13 April 2001
1. NMD: MILITARY EXPERTS TAKE A HARD LOOK AT THE ALTERNATIVES.
We conclude from a story in the Indianapolis Star last Sunday
that the Army and the Navy are capable of spotting any soft spots
in missile defense proposals. At a Heritage Foundation conference
in Colorado Springs, the Army expert began by listing all the
shortcomings of a proposed sea-based system using the Navy's
Aegis cruisers: Aegis radars don't work in space; the missiles
used by the Navy are too slow; the Navy will not dedicate enough
missiles to have a shield 365 days a year; they couldn't deploy
the system before 2010; and besides, it would cost too much. The
analysis seemed to be right on -- but then it was the Navy guy's
turn. Hold on, the Navy expert said, no system is perfect. The
army's land-based missile defense is not multilayered. "A sea-
based plan would enable shots at the missiles while they're still
in the boost phase as well as mid course." And Aegis cruisers
could be moved anywhere in the world where it might be "raining"
missiles--assuming, I suppose, they could get there in time. The
final word came from Gregg Canavan of Los Alamos: "the biggest
threat to NMD is probably us." WN concludes that both the Army
and the Navy are right, when talking about each other's plans.
2. EMF AND CANCER: WOULD HALF AS MANY PAPAL SPEECHES BE SAFER?
As WN noted
(WN 23 Mar 01),
Vatican Radio, which broadcasts papal
speeches in 40 languages, is under fire from environmentalists,
who insist its high-powered transmissions contribute to a cancer
cluster around the tower. To appease its critics, who are close
to having the station shut down under Italy's radiation laws, VR
has offered to cut the time devoted to broadcasting papal
speeches in half. But it's not clear whether VR would do this by
cutting the number of speeches or the number of translations.
3. GLOBAL WARMING: TWO NEW STUDIES BOLSTER THE GREENHOUSE CASE.
This still won't end the debate, but the new results, released on
Wednesday, report strong evidence that the oceans are warming,
and human activity is a major cause. In both studies, published
this week in Science, groups from the National Oceanographic Data
Center and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography found a direct
connection between emissions of greenhouse gases and warming of
the oceans. One of the study leaders commented that, "the signal
is so bold and big that you don't have do any fancy statistics to
beat it out of the data." At least, the models used to predict
future warming succeeded in getting past ocean warming right,
over a 50 year period. Not many studies have passed such a test.
The new results come only weeks after the controversial decision
by President Bush to withdraw from the 1997 Kyoto accord.