|George Harrison |
UFO Cult Clones?
Moon Mining, Binary Suns
and Electric Cow Sh*t!
|All Things Must Pass: George Harrison Dead at 58 |
Los Angeles November 30, 2001 (BBC) - Former Beatle George Harrison, singer, songwriter and guitarist for one of the world's most famous pop groups, has died after losing his battle against cancer.
Harrison died on Thursday at a friend's Los Angeles home, at 1330 local time, according to his longtime friend Gavin De Becker.
"He died with one thought in mind - love one another," De Becker said. De Becker said Harrison's wife Olivia and son Dhani, 24, were both with him when he died.
Harrison's family issued a statement saying: "He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends.
"He often said, 'Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another'."
Fans have been laying floral tributes outside the Abbey Road recording studios in London, where the Beatles recorded almost all their work, at his Friar Park home in Henley-on-Thames and outside the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
In New York, fans began gathering before dawn at Strawberry Fields, an area of Central Park named after the Beatles song in the wake of John Lennon's murder in 1980.
A book of condolence has been opened for Harrison at Liverpool Town Hall, where official flags are being flown at half-mast. The city council has announced that there will be a memorial service for the former Beatle, but no date has been set. A council spokesman said that the family's wishes would be taken into account before deciding the form of any memorial.
The Coldstream Guards band played a tribute Beatles medley during the Changing The Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. And mayor of Henley Tony Laine said the town was flying a flag at half mast.
Speaking outside his home in St John's Wood, north west London, Sir Paul McCartney said: "I am devastated and very very sad. We knew he'd been ill for a long time. He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother."
John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, said: "My deep love and concern goes to Olivia and Dhani. The three of them were the closest, most loving family you can imagine. George has given so much to us in his lifetime and continues to do so even after his passing, with his music, his wit and his wisdom. Thank you George, it was grand knowing you."
Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth was "very sad to hear of the death of George Harrison".
Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "People of my generation grew up with the Beatles, and they were the background to our lives. He wasn't just a great musician, an artist, but did a lot of work for charity as well. He'll be greatly missed around the world."
Beatles producer Sir George Martin described Harrison as "caring deeply for those he loved".
"Olivia and Dhani have borne his illness with enormous courage and devotion," he said. "Now I believe, as he did, that he has entered a higher state. God give him peace."
Harrison, who was 58, announced in July he had received treatment in Switzerland for a tumor. He also had surgery for lung cancer in May.
Harrison's life was also threatened when he was stabbed by an intruder at his home in at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire in 1999.
The former Beatle, who met his fellow band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr where they grew up in Liverpool, was just 27 when the band split in 1970. They managed to conquer the world musically, achieving 27 number one records in the UK and the US during their career. Their most recent album, compiling all their number one hits, called 1, topped both the UK and the US charts during 2000.
Harrison's post-Beatles career started with the critically acclaimed solo album All Things Must Pass. His role as a film producer took off when he worked on Monty Python's Life of Brian in 1979.
He was also responsible for The Long Good Friday, Time Bandits and Mona Lisa.
In the 1980s Harrison teamed up with Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison as The Travelling Wilburys.
|UFO Cult Says It Was First to Clone Embryos |
|By Robert Melnbardis |
MONTREAL November 27, 2001 (Reuters) - A U.S. company's claim to have cloned a human embryo is simply a case of "been there, done that" for a Canadian UFO cult linked to a secretive cloning company, the movement's leader said on Monday.
Claude Vorilhon, the 54-year-old former sports writer now known as Rael who founded a religious movement based on the premise that life on earth was genetically created by visiting extra-terrestrials, said on Monday he welcomed the claim by Advanced Cell Technology Inc. that it had cloned a human embryo.
"Very happy, and a bit amused because we did that some time ago," Rael told Reuters.
Worcester, Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology caused a uproar on Sunday when it announced it had cloned a human embryo as part of its research to perfect a technique in which embryos could be used as a source of valuable stem cells to treat diseases.
Researchers at the company said they had grown several embryos using eggs from several women and the DNA from another woman's cumulous cells, those found in the ovaries that nourish the eggs. One of the embryos survived long enough to divide into six cells.
While some experts questioned the scientific veracity of the company's claim, others observers, from U.S. President George Bush to the Vatican and women's rights groups, condemned the research.
Not so for the Quebec-based Raelians, who openly support Clonaid, a company headed by cult member Brigitte Boisselier, a 44-year-old French biochemist determined to produced the world's first cloned baby. That is why Clonaid, which purports to have established a new research laboratory in an undisclosed country, will not be making announcements on its progress in the project, Rael said.
"The first communique that Clonaid will make will be to announce the birth of the baby, but not for such a small thing," he said, referring to Advanced Cell Technology's announcement.
Clonaid was forced to abandon its U.S. laboratory after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned in March that it would not allow experiments on cloning humans. But Rael said the research continues at Clonaid.
"They set up a laboratory in another country where it is not prohibited and things are going forward," Rael said.
Clonaid already has more than 3,000 individuals seeking to clone a person, and 55 women, all "Raelians," who are prepared to carry the cloned embryos to term, Rael said.
"Of course, Clonaid's goal is not to make a monster or a handicapped child, which would be terrible. The first child must be perfect, let's say in a health that is recognized as perfect," he said.
Rael added that opponents are actually more worried that Clonaid's first cloned baby would be "beautiful, perfect and in good health."
In an even more science-fiction twist, Clonaid eventually would like to clone fully grown individuals in a sort of "accelerated-growth process" where memories and personality could be "downloaded" to the clone from the donor, Rael said.
"That is what interests us -- it is to be able to live eternally through several bodies," he said.
Although Clonaid and the Raelians want to produce the world's first cloned person, they also support the prospect of using cloned embryos to harvest stem cells to combat a range of diseases including cancer, he added.
Raelians web site - http://www.rael.org
|Animal Clones as Food Source Face US Scrutiny |
|By Lisa Richwine |
WASHINGTON November 26, 2001 (Reuters) - While world attention focused on Monday on a report of the first cloned human embryo, regulators were already at work looking at whether animal clones are safe for the U.S. food supply.
Animal cloning has progressed since 1997, when researchers introduced Dolly the sheep, the first cloned adult mammal. Biotechnology companies have produced duplicates of prized animals and are marketing the technology to animal owners.
With the field moving quickly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is weighing whether to regulate cloned farm animals that people might consume.
Some cloning experts have argued that all clones have at least subtle irregularities that cannot be easily detected, and consumer groups say federal oversight is needed until more is known.
"We don't think the FDA should rush headlong into just saying these things are okay and allowing the animals to be commercialized rapidly," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director for the Washington-based Center for Food Safety.
The National Research Council will convene a meeting on Tuesday to prepare a report for the FDA on bioengineered animals. Two firms are scheduled to tell the scientific experts that their cloned cows are apparently normal and thriving.
"We are up to our ears in clones," Michael Bishop, president of DeForest, Wisconsin-based Infigen Inc., said in an interview. "We have normal cows. They are producing milk, their milk is normal. They perform normally in every way," he said, adding the privately owned company was preparing the information for publication in a scientific journal.
Advanced Cell Technology, the firm that made headlines by announcing on Sunday it had cloned human embryos to derive stem cells for potential medical therapies, also will report that its cloned cattle appear normal. The private company, based in Worcester, Massachusetts, reported in the journal Science that it had tested 24 adult cows and found nothing unusual.
