Author Archives: Tom Burroughs

Addressing Core Questions of Criminal Justice and Race


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  10/2/17 – The controversy that erupted when many professional football players protested during the national anthem is misguided, an opinion writer says in the New York Times, adding that “we need a public argument clearly tethered to the two big policy questions raised by police misconduct and the broader crime and incarceration debate.” Addressing these […]

Aussies Launching Official Space Agency


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  9/27/17 – Though Australia has been active in space for decades, and was among the first countries to launch a satellite, it has never had a national space agency—until now. In announcing the new agency, an official said it would help the nation keep up with the “global space industry” that is “growing rapidly.” […]

Congress Probing Hostile Social Media Posts


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9/26/17 – Congress is investigating Russia’s alleged use of social media to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign, and Facebook has handed over more than 3,000 ads believed to have played a role. Attacks on the United States using such “weaponized narratives” are likely to expand, a researcher who studies emerging technologies recently explained in […]

Gene Editing Entering New Stage


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9/20/17 – Two new scientific achievements illustrate the wide-ranging potential of the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9: the first-ever manipulation of a key gene in human embryos that yielded fundamental insight into how single cells transform into complex babies, and the laboratory creation of colorful butterfly wings that may offer clues in evolutionary biology. The advances also […]

Arguing for Fuel Economy Standards


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  9/19/17 – Three environmental groups are now suing the US government for delaying higher fines for automakers whose new vehicles don’t meet fuel economy standards. The delay seemingly aligns with federal plans to consider lowering the standards for the 2021-2025 model years. But two leaders of a major energy study maintain in Issues that […]

An Engineered Chestnut Tree


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  9/17/17 – In a report on efforts in Maine to grow a classically hybridized and healthy strain of the blight-devastated American chestnut tree, a Portland-based newspaper also examines the prospects of genetically modified versions that carry a useful gene taken from wheat. In Issues, a philosopher considers the genetically modified candidates from her camp, […]

Seizing the “Teachable Moment” of Flooding


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9/12/17 – As Texas and the Southeast still reel from hurricane waters, the primary focus remains on meeting residents’ immediate needs. But from a broader perspective, an environmentalist has explained in Issues his hope that flood events can serve as a “teachable moment” that spurs people and governments in coastal communities to fundamentally rethink how […]

Chinese Surge in Artificial Intelligence


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  9/8/17 – A major US investment bank reported recently that China will soon catch up with the United States in developing and applying artificial intelligence to drive economic progress. In Issues, a scholar at a leading Chinese university has suggested that his country’s recent and continuing progress in various areas of science and technology […]

Taxing Robots


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  9/5/17 – A city official in San Francisco has called for a tax on robots that automate jobs and put people out of work, saying that “it’s important to think now about how people will earn a living as more U.S. jobs are lost to automation.” In Issues, an economic analyst surveyed the kinds […]

Follow Nature’s Lessons on Floods


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  9/5/17 – As floodwaters still plague Houston after Hurricane Harvey, two water-resource specialists say that a report on the Great Flood of 1993 in the upper Midwest showed policy makers how to mitigate or prevent severe flooding, but the advice went largely unheeded. In Issues, another pair of experts commenting five years after that […]

Paroling Some Violent Offenders Makes Sense


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  9/3/17 – To meaningfully reduce the number of people incarcerated in the United States, more attention should be paid to paroling inmates convicted of violent crimes “who may have been dangerous in the past” but “are no longer a threat to public safety,” a criminal justice scholar argues in the Atlantic. Two expert analysts […]

Red Alert: Weaponized Narratives


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  9/1/17 – Recent conflicts in the United States stirred by extreme right-wing protestors have been featured on social media recently as a Russia-based network cranked out alarmism and disinformation, according to a group that monitors such messages. In Issues, a scholar of emerging technologies says use of “weaponized narratives” is increasingly common, providing an […]

President Seems Willing to Ax NAFTA


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  8/25/17 – Even as negotiators have barely started talking about the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Trump declared at a recent rally in Arizona that he doubted the United States can reach a deal with Mexico and Canada. But in Issues, an expert on international economics has argued that NAFTA has been a boon […]

Manufactured Meat Beefing Up


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  8/24/17 – Two leading entrepreneurs are among investors backing a California-based start-up company that plans to make and sell meat on an industrial scale from self-producing animal cells, eliminating the need to raise and slaughter livestock or poultry. Looking toward such commercialization, two specialists in sustainable engineering explored in Issues how factory-grown meat “might […]

Call for Action on Controlling AI Weapons


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  8/22/17 – In a recent examination in Issues of whether artificial intelligence should be regulated, a technologist and a social scientist argued that the case for regulation is clear in one specific area: the development of autonomous weapons that employ AI to decide when to fire, how much force to apply, and on what […]

