Programs: Science and Policy
Science and Technology in Congress
The federal government's fiscal year (FY) 2008 began on October 1, but the FY 2008 budget is far from finished. The House of Representatives approved all 12 of its FY 2008 appropriations bills by August, but the Senate lagged behind. The Senate Appropriations Committee only recently finished drafting its bills and the full Senate has only approved five bills. In order to give themselves more time, lawmakers approved a continuing resolution (CR) providing temporary funding at 2007 levels for all discretionary programs through November 16; more CRs will almost certainly be needed.
Congress is poised to add billions of dollars to proposed budgets in research and development (R&D) for FY 2008, but many legislative hurdles remain. The House and Senate would endorse large proposed increases for select physical sciences agencies in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). Both the House and the Senate would match or exceed the R&D requests for the National Science Foundation (NSF; up 8.7 percent to $4.9 billion in the House, up 9.1 percent in the Senate), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (up 16.8 percent to $4.1 billion in the House, up 18 percent in the Senate), and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories (NIST; up 13 percent to $420 million). Congress also continues to support Administration plans to expand development investments for new human spacecraft.
But instead of cutting funding for other R&D programs as requested, the House and the Senate would provide increases to every major nondefense R&D funding agency, and would turn proposed cuts into significant increases for the congressional priorities of biomedical research, environmental research (particularly climate change research), and energy R&D. The House would add $1 billion to a requested cut in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a total of $29.1 billion for NIH R&D, while the Senate would add $1.2 billion. Congress would turn steep requested cuts into increases for environmental research programs, including R&D in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS; up 6.6 percent in the House and 3.0 percent in the Senate), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; up 9.9 percent in the House and 18.1 percent in the Senate), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA; up 10.6 percent in the House and 0.9 percent in the Senate). In addition, appropriators would boost climate change research in other agency budgets, including targeted boosts for earth observing satellites and supporting research at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). And instead of requested cuts to energy R&D in 2008 after a banner year in 2007, Congress would keep increasing DOE energy R&D spending dramatically, by 18.5 percent in the House to $1.8 billion and a staggering 29 percent to $2.0 billion in the Senate for the renewable energy, fossil fuels, and energy conservation programs.
Although the request for 2008 would have continued the recent downward trend in federal research support after peaking in 2004, additional dollars for research programs in both House and Senate appropriations would allow federal research support to increase in real terms. Federal support of research (excluding development and R&D facilities) would increase 3.0 percent to $58.6 billion in House appropriations, keeping it just ahead of the expected 2.4 percent inflation rate. The Senate would go slightly higher with a 3.1 percent or $1.8 billion boost for federal research support to $58.7 billion.
But these increases depend on an overall congressional budget plan allocating $23 billion more for domestic appropriations than the President's budget; because the President has threatened to veto any appropriations bills that exceed his budget request, these R&D increases could disappear or diminish later this fall in negotiations between the President and Congress over final funding levels.
Detailed analyses by agency and topic are available on the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website.
-- Kei KoizumiBACK TO TOP
Congressional movement towards comprehensive climate change legislation continues, as Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-MI) and Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality Chair Rick Boucher (D-VA) delivered one in a series of White Papers on designing climate change legislation. This comes at time when the House and Senate leadership are working to bring their energy bills to conference and international leaders are pressing for action to develop a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
Chairmen Dingell and Boucher released their first White Paper on October 3rd that examines the scope of a cap-and-trade program. The goal outlined by the Chairmen is to gradually reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 80 percent of today’s levels by 2050. While the first White Paper indicates an economy wide cap-and-trade program that will impact all sectors, it forgoes specifying which entities will be regulated and whether it will focus regulations on upstream or downstream emitters. Later papers will explore these provisions, along with topics including carbon sequestration, offsets and cost-containment measures. The White Paper also suggests that a cap-and-trade system alone will not be sufficient to reach goals; energy efficiency, performance standards, as well as funding for additional energy R&D are all possible options.
The White Paper also mentions the possibility of a carbon tax as an additional measure to cut emissions. In late September, Chairman Dingell released a summary of draft carbon tax legislation he intends to introduce. Rep. Dingell’s goal for the carbon tax is the same as that cited in the White Paper: emission reductions of 60-80 percent by 2050. The Congressman’s draft slaps a $50 per ton of carbon dioxide fee on coal, petroleum, and natural gas as well as a 50-cent tax on every gallon of gas.
