Monday, September 26, 2005

OBT: Leslie Hubricht

Dear Colleagues,

North America has just lost one of its most prolific naturalists and collectors. Leslie Raymond Hubricht, mollusk (and milliped) collector par excellence, world authority on the land snails of the Eastern United States, and author of numerous articles on North American land and freshwater mollusks, died on September 19 at the age of 97 after a period of declining health.

The Field Museum's Division of Invertebrates enjoyed a close cooperation with Leslie, developed during the tenures of former curators Fritz Haas (1938 to 1965) and Alan Solem (1956 to 1990). This culminated in his milestone publication The Distributions of the Native Land Mollusks of the Eastern United States in Field Museum’s Fieldiana series in 1985 and the donation of his monumental self-collected collection of 43,000 series to this museum in 1990.

Leslie Hubricht’s legacy, left in about 150 publications and in form of more than 500,000 meticulously documented specimens that will be available to future generations of researchers, is here to stay.

ATH: This is what it's all about . . .

Nice call
Weis uses play called by boy dying of brain tumor
MSNBC/SI, Posted: Sunday September 25, 2005 8:59PM; Updated: Monday September 26, 2005 2:38PM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Charlie Weis doesn't usually let anyone else call plays on offense. He made an exception for 10-year-old Montana Mazurkiewicz.

The Notre Dame coach met last week with Montana, who had been told by doctors weeks earlier that there was nothing more they could do to stop the spread of his inoperable brain tumor.

"He was a big Notre Dame fan in general, but football especially," said his mother, Cathy Mazurkiewicz.

Weis showed up at the Mazurkiewicz home in Mishawaka, just east of South Bend, and talked with Montana about his tumor and about Weis' 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has global development delay, a rare disorder similar to autism.

He told Montana about some pranks he played on Joe Montana -- whom Montana was named after -- while they were roommates at Notre Dame.

"I gave him a chance to hammer me on the Michigan State loss, which he did very well. He reminded me of my son," said Weis, whose son, Charlie Jr., is 12 years old.

Weis said the meeting was touching.

"He told me about his love for Notre Dame football and how he just wanted to make it through this game this week," Weis said. "He just wanted to be able to live through this game because he knew he wasn't going to live very much longer."

As Weis talked to the boy, Cathy Mazurkiewicz rubbed her son's shoulder trying to ease his pain. Weis said he could tell the boy was trying not to show he was in pain.

His mother told Montana, who had just become paralyzed from the waist down a day earlier because of the tumor, to toss her a football Weis had given him. Montana tried to throw the football, put could barely lift it. So Weis climbed into the reclining chair with him and helped him complete the pass to his mother.

Before leaving, Weis signed the football.

"He wrote, 'Live for today for tomorrow is always another day,"' Mazurkiewicz said.

"He told him: 'You can't worry about tomorrow. Just live today for everything it has and everything you can appreciate," she said. "He said: 'If you're [in pain] today you might not necessarily be in pain tomorrow, or it might be worse. But there's always another day."

Weis asked Montana if there was something he could do for him. He agreed to let Montana call the first play against Washington on Saturday. He called "pass right."

Montana never got to see the play. He died Friday at his home.

Weis heard about the death and called Mazurkiewicz on Friday night to assure her he would still call Montana's play.

"He said, 'This game is for Montana, and the play still stands,"' she said.

Weis said he told the team about the visit. He said it wasn't a "Win one for the Gipper" speech, because he doesn't believe in using individuals as inspiration. He just wanted the team to know people like Montana are out there.

"That they represent a lot of people that they don't even realize they're representing," Weis said.

When the Irish started on their own 1-yard-line following a fumble recovery, Mazurkiewicz wasn't sure Notre Dame would be able to throw a pass. Weis was concerned about that, too. So was quarterback Brady Quinn.

"He said what are we going to do?" Weis said. "I said we have no choice. We're throwing it to the right."

Weis called a play where most of the Irish went left, Quinn ran right and looked for tight end Anthony Fasano on the right.

Mazurkiewicz watched with her family.

"I just closed my eyes. I thought, 'There's no way he's going to be able to make that pass. Not from where they're at. He's going to get sacked and Washington's going to get two points,"' she said.

Fasano caught the pass and leapt over a defender for a 13-yard gain.

"It's almost like Montana was willing him to beat that defender and take it to the house," Weis said.

Mazurkiewicz was happy.

"It was an amazing play. Montana would have been very pleased. I was very pleased," she said. "I was just so overwhelmed. I couldn't watch much more."

Weis called her again after the game, a 36-17 victory by the 13th-ranked Fighting Irish, and said he had a game ball signed by the team that he wanted to bring to the family on Sunday.

"He's a very neat man. Very compassionate," she said. "I just thanked him for using that play, no matter the circumstances."

OBT: Don Adams

Don Adams of 'Get Smart' dead
'Would you
believe?' actor was 82

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Don Adams, the wry-voiced comedian who starred as the fumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in the 1960s TV spoof of James Bond movies, "Get Smart," has died. He was 82.

Adams died of a lung infection late Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his friend and former agent Bruce Tufeld said Monday, adding that the actor broke his hip a year ago and had been in ill health since.

As the inept Agent 86 of the super-secret federal agency CONTROL, Adams captured TV viewers with his antics in combatting the evil agents of KAOS. When his explanations failed to convince the villains or his boss, he tried another tack:

"Would you believe ... ?"

It became a national catchphrase.

Smart was also prone to spilling things on the desk or person of his boss -- the Chief (actor Edward Platt). Smart's apologetic "Sorry about that, chief" also entered the American lexicon.

The spy gadgets, which aped those of the Bond movies, were a popular feature, especially the pre-cell-phone telephone in a shoe.

Smart's beautiful partner, Agent 99, played by Barbara Feldon, was as brainy as he was dense, and a plot romance led to marriage and the birth of twins later in the series.

Adams, who had been under contract to NBC, was lukewarm about doing a spy spoof. When he learned that Mel Brooks and Buck Henry had written the pilot script, he accepted immediately.

"Get Smart" debuted on NBC in September 1965 and scored No. 12 among the season's most-watched series and No. 22 in its second season.

"Get Smart" twice won the Emmy for best comedy series with three Emmys for Adams as comedy actor.

CBS picked up the show but the ratings fell off as the jokes seemed repetitive, and it was canceled after four seasons. The show lived on in syndication and a cartoon series. In 1995 the Fox network revived the series with Smart as chief and 99 as a congresswoman. It lasted seven episodes.

Adams never had another showcase to display his comic talent.

"It was a special show that became a cult classic of sorts, and I made a lot of money for it," he remarked of "Get Smart" in a 1995 interview. "But it also hindered me career-wise because I was typed. The character was so strong, particularly because of that distinctive voice, that nobody could picture me in any other type of role."

He was born Donald James Yarmy in New York City on April 13, 1923, Tufeld said, although some sources say 1926 or '27. The actor's father was a Hungarian Jew who ran a few small restaurants in the Bronx.

In a 1959 interview Adams said he never cared about being funny as a kid: "Sometimes I wonder how I got into comedy at all. I did movie star impressions as a kid in high school. Somehow they just got out of hand."

In 1941, he dropped out of school to join the Marines. In Guadalcanal he survived the deadly blackwater fever and was returned to the States to become a drill instructor, acquiring the clipped delivery that served him well as a comedian.

After the war he worked in New York as a commercial artist by day, doing standup comedy in clubs at night, taking the surname of his first wife, Adelaide Adams. His following grew, and soon he was appearing on the Ed Sullivan and late-night TV shows. Bill Dana, who had helped him develop comedy routines, cast him as his sidekick on Dana's show. That led to the NBC contract and "Get Smart."

Adams, who married and divorced three times and had seven children, served as the voice for the popular cartoon series, "Inspector Gadget," as well as cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo. In 1980, he appeared as Maxwell Smart in a feature movie, "The Nude Bomb," about a madman whose bomb destroyed people's clothing.

Tufeld said funeral arrangements were incomplete.

ENV: Dover and Scopes

A Web of Faith, Law and Science in Evolution Suit
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN, The New York Times, September 26, 2005

DOVER, Pa., Sept. 23 - Sheree Hied, a mother of five who believes that God created the earth and its creatures, was grateful when her school board here voted last year to require high school biology classes to hear about "alternatives" to evolution, including the theory known as intelligent design.

But 11 other parents in Dover were outraged enough to sue the school board and the district, contending that intelligent design - the idea that living organisms are so inexplicably complex, the best explanation is that a higher being designed them - is a Trojan horse for religion in the public schools.

With the new political empowerment of religious conservatives, challenges to evolution are popping up with greater frequency in schools, courts and legislatures. But the Dover case, which begins Monday in Federal District Court in Harrisburg, is the first direct challenge to a school district that has tried to mandate the teaching of intelligent design.

What happens here could influence communities across the country that are considering whether to teach intelligent design in the public schools, and the case, regardless of the verdict, could end up before the Supreme Court.

Dover, a rural, mostly blue-collar community of 22,000 that is 20 miles south of Harrisburg, had school board members willing to go to the mat over issue. But people here are well aware that they are only the excuse for a much larger showdown in the culture wars.

"It was just our school board making one small decision," Mrs. Hied said, "but it was just received with such an uproar."

For Mrs. Hied, a meter reader, and her husband, Michael, an office manager for a local bus and transport company, the Dover school board's argument - that teaching intelligent design is a free-speech issue - has a strong appeal.

