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OpenMarket: May 2007

  • The Gotham Prize for Cancer

    May 23, 2007
    According to Reuters, medical researchers got together with hedge fund managers to institute the Gotham Prize for Cancer Research, a new private prize for innovative cancer research. Announced on its own website, the prize was deemed necessary to stimulate new cancer research and to recognize innovative approaches that may come from outside mainstream scientific research:
    Though billions are spent each year on cancer research, promising research and novel ideas may still not receive the support and recognition that they deserve. Research out of the mainstream may not be funded or accepted for publication, while, for competitive reasons, preliminary...
  • Millions Dead

    May 23, 2007
    Millions dead and that's still not enough for environmental activists to change their colors. Last September, Dr. Arata Kochi, Director of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Malaria Program, called on the environmental community to "help save African babies as you are helping to save the environment." Kochi's plea was part of an announcement that the WHO would seek increased use of the pesticide DDT to fight malaria. Rather than answer his call, green groups continue their crusade against DDT. Leading the charge is the Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides. The Sierra...
  • Coburn Right -- Rachel Wrong

    May 23, 2007
    Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) stands largely alone in efforts to stop congressional initiatives to honor the environmental movement's icon the late Rachel Carson, whose 100th birthday comes this Sunday. Coburn rightly recognizes that the conventional wisdom about Carson's legacy is wrong! Rather than launching a beneficial environmental cause, Carson launched a misinformation campaign that her followers continue without regard for the consequences. And those consequences have been severe. Check out CEI's website Rachel Was Wrong for more analysis on Carson's legacy.
  • "Scent profiling" in Germany

    May 23, 2007
    Germany is collecting "scent samples" of agitators in the runup to the G8 summit to be held in Heiligendamm. Their security people are worried about large-scale protests to be held when the world's top leaders meet June 6-8. The samples, from perspiration traces and from scraps of clothing, are being collected for potential use in tracking down suspects if violence occurs. But many German leaders are saying such tactics hearken back to the infamous Stasi who operated in East Germany.
    Minister Brigitte Zyprie, other members of the ruling Social Democrats, attorney groups and Stasi victims said they were stunned police collected scent traces of select activists ahead of expected protests against the June world leaders' summit. The East German security police -- the omnipresent Stasi...
  • Danny Glover cares about poor Hatians so much...

    May 23, 2007
    ...that he'll probably not hire any for a starring role in his upcoming Hugo Chavez-financed film about Haitian independence hero Toussaint L'ouverture. As the New York Daily News reports:
    Haitian President Rene Preval believes Glover should film "Toussaint" in the country where the story took place - not in Venezuela. "The entire world should be proud of our patrimony," Preval tells us. "We had the first successful revolt against slavery in this hemisphere. It's our contribution to humanity. If Danny Glover can bring it to the screen, we will be happy. But I hope he will shoot it here." Haitian-born [rapper/musician/producer] Wyclef Jean agrees that Glover...
  • Carbon Atoms and the Riddle of Existence

    May 23, 2007
    Spiked's Josie Appleton really hits the nail on the head in her excellent review of a new book by noted alarmist Mark Lynas. For instance, in relation to all this talk about a "generational challenge":
    Global warming offers us the chance to experience what few generations have had the privilege of knowing. It is a thrill, no less. Global warming is our Cold War. And just as American strategists worried at the end of the Cold War about the loss of the Red opposition, so environmentalists have a kind of attachment to global warming. Of course, they talk about it being ‘inconvenient', and they wouldn't have wished it upon the world. Lynas says that his collapse scenarios are a ‘reluctant conclusion'; in his book Heat, George Monbiot says that it pains him greatly to conclude that people...
  • Long Live Plastics

    May 23, 2007
    The London Museum is planning a special exhibit to mark the centennial of a material that was long denigrated--plastics. It will cover the massive importance of this material to our modern way of life and the ways in which early plastics added color and durability to an array of household items: Bakelite, clocks, tupperware, condoms, even auto bodies, PVC pipe, and siding. Sadly, it is unlikely to discuss the communication strategy of the plastics industry that has led to this re-legitimization of plastics. In the 1990s the American Plastics Council (now integrated into the American Chemistry Council) decided to fight back, to clarify to the citizenry the virtues of this amazing material. The resulting ad campaign was one of the most effective in modern history. State and local anti-plastic legislation dried up, plastics moved out of the pariah category, becoming "respectable" once...
  • Hate Crimes Bait and Switch

    May 22, 2007
    The federal hate-crimes bill is a classic example of bait and switch. Its purpose is to circumvent constitutional protections against double jeopardy. But it is being sold to the public as simply a way to protect gay and lesbian rights, in order to brand opponents of the bill as homophobes, and deflect constitutional objections to it. The bill would allow people who have been found innocent of a hate crime in state court to be reprosecuted in federal court. As one supporter put it, "the federal hate crimes bill serves as a vital safety valve in case a state hate-crimes prosecution fails." The claim that the justice system has "failed" when a jury returns a not-guilty verdict is truly scary...
  • Wildfires in California: A Growing Residual Market?

    May 22, 2007
    We may be seeing the emergence of yet another residual market for insurance, this time against wildfire. Even though fires have declined a great deal in the United States--and really don't pose a social problem anymore--the wildfire probelm has gotten worse. Particularly in California, many people, most of them rich, have taken to building homes on wooded hillsides. In the dry environment, these hillsides can become fire traps. As a result, the Associated Press reports, companies are getting tougher about writing policies and even withdrawing from some markets altogether. Unlike hurricane zones--which contain lots of lower-income people who may not have the means or ability to leave in the short...
  • Yogi Berra and the Federal Lawsuit

    May 22, 2007
    The Supreme Court's dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit Monday in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly calls to mind Yogi Berra's advice that "if you come to a fork in the road, take it." The Supreme Court often takes Yogi Berra's advice one step further. Confronted with a choice between two inconsistent alternatives, it often chooses both, to the bewilderment of lawyers and judges alike. It did that in its 1957 decision in Conley v. Gibson. In that case, the Supreme Court first said that even at the start of a lawsuit, the plaintiff's complaint must give the defendant "fair notice" of what the suit is about, since that is required by Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. But then it contradicted itself by saying that a defendant who wants to get a lawsuit dismissed prior to discovery has the almost impossible burden of showing that "it appears beyond doubt that...

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