Meanwhile, the much-anticipated conference of the House and Senate Energy bills has yet to begin, and it is not a result of the tough deliberations expected on CAFE standards, tax incentives or a renewable portfolio standard. Instead, the bills cannot be reconciled due to a procedural issue: the two proposals have different bill numbers. Rather than appoint a conference committee, Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have decided to proceed through informal negotiations, though that process is being met with resistance by some Republican leaders. President Bush has stated that he will veto the final bill.
In related news, a new analysis by the EPA found that three bills under consideration the Senate – S. 1766 by Sens. Bingaman (D-NM) and Specter (R-PA), S. 280 by Sens. Lieberman (I-CT) and McCain (R-AZ) and S. 485 by Sens. Kerry (D-MA) and Snowe (R-ME) – would reduce global carbon dioxide levels by virtually the same amount in the long run. The differences in the bills’ targets and timetables are negated by the differences in sectors covered and the effects of international action. The Senate is likely to address climate change legislation in December.
Several high-profile events took place in September in anticipation of the next round climate change negotiations taking place in December in Bali, Indonesia under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Attendees to the Bali meeting will continue the process of negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon organized a high-level summit on climate change with representatives from more than 150 nations, including 70 national leaders, on September 24 to build momentum for the negotiations. The meeting focused on the current and future impacts of climate change and the need for a multifaceted approach that addresses adaptation, mitigation, technology and financing. Many of the representatives to the summit stated that a breakthrough is needed in Bali and expressed their commitment to achieving it.
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, spoke about the types of agreements that need to be reached in Bali during a talk at the Brookings Institution. He stated that a post-2012 agreement will need to focus on adaptation and mitigation and be embedded in sustainable development. He said that industrialized countries will need to take the lead but further action by developing countries will be required in an “inclusive, global” strategy. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, UN Special Envoy on Climate Change and Former Prime Minister of Norway, shared a similar message during a briefing by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. She called for “common but differentiated” responsibilities commensurate with capabilities for nations to address climate change.
Later that week, the Bush Administration held the first of several scheduled meetings of 16 “major economies'' – including China and India – on climate change. The White House meeting was meant to complement the Bali negotiations by attempting to find common ground between the United States and developing countries that are growing sources of emissions: a key sticking point in previous negotiations. The meeting focused on technology and aspirational goals in lieu of binding targets, with the main development being the creation of a new multilateral fund to help finance the adoption of new technologies by developing countries. The conference drew the ire of many international leaders who feel that more urgent action is needed to address global warming. John Ashton, the UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change, said, “I think that the argument that we can do this through voluntary approaches is now pretty much discredited internationally.”
-- Lina Karaoglanova and Kasey White
A major Food and Drug Administration bill that reauthorizes the prescription drug user fee program and gives the agency new latitude to regulate prescription drug safety has now become law. House and Senate leaders compromised on the legislation, which passed the House on September 19 with a vote of 405-7 and passed the Senate by unanimous consent the following day.
The President signed it into law (PL 110-85) on September 27; had the bill failed to go through, the FDA would have been forced to issue thousands of layoff notices. The user fees, which can also apply to medical devices, account for a sizable chunk of the FDA’s budget.
Congressional leaders based the compromise bill on the two reauthorization bills that passed each chamber over the summer. The bill gives the FDA authority to require pharmaceutical companies to conduct post-market safety studies or change the information on their product labels.
Of particular interest to scientists were the provisions regarding clinical trials and conflict of interest. The law mandates that drug companies post publicly the results of clinical trials in a searchable database administered by the National Institutes of Health. The two bodies had to reconcile the differences between their provisions on conflict of interest within FDA advisory panels. The House wanted to limit advisory panel meetings to one conflict-of-interest waiver; however, the Senate had no limits in its bill. The law now mandates that the FDA determine the number of waivers granted during advisory panel meetings in FY 2007 (which ended September 30); that number will shrink 5% each of the following five years.
Despite early momentum, the final bill did not address the issue of generic biologics.
-- Erin Heath
Law of the Sea Treaty Finally Out of the Dock?
The long-languishing Law of the Sea Treaty is receiving renewed attention. The treaty, which has been awaiting a Senate ratification vote since 1994, establishes sovereign economic zones and navigation protections and contains marine research and environmental preservation provisions and dispute resolution procedures. It has the backing of President Bush and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who hopes to bring it for a vote before the end of the year.
