The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

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Saturday, January 04, 2003
Science and Technology. Today's Visions of the Science of Tomorrow. An opinion piece in the January 4, 2003 New York Times described the work of John Brockman, a literary agent and the publisher of, a Web site devoted to science. He posed a question to leading scientists, writers and futurists. In 2002, he asked respondents to imagine that they had been nominated as White House science adviser and that President Bush had sought their answer to "What are the pressing scientific issues for the nation and the world, and what is your advice on how I can begin to deal with them?" Some of the items that came back from the panel included: mapping the planet - the total genome, Professor Playstation - computer games to teach, little geniuses - prepare children to learn, think small - nanotechnology, science without secrets, fending off the big one - asteroids, intellectual globalization - National Institute for Humanism, Cassandras of the lab - accuracy of scientific warnings, and really popular science - National Discovery Center. The full piece may be read at: (280)

Friday, January 03, 2003
K-12 Education. Report Issued Critical of Federal "No Child Left Behind" Law. The Center on Education Policy issued a report on Friday, January 3, 2003 entitled: "From the Capital to the Classroom" that was critical of the recent federal law on education reform. The report identified concerns over many schools being labeled as "failing schools" and barriers to implementation of the law. The story may be found on at: and the full report may be found at: (279)

Thursday, January 02, 2003
Public Services: Innovations in American Government Semi-Finalists Announced. More than one thousand applications have been winnowed to a field of semi-finalists by the Innovations in American Government program. Based on originality, effectiveness, significance and potential for replication, semi-finalists in the following areas were selected: community and economic development, education, health care and social services, management and governance, protective services and transportation, public works and environment. Information on the semifinalists may be found at: (278)

Legislatures. Ten Issues to Watch in 2003. Melissa Conradi writing for the January 2003 issue of Governing magazine listed ten issues to watch in 2003: budget shortfalls, homeland security, health costs, education standards, air quality, insurance, welfare, privacy, election reform, and medical worker shortage. For each issue, Conradi described why this is an issue, who are the main players, where will it be debated, and what can we expect? The full article may be found at: (277)

Transportation: Lack of Will and Funds for U.S. Maglev Train. Otis White writing in his Urban Notebook column January 2, 2003 for covered the two sites for a potential maglev train lack the funds or the will to move forward on a line. The full article may be viewed at: (276)

Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Energy. Solar Tower Planned for Australia. Time magazine picked the solar tower concept as one of the best inventions of 2002. The design involves a 200 megawatt solar thermal power station that would provide enough energy for 200,000 homes. The sun heats air that drives 32 turbines in a one kilometer high concrete funnel. A potential site has been identified in New South Wales with an estimated operational date in 2005. A full description of the project may be found at: (275)

Transportation. China Tests Maglev Train. On December 31, 2002 German Chancellor Schröder and Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji took a test ride on the new high-speed train, magnetic-levitation technology train. The train reached its designated maximum speed of 266 miles an hour over the 19 miles between Shanghai's financial district and its main international airport, Chinese officials said. The Chinese paid $1.3 billion to install the train on the run between the city's business district, Pudong, and the new Pudong airport. China has awarded Germany a potentially lucrative contract to lengthen the world's first commercial magnetic-levitation rail system to cities surrounding Shanghai, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany after the ride. Siemens and ThyssenKrupp are the main German companies behind the Shanghai project. German and Chinese planners have discussed extending the train line south to Hangzhou and north to Nanjing. If completed on that scale, the elevated magnetic train lines would cover more than 180 miles. There is currently a competition for a 775-mile line linking Shanghai and Beijing, which China estimates will cost $22 billion. The builders of the maglev in Shanghai are one of the contenders. The full story with photos may be read at: (274)

Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Technology. Report Shows Solid Internet Use in U.S. On December 29, 2002 the Pew Internet and American Life project issued a report entitled: "Counting on the Internet: Most expect to find key information online, most find the information they seek, many now turn to the Internet first". More than 60% of Americans now have Internet access and 40% of Americans have been online for more than three years. The report documents how the Internet has become a mainstream information tool for many Americans. For example, for information or services from a government agency, 65% of all Americans expect the Web to have service information; 82% of Internet users say this and 39% of non-users say this. The overview of the report and links to the full report may be found at: (273).

Monday, December 30, 2002
Healthcare. Health Care Reform Back on National Agenda. Susan Page wrote a cover story on health care reform for the Decenber 30, 2002 USA Today. Quoting U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Thompson, "the health system is so stretched and so stressed that something has to be done. The health care system is in need of some sort of transformation." The artcle lists four proposed health reforms. President Bush is expected to offer tax credits to buy insurance and state demonstrations to test new programs to cover the uninsured. Former Vice-President Al Gore is to propose a single payer system administered by private companies. Vermont Governor Howard Dean recommends an expansion of Medicaid to cover all children to age 23 and to offer subsidies to adults whose employers do not offer insurance. Louisiana Senator John Breaux recommends an individual insurance mandate requiring all to buy at least a basic health policyand the government would subsidize those who could not afford one. (Source: USA Today, December 30, 2002). (272)

Sunday, December 29, 2002
State Budgets. State and Local Budget Crises Spread. Bob Herbert wrote an opinion piece for the Sunday, December 29, 2002 New York Times entitled: "States of Alarm". It described the depth and scope of the fiscal crisis around the U.S. California’s projected deficit is greater than the total state budget of any other state except New York. Herbert argues that national economic recovery will be impeded if states and cities are in fiscal crisis and advances the case for national assistance. The full article may be read at: (271)