ScienceScope

Science  25 Jul 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5888, pp. 475
  1. Fighting for Peace

    Archaeologists are urging their colleagues to “resist any attempts by the military and governments to be co-opted in any planned military operation” in Iran, a stance that some academics say is potentially disastrous.

    Last week, the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) in Dublin passed a resolution warning that a conflict in Iran would have “catastrophic consequences for millions of people and will seriously endanger the cultural heritage of Iran and the Middle East in general.” But the prohibition on providing governments with advice or expertise is “misguided and naïve,” says Lawrence Rothfield, a cultural policy professor at the University of Chicago in Illinois.

    Rothfield and others note that input from U.S. experts prior to the Iraq war in 2003 reduced the damage done to that country's rich archaeological past. Acknowledging the rift, WAC President Claire Smith said that the resolution was passed by the group's assembly but is not a formal position of the organization.

  2. Ruling Protects Wolves

    A U.S. federal judge has put the gray wolves of the northern Rocky Mountains back on the list of endangered species. Last week, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, Montana, granted a preliminary injunction that restores federal protection to wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming and scuttles the three states' plans to allow hunting this fall.

    In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the wolves from the endangered list, saying that the estimated 2000 canids represented a conservation success story (Science, 15 February, p. 890). But 12 conservation organizations contested the decision, arguing that the government had not met its own criteria for success, in particular, achieving a genetically mixed population. In his 40-page decision, Molloy agreed that “genetic exchange has not taken place” and that allowing wolves to be hunted or killed if they attacked livestock would likely “eliminate any chance” for such exchange to occur. Molloy will eventually decide if the injunction should be permanent.

    In the 5 months since the delisting, 110 wolves in the region have been killed due to state laws that permit citizens to shoot the canids as predators or if they “worry” livestock, says Louisa Willcox, a spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a plaintiff on the suit.

  3. Chips Ahoy

    Computer scientists at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, can tell the world how they cracked a widely used security chip, a Dutch court has ruled. NXP, a Philips subsidiary, had asked the court to stop the academics from talking at an October conference in Spain and publishing their findings in the meeting's proceedings (Science, 11 July, p. 189). But the court said that exposing a flawed security system serves society's interest and is an acceptable form of expression. In a statement, NXP says that clients “may want to urgently review their [security] systems.” The company is considering an appeal.

  4. Hello, Fellows

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is hoping a new fellowship program will entice talented scientists and physicians to join the agency. Participants will spend 2 years learning about FDA's regulatory practices in drugs, devices, and food, as well as legal and policy issues. The agency plans to accept between 30 and 40 fellows this fall and grow the program if it's successful (www.fda.gov/commissionersfellowships). The program comes during a hiring bonanza aimed at adding 1300 employees by October.

  5. Monkey See, Monkey (No) Do

    Leading researchers who study microbicides to prevent transmission of the AIDS virus are calling for more studies in monkeys (see p. 532), and—until last week—they had high hopes that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would provide the funding for the expensive experiments. Their optimism was well-grounded: In February 2007, the foundation began courting four prominent groups of researchers to work together to answer fundamental questions about the safety and efficacy of several different topical agents that can be inserted into the vagina or rectum to derail the AIDS virus.

    The researchers, who wrote proposals specific to the foundation's wishes, were elated because such studies are typically difficult to fund through the U.S. National Institutes of Health “unless you have preliminary data on each drug,” says Ronald Veazey of the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana. But Veazey and other investigators received a curt rejection note from the Gates Foundation on 18 July indicating that the foundation had based its decision on “input from reviewers and internal decisions on foundation strategy for funding.”

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