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Clinton, Sputnik and science

From NBC/National Journal's Athena Jones
If elected president, Clinton will rescind the ban on "ethical embryonic stem cell research" and appoint an assistant to the president on science and technology policy, she said today in a speech at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Sputnik.

"Everyday, we are learning more about the opportunity this kind of research offers," Clinton said, calling the limits President Bush has placed on stem cell research a "ban on hope." "Within these cells may lie the cures for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Huntington's and more."

The pledge, which she laid out under a banner that read Reclaiming Our Commitment to Science & Innovation, was part of an agenda Clinton laid out to end what she called the Bush administration's "war on science." She promised to invest more in scientific research, increase funding for NASA and expand studies on climate change and proposed a $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund to find ways to increase U.S. energy independence and reduce the threat of global warming.

She talked about creating new jobs by focusing on renewable energy and highlighted successes Germany has had in the field. After the speech, while posing for pictures with members of the audience, Clinton chatted with two German graduate students, telling them she was very impressed with what Germany is doing and called Chancellor Angela Merkel a "good woman leader."      

The Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite, on October 4, 1957, jump-starting the space race and leading American educators to call for a greater focus on math and science courses in schools.

Clinton reminisced about her father buying binoculars so she and her siblings could try to spot Sputnik in sky and the fascination space held for her as a child.  

"What America achieved after Sputnik is a symbol of what America can do now as we confront a new global economy, new environmental challenges, and the promise of new discoveries in medicine," Clinton said.

Clinton added that the Bush administration had ignored or manipulated science and said with new policies and a "renewed commitment to scientific integrity and innovation, America is ready to lead in the 21st century. "

She joked, paraphrasing Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, "This administration doesn't make decisions based on facts; it makes facts based on decisions."