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Smorgasbord 12
Tuesday, October 26, 1999
© Copyright 1999 by NewHeavenNewEarth

smorgasbord (smor-gos-bord) n.
A buffet meal featuring a varied number of dishes.

Another NHNE publication --
albeit more loosely knit than most


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In the immortal words of Socrates:

"I drank WHAT?"




Consumer Protection For Spiritual Seekers
Useful & Valuable Radiation Info
LFAS: Advocating A Win-Win Position


Paleontologists Find World's Oldest Dinosaur Fossils
Flying Dinos
Complete Mammoth Found In Siberia
Ape Fossils Boost Evolution Knowledge


The Omega Code
What Happened In The Year 1000?
Millennial Fanatics Worry Israeli Government


Moonies Seek Eden In Brazilian Swamp
Mormon Church Sues Web-Based Critics


UN Says Time Is Running Out For The Environment
West Antarctic May Melt Completely
Computer Model Reveals Abrupt Climate Changes
Earth's Oceans Washing Away?


New Planet In Our Solar System?
Water Discovered In Meteorite


Human Eggs (& Sperm) For Sale On The Web
Computer Uses Cat's Brain To See
U.S. Government Seeks Alternatives To Microsoft


The Straight Dope
Encyclopedia Britannica Now Free Online!


Is Your Hut Burning Down?


What A Bear Does In The Woods




I was attracted here by your advertisement of "consumer protection". I liked the way that sounded, and this feeling was amplified by Mr. Sunfellow's special report on "Sai Baba" (Sai Baba, 2/21/1998, <http://www.nhne.com/specialreports/srsaibaba.html>. I am really glad to find someone who seems willing to address "the darker side of the light".

Earlier in the decade, I was heavily involved in what I thought to be "lightwork". The people I was involved with formed a publication called "Ascending Times". Our mission statement claimed our primary intent was to provide info for personal and planetary ascension/change, and to develop light centers. We took in lots of money, lifetime subscriptions, donations, etc. We also worked in cooperation with another group who claimed to have a member from Telos who was a 300 year old princess -- an ambassador to Earth. They were gathering up people to go to Egypt for 12:12. Much money was involved. The amount is hard to figure, as many people were forced to pay twice. Around 200 people attempted to make the journey. Half of these never got to Egypt because when they arrived at the airport, there were no reservations, or tickets. The half which did make it found themselves without rooms and no flight back. We are talking $4,000 to $5,000 per person here.

I think this is where I began to start questioning and refused to continue trusting these people blindly with all their words of love and light and universal peace, but I was in too deep to extricate myself gracefully (these people were living in my house, and they took it over). I was eventually forced out of my own house, and they moved to Canada with most of my belongings, owing the IRS some $30,000 in taxes beside whatever they accumulated in subscription funds and donations.

To offer spiritual peace to people and rob and disillusion them has got to be one of the worst things one human being can do to another. I know it set me back on my own personal spiritual development -- I have spent the last six years sifting through the rubble of Ashtar, Melchizedeck, Jesus/Sanada, and I almost threw the baby out with the bath water. This was far worse than losing material things.

You guys seem on the up and up. I hope you make your readers aware that not everyone with a beatific smile on their face is also on the up and up. Staying "down to Earth" is difficult when dealing with so-called spiritual masters and "evolved people". I was not some lost soul searching for fulfillment, either. I am trained in survival, a horticulturist/phytotherapist -- my area of expertise is useful, edible, and medicinal plants, which is why, I suppose, I was targeted.

Well, thanks for reading this. I really feel like I have an obligation to help people, and I met so many people who believe dolphins talk to them on the radio, or there are lizard people living in their basement, or they are the reincarnation of John the Baptist, etc. It is very disheartening. What is chiefly needed is an organization which can help people "reap truth from fields of fiction".

Susan Tabor



How very useful and valuable the radiation info is you sent ("Radiation Info, Kits & Remedies", 10/4/1999, <http://www.nhne.com/misc/resources0001.html>). I just got off the phone today with the environmental control person here in Alaska in charge of monitoring radiation. I was dismayed to discover that the state has no plan (much less medicine) for a radiation emergency (but not surprised) to discover that funding is due to be cut next year for the monitoring sites here in Alaska. The amount of radioactivity from the Japanese event is not expected to be measurable here in Alaska, but the air mass in which it happened is on a direct impact line with Alaska! A hugely valuable wakeup call for any Y2K nuclear events. The man I was talking to said that the Russians are building a floating nuclear reactor in the Arctic sea -- insanity! Ice packs, thermal stress, and other ocean born problems -- who designed the sanity part of the human brain is what I want to know?

What a valuable service you are providing. Such diligence is rewarded, amply, in the subtle realms. I plan to forward your piece to some key people in our state government. Thanks again.

David La Chapelle
Juneau, Alaska



I really appreciate your concern for our beloved ocean friends ("U.S. Navy & LFAS" <http://dispatch.mail-list.com/archives/nhnelist/msg00110.html>). They are blessed creatures helping to hold a great spiritual balance for the Earth. It is within our responsibility as stewards of a safe planet to ensure that we do not harm these beloved ones.

