Solar Guitar Storms!
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Solar Guitar Storms!
NASA-GSFC NEWS RELEASE June 17, 2002 - Huge loops of very hot, electrified gas rising above the Sun's surface vibrate with enormous energy at times of solar storms, like the strings of an immense guitar. This is the latest surprise from a flotilla of spacecraft -- the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), Ulysses and the four Cluster satellites -- with which scientists are trying to make sense of how disturbances on the Sun affect the Earth. The vibrating loops are a new piece in the complex puzzle of solar storms, revealing intense, local, and short-lived activity of a kind that had escaped the scientists' notice. 

Dr. Werner Curdt of Germany's Max-Planck-Institut für Aeronomie will report on the solar vibrations today at a scientific meeting on the Greek island of Santorini. He is in charge of an instrument on SOHO, called the Solar Ultraviolet Measurements of Emitted Radiation (SUMER), which can measure the speeds of electrified gas structures moving in the Sun's atmosphere. 

SUMER has seen many hot loops, invisible to other instruments, which sway from side to side. After careful study, the scientists investigating them are now sure that the vibrating loops play a key role in the Sun's most violent activity. 

"It's like twanging a guitar string, although one that's tuned to a very low bass note," Curdt says. "Nobody knew about these vibrations before. They occur only in extremely hot gas, which can be seen nice and clearly by the instrument as if it were designed for this purpose. But to be honest, when SUMER was built, we didn't expect anything as amazing as this." 

SUMER observes the hot loops most plainly when they stand like enormous arches at the rim of the Sun, seen sideways-on by SOHO. The intense heat in the gas loops, between 9 and 20 million degrees Kelvin (16.2 million and 36 million degrees Fahrenheit), removes electrons from iron atoms in the gas, causing the iron atoms (ions) to emit ultraviolet light, which is invisible to the human eye but detectable by SUMER. The "color", or wavelength, of the ultraviolet light changes slightly when the loops sway back and forth, allowing scientists to measure the loop's vibration speed with SUMER. 

In a typical case, a hot loop 350,000 kilometers long (about 220,000 miles long) rocks to and fro every 20 minutes. The hot gas moves along the line of sight at speeds of up to 100 kilometers per second (approximately 62 miles/second). The gas quickly cools and the motion dies down after two or three oscillations. 

The tension in the solar guitar string comes from an intense magnetic field that runs along the loop of gas. The "finger" that twangs it is probably a burst of very energetic particles coming from low in the Sun's atmosphere. When the gas in the loop is hit, the atoms lose almost all their electrons. That starts intense emission from hot iron ions and an oscillation of the entire loop. 

When the vibrations die down they release energy into the Sun's outer atmosphere. The link to particle outbursts low in the solar atmosphere may help scientists to understand why the outbursts are sometimes so strong that they disrupt the loops and unleash a solar flare. Storms on the Sun can damage spacecraft and electric power systems. That's why NASA, ESA, and other space agencies put much effort into exploring the causes and effects of solar storms. Only by tracing connections between the different kinds of eruptions on the Sun can scientists expect to be able to issue reliable early warnings of solar outbursts affecting the Earth and its neighborhood. 

Curdt's institute has organized the Santorini meeting jointly with the National Observatory of Athens. Its purpose is to draw together the results of observations of the Sun from the ground and from spacecraft to see what's understood, and what's not, in the behavior of the solar atmosphere. The Santorini meeting is looking ahead to future spacecraft, including ESA's Solar Orbiter due in about 10 years' time. The scientists planning their space instruments will now want to make sure they are well tuned to the solar rock and roll found by SUMER. 

The European Space Agency-NASA Ulysses spacecraft explores the heliosphere, the vast region around the Sun filled by the solar wind, where shocks can shake and squeeze the Earth's protective magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere. ESA's Cluster satellites investigate these solar effects near the Earth. SOHO itself uses many instruments to monitor the solar storms, including the huge explosions called flares, which are outbursts of light associated with energetic particles, and the billion-ton blasts of electrified gas called Coronal Mass Ejections. 

SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA. The spacecraft was built in Europe for ESA and equipped with instruments by teams of scientists in Europe and the USA. NASA launched SOHO in December 1995, and in 1998 ESA and NASA decided to extend its highly successful operations until 2003.
Hubble Spies Retina Beauty

Pasadena June 13, 2002 (NASA) - A dying star, IC 4406, dubbed the "Retina Nebula," is revealed in an image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. 

The image is a composite of images taken in June 2001 and January 2002 with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, designed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. It can be seen online at: . 

Like many other so-called planetary nebulae, IC 4406 exhibits a high degree of symmetry. The side view seen from Earth reveals intricate tendrils of dust that resemble the eye's retina, but if we could fly around IC4406 in a starship, we would see that the gas and dust form a vast doughnut of material streaming outward from the dying star. This material confines the intense radiation coming from the star.

Light from oxygen atoms is rendered blue in this image, hydrogen is shown as green, and nitrogen as red. The range of color in the final image shows the differences in concentration of these three gases in the nebula. Unseen in the Hubble image is a larger zone of neutral gas that is not emitting visible light, but which can be seen by radio telescopes. 

One of the most interesting features of IC 4406 is the irregular lattice of dark lanes that criss-cross the center of the nebula. These lanes are about 160 astronomical units wide (1 astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the Sun). They are located at the boundary between the hot glowing gas that produces the visual light imaged here and the neutral gas. We see the lanes in silhouette because they have a density of dust and gas that is a thousand times higher than the rest of the nebula.

The dust lanes are like a mesh veil that has been wrapped around the bright doughnut. 

The June 2001 images were taken by Bob O'Dell of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., and the January 2002 images were taken by the Hubble Heritage Team. 

The Space Telescope Science Institute is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., for NASA, under contract with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA. 

Image Credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (Space Telescope Science Institute/Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc.) Acknowledgment: C.R. O'Dell/Vanderbilt University.

Online at ,  and 

Judge Supports Yankton Sioux
By David Melmer
Indian Country Today

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. June 18, 2002 (ICT) - The Yankton Sioux Tribe won a temporary restraining order against any more construction work on a state-controlled area where human remains indicating a burial site were unearthed in May and early June.

