en español: El Innovador de Texas
New economic engine
During the last regular legislative session, I recommended that we allow video lottery at racetracks where the people of Texas have already voted for gaming, wrapped in a constitutional amendment approved by the voters, dedicating every penny to lowering skyrocketing local property taxes and new dollars for higher and secondary education.
Over a billion dollars a year are being sucked out of Texas classrooms to other states! I want to repatriate those dollars, those ponies and the jobs that go with them back to Texas classrooms and hardworking taxpayers.
Adding video lottery terminals, or VLT’s, to the mix of games offered by the Texas Lottery Commission is a much-needed new economic engine for Texas, creating thousands of jobs. I remain convinced that this would be a huge win for Texas school children and Texas taxpayers.
Video lottery’s economic benefit to Texas is not limited to bringing back money Texans are already spending elsewhere. Video lottery operations in Texas also would create thousands of jobs. Texans could pick up 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs once the tracks are fully equipped.
And most importantly for racing, video lottery terminals at the tracks would also enhance – and rescue – the racing industry and all the agriculture business that it drives. Larger purses have improved the quality of the horses at other state’s tracks and have benefited the horse industry in those places. I want to do that for Texas.
Approving video lottery operations in Texas racetracks will almost certainly bring up the issue of gaming operations by our Native American tribes. The tribes are free to carry on any gaming activities that are approved by the state.
We need to approach the tribes respectfully, as partners, or we risk losing them entirely.
The tribes want to educate their children and serve their members’ health care needs, no different from any other community. The stated top priority of one of the tribes is to ensure that all of the children can attend college through a grant/scholarship program through any new money it can generate.
Texas needs a new economic engine and schools need a new money generator. Video lottery at racetracks will provide both.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn
Personal digital assistants are everywhere these days, offering phones, cameras and other features designed to make life easier for those on the go. And now they’re getting ready to go a lot farther.
NASA’s Ames Research Center in California is developing a “Personal Satellite Assistant,” or PSA, to help astronauts with a variety of jobs around the space station or onboard a spacecraft. A cantaloupe-sized sphere, the PSA would be able to float and maneuver in microgravity with small fans, while assisting astronauts with routine tasks such as monitoring cabin temperature and atmospheric pressure and composition; checking the status of experiments; providing information on mission schedules and spaceship inventories and offering training on technical procedures.
In addition, the PSA will have built-in communication equipment including a microphone, speakers, camera and flat display, allowing video and audio conferencing.
NASA officials aren’t sure when astronauts will get their own PSAs, but work on the device continues. Ames built a test facility that will allow researchers to study the PSA’s motion and operation in a virtual “weightless” environment.
For more information, contact Gregory A. Dorais,
NASA Ames Research Center, email@example.com
Erasing the blues
Waste paper makes up nearly 40 percent of the office waste in Japan, according to Toshiba Corp. Toshiba officials hope their new e-blue line of products will reduce office waste by using de-colorable—or erasable—ink.
Toshiba created the ink in 1998 after developing similar office products—like de-colorable toner and an erasing machine. The company introduced its e-blue products to the Japanese market in December 2003.
“Sales of e-blue products since its launch have been good,” said Toshiba’s Junichi Nagaki. “[Companies] with [an] intention to reduce costs for office paper and also who are conscious about eco-friendly products are showing interest [in] our e-blue products.”
E-blue toner and ink, which are blue, differ from regular inks in that they are carbon-free and include an agent that, when heated to more than 280 degrees in the e-blue erasing machine, bonds with the developing agent in the ink and erases the image from the paper.
The erasing machine sells for around $2,700. Other e-blue products include an erasable pen and marker, which can also be erased with the erasing machine.
Nagaki said Toshiba plans to introduce e-blue to the U.S. market by the end of 2005.
For more information, contact Junichi Nagaki,
A new camera the size of a large vitamin pill is helping doctors diagnose internal ailments without surgery. The camera, created by Israeli manufacturer Given Imaging, weighs less than four grams and makes “capsule endoscopy” possible. The patient swallows the tiny camera, which travels the gastrointestinal tract taking pictures at a rate of two frames per second. Doctors can analyze the images to help diagnose problems.
The procedure normally takes about eight hours, and doctors use the Given Diagnostic System to diagnose diseases of the small intestine. Given Imaging hopes to use the system to detect abnormalities of the entire gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach and colon. The company says capsule endoscopy produces a diagnosis in 71 percent of cases, compared with 41 percent for all other diagnostic procedures combined.
Given Imaging reports that tens of thousands of people worldwide have ingested the capsule, and in the U.S. alone, about 24 million people suffer from disorders and diseases of the small intestine. Such disorders include intestinal cancer and Crohn’s disease, a disease of the gastrointestinal tract. The procedure is available in private practices and at leading medical institutions in Texas, including Baylor University.
For more information, contact Dave Bjerken,
Eating the right kind of egg a day could keep the doctor away, according to new research by several national egg producers.
