|Sun Shoots Fireworks! |
30 Billion Earths, Draculaland,
100 Million Species, Elvira Returns,
Dead Zone, G. Gordon Liddy & More!
|Fireworks on The Sun! |
WASHINGTON July 01, 2002 (Reuters) - A massive solar eruption, more than 30 times the length of Earth's diameter, blasted away from the sun on Monday, and a satellite captured graphic images of the event.
The eruption occurred at 9:19 a.m. EDT and showed up in a picture taken by one instrument of the SOHO satellite as a fiery-looking "leg" in the lower-left corner of the image, scientists said in a statement.
Pictures taken over the following 90 minutes by another SOHO instrument show a loopy-looking eruption taking place and then dispersing. All images are visible at the SOHO Web site, http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov
The "leg" is what astronomers call an eruptive prominence, which is a loop of magnetic fields that trap hot gas inside. As this prominence became unstable, it erupted into the area around the sun and appeared to dissipate.
If eruptions like these are aimed at Earth, they can disturb Earth's magnetosphere, but this one was not directed at our planet, a spokesman for SOHO said by telephone.
SOHO -- short for Solar and Heliospheric Observatory -- is run by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the European Space Agency.
JPL / NASA Website - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html
Astronomy Picture of the Day - http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod
|Asian-Americans Urged to Fly US Flags |
By DEBORAH KONG
AP Minority Issues Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. July 1, 2002 (AP) - This Independence Day, Richard Mak envisions American flags displayed proudly alongside the Peking ducks, Asian pears and jade rings in this city's bustling Chinatown.
Mak and about 200 volunteers are planning to visit each Chinatown merchant in Oakland, and offer to hang free flags from storefronts. It's all part of a nationwide effort - given new urgency by last year's terrorist attacks - to blanket Asian-American neighborhoods with the Stars and Stripes for July Fourth.
"For the last 150 years we have been treated as foreigners. We want to show the mainstream we Chinese-Americans are American too," said Mak, an Air Force veteran who owns a Chinatown fish market. "We are loyal to this country and we demand to be treated as American."
The effort is drawing volunteers around the country, though some critics say simply waving an American flag won't change people's views of Asian-Americans, whatever those feelings may be.
Last month, the 80-20 Initiative - a political action committee that works to boost the clout of Asian-Americans - e-mailed about 430,000 people urging them to "erase our 'foreigners' image" by creating flag displays at prominent Asian-American locations and hanging flags at homes and businesses.
The project was first tried last year, but takes on a new significance in the wake of Sept. 11, said S.B. Woo, the group's president and former lieutenant governor of Delaware.
"Life is tougher now for new immigrants, new citizens. Xenophobia has increased," Woo said. "We will just have to dedicate ourselves to redoubled efforts."
The nonpartisan 80-20 Initiative is spending about $13,000 printing 5,000 paper flags and running radio spots on Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and English-language stations for the campaign. The targets are those ethnic communities - along with Asian Indians and Japanese-Americans - in the San Francisco area, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Houston, Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York.
Formed in 1998, 80-20 takes its name from its goal of wielding bloc-voting power to rally 80 percent of the country's 10.2 million Asian-Americans behind one presidential candidate, though the group isn't loyal to a particular political party.
In Flushing, N.Y., Richard Hsueh's Mandarin-language radio station has broadcast announcements and ads about the flag project. The 80-20 Initiative sent him about 200 flags, which can be picked up at the station, he said.
"To hang up the American flags, maybe some people will see that as a small thing, but I think the meaning is significant," Hsueh said. "After 9/11, more than ever, we need to let people understand the immigrants here are members of America. We love America."
For Asian-Americans, the flag takes on an additional symbolism because it has been used to define who is "really American" and who is not, said Helen Zia, a San Francisco area Asian-American activist and author.
"Flag-waving and patriotism, it's a two-edged sword," Zia said. "It can really inspire us as Americans and make us feel connected. It's also been used in ways to divide people."
Ling-chi Wang, a professor of Asian-American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, doubts the effort will make a difference.
"You can put all the flags you want out there in the front yard," Wang said. "It's not going to change people's views. It's going to take some power," both electoral and financial for Asian-Americans' voices to be heard more widely.
In Oakland, as Mak surveyed his plans to disseminate 4,300 flags, he recalled a keen sense of being ignored by mainstream society. It's a feeling that still lingers.
"When I was young, I traveled all over the United States," said Mak, 50. Despite wearing an Air Force uniform, "they treated me as an outsider." Even today, "people, they still don't really accept who I am."
"It takes a long time - another generation - to change," he said. "Someone has got to start doing something."
80-20 Initiative - http://www.80-20initiative.net
|Apaches Devastated By Arizona Blaze |
By Michael Kahn
SHOW LOW, Ariz. June 28, 2002 (Reuters) — As firefighters made strides combating a monster Arizona wildfire, there were sighs of relief Thursday in the mountain town of Show Low, which officials now expect to survive one of the most destructive blazes ever to scorch the U.S. West.
Not far away, however, on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation, there was nothing but bad news. Local Apaches, who have lived in the eastern Arizona high country for hundreds of years, say the fire has already devastated their economy, incinerating the forests they log for timber and shutting down tourism.
"There goes our food. There go our car payments. There go our truck payments. How to rebound from it I do not know," Andrew Kinney, a tribal spokesman, said Thursday.
The giant wildfire, which started eight days ago, has grown to a total of 417,000 acres (650 square miles), blasting an area twice the size of the city of New York and extending its perimeter to cover some 200 miles. An estimated 30,000 people have been forced to flee the fire zone, while at least 423 homes have been destroyed in this picturesque area about 150 miles from Phoenix.
Officials said Thursday that the fire — which for days appeared poised to sweep over the town of Show Low — would probably be kept at bay after firefighting teams carved huge fire breaks into the dense and dry underbrush. "Today, as things are right now in Show Low and the northeast part of the fire, everything is fine," Jim Paxon, the chief fire spokesman, said Thursday.
But officials said they remained concerned about activity along the fire's western edge, where forecasts of dry lightning, thunderstorms, and gusty wind could further fan flames moving through a region studded with forested ravines thick with dry underbrush.
APACHES SEE FUTURE BURN
For the Apaches of the White Mountain tribe, the disaster has already struck. The community, which numbers some 17,000, includes a number of small towns about 15 miles south of Show Low. While no homes on the reservation have been destroyed, the wildfire's path took it through stands of timber which have long been the economic mainstay for their logging economy.
Kinney said the fire had already destroyed at least $200 million worth of timber, which represents about 40 percent of the tribe's annual revenues. Forestry experts say it could take more than 100 years before the local woodlands recover.