The North Point Recreation Area near Pickstown is one of many sites that reverted to the state of South Dakota this spring under the controversial "Mitigation Act." Although two major Lakota governments supported the measure, other tribes and many people vehemently opposed it because it gave the state control of Lakota treaty land originally taken by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers for its massive dam projects. 

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Piersol supported the arguments submitted by Yankton tribal members that the entire area on the Missouri River and north of Fort Randall Dam contains burial sites that have been there for hundreds of years.

A lawsuit filed on June 5 asked for the restraining order in addition to a finding that the transfer of land from the Corps of Engineers to the state of South Dakota was unconstitutional.

The state of South Dakota received the land from the Corps as part of The Lower Brule Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux and South Dakota Terrestrial Protection Act, or the Mitigation Act as it is commonly called. This congressional action allowed the transfer of U.S. government excess shoreline land along the Missouri River to the state and the Lower Brule and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes against the wishes of other tribes in the area. Judge Piersol didn’t rule on that issue.

During a three-day trial in the Sioux Falls federal court, South Dakota Deputy Attorney General John Guhin argued that much of the area was disturbed by people. He drew the wrath of Lakota counsel and an incredulous question from the judge by implying that some of the remains may have been planted in the area.

"Are you suggesting the skulls are a setup?" Judge Piersol asked Guhin during his June 7 argument.

"They had to get there somehow," Guhin replied.

Tribal officials expressed shock and emotional distress. Ellsworth Chytka, leader of a group of tribal members that filed the lawsuit, said he almost cried over the accusation. Faith Spotted Eagle, director of the Braveheart Society, said she was offended by Guhin’s accusatory comments. Many tribal members said they were insulted by the state’s position in the early stage of the trial.

The state used dirt from the burial site to fill in areas in other parts of the recreational area. Judge Piersol also prevented the state from moving the dirt used as fill in those areas and said the world wouldn’t stop if the camping area was not expanded. Michael Fosha, assistant state archaeologist said when he arrived at the site on June 4 some of the remains were disturbed. Chytka told Indian Country Today on June 4 that he felt that Fosha accused tribal members of planting and disturbing the remains.

Fosha, however, told the court that it was his opinion that more remains will be found in the area. He did say that soil surrounding one of the skulls was different from soil that surrounded it.

On June 4, tribal members said they arrived at the site to find two skulls protruding from the dirt on the spot that was dug up for landfill. The same tribal members were at the site the night before and did not see the skulls. The two skulls and other remains were exposed, they said, because construction did not stop at the site as is required by the Native American Graves Protection and Reconciliation Act.

The partial remains of three individuals were found at the site on May 14 and removed from the site. Corps of Engineers Archaeologist Sandra Barnum said she made the decision to remove them because the bones were exposed to the elements and she wanted to protect the remains. Tribal officials were not notified until they received a letter from the state dated May 24. Robert Mercer, spokesman for Governor William Janklow, said the letter was sent when the remains were found to be American Indian.

The lawsuit asserted that NAGPRA was violated because the remains were moved without consultation with the tribe. The state maintains it will study the remains to find out which tribe they belong to. The Yankton Sioux, the Ponca of Nebraska and the Omaha tribes have been notified of the find.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe notified the Corps and the state, and officially claimed ownership of the remains.

Chytka said he told the Corps and state months ago that the region where the North Point recreation area is located has many burial sites. He said each ridge in the area may contain the remains of Yankton ancestors. The Yankton Sioux Tribe asks the return of those remains that were removed. It called for the area to be turned over to the tribe so that it could become a sacred ceremonial area for tribal members, without interference from people using the area for recreation.

Tribal council member Glenn Drapeau said, "It is unnatural for our people to have remains unearthed and to be trampled on by heavy equipment, by other individuals, because this site is sacred."

Yankton Sioux Home Page - 

Rare Whales Threatened By US Ships

By Beth Daley
Boston Globe Staff

Boston June 16, 2002 (Boston Globe) - More than 50 rare Northern right whales are feeding in or near the path of oncoming ships in Boston's Great South Channel, raising fears the near-extinct leviathans could collide with the large vessels and die. 

Scientists, meanwhile, have discovered the headless carcass of a right whale calf floating 95 miles east of Provincetown. The calf - one of only about 350 Northern right whales left in the world - is too decayed to determine the cause of death, but researchers say the accidental killing of even one whale could have a devastating effect on the species' survival. Ship strikes are among the most common killers of right whales. 

"It's a hell of a mess," said Stormy Mayo, a whale specialist at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, who has been studying the animals for decades. "The shipping lanes aren't adhered to that strictly, and the whales don't stay in one place. So we really don't know where all the right whales are, or all the boats. And that is a complex problem to solve." 

Mariners and conservationists have argued for more than a decade how best to keep right whales and ships away from each other. Conservationists want ships to be required to slow down near the whales or avoid the areas they are in, while shippers say they are already careful to avoid the whales and strict regulations would hurt their business. 

Last week, Canadian officials announced plans to move their shipping lanes in the Bay of Fundy three miles east to protect the right whale. But in New England, the whales can congregate throughout the enormous Gulf of Maine - stretching from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia. 

Ships approaching key whale areas in New England are already asked by the government to proceed cautiously, although there is no regulation for them to do so. Shipping companies insist the best defense is a sharp eye on the bridge for the lumbering shadows just below the surface - not slow speeds across vast expanses of oceans the whales might be in. Speed limits, they say, could mean the loss of big dollars for ports, since ships might go elsewhere to avoid delays in regulated areas. 

"If the commodity has a choice to go somewhere else, they will," said William C. Eldridge, vice president of Peabody & Lane, which represents shipping companies in the Boston area. "What we need is a technological solution, something that warns the whale about the ship, or the ship about the whale. And that doesn't exist yet." 