The FDA is evaluating whether meat or milk from clones is safe for human consumption. In June, the agency urged companies that clone livestock to apply for approval if they want to sell the animals as food.
Officials plan to use the forthcoming National Research Council report, due out next spring, to help them craft a formal policy on whether companies will need FDA approval before they market cloned animals, similar to the clearance needed to sell pharmaceuticals. In addition to scrutinizing clones, the National Research Council also will review the effects of other bioengineered animals on human health, the environment and animal welfare.
For example, Infigen has created cloned cows that are producing therapeutic proteins in their milk. Another firm wants to sell salmon genetically modified to grow faster. Other researchers will discuss the possibility of genetically altered insects, such as malaria-free mosquitoes.
|South Africa Argues Against Giving Women AIDS Drug |
By DINA KRAFT
PRETORIA, South Africa November 27, 2001 (AP) - Lawyers for the South African government argued Tuesday that pregnant HIV-positive women have no inherent right to a key AIDS drug that could save their babies from the deadly disease.
AIDS activists and pediatricians have sued the state in a bid to force it to make the drug nevirapine available to HIV-positive expectant mothers nationwide.
Some 200 babies are born HIV-positive every day in South Africa, and studies show nevirapine can reduce the transmission of the virus from mother to child during labor by up to 50 percent. The government argues that the drug's safety remains unproven, and that inadequate backup systems are in place to administer it.
"There is a right to health care services, there is no right to nevirapine," attorney Moene Moerane said in summing up the government's argument on the second and final day of the lawsuit in the Pretoria High Court. A judgment was expected by the end of December.
The German drug company Boehringer Ingelheim has offered nevirapine free to developing countries. South Africa has yet to accept the offer, although it is testing the drug at 18 pilot sites.
Watching the proceedings was Sarah Halele, 30, an HIV-positive woman who gave birth four months ago. She was scheduled to receive nevirapine when she delivered at the hospital near her home, but when she went into premature labor while visiting relatives, the hospital where she gave birth did not have the drug.
"I was angry. I did not care about myself I was thinking about him (my son) and wanted to save him even if I was sick," Halele said. "It (the government) cheated my son."
Halele's son will be tested later for HIV, but his bouts of diarrhea and thrush - symptoms of the virus - worry her.
Moerane said the state did not have enough money to ensure the treatment was adequately followed up and so was not yet ready to make nevirapine available to all hospitals and clinics.
"(The state) cannot solve South Africa's woes overnight," he said.
AIDS activists lawyers argued that the government's policy was irrational and arbitrary and that it was deciding whether children would live or die.
Mark Heywood, secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign which filed the lawsuit, said the government was infringing on the rights of 90 percent of the country's pregnant HIV-positive women who currently do not have access to nevirapine.
"Their (the government) argument is contorted and frankly I think they are shameful because they are saying 'We reserve the right to withhold a lifesaving medicine,'" Heywood said.
|Angelina Jolie's Pakistan Journal Released |
WASHINGTON November 26, 2001 (PRNewswire) - The U.S. Association for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USA for UNHCR), a charity based in Washington, DC, today released the "Pakistan Journal" kept by Ms. Angelina Jolie during her August trip there on behalf of UNHCR.
"Ms. Jolie's portrayal of life in refugee camps in Pakistan is sensitive and timely," said Jeffrey Meer, Executive Director of USA for UNHCR. "In reading her reflections, you gain a perspective on the humanitarian situation of refugees fleeing years of conflict in Afghanistan that you don't get from reading newspaper accounts."
Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, visited Pakistan during August 17 through August 26, 2001. She was accompanied on her trip by UNHCR staff, and visited UNHCR offices in Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawer. As well, she visited several of the agencies that work in partnership with UNHCR.
"Angelina Jolie's commitment to refugees transcends field visits," said Meer. "She has given time, energy, enthusiasm and personal donations to help UNHCR accomplish its mission." In September, Ms. Jolie donated $1 million in response to the High Commissioner's appeal to help Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere in the South Asia region.
Angelina Jolie's previous trips to Africa and Cambodia on behalf of UNHCR were also chronicled in journals available on USA for UNHCR's website. USA for UNHCR plans to release Ms. Jolie's journals for other trips, as they become available. "We think this is a unique way people can gain an understanding of what relief work is like," says Meer. "Reading through her journals may not be the same as seeing it for yourself, but it is as close as you can get without buying a plane ticket."
The journal, including photographs, is the property of Ms. Jolie. It may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without her express written permission.
Angelina Jolie became a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador at a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland on August 27, 2001. UNHCR is a 50-year-old agency of the United Nations that has twice been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The full text is available on the organization's website at http://www.unrefugees.org under the featured item "Angelina in Pakistan."
USA for UNHCR is a 501(c)(3) charity, based in Washington, DC. It was founded in 1989, and accepts private donations that support UNHCR's work. The organization also builds understanding about the work of UNHCR and the plight of refugees worldwide.
Click here and scroll down for a previous eXoNews article containing excerpts from the journal Angelina Jolie kept while in Africa.
|Bush's New Excuse to Drill in Alaskan Wildlife Refuge |
By BRAD KNICKERBOCKER
Washington November 27, 2001 (Christian Science Monitor) - An important side conflict in the war on terrorism is the political battle over whether or not to drill for more oil in the United States.
The Bush administration and its friends in Congress are using the recent terrorist attacks and war in Afghanistan to push for more domestic oil drilling - especially in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and other public land.
Supporters say drilling there is necessary to lessen reliance on foreign imports, which are projected to increase by 57 percent over the next 20 years.
Opponents say national wildlife refuges and other protected areas never were intended to include oil wells and all the disruptive development and pollution they bring. The Senate could see a filibuster on the issue, which is attached to the economic-stimulus package.
Some lawmakers and energy analysts say the lesson of the past 10 weeks is that the United States needs to become more energy efficient rather than scramble for more oil.
Citing EPA figures, Sen. Barbara Boxer says, "In seven years, we could save the same amount of oil available in the Arctic Refuge by requiring light trucks and SUVs to meet the same efficiency standards as regular cars."
But Vice President Dick Cheney, who wrote the administration's production-dominated energy plan earlier this year, told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently that for national-security reasons it would be "foolish in the extreme" not to increase domestic oil sources. For years, environmentalists have wrangled with oil-industry supporters over the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic refuge, which lies just east of the North Slope drilling facilities that pump oil south to Valdez through the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
"The ANWR is simply not just a place to drill oil, it is the largest potential domestic source of oil," Interior Secretary Gale Norton told an oil producers' association in Houston recently. "This is a matter necessary for security and also to enhance economic recovery."
As she frequently does, Norton also noted that the U.S. imports 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Iraq. "It's time to start investing that money in our own backyard and not in the back pocket of Saddam Hussein," she said.
Republicans and a few Democrats on Capitol Hill are emphasizing the same point. Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, calls ANWR "our nation's best hope for new domestic exploration," and he says, "it can replace the oil we buy from Saudi Arabia for the next 30 years."
But critics assert that these kinds of projections are based on questionable estimates of the amount of oil beneath ANWR's icy tundra. Senator Murkowski cites the more optimistic oil production estimates of 16 billion barrels of oil. According to the U.S. Geological Survey's most recent analysis, there is only a 5 percent chance that that much oil could be recovered.
