Thumbs up to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

For winning three 2013 Excellence in Technology Transfer awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium.

Driving new technologies to market is the right focus for our national laboratory system. It's the best way to ensure the public benefits from the research it's paying for.

The awards were for projects that hold particular promise for improving lives.

One is for "radiogel," a line of products that allow cancer specialists to deliver higher doses of radiation exactly where needed when fighting tumors that cannot be surgically removed.

Another is for recent progress in improving the performance of "redox flow" batteries, which could one day be used for storing large amounts of renewable energy and providing greater stability to the energy grid.

The third is for a collaborative effort with Owlstone Ltd., in Cambridge, England, to improve technology that can detect and identify very small amounts of chemicals, alerting authorities to a terrorist's hidden explosives, for example.

Knowledge is always good, but discoveries that make us safer and healthier are even better.

Evil empire

To Russian President Vladimir Putin for signing a bill that bars Americans from adopting Russian children.

The move not only bans future adoptions but also 46 that were pending, making the policy all the more heartless.

In some cases, U.S. families had been waiting years to complete the process before having their hopes destroyed by this cruel legislation.

Russia has taken series of measures aimed at what is perceived to be American interference in Russian concerns, from political organizing to the defense of human rights, the Washington Post reported. The adoption bill is seen as retaliation against a U.S. law that targets corrupt Russian officials.

It's hard to imagine a more contemptible response to international relations. Russian journalist Alexander Minkin, on his blog for the Ekho Moskvy website, described it as "cannibalistic," the Post reported.

With Americans placing sanctions on certain corrupt Russian bureaucrats, he wrote, Moscow strikes back by punishing its own orphans. Russia has plenty of them -- about 700,000, according to one estimate.

Take a second look

To the Department of Energy for failing to provide adequate oversight of CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co.'s contract at Hanford.

As a result, the company's efforts were not aligned with required environmental cleanup work for three years, according to results of a Department of Energy Office of Inspector General audit.

Because of problems with cost projections, DOE has not been able to consistently monitor CH2M Hill's cost performance on its $5.6 billion contract for cleanup of central Hanford and contaminated groundwater, according to the audit.

DOE disagreed with several of the conclusions in the report, telling the Inspector General's office that recommendations in the report have been implemented and the report no longer reflects how the contract is administered.

A follow-up audit is in order to make certain the changes are having the desired effect.