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Submission + - US Federal Budget Proposal Cuts Science Funding (documentcloud.org)

hey! writes: The US Office of Management and Budget has released a budget "blueprint" which outlines substantial cuts in both basic research and applied technology funding.

The proposal includes a whopping 18% reduction in National Institutes of Health medical research. NIH does get a new 500 million fund to track emerging infectious agents like Zika in the US, but loses its funding to monitor those agents overseas.

The Department of Energy's research programs also get an 18% cut in research, potentially affecting basic physics research, high energy physics, fusion research, and supercomputing. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) gets the ax, as does the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program which enabled Tesla to manufacture its Model S sedan.

EPA loses all climate research funding, and about half the research funding targeted at human health impacts of pollution. The EnergyStar program is eliminated Superfund funding is drastically reduced. The Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes cleanup programs are also eliminated, as is all screening of pesticides for endocrine disruption.

In the Department of Commerce, Sea Grant is eliminated, along with all coastal zone research funding. Existing weather satellites GOES and JPSS continue funding, but JPSS-3 and -4 appear to be getting the ax. Support for transfer of federally funded research and technology to small and mid-sized manufacturers is eliminated.

NASA gets a slight trim, and a new focus on deep space exploration paid for by an elimination of Earth Science programs.

You can read more about this "blueprint" in Nature, Science, and the Washington Post, which broke the story.

Censorship

Submission + - Paypal Forces E-Book Sellers to censor Erotic Content. (zdnet.com)

hey! writes: On February 18 of this year, global giant payment processor PayPal sent eBook publisher Smashwords an ultimatum: if Smashwords didn't remove all eBooks with certain erotic content from its catalog in the next several days, PayPal would immediately stop handling payments.

Smashword's TOS already precluded child pornography, but now PayPal wants them to also censor depictions of consenting, non-related adults acting out incest fantasies. Likewise fantasy novels in which human characters transform into non-humans are affected if those characters have sex. ZDNet has a summary of the impact of these changes, which would among other things ban Vladmir Nabokov's *Lolita*.

As outrage mounts, finger pointing is in full swing. Smashwords blames PayPal, and PayPal blames the banks it deals with. The crux seems to be that erotica buyers have a higher rate of "chargebacks" — customers who buy stuff then demand their money back. Fair enough, but is a customer really more likely to return a book because it depicts one kind of fantasy between consenting adults vs. another? Perhaps the problem is just the quality of writing.

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