The National Marine Fisheries Service plans to issue a report in the next few months commenting on recommendations made by a task force last year to stop whale ship strikes. Since 1970, there have been 53 documented right whale deaths - 18 from ship strikes and five from fishing gear entanglements. The cause in the other cases was either unknown or involved newborn calves, according to the New England Aquarium. However, scientists believe many more whales die from fishing gear entanglements than the statistics show. Last summer, a right whale dubbed "Churchill" had a slow, public death from a fishing line cinched in his jaw. 

Years ago, harpoons from hunters killed the right whales, so named because they were the "right" whale to hunt from the 11th century into the 1900s. Lumbering and feeding close to the surface, they were easy to kill. And once dead, they conveniently floated to the surface. The whale's blubber oozed with valuable oil, and the giant mammals also held a fortune in their upper jaw's fringed plates. The dark-brown material doubled as an early plastic, making everything from corsets to combs. In 1935, the League of Nations outlawed right whale hunting, but by then there were only a few right whales left in the western North Atlantic. 

Unlike fishing stocks that rebound once fishermen stop fishing them, the Northern right whale did not come back once hunting eased. Only about 11 calves were born a year. Under that scenario, one Woods Hole senior scientist predicted the species could be extinct in less than 200 years. But in the past two years, there have been record numbers of calves born, raising hopes that the population is on the upswing. 

Federal regulators have long closed areas of the sea to fishermen to protect the whales, with this year's closures among the most severe. But only now is the government attempting to regulate ships. For years, the National Marine Fisheries Service said it did not have the authority to tell mariners what to do, but legislation now before Congress would spell out exactly how ships will be regulated to protect whales. 

"It's frustrating for some people to say why haven't you done anything? But it's not just New England. We are trying to figure out the whole East Coast," said Mary Colligan, assistant regional administrator for the agency in Gloucester. Some of the whales travel to Florida and Georgia to give birth and must be protected as they travel, she said. 

"We don't have a lot of information. Of course, slower is better but how slow is enough?" asked Colligan. 

The lead author of the task force report, which the Fisheries Service is now considering, says that if ships go 10 knots and avoid certain areas, the threat to right whales could be greatly reduced. However, that speed could cost shipping companies anywhere from $10 million to $17 million a year, he says. 

"We are talking about both speed restrictions and rerouting strategies," said the author, Bruce Russell, a retired Coast Guard commander and cochairman of the Fishery Service's ship strike committee. "We're trying to look for a good balance between an endangered species we identify closely with and the needs of US ships and mariners." 

Whale researchers, however, say time is running out. "It's important we do something as soon as possible," said Amy Knowlton, a New England Aquarium scientist who studies right whales. "Every year we wait to do something could be the year needed to save them from extinction."

Tooth Phone: Call Your Dentist!
LONDON June 18, 2002 (Reuters) - British engineers say they have invented a revolutionary tooth implant that works like a mobile phone and would not be out of place in a James Bond spy movie. 

The 'tooth phone', designed by James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, consists of a tiny vibrator and a radio wave receiver implanted into a tooth during routine dental surgery. The implant does not yet have its own microchip installed, but Auger says the technology is tried and tested, and a fully functional phone could be put together in no time at all. 

"With the current size of microchips this is feasible. They are now small enough to implant in the tooth," he told Reuters on Tuesday. 

Sound, which comes into the tooth as a digital radio signal, is transferred to the inner ear by bone resonance, meaning information can be received anywhere and at any time -- and nobody else can listen in. 

The invention raises the prospects of financial traders receiving the latest stock market bulletins while at the cinema and politicians tuning in to secret briefings from advisers while being quizzed by opponents. Despite its similarity to high tech gadgets dreamt up by Bond's faithful sidekick 'Q', the inventors believe the gizmo could become the first in a whole suite of non-medical devices implanted into the human body.
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Greenpeace Tries to Halt Japanese Plutonium Shipment

London June 19, 2002 (Greenpeace) - Greenpeace will seek a High Court Injunction in London at 10.30am Thursday in an attempt to halt British Nuclear Fuels’ (BNFL’s) and Pacific Nuclear Transport’s (PNTL’s) planned shipment of plutonium from Japan to the UK. 

Despite an investigation launched last week by the English regulator, the Environment Agency, into the legality of BNFL's planned shipment, the company has refused to give any assurances that it won’t carry out the shipment .

Two armed British ships - the Pacific Pintail and Pacific Teal - arrived in Japan on Friday 14th June to collect the rejected plutonium MOX which BNFL sold to the Japanese in 1999. It was later revealed that BNFL had deliberately falsified vital safety control data. BNFL hope that by making the return shipment they will secure large contracts from the Japanese utilities for MOX production at the new Sellafield MOX Plant. Since the 1999 scandal, Japan's plans to move ahead with loading hundreds of tons of MOX fuel reactors have stalled, prompted by public fears over safety and reliability of the MOX producers.

The Pacific Pintail arrived at the port of Takahama, Japan on Friday 14th where it delivered the transport cask that it wants to load with the rejected MOX. Kansai Electric, the original customer for BNFL, have stated that loading of the MOX into the cask will begin on Friday June 21st. BNFL has not made any decision about what to do with the radioactive material, apart from storing it. Greenpeace says that this means the rejected fuel is “radioactive waste” in European and UK law. Radioactive waste may only be transported to the UK with the permission of the Environment Agency. 

“The Environment Agency has not come to a decision on whether it agrees that this material is radioactive waste. In the meantime BNFL has refused to halt preparations for the proposed shipment, so we are seeking an injunction to prevent them carrying out any irrevocable steps,” said Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace.

Over 50 countries in the Caribbean, Latin America and the South Pacific opposed the original shipment of the MOX fuel to Japan in 1999. The return is almost certain to generate even greater opposition. Already in the past month, Foreign Ministers in the Caribbean have issued a unanimous condemnation of the planned shipment, in particular citing security concerns and lack of consultation by the UK and Japan. They have demanded that it not use the Caribbean Sea route on its return from Japan. The 34 Governments of the OAS have similarly questioned the security hazards of the shipment and agreed to conduct a review. 

