writes "The theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid impact, the K-T extinction, is well known and supported by fossil and geological evidence. Asteroid impact theory does not apply to the other fluctuations in biodiversity, however, which follow an approximate 62 million-year cycle. As reported in Science news, a new theory seems to explain periodic mass extinctions. The new theory found that oscillations in the Sun relative to the plane of the Milky Way correlate with changes in biodiversity on Earth. The researchers suggest that an increase in the exposure of Earth to extragalatic cosmic rays causes mass extinctions. Here is the original paper describing the finding."
writes "A US Senator from South Dakota, Tim Johnson, suffered a stroke and was admitted to George Washington University Hospital. If he is forced to stand down, the Republican Governor of South Dakota would name his successor, most probably a Republican, tipping the balance to 50-50 again, with the tie-breaking vote cast by the Vice President Dick Cheney. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6178065.stm"