Friday, May 14, 2004
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: DEPLOYMENT PLAN IGNORES TECHNICAL REALITIES.
Yesterday, a group of scientists, including Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ), released a new Union of Concerned Scientists study that characterizes administration claims for the missile defense system being deployed as "irresponsible exaggerations." They called on the Bush administration to halt deployment, and urged Congress to require operationally realistic testing first. The director of the Missile Defense Agency, General Kadish, explained two weeks ago that the current plan is to deploy and then test (WN 30 Apr 04). I asked my friend in the agency, General Persiflage, how the plan is working (WN 19 Dec 03). "Great," he exclaimed, "initially we were told to deploy by the end of 2004; that left no time for testing. But now that we’ve stopped testing, we find it easy to stay on schedule. We’ll never go back to testing."
2. OPEN-ACCESS JOURNALS: DOES ANYONE CARE WHO PAYS THE BILLS?
"Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM) is a new international journal that seeks to encourage rigorous research in this new, yet ancient world of complementary and alternative medicine...particularly traditional Asian healing systems." So begins an Oxford University Press announcement http://www.oup.co.uk/jnls/list/ecam/. All eCAM papers are available online at no cost and without subscription. Unlike other open-access journals there are no author submission fees. Who pays, skeptics might ask? The "generous support of Ishikawa Natural Medicinal Products Research Center, co-owner of the journal with OUP." Yes, it’s the ancient-wisdom scam. You are asked to believe that before it was known that blood circulates or germs cause disease there were these miraculous cures. If you can live with a little superstition, you can save a couple of bucks on page charges. They may be on to something big here. Other industries might be equally generous. Perhaps the Journal of Gambling Studies, which deals with gambling addiction, could cut a deal with the slot-machine industry. And perhaps Join Together Online, which opposes gun violence, could team up with the National Rifle Association. On the other hand, maybe not.
3. THE VISA CRISIS: ARE VISA PROBLEMS HARMING AMERICA’S SECURITY?
Twenty-five American organizations of higher education, science and engineering, including the American Physical Society, warned that new visa policies and procedures meant to bolster security led to "a number of unintended consequences detrimental to science, higher education, and the nation." The new screening procedures were instituted following Sep 11, 2001. More extensive security and background checks are the principal cause of the problems. The National Academy of Sciences says the average wait for resolution of visa problems is 4.5 months.