Friday, 11 July 97 Washington, DC
1.MARS: COCKER SPANIEL-SIZED ROBOT UPSTAGES MIR AND
At the root of NASA's emphasis on humans in space
has been the conviction that the American people would not
support a space program sans astronauts. That theory was
exploded over the 4th of July weekend -- NASA's web page on
Pathfinder (officially renamed "Sagan") sustained a record 100
million hits. While Sojouner was browsing among the boulders 120
million miles from Earth, Columbia and Mir were skimming the
upper reaches of our atmosphere, dodging refuse left behind by
hundreds of previous missions. On Columbia, they are still
setting fires (WN 4 Jul 97) and
working on alloys that NASA says could lead to better golf clubs.
Yawn! On Mir, they're just trying to stay alive.
2. COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN: HOUSE TRIES TO GET THINGS MOVING.
More than 140 nations have signed the treaty including Russia,
China, the UK and France. But the White House hasn't even sent
it to the Senate. It's been 34 years since President Kennedy
halted atmospheric tests and declared the start of negotiations
to end all testing. President Clinton signed the CTBT last
September, but has never sent it to the Senate for ratification.
To get the Chemical Weapons Convention through the Senate, the
President had to make tons of separate deals with hold outs (28 Mar 97), and rumors are flying that
Senators are lining up for a new round of favors. The only action
seems to be in the one body that has no official role, the House
of Representatives. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) is leading the effort
to get the President to send the CTBT to the Senate and declare a
moratorium on tests until the treaty takes effect. Meanwhile, 45
House Democrats signed a letter urging the President to cancel a
series of subcritical experiments planned for the Nevada test
3. WHAT'S NEW BIRTHDAY: IN 13 YEARS, THE ISSUES HAVEN'T
The first WN was dated 29 June 1984. One of the
first stories dealt with a campaign for a Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (WN 27 Jul 84). The
campaign was led by Glenn Seaborg and officially began on 6
August 1984 -- the 40th anniversary of Hiroshima.
4. THE BUDGET: WHERE IS GRIDLOCK WHEN WE REALLY NEED IT?
Now that everyone has agreed that the budget must be balanced by
2002, the booming economy is threatening to do the job by next
year. The only thing standing in the way could be the balanced
budget agreement being negotiated between congressional leaders
and the White House, but it's not clear the generals can control
their troops. "Congress will not be a rubber stamp for the
budget agreement," according to John Porter (R-IL), chair of the
House HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, "In this country we don't
govern by leadership agreement." "If we did nothing," according
to Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), "the budget would balance itself."