond movie every couple years. He will also appear again as Sir Nicholas (Nearly Headless Nick) de Mimsy-Porpington in the sequel film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Both films are due in November.

Quentin Tarantino Casts "Kill Bill"
By Jeffrey R. Sipe

Hollywood April 9, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - Vivica A. Fox, Michael Jai White and LaTanya Richardson are in advanced negotiations to appear in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming "Kill Bill," set for a summer production start.

Fox ("Two Can Play that Game") will play Vernita, joining Daryl Hannah, Lucy Liu and headliner Uma Thurman as a team of assassins out to get the eponymous Bill. White ("Exit Wounds") is up for the role of Alburt, and Richardson (TV's "100 Centre Street") will play L.F. O'Boyle.

David Carradine is set to play the title character, Bill. He replaces Warren Beatty, who bowed out.

Being 'English': Malkovich Inks 
By Stuart Kemp

LONDON April 05, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - John Malkovich and U.K.-based Australian pop star Natalie Imbruglia have signed to star opposite British comedian Rowan Atkinson in Working Title Films' spy spoof "Johnny English," the film's producers said Thursday.

Malkovich will play a Machiavellian French business magnate, while Imbruglia makes her feature debut playing a special agent.

The film, to be directed by Peter Howitt ("Sliding Doors"), also stars Ben Miller ("The Parole Officer") as the sidekick to Atkinson ("Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie"), who stars as a bumbling MI6 character.

Electrolux Introduces Talking Washing Machine

STOCKHOLM, Sweden April 8, 2002 (AP) - Swedish appliance maker Electrolux is launching the world's first talking washing machine. "Washy Talky" tells the user how to get the perfect wash.

The machine guides the user through the entire washing process, starting by telling him or her "in a female warm, personal Indian middle class accent," as the news release says, to "drop detergent, close lid and relax."

"The concept was developed in India after a consumer poll there showed the Indian consumers wanted such a machine," Electrolux spokesman Jacob Broberg said.

The washing machine, which is being introduced this month all over India and costs 18,000 rupees ($374), is fluent both in English and Hindi, he said.

Other voice instructions include "please close the lid," if it's left open too long.

The computerized machine works by sensing the weight of the wash load and determining the optimal wash program, the required water level and the wash time automatically. Any error, for instance unevenly distributed clothes, is automatically detected and voice and digital indicators alert the user and suggest further action.

Broberg said Electrolux has no immediate plans to introduce the talking washing machine in any other country.

The Electrolux Group, which also makes refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers, has annual revenues of about $14 billion with sales in more than 150 countries. 

Electrolux - http://www.electrolux.com 

Chinese Sex Toys

By Edwin Chan 

WENZHOU, China April 08, 2002 (Reuters) - Wu Wei fantasizes about selling sex toys to the Chinese. 

In a country where sex is best discussed in shadowy karaoke parlors or among close friends, Wu is packing retail shelves with sex toys, exhorting salespeople to interact with customers and cajoling local TV stations to run product demonstrations. 

As president of Wenzhou Loves Health Products, he oversees a China-based operation that ranks among the world's top 10 makers of erotica from basic sex aids to adjustable inflatable dolls. 

Yet, despite a global export empire stretching from Las Vegas to Amsterdam, the former store salesman has never quite managed to get a grip on his home market, and not for a lack of trying. 

The trick, Wu says, is to get people to talk about sex. 

"Demand in China may be much bigger than in our dreams right now," said Wu, 33. "China has a very conservative culture. But from our experience, Chinese today don't entirely reject sex products. I think if they need it, they'll buy it." 

For now, Loves is content to export 70 percent of its products to mature markets like Europe and the United States. 

Brandishing a giant pink sex toy, the unassuming executive explains the simple philosophy behind Loves' emergence from humble origins as a chain of "health protection product" stores to a global exporter assembling 10,000 sex toys a day. 

"Our motto is 'Enhance your sexual prowess, enjoy sex to the fullest'," Wu said as the heated instrument whirred to life.

"We try to fulfil our customers' desires. If they're happy, we're happy," he said. 

More importantly, perhaps, was the funding from a silent Japanese partner who provided the product technology that differentiated Loves from its competitors and allowed it to win China's first license to make sex toys in 1995. 