With tribal lumber mills threatened with closure, the tribe is also losing other sources of revenue. The tribe's hotel, convention center, and casino have closed, while tourism has dried up — leaving Apache businesses that offer everything from elk hunts to fishing and camping trips without customers.
Faced with an economic crisis, Kinney said the tribe was preparing to follow the path of the fire, seeking to salvage as much salable timber from reservation lands as they can. But he said the future looked bleak for many tribal members, some of whom already survive on monthly incomes of less than $1,000. "I guarantee we will all be affected by this. We look up to this forest as our major resource," Kinney said.
MORE MISERY AHEAD
The misery faced by the White Mountain Apache could be a foretaste of economic hardships visited on other rural U.S. communities as the nation's summer fire season gets off to a fierce and early start.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, extreme fire conditions exist in California, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah in addition to Arizona and Colorado. There are more than 2.6 million acres burning nationwide, about triple the 10-year average of 846,309 acres.
Firefighters in southwest Colorado braced for what was expected to be a tough day on the fire line with threats of dry lightning in the forecast. Near the southwestern city of Durango, the Missionary Ridge fire and another much smaller blaze a few miles apart, the Valley fire, have not merged but were being treated as one system for fire fighting purposes, fire information officer Roger Condie said. The two fires have consumed 70,812 acres, and the double-blaze, which has destroyed 51 homes, is 30 percent contained.
In southern California, meanwhile, the main highway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was closed for almost 12 hours by a wildfire that scorched 6,700 acres of brush, destroyed three homes, and briefly cut power to about a half-million homes.
(Additional reporting by Judy Crosson in Denver and Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles)
|OMB Sets Up Wasteful Spending Web Site |
|WASHINGTON July 01, 2002 (Reuters) - The White House on Monday unveiled a new tool for fighting government bloat -- a World Wide Web link called "The Wastebasket" that allows taxpayers to submit examples of wasteful government bureaucracy. |
The site is part of the White House's Office of Management and Budget's revamped web site, at www.omb.gov or www.whitehouse.gov/omb. The new site, which went live early Monday evening, is meant to be easier to navigate.
"Americans deserve better information about how their tax dollars are being spent, or misspent, and the government can benefit from the citizen feedback and ideas for greater efficiency that this new site makes possible," OMB Director Mitch Daniels said in a statement announcing the recreated site.
Located at the center of the newly-remade OMB home page, "The Wastebasket" includes a picture of an empty, wire-mesh office trash can. Billed as an interactive section "where visitors can suggest examples of mismanagement and abuse that cost U.S. taxpayers," the site gives examples of previously made changes in printing, government charge cards and vehicle fleets that saved money. It also includes a link where taxpayers can e-mail their own examples of unneeded programs.
The Wastebasket - http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/reform/index.html
Wastebasket email address - email@example.com
|30 Billion Earths! |
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Science Editor
July 1, 2002 (BBC) - Astronomers say there could be billions of Earths in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Their assessment comes after the discovery of the 100th exoplanet - a planet that circles a star other than our own.
The latest find is a gas giant, just like all the other exoplanets so far detected, and orbits a Sun-like star 293 light-years away.
Scientists say they are now in a position to try to estimate how many planets may exist in the galaxy and speculate on just how many could be like the Earth. The answer in both cases is billions.
Virtually all the stars out to about 100 light-years distant have been surveyed. Of these 1,000 or so stars, about 10% have been found to possess planetary systems. So, with about 300 billion stars in our galaxy, there could be about 30 billion planetary systems in the Milky Way alone; and a great many of these systems are very likely to include Earth-like worlds, say researchers.
The 100th new planet circles the star HD 2039. It was found by astronomers using the Anglo-Australian Telescope as part of the Carnegie Institution Planet Search Program. The Jupiter-sized world circles its star every 1,210 days at a distance of about 320 million kilometers (200 million miles).
Astronomer Dr Jean Schneider, who compiles the Extrasolar Planets Catalogue, told BBC News Online: "The 100th planet is symbolic and important. The first discoveries concentrated on short orbital periods because of the limited timebase of observations. Now, we are learning more about the statistics of long orbital periods and know to what extent our own Jupiter is exceptional or not."
With the new world, astronomers say that they have just about finished surveying all the Sun-like stars out to a distance of 100 light-years from Earth.
Current planet detection technology - based on the "wobble" induced in the parent star by the gravitational pull of the orbiting planet - can only detect worlds about the mass of Saturn or larger. Earth-sized worlds are too small to be seen. But even in this "biased" survey of giants, the smaller worlds predominate - which makes astronomers think that Earth-like worlds do exist. They may even be as common a Jupiter-sized exoplanets.
And if stellar statistics gathered in our local region of space are applied to our galaxy of 300 billion stars, then there may be 30 billion Jupiter-like worlds and perhaps as many Earth-like worlds as well.
Astronomers will have to wait for a new generation of space-based telescopes incorporating advanced detectors before they can detect Earth-sized worlds orbiting other stars.
|Prisoner Flees Jail in Cardboard Box |
|BERLIN July 01, 2002 (Reuters) - German police have launched a manhunt for a convicted murderer who escaped from prison in a cardboard box. The 27-year-old Yugoslav outwitted guards by concealing himself in a box he had been given to assemble at the Waldeck prison in eastern Germany. |
"He had been working in the prison's box folding department and it appears he got into a box," said Christian Pegel, spokesman for the justice ministry in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
A truck driver unwittingly transported the box out of jail and the prisoner jumped off the vehicle unseen. Police are combing the area using helicopters, horses and dogs.
|Music News |
New Law May Kill Independent Radio Webcasts
By MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE
The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. July 1, 2002 (News & Observer) - Student disc jockey Meredith A. Neville played everything from jazz to Sonic Youth to Malaysian dance music last Wednesday morning on WXYC-FM. During her three-hour shift, she sent out more than 40 songs over the airwaves. And over the World Wide Web.
WXYC, UNC-Chapel Hill's low-wattage student station, is billed as the first radio station anywhere to put its broadcast online, around the clock, starting in 1994. Walls at its cramped headquarters in the Student Union are lined with album and CD racks, but DJs still bring CDs and LPs from home: a vinyl album by rock band Kyuss, CDs of Brazilian Samba-pop by Chico Buarque, soul rock by Alton Ellis. Scattered listeners from Japan to London tune in over the Internet for the eclectic mix which comes to them as streaming live audio through their computers.
"To me, this is the DJ station, with records - vinyl and CDs ..." said Neville, 23, a rising senior. "For the people I know who listen to Internet radio ... it's about getting the radio experience you can't get in your office."
Now, college radio station managers fear they will be forced to halt their Webcasts because of new requirements for recordkeeping and royalty payments, announced last month by James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress. At work is the same law that reined in Napster and other online distributors of free MP3 music files a few years ago.
