|Solar Sailing, |
New Alien Circles,
Buffy and Uma!
|Solar Sail Test Update|
By ANDREW BRIDGES
The 31-minute suborbital test had been delayed earlier this year when the spacecraft was damaged during testing.
The Planetary Society - http://planetarysociety.org
|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.
|IRS Sends Mistaken Refund Notices|
|By CURT ANDERSON |
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.
|Taiwan Halts Hitler TV Campaign|
|By MARCOS CALO MEDINA |
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.
"Boy, you sure must have earned a merit badge for this one," said the Indiana Jones star.
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.
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.
|Democrats Fight Bush's Ban|
|By JANELLE CARTER |
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|
By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM
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.
|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 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.
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.
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.
|Powder Sucks Moisture Out of Thunderstorm|
|By AMANDA RIDDLE |
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."
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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|
|By H. JOSEF HEBERT |
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.
On the web:
The Legislation - http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis107/anwr.html
Pro-drilling site - http://www.anwr.org
|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.
|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.
"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.
|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 - http://www.Earthjustice.org
|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.
Independent Feature Project - http://www.ifp.org
Uma - http://flatdisk.net/uma [Note: this is a great excuse to launch still another fLAtDiSk site! - Ed.]