Thursday, January 31, 2008

Louis J Sheehan Esquire 30219 bio

Some so-called fish stories turn out to be the real thing. In February, New Zealand fishermen plying the waters of the Ross Sea near Antarctica hauled up a real live sea monster in the very act of devouring an Antarctic toothfish.

The creature was a colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni)—yes, bigger than a merely giant squid: It weighed in at nearly half a ton and measured an estimated 33 feet. “This is the largest squid ever seen,” says Steve O’Shea, a marine biologist at the Auckland University of Technology. “But there’s no way we’ve got the maximum specimen.”

Remains in the stomach of a sperm whale caught in 1925 were the first evidence of colossal squid, which are believed to inhabit the deep, freezing-cold waters around Antarctica. Sperm whales sometimes bear deep scars that may be the result of violent tussles with the razor-sharp hook rings of the squids’ tentacles.

When they more closely examine this recent catch, O’Shea says, they will be able to determine its sex and age, which should provide a better idea of how large the elusive squid can grow. O’Shea says he’s excited by the squid carcass but would rather observe one in the wild: “I want to see it alive more than anything.”

Humpback whales migrate farther than any other mammal, say researchers who tracked them along their more than 5,000-mile route. But why do they go so far? Although some believe the humpbacks do it to avoid killer whales, these scientists conclude that water temperature alone is what guides them.

Researchers at the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Washington, tracked seven whales—which they recognized by the markings on their tail flukes—from their summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic Ocean to their winter breeding grounds off the Pacific coast of Central America. They also determined sea surface temperatures at similar breeding grounds all over the world, using satellite readings from the National Oceanographic Data Center.

The researchers found that humpbacks reproduce only in warm waters, 70 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of latitude. Coastal upwelling in the Southern Hemisphere results in cool waters as far north as the equator in the Pacific, driving the whales all the way to Panama and Costa Rica for the southern winter.
The long journey, contrary to expectations, may actually end up conserving energy. Calves born in these warm waters, where they feed exclusively by nursing, can put their energy into growing rather than into keeping warm. This could make for larger adults that have more offspring.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,” Robert Frost wrote when moved by the sight of a contemporary forest. But a coal mine in Illinois has revealed woods that, if not lovelier, are certainly darker and deeper—and a good bit older.

“You can walk in a single direction for a long distance, through this bizarre Lord of the Rings, cathedral-like thing,” says Scott Elrick, a geologist with the Illinois State Geological Survey, who studied the 300-million-year-old fossilized forest. “As you look up, you see gray flat shale, impressions on that shale, or entire trees, or tree stumps. . . . It’s the worm’s-eye view. You’re looking up at what the forest floor used to look like.”

The fossil ceiling, held up by 6-foot-high, 80-foot-wide pillars of coal, goes on for 4 square miles. No other known preserved forest comes close in size. And thanks to tidal rhythms, the mud deposited on top of this forest is layered, so years can be counted as with the rings of a tree. The 15 feet of sediment that blankets the fossils was laid down in four months—instantaneously in geologic time. The mine runs along a fault line, leading Elrick to surmise that an earthquake dropped one side of the fault and caused flooding. Because the subsequent influx of sediment was “not a catastrophic tsunami thing but more of a slow-motion event, all the small itty-bitty plants are in place.”

The slow pace at which that mud flowed in preserved an incredible diversity of flora. “We had lycopod trees 6 feet wide and 100 feet long, ground cover things, sphagnum moss, delicate little ferns next to these big, huge, honking trees. It’s crazy—we haven’t seen anything like this before,” Elrick says. At the moment, no one else is likely to see it either: The mine, now empty of coal, is closed.

When staffers from the New York State Museum dug out two massive fossils from a Catskills quarry, they solved a 130-year-old mystery. The fossils—a frond-encircled treetop and a long, slender trunk—have also forced scientists to redraw their mid-Devonian (about 385 million years ago) landscapes to include tall trees.

The mystery was the identity of the Gilboa stumps—swollen tree-stump fossils discovered in the 1870s in the same New York county and named for the nearby town. Distinctive ridges at the base of the latest trunk fossil matched those on the old Gilboa stumps. Named Wattieza, the tree resembles modern-day palms and has usurped the conifer-like Archaeopteris as Earth’s oldest tree by some 25 million years, as reported last April in the journal Nature.

Given their abundance, the Gilboa stumps have long been thought to represent some kind of forest, an evolutionary first. Scientists imagined they were big, but not that big, says William Stein, paleobotanist at Binghamton University in upstate New York. At 26 feet, the fossilized trunk was three times taller than any known plant from the period. “We all have to be amazed with the scale of these things,” Stein says.
Size has not been the only surprise. The type of plant it was—more tree fern than conifer—forces a major rethinking of “how modern-scale forests actually came into being,” says Stein. “Here we have a plant that’s big and it’s producing a ton of [leaf] litter.” Dominant plants like Wattieza set the tone for an ecosystem during the Devonian period, which is when Earth’s modern ecology was formed, Stein says. “Wherever the plants go, the animals follow.”

In early 2006, Goldman's private-equity arm invested 125 billion yen ($1.17 billion) in Sanyo Electric Co., of Osaka. Goldman, which made the investment with two Japanese financial institutions, thought it was clear what Sanyo needed to do: focus on strong areas such as rechargeable batteries and solar panels while selling weaker units and noncore assets.

The turnaround has been painfully slow. Sanyo's founding Iue family and the new investors clashed, according to people familiar with the situation. The family resisted selling many of Sanyo's far-flung businesses -- ranging from home appliances to a nursing home -- and has since been ousted.

Sanyo's situation deteriorated further last month. On Christmas Day, the company announced it had restated its earnings for six fiscal years.

