Trump info shutdowns at US science agencies, especially EPA

January 30, 2017 by Tabitha M. Powledge, Plos Blogs
The big storm that crossed North America on Jan. 15, photographed by NOAA’s new geostationary weather satellite.

By now it should have been possible to get away from our new presidency here at On Science Blogs. January 2017 is ending and the Year of the Rooster, bringer of light, is upon us. But stuff–bad stuff, often worse stuff–keeps happening to science and medicine.

the gag reflex

Bad Astronomer Phil Plait is gagging at the gag orders suddenly clamped on government , and he is far from alone. He is talking particularly about Environmental Protection Agency staff and scientists at the Agricultural Research Service. But Official Silence has been imposed at other too.

No press releases. No blog posts. No tweets. Speculation that researchers will not even be permitted to publish their findings in journals in the usual way.

Writing about the gag orders and also Trump's executive order to freeze all EPA grants and projects at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense, grad student Christina Jenkins said, "Before now we were talking in hypotheticals, about what might happen if Trump was the president, what that might mean for science or for the environment. The reality is scarier than I imagined."

Is this really the new government lowering the boom on taxpayer-funded science? Or is it scaremongering overreactions? Plait himself notes that, at data-minded FiveThirtyEight, Maggie Koerth-Baker is cautioning against immediate full-panic mode. It's possible the restrictions are temporary, intended only to give the new administration a chance to settle in.

There's also evidence of confusion and crossed wires and, possibly, speedy reactions to public protests. On Tuesday, media reported that references to had been ordered removed from the EPA's web site. Outrage surfaced immediately. On Wednesday, Science reprinted a post from Robin Bravender and Hannah Hess of E&E News. They reported that the order to scrub all mention of climate change, said to have come directly from the White House, had been put on hold.

Temporary hold? Nobody knows for sure. But we may find out soon. At Vox, Brian Resnick points out that it's not unusual for work at government agencies to be halted briefly while new administration appointees get their acts together. A TrumPet told him that the EPA restrictions will be lifted today (Friday, Jan 27.)

We'll see.

OTOH, Resnick notes, even if the early outrage was overheated, there are plenty of reasons for concern. There's the Bush administration history of muzzling the EPA. There are anti-science declarations from the TrumPets. Trump transition team members have recommended that EPA stop funding science altogether.

The pushback from science has begun

Predictably, counter-tweets claiming to come from rebellious employees at the EPA, the Forest Service, the USDA, and NASA sprang up immediately. At The Verge, Rich McCormick says there's reason to believe these claims may be genuine, although none has yet been verified. A lovely hed on this post: "On the internet, nobody knows if you're a National Park."

At Hit&Run, Ronald Bailey provides handles for several of these alt tweet streams, which he calls "the revolt of the permanent government." (That's a compliment.) Bailey argues, "with exception perhaps of some minor amount of national security intelligence, there is no good reason that any information, data, studies, and reports that federal agencies produce should be kept from the public and press. In any case, I will be following the Alt_Bureaucracy feeds for a while."

NeuroDojo Zen Faulkes posted on how to demand that scientific societies show some backbone. "Ask yourself: "Have my professional societies done anything more political than say, 'Please don't cut funding?'" Will they fight?," he asked.

Scientists associated with the group 500 Women Scientists donned lab coats and marched in DC as part of the Women's March on Washington the day after Trump's Inauguration, Robinson Meyer reported at the Atlantic. A wildlife ecologist from North Carolina told Meyer, "I just can't believe we're having to yell, 'Science is real.'"

North and South America and surrounding oceans, photographed by GOES-16, NOAA’ s new geostationary weather satellite on Jan. 15.

Taking a cue from how the Women's March did its social media organizing, other scientists who want to set up a Washington march of their own have put together a closed Facebook group that claims more than 600,000 members, Kate Sheridan writes at STAT. The #ScienceMarch Twitter feed says a date for the march will be posted in a few days. The group also plans to release tools to help people interested in local marches coordinate their efforts and avoid duplication.

At The Atlantic, Ed Yong describes the political action committee 314Action. (314=the first three digits of pi.) Among other political activities, it is holding a webinar on Pi Day–March 14–to explain to scientists how to run for office. Yong calls 314Action the science version of Emily's List, which helps pro-choice candidates run for office. 314Action says it is ready to connect potential candidate scientists with mentors–and donors.

