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OpenMarket: December 2007

  • Politics is all about marketing

    December 26, 2007
    Mercury is illegal in Norway from January 1, 2008, or so they want us to think. The Minister of the Environment duly noted the ban in a press release sent out the last day of business before the holiday started. It is a shocking announcement, but nobody seems to notice that fluorescent bulbs, LCD screens, laptops, thermostats, batteries, and quite a few medications would be banned starting next year. I pulled up the actual changes to the law, and all these products were exempted, the only thing that was actually banned was amalgam tooth restoration material and mercury thermometers in labs. The headline on press releases that states that mercury is now...
  • State Level Airline Regs: Great Idea. . .Not.

    December 26, 2007

    The Associated Press reports that a New York state judge has dismissed an airline industry suit against the state's newly enacted Airline Passenger Bill of Rights. On its surface, the law appears pretty reasonable: When passengers are stuck on the ground for more than three hours, airlines must provide them with bathrooms, air conditioning, food, and water. At least twice in recent memory, airlines have left passengers on runways without these things. JetBlue did it in early 2007 and Northwest did the same in 1999. Both airlines refunded nearly all of the air fare they had...

  • Inadequate Sun Exposure Threatens Health, Especially for Non-Whites

    December 25, 2007
    Most non-white Canadians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, putting them at risk of cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.  Lack of exposure to the sun is a big part of the problem.  As I noted earlier, 50,000 to 60,000 people of all races die every year in the United States every year as a result of inadequate exposure to the sun. Why do so many non-white Canadians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency? While milk is Vitamin D enriched, many non-whites are lactose intolerant, and few other foods than milk contain much of the vitamin.  Sunlight is the most potent source of Vitamin D.  But in northern regions like Canada, sunlight alone does not...
  • Class-Action Abuses Highlighted

    December 25, 2007
    In Saturday's Washington Post, I have a letter discussing class-action lawsuit abuses.  It discusses how class-action lawsuit "settlements intended to benefit consumers get paid instead to groups that lobby for affirmative action, hate-crimes laws, undocumented immigrants, and public funding for abortions."  When lawyers bring lawsuits in the name of consumers, the money they recover should go to consumers, not to promote their lawyers' ideologies.
  • $2.5 Billion Punitive Damage Award Under Supreme Court Review

    December 21, 2007
    Earlier, I wrote about Exxon's challenge to a $2.5 billion punitive damage award against it (in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case) that appeared to violate settled principles of maritime law. The Anchorage Daily News contains an update about the case, which is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Exxon's brief, which has just been filed, can be found here. The name of the court case is Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker.
  • What? Babies Dying Under Nationalized Health Care?

    December 21, 2007
    It turns out that Britain's National Health Service isn't very healthy for babies or other living things. Reports the Guardian:
    Scores of premature babies may be dying unnecessarily across England because the NHS mismanaged a reform of neonatal units in 2003, parliament's spending watchdog reveals today. Health ministers provided £73m over three years to link up hospital neonatal units in 23 regional networks that could provide specialist services to save premature and low birth weight babies. But the National Audit Office finds that the Department of Health did not issue instructions for the units to be adequately staffed. As a result the service was overstretched. Its specialist nursing workforce was nearly 10% below strength. There were not enough cots to respond to every emergency and...
  • Carney on Congress

    December 21, 2007
    Make sure to take a look today at Tim Carney's latest Friday column for the DC Examiner, this time on the travesty of an energy bill the President signed this week. Could it be that politicians and big business have once again teamed up to screw over the majority of Americans? Tim has the story:
    Congress' new energy bill garnered strong support from both parties and from all sorts of industries, which is a sure sign regular people are getting scammed. Among the victorious lobbyists on the Energy Independence and Security Act are Alcoa and the rest of the aluminum industry, who stand to profit from the heightened fuel efficiency standards in the bill. President Bush signed the energy bill Wednesday, after the final version had passed the House 314 to 100...
  • Spitzer Cites Hoax as Resource for Parents

    December 20, 2007
    Eliot Spitzer, 3rd worst state attorney general in 2006 according to a CEI report by Hans Bader, is showing just how incompetent he can be in his latest actions against the gaming industry.   Spitzer, now governor of New York, recently fully endorsed a presentation assembled by the New York Department of Justice that recommend parents visit several sites to learn more about violence in video games.  Among those sites, however, was a well-known hoax site created by a design student to mock just this kind of hype surrounding video games.  Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence is on its face farcical, an error that speaks volumes about the brainpower behind this presentation.

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  • The Europeans Choose Travel over the Environment!

    December 20, 2007
    Well, now. Europe has been lecturing the U.S. about the issue of global warming. But it appears that the EU isn't prepared to wreck its airline or travel industries to save the environment. Indeed, the environmental ministers may be handing the airlines a new profit opportunity. Reports the BBC:
    Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. But Europe's environment ministers look set to reject a plan for a strict cap on emissions from planes. Instead, airlines will be given a set number of permits to pollute. If they overshoot their limit they will be allowed to buy spare permits from firms who have managed to cut emissions elsewhere - manufacturing industry, for instance. The ministers are expected to say this is rational, as it does not matter where emissions cuts are made -...
  • The Cuddly Europeans Threaten Climate Penalties

    December 20, 2007
    The Europeans may harp on climate change, but the U.S. actually has done better at slowing emissions growth without ratifying the Kyoto protocol. No matter. First the Europeans wrote Kyoto to their benefit, choosing the date so they could claim credit for the closure of inefficient East German industries and Great Britain's shift to gas as a major energy source. Now Germany's Social Democrats want to penalize American exports if the U.S. does not comply with European climate dictates. Reports the International Herald Tribune:
    The Social Democrats are calling for sanctions on energy-intensive U.S. export products if the Bush administration continues to obstruct international agreements on climate protection, the party's leading environmental expert said Tuesday. The move, after the United...

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