FLOODING SHELVES 

But there's more to the business than satisfying needs. The crew-cut, bespectacled Wu admits it's hard to arouse interest in China, a society where kissing in public is frowned upon. 

"Even our own salespeople are initially uncomfortable showing customers how to use our products," Wu laments.

Thwarted by Chinese laws banning mass media advertising of sex toys, Loves is training point-of-sales representatives to spread its message of love. It has a deal with pharmaceutical chain Sinopharm allowing Loves to display wares in its outlets across China. It has affixed large, shiny labels bearing office phone numbers to product packages, inviting both business inquiries and feedback from curious browsers. 

"Customers are beginning to open up and ask embarrassing questions. Gradually our own salespeople will loosen up and be better at promoting our products," Wu said. 

Loves' Web site (http://www.chinasextoys.net ) carries row upon row of graphic photographs of its mind-boggling product range. 

A chorus line of surprised-looking dolls with adjustable heads and other body parts cavorts along one wall of Love's spacious showroom on the outskirts of gritty Wenzhou -- a private entrepreneur's haven in the eastern province of Zhejiang. For the adventurous, Loves has rubber dinghies, beach balls with attachments and even an innocent, polka-dotted dairy cow. 

"Well, some people...," Wu said sheepishly.

But the future is "Lovebots." 

"We're headed in that direction, where a doll has body heat, life-like skin and can move and speak. Our initial experiments are successful, now it's just a matter of designing it," Wu said. "We spend three to four million yuan ($362,500-$483,300) on research and development every year."

DISGUST TO AMUSEMENT 

The sheer abundance of aids excites mixed reactions -- from disgust to fascination to ribald amusement -- in Wenzhou's 100 or so "sex health product stores," mostly nestled in dim alleys. 

"People come in all the time to look, but they seldom buy," said a 25-year-old salesgirl at Beautiful Spring Health Products. 

Six out of every 10 customers are men, said Chen Aiping of Young Girls' Health Products in downtown Wenzhou. Some stare in open-mouthed curiosity, others dart in and out furtively under the cover of night, she said. 

"Some people think it's a disgrace that such products are openly displayed in my store. They say it's so ugly," said Chen, 45, dressed in a rumpled pharmacists' white lab coat. "People who come in are often shy or ashamed, because frankly speaking, they're all lacking in some way. Their spouses might be away or sick. Or maybe their partners can't satisfy them." 

She sells five or six toys a month for up to 500 yuan each, which are promptly stashed in the darkest recesses of cupboards. Most stores get by on more conventional products like condoms and medicinal sexual aids. But competition is intense and getting fiercer -- proprietors estimate the number of stores has grown from several dozen three years ago to nearly 100 now. Undeterred, Wu hopes to increase market share in the United States and Europe, hoping that production costs of under 100 yuan per toy would put it one-up over pricier overseas rivals. 

Expanding the China market would be icing on the cake. 

"We Chinese are very innovative. Whatever the customer wants, we deliver. Someday, buying a sex toy will be as natural as buying a tape recorder or a camera," Wu envisions.

Web Site Tests for Sex Addiction
SINGAPORE April 08, 2002 (Reuters) - Ever wondered whether you were addicted to sex? 

In strait-laced Singapore the government is providing its citizens with a Web site designed to let them find out if their desires have become compulsive. 

The 25-question test for men includes questions such as: "Do you often find yourself preoccupied with sexual thoughts," "Have you ever had sex with someone just because you were feeling aroused and later felt ashamed or regretted it?" and "Have you ever cruised public restrooms, rest areas and/or parks looking for sexual encounters with strangers?" 

People who answer yes to one to three of the questions are told they show a possible "area of concern" that "should be openly discussed with a friend or family member," while those who answer yes to six or more are warned they face potentially "dangerous consequences" and should seek treatment. 

The Community Addictions Management Program (CAMP) site http://www.camp.org.sg , funded by Singapore's Ministry of Health and launched last month, offers women a separate test with such questions as "Do you regularly purchase romance novels or sexually explicit magazines?," "Do you find yourself preoccupied with sexual thoughts or romantic day-dreams?" and "Do you ever feel bad about your sexual behavior?"
Meteor May Explain How The Yellow Emperor Died

BEIJING April 09, 2002 (Reuters) - A 5,000-year-old meteorite unearthed in northwestern China may explain the legendary death of the man celebrated as the nation's earliest ancestor, the Yellow Emperor, state media said Tuesday. 

