Friday, 19 Jan 96 Washington, DC

FLASH!

THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY ISSUES AN URGENT ALERT!

Bearing the names of President Robert Schrieffer and President Elect D. Allan Bromley, the e-mail message urges recipients to contact their Senators and Representatives before January 25, to request a full FY 1996 appropriation for the NSF. It went to 26,000 APS members and the 61 Corporate Associates of the AIP.

1. TRAIN WRECK IV: A WEEK TO GO AND NOBODY KNOWS WHAT TO DO NEXT.
A shutdown looms over Washington one week from today--the fourth deadline since the fiscal year began--and at this point the two sides aren't even talking. In fact, it appears that neither side even has a strategy. In the House, freshman Kamikaze want more of the sort of "cherry picking" that produced a full-funding CR for NIH last week ( WN 12 Jan 96). Cherry picking is like a line-item-veto in reverse, but the Senate is not enthusiastic about the approach. The word from the White House is that the President won't sign any more targeted CRs anyway. Betting right now is that there will be another short term CR to give Congress time to devise a new strategy -- perhaps followed by a year-long CR at a reduced rate of spending. The public may be tiring of it: a news conference to give the GOP side was delayed yesterday while TV covered the breakup of Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson.

2. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: NSF CONSTITUENCY FAILS TO SPEAK UP.
Thus far, among science agencies, only NIH has been singled out for protection in the budget battle. The NIH constituency has been aggressively making its case to Congress. But according to NSF Director Neal Lane, in a speech at the American Astronomical Society Meeting on Monday, there has been a "stony silence" from universities and industry about NSF. This "perceived lack of concern has not gone unnoticed in Washington," Lane commented.

3. ELSEWHERE: JAPAN ATTACKS DEFICIT BY INCREASING R&D; SPENDING.
Back in April, the Science Council of Japan, the representative organization of scientists in that country, called for a doubling of government R&D; funds to match the efforts of the United States and advanced nations of Europe. In November, responding to bad economic news, the Japanese government increased the number of one-year post-doctoral fellowships for foreigners by 80%. Now, at a time when Japan is cutting spending in most other areas, the government announced a 7% increase in R&D; spending for next year.

4. DOWSING: CREDULOUS SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE ARTICLE FINDS QUACKS.
New Age dowsers claim pendulums work just as will as twigs. We at WN would stake our reputation on it. What's more, you can dowse on a map without trudging around on foot. And it's not just water now; dowsing can even locate an intestinal blockage. An editor defended the article, saying readers would not take it seriously. Does the Smithsonian have any idea what people take seriously?



Bob Park can be reached via email at whatsnew@bobpark.org
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.