Nominations. Confirmations. Boycotts. Things on Capitol Hill are getting messy. And so are things in the scientific community. Yesterday, more than 150 scientific societies sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump urging him to rescind his recent executive order on visas and immigration. Meanwhile, scientists from affected countries are getting shut out of major conferences in the United States and making alternate plans for research. And of course the big news of the day—so far—is Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.
What does all of this mean for science? Read on!
The front page
A grassroots team is organizing a March for Science on Washington, D.C., for 22 April. Organizers have said they want to appeal to anyone who, as its mission statement puts it, “champions publicly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.” But the march has spurred debate over whether it is a good idea. Some fear it might only serve to paint scientists as an interest group, further politicizing scientific issues. Science
Scientists left waiting at the conference gate
Researchers around the world are finding it hard to attend scientific meetings in the United States, thanks to Trump’s refugee order. Several physicists at this week’s meeting of the American Physical Society used the closing moments of their talks to voice their concerns. Selma de Mink, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam, noted that her postdoc, Iranian researcher Eshan Moravveji, would probably not make it to California for an invited talk, potentially damaging his career. Raphael Buosso, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, whose research group includes young scientists from Brazil, Germany, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States, said the order threatens the United States’s stature as a place “that the very best people in the world want to come.” You can read more of their stories here.
With the Gorsuch nomination, Trump has sent a pro-business message to conservatives and—some would argue—an olive branch to liberals. But whatever happens to the nominee, the court is set to hear a number of science-related cases in 2017, including clashes on trade secrets, biosimilar drugs, and the Clean Water Act. Nature
Shortly after then–President-elect Donald Trump announced his plan to appoint Katy French Talento as a health care expert on his Domestic Policy Council, the backlash began. Talento, who has a master’s degree from the Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston, was lambasted for offering questionable advice on Zika transmission and for derailing HIV/AIDS research grants focused on sex workers and drug users. But she took the most heat for her articles warning women that the birth control pill is “seriously risky,” deforming the uterus and leading to miscarriages. ScienceInsider looks at how she arrived at those conclusions. Science
Following yesterday’s boycott of votes on Trump’s picks for Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury department secretaries, Senate Democrats today failed to appear for a confirmation vote on Environmental Protection Agency nominee Scott Pruitt. Republicans called the move unreasonable, while Democrats said they aren’t yet confident that Pruitt would be an advocate for the environment. Meanwhile, Treasury and HHS nominees Steven Mnuchin and Representative Tom Price (R–GA) have made it to the Senate floor, after Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch (R–UT) took the unusual step of suspending committee rules. The Washington Post
In case you missed it:
- Senate confirms Tillerson as secretary of State
- Congress may soon pass NASA authorization bill
- Trump has big plans to fix drug prices. Here’s your reality check
- Canadian researchers are warning of a regime of censored science
- How scientists can protect their data from the Trump administration
What are we missing?
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