"I think we as Americans, regardless of our beliefs, should be able to freely access information, because people fought and died for our freedoms," Mrs. Hied said over a family dinner last week at their home, where the front door is decorated with a small bell and a plaque proclaiming, "Let Freedom Ring."

But in a split-level house on the other side of Main Street, at a desk flanked by his university diplomas, Steven Stough was on the Internet late the other night, keeping track of every legal maneuver in the case. Mr. Stough, who teaches life science to seventh graders in a nearby district, is one of the 11 parents suing the Dover district. For him the notion of teaching "alternatives" to evolution is a hoax.

"You can dress up intelligent design and make it look like science, but it just doesn't pass muster," said Mr. Stough, a Republican whose idea of a fun family vacation is visiting fossil beds and natural history museums. "In science class, you don't say to the students, 'Is there gravity, or do you think we have rubber bands on our feet?' "

Evolution finds that life evolved over billions of years through the processes of mutation and natural selection, without the need for supernatural interventions. It is the foundation of biological science, with no credible challenges within the scientific community. Without it, the plaintiffs say, students could never make sense of topics as varied as AIDS and extinction.

Advocates on both sides of the issue have lined up behind the case, often calling it Scopes II, in reference to the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial that was the last century's great face-off over evolution.

On the evolutionists' side is a legal team put together by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. These groups want to put intelligent design itself on trial and discredit it so thoroughly that no other school board would dare authorize teaching it.

Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the A.C.L.U. of Pennsylvania, said the plaintiffs would call six experts in history, theology, philosophy of science and science to show that no matter the perspective, "intelligent design is not science because it does not meet the ground rules of science, is not based on natural explanations, is not testable."

On the intelligent design side is the Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit Christian law firm that says its mission is "to be the sword and shield for people of faith" in cases on abortion, school prayer and the Ten Commandments. The center was founded by Thomas Monaghan, the Domino's Pizza founder, a conservative Roman Catholic who also founded Ave Maria University and the Ave Maria School of Law; and by Richard Thompson, a former Michigan prosecutor who tried Dr. Jack Kevorkian for performing assisted suicides.

"This is an attempt by the A.C.L.U. to really intimidate this small-town school board," said Mr. Thompson, who will defend the Dover board at the trial, "because the theory of intelligent design is starting to gain some resonance among school boards across the country."

The defense plans to introduce leading design theorists like Michael J. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, and education experts who will testify that "allowing students to be aware of the controversy is good pedagogy because it develops critical thinking," Mr. Thompson said.

The case, Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District, will be decided by Judge John E. Jones III of the United States District Court, who was nominated by President Bush in 2002 and confirmed by a Senate vote of 96 to 0. The trial is expected to last six weeks and to draw news coverage from around the world.

The legal battle came to a head on Oct. 18 last year when the Dover school board voted 6 to 3 to require ninth-grade biology students to listen to a brief statement saying that there was a controversy over evolution, that intelligent design is a competing theory and that if they wanted to learn more the school library had the textbook "Of Pandas and People: the Central Question of Biological Origins." The book is published by an intelligent design advocacy group, the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, based in Texas.

Angry parents like Mr. Stough, Tammy Kitzmiller, and Bryan and Christy Rehm contacted the A.C.L.U. and Americans United. The 11 plaintiffs are a diverse group, unacquainted before the case, who say that parents, and not the school, should be in charge of their children's religious education.

Mr. Rehm, a father of five and a science teacher who formerly taught in Dover, said the school board had long been pressing science teachers to alter their evolution curriculum, even requiring teachers to watch a videotape about "gaps in evolution theory" during an in-service training day in the spring of 2004.

School board members were told by their lawyer, Mr. Thompson, not to talk to the news media. "We've told them, anything they say can be used against them," Mr. Thompson said.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1987 that teaching creation science in public schools was unconstitutional because it was based on religion. So the plaintiffs will try to prove that intelligent design is creationism in a new package. Richard Katskee, assistant legal director of Americans United, said the "Pandas" textbook only substituted references to "creationism" with "intelligent design" in more recent editions.

Mr. Thompson said his side would prove that intelligent design was not creationism because it did not mention God or the Bible and never posited the creator's identity.

"It's clear they are two different theories," Mr. Thompson said. "Creationism normally starts with the Holy Scripture, the Book of Genesis, then you develop a scientific theory that supports it, while intelligent design looks at the same kind of empirical data that any scientist looks at," and concludes that complex mechanisms in nature "appear designed because it is designed."

A twist in the case is that a leading proponent of intelligent design, the Discovery Institute, based in Seattle, removed one of its staff members from the Dover school board's witness list and opposed the board's action from the start.

"We thought it was a bad idea because we oppose any effort to require students to learn about intelligent design because we feel that it politicizes what should be a scientific debate," said John G. West, a senior fellow at the institute. However, Professor Behe, a fellow at the institute, is expected to be the board's star witness.

Parents in Dover appear to be evenly split on the issue. School board runoffs are in November, with seven candidates opposing the current policy facing seven incumbents. Among the candidates is Mr. Rehm, the former Dover science teacher and a plaintiff. He said opponents had slammed doors in his face when he campaigned and performed a "monkey dance" when he passed out literature at the recent firemen's fair.

But he agrees with parents on the other side that the fuss over evolution has obscured more pressing educational issues like school financing, low parent involvement and classes that still train students for factory jobs as local plants are closing.

"There's no way to have a winner here," Mr. Rehm said. "The community has already lost, period, by becoming so divided."

OBT: Serge Lang

Serge Lang, 78, a Gadfly and Mathematical Theorist, Dies
By KENNETH CHANG and WARREN LEARY, The New York Times, September 25, 2005

Serge Lang, a leading mathematical theorist who became better known for his academic jousts with nonmathematicians on social and political issues than for his work in geometry and the properties of numbers, died Sept. 12 in Berkeley, Calif. He was 78.

The Yale University mathematics department, where Dr. Lang taught for more than 30 years before retiring this year, announced the death but gave no cause.

Throughout his life, Dr. Lang railed against inaccuracy and imprecision and felt that the scientific establishment unfairly suppressed dissident ideas.

Beginning around 1977, he adopted a more activist approach, writing letters and articles - sometimes even buying newspaper advertisements - to challenge research that he considered unscrupulous or sloppy. He would pull together his writings and add news articles, Congressional testimony and other documents into what he called files and mail the compiled documents to scientists, journalists and government officials.

"He just thought by presenting everyone all of the primary documents, everyone else would be able to see what he saw," said Kenneth A. Ribet, a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. "It was a very effective tool."

Edward G. Dunne of the American Mathematical Society said: "Lang was always meticulous in his documentation. These things multiplied. People would be receiving 25-, 35-, 100-page documents from Lang."

One focus of Dr. Lang's ire was the Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington. Dr. Lang mounted a one-man campaign against Dr. Huntington's nomination to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986, dismissing Dr. Huntington's use of mathematical equations to relate factors like economic development and political instability as "pseudoscience" and "nonsense" - "a type of language which gives the illusion of science without any of its substance."

Dr. Lang also challenged Dr. Huntington's description of apartheid in South Africa in the 1960's as a "satisfied society."

Dr. Huntington, who said the math was not meant to be rigorous but rather a "shorthand" of his arguments, twice failed to win election to the academy.

Controversially, beginning in the mid-1990's, Dr. Lang sided with skeptics who doubted that AIDS was caused by human immunodeficiency virus, arguing that the scientific evidence connecting them was weak and faulty. He criticized the denial of research money to Peter Duesberg, a skeptic on the H.I.V.-AIDS link.

He was never convinced otherwise. A week before his death, he mailed out his latest file, a dozen pages of letters and e-mail messages about two papers he had written about the AIDS debate that had been rejected by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Lang also threw in a whimsical document, "The Three Laws of Sociodynamics," which states, among other things, that "the power structure does what they want, when they want; then they try to find reasons to justify it."

Dr. Lang started his career as one of the nation's leading thinkers in fundamental mathematics, using aspects of geometry to study the properties of numbers, and evolved into a gifted but challenging teacher.

Decades of students discovered that if they did not pay attention in class, Dr. Lang would throw chalk. "He would rant and rave in front of his students," Dr. Ribet said. "He would say, 'Our two aims are truth and clarity, and to achieve these I will shout in class.' "

He was a prolific author, having written more than 40 mathematics textbooks and research monographs and well over 100 research articles.

Born in Paris in 1927, Serge Lang moved to California with his family when he was a teenager.

He graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1946 and received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton in 1951. He taught at the University of Chicago before becoming a professor at Columbia in 1955.

Dr. Lang resigned his Columbia professorship in 1971 because of the university's handling of antiwar protesters.

He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1985 and was a member of the American Mathematical Society, but forcefully challenged both bodies at times over the election of new members and other issues.

He resigned from the mathematical society in 1996, because the society's journal had refused to publish an article he wrote about AIDS.

"He described himself as a congenital troublemaker," said Paul Vojta of the University of California, Berkeley, who had been a postdoctoral student at Yale under Dr. Lang.

Dr. Lang's research focused on number theory and algebraic geometry. He won the Frank Nelson Cole Prize in 1960 from the American Mathematical Society for his insights on algebra.

ENV: White Stork Release

White Storks Fly in Japan
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, September 25, 2005

TOKYO, Sept. 24 (Agence France-Presse) - Five white storks flew into open skies from a park in Hyogo Province in western Japan on Saturday as part of an effort to return the endangered species to the wild.

