Friday, 24 Feb 95 Washington, DC
1. SMITHSONIAN'S "SCIENCE IN AMERICAN LIFE" TO UNDERGO
At a National Press Club luncheon yesterday, the new
Secretary, I. Michael Heyman, acknowledged that the controversial
exhibit lacks balance. In November, the Council of the American
Physical Society asked president Burton Richter "to convey its profound
dismay" over the Museum of American History exhibit (WN
18 Nov 94). In a letter to Heyman, Richter characterized the exhibit as "a
portrayal that trivializes the accomplishments of science and
exaggerates any negative consequences." He offered the help of the
APS in developing a more balanced portrayal. In response, Heyman
invited a group of APS officers to meet with museum officials in early
February. The group included Richter and current APS President, Kumar
Patel. Responding to questions after his Press Club speech, Heyman
said he is sympathetic to the concerns of the physicists and agrees that
changes are needed.
2. RESCISSIONS: TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS CUT TO PAY PENTAGON'S
The first spending bill passed by the Newt House was a taste of
what to expect in the coming weeks. The Emergency Supplemental
Appropriation for DOD was combined with offsetting rescissions totaling
$2.9B, about half of which was taken from "low-priority" non-defense
programs. "Low-priority," it seems, includes NIST's
Advanced Technology Program, hit for $107M, as well as Clean Coal
Technology ($50M), environmental clean up ($100M) and wind tunnel
construction ($400M). While in DOD, the Technology Reinvestment
Program was hit for $537M, and high-definition display systems for
$15M. "To those who think far more can be done in the area of
rescissions," David Drier (R-CA) promised, "that day is coming." What
has already come is a wild scramble by agencies to commit current
funds before rampaging budget cutters unappropriate them.
3. WHAT THEY DIDN'T RESCIND WAS PORK; ANTI-PORK MOVE WAS
George Brown (D-CA), the scourge of earmarkers, sought to
offer an amendment that would have rescinded $290M in earmarked HUD
projects--most of them inserted by Democrats--but the Republican
leadership refused even to allow Brown's amendment on the floor.
David Obey (D-WI) was allowed to offer an amendment that would have
permitted the Secretary of Defense to cut 500 pork projects, as an offset
to save the Technology Reinvestment Program, but it lost on a party-line
vote. "An early storm warning," Brown said.
4. "NSF HAS NOTHING BUT FRIENDS ON THIS COMMITTEE,"
(R-NM), chair of the Basic Research Subcommittee, told Neal Lane at an
authorization hearing on Wednesday. Asked about "strategic research,"
the NSF Director admitted words have been a problem.
"NSF doesn't do strategic research," he explained, "we do basic
research in strategic areas." Joe Barton (R-TX), whose district was
home to the SSC, asked if there were pieces of DOE NSF could use. Let
me get back to you in writing on that, Lane responded.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)