The "mean value" of recoverable oil is 10.4 billion barrels, reports the USGS. There is a 95 percent chance that it could be far less than the figure Murkowski cites, the USGS says, or as little as 5.7 billion barrels. That number could fall further if state and native lands are not included.
All those numbers refer to "technically recoverable" oil. A more relevant figure may be "economically recoverable" oil - meaning oil that would be worth the cost of extracting it from the ground. This means that the fight over ANWR - one of the most important environmental issues today - is complicated by the ever-changing price of oil.
As the price drops - as it's been doing lately - so too does the amount of economically-recoverable oil. Using a 12 percent return on investment, the USGS estimates that at a market price of $24 per barrel there is a "mean value" of 5.2 billion barrels available. But at last week's price of $15.35 per barrel, the Wilderness Society, an environmental organization in Washington, estimates only about 1 billion barrels would be economically recoverable from beneath the refuge.
According to a USGS fact sheet, no oil could be profitably recovered from ANWR at prices less than $13 per barrel.
The economic debate over ANWR centers on jobs as well as barrels of oil. A 1990 study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute projected 750,000 new jobs created as a result of oil production in ANWR. But a September study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington cites updated world oil supplies, the likely response to falling oil prices by producing nations, and the sensitivity of employment to oil prices, to assert that just 46,300 jobs would result.
Oil industry supporters insist that drilling can be compatible with preserving the environment. But earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the national wildlife refuge system, reported that refuges in Alaska "are not impervious to contaminant threats caused by oil development, and many of them have significant and regrettable contaminant histories."
|Rome's Envoy to Saudi Arabia Converts to Islam! |
By Luke Baker
ROME November 26, 2001 (Reuters) - Italy's ambassador to Saudi Arabia has converted to Islam, the second time in seven years that an envoy of Rome to the land of Mecca has adopted its religion.
Torquato Cardilli, a career diplomat from overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Italy, revealed his decision to Saudi newspapers Saturday, his 59th birthday. Italian diplomatic sources confirmed the announcement Monday.
His official conversion was made on the eve of the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan, which began on November 16 in Saudi Arabia. Cardilli himself could not be reached for comment but an employee at his embassy in Riyadh confirmed the reports.
The Saudi embassy in Rome said it planned a statement later. An embassy spokeswoman said there was no record of any Saudi ambassador to Italy ever converting to Catholicism.
Italy's Foreign Ministry had no comment.
The conversion of Cardilli -- who is married with two children -- follows the move to Islam made by Mario Scialoja, Italian ambassador to the Arab kingdom in 1994-95, who has since left the foreign service and is head of Italy's Muslim League.
Scialoja's decision came as a shock, made while he was Rome's permanent representative to the United Nations in New York and long before he was posted to Riyadh.
Cardilli's change of faith follows years of study of Islam. A graduate in oriental culture and languages from the University of Naples, Cardilli has spent much of his 33-year diplomatic career in the Muslim world.
Following postings in Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Libya, he took over the embassy in Riyadh in October last year. Cardilli has also served as ambassador to Albania and Tanzania.
His personal move comes at a sensitive time, with Italy a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the hardline Islamic Taliban movement in Afghanistan and barely two months after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi offended the Muslim world by saying Western Christian civilization was superior to Islam.
Corriere della Sera newspaper said Cardilli had been recalled to Rome "for consultations." Some 3,000 to 5,000 Italians have converted to Islam from Catholicism in recent years, according to figures from the Union of Islamic Organizations and Communities. A spokesman for the Italy-based group said it welcomed Cardilli's entry into the Muslim community, saying of his conversion: "The ways of the Lord are infinite."
|Baby Elephant Born at Washington's National Zoo |
WASHINGTON November 25, 2001 (AP) - The newborn baby elephant at the National Zoo weighs 325 pounds.
The male calf, born Sunday afternoon, took its first steps shortly after birth, zoo officials said.
"We are all so excited," said National Zoo Director Dr. Lucy Spelman. "Very few elephant calves are born in zoos each year so this is a very special event."
For one thing, it is very difficult to mate females and bulls, because few zoos have males in captivity or the proper facilities for bulls.
The calf was conceived through artificial insemination, only the fifth such success in the world, Spelman said.
The baby was born to the youngest of the zoo's Asian elephants, 25-year-old Shanthi.
Elephants carry their young for 22 months, and Shanthi had been expected to deliver in December.
Shanthi's first calf died at age 16 months of what was eventually identified as a herpes virus exclusive to elephants. Since then, methods of effective diagnosis and treatment have been developed.
"The zoo will take every measure it can to ensure the survival of this wonderful new arrival," said senior curator Dr. John Seidensticker.
[There had been no decision on a name at the time we went to press. Ed.]
|Mining The Moon |
By Jeremy Smith
LONDON November 24, 2001 (Reuters) - Space, the last frontier remaining to be truly explored and exploited by man. Vast mineral riches are believed to lie in its cold depths, especially on the moon - an untapped resource just waiting for its first commercial landing.
Could it ever be possible to replenish the earth's supplies of gemstones and little-known rare metals such as osmium and rhodium by sending humans, or even robots, into space to set up mining ventures on the inhospitable surface of the moon?
An increasing number of private firms see no reason to wait for the world's governments to take the lead and are racing to launch their own space mining missions.
"Governments have no reason to go back to the moon. They've been there, there's no political reason to go back. But there are a lot of private reasons to go back," said Ian Randal Strock, a director of U.S.-based Artemis Society International (ASI).
ASI is helping sponsor a project to build a commercial manned moon base and plans its first lunar flight in the next 10 years. According to Strock, technology is not the problem -- rather, just how to raise the massive amounts of cash required.
"If we had sufficient money, then it's just a matter of getting the pieces together, getting a launch and we're there. The big delay in any project to the moon is funding," he said. "We're looking at $1.5 billion for that first flight. We have four companies up and running and making money, and we're looking to send up a robotic camera in two years."
The United Nations' 1979 Moon Treaty, one of several international outer space agreements, attempted to define the scope of private space activity. However, it was never ratified by some major powers such as Russia and the United States.
The treaty stipulated that any wealth obtained from the moon by any space-faring nation was to be distributed to all the people of the world. One clause, referring to space resources as the "common heritage of mankind," has been taken by private firms as legitimizing efforts to mine on the moon and asteroids.
The handful of private firms competing to be the first to establish commercial lunar mining are convinced of a lucrative market for whatever they might eventually ship back to Earth.
To back up their claims, they cite a famous sale of Russian lunar samples held at a New York Sotheby's auction in 1993, where a pebble of moon rock weighing less than one carat fetched an astounding $442,000, or $2,200 a milligram. According to Applied Space Resources (ASR), a moon mission costing less than $100 million could return a quantity of lunar material with enough demand in the marketplace to make the return on investment attractive to financial backers.
A private company based in New York state, ASR aims to send an unmanned spacecraft to an unexplored region of the moon and return the first lunar samples to earth in more than 25 years.
"We have been at this for four years now -- we can do this technologically and we believe that the market exists," said Denise Norris, ASR's president. "The biggest hurdle is that we need about three to three and a half years to integrate everything. If everything moves on schedule, we would be launching within five years," she said, adding that ASR would soon be looking for $4 million in financing.
Scientists believe the elements making up most of the earth are also present on the moon and make up most of its composition. Analysis of lunar rock samples indicates a wide variety of elements, with oxygen and silicon being relatively plentiful.
