26 January 2001
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: THE ONLY THING FLYING IS THE COST.
consecutive failed tests
(WN 14 Jul 00,
WN 21 Jan 00)
and a recent decision to delay the next test until June
(WN 12 Jan 01),
Boeing added $4 billion to the cost of NMD. The program now
includes four more tests, for a total of twenty. The tests "may"
(read "won't unless pressured") incorporate more sophisticated
countermeasures than originally planned, a requirement the APS has been calling for
(WN 12 May 00).
The new $24.4 billion estimate may still be too low. The Congressional Budget Office
estimates $60 billion and the Pentagon calculates another $20
billion for maintenance. And that's just the cost of the ground-
based system. The Bush proposal calls for sea and air
knickknacks that could add another $100 billion to the total.
2. SCIENCE AND MATH EDUCATION: BIG TALK, LITTLE SUBSTANCE.
Education has been the talk of Washington this week, but with the
focus on a "reading first" agenda, science learning may suffer.
Announcing his education reform plan on Tuesday, Bush followed the lead of his CEO advisors
(WN 5 Jan 01)
declaring science and mathematics "the very subjects most likely to affect our future
competitiveness." Unfortunately, his proposals don't quite
reflect this. They eliminate dedicated funds for math and science
teacher professional development at the local district level,
block granting the funds for general education purposes instead.
And although the Bush plan calls on states to "set challenging
standards in history and science," it does not require science
testing. A recent Washington State study shows that state testing
in reading and math has reduced the priority for teaching
science. An alternative education package introduced by Senator
Joe Lieberman (D-CT) also absorbs science and math funds into
block grants, but does include science in required testing
programs. Other legislation in play includes the science and math
education bills of Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt(D-NJ).
3. CLIMATE CHANGE: IPCC SAYS IT'S GETTING EVEN HOTTER.
Just five years after warning that the Earth will warm six degrees over the
next century, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
concluded that the rise is human-induced and added four more
degrees to the prediction. WN prediction: conservative groups
will open fire on the IPCC. But, so long as both sides stick to
the scientific process, the debate serves as a powerful
motivation for better climate research.
4. DEUTCH PARDONED.
There couldn't be more disparity in the
treatment of Los Alamos weapons scientist Wen Ho Lee and former
CIA director John Deutch. Deutch, who plead guilty to
downloading nuclear secrets onto his home computer, received a
pardon in the closing minute of the Clinton Administration.