Light Speed Surfing!
First Native American In Space,
Nazca Revealed, Ancient Dogs,
The Roswell Report & More!
Light Speed Surfing!
European Space Agency Press Release

November 26, 2002 (ESA) - Internet traffic jams may become history if ESA succeeds in developing new technology to see nearby Earth-sized planets. Why? In looking for new ways to detect planets ESA is thinking that, instead of bulky mirrors and lenses in space, one can build miniaturized optical systems that fit onto a microchip.

Such ‘integrated optics’ would also allow earthly computer networks to use high-speed routing of data streams as a natural spin-off.

Data moving around the Internet is like road traffic in that a car can be driven fast down a straight road but has to slow down a great deal when changing direction at a junction. The same thing happens on information highways. Beams of light carry data along fiber-optic cables at very high speeds.

When the data arrives at computers, known as servers, the servers redirect them to their final destinations. Presently, you need to convert the light signals into electricity, and that slows everything down.

Electrons move at a speed of a few kilometers per second through a circuit, whereas light travels at nearly 300 000 kilometers per second. Integrated optics would leave the data as light and simply channel it through the chip, in the right direction.

Scientists call this area integrated optics, referring to the integrated circuit board on which chips are mounted. Instead of miniaturized electronics, however, miniaturized optics are placed on a microchip. 

ESA has a strategy to enable more sophisticated searches for extra-solar planets in the future. Two planned developments rely on combining the light from such planets in a number of different telescopes. These are the Darwin mission and its precursor, the ESA/ESO Ground-based European Nulling Interferometer Experiment (GENIE).

When you combine light beams, you traditionally need moving mirrors and lenses to divert the light beams to where you want them. However, if the system moves, it can break. As Malcolm Fridlund, Project Scientist for Darwin and GENIE says, "To change to integrated optics, which is much smaller and has no moving parts, would be highly desirable."

Desirable certainly, but also difficult.

At present, integrated optics is a science that is far behind integrated circuit technology. For this reason, ESA is funding two studies. Astrium has been asked to study a traditional optics approach and Alcatel is investigating an integrated-optics solution.

"We shall take the decision on whether GENIE will use integrated optics in just over one year," says Fridlund. 

In the future, Darwin, ESA’s ambitious mission to find Earth-like planets, may also use integrated optics but using longer wavelengths of light than GENIE. This is uncharted territory as far as integrated optics is concerned. However, Fridlund is currently reviewing proposals from industrial companies which would like to take up the challenge.

"What I'm reading in those proposals is making me highly optimistic," says Fridlund, "I don’t yet know whether mid-infrared integrated optics will have any commercial application, but until we develop them, we’ll never know."

Should the integrated-optics approach work, the rewards would extend far beyond a few improvements in searching for planets.

Here on Earth, for all home-computer users, for example, it could speed up the Internet by 100–1000 times.

The consequences of surfing the Web at such speeds would be amazing.

European Space Agency home page - 

Bush Considers New Nuke Tests
By Brad Knickerbocker
Christian Science Monitor 

Washington November 26, 2002 (CSM) - As United Nations inspectors fan out across Iraq - looking for evidence of Saddam Hussein's secret arsenal - the United States is rethinking the future of its own weapons of mass destruction. 

Among the issues being discussed by US officials and the experts who advise them in this era of stateless terrorism and other forms of "unconventional warfare" are these: The resumption of nuclear weapons testing; ambivalence over controlling chemical and biological weapons at a time when advancing technology offers new opportunities to control the battlefield; and the possible development of tactical nuclear bombs to go after the kind of hardened targets that more than 70 countries - especially Iraq - now use to hide their most threatening weapons.

All of this would be happening even if the terrorist attacks of 9/11 had not occurred, even if war with Iraq were not as close as it is today. But the earthshaking events that have marked the beginning of the 21st century focus attention on the most intimidating military assets belonging to the world's lone superpower.

The US hasn't test-fired any nuclear devices since 1992. Officials figure it would take two to three years to be ready to resume testing. The administration wants to reduce that to a shorter period - not only to ensure that its aging stockpile of warheads is dependable, but also to allow the testing of any newly designed weapons.

The Pentagon's congressionally mandated Nuclear Posture Review calls for a "revitalized nuclear weapons complex that will ... be able, if directed, to design, develop, manufacture, and certify new warheads in response to new national requirements; and maintain readiness to resume underground nuclear testing if required."

More recently, a senior official urged reconsideration of the 10-year US moratorium on testing.

"We will need to refurbish several aging weapons systems," said defense undersecretary Edward Aldridge in an October memo to senior nuclear policymakers. "We must also be prepared to respond to new nuclear-weapon requirements in the future." Congress recently authorized the nation's nuclear weapons labs to weigh the benefits and costs of being able to test such weapons within six months.

While highly precise conventional arms - laser-guided bolts from the blue - made headlines in Afghanistan, many experts say they will never completely replace nuclear weapons.

"To ensure that enemy facilities or forces are knocked out and cannot be reconstituted, attacks with nuclear weapons may be necessary," the National Institute for Public Policy in Fairfax, Va., reported last year.

"The United States may need to field simple, low-yield, precision-guided nuclear weapons for possible use against select hardened targets such as underground biological weapons."

Several of that report's authors are now officials in the Bush administration, including Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Defense Science Board chairman William Schneider.

One of the attractions of small nuclear weapons, in the eyes of some theorists, is that they can more effectively destroy biological or chemical stockpiles than can conventional explosives.

In Geneva recently, Stephen Rademaker. US assistant secretary of state for arms control, said he was "very pleased" with international adoption of measures to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. He warned, however, that the 1972 treaty banning such weapons is "inherently unverifiable." This implies that the US needs to know as much as possible about any biological or chemical threats it may face.

