Friday, 10 July 1987 Washington, DC
THE FICA TAX ON STUDENT EMPLOYEES DID NOT SURVIVE MARK UP
the House Social Security Subcommittee. The proposal to deduct
Social Security taxes from the wages of student employees
(WN 5 Jun 87) was part of
the $19B in new revenue called for by the
Administration in the FY 88 budget. Teaching and Research
Assistants still face an income tax as part of the Tax Reform Act
of 1987 (15 May 87).
. THERE ARE PLENTY OF SEATS LEFT FOR THE "SUPERCONDUCTIVITY
(WN 12 Jun 87) -- but
not if you represent a foreign
government. The Federal Conference on Commercial Applications of
Superconductivity, to be held in Washington July 28-29, has been
arranged by the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the
White House. The targeted audience is American industry, but a
share of the 5,000 invitations also went to academic and
government scientists. Inevitably, science representatives of
foreign embassies in Washington requested permission to attend.
At first they were told there were space problems, but when it
became clear that acceptances were running below expectations,
William Graham, the President's Science Advisor, simply decreed
that it was to be an all-American show. Since there is not even
a pretense that "sensitive" information will be exchanged, it
appears to the foreign scientists to be a deliberate slight.
Curiously, it comes just as the US is appealing to its allies to
invest resources in the Space Station and the Supercollider.
What is particularly unfortunate is that high-temperature
superconductivity has heretofore been a model of the power of
openness in science. The initial discovery was made in Zurich
and confirmed in Beijing and Tokyo. Important contributions have
come from all over the world. Even the breakthrough to 90K+ at
the University of Houston was made by a group whose only shared
characteristic was Chinese surnames. If this sort of
parochialism spreads, the United States may be the biggest loser.
3. A SECRET REPORT ON THE FEASIBILITY OF A STRATEGIC DEFENSE
apparently makes many of the same points as the APS report on
directed energy weapons. The report was prepared by the
Strategic Defense Milestone Panel of the Defense Science Board at
the request of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition.
According to the Washington Post, the panel report concluded
that, "As a consequence of the current gaps in system design and
key technologies," there is currently no way of confidently
assessing system performance, cost, or schedule. The harshest
criticisms, however, were apparently deleted by the panel's
chairman, Robert Everett, without consulting the other members of
the panel. Everett is a member of the SDI Advisory Committee
headed by Fred Seitz, and also a member of the group proposing to
manage a new research and development center for SDI (WN 8 May
87). The report stresses the need for such an organization.