Friday, 30 October 1998 Washington, DC
1. HIGH-FAT DIET: "EMERGENCY SPENDING" ON GRASSHOPPER RESEARCH?
The omnibus spending bill exceeded the budget ceiling by (gasp!)
$20B dollars, for what is called "emergency spending." No doubt
there are genuine emergencies involved, but WN predicted
(WN 16 Oct 98)
that spending on pet projects that have been spared any
sort of review would be showing up in the massive bill for weeks.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), about the only one in Congress who
seems offended by pork, issued a 54-page listing of hundreds of
pork projects inserted in the bill by powerful members. Are they
embarrassed to have their pork exposed? Hardly. Senator Ernest
Hollings (D-SC), running for reelection, promised South Carolina
voters that, "All that pork is within budget. When the budget is
passed, you'll find old Hollings gettin' his share."
2. CLIMATE CHANGE: AMERICANS BELIEVE THE WEATHER IS SCREWED UP.
Most people think their local weather is being affected by global
warming. They don't like the way the White House is handling the
issue and think Congress does even worse, according to a poll
released Wednesday by the Sustainable Energy Coalition. The
survey was conducted in September by a Republican polling firm.
Meanwhile, NASA plans to launch the Triana mission to L1 (the
Lagrange neutral-gravity point between the Earth and Sun) by
2000. Triana will have a continuous view of the full sunlit disk
of Earth, providing the first direct measurement of reflectivity.
Triana is named for the sailor who first sighted the New World.
3. DKL LIFEGUARD: RANDI THROWS DOWN A CHALLENGE.
hero used the Lifeguard to pinpoint terrorists through 500 feet
of concrete and steel in the novel Rainbow Six
(WN 25 Sep 98).
The devices, at $14,000 each, are marketed to defense agencies,
law enforcement agencies, and rescue organizations. DKL claims
LifeGuard detects electrical impulses of the human heart, but in
double-blind tests, Sandia Labs reported it did no better than
chance. Both Sandia and NIST have been asked to test the device
by the National Institute of Justice and the Defense Technology
Security Administration, but Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) reportedly
intervened on DKL's behalf. Specter's office refused to divulge
to WN the contents of his letters to the agencies. Meanwhile,
the James Randi Educational Foundation issued a challenge: The
Foundation will pay Howard Sidman, president of DKL Enterprises,
or Senator Specter, the sum of one million dollars immediately
upon a successful demonstration of the DKL LifeGuard device.
4. HEROES: THE ASTRONAUT WHO WENT INTO SPACE ONLY ONCE.
nation honors John Glenn, it is appropriate to recall another
astronaut, Ham, the chimpanzee, who rode a Mercury capsule into
space before John Glenn. Both went to Washington, Glenn to the
Senate, Ham to the National Zoo. Ham never returned to space.