I am advocating a win-win position. The cold war is over, but threats to America's security are not necessarily less that they were 10-15 years ago. The Navy has to be effective in dealing with new technologies in the battle area. But, they should not be like a bull in a china shop either, doing wanton damage to marine life, especially our precious whales and dolphins.

Not being too familiar with the LFAS technology or the living patterns of the whales and dolphins, I have no specific course of action to recommend; but, I would be surprised if there isn't a solution to this problem that could help the Navy meet its needs, and be harmless to our marine friends. I would encourage the meeting of the minds of Marine biologists, environmentalists, Navy personnel and technology corporations, to come up with this solution. NHNE should engage these communities with a campaign to bring everybody together in cooperation and trust. This is not a time to be divided as we face serious repercussions in our environment as well as in our society.

Franz Glaus
Paradise Valley, Montana



(Source: AFP, YAHOO, 10/21/1999)

Scientists have discovered what could be the jaws of the two oldest dinosaurs ever unearthed. The 230-million-year-old bones of a formerly unknown species of plant-eating dinosaur were found on the island of Madagascar, and could predate other dinosaur fossils by two million or more years. The prosauropods and the "exquisitely preserved remains" of eight other prehistoric animals mark one of the most exciting paleontological finds in decades, one of the US team told AFP. "It's very exciting. A completely new species like this only comes up every few decades," Andre Wyss, associate professor of geology at the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA said. The herbivores with small heads and long necks that could walk on two or four legs would have stalked the Earth before the oldest known dinosaurs.

"The find provides a freeze frame picture of life during the earliest days of dinosaurs and mammals -- a picture that has been largely obscured until now," the statement said. "The period prior to 250 million years ago is well-documented, but from then to the Ice Ages -- an interval of 100,000 years -- very little is known."



(Source: CNN, AP, 10/14/1999)

A fierce turkey-sized animal with sharp claws and teeth may have been the first flying feathered dinosaur, a missing link between the lumbering lizards of millions of years ago and the graceful birds of today. Fossils of the animal, called Archaeoraptor liaoningensis, suggest that it lived 120 million to 140 million years ago when a branch of dinosaurs was evolving into the vast family of birds that now live on every continent. "We don't know how good a flier it was," said Philip Currie of the ROYAL TYRRELL MUSEUM in Alberta, Canada, "but it certainly has all of the structures you would expect to see in a flying animal."

The fossils, to be unveiled for the first time at the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY'S Explorers Hall in Washington, are among a group of feathered dinosaur remains unearthed recently in the Liaoning Province of China. Another animal, called Sinornithosaurus millenii, or "Chinese bird-reptile of the millennium", had birdlike features and short downy feathers. It also was about the size of a turkey, but probably was not capable of flight. Fossils of another feathered dinosaur, called Beipiaosaurus inexpectus, also are being made public by the National Geographic. This animal was larger than the others, about 7 feet long, and apparently had stiff, narrow feathers that provided warmth. It is not thought to have been capable of flight.

The three animals are all theropod dinosaurs, a group that included the ultimate meat-eater, the Tyrannosaurus rex. Theropods all walked upright on their hind legs, had long tails and were thought to be fast and deadly. The new findings also suggest that many theropods, including Tyrannosaurus, may have had feathers at some point of their development.



(Source: THE TIMES, Nigel Hawkes, 10/19/1999)

The entire body of a woolly mammoth has been exhumed from the ice of Siberia, 20,000 years after it perished. It was dug from a site on the Taimyr peninsula on Sunday and flown by helicopter to the town of Khatanga, 150 miles away. Bernard Buigues, a French member of the team responsible for the operation, said that the beast, named "Zharkov" in honour of the family that found it, was slung under the helicopter and flown to a cave dug in the permafrost at Khatanga, which replicates the dry and chilly conditions where it was found. Exposure to warmer or more humid conditions could cause the remains to start decaying almost instantly. The head of the mammal was taken from the body last year and is already in the cave, where scientists will carry out painstaking research, he said. Buigues said it was the first time that a mammoth had been recovered intact. Previously, the most exciting finds -- also in Siberia -- had been chunks of preserved flesh.

Two expeditions are in Siberia searching for mammoth remains: a Japanese-led team and the international expedition, called Mammuthus, of which M. Buigues is a member and which also includes scientists from the United States, The Netherlands and Russia. Both groups hope to extract cells from the preserved remains of mammoths and even use them to clone a new mammoth, using a female elephant as a surrogate mother. Scientists hope that when the mammoth has been unwrapped from the icy soil that has preserved it, light will be shed on how the animals lived and why they died out, he said.

The woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius, well-known from cave paintings, stood 13ft high, about the same as a full-grown African bull elephant. The last mammoths died out as recently as 4,000 years ago, but there is still debate about why. Some experts believe that they may have been the first species to be wiped out by man, given that mammoth bones and tusks have been discovered in the habitations of Cro-Magnon cave dwellers. But these may have been taken from the bodies of dead mammoths, for no evidence has ever been found of mammoth traps or of traces of arrow or axe blows on the bones. A more widely accepted explanation is that the mammoths died out because of malnutrition after climate change caused the dry vegetation that they ate to suffer a decline in nutritional quality. There is also growing speculation that disease wiped out the giant mammals.

