Supernova Explosion!
Ted Williams Cryogenically Frozen?
Batman vs. Superman, U'wa vs. USA
Save the Hedgehogs & More!
Supernova Explosion in The Milky Way!

Pasadena July 3, 2002 (NASA NEWS RELEASE) - Glowing gaseous streamers of red, white, and blue -- as well as green and pink -- illuminate the heavens like Fourth of July fireworks. The colorful streamers that float across the sky in this photo taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope were created by one of the biggest firecrackers seen to go off in our galaxy in recorded history, the titanic supernova explosion of a massive star. The light from the exploding star reached Earth 320 years ago, nearly a century before our United States celebrated its birth with a bang.

The dead star's shredded remains are called Cassiopeia A, or "Cas A" for short. Cas A is the youngest known supernova remnant in our Milky Way Galaxy and resides 10,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia, so the star actually blew up 10,000 years before the light reached Earth in the late 1600s. 

This stunning Hubble image of Cas A is allowing astronomers to study the supernova's remains with great clarity, showing for the first time that the debris is arranged into thousands of small, cooling knots of gas. This material eventually will be recycled into building new generations of stars and planets. Our own Sun and planets are constructed from the debris of supernovae that exploded billions of years ago. 

This photo shows the upper rim of the supernova remnant's expanding shell. Near the top of the image are dozens of tiny clumps of matter. Each small clump, originally just a small fragment of the star, is tens of times larger than the diameter of our solar system.

The colors highlight parts of the debris where chemical elements are glowing. The dark blue fragments, for example, are richest in oxygen; the red material is rich in sulfur. 

The star that created this colorful show was a big one, about 15 to 25 times more massive than our Sun. Massive stars like the one that created Cas A have short lives. They use up their supply of nuclear fuel in tens of millions of years, 1,000 times faster than our Sun.

With their fuel exhausted, heavy stars begin a complex chain of events that lead to the final dramatic explosion. Their cores rapidly collapse, releasing an enormous amount of gravitational energy. This sudden burst of energy reverses the collapse and tosses most of the star's mass into space. The ejected material can travel as fast as 45 million miles per hour (72 million kilometers per hour). 

The images were taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 in January 2000 and January 2002. 

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), 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 (ESA).

For more Hubble images - http://heritage.stsci.edu 

Bush Share Sale Clouds Corporate Crackdown

By Caroline Overington
Herald Correspondent in New York 

New York July 10 2002 (Sydney Morning Herald) - President George Bush warned of a loss of confidence in America's free enterprise system as he prepared to unveil plans to tackle the corporate corruption which has sent share markets and the US dollar plunging.

But his confidence boosting effort was overshadowed by the issue of his own credibility as he was forced to answer questions about a decade-old controversy involving his trading of shares when he was director of a Texas energy company. 

Mr. Bush admitted that the line between corrupt and legal was not always "black and white" when it came to accounting and financial regulations.

In 1990, as a director of the Texas energy company, Harken Energy Corporation, Mr. Bush sold $US800,000 (A$1.4m) worth of stock. Two months later, Harken reported a loss of $US23.2 million. Federal investigators probed the sale, which Mr. Bush did not report for eight months, but brought no charges. 

Ultimately, Mr. Bush said on Monday on the eve of a major speech on measures to counter corporate corruption, corporate leaders had an obligation to do the right thing - not seek ways to "cut corners" or embellish their balance sheets at the expense of public trust in companies and financial markets. 

"I'm very worried about a country that could conceivably lose confidence in the free enterprise system," Mr. Bush said. "People look at balance sheets and wonder if they're real." 

People were losing faith in the free enterprise system, because millions of shareholders and workers had lost trillions of dollars to corrupt businesses, he said.

It was expected that Mr. Bush's appearance on Wall Street to deliver his speech would give markets a boost, but the issue presents him with problems, other than questions about his behavior as a director.

His Administration is packed with people - including Vice-President Dick Cheney, who is also fending off allegations of wrongdoing - who had long corporate careers before the Republicans came to power.

Mr. Bush said he would outline "tough new laws and actions to punish abuses, restore investor confidence and protect the pensions of American workers. We have a duty to every worker, shareholder and investor in America to punish the guilty, to close loopholes and protect employee pensions, and we will."

But Mr. Bush is wary of over-regulation, saying that "by far the vast majority of CEOs in America are good, honorable, honest people who have nothing to hide and are willing the true facts speak for themselves".

He conceded that "it's the few that have created the stains that we must deal with".

His critics say it will be difficult for him to take the moral high ground on the issue because his own business transactions have attracted the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Bush's comments on corrupt businesses came on the day that former key figures from WorldCom appeared before a congressional committee and refused to answer questions.

Senate Pushes Yucca Mountain Decision

By H. Josef Hebert
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON July 9, 2002 (AP) – The Senate pushed toward approval of a plan to bury thousands of tons of radioactive waste inside Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert on Tuesday, overriding the state's fervent protests and ending a decades-long congressional debate over hazardous waste disposal.

Several senators worried that shipments might become terrorist targets, but the Bush administration and other supporters of the Nevada waste dump said leaving the radioactive garbage at power plants and defense sites in 39 states would pose an even greater risk.

Opponents of the $58 billion Yucca project all but conceded defeat as the Senate began debate on a resolution to override Nevada's veto of the project. The House approved the same resolution in May.

