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The opening ceremony of the International Year of Astronomy for the International Astronomical Union in 2009.

IAU/José Francisco Salgado

U.S. science conferences brace for boycotts: The ScienceInsider briefing

As an intense week winds into what may very well be an intense weekend, scientists around the world are starting to make their voices heard on U.S. science-related policy, in particular on President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. But will they be shouting into a void? That’s what some researchers think, as boycotts of science conferences based in the United States begin to blossom. Already, 5800 researchers around the world have signed one boycott petition, and some astronomers are asking their society not to hold meetings in the United States. Meanwhile, a scientist from one of the affected countries—Iran—has just been sentenced to death in his home country for unknown reasons. 

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Scientists urge boycott of U.S. meetings

Saying it was “profoundly concerned” by the impact of the Trump immigration order on international collaboration, an organizing committee of the International Astronomical Union today called on the group to suspend all meetings in the United States. Meanwhile, thousands of researchers around the world have already pledged to boycott U.S. meetings. Others wonder whether this is the right way to react: “I agree with the aims, but I am not sure this is the right means,” says Cornelis Dullemond of Heidelberg University in Germany. “I’m worried that we are just punishing our colleagues and friends in the U.S.” Science

Disaster medicine scientist sentenced to death in Iran

A researcher studying disaster medicine at two European institutes has been sentenced to death in Iran, apparently for security-related offenses. Iranian-born Ahmadreza Djalali, a scientist working in Italy and Belgium, was arrested more than 9 months ago and has been imprisoned in Iran since then, most of the time in solitary confinement and without access to a lawyer. Just what he has been accused of is unclear, and colleagues—convinced of his innocence—are trying everything they can to prevent his execution. Science 

USDA blacks out animal welfare information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today removed public access to tens of thousands of reports that document the numbers of animals kept by research labs, companies, zoos, circuses, and animal transporters—and whether those animals are being treated humanely under the Animal Welfare Act. Henceforth, those wanting access to the information will need to file a Freedom of Information Act request. The same will go for inspection reports under the Horse Protection Act, which prohibits injuring horses’ hooves or legs for show. Science

Republicans move to block rule on coal mining near streams

It looks like U.S. coal country won’t see the end of mountaintop removal any time soon: The U.S. Senate followed the lead of the House of Representatives in voting yesterday to scrap the Stream Protection Rule, which requires mining companies to restore excavated areas to their original state and monitor them for environmental issues. The rule, issued by the Obama administration late last year, would have affected almost 6000 miles of streams and would have likely made the process of mountaintop removal uneconomical. The New York Times

For hospitals and charities, ballgowns and controversies swirl at Trump’s club

Health care organizations and charities from the Cleveland Clinic to the Red Cross are coming under fire from members for holding annual fundraising galas at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. The events—many of which will take place this month—raise millions for everything from disaster aid to cancer research. But now that several doctors and disaster relief providers have gotten caught up in the administration’s new immigration order, researchers—and others—are petitioning and picketing against the fundraisers. STAT

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