Friday, 10 September 1999 Washington, DC
1. CTBT: IS THIS THE BIG PUSH--OR JUST THE BIG NOISE?
Shortly before fleeing
Washington's August steam bath, Senate
Democrats promised they were about to turn up
the heat on Jesse Helms (R-NC) to hold
hearings on the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty, which has languished on Helm's desk
for two years
(WN 23 Jul 99).
to hold hearings on CTBT until he has a
chance to kill the Kyoto accord and the hated
1972 ABM Treaty. Wednesday, the first day
back in session, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND),
in an impassioned speech, threatened to
"plant himself" on the Senate floor and block
other Senate business unless CTBT is put on
the agenda for consideration this fall. He
stopped just short of using the "f" word
(that's "filibuster"). Meanwhile, the White
House is planning a few media events of its
own. Is this the "big push" that's been
promised for over a year
(WN 12 Jun 98)?
No! A key Congressional Democrat confided to WN
that it's just theater, but he added that it
could get serious by spring. With polls
showing strong public support for CTBT,
Democrats might prefer to have the issue
debated during the election campaign.
2. BUDGET: HOUSE COUNTS ON THE SENATE TO RESTORE SCIENCE FUNDS.
By a vote of 235-187
the almost-leaderless House passed a VA-HUD-
Independent Agencies appropriation bill that
would cut the White House request for NASA by
about $1B and NSF by $285M. The huge NASA
cuts would fall heavily on space science
programs while leaving the space station
untouched. The annual attempt by Tim Roemer
(D-IN) to kill the orbiting turkey was easily
defeated. Many members who ended up voting
for the bill are apparently counting on the
Senate to restore funds for NSF and NASA.
3. SPY HYSTERIA: DOE SPELLS OUT ITS PLAN FOR POLYGRAPH EXAMS.
The proposed rule, published
in the 18 August Federal Register, states
that exams are "voluntary," but that those
who decline to be tested could lose their
security clearance and be transferred to less
sensitive jobs. There will be a series of
public hearings next month, at which
employees can protest, but Congress will
already have passed the Defense Authorization
Bill (S.1059) directing the DOE to carry out
regular polygraph exams.
4. EVOLUTION: PARENTS OF YOUNG SCIENTIST PROTEST "WATERING DOWN."
Remember Emily Rosa
who tested "touch therapists" for a fourth-
grade science fair project? She gained
nationwide acclaim after her results were
published in the Journal of the American
(WN 3 Apr 98).
Now in the eighth grade, Emily came home one day and
announced that her teacher was giving
evolution the "it's-JUST-a-theory" treatment.
This, it turns out, was in accordance with a
local school board decision. According to
the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, her parents have
protested to the board that teaching watered-
down evolution will deprive Emily and her
classmates of the background they need to
enter a science field.