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  • There Was a Farmer Who Played a Game...

    September 19, 2006 5:31 PM

    The National Indian Gaming Commission has recently been

    getting hot under the collar over a vital matter of native gambling policy -

    the display elements and parameters of video

    bingo consoles
    . Apparently they want (among other things) for the video

    screen to look more like traditional bingo cards and for the games to be played

    more slowly. They're just old fashioned like that.


    Lest you think, however, that these proposed changes are of little importance,

    listen to this voice of the Casino-American community, Marjorie Mejia, of California's Pomo Indians: “This is serious. This is people's lives at stake here. …

    It's really termination for my people.”


    Vulnerable people threatened with termination?

    In California? Clearly, the Golden State already has the right man for the job.


  • Best Headline of the Day

    September 19, 2006 5:06 PM

    Following up on Fred's

    post
    , here's an even better headline: “Thai PM cancels U.N. speech after coup”

    ran the headline in Reuters. It seems that the prime minister of Thailand was in New York at the United Nations, when word came about a coup by the military who took over the government in Bangkok. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra canceled

    his speech scheduled for 7 p.m. before the General Assembly.


  • Oman Trade Agreement and Protectionism

    September 19, 2006 4:55 PM

    Today the Senate

    approved
    for the second time the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, another in

    the now lengthy list of

    bilaterals
    . The Oman treaty also marks further outreach through

    trade with Arabic countries that are considered friendly to the U.S. Earlier FTAs

    were completed with Bahrain, Morocco, and Jordan. Increased trade and investment between the countries could result — and that would be good.


    But already the protectionist veil of “national security”

    interests was being spread by Sen. Byron Dorgan, who said in the floor debate that

    the agreement with Oman could

    open the doors
    to that country taking over U.S. ports.—or even the United

    Arab Emirates could gain port control through Oman.


    Remember the brouhaha about “national security” that arose

    when a company in Dubai, DP World Ports, planned to manage

    six U.S. ports
    ? DP World Ports, controlled

    by the government of the United Arab Emirates — another country with which the

    U.S. was negotiating a trade agreement — dropped those plans amid the

    controversy. And the UAE dropped plans

    for a speedy free trade agreement with the U.S. Tit for tat.

  • Travel Opportunities for Politicians

    September 19, 2006 4:52 PM

    Hmm -- the headline of

    today "Thailand has peaceful coup while PM at UN" suggests that we provide free

    airfare to the United Nations to as many nations as possible. Add why stop

    there? Perhaps, we could persuade all members of Congress and the

    Administration to visit those august quarters too. The thought of changing

    political leaders on a wholesale basis is one of few encouraging things that's

    been reported recently.


  • Don't Tax My Timber

    September 19, 2006 4:47 PM

    The Canadian government has finally passed a resolution to end the long-festering softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. While it's not a perfect deal, the U.S. is agreeing to scrap its import duties on Canadian lumber for the next seven years. Now maybe we can get back to bulding houses and gazebos instead of arguing over whose timber industry is more worthy of protection.


  • A Taxing Question

    September 18, 2006 2:59 PM
    The UK Conservatives, currently mulling over the idea of raising "green taxes" while

    lowering other tax rates, will be paying careful attention to reaction to the

    Liberal Democrat Party's similar announcement. The Liberal Democrats, a

    center-left group with some libertarian inclinations, have decided to increase

    taxes on SUVs and other vehicles that emit comparably large amounts of carbon

    dioxide per gallon of gas used. This has prompted the understandable objection

    that this may lead to a situation where an owner of a large vehicle* who drives

    it only a small amount around a city may pay more taxes than someone who owns a

    smaller vehicle but emits more because he uses it more.


    The Sun, arguably

    the most influential daily newspaper, read by around 4 million people, reacted

    to the policy

    with the headline:


    POTTY LIBS IN TAX

    GRAB

    *Colloquially known

    as "Chelsea Tractors" in London.

  • DDT to the Rescue

    September 18, 2006 10:27 AM

    In an extraordinarily good development, the World Health Organization has officially called for greater use of DDT around the world in order to combat malaria, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. CEI people and our friends have written widely on the issue of DDT and malaria over the past several years, and it's a relief to finally see some movement in the right direction. It's never too late to exorcise the ghost of Rachel Carson from international health policy.


  • Department of Public Remarks

    September 18, 2006 9:38 AM

    The pope is under attack for pointing out that there is an a-religious element in traditional Islam. The pope was condemned and Islamic radicals responded by burning churches and (possibly) killing a nun in Somalia, well that will show the Pope he's wrong!


  • Senators on 9/11 movie – “Public interest” is what makes us look good

    September 14, 2006 5:42 PM

    No matter what anyone thought of the ABC's “The Path to

    9/11,” the actions of certain senators who objected to the miniseries should

    give everyone who values the First Amendment a big chill.


    A letter

    signed by Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Debbie

    Stabenow, and Byron Dorgan not-so-implicitly threatened ABC's broadcast license

    if it aired the drama that was deemed to be critical of the Clinton

    Administration.


    The letter they sent to Robert Iger, CEO of ABC parent

    Disney, stated bluntly that “[p]resenting such deeply flawed and factually

    inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a

    gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to

    your shareholders, and to this nation.” The letter spent the whole second

    paragraph explaining to Iger that ABC was a beneficiary of a “free broadcast license”

    granted by the FCC to serve “the public interest.” The concluding paragraph

    again reminded Iger that ABC was “a beneficiary of the free use of the public

    airwaves.”


    Interesting definition of “public interest,” huh? It seems from

    the minds of these senators that anything that presents a presidency of their

    party in a critical light is by definition against the “public interest.” As

    Stephen Spruiell writes

    in National Review Online, “Who in

    the press will stick up for ABC's right to air this miniseries without having

    its broadcast license threatened?”

  • Liberty stands up to Spitzer

    September 14, 2006 10:04 AM

    Sometimes — but not often -- some companies hang in there if

    they're convinced they are right. That seems

    to be the case with Liberty Mutual Insurance, which is standing

    up
    to — can it be — New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer, as we

    know, has brought CEOs and boards of Fortune 100 companies to their knees to

    grovel. They have begged to sign huge

    settlements, thrown respected company executives to the jackals at Justice, and

    whispered non-“mea culpas” to the media, only to see their stock prices plummet

    or their companies left in threads.


    Now, Liberty

    Mutual
    , “the sixth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S.” with

    $21.2 billion in consolidated assets, is challenging Spitzer's suit against the

    company. According to news

    reports
    , Liberty's motion to dismiss challenges the main bases for the

    suit: “that insurance brokers owe a fiduciary duty to their clients and that

    fees known as contingent commissions are bad and should be eradicated.”

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