Click. Revived Microbe Predates T-Rex, Scientists Say



Click. Manhandling and attempting to gag Nader during a so-called free election.


Revived Microbe Predates T-Rex, Scientists Say
Biology: They think spore is more than 250 million years old. It could teach us much about life's tenacity.
By ROBERT , Los Angeles Times Science Writer 10/19/00

     From a spore locked inside a salt crystal before the dinosaurs evolved, scientists have revived what they believe is a microbe that lived more than 250 million years ago.

     The ability of a living organism--even a simple, single-celled one--to survive in suspended animation for so many eons could be evidence that life forms can live long enough to drift from planet to planet and might even survive today in ancient subterranean salt deposits on Mars, several experts speculated.

     Follow-up studies will be needed to confirm the finding, announced by a research team at West Chester University outside Philadelphia and made public today in Nature. The newly found spore is similar to two species of modern bacteria but appears to have a number of genetic differences.

     Environmental biologists Russell H. Vreeland and William D. Rosenzweig discovered the salt crystal, with its living time capsule, by sorting through 220 pounds of samples taken from an air shaft 1,850 feet below the ground at the U.S. Energy Department's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant about 30 miles east of Carlsbad, N.M.

     The extensive salt beds formed when New Mexico was awash with a primordial inland sea. Geologic dating pegs the formation as about 250 million years old. The scientists have deduced that the spore is the same age.

     If proved, the finding would be a startling demonstration of the extremes that life can endure.

     Bacteria have been found thriving in boiling springs and in the deep freeze of Antarctic ice. They can live without light or oxygen, in radioactive waste and toxic dumps, amid crushing pressure underwater or deep underground. And in recent years, researchers have resuscitated spores from a 100-year-old can of meat, a 166-year-old bottle of ale, even from the belly of a bee trapped in amber more than 25 million years ago.

     But the newest finding would extend the reach of a single life span into unfathomable depths of time--to an age when even the continents had not yet taken their current shapes. Secure in its capsule, the spore apparently survived at least three mass extinctions that wiped out 95% of all life forms on Earth.

     "Given the care [the researchers] took to avoid contamination, their results are the best evidence yet for the extremely long-term survival of microorganisms," said R. John Parkes, an expert in geo-microbiology at the University of Bristol in England. "The potential implications are profound. For instance, can spores effectively be immortal?"

     However, other experts greeted the new report with considerable skepticism, noting that the researchers can only infer the age of the sample and that there is no way to prove directly that the microbe is so ancient. They also worry that the salt sample may have leaked or been contaminated. They wonder what energy source could have sustained a cell for so long, even if it were dormant.

     "It would seem pretty unlikely for an organism to sit in a state of suspended animation for 250 million years," said paleobiologist William Schopf, director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life. Even so, he said, the finding is "very, very interesting."

     NASA astrobiologist Michael Meyer in Washington cautioned, "Proving that something is actually 250 million years old and viable is a difficult problem, and it may not be resolvable. It is a tough nut to crack.

     "If it is true," Meyer said, "the implications for astrobiology are pretty important."

     Recognizing that theirs is an extraordinary claim, Vreeland and Rosenzweig said they went to unusual lengths to ensure that the crystals were properly isolated and the spore revived without being contaminated by contemporary life forms.

     Working in a special biological containment facility at their West Chester laboratory, the researchers searched for crystals that had not changed since they first formed when the sea evaporated so many eons ago. In all, they found 56 crystals that still seemed sealed and pristine from that primordial era.

     "We started with 220 pounds of salt," Vreeland said. "We have gone through it crystal by crystal and selected only the ones we felt we could defend as to its age."

     To protect against contamination they bathed each crystal in acid, then radiated it for hours with sterilizing ultraviolet light, they said. From microscopic bubbles in those crystals, they extracted minute amounts of fluid, then cultured the fluid in lab dishes.

     The type of bacteria they found in the fluid is similar to a modern strain in the Dead Sea. A preliminary genetic comparison suggests that there are about 45 differences between the DNA of that modern organism and that of the type found in the crystal, the researchers said. That is what would be expected if the two had been separated for about 250 million years, with one type continuing to evolve while the other remained the same.

