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OpenMarket: October 2006

  • Google Gets Good Marks as Internet Librarian

    October 6, 2006
    Google raised some doubts (some even from CEI) about copyright protection when they launched Google Library, but now the project is having just the positive effect its backers said it would: increasing book sales. It turns out that making information easier to find means people will seek out more of it. In other words, if Google can lower transaction costs of finding just the right books one is looking for, people will buy more of them. No word yet on whether the RIAA and MPAA have yet learned any lessons from this.
  • Big Money Loves Big Government

    October 6, 2006
    Reuters is finally catching up with CEI's own Tim Carney. In a story today, Tim McLaughlin reports that political contributions by the biggest Wall Street financial firms are now favoring Democrats, despite decades of conventional wisdom casting the Republicans as the party of the nation's "monied interests." Tim, of course, has been on this story for a long time, explaining why both the wealthiest individuals and the biggest companies often give far more to Democrats than to Republicans, for a number of reasons, almost all of them having to do with a desire to make government more intrusive, burdensome and expensive (for the other guy). Dive into Tim's...
  • CBO Speaks: Deficit Slightly Smaller, Still Huge

    October 6, 2006
    In what has to be one of this week's worst excuses for good news, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the federal budget deficit for FY2006 was “only” $250 billion, down from last year's $318 billion. Actually, let's look at that again: the number of deficit-spent dollars last fiscal year was 250,000,000,000. That'll buy you a lot of House page uniforms. The White House had issued a February prediction of $423,000,000,000, and then went on to claim repeated victory on the deficit in the intervening months as they revised their numbers down and closer to reality. Reuters politely describes the original OMB estimate as having been “...
  • Update: Foley to Move to Amsterdam, Run for Parliament

    October 6, 2006
    News out of the Netherlands this week is bearing an odd parallel to DC's most talked about scandal involving a now-former Congressman from a certain peninsular state. In what must be a not entirely unexpected setback, a political party founded earlier this year by Dutch pedophiles looks as though it has insufficient support to compete for seats in the parliamentary general election next month. Children's rights groups sued to have the party banned outright, but a Dutch court ruled that the nation's freedom of expression guarantees extended even to the euphamistically-named "Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity party (PNVD)." Maybe this two-party...
  • Free Government Cash: Mixed News From Germany

    October 6, 2006

    It seems that German welfare queens have been enraging their hard working fellow citizens by driving expensive cars while on the dole. The Christinan Democrats in parliament, however, have come up with a solution - force those receiving benefits to sell their cars (above a certain value) in order to contribute to their own upkeep. The plan has been thwarted in the past, but appears to be moving forward.

    On the minus side of the ledger, German attorney Jens Lorek is encouraging citizens who believe they've been abducted by aliens to...

  • Green Technology’s Cutting Edge

    October 5, 2006
    But would Progressives against Progress endorse this great invention?
  • Pesticide Bans No Minor Mistake

    October 5, 2006
    Tina's Rosenberg's article in today's New York Times addresses the devastating impact that misguided bans of the pesticide DDT have had on people in developing nations. The New York Times presents the DDT issue as simply a serious policy mistake. But it's not simply a single mistake—it's part of a dangerous effort by environmental activists around the world to deprive people of various life-saving technologies. The DDT case alone should discredit these groups, yet they continue to have a harmful influence on public policy. Despite the problems DDT bans have caused, environmental activists have successfully advanced a worldwide ban on DDT under the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (known as the POPs Treaty). The treaty has been ratified in enough nations for it to take effect, and the United States Senate plans to ratify it soon. It allows for only limited...
  • X PRIZE launches another prize – mapping genes

    October 5, 2006
    The foundation that gave a huge prize for launching a private spaceship yesterday announced a multi-million dollar prize for fast-track technology to map human genomes. The X PRIZE Foundation said it would be offering a $10 million prize to researchers who devise the technology “that can successfully map 100 human genomes in 10 days.” In its press release the foundation said it was trying to stimulate faster advances in genomics for preventative medicine and procedures. “Only after we have access to affordable and fast genome sequencing will we be able to take advantage of the countless benefits.” Here's to the newest X PRIZE — using private funds to finance private research and innovation.
  • More Katrina Waste

    October 3, 2006
    Yesterday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued an executive order commanding businesses seeking federally-funded disaster relief administered by the City of New Orleans to award at least 50 percent of their business to local businesses and at least 35 percent to minority and women-owned businesses. Assistance will now be denied those businesses that contract based on merit, rather than discriminating based on race or geographic origin. Nagin's minority set-aside rule violates court rulings from the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has ruled that a government entity cannot impose racial preferences except to remedy its own past discrimination, or the past discrimination of the entities it seeks to force to engage in racial preferences. Under Fifth Circuit decisions...
  • Tobacco Litigation Update

    October 3, 2006
    In Schwab v. Philip Morris, a federal judge in Brooklyn recently approved a class-action racketeering lawsuit against tobacco companies on behalf of millions of smokers of "light" cigarettes. Up to 30 million smokers will be able to sue based on allegations that the tobacco companies exaggerated the health benefits of smoking “light” rather than regular cigarettes. Many smokers compensate for the reduced nicotine in light cigarettes by inhaling more deeply or smoking more cigarettes. That offsets much of the health benefits of light cigarettes. The tobacco giants apparently suspected as much but didn't tell the public. This ruling has triggered debate, since the Federal Trade Commission arguably approved the tobacco companies' use of the “lights” label, as the Illinois Supreme Court concluded last year when it quashed another class action lawsuit against the tobacco companies. But...

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