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US Government Restricting Research Libraries 753

Posted by kdawson
from the first-they-closed-the-libraries dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "In a move that has been termed 'positively Orwellian' by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Executive Director Jeff Ruch, George W. Bush is ending public access to research materials at EPA regional libraries without Congressional consent. This all-out effort to impede research and public access is a [loosely] covert operation to close down 26 technical libraries under the guise of budgetary constraint. Scientists are protesting, but at least 15 of the libraries will be closed by Sept. 30, 2006."
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US Government Restricting Research Libraries

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  • Bush (Score:4, Insightful)

    by babbling (952366) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:20AM (#16007172)
    Has any other US president ever done as much damage to the US as Bush has?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Budgetary constraints, eh? Since when is this administration concerned about budgetary constraints?!

      One way to slow the spending would have been to not have a war (or at least not THIS war), eh?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      bush will be remembered as one EVIL ASSED president. it seems he can do no right (not that he even tries.)

      not quite hitler-like but certainly the worst president in all of US history. yes, far worse than even nixon.

      uniter? puh-LEEZE. never before has one president torn the country so apart. I'm not even sure the civil war/slavery days had the country as divided as we are now (seriously).

      "hail to thief" - the thief that stole office. twice!
    • by Wilson_6500 (896824) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:41AM (#16007333)
      Has any other US president ever done as much damage to the institution of science in the US as Bush has?
    • Re:Bush (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fishdan (569872) * on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @12:06PM (#16008090) Homepage Journal
      There are people of good conscience who think that the current course of events, though unhappy, is the best path. We are dealing with a world that contains complicated threats and situations. To think that there are black and white cans that you can put every event into is ridiculous. Consider the following statements:
      • I always vote [Democrat | Republican]
      • [Ted Kennedy | George Bush] is like Hitler
      • The U.S. Government has absolutely no right to [be in Iraq | legislate gun control]
      • I don't understand how anyone can be [liberal | conservative]

      If you believe any one of those 8 statements, you're part of the extremist problem. There are MORE than 2 sides to every issue. People who want to limit your choices to either Bush is good or bad are simplifying things for their own manipulative purposes. It's not all black and white. Everyone's shit stinks. If support everything the Bush administration does, you're not paying attention. If you think the Bush administration has no rationalization for it's actions, again, you're not paying attention. To imply that Bush is actively working to ruin the country is as ridiculous as claiming that Bush is the messiah.

      The facts are that there are people of good conscience on BOTH sides of the aisle. Both parties are working to prevent people of good conscience from coming together and working together, because they think compromise weakens the party.

      I'd rather see the rhetoric turned down and the responsibility turned up.

  • by hcob$ (766699) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:20AM (#16007173)
    I believe the article and editorialization need to be marked (-1, Troll)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sowellfan (583448)
      I agree - it looks to me like it was an internal EPA budgetary decision. OK, so they're going to close some libraries. I can see why people might get upset, but nothing presented in the article actually presents *any* evidence that George W. Bush wants to make sure that this information is hidden away, like the Ark in that warehouse.
  • no surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frymaster (171343) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:23AM (#16007191) Homepage Journal
    the u.s. government over the last several months has been a massive binge of re-classifying previously declassified historical documents. i think they've done maybe 50,000 of them. this administration has a culture of secrecy and limit of access to information and this move is nicely in keeping with that ideology. my source on the document reclassification is here [msn.com].
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:23AM (#16007192) Homepage Journal
    There's something positive about being Orwellian?
  • by CXI (46706) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:28AM (#16007224) Homepage
    For a more useful story, please see http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6365379.ht ml [libraryjournal.com]

    Some points:
    - The information will be made available online
    - The information will be available through library loan
    - Not all the libraries are closing
    - Bush is not defying Congress. He sent them a budget which they either approve or amend

    Boy, it certainly made for a good story though! For about 2 minutes... *sigh* Do some research before posting or blogging next time.
    • by mrn121 (673604) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:42AM (#16007339) Homepage
      I would love to think that this formula was devised and is used solely by Slashdot submitters, but I fear that the process has hit the mainstream media as well:

      1. Scan news for "Bush"
      2. Figure out how to write/re-write article to ensure that Bush looks as evil as possible
      3. Leave out any actual facts in favor of baseless speculation, particularly facts that might help to explain Bush's actions in a reasonable way
      4. Comment on the demise of society, blaming it all on Bush
      5. For an extra bit of irony, mention/imply that only Republicans are responsible for dividing this country
      6. Sell news bits for profit

      No "Step 2: ???" necessary.