Prince Akishino and his wife, Kiko, cut a red-and-white ribbon to open a box and release the first of the five storks. Thousands of spectators cheered as the white birds with black-edged wings flew away. It was the first time that artificially bred Oriental white storks had been released, a park official said. Japan's last wild stork died in protective captivity in 1971.

ENV: Grizzly delisting?

As Population of Yellowstone Grizzlies Grows, Further Protection Is Up for Debate
By JIM ROBBINS, The New York Times, September 26, 2005

BOZEMAN, Mont. - By all accounts the turnaround of the Yellowstone grizzly is an all-too-rare success story of the Endangered Species Act.

After dwindling to 200 or so by the 1970's, the number of the big bears in the mountains and grassy meadows around Yellowstone National Park has grown to more than 600, thanks to the federal protections given to the species in 1975.

"It's the biggest success story under the Endangered Species Act because grizzly bears are one of the toughest species to manage," said Chris Servheen, who has been working on efforts to protect and to re-establish grizzlies in Yellowstone and elsewhere for 25 years and is coordinator for grizzly bear recovery for the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service in Missoula, Mont.

While there is widespread agreement that the story is a good one, however, there is disagreement on the next chapter.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, saying that the mission to bring the bear back has been accomplished, will propose removing the bear from the list of threatened species this fall and, after a comment period, make a final decision in 2006. Delisting has happened for only about 15 species out of the 1,830 on the imperiled list.

But opponents of delisting say the bear is still endangered, primarily because of threats to critical food sources.

Both sides say the science is on their side.

While the federal government says safeguards are in place to reinstate federal protections if the bear population falls, critics are beyond skeptical, many saying they do not trust the Bush administration on conservation issues.

"Quite frankly, they are lying through their teeth about relisting the bear," said Craig Pease, a population biologist who teaches science at the Vermont Law School and has studied the Yellowstone population.

Louisa Willcox, who advocates for bears with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Livingston, Mont., said the administration has been hostile to the Endangered Species Act. "How can we be sure they'll rush in and list the bear if something happens?" Ms. Willcox said.

Whether to recognize the Yellowstone bears as a recovered population is not just an abstract scientific debate. Grizzlies, which occasionally prey on people, are moving out of the park's mountain wilderness and federal forest refuges and into areas with growing human populations. Removing protections would allow the bears to be hunted.

Since the late 1960's, there have been 17 fatalities involving bears and many more attacks in Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, home to the only other large population of the bears in the lower 48 states. In mid-September an elk hunter was attacked and wounded by a grizzly in the wilderness near Cody, Wyo.

"As bear numbers increase they are getting into places they haven't been seen in 50 or 100 years," Dr. Servheen said.

One place where the bears are showing up is at the two-room Valley School, on the South Fork of the Shoshone River southeast of Yellowstone. Recently, a grizzly bear charged a couple of fishermen and followed them to their vehicle near the school, then scared a fencing crew into their truck.

Audra Morrow, the teacher for the four students at Valley School, recalls cooking dinner in her log cabin next to the school when she looked out her kitchen window and saw a grizzly sow with two cubs headed her direction. "I was face to face with Momma," Ms. Morrow said. "I was cooking a veggie burger. I'm convinced that's why she left." She now keeps a loaded shotgun and cans of pepper spray within reach, and local parents erected a fence around the school's playground.

While people who live along the South Fork of the Shoshone are used to a wild way of life, many say the bear population is too big and support removing the bears' protection. Ms. Willcox believes hunting will not solve the problem. "It's the nature of that ground," she says. "Bears move through there. If you remove a bear another bear will replace it."

Along with Old Faithful, bears were once the heart of a visit to Yellowstone Park. Both black bears and grizzly bears were allowed to wander the roads and to beg for handouts or be watched by delighted tourists as they scavenged in dumps. In 1967, two backpackers were attacked and killed by grizzly bears in separate incidents on the same night in Glacier National Park.

Biologists believed the bears attacked because they had lost their fear of humans, and officials in both parks ended the "Yogi Bear period," forcing bears to return to an all-wild diet. Bears who pursued human food were shot, and from 1969 until 1971 more than 220 grizzlies were killed in Yellowstone. By the early 1970's, the number of bears had plummeted to fewer than 200.

In the 1980's biologists began an aggressive campaign to bring the bear back. Helped by environmental groups, rewards were offered for poachers, sheep were moved out of bear country, garbage cans were replaced with bearproof versions and campers were given rules on keeping food away from bears.

The grizzly bear population is the healthiest it has been in 30 years, and biologists say it is growing 4 percent to 7 percent a year.

"Does that mean you turn your back and walk away?" said Chuck Schwartz, who personally supports delisting and heads the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in Bozeman, a collection of biologists and other scientists from state and federal agencies who oversee greater Yellowstone. "Absolutely not. It's an animal that requires a high degree of vigilance."

Critics say that in the push to delist, federal agencies have painted an overly rosy picture and that the numbers are suspect. Dr. Pease of the Vermont Law School thinks the reproductive rate is much less than what is claimed. But, he says, the interagency team has refused to release some of its research for other scientists to analyze. "There's every reason to mistrust them," he said.

A critical element in the Yellowstone grizzlies' future is that they are an island population, a remnant of a much larger one that once extended from the Pacific Ocean to the Midwest. While bears in Glacier are connected to much larger Canadian populations, bears in the Yellowstone area are, in terms of numbers and genetics, on their own. A disease could decimate the population.

The plan designates a 9,200-square-mile primary conservation area, more than a third of which is Yellowstone. The conservation area contains 90 percent of the bear population and would continue many of the same restrictions on livestock grazing, roads and other development that are currently in place. "The average bear won't see any difference" after delisting, Dr. Servheen said.

If bear numbers decline below a certain level or other threats emerge, Dr. Servheen said, there are plans to relist the bear in as little as two weeks.

The sooner bears are delisted, said Marcos Gonzalez, a ranch foreman at the Brown Thomas Meadows Ranch near the Valley School, the better. Mr. Gonzalez is worried about bears near the school that his 7-year-old daughter, Alejandra, attends. "You used to see them once in a while," he said. "Now it's everywhere, all the time."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

ENV: The worst of the worst of Katrina

Where Katrina hit like a tsunami
In Plaquemines Parish: 'It's worse down there, bad, bad, bad'
By Manuel Roig-Franzia, The Washington Post, Updated: 12:06 a.m. ET Sept. 21, 2005

DAVANT, La. - Directions to Davant are simple: "Go to the end of the world and turn left."

End-of-the-world Louisiana means going down, deep down, past New Orleans and its silent, flooded neighborhoods, through ruined St. Bernard Parish where the oil spilled after Hurricane Katrina, and down even deeper, down into the sinking marshes and bayous of Plaquemines Parish, where Creoles with lyricalFrench names talk matter-of-factly of walking the levee next to ghosts and spirits. Down to Davant.

Except now it's hard to say what is Davant and what isn't Davant. New Orleans filled up with water slowly. Davant was swept away fast, destroying the false sense of security that ever-taller levees gave to the place. Even in battered New Orleans, tones go hushed when conversations turn to Plaquemines (PLACK-uh-min), which takes its name from a Native American word for persimmon. "It's worse down there, bad, bad, bad," they say.

This is where Katrina acted like a tsunami, treating the big "ring levee" that comes to a looping end south of town—bent in the shape of a paper clip—as if it were a child's sand castle. The Mississippi River came roaring through here, frothy and white and mean, up over the levee on one side of town, and the salty marsh water broke through the levee on the other.

A place for answers?
Plaquemines is the place where the people who want to resurrect New Orleans, people such as President Bush, who has vowed "to build the levees higher" to protect the Crescent City, might look for lessons, and where people who love the marsh and build the levees want everyone to take note. It was the first line of defense thrown up by human beings against Katrina, and it buckled, unable to withstand a surge that cascaded through fraying marshes that in another era might have slowed the water.

"Plaquemines has been kind of out of the news," Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, said recently. "But clearly, it's an important area, it needs to be brought back up."

All that's left on some blocks in this town of 900, and some of the neighboring communities along the levee, are concrete stoops. That's it. Churches and stores simply vanished and a big chunk of the road that is so important to maintaining Louisiana's rich oil fields is washed away. Sturdy wood frame houses that survived when the wind got strong and the water got high in the past were ground into kindling, reduced to mere smudges of color on the sloping sides of the river levees.

The levee that failed to protect Davant is twice as tall now, local officials say, as it was when Hurricane Camille blasted through the parish in 1969. All that extra dirt and clay had a lulling effect, and the men and women who worked the oil fields out in the marsh, or plied the bayous for oysters, got to thinking Davant was a safe place.

"People felt pretty good with the levee 18, 19 feet high," said John Barthelemy, a parish councilman with droopy eyes and a quick smile. "They'd say, 'Now we have the levees. We don't have to worry about water. We'll just worry about wind.' "

Wind and legends, that is. The Creole boys and girls down here put as much faith in the tales of their grandmothers — their memeres — as they do in the Army Corps of Engineers. And the memeres said Plaquemines was fated for doom. As the legend goes, the people of lower Plaquemines took vengeance on a priest in the early 1800s, killing him after he was accused of committing a heinous crime. That act of vigilantism — passed from generation to generation in scary bedtime stories filled with werewolves called loups-garous and screaming "yi, yi, yi" spirits — came with consequences, the memeres warned.

