Friday, April 28, 2006
CIA officer Mary McCarthy denies having disclosed the existence
of CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe for suspected terrorists.
But if she did leak it, she deserves the gratitude of every
American. As Americans learned of Nazi atrocities in WWII, the
usual reaction was, "they couldn't get American boys to do that."
Now we outsource it. Conscientious government employees, willing
to risk their careers by leaking classified information Americans
should know about, may be the only check on government excesses
carried out behind the curtain of national security. Governments
everywhere love official secrecy; it gives them total control
over information flow. President Bush doesn't leak. As former
White House press secretary Scott McClellan explained, anything
the President says publically is automatically declassified.
The outcry over the price at the pump has politicians scurrying
to come up with immediate relief: Republican Senators proposed
putting a $100 bill under everybody's pillow. This is direct and
simple. In fact, it's the perfect response to every complaint,
not just high gas prices. Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) called for a 60-
day suspension of the federal tax on fuel. That'll work too, but
people will be even happier if we make it permanent. After all,
the national debt is so far out of control it no longer matters.
Republicans also want to start exploring for oil in wildlife
refuges. That won't help much in the short term, but a chance to
screw environmentalists doesn't come up every day. In short,
American ingenuity will find a way. Or we could just let gas
prices rise a little, but that might encourage a change to more
fuel efficient cars, public transportation, getting a little
exercise, cleaner air, shorter commutes, less traffic...
On Wednesday, 13 years after the death of the SSC on a Texas
prairie, an NRC committee chaired by Harold Shapiro released its
report on Elementary Particle Physics in the 21st Century. To no
one's surprise, the report urges the United States to "seize the
opportunity to lead" and host the next particle accelerator. The
world's most powerful accelerator at Fermilab will shut down by
2010. By that time the LHC in Geneva will be in operation. The
location of an even more powerful accelerator, the International
Linear Collider (ILC), has not been decided but the committee
clearly believes it should be in the United States.
Malaysia is preparing to send one of its citizens to the ISS in
2007 on a Russian mission. It will probably be a Muslim, so a
computer program called Muslims in Space has been developed to
answer these weightless questions. It wouldn't be the first time
an astronaut has prayed, but others haven't needed a computer.