Friday, 11 Aug 95 Washington, DC
1. STAR WARS: SUMMER RERUNS OF THE ANTI-BALLISTIC MISSILE DEBATE.
Reports in February of the death of Star Wars were exaggerated
(WN 17 Feb 95). Even though there is an ABM system in place that
is destroying thousands of nuclear missiles that were once aimed
at the U.S., the Senate last week voted 51-49 to scrap that
system and spend $48B on multi-site defenses. That would abrogate
the ABM Treaty, the foundation of START agreements under which
missiles are now being destroyed. Don't sweat the thousands of
sophisticated missiles that already exist, the argument goes, the
danger is from "rogue" countries; never mind that the rogues have
neither nuclear weapons nor the missiles to get them this far, if
they ever do we'll be ready! Unfortunately, spending $48M on a
ballistic missile defense ensures only that a rogue country would
use a different delivery system. The delivery system of choice
among rogues these days is the Ryder rental truck. The President
vowed to veto the entire Defense Authorization Bill if Star Wars
stays. But yesterday the Senate reaffirmed its decision 54-45.
2. NUCLEAR TEST BAN: PRESIDENT DROPS PLAN FOR HYDRONUCLEAR TESTS.
The Administration has vacillated for months over the need for
very small-scale nuclear tests, but bolstered by a JASONS study,
led by former APS President Sid Drell, which concluded that such
tests are not needed to ensure stockpile reliability, Mr. Clinton
announced today that the U.S. will pursue a "true zero" test ban
treaty. His decision may have been influenced by the condemnation
heaped on France for its planned Pacific tests. In an attempt to
defuse opposition to the tests, France announced yesterday that
it will support a comprehensive ban -- once its tests are over.
The Senate last week insisted on setting aside $50M for nuclear
tests in the contentious Defense Authorization Bill, even though
the JASONS concluded that hydronuclear tests would benefit the
proliferators more than it would us. The Senators will get an
opportunity to reconsider in September; they are leaving town
today, with final passage still held up by the threat of a veto.
3. TRAIN WRECK? FINANCIAL MARKETS WARNED OF EXTENDED SHUTDOWN!
Conservative groups insist the President is bluffing. Although
the President has threatened to veto at least six of the thirteen
appropriations bills, Congress can pass a "continuing resolution"
to keep the government running while they iron out differences.
But 180 Republicans and two Democrats in the House threaten to
delay an increase in the debt ceiling until the President agrees
to GOP spending plans. That could lead to a prolonged shutdown.
4. ALIEN ABDUCTION: HARVARD PROFESSOR IS FREE TO CONTINUE STUDY.
Harvard reaffirmed academic freedom in the case of John Mack, who
asks, "If what they are saying isn't happening to them, then what
is?" It's certainly the key question -- Mack uses "nonordinary
states of consciousness" to recover the abductees memories.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)