Science  09 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5681, pp. 161

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  1. Colombian Rebels Free Two, Hold Ornithologist

    A botanist and his guide who were kidnapped by Colombian guerrillas while conducting an ecological survey (Science, 28 May, p. 1223) have been released after 8 weeks in captivity. Diego Calderón, a 21-year-old ornithologist who was abducted at the same time, remains a captive of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which claimed responsibility for the 17 April kidnapping.

    Hermes Cuadros of the University of the Atlantic in Barranquilla and guide José Saurith were released on 18 June and walked 2 days through the forests of northern Colombia to reach the nearest town of Manaure. Cuadros's wife, biologist Myriam Salazar of the Botanical and Zoological Barranquilla Foundation, says that Cuadros and Saurith were separated from Calderón a few days after their capture and were hustled from one camp to another to elude Colombian Army helicopters. Salazar says that Cuadros was treated well by his captors and plans “to resume his field trips” as soon as an eye infection clears up.

    Calderón is a diabetic who needs two shots of insulin daily. The kidnappers called Calderón's family 3 weeks ago to play a recorded message from him saying that he was safe and had enough insulin, according to Andrés Cuervo, a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan working on a campaign to free him.

  2. E.U. Steps Up Effort to Ease Talent Flow

    PARIS—European research commissioner Philippe Busquin is determined to improve the flow of scientists across Europe and attract more talent to the continent. Last week he made it easier for scientists to obtain advice on dealing with Europe's patchwork of languages, immigration laws, and tax, school, and pension systems by linking up more than 200 existing “mobility centers” in 33 countries.

    Moving abroad can be a major headache, says André Smits of Nuffic, the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education; teaming up will help the centers make their information more comprehensive and easier to access, he says.

  3. Spain Produces New Stem Cell Lines

    BARCELONA—Spanish researchers announced last week that they had created the country's first cell lines from human embryonic stem (ES) cells. VAL-1 and VAL-2 join a club of six human ES cell lines worldwide that have been cultivated in a human-derived medium.

    The health ministry said it would investigate whether the research, led by Carlos Simón of the Regenerative Medicine Center in Valencia, had received government permission. The announcement comes in the midst of plans by health minister Elena Salgado to relax restrictions on research on human embryos as part of changes to a 1-year-old law on assisted reproduction.

    Simón says the new cell lines will be stored at the U.K. Stem Cell Bank—one of Europe's two public repositories for stem cells—and made available to researchers worldwide.

  4. Bell Labs to Open Irish Research Center

    Bell Labs, the research arm of Lucent Technologies, is setting up an Irish lab to focus on network architecture, wireless communications, and photonics research.

    The center, based at Lucent's existing facility at Blanchardstown, outside Dublin, will be the company's second overseas research facility. (A Beijing center opened in 1999.) Its 40-person staff will include expats from headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and local hires. Some 90 researchers at nine Irish universities and colleges will collaborate with the new lab, which opens in September.

  5. Try, Try Again

    TOKYO—Japan's space scientists are hoping that an upcoming Russian mission will give them a second chance to study Mars.

    Instruments to monitor Mars's magnetic field, atmospheric dust, the solar wind, and other characteristics were on board the Nozomi satellite that failed to enter Mars orbit last December. But a 2009 Russian mission to Phobos, one of the Red Planet's moons, may provide Japan with another opportunity—if officials can get a down payment in their 2005 space budget toward what may eventually total $25 million to $40 million for Japan's contribution to the project.

    The Russian mission hopes to collect and return soil samples from Phobos, while the Japanese spacecraft would circle the planet. Two previous Soviet attempts to visit Phobos failed in the late 1980s.