Radio stations use a streaming audio format to make their broadcasts available simultaneously over the Internet, streams not as easily captured and copied as MP3 downloads. But in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Congress decided that musicians and record companies need copyright protection for music Webcasts by Web services including commercial and nonprofit radio stations.
Billington announced June 20 that Webcasters will be required to compile logs of how many Internet users tune in to each song online. Based on the audience numbers, stations will pay royalties to the performers and record manufacturers. Additional proposed regulations would restrict Webcast programming, including limiting consecutive songs by a single artist, or from a single CD.
Record industry officials said they worried that Web broadcasts eventually could enable listeners to tune in over the Internet to small-time stations streaming, say, Madonna or Sinatra night and day.
"The technology is not there now," said John Simson, executive director of Sound Exchange, a division of the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group. "But someday they might be able to just sit there and stream all day, every day and never buy a record."
Campus broadcasters said such fears are unwarranted, especially for their tiny Webcast audiences. With the exception of a few shows devoted to an artist or genre, WXYC broadcasts reach only about 30 listeners each hour.
"It's not like they can pick and choose songs they want," said Ashley E. Atkinson, WXYC assistant manager.
Webcast royalties for commercial stations were set at 7 cents for every 100 listeners to each song. College and other noncommercial stations received a rate of 2 cents per 100, with a minimum royalty payment of $500 per year. Fees would be retroactive to 1998, when the copyright law was enacted. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting negotiated separate terms and royalty rates, which have not been disclosed publicly, for its National Public Radio members, including WUNC-FM at UNC-Chapel Hill and WNCU-FM at N.C. Central University. The NPR deal does not cover other local stations such as WSHA at Shaw University, WCPE in Wake Forest, WXDU at Duke and WXYC. College radio stations are largely volunteer-run, student-funded, low-budget, low-tech operations.
"Most radio stations, even some big ones, they don't have a computerized system that says what song was playing at what time to how many listeners and then coordinate that with what they're streaming," said Gregory B. Newby, 37, production director at WXDU-FM, the Duke student station. "It's a nightmare."
WXYC's annual budget has not exceeded $18,000 since 1984, Atkinson said, and she expects that the station's royalty fees would not exceed the $500 annual minimum. New record-keeping requirements will be more burdensome than the fees, she said. The station would be required to log the number of listeners for every song, and to identify each song by title, artist, album title, record label, catalog number, International Standard Recording Code and the date and time of transmission. The song and artist name will have to be displayed online as the song is playing.
Neville said the process will prevent DJs from spontaneously choosing and ordering the songs they play on the air. Before they could play rare recordings, or their own old records from home, they would have to find the required background information for each song.
"If it was just the fees, we might be able to do it," said Atkinson, 21, of Roanoke, Va. "But there's no way we can meet all the reporting requirements. If nothing changes, it's very possible we will have to stop the Web broadcasting."
Small stations nationwide are organizing appeals. Representatives from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and College Broadcasters Inc. met with the Recording Industry Association of America earlier this year, but negotiations stalled. Carol Pierson, the federation's president and chief executive, said they are now pursuing congressional hearings to air their worries about Webcasting.
"It is a way for stations to get out beyond where their signal can reach," Pierson said. If they cut back, she said, "they would potentially be losing some listeners and some exposure."
Newby at WXDU and Atkinson at WXYC said they would consider legal challenges and other options to make it possible to continue serving an Internet audience.
"It's not that our audience size online is so big - it's not," Atkinson said. "It's more a matter of principle. We're providing a service to them, and we don't feel like that's something we should be charged for."
WXYC - http://www.wxyc.org
...and our personal favorite WFMU - http://www.wfmu.org
Family Closes Rosemary Clooney Memorial to Public
LOS ANGELES July 01, 2002 (Reuters) - The family of 1950s singing sensation Rosemary Clooney closed a public memorial service planned for Wednesday "due to tremendous response" for seats in the Beverly Hills church, Clooney's publicist said on Monday.
Clooney died Saturday at her Beverly Hills mansion from complications of lung cancer. She was 74.
Plans for the evening rosary at Church of the Good Shepherd were announced on Monday, but hours later it was changed from a public to a private event.
"The family thanks those who want to extend their personal wishes, but the church is at capacity and cannot accommodate any unexpected guests," publicist Linda Dozoretz said in a statement.
A public memorial is scheduled for Dec. 9 in Los Angeles, Dozoretz said.
Clooney will be buried in her native Kentucky on Friday. The former "girl singer" is survived by her five children with ex-husband Jose Ferrer, an Academy Award-winning actor who died in 1992.
Clooney shot to fame with a string of hits in the 1950s including the million-selling "Come On-A My House" and "Mambo Italiano" and had a successful, if limited, film career.
After virtually quitting music during a period of personal difficulties in the late 1960s, she reemerged in the 1980s, endearing herself to a new generation of music fans and landing a recurring role on hospital drama "ER" opposite her nephew, George Clooney.
Musician Serenades Judge and Wins
LONDON July 02, 2002 (Reuters) - A British musician and Clark Gable look-alike who enlivened the austere surrounds of London's High Court by serenading the judge from the witness box was rewarded on Tuesday with victory in a copyright tussle.
Violinist Bobby Valentino was claiming copyright in Scottish band the Bluebells' chart-topping hit, "Young At Heart," which topped the UK charts nine years ago after being used as backing for a Volkswagen TV advertising campaign.
The mustachioed musician, who was session violinist on the recording, successfully claimed that he was joint author and copyright owner because he wrote a violin riff for the song.
"The court was the oddest venue I've ever played in but I thoroughly enjoyed it -- the acoustics weren't bad," said Valentino, who stands to gain 100,000 pounds ($153,000) in royalties as a result of the decision.
"I'm absolutely delighted with the outcome. It is probably fair to say this is my biggest ever payday," he added.
Valentino, who works part-time as a look-alike for Hollywood movie star Clark Gable, had earlier treated the judge to a live performance from the witness box, playing parts of the song on violin and acoustic guitar. The song was originally released by Bananarama in the 1980s but reached number one in 1993 after being re-released and reworked by the Bluebells and used in the Volkswagen campaign.
|Turtle News! |
Swimmers Relieved as Giant Turtle Is Nabbed
BERLIN July 02, 2002 (Reuters) - Germans banned from swimming in a lake in Munich after a giant turtle was seen there can relax -- the monster has been wrestled ashore and handed over to Munich University's Zoological Institute, police said on Monday.
The snapping turtle, known as 'Dornie', is thought to have been bought in a pet shop and later released into Dornach lake, where he lived for at least a decade, reaching 32 inches in length on a diet of fish, frogs and rats.