"There was something about 'thou shalt not kill,' " Simon Duplessis, 70, said as he looked for pieces of his small private plane on the narrow strip of land that his ancestors have owned since 1820. "Dad said the place was cursed."

Certainly Plaquemines, which now has a population of about 29,000, has suffered. During the great Mississippi River flood of 1927, the wealthy men upstream in New Orleans decided to save their city by blowing up a downstream levee and flooding Plaquemines. For decades, the parish was a corrupt kingdom ruled in dictatorial fashion by Judge Leander Perez, an iconic segregationist whose blunt, inflammatory speeches in the 1950s and '60s made him a national figure in the Southern stand against integration.

The Plaquemines that Judge Perez ruled looks like a cursed place now. Cattle roam untended on deserted streets, and pecan trees — once tall and majestic — lie down in the fields, toppled and broken. The lush groves that produced satsumas, sweet oranges coveted each harvest season by Louisianians, have gone brittle and brown, burned crispy by 14 feet of salty water that came through a 200-foot-wide break in the marsh levee.

On the other side is wild Louisiana, part land, part water, a place that was vanishing even before Katrina, and that environmentalists are begging harder than ever for the federal government to restore. "As a child I always used to think, 'What's beyond this?'" said Duplessis, who remembers going for swims in the Mississippi with his father. "The ducks would fly off, and I would always wonder where in the world they would go."

This part of Plaquemines once had a boomtown feel to it. A railroad passed near the Duplessis home, to bring in supplies for the oil rigs and bring out rice and oranges and pecans. The country stores held Friday night dances and showed movies. But the marsh has been dropping steadily — it has grown more sickly over the years as the Mississippi was trapped in a man-made channel that prevented it from spreading silt. Each year it sinks up to an inch. The lower it goes, the worse the storm surges become, and the more inhospitable the place becomes, even with its bigger levees.

"The ones who are left are pretty much your die-hards," said Gina Meyer, a Plaquemines native who cruised over submerged neighborhoods in an airboat to grab people off rooftops.

Die-hards and, to hear the locals tell it, ghosts. Even Barthelemy, a feet-on-the-ground sort who commandeered school buses to evacuate residents before Katrina struck, talks about the spirits. On the night before the storm, Barthelemy says quite seriously, a good friend of his walked home with a whole pack of ghosts. Barthelemy asked him if he was scared, and the man replied, "What they gonna do? The dead can't hurt me."

Lynell Williams, born and raised in Plaquemines Parish, felt a sense of foreboding around the same time. She says she saw two lines of ghosts — "bright people," she noted, invoking a local colloquialism for whites — marching over the levee. The ghosts were getting out of Davant. That was all she needed to see. She left, too.

Williams, who has been trying to find her house, also can't find her church. Bethlehem African Judea Baptist was strong enough to stick around for 143 years, celebrating an anniversary on the weekend before Katrina arrived. Now the sturdy brick sanctuary has gone missing. All that remains is the sign out front, which seems to invite congregants to a 43rd-anniversary party. The "1" fell off.

"That Katrina, she really pitched a party," Williams said, shifting the blue kerchief on her head and wiping tears on the spot her church once stood. "We just in slow motion. I feel like I'm in a dream."

Up the road another house of worship, St. Thomas, is a skeleton, its windows and doors blown out, its brick frame chipped and scraped, but still standing. Meyer was baptized there, celebrated her First Communion there and was married there, following the same track that the faithful in Davant have gone down since they broke ground for the church in 1844. She'll pray there again, she says, even though it's hard to imagine anyone but the buzzards inhabiting this place for a long, long time.

Out back, there are people crying in the cemetery, walking slowly past headstones that commemorate the French and Creole families that made this place: the Fontenelles and Gravolets and Falgouts. No one should have to see what the weeping men and women in the burial ground are seeing, but they linger there, blinking their eyes, as if refocusing will bring some sense to what lies before them.

The aboveground sarcophagi, which performed so well in storm after storm for decade after decade, couldn't hold on anymore. The lids popped off more than a dozen, and some let their coffins go floating out. A delicately carved wooden casket lies in the middle of the main path, upside down. Mud cakes its sides. And the little white angel figurines that once looked to the heavens from each of the coffin's corners are now staring straight down.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

ENV: Intelligence in the Designing Phase

by PAUL RUDNICK, Shouts and Murmurs, The New Yorker, Issue of 2005-09-26, Posted 2005-09-19

Day No. 1:

And the Lord God said, “Let there be light,” and lo, there was light. But then the Lord God said, “Wait, what if I make it a sort of rosy, sunset-at-the-beach, filtered half-light, so that everything else I design will look younger?”

“I’m loving that,” said Buddha. “It’s new.”

“You should design a restaurant,” added Allah.

Day No. 2:

“Today,” the Lord God said, “let’s do land.” And lo, there was land.

“Well, it’s really not just land,” noted Vishnu. “You’ve got mountains and valleys and—is that lava?”

“It’s not a single statement,” said the Lord God. “I want it to say, ‘Yes, this is land, but it’s not afraid to ooze.’ ”

“It’s really a backdrop, a sort of blank canvas,” put in Apollo. “It’s, like, minimalism, only with scale.”

“But—brown?” Buddha asked.

“Brown with infinite variations,” said the Lord God. “Taupe, ochre, burnt umber—they’re called earth tones.”

“I wasn’t criticizing,” said Buddha. “I was just noticing.”

Day No. 3:

“Just to make everyone happy,” said the Lord God, “today I’m thinking oceans, for contrast.”

“It’s wet, it’s deep, yet it’s frothy; it’s design without dogma,” said Buddha, approvingly.

“Now, there’s movement,” agreed Allah. “It’s not just ‘Hi, I’m a planet—no splashing.’ ”

“But are those ice caps?” inquired Thor. “Is this a coherent vision, or a highball?”

“I can do ice caps if I want to,” sniffed the Lord God.

“It’s about a mood,” said the Angel Moroni, supportively.

“Thank you,” said the Lord God.

Day No. 4:

“One word,” said the Lord God. “Landscaping. But I want it to look natural, as if it all somehow just happened.”

“Do rain forests,” suggested a primitive tribal god, who was known only as a clicking noise.

“Rain forests here,” decreed the Lord God. “And deserts there. For a spa feeling.”

“Which is fresh, but let’s give it glow,” said Buddha. “Polished stones and bamboo, with a soothing trickle of something.”

“I know where you’re going,” said the Lord God. “But why am I seeing scented candles and a signature body wash?”

“Shut up,” said Buddha.

“You shut up,” said the Lord God.

“It’s all about the mix,” Allah declared in a calming voice. “Now let’s look at some swatches.”

Day No. 5:

“I’d like to design some creatures of the sea,” the Lord God said. “Sleek but not slick.”

“Yes, yes, and more yes—it’s a total gills moment,” said Apollo. “But what if you added wings?”

“Fussy,” whispered Buddha to Zeus. “Why not epaulets and a sash?”

“Legs,” said Allah. “Now let’s do legs.”

“Are we already doing dining-room tables?” asked the Lord God, confused.

“No, design some creatures with legs,” said Allah. So the Lord God, nodding, designed an ostrich.

“First draft,” everyone agreed, and so the Lord God designed an alligator.

“There’s gonna be a waiting list,” Zeus murmured appreciatively.

“Now do puppies!” pleaded Vishnu. “And kitties!”

“Ooooo!” all the gods cooed. Then, feeling a bit embarrassed, Zeus ventured, “Design something more practical, like a horse or a mule.”

“What about a koala?” asked the Lord God.

“Much better,” Zeus declared, cuddling the furry little animal. “I’m going to call him Buttons.”

Day No. 6:

“Today I’m really going out there,” said the Lord God. “And I know it won’t be popular at first, and you’re all gonna be saying, ‘Earth to Lord God,’ but in a few million years it’s going to be timeless. I’m going to design a man.”

And everyone looked upon the man that the Lord God designed.

“It has your eyes,” Zeus told the Lord God.

“Does it stack?” inquired Allah.

“It has a naïve, folk-artsy, I-made-it-myself vibe,” said Buddha. The Inca sun god, however, only scoffed. “Been there. Evolution,” he said. “It’s called a shaved monkey.”

“I like it,” protested Buddha. “But it can’t work a strapless dress.” Everyone agreed on this point, so the Lord God announced, “Well, what if I give it nice round breasts and lose the penis?”

“Yes,” the gods said immediately.

“Now it’s intelligent,” said Aphrodite.

“But what if I made it blond?” giggled the Lord God.

“And what if I made you a booming offscreen voice in a lot of bad movies?” asked Aphrodite.

Day No. 7:

“You know, I’m really feeling good about this whole intelligent-design deal,” said the Lord God. “But do you think that I could redo it, keeping the quality but making it at a price point we could all live with?”

“I’m not sure,” said Buddha. “You mean, what if you designed a really basic, no-frills planet? Like, do the man and the woman really need all those toes?”

“Hello!” said the Lord God. “Clean lines, no moving parts, functional but fun. Three bright, happy, wash ’n’ go colors.”

“Swedish meets Japanese, with maybe a Platinum Collector’s Edition for the geeks,” Buddha decided.

“Done,” said the Lord God. “Now let’s start thinking about Pluto. What if everything on Pluto was brushed aluminum?”

“You mean, let’s do Neptune again?” said Buddha.

