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I appreciated Lawrence Krauss's "Viewpoint" article (June 2003) urging scientists to question our government's manipulation of science to support preconceived ideological goals, and presenting five examples. Here are more examples.
After intense industry lobbying, the Bush administration decided to oppose Robert Watson's re-election as chair of the International Panel on Climate Change. The reason: The administration doesn't want to hear the IPCC's message that Earth's climate is changing due to human activities.
In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency compiled a report, submitted to the United Nations, that agreed with the IPCC's conclusions. Despite the report's origin within the administration, President Bush commented dismissively that "I read the report put out by the bureaucracy," and that he still opposes the Kyoto Treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2002, America cast a lone vote against language in the U.N. Program of Action adopted at the Population Conference in Cairo in 1994. The Bush administration objected strongly to the terms "reproductive health services" and "reproductive rights."
The Department of Health and Human Services disbanded or stacked five committees in order (according to a DHHS spokesperson) "to hear preferentially from experts who share the president's philosophical sensibilities." The Advisory Committees on Human Research Protections and on Genetic Testing were disbanded, and the Advisory Committees on Environmental Health and on Childhood Lead Poisoning were stacked with scientists long affiliated with polluting industries. Three people were rejected for membership in a study section that reviews research grants on physical injuries in the workplace, for at least partly political reasons.
The Bush Administration and congressional Republicans are intensifying their scrutiny of research on sensitive topics. The National Institutes of Health has warned grant applicants to cleanse terms such as "transgender, prostitutes, needle exchange, abortion, condom effectiveness, commercial sex workers," and "men who have sex with men" from their grant applications and reports.
University of Arkansas
I met Joel Lebowitz in Israel just before he went to visit Bir-Zeit University in the occupied West Bank. His report on that visit is most interesting. I hope that some day the situation will improve and bilateral visits will be a matter of routine.
I must however comment on Lebowitz's statement that there are few Arabs in the faculties of Israeli universities although Arabs are 20% of the population. There are also few women although they are 50% of the population. In my department, there is one Arab, and there are two women. As a senior professor, I guarantee that there is absolutely no discrimination in hiring new faculty. This would be against the Technion constitution and bylaws. The reasons for the unbalance belong to social psychology, not to politics.
News reports in the media clearly indicate that the US is about to embark on a program to generate a new generation of nuclear weapons presumably to destroy deeply buried targets. I would like to suggest that as physicists who have some notion of the dangers attendant upon such devices, we should vociferously oppose this proposal. Indeed, members of the APS should actively distance themselves from further proliferation of nuclear devices whose collateral effects are bound to hurt untold numbers of innocents.
S. M. Bhagat
College Park, MD
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