Science Policy Recap: February 9, 2017

While the executive order on immigration continues to affect scientists, a coalition of public interest groups is suing the Trump administration, alleging that the president’s executive order on regulations “exceeds [his] constitutional authority.”

By Joshua A. Krisch | February 9, 2017

WIKIMEDIA, THE WHITE HOUSEPresident Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration continues to affect scientists. The Atlantic described how one team of scientists at Harvard University is coping with order-associated travel restrictions. Pardis Sabeti, the head of the lab, is a former Iranian refugee. She recently posted a picture of her Iranian colleagues on social media. “I just wanted to show the faces of the types of people they’re trying to ban,” she told The Atlantic. “They’re off-the-charts brilliant, kind, humble, and hard-working. Last night, they were all here working in the lab, with the Super bowl on in the background.”

See “Pardis Sabeti: An American Scientist Born in Iran”

Criticism of the immigration order continues to trickle in. This week, 12 doctors’ groups formally protested the ban, according to MedPage Today, and pharma executives are expected to sign their own statement shortly, STAT News added. Nearly 100 biotechnology executives have also signed a letter opposing the executive order, Forbes reported. The letter, due to be published in Nature Biotechnology, notes that more than half of the biomedical researchers in the U.S. are foreign-born.

Meanwhile, STAT reported, a coalition of public interest groups is suing the Trump administration to block another executive order—one telling federal agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one issued. “The Executive Order exceeds President Trump’s constitutional authority, violates his duty under the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, and directs federal agencies to engage in unlawful actions that will harm countless Americans,” according to the lawsuit.

At least two bills—neither likely to pass—targeting the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were recently introduced in Congress. One proposed its abolishment, while the other is dubbed the “Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017.” The sponsors of the latter proposal claim that the EPA has “exceeded its statutory authority by promulgating regulations that were not contemplated by Congress” and maintain that the “no Federal agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under current law.”

While there are several barriers to the president’s proposal to build a wall along the southern border of the United States, geological concerns have come to the fore. “Though most wall designs are fairly simple, builders must adapt to a wide range of terrains,” Smithsonian reported. “The southern US border alone contains desert, wetlands, grasslands, rivers, mountains and forests—all of which create vastly different problems for builders.”

Finally, in the most-contentious Trump cabinet confirmation to date, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary in a 51-to-50 vote on February 7. Some science educators are not pleased. “I’ve never really been political until now and hearing how unqualified she is has really sparked my action,” “John D,” who teaches biology in Indiana, told Gizmodo.

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Avatar of: True Scientist

True Scientist

Posts: 59

February 9, 2017

Complaints about Trump's attempts to make a difference keep coming.

We must trust foreignners just by looking at their "off-the-charts brilliant, kind, humble, and hard-working" faces because they spent time in a lab even during Super bowl hours. I suspect they were having good time watching it at work and being paid for that.

Because "more than half of the biomedical researchers in the U.S. are foreign-born" they should be able to keep coming from anywhere. Why? Where is logic?

And now geological concerns have come to the fore regarding building a wall. Suddenly, it appears that builders must adapt to a wide range of terrains. Who could suspect that?

By the way, Trump is not the first who proposes to build the wall. He is the first who really tries to do it.

Oh, and we all should know that one school teacher in Indiana does not support confirmation of Betsy DeVos.

Good job, editors.



Avatar of: Barry@DataSense


Posts: 24

February 9, 2017

I am not praising OR condemming these American travel restrictions, but as scientists we should be objective and impartal.  These arguments about the impact on science are personal. People are worried about their own labs or their own friends.They are about individual people! The world will not come to an end if these [foreign] scentists, no matter how brilliant, are not able to travel to America for a while.

Avatar of: Barry J Barclay

Barry J Barclay

Posts: 16

Replied to a comment from True Scientist made on February 9, 2017

February 11, 2017



Avatar of: dmarciani


Posts: 56

February 11, 2017

Maybe things have changed a lot in the past decades; but, I remember that when I was at graduate school and later doing post-doctoral work, during the late nights and weekends the labs were filled with people from many countries, and yes many were WASPS from the US. While the E.O. was not a legal masterpiece, indeed it was a catastrophe, it seems that similar orders were issued before by the previous administration and the scientific community was quiet as a church mouse. Also, where was the "scientific community" when the former administration Attorney General Lynch was looking into prosecuting Climate Change Deniers? Evidently, the self appointed representatives of the scientific community were OK with that Middle Ages approach to deal with dissenters. For those that believe like chicken little that the sky is falling, I would recommend to read about Linus Pauling, a brilliant scientist, honest antiwar activist, which was bother and practically persecuted for his believes by the Federal Government; as far as I know he single handed did more for human dignity and science than the present protesters. By the way, nobelist Pauling never used pseudonymous like “Linus Q,” evidently he was a brilliant. activist but not a paranoid one

That somebody does not like whoever was elected, does not give a license to promote anarchy under bizarre quasi legal excuses, or support demonstrations where looting and arson are an example of civilization. Like in science, try to plan for the next elections better, select candidates that have a good probability of winning and prepare a political platform that does not appeal only to the “educated elites,” but also to those less lucky ones that could not go to college, but that are honest, responsible Americans and vote. Being older and having lived under some oppressive governments in another country, in my opinion the current US activists are largely immature that cannot accept a self inflicted political defeat like mature people do. Grow up and next time plan your political experiment better to succeed and remember the definition of insanity when doing the planning.

Avatar of: True Scientist

True Scientist

Posts: 59

February 15, 2017

Such a refreshining reading. Thank you, dmarciani

Avatar of: rabidpeach


Posts: 1

February 17, 2017

Truly question True Scientist's truth regarding his scientist-ness.

Unfortunately American (<<correct use of capitalization) students don't like to PhD as much as we need them to so we import a lot of other graduates from sometimes muslim countries. The EO looses its moral authority when it excludes muslims from Saudi Arabia (recall, whose people bommed NYC) and Egypt (where they recently had a plane-bombing!) 

So the opposition isn't merely towards the immigration restriction but to this illogical picking and choosing of countries, which looks more and more like Trump half-assing a campeign promise than any kind of true security measure.

Furthermore, why on earth is this being applied to scientists working here that would already have been vetted by our immigration system? 

Furthermore, climate change deniers are just that, they aren't a special form of human or trademarked group, they don't get proper noun capitalization. 

Lastly, climate change deniers probably ought to get investigated so we can follow the money to their chem-industry backers so we can finally expose them for the ignorant, manipulatable, shills they are.



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