Last week the Government of Fiji following a debate in the Senate stated that it was against the shipment entering its jurisdictional waters out to 200 miles from land (so called Exclusive Economic Zone). Fiji joins, the Government of New Zealand and Chile which have expressed their concerns over this shipment since the beginning of June. The main concerns of countries en-route are lack of consultation, the vulnerability of the shipment to catastrophic accident, malicious attacks and issues of liability and salvage in the event of accident. Security of the transport, including terrorist threats, already a major concern before the events of September 11th 2001, have become even more pressing.

Greenpeace - 

Court Says US Residents Can Sue for Nuke Exposure 

SAN FRANCISCO June 18, 2002 (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled thousands of Washington state residents could sue over illnesses blamed on a Cold War plutonium plant, reversing a lower court dismissal of most of the claims. 

The ruling rebuffs defense lawyers' efforts to limit damage awards against contractors who operated the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the most highly contaminated nuclear site in the United States, which spewed radiation as it produced fuel for U.S. atomic weapons as far back as 1943. 

Many of the plaintiffs claimed radiation had caused thyroid cancer, as well as bone, breast and salivary cancer. Damage awards could reach tens of millions of dollars. The defendants include several industrial companies that ran the plant until 1986, including General Electric Co. and DuPont Co. . 

"We are of course disappointed. We are studying the ruling and we are not sure exactly where we will go from here," defense lawyer Randy Squires said of the 12-year-old case. 

Hanford, a former nuclear weapons production site in south-central Washington state, released radioactive materials into the air, water and soil, sometimes intentionally and sometimes by accident, according to Washington state health officials. Many of those who lived downwind from Hanford or who used the Columbia River downstream were exposed to radiation that could cause illness at some point in their lives, state officials said. 

The appeals court panel in San Francisco overturned a ruling by Judge Alan McDonald in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington that would have eliminated claims of about 90 percent of some 4,000 plaintiffs from southeast Washington and nearby Oregon and Idaho. 

On Tuesday the appeals court lowered the amount of exposure to radiation required to prove physical harm, thereby allowing thousands to sue, but also limited damages for emotional distress to only those plaintiffs who had actually been made sick. 

Defense lawyers could ask for a hearing before the full appeals court or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Barring settlement talks, plaintiffs' attorneys were preparing to seek class certification for their clients and to present their full case before the circuit court. 

"We are looking at another year of development and preparation, but who knows what could happen to this case in that time," said plaintiffs' attorney Tom Foulds. 

Both sides said the case could go on for several more years. 

"It's hard to see how this decision brings the outcome closer," Squires said. "If you have to look at each one of one of these claims, it's going to take some time." 

The federal government has begun cleaning up or stabilizing some of the Hanford waste.

Judge OKs Sale of Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Parts 

SAN FRANCISCO June 17, 2002 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday declined to block the $167,500 auction sale of two parts from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during the World War Two, auction house officials said. 

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston's decision cleared the way for auction house Butterfields to deliver the thumb-sized plugs to a San Diego physicist who won Tuesday's bidding for the parts from the bomb dubbed "Little Boy." The U.S. government had sought to stop the sale on grounds the green and red plugs, which de-activated and then armed the bomb, were classified. 

"We have delivered the plugs to the purchaser," said Paul Carella, a Butterfields spokesman. 

The plugs were put up for sale by Morris Jeppson, the weapons testing officer aboard the Enola Gay, the B-29 that unleashed the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The bombing, which ushered in the nuclear age, is estimated to have killed more than 140,000 people. 

The federal government sued to stop the sale, saying the bomb plugs were classified items and property of the U.S. government. The U.S. attorney who argued in court Friday could not be reached for comment. But the judge, who ruled from the bench, sided with the auction house's arguments that the plugs were not classified because they had been in Jeppson's possession for the past 57 years, Carella said. 

The decision allowed the auction house to deliver the items to San Diego physicist Clay Perkins, who told a local newspaper he bought the plugs because the discussion of nuclear energy after the dropping of the atomic bomb sparked his interest in physics. 

"You can make an argument that these plugs represent the most important small physical objects to come out of the 20th Century, because they represent the beginning of the nuclear era," Perkins told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week.

Blind Calves Born Near India's Nuclear Site

By Paul Holmes

POKHARAN, India June 18, 2002 (Reuters) — Ranjeeta Ramji grabbed the calf by its head with one hand and ran the other up and down in front of its eyes, the absence of a reaction evidence that it was blind.

Then the Indian farmer pointed to a cyst-like swelling on the startled young animal's neck. "Cancer, cancer," he said in English. 

Four years after India exploded a series of nuclear devices in underground tests here in the arid Thar Desert near the border with Pakistan, villagers are still asking themselves whether to believe government assurances that no radioactivity was released. 

In Khetolai, a village of 1,500 inhabitants about 3.5 km (two miles) from the security fence that rings the Pokharan military test range, villagers say their cows have given birth to several blind and diseased calves since the tests took place. Although they are not sure of the reason, they say they suspect it is because the cattle head off up a sandy track leading out of the village to graze on whatever they can find near where the fence cuts through the scrub-dotted desert. 

Ramji said his herd had produced four blind calves with tumors since the test blasts, none of which survived more than a year. Other villagers tell similar tales. "We've contacted the authorities a number of times but no one has to come to see," said Ramji, 60, who can still remember how the ground beneath his feet shook "like an earthquake" when the five tests were carried out on May 11 and May 13, 1998. 

"These cows are our bread and butter," he said. "There is so little water here that we can't grow crops, so they're our livelihood," added Ramji, head of a family of 12. 


India's tests, one of a device nearly three times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, were swiftly followed by similar nuclear tests by Pakistan. 

For the past six months, the hostile neighbors have been locked in a dispute over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, with 1 million troops massed on their border in a military standoff that has raised international fears of a nuclear war. 

Like many Indians, the villagers of Khetolai, in the western state of Rajasthan, derive satisfaction from knowing that their country is a nuclear power and has a threat to wave at Pakistan. In Khetolai's case, though, that knowledge is tinged with bitterness. "It is good for the country, but for the people around here it isn't," said Mooli Devi, the woman head of the village. "We've had a lot of problems with the animals getting sick." 