Complete Article:

American Museum of Natural History (current mammoth theories and research):


(Source: USA TODAY, 10/20/1999)

A baboon-sized ape that lived in East Africa about 15 million years ago may have been among the first primates to leave the treetops and live on the ground, a key step in the evolutionary path that theoretically led eventually to humans. The fossilized partial skeleton of the animal is distinctly different from other ancient apes, prompting Ohio researcher Steve Ward and his colleagues to identify it as the only member of a new ape genus they call Equatorius. Hand, finger, arm and shoulder bones show strong evidence that Equatorius "spent a lot of time on the ground," said Ward, senior author of a study in the August 27 issue of SCIENCE. ''This is the first time that we see evidence of that in the fossil record of apes.''




(Source: USA TODAY, 10/19/1999, OMEGA CODE WEBSITE)

Those of you who are fans of the Bible Code now have a hit movie, complete with exotic locations, big name actors, dazzling special effects, a glossy website, and the enthusiastic support of mainstream Christianity. Called "The Omega Code," the $7 million movie grossed $2.4 million in its opening weekend. Claudia Puig reports in the October 19, 1999 issue of USA TODAY that "Pastors in Dallas, Atlanta and Portland each bought 1,000 advance movie tickets to distribute to their congregations. An Oklahoma CEO purchased 1,000 tickets for his employees. A Los Angeles woman gave out 1,600 tickets to youth groups, who arrived by the busload."

What's all the commotion about? Here's how the movie's website describes the plot:

"Dr. Gillen Lane is a world famous motivational speaker and mythology expert who joins European Union Chairman Stone Alexander in a quest to unite the world in an era of global peace. But when a revolutionary Bible Code program falls into the wrong hands, unseen forces begin scouring the code for an even darker secret -- the key to the ancient city Jerusalem. For it has been foretold in the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation that he who controls Jerusalem in the last days will control the world. As Lane becomes entrapped in the Omega Code's treacherous web of terror and deceit, he finds his world and everything he believes turned upside down and himself on the run to save all he loves from a power-crazed madman who may just be the 'Beast' from the book of Revelation... the incarnation of Satan himself."

Holy Moses.

"We think there's an enormous audience of Christian people who are so starved," says Michael Harpster, marketing chief for the movie's distributor, PROVIDENCE ENTERTAINMENT. Marketing for the film, which will expand from 300 theaters to 400 by early November, has been a combination of grassroots and heavy promotion on the TRINITY BROADCASTING NETWORK, the largest Christian TV network, which reaches 70 million viewers. Significantly, Paul Crouch, who is the film's executive producer, is also the founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network.

So is the movie any good? Since I haven't seen it, I don't know -- but I/we probably don't have long to wait before the movie shows up in local theaters and video stores. In the meantime, here's where those of us who can't yet see it in person can catch a sneak peak:

The Omega Code Website:

Movie Synopsis:


(Source: AFP, YAHOO, SIGHTINGS Website, MILLENNIUM STUDIES Website, thanks to Sherry Stultz)

What really happened when the first millennium arrived 1000 years ago? Was the world thrown into an apocalyptic frenzy, or was it simply one more year, like any other? Well, the jury is still out. It is, however, a controversial topic. Here's how a recent AFP news story summarizes the current debate:

"The collapse of a mighty empire. Economic crisis. A deadly epidemic. The appearance of a comet and other omens. Surges of religious fervor. Sounds familiar? It ought to -- it seemed to many Europeans, in the year 999, that the world was about to end. Or so we're told.  

"Did it really seem that way? Not according to historians who have long dismissed this version of events 1,000 years ago as a popular myth created by the Romantic historians of the mid-19th century, a distortion of the reality of European life in the late 10th and early 11th centuries.   But now a new generation of historians is challenging the orthodox view that 1000 was 'a year like any other.' 

"They are arguing that Pre-Millennial Terror was indeed a reality to our mediaeval ancestors, probably a good deal more vivid than anything we face on the eve of the third millennium.   Apocalyptic expectations -- the fear, or hope, among Christians that the world would end after a great final battle between the Antichrist and the Messiah -- invariably rose in times of instability, and the late 10th century was just such a time.  The fall of the house of Charlemagne in 987 was followed by destructive struggles for power in western Europe. The Danes launched a series of raids on England, and anarchy and famine were rampant in France. With preachers announcing the end as nigh, pilgrimages were made to Jerusalem in the hope of witnessing the Final Days, and mass gatherings called for peace.  

"The problem for the 'terror' theorists is that there is little documentary evidence to suggest that fear was widespread at the time.   Orthodox historians insist that the prevailing anxieties were all part of the sense of insecurity to be derived from living at a time of disease, poverty, political chaos and superstition -- all part of the daily round in the Middle Ages -- and that there was no more millennial feeling than usual.   Moreover, they note, relatively few people knew what year it was or had any idea of chronological time.  

"Richard Landes, of the CENTRE FOR MILLENNIAL STUDIES in Boston, is one of several historians who disagree. He maintains that the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, anxious to ensure that its calendar could not be used to trigger an apocalyptic panic, played down millennial speculation and kept it out of the written record as far as possible..."

