Author Archives: Tom Burroughs

Seeking Environmental Accord


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  6/15/16 – When facing environmental challenges, success will come best by talking persuasively, not confrontationally, a well-known author who specializes in human and animal behavior recently suggested in the New York Times. One success he cited, the use of “catch shares” to protect fisheries, was explored early on in Issues (here and here). On […]


Reducing Mass Incarceration Safely


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  6/10/16 – Roughly 2.3 million people are locked up in prisons and jails in the United States today, a 500% increase over the past 40 years. In Issues, analysts have identified ways to shrink the incarcerated population while still protecting the public. Reinforcing the safety factor, a new study finds that reducing the number […]


Progress, but Not Success, on High School Graduation


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  6/9/16 – The on-time graduation rate for public high schools in the United States has reached an all-time high, according to the latest federal data reported in Education Week. But progress has been far from uniform, and critical gaps remain. In Issues, two analysts have previously presented a slate of carrot-and-stick actions that policymakers […]


Teen Obesity Rates Still Rising


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  6/8/16 – More teens are obese than ever before in the United States, and obesity rates among younger children also remain troublingly high, according to the latest federal data described here. A decade ago in Issues, several of the authors of a landmark report on childhood obesity presented a comprehensive set of recommendations that […]


I’ll Have the Lab Burger, Rare


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  6/7/16 – Several companies are getting closer in the quest to move “cultured meat” from the laboratory to the marketplace, responding to practical and ethical forces, as reported here and here. In anticipation of such a shift, two specialists in sustainable engineering have said in Issues that society should “start thinking about how factory-grown […]


Sharing Robot Rewards


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  6/6/16 – Advances in robotics and information technology will transform the workplace over the next several decades, and it seems unlikely that the labor market can change as quickly as the technology is advancing, an economic analyst has projected in Issues. Seeing similar trends, another economist recently suggested that society should worry less about […]


Emerging Help for Nuclear Power


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  6/6/16 – As global agreements are putting pressure on the United States to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases, some state and federal officials are looking for ways to help nuclear power plants, especially older ones, remain operating in the face of financial pressures. In Issues, a nuclear energy stalwart has offered a set […]


Minorities Still Lag in STEM


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  6/1/16 – Little if any progress is being made in engaging underrepresented minority groups, including African Americans and Hispanics, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the United States, according to a recent report. In Issues, two analysts have previously noted this gap, pointing out contributing structural barriers in education and proposing steps that […]


States Lead in Reducing Mass Incarceration


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  5/31/16 – Efforts by some states to reduce their incarceration rates reveal lessons that may help policymakers in other state and federal jurisdicitons reach this aim, analysts who have studied justice reform said in Issues. Indeed, a new report described in a New York Times editorial shows that states, which house nine in 10 […]


Leniency for the Adolescent Brain


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  5/30/16 – The science of adolescent brain development is making its way into the national conversation, an early researcher in the field said in Issues. This is reflected in the recent ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court that juveniles who commit even the most serious crimes cannot be sentenced to life in prison without […]


Destigmatizing Former Prisoners


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  5/10/16 – As part of a series of articles in Issues on the problems of and solutions to mass incarceration in the United States, one pair of authors proposed an array of ways to help the large number of people already in the criminal justice system successfully reenter society. In a new approach described […]


Helping Science Speak Clearly


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  5/2/16 – A recent weather forecast for the Great Plains prompted widespread public fears of huge tornados—that never occurred. According to the Washington Post, the problem was not the basics of the forecast, but the way it was communicated, without proper balance between uncertainty and risk. This points to a key challenge identified by […]


How Safe Are E-cigarettes?


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  5/1/16 – With the use of electronic cigarettes increasing, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce plans to regulate them just like traditional tobacco products, including setting firm age limits for purchase. But not everyone agrees with this hardline approach. In Issues, a community health specialist said it would now be better […]


Japanese Hunt Whales for “Research”


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  4/26/16 – Japan has launched a fleet of ships to harvest up to 51 minke whales off the country’s northeastern coast, following an earlier harvest of 333 minke whales off Antarctica, and the hunts are reigniting concerns that current whaling regulations are failing. In Issues, two environmental scientists from Arizona State University have proposed […]


Mass Incarceration Doesn’t Pay


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  4/21/16 – Two leading economists with often-differing views jointly argue in the New York Times that mass incarceration in the United States fails financially as well as socially, calling on Congress to rationalize criminal justice policies and reform sentencing for individuals who pose the least risk. As part of a broader exploration in Issues […]