She said villagers had received compensation of 5,000 to 10,000 rupees (US$100 to $200) to repair cracks made by the test explosions in the walls of their sandstone-built homes and water cisterns, but it had not been enough. "We had to spend a lot more money from our own pockets," said Devi, 40. "They should have taken care of the people here." 

None of the villagers were evacuated when the tests took place. Instead, they say, soldiers arrived in jeeps and told them to stay outside their homes. They only found out what made the earth in Khetolai tremble and kicked up a spiral of the dust on the horizon when they heard reports of the tests on the radio. 


"There was a very strange smell, like gunpowder," said Dhana Ram, a 55-year-old farmer who stood knotting a rope in the shade to escape the heat that can soar to 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in summer and turn this part of India into a furnace. 

Ram, like some of the other villagers, said his nose had bled after the nuclear tests and became severely swollen. "Two days after the tests, a doctor came and asked people if anyone had any problems, so I showed him my nose," Ram recalled. "At first he said I must have stuck my fingers up my nose. Then they gave me some medicine and did a blood test. It showed there was nothing wrong with me, but it took nearly two months to get better." 

Others in the village also complained at the time of the tests of itchy skin and vomiting, ailments that doctors in the area put down to the summer heat. Villagers were not routinely screened, and the government insists there was no risk to health. 

"We never got proper check-ups," said Bhagirath Ram, a 30-year-old who runs a small store in Khetolai. Now, he says, he is worried about the long-term effects on his three children, aged 2, 4, and 6. 

"It's a very proud thing to have a nuclear bomb," the man said. "But if you think of the people of this village, we should have gotten better medical examinations."

Judge Orders South Carolina to Allow Plutonium Shipments 

Associated Press 

AIKEN, S.C. June 18, 2002 (AP) - A federal judge Tuesday prohibited Gov. Jim Hodges from blocking government shipments of bomb-grade plutonium to South Carolina that could begin as early as this weekend.

"It is a sad day for South Carolina when the governor, who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, must be ordered by a court to obey it," U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie said. On Friday, Hodges sent state police to the government's Savannah River Site weapons installation near the Georgia state line to stop any vehicles carrying the radioactive material, which is to be brought in from the closed Rocky Flats weapons plant in Colorado.

The governor said he would abide by the judge's order.

"Against our will, the blockade is over," Hodges said. "I don't apologize for our efforts, our suit or our blockade."

The Energy Department wants to move about 6 tons of plutonium to Savannah River as part of the agency's effort to clean up and close Rocky Flats. Energy Department spokesman Joe Davis said the shipments could begin as early as Saturday. Federal officials said the material will be converted at the Savannah River Site into fuel for nuclear reactors. But Hodges has warned that the conversion program might never be funded and that the plutonium might be stored permanently in South Carolina.

Hodges sued last month to prevent the shipments, saying the plutonium poses too many environmental risks. The Democratic governor, who is up for re-election this fall, had threatened to lie down in the road if necessary to block the trucks.

Last Thursday, Currie rejected Hodges' arguments that the Energy Department was violating federal environmental policy, opening the door for shipments to begin immediately. Hodges has taken his case to a federal appeals court.

The Scientific History of the Atomic Bomb -

Wanna Buy a Tiny Cow?

ROCKWELL, Iowa June 17, 2002 (AP) - Dustin Pillard is betting his farm on compact cows. 

Pillard has 50 tiny cows on his northern Iowa farm, all about 3 feet tall. He's hoping they'll catch on as pets, and so far inquiries have come in from as far as Europe, Mexico and Argentina. 

"I like them," said Pillard, 30. "If nobody else does, that doesn't really bother me. We're breeding just for the novelty end of it." 

The smallest full-grown animal is a 3-year-old bull that's 33 inches tall and weighs 320 pounds. The largest, a mature bull, is 35 inches tall and 400 pounds. 

Pillard thinks interest for the cattle, which start at about $1,000, is growing. And the more people know, the more interest he sees. 

"If they saw a rodeo bull that was only three feet tall, I'd think they'd have to have one. That's our hope, anyway."

Argentinean Parrots Invade Madrid

By Elizabeth Nash

Madrid June 18, 2002 (Independent UK) - Parrots are invading the parks of Madrid. The warbling of the caged canaries that traditionally inhabit the city's sunny balconies may soon be drowned by screeching.

Naturalists fear the swiftly multiplying green-and-grey parrot (Myiopsitta monachus) with its powerful bill and long tail feathers may see off smaller birds in the wild. Wood pigeons on the fringes of the city are retreating before the exotic Latin American interloper.

The parrots are originally from Argentina, where they have reproduced so uncontrollably that they are considered something of a plague. They have been brought to Spain in recent years to be sold as pets, but owners grew sick of the incessant chatter and squawking and freed the birds.

The parrots found the habitat around Madrid ideal, and are increasing exponentially. Colonies have formed in Canillejas near the airport and in the Casa de Campo parkland to the west of the city, where the birds have built a network of nests by breaking branches from cedars, their favourite trees. "Birds who were casually freed by individuals a few years ago have now created a big public problem that's difficult to control," said Alfredo Bengoa, of the veterinary department at Complutense University, Madrid. "They'll soon be the monarchs of all the green spaces of Madrid."

Genre News: The Dead Zone, Firefly, Eight-Legged Freaks, Daredevil, Kirk Douglas & More!

Dead Zone Scores Big For USA 

Hollywood June 17, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - The premiere of USA Network's The Dead Zone on June 16 set a ratings record, the network announced. With a 4.7 household rating and 6.4 million viewers, The Dead Zone was the network's highest-rated original dramatic series debut and ranked as the top basic-cable original dramatic series of all time, the network announced.

The Dead Zone premiere was also the highest-rated cable program of the week in households and helped USA Network rank as number one for the week in prime time among key demographics, the network said. The Dead Zone more than doubled the network's usual Sunday-evening rating of 2.1 in the 10 p.m. timeslot.

Dead Zone Official Site - 

Cast Your Nominations for Zap2It's Emmy Shadow Poll!

Hollywood June 19, 2002 (eXoNews) - Entertainment web site is running a Shadow Poll for this year's Emmy Awards and they are presently accepting nominations from visitors.