The revised earnings, which followed an investigation by Japanese authorities, showed Sanyo had posted big losses at the parent level in fiscal 2000 and 2001, rather than the profits it had reported. The Tokyo Stock Exchange placed Sanyo on review for a possible delisting, though analysts say the company will likely keep its status. Since Goldman and its partners made their investment, Sanyo's stock has tumbled 57%.

A Sanyo spokesman says the company is committed to its restructuring and is confident its accounting issues are in the past.

A spokeswoman for Goldman declined to comment.

Sanyo's slow rehabilitation and sliding stock price demonstrate how difficult it is to reinvent Japanese companies. Many observers thought Sanyo was an obvious choice for restructuring and that Goldman would navigate the turnaround nimbly. Challenges like those at Sanyo have discouraged the broader investing community and helped push the Nikkei Stock Average of 225 companies to its lowest level in more than two years.

"If you're thinking of big Anglo-Saxon restructurings with plant closures and swapping of assets, it doesn't often happen," says Jonathan Allum, a strategist at investment bank KBC Financial Products. "There's change, but it's slower and it takes longer."

To be sure, Goldman and its partners, Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., aren't about to lose money. The preferred shares they hold eventually will convert into common stock at an effective cost of 70 yen a share.

Based on Monday's close of 122 yen, the investors would earn about 75% on their money. The shares are eligible for conversion, but the investors have indicated they won't convert them soon.

Goldman's Strategy

Goldman doesn't plan to sell until it feels the restructuring has been a success, according to people familiar with the bank's thinking. The New York investment-banking powerhouse wants the deal -- its biggest in Japan since it put $1.3 billion into Sumitomo Mitsui, a banking group that is part of the investment syndicate, in 2003 -- to help attract other Japanese candidates for rehabilitation, a business that is increasingly active.

Like other Japanese electronics makers, Sanyo's problems stem from being in too many businesses. While the Goldman-led investors hoped Sanyo would sell some of those, the company's management has resisted. In particular, it wants to maintain a strong presence in household appliances such as washing machines -- which compete against low-cost rivals in Asia -- as well as in the crowded consumer-electronics space, where it also is seeing sales shrink. While the company's refrigerators and air conditioners, among other products, have strong brand awareness in much of the world, they don't make a profit in some of the countries they operate in, according to people familiar with the situation.

The company also is hard to manage. Many of its units have operated almost independently for a long time. The original management wanted the units to have that freedom so they could adapt flexibly to changes in the economy and the market.

That has made it difficult to keep track of all their operations, which exacerbated the company's accounting difficulties, according to people familiar with the company.

Still, the restructuring is making some progress. Sanyo has sold its stake in a liquid-crystal-display joint venture, though it abandoned advanced talks to sell a semiconductor-chip unit. Last week, the company also signed an agreement to sell its mobile-phone making business to Kyocera Corp. The price is expected to be about 40 billion yen.

In March, the investors forced out the Iue family. The new president, a Sanyo veteran named Seiichiro Sano, has the support of the investor group.

In November, Sanyo announced a three-year plan that focuses on three main businesses -- energy, electronics and appliances. The energy business will house Sanyo's two most promising technologies -- batteries and solar panels -- and is expected to drive the company's growth.

On Friday, the company said it will reorganize its reporting lines to give executives at the headquarters direct responsibility for key divisions.

Sanyo has seen smart growth in its battery business, which is expected to expand amid growing demand from everyone from MP3 makers to hybrid automobile makers. Battery revenue rose 16% to 230.4 billion yen -- more than 20% of the company's total sales -- in the fiscal first half. In that period, the business generated 92% of Sanyo's 24 billion yen in operating profit, a measure of how much money a business earns before accounting and tax charges.

And Sanyo has returned to profitability. The company posted a consolidated net profit of 16 billion yen in those six months, up from a 3.6 billion yen loss a year earlier. It also raised its forecast for full-year operating profit.

Sanyo has said it wants to double its operating profit to 100 billion yen by March 2011, a goal analysts say is realistic.

Still, analysts worry that a brief burst of strength doesn't necessarily mean the company will enter a period of sustainable growth.

"It will take time before Sanyo enters a growth phase," Kota Ezawa, an analyst at Nikko Citigroup Ltd., wrote in a recent report.
Let's get one thing straight: I'm much too young for a hearing aid.

I wouldn't even consider it if the people I live and work with would only speak louder and more clearly. But they mumble, and they mock me, and words I've misunderstood are the fodder for family jokes. (Seriously, doesn't 'Wikipedia' sound a lot like 'Wake up, Edie'?)
A hearing aid from Widex is so tiny, it's virtually invisible. Pictured is the Inteo model.

That's why I've been testing a "personal communication assistant" -- one of those sleek mini hearing aids that sits behind the ear, with just a thin, clear tube extending into the ear canal. It's virtually invisible, and a far cry from the old kind that looked like a wad of Silly Putty.

These discreet, high-tech models are tailor-made for baby boomers like me who are starting to lose hearing, but are otherwise at the top of our game. And our ranks are set to explode, thanks to demographics and loud music. The industry estimates that the number of Americans with hearing loss will double, to 60 million, by 2030.

The industry also says that, on average, people wait seven years after they first suspect a hearing problem to do something about it. I'm right on schedule.
My first test, in 2001, showed only mild hearing loss. It's slightly worse now, and just in the high frequencies, which carry a lot of speech, particularly consonants and word endings. Those are often the first to go when the tiny hairs in the inner ear deteriorate -- "like when your toothbrush needs replacing," explains Manhattan otolaryngologist Sarah Stackpole. She says many people with such mild loss find hearing aids more irritating than helpful. But I'm determined to give it a try.

