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OpenMarket: June 2007

  • Teachers' "compelled speech" victory could spill over to farmers

    June 16, 2007
    Hans, you're right that the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday in Davenport v. Washington Education Association was a victory for the First Amendment. After the Washington state Supreme Court turned the First Amendment, as you said, upside down, by ruling that the state initiative requiring consent of teachers for union political advocacy violates the union's free speech rights, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the First Amendment gives the greater protection to individual teachers from being forced to fund speech they disagree with. In the press release CEI sent out yesterday hailing the teachers' victory that we had argued for when...
  • Court Blocks Use of Tobacco Settlement As Slush Fund

    June 15, 2007
    The Mississippi Supreme Court has just upheld a court ruling blocking the diversion of $20 million a year from Mississippi's multi-billion dollar tobacco settlement to a private entity, the Foundation for a Healthy Mississippi. The money was diverted by the state's former attorney general, Mike Moore. The Foundation was created after the tobacco settlement precisely so that the state attorney general could siphon state money to it. The court ruled such appropriation of public funds could only be authorized by the state legislature -- not the state attorney general -- and that the state attorney general's diversion of the funds violated state law (Miss. Code § 43-13-405). The court could just as easily have relied on the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, which recognizes...
  • Cell Phones and Driving

    June 15, 2007
    Interesting new study from James E. Prieger of Pepperdine University and Bob Hahn at the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, looking at the relationship between mobile phone use while driving and accidents. It appears that "drivers who use mobile phones while driving may be more likely to get into accidents than drivers who do not, even when they are not using the phone." How's that again? Evidence suggests that people who use hand-held mobile phones while driving tend to be less careful drivers compared with those who use hands-free mobile devices, suggesting that use of a hand-held mobile phone while driving is just a proxy for more generalized bad driving. According to the authors, their results "call into question previous cost-benefit analyses of bans on mobile phone usage while driving,...
  • Michael Moore's "Sicko" - Diagnosis: PWNED

    June 15, 2007
    Michael Moore's new attack-umentary on the American health care system, Sicko, seems to be having viral problems of its own. A mysterious source has uploaded the entire movie to the web, and as a result, it is now freely available for (unauthorized) download by anyone with an Internet connection. Ad Age has the story:
    Last week, the Oscar winning director announced that he'd decided to stash a copy of "Sicko" in Canada, in case the Federal government decided to impound it over an apparently unauthorized trip to Cuba made during its filming. As it turns out, the hard part won't be getting the film released, but getting audiences to pay to see it now that its available for free. If the breach is as wide as it appears -- and this reporter downloaded a copy...
  • Reasonable Energy Policy Blown Away in House

    June 15, 2007
    The Industrial Wind Action Group just sent along a press release on the emerging monster of a House energy bill and a recent change affecting - you guessed it - wind power. Just in case the text doesn't make it clear, the IWA folks are, shall we say, skeptical of expanding industrial wind power. The organization that represents the wind power industry itself is the American Wind Energy Association. Now, on to the press release:
    Industrial Wind Action (IWA) Group responded today to legislative maneuverings by Congressman Markey (D-MA) that replaced provisions in the Rahall Energy Bill (H.R. 2337) pertaining to wind power - in Subtitle D. According to Lisa Linowes, Executive Director for IWA, the draft wording proposed by Congressman Rahall would have established uniform standards for wind energy development...
  • Open Letter to Caterpillar on Cap-and-Trade

    June 15, 2007
    This week heavy-machine manufacturer Caterpillar held its annual shareholders meeting, and we and 70 or so of our good friends weighed in on one of the company's more regrettable recent corporate decisions:
    On the eve of the Caterpillar Corporation's stockholders meeting in Chicago, 70+ groups and companies have sent a letter to Caterpillar, Inc. CEO Jim Owens urging him to immediately withdraw Caterpillar from the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). USCAP is a coalition of companies and environmental groups seeking to establish a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. The signatories to the letter note that capping carbon emissions, as advocated by USCAP, would harm two groups disproportionately: The poor and Caterpillar stockholders. [...] Bob Murray, founder...
  • Social Workers Seize Children to Receive Adoption Bonuses

    June 15, 2007
    In England, as in the United States, local governments receive cash incentives from the national government for adopting out children. In England, this has led to the seizure of thousands of children from their natural parents by social workers hoping to receive bonuses. The Daily Mail, one of England's principal newspapers had a frightening story on June 8 about this. You have to read it to believe it. The idea behind the incentives was to give social workers an incentive to do their best to ensure that children already in orphanages or foster care will be adopted. But children already in foster care tend to be older, less desireable, and harder to find...
  • Reid's rant

    June 15, 2007
    Yesterday's Greenwire (June 14, 2007) presented the transcript of a speech by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid on the Senate energy bill. The following is a running commentary on the policy-relevant portions of Reid's remarks.
  • Weeping Judge Seeks $54 Million for Lost Pants

    June 14, 2007
    Marc Fisher of The Washington Post gives an entertaining account of the trial in which D.C. judge Roy Pearson is suing his dry cleaners for $54 million for losing his pants. The courtroom drama includes a hysterical Pearson crying like a baby and claiming that the loss of his pants was the most "outrageous" event in legal history.I have previously discussed the case, and the lawsuit-generating "consumer protection" law the judge is suing under, here and here. Here I discuss why this judge can be fired by the D.C...
  • Zero Tolerance Policies and the Abuse Excuse

    June 14, 2007
    Today, I published a letter to the editor in The Washington Post, contrasting the treatment of two women recently sent to jail. (Instapundit linked to my letter). The first woman is a Virginia mother sentenced to jail for 27 months in jail for serving alcohol at her son's 16th birthday party.The second is a Tennessee pastor's wife who will serve just a few months for killing her husband by shooting him as he lay in bed. I questioned the bizarre outlook of a criminal justice system that treats killing your husband as a less serious offense than serving alcohol to teenagers. The Virginia mom's plight is, fortunately, not the norm. By contrast, the Tennessee's wife's ridiculously short sentence for taking human life is...

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