Friday, 11 September 98 Washington, DC
1. STAR WARS II: IT'S DEAD FOR THIS YEAR.
Four months after
Senate Democrats blocked action on the missile defense plan
(WN 15 May 98),
they did it again -- by the same one-vote margin.
Medium range missile tests by North Korea
(WN 4 Sep 98),
Iran and Pakistan, not to mention the Rumsfeld report
(WN 17 Jul 98),
failed to change anyone's mind. In the debate, Connie Mack (R-FL) included the embassy bombings in Africa as another reason for
a missile defense. Actually, that comes under the Ryder Rental
Truck defense bill. The Democrats favor the Administration's
three-plus-three plan -- three years to develop and three to
deploy if a threat exists. Critics call it the three-plus-infinity plan,
and say it's just a stall. In calling for the
cloture vote, it's not clear if the Republican leadership
miscounted, or just wanted a fresh rejection to use in the fall
campaign. Yesterday, the Republicans blocked action on campaign
finance reform legislation, and the Democrats will try to use
that as an issue. Or it may just be that members of Congress are
trying to clear their desks for, uh, other urgent matters.
2. TAEPO DONG II: JAPAN PONDERS A RECONNAISSANCE SATELLITE.
North Korean firing of a two-stage Taepo Dong I missile sent the
second stage directly over Japan. Yesterday, Japanese Prime
Minister Keizo Obuchi said that Japan is considering launching
its own "multipurpose" reconnaissance satellite. The weather is
presumably not the only thing they plan to keep an eye on. There
is a Taepo Dong II presumably under development that would have
sufficient range to strike even U.S. territory. Japan, with a
nuclear energy program that uses plutonium, as well as the
technology to launch satellites, could presumably develop an
intercontinental nuclear missile in a relatively short time.
3. LIFE SCIENCE: NRC PANEL CALLS FOR CURTAILING PH.D. PRODUCTION.
The number of doctorate recipients exceeds the number of research
positions available, according to a report released this week.
Production of PhDs in the life sciences has risen 42% since 1987.
4. FY 99 BUDGET: COULD WE BE HEADED FOR A CONTINUING RESOLUTION?
So great is the distraction in Washington that there is actually
talk on Capitol Hill of throwing in the towel on the budget, and
simply passing a continuing resolution until after the elections.
If such a resolution were to freeze spending at the current
level, it could create problems for the spallation neutron source
and U.S. participation in the Large Hadron Collider. So far, not
one of the thirteen appropriations bills has cleared both houses.
5. ERRORS: WN OF 31 JUL 98 PUT SPACE STATION COSTS IN MILLIONS.
It should have been billions. I let you down, but I'm trying to
make it right. I'm determined never to let anything like that
happen again. I have no one to blame but myself.