To start, Jake Marsden, an audiologist at AudioHelp Associates, fits me with a top-of-the-line Inteo model, made by Widex of Long Island City, N.Y., just in my left ear. It's tiny -- one inch long and half-inch wide -- but the price isn't. It's $3,200 per ear. Hearing aids generally aren't covered by insurance, or Medicare. Medicaid covers only the most basic kind, which this decidedly is not.

Mr. Marsden programs the Inteo via computer to amplify the exact frequencies I need. Its "integrated signal processor" will take it from there, automatically adjusting to maximize voices and minimize background noise, he explains. He leaves me with a few instructions: Don't wear it in the shower. Take it off at night, and remove the battery so it lasts longer. And, he says, "Don't expect miracles."

Day 1. Whoa -- my left ear is now bionic. I can hear sandwiches being unwrapped and zippers being zipped across the newsroom. Voices come in loud and clear. I feel more alert than I have in years. And no one would know I was wearing this thing -- if I didn't show it off to everyone I see.

Day 2. I must be getting used to it. I'm no longer hearing sandwiches, but eavesdropping is fun and effortless. It's like having an Extendable Ear from the Harry Potter books. That night at a noisy restaurant, though, it's still hard to understand my family across the table. The directional microphone is supposed to home in on the closest conversation. But I could have sworn my daughter said "Boston" not "pasta."

Day 3. I discover another downside -- talking on the telephone. Voices sound tinny and far away when I hold the receiver to my left ear, with the Inteo behind it. With the receiver to my right ear, sounds I don't want to hear are being amplified in my left. "Hearing aids and telephones are not friends," says Mr. Marsden, who suggests holding the receiver farther away or wearing the Inteo selectively in the office. I do that for the rest of the week, beginning to wonder if it's worth it.

Day 6. I wear the Inteo on and off over the weekend. On for the TV, and it's nice not to have to crank up the volume. Off for the gym, since it's incompatible with earbuds. On for the movie theater, though it's still hard to understand the dialogue in "Sweeney Todd." My family votes in favor of the Inteo. "We don't make fun of you nearly as much when you're wearing it," my husband says helpfully.

Day 8. Back in the office, all the chatter around me is actually distracting. When there's a lull, I hear faint scratching sounds. Mice in the floor boards?

Mr. Marsden says he can adjust the programming to minimize such sounds. My bigger concern is the cost. If my own hearing were worse, the trade-off would be different. But for now, $3,200 seems like too much to pay, out of pocket, to imperfectly correct my mild loss. As I give it back at the end of the trial period, Mr. Marsden says there are less expensive models, though they are also less sophisticated.

Walking away, I miss the Inteo already. Did he say "your sister ate it..."?

Six months ago, when Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign was left for dead at the side of the road to the White House, he seemed to have perished because he was in the wrong place on two important issues: Iraq and immigration.

Today, as Republican voters go to the polls in Florida to determine whether Sen. McCain has become the clear favorite to win the Republican nomination, it is worth considering how things have turned around. On Iraq, the about-face is easy to explain: Things got better on the ground there, and Sen. McCain's support for the war and a new strategy for fighting it now looks more like wisdom than stubbornness.

But what about immigration? There, the answer is more subtle. In fact, immigration is a case study in how changing circumstances can alter the way a hot issue plays in a campaign. Sen. McCain was in trouble because his support for immigration reform, including a guest-worker program and a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants, appeared out of step with a Republican base that had turned hostile to the immigration overhaul.

Now a combination of factors -- the disappearance of the issue from Washington's legislative agenda; Sen. McCain's own quiet shift in posture; the rise of other concerns -- have helped damp the fires of anger on immigration. Today's vote will show how those forces have worked in Hispanic-heavy Florida, and Sen. McCain's foes may yet choose to turn up the heat on the immigration debate as they try to overtake him. But for now it appears that immigration, while a burning question for some Republicans, isn't the top issue for most of them. (See article on the Democratic bid for Florida's Hispanics).

Immigration erupted as a problem for Sen. McCain last spring, when Congress began debating -- for the third time -- a comprehensive plan urged by President Bush. It would have combined new border-security measures with steps to bring immigrant workers out of the shadows.

The legislation included both a guest-worker program and a plan to allow those working in the U.S. illegally to register, pay a fine and become legally documented workers. The idea was to get more control over the more than 10 million illegal immigrants already here, and to lessen the pressure for more illegal immigration.

Sen. McCain, from the border state of Arizona, supported the legislation. But to a vocal group of critics within his party, it amounted to giving "amnesty" to those in the U.S. illegally. At a Republican debate the first week of June, Sen. McCain was pilloried by his foes for backing the bill.

Sen. McCain's candidacy got a reprieve on June 7, when the legislation collapsed on the Senate floor and died for the year. That meant Washington stopped forcing the issue into the spotlight. "Every time you bring it up, it's just like throwing gasoline on the fire," says Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a McCain supporter who found that support for immigration reform was one of the factors that undercut his own presidential bid. "By the third time we brought it up, people were flaming mad. Now it's not being brought up and nothing happened."

The death of the bill also allowed Sen. McCain to subtly alter his position without actually reversing it. Now when asked about immigration, he replies with a border-security-first formulation, as he did Sunday on NBC TV's "Meet the Press." The lesson he drew from the debate last year, he said, is that Americans "want the border secured first, and I would do that." Only then, he added, would he move on to other reforms.

Immigration still could be a land mine on Sen. McCain's route to the White House, of course. It remains a potential problem for him in some key states, especially California.

It's also clear, though, that if Sen. McCain can survive those tests and win the nomination, his more nuanced position on immigration would be an asset, rather than a liability, in a general election. That's when Republicans will desperately need to win back some Hispanic voters turned off by the tenor of the immigration debate.