At a September 27 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, all of the witnesses, including Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, and Admiral Patrick Walsh, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, joined committee leaders in calling for the United States to join the 155 nations that have ratified the treaty. They noted that the United States has essentially been following the treaty for years without negative impacts. Becoming a signatory to the treaty, Negroponte said, is necessary to give the United States a seat at the table for further negotiations to the treaty and issues that arise under it, such as Russia’s mineral claims.
Negroponte also highlighted economic benefits to U.S. participation. In particular, he noted that companies were unlikely to explore and develop resources on the extended continental shelf without the protections provided by the treaty. England spoke to the national security benefits of the treaty, stating, “The navigation and overflight rights and high seas freedoms codified in the Convention are essential for the global mobility of our Armed Forces and the sustainment of our combat forces overseas.”
Those opposing the treaty cited threats to U.S. sovereignty. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) asked, "Do we really want to submit the U.S. to another international body?" Negroponte stressed that while the treaty was officially a United Nations (U.N.) convention, "there will be no U.N. bureaucracy" or taxes flowing to the U.N. Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith spoke of the treaty’s “coercive, collectivist philosophical underpinnings” at a second hearing on October 4.
The treaty's long legacy was also an issue. Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy, testified that the treaty was opposed by the Reagan Administration. Other witnesses and Senators countered that though the Reagan Administration opposed provisions on deep seabed mining, which were amended in 1994, ocean policy statements made by President Reagan illustrate support for and compliance with the remaining provisions.
In contrast, witnesses representing the oil and gas, marine shipping, and telecommunications industries called for ratification due to their business needs for a stable legal regime for international waters.
-- Kasey White
House Passes Patent Reform Bill
On September 7 the House passed the Patent Reform Act (H.R. 1908) by a vote of 220-175. Though chief sponsor Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) worked steadily to reconcile the interests of various stakeholders, industry groups remain deeply divided on the bill.
Berman, who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property panel, did gain some allies leading up to the vote, including a major endorsement from the university community. The University of California, previously a critic, wrote a letter to Speaker Pelosi encouraging the bill to move forward. The AFL-CIO also was satisfied enough with the changes to cease its opposition. Berman has ushered numerous changes through the bill, such as clarifying the one-year grace period in which an inventor can file for a patent after disclosing the idea; this was a crucial piece for universities, where researchers often publish results before filing for patents.
A major emphasis of the bill is the “first to file” section, which would bring the United States’ system (which currently rewards the first to invent) in line with that of many other developed nations.
Another component Berman was determined to keep in the bill was the apportionment language, which would permit a trial judge to allow royalties to be apportioned by percentages attributed to the patented use of the invention. Courts currently consider the value of the entire product when a part of that product is infringed upon.
With some exceptions, tech companies, whose products contain multitudes of small patentable parts, applauded the bill, while pharmaceutical companies and some manufacturers, whose profits can hinge on single a patent, opposed it.
The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy opposing the apportionment language on September 6, opening up the possibility of a veto. “Making this change to a reasonably well-functioning patent legal system is unwarranted and risks reducing the rewards from innovation,” the SAP said.
Negotiations on the bill will continue on the Senate side, where the Judiciary Committee passed its version of the bill (S. 1145) by a vote of 13-5 on July 19. The Senate is expected to debate the bill this fall.
Not far from the Capitol, patent news was also made at the Supreme Court, which announced that it would continue its string of high-profile patent cases by taking on a case involving LG Electronics. At issue is whether a patent holder can sue multiple companies as a product moves through the manufacturing process.
-- Erin Heath
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer got an important update on its 20th anniversary in September. The Protocol has been hailed as a successful global effort to reduce the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a group of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. A 2006 NASA study predicted that the ozone hole over the South Pole would begin shrinking significantly by 2018 and the full return of the protective ozone layer would be complete in about 60 years.
An unanticipated consequence of the Protocol, however, has been the explosion in the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) – substances that have been used to replace CFCs in refrigeration, particularly in developing countries. These HCFCs, though not as harmful to the ozone layer, are a potent greenhouse gas that produce a byproduct that is 11,700 times more powerful at warming the planet than carbon dioxide.
Under the agreement reached by delegates from 191 countries who are Parties to the Montreal Protocol, HCFCs will be phased out in developed countries by 2020 and in developing countries by 2030 – ten years ahead of the original schedule. This change is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by 18 to 25 billion metric tons over 10 years.
