BPR Mailing List Digest
October 19, 1999

Digest Home | 1999 | October, 1999


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Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 19:10:55 +1000

From: Jeff Noordermeer <>

Scientists have for the first time seen the world through cat's eyes.
And they have produced a video to prove it.

Researchers wired a computer to a feline's brain and created a video of
what the animal saw.

The experiment could have huge medical implications, by open the way for
linking artificial limbs directly to the brain.

The breakthrough by US scientists from the University of California, was
published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The team attached a battery of electrodes to 177 cell in a particular
region of a cat's brain and monitored its activity.

The area of the of the brain, known as the thalamus, is connected
directly to the cat's eyes via the optic nerve.

Each of the brain cells is programmed to respond to certain features in
the cat's field of view.

The scientists recorded patterns from the cells on computer before using
a special mathematical decoding technique to reconstruct an image.

What they saw was a cat's eye view of the world, including natural
scenes with recognisable objects such as peoples faces.

Scientists believe that the experiment could be another step in better
understanding of the human brain.

~ Herald Sun Newspaper October-1999 Victoria Australia ~

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Oct 19, 1999 TV Programs
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 09:12:14 +0000

From: (Moza)

8:00 PM Eastern

 PBS - VOYAGE TO THE MILKY WAY - "Journey to the Stars" -
   Propulsion systems; adapting space travelers to difficult
   conditions; genetic engineering.(CC)(TVG)

 DISC - KILLER FLOODS - The destructive force of

 HIST - THE ODESSA FILE - An organization helps Nazi
   war criminals elude punishment.(CC)(TVG)


 PBS - NOVA - "The Killer's Trail" - Current technology
   aids in the re-examination of evidence from the 1954 murder
   of Marilyn Sheppard.(CC)(TVPG)

 A&E - INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS - "Guns in America: Young
   Guns" - While youths are hunting in Texas' countryside,
   children are being shot in Houston's most violent

 HIST - HITLER'S GENERALS - "Friedrich Paulus: The Defector"
   - The commander of the Sixth Army surrenders at


 PBS - FRONTLINE - "The Lost Children of Rockdale
   County" - A syphilis epidemic among teens of an affluent
   community points to drug use, orgies and
   aimlessness.(CC)(Ends 11:30pm)

 HIST - TANKS - A history of the military

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Weekend News Today (10/18/99)
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 09:26:09 +0000

From: (Moza)

EU: 3 'wise men' suggest Prodi be given greater powers

Weekend News Today
By Weekend Staff
Source: VOA

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- Three elder statesmen, appointed by the president
of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, have presented the European
Commission with proposals to reform the European Union before it takes
in new members in four years. As expected, the so-called "wise men"
suggest that Mr. Prodi and his successors, as head of the European
Commission, be given greater powers to choose their commissioners
independently of European governments. The "wise men" also say
decisions will have to be made by qualified majorities - with no
countries being given the power to veto them. Those reforms will be
controversial among the leaders. For instance, Britain has pledged to
block any plan within the European Union to impose a single tax
system. President Romano Prodi appointed the 3 elder statesmen to
suggest ways to reform European structures before an
inter-governmental conference is held at the end of next year to
approve the reforms.

Blair calls for Euro's 'super-cops'

Weekend News Today
By Weekend Staff
Source: BBC

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is calling on European
leaders to create a force of 'super-cops' to combat organised crime.
The aim would be for the task force to plan joint operations in
separate countries to tackle drug trafficking, illegal immigration,
paedophile rings and Internet crime. His proposal is being made at a
European Union summit in Tampere, Finland, to discuss broadening the
EU's remit on criminal justice and home affairs. Mr Blair believes
that co-ordinated action is needed to harmonise the activities of the
120 different police forces who operate within the EU. The plan would
involve setting up a European police training college, which the UK
has offered to host at the existing police academy in Bramshill,
Hampshire, or at the Scottish police college at Kincardine-on-Forth,

Assad discusses peace with Jordanian officials

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: IsraelWire

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- Syrian President Hafez el-Assad on Sunday met with
Jordanian officials to discuss peace between Damascus and Jerusalem.
Despite Israeli overtures to return to the negotiating table, the
Syrian dictator has remained steadfast in his demands for an
unconditional Israeli retreat from the Golan Heights as a precondition
to negotiations. Assad met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdulilah
al-Khatib, who arrived earlier on Sunday in a previously unannounced
visit. Presidential spokesman Joubran Kourieh said Khatib gave Assad a
message from King Abdullah of Jordan. Earlier in the month, Jordan's
King Abdullah visited President Bill Clinton at the White House, where
the two discussed the ongoing Oslo process between Israel and the PLO
Authority (PA) as well as a favorable US loan policy to the Hashemite

