ScienceScope

Science  26 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5777, pp. 1119
  1. Antiquities Bill Decried

    German archaeologists say a law introduced to regulate sales of cultural artifacts won't reduce trade in looted objects.

    The law would allow Germany to become one of the last countries to ratify a 1970 UNESCO convention designed to prevent illicit trade in stolen or looted artifacts. But critics claim that its loopholes—exempting illicit objects already in Germany and applying only to objects registered as stolen—would render it toothless. Freshly looted objects would not be covered, complains Michael Müller-Karpe of the Roman-Germanic Museum in Mainz. German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, who was held captive earlier this year in Iraq, says the proposed law would abet terror groups that fence looted antiquities. The law could be adopted by fall.

  2. Alarm on Biohazard Lab

    Construction work is already under way in Boston on an advanced biological research facility, but opponents of the $128 million project aren't giving up.

    Last week, the Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sued the main funder, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in federal court saying it had failed to look closely enough at the potential environmental risks of the biosafety level 4 lab, which is being built by Boston University (BU) in a densely populated neighborhood with a high percentage of minority residents and will handle highly infectious agents. “They said the Titanic was supposed to be safe, and an iceberg showed us that was not true,” said Executive Director Charles Walker Jr. BU and NIH officials declined comment.

  3. Pachón Is Catchin' On

    A proposed see-it-all telescope has found a home, but backers still need $300 million to build it.

    The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) would detect menacing asteroids and galaxies and probe space-stretching dark energy. Last week, a siting committee decided that LSST should perch atop Cerro Pachón, a Chilean peak that is already home to two other big telescopes. The site beat out one with poor infrastructure in Baja California, Mexico. Project leader J. Anthony Tyson of the University of California, Davis, hopes that the National Science Foundation will pony up enough to begin construction in 2009 on the telescope, whose novel design features a digital camera with 3 billion pixels.

  4. Boycott Faces U.K. Vote

    CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—For the fourth time in 5 years, a U.K. university union has proposed a boycott of Israeli academics. At a meeting beginning 27 May, the 67,000-member National Association of Teachers of Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) will vote on a motion to penalize Israel for “apartheid policies, including construction of the exclusion wall” that's meant to keep out terrorists. The motion calls on NATFHE members to “consider their own responsibility” for boycotting Israeli “institutions or individuals.” The motion is likely to pass, says Ronnie Frazier, a U.K. representative of the Academic Friends of Israel, who calls the proposal discriminatory and the union generally biased. A union spokesperson declined comment, and the motion's sponsor remains unknown.

  5. WHO Suffers Loss

    GENEVA—The unexpected death Monday of the head of the World Health Organization has brought forth tributes to the leadership of Lee Jong-Wook—and speculation that the next director could be someone Lee bested when he took the top job in 2003.

    Lee, 61, collapsed 2 days before the start of the 59th World Health Assembly here. He died after undergoing emergency surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. “Lee not only had long experience with global health but real energy and drive,” says William Foege, a senior investigator at the Task Force for Child Survival and Development. “It's a great loss.”

    Among candidates rumored to succeed Lee are Belgian UNAIDS head Peter Piot, who was runner-up for the position in 2003, and Mexican Health Minister Julio Frenk Mora, who introduced universal health care coverage in his country. “[Mora] is very smart,” says Boston University's Gerald Keusch, “and it would be good for someone from a developing country to take the leadership.”

  6. House Preserves Toxics Rules

    The Environmental Protection Agency won't be able to proceed with plans to relax rules for reporting information about hazardous chemicals (Science, 20 January, p. 319), under the terms of an amendment to an appropriations bill passed last week by the House of Representatives. The Senate has yet to act on its version of the bill.

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