ENV: Some Common Sense

Challenged by Creationists, Museums Answer Back
By CORNELIA DEAN, The New York Times, September 20, 2005

ITHACA, N.Y. - Lenore Durkee, a retired biology professor, was volunteering as a docent at the Museum of the Earth here when she was confronted by a group of seven or eight people, creationists eager to challenge the museum exhibitions on evolution.

They peppered Dr. Durkee with questions about everything from techniques for dating fossils to the second law of thermodynamics, their queries coming so thick and fast that she found it hard to reply.

After about 45 minutes, "I told them I needed to take a break," she recalled. "My mouth was dry."

That encounter and others like it provided the impetus for a training session here in August. Dr. Durkee and scores of other volunteers and staff members from the museum and elsewhere crowded into a meeting room to hear advice from the museum director, Warren D. Allmon, on ways to deal with visitors who reject settled precepts of science on religious grounds.

Similar efforts are under way or planned around the country as science museums and other institutions struggle to contend with challenges to the theory of evolution that they say are growing common and sometimes aggressive.

One company, called B.C. Tours "because we are biblically correct," even offers escorted visits to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. Participants hear creationists' explanations for the exhibitions.

So officials like Judy Diamond, curator of public programs at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln, are trying to meet such challenges head-on.

Dr. Diamond is working on evolution exhibitions financed by the National Science Foundation that will go on long-term display at six museums of natural history from Minnesota to Texas. The program includes training for docents and staff members.

"The goal is to understand the controversies, so that people are better able to handle them as they come up," she said. "Museums, as a field, have recognized we need to take a more proactive role in evolution education."

Dr. Allmon, who directs the Paleontological Research Institution, an affiliate of Cornell University, began the training session here in September with statistics from Gallup Polls: 54 percent of Americans do not believe that human beings evolved from earlier species, and although almost half believe that Darwin has been proved right, slightly more disagree.

"Just telling them they are wrong is not going to be effective," he said.

Instead, he told the volunteers that when they encounter religious fundamentalists they should emphasize that science museums live by the rules of science. They seek answers in nature to questions about nature, they look for explanations that can be tested by experiment and observation in the material world, and they understand that all scientific knowledge is provisional - capable of being overturned when better answers are discovered.

"Is it against all religion?" he asked. "No. But it is against some religions."

There is more than one type of creationist, he said: "thinking creationists who want to know answers, and they are willing to listen, even if they go away unconvinced" and "people who for whatever reason are here to bother you, to trap you, to bludgeon you."

Those were the type of people who confronted Dr. Durkee, a former biology professor at Grinnell College in Iowa. The encounter left her discouraged.

"It is no wonder that many biologists will simply refuse to debate creationists or I.D.ers," she said, using the abbreviation for intelligent design, a cousin of creationism. "It is as if they aren't listening."

Dr. Allmon says even trained scientists like Dr. Durkee can benefit from explicit advice about dealing with religious challenges to science exhibitions.

"There is an art, a script that is very, very helpful," he said.

A pamphlet handed out at the training session provides information on the scientific method, the theory of evolution and other basic information. It offers suggestions on replying to frequently raised challenges like "Is there lots of evidence against evolution?" (The answer begins, simply, "No.")

When talking to visitors about evolution, the pamphlet advises, "don't avoid using the word." Rehearse answers to frequently asked questions, because "you'll be more comfortable when you sound like you know what you're talking about."

Dr. Allmon told his audience to "be firm and clear, not defensive." The pamphlet says that if all else fails, and docents find themselves in an unpleasant confrontation, they excuse themselves by saying, "I have to go to the restroom."

Eugenie C. Scott, who directs the National Center for Science Education and is conducting training sessions for Dr. Diamond's program, said that within the last year or so efforts to train museum personnel and volunteers on evolution and related topics had substantially increased. "This seems to be a cottage industry now," Dr. Scott said.

Robert M. West, a paleontologist and former science museum director who is now a consultant to museums, said several institutions were intensifying the docents' training "so they are comfortable with the concepts, not just the material but the intellectual, philosophical background - and they know their administrations are going to support them if someone criticizes them."

At the Denver science museum, the staff and docents often encounter groups from B.C. Tours, which for 15 years has offered tours of the museum based on literal readings of the Bible. The group embraces young-earth creationism, the view that the earth and its plants, animals and people were created in a matter of days a few thousand years ago.

"We present both sides from an objective perspective and let the students decide for themselves," said Rusty Carter, an operator of the group.

Mr. Carter praised the museum, saying it had been "very professional and accommodating, even though they do not support us." A typical group might have 30 or 40 people, he added.

Kirk Johnson, a paleontologist who is the chief curator at the museum, was philosophical about the group. "It's interesting to walk along with them," he said.

Participants pay the admission fee and have as much right as anyone else to be in the museum, Dr. Johnson said, but sometimes "we have to restrain our docents from interacting with them."

John G. West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, whose researchers endorse intelligent design, said he was not aware of organized efforts to challenge museum exhibitions on evolution. He added, "It is not unheard of for museum exhibits to be wrong scientifically."

Dr. Scott, who trained as a physical anthropologist, said that in training docents she emphasized "how the public understands or misunderstands evolution and some of the misconceptions they come in with." She hopes to combat the idea that people must choose between science and faith - "that you are either a good Christian creationist or an evil atheist evolutionist."

"It's your job," she told docents, "not to slam the door in the face of a believer."

At the American Museum of Natural History, which is about to open what it describes as "the most in-depth exhibition ever" on Darwin and his work, curators and other staff members instruct volunteer "explainers" on the science behind its exhibitions, according to Stephen Reichl, a spokesman. If visitors challenge the presentations, the explainers are instructed to listen "and then explain the science and the evidence."

Sarah Fiorello, an environmental educator at the Finger Lakes State Parks Region who took part in the Ithaca training session in August, said she was now prepared to take the same approach. When she describes the region's geological history on tours of its gorges, visitors often object - as even a member of her family once did - that "it does not say that in the Bible."

Now, she said, she will tell them, "The landscape tells a story based on geological events, based on science."

Dr. Durkee also said she found the session helpful. "When you are in a museum, you can't antagonize people," she said. "Your job is to help them, to explain your point of view, but respect theirs.

"I like the idea of stressing that this is a science museum, and we deal with matters of science."

ENV: The Admin: Garbage in, garbage out . . . II

Rule Changes Are Proposed for Fisheries
By FELICITY BARRINGER, The New York Times, September 20, 2005

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 - The Bush administration on Monday proposed using market-based incentives to govern saltwater fishing in certain areas, a tradable ticket to fish designed to impose order in waters prone to overfishing.

Some environmental groups criticized the proposal, which would reauthorize the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens fisheries conservation act, saying the administration was backpedaling on existing protections against overfishing. The practice has long plagued some of the best-known fish stocks.

Under the Bush proposal, rights to the total allowable catch in an area would be divided among commercial interests. These rights could then be sold or traded among the businesses as long as the total limit was not exceeded.

The proposal would also replace regular assessments of fish populations with ones done at the discretion of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Susan Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the legislation provided "a hard deadline" to end clearly identified overfishing within two years.

In press releases and interviews, officials said the legislation would improve data collection and the science that underpins decisions on restricting access to a depleted fishery.

Ted Morton, the federal policy director at Oceana, an environmental group, said: "We're deeply disappointed in the bill. We think that the administration missed a golden opportunity to really improve our fishery management system and just took steps to significantly weaken key provisions of the law."

Mr. Morton added that "it looks like it allows fishery management councils to take more time to end the practices" that deplete fish stocks and "to stretch things out before any on-the-water action might occur."

Ms. Buchanan responded that environmental groups' analysis of the current law was flawed in that it incorrectly assumed that overfishing could be halted immediately. The new language, she said, would provide quicker cures for fisheries in trouble.

Steven A. Murawski, director of scientific programs for the national fisheries service, said 38 of 252 major stocks were depleted by overfishing. Among them, he said, were cod and yellow-tailed flounder in New England, red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico and rockfish on the Pacific coast.

"I accept the idea that people are saying two years is too long," Mr. Murawski said. "But in many stocks overfishing is chronic" and has not been stopped by the current requirements of periodic assessments.

John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, said a limited distribution of fishing rights would "allow fishermen to fish more safely and rationally."

It would end the "rush to fish" that has contributed to the depletion of some resources, Mr. Connelly said.

ENV: The House: Garbage in, garbage out . . . I

House Bill Would Limit U.S. Power to Protect Species
By FELICITY BARRINGER, The New York Times, September 20, 2005

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 - The chairman of the House committee overseeing natural resources introduced a bill Monday that would make it more difficult for the federal government to set aside land it deems crucial to the health of endangered species.

The proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act also increase the obligation of government agencies to tell landowners quickly if the law limits their development options, and to compensate them.

The measure, which drew quick denunciations from groups like Environmental Defense, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council, was proposed by the House Resources Committee chairman, Representative Richard W. Pombo, Republican of California. It was immediately put on a fast track, which is expected to bring it before the full House early next week.

In a news conference Monday, Mr. Pombo said his legislation "will put the focus on recovery where it should be and will eliminate a lot of the conflicts we have had with private property owners."

The proposal was markedly different from draft legislation circulated earlier this summer, which put even greater restrictions on federal agencies that enforce the law, and which would have automatically taken the law off the books in 2015. The new measure abandons the latter goal but creates new hurdles for federal agencies - chiefly the Fish and Wildlife Service - as they take actions to protect species.