      • by rootofevil (188401) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:13AM (#16007594) Homepage Journal
        2. Figure out how to write/re-write article to ensure that Bush looks as evil as possible

        most of the time thats not entirely necessary, the actions speak for themselves. unconstitutional actions, obvious power grabs, dumbing down the education system, its all pretty clear. bush is trying to gather as much power as possible for himself/his office.

        3. Leave out any actual facts in favor of baseless speculation, particularly facts that might help to explain Bush's actions in a reasonable way

        because nobody pro-bush would EVER do that. shock, horror. especially bush himself. more shock, horror.

        4. Comment on the demise of society, blaming it all on Bush

        strike bush, replace with democrats, and its the basis for a solid republican "talking point"

        5. For an extra bit of irony, mention/imply that only Republicans are responsible for dividing this country

        slow down. rumsfeld YESTERDAY claimed youre with us, or youre appeasing the fascists. par for the course of rovian politics, if youve been paying attention.

        im not a republican, im not a democrat. id just like a little sensibility in our government.
    • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@@@alum...mit...edu> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:44AM (#16007361) Homepage

      Uh, according to the article you cite, Bush is taking action BEFORE Congress has had a chance to act on his budget proposal. He isn't waiting to get approval. Furthermore, they say that they will digitize the 80,000 documents beyond boxed and stored, but I'll be very interested to see how quickly that will happen and how well they will be indexed. And the point that institutional memory will be lost when librarians are laid off is not addressed at all. The article is a lot more accurate than you make out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sloth jr (88200)
      Whoever marked the parent +5 informative, please have a hanker at the two articles referenced. CXI's article is very light. The PEER article outlines concerns primarily from the enforcement branch of the EPA. Of the two articles referenced, the PEER article articulates
      concerns presented by the very people who use the library. The Library Journal article CXI references indicates that the EPA is moving to enact budgetary proposals that have not been approved by Congress. While it is possible that Bush had not
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:28AM (#16007225)
    The Republican War on Science [amazon.com]

    Despite the inflammatory name, the book doesn't assert that Republicans are inherently anti-science, but it is a chronicle the past few decades of politicization of science, and how even though Liberals do their own part to misrepresent science, the overwhelming lions share of open distortion percieved by the overwhelming majority of scientists has been unfortunately solidly Republican. It's a rather impressive, well-documented book that I highly recommend showing a trend of scientific limitations and games like today's story.

    Ryan Fenton
    • by eln (21727) * on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:35AM (#16007284) Homepage
      even though Liberals do their own part to misrepresent science, the overwhelming lions share of open distortion percieved by the overwhelming majority of scientists has been unfortunately solidly Republican

      Ah, but that doesn't matter in today's politics. All you have to do is find a single instance of someone from the other side doing something similar to what you're doing, and that makes it magically okay for you to continue doing it.

      There are no ethics anymore. Instead of people striving to be ethical, they just strive to find other people being unethical so they can excuse their own unethical behavior.
      • by danpsmith (922127) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:32AM (#16007771)
        There are no ethics anymore. Instead of people striving to be ethical, they just strive to find other people being unethical so they can excuse their own unethical behavior.

        I think this is an extremely important thing to realize. People have been able to justify things way too easily nowadays. When a politician lies they say "well they all lie" and just accept it as part of the territory. Instead of striving toward excellence and taking exception at the failures of striving toward this ideal, the American public seems to like just putting up with mediocrity by thinking that everyone is corrupt liars who steal and the crook you know is better than the one you don't so why even bother punishing them for it. It's a ridiculous mindset. Unethical is unethical, it's the adult equivalent of the "Well Jimmy's dad said he could" argument.

        • by inKubus (199753) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:58AM (#16008021) Homepage Journal
          I look at it like this. Those people--our representatives in the government--work for US. Each of us is one of their managers and we aren't doing our job of telling them what they should do. We instead let them manage us.

          We are a society of poor managers. We'd rather manage by gut feelings rather than the facts. We'd rather vote on our beliefs and what the TV preachers (fox news) tell us instead of what works. That's the real problem. And we are learning the hard way that employees left out of control are going to do what works for them, not us.

