agency’s acting deputy secretary, Michael
Young, urging that the information be
immediately restored. “The public has a
right to know if regulated entities have
subjected animals in their care to abuse,”
the senators wrote.
Elusive boa surfaces in Brazil
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL | After 64 years,
Brazilian researchers have finally spotted
one of the world’s rarest snakes. Scientists
hadn’t seen a live Cropan’s boa (Corallus
cropanii) since 1953; the snake, thought
to be the rarest boid in the world, has only
been spotted five times in the ensuing
decades, and it was always dead. But in
January, a group of rural workers in Brazil’s
Atlantic Forest south of São Paulo captured a
1.7-meter-long female, marked by her yellowish belly and black diamond–patterned
back, and brought it to researchers from
the University of São Paulo’s Museum of
Zoology and the Butantan Institute. One key
to the species’s elusiveness, the scientists
found, may be that it lives high in the tree
canopy, rather than on land; they placed the
captured snake on several different trees and
watched it dexterously climb to the top. The
researchers plan to release the snake back
into the forest with a radio transmitter.
Cancer challenge names awards
LONDON | Cancer Research UK, the U.K.
cancer charity, announced up to £71 million
in awards to four research teams that will
tackle some of the most daunting problems
in cancer research. The Grand Challenges
competition began more than 2 years
ago by gathering input from experts
around the world to identify big problems
in cancer research. The program has now
selected four international teams who will
each receive between £15 million and
£20 million over 5 years to map tumors at
the molecular and cellular level, predict
when breast cancer will develop, and pin
down environmental causes of cancers. The
charity says the grants are among the largest
ever for a cancer research project. A new
Grand Challenges competition will begin
later this year.
Pushback to NHL records demand
BOS TON | Two Boston University (BU)
brain researchers are resisting demands by
the National Hockey League (NHL) that they
release brain photographs and pathology slides from deceased NHL players, and
records of interviews with their families.
BU neuroscientists Robert Stern and Ann
McKee accumulated the data while studying
Ongoing uncertainty over the future of U.S. immigration policy continues to ripple through
the country’s scientifc community, as universities note a signifcant drop in applications
from international students (see p. 676). Here’s what else happened:
Universities help make states’ case against immigration ban
Research universities got a bit of the spotlight in two recent high-profle court decisions that
have blocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, which would
bar foreign nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States
for 90 days. Last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
upheld a federal district court’s decision to temporarily block the administration from carrying
out the order. The judges determined that states do have standing to sue, as the order would
strongly afect public universities’ faculty, researchers, and students. And this week, a Virginia
federal judge issued an order preventing the Department of Justice from enforcing the order
against Virginia residents or students attending Virginia’s public universities.
Senate confrms Price to lead HHS
Former Representative Tom Price (R–GA) was confrmed last week as secretary of the
Department of Health and Human Services by the U.S. Senate. Price, 62, takes the helm
of a $1 trillion government department that includes the National Institutes of Health, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. He will
oversee the repeal and replacement of the Afordable Care Act promised by Republicans.
Price, a bone surgeon, holds antiabortion views and has a record of opposing needle
exchange programs. He came under fre during his Senate confrmation hearings following
reports that since 2012, while a member of the House of Representatives, he traded more
than $300,000 in health care stocks while advancing legislation that could afect the
performance of those stocks.
Long shot bid for carbon tax
Last week, former Secretary of State James Baker led a group of senior Republican
statesmen in rolling out a plan for using a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Baker acknowledged in a Washington, D.C., press briefng that his Climate Leadership Council
faces an “uphill slog,” despite what he framed as the proposal’s populist appeal. Dubbed the
“Republican climate jailbreak strategy,” the proposal calls for a revenue-neutral carbon tax
starting at $40 per ton. Taxes would be collected at the source—on oil at the refnery, for
instance—then built into the prices for products made from that material. Revenue would be
returned to taxpayers, amounting to about $2000 annually for a family of four.
Nuclear power industry soft pedals climate pitch
With the arrival of the Trump administration, the U.S. nuclear industry is revising its
climate-based pitch for government assistance for at-risk reactors. Maria Korsnick, head
of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) in Washington, D.C., told Wall Street analysts in
New York City last week that supporting fnancially struggling, aging reactors is critical
to curbing greenhouse gas emissions—a key focus under the Obama administration.
But because the Trump White House doesn’t appear to have a “strong view” on climate
change, Korsnick said, NEI’s
federal lobbying is now focused
on emphasizing baseload nuclear
power to support the electric grid.
Trump’s transition team appeared
to support the ongoing operation of
struggling reactors in a memo that
circulated earlier this year, as well as
the ongoing licensing of the Yucca
Mountain, Nevada, nuclear waste
repository—subject of a years-long
impasse. But the administration
may look to cut programs critical
to nuclear power’s future, including
the Department of Energy’s loan
guarantee program, which Korsnick
called essential for fnancing.
EYE ON 45
New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant is one of
several scheduled to be shut down in the next decade.