Bowing to Pressure from China, a Scientific Publisher Censors Itself
The academic publisher Springer Nature has blocked access to at least 1,000 articles in China, a move the country’s government pushed for in order to tighten controls on information.
Most of the censored material, which was removed from the journal International Politics as well as the Journal of Chinese Political Science, related to politically sensitive topics like the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square, and the status of Taiwan and Tibet, among others.
Though the decision has prompted outrage, Springer Nature, which publishes prominent magazines and journals like Scientific American and Nature, has defended its decision by saying the entire SpringerLink website may have otherwise been blocked.
Cambridge University Press, a British publisher, faced similar criticism in August when it removed 300 articles and book reviews on the same topics from the China Quarterly website available in the China. The publisher reversed its decision three days later.
Also in the news:
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture submitted a proposal Wednesday to repeal a ban on uranium mining on land near Grand Canyon National Park. The Trump administration has cited the ban, which was instituted by former president Barack Obama, as hindering economic development. (The Hill)
• The largest ever government report on climate change supports the scientific consensus that greenhouse gases produced by human activity are the major contributor to global warming. But economists are dubious about the report’s claims on how labor will be affected around the globe. (The Atlantic)
• Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt made an unprecedented move Tuesday, barring all scientists who have received a grant from the agency from also serving as EPA advisers. (Washington Post)
• President Trump’s opioid commission released its final report Wednesday. Among its 50 recommendations are establishing harsher sentences for trafficking fentanyl, increasing access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone among first responders, and increasing training for opioid prescribers. The report does not provide an estimated cost for implementing these measures. (Vox)
• The majority of media coverage over the last decade has presented the issue of whether biodiversity is beneficial for human health as settled. In reality, scientists are divided. (Undark)
• And finally: Recent genetic analysis of an orangutan skeleton discovered in Sumatra in 2013 suggests the individual may have belonged to a different species than the two orangutan species identified to date. If scientists are correct, this species — which may number as few as 800 individuals — would be the most endangered great ape alive. (New York Times)