The difficulty here is that even preparing to defend against such weapons requires research on the weapons themselves. In its examination of biomedical sciences and the pharmaceutical industry - both involved in Pentagon projects - the Federation of American Scientists reports that "an immense amount of time and money [is] being invested" in new technologies that could "significantly complicate the control of chemical and biological weapons."

Arms-control advocates also worry that defending against such weapons - especially those in underground bunkers - may increase the pressure to develop small,tactical nuclear weapons.

At this point, although official discussions have escalated, there is no rush to resume a nuclear arms race that had abated in recent years.

"Candidly, I cannot detect any plausible nuclear warfighting scenarios in the 'axis of evil' context," says John Pike, director of, an analysis organization in Alexandria, Va., (referring to Bush's characterization of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea). "I am guessing that much of this is a discussion about [China]."

As is often the case with what could be a politically wrenching change in military strategy and doctrine, those in uniform tend to be more cautious than their civilian bosses. "In my experience, there is little to zero interest among military leaders in actually using nuclear weapons," says Larry Seaquist, a retired Navy warship captain and Pentagon strategist. "They recognize that nuclear employment, by breaking the half-century taboo since the two weapons used [on Japan] in 1945, would take us into a whole new world."

"They also recognize that the calculus of nuclear weapon use is totally different in these rogue-nation situations like Iraq than it was in the cold war," says Captain Seaquist. In other words, the old balance-of-terror nuclear regime of "mutual assured destruction" that kept the United States and the former Soviet Union from blowing each other up doesn't necessarily work with rogue states such as Iraq or with stateless terrorist organizations such as Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda.

First Native American Astronaut In Space
By Philip Chien
Indian Country Today

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER November 25, 2002 (ICT) - With an earth-rumbling roar, the space shuttle Endeavour took off at 7:50 pm (EST), Nov. 23, carrying astronaut John Herrington, the first enrolled American Indian to fly in space. 

Eight and a half minutes after launch the main engines shut off and Herrington became weightless.

The shuttle SST 113 carried a seven-man crew toward a rendezvous with the International Space Station.

When Herrington was assigned to the mission last year it was scheduled for September 2002.

But somehow it seems appropriate that the mission’s delays caused it to coincide with Native American month.

Herrington is the mission’s flight engineer. In that role he sits on the flight deck behind commander Jim Wetherbee and pilot Paul Lockhart, assisting them during the shuttle's ascent. Herrington monitored the timeline and called out critical readings while the pilots monitored the shuttle’s critical systems. Also on the shuttle’s flight deck was Mike Lopez-Alegria. Sitting ‘downstairs’ on the shuttle’s mid-deck was the most important ‘cargo’ for the mission, astronauts Ken Bowersox and Don Pettit and cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin.

That trio forms the "Expedition 6" crew, which Herrington's crew is flying to the International Space Station Alpha.

The nighttime launch lit up the Central Florida skies, literally turning night into day for a couple of seconds. Because of the twelve-day delay, most of the VIPs who were in Florida for the first launch attempt couldn’t stay or come back for the actual launch, although many of Herrington’s family members were present.

NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe said, "On the original announced launch effort there was a tremendous contingent here from the Chickasaw nation as well as so many other Native Americans. I met the governor and lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw nation and they were just the most excited and delighted by the whole opportunity to see a member of their nation."

O’Keefe praised the "continuing support of native Americans in pursuing this set of opportunities and realizing it’s well within reach by the quiet pursuit John demonstrates every day." The Chickasaw leaders "really accented [this] to me several times when I talked to them," he said.

About Herrington, O'Keefe said, "We are very, very proud of John. He’s a remarkable guy. It’s really remarkable to get a guy of his background and capability and certainly the excitement he has generated in his very quiet way - just by his competence and his extraordinary diligence in what he does and how well his does it. The motivation in the Native American community I think is really quite impressive."

O’Keefe added, "A member of my staff, Retha Whewell, a Mohawk, was here and is very excited by the historic demonstration of the native American community in seeing John Herrington’s flight."

After the shuttle reached orbit, Capcom Duane Carey told the crew, "You're off to a great start; you really rocked the house with that ascent." The crew spent a couple of hours changing their rocket ship into a spaceship, folding and storing seats, putting away their bright orange launch and entry suits, and reconfiguring the shuttle’s systems. About half of all space travelers feel slightly nauseous when they first arrive in space, but it generally goes away after a couple of days.

For his first meal in space Herrington selected smoked turkey, turkey

Tetrazzini, broccoli au gratin, tortillas, a cherry blueberry cobbler and grape drink. Most of the food is freeze-dried, the same food available in camping stores. The smoked turkey is in a sealed foil pouch.

Then came what has to be the most challenging part of the mission - going to bed. Nov. 24 is certainly one of the most exciting days of Herrington’s life - but he had to go to sleep just six hours after launch. By this point Herrington already has more time in space than John Glenn’s 1962 Mercury space flight. The early bedtime is needed to keep the crew on the proper timetable for the mission’s activities. They have to be awake for the launch, landing, docking and undocking.

Nigerian Governor Calls for Death of Writer
Associated Press Writer 

LAGOS, Nigeria November 26, 2002 (AP) — The deputy governor of a largely Islamic state in northern Nigeria has called on Muslims to kill the Nigerian woman who wrote a newspaper article about the Miss World beauty pageant that sparked deadly religious riots. 

"Just like the blasphemous Indian writer Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed," Zamfara Deputy Governor Mahamoud Shinkafi told a gathering of Muslim groups in the state capital, Gusau, on Monday. 

Rushdie, an Indian-born Briton, went into hiding after Iran's late revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa — or religious edict — against him for allegedly insulting Islam in his best-selling novel, "The Satanic Verses."
In 1998, the Iranian government declared it would not support the fatwa, but said it could not rescind the edict since, under Islamic law, that could be done only by the person who issued it. Khomeini died in 1989. 