Germanium, molybdenum, tungsten, rhenium and gold rank among the rarer metals present, in small percentages. Cobalt, nickel, iron, aluminum, magnesium, manganese, calcium, sodium and titanium also feature.
But of more immediate commercial interest are the six elements known as the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) -- iridium, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhodium and ruthenium.
Among the world's scarcest metals, the PGMs possess unique chemical and physical qualities that make them vital industrial materials. They are especially valued for their catalytic functions, conductivity and resistance to corrosion. "There are certain minerals and precious metals that we are going to find where the supply is going to drop off soon," said ASR's Norris. "I believe that the platinum group metals are going to be a real problem on earth, with fuel-cell technology."
Fuel-cells, which are being developed to operate without fossil fuels, use around 10 times more platinum than internal combustion engines, mainly as a catalyst. If they were to be in widespread use, platinum demand would rocket.
Norris added, "but it'd be extremely foolish to say we're going to make a ton of money selling platinum group metals here. The resources are there and there's a lot of stuff up there," she said, adding that this was mostly from asteroid impacts on the moon.
However, the daunting number of practical problems facing a would-be moon miner may prove insurmountable, scientists say.
The largest obstacle is the lack of water, used in large quantities in most earth mining operations but only believed to exist as ice at the lunar poles. Water has been responsible for shaping the earth with its alluvial strata and mineral deposits. Notwithstanding a similar lack of oxygen, which does exist on the moon but is bound up in compounds that are hard to break down, the low-gravity situation means that robotic mining would probably be more sustainable than sending humans into space.
"Nobody is going to think of doing (moon) mining with human beings," said Richard Taylor, a council member of the British Interplanetary Society. We aren't going to have little men with tin hats holding picks in their hands," he said. "All this exploitation of asteroid material will be robotic and remote."
Finding the actual mineral deposits could also prove tricky. While the earth concentrates minerals in specific areas by dint of volcanic eruptions, the moon is volcanically inactive so new ways of locating minerals would have to be found. So far, there is little hard evidence about in what form or where minerals are found on the moon, although scientists have made educated guesses based upon studies of lunar soil and rock samples.
"What you want is a means of establishing what exists where, and whether there are local concentrations. That requires very comprehensive mineral mapping," Taylor said.
"The moon has a semi-molten core but we're not going to see crystal formation or those types of veining that you would see on the earth with precious metals," said ASR's Norris. "There is no crystallization in the same way that we see on earth."
Apart from the serious practical problems involved with any activity on the lunar surface, the first obstacle for companies looking to mine on the moon is cost -- and return on investment.
Experts say the cost of transporting items into space is exorbitant, ranging between $2,000 and $3,000 per pound of weight, meaning that any lunar bases would really have to be able to procure their necessities from space.
"If there was a layer of gold a foot thick floating over the earth at an altitude at which we could send up a shuttle to go up and collect, it wouldn't be worth doing it," said Taylor. "This is for the simple reason that it would cost more per gram to go up and bring the gold back than the gold would actually fetch. And a lot of these metals have high values on earth only because they are rare."
The real key to lunar mining, Taylor said, was to reduce the cost of sending a craft into space so that its operators could afford to have a vehicle which went up partially empty into space and came back partially empty.
|American Indian Lawmaker Runs for Oklahoma Governor |
By JENNIFER L. BROWN
OKLAHOMA CITY November 24, 2001 (AP) - An award-winning artist whose ancestors followed the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma seven generations ago is the first full-blooded American Indian to run for the state's highest office.
State Sen. Enoch Kelly Haney, the nephew of the current chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and the grandson of a former chief, announced Friday he is running for governor.
"Oklahoma has the potential to become a worldwide destination for business, education and culture," Haney said in announcing his bid.
The senator, of Seminole and Muscogee descent, is the third Democrat to enter the race to succeed Gov. Frank Keating, who cannot run again next year because of term limits. Three Republicans have also announced their candidacies. The early favorite in next year's election is GOP Rep. Steve Largent, a former football star with the Seattle Seahawks.
Haney said Friday that he would propose new incentives to encourage business development in small towns, improve education and entice production companies to make films in the state. He said he believes he will have widespread support from tribal leaders and businessmen. Still, he acknowledged that beating Largent would be difficult.
"If it were an easy race," he said, "a lot more people would be in it."
Haney has served in the Legislature since 1980, when he was first elected to the House. He now chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Haney also is an acclaimed artist whose work has been shown around the world. One of his sculptures, titled "The Guardian," will sit atop a new Capitol dome now under construction in Oklahoma City. It depicts an Indian warrior holding a shield. The circular shield represents the "wheel of life," based on an Indian belief that all things are equal in value.
Although Haney's candidacy is unique in Oklahoma history, American Indians have run for governor in other states. Most recently, Indian activist Russell Means announced last month that he is running for governor of New Mexico. After New Mexico and South Dakota, Oklahoma has the largest percentage of American Indians in its population of any state. According to the 2000 Census, 7.3 percent of Oklahomans were American Indian.
|Genre News: Roswell, X-Files and The Invisible Man |
Graduating From Roswell High
Hollywood November 26, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz--the editor and author who created the Roswell High series of youth novels--told SCI FI Wire that it's like entering an alternate universe now that they are staff writers on UPN's teen-alien series Roswell, which is based on the books.
Writing partners Burns and Metz recently completed their first Roswell script, "A Tale of Two Parties," which finished production the week of Nov. 19 and is slated for a Jan. 1 air date.
The TV show is based on the first of the Roswell High books, but its plot and characters have diverged widely from the book series, the writers said in an interview.
"It's sort of that we started in the same places ... and the show went in one direction, and the books went in a different one," Burns said.
"The characters are on different paths. The show has always been more adult. ... The books were basically aimed at 10-year-olds. ... So it had to be a much younger voice. And it was very much high school. And the show, the characters have just gone through so much, they're sort of wise beyond their years now and much more mature than your average group of 17- and 18-year-olds, and the stories are much more adult. ... But we love it just as much. We were always big fans of the show."
Burns and Metz's first episode takes place on New Year's Eve. "We knew what kind of feel we wanted--just kind of a fun, fast-paced, bouncing around," Burns said. "There's a party, kind of a secret party. It's like a treasure hunt, and you follow clues. Everybody knows where the first clue is, and that leads you to the next clue, and the next clue that leads you to the party. And this is an annual thing that's legendary, like a rave, just the best party of all time, called Enigma. And what we thought is that we're going to put them on the road to this party, in various groupings, and follow their adventures as they try to find the party."
Metz said she enjoys the collaborative nature of television writing, in which ideas and storylines are developed by a group of writers working together. "That's one of the things that I really like after writing books," Metz said. "I think I'll always like writing books and will always want to do it. But ... I just got tired of being in my apartment all by myself all day. ... I really love it. It's the opposite, but it's still stories. So I get to take that part, which I really love, and combine it with people, which I also love."
Roswell airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Unofficial Roswell Fan Site - http://www.crashdown.com
X-Files' Gillian Anderson Sees the Light for Directing Debut
By Michael Fleming
NEW YORK November 27, 2001 (Variety) - X-Files star Gillian Anderson has put up her own money to option the Elizabeth Rosner novel "Speed of Light," which the actress will adapt to make her feature directorial debut once she completes her ninth and final season on the series.
Published by Ballantine, "Speed of Light" centers on a young man who lives with his sister in Berkeley and has become an obsessive-compulsive recluse after being brought up by a father shell-shocked by his ordeal as an Auschwitz survivor.