     "Having an organism that we can be reasonably certain was present in the Permian era [250 million years ago] is almost the next best thing to being there," Vreeland said. "We can ask biological questions that we can't ask a fossil.

     "As a man of faith, it amazes me that there is a supreme being that would protect a bacterial spore," said Vreeland, a Methodist. 'To consider that in the time this helpless spore has been encased, continents have moved, that mountain ranges have been built and destroyed--I think it is pretty impressive."

     Astrobiologists were intrigued by the discovery, because there are believed to be similar salt deposits on Mars. If a microbe can survive so long on Earth, they say, similar spore-forming organisms might lurk in those deposits beneath the surface of the red planet.

     Geobiologist James Fredrickson of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., has been conducting similar studies on bacteria in ancient salt crystals with colleagues at the University of Missouri and Princeton University. He does not dismiss the new report out of hand, nor does he underestimate the difficulty of the task.

     "Nobody really knows how long a spore can survive," Fredrickson said, "because you can't run an experiment for thousands of years to find out."

YOU HEARD IT FIRST by Barry Chamish © 2000

     My sources tell me that high ranking IDF officers are seriously considering the overthrow of Barak. The scenario described to me is the following:

     When the PLO first ordered its police and peasants to attack IDF soldiers, Barak issued a command unheard of in any army: soldiers were to wait until fired on to retaliate. Despite years of politically obedient appointments, many in the IDF's high command were highly unhappy with Barak's policy, believing it would lead to Israeli casualties and a prolonging of the conflict.

     These officers became increasingly frustrated when forbidden to use force to save a soldier slowly bleeding to death at Joseph's Tomb and later when the shrine was abandoned. The refusal to react to the kidnapping of three soldiers on the Lebanese border by Hizbullah turned the frustration into anger.

     The turning point was the sadistic lynching of two soldiers in Ramallah. The IDF high command issued the following operational request to the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak:

     In retaliation for attacks against IDF soldiers by members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Tanzim, or Fatah, the Israeli Air Force would use 2000 pound bombs to turn their headquarters and other facilities into rubble. Second, the IDF had filmed Fatah policemen sniping at their soldiers and an Italian television crew had captured the murderers of the lynched soldiers on film. The IDF had identified the murderers and wanted them hunted down and killed immediately.

      Barak turned the recommendation down and instead issued a directive sending helicopters against insignificant targets only after the PLO had been given ample warning to abandon them.

      Certain officers now understood that Barak was under international orders not to utililize the IDF to defend the nation or avenge the murders of its citizens. The first grumblings of "coup" were heard.

      The final straw was Hizbullah's kidnapping of Colonel Tannenbaum. The officers knew that he was being tortured and forced to reveal the names, addresses and all details of IDF staff, strategy, equipment and facilities. They summoned Barak to mount an operation inside Lebanon involving mass hostage taking to secure the release of Tannenbaum but were again rebuffed by Barak.

      Not knowing which demoralizing IDF fiasco was next and fearing that Israelis would take to the streets to secure the protection their army was forbidden to provide, high level but still informal discussions to plan a Barak overthrow gained momentum.
     You heard it first here.

News From The Front No One Else Is Reporting

     A well known political activist has formulated a plan to neutralize the blatant New World Order reporting of the mini-war by the international media. According to the activist, "The next time some CNN or BBC boob justifies the PLO's savagery, we will go to his home and pelt him with rocks when he tries to leave. Unfortunately, our plan doesn't call for the use of live fire to make the scenario more realistic."

     The activist adds, "I have a longterm plan to buy properties next door to their homes in London or Stockholm and move Palestinian families in. We'll be sure to put lots of loose stones in their driveways. Then they'll get a real taste of how much fun it is to have them as neighbors."


A Palestinian mother telling her nine year old son, "Go play in the war zone."