While state officials in Nigeria cannot issue fatwas, the deputy governor, "like all Muslims," considers the death sentence against Daniel as "a reality based on the teachings of the Quran," Zamfara state Information Commissioner Tukur Umar Dangaladima said Tuesday. 

Islam's holy book "states that whoever accuses or insults any prophet of Allah ... should be killed," Dangaladima told The Associated Press. "If she (Daniel) is Muslim, she has no option except to die. But if she is a non-Muslim, the only way out for her is to convert to Islam." 

Daniel, a Lagos-based fashion writer with ThisDay, reportedly went into hiding after being interrogated by police last week in connection with the article, which suggested Islam's founding prophet Muhammed would have approved of Miss World and might have wanted to marry one of the contestants. Her religion is unknown. 

The newspaper has issued repeated apologies for the article, saying the offending portions were published by mistake after earlier being deleted by a supervising editor. 

President Olusegun Obasanjo did not immediately respond to the deputy governor's call. But an Information Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obasanjo's government would not permit any Islamic group or individual to carry out the death order. 

Obasanjo's 3-year-old administration has repeatedly stated it will overrule inhumane punishments imposed by Islamic courts, such as recent death-by-stoning sentences against women convicted of having sex outside of wedlock. But the federal government has so far refused to intervene directly in the Shariah legal system, in effect in some of the country's predominantly Muslim northern states. 

ThisDay officials were not immediately available for comment Tuesday. But one of the paper's columnists, Amanze Obi, suggested Daniel "may have been a victim of excitement." 

"I imagine that she may have written that line without knowing it," Obi wrote in Tuesday's edition. "The line was innocuous." 

Dangaladima said other ThisDay employees had been spared from the fatwa, which "applies only to the offending pen." 

Zamfara was the first of 12 states to adopt Islamic law, or Shariah, after Nigerian military rule gave way to elected government in 1999. Religious clashes since then have killed thousands across the country. 

The latest rioting began last Wednesday when Muslims burned down a ThisDay office in the northern city of Kaduna. More than 200 people were killed in the city and rioting also briefly spread to the capital, Abuja. 

The violence caused Miss World organizers to abandon plans to hold the pageant in Nigeria and evacuate more than 80 participants to London, where the show will go ahead Dec. 7.
Pirates Threaten Titanic Salvagers
The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK November 26, 2002 (Virginian-Pilot) - Rumors of a feeding frenzy among salvagers rushing to the Titanic shipwreck dominated a federal court hearing Monday. 

Divers from England and Russia may be planning rival salvage expeditions to the world's most famous shipwreck, according to testimony. So far, though, that is merely unconfirmed rumor. 

In response, two judges reminded the president of R.M.S. Titanic Inc. that his company must protect the shipwreck from potential pirates until the court tells it otherwise. 

R.M.S. Titanic, which has been salvaging the shipwreck since 1987, was awarded sole salvage rights in 1994 by federal judges in Norfolk. The court has supervised all salvage since then. The company recently announced plans to give up those rights. 

"This court has not released (R.M.S. Titanic) of its responsibility as sole salvor in possession," U.S. District Judge J. Calvitt Clarke Jr. told company officials Monday. 

"We do understand the court's concern," company attorney Mark S. Davis of Portsmouth replied. "We have the same concern." 

Davis said the company will investigate rumors of other companies trying to salvage artifacts from the wreck site. But he said R.M.S. Titanic is skeptical that anyone is now at the historic shipwreck, as was rumored recently on an Internet site. 

The Titanic sits on the Atlantic Ocean floor, 2 1/2 miles under the surface, about 400 miles from the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Because of rough seas and occasional icebergs, the wreck is considered unreachable except in June, July and August. R.M.S. Titanic has spent more than $10 million raising about 6,000 artifacts from the Titanic during six expeditions. Those artifacts -- possessions of passengers and crew, as well as parts of the ship itself -- are thought to be worth many millions of dollars. 

The company makes money showing the artifacts in public exhibitions around the world, including one now at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. The company cannot sell the artifacts except as a single collection with the court's permission. Two new exhibitions in Paris and London in 2003 were announced Monday. 

Last month, a Titanic enthusiast in England posted rumors on an Internet site that a salvage expedition left Hull, England, on Oct. 2. Few other details were given. Also, two letter-writers warned Norfolk's federal judges last week that other divers may be ready to salvage the wreck without the court's permission. One letter was anonymous; one was written by a lawyer representing an R.M.S. Titanic stockholder. 

Based on those letters and the Internet post, two judges in Norfolk's federal court -- Clarke and Rebecca Beach Smith -- questioned company president Arnie Geller on Monday about his knowledge of and connections to the rumored expeditions. 

One company rumored to be hunting the Titanic is led by two men who were high-level leaders in Geller's company until earlier this year. If R.M.S. Titanic gives up its salvage rights, any other company could salvage the wreck without repercussion and without court restrictions on selling the artifacts. Smith said R.M.S. Titanic must investigate rumors of unauthorized salvage and report them to the court. If not, "that could be a problem," Smith said. 

Davis replied: "It is a source of some irritation to the company, too." 

Geller testified that he knew nothing about other plans and had no connection with planned dives. He said he has heard rumors of a Florida man raising money for a Titanic expedition, and of Russians planning an expedition, but he could not confirm either. 

Meanwhile, the company announced Monday that it will hold a shareholders' meeting Feb. 5 to decide whether to give up its salvage rights. The vote is required by law in Florida, where R.M.S. Titanic is incorporated. The company announced earlier this month that a majority of its stockholders approve of that move, but there was no formal vote. 

The company faces another court hearing in Norfolk on Dec. 6. A dissident stockholder wants to block R.M.S. Titanic from giving up its salvage rights. Smith will hear that case, too.
Nazca Revealed!
Peru November 25, 2002 (Reuters) - It's a question that has puzzled Peruvians for centuries:

Why did ancient civilizations bother to etch elaborate shapes into the desert south of Lima some 2,000 years ago, especially when most can be seen only by air? 