Other groups may be willing to step in when government agencies wimp out. A few days before the Inauguration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly and with no explanation cancelled a 3-day meeting on the health effects of climate change scheduled for February. Scientists told Ars Technica's Beth Mole that CDC has a history of running away from politicized issues.

One of the conference organizers from the American Public Health Association was quoted as saying nobody told the organizers to cancel.

I believe it. Just one more example of the chilling effect on global warming. In politics, once the Dear Leader's wishes are known, some hirelings will rush to gratify them without being asked.

The APHA guy said they simply wanted to head off a potential last-minute cancellation. Yeah, I guess an anticipatory pre-cancellation would do that.

But then–Al Gore to the rescue! He is joining with a number of health groups–including the American Public Health Association–to hold a one-day meeting on the topic Feb 16 at the Carter Center in Atlanta, CDC's home base. Vox's Julia Belluz reports that it is not clear whether CDC officials will be part of the Gore rescue event.

Overseas, gags are not funny either

Meanwhile, a gag order familiar from previous Republican administrations, this one sometimes known as the Mexico City Rule, was resuscitated in a more comprehensively cruel form.

The original version prevents American aid from going to foreign family planning organizations that perform or even discuss abortion, even when the funding for them comes from other sources. The Trump-Pence version expands the rule to cover all global health organizations that get US funding.

"This means organizations that address everything from malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS to tropical diseases and vaccinations—the list goes on—will now risk losing funding if they even mention abortion," says Sarah Wildman at Vox.

In her post on the resuscitated climate change meeting, Belluz says, "The canceled event was one in a series of disruptions at science-related agencies following Trump's inauguration. Taken together, they suggest science in the age of Trump is on track for massive upheaval."

And that was Week One of the Trump-Pence administration.

Only 207 weeks to go.

Good grief.

Explore further: US 'resistance' movement coalesces... on Twitter

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rderkis
2 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2017
If someone started posting on here using your "user name" and you tried to stop them, would that be censorship, and make you as the censor a bad person?
And if I tried to convince you to murder your kids, should the government pay me, to convince you to kill them?

antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2017
Why shouldn't the Orange-utan in Chief do this?
After all, he told the uneducated how much he loved them, and they all cheered.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2017
Trump is one result of Reagan's Dumbing-Down of America.

That-there science stuff gets in the way of what they want to do.
antigoracle
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2017
How appropriate of the Orange-utan in Chief.
We all know, when it comes to piss-poor (great in his orange head) ideas, Da Donald wets the bed.
rderkis
3 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2017
Donald wets the bed.


See, you are nothing but a old lady creating and spreading lies and rumors about someone you don't like, in a act of jealousy.
How do you know he wets the bed, are you going to tell us your sleeping with him?
antigoracle
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2017
Donald wets the bed.


See, you are nothing but a old lady creating and spreading lies and rumors about someone you don't like, in a act of jealousy.
How do you know he wets the bed, are you going to tell us your sleeping with him?

I see you are one of the Orange-utan's uneducated supporters.
Here you go -- http://www.urband...-the-bed
MR166
1 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2017
Antigoricle we have had 16 straight years of decline in good paying US jobs. You had better hope and pray the Trump is able to deliver on his promises to revitalize the US economy or you can kiss your future goodbye. With a 20 Trillion national debt and it's doubling every eight years there is no time to waste. Job increases over the last 8 years were centered in the 55+ age group IE part time retail sales. We have a really sick economy.
glennie2
5 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2017
The Trumptard doesn't believe in science - his magic typy box thing must work on pixie dust. After all, no one really knows how computers work - except the trumptard who knows more about hacking than anyone.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (7) Jan 30, 2017
If you want to view the sites as they were before the update, there is a browser plugin for Firefox and Chrome. An article on it with links to download and install the plugin is available here: http://www.busine...n-2017-1

Everyone who argues with AGW deniers will want this plugin. As an added bonus, you'll be able not only to highlight government censorship of science, but also pinpoint the date when the data were taken down, to tweak the Trumpistas on their hero's fascism.

Resist!
rderkis
3 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2017
I see you are one of the Orange-utan's uneducated supporters.
Here you go -- http://www.urband...-the-bed


Ah, I should have known, you were twisting and lying your way thru everything.
I read your tweets about you having a 10th grade education, the first in your family. On that I congratulate you. But I am sure you could do better.

