NTS LogoSkeptical News for 11 March 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings

Monday, March 11, 2002



Media Contact:
J.C. Benton
(614) 728-2765

For Immediate Release
Friday, March 8, 2002

Columbus — The State Board of Education will conduct its monthly meeting on Monday and Tuesday, March 11and 12. On Sunday, March 10, the Board will meet in executive session for the evaluation of Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Zelman's performance.

On Monday, starting at 8:30 a.m., the Board's Standards Committee will hold a panel presentation on the science standards at Veterans Memorial on 300 West Broad Street in downtown Columbus. The presentation was originally scheduled to he held at the Ohio State School for the Blind, but was moved to the downtown location in anticipation of a large turnout.

Panel members are Dr. Lawrence Krauss, chairman, Physics Department, Case Western Reserve University; Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, associate professor of philosophy, Whitworth College; Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, professor, Division of Biology & Medicine, Brown University; and Dr. Jonathan Wells, senior fellow, Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture. The main focus of the panel discussion will be on whether "intelligent design" -- the concept that a higher intelligence was involved with the origin of life on earth -- should be included in Ohio's new science standards.


Cease and Desist!

The North Texas Skeptics has received a missive from Randell A. Monaco, Esq., of Monaco Law Office in Newport Beach, California, ordering us to "cease and desist" using the registered trademark "Clustered WaterTM" on our Web site. Monaco Law Office has been retained to represent the interests of Dr. Lee Lorenzen and Cellcore International, Inc., "who have been and are continuing to be damaged by your unauthorized use of the registered trademark, 'Clustered WaterTM.'"

The matter has been referred to an attorney. We will advise readers on any future developments concerning this complaint and the worthless product in question.

John Blanton
The North Texas Skeptics

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines – March 11, 2002

from The Washington Post

A small glass cylinder sits at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Partly filled with a form of acetone, the cylinder is closed at the bottom and at the top, with openings for a vacuum pump. A device that converts electricity into mechanical energy is stuck to the glass and sends sound waves into the acetone.

A neutron generator sits nearby, to fire tiny particles into the liquid in time with the sound waves.

The setup is smaller than most coffee makers, but the experiment being conducted with it rocked the world of physics last week and set off a quarrel among scientists that was the academic equivalent of a barroom brawl.


from The San Francisco Chronicle

Spurred by the threat of bioterrorism, a small group of scientists is focused on inventing "universal drugs" they say would work more efficiently than vaccines -- by stimulating the immune system to fight off a wide range of threats.

The players make up an unusual cast, from a former Cold War enemy to America's foremost expert on holistic medicine. They say there are so many biological threats a terrorist could make use of -- from anthrax, smallpox and plague to botulism, Ebola and tularemia -- that it would be impossible to vaccinate the entire U.S. population for each one.

Instead, scientists say, the answer lies in creating what are being called broad-spectrum or universal drugs to boost the body's "innate" immune system enough to fight a range of pathogens. The approach is a departure from the medical norm of using drugs and vaccines meant to treat specific diseases.


from The New York Times

The Pentagon's call for a new generation of nuclear arms promises a bounty of new work for the nation's aging nuclear arms enterprise, but the undertaking would be extremely difficult, experts said yesterday.

The coast-to-coast enterprise, run by the Department of Energy and employing thousands of the nation's best scientists, has been weakened in recent years by charges of spying and mismanagement, reduced demand for its services after the cold war and substantial drops in jobs, capabilities and prestige.

The top labs — Los Alamos, Livermore and Sandia — have recently sought new challenges to work on the design of warheads, most especially ones robust enough to penetrate solid rock and hardened concrete to demolish enemy bunkers buried deep underground.


from The New York Times

Scientists at the Whitehead Institute have jumped a double hurdle in the race to cure disease with embryonic stem cells, the all-purpose clay from which the body is sculptured.

Working with mice, one team has mastered making embryonic stem cells metamorphose into the cells that generate the blood and immune systems. The other team converted skin cells from the tip of a mouse's tail back into the embryonic state and then, with the first team's technique, used them to cure a mouse whose blood and immune system had been destroyed. The experiments were published electronically on Friday in the journal Cell.

The second experiment is the first demonstration of therapeutic cloning, a technique opposed by those who fear it may be used instead to clone a person. By providing proof of possible benefits, the experiment "should influence the debate," said Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass.


from The Los Angeles Times

On a typically gray, gloomy day last November in Oregon, the skies opened over the Mt. Hood National Forest and it began to rain fish.

Over two days, about 70,000 pounds of coho salmon fell, courtesy of a bucket-like device dangling beneath a large helicopter. Upon impact--the splashes could be heard from half a mile away--most of the fish went belly up and lodged behind rocks and downed logs. Others were swept away in the current, to become a meal for wildlife residing near branches of the Clackamas or Sandy rivers, the targets of this strange exercise in salmon restoration.

The thousands of fish that fell those two days were dead long before the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service deposited them into the rivers. The agencies had initiated the carcass drop- -using excess fish taken from hatcheries--because of a growing body of scientific evidence showing that dead salmon are precisely what's missing from many river ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. The thinking goes like this: Before Europeans settled the region, tens of millions of salmon migrated from the ocean each year to spawn and then die in the same rivers where they were born. Some of the fish were caught by the region's Native Americans, but millions simply perished in the rivers, where the decaying bodies turned into a feast for insects, eagles and, perhaps surprisingly, young salmon.


Book Review from The Washington Post

After the Double Helix
By James D. Watson
Knopf. 304 pp. $26

Let's just get this straight at the outset: James Watson, maverick co- discoverer of the celebrated double-helix structure of DNA and winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize for same, is an undoubted five-star national treasure. At 73, he continues to be admirably active as president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and as an intermittent source of pronouncements variously regarded as cranky or visionary, depending on the auditor.

Moreover, his original, impertinent 1968 memoir, The Double Helix, is still obligatory reading today. It is not only one of the 20th century's preeminent intellectual detective stories but also a landmark revelation of how jealously competitive, capricious and downright petty the arena of big- stakes science can sometimes be.

His new book, intended as a successor, is a rather different matter. Its hundreds of incidental anecdotes will be intensely fascinating to readers already familiar with the issues, personalities and exuberant excitement of mid-century biochemistry and genetics. The general reader, however, may find it baffling, tedious or both, and conclude -- as Watson, in fairness, warns at the outset -- "that many of the personal facts I write below are not worth being passed on to the future."


Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage

Media Resource Service

American Scientist magazine

For feedback on In the News,

Clan of Cain


"Clan of Cain addresses a new dimension to the Bigfoot story. Never before has an author on the subject of Bigfoot linked the mystical; the paranormal Sasquatch to the origins of Christianity".

Deep in the woods of Tennessee in 1835, an unparalleled encounter occurs. David Patten unwittingly opens a new facet of the future mystery of Sasquatch.

His story will lend new credence to the existence of Bigfoot and send one young man on a journey of a lifetime.

Spencer James joins a group of scientists in their quest to find the legendary Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. Egos, deception, and conflicting agendas are brought into a singular effort by a millionaire consumed with revenge and hate. Spencer becomes the moral compass, standing alone in a forest of scientific amorality. Despite their technology the truth becomes more allusive, challenging their intent and ethics, questioning the morality of their methods and the very reason for the hunt.

A man, a myth and the obsession to know the truth will reveal a story that will forever change the way you think about Bigfoot.

The provider


What a surprise to meet you on this mystical homepage. I am the Provider. While you take a tour you will find out yourself something about who I am. This will be all about how to get the invisable into the visable as meant in Gnosis = Knowledge.

To get the experience of this it might be better to try first the optical illusion and also the 3D images

Hundreds report UFO sighting in Yugoslavia

From Ananova at


Authorities are investigating after hundreds of people in a Montenegrin village reported seeing a cluster of giant UFOs.

People in Godijevo say they rushed out of their homes after hearing a series of loud blasts and saw huge illuminated objects seemingly hovering overhead.

Officials are investigating numerous recorded sightings, but have been unable to offer an explanation so far.

According to the newspaper Vijesti, many witnesses claim the UFOs changed shape before heading off into the sky and out of sight.

They couldn't tell how high in the night sky the lights were.

"I went outside after hearing a commotion and when I looked up into the night sky there were around twenty large luminous circles, it was as if a UFO was hovering over our heads. The sky must have been lit up for hundreds of metres," said Sead Hodzic.

Suggestions the lights may have come from nearby nightlife have been dismissed because there are no discos in the vicinity of Godijevo and little in the way of hi-tech facilities which could generate such lights.

Story filed: 12:41 Thursday 7th March 2002







For over a century, the Holy Bible's story of creation has come under considerable scrutiny and derision by the scientific community. The length of creation days, the Biblical order of creation, and man's origin have all been the subjects of heated debates - debates that cast further doubts on Biblical accuracy.

But is such derision warranted?

The Theory of Creation boldly answers that very question. Rather than denounce other theories or repudiate accepted scientific beliefs, this is a comprehensive and objective analysis of the first story of the Bible (Genesis 1:1-2:4). Each verse is carefully examined for its scientific meaning, the original Hebrew text is often referenced, popular theories are explored, and the purpose and implications of God's actions are addressed. Finally, the Biblical account of creation is compared to the scientific record.

