This past week has been a mixed bag for science and its proponents. There have been some big winners, some big losers, and a bunch of folks who don't know where they stand. Here's a roundup from Science's policy blog, ScienceInsider:
As a divided Congress has shown, you can't pass a nearly trillion dollar stimulus bill and keep everyone happy. The same goes for the 2009 U.S. budget, which is stingy when it comes to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but kind to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and positively munificent to the Department of Energy. But it wasn't all smooth sailing for NSF, which last week reversed a controversial policy that reduced the amount of information available about new minority Ph.D.s. The move follows widespread complaints that the new rules would hinder efforts to attract more minority students into scientific fields.
The hefty stimulus itself has also proved divisive. Senator Arlen Specter (R–PA) is being hailed as a hero for his successful effort to keep $10 billion of the stimulus money for NIH. Meanwhile, other congressional supporters of science, such as Representative Vern Ehlers (R–MI), voted against the bill, claiming it was not good public policy. And museums are fuming over a clause that bans educational institutions with living exhibits from receiving any funding from the package.
In non-U.S. news, environmentalists are praising the international community for a proposed treaty to reduce mercury pollution. Among the 140 countries on board is India, though its science minister says the Asian nation has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to investing in science. Also catching heat is Japan, which the head of a green nongovernmental organization criticizes for not showing leadership on environmental issues.
And finally, a tale of two viruses. International health officials last week sought to reassure antsy staff of foreign embassies in Beijing that the recent spate of fatalities in China from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza is no cause for alarm. But they also noted that H5N1 remains as deadly and unpredictable as ever. And a different type of virus--this one of the computer variety--plagued, of all things, the International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance. The good news: In contrast to many of the pathogens discussed at the conference, antiviral treatment is available for this one.
Science policy news has gone viral. Be the first to catch it at ScienceInsider.