On Thursday, Bill Clinton announced that his administration would invest $500 million in a five-year plan to make Bob Dole look like a Republican dinosaur and establish himself as ?Captain Internet?. Speaking in Knoxville, Tennessee, President Clinton announced his intention to link up all US schools and libraries to the Internet by the year 2000. The first $100 million will be directed towards increasing the efficiency of the Internet 100 to 1,000 fold. ?Like any other piece of critical infrastructure, it has to be upgraded to meet all of our educational, medical and national needs. It is now time to invest in the next generation of Internet,? Clinton informed the conference. The proposed system will enable the entire Encyclopedia Britannica to be transmitted in less than a second. Budgeted for in 1998, 70 per cent of the funds will be drawn from the defence budget. It is hoped that the Federal Communications Commission, meeting on 8 November, will be persuaded to approve the gift of basic Internet to all schools. Industry has been told that it is expected to match government grants to schools to purchase computers and train teachers. Additional pressure has now come from the Communications Workers of America. In an unprecedented move, the powerful trades union has pledged volunteers to help install systems in schools in areas of financial need. The union has issued a challenge to industry ?to join with us to ensure that every school in the nation has access to the information highway?. Presently one third of US schools has access to the Interment. Industrial giants such as Sun Microsystems, 3Com and Pacific Bell have already made substantial donations in terms of finance, materials and time. John Gage, top scientist at Sun, is the instigator of the ?Net Day?. Attempted in California in March when 4,000 schools were linked up, facilitated with funds from ?high-tech barn-raising?. 47 states will be copying the Californian prototype this month targeting 28,000 schools. No similar plan has been mentioned in the UK, though many would favour alternative uses of the defence budget.
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