Congressional endorsement of the project would end decades of political squabbling over where to put the nation's nuclear waste.

"Looking for another site ... is not realistic," Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., argued, noting Yucca Mountain has been studied for 24 years at a cost of $4.5 billion. While there are still uncertainties to be resolved, he said, "we're not likely to find a better site next time."

President Bush directed in February that the Yucca project proceed, concluding that research had shown that 77,000 tons of waste could be kept there safely for the tens of thousands of years it will be dangerously radioactive. A 1982 law allowed Nevada to veto the president's action, subject to a final political decision in Congress.

The fight over Yucca Mountain does not end with the vote on Capitol Hill.

Nevada has filed six lawsuits challenging the project, and the Energy Department must still get a license for the facility from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a process that that could take four to five years. Even some Yucca supporters admit plans to open the site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas for waste by 2010 may be too optimistic.

"I believe it is a safe repository," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. If the country does not find a central place for the waste, he said, "we're going to have to shut down" the nuclear industry.

Opponents focused transportation, accusing the Energy Department of failing to ensure that waste shipments – anywhere from 175 to 2,200 a year depending on the mix of rail and truck shipments – will be safe and secure.

"While I want this high level nuclear waste out of our state .... there are too many uncertainties, too many unresolved issues and the risks are too high," said Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., whose state's utility has said it may have to shut down its Prairie Island nuclear power plant because of its growing waste problem.

Environmentalists dubbed the planned waste shipments "mobile Chernobyl" – a reference to the nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union. They see a disaster in the making as the radioactive cargo moves past major cities, over bridges and through tunnels on its way to Nevada.

Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, countered that the country has a history of shipping radioactive waste and "we've not had a single harmful release of radioactivity."

A majority of reactors are in the eastern third of the country and shipments would travel through at least 43 states on their way to Nevada.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham promised a transportation plan before the end of next year and said stringent safety requirements will provide an "effective first line of defense" against terrorist threats. He says canisters will be designed to withstand the most severe accidents.

Nevada's senators had tried to scuttle the Yucca project but were overwhelmed by an intense campaign by the nuclear power industry and pressure from the White House.

"We learned the White House is pretty powerful," said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who had pleaded with fellow Republican senators to oppose the waste site.

The clout of the White House was demonstrated Monday when Utah's two wavering Republican senators – Orrin Hatch and Robert Bennett – switched from undecided to supporting the Yucca project. Both had been worried about the numerous waste shipments that would travel through their state on the way to Nevada.

But Abraham suggested that if Yucca wasn't built, the waste might well end up at a proposed industry-financed storage site on an Indian reservation in Utah. At a White House meeting, the two senators were told the Energy Department would help keep the waste from being sent to the private site if Yucca was approved.

Minutes later, both Hatch and Bennett announced their support for the Yucca repository. "That was a bad day," said Ensign shortly before the Senate vote, alluding to the loss of the Utah senators.

Norway Misled About Russian Nuclear Waste
By Rolleiv Solholm 

Murmansk July 6, 2002 (Norway Post) - Norway was in May misled into believing that a Russian plant for cleaning nuclear waste at Murmansk was operative, when in fact it was not. Norway has contributed NOK 40 million towards the project. 

A Norwegian delegation headed by Undersecretary of State, Elsbeth Tronstad, visited the plant at the end of May, and were told that they could not enter the plant, the Russian newspaper New Izvestia writes.

The reason given was that radioactive waste was being processed at the time, according to the delegation's report. 

According to the Russian newspaper, the plant has not yet been put into operation. The paper writes that Norway has tried to keep track of how the Norwegian money has been used, but without much result.
Greenpeace Ordered by French Court to Cease Esso Parody

Paris July 9, 2002 (Greenpeace) - The right to freedom of expression on the Internet suffered as a Paris judge ordered Greenpeace to stop using a parody of the Esso logo in its StopEsso campaign in France, pending a full hearing of the case. 

Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace climate campaigner said, "This court case is just another attempt by Esso to use its money as a means of continuing its dirty business unhindered."

Esso claimed that the dollar signs Greenpeace has used in place of the "SS" in the logo linked the company to the infamous Nazi "SS" and damaged Esso's reputation.

Appropriately, the French judge Justice Binoche categorically rejected this claim. And although Esso was seeking 80,000 Euro per day if Greenpeace did not comply, the judge reduced this sum to 5,000 Euro per day. The judge also rightly ruled that Greenpeace can continue to use the term "StopEsso".

However, the ruling to stop using the "dollar sign" parody of the Esso logo is disappointing because it represents a blow to freedom of expression on the Internet. It also represents a blow for climate protection. 

StopEsso is a coalition of groups, including Greenpeace, campaigning around the world to stop Esso from sabotaging international action to address climate change, such as the Kyoto Protocol. 

"Esso's action in taking Greenpeace to court has simply made its bad reputation even worse," said Tunmore.

Esso, which is also marketed globally as Exxon and Mobil, is the world's biggest oil corporation. Despite profits of US$15.5 billion in 2001, Esso still refuses to make investments in renewable energy. It is Esso's behavior, rather anything Greenpeace is doing, that is damaging the corporation's reputation.

Stop Esso - http://www.greenpeace.fr/stopesso 

Was Ted Williams Cryogenically Frozen?

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. July 9, 2002 (UPI) - The body of Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams has already been frozen, but his daughter said she will go to court to stop the cryogenics plan for possible regeneration, the Boston Herald reported Monday. 

