Author Archives: Tom Burroughs

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


This article is in Affordable National Security,


  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 […]

Finns Show the Way on Nuclear Waste Storage


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  6/26/17 – Plans for building the nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, fell apart a decade ago because, in part, federal officials didn’t do enough to win support from state and local residents, analysts have said in Issues. Heeding this lesson, Finland is now well along in building what will be the […]

Keeping Former Inmates on the Right Track


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  6/24/17 – Unwinding mass incarceration will require more effort to help the large number of people already in the criminal justice system successfully reenter society, two experts on criminal justice recently said in Issues, adding recommendations for action. Two new reports from key organizations now take up the case, as summarized here, highlighting how […]

The President’s New Apprentices


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  6/22/17 – “I love the name apprentice,” President Trump just said in announcing that the nation needs a stronger system of apprenticeships to match workers with open jobs, adding that his administration plans to get companies and schools to pair up and pay the cost of such arrangements. Issues also has a history with […]

Attracting Investors to Energy-Thrifty Buildings


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  5/25/17 – Buildings account for roughly three-quarters of all electricity used in the United States, but this tab can be cut at least in half using technologies that can be developed over the next few decades, given the right incentives for research and invention, an analyst has argued in Issues. And the World Resources […]

Kiwi Rocket Made with 3-D Printer


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  5/23/17 – A US-based company with Kiwi roots is set to enter the commercial space market with the launch from New Zealand of its new type of rocket—powered by electricity, made of light-weight carbon fibers, and produced using a 3-D printer—that will specialize in carrying small satellites into orbit. This reflects the changing nature […]

States Easing Up on Locking Up


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5/21/17 – Even as the US Attorney General is instructing federal prosecutors to treat drug crimes more harshly, lawmakers in a growing number of states are taking a different approach by locking up fewer people. Their actions, which reflect the latest evidence on how to reduce mass incarceration while protecting the public, as described recently in […]

NAFTA: Update with Care


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5/19/17 – The Trump administration has notified Congress that it will soon begin renegotiating with Mexico and Canada the North American Free Trade Agreement. As a guide, the editorial board of the business news website Bloomberg cautions that the aim should be to carefully update the agreement because it has brought a range of benefits to […]

To Power Electric Cars, Look Skyward


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  5/18/17 – Tesla has begun taking orders for a new type of solar roof that not only can power homes but also feed a companion battery for recharging electric vehicles at night, though some market challenges remain. As an energy analyst recently explained in Issues, new ways to “synchronize battery recharging with clean power” […]

Ignoring Experts, Sessions Wants to Get Tough on Drug Crime


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  5/10/17 – The US Attorney General reportedly plans to toughen guidance on prosecuting drug crimes, rolling back Obama-era policies that gave federal prosecutors discretion in filing criminal charges to earlier times when prosecutors were often ordered to press the most serious charges possible. This shift would arguably stand against the best scientific evidence, as […]

Sunscreen for Earth


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  5/10/17 – In what may be the first major test of engineering the Earth to mitigate the effects of climate change, scientists are planning to use a balloon-borne probe to inject water vapor into the stratosphere to deflect away some of the sun’s warming rays. A co-leader of the project recently examined in Issues […]

Nuclear Waste Storage: Yucca Mountain Revisited


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    5/9/17 – Congress recently took a preliminary step toward reviving the long-delayed plan to store the nation’s nuclear waste under Yucca Mountain in Nevada, and President Trump has added funds for the project in his proposed budget, though controversy remains. Shortly after the plan had been put on hold, a trio of analysts […]

The Technologist’s Apprentice


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  5/7/17 – Amid concerns about misuse of visas granted to foreign skilled workers, the federal government should develop new policies that encourage companies to train more US students and workers for technology occupations, a former labor policy adviser says, adding that apprenticeships offer a proven way to reach this aim. In Issues, an education […]

Bringing Brain Science to Court


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  4/21/17 -San Francisco now uses an unusual approach in handling young adults charged with breaking the law, hearing their cases in a special court that the New York Times calls “a hybrid of the adult and juvenile justice systems tailored to the biology and circumstances of offenders 18 to 24.” This approach aligns with […]

A Possible Key to China’s Rise as a Tech Innovator


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  4/19/17 – In Issues recently, a scholar at a major university in China described how his nation had tailored itself into a technocracy and sketched some possible benefits. One possible outcome is China’s emergence as a source of new commercial technology, as evidenced by a new study (summarized here) finding that China recently surpassed […]

Preparing for Pandemics


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  4/13/17 – The potential threat raised by the current outbreak of bird flu in China provides sharp reminder that the United States remains inadequately prepared to fight communicable diseases that break borders and spread globally. And the recent explosion of unfiltered channels of communication complicates matters, a US inventor and entrepreneur has explained in […]

Give Bats a Break


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  4/12/17 – CNN recently highlighted a team of researchers studying a cave-full of bats because, the story asserted, “Each bat has the potential to carry…some of the planet’s deadliest, but least understood, viruses…that could come to humans.” But a leading bat expert explains in Issues that focusing on potential diseases from bats is unlikely […]