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The Almighty Buck Government Politics

Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER 225

Posted by timothy
from the costs-and-benefits dept.
Graculus (3653645) writes Budgetmakers in the U.S. Senate have moved to halt U.S. participation in ITER, the huge international fusion experiment now under construction in Cadarache, France, that aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion could be a viable source of energy. Although the details are not available, Senate sources confirm a report by Physics Today that the Senate's version of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 2015, which begins 1 October, would provide just $75 million for the United States' part of the project. That would be half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind down U.S. involvement in ITER. According to this story from April, the U.S. share of the ITER budget has jumped to "$3.9 billion — roughly four times as much as originally estimated." (That's a pretty big chunk; compare it, say, to NASA's entire annual budget.)
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Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @09:00AM (#47375297)

    This is only a drop in the bucket compared to those!

  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @09:06AM (#47375325) Homepage
    The numbers get rather large here, but that shouldnt matter. if NASA is our shining example of the commitment to scientific progress, then its so low on our list of priorities as to be a pointless comparison.

    the DoD has an annual budget of over 500 billion dollars.
    the USDA has a budget of 109 billion dollars.
    the department of homeland security has a 60 billion dollar budget.
    the department of justice has a 26 billion dollar budget
    NASA has a budget of 18 billion dollars

    So if one were to read these budgets as an expression of the will of a nation elected by and for its people (i know its a laughable presumption but stick with me here) then our priorities are
    shitty food thats killing us
    the neverending war against everything
    Airport anal probefest 2015
    mass incarceration
    NASA, the agency thats congressionally barred from collaborating with china or russia, and is expected by every reigning politician to turn a quarterly profit or die in a gutter.

    At this point the fact that we gifted europe 75 million dollars for a project to assess the fundamental tenability of fusion should be considered a treasonously accidental oversight. thats a whopping six whole percent of the NASA budget that we wrecklessly applied to the concept of an energy source that would user in apocalyptic levels of productivity and peace.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @09:09AM (#47375347)

    I have a feeling if the story was about the current House of Representatives slashing ITER funding, we'd see a screed about "anti-science Republicans." However, since the Senate is led by Democrats...

    That's more than a feeling, that's a fact.

  • by thaylin (555395) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @09:15AM (#47375393)
    Take a look at the article, the only person it actually mentions specifically as trying to do this is a republican. I am not saying no dems are on board (feindstein said it could be an opportunity for the dems to close some purse strings itself), but your broad statement there fails miserably.

    s the subcommittee followed through on that threat, even a senator from a state directly involved in the U.S. ITER project spoke in favor of ending it. U.S. ITER has its headquarters at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Nevertheless, at a 17 June hearing on the budget bill covering DOE, Senator Lamar Alexander (R–TN), the ranking member on the Energy and Water Subcommittee, said that ITER hasn’t shown the progress it should. "We’ve withdrawn funding for the program," he said, and "that saves taxpayers $75 million this year, and at least $3.9 billion, and potentially $6.5 billion, over the life of the project.”

  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @11:17AM (#47376573) Journal
    It actually is [heritage.org]. "Defense bears 50 percent of sequestration’s reductions under the law, even though it is less than one-fifth of the budget. Entitlements, which make up nearly two-thirds of the budget, bear only 18 percent of the sequester." The budget is driven by non-defense spending - entitlements - which consume nearly every dollar in Federal Revenue that DC receives.
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @11:53AM (#47376983)

    War in the region that eventually became Germany predated the Cold War by just as long, it doesn't mean it was a good idea to put down a wall and say "you people are now freedom-loving Westerners, and you people are now hard-core communists".

    The specific example you give is exactly my point: Sunni-Shia tensions weren't resolved by forcing them both to live in the same country with one group explicitly emplaced as the leaders of the other, if they were then there wouldn't be an outright civil war on.

