Technology

Meeting the world’s health challenges, boosting our economy

American innovations that improve the health of all people on earth can come from anywhere, even from sending people to outer space.

NASA developed a water-filter system devised for the space shuttle that kills bacteria using iodine resin. Now that system is being used to purify water in some of the poorest countries in the world, saving countless families from debilitating diseases.

A California company developed a coffee maker-sized machine for the US Postal Service to test packages for anthrax. In the next few months, scores of these machines will be used in developing countries in Africa to test for tuberculosis, and give results in two hours instead of three months.

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Telecommute to the future

Just a few short weeks ago, Washington, D.C., was brought to a standstill by an ill-timed, quick-hitting snowstorm that blanketed the region in just a few inches of snow, but revealed a mountain of issues in its aftermath. Thousands of commuters in the Washington Metropolitan Area were stranded by a weather event mimicking an emergency evacuation of the Capital city. I myself had a seven-hour commute that night to my home in Montross, Va., (normally an hour-and-a-half drive) giving me plenty of time to think about how things might be different if more folks telecommuted.

A public servant’s first priority is to provide for the safety and security of Americans. Additionally, be it a national security event or a snowstorm, both businesses and federal agencies alike face the need for contingency plans to provide for continuity of operations. 

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Our national broadband strategy: Wireless déjà vu?

The national broadband strategy articulated by the President is a good news/bad news sort of déjà vu for those of us who were on the front lines of municipal WiFi’s surge and eventual flame out. At least the bad news part is correctable if both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue learn one valuable lesson from 2006.

The good news is that the President clearly understands the vital impact broadband can have on economic development. When integrated with appropriate existing programs such as urban enterprise zones, SCORE and local economic gardening, broadband indeed helps make businesses more competitive, enables telemedicine advances and transforms education and worker training. 

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Social media as a strategic weapon

Austin, Texas - An analysis by the Global Language Monitor has found that a new weapon has recently been detected in the world's strategic arsenal.

To  the uninitiated, it might appear to be part neutron bomb, which destroys only living things with little collateral damage, part some as yet unidentified weapon, which has the ability topple dictators, regimes and unsuspecting governments while rendering both living things and physical structures unharmed.

We are speaking, of course, about Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), which have the apparent ability to re-align the social order in real time, with little or no advanced warning.

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Consumers deserve affordable access to wireless networks

Right now, there’s a strong chance that you’re reading this on your smartphone or laptop while connected to the Internet through a wireless network. But not everyone is that fortunate. In fact, it may surprise you that a third of households in this country don’t have access to high-speed Internet. That’s why Consumers Union was pleased to hear President Obama’s commitment that 98 percent of Americans will have access to wireless broadband in the next five years.

For Americans who have access to broadband now, it is hard to imagine how to navigate the 21st century without it. Jobs, education, communication and innovation now all rely on high speed Internet access. And as the President said, this is about more than faster Internet and digital trends. It’s about opportunity, and giving every American access to these opportunities through high speed wireless networks.

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Stop government from regulating the Internet

Washington has taken over the banks, health care, the college loan industry and now it is targeting the Internet.

The private sector has invested $700 billion into developing the Internet as we know it today. Private companies have transformed it from a dial-up phone technology into an instrument that can share information in real time throughout the world, with no wires attached. 

The development of the Internet has been one of the greatest success stories in recent history – accounting for one-sixth of the U.S. economy – because it has been allowed to grow without taxes and Washington regulations. Access to information has exploded, prices continue to plummet and new innovations continue to evolve exponentially.

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Aviation infrastructure is vital to winning the future

In his State of the Union address, President Obama focused the nation’s attention on the economic importance of investing in infrastructure. America can win the future, and successfully compete against emerging powers such as China if we transform our economy with modern technology and infrastructure.

As Congress moves forward with the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), lawmakers have an opportunity to pass a jobs bill that will enhance the global competitiveness of the U.S. economy. It is vital that our government better utilize aviation policy to fuel economic growth, mindful that our competitors are effectively using commercial aviation to further their national ambitions.

The growth markets of the world understand how commercial aviation can transform an economy and they are investing accordingly. Just a few weeks ago, China announced plans to pour a total of 1.5 trillion Yuan, roughly $228 billion, into its aviation sector over the next five years, including the construction of 11 new commercial airports and the acquisition of 290 new planes in 2011 alone.

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FCC poised to tackle dated regulations

For too long, we've been told that when it comes to the size and role of government, Democrats want it bigger and Republicans want smaller. Although oversimplified stereotypes like these make good headlines and cable show talking points, what the American public really wants and deserves is smarter government. Fortunately for us all, President Obama does as well.

During his State of the Union address, the President called on government agencies to revisit and repeal unnecessary and outdated regulations that are stifling economic growth and innovation. In this case, smart government happens to be even smarter politics. 

Considering that broadband is an amazing growth engine for our economy, it's no surprise that Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC, will be one of the first to answer the President's call to action at the FCC meeting February 8. 

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Public broadcasting is critical to our democracy (Rep. Earl Blumenauer)


Every month, more than 170 million Americans have their lives enriched by tuning in or logging online to public radio and television stations. These local stations serve every major city and many small towns in America.  In many rural areas, they are the only source of free and high-quality local, national and international news, children’s shows, music and cultural programming.  Public broadcasters employ more than 17,000 people, providing family-wage jobs in every state.

Once broadcast and print journalism was local, but today that era is over.  A few giant, private companies dominate.  Public broadcasting is one of the few remaining journalistic institutions organized around and rooted in local communities.   There are over 9,000 local board members to assure community interests are reflected in programming. 

Local newspapers are shuttering their doors at an unprecedented rate, and national broadcasting networks are cutting back, making federal funding for public broadcasting more important than ever.  As most news sources are downsizing – if not closing – their foreign bureaus, leaving one person to cover all of Russia, public broadcasting is one of a handful of sources able to provide original content and news from abroad.

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The FCC: Censors, regulators and snoopers

These are busy times for the Federal Communications Commission. President Obama’s law school classmate, Julius Genachowski, managed to regulate the Internet, defying Congress and a unanimous holding from the D.C. Circuit.  The FCC also lost their longstanding indecency feud with NYPD Blue.  (Lesson: Dennis Franz always wins.) Now that the FCC has decided to take its talents to cyberspace, all one billion gigabytes of it, they’ve announced a new effort to entice Americans to develop apps to help the Commission monitor Internet providers.

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