Last Friday's special telecast of "America's Most Wanted" --- which focused on terrorists at the suggestion of the White House and the FBI -- generated hundreds more fugitive tips than usual, according to a report in USA Today.
"America's Most Wanted: Terrorists -- A Special Edition" called viewers' attention to the federal government's recently released list of 22 "most wanted" terrorists. By Sunday morning, the number of tips received at the show's toll-free hotline -- 800-CRIME-TV -- was up to 1,300 tips, considerably more than the 200 to 500 tips normally generated by the show.
"We got so many tips," said ANW host John Walsh. "I was watching them pile up (Friday night). We got stacks and stacks."
The newspaper said one call came from a taxi driver who said he believes he drove Mohammed Atta, one of the Sept. 11 hijackers, to various Washington, D.C., landmarks before the attacks.
The special drew an estimated 7.6 million viewers, the second-largest audience in its time slot.
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND
With all the passion and intensity one might expect from a schoolyard brawl, the Rocklin, Calif., Unified School District and the ACLU are fighting over a decision by the district to stand by a "God Bless America" sign posted outside Breen Elementary after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. In an Oct. 3 letter, the ACLU says the posting of the phrase on a school building marquee is unconstitutional and that the words send a "hurtful, divisive message."
(From UPI's Capital Comment)
NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS
Limp Bizkit -- Fred Durst, DJ Lethal, Sam Rivers and John Otto --- taking to the road for a series of guitarist auditions and "fan parties."
The idea is to stay close to their fans. "It's just a great chance for us to be with our fans," Durst said. The parties will be different in each city. "We could be at a club, at your house, at the mall, at your high school, who knows," he added.
The guitarist auditions will offer the opportunity for talented young players from across the country to join one of the largest rock bands in the world. "All I have to say is if you got it ... bring it on!" said Durst.
Details of when and where will be posted on the band's Web site.
Limp Bizkit's upcoming album, "New Old Songs," hits stores Dec. 4.
TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING
British scientist Stephen Hawking is warning that the human race is likely to be erased by a doomsday virus before this millennium is out unless it sets up space colonies.
"I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space," Hawking told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper. "There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars."
He told the paper that biological advances present even greater challenges in fighting terrorism: "In the long term, I am more worried about biology. Nuclear weapons need large facilities, but genetic engineering can be done in a small lab. You can't regulate every lab in the world. The danger is that either by accident or design, we create a virus that destroys us."
AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY
NASA says an international team of astronomers has discovered eight new extra-solar planets -- bringing to nearly 80 the number of planets found orbiting nearby stars.
The latest finds are in what the astronomers are calling a new class of planets. These planets have circular orbits similar to the orbits of planets in our own solar system. This characteristic is shared by two planets previously detected by the same team around 47 Ursae Majoris, a star in the Big Dipper constellation, and one around the star Epsilon Reticulum.
The majority of the extra-solar planets found so far are in an elongated, or "eccentric," orbits.
"This result is very exciting," says Anne Kinney, director of NASA's Astronomy and Physics Division. "To understand the formation and evolution of planets and planetary systems we need a large sample of planets to study. This result, added to others in the recent past, marks the beginning of an avalanche of data which will help to provide the answers."
The astronomers are searching the nearest 1,200 stars for planets similar to those in our solar system.