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World Briefs I

Reno Says She Tried to Contact Lake About China Allegations

The Washington Post

Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday that she tried last May to contact then-national security adviser Anthony Lake to tell him about allegations that China was trying to influence U.S. elections.

Reno said that when she couldn't reach Lake on the phone, she directed that the FBI brief staff members of the National Security Council. She said she assumed the information would reach the appropriate senior White House officials.

In fact, the two NSC officials who were briefed by the FBI did not inform senior White House officials. How that happened led to an unusual public dispute this week between the White House and FBI officials. White House officials initially complained that the FBI gave the information to the NSC officials on the condition they not tell their superiors - an assertion the FBI publicly and summarily denied.

Reno described the incident as a misunderstanding, but a serious one. She said she had ordered an internal investigation to determine where the breakdown in communication occurred and a review concerning the dissemination of intelligence information.

Wilmut's Cloning Achievement Discussed at NIH

Los Angeles Times

On Thursday, it was standing-room-only inside an auditorium on the sprawling National Institutes of Health campus. The object of everyone's attention was one of their own: Ian Wilmut, the British scientist who created a cloned sheep named Dolly.

The invitation to Wilmut was extended months ago by the molecular embryology lab of the child health institute, whose members are passionately interested in reproductive science, and, more specifically, in so-called nuclear transfer technology, the essence of Wilmut's work. But that was before Wilmut and his colleagues at Edinburgh's Roslin Institute achieved the unthinkable. Wilmut's stunning achievement "has fired the imagination at every level you can think of," said Dr. Michael McClure, chief of the child health institute's reproductive sciences branch.

For his part, Wilmut, the star attraction Wednesday at a Senate hearing on the ethical issues raised by his work, appeared delighted to have an opportunity, finally, to talk basic science - rather than science fiction - with his peers.

Studies of Meteorite Boosts Life-on-Mars' Theory

Los Angeles Times

In a major boost for scientists trying to prove that forms on an Antarctic Martian meteorite could be evidence of ancient extraterrestrial life, two separate groups have pulled the rug out from under one of the main arguments against the fossil life hypothesis.

Working with specks of the celebrated Mars rock, groups at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin demonstrated that pancake-shaped globules in the rock grew at temperatures as balmy as boiling water, and never got hotter than 350 Celsius, a tolerable environment for life forms that like it hot.

The results, reported Friday in the journal Science, dramatically contradict what some scientists have been saying since last summer's historic NASA announcement of possible life on Mars: that the structures formed on Mars at temperatures so searing that any potential life would have been charred to toast.