Friday, 29 Dec 95 Washington, DC
1. TRAIN WRECK III: AGENCIES PREPARE FOR A YEAR WITHOUT A BUDGET!
Budget talks are finally resuming, but there is no assurance the out-of-control House freshmen will agree to an agreement, even if one is reached. NASA, NSF, NIH, EPA, NOAA and NIST could wind up operating on a year-long CR -- at a spending rate FAR below what they anticipated. Universities are already feeling the pinch, since grant disbursement is not classified as essential activity.
2. STAR WARS II: MISSILE DEFENSE DRAWS YET ANOTHER CLINTON VETO.
In August, when the President vowed to veto the entire Defense
Authorization Bill if missile defenses weren't dropped, it drew snickers on Capitol Hill (WN 11 Aug 95). He has since gotten the feel of the veto pen; yesterday, for the 11th time this year, he wielded it again. To support his Bosnia plan, he approved the
Defense Appropriation Bill (WN 1 Dec 95), which included missile defenses, but stopped short of deployment. The authorization bill called for deployment in 2002; that would abrogate the 1972 ABM treaty, jeopardizing implementation of START I and ratification of Start II -- a proven system of destroying ballistic missiles.
3. LOW ORBIT: RUSSIA WANTS TO RENEGOTIATE THE SPACE STATION DEAL
. Money is a little tight, the Russians say, and besides, Mir seems to be working fine, so who needs an international space station? Maybe we could just add a few rooms to Mir or something. Needless to say, the prospect of yet another redesign of Alpha, which has already been scaled back five times, doesn't exactly thrill its supporters in Congress -- but it's the idea of a Russian station with a US add-on that drives them nuts. That's not what we meant by "international." The other Alpha "partners," including Canada,
France and Germany, have already scaled back their contributions.
4. DERIVATIVE: PHYSICISTS EXONERATED IN ORANGE COUNTY BANKRUPTCY!
Who was to blame for the financial collapse of one of the richest counties in the nation? Physicists, according to "60 Minutes" on
CBS back in March (WN 10 Mar 95); Wall Street hired physicists to concoct complex investments called derivatives "that no one can understand." Befuddled by these fiendishly clever physicists, the
Orange County Treasurer, Robert Citron, lost $1.4B. According to
Grand Jury testimony released this week, however, Citron relied on the advice of a local psychic and a mail-order astrologer for financial guidance. To be fair, the astrologer predicted December
1994 would be a bad month. The county declared bankruptcy Dec 6.
5. ISRAELI PHYSICIST NATHAN ROSEN DIED MONDAY AT THE AGE OF 86.
A native of Brooklyn, Rosen founded the Institute of Physics at
Technion in Haifa. The famous Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen critique of quantum mechanics was published in the 1935 Physical Review. A New York Times obituary described The Physical Review as "one of the most impenetrable periodicals in the English language."
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)