Williams, 83, considered by many the greatest hitter in baseball history, died Friday of cardiac arrest following a series of health problems over the last decade. 

The Herald quoted an unidentified source as saying it was sent to Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., where it will stored at 320 degrees below zero in hopes that scientists some day figure out how to bring it back to life or regenerate it somehow. 

Barbara Joyce "Bobby Jo" Ferrell, Williams' eldest daughter, said she will go to court as soon as she can to halt the cryogenics plan apparently devised by her half brother, John Henry Williams. She said she had learned the body was shipped to Alcor the day of his death. Ferrell told WHDH-TV in Boston her half brother did not notify her of the death. 

"John Henry never even called me to tell me my Dad had died. Never called me. He hasn't called yet," she said. 

She said John Henry Williams had told her long before the senior Williams' death that she would not be allowed to talk to Ted Williams. 

"What do you mean I'm not going to be a part of the family any more? He said it means just that. And I said you can't do that to me, that's my dad," she said. 

But the Herald said the source said Ted Williams might have been in on the plan. 

"It wouldn't surprise me if Ted was deep into this. Ted loved science. Ted Williams was not a stupid man. If he made up his mind about something, he did it and (expletive) everyone else," the source said.  "To blame it all on John Henry (Williams) is not fair. Ted loved John Henry."

But others said they were convinced Williams wanted to be cremated. Heywood Sullivan, a former owner and general manager of the Red Sox who caught for the club late in Williams' career, said the scheme was "absurd. You might say crap." He said he was absolutely sure Williams wanted to be cremated. 

Kay Munday, who served as a caretaker for Williams for six years until she retired in 1995, said he talked a number of times about being cremated, although she didn't think he ever put his wishes into writing. Albert Cassidy, a longtime friend and the executor of Williams' estate, would not confirm or deny that the Hall of Famer had been frozen. 

"This is a family matter. Ted was very specific that he did not want to make public what his wishes were. Ted was very, very adamant about that," he said. 

Ferrell's husband said she had been cut off from access to her father by John Henry Williams. Sullivan and others agreed that they had trouble reaching him in the last year or so. Although Willliams has said for years he did not want a funeral, the Red Sox have announced they will hold memorial ceremonies for him July 22. 

Major League Baseball officials said they will name the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player award for Williams. The first Ted Williams award will be given after the game in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Many people visited the Ted Williams Museum in Hernando, Fla., over the weekend, and some left flowers and cards. 

Williams, known as "The Splendid Splinter," "Teddy Ballgame," and "The Kid," hit .406 in 1941. He was the last major league player to hit .400. Fans insist his record would have been even better if he hadn't missed most of five seasons when he left the game twice to become a fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War.

Spinning the Roman Empire

BY SUE LEEMAN 

LONDON July 9, 2002 (Daily Telegraph UK) - Archeologists have discovered an ancient example of marketing, a label on a jar of Roman fish paste.

The hand-written clay label was attached to a jar of 1st century tuna fish relish, shipped from Spain to a fort on the northernmost edge of the Roman Empire. The words "excellent" and "top quality" are still clearly visible written in sooty ink.

The label was revealed Monday, along with thousands of other finds made during the building of a new subway, at the start of a new exhibition in Carlisle, England.

"These stunning finds of international importance provide a unique insight into the daily routine of the average Roman 'squaddie' [foot soldier] and his officers between A.D. 72 and A.D. 400," said Malcolm Cooper of the preservation group English Heritage, which organized the dig. "We see how he went about his military duties and also how he spent his time away from the front line."

Archeologists found three forts built consecutively on the site in Carlisle, a town known to Romans as Luguvalium. The first two were made of timber and the third of stone. Experts are especially excited by the discovery of the fort's headquarters, or principia, where the foot soldier came to get his daily orders, collect his pay or receive punishment.

Other finds include jewelry, such as a woman's hairpin depicting a tiny female head wearing dangling earrings that may have been owned by the commanding officer's wife.

Archeologists also found well-preserved armor similar to that used by gladiators, which may have been brought to Luguvalium by soldiers who had fought against the Dacians in what is now Romania, and black-and-white gaming counters that suggest soldiers played a game similar to modern checkers.

There is a selection of coins dating from around A.D. 70 to the 4th century and hundreds of animal bones, indicating that the garrison ate sheep, cattle, pigs, deer and birds. Plant remains show that dill and coriander were also on the Roman menu.

Archeologists say there is also evidence of a sophisticated wooden system of water supply and drainage.

The jar containing the tuna mixture was found outside the commanding officer's house, or praetorium. It is thought the mixture was shipped to Luguvalium from the Spanish port of Cadiz, where there was a large industry processing tuna fish.

"This dig ... represents a remarkable addition to our knowledge of the Roman Empire," said David Miles, chief archeologist at English Heritage.

Russians on Mars

Moscow July 5, 2002 (BBC) - Russian space officials have announced an ambitious project to send people to Mars by 2015. Leaders of the Russian space program said the plan needed international co-operation and they hoped to win support from both the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). 

Scientists have planned the basics of a 440-day mission by six people which would break a huge barrier in space exploration. Preliminary talks have been held with possible international partners for the plan which Russia said would cost around $20bn and for which it could contribute 30%. 

Vitaly Semyonov, head of the Mars project at the Keldysh Research Centre, said: "It must be an international project. No one country could cope alone with this task." 