But two archaeologists who have pored over the patterns for the past five years say they may have unraveled the riddle. And fittingly, the puzzle contains a paradox:

According to one of the archaeologists, Johny Isla, the famous Nazca lines (often spelled Nasca) and less well-known Palpa lines nearby, were all about water in one of the world's driest deserts. 

"The main meaning is oriented to water. Water is life, fertility," Isla said, overlooking a double spiral etched into the grey-brown Palpa plain.

He said it was often dubbed the sun dial but was in fact a sign linked with water. 

Scientists and aficionados over the years have come up with plenty of theories to explain away one of Peru's top tourist attractions. One of the wackiest had the lines as landing strips for alien astronauts and their spaceships, while other experts thought they were sacred paths, the outlines of an agrarian calendar or linked to a fertility and mountain cult.

Isla, who has been studying and excavating around Palpa with his German colleague Markus Reindel since 1997, noted that the giant "geoglyphs" - including birds, figures, trapezoids and spirals - lie on a plain cut by three rivers, something that would have made it a very fertile "privileged site." 

He said it appeared that people living on the Palpa plains chose where to settle based on where their water sources were, since the rivers would not have been full all year round. 

Some trapezoids seem to point east or northeast, towards the source of the rivers, and two in particular point to a confluence of water that could be another clue, he said. 

Furthermore, his team's excavations of mounds covered over at the end of some of the trapezoids, and of tombs, turned up offerings such as fragments of orange spondylus shells that can be found in Ecuador during the El Nino weather phenomenon and which have been considered symbols of water and fertility in the Andes for thousands of years. 

Other finds included crab claws - further evidence of the existence of a water cult. 

"We know (water) was the principal function...The theory of extra-terrestrials is something we didn't even take into consideration. It makes no sense," Isla said. 


The studies by Isla and Reindel, which have been funded by the Swiss-Lichtenstein Foundation for Archeological Investigation Abroad, have also filled in other important information for those trying to read between the lines - such as the key question of who made them. 

Until now, scientists had assumed the lines were made under the Nazca civilization, which ran from 200 BC to AD 650.

"Who did this is something that has never been known. It has always been said that they (the Palpa lines) belonged to the Nazca (period) because a lot of figures are reproduced (in the Nazca lines)," Isla said. 

But his study's excavations, dated using a system of relative chronology that he said had a margin of error of 100 years, showed the area was inhabited much earlier.

The excavations were the first conducted of Palpa or Nazca lines. 

"The first geoglyphs were in this region (Palpa), at least the ones we know about today," Isla said. "They started here and spread to Nazca," he added, though he noted that not all the Nazca lines were younger than the Palpa ones. 

Accordingly, the first Palpa lines dated from around 200 BC, the end of the Paracas culture - a civilization famous for its textiles, which flourished from 800 BC to 200 BC. Although the earliest Palpa lines were formed in a slightly different way than the Nazca lines, and were thicker, Isla said some of the lines that crisscross the desert are connected over 15 km of plain. 

That helped debunk a theory that the Nazca people lived independently in valleys in simple societies. 

"We totally disagree...There's too much coincidence," Isla said, adding he believed the societies, whose famous desert lines often reproduced symbols that decorated their fine ceramics, were complex and highly hierarchical. 

The study also identified and excavated what Isla said were key religious and administrative sites from the early- and mid-Nazca period - called Los Molinos and La Muna, respectively - although tomb-robbers had long ago plundered them. 

Rituals and irradiation 

The lines - which have survived for centuries largely intact - were also used for rituals and were remodeled, according to the findings of the excavations. 

Isla said broken ceramics and musical instruments found near the lines supported the theory that they were used in rituals. 

"They (the lines) weren't just made once and then left, but were used throughout time. Some were erased or remodeled or lines were superimposed...These were social spaces, used for ceremonies and working," Isla said. 

The so-called sun dial, for example, is crossed by a straight line and one symbol of a bird appears to have been partially obliterated by a giant trapezoid.

Some destruction is more recent - the result of peasants trailing their animals across them or more willful destruction. Next to the sun dial Isla showed where locals had cleared an area, destroying part of a geoglyph, to make a soccer field, until they were stopped. 

The Nazca lines are a UN world heritage site - although poor policing has failed to crack down on vandals who have defaced them - but the Palpa lines have no protection, something Isla said his team was lobbying to change. 

Despite the new answers, Isla said more questions remained. Scientists were planning to use a revolutionary irradiation technique to pinpoint the age of the lines by measuring when the stones they contained were last exposed to daylight. 

Because the lines were made by pushing surface shale on top of other stones, irradiating those that were hidden could prove a more accurate dating method, he said. 

As for another of the key questions - why bother to build elaborate constructions that are best appreciated from the air, when air travel was unknown to the ancient peoples - Isla noted that the principal Nazca god was often shown in flight or related to divinities like the condor. 

"I imagine they didn't need to see (the lines) - they were offerings to the god. It was all for him," he said. 

His team has paused its studies to write up the findings so far, and Isla said he was delighted to have discovered far more than he had imagined possible. 

But he added: "We definitely don't think everything has been solved yet. If so, all the fun would be over."

The Face of K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo'
Tegucigalpa Honduras November 25, 2002 (EFE via COMTEX) - A group of scientists will attempt to reconstruct the facial features of the founder and first ruler of the great Mayan city of Copan, in western Honduras. 

Forensic archaeologists and anthropologists plan to use X-rays and other tools to reconstruct the facial features of K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' (Quetzal Guacamayo), whose remains were discovered in 1992, Honduran archaeologist Ricardo Agurcia said. 

Agurcia, president of the privately-owned Copan Association, and a lead project researcher, did not reveal additional details about the project to the La Prensa newspaper. 

