January 11

For an explanation of this project, read here.

Turmoil at one of China’s leading newspapers is posing an early challenge to the measured political program of the new Chinese leader Xi Jinping, pitting a pent-up popular demand for change against the Communist Party’s desire to maintain a firm grip. Hundreds of people gathered outside the headquarters of a newspaper company in southern China on Monday, intensifying a battle over media censorship that poses a test of the willingness of China’s new leadership to tolerate calls for change. A Chinese newspaper that saw a stand-off over censorship has published a new issue, as police removed a small number of demonstrators outside its offices. People across China have been detained or questioned in recent days by security officers for publicly supporting the journalists at the Southern Weekend newspaper who have been protesting strict censorship, according to a human rights group and online posts discussing the plights of some detainees. The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. As regular Retraction Watch readers may have noticed, a number of sites have sprung up recently to examine — quite critically — papers that other scientists say are dodgy. One of the owners of the whistleblower site Science Fraud, which went dark yesterday in response to legal threats, has identified himself, and explained what happened. Whatever happened to the Mayan apocalypse? As it flares out of the distant Oort Cloud, the newly discovered comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) appears to be heading on a trajectory that could make for one of the most spectacular night-sky events in living memory. A new comet superstar named C/2012 S1 (ISON) is heading for the spotlight starting in November 2013 — but will it perform as some hope it will, or will it be a dud of cosmic proportions? It’s no news that the U.S. has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than most high-income countries. By now, I’m sure you’ve read an article on how we’re dying at higher rates of so many, many things compared to the rest of the world. The Commonwealth Fund offers ten ways to improve the health system. In keeping with our holiday tradition of highlighting the year’s top stories from Journal Watch Gastroenterology, I have selected 10 stories that I believe will be of keen interest to all gastroenterologists. The top stories this year vary considerably, but 7 of the 10 address bacterial infections, with respect to either treatment or prevention. The editors of Journal Watch Women’s Health want to thank you for joining us in our journeys through the clinical literature. The Institute of Medicine recently recommended that, in keeping with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, reliable contraception be provided at no charge. Each year, the editors of Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine highlight the past year’s most important topics in pediatric and adolescent research from our published summaries. The editors of Journal Watch Psychiatry are pleased to present the Psychiatry Top Stories of 2012. We are pleased to provide you with our top stories list for 2012. With the elections behind us, we can once again focus on more important issues, such as the Top 10 Dermatology Stories of 2012. The AHA has published its annual list of the top 10 advances in heart disease and stroke research. Service members who died over the past decade were far less likely to have atherosclerosis than service members who died in Korea or Vietnam, according to a new study published in JAMA. We are pleased to present our annual Journal Watch Cardiology Top Stories list for 2012. The amount of time and money needed to sequence genomes continued to fall this year, perhaps to no one’s surprise. Although renewable energy made impressive advances this year, its impact has been dwarfed by the changes caused by the surplus of cheap, abundant natural gas made possible by hydrofracturing—fracking—of shale deposits. In May, a Chinese team teleported photons through 100 kilometres of free space, opening the way for satellite-based quantum communications. Although few people are talking about it, the legislation passed yesterday by Congress to avert the fiscal cliff by revising tax policies also contains $4 billion in cuts this year to discretionary spending, including research. Kevin Drum from Mother Jones has a fascinating new article detailing the hypothesis that exposure to lead, particularly tetraethyl lead (TEL), explains the rise and fall of violent crime rates from the 1960s through the 1990s—at which point the compound was phased out of gasoline worldwide. I forget exactly when I first came across the idea that environmental lead, leftover from decades of leaded gasoline, was a factor in mental acuity, violent tendencies, and potentially crime. With most of our regular PLOS Network bloggers taking some time off to cool their laptops and pop some corks, I set out this morning to highlight the best of PLOS BLOGS Network from 2012. I experimented with topics, lengths, forms, and voices, quite a lot this year, trying this and that to see what works for me, what works with the readers, etc. A recent “Perspectives” commentary in Science on the importance of online science news – and associated challenges – has (unsurprisingly) gotten a fair amount of attention in the science communication community.