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Science vs. Politics

Once he was inaugurated, President Barack Obama ordered his advisors to develop rules that would boost scientific integrity through the government, the Los Angeles Times reports. But a year and a half later, and still no rules issued, some researchers are beginning to feel betrayed. "Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out," the article says. For example, water-quality experts in Florida say the government has been interfering in their efforts to assess damage to the Everglades caused by development projects; in some Western states, biologists are being told to ignore the effects of overgrazing on the land. Inconvenient data gathered by government scientists is sometimes pushed aside by managers who aren't researchers, the article adds. "Basically, science is still being scuttled," Katie Fite of the Western Watersheds Project tells the LA Times.

Digby at the Hullabaloo blog says that while cleaning political house is certainly time-consuming, changing the previous administration's stance on science should have been a top priority for this government. "Continuing the criminal neglect of science and reason in policy making is governing malpractice," Digby says, calling the findings in the LA Times article "depressing."

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.