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OpenMarket: April 2007

  • Rhode Island Lead Paint Verdict Ethically Tainted

    April 6, 2007
    In Rhode Island, a jury recently returned a verdict holding out-of-state paint manufacturers liable to the state for potentially billions of dollars, under the theory that sales of lead paint constituted a "public nuisance" even back when it was legal. The trial judge rejected challenges to this verdict, ruling that a paint manufacturer could be held liable even if its paint cannot be found in even a single building in Rhode Island. Instead, the paint manufacturers were held liable based on their national market share of lead paint sales. One of the complaints of the paint companies in that case is that the state's lawsuit was brought against them by trial lawyers hired to work on a contingency fee-basis by the state's attorney general, who hired campaign contributors to sue the paint companies. The...
  • Examiner Columnist Antrim on The Great Global Warming Swindle

    April 6, 2007
    Washington Examiner columnist Kathleen Antrim endorses the film The Great Global Warming Swindle:
    As “The Great Global Warming Swindle” points out, “global warming has gone beyond politics, it's become a new kind of morality,” and disagreement with it is not tolerated. Is there global warming? Yes. Is man causing it? We don't know. The evidence suggests that this isn't a foregone conclusion as the media often reports. Should we take care of our planet? Absolutely. But do the research, learn about all aspects of this topic. I challenge you to watch this video, share it with your children, and encourage your local schools to play it...
  • Bailey on "Consensus"

    April 6, 2007
    Another former Brookes Fellow, Ron Bailey, writes in Reason today on green activists' speaking out of both sides of their mouth when they say "scientific consensus":
    [T]the overwhelming scientific consensus is that current varieties of genetically enhanced crops are safe to eat and don't pose unusual risks to the natural environment. But that isn't stopping Greenpeace from waging a global "Say no to genetic engineering" campaign or the Friends of the Earth from demanding a GM Freeze. Perhaps the idea of scientific consensus is not all that it's cracked up to be. After all, scientific consensus does not mean "certain truth." Whatever the current consensus of any scientific issue is can change in the light of new research. Nevertheless, environmentalist ideologues accuse those...
  • Carney and Schulz on Supremes' CO2 Ruling

    April 6, 2007
    Two CEI veterans weigh on on this week's Supreme Court decision reversing the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to not regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new vehicles. In today's Washington Examiner, former Warren Brookes Journalism Fellow (now Examiner columnist) Tim Carney shines the spotlight on a little-noticed plaintiff in the case, Entergy Corporation.
    Entergy, based in Louisiana, is a top player in the electricity industry (bringing in $11 billion in revenues last year) and the nation's second-biggest nuclear power generator. The company supported the attorneys general in forcing the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and the company will profit if Congress does, in fact, create...
  • YouTube on fire with "Cigarette" song

    April 6, 2007
    These days even expressing ambiguity about cigarettes can put you in danger of the anti-smoking thought police. Conversing about the pleasure of smoking or the difficulties of quitting can get you called a shill for tobacco companies. So Canadian singer Jeremy Fisher is at the center of a storm with the video for his song "Cigarette." The song compares relationships and breakups with the pains and pleasure of smoking and trying to quit. It features lines like, "I'll be your cigarette ... Good or bad, I'm just your habit." Fisher, who sings in the lite alternative rock style of Ben Folds, makes the tune infectious. You can't help but tap your foot and sing along. But it's the video itself that's really making YouTube go aflame. It features a dancing cigarette, like those in commercials of old. Needless to say, it's attracting...
  • Is Bad Regulatory Competition Better than No Regulatory Competition?

    April 6, 2007
    I had an interesting conversation about regulatory competition in the context of insurance. A lawyer I was speaking with argued that any regulatory competition structure—even a deeply flawed one—would help move towards a more liberal, less regulated insurance market. He told me that even a “bad” Optional Federal Charter for insurance companies would get things going in the right direction. (OFC would let insurance companies subject under federal regulation and sell the same product throughout the country without worrying about complying with every state regulatory regime.) Although I'm not altogether sold on this position, it does have some solid academic support. The literature on regulatory competition—in particular Dale Murphy's...
  • "Vanity, vanity . . ." Myron Ebell featured in Vanity Fair's "Green Issue"

    April 5, 2007
    It's now at the newstand nearest you — the May 2007 “Green Issue” of Vanity Fair — featuring CEI's own Myron Ebell in an interview and several photos. Check out p. 142 in the print edition (the article about Myron is subscription only on the website) for the column titled “A Convenient Untruth.” (Nudge, nudge — reference to Al Gore's PowerPoint Oscar winner.) Here's what the contents entry says:
    When scientists are united, and even corporate sponsors like ExxonMobil are backing off, how does a global-warming skeptic stay busy? As long as the media calls, Myron Ebell is happy to explain why CO2 is good. Michael Shnayerson catches him in full denial. Photographs by Jonathan Becker.
    Yesterday's heart-throb of the teenyboppers and now assistant Gore Guru, Leo DiCaprio, is the...
  • "Give me land, lots of land . . . "

    April 5, 2007

    An editorial today in the New York Times focused on one of the negative consequences of the corn ethanol boom — a boom fueled by federal government subsidies and tax breaks. The NYT deplores the corn farmers' demand for more cropland to be plowed under from Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program.

    But that's not the only problem with the government's distortion of the market through taxpayer-funded ethanol support. Dennis Avery's monograph for CEI last fall points out some far-reaching consequences of government mandating fuel for food.

  • Foreign Courts Target U.S. Business for Plunder

    April 5, 2007
    The Supreme Court of Canada has just given the green light for British Columbia to force American tobacco companies to pay for smokers' past health care costs, even if the companies didn't themselves sell cigarettes in British Columbia. The companies can now be held retroactively liable in a foreign court for sales of cigarettes by third parties that were lawful at the time they were made. British Columbia is seeking to force the tobacco companies to pay it billions of dollars. The Supreme Court of Canada earlier approved British Columbia's suit against Canadian cigarette companies in a decision that I criticized in the National Post. That decision declared that there is no right to a fair civil trial under Canadian law, despite...
  • Baptists and Bootleggers in the Tropics

    April 5, 2007
    Authoritarian thugs are often puritanical and self-righteous, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is earning his place in the pantheon of dictatorial killjoys, by limiting alcohol sales during Holy Week, a time when people in many Latin American countries take vacation and enjoy having some drinks with family and friends. Naturally, it's created opportunities for bootleggers. As The New York Times reports:
    [W]ith a wink and a nod, some restaurateurs were circumventing the ban by pouring wine into coffee cups. Beer, too, could be consumed in some establishments, albeit discreetly in plastic mugs. Some Caraqueños also told of a vibrant trade in illicit liquor sales in the city's slums after 5 p.m.
    Chavez may have been called many things, but never a Baptist -- though...


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