Friday, August 30, 1996
1. THE PLATFORMS: MAJOR DIFFERENCES ON ISSUES OF NUCLEAR
Think this job is a piece of cake? Try reading a party platform without falling
asleep. Even the candidates don't try. Anyway, Clinton may be stealing issues
from the other guy, but there are still differences. The Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty is the big one: Republicans flatly oppose it (WN
23 Aug 96); Democrats love it. Both call for a national missile defense
by the year 2003, but Republicans complain that the Clinton administration "clings
to the obsolete Cold War ABM Treaty." Both platforms say nice things about
science and technology, but Republicans insist that "federal science programs
must emphasize basic research." The emphasis in the Democratic platform is
clearly on technology.
2. DOE BUDGET: NEXT WEEK MAY BE CRITICAL FOR SCIENCE
Back to the real world. A conference committee of key House and Senate leaders
is expected to meet next week to reconcile their differences on the Energy
and Water Development Bill. Largely through the efforts of Sen. Pete Domenici
(R-NM), chair of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, the Senate
version provides significantly greater funding for DOE science programs. The
House report makes it clear that the large cuts in DOE are meant to serve as
a baseline for additional cuts the next year.
3. WHITHER DOE? DOMENICI SAID TO BE CONSIDERING REORGANIZATION.
The New Mexico Senator has been credited with blocking efforts to abolish DOE,
but according to a story in "Inside Energy," he is considering the possibility
of restructuring the department as a non-Cabinet agency. The objective would
be to improve management of the science and stockpile stewardship missions
of DOE and not to balance the budget, according to an aide; as a department,
the management turns over every four years. Meanwhile, a bill to abolish
DOE, introduced by Senator Rod Grams (R-MN), will be the subject of a hearing
on Wednesday before the Energy Committee. However, the bill has no chance
of coming to a vote this year.
4. CORPORATE RESEARCH: INTEL SAYS "THERE'S NOTHING
LEFT TO COPY."
The world's largest chip maker is embarking on a modest program of long-term
original research. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, Intel has
until now relied on miniaturizing older designs. To go further they feel they
must look for whole new approaches to computing. Could this be the first timid
step in a return to the great corporate research laboratories of the past?
5. EMF: "PEST-A-CATOR" GETS RID OF PESTS WITH A MAGNETIC
Just plug it into a wall outlet and the pulsed magnetic field it generates
will "get rid of rats, mice and soft shelled insects in your walls." The Heartland
America catalogue doesn't say exactly what becomes of them, but insects don't
get cancer. But is it safe? We suspect that's the least of its problems. Only