Solar Sailing,
Alien Circles,
Jurassic Chickens,
Buffy and Uma!
Solar Sail Test Update

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES July 21, 2001 (AP) — The test of a prototype spacecraft that sails on the sun's rays failed because it did not separate from the rocket used to launch it, officials said Saturday.

The Cosmos 1 was launched from a Russian nuclear submarine Thursday, but remained attached to the third stage of the rocket originally designed as an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The spacecraft and rocket likely burned up in the atmosphere upon re-entry or crashed on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, officials said.

Members of the Planetary Society's $4 million project had hoped the spacecraft would deploy its two Russian-built solar sails, each four stories tall, during the 31-minute test.

The sails are designed to be pushed along by the gentle, steady pressure of photons from the sun, just as a conventional sail uses wind.

Cameras aboard the spacecraft were to have recorded the lightweight Mylar blades as they unfurled from compact canisters about the size of a loaf of bread.

Members of the mission, which was underwritten by Internet and entertainment company Cosmos Studios and the A&E cable television network, must now decide whether to go ahead with a full-scale Cosmos 1 mission to send a pinwheel of eight blades into orbit.

Bruce Murray, the Planetary Society's president, said he is optimistic the launch would go forward.

The 31-minute suborbital test had been delayed earlier this year when the spacecraft was damaged during testing.

The test flight was made in preparation for the Cosmos 1 project's expected launch of a complete spacecraft this winter. Project leaders have not decided whether that launch would proceed even without data from Thursday's test, said John Garvey, a project engineer.

Cosmos 1 would send into Earth orbit a pinwheel of eight similarly sized blades that will harness for the first time the push of sunlight to propel it farther into space.

The spacecraft should be easily visible from Earth during the course of the mission, expected to last weeks or months.

Proponents envision the day when spacecraft will be able to cruise from planet to planet - and beyond.

"At least today, this is the only way we know of getting to the stars," Garvey said.

Light-driven spacecraft will be slow to accelerate, but with time should reach velocities that will make travel across great distances possible. The sails could theoretically attain speeds 10 times greater than NASA's Voyager I and II, which travel at 38,000 mph.

If Cosmos 1 is a success, Murray said, the next project may be a solar-sail mission to the moon.

The $4 million Cosmos 1 project is coordinated by The Planetary Society, a space exploration advocacy group founded by Friedman, Murray and the late astronomer Carl Sagan. The $4 million project is underwritten by Cosmos Studios, led by late astronomer Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, and the cable A&E Network.

The Planetary Society - 

Bush Blasts G8 Protesters

PARIS July 18, 2001 (AP) — President Bush says anti-globalization protesters are hurting the chances for poorer nations to develop economically.

Speaking to a group of foreign journalists before leaving for the Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, which begins Friday, Bush criticized the protesters for getting in the way of international development.

"The protesters in Italy have the right to express their opinion in a peaceful way,'' Bush said, the French newspaper Le Monde reported Wednesday. "But they hurt the case of the poor when they argue against trade, they hurt the opportunities for developing nations to grow.''

Officials have been on guard for massive protests that have disrupted other summits in Prague, Czech Republic; Goteborg, Sweden; and Seattle in recent years. Italy is expected to call out as many as 20,000 police officers to provide security during the summit.

Bush arrived in London Wednesday, the first stop of his six-day visit to Europe.

Bush said his strategy in Genoa will be to call on prosperous nations "to put policies in place to enhance prosperity: lower taxes, less regulation and free trade.''

The economic health of the world's wealthy nations is necessary to help developing countries, Bush said.

"If our economies don't grow, it's very difficult for African nations to grow,'' he said.

On defense matters, Bush said the United States is committed to expanding NATO and said the suggestion by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia might join the alliance is "interesting.''

IRS Sends Mistaken Refund Notices
AP Tax Writer

WASHINGTON July 17, 2001 (AP) — The IRS sent about 523,000 notices to taxpayers informing them they will get the maximum possible tax cut refund check — when in fact they won't.

Internal Revenue Service officials placed the blame Tuesday on a computer program that initially neglected to take into account certain tax credits in figuring the check amount for these taxpayers. The checks are correct, but some people could get a notice promising the maximum and a check for much less.

"What we're doing now is working to get a corrected notice out to the taxpayers,'' said IRS spokesman Don Roberts.

The IRS hopes to get the proper notices out to the affected taxpayers by next week, which is when the first batch of tax refund checks should begin arriving. The estimated 112 million notices — the vast majority of them correct — were mailed Monday.

