Friday, 9 July 1993 Washington, DC
1. HOW MUCH SCIENCE IS ENOUGH? AS MUCH AS IT TAKES TO BE NUMBER
ONE! A new report by a National Academy panel proposes a clear,
albeit chauvenistic, goal for American science policy: The U.S.
should maintain clear world leadership in areas critical to our
national interests--and at least stay even in other areas. The
report, "National Goals for a New Era," produced by the Committee
on Science, Engineering and Public Policy, calls for independent
panels of experts to assess the comparative performance of U.S.
research in major fields. No massive infusion of new funds would
be needed, the authors claim, since we are spending too much in
some areas. It is a startling proposal, coming amidst calls for
increased international cooperation in research, but at least one
highly placed politician seems to embrace the principle; in his
endorsement of the SSC, President Clinton warned against
compromising the U.S. position of leadership in science
(WN 18 Jun 93).
2. RECOMMENDATION ON B-FACTORY PROPOSALS EXPECTED LATE NEXT WEEK.
The review panel, chaired by Stan Kowalski at MIT, has made its
decision, but needs another week to finish its report. No need
to hurry; the appropriation process for DOE is on hold while SSC
supporters in the Senate try to devise a rescue strategy. Among
the desperate schemes being discussed is a plan to block passage
of an energy appropriation bill; a "continuing resolution" might
keep the SSC alive, but it would be bad news for the B-factory.
3. NSF REQUEST: A NAIL THAT STICKS OUT ALWAYS GETS HAMMERED DOWN.
There was a glaring omission in the VA/HUD/IA appropriation bill
that passed the House
(WN 28 May 93); there was no money for the
National Service Program. The President had requested $394M for
the program, but Louis Stokes (D-OH), chair of the appropriations
subcommittee, did not include it because an authorization had not
been passed. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Stokes' counterpart in the
Senate, is waiting for the authorization, but where will she find
$394M? The best bet is budgets that show increases. The $347M
increase requested for NSF makes it the most obvious target.
4. "SPACE ADVERTISING PROHIBITION ACT" INTRODUCED IN BOTH HOUSES.
The act denys launch licenses for space billboards, bans import
of products advertized on space billboards and asks the President
to seek an international agreement banning space advertising. The
legislation is a response to the public outcry over plans to put
a mile-long inflatable billboard in Earth orbit
(WN 16 Apr 93).
The APS Executive Board has issued a statement opposing "any
deployment of commercial advertising messages in Earth orbit."
5. SHEILA WIDNALL PICKED BY PRESIDENT TO BE AIR FORCE SECRETARY.
A professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, Dr. Widnall
is a Fellow of the APS and served on the APS Panel on Public
Affairs from 1984-86. Her name has been mentioned since February,
but no one accuses this White House of rushing into appointments.