Friday, 21 Jan 1994 Washington, DC
1. GEORGE BROWN ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR REELECTION TO THE HOUSE.
The Chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee since
1991, Brown has served on the Committee for almost 30 years. His
impact on the nation's science policy structure during that time
has been immense. He led efforts to create the Environmental
Protection Agency in 1970, the Office of Technology Assessment in
1972, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
in 1976. In the 103rd Congress, Brown rallied the House to resist
academic earmarks. The effort was partially successful; earmarks
were down about 50% in the FY 1994 appropriations
(WN 26 Nov 93).
Although his battle against pork gained national attention, it
was just part of a struggle against attempts by appropriations
committees to use appropriations report language to set science
(WN 17 Dec 93). In announcing his candidacy
for a 12th
term, Brown said he feels that "my job is not yet done."
2. OINK, OINK! ROBERT ROE HAS BEEN REINCARNATED AS A LOBBYIST!
Roe, who preceded Brown as chair of SS&T, went on to chair the
Public Works and Transportation Committee (WN 7 Dec 90). Before
his retirement in 1992, he authored a major transportation bill.
Now, according to press reports, the government of his old Bergen
County, NJ, district voted to hire Roe to lobby his former Hill
colleagues for a slice of pork from the barrel he authorized.
3. PANEL CALLS FOR AUTOMATIC DECLASSIFICATION--AFTER 40 YEARS!
In July, President Clinton directed the Information Security
Oversight Office to lead an interagency task force in drafting a
revised classification system
(WN 23 Jul 93). Alas, the director
of ISOO, Steven Garfinkel, has been in charge of secrecy for 12
years, a period in which the number of classified documents grew
faster than the national debt. Garfinkel's task farce submitted
a draft report calling for documents to be automatically declassified
after 40 years! Presumably, that is long enough to ensure
that middle-aged bureaucrats will go on to their reward before
their mistakes are let out of the vault. Under this rule, many
of the records on human radiation experiments, released under
Hazel O'Leary's openness initiative, could still be kept secret.
4. ALTERNATIVE SCIENCE: ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS ATTRACT SHARKS!
An article in this month's Journal of the American Bar Association
alerts lawyers to the potential of litigation over health
effects from EMF. It could dwarf the asbestos claims of the past
decade according to the article. "Public concern over alleged EMF
hazards," the article correctly observes, "is rising irrespective
of its validity." Even studies that do not confirm a risk can
arouse public concern. Hence, loss of property value is the
best bet for damage claims, since no proof of actual EMF danger
is required. The article concludes with a chilling assessment:
"The alleged hazards of EMF exposure almost certainly will be
resolved not in the scientific laboratory, but in the courtroom."