Public Wants Say on Gene Editing in Humans


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8/20/17 – To ensure that efforts to edit human genes progress in a safe and ethical manner, the public should be included in discussions about how—and whether—to proceed, an international panel of leaders in the field recently stated in Issues. Indeed, a new national US survey found that a majority of the people who responded […]

Fixing a Flaw in Criminal Justice


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8/15/17 – Roughly a dozen states are modifying their use of a legal process that sends juveniles charged with crimes directly into the adult justice system where rehabilitation may not be of highest priority. As a leading expert explains in Issues, accumulating scientific evidence is revealing that young people may be prone to making risky decisions […]

E-cigarettes Win a Round


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  8/12/17 – The Food and Drug Administration has delayed regulations that would have nearly halted sales of electronic cigarettes and at the same time signaled a willingness to allow the devices to be marketed as smoking-cessation aids. The shift would leave room for a proposal offered recently in Issues by a community health specialist […]

First Use of CRISPR on Human Embryos


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  8/10/17 – Scientists for the first time have successfully altered a specific gene in human embryos to remove a mutation known to cause a disease, in this case a common and potentially deadly heart condition. If the embryos were allowed to develop into babies, they would not only be disease-free but would not later […]

The Value of Immigrant Talent


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  8/8/17 – The Trump administration’s recent proposal to halve the number of legal immigrants into the United States is exactly backward, says the head of a major education organization, calling instead for expansion of opportunities available to skilled foreign workers and promising students. Along these lines, a policy analyst has proposed in Issues comprehensive […]

Improve, Don’t Cut, the Chemical Safety Board


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8/3/17 – The Chemical Safety Board, which investigates chemical industry accidents and makes safety recommendations, is slated for elimination, but a labor activist argues against the move, citing the good it has done in his community. Even a former board member who resigned because of its bureaucratic fumblings gave it a nod recently in Issues, […]

Paying to Protect the Environment May Work–or Not


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8/1/17 – A research team has demonstrated what reportedly may be an effective way to slow tree-cutting in the tropical forests of western Uganda and thereby protect endangered chimpanzees living there: pay local landowners small sums not to chop down their trees. Indeed, the concept of paying for ecosystem services is gaining attention. But an […]

Maximizing Climate Benefits of Electric Vehicles


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  7/21/17 – In the next decade or so, electric vehicles (EVs) will become cheaper than conventional fossil-fueled cars and will outsell them even without government subsidies, says a New York Times editorial. But an analyst recently argued in Issues that simply getting more EVs on the road will not be enough to offset the […]

Big Rockets Become Big Business


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  7/20/17 – In yet another manifestation of the changing space enterprise portrayed recently in Issues, a new generation of powerful rockets built by private companies will soon head skyward, marking a shift from when development and launch of rockets capable of carrying massive loads or reaching deep space was the domain solely of government […]

CRISPR Enlists in War on Cancer


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  7/14/17 – In what may be “the beginning of something big,” a scientific advisory panel for the US Food and Drug Administration has recommended approval of a new type of therapy that genetically alters a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. The therapy draws fundamentally on a revolutionary technique, called CRISPR/Cas9, for editing […]

Tax Help for Boosting Productivity


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  7/13/17 – When and if Congress finally acts on its pledge to overhaul the federal tax code, a key step should be to expand the corporate tax credit for research and development, a nonpartisan think tank says in a new report, calling it a proven way to boost industry productivity and raise workers’ incomes. […]

Space Revolution Gaining Speed


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With an expanding roster of companies sending fleets of low-cost satellites into orbit, “You’ll have the space economy integrating with the terrestrial economy like it never did before,” a venture capitalist invested in the movement says in an expansive article, complete with a map of global launch facilities, in Bloomberg Businessweek. In Issues, a space […]

Nudging States to Cut Prison Populations


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  7/5/17 – Two lawmakers recently introduced a bill in the US Senate authorizing the federal government to offer financial grants to states to encourage them to cut their prison populations. Toward this aim, state policy makers could draw on a decade’s worth of lessons, detailed in Issues, about what works for reducing incarceration levels […]

Are Bats the Viral Villains?


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7/3/17 – A new study suggests that bats are especially likely to harbor viruses dangerous to humans, though the researchers caution that more needs to be learned and that there’s no reason to fear or fight these important flying mammals. In Issues, a long-time authority on bats recently presented his case on why bats have […]

Jails Good Places to Help Opioid Addicts


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  6/27/17 – With many states facing an epidemic of opiate addiction accompanied by more people locked up for drug offenses, jails provide a natural place to provide treatment—maybe even “the best place to initiate addict recovery”—says an opinion article in the New York Times. In Issues, two medical and judicial experts have also cited […]