The other McCain advantage is the emerging evidence that immigration isn't quite the leading issue it once seemed. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, illegal immigration ranked fourth among issues cited by voters overall, and third among Republicans, behind the economy and terrorism. "There are people who talk about it and are angry about it, but when you get down to it, it's not the No. 1 for very many voters," says Frank Donatelli, a longtime Republican activist and a McCain backer.

The lingering problem for Sen. McCain is California, where anything resembling a soft-on-immigration image could be a problem with Republicans who vote in the state's Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primary. "The issue of illegal immigration is of great concern to California, and has been historically," says Bill Jones, chairman of the McCain campaign in California. Thus, he stresses the new McCain formulation: "The senator's position is: Secure the border first."

More intriguing is the possibility that Sen. McCain's profile on immigration might become an asset if he wins the nomination. Here are the statistics that should concern Republicans: More than 18 million Hispanics are eligible to vote in the U.S., and a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center late last year showed them leaning Democratic by a 57%-to-23% margin. The Republican goal this year, says Kenneth Duberstein, former White House chief of staff under President Reagan, ought to be to build a new "Reagan coalition" that broadens the party beyond its traditional base to just such groups as Hispanics. Could John McCain's record of being more open on immigration help there?

Biologist Craig Venter and his team replicated a bacterium's genetic structure entirely from laboratory chemicals, moving one step closer to creating the world's first living artificial organism.

The scientists assembled the synthetic genome by stringing together chemicals that are the building blocks of DNA. The synthetic genome was constructed so it included all the genes that would be found in a naturally occurring bacterium.

The research was published in the online version of the journal Science by a team of scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md. The authors include Hamilton Smith, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1978.

"It's the second significant step of a three-step process to create a synthetic organism," said Dr. Venter, in a conference call with reporters. The final step could prove far trickier, though Dr. Venter defied his critics and deciphered the human genome with startling speed about eight years ago.

The larger quest is to make artificial life forms with a minimum set of genes necessary for life. It is hoped that such organisms could one day be engineered to perform commercial tasks, such as absorbing carbon dioxide from the air or churning out biofuels.

The scientific challenge of creating synthetic life isn't trivial, nor are the ethical and legal concerns. There is little government oversight, and researchers involved in such experiments regulate themselves. Detractors worry that the lack of safeguards increases the risks that a potentially dangerous man-made organism might run amok. (In creating the artificial genome of Mycoplasma, Dr. Venter's team disrupted the genes that would enable it to infect other organisms.)

Nonetheless, the science is pushing forward at a rapid pace. In June, a Venter-led team published details of an experiment in which it inserted the DNA of one species of bacteria into the cells of another bacteria species. That process almost magically "booted up" the genome of the donor bacteria, sparking it to life.

The team hopes to use a similar trick to boot up the artificially created genome, to create a man-made living organism. But, Dr. Venter said, "there are multiple barriers" to achieving that goal.

Dr. Venter now believes that the challenge of creating a synthetic organism is within his grasp. "I'll be...disappointed if we can't do it in 2008," he said.

David Colby was one of corporate America's most admired executives before he was abruptly fired last spring for what was vaguely described at the time as misconduct of a "non-business nature." Now details about his personal life are spilling out, and it's clear he was more than just Wall Street's darling.

In a cluster of lawsuits, the former chief financial officer of health insurance giant WellPoint Inc. is depicted as a corporate Casanova — a world-class, love-'em-and-leave-'em sort of guy who romanced dozens of women around the country simultaneously, made them extravagant promises and then went back on his word with all the compassion of a health insurance company denying a claim.

One woman says Colby got her pregnant and harangued her via text message ("ABORT!!") to terminate the pregnancy. He also allegedly gave some of his girlfriends sexually transmitted diseases, and proposed to at least 12 women since 2005.

The allegations are contained in lawsuits filed before and after Colby's departure by three women who say they were ill-used by the businessman.

Colby and his attorneys have refused to comment, though in court papers he has disputed some of the allegations, and one of the lawsuits was thrown out a few months ago by a judge who found insufficient grounds for legal action.

By all accounts, the 54-year-old Colby — a pudgy, bespectacled figure with salt-and-pepper hair — charmed attractive women by showering them with compliments and gifts. While at least one of his accusers was a WellPoint underling, it appears he met many of the other women outside of work, via online dating sites, and he has not been accused of workplace sexual harassment.

"I'm not surprised that there are women who would come forward with the same story, because that appears to be Dave's modus operandi," said Mark Hathaway, a lawyer for two of the women who sued. "We've been contacted by a number of women."

His ouster is the latest, and perhaps the most lurid, in a string of cases in which corporate chieftains were bounced for alleged misbehavior outside the boardroom.

Last year, HBO's chief executive was forced out after being charged with throttling his girlfriend. Before that, a Boeing CEO lost his job after admitting to an affair with a female underling.

"There's no question companies are much more sensitive to ethical conduct on the part of their executives," W. Michael Hoffman, executive director for the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., said after Colby's ouster.

It was Colby who helped put together the $16.4 billion deal that created Indianapolis-based WellPoint in 2004. He was named best CFO in managed care for four years in a row by Institutional Investor magazine. Stockholders and Wall Street professionals saw the Columbia University graduate as someone who "gave it to you straight," said stock analyst Thomas Carroll.

"He would give you the good news along with the bad news," Carroll said. "If he said something, you could really hang your hat on it."

After the company passed him over for its CEO last February, it gave Colby thousands of stock options to stick around. But three months later, to Wall Street's surprise, he was out. All WellPoint has ever said was that he was ousted over a nonbusiness violation of the company code of conduct.