          There IS an election coming up in November. I hope that people will vote not based on commericals but on facts. The problem is that the media who is supposedly providing us with facts is not doing it correctly either. I see a trend though, towards the positive. It all starts with your immediate representatives, the people who help to run your city. They work for you, tell them what you want. Then to your county government, they work for you, tell them what you want. State, federal, they work for you, tell them what you want. And if they don't do it, well, you're going to learn what all managers do: If you want it done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. And that means, *gasp*, actually going out and getting involved.

          Stop watching 60 hours of television a week and dedicate 10 hours to doing something that actually benefits you. It takes time, it takes a lot of work, but we citizens are more empowered than ever. All we have to do is TRY.

  • Mass Exodus program? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:32AM (#16007259) Homepage Journal
    Could we arrange an information exodus program -- sending in people with scanners to go in and copy all of the data possible in the next 15 days?
    • by CXI (46706) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:36AM (#16007296) Homepage
      If, unlike the person that submitted the story, you did some research you'd find that the EPA is scanning things themselves to make them publically available online. Additionally you may get them through inter-library loan at any of the libraries that are still going to be open (despite the claims of the sensationalist story). So, um, no.
  • Nothing new... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:33AM (#16007269)
    As a fellow government worker, I can attest to the fact that all this "consolidation" stuff is not just restricted to the Libraries & EPA stuff. We're feeling it in pretty much every branch, some worse than others.

    Wars are expensive.. And the money's gotta come from somewhere.. Rather than raising taxes (which I'm sure they'll do anyway), they're cutting expenses elsewhere... Rather than fire people, they're "consolidating". Sounds better, but it's the same thing.
  • by mrn121 (673604) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:47AM (#16007386) Homepage
    I just want to point out that if this same action took place during the Clinton years, the post would read more like:

    The always progressive and forward thinking Bill Clinton has proposed legislation that will modernize the nation's research libraries by making all of the information contained in the libraries available online, eliminating the wasteful need for old-fashioned brick-and-mortar facilities. At least some people in the federal government are embracing technology. Kudos, Bill!

    Am I wrong?

    • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tony (765) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:27AM (#16007720) Journal
      Am I wrong?

      Yes. [slashdot.org]

      Clinton got bashed back in his day. The reason it seems we bitch more about Bush than we did Clinton is because Bush is a big fuck-up.

      Bush supporters get a little tetchy about criticism of this administration, forgetting that all administrations are taken to task when watchful (and slightly paranoid) people catch them with their hands inside the cookie jar of liberty. The Bush administration just happens to be raiding it a lot more than previous administrations, and a lot more blatantly.

      As has been pointed out by others, this story is potentially misleading. I'd write that off to many of us being a bit jumpy around Bush. When the school bully tends to walk up behind you and smack you on the head, you start jerking your head around at the oddest moments. It might look silly when the bully isn't behind you, but it might just save you a few headaches.

      But, had Clinton tried doing this, he would have received much the same treatment.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lord Bitman (95493)
        Wow.. those good old days when we used to complain about invasive searches that actually needed a court order..
  • by Aqua_boy17 (962670) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:51AM (#16007425)
    I am no Bush apologist (please read that again before modding me flamebait), but I was more than a little perturbed by the editorial tone of the article. So, I Googled the subject and I can find dozens of blogs and opinion pieces dating back to around March or so on this, but nothing from a traditional news source (I gave up after about 5 pages of search results).

    I would like to read an objectively written fact based story behind this and not just a lot of reactionary Bush bashing.
  • by thethibs (882667) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:55AM (#16007453) Homepage

    Doesn't anybody bother to look at the source data before flaming? Or is this news "too good to check"?

    This is the EPA engaging in political tactics. To begin with, they haven't yet been asked to cut their budget, and they may never be. The closing of libraries is not Bush's idea--it's EPA bureaucrats saying "Look what you made us do!"

    The proposed budget cut constitutes a fraction of of a percent of the EPA's budget, and it could be achieved with a minor reduction in the EPA's bloated administrative costs.

    This is a standard tactic in every government in the world. Faced with budget cuts, the bureaucrats respond by threatening to terminate one of the few things they do that actually provides a service. The mystery is that they often get away with it.

    The special irony in this item is that the EPA isn't planning to cut the service—just the way it's delivered.

