Friday, 16 July 1999 Washington, DC
1. GEORGE BROWN DIES AT 79: SCIENCE LOSES A CHAMPION IN CONGRESS.
The oldest member of the House, the 18-term California Democrat was the ranking member of the Science Committee. Elected in 1962, Brown was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War. Always genial, he nevertheless fought tenaciously for civil rights, the environment and science. A harsh opponent of legislation by appropriations earmark, he once thundered that, "Only mushrooms grow in the dark." With his passing, the world is darker.
2. A-110 REVISION: HOPE FOR REPEAL LIES IN BROWN'S BILL.
An earmark revising OMB circular A-110 to require recipients of federal grants to disclose "all data" upon request by any party
(WN 26 Feb 99)
was snuck into last year's 4,000 page omnibus appropriations bill by Sen. Shelby (R-AL). Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee killed an amendment to delay its implementation. Hope for repeal now rests with H.R. 88
(WN 15 Jan 99),
introduced by George Brown (D-CA). In January, Brown argued,
"The scope of [Shelby's earmark] has never been examined in public...To alter the rules that the scientific community has operated under for decades without providing them an opportunity to speak to the need for this change or to participate in developing it is not only unwise, it is unfair."
3. MIR: CONTROLLED REENTRY THREATENED BY PROBLEMS ON THE GROUND.
Russian launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome have been banned by Kazakhstan, following a launch accident. Kazhakstan is using the accident to pressure Russia to pay its annual cosmodrome rent. Meanwhile, there's a problem: Mir has sprung a leak and could use more oxygen. Worse, a navigation system to assure the monster can be steered on its reentry was supposed to be delivered before the mid-August return of the crew. It's hoped that the ban will be lifted before the scheduled November launch of the much-delayed ISS service module. If the service module doesn't get launched soon, Mir won't be the only space station reentering.
4. COX REPORT: A MEMBER OF THE COX COMMITTEE DISSENTS.
In the latest issue of Arms Control Today, Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) courageously reveals that the Cox Report is based on flimsy evidence. "The committee relied heavily on a few witnesses, and did not substantiate their testimony with weapons experts at the national labs or interagency review...There are statements in the report that will not stand scrutiny." Further, he contends the report is exaggerated and misleading: "The intelligence community simply does not know whether blueprints or design documents have been stolen." The committee rejected Spratt's recommendation that the report should state that ratification of the CTBT would provide a major impediment to Chinese weapons development.
Helene Grossman contributed to this issue of WHAT'S NEW.