The Endangered Species Act has been a flashpoint for landowners, property-rights advocates and state and local governments, most in the West, who see its provisions as onerous and costly, and chafe at the ability of people not directly involved in a dispute to sue the federal government to ensure compliance with the law.

At the same time, the law is credited with preventing the extinction of hundreds of species of insects, plants and animals in the past quarter-century, though only a handful of the more than 1,200 listed species have recovered sufficiently to be removed from the list.

Mr. Pombo's first effort to rewrite the law, in the mid 1990's, failed. Since becoming chairman of the committee, he had made this goal a priority.

An important part of the legislation is a provision that allows the Interior Department, the parent agency of the Fish and Wildlife Service, to provide "conservation grants" to property owners who are deemed to be helping conserve an endangered species. The legislation also requires that property owners be paid "fair market value" if, in the view of federal biologists, their development plans would violate the law.

The purpose of the compensation would be "to alleviate the burden of conservation measure imposed on" landowners who forgo their plans in order to help a species' survive.

Chuck Cushman, the executive director American Land Rights Association, praised this approach, saying: "We're getting away from the command-and-control penalty concept. More landowners will feel free to help species and not feel that they're going to lose their land.

Right now, Mr. Cushman added, "there's a fair amount of shoot, shovel and shut up going on," by landowners who would rather break the law and kill an endangered animal than risk facing land-use restrictions.

But Michael Bean, who heads the wildlife protection program at Environmental Defense and was an early proponent of working with landowners, criticized the new measure as a "big step backwards for endangered species conservation." He faulted a new requirement that federal scientists provide, within 90 days, an answer to any landowner's question about whether a planned activity would run afoul of the act by harming an endangered species.

Under the new law, if the government has not answered within 90 days, the landowner can proceed with the plans. Mr. Bean said "there's potentially no limit to the sorts of requests that could be made of" federal biologists "by businesses seeking to develop, build, cut trees."

The Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, he added, have traditionally been stretched in trying to meet deadlines in the existing law and have frequently failed to do so.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

COM: On the MIC's sleight of tongue

Black Leaders Say Storm Forced Bush to Confront Issues of Race and Poverty
By ELISABETH BUMILLER and ANNE E. KORNBLUT, The New York Times, September 18, 2005

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 - Hurricane Katrina has forced President Bush to confront the issues of race and poverty in a way that has shaken his presidency and altered his priorities, African-American leaders of both parties said this week.

One of the most striking developments, they said, was that while Mr. Bush still calls himself a "compassionate conservative" who sees the problems of blacks as largely economic, in the last three days he embraced civil rights language from the 1960's about "the legacy of inequality" and pledged billions of dollars to rebuild one of the poorest urban areas in America.

Many black leaders, who have newfound political leverage at the White House in the wake of the storm, cautiously applauded. But they said Mr. Bush's promises of help on housing, education, taxes and job training in two speeches - a prime-time address in New Orleans on Thursday night and remarks at a day of remembrance for storm victims at Washington's National Cathedral on Friday - were only the beginning.

"Katrina has posed a challenge to the White House and the country regarding the great divide, which is race and class in America," said the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, the president of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, a coalition that represents primarily black churches. "It's a challenge and an opportunity which can be won or lost, and ultimately it is the decision of the White House as to which way it goes."

Leaders like Mr. Rivers, a Democrat and a supporter of Mr. Bush, said the White House still had serious repair work to do among blacks after the images of the desperate and dying victims of the hurricane so shocked the nation and the world. A major first step, they said, was to include blacks in the millions of dollars in contracts to rebuild New Orleans.

"President Bush needs to ensure that we do not see racial divisions reproduced in the reconstruction effort as white millionaires get richer," Mr. Rivers said.

T. D. Jakes, the black television evangelist who delivered the sermon before Mr. Bush's speech at the National Cathedral, issued a similar warning. "I do think that African-Americans are waiting to see what this administration is going to do about this crisis," Bishop Jakes said Friday. "If the appropriate actions are taken in an expeditious, competent way, I think then our community will re-evaluate our opinions of this administration."

But Mr. Bush, who specifically noted in his speech that the federal government's rebuilding effort would include loans to minority-owned businesses, has already drawn criticism for his administration's decision to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act, the law that requires employers to pay the local prevailing wage to construction workers on federally financed projects.

The White House rationale for the decision, announced Thursday, was not only to reduce the cost to taxpayers for the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, estimated at as much as $200 billion, but to open up the bidding to minority-owned businesses that have not historically contracted with the federal government.

That explanation did not satisfy critics of Mr. Bush like the Rev. Jesse Jackson. "It's a hurricane for the poor and a windfall for the rich," Mr. Jackson said after the president's speech in New Orleans. Mr. Jackson likened the structure for assistance to the region, federal financial aid managed under local control in the states, to the post-Reconstruction era that allowed segregation to take hold in the South.

At the very least, black leaders said, Hurricane Katrina set back the long-term plans of Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, and Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, to bring more blacks, a longtime Democratic constituency, into the Republican fold.

Before the hurricane, their plan appeared to be working on the margins: Mr. Bush received 9 percent of the black vote in 2000 and 11 percent in 2004, an increase that Republicans attribute in part to their courting of conservative black religious leaders like Bishop Jakes and money sent to black churches and charities through a White House religion-based initiative.

Republican political strategists point out that many middle-class blacks have views on social and economic issues that are consistent with those of Republicans, even if blacks as a group have traditionally voted for Democrats.

"The fact is, there are millions of African-Americans who are conservative, who are with the Republican Party on a number of issues, and agree with us that the path to prosperity is a path based on opportunity and ownership and empowerment," Mr. Mehlman said.

Like other supporters of Mr. Bush, Mr. Mehlman said he was outraged by the charges of racism at the White House, which increased after the president's mother, Barbara Bush, said in a radio interview that many of the people she had seen while touring a Houston relocation site were faring better than before the storm hit. "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them," Mrs. Bush said.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, distanced Mr. Bush from his mother's comment by calling it a "personal observation," while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the administration's most prominent African-American, vehemently rejected any suggestion that Mr. Bush would discriminate on the basis of race.

"I find it very strange to think that people would think that the president of the United States would sit deciding who ought to be helped on the basis of color, most especially this president," Ms. Rice said in an interview at The New York Times on Monday. "What evidence is there that this is the case? Why would you say such a thing?"

Some African Americans say that, remarkably, the hurricane has had the effect of pushing Mr. Bush to propose such sweeping Great Society-type programs - the president called on Thursday for an Urban Homesteading Act to provide free land for low-income storm victims - that conservative members of his own party are in an uproar about the expense. Until now, Mr. Bush's chief poverty program was the No Child Left Behind Act, an education initiative that is meant to largely benefit disadvantaged minority students.

"We've all known that there are these big pockets of isolated deprivation and disadvantage in the country," said John DiIulio, the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. "Everybody seems to have taken their crack at it, but certain aspects of the poverty problem are stubborn. The reality is, having everybody wake up to the problem is a good thing. I know it's fashionable in Washington to see differences, but I've always felt there's a lot more goodwill and a lot more possibility for statesmanship. This crisis I think is going to bring that out."

Whatever happens, both blacks and whites said, the hurricane has defined Mr. Bush's second term, for better or worse.

"There are usually two ways that presidents do important things," said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian. "One is that they see an urgent need, and they bring it before the public and address it. Other times it's an incident that changes the country, and changes the presidency."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

ENV: More fun from Big Designer . . .

Tongue-eating bug found in fish

A gross creature which gobbles up a fish's tongue and then replaces it with its own body has been found in Britain for the first time.

The bug - which has the scientific name Cymothoa exigua - was discovered inside the mouth of a red snapper bought from a London fishmonger.

The 3.5cm creature had grabbed onto the fish's tongue and slowly ate away at it until only a stub was left.

It then latched onto the stub and became the fish's "replacement tongue".

Scientists are very excited by the find.

Dr Jim Brock of the Horniman Museum in south London told Metro newspaper: "I have not seen this species in all my 13 years at the museum so it's a remarkable find."

The bugs are usually found off the coast of California, so it's possible the fish was imported to the UK.

Freaked out
But don't be too freaked out - scientists say the creature does not pose any threat to humans and only attaches itself to fish tongues.

COM: At best this is just plain creepy

Special report
The beauty products from the skin of executed Chinese prisoners
· Cosmetics firm targets UK market ·
Lack of regulation puts users at risk
Ian Cobain and Adam Luck, Tuesday September 13, 2005, The Guardian

A Chinese cosmetics company is using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe, an investigation by the Guardian has discovered.

Agents for the firm have told would-be customers it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments from skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot. The agents say some of the company's products have been exported to the UK, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is "traditional" and nothing to "make such a big fuss about".

With European regulations to control cosmetic treatments such as collagen not expected for several years, doctors and politicians say the discovery highlights the dangers faced by the increasing number of Britons seeking to improve their looks. Apart from the ethical concerns, there is also the potential risk of infection.

MPs on the Commons select health committee are to examine the regulatory system and may launch an investigation and question ministers about the need for immediate new controls. "I am sure that the committee will want to look at this," said Kevin Barron, its Labour chairman. "This is something everyone in society will be very concerned about."

Plastic surgeons are also concerned about the delay in introducing regulations to control the cosmetic treatments industry. Norman Waterhouse, a former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said: "I am surprised that we are taking the lead from the European commission, because this is bound to delay action on this important area which is increasingly a matter for concern. It seems like a bit of a cop out to me."