The Theory of Creation will take you on a wondrous journey through time and space - from the explosive birth of our universe in the Big Bang, through the violent chaotic formation of planet Earth, to the creation of all life here - culminating in the creation of man. You will be presented with the Biblical Creation story from the perspective of science with an emphasis on God's plans for humanity and the purpose in His Creation. The Theory of Creation answers many of the enduring questions of science and resolves the Biblical Creation debate.

"In this era of moral relativism, when Biblical values are condemned and the sanctity of the Holy Bible is often ridiculed, it is my hope that this scientific validation of the creation story will be a source of inspiration for believers everywhere." - Jim Schicatano




As power costs soar, could a nonexistent perpetual motion machine really be our salvation?

By Kate Silver (silver@vegas.com)

They say all it takes is a little bit of faith, some cash and a signature, and if everything goes as planned, subscribing Christians (and maybe a few trusting infidels) will be free of Nevada Power--and their power bills--for life.

Call it the Electric Christian Rapture Test.

Andrea Yates: Examining a Spiritual Leader's Influence


Was Andrea Yates's "spiritual leader" partly responsible for her delusional thinking? As testimony comes to a close in her trial, evangelist Michael Woroniecki's influence over the mother accused of murdering her five children has become an issue. A day after Yates, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, drowned the children in the family bathtub, she told a jail psychiatrist that her bad mothering had made the kids "not righteous," and, as a result, they would "perish in the fires of hell." If she killed them while they were young, God would show mercy on their souls.

Where did these thoughts stem from? Yates's attorney, George Parnham, has put into evidence a copy of Woroniecki's newsletter The Perilous Times, sent to Yates and her husband, Rusty. In it a poem laments the disobedient kids of the "Modern Mother Worldly" and ends with the question, "What becomes of the children of such a Jezebel?" Houston psychiatrist Lucy Puryear told the jury that literature is "what her delusions are built around."

In a letter to NEWSWEEK, Woroniecki, 48, denies negatively influencing Yates, and points at Rusty. "Knock, knock ... Hello ... earth to Rusty ... your wife and children are in desperate need of your love," he writes. "I warned him over and over again that his life was headed for tragedy." Rusty, who declined to comment, first met Woroniecki while he was a student at Auburn University. Woroniecki was preaching on campus. Rusty introduced the preacher to Andrea, and in 1998 the Yateses bought a Greyhound bus from Woroniecki, who had lived in it with his wife and their six children as they toured the nation.

During a 1994 protest at Brigham Young University, Woroniecki called the school's women "contemporary witches." He told them sarcastically, "Go and be a 20th-century career woman and forget about your families." One of his pamphlets proclaimed, "As man was created to dominate, God reveals that woman was created to be his helpmeet." Though Andrea quit her job to stay home with the kids, Woroniecki says he never urged her to do this. "Although she was an excellent nurse, she never wanted to pursue a career," he wrote NEWSWEEK.

Rusty told the jury that he agreed with Woroniecki's support for home-schooling and living the "simple life" in a bus - two decisions the Yateses copied but which Puryear says caused significant stress for the passive Andrea. Forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz agreed, and said these factors led to her two previous suicide attempts. "She couldn't say to people, 'I can't stand this'."

For his part, Woroniecki writes that he and his wife were "a very compassionate and caring couple who did all we could to love them ... After all we did for this family, it is preposterous for us to be cast into such a terrible image."

- Anne Belli Gesalman

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Cold Fusion Research

November 1989

A Report of the Energy Research Advisory Board to the United States Department of Energy

Washington, DC 20585


DOE/S-0073 DE90 005611

Internet Edition Prepared by
National Capital Area Skeptics (NCAS)
District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia (USA)
[www.ncas.org]  [ncas@ncas.org]

NCAS Introduction   CONTENTS

Radiation Still Hard to Prove

By Elisa Batista

http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,50556,00.html 2:00 a.m. Feb. 22, 2002 PST

The Federal Trade Commission insisted it was simply cracking down on fraud when it recently sued two companies for falsely advertising products that purportedly shielded cell-phone callers from radiation.

Even though the FTC released a report with alternative ways for concerned consumers to protect themselves from cell-phone emissions, it also pointed out there is no conclusive evidence that cell phones are harmful.

Donald Simanek's Pages


What a deal: $1 bill for $5

Treasury offers 'collectible' dollars at rare greenbacks sale in S.F.

Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2002


The U.S. treasurer came to town this morning, selling fresh and lovely new $1 bills for only $5.

She also had brand new $5 bills, for $8. And $20 bills for just $27.50.

"We're very excited about our sale," said Treasurer Rosario Marin, like any financial whiz who has found a way to make 400 percent profit on a deal.

Marin, the woman whose signature appears on the money, was in San Francisco to kick off a new campaign by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to peddle fresh bills at a premium to collectors, and turn a few bucks for the cash- strapped treasury. Some of the bills are in sheet form, with up to 16 uncut bills on a sheet. The money can be framed, used as wallpaper or cut up, carefully, and spent. Money experts say it will never be worth more than its face value, however.

The oddest items in the sale were the new line of "lucky" and "prosperity" dollar bills with Chinese New Year themes.

T-Rex's baby brother had feathers claim scientists - Your News from Ananova

The first fossil of a dinosaur that appears to have had mature feathers identical to those of modern birds has been unearthed in China.

The US-Chinese research team said the three foot fossil should settle once and for all the acrimonious debate over whether birds and dinosaurs are related.

It also reinforces the idea that dinosaurs were not cold-blooded after all, as the textbooks said for generations, but warm-blooded creatures that needed feathers for warmth, not flight.

Full story: http://www.ananova.com/yournews/story/sm_537849.html

NYTimes.com Article: A Different Take on Human Origins

March 7, 2002


In a new genetic study of modern human origins, an American scientist has found what he says is substantial evidence that could reshape the prevailing "out of Africa" theory. Among his findings, he says, is the likelihood that genes from Neanderthals and other species live on in present-day humans.

The findings apparently do not undermine the "out of Africa" theory, which holds that there was a relatively modern founding migration of human ancestors into Asia and Europe from Africa. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/07/science/07ORIG.html?ex=1016495766&ei=1&en=104065c70ac5bc62

Out of Africa again and again


[nature] 07 March 2002
Nature 416, 45 - 51 (2002)


Department of Biology, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri 63130-4899, USA
Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to A.R.T.
(e-mail: temple_a@biology.wustl.edu).

The publication of a haplotype tree of human mitochondrial DNA variation in 1987 provoked a controversy about the details of recent human evolution that continues to this day. Now many haplotype trees are available, and new analytical techniques exist for testing hypotheses about recent evolutionary history using haplotype trees. Here I present formal statistical analysis of human haplotype trees for mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosomal DNA, two X-linked regions and six autosomal regions. A coherent picture of recent human evolution emerges with two major themes. First is the dominant role that Africa has played in shaping the modern human gene pool through at least two—not one—major expansions after the original range extension of Homo erectus out of Africa. Second is the ubiquity of genetic interchange between human populations, both in terms of recurrent gene flow constrained by geographical distance and of major population expansion events resulting in interbreeding, not replacement.

[Macmillan Magazines] Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2002 Registered No. 785998 England.

Determining the composition of the Earth


[nature] 07 March 2002
[Review Article]
Nature 416, 39 - 44 (2002)


Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0092, USA

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.J.D
(e-mail: drake@lpl.arizona.edu).

A long-standing question in the planetary sciences asks what the Earth is made of. For historical reasons, volatile-depleted primitive materials similar to current chondritic meteorites were long considered to provide the 'building blocks' of the terrestrial planets. But material from the Earth, Mars, comets and various meteorites have Mg/Si and Al/Si ratios, oxygen-isotope ratios, osmium-isotope ratios and D/H, Ar/H2O and Kr/Xe ratios such that no primitive material similar to the Earth's mantle is currently represented in our meteorite collections. The 'building blocks' of the Earth must instead be composed of unsampled 'Earth chondrite' or 'Earth achondrite'.

[Macmillan Magazines] Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2002 Registered No. 785998 England.

Questioning the evidence for Earth's oldest fossils


[nature] 07 March 2002
Nature 416, 76 - 81 (2002)


* Earth Sciences Department, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PR, UK
† Geological Survey of Western Australia, 100 Plain Street, East Perth, Western Australia, 6004, Australia
‡ Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia
§ School of Earth, Environmental and Physical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth PO1 3QL, UK
[parallel] Department of Geology, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham Hill, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.D.B.
(e-mail: martinb@earth.ox.ac.uk).