Days before Colby was fired, a California woman, Rita DiCarlo, sued him for possession of a $4.4 million house in exclusive Lake Sherwood, Calif., that she said he had promised her. (He has denied making such a promise.)

Exactly what his marital status was at the time of some of the alleged romances is unclear, but as of last month, he was going through a divorce from wife No. 2.

Some of the allegations of his philandering began surfacing in the months after his ouster, but the extent of his alleged womanizing and the details of how he supposedly wooed his girlfriends are only now coming out.

DiCarlo and the other women suing him tell similar stories of aggressive courtship, big promises and broken hearts.

They say that Colby was carrying on with more than 30 women in the last half of 2007 alone and that he would tell them all the time them how beautiful they were or how much he loved them. "You forever!" read one text message, included in court files. "I chose you! Goodnight!" another message read.

Colby would supplement such declarations with gifts such as jewelry or trips, the women say. DiCarlo says in court papers that he gave her $100,000 "to make me feel more secure" three days after she found out he wasn't divorced.

Another lawsuit was filed last month by Elizabeth Cook, a Los Angeles woman who met Colby in 2006 at a function for a California school their children attended.

A single mother with two children, she says in court papers that she dodged his initial advances but relented under a bombardment of calls, texts and e-mails, many of them containing sexually explicit propositions.

She says she soon broke her lease at his urging, with plans to move into his Lake Sherwood home. She says she stopped searching for ways to afford the brain surgery her severely epileptic 6-year-old son needed after Colby promised to pay. Then, she says, she got pregnant, and the text messages abruptly changed tone.

"ABORT!!" Colby allegedly told her in flurry of text messages included in the lawsuit. "Get rid of it. Have an abortion and we can be together."

(Her attorney would not comment on the case. According to court papers, Cook was still pregnant as of Dec. 31.)

Cook accuses Colby of infecting her and other women with STDs, including herpes and chlamydia. She also accuses him of breach of contract over the surgery she says he never paid for. She never moved into the multimillion-dollar home — which DiCarlo still occupies.

As for DiCarlo, she says that she met Colby through and that he proposed the first time they met in person. An engagement announcement for the couple ran in The Indianapolis Star in February 2006. But the two never wed. DiCarlo says she discovered he was living a "secret life," with multiple fiancees.

She also accuses him of stopping payment on her health insurance even though she had a kidney removed for donation last fall.

Another woman, Sarah Waugh of Ventura County, Calif., sued Colby last June, accusing him of causing her emotional distress and exposing her to sexually transmitted diseases by sleeping with others.

Waugh says her relationship with Colby started with office shoulder rubs and offers for dinner in 2001 when she was a 22-year-old employee and he a 48-year-old married executive at California's WellPoint Health Networks Inc. Waugh says Colby promised monthly support and private school for the children of his many other girlfriends.

Late last year, U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner threw out the lawsuit.

"Although Colby's conduct may be ungallant, it simply does not rise to the level of being `utterly intolerable in a civilized community,'" Klausner wrote, referring to Waugh's claim of emotional distress.

Still, Hollywood producer Larry Garrison thinks there's an audience for the lurid stories. Garrison, president of SilverCreek Entertainment, said he plans to put together a book and movie deal.

At WellPoint, Colby was paid more than $700,000 in salary and received a $1.1 million bonus in 2006. He left with a severance payment of $666,190 and later bought a $4.7 million home in Scottsdale, Ariz. His Indianapolis home, which he shared with a woman who identified herself as Angela Colby, is on the market for $1.6 million.

A former neighbor, Chad Christensen, said the couple were "very nice people, very down to earth and open." He also recalled an awkward moment at a neighborhood picnic last summer, a few months after Colby's romantic entanglements first became public.

A magician who was entertaining children asked the kids to reach into a bag and pull out some scarves. Then he turned to Colby.

"David reaches in and what he pulls out is some panties," Christensen said. "I'm just thinking, `How uncomfortable does he feel right now?'"


Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, can be regarded as the "pope," or at least the symbol of unity, of Orthodox Christianity. The denomination's 300 million or so adherents make it the second-largest body of Christians in the world, after Roman Catholicism. The 67-year-old Bartholomew also represents one of Christianity's most ancient branches as the latest in a line of 270 archbishops of his city -- modern Istanbul -- that traces itself back to the apostle St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter, in a part of the world where the Christian faith has existed since New Testament times.

In December 2006, Bartholomew, patriarch since 1991, was thrust under the world-wide media spotlight when he celebrated the Orthodox Divine Liturgy with Pope Benedict XVI. The two met in the tiny Church of St. George in the equally tiny patriarchal compound in Istanbul, all that remains of an Eastern Christian civilization on the Bosporus so glistening and powerful that for more than 1,500 years Constantinople called itself the "new Rome."

Now Bartholomew has a forthcoming book, in English, "Encountering the Mystery: Perennial Values of the Orthodox Church" (Random House). It purports to be a primer to Orthodoxy, with short chapters on ritual, theology, icons and so forth. What it really is, perhaps inadvertently, is a telling glimpse into the mindset of a church that, venerable and spiritually appealing though it may be, is in a state of crisis. And the book reveals the jarringly secular-sounding ideological positions its leader seemingly feels compelled to take in order to cultivate the sympathy of a Western European political order that is at best indifferent to Christianity.

The Orthodox community, rooted mostly in Russia and Eastern Europe, is in "apparently irreversible demographic decline," as religious historian Philip Jenkins wrote in 2006, thanks to falling birthrates, cultural secularization, turf battles between the various ethnically focused Orthodox churches, and past communist ravages. The historic Christian communities in the Islamic-dominated world -- some Orthodox -- have fared even worse, their numbers reduced as members frantically immigrate to the West under pressure from terrorism, persecution and religious discrimination. The historic fate of Christianity in Islamic-majority lands has been cultural annihilation, whether gradual over the centuries or, as in recent decades, swift.