The outline of the plan calls for two spaceships - one manned with six crew members and one for cargo. Anatoly Grigoryev, director of the Institute of Medical-Biological Problems which works with all of Russia's cosmonauts, said three members of the team would descend to Mars, while the other three would remain in orbit. 

Russian space officials said they were receiving encouraging signs of interest from NASA and European counterparts. NASA spokeswoman Delores Beasley said the Russians had not yet submitted a formal plan which would be necessary before decisions were taken. 

Alain Fournier-Sicre, head of the European Space Agency's permanent mission in Russia, said he had discussed the project with Russian officials. "We are still very far away," he said. "But this kind of program is a long-term initiative for every space agency in the world." 

NASA told BBC News Online last month that the administration was doing what it needed to send humans to Mars at some point. 

NASA's Mars Odyssey craft entered orbit around the planet earlier this year and began mapping the mineral and chemical make-up of the surface. The Odyssey's discovery of water on Mars also heightened interest and added possibilities for manned missions to Mars. 

Russian scientists have long dreamed of landing humans on Mars, but even in the heyday of the Soviet space program its attempts to reach the Red Planet were so marked by failure that people began talking of a "Mars curse". 

More recently, Russia tried to launch a $300m spacecraft to Mars in 1996, hoping to show they were still a force in the space discovery despite the Soviet break-up. But the craft suffered an engine failure after launch and crashed in the Pacific Ocean.

Genre News: Batman vs. Superman, Quantum Leap, Tremors, John Frankenheimer, Rod Steiger & More

Petersen to Direct Batman vs. Superman 
By Zorianna Kit

Hollywood July 09, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - Warner Bros. Pictures is entrusting two of its signature superheroes, Superman and Batman, to the care of director Wolfgang Petersen, who is developing what he promises will be a "battle of the titans" titled "Batman vs. Superman," which he will direct and produce through his studio-based Radiant Prods.

The project, which is out to actors, is expected to have its title heroes cast in two to four weeks. Petersen already had been attached to the project but was eyeing other possible projects, including the studio's epic feature "Trojan War" (HR 3/22). However, the helmer has decided on "Batman vs. Superman" as his next project, though no start date has been set.

With a current screenplay draft written by Andrew Kevin Walker, "Batman vs. Superman" sees the two superheroes team up against evil forces. In an interview, the German-born Petersen said he chose the project not only because of the quality of Walker's script, which he called "amazing," but also because of a lifelong fascination with American culture.

"As a European, it is challenging to do a project about these two American icons together in one movie," he said. "Growing up with American comics, to make a movie based on two of them is fascinating. I love it."

If you cant wait, it's happened before! Check this out, kids! - http://www.audiobooksonline.com/shopsite/5013.html 

Quantum Leap Movie and Tremors Series From Sci Fi Channel 

Hollywood July 09, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - The SCI FI Channel, which is now a part of Universal Television Group, is developing a number of original series and films based on existing Universal titles, the network announced. SCI FI will develop a two-hour movie based on the TV series Quantum Leap, which will also serve as a back-door pilot for a possible series. Series creator Donald P. Bellisario will executive produce.

SCI FI will also develop a one-hour action series based on the Tremors series of movies, which will be scheduled for a January 2003 premiere. The films' creators, executive producers Nancy Roberts, Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson, will work with series executive producer David Israel.

"Projects such as Quantum Leap and Tremors are exactly why SCI FI is excited about being part of the Universal family," said SCI FI president Bonnie Hammer in a statement. "We have an opportunity to access the rich Universal library—which includes a vast array of horror and sci-fi titles—to create new television experiences for a contemporary audience."

Zap2it Announces Emmy Shadow Poll Nominations

Hollywood July 8, 2002 (eXoNews) - The folks at Zap2it have posted a listing of reader nominees for their Emmy Shadow Poll. The site allowed visitors to vote their own nominations, resulting in "over 15,000 entries in 11 categories." 

The big favorites among the nominees were Buffy, Friends and Scrubs. Buffy, 24, Alias, ER and Six Feet Under are the choices for Outstanding Drama Series. David Boreanaz and Kiefer Sutherland were both Best Dramatic Actor nominees, as were Charisma Carpenter and Sarah Michelle Gellar for Best Dramatic Actress. Joss Whedon shows dominated Best Supporting Actors with Nicholas Brendon, Alexis Denisof, and James Marsters all getting the viewers' nod. Emma Caulfield and Alyson Hannigan also made the Best Supporting Actress nominations.

See the entire list at http://tv.zap2it.com/news/tvnewsdaily.html?26824 

Zap2it readers can vote in the first of the 11 featured categories starting on Thursday, July 18, when the official Emmy nominations are announced. Each week a new category will open up for voting on the Zap2it site and the Shadow Poll winners will be announced on Monday, Sept. 23, following "The 54th Annual Emmy Awards" telecast.

John Frankenheimer
By Duane Byrge

Hollywood July 8, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - John Frankenheimer, who directed such 1960s movie classics as "The Birdman of Alcatraz" and "The Manchurian Candidate" and who made a comeback on television after his career stalled in the 1970s, died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of a stroke caused by complications from spinal surgery. He was 72.

Frankenheimer was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards in a career that spanned nearly five decades. His work ranged from social dramas to political thrillers and included a highly regarded run of feature films in the 1960s as well an influential string of 152 live television dramas in the '50s. "John's passion for filmmaking, and his appetite for life, were without equal," Directors Guild of America president Martha Coolidge said in a statement. "He was one of those rarest of people who, simply put, can never be replaced."