The meteorite, found near a mausoleum for the Yellow Emperor in the Shaanxi province county of Huangling, may lie behind the cataclysmic shattering of land that historical records say killed China's enigmatic first emperor, the official China Daily said. 

The discovery also sheds light on a local legend that nine dragons broke up the ancient town of Huangling, the newspaper said, quoting Li Yanjun, a long-time Yellow Emperor researcher and one of those who found the meteorite. 

Skepticism abounds over accounts of China's part-real, part-mythical forefather named Huangdi, to whom the word for "emperor" and the imperial color of yellow are traced. 

Chinese legend credits him with inventing the cart and the boat, and his dialogues with the physician Qi Bo were the basis of China's first medical book, the Yellow Emperor's "Canon of Medicine," or Nei Jing. 

Huangdi's wife, Lei Zu, taught China how to weave silk from silkworms and his minister Cang Jie devised the first Chinese characters, according to tradition. 

Huangdi is said to have reigned from 2697 to 2597 B.C., before a dragon came and took him back to Heaven at the age of 110. 

Geologists estimate the uncovered meteorite sample dates back 5,000 years, the newspaper said. The sample, found buried deep in the ground, was only 82 cm (32 inches) long and 21 cm wide and had bumps, holes and traces of burned matter, said Li. 

He said the meteorite was believed to have crashed on the top of the mountain where Huangdi was supposedly buried. Some 50,000 mainland and overseas Chinese flocked to the nearby mausoleum, first erected in the Han Dynasty, to pay their respects to the cultural patriarch last Friday for the annual Tomb Sweeping Day. 

Since 1992, China has spent 200 million yuan ($24 million) to renovate the mausoleum outside the ancient capital of Xi'an, which is nestled in an ancient forest of 80,000 cypress trees, some over 1,000 years old, the People's Daily said Sunday. 

Officials at the mausoleum, contacted by Reuters, said they had not heard about the discovery.

Pot News

New York Mayor Enjoyed Pot

NEW YORK April 8, 2002 (AP) - The words of Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be featured in an advertising campaign by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the group said Monday.

The $500,000 campaign will feature bus shelter signs and telephone booth posters carrying a quote from Bloomberg, when asked if he had ever smoked marijuana, declaring: "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it."

Bloomberg made the remark to a New York magazine reporter last year before he was elected mayor. The Washington-based group is using Bloomberg as the centerpiece of its campaign to urge the city to stop arresting and jailing people for smoking marijuana.

Bloomberg said Monday that the city would continue making such arrests, no matter what he may have said in the past.

"I'm not thrilled they're using my name," he said. "I suppose there's that First Amendment that gets in the way of me stopping it."

The mayor didn't say when he smoked marijuana. The campaign also will feature radio spots and a full-page ad in The New York Times, but the group did not say if the Bloomberg quote would appear in those. 

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws - http://www.norml.org 

Pot's Effect on IQ is Temporary 

TORONTO April 2, 2002 (Agence France-Presse) - Marijuana use has no long term effects on a user's intelligence, according to a study appearing in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association Tuesday.

Canadian researchers, however, cautioned that their findings should be interpreted cautiously, saying more research is needed to determine if pot ingestion affects specific cognitive activities, such as attention or memory.

The preliminary study by Carleton University researchers in Ottawa evaluated the intelligence quotient of 70 people aged 17-20 through self-reporting and urinalysis and compared it to their IQ score at 9-12 years old before initial drug use.

Although the intelligence of a group of heavy users who smoked five or more joints weekly differed from that of light pot smokers, "a negative effect (in IQ) was not observed among subjects who had previously been heavy users but were no longer using the substance."

It is well-documented that marijuana use can cause acute cognitive changes that last for several hours after use, but researchers were trying to determine if its use produces a negative effect beyond that time period.

"We conclude that marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence," said Peter Fried, a professor of psychology.

The researchers pressed for more study on the issue, saying their results may have been moderated by the small number of participants, the length of time the drug was used, the number of joints smoked or the young age of the subjects.

"It is also important to emphasize that broad intellectual functioning may be less vulnerable to the consequences of marijuana use than more specific cognitive domains, such as attention and memory," they said.

Recreating The Big Bang and Star Birth

Recreating The Big Bang

By Helen Briggs 
BBC News 

Brighton, UK April 9, 2002 (BBC) - UK scientists are to call for faster progress towards building a giant atom smasher. 