Structures resembling remarkably preserved bacterial and cyanobacterial microfossils from http://www.nature.com/__chars/math/special/sim/black/med/base/glyph.gif

3,465-million-year-old Apex cherts of the Warrawoona Group in Western Australia currently provide the oldest morphological evidence for life on Earth and have been taken to support an early beginning for oxygen-producing photosynthesis. Eleven species of filamentous prokaryote, distinguished by shape and geometry, have been put forward as meeting the criteria required of authentic Archaean microfossils, and contrast with other microfossils dismissed as either unreliable or unreproducible. These structures are nearly a billion years older than putative cyanobacterial biomarkers, genomic arguments for cyanobacteria, an oxygenic atmosphere and any comparably diverse suite of microfossils. Here we report new research on the type and re-collected material, involving mapping, optical and electron microscopy, digital image analysis, micro-Raman spectroscopy and other geochemical techniques. We reinterpret the purported microfossil-like structure as secondary artefacts formed from amorphous graphite within multiple generations of metalliferous hydrothermal vein chert and volcanic glass. Although there is no support for primary biological morphology, a Fischer–Tropsch-type synthesis of carbon compounds and carbon isotopic fractionation is inferred for one of the oldest known hydrothermal systems on Earth.

[Macmillan Magazines] Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2002 Registered No. 785998 England.

Geneticist finds humans have several origins in Africa

Of the Post-Dispatch
03/06/2002 09:28 PM


The family tree of modern humans is probably more like a tangle of vines with several roots in Africa, according to a Washington University geneticist's analysis of human DNA.

Evolutionary geneticist Alan R. Templeton's work is being hailed by many scholars who say it provides strong evidence for one side in an ongoing debate about human evolution.

Templeton traced the origins of 10 different regions of the human genome. The DNA evidence indicates that modern humans migrated out of Africa in at least two waves; one between 420,000 and 840,000 years ago and again between 80,000 and 150,000 years ago.

Waters under the earth 'outstrip every ocean - Your News from Ananova

Five times more water than is contained in all the oceans may be stored deep inside the Earth, some scientists claim.

Laboratory tests by Japanese researchers indicate a large amount of water may be trapped in minerals in the lower mantle - a thick hot layer extending from 406 miles below the Earth's surface to a depth of 1,800 miles.

Motohiko Murakami, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and colleagues synthesised hydrated lower mantle minerals such as perovskite and magnesiowustite under high temperature and pressure conditions.

Full story: http://www.ananova.com/yournews/story/sm_538683.html

Oldest Fossils Just 'an Illusion,' Scientists Contend

One of the most heralded findings of paleontology--3.5-billion-year-old rocks considered to be the Earth's oldest fossils--may be merely "an illusion," according to a new analysis published Thursday . . .


Saturday, March 09, 2002

AT NEWS: Utah Bill Blocked

From: Linda Rosa rosa@ezlink.com

Below is a report from Larry Sarner who spent a week in Utah lobbying for passage of HB356 -- the bill that sought to ban all but reasonable use of restraint, and in particular to ban the coercive restraint of children as psychotherapy, an abusive and unvalidated practice commonly known as"holding therapy."

Many thanks to all of you who helped with so many thoughtful and compelling emails to legislators and for all the helpful advice. I am sure, that with so many people understanding the need to do something to stop this abuse, we will make great strides in the future. -- Linda Rosa, RN (Loveland, CO)


Utah Bill Blocked

It was really close. The votes were there for passage in the Utah Legislature, but in the end, one senator's threat to filibuster kept the anti-restraint bill from even getting to the senate floor for a vote.

HB356 was remarkably simple. It only required all mental health professionals licensed in Utah to use restraint only in emergency situations -- i.e. imminent danger to self, others, or property, or attempted escape from a court-ordered commitment.

Previous versions of the bill had been bottled up for most of the short legislative session. It wasn't until after the Salt Lake Olympic Games that any movement was made. With adroit legislative footwork, the bill's prime mover, Rep. Mike Thompson (R-Orem), managed to get a hearing in the House Health Committee on the last possible day it could have been heard. It was passed out of Committee unanimously.

Time was running short. The session would end on Wednesday, March 6th. All House bills had to pass the House by Friday, March 1st. HB356 hadn't passed by then, and it appeared doomed. But a number of other bills hadn't been passed either, so the deadline was extended. Hard lobbying and dedication by Rep. Thompson eventually secured a bipartisan 53-20 favorable vote in the House on Monday.

The bill had only four enemies against it in the Senate: the Attachment Therapy community (and a front group called "SAFF-Care"), Phyllis Schlafley's Eagle Forum in Utah (represented by an influential maven, Gayle Ruzicka), Sen. Parley Hellowell (R-Provo) and the clock. The Eagle Forum and SAFF-Care unleashed a barrage of last-minute emails, but that was largely ineffectual as it was matched by a remarkable barrage in favor of the bill.

At the last, all that mattered was Sen. Hellowell's opposition and the ticking clock. He vowed to filibuster the bill if it made it to the Senate floor. While the Senate leadership (including HB356's Senate manager, John Valentine -- also Majority Whip) felt the votes were there for passage, the necessary maneuvering could disrupt the process on that last day, imperiling critical appropriation bills still left for action.

As a result, the leadership decided not to allow the bill to go to the floor for a vote, and the battle was lost for this year.

The issue has been galvanized in Utah as a result of this year's effort, so the final battle is far from lost. Indeed, Alan Misbach, who has been a truly tireless campaigner on this issue, will be lining up substantial public and institutional support for the push next year. Both Rep. Thompson and Sen. Valentine vow that the opponents "will not run out the clock on us next time!"

God Names Next "Chosen People"; It's Jews Again


God Names Next "Chosen People"; It's Jews Again
"Oh Shit," Say Jews

Jerusalem (SatireWire.com) Update -- Jews, whose troubled, 10,000-year term as God's "chosen people" finally expired last night, woke up this morning to find that they had once again been hand-picked by the Almighty. Synagogues across the globe declared a day of mourning.

Asked if the descendants of Abraham shouldn't be pleased about being tapped for an unprecedented second term, Jerusalem Rabbi Ben Meyerson shrugged. "Of course, you are right, we should be thrilled," he said. "We should also enjoy a good swift kick in the head, but for some reason, we don't.

God conducts blind drawing.

"Now don't ask such questions until you watch the news, or read history, or at least rent 'Fiddler on the Roof'."

Much of the world's re-blessed Jewish community shared that feeling. "It's always been considered a joke with us. You know, 'Please G-d, next time choose someone else,' ha ha," said New York City resident David Bashert.

"Ha. Ha ha," Bashert added. "Shit."

According to a worldwide survey of faiths, not a single group expressed an interest in being chosen, and the only application submitted before last night's filing deadline, on behalf of the Islamic people, proved to be a fake.

"Somebody filled out a form and signed our name to it, but I guarantee it wasn't us," said Imam Yusuf Al Muhammed of Medina, Saudi Arabia. "I'm not going to say who it was, but the application was filled out in Hebrew."

"Oh, don't be such a k'vatsh," responded Meyerson. "It's only 10,000 years. Trust me, after a few diaspora, you would have gotten used to the universal hatred thing."

Due to the absence of voluntary candidates, God's Law stipulated that the Almighty had to choose a people at random to serve out the next 10-millenia term. Elias Contreau, director of the International Interfaith Working Group, said he wasn't surprised it came to a blind drawing.

"According to the Bible, God promised to bless Abraham and those who came after him," said Contreau. "Who knows, maybe that sounded good at the time, or maybe 'blessed' meant something different back then, like 'Short periods of prosperity interrupted by insufferable friggin' chaos.' Whatever, I think it's safe to say that people didn't know what they were agreeing to."

Now they do, Contreau added, which he said explains why so many religions had lately been exalting God's existence, but downplaying their own.

"We were not avoiding Him. We just told our parishioners that if Anyone asks, we're out," insisted Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. George Carey, who had called off services during February. "Besides, we weren't the only ones. I didn't see the Hindus raising their hands."

"Now look, it's like we told the ethereal vision who dropped off the application, 'Sure, we have a strong shared faith and all that, but I wouldn't exactly say we're a 'people,' not really,'" recalled Hindu leader Samuldrala Swami Maharaj of Calcutta. "Plus, you know, I told him we had a lot of other commitments. We'd like to help, honestly. Another time, maybe."

In Jerusalem, Jewish leaders said they will propose an amendment to God's Law prohibiting a people from having to serve more than two consecutive terms. "Hopefully, G-d will hear our prayer," said Meyerson. "No, wait, that's what got us into this."

Americans, meanwhile, expressed outrage at the decision, saying they had assumed they were God's chosen people. However, explained Archbishop Carey, "It only seems that way because so many people don't like you."

TV Joan faces jail for gay poem

Forwarded by Garry Margolis

"If Bakewell is prosecuted, it will be a major test of Britain's controversial blasphemy laws which protect only Christians."

Moralists accuse Bakewell of blasphemy

Ben Summerskill, society editor
Sunday March 3, 2002
The Observer, London

It could be an episode of Rumpole of the Bailey. In the dock of the Central Criminal Court will stand Joan Bakewell, the TV presenter beloved of a generation as the 'thinking man's crumpet'.

Leading a constellation of supporters will be Sir John Mortimer, the QC and playwright, and BBC director-general Greg Dyke. Bakewell faces a prison sentence if she is found guilty.

Across the courtroom, the Director of Public Prosecutions, David Calvert-Smith QC, will present a charge of blasphemous libel referred to him by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens, who is a leading evangelical Christian.

