WHAT'S NEW, Friday, 24 November 1989 Washington, DC
SEQUESTRATION LIVES! THE BUDGET RECONCILIATION BILL,
passed by Congress in the waning hours before adjournment, not only fails
to roll back the automatic across-the-board cuts that went into
in effect on 16 Oct, it leaves them in effect through the first
week in February. That amounts to a 1.5% cut in appropriations
for domestic programs for and a 1.4% reduction in defense
spending. The NSF will lose another $35M
(WN 20 Oct 89). It is
not clear how the cuts will be administered within agencies.
. PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNED THE $286B MILITARY SPENDING BILL,
but of course it will be subject to the 130-day sequestration, which
will reduce it by about $3B. The bill provides $3.8B for SDI,
which is the first reduction for the program in its six-year
history. It is now smaller than the B-2 stealth bomber program,
which got $4.3B. That buys a total of two bombers this year, but
the price will drop in the future to a mere $500M per plane. Even
now, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney is preparing the defense
establishment for big time cuts next year. The President also
signed a bill banning smoking on virtually all domestic flights.
It goes into effect just in time for the APS March meeting.
3. IBM WILL REDUCE ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION FROM VIDEO TERMINALS
in response to the public's anxiety over very low frequency
fields. People who sit in front of computer terminals all day
are said to exibit symptoms of stress. (I seem to be experiencing
such an effect at this very moment!) In the case of pregnant
women, the stress is claimed to manifest itself in an increased
rate of miscarriages. Somehow, the conviction has grown that the
culprit is the 15 kilohertz magnetic field from the CRT flyback.
Unlikely or not, the Wall Street Journal says IBM plans to reduce
the fields emitted from its VDTs in response to customer concern.
4. AN INFLATABLE SPACE STATION HAS BEEN PROPOSED BY LIVERMORE.
It used to be the cost estimate of Space Station Freedom that was
inflated, but LLNL contends that a Kevlar space station could be
wadded up and launched into space at a fraction of the cost. And
there should be no shortage of hot air to pump it up. The same
concept is also proposed for a Moon base and a manned mission to
Mars. The idea, if you havn't already guessed it, is the brain
child of Lowell Wood, who brought us brilliant pebbles and x-ray
laser weapons. Vice-President Dan Quayle last week directed the
National Space Council to give serious consideration to the
inflatables. Quayle, who has a keen eye for good ideas, is also
being credited with rescuing the National Aerospace Plane from
oblivion. Meanwhile, NASA had just "rephased" the space station
to fit within the reduced FY 90 appropriation. On 31 Oct, Richard
Truly, NASA Administrator, testified that the rephased space
station would meet design and launch objectives in spite of an
appropriation $250M below the $2B request for FY 90. The latest
rephasing followed the 11th review of the program in five years.