According to Zap2it.com, Frankenheimer's family has set up The John Frankenheimer Scholarship in the director's memory, which will be "awarded to a directing student to help further his or her directing career."

Donations to the Fund should be sent to: The John Frankenheimer Scholarship Fund c/o The Directors Guild Foundation 7920 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90046

Learn more about John Frankenheimer at http://us.imdb.com/Name?Frankenheimer,+John

Rod Steiger

Hollywood July 8, 2002 (eXoNews) - Rod Steiger, the intense "method" actor who won the Academy Award as best actor of 1967 for "In the Heat of the Night," died this week at age 77. Steiger first achieved fame in the title role of the 1953 TV version of Marty, directed by Delbert Mann.

The following year he became a star playing Marlon Brando's brother Charley in "On The Waterfront".

Steiger played over 150 feature and television roles from the 1950s to 2001. Aside from "On the Waterfront", he may inevitably be best remembered for the character Sol Nazerman in Sidney Lumet's The Pawnbroker, for which he received both Oscar and Golden Globe Best Actor nominations.

Learn more about Rod Steiger at http://us.imdb.com/Name?Steiger,+Rod 

Campbell, Sturgeon Winners Named 

Hollywood July 8, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - Jack Williamson's Terraforming Earth and Robert Charles Wilson's The Chronoliths tied for this year's John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science fiction novel of 2001, Locus Online reported. Andy Duncan's "The Chief Designer" won the Theodore Sturgeon Award for the best short SF of the year.

The awards were presented July 5 at the University of Kansas, the site reported. At the same event, Donald A. Wollheim, James Blish, Samuel R. Delany and Michael Moorcock were inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Disney Artist Ward Kimball Dies at 88

Hollywood July 9, 2002 (BBC) - Ward Kimball, the cartoon animator who created Pinocchio's companion Jiminy Cricket, has died aged 88. Walt Disney Studios said in a statement that Mr. Kimball died of natural causes in a hospital near Los Angeles. 

The artists joined Walt Disney in 1934 and worked with Disney himself during the golden period of the studio's animated features, including on 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. 

He was involved in animating some of the great Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck - as well as the Cheshire Cat, The March Hare and The Mad Hatter in 1951's Alice and Wonderland. 

Other films he worked on included Fantasia, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Two of the short features Mr. Kimball created for Disney, 1953's Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, and 1969's It's Tough To Be A Bird, won Oscars. 

Mr. Kimball's death leaves just two of the original nine Disney animators - the so-called "Nine Old Men" - alive. Roy Disney, Walt's son, said: "Ward's passing is a tremendous loss to the animation community. 

"He was a remarkable character and we will miss him enormously." 

Kimball was born in 1914, Minneapolis, in the Midwestern state of Minnesota. Besides his cartoon work, he was a lifelong train enthusiast, and built the first full-size private backyard railway in the US on his California ranch in 1938. 

A trombonist, he also founded the Dixieland jazz band Firehouse Five Plus Two, leading some of his fellow Disney workers in recording a series of popular jazz albums between 1949 and 1969.

U'wa Indians Versus US Congress

By Ibon Villelabeitia
Reuters

CUBARA, Colombia July 09, 2002 (Reuters) — Roberto Perez chews a cluster of dry coca leaves as he stands near a precipice overlooking a valley of rainforest and swift rivers. Legend has it that Perez's U'wa Indian ancestors jumped to their deaths from a similar ridge 500 years ago to avoid enslavement by Spanish conquistadors. 

Perez, a shy and mild-mannered U'wa leader, says his people will not commit mass suicide this time but warns they will do whatever it takes to defend their land from the latest "intrusion" — a planned U.S. aid package to train an army battalion. 

The $98 million in aid is aimed at preparing Colombian forces to protect an oil pipeline that runs near U'wa territory from attacks by Marxist rebels, but tribal leaders fear it will spread Colombia's 38-year-old war across their land. 

The U'wa, an impoverished, seminomadic indigenous group in northeastern Colombia, gained international attention two years ago when they fought a protracted battle against Los Angeles–based Occidental Petroleum that sought to drill next to their reservation. 

Occidental withdrew from the project this year after failing to find commercially viable oil deposits. The controversy had been a public relations nightmare for the U.S. company as vociferous international environmental organizations cast the dispute as a David-versus-Goliath struggle between indigenous groups and corporate power. 

Now U'wa leaders fear Washington's plan, which is being discussed in the U.S. Congress, could drag them into a military conflict that kills thousands of people every year. "We have our own law. The army and the rebels should respect us. We don't want them on our land," said Roberto Cobaria, an U'wa leader with a wispy mustache. 

International green groups are bracing for a new battle. "Our campaign is not over. We campaign for the indigenous groups' right to self-determination, be that against oil or U.S. military aid," said Kevin Koenig, a spokesman for Amazon Watch, a group based in Oakland, Calif., that has taken up the U'wa cause.

'THINKING PEOPLE' SUFFER DISCRIMINATION 

The U'wa, which means "the thinking people" in their language, are one of Colombia's 80 indigenous ethnic groups. For centuries they have suffered oppression and discrimination at the hands of Spanish colonizers and Colombian government. Their numbers have dwindled dramatically to 5,000 from 20,000 in 1940. They live in remote, mist-shrouded mountains, having lost large parts of their ancestral land to government expropriations and incursions by displaced peasants fleeing the violence of the country's largely rural war. 

