February 16, 2001
FLASH! BUSH BUDGET SLASHES SCIENCE.
Today's Wall Street Journal
announced that the Bush Administration plans to chop the science
investment in order to make room for the $1.6 trillion tax cut.
1. EVOLUTION: CHARLES DARWIN IS ALIVE, AND LIVING IN KANSAS!
August 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education eliminated not
only evolution, but the Big Bang and plate tectonics as well,
from the science standards
(WN 13 Aug 99).
As in other states where religious conservatives have gained control, the action of
the school board embarrassed the majority of voters of Kansas,
who got rid of the fossilized members of the board at the first opportunity
(WN 4 Aug 00).
This seemed to assure that evolution would be restored, and yesterday the new board did just that,
approving the new standards by a 7 to 3 majority.
2. NMD: REPUBLICAN CRITICISMS.
On Wednesday, Richard Perle,
Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration and a
prominent missile defense advocate, slammed the ground-based NMD
system. "The program that the outgoing administration had been
looking at is worse than inadequate. It would have been foolish
to build it. So, we have to start over again..." The same day,
Craig Thomas (R-WY) voiced concern on the Senate floor. In
addition to the technical problems, Thomas noted, the darn thing
costs a lot. No kidding. The price tag for boost-phase NMD
could run as high as $100 billion
(WN 26 Jan 01).
If the proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut passes, pentagon officials will be
looking under seat cushions to find enough cash to fund NMD.
3. DOCTORAL DEGREE DECLINE.
For the first time in 14 years the
total number of Ph.D.s awarded in the United States has gone
down, dropping 3.6% between 1998 and 1999. Physical Sciences,
Engineering and Mathematics led the slide, together down 8.5%,
including a 12% reduction in degrees to non-U.S. citizens. The
U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century
recently identified science and technology education as a
national security imperative, stating "the word 'crisis' is much
overused, but it is entirely appropriate here."
4. POLYGRAPH: RICHARDSON SOFTENED RULES--SO WHO CARES?
In one of
his final acts, Bill Richardson suspended implementation of the
very lab security measures he had himself imposed in response to
heat over the Wen Ho Lee affair, and called for a review of the
policies. His successor, Spencer Abraham, must of course make up
his own mind about security policies at the labs. So far, there
is little hint of where he stands. However, he may be
preoccupied with the heavy budget cuts imposed by Bush on the
whole stockpile stewardship program. Meanwhile, former CIA
Director John Deutch was pardoned for his lapses in security.