He is slowly brought out of his shell by a Latina housekeeper who, to his surprise, has a lot in common with him. She was the lone survivor when her entire Mexican village was obliterated and its inhabitants slaughtered. Meanwhile, the man's sister has gone to Budapest to trace the family's roots and uncovers a horrible secret about her father's time in the concentration camp.
While Anderson has spent nearly a decade on a popular TV series known for its twists and turns, her desire to head into features as a writer and director is surprising. She got a chance to do both on the "X-Files" episode "All Things," but said it wasn't until she read the novel that she felt the drive to control the way a story was told on the big screen.
"Directing was a transformative experience for me, one that I really enjoyed," Anderson said. "Then when I picked up this book and started reading the poetry of her words, I found myself trying to visualize where the camera should be, the colors of the characters, the texture of the shots. It felt so intimate and natural, like I wrote it myself. I took the steps to option it, something I'd never done before. It's a beautiful piece that needs to see the light of day, and hopefully I can do it justice."
Anderson has just begun writing, with hopes of getting "Speed of Light" financed when her character, Scully, leaves the small screen for good in April. She won't play a role in the film but is hardly giving up acting, as she considers several feature starring offers.
Spotnitz Fights For X-Files Future
Hollywood November 21, 2001 (SciFi Wire) - The X-Files writer-producer Frank Spotnitz told SCI FI Wire that he's not sure if there will be a 10th season of the SF series, but he added that this year's episodes are being crafted with an eye towards the possibility.
"One of the first things this season, before we even knew if [series creator] Chris [Carter] was coming back, was figuring out how the show would work for season nine, and then how it could work for seasons 10 and 11 and beyond if the audience were there," Spotnitz said in an interview.
Spotnitz added, "We didn't want to write ourselves into a corner, so we really planned for the future. We took into consideration the fans and the actors who are putting so much into making the show a success. Robert [Patrick] and Annabeth [Gish] are really killing themselves, working incredibly long hours, being very disciplined and dedicated, and trying to make everything as good as it can be, because they have to prove themselves. We wanted to honor that and find a way for the show to go forward."
A 10th year could prove problematic, however, even assuming the lackluster ratings for this year's batch of shows perk up. Gillian Anderson is in the last year of her contract. Carter only signed a one-year deal for this season. And even Spotnitz has yet to ink a deal.
"Will I come back?" he asked. "I don't know. I really don't know. Will Chris come back? Given how long it took him to sign this year, I think there's a very good chance he won't. And the same questions apply to the rest of the people who've made the show what it is all these years. I would like to think the show, because it's such a good idea, because of all the great people, could go on even if we didn't come back, but there are other issues, too. [There are issues of] economics and political support, internally and at the studio. There are battles fought that people don't know about, that they don't need to know about, but that all factor into the final decision."
X-Files airs Sundays at 9PM on Fox
Official X-Files Site - http://www.xfiles.com
Nice Alternate X-Files site (ahem) - http://flatdisk.net/keyox
Invisible Man Vanishes
By Cheryl Everette
Hollywood November 27, 2001 (Gist) - The Invisible Man will soon do a disappearing act. After two seasons, the Sci-Fi Channel has canceled the series starring Vincent Ventresca, according to Variety.
Although the show was given great visibility because it aired in syndication in several markets around the country as well as on Sci-Fi, it was done in by production costs. The series, which was shot in San Diego, often cost more than $1 million per episode, which is high for basic cable. Advertising revenues could not cover the hefty price tag, Variety reports.
The Invisible Man, which premiered on June 9, 2000, has shot 44 episodes. The five remaining unaired shows will air in January and February.
|Spinning Terrorism: Bin Laden on Court TV |
New York November 28, 2001 (AP) - One more day, and the people at Court TV can stop sweating the Osama bin Laden hunt.
The network's one-hour documentary imagining a trial for the terrorist thought to be the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks is being rushed to television on Thursday, rescheduled from Dec. 6.
The Taliban's sudden retreat in Afghanistan and the prospect that bin Laden might be dead before the program could be telecast had producers working night and day to get it done.
"When I gave the green light, I thought that we would have some time," Court TV Chairman Henry Schleiff said.
He commissioned the show about a month after the attacks, with the war on terrorism and the search for bin Laden just beginning. Court TV, like many other non-news cable networks, was looking for a way to get a piece of the story.
"Osama bin Laden on Trial" veers away from the cheesy "mock trials" of television past, like the five-hour Showtime case against Lee Harvey Oswald with Geraldo Rivera as host 15 years ago.
No actor is hired to portray bin Laden. Instead, legal experts like Alan Dershowitz, Eric Holder, Ron Kuby and F. Lee Bailey, joined by ABC News correspondents Brian Ross and John Miller, trace the evidence against bin Laden and suggest possible arguments.
Even Dershowitz, who successfully defended O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow, concedes that defending bin Laden would be "an uphill battle."
In the program, lawyers talk about how the public statements of bin Laden and his cohorts might be used against him in a trial, and trace financial and other connections between his organization and the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Court TV anchor Rikki Klieman suggests the evidence might not be solid enough. "What have you got?" she says. "The face of a bogeyman, and nothing else."
The lawyers advise a mythical bin Laden defense attorney on a closing argument. Dershowitz said he'd tell jurors that the best way to honor the Sept. 11 victims is to make sure they don't convict someone when reasonable doubt exists about guilt.
Careful attention was paid to tone, so it wasn't sensational. Film of the smoking World Trade Center is shown, but not the planes crashing into the towers. There's an artist's conception of what bin Laden might look like in the courtroom, but it's used only once.
"People can always say it's exploitive," Schleiff said. "Listen, it's a business. What we wanted to do was get a legitimate story out there. This has all the elements of a riveting, compelling documentary."
[ Right! No sensationalism! With your sponsors lined up all the way down the block, wallets in hand! Where are your profits going, pal? Ed.]
Court TV had a run of strong ratings, mixing reruns of justice-related shows like "Homicide: Life on the Street" with its own news shows and documentaries, up until a post-Sept. 11 slump.
Although the network rushed to finish the documentary, it wouldn't necessarily be canceled if bin Laden were killed, he said.
"Whether he is captured or killed beforehand is almost incidental," he said, "although I kind of hope from a showman's perspective that this (show) precedes anything."
|Afghan Farmers Back To Opium Poppies |
By CHRIS TOMLINSON
SORKHUD, Afghanistan November 24, 2001 (AP) - Gul Haidar smiled as he sifted some seeds through his fingers, happy to be planting the one crop that should ensure his family's welfare next year - opium poppies.
In pencil-thin, spiraling furrows dug with a homemade plow pulled by oxen, Haidar has sown the tiny, pale specks that will yield flowers in four months. When the petals fall, buyers will come for the seed pods and its opium resin.
The Pashto-speaking farmer expects to triple what he had made from the winter wheat he had planted the last three seasons.
With the Taliban no longer around to enforce a three-year ban on poppy-growing, hundreds of farmers near the eastern city of Jalalabad - their appetite for profit sharpened by years of drought and hardship - have resumed planting what they call "narcotic."
"We don't have much water, so with narcotic we make more money to offset the problem of the drought," Haidar said. "If you water twice a year, narcotic will do very well, but with wheat, you have to water nine times."
Miles of flat fields surround Jalalabad, with barren desert mountains visible in the distance. Hundreds of miles of irrigation canals funnel runoff from mountain springs and creeks onto the fields, but after three years without rain, water is precious.