Near Cubara, the main town on the tribe's reservation, children with stomachs swollen from malnutrition sat in the dirt in one settlement of mud huts. There is no electricity or running water. 

One girl, barely 15, breast-fed two babies as scrawny chickens pecked around pools of rain water. Inside a smoky hut, elders gathered around a wood fire and drank "chicha," a traditional beer made of fermented maize. Most didn't speak Spanish and seemed suspicious of foreigners. 

The lifestyle of most U'wa has changed little in 500 years, although tribe leaders have set up a campaign office in Cubara equipped with telephones and fax machines. The leaders live in the town and dress in the same shirts and trousers as other country Colombians. 

WRATH OF GOD 

The U'wa, a firmly religious people, believe that exploiting their sacred rivers and forests would unleash the wrath of Sira (God). They regard oil as the "blood of Mother Earth" and say drilling is like "stabbing a knife into your stomach." They carry coca leaves — the raw material for cocaine — in gourds around their necks and chew them to "gain strength and wisdom." 

The land dispute with Occidental entered the U.S. presidential election in 2000 as environmental groups criticized Democratic candidate Al Gore for owning company shares. When Occidental won a court order to sink a test well after a seven-year legal wrangle, Colombian soldiers were deployed near the reservation and military helicopters hovered in the skies to prevent protesters from blocking the drilling. 

Word that the U'wa were considering walking off the 1,400-foot "Cliff of Death" to fight the "invaders" as they did against the Spanish caused a media frenzy, even though the U'wa later ruled out such drastic action. "The collective suicide was something our ancestors did 500 years ago to avoid becoming slaves. We are going to fight until the end to defend our land, but we are not thinking of jumping off the cliff," said Perez, 60, who has 10 children.

OIL IS TROUBLE 

History of Colombia shows that oil means trouble. Discoveries of oil — the country's main export — have brought violence from all sides fighting in Colombia's war and have done little in the way of lifting the people from poverty. After the Cano Limon pipeline opened in the 1980s, the two Marxist rebel groups that operate in the area grew fat by extorting private companies servicing the pipeline. Right-wing paramilitary outlaws have also moved into the area. 

In 1999, the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) kidnapped and killed three U.S. Indian activists who were visiting U'wa territory. When the oil controversy faded away, the television cameras went home and the U'wa were left to their poverty and mud huts. Tall grass is overtaking the old drilling site, and the sound of the rushing waters fills the air.

The U'wa said they want the government to invest in hospitals and schools, not oil or war. 

After the White House announced the new aid package earlier this year, U.S.-based environmental groups began mobilizing a new campaign and U'wa leaders were back in the spotlight. 

U'wa leaders say they appreciate the solidarity received from international groups. Occidental and government officials say the Indians have been manipulated by outsiders. U'wa leaders have flown to Los Angeles, Washington and many European capitals — their tickets paid by foreign support groups — to promote the U'wa plight at anti-globalization forums. 

"These are groups that depend on fundraising to survive and are always looking for causes in developing countries to raise their profile," an Occidental spokesman said. "They don't seem to have a problem when they fly the U'wa leaders around the world burning the 'blood of Mother Earth.'" 

U'wa support groups say such claims are ridiculous and accuse big oil companies of trying to silence the voice of the indigenous community. Amazon Watch spokesman Koenig, who has never been to Colombia, said his group's job is "to shed the media spotlight so that the voices of the U'wa can be heard." 

More info on the U'wa - http://www.ran.org/ran_campaigns/beyond_oil/oxy/uwa_facts.html 

Politics Surround Code Talkers

By David Melmer
Indian Country Today

WASHINGTON July 09, 2002 (ICT) - Competing bills to recognize code talkers from all tribes, including the Lakota, are now a factor in the tight South Dakota race for a U.S. Senate seat.

Senator Tim Johnson, D-S.D. introduced a bill in the Senate that was blocked by Republican members, some of whom objected to not having their states included. In the House, Rep. John Thune, R-S.D., who is running against Johnson for the Senate seat, introduced a bill that is moving along. The two bills differ slightly in detail, but convey the same honoring message.

The competing bills speak to an Indian vote in South Dakota that political observers say could be crucial to the Senate race. Six years ago, Sen. Johnson defeated then Senator Larry Pressler, and it was the Indian vote that pushed him to victory.

A spokesperson in Johnson’s office said it was no secret that some Republican House members had an interest in supporting the Thune candidacy, but he would not openly say whether the hold on Johnson’s bill was politically motivated. Senator Johnson was co-sponsor of the bill that recognized the Navajo code talkers in the 106th Congress. The Navajo code talkers received Congressional Gold medals for their service.

Johnson’s legislation would likewise recognize members of the other 17 tribes known to have provided a similar service in World Wars I and II. Thune’s bill also asks for Gold Medal recognition for the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota code talkers. Both legislators refer to the recent "Windtalkers" movie about the Navajo code talkers as reason to honor more code talkers.

"This legislation serves to recognize all the brave Native American servicemen and women who served as code talkers during both World War I and World War II. It is my hope that every code talker who served during either war will be recognized," Johnson said.

Rep. Thune said he worked for months to educate his colleagues in the House about this issue and was sure that recognition and the Congressional Gold Medal would be awarded to the Sioux code talkers.

