Friday, 31 July 98 Washington, DC
1. VISAS: INDIA AND PAKISTAN DISCOVER THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES.
The Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994 requires that
sanctions be imposed on India and Pakistan for their tests of
nuclear weapons. The Department of Energy has issued an "interim
list" of institutes and laboratories that are engaged in weapons
research in the two countries. All activities, including all
visits, involving scientists from these entities are suspended.
Exceptions involving special circumstances will be considered by
the Secretary of Energy on a case-by-case basis. DOE and national
lab support for research and scholarly activities of Indian and
Pakistani nationals from institutions not on the list, including
support provided through U.S. universities, are unaffected.
Other Western nations and Japan are also imposing sanctions.
2. SECRECY: DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL BLOCKS DECLASSIFICATION.
An executive order automatically declassifying documents after 25
years was signed by President Clinton in 1995. Two years later a
bipartisan congressional commission found it costs $5.6B per year
to conceal information and called for reducing the automatic
period to 10 years
(WN 7 Mar 97).
Instead, an amendment was
slipped into the Defense bill by Rep. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) without
hearings or debate, requiring a page-by-page review first. That
would mean going through more than a billion pages of things as
mundane as purchase orders for toilet paper, looking for nuclear
secrets. The best way to stop proliferation might be to ship this
stuff to would-be proliferaters and let them do the looking.
3. NSF: HEALTHY FY 99 APPROPRIATION PASSES HOUSE.
The House version includes about $90M more for research than the Senate
version. An amendment offered by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC)to cut
$270M from research, meant to punish NSF for making frivolous
grants, failed on voice vote. Sanford had circulated a letter
taking NSF to task for funding studies of such things as
"billiards," "cheap talk" and "ATMs." It seems that every few
years someone in Congress decides, solely on the basis of titles,
that the people at NSF are wasting the taxpayers money on silly
(WN 8 May 92).
"A little learning is a dangerous thing,"
Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) warned, "it's a mistake to judge a grant
by its title." It fell to Vern Ehlers (R-MI), to explain that
"billiards" means the theory of rigid body collisions used in
turbulent flow; "cheap talk" refers to the cost of electronic
information transmittal; and "ATMs," doesn't refer to "automated
teller machines" -- it means "asynchronous transfer modes."
4. ISS: EFFORT TO KILL THE ORBITING PORK BARREL LOSES 109-323.
Rep. Roemer keeps trying
(WN 17 Jul 98),
but there were powerful
arguments for spending another $76M: Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
explained that we've already spent $22M, and George Nethercutt
(R-WA) said it's worth it to cure cancer, diabetes and paralyses.