Bakewell's first rebellion against Britain's morality laws, the DPP will remind the court solemnly, was in the early Sixties when she smuggled a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover through Customs in her underwear.

Alarmingly for Bakewell, 68, this is not a chapter from the fictional Rumpole saga created by Mortimer himself.

Stevens's officers disclosed this weekend that they may charge Bakewell with blasphemous libel after she recited on TV part of an erotic poem about a Roman centurion's affection for Jesus.

The poem, which few argue has any outstanding literary merit, is The Love That Dares to Speak its Name. When last published, in 1976, the man responsible was given a nine-month suspended jail sentence and told he had come close to serving it.

If Bakewell is prosecuted, it will be a major test of Britain's controversial blasphemy laws which protect only Christians. They were introduced in the seventeenth century, when questioning the existence of the state religion was akin to treason. They have remained unamended ever since.

'I was making a point,' said Bakewell of her BBC series Taboo, broadcast last December. 'You need to show people how sensibilities are offended. It was the very fact that it was to do with Jesus and the disciples that shocked religious people. If you're going to say, "This is a tacky poem", you have to show it.'

A police spokesman confirmed that their inquiries follow a referral from the DPP: 'Officers have viewed tapes of the programme in relation to an alleged offence of blasphemy. The matter is under consideration.'

Taboo was reported to the DPP by the National Viewers and Listeners Association, newly-renamed Mediawatch, which funded a private prosecution against Gay News and its editor, Denis Lemon.

'I couldn't believe what was being said on my TV set,' said Mediawatch director John Beyer. 'It is unthinkable that the BBC should have repeated part of a poem already found by a jury to be a blasphemous libel.'

The poem, by Professor James Kirkup, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, portrays Jesus as a sexually active gay man. It was Mortimer who defended Lemon.

Mortimer said: 'I'm horrified. Not only is it monstrous there is no defence of literary merit available, but it's idiotic that the police should spend time on this.'

A BBC spokeswoman insisted: 'There was a serious purpose to this programme.' She declined to say whether lawyers had approved it.

The poem may be found at http://www.alsopreview.com/jklove.html

Woman claims statue's blood tears were drug addict son's

From Ananova at:


A woman claims her drug addict son used his own blood to make a religious statue appear like it was crying.

Thousands of people flocked to see the statue of Padre Pio in Sicily after reports its tears were made of blood.

The unnamed woman phoned La Reppubblica newspaper claiming the blood on the 6ft statue in Messina was her son's.

The crowds have now dwindled, Ceefax reports.

Padre Pio, a monk who died in 1968 aged 81, is said to have had stigmata - Christ's wounds - in his hands, feet and side for 50 years.

Pope John Paul is due to make him a saint on June 16 at the Vatican.

Earlier this week, Messina's bishop, Giovanni Marra, told the faithful "not to make a big deal" over the apparently weeping statue.

Friday, March 08, 2002

Stigmata Priest Has Church Buzzing


Daily News Staff Writer

The young Croat-born cleric known as the stigmata priest is due at a Bensonhurst church next week, and the pastor says he's getting nervous.

"We're getting a lot of calls," said Msgr. David Cassato, pastor of St. Athanasius Catholic Church. "Everyone wants to meet him and have him pray over them because of his giftedness. I hear he brings in very big crowds."

The Rev. Zlatko Sudac, 31, has attracted large audiences since he arrived on a Mass tour of the metropolitan area more than five months ago.

Last month, thousands went to Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village, where Sudac celebrated two Masses instead of the one that had been scheduled.

Incredible Claims Made

Sudac claims to have supernatural gifts, including stigmata, or marks, on his body that resemble those on the body of Jesus Christ when he was crucified.

The priest claims that the marks bleed spontaneously and that he can heal, levitate, be in two places at once and know the future.

Sudac does not give interviews, but the Rev. Giordano Belanich, a priest in the Newark Archdiocese, said Sudac received the stigmata on his forehead in 1999, a year after his ordination, and other gifts followed soon after.

Cassato said: "I heard about him just recently. A friend who knows of his work called and asked if I would be interested in having him come to our church. I said, 'Of course.' I thought it would be a nice Lenten reflection to have a spiritual uplift for all of us."

Last month, a Long Island church canceled an appearance by Sudac, citing limited sanctuary space.

Cassato said he had not met Sudac but did not question accounts of the stigmata. "It's a gift," he said. "It's a very unusual, extraordinary gift that has been given at times in our church history — to St. Francis of Assisi, to Padre Pio."

The Catholic Church has permitted Sudac to continue his tour until May, when he returns to his homeland, but has remained silent on his sensational claims.

Frank DeRosa, spokesman for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, said: "From what I understand, Father Sudac is a priest in good standing. He's been speaking at various parishes in the metropolitan area, and there's been a rather substantial following.

"There's no indication he's been anything but a good priest. As far as the stigmata is concerned, there has been no position taken on that," DeRosa said.

Cassato said Sudac would celebrate a Mass and conduct a healing service March 13.

Clones, Free Love and UFOs

VALCOURT, Canada -- In the course of 29 years, Claude Vorilhon built a small yet international religious group by preaching that scientists from another planet created all life on Earth. But in 1998, Vorilhon had an especially big pronouncement for his 5,000 or so followers: The creators would soon board their flying saucers and return. It was time to prepare . . .


Star Trek warp drive 'impossible' says scientist - Your News from Ananova

A Portuguese physicist has risked upsetting Star Trek fans by saying 'warp drive' will never happen.

Dr Jose Natario says theoretical "negative energy" causing space to contract in front of the Enterprise and expand behind it has been proved wrong in quantum physics.

He says the warp drive, always practically impossible has now been ruled out even in theory.

Full story: http://www.ananova.com/yournews/story/sm_538441.html

Court's Ten Commandments Plaque Is Ordered Removed


March 7, 2002

PHILADELPHIA -- A federal judge Wednesday ordered county officials to remove an 82-year-old Ten Commandments plaque from a courthouse, calling it an unconstitutional display of the biblical text.

The 50-by-39-inch bronze plaque at the Chester County Courthouse is inscribed with a version of the Ten Commandments from the King James version of the Bible.

Paleontology Class Winces Whenever Fundamentalist Kid Raises Hand


STATE COLLEGE, PA‹ The 24 other students in a Penn State Paleontology 101 discussion section wince with dread whenever fundamentalist Christian Joseph Moseley raises his hand, classmates reported Tuesday. "As soon as that guy's hand shoots up, the whole class tenses up and is like, 'Oh, God, here we go again,'" classmate Colin Herberger said. "I think he thinks he plays a valuable role in the class, acting as the 'opposing viewpoint,' but it's just annoying."

Investigator: Murder Suspect Said He's a Vampire

Posted - March 07, 2002 6:16pm


Leesburg, Va. (AP) - One of the suspects in the killing of a prominent scientist allegedly claims to be a practicing vampire who went into a frenzy after getting some blood in his mouth.

That was among the gruesome details heard in a Leesburg courtroom today, as an investigator discussed the confession of 18-year-old Kyle Hulbert -- one of four suspects charged with murdering Robert Schwartz.

At a preliminary hearing, the court heard that Hulbert allegedly said Schwartz's daughter was afraid her father was trying to poison her. Nineteen-year-old Clara Schwartz is also under arrest on murder charges.

According to the testimony, Hulbert used a two-foot sword to kill the renown DNA expert in his Loudoun County farmhouse in December.

Shirley Maclaine's Speech Mentions "Past Life"

Volume 7, Number 10
March 5, 2002
Editor: Joseph Trainor


Actress Shirley MacLaine "is up to her old loopy tricks again," the tabloid Globe reported in its March 5, 2002 edition (page 13).

"The longtime New Mexico resident recently appeared before the legislature to persuade lawmakers to spend more money attracting filmmakers to to shoot in the state," often called "The Land of Enchantment."

"But the poster girl for reincarnation had everyone scratching their heads over her own personal flashback."

"'Santa Fe is the oldest state capital in the country,' she said, 'It was founded 500 years ago. I know...I was there."

His interest piqued by this remark, your UFO Roundup editor did some research on Santa Fe and found some intriguing facts.

Of that vast region north of the Rio Grande known as El Norte, little was known to those Spanish viceroys in Mexico City. They knew it was inhabited. In his 1598 book, Onate first speaks of "los Apaches."

(Editor's Note: "Apache" is a corruption of the Zuni word apachu meaning enemy. The indigenous people's name for themselves was Dineh, although a few clans referred to themselves as Inde, pronounced een-day.)

Santa Fe "was founded in the winter of 1609-1610 by Don Pedro de Peralta, the third governor of La Provincia de Nueva Mejico, at a spot known to the Pueblo Indians as Kuapoga or 'the place of the shell beads near the water.'"

When Peralta's party arrived in November 1609, Kuapoga was a heap of ruins, a prehistoric city built by a mysterious people called the Tano. Even today, residents of Santa Fe, "in digging foundations for their homes, frequently unearth remnants of the prehistoric past in the form of pottery fragments, implements and human bones."

