Science  03 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5642, pp. 31

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  1. Indian Minister Returns

    NEW DELHI—India's embattled science minister is back on the job. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee this week refused the resignation of physicist Murli Manohar Joshi after an Indian court stayed charges that Joshi had helped foment a deadly religious riot in 1992. Joshi had submitted his resignation after being implicated in the case (Science, 26 September, p. 1825).

  2. France Unveils R&D Budget

    PARIS—France's R&D budget will rise by 2.2%, to about $8 billion, under an otherwise austere 2004 government spending plan released this week. The government also wants to spend an additional $120 million on priority projects, including cancer and energy studies.

    Science unions say that the boost is too meager to make up for past cuts. They are also critical of plans to replace some retiring permanent employees with temporary workers on 3- to 5-year contracts. But Science Minister Claudie Haigneré says that the shift will give research institutes “flexibility.” Parliament is expected to approve the budget by year's end.

  3. Russia Retreats From Kyoto

    Russia appears to have put the Kyoto pact on ice. President Vladimir Putin this week failed to give a timetable for when his government might ratify the greenhouse gas agreement, adding that warming might help Russian agriculture. The holdup prevents the pact from entering into force, as it requires backing from nations producing at least 55% of the world's warming gases. Russia has a 17% share.

  4. A Tussle Over Salt Data

    Industry groups are appealing a government decision to deny them data from an influential health study on salt and hypertension. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Salt Institute last week asked the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to reconsider its August refusal to cough up numbers from the DASH-Sodium study. They argue that the federal Data Quality Act requires NIH to release the information because it was used to back dietary guidelines.

    NIH has 60 days to respond, but it has already argued that the data weren't “influential” and that the researchers weren't required to share. Meanwhile, NIH says that the DASH scientists plan to release the numbers in January 2004—a move that would settle the fight.

  5. Budget Battle Drags On, And the News Isn't Good

    U.S. science agencies still don't know their budgets for the 2004 fiscal year that started this week. But several recent decisions have left science advocates feeling grim. Late last month, lawmakers put the finishing touches on a $368 billion defense bill that holds the Pentagon's basic research budget—a major source of university grants in math, computer science, and engineering —flat at $1.4 billion. Applied studies would grow by 4.7% to $4.5 billion.

    Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colorado, is facing some heavy weather. A Senate spending panel last week zeroed out the White House's entire $8.3 million request for the center, which monitors the sun to warn satellite and electric-grid operators of potentially dangerous flares and other space weather. It follows a vote by the House of Representatives to cut the agency's request by one-third. The two bodies will decide on a final number later this fall.

  6. BU, Galveston Win Big in Biosafety Building Boom

    The last prizes have been claimed in the race to get in on the biodefense research building boom sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Winning the two biggest construction grants—a whopping $120 million each—are Boston University and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced this week. The money will build national biocontainment laboratories as secure as biosafety level 4, which can contain the most dangerous pathogens. The labs will be used to study bugs that could be used as weapons and to design vaccines and treatments.

    In addition, nine institutions will receive grants of $7 million to $21 million to build regional labs at biosafety level 2 and 3—including Duke University and the University of Chicago, which are also among eight new regional biodefense research centers that were announced last month (Science, 12 September, p. 1450). Galveston also won one of those awards, making it the top winner in the biodefense sweepstakes.