Brookline Books has just released the new English edition of Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin. Write   or call in the US 1 800 666BOOK
The Zionist Book Club will be releasing The Last Days Of Israel at the end
of Succot. Write   or in the US or Britain, phone  1 877 RABINYY Please visit

Sourced from Progressive Review / Undernews 10/18/00

Tip from Ronn at Futrsource 10/18 1611 PDT


KERRY LAUERMAN, SALON: The moment was fleeting, but the protesters and reporters traveling with Ralph Nader Tuesday night briefly recoiled and held their breath. For the second time, Nader was trying to make it onto the grounds of a presidential debate, for what was probably his last chance at making a splash big enough to draw serious media attention to his campaign .

The campus cop, from debate-host Washington University, grabbed Nader just above the left elbow and seemed to squeeze him just a little, causing the angular Green Party candidate to bend slightly but awkwardly. Briefly, it felt like it might grow ugly. It passed, though. And while Nader didn't make it any further -- about four security checks away from the media tent he was trying to get to -- he exploited the situation beautifully.

WU police chief Don Strom came out to reason with Nader, saying that the Green Party candidate just didn't have the right credentials to get in. "I do," Nader said, holding up his green "host" pass. He'd been invited by the Washington University student TV station, and its reporter, Gabe Roth, who stood eagerly next to him.

But you were not specifically approved, Strom said. Nader then pointed to two of his staffers, George Farah and Tarck Milleron, who is also Nader's nephew, who had just strolled back from the other side of the checkpoint after having been admitted with the identical green pass.  Strom could only shrug, and admit that he knew Nader had been turned down earlier by the Commission for Presidential Debates for a pass to get in, and that there was nothing he could do . . .

"I want to do what is right in this situation," Strom said, almost pleading.

"I want to do my job." "And you're saying I haven't been singled out," Nader said.

"No. No one has asked me to exclude Ralph Nader," Strom said. "I have grave respect for you."  And with that, Nader let up, telling Strom, "This is what I want you to do. I want you to go back to the administrators at Washington  University and tell them I think their university was politically misused."

Strom nodded. Then Nader shook his hand, before heading off to a waiting car that whisked him away for interviews.


ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Green Party candidate for the US Senate, upset over being excluded from a televised debate between the front-runners, was jailed on disorderly conduct charges Monday night after he shouted down opening comments.

Atlanta lawyer Jeff Gates was in the fourth row of the television audience when he stood and called out: "This is what democracy looks like; this is what democracy feels like," as the television moderator introduced Zell Miller, the Democrat, and Republican Mack Mattingly. Dougherty County Sheriff's Deputy Luther Lane said Gates must post $181 bond to be released from jail.

[Note that it is becoming illegal to react to public political events in a manner unapproved by authorities] (Ronn - this is new?)


MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 10/18:

This BBC article about the "Secret Security Agreement" is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The reality is that ever since Oslo Arafat's top people have been trained, and infiltrated, by the CIA, as we have reported in previous articles going back to when we began MER in 1996.  For past articles use the MER search capability at http://www.MiddleEast.Org/search.htm.

At first the CIA was primarily involved in training Arafat's people to make sure they could take charge and to keep Arafat alive.  Then the CIA began to infiltrate the territories with the help of Arafat's "Authority".  Then the CIA's role was extended to make sure Hamas and the "terrorists" were kept either in Arafat's prisons or on the run.  Then at Wye River the CIA was essentially told to take more responsibility for all that is going on in the Palestinian areas, and to bring the parties together to prevent "terrorism" and "control" the Palestinian Streets whenever things threatened to get out of hand.  It was all in preparation of course for the "end the conflict" agreement the Israelis were always working towards.  And now, at the Sharm summit, the CIA has been given still more personnel, money, and authority.

BBC - 10/17/00

Palestinian police will have to hold fire under the reported  agreement Israeli TV has reported what it describes as a "secret security agreement" at the Sharm el-Sheikh accords which promised "immediate war" in response to the threat of terrorist attacks.

