Friday, 17 November 2000
1. LEAKS STAY UNPLUGGED, POLYGRAPHS PLUGGED IN:
Calling it a
"badly flawed provision...that may unnecessarily chill legitimate
activities that are at the heart of a democracy," the President
last week vetoed legislation that would make leaking classified information a felony
(WN 3 Nov 00).
But DOE employees weren't so lucky. Extended polygraph requirements
(WN 27 Oct 00)
were signed into law, despite being called "unrealistic... impractical... and
counterproductive." Clinton tried to provide a little wiggle
room, saying the provision "cannot supersede the Secretary's
responsibility to fulfill his national security obligations."
2. DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: CAN THEY BE CONTROLLED?
You will recall
that two years ago WN exposed "Vitamin O" as ordinary water
(WN 27 Nov 98).
But the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health
Education Act barred the FDA from taking action, because water is
a "natural" supplement. However, the FTC stepped in and shut the
supplier down. It was a shock a year later to find at least 5
companies selling "Vitamin O" on the Internet. Now a UCSF study
shows that ephedra, a popular herbal supplement advertized on the
net as "herbal ecstacy," has serious side effects. The FDA,
which has sought for years in the courts to control ephedra, now
asks suppliers to voluntarily take it off the market. Sure.
3. CHAD WHO?
House members briefly returned to Washington this
week to elect their leaders for the 107th Congress, reinstalling
the same gang that ran the do-nothing 106th. With the Republican
margin even slimmer than before, odds are that Speaker Hastert
and Minority Leader Gephardt will lock horns and again battle to
a draw. In a bold move, the House and Senate postponed action on
the six remaining appropriations bills and passed a Continuing
Resolution through December 5. By then, they hope Florida's
pregnant chads will have given birth to the next President. The
House also postponed action on chairmanships, instead setting up
a panel to vet applicants. Vacancies now exist for Labor-HHS and
Energy & Water Appropriations, Budget and Science. If Rep. James
Walsh moves to Agriculture, VA-HUD will also open up, leaving
DOE, NASA, NIH and NSF all guessing who will write the checks.
4. MASS MEDIA FELLOWSHIPS: APPLICATIONS INVITED FOR SUMMER 2001.
The greatest challenge we face is to coax the public into
adopting a scientific world view. To this end, APS supports a
ten-week summer fellowship to allow physics students to work
full-time as reporters, researchers or production assistants in a
mass media organization. Priority will be given to graduate
students in physics or closely related field. Deadline is 15 Jan
2001. Details at
FLASH!! MIR IS COMING DOWN IN FEBRUARY.