Friday, 30 Sep 94 Washington, DC
1. CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REDUCES DOD UNIVERSITY RESEARCH BY $200M!
That's a lot less than the $900M cut proposed by the House
(WN 24 Jun 94), but it's still
a 10% cut in DOD university research. The
conferees expressed concern at the $500M in overhead the DOD pays
annually to universities and at the variability of the overhead
rate. The Secretary of Defense was directed to report by 1 Feb
95 on the actions DOD proposes to take to address these concerns.
2. A CRITICAL TECHNOLOGIES UPDATE: COMPETITIVE POSITION IMPROVES!
It is amazing how Congress can solve the nation's problems. In
1991, the Council on Competitiveness (an industry group not to be
confused with the White House Competitiveness Institute) reported
that the US was losing badly in 11 of 22 critical technologies --
and was weak in the rest. The solution? Senate appropriators
called for NSF to redirect research toward the needs of industry
(WN 7 Aug 92). NSF has since
agreed to devote at least 60% of
its research budget to "strategic goals"
(WN 2 Sep 94). The new
priorities haven't even taken effect yet, but already the results
are striking: according to an updated survey released last week,
the US is now competitive in each of the technologies in which we
had been weak and much improved in those we were losing. Council
advisor Admiral Bobby Inman, however, attributed improvement to
increased emphasis on quality and improved training programs.
3. CHEMICAL & ENGINEERING NEWS IS MUZZLED IN ASHLAND OIL CASE!
The weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society killed
a two-year investigative report on chemical emissions from the
giant Catlettsburg, Kentucky refinery of the Ashland Oil company,
after company officials protested to the Society. According to
The Daily Independent in Ashland, KY, an experienced and highly
respected C&E News reporter, Will Lepkowski, was working on an
in-depth story about Ashland Oil's long history of environmental
violations (the refinery has operated without a permit since
1972). Michael Heylin, who has edited the magazine for 17 years,
acknowledged killing the story, but described the incident as an
aberration. "It's a sad case," he said, "but it should be kept
in perspective. ACS has been very supportive of our work in the
past. I don't see this happening again." But there is a heated
debate within the ACS over how much independence C&E News should
have. Unfortunately, the controversy comes in the middle of an
ACS drive to strengthen its Corporate Associates program. As an
Ashland Oil executive explained, "It's not the consumer press,
it's not even the trade press, it's the press of our Society."
4. MEANWHILE, THERE HAS BEEN A REORGANIZATION AT PHYSICS TODAY!
Gloria Lubkin, who has served as Editor for the past decade, will
assume the newly-created position of Editorial Director. Stephen
Benka, an Associate Editor, has been appointed Editor. It should
be lively; Benka, an astrophysicist, has been editing obituaries.