Friday, 20 Oct 95 Washington, DC
1. PRESIDENT CLINTON DELIVERS HIS FIRST SPEECH ON SCIENCE POLICY.
It had been billed as a major science policy address. While it may not have quite risen to that level, it did break new ground for the President, who has scarcely mentioned the word "science" since taking office. The occasion was the awarding of the 1995
National Science and Technology Medals (WN 29 Sep 95). President
Clinton stressed that his proposal to balance the budget in ten years calls for increased "investment" in science and technology. By contrast the Republican plan to get to balance by 2002 imposes a 30% cut. Mr. Clinton referred to "basic science" only once.
2. TRAIN WRECK: REPUBLICANS CONCEDE THEY WON'T MAKE THE DEADLINE.
The idea was to confront the President with a take-it-or-leave-it package of bills just before the 13 November deadline set by the continuing resolution (WN 29 Sep 95). But the discipline of the first hundred days is no longer evident, and Republican leaders are considering a short-term extension of the interim spending.
They have also been forced to retreat on a threat to hold the debt limit hostage until Clinton agrees to their budget plan.
3. OBITUARY: PIONEER 11 FINALLY ABANDONED BY NASA AFTER 22 YEARS.
Now beyond the orbit of Pluto, its Pu-238 power generator growing cold, its senses dimmed by the battering of time, arthritic and unable to perform its functions, it is of no further use. It had been the first probe to Saturn as it mapped the solar wind. Its older sibling, Pioneer 10, still gathers data on the remaining traces of solar wind in its search for the heliopause. Unless it finds it soon, Pioneer 10 will be passed by a Voyager spacecraft.
4. SCIENTIFIC PORK: IT'S ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN CALIFORNIA.
Will a Republican Congress put an end to earmarking? Sure, about as soon as the line-item veto becomes law (WN 4 Aug 95). And the Omnibus Science Bill, passed by the House last week, contains an anti-earmarking provision, but it too has about a zero chance of ever becoming law. Meanwhile, the Report accompanying the House
VA/HUD/IA Appropriations Bill kills two major pork projects begun under the Democrats: the Advanced Rocket Motor project, and the
Coalition for International Earth Science Information. The ARM in Iuka, Mississippi was the work of former Appropriations chair,
Jamie Whitten (D-MS). CIESIN, in Saganaw, was the parting gift to his district of Appropriations Subcommittee chair Bob Traxler
(D-MI). It consumed about $100M. Its other purpose was to disseminate information that would have been collected by EOS if
CIESIN hadn't taken the money to build EOS. But while the
Democratic pork was cut, Traxler's successor, Jerry Lewis (R-CA), earmarked $4.5M for a program to study how to protect astronauts from proton bombardment. And where do you suppose is the only clinical facility for proton radiation studies? By coincidence it's at the Loma Linda Medical Center -- in Lewis's district.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)