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Sure, your editor loves you. But get your agreement in writing anyway. In this article, Anthony N. Elia, a New York attorney specializing in intellectual property, entertainment law, and commercial law, presents an introduction to contracts and negotiating them. This is the first article in a multi-part series on the basic law of book and magazine freelance contracts.

David Perlman, award-winning science editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, has been reporting on science and technology for more than 50 years. In addition, he's been a colleague, mentor, and personal hero to legions of NASW members, one of whom is Cristine Russell, who recently spoke at length with Perlman about his illustrious career. The following is an edited and condensed version of that conversation. Perlman celebrated his 90th birthday on Dec. 30, 2008.

It's time to expect the unexpected. Leading environmental researchers issued that warning on 13 February at the AAAS meeting in Chicago, during a symposium to address how Earth's ecology is responding to climate change. According to the scientists, the debate on why the world is warming has ended. Now that researchers have established that humans are at least partially responsible, they said, it's critical to focus on how climate change might affect life in the 21st century and what can be done to manage the impacts.

Biomedical researchers are getting personal. That, at least, is the trend foreseen by geneticist T. Conrad Gilliam of the University of Chicago, who spoke on 13 February at the AAAS meeting in Chicago. In a provocative address titled "Human Genetics, Genomics, and the Future of Medicine," Gilliam explored personalized medicine — and his efforts to trace some diseases to many sets of interacting genes.

Despite long-standing suspicions between the governments of the United States and North Korea, a progressive group of American intellectuals is calling for increased scientific cooperation between the two countries. Speaking at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago on 13 February, members of the U.S - D.P.R.K. Scientific Engagement Consortium pointed to science as a tool for bridging the political gap.

Climate change, one of the leading science and society stories of the past decade, remained a hot ticket for both scientists and journalists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. Attendees packed a session titled "Hot and Hotter: Media Coverage of Climate-Change Impacts, Policies, and Politics" on 13 February.

Africa's reputation as a scientific backwater has deep roots. Political instability, malnutrition, disease, and poverty have loomed as far more serious issues than tinkering with science. But in recent years, biotechnology research and development has emerged in many African countries. Researchers there now have the potential to tackle the AIDS epidemic, water pollution, and other major problems through local and national initiatives, said speakers on 13 February at the AAAS meeting in Chicago.