The 75-year-old Haidar, who lives in a mud house, has rented his 750 acres from a wealthy Afghan for the past half-century.
Before the Taliban ban, he almost exclusively grew poppies. During the past three years, he switched to wheat rather than risk imprisonment. But Haidar had stashed a bag of poppy seeds - and brought them out when the Taliban fled Jalalabad this month, in time for planting season. Now he has sown 250 acres of poppies, which he said will yield 650 pounds of opium.
"It will be just enough to live," Haidar said. "I have a family of 10, so I work just to live, eat and for clothes."
Afghanistan was once the world's largest opium producer, enough to supply 75 percent of the world's heroin, according to the U.N. Drug Control Program. Farmers produced 3,611 tons from the 1999 planting. But after a ruthless Taliban crackdown, the crop in 2000 dropped to 204 tons, the agency said in July. Most of the opium is exported and is rarely used locally.
Mujahed, a 42-year-old farmer who uses only one name, said buyers give him an advance so that he can buy fertilizer and survive until the crop comes in. They return during the annual harvest to buy his seed pods and take the opium to Pakistan, where, he says, "they make the stuff that is very bad."
"But we don't know about the advantages or disadvantages for other people," Mujahed said. "I don't know what they do with it. ... For me, there are a lot of advantages over wheat."
The U.N. drug program spent years working with the Taliban and aid agencies to discourage poppy growing and encourage wheat production. But farmers outside Jalalabad said they never saw any of the aid money that was funneled through the Taliban.
"The Westerners, when they want to help us, they should put the aid in our hands, not give it to the leaders," Mujahed said, adding that he would stop growing poppies if given an alternative.
But Kasim, a 65-year-old white bearded farmer, was less sympathetic.
"Our life is really very difficult, because we can't grow wheat and still survive," he said. "We need to grow narcotic, even if it is not fair to the rest of the world."
|UK Bans Export of Alice Photos |
London November 28, 2001 (BBC) - The UK Government has placed a temporary export ban on a set of rare photographs of the little girl who inspired the Alice in Wonderland stories.
"These photographs are an important part of our cultural heritage taken by a widely acknowledged pioneer of photography. I very much hope they can stay in this country," said Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone.
The young girl in the photographs was Alice Pleasance (née Liddell), who at seven years old was befriended by writer Lewis Carroll.
In June 2001 a collection of books, photographs and papers relating to Liddell's fictional namesake and belonging to her family went on sale at Sotheby's auction house in London. A US collector bought up many of the lots, promising to display them "where they belong" at Christ Church College, Oxford, where Carroll was a don.
As foreign buyers have since expressed an interest in the prints, the government has imposed the temporary export ban in the hope that an estimated £600,000 can be raised to keep the images in Britain.
A consortium involving the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (NMPFT), the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Oxford and the V&A is currently trying to raise the money. The ban has been welcomed by the NMPFT.
"The NMPFT, acting as government advisor for photographic heritage, is delighted the government has endorsed the cultural importance of an eminent British writer and photographer," said curator of photographs, Russell Roberts.
Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was born in 1832. Although a brilliant mathematician, lecturer, photographer and scholar, he is best known for his literary work.
Inspired by a river expedition with the three Liddell sisters in 1862, Carroll wrote the fantasy Alice in Wonderland. Complete with rabbits rushing down holes, a mad hatter and hookah-smoking caterpillar, the fantasy tale has delighted children and adults alike for generations.
The Alice stories are some of the most widely and most frequently translated works, apart from the Bible and Shakespeare. They have been translated into more than 70 languages, including Swahili and Yiddish.
|Film of Real Christopher Robin Found |
London November 26, 2001 (BBC) - Film footage of the real life Christopher Robin playing with friends dressed as Winnie the Pooh characters has been found - 72 years after it was shot. The clip was unearthed during research for a new BBC documentary celebrating the 75th birthday of the children's books.
The 10-second piece shows Christopher Robin Milne, son of creator AA Milne, following school children dressed for a pageant as Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Tigger and Kanga.
He was nine years old when the film was shot in the Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, in 1929.
Although Christopher Robin was unaware of the film he remembered the pageant and wrote about it in his autobiography
It says: "The pageant went its memorable way and I see it as an ancient cine film, much faded and blurred and with many breaks, but with here and there and a sequence as vivid as the day it was shot. It was exciting doing my bit."
Helen Kent was the BBC producer who discovered the footage, while looking for shots of the Ashdown Forest. To her amazement the film she requested contained shots of Christopher Robin himself.
Ms Kent said: "I couldn't believe I had discovered actual footage of the real Christopher Robin Milne."
Frank Gray, director of the South East Film and Video Archive where the piece was found, said: "If anyone asked me 'would this film still exist?' I would have said 'no' as 80% of the films from the 1920's have been lost.
"This is the only film we have of Ashdown Forest from that period, so for this one film to be the film that also showed Christopher Robin was virtually impossible. It's a wonderful piece of film because it links the world of Winnie the Pooh to Ashdown Forest and Christopher Robin."
|Binary Suns: What would happen if our Sun had a twin? |
November 25, 2001 CHANDRA X-RAY CENTER NEWS RELEASE - How would our Sun behave differently if it had a closely orbiting twin? While astronomers don't know the exact answer, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has observed an intriguing star system that is beginning to provide important clues.
Scientists from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) used Chandra to study two stars in an incredibly tight binary system. These stars, part of the system known as 44i Bootis, orbit around so quickly that that they pass in front of one another every three hours.
"The Universe has gift-wrapped a wonderful laboratory for us to study stars like our Sun," said Nancy Brickhouse of SAO who led the research team. "We can use this strange alignment of these two stars whipping around each other to learn more about magnetic fields and outer atmospheres in stars like our Sun."
For decades, scientists have known that the Sun at the center of our Solar System creates complex magnetic fields as it spins on axis roughly once every month. These magnetic fields confine giant arches of hot, ionized gas that erupt from the solar surface. Occasionally, these eruptions flare out in the direction of Earth and affects satellites and power grids.
Astronomers have long predicted that rapidly spinning solar-like stars could produce magnetic field patterns very different from those of our Sun. Unfortunately, any star outside of our Solar System -- including 44i Bootis -- is too far away for even the biggest telescopes to resolve magnetic loops on the surfaces.
However, the SAO team took advantage of the fact that 44i Bootis is an eclipsing binary, where two stars circle around each other. The two stars are aligned so that Chandra can capture the ebb and flow of radiation as the stars pass in front of one another. Using the Doppler effect -- the same process that causes a siren to change its frequency as an ambulance approaches -- scientists were able to measure tiny wavelength shift in the X-rays emanating from hot gas filling the magnetic field structures.
"By measuring the changes in the Doppler shift, we can use Chandra to pinpoint where the radiation is coming from on these stars and it turns out it's not where many scientists would have expected it," said SAO's Andrea Dupree. "Chandra shows that most of the radiation from the 44i Booti stars comes from areas around their poles. It's puzzling to understand how these stars, which are very much like our Sun in many ways, can produce such different patterns of X-ray structures when in a closely orbiting binary system."
