Friday, 10 May 96 Washington, DC
1. GOP BUDGET: HOUSE STILL WANTS TO DISMANTLE ENERGY AND COMMERCE
Wednesday, congressional Republicans released their new plan to
balance the budget by 2002. Well, actually, it wasn't just one
plan. The House version, crafted by Budget Committee chair John
Kasich (R-OH), specifically calls for eliminating the Departments
of Commerce and Energy; Pete Domenici (R-NM), chair of the Senate
Budget Committee, vows that's not going to happen while he's in
the Senate. The Kasich plan also calls for eliminating Goals
2000, the program to generate national education standards, but
the Education Department is no longer on his list. The Senate
plan doesn't have much detail, but it also calls for balancing
the budget by 2002. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)
complained that the only change is that "they've condensed their
budget into six years." Now let's see, a year ago it was a
seven-year plan; if you subtract one year...Hey, it works out!
2. NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE: REPUBLICANS SEE A HOT-BUTTON ISSUE.
The President vetoed last year's defense authorization because it
required deployment of a NMD by 2003. This year, Republicans have
a separate bill, the Defend America Act, with the same provision.
The target may not be "rogue missiles" so much as the ABM Treaty.
The bill gives the President one year to negotiate a change in
the treaty to allow a NMD; failing that, it calls for the US to
withdraw. To further highlight differences, committees in both
houses approved an authorization bill that adds $12.9B to the
President's defense request; and to ensure a veto, a provision
was added to unilaterally define what constitutes a "theater
missile defense" -- that would abrogate the ABM Treaty. The ABM
Treaty is the basis of the START Treaties -- the only proven
system for destroying enemy missiles. Instead, Congress might
consider a bill to deploy defenses against Ryder rental trucks.
3. EMF: JUDGE DISMISSES LEUKEMIA VICTIM'S PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM.
The case against Florida Power & Light fell apart when attorneys
for the victim argued that magnetic fields from ground currents
in water lines were responsible. Maybe he should sue his plumber.
4. WHATEVER WORKS: SPOON-BENDING PSYCHIC CAN'T CONTROL FOOTBALL.
In the UK, Uri Geller, an avid fan of the Reading Football Club,
volunteered his mental powers this season to psyche up the team.
The results were dreadful. Not only was Reading humiliated on
the field, the team's pet hamster died. But after Miss Ellie was
buried on the field, Reading was unbeatable. The team believes
Miss Ellie's spirit is lending supernatural assistance. Geller's
nemesis, James Randi, said: "I, for one, will not cast doubt on
the ability of a dead rodent to lead a football team to victory.
As for spoon-benders, I have serious doubts, which have been
reinforced by this episode." As word spreads, animal protection
groups are bracing for an epidemic of mascot sacrifices.