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Tag archives: Barack Obama

NASA badly hit by government shutdown

Photo of NASA headquarters

NASA headquaters, Washington DC. (Courtesy: NASA)

By James Dacey

US citizens woke up this morning to the unbelievable news that their federal government would be shutting down all its “non-essential” services after the two houses of Congress failed to reach an agreement on a new budget. What this means in practice is that hundreds of thousands of federal employees will now face unpaid leave – and NASA’s workforce is among the most badly affected.

A staggering 97% of NASA’s 18,134 employees have been granted leave of absence, according to the Office of Management and Budget, quoted in the New York Times. This is the highest percentage of all the federal departments and agencies to be affected by the shutdown. Other federal workers affected include 94% of the 16,205 employees of the Environmental Protection Agency, along with 69% of the 13,814 working within energy.

“Due to the gov’t shutdown, all public NASA activities/events are cancelled or postponed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience,” read a rather understated tweet from NASA earlier today. Within the past few hours, the NASA website has also shutdown indefinitely.

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Has Steven Chu been a good US energy secretary?

By James Dacey

Photo of Steven Chu

Nobel laureate Steven Chu. (Courtesy: DOE)

The Nobel laureate Steven Chu has recently announced that he is to resign from the role of US energy secretary. He will step down from the post at the end of February having served throughout the entire four years of Barack Obama’s first presidential term. During his reign, Chu has received strong plaudits from many Democrats and environmentalists. Obama has credited Chu for increasing the nation’s use of renewable energy while reducing its dependence on oil imports.

Others, however, have been critical of Chu. He is accused of specific failures such as the initiatives that led to the downfall of Solyndra – a solar-cell manufacturer that went bankrupt after receiving $535m in Department of Energy loan guarantees. A more general criticism when Chu was appointed was that he had very little political experience to carry out such a critical role in the governance of the US.

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