The remains of K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' were discovered in the acropolis of the Ruins of Copan Park, some 408 kilometers (254 miles) west of Tegucigalpa, and were surrounded by many offerings and ornaments, including two pectorals. Nearby, researchers discovered the remains of a woman believed to have been the ruler's wife, whose tomb was looted in 1998. 

Originally from Mexico, K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' founded the Copan dynasty and is believed to have ruled between 426 and 435 A.D. 

Copan had 16 rulers - the last one Yax Pasah (Madrugada or Dawn) - beginning in A.D. 763 - and how and why the city disappeared remains a mystery. 

The Copan ruins in the west and the Bay Islands in the Caribbean are Honduras' main tourist attractions. 

Researchers also uncovered stelae, or carved upright stone slabs, pyramids, altars, squares and hieroglyphic stairs containing the most extensive collection of pre-Columbian writing in the Americas. 

The Rosalila Temple and a tomb believed to be that of another Mayan ruler have also been discovered in the past few years. 

The Ruins of Copan Park were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Buried Clues Link Ancient Cultures

Mexico City November 19, 2002 (NY Times) - In excavations at the Pyramid of the Moon near Mexico City, archaeologists think they have found an answer to a perplexing question about two of the Western Hemisphere's greatest ancient cultures: what links, if any, existed between the people of Teotihuacan, in central Mexico, and the Maya civilization mainly in southern Mexico and Guatemala?

An international team of archaeologists reported last week the discovery of buried jade objects and three skeletons in a tomb in the pyramid ruins of Teotihuacan. The team said this revealed for the first time a Maya influence at Teotihuacan, suggesting some close interaction between the ruling elites of the two cultures 1,700 years ago.

The jade apparently came from Guatemala, in Maya country, and was carved in Maya style. A jade statuette bears the image of a man with fairly realistic features and big eyes. The skeletons were found in cross-legged, seated positions, a practice more familiar at Maya sites than in Teotihuacan.

Dr. Saburo Sugiyama, an archaeologist at Aichi Prefectural University in Japan and the co-director of the excavations, said the jade objects were intriguing because they were like those that were often used as symbols of rulers or royal family members in Maya societies. 

"We have to study the objects and bones further, but the offerings strongly suggest a direct relation between the Teotihuacan ruling group and the Maya royal families," Dr. Sugiyama said.

The discovery was announced by Arizona State University in Tempe, where Dr. Sugiyama also holds a position as research professor. The other leader of the project is Dr. Ruben Cabrera of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City. Excavations at the pyramid are to resume next summer.

Considered the first great city of the Western Hemisphere, Teotihuacan was built to a master-planned grid pattern with broad avenues and imposing pyramids. It was the center of a distinct culture, which at its peak was contemporary with the early stages of Maya cities far to the south. The two seemed very different cultures, with only occasional traces of interaction, notably by noble Teotihuacan visitors at a number of Maya cities.

The three skeletons were of men who were about 50 years old. They were buried amid lavish goods in a tomb at the top of the fifth of the pyramid's seven layered stages. 

The skeletons did not have their hands tied, as they do in many such burials, but the archaeologists said this did not necessarily rule out death of the men as sacrifices. The burial site has been dated at about A.D. 350, near the zenith of Teotihuacan's power.

Dr. George Cowgill, another archaeologist at Arizona State, who recently visited the site, said these were "the richest undisturbed burials yet found in Teotihuacan," including new evidence of Maya contacts there and "what looks like elite gift-giving at the highest levels of Teotihuacan society."
Ancient Dogs!
The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS November 21, 2002 (KRT) - Forget about your prize-winning dog's pedigree: Scientists have found that all pooches, from Maltese to mastiffs to mutts, trace their ancestry to a group of wolves that once lived in East Asia.

Three new studies, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, may put to bed some evolutionary questions that have long dogged researchers.

The discoveries include where and when dogs were first domesticated; how they spread into the New World; and why they so successfully bonded with humans in the first place.

About 15,000 years ago in East Asia, one study says, some wandering wolves hooked up with humans and became the first domesticated dogs.

Dogs soon spread across the globe, accompanying their new masters into the Americas, the second paper concludes.

Making all this possible, says the third study, was dogs' uncanny ability to pick up on human social cues and forge a tail-thumping bond between the two species.

Together, the new studies may help explain how man's best friend earned that title.

"It also tells us something about ourselves," said Jennifer Leonard of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., lead author of one of the studies. "It tells us that our ancestors from the Stone Age had already domesticated dogs … People were living as hunter-gatherers, with no metal tools … and yet they bothered to maintain domestic dogs."

Earlier studies have shown that ordinary dogs, Canis familiaris, are the domesticated descendants of wild wolves, Canis lupus. (Modern dog breeds arose within the past 500 years, as people bred dogs for certain features.) But scientists hadn't known how, or when, a big bad wolf turned into the first Benji.

By looking at fossils, "you can't go back more than 12,000 or 13,000 years and get unqualified evidence of dogs," said Darcy Morey, an archaeologist at the University of Kansas.

Dogs were the first animal species to be domesticated, he said. The oldest reported dog fossil, contested by some scientists, is a 14,000-year-old jawbone from Germany. In Israel, archaeologists have found 12,000-year-old canine bones buried with humans, possibly in some kind of ritual.

Because the oldest dog bones are from Europe and the Middle East, some scientists have argued that Fido must have first fetched there. But DNA tells a different story, the new Science papers say.

Dogs in East Asia have the greatest amount of genetic variation, said Peter Savolainen of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, lead author of one of the studies. That discovery suggests East Asia is the place where dogs first arose and had enough time to diversify into many types - just as Africa, where humans are most genetically diverse, is the place they arose.

Savolainen started his work by visiting dog shows and gathering hair from different breeds. Eventually, his team compiled DNA from more than 650 dogs worldwide, then compared it with wolf DNA.

The dogs fell into five or possibly six major genetic groups, each of which traces back to a single wolf matriarch.