The Complete AFP Article is databased on the Sightings Website:

"Apocalyptic Expectations around the Year 1000," by Richard Landes, which contains a summary and rebuttal of the five main arguments concerning whether or not there was widespread apocalyptic expectations around the year 999, can be found here:

Still more articles and reference materials on the year 1000 controversy can be found on the Millennium Studies Website Year 1000 Index Page:



Israeli security forces have stepped up monitoring of Christian cults and Jewish fanatics whom authorities fear will try to hasten biblical prophecy at the dawn of the new millennium. Port authorities deported 26 members of the CONCERNED CHRISTIANS organization on October 10 before they could leave their ship. The group, which some Israeli security officials described as a cult, reportedly included men, women, and children, some of them mentally ill or physically disabled, most of them Irish or Romanian. Officials said they brought four caravans and apparently intended to live in them. Some Christians who expect Jesus Christ to return at the beginning of the millennium camp out at the Mount of Olives, where they believe biblical prophecy indicates the Second Coming will occur.

Israeli officials deported 14 American members of the Concerned Christians in January, fearing that the group planned to commit suicide at the turn of the millennium. The cult is based in Denver, Colorado, although leader Monte Kim Miller, 44, has been reported to be hiding in Britain. Israeli security officials trained to handle Arab and Muslim terrorists now must learn how to identify religious fanatics who are Christian or Jewish and who "look like tourists," said Yigal Carmon, president of the MIDDLE EAST MEDIA & RESEARCH INSTITUTE in Washington, D.C. He is a former security adviser on counter-terrorism to the Israeli government.

Security officials are concerned about mass suicides of fanatics who believe they will live eternally after their death or others who want to hasten the apocalypse. Authorities are especially worried about the mosque at Temple Mount, a site that is holy to Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Christianity and Judaism embrace divine plans of redemption that some fanatics insist requires the destruction of the mosque, Carmon explained. "If Armageddon doesn't happen they will make it happen." Damaging the mosque, which has been attempted in the past, would enrage Muslims, he said. "Then you would have Armageddon."

(Original news story no longer available online.)

Most recent Israeli roundup and deportation:



(Source: THE TIMES LONDON, 9/5/1999, thanks to the CENTER FOR FREEDOM OF MIND)

Brazil's remote southwestern Pantanal swamplands, seems an unlikely place to create a vision of paradise on Earth. But for the controversial religious sect formally known as the UNIFICATION CHURCH, it is a Garden of Eden in the making. Thousands of the sect's devotees, mainly from Japan, Korea and the United States, have flocked to this backwater corner of Brazil to help to plough the rocky red soil.

Wearing wide-brimmed straw hats they brave long afternoons by mosquito-infested muddy rivers to help to create the image of Utopia dreamt up by their messianic leader, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The 80-year-old millionaire is ploughing millions of dollars into the vast swampy plains of Mato Grosso do Sul state, an area the size of Britain, to build on an ambitious dream to change the world. Faced with shrinking numbers in his devotees' ranks in the United States, where the Moonies had more than 30,000 followers in the 1980s but now number only a few thousand, and unable to find a site big enough in his native Korea, he seems to be making a last-ditch attempt in Brazil to resurrect his sect. Since 1994 he has spent more than £15.6 million on a 80,000 acre site named New Hope Ranch, is now negotiating the sale of another 200,000 acres in the region, and says will spend £1.2 billion in the area over the next eight years. "We plan to reforest these dusty flatlands with native species and plant crops and show local farmers that this area can be resurrected," said Cesar Zadusky, the Moonies' ranch manager.

Four hours' drive from the nearest big city, the site contains a vast conference hall to seat 3,000 people, a temple, more than a dozen identical dormitory buildings, a school and several other rectangular modern buildings. They are an incongruent contrast to the barren surroundings. About 2,000 of the sect's followers live in crowded, army-style dormitories, working throughout the day on a greenhouse, vegetable gardens, laundry and taking turns to cook and wash up.

In one corner of the ranch they have started an ostrich breeding farm. Ostrich meat is a delicacy in Brazil's industrial capital, Sao Paulo, and therefore a lucrative product. In the small town of Jardim, Moon's funds have helped build an aircraft landing strip and plans to build several hotels. Two hundred Brazilians from neighbouring farms and the small town have already joined the sect, most of them lured by the well-equipped school. "Before we can build our heaven on earth we have to give education and training to the poor illiterate locals," Senhor Zadusky said.

Brazilian politicians and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church have voiced concerns about the Unification Church's intentions in the poor cowboy territory and have warned locals that Moon is a messianic anti-Christ. The Moonies consider Jesus a failed Messiah, and their "father" the Chosen One. His preachings mix elements of Christianity, Confucianism and Buddhism and focus much on his self-professed ability to matchmake couples.

The popular state governor in the region's capital, Campo Grande, José Orcirio dos Santos has made it his mission to find out where the money is going and why. "We are worried that Moon will try an lure the vulnerable farming people into his sect but can do nothing if people are tempted by his money," Santos said . Marcio Santos Monteira, Mayor of Jardim's 20,000 farming families, said: "They are supposed to contribute to the local economy but this has not happened until now. The question is whether their project is really meant to boost social development or is just a way to expand their flock." But indebted landowners throughout the state have offered to sell their lands to the sect leader. "As long as the Moonies bring cash we will sell our poor cattle lands which nowadays bring few returns," one farmer said. Many local politicians were also befriended when Moon offered new ambulances to 32 small towns in the region and helicopters for politicians at election time.