Police banned swimming in the lake and issued a warning after a worried local man showed them a photograph of the large turtle, and after a two-week search by police, firemen and fishermen, a passerby grabbed Dornie and dragged him ashore.
"His jaw could have severed a human's arm or leg," said Munich police spokesman Siegfried Benker.
The snapping turtle is native to the southeastern United States and is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, living around 50 years and weighing up to 176 pounds.
Dornie can expect a lively time in his new home, according to Manfred Durner, a civil servant in the south German city. "The zoological institute was pleased to hear he was a male because they have a number of female turtles there," he said.
Lawsuit Filed to Stop Turtle Killings
Honolulu June 27th, 2002 (Earthjustice) - Today three environmental groups filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Hawaii to halt an experimental swordfish longline fishery that is authorized to kill 117 threatened and endangered sea turtles. The Center for Biological Diversity, The Ocean Conservancy and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project of Turtle Island Restoration Network, represented by Earthjustice, filed suit to stop this so-called “experiment,” as it allows longline fishing in the very area from which the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) previously banned longlining to protect the turtles.
The vessel operators will be allowed to sell their catch and retain the profit, and will be granted a permit to kill threatened and critically endangered sea turtles. NMFS’ own mortality estimates state the proposed experiment will kill up to 15 critically endangered leatherback turtles, 87 loggerheads, and six green turtles, further propelling these species toward extinction.
"NMFS is trying to create a loophole to allow swordfish fishing to continue, even after its own scientists have warned that the so-called experiment is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the turtles," said Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice attorney for the plaintiffs.
The suit alleges that the NMFS decision to grant a permit to itself to conduct the experimental fishery contradicts the scientific conclusions in the agency’s own Biological Opinion that the expected mortalities are likely to jeopardize the very existence of loggerheads and leatherbacks. The suit seeks to halt the experiment until NMFS complies with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Marydele Donnelly, Sea Turtle Research Scientist for The Ocean Conservancy, commented, "Although leatherbacks and loggerheads are on the brink of extinction in the Pacific, NMFS' experiments are sacrificing these animals relentlessly. Atlantic research has shown that blue-dyed bait and hooks placed away from the floats do not deter sea turtles from taking bait or getting hooked. NMFS' Pacific experiment is uselessly duplicating this research, adding to our belief that the experiments in Hawai'i are simply a cover for swordfish fishing."
Gear used in the pelagic longline fisheries generally consists of a main monofilament line buoyed by surface floats. The main line, which is 30 to 40 miles long, supports hundreds of branch lines, and the entire "set" carries as many as 2,000 baited hooks. These hooks and lines capture and entangle endangered turtles. While some turtles may survive this ordeal, many are strangled by the monofilament lines or drown soon after swallowing the hooks. Others may die weeks or months later from starvation, internal injuries, or bacterial infections.
Brendan Cummings, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said, "The government has been aware of this problem for more than fifteen years, and has failed, time and again, to require the fishery to take any measures to stop -- or even reduce -- the killing. Once we finally get relief for these besieged turtles, the government turns around and tries to reopen the fishery. Rarely have we seen such a clear attempt by NMFS to circumvent the Endangered Species Act, which is designed to protect and recover species, not kill them."
The 2001-02 nesting season for Pacific leatherbacks was the worst year ever, with minimal numbers of females returning to nesting beaches throughout the world. "The decline in the Pacific leatherback population in the last five years is nothing short of catastrophic," said Todd Steiner, Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. "Their future depends on what we do -- or may not do -- in the next five years. Allowing a closed swordfish fishery to re-open under a so-called experimental permit is ludicrous in light of the overwhelming evidence that we must immediately stop all assaults on this critically endangered species if we expect to recover the species."
Sea Turtle Survival League - http://www.cccturtle.org
EuroTurtle - http://www.euroturtle.org
|Rats Behind Mysterious Cattle Mutilations |
|BUENOS AIRES, Argentina July 02, 2002 (Reuters) - Recent mutilations of cattle and horses in the Argentine countryside were the work of rodents, scientists said on Monday, not ritualistic slayings by extraterrestrials or vampires as some farmers feared. |
Argentina's national food and animal health inspection service Senasa sent its own "X-Files" scientists to the remote plains to look into the deaths of farm animals found mutilated and drained of blood. Frightened farmers claimed to have seen bright lights and UFOs in the area where the deaths occurred.
But Senasa officials said the dozens of livestock whose genitals, tongues and other organs appeared to have been removed with surgical precision were victims of rodents, foxes or other animals.
Senasa said the farm animals likely died from common infections and wild animals later mutilated the corpses.
"We see these as natural deaths (and) there is clear evidence of the presence of rodents and birds which led us to our conclusions," Senasa President Bernardo Cane told reporters.
The strange circumstances surrounding the deaths -- one horse's hoof had a circle drawn into it and some animals were surrounded by charred grass -- led some locals to insist the deaths were the work of little green men, vampires or a satanic cult. Senasa gave no explanation for the burned grass and the circle on the hoof.
Senasa said its specialists conferred with scientists in Texas who had investigated similar cases in the 1970's and arrived at a similar conclusion.
|Romanians Plan Draculaland |
BUCHAREST July 01, 2002 (Reuters) - Romania said on Monday it was going ahead with a Dracula theme park in Transylvania despite opposition from groups worried that its kitschy attractions will be out of keeping with the medieval surrounds.
Romanian Tourism Minister Dan Agathon denied media reports that the government, under pressure from groups concerned with preserving Romania's heritage, had abandoned plans to build the park on a hilltop near the medieval town of Sighisoara.
"Any rumors saying that we intend to move the location of Dracula park or give up the project are simple fabrications," Agathon told Reuters in an interview.
Sighisoara was the birthplace of the 15th century Romanian count Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler, thought to have inspired Irish author Bram Stoker's famous Gothic novel "Dracula."
Critics say the park, featuring a ghost castle with torture chambers, kitschy attractions and restaurants serving "scary meat jelly," would kill the medieval spirit of Sighisoara and damage a forest reserve that is home to ancient oaks. Agathon said any decision on the park would be based solely on suggestions made by consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers, whom the government has hired for a feasibility study on the project.
"We are paying the best consultants and we will strictly observe their advice. If they come up with alternatives for the (park's) location...we will listen to them," he said.
The study would be ready by mid-September. Under the deal PricewaterhouseCoopers would also make arrangements for funds worth $100 million for the project.
