breaking news

Did life on Earth really come from Mars?

Published: Friday, August 30, 2013 @ 8:14 AM
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 @ 8:14 AM

A new scientific theory made headlines Thursday — and they’re some headlines.

“Earth life ‘may have come from Mars’” (Via BBC)

“Life On Earth, From Mars? Why We Might All Be Alien Invaders” (Via International Business Times)

And “All humans may be ‘Martians’?” (Via National Post)

The story comes from biochemist Dr. Steven Benner, who gave a talk Thursday at the Goldschmidt Conference in Florence, Italy. (Via Foundation for Applied Molecular EvolutionGeochemical Society)

Benner argues several materials necessary for life to form wouldn’t have been available on Earth 3 billion years ago when life first arose — but there would have been plenty of them on Mars.

But is this just another wild theory meant to generate publicity? Well, that depends on who you ask. (Via Vanity Fair)

Benner has his supporters, such as prominent biologist Richard Dawkins, who said the idea is “not totally silly.” That’s some high praise.

And NBC science writer Alan Boyle said: “One thing’s for sure: Benner is not a kook. He was one of the first chemists to voice skepticism about the claims for arsenic-based life, which stirred up such a fuss in 2010.”

Even Benner’s critics say he does great work and that his ideas are plausible.

More than 100 meteorites found on Earth have been traced to Mars, most likely thrown into space by an asteroid strike. (Via NASA)

 And it’s long been thought certain hardy microbes could actually survive for a while in the vacuum of space. (Via National Science Foundation)

 So the critics admit much of what Benner says is possible, but they do take issue with the sensationalist press release.

 Scientific American’s Caleb Scharf points out Benner’s explanation for how life arose is just one of many possible theories — and most others don’t require material from Mars.

 Astrobiologist David Grinspoon says so much about the origin of life is still up in the air, it’s just as likely Earth was seeded by life from Venus as from Mars.

 So at this point, the answer to the question “Are we all Martians?” is a not-so-sensational “maybe” — although it does make for a good headline.

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7 things to know now: Candidate charged with assault; Brits mad at U.S. leaks; 'Star Wars’

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 7:14 AM

FILE - In this March 6, 2017, file photo, Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont., after winning the Republican nomination for Montana's special election for the U.S. House. The technology entrepreneur's substantial wealth has become a focus in the May 25 special congressional election. Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks are also vying to become Montana's sole representative in the U.S. House. (AP Photo/Matt Volz, File)
Matt Volz/AP

Here’s a roundup of news trending across the nation and around the world today.

What to know now

1. Manchester bombing: Eight people linked to Monday's bombing in Manchester, England, have been arrested by British authorities. Those in charge of the investigation complained publicly on Wednesday that U.S. officials were leaking information critical to the investigation. They were particularly upset over photos published by The New York Times that purported to show evidence about the bomb used in the attack. 
2. Gianforte charged: Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for Montana’s only U.S. House seat, was charged Wednesday with misdemeanor assault. Gianforte is accused of grabbing a reporter by the neck and throwing him to the floor after the reporter went into a private office with Gianforte. The reporter had not been invited into the office, staff members said. The special election is being held Thursday to replace Ryan Zinke, who resigned to become interior secretary.
3. Texas is growing: Four cities in Texas – Conroe, Frisco, McKinney and Georgetown – were among the top five fastest-growing cities in the United States last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Texas had 10 of the 15 cities on the list of fastest-growing communities with populations of 50,000 or more.
4. Didn’t disclose meetings: Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings that he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States when he filled out his security clearance form last year, according to a story first reported by CNN. Sessions was advised by an FBI official not to list the meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak because the meetings were held in his official capacity as a U.S. senator.
5. Good news for chocolate lovers: A new study shows that eating a small amount of chocolate each week can be healthy for your heart. The study, published in the journal MJ Heart, claims that chocolate can lower the risk of atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart beats irregularly. The study recommends two to six servings of dark chocolate each week.
And one more
“Star Wars” was released in U.S. movie theaters 40 years ago Thursday. Since then, fans have been told the story of the rebels’ fight in eight movies (with another one on the way this year), an animated film, an animated series and even by Lego characters.
In case you missed it

Teen with terminal illness requests 100,000 birthday cards

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 7:33 AM

cohdra/Morguefile (Morgefile license:

A 14-year-old Arizona boy who is battling a terminal illness has only one wish for his birthday this year: to receive 100,000 birthday cards.

Jacob Priestly has mitochondrial disease, which is draining him of energy, leaving him bedridden.

>> Read more trending news

There is no cure for the disease, which attacks every part of his body, eventually targeting his heart.

Jacob doesn’t want the cards for himself. He hopes that every card sent will increase awareness of his disease.