Although the owner of a sizeable business empire which includes the WASHINGTON TIMES and a university in the United States, Moon has shown in recent years that he intends to take refuge in South America. He already owns a bank and a newspaper in Uruguay. His reputation suffered in the US after he was briefly jailed there for tax evasion in the late-1970s and, more recently, when one of his sons was accused of being a cocaine addict. He regularly commutes between his £6.2 million New York flat and a luxury estate in Uruguay. He has said that he eventually hopes to take up full-time residence in the New Hope Ranch, where he and his wife stay in a small wooden hut. "Brazil is huge, with small mind. We will try to open it and show that Third World can become rich," he said.

The original Times London article is no longer available on the Web. A copy was, however, posted to the alt.religion.unitarian-univ news group:


The Moon Organization:

The Unification Church:

Smorgasbord 4:
"More About Reverend Moon":


(Source: SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Sheila McCann, 10/15/1999, thanks to the CENTER FOR FREEDOM OF MIND)

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS (LDS) is suing longtime critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner, accusing them of violating copyright laws by posting information from an internal church handbook on the Internet. The Tanners run UTAH LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY in Salt Lake City, a nonprofit organization offering books, a newsletter and a website disputing LDS Church teachings and practices.

Until this week, their website included pages from the Church Handbook of Instructions: Book 1, Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics, a guidebook printed by the LDS Church in 1998 to assist its lay clergy. INTELLECTUAL RESERVE INC. [IRI] demanded the removal of the pages from the Internet and sued the Tanners in federal court. IRI, created in 1997, is the Utah corporation that owns the copyrights and other intellectual-property assets used by the church. The Tanners had posted a chapter outlining church discipline procedures and additional pages about requests to remove names from church membership rolls. Sandra Tanner said she posted the information as a public service for members and inactive Mormons interested in having their names removed.

The original Salt Lake Tribune article is no longer available on the Web. A copy was, however, posted to the alt.religion.scientology news group:


Utah Lighthouse Ministry:

Links to Related Websites:

News Group:

Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints:

Church of Jesus Christ of the Reorganied Latter Day Saints:



(Source: GEO-2000 WEBSITE, REUTERS, 9/22/1999, thanks to Scott Hess)

THE UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME (UNEP) recently completed the most authoritative assessment ever of the environmental crisis facing humanity in the new millennium. The report, called "Global Environment Outlook 2000 (GEO-2000)", took two and a half years to compile and is based on contributions from UN agencies, 850 individuals and more than 30 environmental organizations. The report's conclusion? Planet Earth -- and all the creatures who live here, including human beings -- are in serious trouble.

According to GEO-2000, full-scale emergencies now exist in a number of fields: The world water cycle seems unlikely to be able to cope with demands in the coming decades; land degradation has negated many advances made by increased agricultural productivity; air pollution is at crisis point in many major cities; global warming now seems inevitable; tropical forests and marine fisheries have been over-exploited; numerous plant and animal species and extensive stretches of coral reefs will be lost forever.

In a survey conducted by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment for GEO-2000, 200 scientists in 50 countries identified water shortage and global warming as the two most worrying problems for the new millennium. Desertification and deforestation at national and regional levels was also a frequently cited concern.

While most issues raised by the survey are well-known, GEO-2000 also identifies new threats such as:

-- Nitrogen's harmful impact on ecosystems
-- Increased severity of natural disasters
-- Species invasion as a result of globalization
-- Increased environmental pressures caused by urbanization
-- Decline in the quality of governance in some countries
-- New wars which impact on both the immediate environment and neighbouring states
-- The impact of refugees on the natural environment

According to the report, "the environment remains largely outside the mainstream of everyday human consciousness and is still considered an add-on to the fabric of life." Institutions such as treasuries, central banks, planning departments and trade bodies frequently ignore sustainability questions in favour of short-term economic options. Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director, says that "integration of environmental thinking into the mainstream of decision-making relating to agriculture, trade, investment, research and development, infrastructure and finance is now the best chance for effective action." According to Toepfer, we must "encourage the media to devote as much attention to environmental issues as they do to crime, politics, sport and finance." In addition, "environmental education, like mathematics, (should be) part of the standard educational curriculum."

Global Environment Outlook 2000 Press Release:

Global Environment Outlook 2000 Website:

Complete Report in pdf Format:

Earthwatch Home Page:

A similar report, published by the INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES, also indicated that the world is heading for a spate of "super" disasters sparked by a mix of climate change, environmental damage and population pressures. See Smorgasbord 11 (http://www.nhne.com/smorgasbord/smorgasbord0011.html) for a summary.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
World Disasters Report 1999:

Key facts from the report:

Receive news from the International Federation directly to your email address. Automatic mailing lists will deliver news releases and Weekly News in the language of your choice:


(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS, Randolph Schmid, 10/7/1999, thanks to Scott Cristal)

According to a new study, the massive West Antarctic ice sheet may be headed for a complete meltdown. The study, which was published on the journal SCIENCE, indicates the melting MAY NOT be the fault of global warming. Rather, the future of the West Antarctic ice sheet may have been predetermined when the grounding line retreat was triggered in early Holocene time, about 10,000 years ago. The grounding line is the boundary between floating ice and ice thick enough to reach the sea floor, and the scientists found that line has receded about 800 miles since the last ice age, withdrawing at an average of about 400 feet per year for the last 7,600 years.