The checks of up to $300 for a single taxpayer, $500 for a head of household and $600 for a married couple filing jointly reflect this year's payment for the new 10 percent income tax bracket created by the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut signed into law by President Bush.

That new bracket applies to the first portion of every taxpayer's income, but some taxpayers who had sufficient income still do not qualify for the maximum checks. That's because they claimed child, education or other credits on their 2000 income tax returns that reduced their tax below the check's maximum amount.

The IRS figures that only a few of those taxpayers scheduled to receive checks next week will get less than the amount promised in the notice. If that happens, Roberts suggested that they examine the notice's explanation of how the checks are calculated and compare that with the information their 2000 tax return.

The checks will continue to go out each week through late September to taxpayers based on the last two digits of their Social Security numbers, starting with 00. Most people affected by the mistake should get a corrected notice before their check arrives.
Provocative Poster Used To Support Holocaust Memorial

BERLIN July 19, 2001 (AP) - Berlin's mayor and the city's Jewish leader are endorsing a provocative fund-raising poster that features the slogan "The Holocaust never happened," saying it will draw attention and invite contributions to a memorial to Jewish victims of the Nazis.

"It would be fatal to have a poster that no one notices," Mayor Klaus Wowereit said Thursday as backers of the monument unveiled a 100-foot-by-50-foot poster on the wall of a bank next to the monument's site, close to Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate.

"It will be provocative for victims, who are particularly sensitive, especially older people," said Alexander Brenner, the head of Berlin's Jewish community - Germany's largest. "But all agree that the purpose justifies this wording."

The posters - 1,000 smaller versions are going up in cities across Germany - will be joined by television and newspaper ads and half a million free postcards, all showing an idyllic Alpine landscape behind the slogan "the Holocaust never happened."

"Many people still say that. In 20 years it could be even more," the poster adds in small print, urging viewers to help fight denial of the Holocaust - a crime in Germany - by making a donation toward the monument.

The citizens' initiative that has pushed for the memorial since the late 1980s hopes it will move citizens to make a personal, symbolic payment to fund a documentation center at the site.

But in the light of some Germans' resistance to the monument - disputes over the cost, design and prominent location have delayed construction for years - organizers are braced for a mixed response. The publicity effort follows a big rise last year in far-right crime.

"In principle, I don't think this poster can give rise to misunderstanding," said Wowereit who, unlike his long-serving predecessor Eberhard Diepgen, enthusiastically backs the memorial. "Everyone should tackle the issue."

But the city's Berliner Morgenpost newspaper called the campaign "questionable." In an editorial, it argued that "old Nazis and the skinheads who parrot their ideas will be laughing up their sleeves."

"You're shocked at first," said 64-year-old Leo Caspers, visiting the capital from the southern city of Augsburg. "But that's the right way to do it."

"They should have done it earlier," he added.

Hans-Joerg Freudenreich, a 30-year-old designer, also praised the poster, arguing that "if there's no irritation, there will be no reaction."

With firms and authorities sponsoring the campaign, a citizens' group aims to raise $2.2 million for a four-room documentation center for visitors to the monument, including a library and names of the 6 million Jews killed under Hitler's Nazi regime.

Lea Rosh, a member of the organizing group, hopes the new campaign will help get Germans outside the capital involved in the project.

The center is to lie beneath 2,700 large concrete slabs spread over a plot the size of two football fields, a design created by American architect Peter Eisenman to evoke the Nazis' orderly execution of the Final Solution. Federal and state funding has been guaranteed to meet the $22 million cost of the memorial itself.

Construction is to begin later this summer, and the memorial should be complete by Jan. 27, 2004, the 59th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

At the other end of Germany, the western town of Stolberg said Thursday it would unveil a memorial to the victims of Nazism in the shape of a barbed-wire swastika despite criticism from Germany's main Jewish leader.

"A swastika can't be a memorial," Paul Spiegel complained. But Stolberg mayor Hans-Josef Siebertz insisted that Friday's inauguration at the site of a World War II camp for slave laborers would go ahead.

The bronze monument will set "a sign against forgetting and suppressing the darkest chapter of German history," he argued.

Taiwan Halts Hitler TV Campaign
Associated Press

TAIPEI Taiwan July 17, 2001 (AP) - Responding to fierce criticism from Jewish groups, Taiwan's ruling party agreed Tuesday to withdraw television ads aimed at drumming up youth political involvement that included an image of Adolf Hitler.

The Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, said in a short statement it will stop airing the commercial as of Friday "out of respect for the holocaust victims" and "to avoid further misinterpretations."