The topic has arisen in Congress as well, where Oversight and Government Reform Chair Henry Waxman introduced the Global Climate and Ozone Layer Protection Act of 2007 (H.R. 3448). This bill calls for reductions similar to those made at the recent negotiations, as well as additional provisions regarding the importation and treatment of HCFCs. Waxman’s bill builds up testimony given at a May 23 hearing that showed synergies between addressing the stratospheric ozone layer and global warming. Though surveys show the majority of Americans mistakenly believe that the ozone hole and climate change are caused by the same atmospheric process, these negotiations have highlighted actions can mitigate both.
-- Kasey White
- What Happens to the Bald Eagle Now That It Is Not Protected Under the Endangered Species Act? (RL34174)
This report notes that the Bald Eagle is no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Despite the de-listing, America’s national symbol is still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and a range of state laws. This report explores the variation in protection provided by these alternate provisions and compares them with the ESA. Loss of protection under ESA means that the Bald Eagle’s habitat is less protected as government agencies and citizens no longer need to consult Fish and Wildlife Services before initiating a project that could impact the Bald Eagle population nor is a public comment period required for projects that could impact the species.
- Ethanol and Other Biofuels: Potential for U.S.-Brazil Energy Cooperation (RL34191)
The United States and Brazil, two countries that together produce seventy percent of the world’s ethanol, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on March 9, 2007 with the goal of promoting greater cooperation in the Western Hemisphere on ethanol and other biofuels. This report uses the U.S.-Brazil agreement to discuss opportunities and obstacles to increasing U.S. cooperation with other countries in the hemisphere on biofuels development. While elevating ethanol to the level of a globally traded commodity would benefit both nations, some members of Congress fear that cooperative efforts might negatively affect U.S. ethanol producers. Several pending House and Senate bills encourage hemispheric cooperation on energy, yet Congress recently extended tariffs on foreign ethanol (a large obstacle to increased U.S.-Brazil ethanol cooperation) through 2008 and one pending bill would even make the tariffs permanent. The report concludes that in the short term, collaborative research and development activities may yield the largest potential benefit for both countries, particularly if they are able to hasten the development of cellulosic ethanol technology.
- Agricultural Conservation: Farm Program Payments Are an Important Factor in Landowners' Decisions to Convert Grassland to Cropland (GAO-07-1054)
The GAO reports that the nation’s grasslands have been in decline as farmers convert these lands into cropland. A major factor that has led to this decline is the incentive provided by government farm program payments that reward farmers with crop insurance and subsidies, though the rise in crop prices has also contributed. Grassland conservation programs and farm programs have missions that are at odds with each other and currently the farm programs are winning out as more farmers convert their grasslands into production. In an attempt to reduce the wave of conversions, the USDA is proposing to bar newly-converted grasslands from the farm program benefits.
- Climate Change: Agencies Should Develop Guidance for Addressing the Effects on Federal Lands and Water Resources (GAO-07-86)
The GAO identifies how climate change is impacting the country’s lands and waters and in what ways federal regulatory agencies have failed to provide adequate leadership in managing and preparing for those impacts. The GAO found that close to a third of federal lands have experienced significant change due to global warming. The report notes that agency employees have not been instructed on how to address these changes and therefore have been unable to act appropriately and sufficiently. The report examined the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service (FS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Park Service (NPS) and recommended that each develop plans to address climate change impacts.
- DOD's Research and Development Budget Requests to Congress Do Not Provide Consistent, Complete, and Clear Information (GAO-07-1058)
This report identifies several flaws in the way the Department of Defense (DOD) prepares and submits its research and development (R&D) budget requests. The GAO notes that the requests are often riddled with inconsistent and deficient information. The DOD does not provide accurate or clear descriptions of the R&D efforts underway. The GAO found that projects are often listed under inappropriate program codes and lack adequate planning explanations. In addition, over 30 percent of the R&D efforts conducted by the DOD are not required to be reported in detail if they are part of a weapon system that is approved for production or already fielded. The GAO suggests that the DOD collaborate with Congress to develop plans that will identity areas where the DOD can improve the clarity and completeness of requests.