  • by volvox_voxel (2752469) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @01:33PM (#47377973)

    It's unfair to cast the US in such a light. I have family in Ukraine. Russia is making a concerted effort to take over a portion of eastern Ukraine. During the ceasefire, 40 tanks were sent over the boarder. France and Germany are reticent to impose sanctions they've been talking about for months, because they want to see business as usual with Russia. Negotiating a ceasefires is the same thing as trying to coerce Ukraine into giving up territory. France is still selling several billion dollar warships even though there is so much interference into Ukraine. I know many Georgians and Ukrainians that are pretty frightened by their new sea power.

    -- A message from a relative from a predominantly Russian speaking region of Ukraine :

    In August 2008 I didn’t pay any attention to Russia’s invasion of Georgia. I was too busy with my work and personal life. It was too hard to figure out what happened and who was right and who was wrong. I was really far away from politics. Georgia, a country of 4.5 million, fought fiercely against Russia's overwhelming military might and came out of the battle missing 20% of its territory; the price they paid for an attempt to move toward a more democratic society and to make a step closer to the European Union. Russia put military bases on the invaded territories and never faced any sanctions.

    After the conflict in Georgia, many experts and politicians said that Ukraine was going to be Russia's next victim. We, Ukrainians, laughed it off. Culturally wise, we were the closest nation to Russians. It simply could not happen! And here we go – six years after Russia's invasion of Georgia we are at the brink of a major war in our history. Russia mercilessly financed, trained and armed fighters in the East of Ukraine. It sent lots of fighters, tanks and heavy artillery across the border. Just today 30 more Russian tanks crossed the border and entered Ukraine. By estimates of our intelligence, Russia is currently training another 10,000 fighters to prepare them for the conflict in the East of Ukraine. Russia has already annexed Crimea.

    I decided to review the situation in Georgia in more detail and looked through several documentaries about that war, and talked with our Georgian friend who paid a lot of attention to that situation (please see the links below; unfortunately I couldn't find the same documentaries with English subtitles). I realized that all the nightmares that we've been living through over the last couple of months, all the things that came to us as a shocking surprise - never ending lies of the Russian media and massive hostile propaganda, constant provocations, one-sided ceasefire constantly broken by pro-Russian and Russian fighters, cynical myths about fascists in Ukraine, a large percentage of Chechen mercenaries among "peaceful protesters", refugees, tortures of prisoners of war, kidnapping people, looting, etc. - all this was so unexpected to us, so unbelievable on our peaceful land, but Georgians lived through all of this SIX YEARS AGO during Russia's occupation! We just needed to pay attention. The pattern repeats itself but on a much larger scale.

    If the world ignores this invasion and Russia doesn't face any meaningful, serious sanctions, the cycle will continue. Baltic countries will be next; or Central Asian countries; or Georgia and Moldova; or Poland; or Finland.

    Please stand together with Ukraine against Russia's invasion! Please support sanctions against Russia!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by werepants (1912634) on Thursday July 03, 2014 @01:45PM (#47378103)

    The budget is driven by non-defense spending - entitlements - which consume nearly every dollar in Federal Revenue that DC receives.

    When you say entitlement, it evokes a bunch of money-grubbing welfare queens who have more and more children to increase their federal benefit. The truth is that the largest portion of the budget (24%) is social security, which isn't a government handout - it is funded by working taxpayers who have paid into the system for their whole lives.

    Things that might be considered entitlements, or uncompensated financial assistance to the unemployed, disabled, etc. make up only about 12% of the budget, not the 2/3 you disingenuously claim. Source: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=vi... [cbpp.org]

    What I'm confused about is why it isn't an "entitlement" when we give massive cost-plus contracts to defense contractors with no requirement that they actually produce products that perform as promised (JSF, or any number of botched projects with no accountability). Or force our nation to give them handouts to build overpriced, technically inferior products (SLS) when free market competition offers far superior options (Commercial crew). The point isn't just that the military budget is massive (though it is), it's that much of the spending is propping up useless programs, developing technically complex boondoggles to fight enemies that don't exist. We're getting the worst of both worlds, the bureaucracy and inefficiency of government with the greed and short-sightedness of industry.

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."

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