Beasts of the Urban Wild


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  4/18/16 – As part of an emerging debate on conservation science, described in Issues, one side holds that the spread of human-dominated environments will endanger biological biodiversity, while the other side foresees creative bursts of expanding diversity. In what may provide at least a small base for measurement, a museum in Los Angeles is […]


New Face of Sea Power


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  4/16/16 – In a harbor in Portland, Oregon, U.S. defense officials recently christened for testing a robotic drone ship designed to hunt for submarines or other nautical threats while on long-lasting and far-ranging missions with minimal human help. Sea Hunter exemplifies what an analyst in Issues has predicted will be a new generation of […]


So Many Fish in the Sea


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  4/14/16 – Faced with evidence that stocks of many commercially important fish were in sharp decline, several authors in Issues have offered (here and here) a variety of policy remedies in recent years, including allotting “catch shares” and establishing “no take” zones. Now comes news that the policies are largely working, with stocks in […]


Apprentices on the Rise


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  4/4/16 – Apprenticeships, often overlooked in favor of college as a career route, can effectively prepare young people for a variety of good jobs, an expert on education and the workplace has spelled out in Issues. In a sign that this lesson is taking hold, USA Today recently reported on the growing success of […]


Big Growth in Small Jails


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  4/2/26 – As part of a series of articles in Issues on incarceration in the United States, two experts in criminology described evidence-based lessons that may help federal and state policymakers and other stakeholders reduce the number of people locked up. Now in an emerging concern, a recent report and additional analysis described in […]


Business Boost for Monarchs


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  3/30/16 – Animal migrations are among the world’s most inspiring natural phenomena, but a researcher who studies them has noted in Issues that many peripatetic species are increasingly threatened. Monarch butterflies facing lost habitats along their flight paths offer a case in point, and plans are now taking wing to use market forces to […]


Rejuvenating Nuclear Energy


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  3/27/16 – The nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants is aging, and dozens of them face closure over the next two decades as their operating licenses expire, threatening to leave a gap in meeting continuing electricity needs, according to the New York Times. But in Issues, a longtime nuclear researcher says a variety of […]


New Look at Living with Robots


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  3/4/16 – Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics may significantly reshape jobs in the United States over coming decades, an economic analyst has projected in Issues, and various other technologists and economists agree. So what then? Suggestions are emerging to provide all adults with a “universal basic income” to cover basic living expenses, with […]


Views on a Warming World


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  2/29/16 – Sea levels on Earth are rising several times faster than they have in the past 2,800 years and are accelerating because of human-driven global warming, according to new studies reported by the Associated Press. Issues has explored some practical steps for mitigation. And on a more personal note, a longtime observer of […]


Good News on Teen Brains


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  2/26/16 – Because their brains have not fully matured, teenagers are more likely than adults to engage in a variety of risky behaviors, as neurologist Laurence Steinberg explained in Issues. But his latest study may offer a silver lining: Teens, he says, “may motivate each other to explore their environment in a way they […]


Education outside the Schoolhouse Walls


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  2/17/16 – A variety of factors outside of schools may hinder the educational progress of many students, and public policies have not adequately addressed the problem, according to an article in Issues. But some schools are now finding ways to help their students’ lives outside of the classroom, says a report in the Atlantic, by […]


Legal Challenges to Temporary Visas


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  1/29/16 – In a legal first, two employees laid off from their technical jobs have filed class-action federal lawsuits against their Florida-based employer and a pair of global consulting companies, alleging that the firms collaborated intentionally to use temporary visas to bring in foreign workers to replace U.S. citizens. In Issues, an experienced analyst […]


Prison Doors Edge Open


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  1/29/16 – The Supreme Court has now granted a new chance at release for inmates serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for murders they committed in their youth. The decision aligns with scientific evidence presented in Issues and elsewhere that young brains are not neurologically mature, which might lead some adolescents to […]


Pushing for Advanced Nuclear Reactors


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  1/28/16 – The federal government recently took several steps, reported here and here, to capitalize on public-private partnerships in developing advanced nuclear energy reactors. They reflect actions presented in Issues by a long-time researcher as part of a broad roadmap of how the nation can recapture its nuclear mojo and help shape the next […]


Winning Support for NIH


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  1/27/16 – Congress recently gave a $2 billion raise to the National Institutes of Health, with no small help from a Republican congressman who worked to convince his conservative colleagues that embracing medical research was a fiscally responsible thing to do. On a similar note, a policy analyst has argued in Issues that the […]