Archaeologists can now hunt in Asia for ancient dog bones, Savolainen said.

"This is by far the best data anyone has ever had for any region," he said.
"You can't ever say you are 100 percent sure, but I am pretty sure about this."

He staked less confidence in the 15,000-year estimate, chosen because it fit both the genetic and the archaeological record.

But that time frame isn't unrealistic, other scientists said. "I don't have problems with 15,000 years being the original time," said Morey, an expert in dog archaeology. "And Asia can certainly be one of the places."

Another team of geneticists, led by Leonard, studied the origin of New World dogs. Scientists have debated whether American dogs came from domesticated American wolves or from Asian dogs.

The researchers studied dog bones from Latin America and Alaska that pre-dated the arrival of Europeans. Through more DNA analysis, the team found that native American dogs traced their ancestry to Old World wolves. None of the native dogs are around today; European explorers apparently bred their dogs until the native pooches perished.

The first humans who entered America, over a land bridge from Asia, may have brought some of the world's earliest dogs with them, Leonard said.

"People brought dogs with them when they colonized America, and those dogs were very important to those people for some reason," she said. Dogs may have served many roles, as load haulers, hunting aides, companions, religious symbols, or food, she said.

Other researchers think the new studies are barking up the wrong tree.

"Their model isn't the only possible one," said Nerissa Russell, an archaeologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

For instance, dogs may not have immediately accompanied their masters into the New World, she said. The oldest dog fossils in the Americas are 9,000-year-old bones from Utah - which is several thousand years after humans arrived. "We've got a ways to go yet before we have anything like a final answer," she said.

The third new paper, a novel look at dogs' interaction with humans, is also raising a few hackles.

In it, Brian Hare, a graduate student at Harvard University, and colleagues describe experiments into dog cognition.

The team tested animals on how well they could choose between two containers, one empty and one containing food. The animals included chimpanzees, dogs, puppies and wolves.

In some cases, humans gave clues by pointing at, gazing at, or tapping the container with the food. Of the animals, only dogs picked up on the clue and used it successfully to choose the food. Puppies followed the same cue, suggesting that dogs hadn't learned to pay attention but were born with some innate awareness of human communication.

Wolves didn't get the hint, and neither did the chimpanzees. "What's surprising is that primates don't do this, and they're our closest relatives," Hare said.

Domestication may have naturally selected for dogs that could better understand human communication, he suggested.

The team next wants to test the idea on a famous group of Siberian silver foxes, which were bred into domestication without having been chosen for any particular cognitive abilities.

Raymond Coppinger, an animal behavior specialist at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., said that Hare's work was intriguing but not definitive. He said the experiments need to be repeated so that the wolves and chimpanzees are raised in the same way as the dogs and puppies.

Human understanding of dogs' origins, Coppinger said, has been influenced by the veneration of pets. "The whole idea that dogs descended from wolves, that's part of the whole mythology of dogs," he said. "You look at your Chihuahua and say, in there is the brain of a wolf."

Genre News: Angel, Firefly, Farscape, Buffy, Charmed, Star Trek XI, Jerry Lewis and The Roswell Report!
Angel Wings To Birds' Spot 

Hollywood November 26, 2002 (eXoNews) - Joss Whedon's "Angel" will move to Wednesdays at 9 PM to replace "Birds of Prey." 

Birds began well but lost half of its initial audience after several episodes. In a post-pilot omen, actress Sherilyn Fenn dropped out as the Birds arch-villain before the premiere episode aired. Actress Mia Sara replaced Fenn, but the show lacked chemistry. WB Entertainment president Jordan Levin blamed the cancellation on the show's poor execution.

"We believe 'Birds' proved that there was a fantasy audience and a male audience there," Levin told Variety. "Over the course of 'Birds" run that audience eroded, but those audiences came at first. 'Birds' was not moving in the right way creatively and it didn't have the auspices (to continue)." 

A limited reality series, "High School Reunion", about a group of young adults celebrating their 10th high school reunion, will take over Angel's Sunday time slot and repeat Thursdays. "Black Sash", an action show, is a potential candidate for Sundays at 9 when "High School Reunion" completes a six-episode run.

The Gotham Clock Tower Web site also reported that the WB will air a two-hour finale to wrap up Birds of Prey.

City of Angel Fansite -

Gotham Clock Tower Fansite - 

Firefly On Hiatus!

Hollywood November 28, 2002 (eXoNews) - confirms that the Fox Network is putting Joss Whedon's space western Firefly on hiatus for now.

According to Zap2it, Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman still has hopes for the show and Fox plans to "promote Firefly heavily and wait to see if there is any ratings growth when the network airs the original two-hour pilot in December."

"What we know is happening with the show is the great creative growth that it's experiencing. That's why we ordered additional episodes," Berman told Zap2it. "We think that Joss is finding his creative voice with this show and we need to see how that's going to work for us in December." 

"Because we had already ordered additional episodes, we are going to have several episodes available when it's out of production. So we'll have a running start if we want to put it back in production," Berman added.

Fox will move "Fastlane" from Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET slot to Friday at 8 p.m. in January.

Firefly fan response to the threat of cancellation may have played an important role in keeping the show alive.

The Firefly: Immediate Assistance site reports that their efforts to support Firefly and bring in new viewers have raised $4500. Fox recently purchased additional episodes of Firefly despite poor ratings in the show's Friday 8 PM timeslot.

The fan effort will run a full page ad in Variety on December 9th and has negotiated 30 comp copies, which will be sent to Firefly's biggest advertisers, as well as Fox Network honchos Sandy Grushow and Berman.

Gift bags with Firefly Immediate Assistance T-shirts and letters explaining the campaign were sent to the execs at Fox.