Egg producers have discovered that chickens fed a strictly controlled diet of rice bran, sea kelp, alfalfa meal and other nutritious ingredients produce eggs with lower cholesterol and saturated fat. Eggs naturally contain nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acid, iodine, vitamin E and lutein—a nutrient that helps maintain the health of the eye. Elisa Maloberti, consumer information coordinator for the American Egg Board, said fortifying the hen’s diet might increase the levels of these nutrients in the eggs as well.
Designer or specialty eggs make up about 3 percent of the $3 billion national egg market, according to Al Pope, spokesperson for United Egg Producers, a national cooperative.
“This category, however, is growing each year and is expected to grow at even a greater pace in the future,” Pope said.
For more information, contact Elisa Maloberti,
American Egg Board, 847-296-7043
A new technology that uses an ankle bracelet to measure how much alcohol a person has ingested could help probation officers monitor offenders.
Developed by Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor System. The bracelet straps around a person’s ankle and has a tamper-proof clip. It measures ethanol in a person’s perspiration, which comes through the skin, and measures blood alcohol content.
State probation departments can use the device to make sure someone convicted of an alcohol-related offense, such as drunk driving, is complying with court-ordered alcohol abstinence. In some cases, it may serve as an alternative to imprisonment, according to AMS.
AMS reports it has sold about 800 units in eight states, including Texas.
SCRAM operates 24 hours a day, and the bracelet transmits information via a modem in the offender’s home to a network for storage. Probation officers can test as frequently as every half hour, and each reading is time-stamped. The bracelet transmits data once a day to whomever is monitoring alcohol consumption.
If SCRAM proves reliable, probation departments could cut costs, said AMS officials.
“One probation officer could monitor 100 offenders on a 24/7 basis for alcohol use without leaving the office,” said Glen Tubb, vice president of products for AMS.
For more information, contact Don White,
My dietician, the car
Cars may soon take over a job typically left in the hands of a spouse or parent—nagging people about their weight. Inventor Yefim G. Kriger, an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven, patented an auto-based computer system that can weigh a driver, track how much weight the person gained or lost and speak up when there’s a bit of extra weight in the seat.
“People will program [the system] themselves by the use of a touch-screen display...on a dashboard of a vehicle,” Kriger said.
The system uses a microcomputer to compute weight gain and is programmed to ask if bulky clothing or heavy boots might account for extra weight. Information from popular diet programs can be programmed into the system, Kriger said. For example, it can alert a driver to how many Weight Watchers points a meal will be. The computer will suggest menu changes if it detects weight gain as well, Kriger said.
A driver can also program the system to contact a doctor if weight gain gets out of hand. And if the system itself seems out of hand, a driver can just turn it off.
For more information, contact Yefim G. Kriger,
Haven for retired chimps
Aging chimpanzees in the U.S. will soon spend their retirement years in a specially designed Shreveport, La. sanctuary. The National Institutes of Health began construction in 2003 on Chimp Haven, touted as the country’s only preserve dedicated to chimps who have been retired as entertainers or as laboratory research subjects, said Chimp Haven officials. In fall 2004, about 200 chimps will come stay on the preserve’s 200 acres of grass and woods. Chimp Haven officials expect they could house up to 900 chimps in the future.
In fall 2002, the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a division of the National Institutes of Health, tapped Chimp Haven to operate the national sanctuary system. NCRR is providing $19 million to operate and maintain the facility for 10 years.
There is a critical need for a sanctuary for retired laboratory chimpanzees, said Linda Koebner, executive director of Chimp Haven. Because of their similarities to humans, including the same blood types, chimps have been widely used in the space program and in biomedical research. In recent years, there has been a dramatic decrease in their use. Many chimps who were bred specifically for research have never been involved in a study, yet they continue to live in laboratories, said Chimp Haven officials.
For more information, contact Linda Koebner,
Chimp Haven Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. scientists are looking at the potential power in gas hydrates—naturally occurring “ice-like” combinations of gas and water. Gas hydrates are found in the world’s oceans and polar regions and, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, their power potential is far greater than conventional gas resources used today.
For more information, contact A.B. Wade,
Nurses at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, N.Y., are auctioning off their services on extra shifts using the hospital’s online nurse bidding service. Employees who make $30 an hour are able to get up to $45 an hour for additional shifts.
Nurses may check the available shifts and bid on any of them via a link attached to that listing. Employees accept bids based on skill level, shift schedule and the lowest acceptable bid.
Hospital officials said nurses like the chance to work the extra shifts they want at a higher pay rate, while the hospital is able to staff shifts without using more expensive temporary agencies and services.
For more information, contact Elmer Streeter,
Eating at least one citrus fruit a day can keep certain cancers away, according to a new study by Australian government researchers.
In a December 2003 report, researchers with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization found that consuming citrus fruits could reduce the risk of mouth, larynx and stomach cancers by up to 50 percent and could reduce the risk of stroke by 19 percent.
For more information, contact Warrick Glynn,
Editor: Karen Hudgins
Contributing to this issue: Angela Freeman, Magdalena Hamner, Ann Holdsworth, Greg Mt.Joy, Edd Patton, Clint Shields, Suzanne Staton, Pam Wagner and Bruce Wright