The ad, designed to encourage young people to be bold and share their ideas with the party, shows scenes of Hitler along with other famous orators, including President Kennedy and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Aired for the first time on Thursday, the ad quickly came under fire from Taiwan's small Jewish community.

Menashe Zipori, director of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office, called the ad "a monstrosity" that was "offensive to humanity."

Zipori was not available for comment late Tuesday.

Faced with the outcry, the DPP tried at first to defend the spot. Party spokesman Cheng Yun-peng said last week the commercial was part of a campaign urging young people to speak their minds without being locked into conventional, rigid political language. Tuesday's statement said the ads would be withdrawn, but said the party had to give notice to television stations, so it will air two more days.

The commercial opens with a 10-second clip from a Nazi propaganda film, showing Hitler raising his arms in the air and putting his hands on his chest. The ad then cuts to Kennedy, Castro and former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui.

In New York, the Anti-Defamation League called the commercial "outrageous and shocking."

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, said it had protested to Taiwan's representative to Washington. This wasn't the first time Hitler was used in a Taiwanese ad. Two years ago, a company selling German-made electric heaters used a cartoon Hitler for ads in buses, store windows and subway stations. The firm pulled the ads after complaints.

Last year, a theme restaurant in Taipei called its restrooms "gas chambers" and featured photos of Holocaust victims. The eatery later removed the items.

Many Taiwanese lack a deep understanding of the Holocaust. They are much more familiar with the atrocities committed by Japan, which controlled Taiwan and parts of China during World War II. Some Taiwanese are surprised at seeing images of Communist leader Mao Tse-tung and wartime Japan's rising sun emblem made into pop symbols in the West.
Harrison Ford Rescues Lost Boy with Helicopter

JACKSON WY July 16, 2001 (AP and BBC) - Initially, 13-year-old Cody Clawson didn't recognize the pilot of the rescue helicopter picking him up after a night alone in a secluded forest in northwest Wyoming.

It was Harrison Ford, who volunteered his helicopter and services to help find Clawson.

"He said, 'Morning,'" Clawson recalled. Ford gave him a handshake and a hug later, he said.

The Huntsville, Utah, boy was rescued Tuesday in a remote area of Targhee National Forest, about 10 miles from a Boy Scout camp he was attending, after wandering off a trail the previous day.

"I just took a wrong turn, I guess, and followed the path and it ended," Clawson said in an interview on CBS' "The Early Show" on Thursday.

He spent the night alone under a rock outcropping.

"I looked for someplace to either build a shelter or find a small cave or something," Clawson said. "I couldn't really find anything to start with, so I had to build it, but it didn't work out so well."

Ford helped search in his helicopter and found the cold, tired and hungry boy in an open area.

"Boy, you sure must have earned a merit badge for this one," said the Indiana Jones star.

His mother, Peggy Clawson from Huntsville in Utah, said the other boys wanted to know if Cody had asked Ford for his autograph.

Her son had replied: "No, but I got a hug and a handshake, and that's better than an autograph."

Earlier Rescue

This is the second time in a year that Ford has guided his helicopter in a rescue operation.

Last July, he plucked a hiker off 3330-metre (11,000-foot) Table Mountain in Teton County.

Sarah George climbed up the mountain, but was prevented by altitude sickness and dehydration from climbing down. Ford picked her up and flew her to hospital.

Ford is a part-time resident of Jackson, which is about 40 miles south of Yellowstone.

Russian Crop Circles Show Aliens Return

New Crop Circles Show Aliens Return To Mother Russia

MOSCOW July 16, 2001 (Reuters) - Russian officials said on Friday that strange circles found in a remote southern field showed aliens had returned to collect Earth soil, four years after first dropping by, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The five concentric circles of wheat, flattened in a clockwise direction, were discovered in a field outside Maikop in the Krasnodar region. The ears of the wheat were undamaged.

Tass said similar circles had appeared four years ago.

"Officials of the region's Emergency Situations Department say this suggests the beings had come back for more soil samples," Tass said.

Britain witnessed a spate of so-called crop circles in the late 1990s, most of which were attributed to pranksters.

Crop Circles Mystify Russian Farmers - (Archive Story)

Moscow June 24, 2000 (BBC) - The overnight appearance of crop circles in a field in southern Russia has puzzled farmers, with witnesses saying aliens landed there.

Russian Public TV reported that a farmer from the village of Yuzhnoye, Stavropol Territory called in local officials "to record an act of vandalism" after finding that his field of ripe barley had seemingly been ruined.

