Science: Theoretically: Pacific unrest/ German fraud/ Thalidomide back

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The Independent Culture
Sea-level rises caused by global warming will have a direct effect on a some tiny Pacific island nations, which are preparing for a showdown with Australia over its fight against compulsory greenhouse gas cuts. On Wednesday, 16 nations will meet in Raratonga, capital of the Cook Islands, to press Australia to make a commitment. Bikenibeu Paeniu, prime minister of Tuvalu, has warned Australia's prime minister John Howard that he faces a tougher diplomatic storm than that directed at France over its South Pacific nuclear tests in 1995. Australia faces substantial economic loss if it cuts greenhouse gas output, so it appears determined to stick to its position.

The meeting brings together Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Germany's scientific fraud case is developing more twists than an airport novel. Earlier this year, two two scientists were accused of having faked results used in more than 30 papers on gene therapy and molecular medicine. One, Marion Brach, admitted forging data in some papers and implicated her colleague Friedhelm Herrmann. He has not admitted doing so, and now says that he will sue investigators on the case for DM10 million (about pounds 3.3m). Meanwhile, other analysis of the pair's early work suggests that they both faked results earlier in their careers.

Thalidomide should be used to treat leprosy, says a panel of experts advising the US Food and Drug Administration, following results from trials. But to avoid birth defects, which was the cause of the drug's notoriety, the panel said it should not be prescribed for women of childbearing age unless they are taking two forms of birth control.

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