U.S. Government Researchers Barred from Scientific Conferences


Government researchers are barred from their own labs during the shutdown, and they cannot travel to conferences

Not only are government researchers barred from their own labs during the government shutdown, but they cannot travel anywhere else, either.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who were in San Francisco, Calif., attending a meeting on cytokines found their trips unexpectedly cut short when the government began shutting down at midnight on October 1.  As soon as the news broke, NIH officials told the travelling researchers to come back immediately “by any means necessary."

The organizers quickly rescheduled the meeting so that all the NIH employees could give their talks before the agency officially shut down. “They told us giving a talk after that was a federal crime,” says one NIH immunologist who asked that her name not be used, as she is not authorized to speak to the press.

Written By: Sara Reardon and Nature News Blog
continue to source article at scientificamerican.com


  1. I think this has been mentioned before, but I also met that chap called “Gibbon” who is writing “The history of the decline and fall of the US empire”.

    It should be fun watching the run up to the deadline for deficit renewal. I wonder of the US will get its credit rating downgraded (again).

  2. Thank you once again for reminding me why I chose not to destroy my love of science by making science a career.

  3. They really should shut down everything, including the US Military, there would be a new budged the next day.
    The current partial shut down does hurt the wrong people. To bar scientists from their labs probably ruining time sensitive experiments and prohibit them from giving talks sounds so tremendously stupid, as a European I have trouble to believe this.

  4. In reply to #5 by aquilacane:

    let’s here it for a two party system

    The two party system is far from perfect but it worked much better than this for over 200 years. I reject any false equivalence that “both sides are to blame” here. Bullshit. One side has been taken over by delusional theocrats. The other side, the dems, are their usually wimpy selfs and I have no love for them either but this is not the fault of the two party system it’s the fault of one party that has been hijacked by people who are literally delusional.

  5. In reply to #1 by Jjcob82:

    As an American I am very much embarrassed and angered with this whole shutdown.

    As Americans we need to get more involved to stop things like this from happening again. Being angry is a good first step, just follow it up with some action.

  6. What if their experiment is going to break out of it’s cage and start the zombie apocalypse?

  7. As a republican well more truthfully libertarian I am disgusted with their tactic to try and coerce what they want. The fact is whether you like Obamacare or not it was passed legally and if you are so convinced that it is a bad idea then let it roll out and fail. I am tired of this gov’t shutdown especially because of the effects it will have on the science that we are working on right now.

  8. Surely researchers could continue on their own dime. The Tea Party thought they were just shutting down “the government” as if it were some monolith that had no function other than taxation. The one good thing to come out of this shutdown is people will appreciate some of the good things their tax dollars do.

    There are two views to taxes:

    1. Tea Party: they are a form of piracy. a wicked institution takes your money and does nothing for you in return.
    2. pizza: everybody chips in as best they can so we can order pizza.

    The Tea Party view is prevalent in the USA and the pizza view is prevalent in Canada. The political system in the USA makes pork extremely easy. It can be added to a bill even after it has passed. Further, military spending is far greater per capita than any other country. This paranoia is very expensive. There is a greater unity in Canada. We Canadians tend to want everyone to have the basics. We bawl the government out when we hear of people living without water, electricity, food etc. Americans often hate most other Americans and strongly resent any of their tax dollars benefitting others, especially the poor. The French and English have a rivalry and complain each other gets a bigger share of the pie, but I have never heard anyone argue why either French or English should do without

  9. What feature of the USA system allows a minority of a minority to have overriding power to shut down the government?

    What was the original justification for it?

  10. In reply to #6 by Red Dog:

    this is not the fault of the two party system it’s the fault of one party that has been hijacked

    You miss the point. It is also the fault of a system that is unable to prevent them from doing this. In most (if not all) other democracies, failing to pass budget amounts to a no-confidence vote (and yes, it gets voted on), the government has lost its mandate to govern and fresh elections are required. There’s something deeply wrong with the peculiar US setup that lets it gridlock itself like this.

  11. In reply to #11 by Roedy:

    What feature of the USA system allows a minority of a minority to have overriding power to shut down the government?

    What was the original justification for it?

    That’s an excellent question. Is it by constitution (therefore deliberate) that the various powers are held in such a way (enabling the gridlock and shutdown)? Not knowing all that much about USA apart from frequent boasts about its constitution, it would be interesting to have this explained.

    Also, can anyone enlighten about “signing statements”. I seem to recall GWB was able to add footnotes and alterations to bills that he signed, and these were then written into the law, without requiring a vote in either house. And that he did a lot of it. How does that work? And why isn’t it working now?