Closer examination revealed four distinct circles - one 20 metres in diameter in the centre and three outer ones 5-7m in diameter each.  The barley had been smoothed down "as if by hand" in a clockwise direction.  Representatives of the Stavropol security council arrived on the scene and suppressed all reports of what happened.  They found no traces of radiation or chemicals, and human intervention was ruled out.

UFO Landing

Officials found eyewitnesses in a neighbouring village who said they had seen a UFO landing in the field. Vasily Belchenko, security council deputy secretary, was inclined to believe them.

"There is no doubt that it was not man-made, that somebody was playing a practical joke," he said. "An unknown object definitely landed there. It obviously used an unknown landing principle. Eyewitnesses say that the landing was very quick and the take-off was immediate," he added.  "It all happened in a few seconds."

Soil Samples

The TV suggested that the UFO had come to the field to take a sample of the soil.

A 20-cm-deep cylindrical hole with polished walls was found right in the centre of the large circle.

The farmers are still wondering why aliens needed their earth.

Democrats Fight Bush's Ban
Associated Press

WASHINGTON July 19, 2001 (AP) - Saying President Bush's policy will lead to "misery and death," Senate Democrats presented witnesses Thursday in an effort to overturn Bush's ban on U.S. aid for groups that advocate abortion rights abroad.

The Bush policy "is restricting family planning, not abortions," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a statement prepared for the hearing. Boxer has introduced legislation to overturn the policy.

Democrats have been critical of the policy since Bush issued it during his first week in office.

GOP leaders have accused foreign organizations of shifting money around to fund abortion efforts. The Bush policy prohibits $425 million in U.S. aid for global population assistance from going to groups that counsel women about abortion.

"Many foreign organizations are being forced to either limit their services or simply close their doors to women across the world," Boxer said.

"This will cause women and families increased misery and death."

Democrats said the measure, which they call a global gag rule, isn't needed since a 1973 law already prevents foreign organizations from using U.S.-provided money to finance abortions. They complain the bill violates free speech rights while causing scores of international family planning organizations to lose money needed for pap smears and HIV testing.

Boxer's bill to overturn the rule will face serious trouble in the Congress because it runs counter to efforts in the Republican-led House.

House Republicans have been vigorous about pursuing an anti-abortion agenda since Bush's election. Already, the House has passed a provision preserving Bush's policy on international aid.

Thursday, a House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to approve a bill that would ensure that a fetus breathing when it leaves a mother's womb, even during an abortion procedure, would be treated as a person under federal law.

Supporters said the bill is necessary because of several recent Supreme Court decisions that stated the government's interest in protecting the unborn child is related to "viability," or the point at which a child can survive independently of the mother.

The measure has already passed the Senate as an attachment to a patients' rights bill.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on foreign aid came one day after the Bush administration had to attest in a federal court in New York that a Peruvian abortion rights activist would not be penalized for criticizing the aid policy during a hearing.

The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy had asked for a court order barring the Bush administration from imposing restrictions. The judge said the order wasn't necessary because of the government's assurance.

The New York-based nonprofit still has a pending lawsuit that asks the court to declare the Bush policy unconstitutional because it violates free speech.
India Nationalists Insulted By Bush Cat

Associated Press

BOMBAY July 19, 2001 (AP) - Nationalists protested in front of the U.S. Consulate here Thursday, claiming the name of President Bush's cat - "India" - was an insult and should be removed from the White House Web site.

"Mr. President, don't make a mistake. Indians are lions not cats," read posters held up by some of the 30 activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"We feel that this is derogatory and the Web site should be corrected," said Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a state legislator and member of the party.

"We happened to see the Web site where the cat is introduced along with other Bush family members. That's when we realized that George Bush's cat is called 'India,'" said Lodha.

"No, we are not asking for renaming. We just want mention of the cat to be removed from the Web site," said Lodha.

He handed a protest letter to a consulate official, who said it would be forwarded to the White House.

The Web site contains a thumbnail sketch of Bush and introduces his wife, twin daughters and the family pets - two dogs and a cat.

Art News: Germany

Stolen Art Returned to German Museum

NEW YORK July 19, 2001 (AP) - A Rembrandt and two rare drawings by Albrecht Durer - one valued at $10 million - were returned Thursday to officials of the Bremen Museum in Germany, where the masterpieces had hung for a century before disappearing at the end of World War II.

The three works were among a dozen drawings worth a total of $15 million that were returned in a ceremony at the U.S. Customs Service.