Nowhere does the plight of Christians look so pitiful as in Turkey, nominally secular but 99% Muslim. At the turn of the 20th century, some 500,000 Orthodox Christians, mostly ethnic Greeks, lived in Constantinople, where they constituted half the city's residents, and millions more resided elsewhere in what is now Turkey. Today, Bartholomew has only about 4,000 mostly elderly fellow believers (2,000 in Istanbul) left in Turkey's 71 million-plus population. The quasi-militaristic regime of Kemal Ataturk that supplanted the Ottoman Empire during the 1920s forcibly Westernized the country's institutions but also made Islam an essential component of the Turkish national identity that it relentlessly promoted.

"Kemalist ideology regarded Christianity as Greek and thus foreign," says Greek Orthodox writer Joshua TreviƱo. The result was a series of official and unofficial ethnic cleansings, population transfers, massacres and pogroms in Turkey, such as the wholesale destruction of Orthodox churches in 1955. The murders of a Catholic priest in 2006 and of an Armenian Christian journalist and three evangelicals, two of whom were Turkish converts, in 2007, together with threats and assaults against other Christian clergy by ultra-nationalists and Islamic militants, indicate that such anti-Christian animus is far from dead. Furthermore, the current government refuses to allow the reopening of Turkey's sole Greek Orthodox seminary, closed in 1971, which means that there have been no replacements for Turkey's aging Orthodox priests and -- since Turkish law requires the patriarch to be a Turkish citizen -- no likely replacement for Bartholomew himself, whose death may well mean the extinction of his 2,000-year-old see.

Nonetheless, Bartholomew devotes the bulk of his book to anything but the mortal threat to his own religion in his own country. High on his list of favorite topics, most with only a tangential relationship to Orthodoxy, is the environment. He has won the nickname "the Green Patriarch" for the decade or so he has preached the ecological gospel, largely to liberal secular audiences in the West. "Encountering the Mystery" is in large part a collection of eco-friendly platitudes about global warming ("At stake is not just our ability to live in a sustainable way but our very survival") and globalization, adorned with a bit of theological window-dressing, that today's secular progressives love to read.

Regarding globalization, Bartholomew cannot decide whether global capitalism is bad ("there are losers as well as winners") or good ("We must learn, therefore, both to think and to act in a global manner"). Plus, we must "transcend all racial competition and national rivalry," "promote a peaceful resolution of disagreements about how to live in this world," and yadda, yadda, yadda. Islam comes into play in the book only in terms of another bromide: a call for "interfaith dialogue."

On first reading, this exercise in fiddling while the new Rome burns seems pathetic, presenting a picture of a church leader so intimidated by his country's Islamic majority that he cannot speak up for his dwindling flock even as its members are murdered at his doorstep. Bartholomew's book presents an eerie mirror image of the concerns of aging, culturally exhausted, post-Christian Western Europe, happy to blather on at conferences about carbon emissions and diversity but unwilling to confront its own demographic crisis in the face of youthful, rapidly growing and culturally antagonistic Muslim populations. The suicide of the West meets the homicide of the East.

On the other hand, Bartholomew's "green" crusade across Western Europe may actually represent a shrewd last-ditch effort to secure a visible profile and powerful protectors for his beleaguered church. The patriarch has been an incessant lobbyist for Turkey's admission to the European Union, and his hope has been that the EU will condition Turkey's entry on greater religious freedoms for all faiths.

"The EU are secularists," says the Rev. Alexander Karloutsos, an administrator for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, based in New York. "They won't do anything out of religious reasons, but they will do it out of secular reasons if they can be persuaded that what's best for Europe is to have a Muslim state that's pro-Western in values, such as freedom of religion." The bureaucrats of Brussels may care little about Christianity, but they care deeply about global warming and multiculturalism, and on those issues Bartholomew has carved out common ground.

Orthodox Christianity is not dead yet. Its famous monastery on Mount Athos in Greece has enjoyed new growth recently, and in America some Orthodox churches are drawing converts attracted by the glorious liturgy and ancient traditions. It is unfortunate that Orthodoxy's spiritual leader feels compelled to position the Orthodox with a Western Europe that is, in fact, spiritually dead.

Florida's big push to slash homeowner insurance premiums, a major issue in a state hurt by a sinking real estate market, has turned to bust in the face of stiff opposition from the powerful property-insurance industry.

"It certainly didn't pan out," said Bob Milligan, the state's consumer insurance advocate.

"At best we've seen kind of a reduction in the increases, not really decreases from what they were prior to 2006," Milligan said in an interview.

He was referring to the huge increases many homeowners have seen since eight hurricanes crisscrossed Florida in 2004 and 2005, when insurers paid out about $35 billion in insured losses in the state.

Prodded by Gov. Charlie Crist, who has had several insurers subpoenaed over rate issues after campaigning aggressively last year on a promise to fix the insurance problem, state lawmakers have enacted a sweeping package of property insurance reforms.

Among other measures, they doubled the size of Florida's state hurricane catastrophe fund to $32 billion and authorized state-controlled Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to compete directly with private insurers.

Through the catastrophe fund, lawmakers also agreed to provide state-subsidized reinsurance -- backup coverage for property -- to insurers on the understanding that savings would be passed on to their customers.

Though expected to result in a statewide cut in homeowners' insurance premiums averaging 24 percent, Bob Hunter, insurance director at the Consumer Federation of America, said the new laws were now seen cutting rates only about 12 percent.

"It's the big national companies that are balking," Hunter told Reuters, saying they had failed to pass on reinsurance savings to consumers despite record profits in recent years.

