WHAT'S NEW, Friday, 21 July 1989 Washington, DC
BROMLEY EMERGED FROM HIS CONFIRMATION HEARING TODAY BOLSTERED
by more than three hours of friendly questioning, much of it in
the form of a dialogue with Sen. Gore (D-TN), who chaired the
hearing. It was also a boffo performance by Gore, who set the
tone early by referring to Bromley as "a distinguished nominee
certain of confirmation." Bromley's first task is to appoint
four Associate Directors, who must also be confirmed. He said
they will cover Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences,
Policy and International Affairs, and Industrial Technology.
. COULDN'T THERE BE JUST A TEENSY BIT OF COLD FUSION?
discounting any possible production of useful energy, the draft
report of the DOE Cold Fusion Panel
(WN 14 Jul 89) clings to the
hope that interesting science might be found in reports of fusion
at levels some 12 orders of magnitude lower. Alas, experiments
conducted by Sandia scientists, using multiple neutron detectors
in a deep underground laboratory, would seem to bury the Brigham
Young reports of cold fusion right alongside the more extravagant
claims of Pons and Fleischmann. By requiring events to register
simultaneously on three detectors, detector artifacts were
eliminated, including "neutron bursts," that have previously been
interpreted as evidence of low levels of cold fusion. The tour
de force by a 20-scientist collaboration covered all aspects of
the cold fusion controversy, including helium analysis of used
palladium cathodes supplied by several US labs--but not by Utah.
3. THE ANNUAL TUG-OF-WAR OVER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
underway. DOE has joined NASA in seeking authority to withhold
commercially valuable information from FOIA requests submitted by
"foreign entities." Both agencies have policies that restrict
foreign access to such information, but in hearings this week,
neither agency seemed able to clarify what is meant by "foreign."
How many foreign stockholders or employees is a company allowed
to have? Does it apply to American universities with foreign
students? Moreover, a NASA spokesperson acknowledged that there
is no evidence that foreign governments have attempted to exploit
FOIA. Meanwhile, Rep. Kleczka (D-WI) has introduced an amendment
to clarify the applicability of FOIA to electronic information.
4. CHINESE STUDENTS LIKE THE SENATE VERSION OF IMMIGRATION RELIEF
(WN 14 Jul 89). In hearings yesterday before the Immigration
Subcommittee of the House, leaders of the Chinese students in the
US urged the House to adopt a measure along the lines of the bill
passed by the Senate last week. Their highest priority is to
remove the two-year return residency requirement. Most students
still wish to return to China when it is safe, and fear that
seeking asylum will brand them as traitors. One congressman said
that he has received more mail on this issue than on any other,
with the exception of catastrophic health insurance. For the
students, immigration relief is catastrophic health insurance.