Robert Park | 1 Oct 06:00 2011
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What's New Robert L. Park 29 Sep 2011

WHAT'S NEW   Robert L Park   Friday, 30 Sep 11   Washington, DC

1. BE AFRAID: THE BUDGET CONTROL ACT OF 2011 AWAITS US.
Passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on 2 Aug 2011, the 
Budget Control Act brought conclusion to the 2011 debt ceiling crisis that 
threatened to lead the U.S. into sovereign default on 3 Aug 2011.  Like 
amputating a limb to stop an infection, it may have been necessary but it 
didn't end our suffering.  In a Science editorial last week that every 
scientist should read, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) predicts that science will 
bear more than its share of the $2.4 trillion in federal spending cuts 
required by the bill.  I have no doubt he's right.  The only remaining PhD 
physicist in Congress, Rush has served the 12th district of New Jersey 
since 1998.  Before that he was the Assistant Director of the Princeton 
Plasma Physics Laboratory.  "With the budget control act," he 
writes, "Congress appears to have said in effect, that federally sponsored 
science has no role to play in advancing the economy, that unemployment is 
a problem that only time will cure, and that the nation's best days are 
behind us.  How contrary to American tradition that would be!  It must not 
prevail." 

2. TEVATRON: ACCELERATORS ARE BUILT TO BE SHUT DOWN.
Located at Fermilab National Laboratory on the Illinois prairie about 50 
miles west of Chicago, the Tevatron  is no longer the world's most powerful 
accelerator.  Later today Pier Oddone, director of Fermilab, is preparing 
to issue the command to shut down the most successful particle accelerator 
ever built.  It should be the occasion for celebration.  The command 
to "shut down" is an announcement that Tevatron has completed the tasks for 
which it was intended. We should all be so lucky.   

3. EXECUTION: KEY AL QAEDA FIGURE IS TAKEN OUT BY DRONE.
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Robert Park | 13 Oct 12:25 2011
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What's New Robert L. Park 13 Oct 2011

WHAT'S NEW   Robert L.  Park   Thursday, 13 Oct 2011   Washington, DC

1. THE CONTRACT: AWLAKI’S U.S.CITIZENSHIP IS REVOKED.  
Last week you will recall, American-born Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim 
cleric hiding in Yemen, had his U.S. citizenship permanently revoked by a 
CIA drone strike.  But had Awlaki been accorded “due process” as guaranteed 
by the Constitution?  “War is due process,” I wrote.  Bad mistake!  We are 
not at war with Yemen.  Angry readers, many of them old friends, objected 
to what they saw as my support for an illegal action of the administration, 
and threatened to unsubscribe to WN.  It’s not like I get paid to do this, 
but they were right.  A part of me had enjoyed too much the adrenalin rush 
that comes when your team scores a goal, even if it’s against an inferior 
opponent.  Awlaki was an instigator not a fighter; his offences were 
deplorable and illegal, but not capital.  To me the most troubling aspect 
of the whole affair was how good the U.S. is at this assassin stuff.  
Satellite images tracked the target. A drone waited for the order to launch 
its missile. It was not just a lucky shot.  We have the power to take out 
anyone on Earth.  I hope we don’t.  But if we do, would someone please take 
a look at my list?

2. THE SECRET: DEMOCRACY IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH SECRECY.
We are told that a Justice Department memorandum, drawn up by a couple of 
Justice Department lawyers following months of interagency deliberations, 
sanctioned the Awlaki hit in spite of an executive order banning 
assassinations, a federal law against murder, protection under the Bill of 
Rights, and numerous international agreements.   Charlie Savage, writing in 
the NY Times, says the legal debate “led to one of the most significant 
decisions made by President Obama - to move ahead with the killing of an 
American citizen without a trial.” Then why is the memorandum classified as 
secret?   This is bull shit – the President’s decision led to the memo, not 
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Robert Park | 24 Oct 04:39 2011
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What's New Robert L. Park 23 Oct 2011

WHAT'S NEW   Robert L.  Park   Sunday, 23 Oct 2011   Washington, DC

1. HEBDOMADAL: WHY DO WE SCHEDULE EVERYTHING WEEKLY?
For 30 years What’s New was a Friday thing.  Oh, there were delays due to 
server problems and stuff but we still put “Friday” on the dateline.  In 
2000 a rampaging red-oak (Quercus rubra) attacked Bob while he was jogging, 
scrambling both the calendar and Bob.  We called the day it went 
out “Friday.”  However, the dateline of a column devoted to truth, should 
mean something.  Henceforth the dateline will show the day WN is actually 
sent.   But why must it be weekly?   God put us on a seven day schedule so 
we could have a Fourth Commandment.  By now it’s probably written in our 
DNA.

2. CELL PHONEYS: BRAIN CANCER LINK IS REJECTED – AGAIN. 
Ten years ago, a brilliant Danish epidemiological study found no link 
between mobile phone use and brain cancer (JNCI 2001, 93: 203-7).  A 
decadal reexamination by Denmark’s Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, 
released last week, again found no link. The object of the new study was to 
look for any evidence of latent cancer that had not yet shown up in 2001; 
none was found.  In a 2001 JNCI editorial I pointed out that none would be 
expected, since microwave radiation is non-ionizing, Park, Robert L, JNCI 
2001, 93: 166-167.   Can we now put the damned cell-phone/cancer scare 
behind us? 

3. CLIMATE: IT’S TRUE; THE WORLD REALLY IS GETTNG WARMER.
The most comprehensive scientific review of historical temperature records 
ever carried out seems to remove any lingering doubts.  A group of 
scientists at the University of  California, Berkeley find that the average 
global land temperature has risen by about 1C since the mid-1950s.  That’s 
big. The group has submitted four papers describing their findings to 
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