Security prisoner release welcomed with gift of automatic rifle

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: IsraelWire

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- On Friday, Israel released 151 'security prisoners'
in compliance with the Wye Agreements signed between Israel and the
PLO Authority (PA).Among the terrorists released was Nasr Abu-Hamed,
41, who was serving nine life sentences for the murders of Arab
informants who were working with Israeli security officials.Shortly
following his early Friday morning release, Abu-Hamed was presented
with his homecoming gift from PA security officials, an AK-47
Kalashnikov assault rifle.Hamed did not express remorse for his
actions, which he stated, were carried out in "faith and ideology". He
did add that he signed the affidavit not to engage in terrorism
following his release in good faith. "I hope we do reach peace and I
will work towards peace he added."

China's new military threat

Weekend News Today
By Kelly Pagatpatan
Source: The Washington Times

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- China is building up its missile forces in
preparation for possible attacks against Taiwan - and the United
States if the U.S. military comes to the island's aid. The large
number of regional offensive missile systems, backed by space-based
spying systems, will be the "cornerstone of People's Liberation Army
warfighting early in the 21st century" and a "devastating weapon of
military utility," according to a Pentagon report. "Beijing's drift
toward a force dominated by offensive theater missiles could have
significant implications for regional stability," the report said. "In
the most likely scenario for their use, the PLA's growing arsenal of
highly accurate and lethal theater missiles, and a preemptive doctrine
could give Beijing a decisive edge in any future conflict with
Taiwan." Regarding U.S. involvement in a war between China and Taiwan,
the report makes clear that Beijing won't hesitate to attack. "The PLA
has indicated a willingness to use highly accurate short-range
ballistic missiles, medium-range ballistic missiles and land attack
cruise missiles against U.S. assets, to include key bases in Japan and
aircraft carriers operating in the Western Pacific," the report said,
noting that Chinese weapons planners are working hard at preparing
missiles to attack U.S. carriers.

Barak favors economic separation from Palestinian 'entity'

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: Ha'aretz

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- Prime Minister Ehud Barak is leaning toward
economic separation between Israel and the Palestinian entity that is
to be established as a result of the final status talks, although
after receiving plans for three possible economic arrangements from
Finance Minister Avraham Shochat yesterday, he is considering a
free-trade agreement between the two sides. Shochat, accompanied by
his director-general, Avi Ben-Bassat, presented the alternatives at a
discussion in the Barak's office. During the discussion, Barak claimed
that both sides have an interest in economic separation: the
Palestinians, because of their desire for greater independence from
Israel, and the Israelis, due to their concerns over security and
crime prevention. The question, according to Barak, will be the nature
of the fence between them, and the prime minister's working assumption
is "that the fence will be as friendly as possible and will allow for
political, security, and economic cooperation." The first alternative
proposed by Shochat was for the existence of a customs union, enabling
the free movement of goods between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority, as well as uniform indirect taxes and customs duties and
reciprocal determination and calculation of taxes. The second proposal
- the one favored by Barak - foresees an economic separation that
would allow for the potential taxation of the movement of goods,
various indirect taxes and the possibility of trade agreements between
the entities and a third party. The last proposal would establish a
duty-free zone for local goods, with the potential for indirect
taxation at different rates, and different duty rates and trade
agreements with other countries.

Demonstrators say returning parts of Israel is like shedding Jewish

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: Ha'aretz

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- In the first show of strength by the far right
since Prime Minister Ehud Barak took office, some 5,000 demonstrators
gathered yesterday evening to protest the government's plans to remove
10 "hilltop outposts" in the West Bank. The demonstration was
organized by "Young Guard - Yesha," which refers to a young generation
of militants in the settlements who are displeased at the agreement
reached by their elders with the prime minister on the removal of the
illegal outposts.The organizers had originally asked the police for a
permit to hold a demonstration of 300 people, but it became clear last
week that the number in attendance would be substantially higher. The
group requested an expanded permit, which requires the closing of
roads at one of Jerusalem's busiest intersections. The participants,
mostly young people, distributed leaflets featuring color photographs
of the outposts and an invitation to visit the sites and stay for the
Sabbath. Other leaflets, bearing the signatures of four rabbis, quoted
religious rulings stating that any agreement that contravenes the
Torah is null and void and need not be obeyed. One of the halachic
rulings stated that any assistance given to the handing over of parts
of the Land of Israel is tantamount to the shedding of Jewish blood.
Standing on the edges of the demonstration were some veteran members
of the right, who were in the forefront of the stormy demonstrations
against slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after he signed the Oslo
agreement. Among them were MKs Rechavam Ze'evi and Hanan Porat of the
National Union, as well as some members of the Yesha Council of
settlements. The demonstration lasted several hours, with the
participants singing and dancing between the speeches. Members of
several small right-wing groups, including the outlawed Kach
organization, Women in Green and Gamla Shall Not Fall Again, were also
present. A counter-demonstration of a few dozen members of the Peace
Now movement was held nearby to show support for the government.

