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OpenMarket: July 2007

  • Nuisance Lawsuits Shielded by Democratic Leaders

    July 20, 2007
    Protection against nuisance lawsuits for private citizens who report suspicions of terrorist activity was removed by Congressional Democratic leaders from homeland security legislation.  Both houses of Congress had voted for similar provisions containing protection against nuisance lawsuits, but Democratic leaders removed the protections during conference committee deliberations. The Democratic leaders apparently believe that private citizens should be able to be sued based on bare allegations by terrorist suspects that they have engaged in racial profiling.  Defeating even a meritless discrimination lawsuit is very expensive.  For example, it costs an innocent defendant about $75,000 in legal bills, on average, to get a meritless employment discrimination lawsuit dismissed prior to...
  • Nevada Network Security: Good Enough for Government Work

    July 20, 2007
    Declan McCullagh has a hilarious story today about the crack team that Nevada's governor has providing his office with computer security:
    If you ever wanted to be Nevada's governor for a day, it doesn't seem to be that hard. In what could be a whopping security hole, Nevada has posted the password to the gubernatorial e-mail account on its official state Web site. It appears in a Microsoft Word file giving step-by-step instructions on how aides should send out the governor's weekly e-mail updates, which has, as a second file shows, 13,105 subscribers. The Outlook username is, by the way, "governor" and the password is "kennyc". We should note at this point that the former Nevada governor, a Republican, is Kenny C. Guinn, which hardly says much about password security.
    That's like President...
  • David Thibault, RIP

    July 20, 2007 Editor-in-Chief David Thibault died today, after a long fight with cancer. Many of us here at CEI have worked closely with the reporters and editors at CNS News over the years - one of our number is a former staff writer - so our thoughts and condolences are with them during this difficult time. Senior Editor Susan Jones has written a short tribute. An excerpt:
    For those who knew him, the unwavering faith that sustained Dave throughout his long struggle is the true miracle. One colleague speaks for us all: "He was the most honorable man I have ever known, and his faith, integrity, character, vision, drive, and enthusiasm are an inspiration to me every day."
  • The Marshall Plan for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    July 20, 2007
    Our good friends over at the George C. Marshall Institute have a new study out on cap and trade by economist Michael Canes. And yes, as you might have guessed, he's not a fan:
    The Marshall Institute released its new study, Cap & Trade is the Wrong Policy to Curb Greenhouse Gasses for the United States, authored by Dr. Michael Canes. Dr. Canes analyzes the burdens of implementing a Cap and Trade (C&T) system and concludes that strengthening a goals-based approach presents a more attractive policy option. [...] Dr. Canes argues that implementation of a GHG Cap and Trade system in the U.S. would be a serious policy mistake: it would impose high costs on the economy; result in volatile prices for allowances and fossil fuels; involve government creation of wealth, creating vast opportunities for "rent-...
  • Re: Historical Perspective on the Second Amendment

    July 20, 2007
    Brad, While I find your observation that "that the crime rate would go down if every single household were given a handgun" to be correct, I think you miss an important security aspect of the right to own a firearm when you posit:
    Imagine how terrified potential robbers would be if they knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they were entering a gun-owning home. If that's not a deterrent, I don't know what is.
    In fact, criminals do not need to know that every household is armed, but only that some could be, without their knowing which. In that situation, breaking and entering then becomes a game of Russian roulette for criminals -- and that would certainly raise their blood pressure.
  • Offset Your Lunch?

    July 20, 2007
    The next time you grab a burger for lunch, you're part of the global warming problem. That, at least, is the upshot of a new study that finds that agricultural meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions:
    Their analysis showed that producing a kilogram of beef leads to the emission of greenhouse gases with a warming potential equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide. It also releases fertilising compounds equivalent to 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grams of phosphate, and consumes 169 megajoules of energy (Animal Science Journal, DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2007.00457.x). In other words, a kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns...
  • One Out of Two Ain't Bad

    July 20, 2007
    I'm pleased to report that Al Gore is innocent of charges of hypocrisy related to serving Chilean Sea Bass at his daughter's wedding celebrations. The Bass, more properly known as the Patagonian Toothfish, is primarily endangered because of the massive tragedy of the commons in deep sea fisheries that exists almost solely because of government subsidies. However, not only was the fish served at his daughter's rehearsal dinner, where the groom's parents generally pay, but the fish itself originated from a properly-managed fishery overseen by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Al Gore is certainly a divisive figure, but this charge against him simply will not stick. On the other hand, we learn from...
  • Just say NO to the fuel economy fetishists

    July 20, 2007
    My colleague Myron Ebell sometimes describes industry's response to global warming and oil import alarmism as: "Circle the wagons and everybody shoot into the middle." What brings this to mind is the new report by the National Petroleum Council (NPC), which has attracted much praise in green circles, because now even Big Oil (the report was chaired by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond) is calling for carbon penalties and tighter fuel economy standards. Unlike the oil industry, which is flush with profits, U.S. automakers are tottering on the brink, due chiefly to labor costs two to three times those of their competitors. Imposing tougher fuel economy standards could be their ruin. The NPC report acknowledges that "Cars and trucks sold today are more technically efficient than...
  • Thoughts on the Immigration Debate, part 2

    July 19, 2007
    To add to my earlier comment on last night's AFF roundtable on immigration, Cato's Dan Griswold made a good point there: U.S. immigration policy is currently designed to fill labor demand at high educational and professional levels, by awarding work visas like the H1-B to the most skilled and educated, while neglecting workers at lower skill levels. But what about the middle, specifically that essential component of the middle class, the self-employed small business owner? There is no "metric" to measure entrepreneurship.
  • Thoughts on the Immigration Debate

    July 19, 2007
    I am both bemused and dismayed whenever I hear allegedly free-market conservatives try to repeal the law of supply and demand when it comes to labor. How do they do this? By seeking to shut off part of the labor supply -- workers entering the country illegally -- without addressing from where an alternative labor supply will arise to fill the unmet labor demand -- the jobs the illegal border crossers would have come to fill. Naturally, I expected to hear this kind of thing at last night's America's Future Foundation roundtable post-mortem discussion on the failed immigration bill. We got some of that, but the discussion turned into a contest of my numbers can beat up your numbers between the Heritage Foundation's Brian Darling and the Cato Institute's Dan Griswold, specifically over a...


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