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OpenMarket: February 2007

  • More Evidence that Fish is Healthy and Politics Isn't

    February 28, 2007
    Yesterday's New York Times reports on a new study published in the Lancet, which questions those who advise pregnant women to cut back on fish consumption for fear of poisoning their babies with methylmercury. According to the Times, "the researchers found that the children whose mothers ate less than 12 ounces of seafood a week were about 45 percent more likely to fall into the lowest 25 percent in I.Q." Says study author Joseph R. Hibbeln of the U.S. Public Health Service, "The risks of methylmercury in seafood, many scientists think, have been radically overestimated in an effort to protect children. ... The problem with the formulation of the advisory is that there was no calculation of the benefits of...
  • Let Them Eat Cornish Pasties

    February 28, 2007
    Prince Charles made headlines earlier this week when he suggested to the staff of a diabetes clinic in Abu Dhabi that McDonald's fast food should be banned for health reasons. It turns out Charles knows a little something about selling food - he sells his own retail line of packaged organic foods. One interesting item is a Cornish pasty, which, as it turns out, has more fat, salt and calories than a Big Mac. The Evening Standard's graphic design people break it down for us:
    Apparently the aura of hereditary monarchy makes the pasty fine for...
  • Gore's award hurts integrity of documentary category

    February 28, 2007
    In selecting Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" as the winner for best documentary, the Academy Awards sent a disturbing message to aspiring documentary makers. The message they sent is: "Don't bother doing the hard work of capturing events as they happen and gathering a range of interivews. Your work will be trumped for recognition should a politician decide to make a slide show with some fancy cartoons." I'm not taking issue so much with the politics of "An Inconvenient Truth," but with its techniques and treatment of the facts. Many documentary nominees this year had liberal viewpoints. Some were very critical of the war in Iraq. But they adhered to traditional fact-based documentary standards to tell their stories. An Inconvenient Truth, on the other hand, with its use of frightening and speculative cartoons, was more appropriate for the animation category with this year's Oscar...
  • Prince Charles brain flash - Let's just ban McDonald's!

    February 28, 2007
    In the news today, a brilliant idea by Prince Charles -- Let's just ban McDonald's so that people eat healther! This is what happens to a man with no gainful employment. He runs around pushing his la-la notions of what the little people ought to be doing. Myself, I'm no fan of Mickey Dee cuisine, but I know a lot of parents who look to the burger chain as a fast, efficient, pleasing way of feeding the kids (who clamor for "McDonald's!"). Even when Chuck's children were in grade school, come on-- he had nannies! It's not like his family was in a huge time or budget crunch
  • All pain, no gain?

    February 28, 2007
    The issue of global warming has attracted much attention over the past decade. CEI analysts such as Marlo Lewis have argued that regulations aimed at greenhouse gases tend to be all economic pain and no environmental gain, costing the economy trillions while having little effect on greenhouse gases (much less overall climate change). The public also seems to be skeptical of imposing taxes on activities that result in greenhouse gas emissions. In a poll by the Washington Post Express newspaper (the version of the Washington Post distributed free to Metrorail commuters) found that even among this relatively pro-regulation demographic (which includes people who work at government regulatory agencies), 75 percent of respondents said that they would not be willing to "pay a tax to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions." The...
  • Lead Paint Travesty

    February 27, 2007
    On February 26, a Rhode Island court ruled that the paint industry is liable for a statewide "public nuisance" because long ago, paint companies sold lead paint in Rhode Island, at a time when doing so was perfectly legal. The paint companies have been collectively held liable based on their share of lead paint sales in America as a whole, not Rhode Island in particular. Under the court's decision, an out-of-state paint manufacturer is liable even if there was no proof that any building in Rhode Island actually contains paint that it sold. Moreover, the trial court specifically instructed the jurors who held the paint companies liable that "the act or failure to act by a Defendant need not be intentional or negligent to impose liability." The paint companies' lack of wrongdoing didn't stop former Rhode Island attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse from hiring greedy trial lawyers, who...
  • Rationing in action

    February 27, 2007
    Apparently Al Gore now uses Green Power to light and heat his home, so he isn't entirely hypocritical. However, the issue here is that if we want to mitigate carbon emissions, we have to institute rationing of some sort.  Al is living by this principle.  Carbon-free energy in Nashville costs $4 extra per 150 kw, so if you can afford to pay that, you get to live the lifestyle you want.  Gore will pay approximately $6,000 extra this year for the privilege.  A drop in the bucket for him, of course. Other people, however, who cannot afford to increase their electricity bills overall (by about $300 for the average household, which is probably currently spending around $750 per year on electricity) will therefore have to decrease their electricity use by the equivalent amount - about 4,000 kwh at...
  • What price the planet?

    February 27, 2007
    When I read about sainted Al's massive power demands I immediately thought, "Surely he must use Green Power from windmills or something like that." Apparently not:
    Gore could not dispute the findings of the group as they come directly from public records.  Kalee Kreider, a spokesperson for the Gores, instead pointed out that both Al and Tipper Gore work out of their home and she argued that "the bottom line is that every family has a different carbon footprint. And what Vice President Gore has asked is for families to calculate that footprint and take steps to reduce and offset it.  (And) they are in the midst of installing solar panels on their home, which will enable them to use less...
  • Food-or-fuel hits home(s)

    February 27, 2007

    Well, the food-or-fuel debate has now been recognized by the mainstream media, previously salivating over the wonderful tax benefits and subsidies for corn ethanol production to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Earlier, there were articles about the high prices for Mexican tortillas; then, features about hog and poultry producers facing skyrocketing prices for corn feedstock.

    Now, just about all food producers are realizing that — hey — high prices for corn translate into high costs for manufacturing such foodstuff as cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, snacks, juices and sodas that use high fructose corn syrup, etc., etc.

    And, guess what — those higher costs are gonna have to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.  But don't...

  • Environmental heretic sees Simon's lesson

    February 27, 2007
    John Tierney does it again.  In Tierney's profile today of Stewart Brand — a staunch environmentalist and the man who gave us the Whole Earth Catalog — readers learn that Brand is now a staunch proponent of genetic engineering and nuclear energy. Here is Brand's view of agricultural biotechnology — a scourge on the earth, according to many environmental groups:
    “He sees genetic engineering as a tool for environmental protection: crops designed to grow on less land with less pesticide; new microbes that protect ecosystems against invasive species, produce new fuels and maybe sequester carbon.”
    And here's Brand's take on nuclear energy:
    “Alternative energy and...


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