The five-point agreement is also said to have called for the re-arrest of the Hamas leaders released by the Palestinians.  The TV quoted the clauses of the agreement as follows:

                 * Immediate war will be waged against the threat of
                   terrorist attacks.
                 * All 14 senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists who were released,                    including Muhammad Dayf and  Abu-Hannud, will be rearrested.
                 * The Palestinian police will be immediately ordered to hold their fire.
                 * All incitement broadcasts will cease.
                 * The sides acknowledge that the only armed
                   Palestinian personnel are to be the Palestinian
                   Authority's policemen.

The TV added that the understanding of the last clause was that the Tanzim militia would be disarmed.

The Tanzim is an armed group associated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization.

One of Israel's key demands  in efforts to end the recent violence has been the
disarmament of the Tanzim.

                                Palestinian denial

              The claims of a secret agreement were immediately
              explicitly denied by the Palestinians, who described them
              as "fabrications".

              But BBC correspondent John Leyne said that various
              attempts have been made in the past to set up meetings
              between Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs under the
              chairmanship of CIA head George Tenet.

              Mr Tenet was reported to be in the region at the time of the
              summit, and our correspondent says it is quite possible
              that such a meeting did take place.

              It is more doubtful whether the detailed understandings
              which the TV reported really were an agreement or simply
              matters under discussion.

MiD-EasT RealitieS  -  www.MiddleEast.Org
Phone:  202 362-5266    Fax:  815 366-0800   


By Macey Casebeer © 2000 October 10th, 2000

HERE IS SOME INFORMATION obtained from Washington, D.C. which might be worth passing on. It deals with an important agency of the Federal Government--an agency which provides to the world a very real thumbprint of the U.S. in general. In some third-world cases, this agency may provide the only real thumbprint of the U.S. and its powerful international position. Furthermore, it broadcasts the greatness of the U.S. for all the world to see. If you are in love with everything the U.S. Government says and does (internally), then you had better not read this article. It's about a failing personnel function in the U.S. Department of State.

Here's a true story of one of the brightest and best members of the State Department--a member who left that agency this quarter at age 32 for cause. Her name? (I'll use a pseudonym in order to avoid legal implications.) She is Rosa Montanan, a woman enshrouded with high demand characteristics not always common in Washington. She is hard driven to succeed and to do better than her contemporaries. She had been farmed out to Clinton's West Wing as an assistant to a National Security Advisor, Samuel R. Berger (real name). She was entrusted to work with highly sensitive foreign policy issues. Her career placed her in the middle of several crises during the past decade, including decisions whether to bomb Iraq, and how to recover an American pilot downed in Yugoslavia. She was on the silver-rail headed for very high positions in the Foreign Service--perhaps as an Embassy counsel, or an Assistant Secretary of State or an Ambassador.

However, today through the colored glasses of Ms Montanan, government positions and salaries don't look so inviting. Scribing cables that no person of worth or importance would read is no longer her piece of cake. Therefore, she slipped out of the Department of State and into the Internet where she is now employed by a firm that presents her with intriguing occupational risks and much greater fiscal rewards.

Now, if Ms Montanan happens to be just one of a few who continue to fly from the State Department coop, then who cares? But, the fact is that the brightest and best are sprouting wings in numbers that are crippling the personnel function of the State Department. Skilled and talented diplomats are leaving the coop for careers that seem to provide more power, greater prestige and a larger piece of the burgeoning global economy.

Fresh college graduates who used to dart full-tilt to the Foreign Service Exam Center seem now to hardly bother even reading literature concerning life as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. The truth? Private sector financial markets pack a greater wallop-to-the-wallet than do governmental jobs which send State Department Officials to summits populated with heads of state in Washington or Moscow. Therefore, the State Department is losing recruits to investment banks, to ww-dot-com corporations, and to the Treasury and Commerce Departments of the U.S. Government--departments which have expanded their foreign policy roles word-wide. Indeed, since the Berlin wall came tumbling down, the State Department is increasingly no longer the place to be and work in Government. It simply does not pay as well as the private sector for the same skills, knowledge and abilities--factors which are the hallmarks of foreign service employees.

