Today on Morning Edition, the final story was about changes at the Smithsonian Institution. These changes will include the elimination of the Conservation and Research Center, which researches endangered species in hopes of successfully reintroducing them into the wilderness, and the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education, which studies the preservation and restoration of recent and ancient artifacts. The justification for eliminating these research centers seemed pretty dubious to me. The federal government funds the Smithsonian to the tune of about half a billion dollars a year. When you compare that amount to the $1.5 billion helicopter carriers Trent Lott is buying for the Navy whether it asks for them or not, it seems totally insane for the Smithsonian to be eliminating programs instead of getting the money it needs to continue them.