Israeli Defense Ministry gives firm go-ahead to sell arms to Jordan

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: Ha'aretz

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- The Defense Ministry has authorized Israel Military
Industries to sell arms to Jordan. This is the first time an Israeli
firm has been allowed to sell weapons and defense equipment to an Arab
state. The authorization, which applies to ammunition and light arms
only, enables IMI to enter into negotiations with Amman. At this
stage, though, there is no concrete proposal and according to senior
officials it will be a long time before Jordan buys arms from Israel,
if at all. In the past no individuals or companies have been permitted
to sell arms to Arab states, although in rare instances Israeli
weapons reached hostile elements in the Arab world through arms
dealers. The Defense Ministry and the IDF have in the past supplied
arms, through the Mossad espionage agency, to Christian forces in
Lebanon, as well as to rebels in Sudan and to the Kurds in Iraq.
Sources in the Defense Ministry who oppose the authorization say it
was given following intensive lobbying activity by persons close to
IMI. Others in the ministry who support the development maintain,
however, that supplying arms to Jordan will strengthen ties between
the two countries. In any event, they add, this is only another layer
in the strategic cooperation that exists between Israel and Jordan,
which, according to foreign reports includes exchanges of intelligence
information and permission for Israeli Air Force planes to fly over
Jordan.The spokesman of the Defense Ministry declined to comment on
the report, saying, "We do not make a habit of providing information
about decisions taken by Defense Ministry committees." The IMI
spokesman refused comment.

Magnetic cards to be distributed on Monday in Israel

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: IsraelWire

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- Israel and the PLO Authority (PA) on Monday will
begin distribution of magnetic identification cards which will permit
Arab motorists to utilize the southern safe-passage route from Gaza to
Tarkumia, in the Southern Hebron Hills region. In the first stage,
approximately 600 cards will be distributed. With several differences
still remaining, the safe-passage route's opening has been delayed
with security officials indicating it appears unlikely that the
opening will take place on Monday morning as hoped. Israeli officials
have indicated however that they are optimistic and expect the opening
to occur in the near future.

Jordan's Prince Hassan in Israel

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: IsraelWire

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- President Ezer Weizman met on Sunday afternoon in
Jerusalem with Jordan's Prince Hassan who arrived for two separate
functions. The prince was to open a conference marking five years
since the signing of a treaty between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom
and to address a memorial in Tel Aviv University marking four years
since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The visit comes at a time of
tension between Israel and Jordan following last week's unannounced
visit in Hebron by members of the Jordanian parliament. The visit
sparked a controversy in Hebron with the unannounced guests arriving
on the Jewish Sabbath, accompanied by armed PLO Authority (PA)
security officials. Following the incident, there was an exchange of
harsh statements between Israel and Jordan.Nevertheless, Hassan stated
the relations between the two countries are strong and would not be
threatened by a single incident.Weizman compared the incident to one
catching a cold, explaining that it too will pass.

Hawatemah in Jordan in preparations to meet with Arafat

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: Arabic News

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- The secretary general of the " Democratic front for
the Liberation of Palestine" Nayef Hawatemah announced in Amman on
Saturday that a second round of reconciliation dialogue between his
front and the "Fatah" movements, led by the Palestinian President
Yasser Arafat will be held in the Jordanian capital, Amman next month.
Hawatemah added that he, and Arafat will chair the delegations of the
two sides in the dialogues which aim at defending the Palestinian
causes of destiny in the final status negotiations with Israel. He
explained following his meeting with the Jordanian Prime Minister
Abdul Raouf al-Rawabdah that the latter welcomed hosting this round of
negotiation ( between Arafat and Hawatemah) as an introduction to
host, in Amman, the pan national dialogue on the road to represent all
establishments of the PLO.

Abdullah and the future of Jordanians of Palestinian origin

Weekend News Today
By Andra Brack
Source: Arabic News

Mon Oct 18,1999 -- Jordan's King Abdullah II has talked about the
future of Jordanians of Palestinian origin who carry Jordanian
passports and live in Jordan in case a final status agreement is
reached, especially concerning the refugees and the evacuees from 1948
and 1967. In a written lecture he delivered on Saturday at the
political sciences faculty at the US Harvard University and published
by the Jordanian dailies on Sunday, King Abdullah said the "majority
of the Palestinian refugees, who are residents in Jordan will choose
to stay in Jordan. This matter is left to them, and it is their own
choice to decide." The Jordanian king added that "we" consider the
refugees in Jordan as Jordanian citizens. "We believe that Jordan has
settled those refugees and we want them to stay in the country where
they lived for long years. The Jordanian stand is with the right for
the return back. However, it is the Palestinians, residents in our
country, who are to decide on that," he said.