The story behind the works reads like a film script - they were stashed in a castle in Nazi Germany, stolen by Soviet troops and handed over to the KGB. After that they made their way to the Baku Museum in Azerbaijan, from which they were stolen. Later, they were offered for sale by a Japanese former wrestler trying to raise $12 million for a kidney transplant.

Some of the works were recovered in 1997 from under a bed in a Brooklyn apartment.

The works were presented by U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany's ambassador to the United States, and to George Abegg, president of the Bremen Museum governing board.

The most valuable work in the group is Durer's 1496 ink drawing "Woman's Bathhouse."

All the works will be on display through Saturday at Sotheby's auction house.

Bauhaus Artist Exhibit Opens in Berlin

BERLIN July 19, 2001 (AP) — An exhibition of works by Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, a student of Germany's Bauhaus school who tutored Jewish children at a concentration camp, opened in the city where she began a career cut short by the Nazis.

Dominated by her abstract paintings and sketches, it includes a number of textile works the native Austrian completed in Berlin between 1923 and 1925.

Dicker-Brandeis moved to Berlin after studying at the Bauhaus art and design school in Weimar, Germany. With Franz Singer, her lover and business partner, she went on to create one of Germany's most esteemed design studios.

"I'm incredibly happy to see her art in Berlin. Here is where she had her start,'' said 91-year-old Hilde Angelini, who was a close friend of the Jewish artist killed at the Auschwitz death camp in 1944.

The 300-piece exhibition at the capital's Bauhaus Archive Museum, which runs through Oct. 15, is being sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

More than 12 years in preparation, the $1 million show is the first major tribute to Dicker-Brandeis. It already has been displayed in Austria, the Czech Republic and Paris, and is to open at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta in December.

Along with the artist's own works, it displays dozens of watercolors and crayon drawings that children imprisoned at the Theresienstadt camp in occupied Czechoslovakia completed under her tutelage.

Dicker-Brandeis was interned at Theresienstadt in 1942. She was deported to the Auschwitz camp in 1944 and was killed days after her arrival there.


On the Net:

Powder Sucks Moisture Out of Thunderstorm
Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH FL July 19, 2001 (AP) - In its latest test, a powder promoted as a potential way to weaken hurricanes sucked the moisture out of a thunderstorm Thursday.

An airplane dropped $40,000 worth of the Dyn-O-Gel granules into a cloud 10 miles offshore. A television station's weather radar confirmed the cloud then lost moisture.

"The people in the tower visually confirmed that there was a tall buildup and the next moment it was gone," said Kevin Sullivan, control tower supervisor at the Palm Beach International Airport.

The granules, made by a company called Dyn-O-Mat, fell into the ocean as a gel-like substance that dissolves in salt water.

Company chief executive Peter Cordani said he hopes to sell the product to the federal government after more tests. The product is dropped in a line from the outer portion of the hurricane to its eye. The company contends that by dropping moisture out of the swirling mass, the storm is weakened.

The company said a granule absorbs 2,000 times its weight in water.

Hugh Willoughby, hurricane research director at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Miami, was skeptical that the powder could reduce a hurricane's strength by more than a few mph in wind speed.

"It might be that this stuff would be great for making it rain," he said Wednesday.
Slayer News: Buffy Lives (and so does Spike, BTW)

Bogus Buffy Spoilers Planted

Hollywood July 19, 2001 (Sci-Fi Wire) - Don't believe everything you read on the Web about upcoming Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. Producers told SCI FI Wire that they've been planting bogus spoilers for a while now.

"That's the fun part," Buffy executive producer Marti Noxon said in an interview. "Because we got sort of savvy, ... and also we're trying to track down where the genuine leaks were, so there's stuff out there that's pure hokum."

Noxon said that portions of Buffy scripts that have appeared on the Ain't It Cool News Web site are pages sent to casting directors, which end up in the hands of actors auditioning for roles on the show. But other spoilers are fabricated--including one last year that James Marsters' character, Spike, would be killed off and that Marsters himself would be working on a feature film for Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan.

Still, Buffy creator Joss Whedon expressed exasperation at the genuine leaks.

"There's some accuracy there; luckily, not total accuracy, because that would be annoying," Whedon said in an interview. "But we have a lot of leaks. We've had horrible leaks on Angel, and I resent it, but there's nothing I can do about it at this point. It doesn't affect what we're going to do. ... And enough of them are wrong that there's a safety factor. ... I feel so strongly ... about the concept of surprise being so important. ... This desire for insider knowledge is so overwhelming with people, and I'm not sure why."

Buffy premieres on UPN on Oct. 9.

