Friday, 7 August 98 Washington, DC
1. NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM: 21 ST-CENTURY MAGINOT LINE?
A recent report by the Commission to Assess Ballistic Missile
Threats has many on Capitol Hill clamoring for a national missile
(WN 17 Jul 98),
but what do the authors of the
report think? Richard Garwin, writing in the NYT, expresses his
alarm over this reaction to the report. "It would be foolhardy to
base our security on a 21st-century Maginot line.... The best
way to defend against possible attack is to prevent [rogue
countries] from getting these missiles in the first place."
Ironic advice considering the US remains the No. 1 arms dealer in
the world, selling $15.2B worth of weapons in 1997 alone.
2. HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE CITY: CONGRESS GETS DOWN TO
NOMINATIONS NITTY GRITTY.
In the frenetic days before August's
congressional recess, anything can happen. As legislators
prepared for departure, nominations bogged down in political
posturing were quickly approved. Bill Richards was confirmed as
Secretary of Energy, Neal Lane as Director of OSTP, and Rosina
Bierbaum as Associate Director for Environment. Richardson's
confirmation extends New Mexican influence over DOE. Sen. Pete
Domenici (R-NM) already oversees Energy and Water Appropriations
(WN 8 May 98).
3. SAVING PVT. FASEB: NIH ADVOCATES CAUGHT BEHIND PARTISAN LINES.
Lobbying for increased NIH funding, the Federation of American
Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has been caught in a
partisan shootout. By allying themselves with House Republicans
in support of the FY99 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill, NIH
advocates have run into strong opposition from congressional
Democrats who oppose cuts in other L/HHS programs to pay for huge
NIH increases. FASEB president William Brinkley, drew harsh
criticism from Rep Obey (D-WI), ranking member on Appropriations,
after urging the Congressman to support NIH increases and take
whatever actions necessary to ensure passage of the L/HHS Bill.
In response, Obey wrote, "You have clearly crossed the line
between advocating for your won interests and advocating against
the interests of others whose cause is just as imperative." The
President has vowed to veto the bill in its present form.
4. ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF... RUSSIAN ISS INVOLVEMENT.
With optimism that would put Pollyanna to shame, Jacob Lew,
director of the Office of Management and Budget, appeared before
the House Science Committee to discuss ISS cost overruns and time
delays. Asserting the administration's belief that Russia would
fulfill its obligations, Mr. Lew said there was no need for
funding at this time. Representatives asked the director where he
got his rosy outlook and on which planet was he living. It was
almost as if the they doubted Russia's commitment to the ISS.