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French Researchers Throw Shoes, U.S. Scientists Censor Themselves

6 February 2009 (All day)
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There wasn't much news in Obamaland this week, as the U.S. president waits for Congress to hammer out the details of a massive economic stimulus plan that could give billions to science. In the meantime, President Barack Obama may back prizes to foster space research, an idea he pooh-poohed during the presidential campaign. Here's a roundup of other important developments, courtesy of Science's new policy blog, ScienceInsider.

In European news, we returned this week to escalating tension between the French government and its scientists. Taking their cue from an angry Iraqi journalist, several hundred researchers hurled shoes at the Department of Higher Education and Research in Paris to protest hotly contested reforms. Meanwhile, France will be giving India two nuclear reactors, ending the Asian country's long history of nuclear ostracism from the West.

Elsewhere in Europe, the U.K.'s Royal Society called for the creation of a National Institute of Infectious Diseases to protect the public from bird flu, mad cow, and other maladies. Europe as a whole wants to protect sharks from people. The European Commission tightened regulations on catch limits and shark finning on Thursday.

In the U.S., Senator Charles Grassley (R–IA) has introduced an amendment that would force the National Institutes of Health to keep a tighter leash on its grantees. He wants anyone getting more than $250,000 in grant money to be up front about potential conflicts of interest. Researchers nationwide have bigger things on their mind, however. A new survey reveals that more and more U.S. scientists are censoring themselves and refusing to work with foreigners because of biosecurity concerns.

Keep your mind occupied with the best science policy news and analysis on the Web. Check out ScienceInsider. Your brain will thank you.