'Buffy' Nervous and Excited About Move

PASADENA CA July 17, 2001 (AP) — Sarah Michelle Gellar says she's "nervous'' and "excited'' about her series, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer,'' moving from the WB to UPN this fall.

"For five years we had a home. ... So the thought of making the move was scary,'' the 24-year-old actress said Monday. "But I think (UPN) has given us a new excitement about the show.''

Gellar and other cast members vowed to stay with "Buffy'' as long as it remains fresh and healthy. Co-star Alyson Hannigan, who plays Buffy's mystical friend Willow, joked, "When we're 80 we could still be slaying vampires.''

"Buffy'' will debut on UPN with a two-hour special Oct. 9. In November, the cast will perform a musical episode of the show.

UPN had aggressively pursued the series, which had been one of the WB's top-rated series, and reportedly has ordered 44 episodes for about $102 million. The fantasy drama spawned the spin-off series "Angel,'' which will remain on the WB.

Speaking to the Television Critics Association, Gellar and series creator Joss Whedon agreed the move was necessary because the WB was not willing to continue providing the budget it needed to remain strong.

"We have more money (at UPN) than we would have at the WB, where we'd have no money and would have to use hand puppets,'' Whedon joked. "UPN basically stepped in and said, `Make the show the way you've been making it.'''

Adam Ware, UPN's chief operating officer, said the struggling network hopes to use "Buffy'' to draw new viewers and sponsors. He credited "Buffy'' and "Roswell,'' another sci-fi teen drama that UPN bought after it was dropped by the WB, for attracting advertisers such as The Gap and Maybelline.

The cast acknowledged that resurrecting the show won't be easy, partly because Buffy died in the season finale after hurling herself into an abyss to trap an evil force.

Asked what changes she'd like to see in her character, Gellar replied: "Alive.''

Links Between 'Buffy' and 'Angel' To End

PASADENA CA July 16, 2001 (AP) — Don't expect "Angel'' and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' to remain cozy now that the TV series are on different networks.

"There will be no crossovers between `Angel' and `Buffy,''' said Jordan Levin, the WB network's entertainment president.

The WB lost "Buffy'' and star Sarah Michelle Gellar to UPN in a bidding war, but kept the spin-off "Angel,'' which stars David Boreanaz. The shows shared characters and stories when they were both on the WB.

Levin downplayed the idea that rancor was involved in the decision to avoid linking the pair of series. "Angel'' has to be firmly established in its own creative universe, he said.

Speaking to the Television Critics Association on Sunday, Levin and Jamie Kellner, who oversees the WB as chief executive officer of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., said they didn't regret losing "Buffy.''

Given the overall drop in advertising revenue for the upcoming TV season, "this was not a good year to overspend on programming,'' Kellner said.

UPN had aggressively pursued the series and reportedly ordered 44 episodes for about $102 million. The fantasy drama, which had been one of WB's top-rated series, will air on UPN beginning this fall.

Despite the general downturn, Kellner said the WB has more advertising revenue coming in at higher rates than last year.

Update on Buffy-Angel Crossovers

[This additional fan news surfaced after we published the previous story. Ed.]

Hollywood July 19, 2001 (Cinescape Insider) - While addressing the press at the TCA in Los Angeles, UPN prez, Dean Valentine addressed the Buffy star, saying, "From our point, I think she'll be happy to tell you the same thing, which is they've been great. We've had wonderful conversations. She's thrilled to be a part of UPN... We're thrilled to have her. I think it's a wonderful relationship so far."

One point that the WB definitely differs from regarding Buffy is the possibility of crossovers with Angel.

Valentine says, "We are totally okay with it. If it's something that Joss wants to do, we certainly have no problem with it. We think whatever is right for the show and for the audience, above all, which has come to look at these shows, in some way, as joined. We don't want the audience to feel cheated or that the competitiveness between the WB or UPN is standing in the way of their right to their show. It's clearly going to depend on the WB, not on us. We won't stand in the way of it."

Angel returns to the WB on Mondays this fall.

Arctic Refuge Drilling Endorsed By House
Associated Press

WASHINGTON July 18, 2001 (AP) - President Bush scored a victory in his campaign to get congressional approval for his energy plan as a House committee endorsed drilling for oil in an Arctic refuge. But critics say the triumph may be short-lived.

"This is just the opening shot," declared Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., after the House Resources Committee late Tuesday approved the first installment of a broad energy bill by 26-17 vote, including the Arctic drilling.

Another piece of the package, as well as a number of proposed energy tax breaks, were expected to move through different committees later Wednesday as the House presses to send energy legislation to the Senate before leaving for its summer recess in August.

