More on "Climategate"; New Details on Murdered Iranian Physicist

Here's a rundown of some of the stories we've been following on Science's policy blog, ScienceInsider[]:

Who killed Masoud Alimohammadi, the Iranian physicist who was blown up outside his apartment in Teheran on 12 January by a remote-controlled motorcycle bomb? Emerging details of the professor's scientific and political life have strengthened the accusation by opponents of Iran's regime that the murder was sponsored by pro-government forces and not by foreign intelligence agencies, as Iranian authorities claim.

The future doesn't look sunny for Russia's Koronas-Foton spacecraft, a solar observatory that has been having power system problems since last summer, culminating in a loss of contact in early December. Communications with it were reestablished late last month and controllers in Russia have been trying to recover systems on the craft, but it was reported yesterday that their efforts have so far failed.

A long-running feud between pharmaceutical companies and the German institute that evaluates the effectiveness of medical treatments could cost the institute director his job. Although the post is supposed to be apolitical, members of Germany's new coalition government have called for Peter Sawicki, founding director of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, to be replaced with someone who is friendlier to the pharmaceutical industry. The institute's board of directors is expected to decide tomorrow whether Sawicki, a clinical researcher and diabetes expert, will be replaced when his contract runs out later this year.

China is a scientific rocket, and the global research community is climbing aboard. Every 2 years the National Science Foundation releases a wealth of data on the state of the global scientific enterprise. And this year's volume of Science and Engineering Indicators makes clear how China's decade-long investment in research has affected all segments of that enterprise, including higher education, journals, and high-tech industries.

Scientists at the helm of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have spent weeks on the defensive after e-mails uncovered by hackers revealed private messages in which they criticized papers relevant to their 2007 report. That behavior has led to accusations of bias, or worse, and undermined the credibility of the climate research community. Now the IPCC leadership is preparing its response, with steps that may include additional training for the authors of the next report, due out in 2013, and a review of the incident by an outside organization. At least one key scientist is unhappy with those options.

While the world's flu fighters have concentrated on countering the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, avian influenza H5N1 has quietly continued to take its toll on both poultry and humans. Last year, 17 countries, stretching from Côte d'Ivoire and Germany to China and Japan, reported outbreaks of H5N1 in domestic poultry and wild birds; and the World Health Organization, which still says H5N1 poses a pandemic threat, recorded 72 human cases, 32 of them fatal.

For more on these stories and the latest science policy news and analysis, visit ScienceInsider.