Zap2it says: "Between now and Friday, July 5, we invite you to submit up to three nominations in 11 categories covering Best Drama Series, Best Comedy Series, Best Reality Series, Best Lead Actor and Actress, as well as all supporting categories."

Check it out to post your choices for nominations. Final ballot with five finalists will be posted on the site on July 8th and you can vote your choices all summer.

Here's where to go for more info and to cast your vote:  and just to try to influence your decision, here are the correct spellings on some of our suggestions. (We didn't nominate in all the other categories - sitcoms and reality shows? Who really cares?)

Outstanding Drama Series:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The X-Files

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Ben Browder
David Boreanaz
Scott Bakula

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Gillian Anderson
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Claudia Black
Marg Helgenberger

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
James Marsters
Nicholas Brendon
Robert Patrick
David Duchovny
J. August Richards
Alexis Denisof

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Gigi Edgley
Charisma Carpenter
Alyson Hannigan
Emma Caulfield
Amber Benson
Annabeth Gish
Amy Acker

Official Firefly Site Offers Free Show Poster

By FLAtRich

Hollywood June 14, 2002 (eXoNews) - Fox's official site for the new Josh Whedon space epic Firefly has posted a full-size poster for the show in PDF format, but you may want to wait until they get the bugs ironed out before downloading. I've tried twice this week and gotten a corrupt file message from Adobe Reader both times.

The site does have other interesting features not found on the unofficial Fireflyfans site though, including pages from the pilot script and pix of the cast.

Here's a little trivia we dug up on our own about some Firefly cast members: Nathan Fillion played Private James Frederick Ryan in Saving Private Ryan (1998); Adam Baldwin played baddie Knowle Rhohrer for the last couple of seasons on The X-Files; and Sean Maher played the title role in "Ryan Caulfield: Year One", a show Fox canceled after only two episodes aired in 1999.

Let's hope the show does better than Maher's last Fox effort!

Fireflyfans - 

Firefly Official Site - 

Warners' 'Freaks' Infest Web 
By Chris Marlowe 

Hollywood June 17, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - A movie about giant mutant spiders would have to have a Web presence, if only for the pun potential. But the official site for the comedy thriller "Eight Legged Freaks" is more than just a repository for jokes.

Warner Bros. Pictures has spun "Let the Squashing Begin," a 3-D video game that lets players annihilate humongous horrors, into the film's campaign. Spiders will startle visitors to all kinds of entertainment sites, and each will carry a special code that boosts the game play. The two-legged stars will reveal other codes during interviews, too, ensnaring more fans into visiting the Web site.

The game itself is downloadable, but more than 400,000 copies will be distributed additionally as part of AOL's 7.0 disks along with themed wallpaper, screen savers and instant messenger icons.

Serious game players can also download spider character models for use in "Quake 3: Arena" and "Unreal Tournament."

Other activities for web visitors include making movie posters that can be saved and e-mailed, downloading soundtrack clips and graphics for cell phones and PDAs, a look at the special effects work by CFX and even some factual information about the film's maligned stars -- the ones with more than two legs.

Official Eight-Legged Site - 

Daredevil Goes Dark 

Hollywood June 14, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - Ben Affleck, who puts on the red tights in the upcoming Daredevil movie, told USA Today that his film differs from Spider-Man, which is also based on a Marvel Comics series. "This is a smaller, dark movie," Affleck told the newspaper. "We don't rely so much on computer effects. It's about characters."

One thing is similar: the lousy hours and torturous outfit. "It's just not normal to go to work at 6 p.m. and go to bed at 7 a.m.," said Affleck, who will play the blind superhero. "And that suit isn't comfortable. It's got to be as constricting as Spider-Man's."

Affleck added, "Daredevil is more complex, more human than most superheroes. He's blind and has tragic love affairs. As an actor, that kind of role appeals to you." Daredevil is slated for a February 2003 release.

Kirk Douglas Receives UCLA Medal 

LOS ANGELES June 17, 2002 (AP) - Actor Kirk Douglas, 85, received top honors Friday from the University of California, Los Angeles, during the school's graduation ceremony for theater, film and television students. 

The UCLA Medal, presented to people for cultural, political and humanitarian achievements, is the highest honor the school can award. Previous recipients include former Presidents Carter and Clinton, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and actors Laurence Olivier and Carol Burnett. 

Douglas, best known for the films "Paths of Glory" and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," also helped break the notorious Hollywood blacklist during the 1950s by giving accused Communist-sympathizer Dalton Trumbo credit for the screenplay of "Spartacus."

Teleport Me Up, Mate!

Canberra Australia June 12, 2002 (Official ANU Press Release) - Physicists at the Australian National University have achieved teleportation of a laser beam. This represents a significant scientific breakthrough and has applications to communication and information technology.

This work has established that teleportation of light is possible, the next step is to teleport the properties of atoms. A close collaboration with leading atom optics groups in Australia is planned for the next few years. This could lead to better ways of storing information and new quantum information based communication technologies.

In Star Trek teleportation is defined as the 'disembodied' transport of an object. For physicists something similar is meant except that the objects transported are extremely small particles such as electrons and photons.

What makes teleportation difficult, even for such small particles, is that quantum systems are so fragile that even the very act of measuring them alters their behavior.

Teleportation has numerous possible applications. Perhaps the most promising are in the communication and computer industries. Quantum teleportation could potentially allow fiber optic communication with faster bit transfer rates, 100% secure encryption of messages and quantum computers with the ability to crunch complex mathematical problems millions of times faster than present day computers.

The research program is led by Dr. Ping Koy Lam, Prof. Hans Bachor and Dr. Timothy Ralph. The teleportation experiment itself is the PhD project of Mr. Warwick Bowen and involves a team of international experts: Dr. Roman Schnabel (Germany), Dr. Nicolas Treps (France) and Dr. Ben Buchler (Australia).

