Category Archives: Science and Technology

Weekly Poll: Your Opinion on Space Shuttle Program

The US space shuttle program launched its final mission to the International Space Station on July 8. Some think the end of the program will also mean the end of US leadership in science and technological innovations. What do you think?

Congressional Oversight a Nuclear Necessity

The earthquake and tsunami damaged Fukushima nuclear power facilities in Japan may pose a more serious long-term threat than previously reported.  More importantly, there is talk that the Japanese government and the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog agency—the IAEA—may have allowed the operators of the facility to cut regulatory corners.  A recent Guardian article, citing intercepted government cables, makes the case that national and international regulatory agencies have been “covering up” accidents at nuclear facilities and the real costs associated with their operations.  The likelihood of such failings should resonate loudly with all those in the United States calling for less government regulation in basically all sectors of the U.S. economy.

In the U.S., Congress has the authority to regulate commerce and to conduct congressional oversight of federal agencies, programs, and officials, as a basic component of the American system of checks and balances.  Regulation of nuclear facilities in the U.S. by the Department of Energy and others in the executive branch can provide an important foundation for such protections.  However, if recent history teaches us anything, the need for more effective regulation by overlapping and even competing interests can provide additional protections that may help to avert future catastrophes.

Though less dramatic in many senses, recent abuses in the banking, real estate, and financial markets, and the role they played in the U.S. financial crisis should generate calls for more regulation—not less.  Congressional oversight is an essential element provided for by the Constitution, enabling government to perform perhaps its most basic function—protect the people of the United States from those dangers that are within our power to control; acts of God and Nature, notwithstanding.

— DENNIS FALCON

(Video)Droid Cell Phone Explodes in Man’s Ear

On “The Early Show on Saturday Morning,” CNET technology contributor Katie Linendoll explained to James Brown what the most popular type of battery in most electronic devices is and how it can become volatile. (12/4/10 CBSNewsOnline)

1. What are the signs of defective electronic device that consumers should avoid, according to Katie Linendoll?

2. What are the safety tips for consumers provided in the video?

(Video)Federal Debt Commission Proposes Gas Tax Hike

The President’s debt commission is proposing an additional tax that would raise the price another 15 cents. In this economy drivers are hurting, but as Bill Whitaker, so are the roads. Watch this video to learn about the choices facing Congress regarding the national debt. (12/2/10 CBSNewsOnline)

1. What according to the video is the transportation challenge facing the nation? What are the three choices available to deal with this challenge?

2.  What is the effect of driving less on transportation funding? Why the short fall in the gas tax revenue?

(Video)TSA Pat-Down: Security versus Privacy

A man who refused a body scan and pat-down search at a San Diego airport has become an Internet sensation in the debate weighing fliers’ security versus their privacy. Do travelers who refuse body scanners and pat-down search put the nation at risk of potential terrorist attack? Does the TSA go too far in its efforts to protect the nation against terrorism?  This video sheds light on the controversial screening method. (11/15/10 Associated Press)

1. The TSA has been conducting screening in the nation’s airports since 2002. What is the cause of the recent protest against airport screening?

2. A group opposed to the new method of screening has called for a mass opt-out of scanners the day before Thanksgiving? What is the potential impact of such event on the nation’s security?

Tea Party Groups Doubt Global Warming

Skepticism and outright denial of global warming are among the articles of faith of the Tea Party movement. Is climate change real or a myth? Do political parties differ in their opinion on global warming? This article sheds light on the controversy surrounding global warming. (10/20/10 New York Times, John M. Broder) … Read Article

1. Why does Mr. Young the Indiana Republican nominee for Congress oppose cap and trade, the Obama administration’s policy to combat global warming?

2. What is the stance of FreedomWorks on climate change?

The White House Defends Stimulus Projects

Even before the first shovel went into the ground on a project funded by the Obama administration’s $814 billion stimulus plan, the program was under attack from Republicans who have called it a waste of taxpayer money. But now the White House is fighting back by outlining the top 100  projects they consider to be the stimulus success stories. To what extent did the stimulus help the economy? This article explores this question. (9/16/10 ABC News, Jonathan Karl, Matthew Jafe and Gregory Simmons) … Read Article

1. What do the Cancer Genome Atlas Project; the New York’s Statin Island Ferry Terminal project; and the North Carolina Celgard project have in common? How much did they cost tax payers? How well did they help the economy?

2. According to Senators Coburn and McCain, in what way did the stimulus plan hurt the economy?