NASA researchers protest government shutdown


More than 70 NASA employees and their supporters gathered in front of Moffett Field's main gate on Wednesday to protest the federal government shutdown that has kept them from their jobs since Oct. 1.

"We want to get back to our data analyzing and research paper writing!" said Lee Stone, president of local 70 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, to the crowd, which began chanting "We want to work! We want to work!"

All but a skeleton crew is now working at NASA Ames Research Center on important missions. As one scientist said, "Ninety-seven percent of us are not going through that gate."

"I'm supposed to be looking for planets, but I'm not," said Kepler mission scientist Natalie Batalha, whose words inspired the crowd to began chanting, "We love Kepler! We want Kepler!" She added that she would even volunteer her time to continue her work, but she can't.

The crowd also cheered for Brian Day, EPO lead for LADDEE, the lunar atmosphere and dust environment explorer, when he said LADDEE had "just entered orbit around the moon."

"It's a very interesting story and unfortunately we aren't telling it," he said.

"Normally I'd be trying to prevent foreign countries from trying to hack into our data but I'm not doing that right now," said cyber-security expert Matt Linton. He said a "skeleton crew" was still doing that work, but that it would be "insufficient" in the longer term.

Stone, who works on airplane safety at Ames, said that among the projects being delayed was the testing of a new tail section of the Boeing 757 airliner designed to make it "more efficient and safe."

The protest was at times humorous. As one speaker mentioned a type of planet in the solar system, someone in the crowd asked, "Do they have jobs (on those planets)? I'll go!"

A middle-schooler named Eliana had skipped school for what her dad called the "ultimate civics lesson." She held a sign that said "Congress do your job so my dad can do his," while her sister Natalia's said, "Let my daddy work!"

"Science is kind of a continuous act," Linton said. For example, he said researchers were in the middle of a window of time once a year that planes can fly in and out of Antarctica, to replenish supplies and relieve personnel who can can only stay a few months at a time. A continued shutdown could mean that all research in Antarctica would have to stop for almost a year.

For some missions, "If you don't collect data now it slips by," Linton said. "Once you halt it, you have to start all over again." He said many people would like to volunteer their time to continue their research but he says they aren't allowed.

Linton told the crowd that he wore a shirt with the word "Expendable" on it in irony, to which the crowd began chanting, "We are not expendable, we are not expendable!"

"There's no reason to continue this shutdown," Stone said. "Argue your politics in D.C., but open the government now!"


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2013 at 7:24 pm

There are supposedly 2,500 employees on the Ames site. Seventy union members doesn't seem like an overwhelming number of people demanding that Obama stop his theatrics, and negoitiate with the House.

> "Normally I'd be trying to prevent foreign countries
> from trying to hack into our data but I'm not doing that right now,"

Why not disconnect Ames from the Internet for the duration of the shutdown?

Like this comment
Posted by real numbers
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm

"Why not disconnect Ames from the Internet for the duration of the shutdown? "

Yeah, nothing like a simple solution - pull the plug!!!

This shutdown is over. The Repugs just got their poll numbers. They're running for the hills while hey still have a job.

These are HISTORICALLY BAD numbers for the repugs - keep it up tea bag boys!!!!

From the Fox/Murdoch Wall St Journal: Web Link

"The Republican Party has been badly damaged in the ongoing government shutdown and debt limit standoff, with a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finding that a majority of Americans blame the GOP for the shutdown, and with the party’s popularity declining to its lowest level.

By a 22-point margin (53 percent to 31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama – a wider margin of blame for the GOP than the party received during the poll during the last shutdown in 1995-96.

Just 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion about the GOP, and only 21 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, which are both at all-time lows in the history of poll.

Yet what is perhaps even more worrisome for the GOP is the “boomerang” effect: As the party has used the shutdown and fiscal fight to campaign against the nation’s health-care law and for limited government, the poll shows those efforts have backfired.

For one thing, the health-care law has become more popular since the shutdown began. Thirty-eight percent see the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) as a good idea, versus 43 percent who see it as a bad idea – up from 31 percent good idea, 44 percent bad idea last month.

In addition, 50 percent say they oppose totally eliminating funding for the law, even if it that means a partial shutdown of the government. That’s up from 46 percent who said they opposed that move in a Sept. 2013 CNBC poll."

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Why there were only about seventy protesters? I am also working at NASA Ames, and if I knew about this action, I would certainly come, and probably many others would, too.

Like this comment
Posted by bobgnote
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm

My goodness, but can any NASAs identify, how the media has spaced out, on us?

Excuse me, but the Demos didn't bust GW Bush, for getting up fraudster RS Mueller III, to quash any on-going FBI investigations, of bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, or al Qaida, and then they quashed any, which were about to start, so GW then ignored Clinton, CIA, Brit, French, Mossad, and all warnings, about 911, even blowing off a moderate Taliban chief, who snitched on bin Laden, out from under Mullah Omar.

So don't expect the wars to succeed, just because Obama is a narcissistic emulator, of Nixon and Hitler, both, without the honesty or tendency to cruel object lessons Dick and Dolph both had, to make an impression on dummies, everywhere, which dummies have bred, uncontrollably, you know?

Knowing this, NASA persons of interest should note we needed a new constitution, at any time after ratification, 234 years ago, but certainly by the time Lincoln offered the south a chance to keep slavery, for 40 more years, then to repatriate black Americans, in Liberia or else geld, sooner or later.

Abe had at least 11 boyfriends, you know? So don't ignore why The Log Cabin Club, mmm-kay?

WE NEED A NEW CONSTITUTION, WITH MODERN LEGAL DEFINITIONS AND A REAL DUE PROCESS CLAUSE, WITH PROTECTION FOR SECURITY AND ETHICS, against the usual criminal misconduct, by all courts, officers, and representatives at gridlock, with a real over-sight agency, to be named later, with all existing three-letter shmoozers disbanded and terminated.

Stuff like necessary and sufficient enforcement, even enforcement, ethics, and EQUALITY need mention, urgently.

Like this comment
Posted by real numbers
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

Republicans are stupid. According to none other than Jumpin' Johnny McCain, the leader of the Republican party a mere 5 years ago.

“It’s very, very serious,” McCain said, as quoted by the New York Times. “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

Sounds like petulant children - “we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

"as I predicted weeks ago"

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