It is ahead of similar efforts in Europe, Japan and the US; and demonstrates that truly world leading research is possible in Australia - if imagination, financial support and perseverance can be combined and nurtured

ANU Quantum Optics Group Page - 

Australian National University - 

Wanna Land On An Asteroid?
By Richard Stenger

Japan June 14, 2002 (CNN) --Want to land on an asteroid with a legion of fellow explorers? You can, thanks to a Japanese space mission that launches later this year. But the achievement will be in name only. The Muses-C spacecraft, the first designed to visit a space rock and return to Earth with geological samples, is slated to depart in November or December.

The Planetary Society of Japan hopes that at least a million names from all over the world will go along for the ride. The group of space enthusiasts recently kicked off a campaign to collect names and will continue to do so until July 6.

"The mission to return a sample of the asteroid to Earth is a bold and scientifically valuable undertaking," said Louis

Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society, in a statement this week. The Pasadena, California-based group maintains close ties with the Planetary Society of Japan. The names will be etched on an aluminum foil sheet inside a softball-sized ball that will accompany the probe. The sphere, a target marker, will help the robot ship land when it reaches asteroid 1998 SF36 in 2005.

It will be dropped onto the asteroid, where it will serve as a navigation landmark for the descending craft, according to the Planetary Society.

Asteroid 1998 SF36 orbits the sun about once every 1.5 years and is about 2,300-by-1,000 feet (700-by-300 meters). It is on average about 84 million miles (134 million km) from Earth, but can swing as close as 1.3 million miles (2.1 million km) or closer, according to scientists.

The space rock is considerably smaller than the asteroid Eros, which a NASA probe touched down on in February 2001. The NEAR-Shoemaker had nearly exhausted its power supply after orbiting and studying the Manhattan-sized space rock for a year. Mission engineers guided the craft to the impromptu landing to squeeze as much scientific data from the mission as possible. But Muses-C is designed to return home. After scooping up several asteroid samples, it should head back in our direction and send its cargo to Earth in a capsule that parachutes down to Australia in 2007.

The Planetary Society of Japan has more details about the asteroid campaign at the following English-language site: 
Players Combine Golf with Sex

NORCO CA June 17, 2002(Reuters) - A private golf tournament in Norco, California, added a new hazard to the game - getting arrested for prostitution. Police said they arrested six people at the Hidden Valley Golf Club on Friday after receiving a tip-off. 

"As part of the golf tournament, sex acts were offered to participants for a fee," said Lisa McConnell at the Sheriff's Department in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles. "There were tents set up around the course, where people could pay for sex." 

Police detained 100 people at questioning and arrested three for pimping and pandering, two for prostitution and one for possession of a controlled substance.

The name of the group sponsoring the tournament was not disclosed and McConnell said it was not clear if the owners of the golf club knew of the paid sex. 

A man who answered the phone at the club Saturday said the club had no immediate comment.

Noah's Flood Hypothesis May Not Hold Water

TROY NY June 14, 2002 (RPI Press Release) - In 1996, marine geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman published a scientifically popular hypothesis, titled Noah's Flood Hypothesis. The researchers presented evidence of a bursting flood about 7,500 years ago in what is now the Black Sea. This, some say, supports the biblical story of Noah and the flood. 

But, such a forceful flood could not have taken place, says Jun Abrajano, professor of earth and environmental sciences at Rensselaer. He is part of an international team of scientists who refute the so-called Noah's Flood Hypothesis.

Abrajano cites evidence of a much more gradual rising of the Black Sea that began to occur 10,000 years ago and continued for 2,000 years.

According to the Noah's Flood Hypothesis, the Black Sea was a freshwater lake separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a narrow strip of land now broken by the Bosporus Strait. Ryan and Pitman argue that the Mediterranean broke through the land and inundated the Black Sea with more than 200 times the force of Niagara Falls. The salty powerful flood swiftly killed the freshwater mollusks in the Black Sea. This, they say, accounts for fossil remains that can be dated back 7,500 years.

Abrajano's team has challenged the theory by studying sediments from the Marmara Sea, which sits next to the Black Sea and opens into the Mediterranean. 

The team found a rich mud, called sapropel in the Marmara. The mud provides evidence that there has been sustained interaction between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea for at least 10,000 years. 

"For the Noah's Ark Hypothesis to be correct, one has to speculate that there was no flowing of water between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea before the speculated great deluge," says Abrajano. "We have found this to be incorrect."

GSA (Geological Society of America) Today magazine recently published a paper in its May 2002 edition based on Abrajano's research. His research also will be published this year in Marine Geology, an international science journal.

LaBonte Prints - 

Couple Sues MTV Over Corpse Prank
By Steve Gorman 

LOS ANGELES June 13, 2002 (Reuters) - MTV has been slapped with a $10 million lawsuit from a couple who say they were surprised by a fake corpse in their hotel room as part of a hidden-camera prank for a reality TV show. 

James and Laurie Ann Ryan, of Washington, D.C., also named the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas in the suit, which accuses the resort and the cable network of invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and fraud, among other things, their attorney said Wednesday. 

The suit, originally filed in Los Angeles in April but gaining public attention this week after it was moved to federal court, said the couple became unwitting participants in a practical joke filmed for a series under development at MTV called "Harassment" while they were on vacation in January. 

Upon entering the hotel room, the Ryans "discovered what appeared to be a dead human body covered and surrounded by blood, evidently the victim of a homicide," as hidden cameras recorded their shock, the suit says. 

As the couple tried to flee, two actors posing as security guards blocked their way, and a third individual in the guise of a paramedic entered the room. The show's host and co-producer, Ashton Kutcher, who has described the series in interviews as a "guerrilla-style Candid Camera," finally emerged to reveal the prank. 

The Ryans were not amused. They are seeking $10 million in compensatory damages against MTV, the Hard Rock Hotel and Kutcher, who also is named in the suit, said their lawyer, Daniel Rozansky. Both the cable network, which is owned by Viacom Inc., and the privately owned hotel declined to comment on the case. 

An MTV spokeswoman said the incident in question was filmed as part of a pilot episode for "Harassment," which has not aired. She said the future status of the program is uncertain. 

"Harassment" is not the first reality show to land MTV in legal trouble. Two teenage girls sued the network in April, 2001 after they were sprayed with human excrement by performers billed as the "Shower Rangers" during the taping of a program called "Dude, This Sucks." 

