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OpenMarket: December 2010

  • Confusion about "Conflict of Interest"

    December 22, 2010
    The Washington Post's "Senate Panel Ban Seen as Double Standard" deals with the latest attempt to eliminate so-called "conflicts of interest" between appointees to government defense-related positions. Appointees must divest themselves -- often at great cost -- of all investments in any firm that does business with the military. The article notes this same prohibition has not been extended to federal legislators serving on military committees. A more relevant point is that this policy discourages individuals knowledgeable about military procurement (that is, those involved in the process) from serving in government. This point was raised recently in a C-SPAN interview with Lord John Wakeham, a distinguished...
  • Compare and Contrast Biofuel Predictions

    December 22, 2010
    From the Ethanol Producer Magazine:
    For years, cellulosic ethanol has been five years away from commercial viability. With several companies making significant progress in 2010 towards groundbreaking and five expected to be in production, will 2011 be the year that cellulosic ethanol finally makes its commercial debut? ... The U.S. EPA, which still projects volumes well below the initial targets, on Nov. 29, announced the final volume requirements for the 2011 renewable fuel standard, with the cellulosic biofuel volume set at only 6.6 million gallons. The EPA named DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC, Fiberight LLC, KL Energy Corp., Range Fuels Inc. and KiOR, a cellulosic diesel fuel producer, as the companies it expects to produce cellulosic biofuels in 2011.
    ...
  • Morning Media Summary

    December 22, 2010
    Tech: E-Mail Gets an Instant Makeover: “Signs you’re an old fogey: You still watch movies on a VCR, listen to vinyl records and shoot photos on film. And you enjoy using e-mail.” Avatar is ‘most pirated film of 2010’: “James Cameron's blockbuster was downloaded 16.6m times on one file-sharing site alone, TorrentFreak said.” Global Warming / Environment / Energy: Ding-Ding-Ding! Electric Cars Likely To Be Made Noisier By Law: “In one particularly hilarious scene in the TV show Weeds, Mary-Louise Parker’s soccer mom/drug dealer character...
  • Alcohol Regulatory Roundup: December 21st

    December 21, 2010
    Maryland: Lawmakers will likely pass a measure next year allowing direct shipping of wine to Maryland residents. Vineyards, especially smaller wine makers, claim that direct shipping increases demand and their ability to compete with larger producers. Wholesalers, as usual, oppose the measure as it circumvents their long-held grip on the distribution of alcohol in Maryland. New Jersey:  An appeals court in New Jersey determined that while the ban on direct shipping of wine to state residents is constitutional, other parts of New Jersey's alcohol beverage control laws are in violation of the dormant commerce...
  • Afternoon Links: December 21, 2010

    December 21, 2010
    1. "The Top Ten Booze-Fueled Holiday Songs." 2. Want to buy a credit card that turns into a knife? 3. Radley Balko has a back-and-forth with Balloon Juice's John Cole on Reason, DADT, and "the Balloon Juice fallacy." 4. A 44-year-old woman with brain damage has an inability to experience fear. So scientists decided to take her to a haunted house and show her The...
  • Obamacare Makes State Budget Problems Worse

    December 21, 2010
    Obamacare is making state budget problems much worse, as governors now lament. Earlier, CEI filed an amicus brief in Florida v. HHS on behalf of two governors explaining how the radical changes to state Medicaid programs resulting from Obamacare violated limits on congressional power under the Constitution's spending clause. Some of the fiscal burdens Obamacare imposes on states are obviously huge, while many others are ambiguous, unpredictable, and contingent on bureaucratic caprice, and uncertain future events. Governors like Phil...
  • CEI Podcast -- December 21, 2010: What's Next for Immigration Reform?

    December 21, 2010
    CEI Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh goes over the good and the bad of the DREAM Act, which recently stalled in the Senate, and offers his own ideas for the next attempt at immigration reform.
  • Morning Media Summary

    December 21, 2010
    Tech: FCC to Vote on Internet Regulation Plan Despite Economic Warnings: “Lawmakers are on high alert as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to vote on a plan to regulate the Internet despite warnings that it could choke industry investment and hurt the economy as a whole.” What happens after we have ‘net neutrality?’: “Here’s what will most likely happen today: In the morning, the five members of the Federal Communications Commission will gather in a big room. The two Republican commissioners will read aloud passionate statements opposing the Democrats’ obsession with fixing a thing that is not broken. The three Democratic commissioners will read...
  • New York Energy Drink Ban Hearing at 2:30 on Tuesday

    December 20, 2010
    As I wrote earlier this month, lawmakers in New York's Suffolk County want to ban energy drinks for teens under the age of 19 years old. Perhaps as a result of the Four Loko hysteria of previous months, some lawmakers believe (without any reliable scientific evidence) that the contents of energy drinks are unsafe for teens and want to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors. The proposed bill, which will be discussed at the public Suffolk County hearing, is defined as:
    "a soft drink that is classified as a dietary supplement not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and that contains 80 or more milligrams of caffeine per 8 fluid ounces...
  • Alcohol Regulatory Roundup: December 20, 2010

    December 20, 2010
    While most lawmakers have checked out for the holiday vacation already (mentally and/or physically), there are still some movers and shakers out there getting frothed up about alcohol issues. Here are few stories and updates on booze regulations and regulators around the nation: District of Columbia: Charles Brodsky, the Chairman of the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, is in hot water over a possible conflict of interest between his for-profit business (promoting sporting events) and his duties as Chairman of ABRA.
    "It's an abuse of power," said Don Dinan, general counsel to the D.C. Democratic State Committee.  "It creates a direct conflict of interest if a person in an extremely powerful position over the fate of the neighborhood represented by an...

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