Friday, 07 June 96 Washington, DC
1. NSF: SUBCOMMITTEE GETS MORE, BUT WILL ANY OF IT GO TO
Last week, we reported that the House VA/HUD/IA
Appropriations bill increases NSF research $108M. Uh, not quite.
Research and Related Activities was inflated by the University
Infrastructure program ($100M), which used to have its own line.
Subtract $100M and R&RA is essentially flat! Infrastructure was
probably moved into R&RA to shield it from cuts (it's gotten zip the last two years). Alas, it makes R&RA look fat in a lean year, which is not smart. The good news is that in conference with the Senate, the House just agreed to add $4B to discretionary programs. Some of that will go to VA/HUD/IA, but everyone is looking for a piece. Scientists will have to fight to get a share for NSF.
2. JUNE 4: SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TIANANMEN SQUARE
China continues to defy common standards of human
rights, but last month, dissident Liu Gang, under house arrest since his
release from prison a year ago, escaped to the U.S. Now living in
Boston, he hopes to resume studying physics. Liu was arrested eight
days after the massacre, even though he had left the square five days
before the crackdown. During his six years of prison, he endured
torture and periods of solitary confinement. The Committee on
International Freedom of Scientists of the APS had petitioned for Liu's release since 1992 (WN 30 Oct 92). The U.S. has just renewed China's most-favored-nation trading status.
3. NUCLEAR TEST BAN: CHINA DROPS INSISTENCE ON "PEACEFUL"
Prospects for a global Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the
dream of nuclear disarmament advocates for 40 years, improved with an
announcement by China that it would drop demands for "peaceful"
nuclear explosions, whatever those are. A total ban on tests is meant to
prevent non-nuclear nations from developing reliable nuclear weapons
and to stop the nuclear powers from developing more advanced
weapons. But China still objects to US insistence on using information from high-tech monitoring devices as a basis for on-site inspections, arguing that use of such technologies would give an unfair advantage to the most developed countries.
4. NUCLEAR STOCKPILE: DOE PROPOSES "SCIENCE-BASED"
To agree to a CTBT without sacrificing the safety,
security and reliability of its remaining weapons, the U.S. has to know
what the effect of time is on a given weapon. The DOE proposal to
satisfy this need includes the Advanced Strategic Computing Initiative; data for these calculations would come from the National Ignition Facility. Support for the DOE plan came from three of the most revered experts on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, physicists Hans Bethe, Henry Kendall and Herbert York. In a letter to key members of Congress, the trio urged strong support for the DOE proposal and noted that the same expertise is needed to support further nonproliferation efforts.