- Information Technology: Further Improvements Needed to Identify and Oversee Poorly Planned and Performing Projects (GAO-07-1211T)
The OMB is responsible for evaluating the need for and has oversight of information technology (IT) investments made by the federal government. The Management Watch List is the OMB’s tool to track investments that are poorly planned and/or failing to meet goals. In recent years the OMB has tried to enhance its ability to assess and track investments on the list and this GAO report evaluates OMB’s progress. While OMB publicly releases the Management Watch List, it does not provide the reasons why certain investments are placed on the list. The GAO suggests that the OMB make an effort to provide that information to the public and the rest of the government, as such information could hasten solution development on a government-wide scale.
- No Child Left Behind Act: Education Should Clarify Guidance and Address Potential Compliance Issues for Schools in Corrective Action and Restructuring Status (GAO-07-1035)
This report analyzes the various problems with standard compliance of schools that hold corrective action and restructuring status under NCLB. Corrective action and restructuring status is placed on a school that fails to meet the standards of adequate yearly progress (AYP) and requires schools to take measures to correct their failure within 6 years. The GAO finds that 6 percent of schools did not take any action once they were assigned the status, and of those that did, 30 percent did not take sufficient action as mandated by the law. In addition, the GAO notes that many schools did not receive optimal assistance from their state education departments. The report recommends that the US Department of Education (DoE) give schools the option to continue with previously instituted curative actions rather than implementing new ones. The report also suggests that the DoE require states to report more information on corrective actions taken by schools. Additionally, the DoE should make efforts to improve school district distribution of assistance to status schools.
- Space Based Infrared System High Program and its Alternative (GAO-07-1088R)
This report evaluates the DOD's progress on two infrared satellite systems intended to replace older early warning systems. The DOD initiated the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) in 1996 and the Alternative Infrared Satellite System (AIRSS) 10 years later. The costs and deadlines for these systems have not been met, with SBIRS more than $6 billion over the initial budget. The technical and software aspects of these programs have been more difficult to cope with than first expected and the development is far behind schedule. The GAO notes that 12 months after the DOD made an effort to restructure SBIRS, it is still struggling to meet deadlines and stay on budget. In addition, the report suggest that the agency has failed to justify proceeding with the AIRSS program, as there is disagreement within the agency about its viability and the program does not seem to be well planned out. The GAO recommends that the DOD reconsider continuing the AIRSS program.
- World Trade Center: EPA's Most Recent Test and Clean Program Raises Concerns That Need to Be Addressed to Better Prepare for Indoor Contamination Following Disasters (GAO-07-1091)
This report identifies inadequacies in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) second Test and Clean Program, noting that while the EPA adopted some of the advice provided by the Inspector General and a panel of experts, it left out other significant suggestions. The GAO notes that the EPA has not responded to the needs and concerns of residents affected by 9/11. Nor has the EPA made complete information about its first test available to the public. One major concern is that the EPA has neglected to develop protocols for when and where to test for indoor contaminants in future disasters.
- A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey (ISBN-10: 0-309-11154-4)
In this report the National Academies examines the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Center for Excellence for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS) and its goal to produce a rapid information distribution network of national geospatial data. In order to boost CEGIS’ capabilities and meet its goals, the report suggests that CEGIS focus on integrating data, improving data access and dissemination, and developing data models. The report recommends that CEGIS develop a research management process that includes both short and long term research goals.
- Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Methods and Preliminary Results (ISBN-10: 0-309-10826-8)
This report evaluates the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s (CCSP) progress in coordinating climate change research conducted across 13 agencies. The National Academies found that the program has been successful in identifying and attributing global temperature trends and their corresponding environmental effects. The report does note, however, that the program has been less successful in understanding local temperature trends and regional impacts of climate change and their impacts on society. In addition, CCSP has failed to develop sufficient adaptation plans and mitigation tactics. The report suggests that CCSP improve its communication with local and federal policymakers as well other stakeholders about its findings.
- Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program's Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.2, "Climate Projections Based on Emission Scenarios for Long-lived and Short-lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols"
The report analyzes the synthesis and assessment product on environmental effects of short-lived radiatively active gases and aerosols, one of twenty-one such products by the CCSP aimed at providing high-level scientific information to encourage “public discussion and government and private sector decision making on key climate-related issues.” The report asserts that the product is written in such technical language that it fails to meet the goals of providing information to policy makers and other interested non-specialist parties. The report emphasizes the importance of this research to projections of future climate and acknowledges the scientific validity of the study, but calls for improved introductory material and explanations of models used, even for the benefit of experts.
