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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Never Mind. NASA Says Ban on Chinese Students Was a Misunderstanding
24 October 2013 11:45 am
It was all just a misunderstanding.
That’s NASA’s explanation for a decision to bar six Chinese nationals from attending a conference to be held at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The agency has now reversed that decision. And it says a ban that agency chief Charles Bolden imposed in March on citizens from China and seven other countries from attending events at NASA facilities is no longer in place—and hasn’t been since this past July.
Earlier this month, officials at NASA Ames informed the six individuals—all graduate students at U.S. universities—that they could not register for the conference from 4 to 8 November to discuss scientific findings from the Kepler mission because of language that Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) put in a 2011 appropriation bill. The decision sparked an outcry from conference participants, some of who threatened to boycott the event. It also prompted Wolf to send a scathing letter to Bolden pointing out that his legislation could not have been the basis for NASA’s decision. Among other things, the legislation prohibits NASA from hosting representatives of the Chinese government at any of the agency’s facilities; however, it does not place any blanket restriction on Chinese citizens entering NASA centers.
In fact, officials said, the decision to bar the students was based on the policy that Bolden announced at a congressional hearing in March. Bolden said it would be a temporary moratorium and would be lifted after NASA completed an internal review of security procedures for allowing citizens of these countries access to NASA facilities.
That review concluded in July, according to a NASA spokesperson. But not everybody in NASA management seems to have been aware that the moratorium was no longer in effect when the Chinese students attempted to register for the conference at Ames.
The resulting uproar appears to have lifted the fog of confusion. “The initial decision about the Kepler conference was based on an internal misunderstanding of the Administrator’s foreign national access moratorium implemented in March, which is no longer in effect,” writes Allard Beutel, a NASA spokesperson, in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. “But because NASA was essentially closed during the federal government shutdown (until October 17), we weren’t able to address and remedy this situation sooner than last Thursday.”
Beutel said NASA has asked the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to conduct an independent security review of its facilities and procedures. “NASA is working closely with the NAPA review team and looks forward to its conclusions,” he writes.