Legislation, news, and a meteor!

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Events, Jobs, Policy, Science


“Today, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced a bill to protect our national investments in biomedical research from impending automatic federal budget cuts.  The automatic budget cuts, or “sequester,” will cancel $85 billion in federal spending between March 1 and September 30, including roughly $2 billion from the National Institutes of Health budget (NIH).  That amounts to a failure to fund or renew funding for some 2,000 grants at America’s research universities, where the world’s top scientists are discovering treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and HIV/AIDS.  McDermott’s bill would ensure that NIH’s budget is protected for the balance of this fiscal year. ”


“Are we training too many science Ph.D.s or too few? What are the career prospects like for current graduate students and postdocs? AAAS member and professor of economics Paula Stephan, Ph.D.will speak about these issues during the upcoming AAAS 2013 annual meeting in Boston….Below is an email interview with Dr. Stephan that examines some of the issues she will discuss during her AAAS meeting presentation.”


“A bill that requires free public access to articles resulting from federally-funded research was introduced into the US congress yesterday, delighting supporters of open-access.”


“This morning residents of the Chelyabinsk region of Russia saw an enormous meteor streak across the sky. Car dashboard cameras captured one or more objects falling to earth.” With video!


“Like most State of the Union speeches, however, this one offered few details (especially on how to fund the initiatives). But two items, in particular, made ScienceInsider want to know more.” This article goes on to examine Obama’s claims that “”every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy,” and his promise to use Executive Order to combat Climate Change if Congress refuses to act.


“For the second time in 8 months, a congressional committee is considering a bill that would avert a calamitous shortage of helium that’s sure to take place this year if Congress does nothing. That shortage could cripple various high-tech industries and bring research in a variety of fields to a standstill. But if the fate of last year’s bill is any indication, the new proposed legislation may not make it into law.”


“Many of the drugs we take aren’t actually digested — they pass through our bodies, and down through the sewer pipes. Traces of those drugs end up in the bodies of fish and other wildlife. Nobody’s sure what effect they have.”


“This week, our colleagues Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams with NPR’s investigations unit have a terrific three-part series on the Marine Stewardship Council. As they report, the MSC’s labels tell consumers which seafood is supposed to be good or bad for the environment. But some environmentalists say the label is misleading, and that the growing demand for sustainable-labeled seafood from retailers like Target and Whole Foods is pressuring the program to certify fisheries that don’t deserve it.”


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