"It seems like the rate (of melting) that been going since the early Holocene is similar to the rate right now," says Howard Conway, the leader of the team of scientists from the UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON. "Collapse appears to be part of an ongoing natural cycle, probably caused by rising sea level initiated by the melting of the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets at the end of the last ice age."

The ice sheet's disappearance is of concern because of estimates that its complete melting could raise the global sea level by 15 to 20 feet, swamping low-lying coastal communities around the world. At the current rate of melting, that will take about 7,000 years, the researchers estimate. While the study indicates global warming is not causing the melting, climate change remains a problem, Conway said: "Global warming could well speed the process. Our study doesn't address that problem."

West Antarctica is the section of the continent south of the tip of South America. It is covered by an ice sheet that extends about 360,000 square miles -- close to the combined areas of Texas and Colorado.

The original article is no longer available. Complete copies of the article can be found in various news groups, including alt.global-warming:



(Source: THE INDEPENDENT, YAHOO, 9/7/1999)

The Sahara and Arabia were transformed abruptly from fertile land covered with shrubs and grasses into a parched desert in a "brutal" period of climatic change lasting 400 years, scientists have found. And humans were not to blame: the cause was not farming or overgrazing, as is usually thought. Scientists reckon that the Sahara began to turn into a desert after the Earth underwent one of its periodic changes in orientation, starting 9,000 and finishing about 6,000 years ago. Its tilt lessened from 24.14 degrees off vertical to its present 23.45 degrees, while the time when the planet is closest to the Sun shifted gradually from July to January.

Geologists think the changes were probably caused by shifts of material deep inside the Earth's molten core. The changes altered the pattern of sunshine on the Earth, with profound effects on many weather systems. The discovery has implications today, as many climate researchers are worried that gradual changes in the Earth's temperature caused by global warming will have marked effects on ocean currents -- particularly those that warm Britain. The discovery emerged from a new computerized climate model made by a team of scientists at THE POTSDAM INSTITUTE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE.

Before the change, the northern hemisphere received more summer sunlight, which amplified summer monsoons. But once the change was over, the new conditions created a vicious feedback loop between vegetation and climate. As the African monsoon lessened, plants began dying. As they stopped retaining water and releasing it back into the atmosphere, the rains lessened further, until rivers and streams dried up.

"It was very severe, ruining ancient civilizations and socioeconomic systems," said Martin Claussen, the team's leader. In the Sahara, "we find an abrupt decrease in vegetation, from a green Sahara to a desert shrubland within a few hundred years". The Sahara Desert now covers 3.5 million square miles. The ancient civilizations that had lived there -- and left rock paintings -- may have been forced to migrate to the more fertile Nile valley and other river valleys, where great civilizations developed.

Professor Claussen noted that changes in the Earth's orbit and tilt will continue to occur. As to their effects, he said: "What will happen in the future, frankly, we can only speculate."



(Source: WIRED, Lindsey Arent, 9/10/1999)

Geologists from the TOKYO INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY have found that the Earth's oceans are seeping into the planet's interior five times faster than they are being replenished. The Japanese team, led by scientist Shigenori Maruyama, calculated that about 1.12 billion tons of water drains into the Earth's mantle each year, while just .23 billion tons moves in the opposite direction. Maruyama believes that over time the planet's oceans will disappear altogether. "The world's oceans will dry up within a billion years," Maruyama told NEW SCIENTIST. "Earth's surface will look very much like the surface of Mars, where a similar process seems to have taken place."

While others have come to similar conclusions about the rate at which oceans are draining, some scientists find Maruyama's theory of an oceanless world a bit hard to swallow. "It's a neat idea," said UC BERKELEY geophysics professor Raymond Jeanloz. "More water is going down than coming out right now, but in the past we thought the opposite was true -- that more was coming out than going in. Maybe we've been in this situation many times in geologic history before," he said.

Geoscientists generally believe that a large reservoir of water lies about 250 miles below the surface of the Earth, in the zone between the upper and lower mantles. Water flows to the mantle through areas where oceanic plates dive beneath continental plates, called subduction zones. The water returns to the Earth's surface via volcanic hotspots and oceanic ridges, where molten rock and gases are pushed up through the earth's crust. Maruyama will present his findings at the December meeting of the AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION in San Francisco.