The Senate has yet to vote on energy measures, but plans to consider a bill in September.

Tuesday's vote in the Resources Committee brought to a head the debate over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska where as much as 16 billion barrels oil is believed to be located. Environmentalists consider protection of the refuge their No. 1 priority and Senate leaders already have vowed to block drilling there.

The House bill calls for lifting a congressional ban on drilling in the refuge's 1.5 million acre coastal plain where the oil is located. Oil companies for years had coveted the refuge and Bush has argued the oil there can be developed while still protecting the environment.

While drilling in the refuge, known commonly as ANWR, attracted strong Republican - and some Democratic - support in the Resources Committee, opposition is expected to be much stronger on the House floor where many GOP moderates are likely to join Democrats in opposition.

"This is going to be a hard-fought battle," Miller said.

Bush welcomed the committee's action, calling it and conservation measures in a separate House bill "important steps toward implementing a comprehensive and balanced energy policy."

Democrats attacked the GOP legislation, crafted largely by Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, the Resources Committee chairman, as a threat to federally protected lands and a gift to the oil companies.

In addition to allowing oil development in the Arctic refuge, the bill exempts oil companies for two years from having to pay royalties to the government for oil obtained under new drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Democrats said that could amount to a $7.4 billion subsidy for some of the largest, most profitable oil companies.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., called it "a grab bag of goodies for big oil" and an "unprecedented assault on our resources."

Pro-drilling lawmakers called the oil beneath ANWR's coastal plain refuge essential to meeting U.S. needs and reducing America's reliance on foreign oil. And they said the royalty relief will spur exploration in the Gulf of Mexico - outside of Alaska the most promising area for oil finds.

"We are like ostriches sticking our heads in the sand," declared Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., alluding to the anti-drilling arguments. "We need to produce from places like ANWR."

In other energy-related action, House Democrats said they reluctantly will oppose a package of energy tax breaks, proposed by Bush and GOP lawmakers, when they come up for a vote Wednesday in the Ways and Means Committee.

The tax breaks, estimated to cost $35 billion to $40 billion over 10 years, include tax credits for hybrid-fuel cars and residential solar systems, as well as breaks for alternative fuels and domestic production of oil and gas.

Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce Committee was expected to finish work Wednesday on a separate energy bill aimed at boosting conservation.

Democrats said the measure doesn't go far enough to promote energy savings because it fails to rein in gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles.

Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., in opposing the ANWR measure, argued that an increase in the federal automobile fuel economy standard to a fleet average of 40 miles per gallon "dwarfs any energy production from the Arctic refuge."

Currently, new automobiles are required to meet a fleet average of 27.5 mpg and SUVs and minivans 20.7 mpg.

On the web:

The Legislation -

Pro-drilling site -

Victoria's Secret Ad Raises Hackles
PROVO, Utah July 13, 2001 (AP) — A Victoria's Secret advertisement has raised eyebrows in this conservative state and been brought to the attention of Utah's porn czar.

Paula Houston, who is believed to be the nation's only state-funded anti-porn ombudsman, said Thursday that it's appropriate for citizens to complain if they want posters of models in lingerie removed from a Victoria's Secret store in Provo.

The advertisements came under fire after Tina Rivera didn't like the interest her 6-year-old son showed in a poster at Victoria's Secret in the Provo Towne Centre mall. The poster showed a woman covering her breasts with her arms.

Rivera asked the company to take down the "lewd and sexual images.''

Victoria's Secret employees said the images were taken down this week because the sale they advertised was over. The company said it continues "to evaluate important input from clients.''
Milton Berle at 93

RADNOR PA July 15, 2001 (AP) — Milton Berle says today's comedians have much to learn.

"They think it's easy to go out and do a stand-up. They grab a mike and say, 'How are you doing out there?' They have no material,'' Berle says in the July 21 issue of TV Guide.

The pioneering TV comic turned 93 on Thursday. He said he smokes as many cigars as he can but has never touched a cigarette and doesn't drink.

"I had a taste of it once when I was in a nightclub, and I spit it out,'' he said.

Berle Bio at Internet Movie Database

Jurassic Chickens Are On The Way

July 19, 2001 (BBC) - The scientists in the film Jurassic Park reconstructed dinosaurs from DNA preserved in amber. That fiction is unlikely ever to become fact because DNA simply is not tough enough to survive in that way.

But reconstructing a dinosaur from genes passed down the evolutionary tree to modern birds might be viable before the end of the century, according to scientists in the United States.