"Dracula badly needs that cash," said Agathon, whose other exotic projects include transforming Romania's Black sea coast into a tropical paradise by planting palm trees.
|Moving Nuclear Waste |
By Peter N. Spotts
Christian Science Monitor
USA June 27, 2002 (CSM) - In the 1930s, Eastman Kodak Co. began to hear complaints that some of the X-ray plates it sold to hospitals were arriving hopelessly fogged. A quick check showed that laborers had loaded boxes of plates onto the same boxcar that carried the containers of radium. Thus was born what may be the earliest shipping requirement for nuclear materials: Do not ship radium in a boxcar used for shipping X-ray film.
"It was the shortest regulation in history," quips Bob Jefferson, a nuclear-materials transportation consultant.
Today, nuclear materials routinely travel across the country – and around the world.
These materials are subject to stringent shipping and security measures. But concern about them – particularly about the highly radioactive waste from nuclear-power plants – has grown with the prospect that waste shipments will become more frequent if a permanent repository is built, as many expect. Those concerns have intensified following Sept. 11. And some states are getting more vocal about having nuclear materials on their turf: Recently, South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges unsuccessfully attempted to block waste shipments into his state.
These shipments have moved around the US from a range of sources, from the Three-Mile Island clean-up and research reactors overseas to spent fuel and other high-level waste from US Department of Energy reactors and the US Navy.
While some shipments have been involved in accidents, since the early 1960s none has led to a release of radioactivity or to radiation-related illnesses or deaths, state and federal regulators note.
Credit goes to the shipping containers, Mr. Jefferson says. Many products, ranging from radio-pharmaceuticals to home smoke detectors, which contain low-level nuclear materials, can be shipped in cardboard boxes. The most dangerous materials, such as the high-level waste from nuclear-power plants, get more-deft handling.
Spent reactor fuel is loaded into stainless-steel casks weighing from 60 to 120 tons. Casks are lined with materials including depleted uranium that keep radiation inside the cask. The design philosophy, Jefferson says, is, "you can't trust humans."
Casks are designed to withstand a 30-foot fall onto a hard surface such as concrete. A cask must withstand temperatures of 1,440 degrees F. for 30 minutes. (A blaze in a Baltimore tunnel exceeded those temperatures for longer than that in 2001, although engineers point out it's unlikely such materials will be shipped over routes currently off-limits to hazardous limits.)
A fractured cask must be leak proof when immersed in three feet of water for eight hours. Newer casks must remain leak proof for eight hours at depths of 100 feet. And a cask must withstand a three-foot fall onto a steel post to simulate an accident that could puncture a cask.
Driving next to a truck and cask on the highway, or standing on the shoulder while one whizzes by, yields a brief dose of radiation indistinguishable from what humans are naturally expose to every day. By one estimate, a pedestrian watching a truck pass receives a dose equivalent to eating two extra bananas a year. Bananas contain traces of radioactive potassium.
However, critics point out that the US has never conducted the full range of structural-integrity tests on full-sized casks, analysts say. Instead, one-quarter to half-scale models have been tested. And Nevada state officials say there are so many uncertainties surrounding transportation of waste that it's tough to gauge potential effects or to plan for emergencies. Next year, the US Nuclear Regulatory Agency is planning full-scale tests..
Over the past four decades, the United States has sent the vast majority of some 3,000 shipments of spent nuclear fuel across the nation's highways and railways. (Some has traveled by barge.)
That number is set to skyrocket when a permanent repository is scheduled to open, perhaps by 2010. According to the US Energy Department, the number of shipments could grow to between 15,000 and 45,000 at that point. The amount depends on whether the material is trucked, or shipped by rail in larger canisters.
To some, the likelihood of a serious accident will rise along with an increase in shipments. Nevada officials doubt enough rail access is available, forcing more casks onto trucks. They say shipments could number as high as 100,000.
Others, however, note that worldwide, the flow of high-level radioactive waste already has run into the tens of thousands of tons.
"Over the history of this industry, more spent fuel has been shipped internationally than will be shipped to Yucca Mountain," says Jack Edlow, who heads Edlow International, a nuclear-materials transport company. The shipments have moved "safely and securely, without the loss of a single life."
Some of these international shipments come from foreign research reactors, whose owners have sent spent fuel to the US for disposal under the Atoms for Peace program. Many other shipments originate in countries whose laws and policies governing the use of nuclear energy require that spent reactor fuel be recycled.
Not every country has reprocessing facilities, however. Japan ships its fuel to France for recycling, as do several European countries. Britain also reprocesses nuclear fuel. Russia reprocesses some of its spent fuel, and is deciding whether to market itself as a host for an international commercial nuclear-waste repository.
Reprocessing has had a checkered history in the US. It yields plutonium, which can be used as reactor fuel. Following India's explosion of a nuclear device in 1974, the US grew concerned about the likelihood plutonium could be diverted to build weapons. And the large number of shipments to and from reprocessing plants could be vulnerable to theft or sabotage. In 1977, President Carter banned civil reprocessing in the US. President Reagan lifted the ban in 1981, but by then reprocessing had lost its economic luster. Last year, President Bush recommended the government put renewed focus on reprocessing.
|Ancient Rainforest in Colorado? |
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. June 27, 2002 (AP) - Scientists digging south of Denver say they have uncovered evidence of a lush and vibrant rainforest that emerged surprisingly soon after the asteroid collision that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
The fossils of more than 100 kinds of towering conifer trees, huge ferns and blooming flowers challenge scientists' long-held assumption that a desolate Earth took about 10 million years to recover from the catastrophe and sprouted only a few dreary plant varieties for a long time.
Instead, the finding suggests that plant life -- at least at this now-dry prairie along Interstate 25 -- was flourishing as early as 1.4 million years after the impact. Some of the tree fossils measure 6 feet in diameter.
"It not only recovered, it went crazy,'' said Kirk Johnson, paleontology curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He reported the findings in the latest issue of the journal Science.
In fact, scientists said it might be the earliest example on record of a true tropical rainforest.
Other plant fossil experts who did not participate in the study said the discovery was totally unexpected. While one site cannot explain plant life around the world during that tumultuous period, experts said the Castle Rock fossils will compel them to reconsider the period of life immediately following the dinosaurs' extinction, known as the lower Paleocene.
"I never would've put this so early in the Paleocene,'' said Leo Hickey, paleobotany curator at Yale's Peabody Museum. "A flora of this diversity and richness is really striking.''
In their study, Johnson and Denver museum associate Beth Ellis said a comparison of fossils before and after the apparent asteroid impact indicate that the forest is not a holdover from the days of the dinosaurs but something that sprang up later. Also, Johnson said the plants that grew there are not the same type as those that grew during the pre-asteroid Cretaceous Period. Instead, they are more closely related to other plants that typically grew during the Paleocene.
The ancient rainforest was more vibrant than some tropical locations today. Museum researchers have identified at least 104 plant species at the Castle Rock site. In contrast, many modern research sites in Brazil contain 40 to 60 plant species, while a location in Peru contains as many as 293.
