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OpenMarket: February 2008

  • Disappointing ESA Developments

    February 29, 2008
    The new testimony and announcements by DOI/USFWS regarding coming Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings and changes are most interesting. First, DOI announced a major change in its barely two-year old critical habitat designation for the Canada Lynx. Critical habitat had been restricted to 2,000 square miles. Now it has been vastly increased to 43,000 square miles. Recreation industry and timber industry had lobbied hard and testified on lack of need for such a vast critical habitat designation -- and thought that common sense had won out. These groups feared that the possible occurrence of the lynx might shut down the Northern Rockies Ecosystem. But the DOI critical habitat change underscores how ephemeral any kind of deal with the Feds is. Regardless of what they promise or sign, as soon as there is Green...
  • Another Reason to Drink Bottled Water

    February 29, 2008
    In recent months, environmentalists have been saying that bottled water is wasteful and no healthier than tap. They are helping advance bottled water taxes, bans on bottled water in government offices and at public events, along with a host of other silly anti-bottled water policies. Their advice for those of us who want water on the go: use refillable containers. What they don't advertise is the fact that those bottles can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria—which doesn't sound like a healthier alternative to me! Check this story out. It notes that one toxicologist recommends not only washing bottles regularly (remember washing with soap has environmental impacts too!), but swapping them out "as much as possible" to avoid bacterial build up. Sounds like yet another good reason to simply stick with fresh, convenient,...
  • Election rhetoric: "My opponents are witches, prostitutes and charlatans"

    February 29, 2008
    Candidates running for POTUS shouldn't whine about being attacked by their opponents. Things look pretty mild in the good ole USA, especially compared with campaign rhetoric in Zimbabwe. BBC News reports that Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe has launched his reelection campaign by calling his opponents “witches, prostitutes and charlatans,” as well as “traitors and two-headed creatures.” Here's his full quote:
    Let the people's voice thunder across the whole country on 29 March, rejecting and damning once and for all the bootlicking British stooges, the traitors and sell-outs, the political witches and political prostitutes, political charlatans and the two-headed political creatures...
  • Virginia Courts Strike Down Taxation Without Representation

    February 29, 2008
    The Virginia Supreme Court today struck down a state law giving unelected bodies the power to levy taxes in Marshall v. Northern Virginia Regional Transportation Authority. It blocked regional transit authorities from levying taxes to pay for regional transportation projects. (Some of the money is being wasted on pork-barrel projects). I earlier criticized the biggest tax imposed by the transit authorities, the regional grantor's tax, in the...
  • Child-Snatching, Sexual Harassment, and Punitive Damages

    February 29, 2008
    I have more posts on child-snatching by government agencies, strange sexual harassment rulings, and punitive damages for oil spills, at Point of Law Forum, where I am guest blogging.
  • Strassel on the Dems' "trade tirade"

    February 29, 2008
    In the Wall Street Journal today (subscription needed), Kimberley A. Strassel's column hits the Democrats' current protectionist stance on trade and points to the party's rebuilding of the world trade system in the 1930s and understanding of the benefits of free trade. But, Strassel notes,
    That common sense hasn't matched the temptation to win points with Big Labor or to ride a populist anti-trade wave. Threats to hold trade deals hostage to labor and environmental rules; vows to review existing deals; the bashing of Mexican truck drivers; the mauling of the Chinese currency; complaints about trade enforcement — all of these are today standard Democratic (and increasingly Republican) talking points. The Clinton-Obama threats are a logical conclusion of this, not some surprising beginning.
    Today, she says, “the stakes are arguably higher,” and quotes...
  • Ethanol Subsidies Increase Illegal Immigration? Yes

    February 28, 2008
    Public policy is rife with unintended consequences. The newest is that soaring food prices caused by ethanol subsidies in the U.S. are causing food prices to skyrocket in Mexico. While this is old information, what's news is how this is contributing to civil disorder and other acts of violence in Mexico. Brigadier General Greg Zanetti believes that ethanol subsidies combined with a slowing American economy and continued drug violence on the border could contribute to a massive flow of refugees, not migrants, across the border. Chalk this up to another unintended consequence of bad public policy. A subsidy which is intended to “get us off of our foreign oil addition” (Their words, not mine) and help our national security could cause a flood of refugees across the American border. Perhaps it's...
  • Puff the Magic Dragon

    February 28, 2008
    More proof that wind power is no panacea for the nation's looming electricity crisis. The wind dropped in Texas, and caused blackouts:
    ERCOT said the grid's frequency dropped suddenly when wind production fell from more than 1,700 megawatts, before the event, to 300 MW when the emergency was declared. In addition, ERCOT said multiple power suppliers fell below the amount of power they were scheduled to produce on Tuesday. That, coupled with the loss of wind generated in West Texas, created problems moving power to the west from North Texas. ERCOT declares a stage 1 emergency when power reserves fall below 2,300 MW. A stage 2 emergency is called when reserves fall below 1,750 MW. At the time of the emergency, ERCOT demand...
  • Thank God D-Day Went Better Than E-Day

    February 28, 2008
    It's E-Day in the UK, a national 'awareness' day backed by major environmental groups and religious organizations, and the BBC, aimed at getting Brits to reduce their electricity use. The motto is "the small things in life can make a big difference." With two hours left to go, electricity use is slightly higher than normal. Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers' Alliance is live-blogging the event.
  • Ridiculous Lack of Personal Responsibility

    February 28, 2008
    These days it seems that you can slap the word “addiction” after any activity and escape personal responsibility for poor decision making. Moreover, in some places calling yourself an addict not only earns a free pass from consequences but it also gives you the right to sue other people for not protecting you from yourself. Take for example, Graham Calvert, a greyhound trainer in England is suing his bookmaker for failing to prevent him from losing over 2 million pounds in bad bets.
    [Calvert's] counsel, Anneliese Day, said William Hill had been guilty of "negligent encouragement and inducement" by not acting to curb Calvert's gambling even though he had indicated he wanted them to on at least two occasions. Far from doing that, William Hill had sought to encourage Calvert to go on huge betting sprees...

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