Living at Kuapoga at the time was Yapashi, an elderly woman serving as a medicine chief or what we would today call a spiritual advisor. Not too much is known about Yapashi. Some thought she was a Daughter of the Sun House of a Pueblo clan; some said she was the last Tano priestess. But she did watch Peralta "build the palacio as a fortress, laid out the plaza and planned a walled city."

Life in New Mexico changed swiftly after that. Seven years later, "by 1617, with only 48 Spanish soldiers and settlers in the province...the Franciscan friars had built eleven churches, had converted 14,000 Indians to the Roman Catholic faith and had prepared as many more for conversion."

Sometime during this period, Yapashi dropped out of sight. No more was she seen in Santa Fe. She might have died. Or she might have moved up into Frijoles Canyon, in what is now the Bandelier National Monument 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Santa Fe. There lie the ruins of Tyunonyi, another prehistoric Tano city which remained undiscovered for another several decades.

So, is Shirley MacLaine the reincarnation of Yapashi? Good question. Ms. MacLaine might decide to visit the kivas of the Temple of the Stone Panthers in Bandelier for herself. Then again, she might not. Some memories, afer all, are better left unremembered. (See the Globe for March 5, 2002, "Back to the future," page 13.)

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

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Today's Headlines – March 8, 2002

from The New York Times

Few gave a thought to the color of the universe until two months ago, when astronomers at Johns Hopkins University ran calculations through a spectrum of color schemes and concluded that on average the universe is pale turquoise, or just a shade greener.

It is a pleasingly serene color, which made the front pages of newspapers and the TV news. But reality, it turns out, is not so vivid. The universe is really beige. Get used to it.

"We got it wrong," the astronomers, Dr. Karl Glazebrook and Dr. Ivan Baldry, announced yesterday. They said they had been led astray by a flaw in their computer software.

Determining the cosmic color was an afterthought to an examination of some 200,000 galaxies to learn the rate of star birth as the universe aged. The astronomers then decided to transform the data into an array of colors. They gave a numeric value to the colors of the different galaxies, added them together and came up with the color the universe would appear to be to someone "standing" outside.


from The Washington Post

CAPE CANAVERAL, March 7 -- Spacewalking astronauts equipped the Hubble Space Telescope with a new set of digital eyes today, a $75 million camera expected to extend the observatory's reach to within a billion years or so of the big bang.

The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) has five times the sensitivity and twice the resolution, or clarity, of Hubble's current visible-light camera, greatly increasing the discovery potential of the $2 billion observatory.

"With ACS, Hubble will detect more faint stars and galaxies during [the new camera's] first 18 months than have been detected" since Hubble was launced into space in 1990, said principal investigator Holland Ford of Johns Hopkins University.


from The Associated Press

BOSTON, March 7 -- For the first time, scientists say they have used the ethically sensitive technology of therapeutic cloning to repair an inherited disease in a lab animal.

While still far from human use, experts say this demonstrates the potential power of the approach to correct many common ills.

Scientists have used therapeutic cloning to make embryonic stem cells that can develop into many different kinds of tissue, such as muscle or nerves. But until now, they have not been put back into an animal to treat a disease.


from The Boston Globe

So-called test-tube babies face twice the risk of developing problems associated with birth defects in their first year as babies conceived naturally, according to a new study released today. It was yet another worrisome consideration for the thousands of infertile parents who turn to medical science for help in starting a family.

Researchers examined thousands of Australian birth records, finding that within the first year of life 9 percent of babies conceived through in vitro fertilization exhibited problems related to birth defects - such as heart trouble, stunted limbs, Down syndrome, and cleft palate - while only 4.2 percent of naturally conceived infants did.

Local fertility specialists said the findings, reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine, would not change the advice or treatment they give infertile couples seeking assistance.


from The Associated Press

In the latest battle over genetically modified food, federal regulators must decide if fish given super-growth genes -- Frankenfish, as critics call it -- is safe for the dinner table.

A Food and Drug Administration ruling on the modified Atlantic salmon is expected to influence the fate of dozens of other animals that could be genetically engineered, such as cows, chickens and pigs.

The genetic tinkering is aimed at faster stocking of supermarket meat counters and dairy cases. The engineered salmon, raised by Waltham, Mass.- based Aqua Bounty Farms Inc., grow to market size twice as fast as their unmodified cousins.


from The Los Angeles Times

The Claremont Colleges' newest branch, which opened two years ago with the purpose of teaching biotechnology for business purposes, has spun off its first company.

Next week the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences will unveil Ionian Technologies, a biotech company that will market machines that identify gene characteristics.

The technology is the work of two of Keck's most accomplished scientists, Jeff Van Ness and David Galas. Van Ness has conducted groundbreaking research in the genetics of bone disease and growth, and Galas directed the Human Genome Project in the early 1990s. The two have developed a technology that can measure very small pieces of DNA. Initially, researchers will use the technology to find the genetic expression of a disease, Galas said.


from The Los Angeles Times

David Hawkins, a philosopher who became the official historian of the experiment that produced the atomic bomb, died of natural causes Feb. 24 in Boulder, Colo. He was 88.

Professor Hawkins was teaching philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley in 1943 when his friend J. Robert Oppenheimer invited him to join the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico. Oppenheimer was director of the Manhattan Project, the top-secret military experiment that produced the world's first atomic explosion.

Professor Hawkins was Oppenheimer's troubleshooter. His duties included inventing reasons to keep the project's many young physicists from being drafted. As the program's historian, he came to know Edward Teller and other members of Oppenheimer's team.


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Sigma Xi Homepage

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Thursday, March 07, 2002

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines – March 7, 2002

from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, March 6 — The Hubble Space Telescope is alive and in stable condition, with electricity surging through its instruments, after astronauts performed a heart- stopping replacement of its central power controller today.

With Hubble secured to a workbench across the cargo bay of the space shuttle Columbia, two astronauts replaced the malfunctioning power control unit in a risky procedure that had been likened to a heart transplant.

Switching out the unit, which channels the electricity from Hubble's solar panels to its instruments and batteries, required turning off all the power for the first time since the observatory went into space in 1990 and putting the telescope into a coma from which some feared that it might not awaken.


from The Christian Science Monitor

Rarely in the history of astronomy has a single instrument done more to revolutionize humanity's view of the cosmos than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Now, with eight years left in its 20-year observing program, three spacewalking astronauts are preparing to reshape this crown jewel of US space science during a mission that has astronomers both exhilarated and anxious.

The telescope's name will be the same, but in some ways it will be a completely new astronomical tool.

A new camera will allow the observatory to survey larger patches of the sky in more detail than ever, observing objects in ultraviolet as well as visible light. The phone-booth-size camera is so sensitive that it would spot a pair of fireflies more than 6,000 miles away - and still see them as separate objects.


from The New York Times

In a new genetic study of modern human origins, an American scientist has found what he says is substantial evidence that could reshape the prevailing "out of Africa" theory. Among his findings, he says, is the likelihood that genes from Neanderthals and other species live on in present-day humans.

The findings apparently do not undermine the "out of Africa" theory, which holds that there was a relatively modern founding migration of human ancestors into Asia and Europe from Africa.

But they do suggest that there were at least two migrations rather than one — the first about half a million years ago, the other, as in the "out of Africa" theory, beginning some 100,000 years ago.


from The Washington Post

Before becoming President Bush's choice to lead the National Institutes of Health, Elias Zerhouni assured leading social conservatives that he opposed any type of research on cloned human embryos, three conservative sources familiar with his selection said yesterday.

Congressional Republicans and some conservative activists said White House vetters expressed confidence that Zerhouni supports a bill sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) that outlaws not only reproductive cloning but also cloning of microscopic embryos to obtain stem cells for therapeutic purposes.

Administration aides working on the selection said after reviewing all of Zerhouni's published works that they felt "confident he is in line with the president on philosophical matters," said one outside adviser to the White House.


from The Washington Post

Human blood contains stem cells that can morph into skin, liver and intestinal tissues, researchers in Texas reported yesterday. The finding strengthens an emerging scientific consensus that adult bodies harbor cells capable of repairing damage to organs.

The discovery does not speak directly to whether those "adult stem cells" have the same therapeutical potential as similar cells retrieved from human embryos. That question continues to dog scientists, politicians and ethicists as Congress struggles to devise a public policy on human embryo research -- a policy debate that became further inflamed yesterday with a report that scientists in China had created cloned human embryos for research.

But the new work does show that at least some potentially useful stem cells may be easily obtained from blood in the body's veins. Previously, such cells had been found in humans only in relatively inaccessible spaces such as the brain or bone marrow.


from The Los Angeles Times

Paleontologists working in China have unearthed the first fossil of a dinosaur that appears to have had full-fledged feathers -- a finding they say settles once and for all the debate over whether dinosaurs and birds are related.

Researchers said the 3-foot fossil also reinforces the idea that at least some dinosaurs were warm-blooded creatures that needed feathers for insulation, not flight.