I just don't know how you could support Hitler and deny the Holocaust on twitter. But on further thought I can see your obsessed with hate to the point that it blinds you to any truth.

antigoracle
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2017
LOL
rderkis don't get worked up over my opinion, as long as the Orange-utan loves you, the poorly educated, you'll be satisfied.
https://www.youtu...t7omPoa0
guptm
5 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2017
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

A vast majority of people have no idea what Trump is doing. People are blind. Awakened ones can easily read the Trump's vision. All those who oppose Trump do not deserve to live in Trump's soil.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 30, 2017
Is it hard to type with your arm out stiff like that?
antigoracle
3 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2017
A vast majority of people have no idea what Trump is doing. People are blind. Awakened ones can easily read the Trump's vision. All those who oppose Trump do not deserve to live in Trump's soil.

A small minority of poorly educated people have no idea what the Orange-utan is doing. They are blind to frump's deceit. Ignorant ones cannot read. All those who oppose frump do not want to live in what frump soils.

FIXED THAT 4 YER.
rderkis
3 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2017
LOL
rderkis don't get worked up over my opinion, as long as the Orange-utan loves you, the poorly educated, you'll be satisfied.


Well with a 10 grade education I guess that means you love me. Oops, I did not mean it like it came out. I am proud you achieved a 10 grade education. And I can see that makes you feel superior to everyone else. Tell us again how smart you are, please :-)

And the way you say it, you must feel vary inferior to ANYONE else who has a better education than you. Myself, while not particularly wise, I value wisdom above all else. A trait you are sorely lacking in.
rderkis
1 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2017
antigoraclenot, I feel bad for you because any time spent on education without gaining any wisdom is wasted time.
TrollBane
5 / 5 (4) Jan 31, 2017
MR166 thinks Trump cares even a fraction of an iota about jobs for the average American. (Howls of derisive laughter.)
rderkis
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2017
Trollbane --- MR166 thinks Trump cares even a fraction of an iota about jobs for the average American. (Howls of derisive laughter.)


Trollbane, How would you know what he cares about? Your hatred of the man based on the media new shows has blinded you. For example the news quietly reported that 58% of Americans support the immigrant ban. When you watch the news, does that seem possible?
Besides (Howls of derisive laughter) indicates to me you have lost all objectivity and are mentally unbalanced.

Plus your handle says it all. "-)

Guy_Underbridge
5 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2017
the news quietly reported that 58% of Americans support the immigrant ban.

Newsweek: "American voters support 48 – 42 percent suspending immigration from 'terror prone' regions, even if it means turning away refugees from those regions," states a press release from Quinnipiac University, which questioned 899 people by calling their landline and cell phones in early January.

The poll reflected the strong anti-immigration and anti-refugee views held by Trump supporters in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

1: it was early January
2: it was NE Penn state
When you watch the news, does that seem possible?
I would guess it depends on which "news" you read and how you read it.
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2017
Gag orders. Looks like transparency. Not.

Well, this will start the brain darin in the US. You can just look at other countries that have made similar inroads against science. Didn't work out too well in every case.
rderkis
2 / 5 (4) Jan 31, 2017
I would guess it depends on which "news" you read and how you read it.


The 58% in favor of Mr Trumps travel ban was reported by CNN (Who is in complete opposition to anything Mr Trump does.) That's why I believe it.

As for ANY of you. You will sing a different tune (God forbid) a terrorist immigrant kills one of your loved ones. Or a weapon of mass destruction is used in the U.S.A. killing tens of thousands. That is what they want and are trying to do. Those people don't want to negotiate with us, they don't want your house, your property or your money, they want you and your family dead!
Guy_Underbridge
5 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2017
they want you and your family dead!
May you and your fear live happily ever after.
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2017
Well Trump has done the first thing that I find to be problematic. He is arming Syrian rebels. I assume that they are anti Assad. I was really hoping that he would do nothing or side with Russia and end this proxy war.
SteveS
5 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2017
For example the news quietly reported that 58% of Americans support the immigrant ban.


http://fox43.com/...untries/

56.73% against
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2017
In one week, Trump has upended fifty years of foreign policy, embarrassed our professionals, pissed off our friends, and threatened our journalists.

He is Mister Republican. Let the name stick.
rderkis
2 / 5 (4) Jan 31, 2017
In one week, Trump has upended fifty years of foreign policy, embarrassed our professionals, pissed off our friends, and threatened our journalists.He is Mister Republican. Let the name stick.


Yep, isn't it great! 50 years is just about how long, as a nation, we have been sliding down hill.
But he really is not a Republican first, he is a American first and the first true Patriot we have had in power in a LONG time.

