Friday, June 25, 2004
1. SPACE TOURISTS: MAYBE I'LL JUST WAIT FOR THE SPACE ELEVATOR.
Even as SpaceShipOne was clearing the 100 kilometer bar, usually accepted as the edge of space, Space Adventures Ltd. announced that more than 100 people have put down a $10,000 deposit on a $100,000 ticket to space. Just the thing for a short vacation; you won't be in space long enough to get sick, but if you want to upgrade your ticket to an overnight on the ISS, it's going to cost another $20 million. Even then it's no guarantee. Greg Olsen, who made his fortune in optics (WN 9 Apr 04), trained for three months to ride on the Russian Soyuz, only to be rejected this week for medical reasons. I called Ada Parvenu at NASA who is in charge of billionaire relations. I told her there was grumbling about using the ISS to entertain the super rich. "That's so unfair," she groaned, "rich people need vacations too, but you can't expect them to go to Disney World."
2. POLITICAL SCIENCE: REPUBLICANS INSIST THEY LOVE SCIENCE, TOO.
Republicans rushed to defend their science credentials, following the endorsement of John Kerry by 48 Nobel laureates on Monday. "Only John Kerry would declare the country to be in scientific decline on a day when the country's first privately funded space trip is successfully completed," a Bush spokesman snorted. Kerry meanwhile vowed to lift the Bush restrictions on stem-cell research and "listen to the advice of scientists." In February, more than 60 prominent scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, had charged the administration with politically manipulating the science advisory process (WN 20 Feb 04).
3. IRAN'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: HERE WE GO AGAIN.
A week ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for verifying compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, charged that Iran is not cooperating fully with nuclear inspection teams. President Bush believes Iran is attempting to produce a nuclear bomb, and he has all that great intelligence. He says a defiant Iran "will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations." And then what? This is the macho posturing used to justify the Iraq war! At the six-party talks in Beijing meanwhile, North Korea proposes to freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for energy help and security assurances.
4. CORONATION: REVEREND SUN MYUNG MOON CROWNED IN U.S. CAPITAL.
The NY Times and Wash Post have just now discovered the bizarre March 23 crowning of Korean-born news mogul, Unification Church founder and self-declared Messiah, as members of Congress looked on. This is big. We don't get many Messiahs in Washington. The appropriate action, we believe, is to rename the Reagan Memorial Moon (WN 11 Jun 04). It will henceforth be known as "the Moon."
Paul Gresser contributed to this week's issue of What's New.