It is unclear whether any of the "aesthetic fillers" such as collagen available in the UK or on the internet are supplied by the company, which cannot be identified for legal reasons. It is also unclear whether collagen made from prisoners' skin is in the research stage or is in production. However, the Guardian has learned that the company has exported collagen products to the UK in the past. An agent told customers it had also exported to the US and European countries, and that it was trying to develop fillers using tissue from aborted foetuses.

When formally approached by the Guardian, the agent denied the company was using skin harvested from executed prisoners. However, he had already admitted it was doing precisely this during a number of conversations with a researcher posing as a Hong Kong businessman. The Press Complaints Commission's code of practice permits subterfuge if there is no other means of investigating a matter of public interest.

The agent told the researcher: "A lot of the research is still carried out in the traditional manner using skin from the executed prisoner and aborted foetus." This material, he said, was being bought from "bio tech" companies based in the northern province of Heilongjiang, and was being developed elsewhere in China.

He suggested that the use of skin and other tissues harvested from executed prisoners was not uncommon. "In China it is considered very normal and I was very shocked that western countries can make such a big fuss about this," he said. Speaking from his office in northern China, he added: "The government has put some pressure on all the medical facilities to keep this type of work in low profile."

The agent said his company exported to the west via Hong Kong."We are still in the early days of selling these products, and clients from abroad are quite surprised that China can manufacture the same human collagen for less than 5% of what it costs in the west." Skin from prisoners used to be even less expensive, he said. "Nowadays there is a certain fee that has to be paid to the court."

The agent's admission comes after an inquiry into the cosmetic surgery industry in Britain, commissioned by the Department of Health, pointed to the need for new regulations controlling collagen treatments. Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, has highlighted the inquiry's concerns about the use of cadavers for cosmetic treatments. "Cosmetic procedures are a rapidly growing area of private health care," he said. "We must ensure we properly protect patients' safety by improving the training and regulation."

The DoH has agreed to the inquiry's recommendations, but is waiting for the European commission to draw up proposals for laws governing cosmetic products. It could be several years before this legislation takes force.

Meanwhile, cosmetic treatments, including those with with aesthetic fillers, are growing rapidly in popularity, with around 150,000 injections or implants administered each year in the UK. Lip enhancement treatments are one of the most popular, costing an average of £170.

Some fillers are made from cattle or pig tissue, and others from humans. The DoH believes that there may be a risk of transmission of blood-borne viruses and even vCJD from collagen containing human tissue. Although there is as yet no evidence that this has happened, the inquiry found that some collagen injections had triggered inflammatory reactions causing permanent discomfort, scarring and disfigurement. In their report, the inquiry team said that if there was a risk, "action should be taken to protect patient safety through regulation".

While new regulations are to be drawn up, the department is currently powerless to regulate most human-tissue fillers intended for injection or implant, as they occupy a legal grey area. Most products are not governed by regulations controlling medical products, as they are not classified as medicines. They also escape cosmetics regulations, which only apply to substances used on the surface of the skin and not those injected beneath it. The Healthcare Commission is planning new regulations for cosmetic surgery clinics next year, but these will not control the substances used by plastic surgeons.

A number of plastic surgeons have told the Guardian that they have been hearing rumours about the use of tissue harvested from executed prisoners for several years.

Peter Butler, a consultant plastic surgeon and government adviser, said there had been rumours that Chinese surgeons had performed hand transplants using hands from executed prisoners. One transplant centre was believed to be adjacent to an execution ground. "I can see the utility of it, as they have access and no ethical objection," he said. "The main concern would be infective risk."

Andrew Lee of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who has visited China to examine transplant techniques, said he had heard similar rumours.

Manufacturers of aesthetic fillers said they had seen Chinese collagen products on sale at trade fairs, but had not seen any labelled Chinese-made in the UK. Dan Cohen, whose US-based company, Inamed, produces collagen products, said: "We have come across Chinese products in the market place. But most products from China are being sold 'off-label' or are being imported illegally."

In China, authorities deny that prisoners' body parts are harvested without their consent. However, there is some evidence to suggest it may be happening.

In June 2001, Wang Guoqi, a Chinese former military physician, told US congressmen he had worked at execution grounds helping surgeons to harvest the organs of more than 100 executed prisoners, without prior consent. The surgeons used converted vans parked near the execution grounds to begin dissecting the bodies, he told the house international relations committee's human rights panel.

Skin was said to be highly valued for the treatment of burn victims, and Dr Wang said that in 1995 he skinned a shot convict's body while the man's heart was still beating. Dr Wang, who was seeking asylum in the US, also alleged that corneas and other body tissue were removed for transplant, and said his hospital, the Tianjin paramilitary police general brigade hospital, sold body parts for profit.

Human rights activists in China have repeatedly claimed that organs have been harvested from the corpses of executed prisoners and sold to surgeons offering transplants to fee-paying foreigners.

Dr Wang's allegations infuriated the Chinese authorities, and in a rare move officials publicly denounced him as a liar. The government said organs were transplanted from executed prisoners only if they and their family gave consent.

Although the exact number of people facing the death penalty in China is an official secret, Amnesty International believes around 3,400 were executed last year, with a further 6,000 on death row.

What is it?
Collagen is a major structural protein found in abundance in skin, bones, tendons and other connective tissue. Matted sheets of collagen give skin its toughness and by winding into molecular "cables", it adds strength to tendons.

What is it used for?
Collagen injections are used in cosmetic surgery to plump up lips and flatten out wrinkles. After botox, collagen injections are the second-most popular cosmetic operations in Britain. Collagen does not have a permanent effect and several injections are often needed.

What else is it good for?
Collagen was being put to good use as far back as the stone age. Neolithic cave dwellers around the Dead Sea are believed to have used it as a primitive form of glue some 8,000 years ago. More recently, researchers have developed a form that can be poured or injected into wounds to seal them.

Where does it come from?
A number of sources. Some companies extract it from cow skin and treat it to minimise the risk of allergic reactions or infection. Others collect it from human donors or extract cells from the patient before growing the necessary amount in a laboratory.

Is it safe?
Collagen can cause allergic reactions if it has not been treated correctly, and there is a theoretical risk of disease being passed on. A small amount of collagen is often injected into the skin a few weeks before treatment to test for possible allergic reactions. Earlier this year, Sir Liam Donaldson warned that collagen injections could spread conditions such as hepatitis and variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease.

COM: Can't get any more bizarre or funny

bad funny that is . . . [update, this is apparently a hoax article on a regular news site . . .]

Lesbian is New Orleans native

Hollywood – Pat Robertson on Sunday said that Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of expressing its anger at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for its selection of Ellen Degeneres to host this year’s Emmy Awards. “By choosing an avowed lesbian for this national event, these Hollywood elites have clearly invited God’s wrath,” Robertson said on “The 700 Club” on Sunday. “Is it any surprise that the Almighty chose to strike at Miss Degeneres’ hometown?”

Robertson also noted that the last time Degeneres hosted the Emmys, in 2001, the September 11 terrorism attacks took place shortly before the ceremony.

“This is the second time in a row that God has invoked a disaster shortly before lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosted the Emmy Awards,” Robertson explained to his approximately one million viewers. “America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation.”

Robertson added that other tragedies of the past several years can be linked to Degeneres’ growing national prominence. September, 2003, for example, is both the month that her talk show debuted and when insurgents first gained a foothold in Iraq following the successful March invasion. “Now we know why things took a turn for the worse,” he explained.

In order to avoid further tragedy, Robertson called not only for the Television Academy to find a new heterosexual host, but to bar all homosexuals and bisexuals from taking part in the ceremony.

He said employees at the Christian Broadcasting Network had put together a list of 283 nominees, presenters, and invited guests at the Emmys known to be of sexually deviant persuasions.

“God already allows one awards show to promote the homosexual agenda,” Robertson declared. “But clearly He will not tolerate such sinful behavior to spread beyond the Tonys.”

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

MSC: Songs for the Big Easy

This Song Goes Out to You, Big Easy
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN, The New York Times, September 7, 2005

When Nick Spitzer heard the order for everyone to evacuate New Orleans two Sundays ago, he left his wife and children long enough to drive to his radio studio in the city's French Quarter. There he grabbed several family snapshots, his Rolodex and the master recording of the next episode of his weekly show, "American Routes." Then, on impulse, he reached for a copy of the Fats Domino song "Walking to New Orleans."

As he headed back home, Mr. Spitzer saw the exodus. From the black neighborhoods of the Ninth Ward, all the way across Elysian Fields Avenue, and from the unimproved fringes of the French Quarter, people were pushing laundry carts and lugging suitcases, trudging toward the Superdome. Mr. Spitzer had a passing thought of Pompeii.

By the time he was driving his family from New Orleans toward a friend's house in the Cajun country safely west of the city, Mr. Spitzer was already choosing songs from the pile of CD's in his Nissan, trying to make sense of the inconceivable. He played "The Rivers of Babylon" by the Melodians, with its Old Testament resonance, and he played Louis Armstrong asking, "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?"

What it has meant to Mr. Spitzer is the necessity to bear witness to his city's suffering and resilience through the art of radio. For hundreds of thousands of listeners of about 225 public radio stations and XM Satellite Radio, Mr. Spitzer and "American Routes" have served since 1997 as the voice of New Orleans, right down to the theme music by Professor Longhair. Now, working with a patchwork staff from a borrowed studio in Lafayette, La., Mr. Spitzer is assembling this weekend's show, titled "After the Storm." (In the New York area, the show is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday at 5 p.m. on WFUV-FM, 90.7. A list of other stations is at "I wanted it to be music of reflection and solace and also hope," Mr. Spitzer said in a telephone interview on Sunday, "an attempt to put some balm on this."

