Friday, 15 July 94 Washington, DC
1. SENATE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE TIGHTENS CONTROL OVER NSF!
At yesterday's markup of the FY95 VA, HUD, Independent Agencies
appropriations bill, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) performed a
fiscal illusion. The subcommittee chair produced a bill that not
only fully funds the space station, as expected, but also calls
for a startling 17% increase for the NSF. The NSF total would be
$3.49B; that's $256M above the request; $349M more than the House
recommended (WN 10 Jun 94); and $437M above this year! This in
spite of an allocation $316M below the House subcommittee
(WN 3 Jun 94).
Where does the money come from? Mostly from the outlay
game. Academic Research Infrastructure, which has a low outlay,
is $200M above the request, while Research, which has a high
outlay, is $49M less than the request. $33M is taken from global
change research and there is a general reduction of $56M in
Research. $40M is put back, but earmarked for specific strategic
initiatives: $15M for manufacturing research; $10M for civil
infrastructure systems; $5M for the human capital initiative; $2M
for a National Center for Environmental Research; $6M for human
dimensions of global change; $2M for violence research; and $0.5M
for the Critical Technologies Institute. It is not yet clear
whether the Subcommittee intends to also review NSF proposals
2. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE MAKES THE CASE FOR UNIVERSITY RESEARCH!
William Perry spent two-and-a-half hours defending the FY95 DOD
budget request on Tuesday. He warned the Defense Appropriations
Subcommittee that "Our superiority in future combat still depends
on successful research"; the House's $900M cut in university
research (WN 1 Jul 94) would "devastate
one of the most important
sources of future innovations for U.S. forces." But the amount
of discussion devoted to the cut was about what you might expect
for such a tiny item in a $243B budget. On the Subcommittee, no
one spoke up for university research. In fact, Senator Nickles
(R-OK) suggested the cut might be too small. But elsewhere, a
"Dear Colleague" from Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) invites other
senators to join him in a letter urging Senator Inouye (D-HA) to
"maintain support for university-based fundamental research."
3. WHAT'S NEWT: HOW DOES A SPACE SALAMANDER KNOW WHICH WAY IS UP?
The idea was to see if the inner ear of red-bellied newts born in
zero gravity develop normally. (If they don't, it could be the
first success for Lamarckian evolution!) Alas, science suffered
a tragic setback. The most prolific of the four newts collapsed
and died from the stress of laying 40 eggs in under a week. The
implications for human space travel are presumably under study.
4. WHAT'S NUDE: PORNOGRAPHY CACHE IS DISCOVERED IN LLNL COMPUTER!
Nearly 2,000 megabytes of hard-core porn images was found in the
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory computer. The images were
"interactive." It seemed indelicate to ask what that meant.