The specimen is believed to be about 128 million years old. It is a small, fleet-footed theropod, a two-legged carnivore that could not fly and belongs to the same family as the larger and more fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex.


from Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Doctors in Saudi Arabia have carried out the first world's first womb transplant in a groundbreaking operation on a 26-year- old woman, according to research published Thursday.

The surgery, which took place two years ago, was deemed a success by the Saudi team of doctors but the transplanted womb had to be removed 99 days later because of blood clotting.

Dr. Wafa Fageeh, who led the surgical team at the King Fahad Hospital in Jeddah, reported the research in the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

He said the technique could be a useful treatment in the future for tens of thousands of infertile women whose only chance of having children was through surrogacy.


from The Christian Science Monitor

When poet Carl Sandburg wrote of fog coming in "on little cat feet," he could just as well have applied the image to another, more troubling weather event: drought. For more than 50 years, researchers have noted that drought is a "creeping" phenomenon. People recognize they're experiencing it only after it has been around for a while, and then struggle to cope with it.

But now, researchers are looking forward to new tools to help them improve drought forecasting, while in Washington, lawmakers are expected to introduce legislation in the next few weeks aimed at setting up machinery to help states, counties, and cities prepare for drought, much as many do already for hurricanes or earthquakes.

These efforts come as about 30 percent of the United States is shaded in yellows, tans, and browns on drought-severity maps.

"In many places, the current drought is a 1-in-20- to a 1-in-50-year event," notes James Laver, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) in Camp Springs, Md. "It's not unprecedented, but it's pretty unusual."


from The Christian Science Monitor

PORT ISABEL, TEXAS - In the 19th and early 20th centuries, archaeology enjoyed a golden age, as explorers unearthed the tomb of King Tutankhamen in Egypt and pyramid-studded Mayan cities lost in the jungles of Central America.

Now, a century later, archaeology is entering a new golden age, with significant discoveries reported almost monthly. But this time most of the discoveries are taking place underwater.

Throughout human history, boats and ships have been lost at sea, and rising seas have buried ancient cities and harbors under water and silt. In the past decade, technological advances have allowed archaeologists and deep- sea explorers to make remarkable discoveries from the Titanic to entire ancient cities sunk off the coasts of Egypt and India.

Many of these discoveries were possible because of new tools, such as high- resolution sonar, sub-bottom profilers, and agile robotic vehicles. But, as in space exploration, there are some things that are best done in person, particularly the painstaking excavation of an archaeological site.


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Clones, Free Love and UFOs

Medical researchers fear the group that says space aliens have instructed them to start cloning humans will cause lawmakers to ban the technique.

Times Staff Writer

March 5 2002

VALCOURT, Canada -- In the course of 29 years, laude Vorilhon built a small yet international religious group by preaching that scientists from another planet created all life on Earth. But in 1998, Vorilhon had an especially big pronouncement for his 5,000 or so followers: The creators would soon board their flying saucers and return. It was time to prepare.

The complete article can be viewed at:

A new finale for 'creation'

By Chet Raymo, 3/5/2002


Two centuries have elapsed since Joseph Haydn composed his magnificent ''The Creation'' oratorio. In all that time, no other musician has given us a better evocation of how the universe began.

Haydn adapted his libretto from Genesis. If the music has a modern feel in spite of the archaic script, it may be because it was inspired by a visit the composer made in 1782 to the astronomer William Herschel, noted as the discoverer of the planet Uranus. We don't know if Haydn looked through Herschel's telescope, but he surely heard the great astronomer expound on how gravity condensed stars and planets out of chaos and darkness.

Report on Intelligent Design presentations

From: Thomas J Wheeler

I am sending this with the permission of my friend Frank Lovell, who has just joined this list (and cannot yet post to the list). He recently attended a forum put together by opponents of the effort to include the teaching of "intelligent design" in Ohio schools. Here is his report:

"EVOLUTION & GOD: WHY INTELLIGENT DESIGN THEORY ISN'T SCIENCE" (A free public presentation sponsored by the Center for Policy Studies, Case Western Reserve University, held in the Allen Theater in Cleveland, Ohio on March 2, 2002.)

Special (creationist) Interest Groups are laying siege to the Ohio Board of Education in an effort to have the evolution content of Ohio K-12 science curricula dumbed-down by eliminating discussion of the age of the earth and including "Intelligent Design Theory," the new rhetorical garb for "God did it." As I understand it, the Ohio BoE will have a formal public hearing on the issue March 11.

In order to help the citizens of Ohio prepare for this and better understand this issue, CWRU invited Stephen J. Gould (Harvard; paleontology), Kenneth Miller (Boston U; cell biology), and Lawrence Krauss (CWRU; physics) to make presentations in a free public forum in Cleveland on why "intelligent design theory" is not science, with Cynthia Beall (CWRU; anthropology) moderating.

Although I don't live in Ohio, I already understand why intelligent design theory is not science, and I have on a number of past occasions attended presentations by both Gould and Miller on related subjects, I decided to drive from Louisville KY to Cleveland to attend this event because usually I attend creationist conferences rather than evolutionist programs and I thought I would treat myself to a program where I wouldn't feel pressure to take copious notes or strain my brain thinking of counter-arguments or suffer elevated blood pressure, I could for a change just sit back and enjoy.

An hour before the event there were already over three hundred people of all ages waiting for the Allen Theater's doors to open. When the event began I could see no unoccupied seats in the theater (which I was told seats 2,500 people). I don't know the fraction of the audience that leaned toward "intelligent design theory" as science, but the questions asked at the end of the event seemed to be questions IDT-leaning folks would ask.

Unfortunately, when the program began we learned that Stephen J. Gould would miss the program, having been hospitalized (for unspecified reasons) in Boston the day before, but we were also told that he would retry to make his planned presentation in Ohio soon.

Here follows a brief summary (as best I can recall, I composed it the following day entirely from my less-than-perfect memory, my having taken no notes per se during the presentations) of what was presented to the attending residents of Ohio.

Moderator Cynthia Beall opened the program, explaining why this free public event was being held. She elaborated on the importance of not tainting Ohio public science education by intruding religious non-science into the science curriculum. She then introduced the two main presenters, physicist Lawrence Krauss and cell biologist Kenneth Miller.

Krauss' presentation was rather brief because he was short on time to catch a plane to Europe. His comments were all verbal (no slides), but he was an effective, delightfully engaging speaker. He said that since "evolution and God" was on its face a biological controversy the audience was probably wondering why a physicist was at the podium as the first speaker. "It's because physicists are closer to God than biologists," he quipped while grinning at Miller.

(Both main speakers laced their presentations with abundant good humor and entertaining anecdotes, to the evident pleasure of the packed-house.)

Krauss said creationists feel that it is unfair for science to exclude supernatural explanations, agreeing that indeed science ISN'T fair on that account, and he explained WHY science was not fair (namely, empirical science is not concerned about the fairness of ideas, it is concerned about the empirical merit of ideas). Science is a process for empirically producing reliable knowledge about physical nature and can only do so regarding events that are strictly "regular" under the constraints of natural law, and so science is unable therefore to investigate anything that is spiritual or supernatural and not constrained by natural law. Only ideas which can be empirically tested/falsified are scientific ideas, he said; we do not know how to empirically test/falsify ideas about the supernatural.

He then explained how contributions to scientific knowledge are made through research being presented in peer-reviewed scientific journals and/or presented (and debated) at scientific meetings, and how the "Intelligent Design Theorists" do not do these things, they instead bypass presenting at scientific meetings and publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, engaging critical scientists only in public forums and work to build political (rather than scientific) pressure to intrude IDT into public science education by popularizing IDT among those members of the public who are not science professionals. ID theorists also try to make IDT seem scientific to the nonscientist public by having public debates with scientists; and so even though Krauss has participated in public debates with creationists, he said he has mixed feelings about the wisdom of doing so.

I thought Krauss' nontechnical presentation was lucid and effective and I can't imagine how the IDT-friendly members of the audience could miss or easily dismiss his crucial points.

Kenneth Miller next took the podium, and gave a dynamite presentation (complete with PC-generated slides which simply and effectively illustrated his every point). He amply explained why biological/biochemical "irreducible complexity" isn't irreducibly complex. He even tackled Behe's example of the mechanical irreducible complexity" of a standard 5-part mousetrap, giving examples of (less effective but clearly still functional) four-part, three- part, two-part and even one-part mechanical mousetraps. He then took from his pocket a standard mousetrap which had three parts removed and showed how what was left was fully functional as a tie-clip which he promised to wear to the upcoming March 11 public hearing of the Ohio BoE on the issue of "intelligent design" in science classes.

Miller also used data on radioisotope abundance in the earth's crust to illustrate why the earth IS billions of years old (reference to the age of the earth is one of the things the Ohio BoE is being asked to eliminate from the public science curriculum). He illustrated how the appearance of major groups of organisms over time refuted the flood geology arguments of creationists and their claim that all major groups of organisms are represented in the faunal record of the "Cambrian explosion." (Beall also addressed this in her opening comments).

Miller explained that while the origin of life is of great interest to evolutionists, it is not a part of the evolutionary diversification of life and that the fact that we cannot presently scientifically explain with confidence just how life first arose does not in any way diminish scientific confidence that life has diversified on earth via evolution over hundreds of millions of years.