How a rainforest grew at the site remains unclear.
Johnson believes the Castle Rock rainforest was nourished by humid Florida-like heat and 100 inches of rain a year, probably delivered by monsoons that brewed in an older, larger version of today's Gulf of Mexico and an ancient sea covering what is now the northern Great Plains. The site was discovered in 1994 by a state highway worker. It is scheduled to be demolished later this year in a road-widening project.
Science journal: http://www.sciencemag.org
Denver Museum of Nature and Science: http://www.dmnh.org
|The 100 Million Species Question: What Are They? |
By PRIYANKA SHARMA-SINDHAR
Austin July 1, 2002 (LA Times) - An eclectic band of scientists, Silicon Valley millionaires and media celebrities is mounting an ambitious effort to catalog every living species on the planet within the next 25 years.
From the bright sunflowers in the local park to the white-tailed deer in Siberia, from the wild yam in South Africa to the pink dolphin in the Amazon River--every living plant and animal is supposed to make it onto the list.
It is a grand--and perhaps overly optimistic--project, given that it has taken Homo sapiens 2 1/2 centuries to identify just 1.5 million to 1.8 million species. Some scientists, such as Harvard sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, believe there could be well over 100 million species of animals, plants, insects and other living organisms on Earth. But despite the size of the task, supporters of the All Species Inventory Project believe the process of scanning all life on the planet will eventually pay big dividends.
"Discovering and understanding the diversity of life on Earth is not just a grand intellectual challenge--it is also critically important," said David M. Hillis, professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin. "The fact is that we are largely ignorant of our own planet and how it works."
So far, about 70 scientists from around the world have joined the effort, which is being organized and managed by the not-for-profit All Species Foundation in San Francisco.
The list of advisors to the foundation includes Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Wired magazine founding editor Kevin Kelly and Whole Earth Catalog creator Stewart Brand.
The foundation hopes that names like these will help draw the estimated $3 billion to $5 billion it will take to complete the directory. It is focusing its fund-raising efforts on the enormous private wealth generated by the New Economy.
The organization's founding grant of $1 million came from foundation advisor Evert I. Schlinger, professor emeritus of entomology at UC Berkeley. In addition, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established by Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore, has contributed $56,000; and Shel Kaphan, Amazon.com's first employee and former chief technology officer, has contributed $100,000.
While few scientists dispute the value of an inventory of life, some have questioned the effectiveness of the project, saying that cataloging every living thing is simply unrealistic.
"These sorts of things are very useful to raise public consciousness, but what worries me is that it is inherently unachievable," said Craig Moritz, professor of molecular evolution at UC Berkeley. "Why are we, as scientists, making some sort of promise that we can't deliver on? We're never going to know all the species that are out there."
But the project members believe they can make enormous headway on their admittedly ambitious goal through the use of high technology.
"There are a few advantages that the next 25 years offer, which the previous 250 years did not," said Richard Pyle, an ichthyologist at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu and a consultant to the foundation. "My interest is deep coral reefs. Just 10 to 15 years ago, the cost and time required to just get a person to those depths was astronomical.
"Recent advances in diving technology, however, now allow me to access this realm at costs that are less expensive than before."
The Internet also opens possibilities for organizing and collecting information for the project. While it used to take taxonomists many months, sometimes years, to distribute information about new species, they can now post their news on the Web in a matter of minutes. They can also build online databases, which will help them organize and coordinate their research.
Such improvements in technology, along with the development of new scientific tools such as rapid DNA sequencing, give these biologists reason to hope--and count.
"In the absolute sense, we won't ever know for sure," said Hillis, of the University of Texas. "And there likely will be a few occasional species that will continue to be discovered....
"However, we will know that we are essentially complete when we can take a random sample of organisms from any spot on Earth and identify them all. Right now, we can't begin to do that for any spot on Earth."
|Pony Express Trail Marker at Nevada Brothel |
MOUND HOUSE, Nev. June 28, 2002 (AP) - A historical society that reveres the celebration of history as much as the history itself has established a monument to the Pony Express Trail in an unlikely place - the front yard of a brothel.
It turns out the 1860's mail route from St. Joseph, Mo., to California passed smack dab through the middle of the property now home to the Moonlite Bunnyranch. Leaders of a local chapter of E Clampus Vitus said they would induct flamboyant brothel owner Dennis Hof as an official "Clamper" at a dedication Saturday of the stone monument and plaque in front of the bordello 8 miles east of Carson City.
"It just happens to be on his property," said Marc Bebout, president of the Julia Bulette chapter formed in Virginia City in 1864 and named after the Comstock's famous "prostitute with a heart of gold."
"Mound House was a very busy area in the late 1800s, early 1900s. We want to preserve for time not only the Pony Express site but also the site of the Carson-Colorado and Virginia-Truckee Railroad," he said.
Some historians in academia say the Clampers are known best for heavy drinking at their gatherings and don't necessarily let the facts get in the way of a good story. But they acknowledge the Clampers are accurate in their placement of the new marker. And one of the most respected Pony Express experts gives them credit for explaining that the trail extended to the San Francisco Bay Area, rather than stopping in Sacramento, as many accounts state.
"I have no problem with it being in front of a brothel," said Joseph Nardone of Laguna Beach, Calif., national executive director of the Pony Express Trail Association. "The Overland Trail, the old stagecoach crossing, the telegraph line - it's about 80 yards south of their front door," he said from Rock Springs, Wyo., where he was placing trail markers.
Nardone, a member of an E Clampus Vitus chapter, said the name means nothing but gibberish in Latin.
"One of their quotes in Latin is, `We're absurd.' I like them because they like to mark things historically but they don't really take the time to find out the real history. It's usually more of an excuse to have a good party."
The new plaque is accurate, but "a lot of the stuff they put out about the Pony Express is old stuff, incorrect, fake lore versus truth," Nardone said.
"They don't do it intentionally. They say they got it out of a book and I have to tell them the book has been proven wrong."
Clampers say their critics take all the fun out of history.
"We're not all straight-laced about it," Bebout admits. "Yes, we've been known to drink - a lot. But the history part and preserving it is our biggest concern." Bebout said the historical society started in Europe in the early 1600s and was embraced by coal miners in Virginia in 1800s before it was resurrected in the West, especially in Gold Rush towns of California.
Nevada state archivist Guy Rocha took the group to task a few years back in one of his articles debunking myths of the Old West for an E Clampus Vitus plaque at nearby Dayton that says Ulysses S. Grant spoke from the balcony of the Odeon Hall after leaving the White House in 1877. Rocha said various newspaper accounts make it clear Grant passed through town, but did not stop on his way to Virginia City.