Public Transportation's Contribution to U.S. Greenhouse Gas Reduction
This report examines the ways in which public transportation contributes to reducing global warming. It notes that public transportation saved the U.S. 6.9 million metric tons of CO2 in 2005 through decreased fuel used by the people choosing public transportation as well as reduced congestion for others. Also reported is the finding that a single commuter switching his commute to existing public transportation can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 pounds a day or more than 4,800 pounds in a year—about ten percent of a two-car family’s carbon footprint and ten times as much as replacing five incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. The report goes on to cite improved land use efficiency as a positive environmental impact of public transportation. By decreasing the amount of parking, roadways, etc, public transportation opens the possibility of land being used for in variety of environmentally advantageous ways.
- Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)
Stop the Presses: How Paper Trails Fail to Secure e-Voting
The ITIF released this report in response to the Vote Integrity and Verification Act of 2007 (H.R. 811, S. 559), a bill to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) by mandating paper audit trails in voting. The report contends that public distrust of technology has been commandeered by opponents of fully electronic voting in order to scare the public to seek the more-easily understood paper option. Why, it questions, can we trust computers in banking and aviation, but not in voting? The report emphasizes that e-Voting is desirable because of its digital capabilities—it prevents spoiled ballots and over/under-voting, verifies voter choice, provides increased legibility, is optimal for early-voting, saves on resources for paper ballots, and allows for non-English voting as well as enfranchising blind, disabled, or illiterate voters via technology such as audio transmission. The report claims that electronic voting is in fact more secure than paper voting and that paper audit trails would prevent the use of new technologies that would provide voters with more transparency and reliability.
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MARK YOUR CALENDAR
The Genetically Supercharged Athlete: Gene Testing, Gene Doping and the Future of Sport
October 22, 2007; 12:00-1:30 p.m.
253 Russell Senate Office Building
Is there a marathon gene or any other performance gene? Can (and should) you test yourself or your child for it? Are "enhanced" athletes the future of sport? Speakers include:
- Scientist Ted Friedmann, MD, Director of the Center for Molecular Genetics at UCSD School of Medicine and President of the American Society of Gene Therapy,
- Ethicist Tom Murray, PhD, President of The Hastings Center and Chair of the Ethical Issues Review Panel of the World Anti-Doping Agency,
- Legal analyst Mark Rothstein, JD, Chair of Law & Medicine and Director of the Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law at the University of Louisville School of Medicine,
- NPR sports commentator and Washington Post columnist John Feinstein
This public luncheon briefing is sponsored by AAAS and the Hastings Center. RSVP via firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (202-326-6600).
A Look at Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in Higher Education
October 31, 2007, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
B-338 House Rayburn Office Building
In conjunction with the House Diversity and Innovation Caucus, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society invite you to a public lunch briefing that will present survey results on gender, race, and ethnicity among the faculties of the "top 100” departments of science and engineering disciplines in the United States. This briefing will enable policy makers to examine data on the representation of females and minorities in higher education, compare data among various disciplines, and learn about the important role of mentoring and programs that work to build diversity in these critical fields. Speakers include:
- Dr. Shirley Malcolm, Director, Education and Human Resources, American Association for the Advancement of Science
- Dr. Donna Nelson, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Oklahoma
- Dr. Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor, University of California Berkeley
- Dr. Richard Tapia, Professor, Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics, Rice University
RSVP to email@example.com or by phone (202-326-6600)
Project BioShield, BARDA, and the Medical Countermeasure Enterprise
November 28, 2007; 10:00-11:00 am
2168 Rayburn House Office Building
Since the September 11th 2001 attack, October 2001 anthrax letters and the emerging threat of an influenza pandemic, the U.S. government has created new programs and increased funding for medical countermeasure research, development and procurement. The AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy has invited Brad Smith, PhD, a Senior Associate at the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) to discuss the status of the civilian medical countermeasure enterprise and how to strengthen the enterprise’s essential public-private partnerships.
Captive breeding programs to prevent extinction are now in place for restoring many endangered wild populations and species, although the impact of such programs remains largely untested. A new study shows that the ability to reproduce in the wild declines approximately 40% per captive-reared generation, which suggests that breeding programs need further evaluation of their impact when used to restore declining wild populations.
Araki, H, et al., "Genetic Effects of Captive Breeding Cause a Rapid, Cumulative Fitness Decline in the Wild," Science, 5 October 2007: 100 - 103.BACK TO TOP