Miller effectively addressed a number of other creationist anti-evolution claims and "intelligent design" arguments, and wrapped-up his presentation by explaining how he (for one) accepts the scientific validity and historical reality of biological evolution and also actively embraces religious faith in God and spiritual salvation. This included an explanation for why Miller regards evolution operating in nature without divine guidance to be the only way a Creator could (ultimately) produce soulful intelligence endowed with genuine free will.

Miller (as Krauss) made many other points I haven't mentioned here. And I simply cannot imagine how any IDT-friendly member of the audience could miss or easily dismiss any of Miller's (or Krauss') well-presented points.

Written questions from the audience were solicited on cards during the presentations, but only about six were entertained at the close of the program, all which were answered with adroit aplomb. I will give one example (paraphrased from memory).

QUESTION: Since matter as particles vs. waves was debated scientifically, why shouldn't competing theories of unguided evolution vs. intelligent design be debated scientifically?

ANSWER (given jointly by Kenneth Miller and Patricia Princehouse, CWRU; philosophy): The competition between wave and particle theories of matter was one of APPEARANCE, as ultimately they BOTH prevailed in the now-adopted view that matter possesses wave-particle duality (which behavior of matter is manifest depends on which method of detecting matter is employed). More important, both wave theory and particle theory were scientifically admissable/debatable because both enjoyed the support of considerable empirical evidence (data); so far, there is NO empirical evidence (data) in support of (supernatural) intelligent design in biology.

I enjoyed the program very much (it was worth my eleven hours of road-time to attend). I think the two-thousand-plus citizens in attendance were treated to a superb (if shortened) program that thoughtfully yet entertainingly hit all the major points that need to be considered. I don't know how many (if any) of the Ohio BoE members attended, but the whole program was videotaped and I hope copies will be distributed to each member. (I think I heard that copies of the program videotape will be advertised for purchase on www.ohioscience.org and/or the CWRU website.)


Material for Teachers About How We Know the Age of the Universe Is Now On Line

In several U.S. states there have been demands that discussions of the Big Bang and the vast age of the cosmos be excluded from science curricula in K-12 classrooms. In response, the Astronomy Education Board of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has put together an article for teachers on how astronomers know that the universe is old and that it changes with time.

The illustrated article has been posted on the Web at: http://www.astrosociety.org/education/publications/tnl/56/ It is a special issue of "The Universe in the Classroom," a newsletter on teaching astronomy in grades 3-12, published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

The article explains the evidence showing that we live in a universe that is between 10 billion and 15 billion years old and that both the universe and its contents undergo evolutionary change. It is designed to help teachers explain these ideas to their classes and concerned community members. A list of written and web resources is also included.

The article grew out of a formal statement on behalf of the astronomical community issued by the Council of the AAS in 2000, when the Kansas State Board of Education in 1999 adopted state standards that eliminated both evolution and Big Bang cosmology. While those standards have now been repealed, following the election of new Board of Education members, the scientific perspective continues to be questioned in states and communities around the U.S. Both the AAS Council, and the Society's Astronomy Education Board feel that astronomers have an obligation to assist teachers in sorting out the evidence supporting our modern view of an ancient universe.

Fusion controversy rekindled


Claims that a team of researchers have achieved nuclear fusion in a small tabletop experiment have split nuclear physicists - with some expressing enthusiasm and others grave concern.

The research, to be published in Friday's issue of the journal Science but widely leaked, says that scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York have fired ultrasound at liquid acetone causing minute bubbles to collapse at temperatures of millions of degrees.

It is in these collapsed bubbles, the researchers say, where atoms fuse releasing bursts of energy in the same way that the Sun does.


"If the results are confirmed, this new, compact apparatus will be a unique tool for studying nuclear fusion reactions in the laboratory," Fred Becchetti of the University of Michigan wrote in a commentary on the findings.

"But scientists will - and should - remain sceptical until the experiments are reproduced by others.

Many, including the author, could not reproduce past claims made for table-top fusion devices," he pointed out.

He said the latest claims were "credible until proven otherwise".

Others are unconvinced about the new findings saying that it reminds them of the 1989 cold-fusion false alarm that was initially heralded as ushering in unlimited energy but was later proved to be groundless.

In fusion, two atoms of deuterium, a heavy form of hydrogen, fuse to form tritium - another form of hydrogen - with the release of energy.

Another false alarm?

For decades scientists have been trying to harness this form of energy using superhot gas conditioned to mimic the conditions at the heart of the Sun. They have had limited success.

In 1989 Stanley Pons of the University of Utah and Martin Fleischmann of the University of Southampton said they had produced fusion in the metal palladium. At the time there was a great deal of media coverage but today few scientists believe they saw a real effect.

But the Pons-Fleischmann affair left most physicists with a horror of claims of tabletop fusion experiments.

Even before the latest research reaches print many scientists are criticising the journal Science for publishing the article after one its reviewers, Dr Seth Putterman of the University of California said that the paper should not be published in Science.

However, Science journal has issued some stern advice for those arguing about the research paper. "The premature critics of the result, and those who believe in it, would both do well to cool it, and wait for the scientific process to do its work," it says

Background noise

According to Dr Richard Lahey, one of the researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic, the experiment has been repeated many times over the past year.

He says that as the bubbles in the acetone collapse due to the ultrasound pulse they produce miniscule amounts of energy. But he adds that it might be possible to 'scale-up' the experiment into something that is commercially useful.

Lee Reidinger, deputy director for science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory said that whilst the effect might be interesting it was going too far to think of it as an exploitable energy source.

In fact, such was the concern at Oak Ridge that last summer two independent scientists carried out the same experiment to see if the fusion effect could be verified. It could not.

In particular, tell-tale neutrons of a particular energy that must be given off during such a fusion reaction were not seen.

Analysts are speculating that the original researchers are detecting random particles against a background of emission.

Power problems

Despite not being officially published until Friday copies of the research paper are freely circulating on the internet meaning that more and more scientists will read it and decide where they stand.

British scientist Thornton Greenland cautions that there are still huge difficulties in generating power from nuclear fusion.

"If this claim is confirmed, the problem will still be to develop engineering devices that will produce more power from fusion than is needed to sustain the conditions that make the fusion possible," he told BBC News Online.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002


From: Linda Rosa rosa@ezlink.com

Dear Skeptics,

A Utah bill to limit the use of restraint will go for its final vote tomorrow afternoon before the Utah Senate, but it is facing fierce opposition. I am writing to ask you to email your support of this bill.

The bill in question is HB 356 (substitute) "PROHIBITION OF RESTRAINT PRACTICES."
The bill seeks to limit the use of restraint to emergency safety -- i.e. only to prevent injury of the patient to himself or others.

The bill is aimed at keeping Utah's "Attachment Therapists" from using coercive restraint of children as a form of psychotherapy. This is more commonly called "holding therapy," a very brutal, inhumane, unvalidated practice that attempts to "disturb the disturbed," as they put it, to release repressed memories stored all over the body by retraumatizing the child. They believe can can regress children back to an infantile state after they exhaust themselves with hours of struggling. It is the worst pseudoscientific practice I have seen.

Right now, HB 356 has the possibility of passing tomorrow's vote, so Utah's powerful Eagle Forum is pulling out the stops in trying to kill the bill on the grounds that it takes away parental rights to chose therapists for their children.

Please take a moment and write a brief email of support to the Utah Senators at:

dallen@utahsenate.org, rallen@utahsenate.org, lblackha@utahsenate.org,
cbramble@utahsenate.org, cbuttars@utahsenate.org, gdavis@le.state.ut.us,
mdmitrich@utahsenate.org, deastman@utahsenate.org, bevans@utahsenate.org,
dgladwell@utahsenate.org, khale@utahsenate.org, phellewell@utahsenate.org,
bhickman@utahsenate.org, lhillyard@utahsenate.org, sjenkins@utahsenate.org,
pjulander@utahsenate.org, pknudson@utahsenate.org, amansell@utahsenate.org,
emayne@utahsenate.org, mpeterson@utahsenate.org, spoulton@utahsenate.org,
tspencer@utahsenate.org, dsteele@utahsenate.org,
hstephenson@utahsenate.org, asuazo@utahsenate.org,
jvalentine@utahsenate.org, mwaddoups@utahsenate.org,
cwalker@utahsenate.org, bwright@utahsenate.org,

You can mail them all at once by putting all the senators' addresses in the Bcc and your address in To:. They are picking up their mail at their desk in the main chambers. Please Bcc me, as well: rosa@ezlink.com

SAMPLE LETTER: "Please support HB356 (substitute) "PROHIBITION OF RESTRAINT PRACTICES" to help protect the children of Utah from harmful and unvalidated practices. Restraint can be very dangerous and should only be used as an emergency safety measure. It will only hurt children when used as a psychotherapy."

Also, please pass along this request to other skeptics who might also help. And let me know if you have any questions.

I'll get back to you with news about this bill.