Chandra observed 44i Bootis, a multiple star system about 42 light years from Earth in the constellation Bootes, with the High Energy Tranmission Grating for 59,000 seconds on April 25, 2000. In addition to Brickhouse and Dupree, Peter Young of SAO was also a member of the research team whose paper appeared in the November 20, 2001, issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
|Dutch Team Wins World Solar Car Challenge |
Adelaide, Australia November 25, 2001 (WSC) - The 2001 World Solar Challenge was won by the Dutch team NUNA in a record time of 32hrs and 39 mins at an average speed of 91.81kph.
This time beat the previous record set by Honda in 1996 of 33hrs 32 mins with an average speed of 89.76kph.
Aurora, the Australian entry from Victoria, was a close second, just 35 minutes behind the winner.
The World Solar Challenge developed into a two car duel down the Stuart Highway, with the top teams separated by just minutes for the majority of the event.
The Dutch team, Nuna, pulled away from Aurora late yesterday and reached the timed finish at 6.09pm South Australian time.
The team completed the event through the ceremonial finish line this morning at Torrens Parade Grounds.
For further information contact the event web site: http://www.wsc.org.au
|Ancient Maya Press Shared Modern Risks |
By Hillary Mayell
National Geographic News
OHIO November 26, 2001 (National Geographic) - A new study offers a gruesome illustration of the pen being mightier than the sword.
It suggests that the official scribes of Maya kings, who were considered important to the kings' power, were especially targeted by enemies in warfare. If captured, they were executed—after their fingers were broken and their fingernails ripped out, according to a researcher who has taken a much closer look at Maya murals.
Official scribes were highly valued members of a Maya kingdom because they immortalized the king by documenting his spiritual superiority, success in battle, and political might.
Kevin Johnston, an anthropologist at Ohio State University, first began thinking about the fate of captured scribes when he saw a photo enhancement of a mural from Bonampak in National Geographic. Bonampak is a Maya site in the Chiapas state of southern Mexico.
The mural depicts captured scribes—bound, semi-nude, and with their fingers broken and bleeding. Some have already been executed.
"I was looking at it and I had a 'eureka!' moment," said Johnston. "I realized they were holding quills, and that I had seen similar depictions in other places.
Johnston, whose study is published in a recent issue of the journal Antiquity, said: "Destroying a conquered king's ability to communicate is a powerful act of symbolism."
During the Classic Maya period, A.D. 250 to A.D. 800, the Maya civilization consisted of 50 or more city-states spread across Mexico, Belize, northern Guatemala, and western Honduras. A king ruled each city-state, which consisted of farmlands surrounding urban centers.
Warfare between neighbors was common. Besides the usual spoils of war, the conquerors sought human captives, which were essential for a king to maintain power.
One measure of a kingdom's wealth was its large temples, ceremonial plazas, and palaces. Building these monuments required a great deal of manpower, which was often provided by the forced labor of those captured in battle.
A king also used captives as human sacrifices to the gods. Human sacrifice was seen as necessary for the king to maintain a relationship with the gods and keep them happy, thereby ensuring healthy, abundant crops.
Scribes were important to a king as well, to document his spiritual superiority, success in battle, and political might.
Power of the Pen
Reading and writing were elite functions in Maya society, and scribes were minor royalty, related to nobles or sometimes even to the king.
By immortalizing a king's victory in battle and ready communication with the gods, a scribe played an important and highly visible role in maintaining the king's power.
Scribes wrote on a variety of media, including pots, stone, books of deerskin covered with a thin layer of plaster, and other small portable objects, said Johnston. Text was also posted on stelae, tall stone obelisks that frequently surrounded the central plaza.
Steve Houston, a Maya scholar at Brigham Young University, has suggested that some of the texts were designed to be read aloud to assembled crowds.
In Maya society, Johnston said, "writing was a political tool of persuasion and authority. Scribes were deliberately targeted in warfare to silence the king's mouthpiece, which would compromise his power and reveal his vulnerability."
Johnston thinks a king may have had additional motives for executing an enemy's scribes. The conquering king already had numerous scribes of his own and would not need their services, and because the captured scribes were typically related to the defeated king in some way, their loyalty was questionable.
Mary Miller, a professor at Yale, is the lead researcher on the Bonampak restoration, for which the computer-enhanced photographs of the murals are being produced. She has a slightly different, if even more gruesome, interpretation of the bleeding fingers depicted in the artwork.
Miller believes that the scribes' fingernails are not being ripped out, but the fatty pads on their fingers are being cut away from the bone. She is also not sure that captured artists and scribes were executed.
"I've been arguing for years, since at least 1986, that artists are one of the most important pieces of tribute a conquering king could have, and that captive workers were often forced to produce works of art," she said. "After warfare, in many cases you can see styles of art change."
Johnston agrees that such artistic tribute was required of captives in some cases. There is very limited evidence at the moment to tell whether artists, scribes, and carvers were treated differently.
Reconstruction of the murals at Bonampak are a multi-year project for Miller and her colleagues, and their findings are just beginning to be published.
"As more of the data is published," said Miller, "it will engender a lot of discussion, as new details of the richness and complexity of Maya cultural practices emerge and we can take a fresh look at Maya warfare."
|Stone Age Terrors Still Stalk Modern Nightmares |
UK November 25, 2001 (Observer) - They were created to trigger our most primitive fears - by depicting half-human, half-animal monsters that hunted the living.
But these horrific creatures differed in one crucial way from the warped humanoid beasts that fill the high school corridors of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the werewolves and blood-sucking monsters that populate horror books. These creatures were painted by Stone Age peoples more than 10,000 years ago and represent some of the world's oldest art.
The surprising discovery that werewolves are as old as humanity is the handiwork of researchers who have carried out a major analysis of the world's ancient rock art sites: in Europe, Africa and Australia.
'We looked at art that goes back to the dawn of humanity and found it had one common feature: animal-human hybrids,' said Dr Christopher Chippindale, of Cambridge University's museum of archaeology and anthropology. 'Werewolves and vampires are as old as art, in other words. These composite beings, from a world between humans and animals, are a common theme from the beginning of painting.'
Chippindale's research - carried out with Paul Tacon of the Australian Museum in Sydney - involved surveys of rock art painted on cliffs in northern Australia, on ledges in South Africa and inside caverns in France and Spain. These are the world's principal prehistoric art sites.
Nor are they made up of crude daubs of paint or charcoal. Many were executed with breathtaking flair.
For example, those at the recently discovered Grotte Chauvet near the Ardèche Gorge in France are more than 30,000 years old, but have stunned critics with their grace and style: horses rearing on their hind legs, rhinoceroses charging.
Most archaeologists have examined these paintings for evidence of the creatures that were hunted at that time. Naturally, these varied according to locality.
But Tacon and Chippindale wanted to find common denominators among these creations, despite the fact that they were painted on different continents.
After careful analysis, they found only one: the 'therianthropes' - human-animal hybrids. Statues of cat-head humans, for example, were found in Europe, while in Australia the team discovered paintings of feathered humans with birdlike heads and drawings of men with the heads of fruit bats. One of these animal-head beings is depicted attacking a woman, like a poster for early Hollywood horror films.
'Hybrids were the one ubiquitous theme we discovered,' Chippindale said. 'They belong to an imagined world which was powerful, dangerous and - most likely - very frightening.'
These rock art nasties were gazed upon by people in 'altered states of consciousness' - individuals who were either drugged or in trances - the Stone Age equivalent of a six-pack and a video nasty.
