Friday, 21 April 2000
1. FLASH!! RUSSIA APPROVES THE COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY.
Last week it was Start II
(WN 14 Apr 00).
Today, in another
impressive arms control victory for President Vladimir Putin, the
Duma ratified the CTBT 298-74, with only feeble opposition from
the Communists. The action appears to give Russia the initiative
in nuclear arms talks, and strengthens Putin's hand in resisting
any change in the 1972 ABM treaty. The United States and China
are the only genuine nuclear powers still holding out on CTBT,
although nuclear wannabes North Korea, Pakistan, India and Egypt
must also ratify the treaty before it can go into effect.
2. SPY HYSTERIA: DOWNLOADED INFORMATION WAS RECLASSIFIED.
Albuquerque Journal broke the story last week. It turns out that
the "crown jewels" of the US nuclear weapons program, the loss of
which could, in the government's words, "change the strategic
global balance," held a much lower classification when they were
downloaded by Wen Ho Lee. At that time they were designated as
PARD, for "protect as restricted data," a category reserved for
information in which any secrets are thinly scattered in a huge
volume of unclassified material. Rules for protecting PARD are
much less stringent than for information classified "secret."
Only after charges were filed against Lee did officials assign
higher levels of classification to the downloaded material. The
new information serves to underscore the contrast between the
treatment of John Deutch, whose security clearance was revoked,
and Lee, who is incarcerated in solitary confinement and shackled
hand and foot during the brief visits of his family.
3. GLOBAL WARMING? AS EARTH WARMS, THE RHETORIC MAY BE COOLING.
Five years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC), an international group of climate experts sponsored by
the United Nations, issued a report suggesting that warming of
the climate by a degree or so since 1860 is the result of human
activity. Conservative organizations promptly opened fire on the
integrity of the IPCC
(WN 21 Jun 96).
The preliminary draft of a
new IPCC assessment, now circulating among its several hundred
members for comment, reaches about the same conclusion, but with
much less uncertainty, yet complaints are likely to be muted.
Science is doing its thing: moving toward consensus between
groups with very different initial expectations. As long as both
sides stick to the scientific process, the intensity of the
debate serves as a powerful motivation for better climate
research. The debate seems to be shifting from whether global
warming is taking place to whether warming is such a bad thing.
4. AREA 51: IS THAT A TENNIS COURT?
Commenting on the first
commercial satellite images of the super secret site, a Pentagon
spokesman didn't do much to squelch UFO rumors: "we have had more
than 40 years to learn how to deal with overhead surveillance."