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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Birds found dead in field
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 11:45:33 -0500


10/18/99 -- 11:18 AM

Birds found dead in field; violent downdraft blamed

MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) - Wildlife biologists believe a violent
downdraft killed thousands of birds in southern Illinois by
slamming them into the ground.

The bodies of about 2,000 red-winged blackbirds, starlings and
grackles -known to fly in big flocks - were found late last week
in a farm field with their wings to the side and heads pointing
into the ground.

Such a scenario is rare, but has happened before, said Joe
Khayyat, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural

This summer, a flock of egrets was found dead near Springfield
after a strong storm. Biologists concluded strong downward winds
were responsible.


Follow up story:

2,000 Blackbirds Found Dead in Ill.

Oct. 18, 1999; 2:00 p.m. EDT

MASCOUTAH, Ill. -- Thousands of birds were found dead in a farm
field, and officials suspect a chemical may have killed them.

State Department of Natural Resources biologists are running
tests on some of the birds and should have the results Tuesday,
department spokesman Joe Khayyat said today.

The bodies of about 2,000 red-winged blackbirds, starlings and
grackles were found late last week in a farm field with their
wings to the side and heads pointing into the ground.

Biologists at first suspected that a violent downdraft killed
the birds by slamming them into the ground. But Khayyat said new
evidence points to possible chemical contamination.

Wind had been blamed in an earlier incident this summer, when a
flock of egrets was found dead near Springfield after a strong


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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Quakes show fault lines 'talking to each other'
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 11:55:13 -0500


10/19/99 -- 6:30 AM

Scientist: Quakes show fault lines 'talking to each other'

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - The weekend's 7.1-magnitude earthquake
in the southern California desert produced a nerve-rattling
conversation between two of the state's fault lines, scientists

Hours after Saturday morning's massive Hector Mine quake tore a
25-mile-long gash from a dry lake through the Mojave Desert,
some seismologists were alarmed by a series of earthquakes as
powerful as 4.0 that struck 120 miles away near the Salton Sea,
a few miles from the massive San Andreas Fault.

"It's very clear that the faults in this area are talking to
each other," said Lucy Jones, a U.S. Geological Survey
seismologist. "It's not clear what exactly that pattern is," so
scientists can't predict another quake resulting from this one.

Saturday's largest temblor, which struck at 2:46 a.m. in a
sparsely populated stretch of desert, caused minor injuries on
an Amtrak train that derailed. Scientists upgraded the quake's
magnitude from 7.0 to 7.1 on Monday - a 25 percent increase in

On Monday night, the Hector quake generated two more
aftershocks in the area where the original temblor struck.

A 4.0-magnitude quake centered 37 miles from Baker and a 4.1-
magnitude quake 18 miles from Joshua Tree were recorded at 7:38
p.m., said Karen Kahler, a seismologist at the California
Institute of Technology.

Although most seismologists say there is no connection among
the large quakes that have occurred recently around the world,
some experts are considering links between the Hector quake and
a 7.5-magnitude temblor that killed 27 people in Mexico last
month, said Kate Hutton, another seismologist at CalTech.

"There's a small minority who believe there may be a
connection," she said. Hutton said she found the link between
the Salton Sea and Hector quakes "more likely," considering the
relative close distance between them.

While most temblors trigger other quakes in the immediate
vicinity, large earthquakes can have far-reaching effects, Jones
said. In 1992, a 7.3-magnitude quake in Landers, Calif., was
responsible for quakes as far away as Yellowstone National Park
in Wyoming, she said.


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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Britannica moves to cyberspace
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 17:54:20 -0400

From: (Moza)

The venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica is making a leap of faith, and
posting the contents of its entire 32-volume set on the Internet for free.
The 231-year-old company, which has reduced its workforce to 350 from a peak
of 2,300 in 1989, hopes to shift its business model from hard copy sales to
an online advertising basis, capitalizing on its impeccable credentials for
accuracy in a world that's dominated by less-than-rigorous standards for
information content. "We want to become the most trusted source of
information, learning and knowledge in the online environment," says Jorge
Cauz, senior VP for marketing. The company will continue to sell its printed
sets and a CD-ROM version, but expects that the primary purchasers will be
public libraries and higher education institutions. Although some analysts
say Britannica's online onslaught is too little, too late, Philip Evans,
senior VP of Boston Consulting Group, notes that Britannica's brand name is
"far better than Microsoft, Amazon or America Online" when it comes to
"reliable and trustworthy information." (Los Angeles Times 19 Oct 99)

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