ScienceScope

Science  24 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5768, pp. 1691
  1. Boehlert Bids Bye-Bye

    1. Jeffrey Mervis

    It's hard out there for a term-limited chariman. Forced by House rules to step down at the end of the year as chair of the science committee, Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R—NY) last week announced he would not run for a 13th term in November. He's the fifth Republican who has chosen to leave Congress instead of returning without a leadership post after reaching the 6-year limit. His retirement, coming in his 70th year and 2 years after he had successful heart bypass surgery, will also deprive science of one of its staunchest supporters.

    “The scientific community will never know or appreciate the extent to which he has been their advocate,” says Representative Vernon Ehlers (R—MI), a former college physics professor and a colleague on the committee. “He's been indefatigable in arguing and fighting for science.” Ehlers would like to succeed Boehlert, if the Republicans retain control of the House this fall, but Representative Ralph Hall (R—TX) has the most seniority on the panel. Representative Bart Gordon (D—TN) has the inside track if the Democrats prevail in November.

  2. Travel Rules Rile Researchers

    1. Jon Cohen

    A controversial Bush Administration decision to cap the number of government researchers allowed to attend meetings outside the country apparently doesn't apply when the United States is the host—even if the meeting is across the ocean (Science, 24 February, p. 1086). AIDS scientists are scratching their heads over the logic behind a 50-person limit for the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in August when none exists for a similar meeting this June in Durban, South Africa, sponsored by the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator in the State Department.

    Mark Wainberg, co-chair of the Canadian conference, says the goals of the two meetings “overlap to a considerable extent,” and that the Toronto location was chosen largely for its proximity to the United States. The bill for travel to Durban “could have sent a lot of people to Toronto,” he says.

    State Department spokesperson Kristin Pugh contends that the 50-person limit, adopted last year by Congress, “doesn't apply” because the Durban meeting is sponsored by the U.S. government. No such exemption exists in the legislation, which refers only to any “international conference occurring outside the United States.” But Pugh says the department's policy will “comply with U.S. law.”

  3. Senate Boosts NIH Budget Hopes

    1. Jocelyn Kaiser

    Biomedical researchers cheered last week after the Senate agreed that health and education programs should get $7 billion more next year. Although the number is part of a nonbinding budget resolution, the vote makes it more likely that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive an increase rather than the level $28.6 billion budget that President George W. Bush requested for 2007. Many thousands of scientists sent letters supporting the resolution, according to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The next move is up to twin congressional spending committees. Scientists may once again have to take up their pens, however, as the House has been less generous toward NIH in recent years than has the Senate.

  4. French Researchers Hear Promises, Promises

    1. Barbara Casassus

    PARIS—Scientists are dismayed by what's missing from a reform of the national research agenda that was expected to be passed this week by the French legislature.

    The biggest problem, according to Edouard Brézin, president of the French Academy of Sciences, is a broken promise to index research funding to inflation (Science, 10 March, p. 1371). This omission would create a funding gap of roughly $500 million a year, Brézin claims. While research minister François Goulard has promised to adopt such indexing if his Conservative Party is reelected in 2007, the Socialist opposition has pledged to raise research spending by 10%.

  5. Russia Probes Defense Scientist

    1. Bryon MacWilliams

    The Russian security services are investigating a well-known Siberian physical chemist on suspicion of divulging state secrets. Oleg P. Korobeinichev, 65, who heads a research laboratory at the Institute of Chemical Kinetics and Combustion in Novosibirsk, has not been formally charged, but he has been ordered not to leave the country. Neither the government nor Korobeinichev is commenting on the case.

    Korobeinichev's lab specializes in the structure of flames of gaseous and condensed systems, work that has had applications to the weapons and space industries. Its more recent efforts to develop technology for the disposal of chemical weapons involve collaborations with Cornell University, Sandia National Laboratories, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, according to its Web site.