Friday, 16 June 2000
1. CLIMATE CHANGE: THE FEDS WEIGH IN ON GLOBAL WARMING.
Change Impacts On the United States," the first thorough federal
assessment of the potential consequences of warming, was released
this week for 60 days of public review. Weighing in at 4.73 kg,
the massive tome is not light reading. It offers something for
everyone. For the technological optimists, a persuasive argument
that the planet is indeed getting warmer is coupled with the
cheery prognosis that this could lead to increased agricultural
productivity. But for the Malthusian pessimists, there is plenty
of gloom and doom; e.g., "For the worst-case scenario category 3
hurricane, surge levels could rise 25 feet above mean sea level
at JFK Airport..." Today, on the floor of the Senate, Chuck
Hagel (R-NE) ridiculed the report as an "evangelical document
with apocalyptic overtones." The fourth secret of Fatima maybe?
2. ABM TREATY: CLINTON'S LAWYERS PROPOSE "BROAD INTERPRETATION."
The US wants to start pouring concrete for a missile defense
radar on Shemya Island. That would violate a legal understanding
of the ABM treaty dating back to the Reagan administration. So
what are lawyers for? Anyway, it's all happened before. In 1972,
the Senate ratified the ABM treaty with the understanding that it
banned development of an ABM system as well as deployment. But
13 years later, a White House lawyer, Abraham Sofaer, claimed to
find a loophole in the negotiating record allowing development
based on "new physical principles." Like all religious visions,
only the faithful could see it. Ironically, in 1993 the Clinton
Administration reaffirmed the "narrow interpretation" of the ABM
(WN 16 Jul 93).
We now seem to have come full circle.
3. LOS ALAMOS: WEN HO LEE SEEMS TO BE IN THE CLEAR ON THIS ONE.
But for everyone who had access to the missing hard drives, it's
going be a tough time. Naturally, the immediate response of the
FBI was to trot out the polygraph machines
(WN 17 Mar 00).
(Let's see, how many polygraph exams did Aldrich Ames pass?) Meanwhile,
there were a number of political consequences. On Wednesday,
Sen. Richard Bryan (D-NV) lifted a hold he had put on the
nomination of Gen. John Gordon, deputy director of the CIA, to be
the first Director of Nuclear Security for the Labs. The Senate
immediately confirmed Gordon by a unanimous vote. Later that
day, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, who had objected to
creation of the new agency, snubbed congressional hearings on the
missing hard drives. This latest security snafu seems to have
ended the prospect of Richardson becoming Al Gore's running mate.
4. SPACE STATION: ANNUAL ATTEMPT TO KILL ISS SET FOR NEXT WEEK.
Tim Roemer (D-IN) has lots of congressional allies this year for
an amendment to delete the ISS from the VA-HUD Appropriations
bill. His most effective ally may be the station itself, which
is turning into a national embarrassment
(WN 19 May 00).