James Bond To Drive A Bentley Again

Ian Fleming introduced James Bond and his Bentley to the world in 1953 with the publication of his first novel 'Casino Royale.'In the films Bond drives various vehicles equipped with what were at that time considered to be sci-fi gadgets.As against the films James Bond's official car in all the novels is a gray 1933 Bentley convertible.

Ian Fleming wrote fourteen James Bond novels.The fifteenth in the series 'Devil May Care' is written by Sebastian Faulks and is due for release on 28th May 2008 to commemorate Ian Fleming's birth centenary.

The book had been announced by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd. in July 2006.The author and the title were revealed in July 2007.Fleming's last Bond book 'Octopussy and the Living Daylights' was published way back in 1966.Forty two years later another Bond book is due to hit bookstores worldwide.It has all the Bond ingredients.It is set in the Cold War and the action happens in beautiful locations across two continents and some of the world's most happening cities.The book has been written in just six weeks.

The Fleming family were delighted with the typescript.Barbara Broccoli ,the daughter of the producer of Bond movies said that if she had been told that an old manuscript of Ian's had been found in the basement, she would have believed it.

In 'Devil May Care', James Bond,perhaps the most popular secret agent of all times goes back to driving a Bentley.Fans of Bond will remember that bond changed cars in 'Goldfinger' where he was seen driving a silver gray Aston Martin DB5 on 'M's' orders.This car has been the most famous of all the cars driven by Bond.

Sebastian Faulks the author of the new book says that he will be taking the debonair secret agent back to his motoring roots.' Despite many of the films portraying him with an Aston Martin, Bond's first choice of cars was a Bentley, so that is what he will be driving in my book,' he said.

Hydrogen Cars - The Only Option

A couple of news headlines in the last few days have once again brought into focus two of the most pressing problems facing every nation on this earth today.They are the price of crude oil touching $84 a barrel and that the arctic ice is vanishing at an alarming rate.The former threatens to derail economic growth worldwide and the latter is a warning that we are on the brink of an environmental catastrophe with yet unforeseen consequences.This is exactly why hydrogen powered vehicles become so important.

Most people think that US automakers have surrendered technological leadership to their Japanese rivals for good.If one were to consider sales of conventional vehicles and the latest hybrids then nobody would have a choice but to agree.But fortunately things are not so bleak for the US auto industry as they may appear at first sight.

People tend to overlook the fact that one of the major reasons why US automakers have lagged behind in the development of hybrid technology is that they have concentrated on developing electric and hydrogen powered vehicles.

So how do hydrogen powered vehicles work?They work in two different ways.The first is that hydrogen is burnt in internal combustion engines in the same way as in conventional autos.The second is to use hydrogen to power fuel cells.Here hydrogen is reacted with oxygen to produce electricity which is used to power an electric motor through a battery.

Hydrogen can be produced from a multiplicity of sources such as natural gas ,converting coal into gas,biomass and other waste products apart from water.It is estimated that supplies of hydrogen are unlimited.

Presently there are about 200 hydrogen powered vehicles on the road in the US mainly in California.Companies have started offering hydrogen powered cars to customers but there are a couple of problems.For one the cost of the vehicle is very high and secondly the fuel is not easily available.However it is expected that mass production will lead to significant reduction in costs.

Although hybrid cars cut down emissions significantly, only hydrogen cars offer zero emission, the only emission being water vapor.Moreover these cars will drastically reduce the nation's dependence on imported oil.The US government is actively supporting this initiative and President Bush has allocated almost $2 billion to this program.Since one fifth of the nation's cars are sold in California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying hard to put in place an infrastructure which would ensure easy availability of hydrogen.Once costs come down and fuel is easily available there is no reason why hydrogen cars will not replace gasoline cars very quickly because performance wise hydrogen cars are a match for their gasoline counterparts.Moreover they are more efficient and give two to three times the mileage of gasoline vehicles per equivalent measure of hydrogen.

Hopefully it won't be very long before hydrogen vehicles are a common sight on the highway.

Mummy Of Sacrificed Girl Goes On Display

For the first time ever museum goers in Salta, Argentina, got to see 'la Donacella' or 'The Maiden,' the mummified remains of a 15 year old girl which were found in 1999 on Lullailaco volcano along with a 6 year old girl and a 7 year old boy.

The children of Lullailaco are supposed to have been sacrificed about 500 years ago in a ceremony to mark the annual corn harvest.Dressed in fancy clothes and given coca leaves to chew as well as corn alcohol which put them to sleep they were left to die on the hilltop as human sacrifices.