A native New Yorker, Mr. Spitzer, 54, has lived in New Orleans or Cajun country for 30 years, combining his training as a folklorist with his genre-jumping taste in music to develop "American Routes." In a typical week's show, he will explore a particular theme through songs and oral histories he has gathered.

This weekend's show, while typical in form, was to reflect epochal times. Having left New Orleans on the assumption that he would be able to return in three or four days, Mr. Spitzer, along with the rest of the city's displaced residents, has watched and been forced to reckon with the spectacle of flood, fire, rescue, rampage and death.

"This is a natural and cultural disaster," he said. "Maybe America's biggest cultural disaster - in the sense of the loss of New Orleans's cultural stuff, the loss of the communities there that interact and the lack of will to move as quickly as if these houses being flooded were on the coast of Kennebunkport. And even for those of us who got out, there's this grinding uncertainty of whether we'll ever get back and ever live the same again."

Separated from his library of music and interviews, Mr. Spitzer was welcomed by KRVS, a public radio station in Lafayette that broadcasts in English, Creole and Cajun French. He hired a local cultural historian who is also the host of a show on KRVS, Ryan Brasseau, to find music and research previous natural disasters, from the devastating Mississippi River flood of 1927 to Hurricane Betsy in 1965. One of Mr. Spitzer's assistant producers, Jason Rhein, who had fled to relatives in Natchez, Miss., drove down to Lafayette. For his oral-history segment, Mr. Spitzer interviewed Dave Spizale, the station manager of KRVS, who described piloting his boat into New Orleans as part of a rescue flotilla of private vessels.

The most significant work, though, involved Mr. Spitzer's memory and aesthetic. For historical sweep, he chose "Louisiana 1927" by Randy Newman, and "When the Levee Breaks," by Memphis Minnie. For outrage, he selected Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" and Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come." For perseverance, he used the Fats Domino song he had grabbed on his way out of the Quarter.

And for that mixture of mourning and pluck characteristic of New Orleans's jazz funerals, he turned to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band for "The Lost Souls (of Southern Louisiana)" and to the Louis Armstrong elegy he had listened to in the car during his escape.

"There's a line in there that basically says, there's someone I miss even more than I miss New Orleans," Mr. Spitzer said, "meaning that New Orleans is more than the city, the region, the place. It's the personal relations. In another context, it could be schmaltzy. But when I hear that line now, the way it mingles the individual and the cultural, I just start to cry."

LIT: Outside S.E. Hinton

An Outsider, Out of the Shadows
By DINITIA SMITH, The New York Times, September 7, 2005

TULSA, Okla., Aug. 31 - The mystery of S. E. Hinton begins with her genderless name. Her most famous book, "The Outsiders," about teenage gangs and alienated youth in Tulsa during the 1960's, transformed young-adult fiction from a genre mostly about prom queens, football players and high school crushes to one that portrayed a darker, truer adolescent world. Since it was published in 1967, the novel has sold 14 million copies, 400,000 of them last year alone.

Yet the jacket covers of all her novels over the years, including "That Was Then, This Is Now" (1971), "Rumble Fish" (1975) and "Tex" (1979), have never included author photographs, and she has rarely spoken publicly or in interviews. In fact, some readers don't know that S. E. is a woman, Susan Eloise. Those who do, know mostly the basic facts: that she published "The Outsiders" when she was 17, that she lives in Tulsa and has shown horses. That's pretty much it.

Now Ms. Hinton has allowed her carefully preserved secrecy to be penetrated for the release of a recut version of Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 film of "The Outsiders" on DVD, on Sept. 20 by Warner Home Video. The film will have a limited theatrical run nationally and is opening in New York on Sept. 9.

It's as if Ms. Hinton's image, of a teenage girl who is somehow an authority on teenage life, has been caught in a time warp. But in reality, she's now a sturdy homemaker, either 54 or 56, though she won't give her exact age. She speaks in a gritty Oklahoman accent, and has lived almost all her life in Tulsa, where she is married to David Inhofe, a software engineer. They have a son, Nick, 22, at college back East.

Ms. Hinton won't show a reporter her house, which she described as a red brick ranch, with a pool - in an affluent neighborhood. And she won't show the home where she grew up, either, in a poorer section. "I don't want to revisit it," she said curtly.

But she did acknowledge that she grew up in a working-class neighborhood of worn houses on Tulsa's North Side. She attended Will Rogers High School, where students were divided into groups, including Greasers from blue-collar families or Socs (pronounced SO-shes, from social), rich kids whose families benefited from Tulsa's oil money and wore wheat jeans and madras and drove Mustangs. Along with Anita Bryant, she is one of the school's most famous graduates.

"The Outsiders" is steeped in that world. Ponyboy, an orphaned Greaser (played in the film by C. Thomas Howell), lives with his two brothers, Sodapop (Rob Lowe) and Darry, the oldest (Patrick Swayze).

"There's layers after layers after layers" of memories, Ms. Hinton said, as she drove past the Admiral Twin drive-in on East Easton Street, where the Greasers flirt with the Soc Girl, Cherry (Diane Lane), to the fury of her Soc boyfriend, Bob. "It just freaks me out."

And here is the park, on Jasper Street, where in the film Bob nearly drowns Ponyboy, and Johnny (Ralph Macchio) stabs Bob to death.

Ms. Hinton's, father, Grady, was a door-to-door salesman, her mother, Lillian, an assembly-line worker. "My mother was physically and emotionally abusive," Ms. Hinton said. "My father was an extremely cold man."

It's clearly a difficult admission to make, and one she has almost never made. The family attended a "fundamentalist, hellfire and brimstone" church, she said. "It turned me off religion."

Ms. Hinton said she was a tomboy, happiest at her grandmother's farm, where her aunt had a horse. She longed for her own horse, and escaped into reading and writing books. (She wrote two unpublished books before "The Outsiders.") "When I was writing she'd come into my room, grab my hair and throw me in front of the TV," Ms. Hinton said of her mother. "She'd say, 'You're part of this family - now act like it.' I hate TV now."

Once her mother threw her manuscripts in the trash burner, but allowed her to rescue them.

"I would tell myself, 'It'll get better,' " Ms. Hinton said. " 'Hang on.' "

When she was 15, her father developed a brain tumor. As he was dying, she wrote "The Outsiders," inspired, she said, by injustices perpetrated against her Greaser friends by the Socs.

A friend knew someone whose mother was a children's book writer, and Ms. Hinton sent her manuscript to her agent. It was bought by Viking for $1,000. She gradually made money and bought her first horse. Then came writer's block and an intense depression. She met Mr. Inhofe in her freshman biology class at the University of Tulsa, and she said he helped her to write again.

With each succeeding novel, her fame grew, fueled by movie adaptations, though she insisted on protecting her privacy.

"The Outsiders" featured young actors on the brink of fame, among them Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise and Emilio Estevez. Mr. Dillon also starred in the movies of "Tex," directed by Tim Hunter, and "Rumble Fish," also directed by Mr. Coppola.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Coppola said he recut "The Outsiders" to be truer to the book, and retitled the new version "The Outsiders: The Complete Novel."

In the original film, Mr. Coppola went quickly to the main action at the drive-in, but he has restored an early scene in which the Greaser characters are introduced one by one as they are set upon by Socs. "Very often the solution is to get to the second reel fast," he said.

Mr. Coppola also restored a scene in which Sodapop comforts his brother, Ponyboy, in bed. It was cut because, though innocent, early audiences snickered.

He replaced some of the symphonic music composed by his father, Carmine Coppola, who died in 1991, with songs by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Van Morrison and others. "I realized the Hollywood score was holding back the film," Mr. Coppola said. "I had my father's feelings to consider." He did keep "Stay Gold," the theme song inspired by Robert Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" and written by Carmine Coppola and Stevie Wonder - and sung by Mr. Wonder.

Still, "The Outsiders" has an anachronistic feel, an all-white story about teenagers reflecting the segregated Tulsa of the time. Ms. Hinton said that it hasn't hurt the book's continuing popularity because "today black and minority kids identify with the Greasers" as outsiders. There is, she suggested, a universality in being an adolescent outsider. "My goal from being a child was to have a happy home life," she said. "My husband and I get along great." Their families are in Tulsa, old friends. "We're both introverts and it's hard to make new friends." She has her weekly writing group, and says she rereads Jane Austen annually. For years, she showed hunters. Now she rides trails on her registered paint horse, Sage.

Last year, tired of teenage fiction, Ms. Hinton published her first adult novel, "Hawkes Harbor," about an orphan raised by nuns who encounters pirates, gun runners and sharks while at sea, and is protected by a vampire. Publishers Weekly praised it as "funny, scary, suspenseful." But The Washington Post called it "a rambling episodic mess." Ms. Hinton attributed the bad reviews to the fact that readers were not expecting a vampire book.

Ms. Hinton said she was fascinated by the paranormal. Her new novel, in progress, is a comedic suspense story about a man who escapes from Oklahoma. He goes to Los Angeles, makes "a ton of money" and "returns to his hometown to see his family," she said. "As soon as he gets there, weird things happen."

There are strange lights. A black panther is sighted.

"I just make it up as it happens," Ms. Hinton said in her flinty voice.