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OpenMarket: December 2010

  • U.S. Blows Hard at Chinese Wind Power Subsidies

    December 23, 2010
    Well, the U.S. has taken it one step further -- it has gone to the World Trade Organization for "consultations" about China's green energy subsidies, specifically for wind power manufacturing. As a result of investigations triggered by a United Steelworkers' complaint, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced on December 22, 2010, that the U.S. is requesting consultations with China under the WTO's dispute settlement provisions. The U.S. says that under China's Special Fund for Wind Power Manufacturing program,
    . . . China appears to provide subsidies that are prohibited under WTO rules because the grants awarded under the program seem to be contingent on Chinese...
  • Environmental Working Group Should Win Annual Junk-Science Award

    December 23, 2010
    If there ever was a year-end, junk-science award, it should go to the Environmental Working Group -- every year.  Perhaps more than any group, they regularly issue junk-science “studies” alleging myriad ills caused by man-made chemicals. Most recently, they issued a report on hexavalent chromium (aka., chromium-6), noting: “The National Toxicology Program has found that hexavalent chromium in drinking water shows clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in laboratory animals, increasing the risk of otherwise rare gastrointestinal tumors (NTP 2007, 2008).” The same is basically true for broccoli. Lots of substances -- including many healthy fruits and vegetables--give rodents cancer when they are...
  • Ethanol and NASCAR

    December 23, 2010
    The ethanol industry earlier this year teamed up with NASCAR in order to better promote expensive, highly subsidized, not so environmentally friendly homegrown, "renewable" ethanol, including the usage of E15 by NASCAR competitors. What could be more American than combining America's love for driving cars really, really fast with the idealistic notion of the heroic family farmers growing our own fuel here in America? (Nothing) The framing of ethanol in the announcement is generous: "NASCAR Gives Ethanol Green Flag." Given the announcements you might expect that the industry is actually running on ethanol entirely, rather than a blend of 85 percent...
  • The Streetcar Delusion: Minneapolis Receives Funding to Bolster Wasteful Rail Transit

    December 23, 2010
    Delusional Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood continues to flush taxpayer dollars down the toilet on increasingly idiotic rail programs. The latest example of LaHood's anti-mobility pathology is the Department of Transportation funding two studies designed, as they always are, to bolster support for rail transit in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. The first study will look at a proposed streetcar corridor that would run along downtown Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall, a dying commercial corridor that a string of mayors has attempted and failed to revitalize. Of course, this pattern hasn't deterred current-Mayor R.T. Rybak, who probably wants a transit station named after him. The...
  • Morning Media Summary

    December 23, 2010
    Tech: Skype Outage hits users worldwide: “Millions of Skype Internet phone users worldwide couldn't make calls — or were dropped in mid-conversation — because of a network connection failure that began about 9 a.m. Wednesday PST.” DDoS attacks threaten free speech, says report: “Computer attacks launched against sites run by human rights and dissident media groups threaten to knock free speech off the Web, a new report warned this week.” Internet access is not a “civil right”: “When bureaucrats talk about increasing your “access” to X, Y, or Z, what they’re really talking about is increasing...
  • NPR Covers Corn Ethanol Boondoggle

    December 22, 2010
    NPR's "Morning Edition" has finally caught on to the ethanol boondoggle. It's doing a three-part series on ethanol that started yesterday. And it gets into some of the real issues, especially relating to corn ethanol. CEI has been pointing out that the ethanol program involves a mandate setting the amount of ethanol that must be blended with gasoline, a tax credit that goes to blenders of ethanol, and a steep tariff on imported ethanol. (See CEI video, "The Insanity of Ethanol Policy.") NPR got this issue right:
    The question is: Does it deserve a multibillion-dollar tax credit, on top of a tariff, on top of a huge and growing mandate to use it?
    ...
  • FCC Net Neutrality: Some Networks are More Neutral than Others

    December 22, 2010
    Today’s decision [by FCC bureaucrats] will help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet [as defined by the government] while encouraging innovation [as directed by the government], protecting consumer choice [as circumscribed by the government], and defending free speech [as approved by the government].
  • The Colombia FTA Deserves a Speedy Vote

    December 22, 2010
    President Obama needs to look beyond pushing only the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement to standing behind ratification of the other pending trade agreements with Panama and Colombia, says Cato's Dan Griswold in a Washington Times article today. Griswold points out that while the FTA with Korea is economically of far greater consequence than the Colombia FTA, that agreement would help cement our relationship with an important ally that is a strong pro-democracy counterpart to dictators like Hugo Chavez.  In economic terms, the trade pact would completely eliminate most tariffs on U.S. goods and services -- providing companies like Caterpillar Inc....
  • The Obama Administration's Misguided War on For-Profit Colleges

    December 22, 2010
    In Forbes, economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University documents the blunders behind the Obama administration's war on for-profit colleges that wiped out $8 billion in value for shareholders.  Earlier, former Congressman Bob Barr wrote about the topic. Forbes also has articles on how America is saturated with unnecessary college graduates, and how government-subsidized higher education is increasingly becoming a bad bargain for state taxpayers. As Vedder notes, the government is foolishly attacking for-profit colleges...
  • Will Net Neutrality Save the Internet?

    December 22, 2010
    Reason.TV created an excellent video explaining Net Neutrality and arguing against it. I've heard too many people irrationally claim that big corporations are going to "limit access" on the Internet, and something must be done. Of course the best way to stop that irrational fear is to allow the huge federal bureaucratic mess known as the FCC stick its wrench in the gears that make the Internet thrive. What could go wrong?

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