The proposed £3bn machine will recreate conditions seen moments after the Big Bang. It could help answer some of the fundamental questions of the Universe. 

The huge physics experiment will smash together elementary particles in a 30-kilometre-long tunnel. An international committee will report this summer on two competing technologies that could be used to build the machine. 

The project has been on the drawing board for 10 years. It will need to be approved by ministers in Europe, Asia and the United States if it is to become a reality. Dr Philip Burrows of the University of Oxford will tell the Physics Congress 2002 in Brighton, UK, on Tuesday that collaboration is needed to build a single world machine. 

He told BBC News Online: "There's now agreement from the three regions - Europe, the US and Asia - in the particle physics communities that this should be the next project." 

He said they were aiming for a political decision by 2005 and for the machine to be switched on in 2011. 

Opposites attract 

The giant particle accelerator, known as a linear collider, will smash together electrons and their anti-matter partners, positrons. When particles and their anti-matter equivalents collide, they annihilate each other in a flash of energy. Other particles may form fleetingly in their wake. 

Physicists are hoping that the experiments will give an insight into the elusive Higgs boson, the particle that is thought to give everything mass. A similar particle accelerator is already being built at the European physics lab Cern. Once it is up and running, it could shed light on the Higgs. 

Cern's old machine was switched off last year amid reports that scientists were on the brink of finding something. A US team at Fermilab in Chicago is also in the race to find the cherished particle. 

But if the particle turns out to be relatively heavy, only a new generation of machines - like the one being proposed - stand a chance of finding it. 

"We're literally looking for the origin of mass," Dr Burrows said. "Where does the stuff from which we are all made actually come from?".

Icy Insight Into Star Birth

By Dr David Whitehouse 
BBC News Science Editor 

Nottingham April 9, 2002 (BBC) - The harsh conditions encountered in interstellar space are being recreated in the lab to reveal new insights into how stars form. 

It is an environment where the pressure is only a miniscule fraction of the Earth's atmospheric pressure, and the temperature is a mere 10 degrees above absolute zero. Dr Martin McCoustra and colleagues at the University of Nottingham, England, simulate the surfaces of the ice-coated dust grains in interstellar space to study the complex chemical and physical processes that take place on them. 

"Until recently, processes of this kind have been very poorly understood," said Dr McCoustra, "but now we are seeing a revolution in what we can achieve. Ultra-high vacuum and surface science techniques in the laboratory have given us the tools we need to probe the workings of an interstellar cloud. Our unique surface astrophysics experiment is contributing to a fundamental reappraisal of the interactions between the gas and dust grains that pervade much of the space between the stars." 

Cold, dark, diffuse

Stars and planets form in cold, dark clouds of gas and dust that are spread between the stars. Observations have revealed that the clouds consist of a "soup" of over 110 different chemicals, some with molecules made of 10 or more atoms. 

Even though they account for only about 1% of the mass of a typical interstellar cloud, interstellar dust grains play a crucial role in the creation of this rich variety of molecules and in the process of star formation. About the same size as fine particles of cigarette smoke, the grains are made of silicate minerals and carbon-based materials coated with ice - principally water ice and frozen carbon monoxide. 

Dr McCoustra said: "When a star is trying to form, it gets hotter and hotter as more gas collapses in on itself. There comes a point when the gas is so hot it could expand out again as fast as it falls in. But if some of the heat is radiated away, the collapse can continue and a star can actually form. It is the hot gas molecules that act as the radiators and the icy mantles of the interstellar grains are the main reservoirs where the gas molecules can come from." 

The researchers say they need to understand exactly how the ice gets on to the grains and evaporates from it again so that they can simulate the process of star formation with computers. 

More complicated 

In recent experiments, members of the Nottingham team have studied how water ice is released from grains and interacts with carbon monoxide (CO). 

"We have shown that the crude picture of each substance evaporating separately at some theoretical temperature is wrong," said Dr McCoustra. "Our measurements indicate that a higher temperature than expected is needed to evaporate water ice, and the combined water/carbon monoxide interaction is more complicated that had been thought. The water ice acts like a sponge, trapping the CO in pores. This trapped CO is not released as a gas until all the water has evaporated." 

The research is to be described at the National Astronomy Meeting being held in Bristol.


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