Science  05 Aug 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5736, pp. 861

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  1. Bush Backs Teaching Intelligent Design

    1. Jennifer Couzin

    Echoing comments made about creationism when he was governor of Texas, U.S. President George W. Bush told a group of Texas reporters this week that he supports the teaching of intelligent design (ID) in schools. “Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” said Bush, without elaborating.

    In February, John Marburger, the president's science adviser, stated that ID is “not a scientific theory.” But Marburger says that he and Bush are not at odds over whether ID should be discussed in schools. “To ignore [ID] in the classroom is a mistake,” said Marburger in an interview with Science, although he added that ID should not be taught “as an alternative” to evolution. Marburger wouldn't say whether he'd discussed the issue with Bush.

    If Bush wants ID “to be a substitute or alternative [to evolution], … that would be a terrible mistake,” says Leonard Krishtalka, director of the Biodiversity Research Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. However, he notes, it's reasonable for the president to support teaching ID as part of the history of biology. ID proponent William Dembski of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, welcomed the support but said that he hoped Bush would support teaching ID in biology classes.

  2. Bird Flu Hits Russia

    1. Andrey Allakhverdov,
    2. Martin Enserink

    In a worrisome leap for the H5N1 avian influenza strain, Russian authorities have reported the first outbreak of the virus on their soil. The outbreak has killed thousands of chickens and wild birds around the Siberian capital of Novosibirsk; it appears to have started on 19 July at a lake in a village called Suzdalka where the two kinds of birds mingle, Russia's chief sanitary physician Gennady Onishchenko said at a press conference this week. A World Health Organization spokesperson says Russia should send samples from the outbreak to a lab outside the country to confirm the presence of the virus.

    With many chickens in backyard pens, bird trading at markets, and poor infrastructure in rural Russia, it's unlikely that the country can contain the westward spread of the virus, which means it could reach Europe, says Ilaria Capua, a flu researcher at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Venezie in Italy. “It's going to be very, very, very hard to stop it,” she says.

  3. DeLay Hits Pay Dirt

    1. Eli Kintisch

    Several science policy experts are criticizing a $550 million program for oil studies created as part of the energy bill passed last week (see story on this page). Three-quarters of the funds in the 11-year program—whose research mission includes drilling, exploration, and other petroleum technology—are to be managed by a “corporation that is a consortium” chosen by the Department of Energy. But Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) says the language is tailor-made for the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, an industry group located in the district of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who supported the measure.

    The Bush Administration has sought to cut oil and gas research, but the program will bypass congressional appropriators, drawing its funds directly from oil-lease income the government collects until the money runs out. Economist James Sweeney of Stanford University called the new program “pork” whose funding mechanism could set a harmful precedent for other energy research efforts.

  4. Beyond Kyoto

    1. Pallava Bagla

    Last week in Vientiane, Laos, the United States signed a climate technology-sharing pact with China, India, and Australia. The agreement, which seeks to “complement the Kyoto Protocol,” brings together for the first time major carbon emitters with top developing nations to share research from coal technology to geothermal energy.

    The agreement will promote technologies to provide “clean, affordable, and secure” energy, the U.S. said in a statement, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chair Rajendra K. Pachauri welcomed the news. But critics attacked the agreement, also signed by Japan and South Korea, as toothless and undercutting Kyoto.

  5. Drop Tests, Congress Tells EPA

    1. Erik Stokstad

    Congress has forbidden the Environmental Protection Agency from accepting any toxicity studies in which people were intentionally exposed to pesticides until EPA issues a final rule spelling out its policies. The legislators said draft rules released by EPA last month (Science, 8 July, p. 232) didn't offer enough protection to research subjects. The restriction was part of a spending bill finalized last week.