To send Jacob good wishes and to help him reach his goal, send cards to:

Jacob Priestley

P.O. Box 855

Queen Creek, AZ 85142

Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly body-slammed a reporter to the ground

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 9:28 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 12:40 AM

MISSOULA, MT - MAY 24:  Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte speaks to supporters during a campaign meet and greet at Lambros Real Estate on May 24, 2017 in Missoula, Montana.  Greg Gianforte is campaigning throughout Montana ahead of a May 25 special election to fill Montana's single congressional seat. Gianforte is in a tight race against democrat Rob Quist.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On the night before Montana’s special election to fill Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s vacant congressional seat, GOP candidate Greg Gianforte reportedly body-slammed The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs to the ground and shouted “Get the hell out of here” at him.

>> Read more trending news 

“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said while in an ambulance after the incident. “This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”

In the audio of the interview Jacobs was attempting to orchestrate at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, Gianforte can be heard saying, “I’m sick and tired of you guys. The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with The Guardian?”

>>RELATED: There are reports of another lawsuit against Fox News from one of its former employees

“Yes! You just broke my glasses,” Jacobs replied.

“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte said.

“You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacob said.

That’s when Gianforte yelled, “Get the hell out of here.”

Jacobs immediately filed a police report, but Gianforte reportedly left without speaking. Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin issued a statement late Wednesday saying that authorities issued a misdemeanor assault citation for Gianforte, who is scheduled to appear in court by June 7.

In a statement provided to media outlets, the candidate gave an alternate account of the incident, saying, “Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.”

The statement goes on to say that Jacobs was asked to lower the recorder, but did not. After Gianforte tried to grab the recorder, “Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.”

After CBO, what’s next on GOP health care plan in Congress

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 4:15 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 4:15 AM

Now that the Congressional Budget Office has weighed in on a House-passed GOP health care bill, Republicans must still do a lot of work to not only forge a plan in the Senate, but also figure out how to get it to the President’s desk for his signature.

The CBO report found the revised GOP plan, which was approved earlier this month, would save $119 billion over ten years, and would result in 23 million fewer people having health insurance by 2026, than under Obamacare.

The report also raised questions about coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and found that low income Americans between ages 50 to 64 would be hit with large price hikes.

Here’s where we stand on GOP efforts to overhaul the Obama health law:

1. Senate Republicans still searching for a deal. The CBO score didn’t change anything for Republicans, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that he’s still looking for fifty votes to advance a health care plan in the Senate. GOP Senators have been talking regularly behind closed doors, floating a variety of plans, but they don’t seem to be near an agreement. Complicating matters is that Republicans can only lose two votes and keep things on track.

2. For now, it’s only Republicans at the table. While there have been some bipartisan meetings, the official GOP effort is not reaching across the aisle on health care. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has made that clear that he is not interested in bringing Democrats aboard to cut a health care deal, arguing that they won’t even acknowledge the problems that exist in Obamacare right now. Again, with such a small margin for error, not having any Democratic votes make life difficult for the GOP.

3. There still is the option of not passing anything. Senate GOP leaders have indicated to reporters that a vote will occur in coming months, even if that plan gets rejected by the Senate. That could result in something that President Trump had floated months ago, just letting troubles mount in the Obamacare system until it creates enough blowback from the public to force action in the Congress. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) yesterday raised that as a possibility.

4. It’s easier to be against than for something on health care. Democrats have been much more organized in recent weeks in terms of arguing against GOP plans, while Republicans have struggled to forge a unified public message for their health care overhaul effort. It is the exact opposite of where we were for the last seven years, when Republicans were the ones taking pot shots at the Obama health law, and Democrats were acting skittish. And even the poll numbers have flipped as well – this is a Fox News poll:

5. $1,000 a month for maternity coverage? In its report, the Congressional Budget Office said if states decide to allow for lower cost plans that have less coverage, then people should expect extras, like maternity coverage, would not be cheap. “Insurers would expect most purchasers to use the benefits and would therefore price that rider at close to the average cost of maternity coverage, which could be more than $1,000 per month,” the CBO wrote. Let’s just say that example didn’t play too well with female Democrats in the Congress

6. Who are the 23 million more who won’t have coverage?This is an interesting figure from the CBO, because it is immediately challenged by opponents of Obamacare, who argue that people should have the right to *not* buy health insurance, and that most of those going without insurance will fall into that category. But that’s not what the CBO found. The report says 14 million people who are currently covered by Medicaid would go uninsured – presumably because they couldn’t afford insurance. Another six million would stop having coverage with changes in the state and federal exchanges.

7. Will health care derail a GOP seat in Montana? A few hours after the CBO report was issued on the House-passed health plan, the story turned into a WWE event, as a reporter claimed a Montana Republican candidate for Congress body slammed him after being asked about the CBO numbers. We’ll see if the dispute causes any aftershocks at the polls in the Big Sky State tonight.