  • Inaccurate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by calhawk (921611) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @12:03PM (#16008054)

    How on earth do things like this get posted? The first link is to an "op-ed" site that is so obviously anti-Bush that it defies credibility. The article itself is a hysterical mish-mash of fact(?) and opinion that exists only to throw around needlessly inflammatory catchphrases. "Orwellian?" Check. Reference to "Fahrenheit 451?" Check. "Who could have ever envisioned that Ray Bradbury's vicious, futuristic, dystopian society would ever come to fruition; but it may indeed have done just that!" Yeah, it MAY have! Or maybe not... Dude, chill out.

    At least the link from PEER is more factual. And of course the facts aren't all that exciting, at least compared with visions of vicious, dystopian futures:

    1. Nowhere is George Bush mentioned.
    2. PEER seems to be mainly concerned with being able to use a library "to locate [...] information and have it produced to a court house in a timely manner." No impression is given that, as a result of these budget cuts, access to all important materials is going to be forever lost. It just sounds like it might be a bit harder to get it in certain cases, hence their concern.
    3. The summary of this story makes it sound like this is a grave issue for members of the general public, and said public's access to information of general utility will be severely curtailed in the near future. However, the PEER summary clearly states in its headline: "Prosecutions [of polluters] at Risk from Loss of Timely Access to Key Documents." That is, the usefulness of this information is limited in scope to certain legal proceedings. Of course these cases are very important, but it's not like the libraries that you and I visit all the time are closing their doors.

    I know I'm going up against a bunch of knee-jerk leftists here (wow, look at some of these comments!), but I had to at least try and appeal to reason. Slashdot, please stick with tech and science news. If you're going to delve into politics would it be possible to at least provide the most basic quality control to stories that get posted? This story isn't inherently biased, but the way it was presented is just appalling.

    • by snowwrestler (896305) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @03:12PM (#16009723)
      Let's break down the posting.

      "In a move that has been termed 'positively Orwellian' by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Executive Director Jeff Ruch,

      The post directly quotes and attributes the quote correctly. You might not like the piece it's quoting, but the post accurately represents it.

      George W. Bush is ending public access to research materials at EPA regional libraries

      His administration is doing so, not him. Being as Presidents do almost nothing personally--the bulk of their work is accomplished by staff and appointees--it's a little unreasonable to expect to trace every decision all the way back to him. As Eisenhower said, "The buck stops here." I would not call this totally inaccurate. Give it 1/4 accurate.

      without Congressional consent.

      The action is being taken prior to Congressional review of the EPA budget. Accurate.

      This all-out effort to impede research and public access

      The degree to which this is the intent is a matter of opinion. Certainly EPA would never admit this whether or not it were true.

      However, there is simply no question as to whether this will impede research and public access. It will. It will now introduce a delay and review process to accessing information that did not previously exist. Rather than walking in and copying a document, a person would now have to wait either for an inter-library loan delivery, or a no-deadline-defined scanning process to complete. This delay substantially reduces the capability for quick-response litigation. And since I'm guessing you think I'm a "knee jerk leftist" now (since I disagreed with you), I'll point out that this also impedes the ability of businesses to quickly access research materials to fight EPA regulation changes, fines, or stays. The business community is just as interested in EPA transparency as the enviros are.

      1/2 accurate.

      is a [loosely] covert operation

      Accurate--the import of this decision was gleaned from a leaked internal EPA memo, not a public communiction.

      to close down 26 technical libraries

      Accurate--this is the plan.

      under the guise of budgetary constraint

      Budgetary constraint is the reason given. The degree to which that is a guise is up for debate. 1/4 accurate

      Scientists are protesting,

      Accurate.

      but at least 15 of the libraries will be closed by Sept. 30, 2006."

      Accurate.

      Of 9 assertions in the post, I scored it about a 7, so about 77% accurate.
  • What's that law... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @12:03PM (#16008060) Journal
    It's Godwin's cousin, only about 1984 instead of Nazis?

    While this is obviously a bad thing for science and public education, any similarity to 1984 is sketchy at best.
  • by Carmody (128723) <slashdotNO@SPAMdougshaw.com> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @12:11PM (#16008139) Homepage Journal
    "In a move that has been termed 'positively Orwellian' by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Executive Director Jeff Ruch, George W. Bush is ending public access to research materials at EPA regional libraries without Congressional consent."

    If you voted for Bush, this is your fault.

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