Inca mummies consist of two main types.The mummies of the rulers and the mummies of the sacrificed ones.Most of the mummies of the rulers were kept in the city of Cuzco. None of them have been found as they were destroyed during the Spanish conquest of Peru. Most of the mummies of the rulers were destroyed by Pizarro who was a devout Catholic and was greatly disturbed by the Inca's worship of their dead ancestors. He therefore gave the order to burn the mummies after conquering the Incas. On the other hand mummies of sacrificed children have been found in excellent condition as they were mummified and preserved by the freezing temperature and the dry mountain air.

"Land of the Four Quarters" or Tahuantinsuya is the name the Incas gave their empire. It stretched 2500 miles from North to South along the high Andean mountain range from Colombia to Chile and stretched West to East from the coastal Atacama desert to the Amazon rain forest. At its peak the Incan Empire was the largest nation on Earth and remains the largest native state to have existed in the Western Hemisphere. The wealth and sophistication of the Incas has lured countless anthropologists and archaeologists to the Andean mountains to study the Incas.

A mummy is nothing but an old dead body but it still retains some of the soft tissues it had when it was alive, usually skin but sometimes organs and muscles as well. Mummies are formed when bacteria are prevented from destroying the dead body. Sub-zero temperatures, coupled with a low oxygen environment therefore produced excellent mummies, like the present one.

Very little is known about Capacocha, the sacred Inca ceremony of human sacrifices, but with the discovery of each new mummy more is revealed.

Sacrifices were often made during or after a portentous event such as an earthquake, an epidemic, or drought or after the death of an Inca Emperor. Inca sacrifices often involved the child of a chief. The sacrificed child was thought of as a deity, ensuring a tie between the chief and the Inca Emperor who was considered a descendant of the Sun God.

On the day of the sacrifice the child would be fed Chicha, a maize alcohol to ease its suffering. Investigations have shown that many of the children had died a violent death. Most of the mummies have been found with fractured skulls.

The Inca Empire along with its barbaric rituals and practices was destroyed by the Spanish conqueror Pizarro in the sixteenth century.

Polygamist Leader's Trial Opens In Rape Case

The trial opened Thursday, of Warren Jeffs, the polygamist sect leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). He is charged with forcing a 14 year old girl into marrying an older cousin in 2001.The woman has stated that she was only acting to preserve her eternal salvation and that Jeff had told her to submit to her husband 'mind,body and soul.' Jeffs is on trial for rape as an accomplice for using his Church authority to force the marriage.Originally part of the Mormon church the FLDS broke away from it almost a century ago. Memmbers of the FLDS believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.However the practice is banned in the Utah Constitution and is a felony offense.Jeffs has led the FLDS Church since 2002.He is reputed to rule with an iron hand and demands total obedience from his followers.Arrested after nearly two years on the run,Jeffs could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty.

Jeffs took over leadership of the FLDS upon the death of his father.His father died at the age of 92 leaving behind an estimated 75 widows and 65 children.His followers believe that God speaks directly to Warren Jeffs to reveal His will.Through the prophet God directs which male members are worthy of entry into heaven. Females can only be invited into heaven by satisfied husbands. Only Jeffs can perform marriages, and it is through him that wives are assigned to their husbands.Pleasing the prophet can result in loyal members being rewarded with one or more wives.In order to reach the highest degree of glory in heaven, a man must have at least three wives.The prophet derives his power from his ability to punish followers by reassigning his wives, his children and homes to another man.Jeffs is supposed to have more than 50 wives and controls a trust worth more than $100 million.

An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 people in the US are estimated to practice polygamy.But since such groups are highly secretive the exact number is not known.

One of the reasons why Jeffs' trial is attracting so much attention is that the outcome could affect the Republican Presidential candidate Matt Romney.Romney's Mormon beliefs could reflect upon him in a negative way.The focus of public attention is bound to be the questionable moral practices of the FLDS and they are likely to be equated with Mormons.This raises the question whether we should hold people guilty by association.The sad truth is that when such an incident happens people risk being labeled and are no longer viewed objectively.

Will Our Rock Stars Die Young

It is now official.Rock stars do face the risk of premature death A Liverpool John Moores study of the lives of 1064 famous rock stars has concluded that they are twice as likely to die early than the rest of the population.The average age at death was found to be 42 for US stars and only 35 for European stars.The leading causes of death have been identified as drug overdose, alcohol abuse, suicide, accidents, miscellaneous medical problems.More than a quarter of the deaths are blamed on drugs and alcohol abuse alone.