(Source: MSNBC, Alan Boyle, 10/7/1999, thanks to Paul Anderson of The Millennium Project)  

Two teams of researchers have proposed the existence of an unseen planet or a failed star circling the sun at a distance of more than 2 trillion miles, far beyond the orbits of the nine known planets. The theory is aimed at answering nagging scientific questions about how particular types of comets make their way into the inner solar system. No telescope has yet detected this object. But on the basis of its gravitational effect, John B. Murray, a planetary scientist at Britain's OPEN UNIVERSITY, speculates that the object could be a planet larger than Jupiter, the biggest of the solar system's known planets. Murray puts the object's orbit at 32,000 AU, or 2.98 trillion miles from the sun. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette say the object could be a planet or brown dwarf -- that is, a dark, failed star -- roughly three times the size of Jupiter and orbiting at 25,000 AU. Why hasn't such an object been seen? Murray says that even a Jupiter-scale planet could not be observed at the immense distances involved. The proposed object should make one orbit around the sun every 4 million to 6 million years.



(Source: USA Today, 10/20/1999)

Scientists who cracked open a meteorite that fell to earth last year found tiny pockets of briny water, providing the first close look at water not originating on Earth, according to an article in the journal SCIENCE. While astronomers have long thought that water flowed through asteroids and other bodies formed at the beginning of the solar system, the meteorite's liquid cargo offered the first chance to actually study it in a lab. The meteorite burned through the sky and was spotted by a group of boys in Monahans, Texas, who alerted scientists from NASA's JOHNSON SPACE CENTER in Houston. Chondrite meteorites, such as the one found in Monahans, are thought to comprise some of the most primitive ingredients from the early period of the solar system, and the water in the crystals could date as far back as 4.5 billion years.




(Source: REUTERS/CNN, 10/25/1999)

An entrepreneurial fashion photographer from Malibu has opened a website to auction the ovarian eggs of beautiful women on the Internet, with opening bids of $15,000 going up to $150,000. Called "Ron's Angels", the new website claims to be "the only website which provides you with the unique opportunity to bid on eggs from beautiful and healthy women." The site -- which came under fire from experts in medical ethics -- also advised recipients they must not only be able to afford the eggs, they must also have "substantial financial resources to guarantee that the children that are born from these matings have a financially secure and stable life."

Harris estimated the medical costs of assisted reproduction at $20,000 to $50,000. Harris' fee is 20 percent of the highest bid, which is in addition to the bid. The donors get 100 percent of the winning bid.

Currently, there are three donors -- all struggling actresses -- that are listed on Harris' website. Would-be bidders have to pay a monthly fee of $24.95 for details of the models, including their ages and measurements.

One of the would-be beautiful donors said she was asking $50,000 for her eggs. "I'd rather do this than do Playboy or Penthouse," she said. Another donor said she is studying music at college and was selling her eggs to pay for her musical education. Harris, meanwhile, was quoted in USA TODAY as saying, "What mother wants an ugly child -- we bid for everything else in this society, why not eggs?"

George Annas, a professor of health law at BOSTON UNIVERSITY and a member of the ethics committee of the AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE, said Harris' claims of beautiful children from beautiful donors is at least "deceptive and misleading," not to mention "ethically ludicrous."

"There is no guarantee that the baby produced from these eggs will be beautiful or handsome. Just look at all the beautiful women in the world whose children look nothing like them. The only way you could ever guarantee a beautiful child would be to clone a beautiful woman," he said.

Possibly aware that sperm necessary to fertilize the donor eggs has a say in the looks of the resulting child, Harris promised on his website he will soon hold a sperm auction with sperm donated by handsome young men. And it is cheaper than the eggs, with prices ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.

Complete Article:

Sperm Bank Links:


(Source: BBC NEWS ONLINE, Dr. David Whitehouse, 10/8/1999) Sci/Tech

In what is bound to become a much-debated and highly-controversial experiment, a team of US scientists have wired a computer to a cat's brain and created videos of what the animal was seeing. According to a paper published in the JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, Garrett Stanley, Yang Dang and Fei Li, from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Berkeley, attached electrodes to 177 cells in the so-called thalamus region of the cat's brain and monitored their activity. The end result: the scientists saw natural scenes with recognizable objects such as people's faces.

According to other scientists, this research has enormous implications. It could prove a breakthrough in the hoped-for ability to wire artificial limbs directly into the brain. More amazingly, scientists may be able to build devices that interface directly with the brain, providing access to extra data storage or processing power or the ability to control devices just by thinking about them.



(Sources: FEDERAL TIMES, Stephen Trimble, THE REGISTER, John Lettice, 9/13/1999)

THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL soon will create a new office to assess the ways federal agencies could make greater use of open-source, or nonproprietary software that is freely available to anyone and has codes that are not secret. THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION and THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY also are involved in creating the office. Its location still is to be decided. The new office will assess the costs and benefits of using open-source software to operate many government computers. Also to be determined are the cost and technical obstacles to communication between systems using open-source and the proprietary software now in use. The government will buy $2 billion worth of software in 2000, according to FEDERAL SOURCES INC., of Fairfax, Va., a market research company.

A chief reason for the effort, according to advocates, is to address concerns that MICROSOFT operating systems are vulnerable to malicious computer viruses and hacker attacks. This is partly because the Microsoft software is proprietary and security vulnerabilities are more difficult to find and correct, said Przemek Klosowski, a NIST physicist and leader of the Washington, D.C., LINUX USER'S GROUP. Linux, an open-source operating system similar in functionality to Microsoft Windows, is being given serious consideration as an alternative for government computer users, the official said.  Created by a Finnish graduate student named Linus Torvalls in 1991, Linux's open code is relentlessly scrutinized and tested by tens of thousands of systems analysts worldwide, who constantly recommend improvements. As a result, Linux boasts a robust code that rarely malfunctions and is extremely difficult for hackers to crack. Microsoft, on the other hand, keeps its code secret and makes upgrades to its products on a yearly basis. Microsoft software products have been the target of numerous computer viruses. One of the best known was the Melissa virus that struck thousands of government and nongovernment computers in March by exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word 97 and Microsoft Word 2000. In June, another virus called ExploreZip targeted vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT.