"These Native American servicemen performed an invaluable service to this country and to the free world. They used their unique skills and served with courage and determination. We cannot thank them enough for their sacrifice," Thune said.

Thune expected his bill to move through the house easily. Leslie Knapp, spokeswoman for Johnson, said Johnson would continue to work to get his bill through the Senate. Thune’s bill would honor the "Sioux code talkers;" Johnson’s included the code talkers from 17 tribal nations. There were 11 known Dakota, Lakota and Nakota code talkers, referred to as Sioux code talkers. Only two survive today. Charles Whitepipe, a Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud, and Clarence Wolf Guts an Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge.

Wolf Guts recently said he didn’t believe he was a hero; he was just doing his job as a soldier in the South Pacific. Many veterans who attended a recent showing of "Windtalkers" were heard to praise the honoring of the code talkers, but also said that most American Indian servicemen served in the military not to become heroes, but to fight for their country.

"We were not heroes, we were soldiers, that’s all," one veteran, who was not a code talker, said.

American Indians have served in the U.S. military in every war since the Revolution. In the most recent wars, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War, American Indians hold the record for the highest per capita enlistment rate of any ethnic group.

Dakota, Lakota and Nakota code talkers, in addition to Whitepipe and Wolf Guts, who would be honored posthumously include: Phillip "Stoney" LaBlanc and Eddie Eagle Boy of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe; Edmund St. John, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe; Walter C. John, Santee Sioux Tribe; Guy Rondell, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe; John Bear King, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; Iver Crow Eagle Sr. and Simon Brokenleg, Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

Brit Balloonists Await Weather

By Helen Briggs 
BBC News Science Reporter 

London July 9, 2002 (BBC) - The launch countdown has begun for the two men who plan to take the biggest manned balloon ever to the fringes of space. British pilots Andy Elson and Colin Prescot are waiting for a clear day between now and mid-September. 

When weather conditions are right, they will try to soar to the highest altitude ever recorded for a balloon. The Met Office is providing special weather forecasts for the pair, who will take off from a ship near the north coast of Cornwall. 

The adventurers hope to ascend beyond 130,000 feet (40 kilometers) into the Earth's stratosphere. At peak altitude, the pilots will be able to see the curvature of the planet and will be floating in a virtually atmosphere-free environment. 

Speaking at a press conference in London on Tuesday, Andy Elson said they were looking forward to a stunning view. But there would be some nerve-wracking moments along the way, he said. 

"I'm going to be nervous," he told BBC News Online. "I mean, we're going into the unknown - how fast should we make the balloon climb, how much ballast should we drop, will we be going too quickly? The view's going to be fantastic, but at some point we have a finite limit to our life support and we have to make the decision to descend." 

The pilots will sit on an open flight desk wearing space suits that have been designed with the help of the Russian engineers who make cosmonaut suits. At the proposed altitude, the suits will have to withstand extreme pressure and temperatures as low as -73 Celsius. 

"This is effectively the longest space walk in history because we have to rely on the spacesuits," co-pilot Colin Prescot told reporters. 

The flight, if successful, will last for about 12 hours, and will end by splashing down into the Atlantic. The balloon will be 395 meters (1,295 feet) tall - seven times the height of Nelson's Column - and should be visible up to 966 kilometers (600 miles) away. The current height record for a balloon journey stands at 34,747 meters (114,000 feet). 

Brian Jones is mission control director for the challenge, known as QinetiQ 1, after its science and technology business sponsor. Mr. Jones, himself a round-the-world balloonist, said it would be a grand adventure and "real Boy's Own stuff". 

"Who can imagine sitting on an open platform at the edge of space, gazing down at the Earth below them; it's just extraordinary," he told BBC News Online. The mission also has a scientific objective. Sensors on board will collect data about temperature, pressure and radiation in the atmosphere. 

Dr Richard Crowther, space consultant at QinetiQ, said the journey was more important to scientists than the destination. 

"We fly our sensors on board Concorde and on board the space shuttle, and they measure the radiation environment encountered by pilots and astronauts," he told BBC News Online. 

He said they had no measurements for the region the QinetiQ 1 balloon would fly in. Rockets that pass though on their way to space go through too quickly to gather data. The balloon flight would "plug the data gap that exists between those two flight vehicles", he said. 

"For us it is extremely important because it allows us to predict the radiation exposure for air crew, for flight systems on aircraft and also for passengers flying on polar routes," said Dr Crowther.

Tetrapods Walked 345 Million Years Ago

Glasgow July 3, 2002 (BBC) - The most primitive foot to walk on land has been described by scientists. It belonged to an animal that lived about 345 million years ago - in what is now Scotland. 

The skeletal remains are the oldest in the fossil record to show bones that had the ability to move on land. Dr Jenny Clack, who has studied the specimen, says it illustrates how life on Earth made the transition from a purely water-borne existence to one where creatures were able to forage on the shoreline. 

"This is the first proper, walking foot," she told BBC News Online. "We have earlier feet, but they were for paddling - for swimming." 

The fossil was unearthed in 1971 from limestone deposits north of Dumbarton. Held at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, it was thought to be a fish. Only recently was the surrounding rock cleared away sufficiently to reveal a creature with legs. One hind limb has a near-complete foot attached with five digits. 

It has been classified as Pederpes finneyae. It was a short-limbed, large-skulled predator. It was about a meter in length and may have had the look of an ungainly crocodile. 