Firefly: Immediate Assistance - 

Firefly Official Site -

Vote for Firefly at - 

Firefly Fan Site - 

Save Farscape Fans Run TV Ad 

New York November 26, 2002 (Cinescape) - WIRED NEWS sticks with the Save FARSCAPE campaign, noting that the doughty band has successfully moved their quixotic quest to the next level, producing and airing a television commercial intended to encourage fans to keep the pressure on the Sci Fi Channel to rescind the cancellation decision. 

The ad spot will run in 24 major cities around the country this week. The ad is described as paying homage to Apple's Switch campaign.

Farscape was recently cancelled by Sci Fi Channel, but fans responded immediately and began a campaign to save the show.

For more info, go to the Save Farscape site -

Academics Gather to Discuss 'Buffy'

LOS ANGELES November 25, 2002 ( - Professorial types don't typically come together to discuss a TV show. Then again, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" isn't a typical TV show.

About 160 people gathered last month at the University of East Anglia in England to attend "Blood, Text and Fears," what was billed as the first-ever academic conference devoted to "Buffy." Sixty of those people presented papers about the show, with titles like "Yeats's Entropic Gyre and Season Six of BtVS." 

The conference is part of a burgeoning field of "Buffy" studies. At least two collections of critical essays have been published. The editors of one of the books, David Lavery and Rhonda Wilcox, maintain a web site, , devoted to analysis of the show.

Dr. Carol O'Sullivan, an organizer of "Blood, Text and Fears," tells The New York Times that the show is a "tremendously rich text" to study.

"It's now built up as a body of work substantial enough, and well thought out enough, that it sort of lays itself open and invites interpretation," says O'Sullivan, associate director of the British Center for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia.

Americans presenting papers at the conference were encouraged not to reveal any plot points from the current season, which hasn't premiered yet in the United Kingdom. Screenings of the season's first three episodes quickly filled up.

Lavery and Wilcox say they're considering organizing a "Buffy" conference in North America for 2004.

Buffy's Official Site - 

Demon Cole Leaving Charmed

Hollywood November 25, 2002 (Sci Fi) - Julian McMahon, who has played Phoebe's husband, Cole, on The WB's Charmed, is leaving the series, TV Guide Online reported. "The 100th episode [airing Jan. 19, 2003,] is Julian's last episode," executive producer Brad Kern told the site. "It's time to free up Alyssa Milano's [Phoebe] character, and Julian has expressed interest in exploring other creative opportunities. I'll miss him terribly, personally and professionally."

"It is bittersweet to celebrate the fact that I'm dying!" McMahon told the site with a laugh. "But I need to push my boundaries a bit creatively, so I called up Brad and asked if I could get off the show. He's been wonderful in regard to everything with the exit and demise of my character."

Kern added that he expects the supernatural series will be renewed for a sixth season. Charmed airs Sundays on the WB at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Official Charmed Site -||156%2C00.html 

Berman Says Star Trek 11 Will Happen

Hollywood November 25, 2002 (eXoNews) - Star Trek producer Rick Berman told Cinescape that Nemesis is not the final voyage and that fans can be sure there will be a Star Trek 11. Star Trek 10 (AKA Star Trek: Nemesis) opens on December 13th.

"I can tell you right now we’ll be making another film," Berman said. He also speculated on what Trek characters might appear in the next installment.

"I don’t know if putting [DS9’s Captain] Sisko on the screen is viable," Berman told Cinescape. "But in the last film we put Robert Picardo who plays The Doctor into the film, which was, I think, met with a lot of cheers, and in this film we’ve got Kate Mulgrew doing a cameo. I think there are certain characters from other [shows that would work].

"Colm Meaney is a remarkable actor. Rene Auberjonois is a remarkable actor. Jeri Ryan, I can’t imagine people would not love to see her on the big screen. So there are possibilities of combining other actors. But then again, I’m not suggesting that we’re going to do that. It’s just a possibility. It’s even a possibility that we would include characters from ENTERPRISE even though they’re 200 years earlier. Anything’s possible with STAR TREK."

Read the rest of Rick Berman's comments at Cinescape - 

Star Trek -

Stepford Wives Return

Hollywood November 26, 2002 (eXoNews) - Hollywood Reporter says Joan Cusack will join Nicole Kidman in a Paramount Pictures remake of the 1975 thriller The Stepford Wives. This time Stepford will be played as a black comedy with Frank Oz directing. 

Kidman plays "a woman who moves into a neighborhood where a group of husbands have transformed their wives into robots designed to cater to them.

Cusack will play Bobbie Markowitz, a hostile, sarcastic, cranky woman who is out of shape and enjoys drinking but ends up being transformed into a robot."

The remake was re-written by Paul Rudnick (the original screenplay was by William Goldman) and based on Ira Levin's bestselling novel. Shooting begins in June 2003.

Jerry Loves That Kid!

WASHINGTON November 26, 2002 (AP) - Jerry Lewis is giving Sean Hayes' performance in "Martin and Lewis," the TV movie about his ill-fated partnership with singer Dean Martin, a rave review.

"Sean Hayes is as good as anyone I've ever seen in my life," the 76-year-old comedian told AP Radio in a recent interview. 

Lewis and Martin achieved success in the 1940s and '50s in nightclubs and films. Hayes ("Will & Grace") starred as the manic Lewis in the two-hour CBS movie that aired Sunday night. 

"I'm sitting there hearing him pick up my rhythm. And my beats, which are all mine, and a lot of people would love to have them, but it's tough, you either have them or you don't," said Lewis, who previewed the film. 

"And he's right on the money every time. And I'm hysterical laughing at this kid!"

British actor Jeremy Northam played Martin. 

UFO (Uncalled For Opinion) Dept. - Sci Fi Does Roswell and We Get Taken
By FLAtRich

Hollywood November 27, 2002 (eXoNews) - For those who aren't plugged into the Sci Fi Channel, the cable mini-giant is in the midst of a massive promotion for Stephen Speilberg's Taken, a mini-series due December 2. If you do get Sci Fi, you've probably seen the trailers for Taken.

