Friday, 12 June 98 Washington, DC
1. CTBT: COULD THIS BE THE LONG-AWAITED ADMINISTRATION PUSH?
Wednesday was the 35th anniversary of President Kennedy's call
for a comprehensive test ban treaty. Madeleine Albright used the
occasion to urge the Senate to ratify CTBT and the Duma to ratify
START II. Apparently, it's going to take more than a speech by
the Secretary. Senator Helms blames the administration for the
delay. He won't hold hearings on CTBT until President Clinton
gives him a shot at last year's agreement to modify the ABM
treaty, which he would like to kill outright. The Duma deferred
action on START II, approved by the US in 1996, virtually killing
its chances this year. The US wants to move on to START III, but
without an ABM treaty, Russia won't continue the START II
reductions. And as if the tangle of START II, START III, CTBT and
ABM were not sufficiently confusing, Albright threw in a call for
a treaty banning shoulder-fired Stinger missiles. Charlton Heston
reportedly opposes any such ban.
2. DOOMSDAY CLOCK: IT'S NOW FIVE MINUTES CLOSER TO MIDNIGHT.
The symbolic clock has been on the cover of The Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists since 1947. It was reset to 11:51, the closest
to midnight since the Cold War ended. India and Pakistan say they
will sin no more, but Secretary Albright declared that no nation
will be allowed "to test their way into nuclear status under the
3. BUDGET: SENATE APPROPRIATIONS BILLS LOOK OK FOR SCIENCE.
The appropriations process is supposed to begin in the House, but the
turmoil over budget chairman John Kasich's controversial plan (it
has no effect now-it may in September) has so delayed House
action that the Senate took the lead. The bills coming out of the
Subcommittees reflect the lobbying of individual scientists
(WN 5 Jun 98)
and the campaign built around S.1305, the doubling bill.
The Energy and Water Bill calls for increases requested by the
President in DOE High-Energy, Nuclear and Basic Energy Sciences
and eliminates the cut in Fusion. In the VA, HUD, IA Bill, NSF
would go up 6.3%, still less than the request with most of the
difference in research. More remarkably, considering ISS
overruns, science did well in NASA with increases above the
4. ISS: ANTENNA PROBLEMS ON DISCOVERY SPOIL AMS TEST.
"Phase I," as NASA likes to call the Mir adventure, is ending, but the
troubles aren't. A controversial antimatter detection experiment
led by Sam Ting, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, was embraced
by Dan Goldin in a meeting with Ting, without the benefit of peer
review. It is scheduled to go on the ISS and was being tested on
Discovery. Critics have suggested that the only reason for
putting AMS on the space station instead of an unmanned platform
is to give it higher visibility.