Yrs, Linda Rosa, RN
(970) 667-7313
Colorado Coordinator
National Board Member
National Council Against Health Fraud
711 West 9th Street
Loveland, CO 80537

Items on Complementary and Alternative Medicine

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

1) Press Release From the National Council Against Health Fraud
2) Commentary From the Washington Times on the NIH and the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM)

1) National Council Against Health Fraud

March 4, 2002
For immediate release

Anti-Science Commission Wastes Taxpayer Dollars, Recommends More Waste

The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) wants the Bush Administration to ignore a White House commission whose final report is imminent.

The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP) was appointed during the closing days of the Clinton Administration to make recommendations "assuring that public policy maximizes the benefits to Americans of complementary and alternative medicine." The Commission is expected to issue its final report this month. However, its November 2001 draft report indicates that it will recommend expanded federal spending and other policy initiatives that would foster irrational methods.

"Complementary and alternative medicine" ("CAM") is an imprecise marketing term that is inherently misleading. "Alternative" methods are loosely described as practices outside of mainstream health care. They lack evidence of safety and effectiveness and are generally not covered by insurance plans. "Complementary medicine" is loosely described as a synthesis of standard and alternative methods that uses the best of both. In truth, there are no "alternatives" to objective evidence of effectiveness and safety.

NCAHF has examined the background and credentials of WHCCAMP's members. Most are philosophically aligned with the so-called "CAM" movement, and many have an economic interest in this area. Few knowledgeable critics are among them.

Last November, the Commission issued an 86-paragraph draft report recommending across-the-board "integration" of "complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)" into government health agencies and the nation's medical, medical education, and insurance systems. The Commission falsely assumes that CAM research is cost-effective and that CAM methods have been sufficiently developed to integrate into every aspect of our educational and health-care delivery systems. Its report does not identify a single "CAM" practice that should be considered improper. A paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of this report has been posted to

The Commission advocates spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to promote unscientific beliefs that would include treating cancer with herbal teas and coffee enemas; diagnosing ailments throughout the body by pushing down on the patient's arm; and manipulating supernatural forces to treat serious illnesses. The draft report implies that anything marketed as "CAM" should be taught in medical schools, included in health plans, and widely incorporated into government policies.

Such recommendations are a perversion of the trust placed in Presidential Commissions, an affront to medical science, and an assault on consumer protection. Without science-based safeguards, any scam artist with a far-fetched idea can open for business and bilk the public. The proper place for unproven and untested methods is in laboratories and clinical research studies, not in large-scale unscientific experiments upon the American people. "CAM" methods that are plausible should be tested with well-designed clinical trials. The rest should be discarded. No method should be marketed, promulgated, or taught without proof that it is safe and effective.

NCAHF believes that this Commission has failed in its mission. For a Commission of professionals with medical and other advanced degrees, its activities apparently lacked scholarship and rigor. Instead of seizing an opportunity to critically examine "CAM" theories and practices and making a rational and reasoned report to the President, the Commission blindly advocates policies that are illogical and economically senseless. The value of any possible therapies that may have emerged from careful review and testing has been lost in a tidal wave of enthusiasm for anything merely bearing the label of "CAM."

NCAHF strongly suggests that the Commission's recommendations be ignored by President Bush and members of Congress. Widespread adoption of unproven, disproven, and irrational methods would cost the American public billions of dollars and thousands of human lives. The WHCCAMP recommendations for implementation are premature by any standard, since scientific data do not exist to support them. Medical ethics dictate that before any medical practices are adopted or spread. studies done with scientific methodology, and adequate protections for humans must demonstrate their validity. Doing less would be a danger to the public and would remove safeguards that have evolved over centuries in the practice of rational and caring medicine.

The National Council Against Health Fraud is a consumer advocacy group founded more than twenty years ago to promote reliable health information. Its position paper, posted at http://www.ncahf.org/pp/whcopp.html, links to information about the individual Commission members.

Contact Information

Robert S. Baratz, MD, DDS, PhD, president
Phone: (978) 532-9383, or 617-954-7776
Email: president@ncahf.org

Stephen Barrett, M.D., vice-president
Phone: (610) 437-1795
Email: sbinfo@quackwatch.com

Timothy N. Gorski, MD, board member
Phone: (817) 792-2000
Email: doctorg@writeme.com

2) http://www.washingtontimes.com/commentary/20020304-3522756.htm

Dubious treatment options? by Alex Gerber / Roy Perkins March 4, 2002

With health care costs again rising at double digit figures, federal budget surpluses giving way to deficits, and the U.S. engaged in a war while in the midst of a recession, the fiscal atmosphere is not promising for congressional passage of liberal health care legislation. We can anticipate lengthy debate over prescription drug benefits for the elderly and increased coverage of the uninsured, disabled and unemployed.

Faced with resistance to higher insurance premiums, third-party payers, often more concerned with the bottom line than with medical-care quality, increasingly offer health care on the cheap â€" alternative medicine, the "largest growth industry in medicine today."

Alternative medicine, which largely fosters unproved health-care remedies based on speculative assertions, untested theories and anecdotal reports â€" in short, quackery ... thrives on such relatively inexpensive therapy as herbal supplements and acupuncture.

Sad to say, our own National Institutes of Health, one of Washington's most sacred cows, has also abetted this pseudoscience...

Tiny fossils may be Earth's oldest life


19:00 06 March 02
Jeff Hecht

A fierce debate over tiny imprints in ancient terrestrial rock could rewrite the textbooks on the early evolution of life on Earth.

At issue are microscopic patterns of filaments embedded in 3.5-billion-year-old rock from Western Australia. William Schopf of UCLA, who first described them over a decade ago, says they represent 11 different bacterial species, including photosynthetic cyanobacteria. This would make them the oldest fossils ever found.

A similar debate has raged over the minute structures found in the famous Martian meteorite ALH84001.

Schopf has now studied the Australian rocks using a technique called laser Raman analysis, which involves bouncing a laser beam off the rock surface. This produced a scattering pattern identical to that created by organic molecules found in other fossils. Schopf is convinced this proves his case.

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.


Today's Headlines – March 6, 2002

from The Baltimore Sun

President Bush has decided to name a senior scientist and administrator at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to become director of the National Institutes of Health, ending a long and politically sensitive search for new leadership, a government official confirmed last night.

Bush's choice to head the $24 billion bio-medical research institution in Bethesda is Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, executive vice dean of the medical school and a driving force behind the university's new Institute for Cell Engineering.

The president was expected to make the announcement as soon as the end of this week. The position had been vacant since Dr. Harold Varmus left two years ago.


from The Washington Post

The debate over whether to ban research on cloned human embryos escalated yesterday with a Senate appearance by Christopher Reeve – the paralyzed "Superman" star who warned that extremists are poised to deny lifesaving treatments to the ill – and with the Senate's sole and closely watched physician giving the strongest hints yet that he is inclined to block the research because of ethical concerns.

The two were among many who offered countervailing arguments at a pair of media events and a Senate committee hearing. The presentations highlighted how intensely polarized the issue remains as the Senate prepares to vote on legislation, probably within the next month.

Proponents of the ban – including religious conservatives concerned about the welfare of cloned embryos and some liberal activists who fear that biotechnology is outrunning morality – said the research is drawing humanity down a slippery slope to a "post-human future" in which people will be patented and manufactured.


from The Washington Post

Researchers for the first time have linked long-term exposure to fine particles of air pollution from coal-fired power plants, factories and diesel trucks to an increased risk of dying from lung cancer.

A study published in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that people living in the most heavily polluted metropolitan areas have a 12 percent increased risk of dying of lung cancer than people in the least polluted areas. The study's authors said that exposure to the tiny particles of industrial emissions and sulfate pollutants is comparable to inhaling second-hand smoke from a cigarette.

The latest findings come as the Bush administration is considering proposals for scaling back tough government legal action against dozens of aging coal-fired power plants and refineries that violated the law by expanding without installing state of the art anti-pollution equipment. Power plants built before 1980 generate about half the nation's electricity but nearly all of the utility industry's unhealthy sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and soot, experts said. Environmental groups seized on the new findings as support for their position that tough enforcement was still needed.


from Newsday

Long-term exposure to air pollution may be nearly as potent a contributor to deaths from lung cancer and heart disease as exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke, scientists say in a study released today of 500,000 people nationwide.

The analysis, almost two decades in the making, is the most comprehensive examination of its kind and may finally lay to rest lingering arguments about air pollution and serious disease. People living in the most polluted cities have a 16 percent higher risk of dying of lung cancer than those in less polluted regions.

The investigation also answers critics who questioned similar but less ambitious earlier studies seeking links between air pollution and an array of cardiopulmonary conditions.


from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, March 5 — Spacewalking astronauts finished installing new solar panels today on the Hubble Space Telescope, giving the observatory a 20 percent increase in power. Now comes the risky business of turning it all off.

Today's successful excursion out of the space shuttle Columbia, the second in two days, could give the telescope enough electricity to run all of its instruments at once and to keep working till the end of its 20- year life.

But using that power requires changing Hubble's malfunctioning main electrical switch box. Before that can be done, astronauts must shut off all of the telescope's power for the first time since it was placed in orbit in 1990.


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