Friday, 17 January 1997 Washington, DC
1. **BUDGET FUTURE: RESOLUTION WILL CALL FOR DOUBLING RESEARCH**
The first resolution to be offered by Senate Republicans will
call for a balanced budget constitutional amendment, which the
White House bitterly opposes. But the second will call for
doubling non-defense research spending over the next ten years.
The resolution, which will be offered by Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX),
should have strong bipartisan support -- of which there is not a
whole lot lately. Scientists have already been calling for an
increase of 5-7% in basic research to cover losses suffered in
the past four years (WN 10 Jan 97). This is evidence that the
message is being heard. The resolution will come up on Tuesday.
Every Senator should hear from his constituents on Monday.
2. BUDGET PAST: HOW HAS FEDERAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY BEEN DOING?
Well, not all that great, according to an analysis just released
by a National Academy of Sciences panel. Only two of ten major
science & technology agencies, NSF and NIH, have more funding in
FY 97 than they had in FY 94. In fact, the current FS&T budget
is down 5% from FY 94 -- if you exclude NIH, it's down 10%. The
analysis was limited to the portion of the R&D budget devoted to
expanding fundamental knowledge and creating new technologies.
During the same period, corporate S&T declined even more sharply.
3. THE REVOLVING DOOR: RETIRED CONGRESSMEN FIND WASHINGTON JOBS.
As WN boldly predicted (WN 3 Jan 97), Robert Walker (R-PA), the
retiring chair of the House Science Committee, is now President
of the Wexler Group, a Washington lobbying firm that counts the
Science Coalition among its clients. The Science Coalition is a
group of research universities that seek to encourage grass roots
support. Now we learn that retired Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-LA),
who was ranking Democrat on the Energy and Water Appropriations
Subcommittee for 20 years, is opening his own lobbying firm.
4. MAGNETIC STORM: MAY BE LINKED TO FAILURE OF TELSTAR SATELLITE.
A large coronal mass was ejected from the sun on January 6 and
reached Earth three days later, compressing the magnetosphere.
Two days later, near the end of the storm, a Telstar satellite
used for earthquake information failed, another satellite went
into "safe" mode, and Atlantis docked with Mir. Scientists are
now attempting to determine whether the events are linked.
5. MAGNETIC FIELDS: FINNISH STUDY FINDS NO LINK TO ADULT CANCER.
The study of residential magnetic fields used a nationwide cohort
of 383,700. Previously reported associations between exposure to
50 Hz fields and adult cancers were not confirmed. Meanwhile,
MagnetiCo, Inc. warns of "Magnetic Field Deficiency Syndrome" due
to a decline in Earth's magnetic field in the last 4,000 years.
Symptoms include aches, tiredness, dizziness and constipation.
Fortunately, relief is at hand with the MagnetiCo Sleep Pad.