MTV apologized for the incident and promised never to air footage of the incident. That suit remains in litigation, the girls' high-profile Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred told Reuters.
Muggles Muddle Potter 'Plagiarism'

By David Glovin

New York June 19, 2002 (Sydney Morning Herald) - Who came first, Harry Potter or Larry Potter? And who thought up the idea of muggles? Author J.K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter books have sold more than 67 million copies, is fighting a copyright lawsuit in New York brought by Nancy Stouffer, a Pennsylvania woman who wrote about a boy named Larry Potter in the 1980s.

Stouffer says Rowling lifted character names, including the word "muggles", from her. But Rowling replied in court papers that the boy wizard is "entirely the fruit of my own imagination" and that she was "deeply offended ... by the ludicrous allegations that I stole any part" of the books.

At the heart of the case is the use of muggles by both authors.

Stouffer says she invented tiny, child-like creatures she called muggles for a 1980s book entitled Rah and the Muggles. Rowling claims she never read Stouffer's work before completing her 1995 manuscript, in which people without magical power were also called muggles.

The first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published in 1998. Scholastic and Time Warner sued Stouffer in 1999, seeking a ruling that Rowling hadn't infringed. A judge in December 2000 refused to dismiss the case, citing similarities between the works of the two authors. Stouffer, in turn, sued Rowling. 

Now Scholastic, Time Warner, and Rowling, seeking to avoid a trial, have asked a judge to dismiss Stouffer's claims. In the new court papers, Rowling's lawyers say Stouffer fabricated key documents backing her case.

"Until this litigation, I do not recall ever seeing or hearing about any book entitled Rah, The Legend of Rah and the Muggles ... or any of the other works Ms Stouffer claims to have written," Rowling said.

Muggles "derived from the English word `mug' meaning someone who is easily fooled or gullible," Rowling said. "I softened the word slightly to make it seem more affectionate."

Rowling's lawyers said that after Stouffer provided them with text and book covers of what she claimed were original copies of Rah and the Muggles, they had hired an expert on printing technology. The expert concluded that the phrase "and the Muggles" wasn't added until the 1990s, Rowling said. That is just one of several examples of alleged fabrication cited by Rowling. "It has now become clear that Stouffer has manufactured documents in an apparent effort to bolster her otherwise baseless claims," Rowling's lawyers say.

"The allegations made in the motion are not factual," Stouffer has responded.  "It's totally erroneous."

Heat Sensitivity Gene Discovered In Tomatoes
Frankfurt June 18, 2002 (UniSci) - Scientists at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany have discovered a master genetic regulator of heat sensitivity in tomatoes, whose activity is critical for tomato ripening at high temperatures.

Heat poses a danger to living organisms because it can denature, or unfold, the proteins and enzymes that carry out normal biological processes, thereby severely compromising protein function, and, in turn, cell viability. 

Organisms ranging from bacteria to humans have evolved a common biological response to dramatic increases in ambient temperature -- called the heat stress response. 

The heat stress response entails the rapid production of heat stress proteins, which act as molecular chaperones to ensure that newly formed proteins are folded properly and misfolded proteins are removed from the cell.

Unlike animals, plants cannot relocate to escape the heat. The heat stress response is therefore essential for their survival during periods of high temperatures. Genome sequencing has revealed that plants have a more complex heat stress response components than animals, and scientists theorize that perhaps plant's sessile nature has necessitated the evolution of more sophisticated heat stress response machinery.

Although the tomato genome has not been fully sequenced, Dr. Lutz Nover and colleagues have already identified a protein called HsfA1 as a master regulator of the tomato heat stress response. HsfA1 is a heat stress transcription factor that activates the expression of genes that encode heat stress proteins. 

Dr. Nover and colleagues genetically engineered tomato plants to be either deficient in HsfA1, or to over-express HsfA1 at higher than normal levels. Both types of transgenic plants grew normally under ordinary conditions, but under heat stress, the importance of HsfA1 was readily apparent.

When HsfA1-deficient plant were exposed to high temperatures, the plants were unable to initiate the heat stress response and therefore died. Similarly, HsfA1-deficient fruit were unable to ripen at high temperatures. On the other hand, plants that over-express HsfA1 were actually more resistant to heat than unmodified plants.

Dr. Nover and colleagues have demonstrated that although each of the 17 tomato heat stress transcription factors identified thus far, may have a specific function, HsfA1 is the most important, playing a dominant role in the ability of tomatoes to respond to high temperatures. Further delineation of the tomato heat stress response will be of undoubted interest to agricultural biotechnologists as they look for ways to manipulate tomato growth and ripening to better suit the population's needs.
Elvis Top of The Pops in Britain

Associated Press 

LONDON June 17, 2002 (AP) - Elvis Presley returned to the top of the singles charts in Britain on Monday, rewriting pop history 25 years after his death and passing The Beatles as the artist with the most No. 1 tunes. 

The King now has more No. 1 recordings than any artist in the pop chart's 50-year history, thanks to a remix of the little-known song "A Little Less Conversation." By reaching the top of the singles charts in England, Presley gained his 18th No. 1 tune, breaking the record that he had held in Britain with The Beatles at 17 each. 

"A Little Less Conversation" was written by Mac Davis and Billy Strange for the 1968 film "Live a Little, Love a Little."

The original also was on the soundtrack of the 2001 movie "Ocean's Eleven." 

Dutch musician Tom Holkenburg, known in Europe as the disc jockey of the techno-group Junkie XL, recently remixed the song for a Nike World Cup TV commercial featuring a British player. The contemporary remix, "Elvis vs. JXL - a Little Less Conversation," leaves Presley's distinctive vocals intact. 

The single, released throughout Europe last week, sold more than 67,000 copies in Britain on the very first day. Junkie XL was changed to JXL for the song because the Presley estate did not want the track remixed if the name contained what could be perceived as a reference to drugs. 

JXL's track will be released in the United States on June 25. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Presley's death. He died at his home in Memphis, Tenn., on Aug. 16, 1977 at age 42.

And yes, Virginia, there is an Official Elvis Presley Web Site -

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