One such company is Allstate Floridian Insurance, a unit of Allstate Corp, the nation's largest publicly traded insurer, which recently filed to raise homeowner rates in Florida by nearly 42 percent.

Allstate Floridian spokesman Adam Shores said the increase, partly prompted by a decision to buy additional reinsurance on the private market, was in line with harsh economic realities and the costs associated with catastrophic risk.

"We fully recognize that this is a difficult time for a lot of Floridians; people are hurting; and they're experiencing a lot of high costs with property insurance, property tax, things of that nature. But we need to be in a position of financial strength to protect customers when a major catastrophe strikes, like we know it will," Shores said.

"There have been a lot of promises that have been made by the political leaders in Tallahassee about where rates would be and what those rates would look like," he added. "The promise that we have made, and the promise that we will continue to stand by, is to be there for our customers when it comes time to pay their claims."

Crist, a Republican, is still pressing for relief in a state saddled with what industry insiders rate as the second- or third-highest priced homeowner's insurance of any state in the country. He appeared to win at least a partial victory last week when State Farm agreed to cut its property insurance rates in Florida by an additional 2 percent, on top of the 7 percent cut it implemented earlier this year.

State Farm, one of three companies hit with subpoenas by officials probing high insurance costs, has also agreed to cooperate with authorities on further investigations into potential collusion between insurers, trade associations and rating organizations aimed at preventing homeowner premiums from going down.

Since more dramatic rate cuts have failed to materialize so far, however, many Floridians say they back a measure proposed by two of the state's Democrats, who recently submitted a bill in Congress calling for the creation of a federal catastrophe fund where states could pool their risks against future storm damage.

"The citizens of Florida are really fed up," said Teri Johnston, who heads a grass-roots organization known as Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe that has pushed for insurance cuts in the Florida Keys.

"They're very frustrated and angry right now," said Johnston, who noted that skyrocketing premiums have been driving residents out of a place once considered a sun-drenched, tropical paradise at a rate of about 17 people a day.

Like other homeowners in southernmost Key West, Johnston said she currently pays more than $1,000 a month to insure her 1,200-square-foot house there.

"It's something that's supported by a number of important insurers," Bob Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade association, said when asked about a federal catastrophe fund.

"I think the issue is getting somewhat more traction and interest in Congress," he added. "As we move along I think we'll hear more about this."

Patients with multiple clogged arteries are better off getting bypass surgery than stents, a study found.

The analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, isn't likely to settle the dispute between cardiac surgeons, who perform bypasses, and the interventional cardiologists who implant stents. But it gives further ammunition to those who argue that stents -- metal scaffolds that keep arteries propped open -- are overused.

Both procedures fall under the umbrella of revascularization -- attempts to relieve chest pain by opening up arteries clogged by heart disease. In the most severe cases, revascularization has also been shown to reduce heart attacks and deaths.

The study looked at the newest kind of stents, those coated with drugs to keep arteries open, made by Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific Corp. in the U.S. Previous studies saw similar results with older, bare stents.

In stenting, introduced in the 1990s, doctors thread a stent up through a small incision in the leg, widening clogged arteries instead of replacing them. A patient can be back at work the next day. A bypass requires open-heart surgery and has patients laid up for weeks.

As a result, bypass surgeons have been left to treat only the most severe cases of heart disease. The number of bypass surgeries has declined and bottomed out recently at about 300,000 procedures in the U.S. last year, according to Millennium Research Group. That compares to about a million stentings. The average cost of a multivessel bypass surgery and office follow-up visits over two years was put at about $28,000 in one study, versus about $20,000 for multivessel stenting.

But patients who opt for stenting may be paying a price down the road. In this week's study, doctors at the University at Albany looked at patients who received a stent or bypass in New York state in 2003 and 2004, comparing subsequent rates of death and heart attacks. The actual death rates between the competing procedures didn't differ. But after adjusting for risk factors -- bypass patients were sicker to start out -- the study found substantial differences.

After adjustments, New Yorkers with two clogged arteries who received a bypass had a 29% lower death rate over the next 18 months than those who received stents. Three-quarters of such patients had opted for stenting. For the sickest patients -- those with three clogged arteries -- surgery yielded a 20% lower death rate. Two-thirds of those patients received surgery.

Donald Baim, Boston Scientific's chief scientist, said the fact that the differences in death rates arose only after statistical adjustment is cause for skepticism. The company has funded a study that will assign patients randomly to stenting or surgery, eliminating the need for such adjustments. "People are voting with their feet that they would rather have the less-invasive procedure," Dr. Baim said.

You wouldn't expect to learn much about the properties of water by watching a square dance. But think again. Following the caller's lead, the dancers meet, separate, weave, and swing in a perfectly fluid manner.

It turns out that similar coordinated maneuvers—with water molecules taking the places of the dancers—may be responsible for some of water's most puzzling features, an array of recent research findings suggest.

As liquids go, water is a radical nonconformist—differing from other liquids in dozens of ways (see the latest count at Most famous among water's peculiarities is its density at low temperatures. While other liquids contract and get denser as they cool toward their freezing points, water stops contracting and starts to expand. That's why ice floats and frozen pipes burst.

Confining water molecules in nanometer-size pores has provided new evidence that, in addition to its many other oddities, H2O may exist in two distinct liquid phases at ultralow temperatures.
Nicolle Rager Fuller

Water gets even weirder at colder temperatures, where it can exist as a liquid in a supercooled state well below its ordinary freezing point. Recent evidence suggests that supercooled water splits its personality into two distinct phases—another oddity unseen in other liquids. And last year, water surprised scientists yet again, when they found that at –63 degrees Celsius, supercooled water's weird behavior returns to "normal."