Just off U.S. Highway 50, past Jacob's Ladder Christian Childcare Center, Benny's Auto Body and Tussey's Guns, the Moonlite Bunnyranch sits on a hill dotted with sage brush. The 4-foot tall stone marker with the brown plaque and gold lettering, topped with a 3-foot long piece of rail, sits about 45 feet inside the white wooden fence marking the brothel property. A sign on the fence reads, "Warning: Adult Sexual Entertainment 300 Yards Ahead."
Chuck Roberts, chairman of the Mound House Regional Advisory Committee who often fields community complaints about the brothel, said he doesn't necessarily object to marking the trail there.
"I supposed if it's true, there's no reason not to put it there," Roberts said. "The down side is you are going to put up an historic marker to share information. I'm not sure some evangelical tourist from a Southern church is going to want to bebop by there to view the historical marker."
Hof, whose answering machine instructs callers to leave a message for "America's Pimp," regularly promotes his brothel on Howard Stern's radio show and got in trouble with Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura for putting the ex pro-wrestler's name on a brothel room he visited as a Navy SEAL. Hof said Friday that 10 to 20 tourists stop a day to take pictures of the brothel and he expects more now that the historical marker is in place.
"If the Bunnyranch had been here on the Pony Express Trail 150 years ago," he said, "it would probably have added a day or two to the trip."
National Park Service Pony Express National Historic Trail: http://www.nps.gov/poex/poex.htm
National Pony Express Association: http://gorp.com/gorp/publishers/fulcrum/pony-ex9.htm
|Elvira's Haunted Hills Takes Tinseltown |
Hollywood July 3, 2002 (eXoNews) - In the torch-lit shadows of a stormy night, the crowd of villagers mutter among themselves. The Burgermeister tries to calm them, but lightning flashes and we hear a scream of terror: "Oh, my god! She's back!"
That's right, kiddies! After a long absence from the silver screen (some might say forced retirement), Elvira has come home to Hollywood with an all new feature film appropriately entitled Elvira's Haunted Hills.
In case you missed her TV reign, Elvira was the 80's Queen of TV Horror Hosts, stalking in the wake of such notables as the 1950's Zacherley (a.k.a. Roland) and well before the latest 21st Century reanimation of William Shatner as the host of Full Moon Fright Night on Sci Fi Channel (see story below.)
Aside from an arcane sense of humor, Elvira was particularly known for her slinky black dress and how well she filled it. She never had Zacherley's catalogue of classic Universal monster films, but her masochistic viewers didn't care. They tuned in the mistress of the macabre for a good laugh.
Elvira tried the movie trail toward the end of her TV days and the first film was, shall we say, not ready for 3 AM. Not easily discouraged, Elvira sails back with her second feature 14 years later. It will premiere at the Laemmle Beverly /Fairfax Theatre Friday & Saturday, July 5 & 6, 2002 - at Midnight, of course.
Stan Lee, the guy who created Spider-man, says of Elvira's Haunted Hills: "Finally, a date movie for guys who can't get a date!" Rob Zombie calls it "the bust-out movie of the year!"
Ronnie Scheib's Variety review sharpens the stake: "Must-see fare for fans of the bosomy camp horror queen... a sendup of old Vincent Price/A.I.P. horror flicks, shot in Romania. Pic delivers enough atmosphere and gag mileage to sustain interest...
"Premise strands Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) and her overweight French maid Zou Zou (Mary Jo Smith) in 1851 Carpathia en route to her opening in the Parisian revue "Yes I Can Can." Stopping for the night, they encounter the supersensitive Vladimir Hellsubus (Richard O'Brien, writer-creator of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" who here gets to twitch, brood and laugh maniacally) and assorted dysfunctional relatives."
Not to be bloodthirsty because I haven't seen Elvira's Haunted Hills, but remembering that first Elvira flick, you gothics better get your tickets for this new one as soon as possible if you don't want to wait for the home video release.
Elvira's Website - http://www.elvira.com
And, believe it or not, Zacherley Lives! here - http://www.zacherley.com
|A Boat Made of 160,000 Corks |
|By BARRY HATTON |
PORTO, Portugal July 1, 2002 (AP) - Strap 160,000 cork stoppers together and what do you get? A boat.
Realizing a 30-year-old dream, American John Pollock is on his way down one of Portugal's largest rivers, from the border with Spain to the Atlantic, on a boat made of cork stoppers.
Pollock, 36, and his friend Garth Goldstein set off on their maiden voyage down the Douro River on Sunday and plan to end their trip in the coastal city of Porto next weekend. They are being joined by friends and family along the way. Portugal is the world's largest cork producer. They spent months putting the boat together in Washington, where they live.
Pollock, originally from Ann Arbor, Mich., said they built the boat by wrapping seven cork stoppers in a rubber band to make a hexagon and then lashing the hexagons together with fishing nets to make sturdy stacks. A wooden board was placed on top to form a deck and secure a mast and oars.
"It looks like a Viking longboat," Pollock said by phone.
Pollock, a speechwriter for former President Clinton and free-lance writer, got the idea when at age 7 he saw reed boats in Peru and thought what buoyant material he might use to make his own boat in Michigan. He began saving cork stoppers from bottles of wine drunk by his parents, then began collecting them from bars and restaurants in his home town.
"People used to shout to me in the street, 'Hey, cork guy!'" he recalled.
Over the years he managed to gather only 70,000 stoppers on his own. The rest were provided recently by Cork Supply, a Portuguese company. After a brief test at a marina on the Potomac, Pollock and Goldstein brought the boat to Portugal by ship. Pollock said he wanted to make the maiden voyage through wine country. The vineyards of northern Portugal's Douro region are known worldwide for producing syrupy port wine.
"The Douro seemed ideal," Pollock said.
|Genre News: Dead Zone, William Shatner, X-Files 2, Rocky Horror, Buffy & More! |
The Dead Zone Joins Sci Fi Fridays
Hollywood July 03, 2002 (eXoNews) - This is one of those "according to" stories, but what the heck! According to Cinescape, according to Variety, The Dead Zone will be added to Sci Fi Channel's Friday night line-up starting July 12th.
USA Network's premiere of The Dead Zone set records in June to become the network's highest-rated original dramatic series debut and earned a place as the top basic cable original dramatic series of all time. The USA premiere got a 4.7 household rating and pulled in 6.4 million viewers. As a guest on a startrek.com fan chat last week, Executive Producer Michael Piller indicated that the second episode did equally well.
The Dead Zone will join new episodes of Stargate: SG1 and Farscape on Sci Fi Fridays.
[Note that this story was not posted on either the Sci Fi or Dead Zone sites when we published, so check your local gurus. Ed.]