"It was probably quite a sluggish crawler through the swamps where it lived," Dr Clack says. 

The identification helps close a hole in the early fossil record of a group of creatures called tetrapods - backboned animals with four legs or limbs. 

The oldest-known tetrapods are from the Devonian Period (more than 360 million years ago), but the fossils so far discovered are of animals that were clearly all swimmers. These creatures would have scuttled around just under the water. And later tetrapods, from the Upper Carboniferous (about 340 million years ago), are modern-looking amphibian-like animals whose appendages were well-evolved to walk on land. They were true landlubbers. 

The significance of Pederpes finneyae is that it straddles the two - both in terms of time and in its bone structure. It probably spent time in the water and on land. 

"[P. finneyae] has a kind of twist on its bones - an asymmetry that allows it to bring its feet forward for walking," Dr Clack says. "Previously, tetrapod feet either pointed up to the sides or backwards as a paddle for swimming. The locomotion of [P. finneyae] is quite different to what went before." Later tetrapods have a more developed form of this bone construction, she says. "This fossil fills in a huge (20-million-year) gap in the fossil record. It is a link, if you like, which is no longer missing." 

Scientists say tetrapods were the first animals known to walk the Earth and are the ancestors of today's mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. P. finneyae is described in the journal Nature.

China Rock Shows Earlier Continental Drift
By Dr David Whitehouse 
BBC News Science Editor 

China July 8, 2002 (BBC) - The continents were moving across the face of the Earth much sooner than had been thought, according to new evidence from China. The new data come from a huge chunk of the rock that lay beneath the sea floor 2.5 billion years ago. 

Tim Kusky, of St Louis University, US, says it is the first large intact piece of oceanic mantle ever found from our planet's earliest period, the Archean. Located not far from the Great Wall of China, the ancient mantle rocks are preserved in a highly faulted belt 100 kilometers (62 miles) long. 

It may also contain clues as to when life developed on Earth. 

Working with researchers from Peking University, Kusky found the rock section where last year the same team discovered the Earth's oldest complete section of oceanic crust. The newly found rock was formed tens of kilometers below the ancient sea floor. Scientists say it preserves 2.5-billion-year-old minerals that hold clues to the origin of how continents move across the globe - plate tectonics. 

The minerals, including an unusual type of chromite (iron chromium oxide) deposit previously only known from deep ocean floor rocks, appear to have been deformed at extremely high temperatures before they were completely crystallized by volcanic heat. 

This indicates that the rocks were moving away from mid ocean ridges, say scientists. This suggests that the continents were moving more than 500 million years earlier than was previously believed. 

The discovery that ancient tectonic plates were shifting could throw some light on the origin of life on Earth. Hot volcanic vents on the ocean floor may have provided the nutrients and conditions required for life to begin. Because such volcanic vents are associated with tectonic movements Kusky says that it is possible that life developed and diversified around these vents as the plates started spreading. 

The research is published by the Geological Society of America.
Save the Hedgehogs!

Scotland July 9, 2002 (BBC) - Plans to cull more than 5,000 hedgehogs on the Outer Hebrides have been put on hold. Conservation body Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has decided to discuss its plans with other animal welfare groups and hedgehog societies before going ahead with a cull. 

SNH said it would look again at the possibility of moving the animals to the Scottish mainland. However, a cull has not been ruled out and the issue is likely to be considered again at a board meeting next month.

The hedgehogs have been eating birds' eggs and chicks, leading to a big decline in the population of rare waders. 

A handful of hedgehogs was first introduced to the Uists in 1974 to help control slugs and snails in an islander's garden. Their numbers have grown to an estimated 5,000 in the intervening years. 

SNH is the body charged with the conservation of the country's wildlife, habitats and landscapes. It said the animals are having a devastating impact on the islands' internationally important populations of wading birds - like the dunlin, lapwing, redshank and snipe - by eating their eggs. 

Various methods of managing the hedgehog population have been considered, including sterilisation and contraception, or capturing the animals and moving them to the mainland. However, SNH board members have been advised that total eradication is the only viable option. 

"The problem is that we have the most amazing communities of ground nesting wading birds," said George Anderson of SNH. He said there were about 17,000 pairs in the early 1980s, but that number had halved since then - with some species declining by 60%. 

"We have gone from seven hedgehogs to 5,000, so if the hedgehogs keep going up and the bird numbers keep going down it is fairly obvious what is going to happen," he predicted. 

The decision to postpone the cull to allow for further consultation was taken at an SNH board meeting in Perth on Tuesday. Animal rights groups have warned that SNH could face legal action if its board agrees to a cull. 

Fiona Stewart, of the British Hedgehog Preservation Association, said there was no need to kill the animals. "The alternative is to relocate the hedgehogs from the island to the mainland," she said. 

She said she believed the proposal was down to money as it would be expensive to relocate the animals. However, Mr Anderson said money had not been an issue. 

"The welfare of the hedgehogs is of prime consideration to us and we feel that it would be cruel to the hedgehogs to do this," he said. 

He said those being moved would end up somewhere already populated by other hedgehogs, who they would have to compete with for food. "That is going to harm the hedgehogs we move and the hedgehogs that are already there. They will die slowly, so we feel it may be more humane to cull them here on the Uists." 

SNH has been urged to consider exporting the hedgehogs to the south of England by Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer. 

She told the House of Lords: "English gardeners are crying out for hedgehogs to predate on slugs, which are an enormous problem in a wet summer like this."


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