One has to wonder if Spielberg ever watched Chris Carter's X-Files. Even if Taken is (supposedly) based on real UFO incidents, CC pretty much covered every possible UFO variation in grand style over the nine years of his show.

I keep looking for Mulder and Scully in those Taken trailers. [Of course we all know that they are sequestered in a motel room in Roswell, waiting for the next X-Files feature film premiere.]

I'm confident that the father of E.T. and A.I. will give us something entertaining despite Sci Fi's appallingly bad track record with "original" productions.
Last year's remake of Frank Herbert's Dune into a mini-series, for example. [David Lynch's feature was far better.]

In the meantime, Sci Fi is playing UFOs for all they're worth, including X-Files reruns.

As a part of the hype for Taken, Sci Fi paid a bunch of archeologists and UFO-ologists to spend some time hanging around seventy-five miles outside of Roswell, New Mexico, and last weekend they presented the result as a two-hour special "documentary" called The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence.

Sports announcer turned daytime TV host, Bryant Gumbel narrated the entire show from an airplane hanger, standing in front of a mysterious single engine plane. No explanation was given for the airplane. Maybe it was Bryant's. I assume his footage wasn't shot in Roswell because we never see Bryant in the desert. Maybe Bryant keeps his Piper Cub in New Jersey or something.

Except for the Star Trek: Nemesis trailers shown during commercial breaks, Sci Fi's expose of the Roswell cover-up was not startling at all. The so-called "new" evidence had nothing to do with the archeologists and basically boiled down to a single photograph. You've probably seen the photo. It was published in newspapers in 1947 after the Roswell "incident", showing a general and pieces of a weather balloon.

Sci Fi's new evidence was a digital enhancement by David Rudiak of a memo held in the hand of the general in that old photo, Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey, who was presumably assigned by the Pentagon to spread the weather balloon story as part of the "cover-up".

David Rudiak is not an archeologist and only a section of the memo was visible in the original photograph.

Rudiak's narration of the enhancement technique revealed little and betrayed a sideshow. His digital product was not sharp and clear, but required reconstruction and leaps of faith. I wondered what the Lone Gunmen would say.

Here is the body of the memo with just the "Certain or higher confidence words/letters" from David Rudiak's enhancements:


In the only sentence in the memo that refers to a wreck or crash, one word looks like VI_I_S, so Rudiak assumed VICTIMS, as in VICTIMS OF THE WRECK (see above.)

"VICTIMS OF THE WRECK" proved that the crash was not a weather balloon, Sci Fi said.

Other possible words for VI_I_S were presented, but I noticed that Rudiak didn't list the word VISIONS. VISIONS OF THE WRECK instead of VICTIMS OF THE WRECK would throw Rudiak's whole revelation out the window.

Sci Fi failed to print the entire enhanced memo on the screen, but you can find it on Rudiak's website. The enhancement is Copyrighted by David Rudiak, BTW, even though the photograph would probably be declared public domain in a copyright court case.

Sci Fi and Rudiak claimed that not only the reconstructed words, but the enhancement itself was evidence of a continuing Roswell cover-up because Washington failed to produce the same digitized result in an official investigative review of Roswell back in the early nineties. Rudiak never said what software he used to produce his results, but have you ever tried to enhance a photograph?

The tools you have on your PC today were not around in the early 90s. Even the Pentagon had to wait for Adobe Photoshop.

So much for what Sci Fi referred to as the "smoking gun" at Roswell.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we still have our crack team of archeologists wandering around in the desert (and Bryant Gumbel is still in the Jersey Piper Cub hanger.)

Sci Fi's team tried to find the original crash site, the debris site, and the area where the object would have skidded along the ground after impact, but no one knew for sure where any of this happened, so the "documentary" showed people flying around in helicopters. [They should have asked Roswell fans for the location. We all know that the pods were at Vasquez Rocks in Southern California, where they used to film Star Trek: The Original Series.]

The archeologists dug up and sifted the suspect areas and put the dirt in 60 bags and locked them in a safe at Wells Fargo Bank in Roswell for later analysis. Bryant Gumbel referred to the bags as "debris" from the UFO crash, which was the most laughable line in the show because nobody analyzed the dirt.

Sci Fi interviewed some surviving witnesses, people who had been there at the time (but no eye witnesses to the crash) and one of them was an old Sgt. from the Roswell Air Force Base with two hearing aids who had a great story about being told not to reveal anything. I forget his name, but he was great and they could have done the whole two hours with just him.

One revelation (to me) about those weather balloons. The Army was flying the balloons to monitor Russian nuclear tests. They would send these balloons into the upper atmosphere carrying a tin-foiled cardboard box (purpose unexplained - but it may have had a radio transmitter or something) and monitor the balloons from the ground until they drifted out of contact.

I hate to admit this - because I want to believe - but the balloon story came off more likely than the UFO crash story. Balloons monitoring nuclear tests in the 40s could have landed anywhere, including Russia, and denying their existence would have fit the late 40s - 50s top secret paranoia. Balloons seem a reasonable non-extraterrestrial explanation for the military's desire to make the Roswell incident go away.

In short, I came away from two hours of Sci Fi's investigative targsh*t unimpressed and with only one question: when is Sci Fi going to start reruns of the series Roswell? [Sci Fi acquired Roswell reruns with X-Files last year in a deal with Fox.]

Sci Fi followed their Roswell report with a documentary featuring a bunch of people who claimed to be alien abductees.

They were nice folks, but their stories all featured different visitors and theories, so they neatly cancelled each other out and after about a half hour I switched to a BBC sitcom on PBS about a black chef (called Chef!).

The sitcom was very entertaining.

Chef! fan site - 

Sci Fi's Roswell site - 

Sci Fi's Roswell Report site - 

David Rudiak's Roswell site - 

Ultimate Roswell TV Series Fan Site - 

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