The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 63.0°F | Overcast

News Briefs, part 1

Norwegians Say No' to Membership In EU by Slim Margin

Los Angeles Times
OSLO, Norway

In a move heavy with significance both for Norway and the drive toward a united Europe, Norwegians voting in a national referendum Monday narrowly rejected membership in the European Union.

With more than three quarters of the vote counted, Norwegian Television Corp. computer projections indicated Norway would say no by a slim 53 percent to 47 percent.

Monday's ballot effectively split the country. The rural, agrarian north, fearful of losing subsidies, had enough no votes to counter the urban, business-oriented south, which voted strongly in favor of EU membership.

The biggest personal loser in the referendum is undoubtedly the country's prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, who staked much of her political prestige in heading the yes movement. "The result is a heavy defeat for her," said Knut Heidar, an Oslo University political scientist.

However, her overall popularity and the absence of any obvious challenger within her own party would seem to assure her future as premier for at least the short term.

The implications for Norway and for the drive to create politically and economically united Europe seem less certain in the wake of Monday's vote.

Court Clears Way for Suit Against Joe Camel Ads

The Washington Post

The Supreme Court Monday cleared the way for a lawsuit that accuses a cigarette maker of using the hip "Joe Camel" cartoon character to tempt young children to take up smoking.

The justices without comment denied an appeal by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. of a California court decision that allows an anti-smoking activist to sue the company under California law for using advertising that allegedly weakens children's resistance to tobacco products. Reynolds contends the smooth, sax-playing camel is a gimmick aimed at adults.

The California case, brought under a state law barring unfair business practices, is one of several pending legal actions nationwide attacking Joe Camel and Reynolds' cigarette advertising campaigns. Reynolds had sought dismissal of the state case by asserting that was pre-empted by a federal law regulating tobacco advertising.

A provision of the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act says: "No requirement or prohibition based on smoking and health shall be imposed under state law with respect to the advertising or promotion of any cigarettes. "

The court said that although the allegations against the seven-year-old Joe Camel campaigns, which promote Camel cigarettes, were based on "health" concerns, normally requiring federal law pre-emption, the allegations relate more to manufacturer's general obligation not to deceive and not to engage in unfair competition.

VW to Let Loose a New Bug


Volkswagen AG says it will produce an updated version of the weird-looking, noisy and phenomenally popular economy car within the next five years, following the positive reaction to two experimental Beetle reincarnations - a hardtop and convertible - displayed earlier this year at U.S. auto shows. The new model will look something like them, VW said Monday.

How well it sells, says New Jersey-based auto industry consultant Mike Luckey, will depend on price, which VW says will be "competitive," and on quality.

"There are probably enough old-Beetle buffs to support a niche product for a couple of years," he said. VW hasn't decided yet what to name it, but it probably won't be "Beetle," said U.S. spokesman Tony Fouladpour. That never was its predecessors' real name, anyway - just a nickname that stuck.

Convicted Murderer Jeffrey Dahmer Beaten to Death in Prison

The Washington Post

Jeffrey L. Dahmer, whose grotesque rampage of murder, necrophilia and cannibalism shocked the nation when it was discovered in 1991, was beaten to death Monday in a prison bathroom at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Portage, Wis.

Dahmer, 34, savagely beaten in the head, was discovered in the staff bathroom of the prison gymnasium he had been assigned to clean shortly after 8 a.m. and was pronounced dead an hour later at Divine Savior Hospital in Portage.

At a news conference in Madison, Wisconsin Corrections Secretary Michael Sullivan said law enforcement authorities were questioning another inmate in connection with Dahmer's death.

Jeffrey Dahmer's shadowy, nightmarish life burst into public view on July 22, 1991, when police entered his dingy second-floor apartment just west of downtown Milwaukee and found severed heads and other body parts of 11 of his victims. His trial early the next year disclosed searing details of his ghoulish behavior.

According to the testimony, Dahmer had sex with the bodies of his victims, skinned and dismembered them and attempted to perform a crude lobotomy on at least one of his victims, a 14-year-old boy. Two Milwaukee police detectives said Dahmer told them he had cleaned and spray painted his victims' skulls, preserved body parts in formaldehyde so he could "look at them and masturbate," and kept preserved human hearts in the freezer of his refrigerator.

Physicists Take a Quarky Step To Explain the Fourth Dimension

Los Angeles Times

Ever since Albert Einstein showed that the three-dimensional space we live in actually curves into an unseen fourth dimension, mathematicians have been trying to understand the shape of our universe. It could curve, like Earth, into a familiar sphere. Or it could have a hole, like a donut.

Now two physicists, Ed Witten of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies and Nathan Seiberg of Rutgers, have made studying these strange spaces tantalizingly simple.

Their discovery has electrified mathematicians who have spent decades trying to find ways to describe four-dimensional space.

Witten and Seiberg have found a way to tackle these complex four-dimensional problems using methods essentially as simple as a two-dimensional problem. The physicists are pleased because they have a model, "a practice case," Witten calls it, where the problems of quark behavior look workable. Because it's simpler than the real world, it can be solved.

Cappell says the discovery has the potential of simplifying an entire field of mathematics into a single 10-page paper.