Friday, 20 August 1999 Washington, DC
1. EVOLUTION I: DARWIN RUNS DEAD LAST IN THE IOWA STRAW POLL.
The timing of the school board decision to
eliminate evolution from the curriculum in
Kansas made it inevitable that candidates in
the Iowa dollars-for-democracy exercise would
be asked about their views. They all came
out boldly for leaving it up to local school
boards, but some went a bit further. Bush:
"I believe children should be exposed to
different theories about how the world
started." Forbes: "In terms of evolution,
there's a huge debate now." Dole: "I'm a
person of strong faith--we must restore
discipline to our schools." Bauer: "I
personally believe my children were not
descended from apes, that they were in fact
created by God... There is a growing body of
scientific evidence for a Devine intervention
that created man." Quayle: "Absolutely, I do
[believe in creation]. Sure." Lamar
Alexander is waiting for a reporter to ask
him a question. Both Gore and Bradley also
ducked behind local control, but Bradley's
office added that if he lived in Kansas he
wouldn't support the board's action.
2. EVOLUTION II: DARWIN POLLS BADLY WITH AMERICANS.
A Gallup poll found that nearly half of
American adults say they believe in a literal
biblical interpretation of creation, and only
about one in ten subscribe to a purely
scientific interpretation of evolution.
Americans are about five times as likely to
take the Bible literally as people in
England. However, people tend to keep
religious views separate. Asked about the
age of the Earth in a non-religious context,
they might respond very differently.
3. THAAD: TESTING TERMINATED AFTER A WINNING STREAK OF TWO.
The plan was to begin construction after
three successful tests, but after six
failures followed by two successes, the
Pentagon has decided that all this testing is
detracting from the real goal of designing a
production model. The $15.4B project is
being moved into the Engineering,
Manufacturing and Development phase. But
critics complain that the two "successes"
4. CASSINI: PLUTONIUM-POWERED SPACECRAFT MISSES EARTH.
The huge robot got a final gravitational
assist Tuesday, on its way to a 2004
rendezvous with Saturn. Critics claimed the
fly-by was the most dangerous part of the
mission and invoked a 1558 Nostradamus
prediction of a catastrophe
(WN 19 Feb 99)
in an effort to have the mission aborted. JPL
described the assist as "perfect.
5. ISS: TIM ROEMER PREPARES FOR ANNUAL ASSAULT ON SPACE STATION.
The result may be the same, but Roemer (D-IN)
has new allies: Mark Sanford (R-SC), who
opposes the station on fiscal grounds, and
the ISS itself, which NASA now admits has an
air quality problem. Several astronauts were
nauseated on the last visit.
Helene Grossman contributed to this issue of WHAT'S NEW.