This idea is influenced by studies of the modern San people of South Africa who often dance themselves into hypnotic trances. The images they later recall are painted on to cave walls as attempts or entry cards to a spirit world. 'The spirit world is a different and separate place, and you need to learn how to access it,' added Chippindale. Buffy may be adolescent television, in other words, but she taps a deep creative vein.
Many anthropologists believe ancient art works like those at Chauvet were also created for the same reason.
'They are among the most potent images mankind has ever created,' Chippindale said. 'When you enter these caves today, with electric lights and guides, they are still pretty frightening. Armed with only a guttering candle, the experience would have been utterly terrifying in the Stone Age. You would crouch down a corridor and would then be suddenly confronted by a half-man, half-lion, or something similar.'
And once we had unleashed these scary monsters, we never looked back, from the human-animal hybrid gods of the Egyptians - such as Bast, the cat god; or Anubis, the dog god; or creatures such as minotaurs or satyrs. Later came legends such as the werewolf, and finally specific creations such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, an 'undead' human with bat-like features who preyed on the living.
More recently, the most spectacularly successful Hollywood horror films have been those that have focused on creations that have mixed the features of reptiles or insects with those of humans: Alien and Predator being the best examples.
As Chippindale put it, 'these were well-made films, but they also succeeded because they tapped such an ancient urge.'
|And The World's Sexual Superpower Is... |
By Rodney Joyce
WELLINGTON November 27, 2001 (Reuters) - The United States remains the sexual superpower of the world with Americans making love more often and with more partners than any other nationality, according to a survey by a leading condom manufacturer.
Durex SSL International said Tuesday that its annual poll of 18,500 people in 28 countries showed the world was having more sex and starting earlier than ever before, and the United States was leading the field in all departments.
The survey -- carried out in May and published ahead of World Aids Day on December 1 -- showed respondents averaging sex 97 times a year, up from 96 last year. But those Americans questioned averaged sex 124 times a year with over 14 different partners and were also starting earlier than anyone else at an average age of 16.
The Greeks made love the second most frequently -- 117 times a year on average -- while the Germans were the second youngest to get started at 16.6 years.
France's reputation as a nation of lovers took something of a hit with frequency dropping from 121 times a year to 110 and slumping from top of the number of partners table to second with 13 compared to 17 a year ago.
Japan remained bottom of the lovers league with an average 36 sexual encounters a year.
Overall, 60 percent of respondents said they had sex at least once a week and four percent claimed to make love daily. But single people had the least sex -- 86 times a year -- and the libido of married couples (100 times) also trailed those living together (145 times). One in 10 people said they never had sex.
The global average age of first sex moved down slightly to 18.0 years from 18.1, while the number of partners dropped to 7.7 from 8.2. Men appeared to be more sexually active than women, claiming a frequency of 102 times a year against 91. Men also claimed an average 10.7 partners, versus 4.6 for women.
The beach was the most popular venue for love making, with 27 percent of respondents putting it ahead of a runner-up hot tub.
|Two Die in Pig Shock Horror |
|BUDAPEST November 26, 2001 (Reuters) - The annual pre-Christmas swine slaughter in a southwestern Hungarian village came to a shocking end on Saturday after one man died of electrocution while trying to stun a pig, whose owner then died of heart attack. |
Celebrations at the pig-killing party in Darvaspuszta took a turn for the worse when an unnamed visiting Croatian man shocked himself to death while trying to knock out a pig with a homemade electric pig stunner, national news agency MTI said.
A local man ended up in hospital with an irregular heart rhythm after attempting a rescue by trying to unplug the device.
The accident so upset the pig's owner, he suffered a heart attack and died.
There was no word on the fate of the pig.
|Electric Cow Sh*t! |
By GILLIAN FLACCUS
SALEM, OR November 26, 2001 (AP) - After three decades of dealing with the squishy, stinking byproduct of his family's business, dairy farmer Bernie Faber finally may get some benefit from the 24 tons of manure his herd produces each day.
Faber is betting on something called a methane digester, a developing technology that will turn cow manure into much-needed electricity and will help him comply with tightening federal environmental standards.
"It's a good gamble," said Faber, owner of Cal-Gon Farms in Salem. "We've seen the brownouts in California and we've also seen our electricity rates substantially raised here. As the cost of energy gets higher, these types of projects will be more attractive."
In a few months, Faber will be able to dump steaming manure from his 400 milk cows into a heated tank and wait as an anaerobic digester converts it into 100 kilowatts of electricity - enough to power 74 homes.
"It's not like wind, where you get electricity only when the wind's blowing, or solar energy, where you only get power when the sun's shining," said Jeff Cole, bio-gas program manager for Portland General Electric, the local utility. "Cows are producing manure constantly."
Anaerobic digestion got its start during the energy crisis of the 1970s, but most digesters failed because farmers weren't trained in how to maintain the complex machines or simply lost interest once energy prices decreased. Currently, there are only 31 digesters on commercial livestock farms nationwide and only 14 on dairy farms, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's AgStar program. But a growing energy crisis - particularly in the West - has renewed interest in the technology.
Earlier this year, Tinedale Farms in Wrightstown, Wis., began operating a methane digester that produces enough electricity to power 225 homes. In 1999, a swine farm in Iowa started a methane digester with help from the state government.
In California, a state hard-hit by the energy crisis, state lawmakers have provided $15 million for the development of anaerobic digestion technology. A $10 million grant program approved last summer also helps dairies pay for the expensive digesters.
What makes the Cal-Gon Farms digester unique in a growing market is that it is entirely paid for and maintained by Portland General Electric, which supplies 730,000 Oregon homes and businesses with power.
PGE is also footing the bill for a digester at the 6,800-cow ThreeMile Canyon Farm in Eastern Oregon, one of the largest dairy farms in the nation and the largest to be fitted with an anaerobic digester to date. The system in Boardman will handle about 675 tons of manure each day and will produce four megawatts of power - enough to light 2,500 homes. ThreeMile Canyon's digester will cost PGE about $16 million. The utility would not reveal its investment in the Cal-Gon Farms system.
The experimental systems result from a partnership between the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and PGE. It marks the first time a utility has coordinated with farmers to develop an economically feasible digester at the utility's expense, said Jim Crahn, executive director for the farmers association.
PGE plans to build experimental digesters at two more Oregon dairies next year. Requests from farmers as far away as New Mexico have poured in as word spreads about PGE's unusual project.
Dairy farmers say the methane digesters will help them comply with stricter federal regulations limiting phosphate levels in the soil that are expected by late 2002. The machines will also cut back on manure "lagoons" where cow waste stagnates during the winter months, slowly burping methane gas into the atmosphere. And they should reduce odor problems that have led to contentious "sniff tests" by environmental regulators in several other states, farmers say. But PGE isn't motivated by altruism alone.
Like most utilities, PGE wants to increase the amount of renewable power in its grab bag to meet a growing demand. It currently draws about 25 megawatts - or 1 percent - of its total power supply from green sources, particularly wind power. The company will receive a 35 percent tax credit spread over five years from the Oregon Office of Energy for investing in alternative energy technologies. And PGE will sell the methane-based power at the higher rate that applies to green energy - about 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour, Cole said. PGE also will sell one of the byproducts, a light brown straw-like fiber, as an ideal nursery fertilizer. The company stands to gain tremendous benefits in research and development, even if the digesters fail in the end.
"In the past, it's been put together a little bit on the fly and the folks that have had them have had problems," Cole said. "We're trying to bring discipline to this and an organized approach. We're trying to package this in a way that's economical."