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OpenMarket: March 2007

  • All property is (ripe for) theft

    March 20, 2007
    Latest wizard wheeze from Her Majesty's Government - if you've left money unused in a bank account for a while, you obviously don't need it , so the Exchequer will take it for good causes. I could easily be a victim of this smash-and-grab raid.  I am pretty sure I have a small amount of money left in a UK bank account, but keep forgetting to look into it when I'm over there. Anyway, how would it go?  First they came for the unused bank accounts...
  • How to Build a Better Mosquito

    March 20, 2007
    Malaria, a disease that kills over a million people a year, might just have a potent new foe. A new insecticide, perhaps? Actually, just the opposite - a new mosquito:
    The effort to eradicate one of the world's deadliest diseases has received a significant but controversial boost with the creation of genetically modified mosquitoes that cannot pass on malaria. Trials indicate the genetically modified mosquitoes could quickly establish themselves in the wild and drive out natural malaria-carrying insects, thereby breaking the route through which humans are infected.
    Better living through science, folks. If you'd like to thank Prof. Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, the research team leader, for his excellent work, you can find his contact info...
  • Re: Energy Sources

    March 19, 2007
    Eli, that table actually refers to the generating capacity of new facilities - c.1300 MW over the next few years. There's not really any way these small facilities can be described as "power stations." The average capacity of an oil-fired facility (and a lot of them are fired by petroleum products like coal-to-liquids and waste/residual oil) is 17 MW. Compare that to natural gas (average 79 MW per facility), Coal (220 MW) and Nuclear (1015 MW). Of course, they're still more significant than renewables (13 MW per facility)... A further EPA table illustrating capacity additions and retirements during 2005 can be found here. As can be seen, significantly more small petroleum capacity was lost that year than gained. I think that's been the pattern for a while. So yes, petroleum is a very small part of the mix,...
  • Wait! Is HRC (a little bit) Right for the Wrong Reasons?

    March 19, 2007
    Iain--For the most part, I agree with your post. HRC's statement is inane. But, in fact, an increasing but still very tiny percentage of our electrical power does come from oil. About three percent in all. Over the next four years, the Energy Information Administration reports, power companies plan to bring over 1,100 new oil powered plants on line. All of these plants are meant for peak supply on hot days days when people ramp up the AC. The number of these smaller plants has increased for a large number of reasons. But one of them is that they are reasonably easy to build while new "baseline"--mostly coal and nuclear--require years of regulatory approvals. (Most peak capacity is, and will continue to be, from natural gas.) Building just a...
  • Can "Unsafe" Planes Save Lives?

    March 19, 2007
    Today's Wall Street Journal (online version by subscription only) contains a rather shocking chart on page 1 showing enormous rates of air travel fatalities in Africa and the Middle East. While North America -- actually, if I'm reading correctly, just the U.S. and Canada -- has almost half of the world's flights, we experience only about one fatal accident per 10 million flights. In Africa, the Journal reports, almost one out of 300,000 flights involves a fatal accident. This sounds like a lot until one realizes that Africa has only 1.3 million flights a year. This means about four fatal accidents per year. The Journal doesn't zone in on this statistic. Instead, it lays the blame on the growth of "flags of convenience" for airlines: countries that will certify just about anything as flightworthy. The growth stems from First World airlines' drive to modernize...
  • Ignorance is Bliss

    March 19, 2007
    Senator Hillary Clinton opines:
    "I turn off a light and say, 'Take that, Iran,' and 'Take that, Venezuela.' We should not be sending our money to people who are not going to support our values[.]"
    Once again, Sen. Clinton demonstrates that she knows precious little about energy. Switching off a light doesn't harm Iran or Venezuela in the slightest. It most likely harms the ordinary coal miner in West Virginia or Kentucky. Electricity, Madam Senator, comes from burning coal or natural gas, sometimes from nuclear and just occasionally from a renewable source like wind or solar. Oil-fired power stations are a thing of the past. So if the good Senator wishes to say "Take that" to an oil-exporting country, she should refuse to step into her limousine...
  • In the thrall of Big Oil

    March 19, 2007
    The current Entertainment Weekly has an interesting little tidbit about the pre-Oscar party for Al Gore thrown by Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith (photos here if you can stand it). Apparently the event was part-sponsored by BP and all attendees were given, because Hollywood Celebrities are in such need of gifts, a $100 gas card. So the glitterati are allowed to drive, for free? [Cross-posted from Planet Gore]
  • Al's Big Adventure on NRO

    March 19, 2007
    "Al's Big Adventure," appearing today in NRO's Planet Gore blog, features CEI's Chris Horner giving Congress some pointers about Mr. Gore's upcoming testimony.
  • Freedom to Hide Behind Avatar

    March 16, 2007
    The recent proposed law in Connecticut to verify age of and other social-networking site users has brought up an old question. Is anonymous speech protected under the 1st Amendment? The courts have a history of supporting anonymous speech as an extension of our right to free speech. Social-networking sites are just a new form of technology that allow people to exercise this right. Almost a year ago the Supreme Court reaffirmed this position in MacIntyre v. Ohio Election Commission. This case was narrow, focusing on political speech, and said that anonymous political speech is permissible so long as it serves the interest of the state. While any good libertarian would be appalled by the “interest of the state” portion of this ruling, as all types of anonymous speech should be protected, the ruling still favored protecting anonymous speech. A 1960 case, Talley v....
  • Greetings to our Chinese readers!

    March 16, 2007
    I am pleased to say that both this blog and the main CEI web site get through the GreatFireWall of China test. Interestingly, National Review is also available there but the Weekly Standard is blocked. The Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute web sites are also available.


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