Friday, 15 January 1999 Washington, DC
1. H.R.88: GEORGE BROWN MOVES TO PROTECT ACADEMIC FREEDOM.
Congress agreed to a massive omnibus appropriations bill to stave
off a government shutdown, WN warned that the late-night, closed-
door deal would provide cover for all sorts of unsavory items
(WN 16 Oct 98).
One of these stealth provisions requires all research
results obtained under Federal research grants to be available
for release under the Freedom of Information Act. Represented as
an "open government" measure, it's being used by law firms and
tobacco companies to force premature release of data and harass
researchers. Rep. Brown says, "The provision makes scientists
fair game for lawsuits, threatens academic freedom and is a
blatant abuse of the democratic process." On the first day of
the 106th Congress, Rep. George Brown, Ranking Minority member of
the House Science Committee, introduced H.R.88 to repeal the law.
He hopes scientists will get behind the bill by contacting their
representatives and urging them to cosponsor H.R. 88.
2CRS: RESEARCH ARM OF CONGRESS ELIMINATES SCIENCE DIVISION.
When Congress abolished its Office of Technology Assessment in 1995
(WN 28 Jul 95),
the Congressional Research Service was left
as the only in-house source of information on science and
technology. Needless to say, there was no increase in the CRS
budget. Now CRS is being reorganized, eliminating the science
division. The biomedical analysts are being moved to a new
social policy division, and the rest of the science analysts will
be put in a new natural resources and science division. What
worries some is that under the new organization there will be no
scientists at the level of division head. The CRS Director says
the change is needed because issues are more interdisciplinary.
3. MARS: IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A MARTIAN.
NASA chief Dan
Goldin joined First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday at the
Air and Space Museum to unveil the Mars Millennium Project. This
is the plan: Children across the nation will design a community
for the red planet. That's it. That's the plan. By designing a
community on Mars the kiddies will be forced to think through
what goes into a total community. "Will they bring along the
constitution?" the First Lady wondered. "Will there be voting?"
If there is, they will probably vote to impeach whoever sent them
to this cold, airless, desiccated little planet. "Today," Dan
Goldin puffed, "a human mission to Mars has begun."
4. 1998 LEMON AWARD: GINSANA WINS DIETARY SUPPLEMENT CATEGORY.
It's for the most misleading and irresponsible ad campaign. The
Ginsana ads claim it's an energy enhancer, and a web page looks
like a review of 25 years of research on ginseng -- but it left
out the five published studies from North America, which showed
no effect at all. Why wasn't this included? Because, the company
said, contradictory information would confuse their customers.