"On the timescale of 50-100 years... you might conceivably be able to alter the DNA of a chicken, say, to reconstruct something that looks more like a dinosaur," David Stern, an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University told the BBC.

Justified speculation?

The speculation may be justified because the current explosion of information about the genetic make-up of various creatures, plants and organisms has made it clear just how many modern genes are closely related or even identical to those of long extinct life forms.

Moving from this understanding to actually designing a prototype ancient creature is, however, a huge leap.

"You can imagine that if we have some understanding of how the same genes are used in, say, a chicken and a lizard to generate the differences between those two species, then we can imagine trying to reconstruct something that looks more like a dinosaur.

"You would have to change the way that those genes are used during development to, say, make the bones larger, or longer, or shorter," David Stern explained.

"What we're really seeking is a very basic understanding of how these genes operate during development in a very wide range of organisms," he said.

Initial successes

As Philip Cohen writes in the magazine New Scientist, there have been some initial successes.

A Californian team has managed to get the beaks of chicken embryos to grow tooth buds, something their ancestors lost the ability to do 60 million years ago.

Any dinosaur put together using these techniques would be unlikely to be a perfect replica of an extinct one. It would more likely be a generic prototype, combining different features and forms.

David Stern says that we should be using the time we have before such things are possible to consider what they would mean.

"It's going to raise a number of ethical questions. It's a very difficult problem to think about right now because it's such a new problem," he said.

Bush Administration Seeks to Delay Water Cleanup
By JoAnne Allen

WASHINGTON July 17, 2001 (Reuters) - The Bush administration late Monday sought to delay a Clinton administration regulation designed to clean up more than 20,000 polluted rivers, lakes and other bodies of water across the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked a U.S. District Court to put on hold for 18 months a legal challenge to a clean water regulation to give the agency time to review the revisit the rule.

The EPA said the year-and-a-half stay would enable it "to review and revise the rule to achieve a program that is workable and meets the goal of clean water."

"I am asking for this additional time to listen carefully to all parties with a stake in restoring America's waters... to find a better way to finish the important job of cleaning our great rivers, lakes and streams," EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said in a statement.

The EPA said it turned to the federal court because of the "ongoing controversy" surrounding the rule, published in July 2000, and in light of a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, released in June, agreed that water pollution was a serious problem but recommended a more science-based approach to assure that the right bodies of water were selected for cleanup.

The conservationist group Earthjustice called the move a "backdoor" tactic for targeting environmental protections.

"The only thing dirtier than our nation's polluted waters is the Bush administration's backdoor attempt to weaken the Clean Water Act," said Earthjustice attorney Howard Fox. "This is another example of the Bush administration's approach of rolling back our environmental and public health protections."

The 1992 Clean Water Act requires states to identify bodies of water that do not meet quality standards and to develop plans for cleaning them up.

The framework for these plans is the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program. A TMDL is a prescription for the restoration of polluted waters. It indicates the amount of pollutants that may be present in the water and still meet water quality standards.

"In order to ensure that this nation's bodies of water are cleaned up, we need an effective national program that involves the active participation and support of all levels of government and local communities," Whitman said.

"Unfortunately, many have said the rule designed to implement the TMDL program falls short of achieving the goals."

More than 20,000 bodies of water across America have been identified as polluted, including more than 300,000 river and shoreline miles and five million acres of lakes, according to the EPA.

The request for a delay is one of dozens of challenges by the Bush administration to environmental rules issued by the Clinton Administration.

Earthjustice -

Uma Thurman to Receive IFP Award

NEW YORK July 17, 2001 (AP) — Uma Thurman will receive the Actor Award at this year's IFP Gotham Awards.

The 31-year-old actress will receive the honor at a ceremony on Oct. 1, said Michelle Byrd, executive director of the Independent Feature Project. The event will be aired Oct. 5 on the Bravo network.

Thurman's films include "The Golden Bowl,'' "Vatel,'' "Pulp Fiction'' and "Dangerous Liaisons.''

The Actor Award honors a New York actor who's made significant contributions to the New York film community.

Past recipients include Frances McDormand, Kevin Kline, Christopher Walken, Sigourney Weaver, Harvey Keitel, Susan Sarandon and John Turturro.

The awards ceremony is the main fund-raiser for the Independent Feature Project, the nation's largest membership organization for the independent film industry.

Independent Feature Project -

Uma  -  [Note: this is a great excuse to launch still another fLAtDiSk site! - Ed.]

Visit eXoNews for more recent news!

Paperback books by Rich La Bontι - Free e-previews!