  12. Brought to you by the same folks who made sure the Large Hardon Collider ended up not being built in the US.

  13. In reply to #11 by Roedy:

    What feature of the USA system allows a minority of a minority to have overriding power to shut down the government?

    What was the original justification for it?

    I believe it comes down to the strict interpretation of the Antideficiency Act. If both sides cannot agree a budget for the year (Oct 1st – Sept 30th), all spending (with a few exceptions) gets frozen as they are not allow to pay out money from government funds that haven’t technically been agreed upon. It was originally, in part, to stop government agencies spending all their budget early to force more central funding later in the year to avoid contracts and deals falling through.

  14. ” Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who were in San Francisco, Calif., attending a meeting on cytokines “

    This personally irks me as I also am interested in the work being done on cytokines. My kidneys no longer produce the gycoprotein used to signal the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. There is a biological gylcoprotein I have used, but it could be improved somewhat. ( gene insertion/biotech technique )

    Probably much worse is being done to others dependent on NIH research being done in a timely manner.

  15. In reply to #11 by Roedy:

    What feature of the USA system allows a minority of a minority to have overriding power to shut down the government?

    Having three steps that must all approve a thing before it happens, that’s what. For a thing to happen, the House has to approve it, then the Senate, then the President. If your party has two of those but not all three, then the party that has the third one can blockade anything you try to do.

    What was the original justification for it?

    A compromise between those who wanted the national government to be a representation of the individual citizens versus those who wanted it to be a representation of the individual states. To give an example of the difference, look at the UN. It’s a representation of states not of individuals. If it was a representation of individuals then India and China would have a proportionally larger say.

    So in congress, one part is a representation proportional to the population size, and the other part is a fixed number of votes per state no matter how small their populations.

    It’s possible for the two halves to have different party majorities because they don’t all get elected at the same time. The fixed-per-state half of congress only gets elected every 6 years, and it’s staggered so the whole thing can’t be swept away at once – one third of the seats are up one year, another third two years later, and another third two years after that, and then two years after that the first third are up again. The populist part, on the other hand, is re-elected every two years and all the seats are up at the same time. So it’s possible for it to be instantly changed all at once.

    There’s also a difference in the way representation areas are drawn out. The fixed-per-state side that tends to move slower also has its representatives elected by voters across and entire state’s area. The population-based every-two-years side tends to have smaller areas of representation in which the state is divvied up into little regions and each seat represents only its little region and is elected only by its little region. That means that “Gerrymandering” is possible in the population-based side of congress, but not possible in the fixed-per-state side of congrress. That can make a big difference too. It’s possible for a state with a thin margin leaning toward one party to have representatives in the population side of congress that lean toward the other party, depending on exactly how that map of regions is carefully divvied up. Because the job of arranging the boundaries every 10 years (to coincide with the census and migrating populations) between those regions is performed by the politicians rather than civil servants, they have an incentive to draw the boundaries up favoring their own party.

    This is how you can get a congress that does not agree with its own citizenry.

    HOWEVER, that being said, those sorts of tricks are only capable of swinging things a few percentage points. If a party has a popular majority with a margin of only about 5% or so, then those tricks can swing things the other way. But if it’s large enough they can’t.

    So while it’s true that the majority of Americans don’t support this garbage, it’s also true that it’s not a LARGE majority. There’s still an extremely large minority who do support it, sadly.

  16. In reply to #18 by Steven Mading:

    Thanks for the concise explanation. It would seem the major culprit is the fixed schedule of elections. Unlike other countries, where the failure of the government of the day to secure a confidence & supply (meaning budget) vote would trigger an unscheduled election.

    Is it possible for the US govt to run out of budget and be forced to shut down until the next 2-year cycle election? But then, who would run the election? I assume election officials are on furlough.

    I’m reminded of the fable about the parts of the body arguing over which one should be boss. Brain says he’s the clever one and makes decisions, so he should run things. Eyes say they see what’s coming, so it should be theirs. Leg muscles say its them that do all the work getting body around, so they should be in charge. Asshole says “I’m on strike until you make ME the boss”. After an extended period of constipation, Asshole wins.

    Which explains why there are Assholes running most things.

  17. These morons have the audacity to shutdown aspects of the democratic government all the
    while tolerating the cancer of modern society; The Federal Reserve Bank and its debt based interest bloated currency!

  18. I feel sorry for this guy. Takes a 30 hour flight from Washington DC to Perth, Australia for a conference and then is told by email from the NIH that he can’t attend or present.

  19. “They told us giving a talk after that was a federal crime,”

    It seems American politics is as much in the dark ages as religion.

  20. Dear America thanks for saving us from the threat of communism.


    The world

    ps China’s getting worried about the 3.5 trillion dollars you owe

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