So you're trying to track down information on some pressing, but relatively obscure subject, and you have no idea where to go. A good place to start is the official Internet home of Cecil Adams, "world's smartest human being," and his famous syndicated column "The Straight Dope." What kind of information can you find on Cecil's amazing website? Here's a brief sample:

Is the earth getting heavier or lighter?
If you lit a match in zero gravity, would it smother in its own smoke?
In "Star Trek," what exactly are "star dates"?
How much do the animals used for fur coats suffer?
What year numbering system was used in the time of Christ?
What do U.S. Postal Service bar codes mean?
Can you pay $35 to get a star named after you?
Why the weird religious ravings on Dr. Bronner's soap?
Do eelskin wallets demagnetize bank teller cards?
Who gets the most pleasure from sex, the man or the woman?
Why don't magnets stick to aluminum?
Why is there braille on drive-up teller machines?
Whatever happened to adoption of the metric system in the U.S.?
Do you need a key to start an F-16?
Who invented the smiley face (besides Forrest Gump)?
Does the U.S. government keep alien spaceships at Area 51?
Is the Earth about to enter the Photon Belt, causing the end of life as we know it?
Why is the sky blue?
Did a flying saucer crash near Roswell, New Mexico in the 1940s?
What's with this "alien autopsy" movie?
How do "human cannonballs" survive?
Are sword swallowers for real?
Did the "singing nun" commit suicide with her lesbian lover?
If rabbits don't chew constantly, will their teeth grow to incredible lengths, causing them to starve?
Where are all the dead pigeons?
Why were dinosaurs so big?
Did medieval scholars argue over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin?
Do "laundry balls" that supposedly replace detergent really work?

Straight Dope Home Page:

Straight Dope Columns & Search Engine:

OK, I can't resist including an answer to the last question: "The Consumer Reports test, published in their February 1995 issue, found no difference [between using laundry balls and plain water]. The real surprise is that Tide didn't perform much better than plain water. I'm not saying you need laundry balls or disks. But the soap makers' dirty little secret, you should pardon the expression, is that you might not need conventional detergent either!"



(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dave Carpenter, 10/19/1999, thanks to Allen Watson)

The entire ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA -- from a-ak (an ancient East Asian music) to Zoroastrianism (a Persian religion) -- is now available for free online. Why? Because Britannica is in a desperate struggle for its life.

The 231-year-old publisher lost ground badly when MICROSOFT, after being spurned by Britannica, teamed with discount-market encyclopedia publisher FUNK & WAGNALLS to produce a colorful, multimedia encyclopedia on CD-ROM in 1993. Britannica's own CD-ROM version, released a year later, was low on graphics and did not fare well. Encyclopedia Britannica had revenue of $650 million and a sales force of 2,300 at its peak in 1989. Revenue estimates are no longer available from the privately held company, where the work force is thought to number about 350. House calls by salesmen, once a company trademark, were dropped in 1996. Britannica was the first encyclopedia available on the Web in 1994, but the reception was muted by the $85-a-year subscription fee.

With its budget, staff, and readership shrinking, Britannica is now staking its fortunes on the Internet -- and Internet advertisers. But does it really stand a chance on the Net? If generating "hits" (websites visitors) is any indication, the answer is "yes." Shortly after news reached the public that Britannica was offering all of its resources for free, the website was inundated with so many visitors that it was knocked offline, forcing the company's CEO, Don Yannias, to post the following message:

"The tremendous response to Britannica.com has created a tidal wave of activity on our site, and we are working hard to make the site available as quickly as possible... We knew that the site would attract a significant number of users in its first day of operation, but we had no idea that this volume of traffic would be achieved so quickly."


With Britannica making an all-out attempt to capture millions of users (and advertising revenue) on the Internet, it is probably only a matter of time before Microsoft's Encarta is forced to follow suit:



(Thanks to Renee' Marie Baumgartner)

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.

The worst had happened; everything was lost.

He was stunned with grief and anger.

"God, how could you do this to me?!" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.

"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground, it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

--- Author Unknown



(Thanks to Rick Rabbit)

In light of the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear encounters, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued the following advisory to hikers, hunters, and fishermen while in the field:

It is strongly advised that outdoorsmen wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle grizzly bears that aren't expecting outdoorsmen to be walking in their habitat.

It is also strongly advised that outdoorsmen carry non-lethal pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a grizzly. The Department of Natural Resources for Alaska states it is a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity.

Outdoorsmen should be able to recognize the difference between black bear poop and grizzly bear poop:

Black bear poop is small, contains lots of berries, and, occasionally, squirrel fur.

Grizzly bear poop is large, has little bells in it, and smells like pepper.

--- Author Unknown



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