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OpenMarket: July 2007

  • I Think I Hear Lee Greenwood in the Background

    July 3, 2007
    In the spirit of Independence Day Eve, we should all read Peter Hartlaub's column in today's San Francisco Chronicle, and admire its praise of the humble backyard fireworks display:
    Gather around the Piccolo Pete, children, and let me tell you about a better time. Instead of battling traffic on a cold and foggy night to watch someone else set off fireworks, everyone in the Bay Area had their own display back in the day. They came in colorful boxes, sold by smiling children in Cub Scout uniforms, with awesome names like Pyro Power Master Force Cone and American Spirit Super Eagle Fountain. The eldest son at each house would line up all the fireworks on a fence, and dad would get this crazy look in his eye -- the same one he had when he drank too much on Thanksgiving and tried to...
  • Khosting on Fumes

    July 3, 2007
    Our old friend Vinod Khosla is back in the news, this time with something to show for his efforts: the world's first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, just given regulatory approval in Georgia:
    The company [Range Fuels Inc.], owned by Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, plans to break ground on its 100-million-gallon-per-year factory in Soperton this summer. Cellulosic ethanol has not yet been produced on a commercial scale. "This is an innovative new technology, and we believe we will be the first in the United States, and possibly the world, to build a profitable plant," said CEO Mitch Mandich. "We believe the [technology] will be -- and is -- feasible."...
  • By His Enemies Shall You Know Him?

    July 3, 2007
    According to the DPA, Oliver Stone's latest film project has been torpedoed. Is it because the callow, corporate Hollywood establishment can't deal with the radical truth that Stone is laying down? Um, not quite:
    Iran has rejected a request by United States filmmaker Oliver Stone to make a film about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the website of the news network Press TV reported on Sunday. Ahmadinejad's media advisor, Mehdi Kalhor, said that Stone had requested to make a film about Ahmadinejad which was however rejected by the president. "We have already seen his documentaries - even though Stone is considered a member of the opposition group in the US, it is still part of the Great Satan," he said.
    Maybe now...
  • Scooter Libby's Sentence Commuted

    July 2, 2007
    Bush has just commuted Scooter Libby's sentence, eliminating his prison sentence, while leaving his $250,000 fine intact. That is what I recommended here. (I was expressing my own views, not speaking on behalf of CEI, which has not taken any position on the case). Orin Kerr took the contrary position, provoking numerous comments from lawyers debating the issue. Supporters of having Libby serve his entire sentence argue it is hypocritical for Libby's conservative defenders to criticize his perjury conviction while supporting impeachment of Bill Clinton for perjury in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. (I discussed the Paula Jones lawsuit...
  • Sprawl: The Next DDT?

    July 2, 2007
    The Business and Media Institute reports that the greens are trying again to use the nation's national symbol—the Bald Eagle—to undermine free-markets. The Bald Eagle, which was recently removed from the Endangered Species list, faces another "dire" threat according to reports on "NBC Nightly News" and other news outlets. This time, the alleged culprit is sprawl. "Urban sprawl has become the DDT of our generation,” biologist Bryan D. Watts noted in The Richmond Times Dispatch. According to Watts, the problem is free-market pressures and his "solution" involves regulating a lot more land. Ironically, it's not even clear how much impact DDT has had on the birds (the indoor uses for malaria control do not...
  • California Loots Safe-Deposit Boxes for State Spending Spree

    July 2, 2007
    To finance mushrooming government spending, California is seizing as "abandoned" property the contents of bank safe-deposit boxes held by customers with currently active bank accounts. The state seized $80,000 worth of Carla Ruff's jewelry and sold it on eBay for a fraction of its value. It also seized and shredded the deed to her house and her birth certificate. She discovered this only years later, since the state sent her no notice at the time it seized her property, even though it had her documents and could easily have contacted her. The state did this even though Ruff's possessions were being held in the very San Francisco bank in which she had an active bank account, simply because...
  • Tune into the Space Angels Network

    July 2, 2007
    Kerry Howley is covering the latest developments in private exploration in space exploration today over at Hit & Run. Also, the July/August '07 issue of The New Individualist also has a great cover feature titled "Space: Final Frontier, Final Battlefield." TNI Space cover Click here to subscribe to TNI.
  • But It's Not Much Better Down South

    July 2, 2007
    I haven't seen Sicko and probably won't for at least a week or so. As always, Michael Moore continues his Canada fetish and he romanticizes Canada's health system like crazy. BUT, I think it's important to remember that there isn't a whole lot of difference between the U.S. and Canadian health care systems. Of all health care systems in the G8, the U.S. and Canada are probably the two most similar. Both are government-controlled systems in which most operators remain nominally private and where many people have problems with access to care. Both systems allow for profits in theory but often force hospitals and doctors to operate at a loss. Both systems provide de facto universal coverage. Canada, in theory, requires everyone to sign up for provincial health insurance although, in fact, not everyone does. The U.S. subsidizes insurance in a million ways but then just...
  • More on Sicko

    July 2, 2007
    Kurt Loder, in his review of Michael Moore's Sicko (cited earlier), mentions the short documentary Dead Meat by filmmakers Stuart Browning and Blaine Greenberg:
    These two filmmakers talked to a number of Canadians of a kind that Moore's movie would have you believe don't exist: A 52-year-old woman in Calgary recalls being in severe need of joint-replacement surgery after the cartilage in her knee wore out. She was put on a wait list and wound up waiting 16 months for the surgery. Her pain was so excruciating, she says, that she was prescribed large doses of Oxycontin, and soon became addicted. After finally getting her operation, she was put on another wait list — this time...
  • Do We Want Cuba and Burma Regulating our Naval Operations?

    July 2, 2007
    George Mason University Professor (and CEI Adjunct Scholar) Jeremy Rabkin has an important op-ed in the Washington Post today on that ole devil, the Law of the Sea treaty. Rabkin and his co-author, former assistant attorney general Jack Goldsmith, provide an illuminating example of the awkward position in which the U.S. could find itself under the conditions of the treaty:
    Suppose the United States seizes a vessel it suspects of shipping dual-use items that might be utilized to build weapons of mass destruction or other tools of terrorism. It's not a wild supposition. Under the Proliferation Security Initiative, the United States has since 2003 secured proliferation-related high-seas interdiction...

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