Political Notebook

Obama vows major investment in science

President Obama spoke at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. ''It is time for us to lead once again,'' he said. President Obama spoke at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. ''It is time for us to lead once again,'' he said. (Saul Loeb/ AFP/ Getty Images)
Associated Press / April 28, 2009
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WASHINGTON - President Obama promised a new era of science and technology for the nation, telling the National Academy of Sciences yesterday that he wants to devote more funds to research and development.

America has fallen behind other countries in science, Obama said, but "it is time for us to lead once again."

"I am here today to set this goal: we will devote more than 3 percent of our gross domestic product to research and development," Obama told the National Academy of Sciences.

That 3 percent - which would amount to about $420 billion - would exceed the level of spending during the height of the space race, he said.

Obama set forth a wish list including solar cells as cheap as paint; green buildings that produce all the energy they consume; learning software as effective as a personal tutor; and prosthetics so advanced that someone could play the piano again.

Fox network opts not to air Obama's news conference
NEW YORK - Fox became the first broadcast network to turn down a request by President Obama for air time, opting to show its drama "Lie to Me" tomorrow night instead of the president's prime-time news conference marking his 100th day in office.

Fox will direct viewers interested in the news conference, which other networks are carrying, to Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network.

This will be Obama's third prime-time news conference as president, a schedule that has caused some private grumbling among network executives because it costs them advertising revenue.

Tomorrow's news conference comes at the start of a ratings "sweeps" month, where viewership is watched closely to set local ad rates.

Yet with an economy in distress, two wars, and now a swine flu outbreak, the pressure on networks to agree to Obama's request as a public service is enormous.

Executives at Fox, owned by News Corp., would not comment on the decision yesterday. Fox didn't carry a prime-time speech by President George W. Bush in November 2001.

"I can't imagine it was politically motivated," said Shelly Palmer, industry analyst and host of "MediaBytes," a daily show about technology and the media. "I'm assuming it was financially motivated."

McGovern held by police after Darfur demonstration
WASHINGTON - Representative James McGovern was locked up briefly on misdemeanor charges yesterday after demonstrating against "crimes against humanity" that Darfur activists blame on the Sudanese government.

After a brief series of speeches in front of the Sudanese Embassy, the Massachusetts Democrat and four other members of Congress stood quietly and refused to move to the other side of yellow police tape.

After giving the small group of demonstrators three chances to move, police approached the lawmakers and activists and bound their wrists loosely behind their backs with plastic restraints.

The protestors were taken to a police station in northwest Washington, where they were fined $100 and released within a few hours.


Obama shoots hoops with Conn. women's team
WASHINGTON - Championship ceremony is a White House standard for sports teams. Shooting hoops with the president, now that's something to remember.

Moments after yesterday's event in front of the South Portico, President Obama hustled the NCAA champion University of Connecticut women's basketball team over to the outdoor half-court, away from reporters and cameras.