That discovery, scientists say, may help explain some aspects of water's peculiar personality, such as its ability to transition from gas to liquid to solid and back to liquid again. Findings from related experiments have important implications for understanding how water interacts with biological molecules, such as proteins, and may lead to better ways of freezing and storing biological tissues such as sperm and human oocytes.

Water's ability to exist in a liquid state well below its freezing point has been studied for centuries. What's new, scientists say, is growing evidence about what happens to water at superlow temperatures. Under these extraordinary conditions, there is not just one kind of water, but two.

This two-phase phenomenon was first predicted in 1992 by physicist H. Eugene Stanley of Boston University and his graduate student Peter Poole, now at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Using computer simulations to study the behavior of liquid water at very low temperatures, the scientists suggested that water could exist as either a high-density liquid or as a low-density liquid.

Stanley and Poole also proposed that the dividing line between these two liquid forms might end in a "critical point," where the two liquids would become indistinguishable, changing from one form to the other.

In a series of experiments in recent years, scientists have begun to close in on this critical point. These advances offer a glimpse of possible explanations for water's unusual behaviors, and suggest that Stanley and Poole may have been on to something.

Some of water's odd properties have traditionally been explained as consequences of the hydrogen bonds that form between water molecules (and sometimes other molecules). Each V-shaped molecule of water contains one oxygen atom centered between two hydrogen atoms. The chemical bonds holding the molecule together create a slightly negative charge on the oxygen atom and a small positive charge on each of the hydrogen atoms.

FORCES OF ATTRACTION. Water molecules are held together in a flexible, but stable network of hydrogen bonds. The bonds, though weak, help keep water liquid over a wider temperature range than one would expect for molecules of its size.
Nicolle Rager Fuller

These unequal charges make water molecules extremely "sociable"—eager to bond with each other. Because hydrogen bonds are much weaker than normal chemical bonds, the water molecules move about freely, binding briefly with adjacent molecules before moving on to others. Stanley likens this fast-paced network to a square dance taking place in a large dance hall.

"In square dancing, you're always releasing one partner and grabbing another, and that is a hydrogen bond network, exactly," he says.

In the case of water, the square dance occurs among molecules that have four arms, instead of two. That's because each water molecule has the potential to form four hydrogen bonds. The result is a network of tetrahedrons, or pyramids with a triangular base.

This tetrahedral arrangement creates a peculiar tension, permitting structural changes in response to different temperatures and pressures. In liquid form, the tetrahedral structures allow unrestrained hydrogen bonding to occur as numerous molecules pack into and around the tetrahedron. (Imagine a swift square dance with dancers moving in and out of the center of the square and circling around it as well.) The result is a dense, fluid structure, such as that of everyday tap water.

As water approaches its freezing point (0°C), however, the tetrahedral structure becomes more open and begins to expand. Ordinary water reaches its maximum density at 4°C. As water continues to cool, falling to its freezing point and below, it continues to expand.

Here, the tetrahedral arrangement is more rigidly enforced, with molecules spaced an "arm's length" apart. The arrangement creates a more spacious, open structure, and water becomes lighter. If ice weren't lighter than cold water, ponds and lakes would freeze from the bottom, rather than form a floating layer of surface ice, and water would cease flowing in the dead of winter. Water's weirdness therefore allows fish to swim in the water beneath the ice and plants to survive the winter cold.

At temperatures below the freezing point, ice crystals form around defects, such as cracks or dust particles. By using extremely clean water samples—free from any such defects—scientists have found ways to defy freezing and obtain supercooled liquid-water that remains liquid below 0°C.

This procedure works only to a certain point. At extremely cold temperatures, (–38°C and lower), it is nearly impossible to keep water from freezing. But under certain conditions, such as the ultrahigh pressures found deep undersea, water can remain liquid even at such low temperatures. Scientists have been unable to make water that cold in the laboratory, though, and so what Stanley calls a "no man's land" of conditions had been explored only in computer simulations.

But now, using a clever technique to confine water samples in nanoscopic pores, scientists are beginning to explore the structure and properties of deeply supercooled water.

As even a square-dancing novice knows, you can't hold a hoedown in a cramped, narrow hallway. Water's hydrogen-bonding network is a fast-moving, gregarious one. Cramming water molecules into a tiny space, with a diameter less than five water molecules wide, brings the molecular square dance to a standstill.

"If a room were very, very narrow, it would be hard to have a normal square dance because a lot of people would be up against the wall and there would be no partner to grab on to," Stanley says. "In a similar fashion, water molecules that are confined against a wall have only two or three arms, and the whole hydrogen-bond network is disrupted."
Because the hydrogen-bond network brings stability to water, the breakdown of this network changes water's properties, allowing it to remain liquid at a much lower temperature, he says.

Scientists began exploring ways to nanoconfine water molecules more than a decade ago, using a spongelike material that had holes of different sizes.
While the experiments showed that nanoconfinement could be used to cool water well below its usual freezing temperature, the results were often hard to interpret because water in the larger holes would freeze, causing crystallization throughout the material.

In 2005, Sow-Hsin Chen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues found a way to get around this problem, using a new material called MCM-41. Chung-Yuan Mou of National Taiwan University of Taipei had created MCM-41 by refining the fabrication of silica-nanotube assemblies. The material resembles a microscopic beehive with a hexagonal array of holes, all uniformly sized, just a few nanometers wide.

Curious to see how confined water might respond in MCM-41, Chen filled the hexagonal arrays with water. He then cooled the water to –73°C and bombarded the arrangement with neutrons. The microscopic cells of MCM-41 not only prevented ice crystals from forming but also allowed the scientists to probe water's molecular structure.

Building on this work, Chen and colleagues conducted a series of experiments to see how water's properties change as temperature drops at ordinary pressures.

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