In Ms Montanan's own black-American words, she claims that Foreign Service duty provids nothing truly challenging. "In the end, there is nothing on the horizon that I really wanted," she said. Therefore, after serving with the National Security Council, and in Bosnia and Thailand, she chose to join the Manhattan Office of Currenex--a Silicon Valley Internet company specializing in business-to-business foreign currency--this at a salary of more than $100,000 plus stock options--double her Foreign Service salary. The loss of Montanan's prestige, power and promise for the future at the State Department created an instant vacuum not easily filled in the year 2000.

The State Department has been worried about this kind of problem for several years. In fact , in 1998 it commissioned a study from McKinsey & Company--a study which uncovered unwelcome murmurs from young Foreign Service Officers and recruits, and from senior members of the Service. Here are some of the findings:

1. Promotions in government service are based on time in service rather than on merit, as is the case in the private sector. Thus, promotions are a long time coming.
2. Relevancy of State Department work was questioned. "What work," was posted by a senior respondent.
3. Management appears demoralized in the eyes of junior officers.
4. The department is not responsive to two-career families, especially when assigning diplomats for overseas duty.
5. Even though the study was titled, "The War For Talent," the group renamed it, "The War Against Talent."
6. One diplomat said, "You've joined the supposedly elite Foreign Service and you have terrible managers--people who have been promoted to get them out of other people's hair." (Promoted to positions of incompetence.)

The department's difficulty in recruiting and retaining quality people has come to the attention of the U.S. Commission on National Security. It is no surprise that major interests related to national security seem to be centered on the Department's personnel failings. Graduate schools specializing in International Relations claim that the Foreign Service "has slipped down the totem pole as a career choice. Smart graduates who want to join government are heading for the Departments of Treasury or Commerce," according to Mark L. von Hagen, Director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. Others move toward private sector national and international organizations and toward the World Bank. In fact, since 1992 the dropout rate of Foreign Service Officers has been between 20 and 32 percent.

One report said that many college graduate candidates for the Foreign Service, after passing written and oral examinations and security checks, did not accept offers to join the Department. They went elsewhere for employment. Large financial offerings from merchant banks and stimulating work in the global economy has worked like a magnet drawing prospects (recruits) and officials away from the Department. This, too, is no surprise since the starting salary of Foreign Service Officers is a mere $32,500--less remuneration than a unionized job in a telephone company.

Decisions at high State Department levels to leave prized positions often hinge upon global fiscal prosperity, and upon the geometric differential between compensation for those in government compared with those in certain private sector international activities. No wonder the new Personnel leader at the State Department suggests drastic Department evolution as a partial correction impacting on the failing personnel function. The change must be away from work as a PASSIVE OBSERVER toward one of ACTION AND ACTIVITY--functions which are truly beneficial to the nations within which U.S. embassy Foreign Service Officers toil. Substance of the work must change. Staffing to make a boss look good has in the past never been a productive action when seen through the eyes of a junior or senior Foreign Service Officer, while on the other hand, staffing to achieve operational international goals through interactive service abroad is eagerly sought.

But, making drastic evolutional change in the functions of the Foreign Service most likely will bring the Department into direct conflict with other agencies of government--agencies already dedicated to addressing problems related to the international trafficking of people, and in conflict with tasks entertained by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and in conflict with work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Numerous agencies already operate in a number of U.S. Embassies. Such intrusions are often seen by diplomats as competition.

When fewer than twenty percent of the U.S. Officials in an American Embassy (London, as an example) belong to the State Department, interagency friction is assured. Good people want to work in agencies which are at the center of action, and they want to be part of the action rather than being observers of action or being puppets of some transient pooh-bah. They do not want to be used as balls on a pool table, hoping that they will find a niche somewhere so that intruders (government and civilian alike) are not always hammering away at them in search of some obscure intellectual paradigm or a new point of view from the gods. Establishing a new pecking order and a new distribution of embassy power midstream usually portends negative outcomes. No wonder young and old chickens and roosters are flying in larger numbers out of the State Department coop.

CALGOLD says . . .