May the Untied States be great again, like it was 50 years ago. :-)
gkam
3 / 5 (8) Jan 31, 2017
Trump is a confirmed liar, a huckster, a tax cheat.

He may be the perfect Republican, but not American.

Fifty years ago, we had Democratic presidents. The aircraft on and around which I worked at Edwards AFB in January 1967 are still the fastest which ever flew.

We had presidents who believed in science and progress back then, before the banksters bought all our politicians.
Zzzzzzzz
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2017
Trump will be dead or in prison before his term is over. This is by far the lowest point for the USA in my lifetime, and most probably in the history of the country. The fact that this happened does not bode well for the survival of the USA, or the human species.
antigoracle
3 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2017
May the Untied States be great again, like it was 50 years ago. :-)

I can see why the Orange-utan in Chief loves you, the poorly educated, so much.
gkam
2.7 / 5 (7) Jan 31, 2017
All of this will come back to bite him, as he creates more and more enemies. When the collapse starts, he will not be saved by those he helped to power, but savaged by them.

It is a brutal business. We need a professional in charge.
Zzzzzzzz
5 / 5 (4) Jan 31, 2017
Trump and his supporters prefer life in an echo chamber, in which all input can be used to validate their fragile delusions. When your "sanity" depends on maintaining your psychosis, life is difficult. Government by spastic attack is painful, but the most pain will ultimately be felt by those afflicted with the spasms.
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 31, 2017
Trump will be dead or in prison before his term is over.

Well, if the reps have any sense of political survival they're going to head the movement to impeach him. Otherwise it's going to be a rude awakening at the next elections.
rderkis
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2017
Zzzzzz -- When your "sanity" depends on maintaining your psychosis, life is difficult. .


Do us all a favor and go back to sleep. Your user name says it all. :-)
SteveS
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 01, 2017
For example the news quietly reported that 58% of Americans support the immigrant ban.


http://fox43.com/...untries/

56.73% against


It looks as if the poll is closed now with 58% in favour.

Maybe people have been talking to Native Americans about the dangers of uncontrolled immigration from war torn areas such as 18th century Europe
Guy_Underbridge
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2017
...like it was 50 years ago.
Your 1967 was probably very different than my 1967... but they did adopt the 25th Amendment
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2017
Under Obama very few Christians from Muslim countries were accepted as refugees. Where was the outcry? Oh boo hoo, a temporary ban is put in place for SEVEN countries and all the liberals are up in arms.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 01, 2017
"First they came for the Muslims, but not being a Muslim, I did not speak up, . . . "
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 01, 2017
The 166 whine next year:

"Oh boo hoo, a temporary concentration camp is put in place and all the liberals are up in arms."
rderkis
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 01, 2017
Maybe people have been talking to Native Americans about the dangers of uncontrolled immigration from war torn areas such as 18th century Europe


Maybe people have been talking to North America's first occupants, about the ruthless takeover and genocide of those first true Americans by the people we call Indians from the old world.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2017
"First they came for the Muslims, but not being a Muslim, I did not speak up, . . . "
How long do you think before they get to the psychopaths? If they did them first then everybody else could stay.

"The high incidence of psychopathy in human society has a profound effect on the rest of us who must live on this planet, too, even those of us who have not been clinically traumatized. The individuals who constitute this 4 percent drain our relationships, our bank accounts, our accomplishments, our self-esteem, our very peace on earth."
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2017
Well, if the reps have any sense of political survival they're going to head the movement to impeach him. Otherwise it's going to be a rude awakening at the next elections
You mean all those newly-elected reps with similar convictions who unseated all the liberals in unprecedented numbers this election cycle?

I really think youre missing a few salient facts.
gkam
Feb 03, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Uncle Ira
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 03, 2017
The "salient facts" are found in the 25th Amendment.


Cher, impeachment is not part of the 25th Amendment. It's covered in Article One of the Constitution.

The 25th Amendment is for a person unable to carry out the duties of his office. The "salient facts" are that the V.P.-Skippy, (Pense) the Sec of State-Skippy (Tillerson) and the leaders of both bodies of the congress (Ryan & McConnell) all have to sign off on it.

But other than that, you might be on to something,,,,,, you are still an idiot of remarkable degree..
gkam
Feb 03, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2017
But other than that, you might be on to something,,,,,, you are still an idiot of remarkable degree
Oh, . . did you finally catch on?
Naw we've all known youre an idiot for a very long time.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Feb 03, 2017
I think that might be more likely, now that they have their people in the door.

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