Friday, April 11, 1997
1. LINE-ITEM VETO: JUDGE SAYS CONGRESS CAN'T DUCK RESPONSIBILITY.
Passed just one year ago (WN 29 Mar
96), the line-item veto was a key promise of the "Contract
With America." Hailed as a cure for pork-barrel spending, others
saw it as a gimmick that would be found unconstitutional. The
President never got a chance to use it; it didn't go into effect
until January 1, and was immediately challenged by a group led by
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the King of Pork. Yesterday, Federal
Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson declared the act to be a ploy by
Congress to pass off "the vexing choices of which programs to
preserve and which to cut" to the President -- a responsibility
the Constitution reserved to Congress.
2. NO-SHUTDOWN BILL: ANOTHER EFFORT TO DUCK RESPONSIBILITY?
Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Trent
Lott (R-MS) was doing it again. He introduced a bill that would
put federal government spending on autopilot in case Congress and
the President fail to come to agreement on a budget by the start
of the fiscal year. The bill is meant to avoid the political
backlash that fell on the Republicans two years ago when they
twice allowed the government to shut down in an attempt to force
the President to sign. Concern is that the measure would make it
easier for Congress to drag out the appropriations process.
3. SPACE STATION: CONSTRUCTION WILL BE DELAYED ANOTHER YEAR.
NASA announced at a hearing on Wednesday that construction would
not begin before late fall of 1998 because of Russia's failure to
meet its commitments. An exasperated Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
said "I told you so." Otherwise the hearing was the usual claims
from NASA that micro gravity research has directly led to drugs
to treat everything from heart disease to flu; new AIDS drugs are
"just around the corner." With a single exception, Committee
members declared their devotion to the station. A spacecraft
traveling in circles in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, and
dodging garbage from hundreds of previous missions, is referred
to in Congress as "exploration." The token critic among the
witnesses, an obscure physics professor from the University of
Maryland, suggested that Congress has a responsibility to find
out why there is such an enormous disconnect between the views of
the scientific community and the picture presented by NASA.
4. MAGNETIC FIELDS: MS PATIENTS TREATED FOR ENERGY DEFICIT.
The University of Washington yesterday released a study of
multiple sclerosis treatment with pulsed 4-13 Hz magnetic fields
at 50-100 mG. A device the size of a watch was attached to an
acupuncture point and tuned to frequencies the patient was
deficient in. So how does it work? "The brain is an organ that
emits electrical energy," explained Dr. Todd Richards of the
Radiology Department. "This magnetic device acts like a vitamin
supplement by giving back to patients those frequencies they are
deficient in." Oh!