The Dead Zone Official Site - http://www.usanetwork.com/series/thedeadzone
Shatner Premiere Warps Forward on Sci Fi Channel
Hollywood July 03, 2002 (eXoNews) - The SCI FI Channel reports that they have moved the premiere of William Shatner's Full Moon Fright Night to 11 p.m. ET/PT Aug. 3 from July 20.
The series features former Star Trek star Shatner playing TV horror host to 13 B-movie horror films from Charles Band's Full Moon studio.
Earlier reports say that Shatner will "break in" to the films ala Elvira, (scroll up for previous story on horror hostess Elvira) with various bits, including interviews with stars from the films.
The Official William Shatner site - http://www.williamshatner.com
Bowman Up For X-Files 2
Hollywood July 02, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - Longtime X-Files director Rob Bowman told SCI FI Wire that he's willing to direct a second X-Files movie—if one is made, and if he's asked.
"That's up to [creator] Chris [Carter]," said Bowman, who directed the first film. "I think I would [do it]. I certainly like all those people. And I enjoy it. So my answer is, as long as it still provides a challenge for me, I'll do it. I don't want to do it for a check. And I don't want to do it because it's easy. I want to do it because I can learn something on it."
As for possible storylines, Bowman added, "I know that it would have to be a stand-alone movie. You can't do any more mythology. Not for a movie. Not for a one-off. We were sort of obligated to do that on the first one, because we had fans who'd followed us all that way, but I think the next one is a one-off. Anything you want."
The X-Files Official site - http://www.thexfiles.com
Do The Time Warp Again
By Nellie Andreeva
Hollywood July 01, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - Talk about doing the time warp again -- Fox Broadcasting Co. will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" with "The Rocky Horror Birthday Show," a two-hour movie to be produced by Fox TV Studios.
Fox plans to air "Birthday" in February -- 30 years after Richard O'Brien first penned "Rocky Horror" as a play that ran in London. O'Brien is on board the TV project as a consultant and will contribute at least one new original song. Lou Adler, who executive produced the 1975 feature with Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, will executive produce "Birthday." Marius De Vries, who worked with Baz Luhrmann as musical director on "Moulin Rouge" and "Romeo + Juliet," is in negotiations to join the project.
The 2002 version of "Rocky Horror" will be faithful to O'Brien's original lyrics but with a new concept conceived by the project's director, Stephan Elliott ("The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"). In the new version, Doctor Frank-N-Furter, who originally was an eccentric scientist living in a Transylvania castle on a quest to concoct the perfect man, will be a successful plastic surgeon who lives in a posh penthouse.
Spielberg Resisted Indy IV
Hollywood July 01, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - Steven Spielberg told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cindy Pearlman that he had to be "nagged" into doing a fourth Indiana Jones movie. "There was a little nagging," he told Pearlman, laughing about the much-awaited sequel starring Harrison Ford. "George Lucas nagged me a little bit on it. But the deal is that George, Harrison Ford, [producer] Kathleen Kennedy and I built a family in the '80s. It was a wonderful family. A nine-year family. We made three films in nine years. Now I would like to go back and have some fun. I'm kind of saving the candy for the last one."
The last one? "Oh, I don't know," Spielberg said. "Of course, I said the third Indy would be the last one. And obviously it's not. So I can't even comment whether the fourth will be the last one or not." Spielberg added about the storyline, "I'm not looking to redesign the wheel. I just want to continue the saga." Spielberg added that his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, will have a cameo in Indy IV.
Whedon Left Off Emmy Ballot
LOS ANGELES June 27, 2002 (Zap2it.com) - "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has been snubbed in Emmy Award competition before, but it usually happened after the ballots were sent out.
This time, an error in the ballot process left "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon off the list of potential nominees for writing of a drama series. Whedon submitted his name for writing the musical episode "Once More, with Feeling," but when the ballots were sent to members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, his name was nowhere to be found.
"We know that obviously something had gone wrong when we heard about it," a spokeswoman for 20th Century Fox TV, which produces "Buffy," tells Zap2it.
There was no demonic conspiracy at work, however -- just a simple human error, which the academy took swift steps to correct. A letter was sent to academy members explaining the goof. Included was an addition to the ballot with Whedon's name that members could return with their ballot. Those who had already submitted their choices were given a phone number to call and request a new ballot.
"Buffy" was listed for consideration in all other applicable categories, including best drama and best actress for star Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Emmy nominations will be announced Thursday, July 18. The awards are scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22.
The Official Buffy site - http://www.buffy.com
|G. Gordon Liddy Testifies on Watergate |
By GRETCHEN PARKER
BALTIMORE July 1, 2002 (AP) - Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy on Monday testified that he was kept in the dark about the 1972 break-in he helped organize - even as he lay in wait that night with radio transmitters at the Watergate hotel.
Liddy, who is being sued for $5 million for defamation, maintains he learned afterward that the 1972 burglary was not an attempt to tap phones and get evidence for President Nixon's re-election committee.
Instead, Liddy alleges the operation was masterminded by Nixon White House counsel John Dean, in an effort to retrieve photographs and papers that could have tied Dean's future wife, Maureen Biner, to a high-class prostitution ring.
Ida "Maxie" Wells, whom Liddy has said kept the photos in her desk and had a hand in running the ring, is suing Liddy claiming he harmed her reputation when making speeches promoting his prostitution theory.
Last year, jurors deadlocked on Wells' 1997 claim and a new trial was ordered. The Deans have denied Liddy's theory.
On Thursday, Liddy testified that the break-in mysteriously turned from one of a skeleton crew quickly bugging the office to one with a full crew of burglars and a load of photographic equipment.
The target of the tapping, as Liddy says he understood it, was the office of then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Lawrence O'Brien.
"The question in my mind always was, 'Why would anyone want to do that?' There's nothing to be gained by that," Liddy testified.
But Liddy said he found out later O'Brien's office was never the target. Instead, burglars carried a key that fit a lock in Wells' desk, Liddy said. Liddy said he was convinced Dean was behind the burglary by Len Colodny, author of "Silent Coup."
After visiting Colodny for four days and reviewing paperwork, Liddy said he realized he had been out of the loop. When he saw a picture in Maureen Biner Dean's book that showed Wells as a bridesmaid, Liddy said he was convinced of the link between the Deans and the prostitutes.
Liddy, 71, served more than four years in prison for his role in the break-in. Liddy said he blames himself for making the "fatal mistake" of not telling the burglars to check the sign-in log at the Watergate offices' front desk.
The log would have told them, he said, that the cleaning crew had gone home and to be careful of rigging the DNC office door to stay open. A guard saw electrical tape over a door jamb, knew it wasn't the janitors and called police.
The trial was expected to be turned over to a jury Wednesday.