The criterion for 'fame' was having performed on any of the Virgin All Time Top 1000 Albums.So why this high likelihood of death from drugs and alcohol abuse?Factors such as stress,fall in popularity,easy availability of drugs contribute to drug and alcohol abuse.

The time when they ran the greatest risk of premature death was within the first five years of achieving success.They were three times more likely to die than members of the general population, matched for age, sex, nationality and ethnic background.The death rate is higher for male stars than female stars.

Strangely among British artists the risk remained high for the first twenty five years after the first success and then it declined to be almost normal.but in American artists the risks for aging rockers remained unchanged.The difference is perhaps due to a continued active stage life in the US,constant media attention,resultant stress and substance use.

What is worrisome is that given the huge influence the pop industry has on youngsters the rock stars may end up becoming marketeers of a drug lifestyle.Studies show that almost one in ten children between the ages of seven and sixteen dream of becoming a rock star when they grow up.Although fame and money protect the stars from many social consequences of such behavior,it doesn't protect people from long term health consequences.

It seems art can create, inspire and destroy all at the same time.Some of the all time greats who died this way are Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and the list goes on.

There are renewed calls for the music industry to take more seriously the damage done by substance abuse and risk taking behavior.Changing music's booze and drug culture may seem difficult at first, but there are signs that it is happening.When the team compared the mortality rate before and after 1980 they found a big drop.In recent years only 1.5% of the stars died within five years of their first hit.Before 1980 this rate was twice this figure.

It is very important that things change.These people hold a special position to potentially influence the behavior of millions of young people who look up to them.

Homeowners Insurance-Lessons of Katrina

As the second anniversary of Katrina approaches one is struck by the slow pace of the recovery of New Orleans.One of the important reasons is the attitude of the insurance companies.They are simply refusing to pay up!People who thought they were adequately covered by their homeowners' policy and Federal flood insurance have got the shock of their lives.Insurance companies have gone back on promises, offered very low settlements,withheld payments,and are trying to pick holes in the claims lodged by people.They are claiming that most of the damage was caused by flooding and not by the hurricane winds,because damage due to flooding is not covered.People complain that insurance companies are also understating the cost of repairs.The result is that thousands of lawsuits have been filed in various courts.

So what is happening in the insurance industry these days.People complain that these companies are now returning less and less of the money they collect by way of premiums while settling claims.While home insurance is becoming a scarce and expensive commodity the companies are making bumper profits.This also affects the pace of recovery as the poorer folks simply can't afford to pay the annual premiums any more.Some people also face cancellation of existing policies.Some people have simply moved out because they can't afford to stay on in New Orleans any more.

In November last year a US district judge sided with policy holders arguing that the language excluding water damage from some of the insurance policies was ambiguous, as it did not distinguish between floods caused by an act of God such as excessive rainfall and floods caused by an act of man, which would include levee breaches which eventually destroyed New Orleans.

However a few days back a Circuit Court of appeals ruled in favor of the insurance companies.The court concluded that regardless of what caused the floods the policies clearly excluded water damage caused by floods.The policy holders are in no mood to give up however and are preparing to appeal.Clearly the last word has not been said in the matter.

So why is it that things are not clear even though insurance as an industry is fairly old and one would have expected such issues to have been settled by now.One of the reasons is that insurance contracts are complex in nature.Individual policy holders seldom bargain over the terms of the contracts. Clauses have multiple meanings.You may find later that there are substantial exclusions also.As a general rule it is expected that courts will will decide ambiguity in favor of the policy holder.Again the courts should ensure that their reasonable expectations are met.Are companies taking advantage of homeowners' ignorance?Hopefully this question will be answered soon.

A lot will depend on the interpretation of the doctrine of 'proximate cause.' Sometimes included and excluded causes act in tandem.So while you may be covered against hurricane damage you may not be covered against floods. But what if the floods are caused by the hurricane.Then what if a home is so completely destroyed that you cannot determine if it was destroyed by the hurricane or by floods.The jurors clearly have a tough one on their hands here.But it is clear that the final verdict will determine the future course of the insurance business in the country.

So what does one do in the meantime?Make photos or videos of all your important possessions and keep them in a safe place.These documents will help you file a full flood insurance claim.Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects ,such as photographs in a safe place where they won't get damaged.For additional information discuss what you want with your agent beforehand.The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has information available on rates charged by insurers and also the frequency of consumer complaints company wise.Take out a policy with a financially sound company.They are more likely to settle quickly.Remember that floods and earthquakes are not covered by a standard homeowners policy.

Till the final verdict is out one will just have to wait and watch.