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OpenMarket: June 2011

  • Why Cross-Examination Rights Matter in Campus Sexual Harassment Cases under Title IX

    June 7, 2011
    As part of its broader attack on safeguards against false accusations, the federal Education Department is urging colleges to strip students and faculty of the right to cross-examine their accusers in disciplinary proceedings over alleged sexual harassment. In an April 4 letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali, the Education Department said that it "strongly discourages schools from allowing the parties personally to question or cross-examine each other during the hearing." This is perverse, since the subjective nature of the legal definition of harassment means that there is no category of cases in which cross-examination is more useful or...
  • Failures of Auto Bailouts Hidden by Deceptive Accounting and Bogus Jobs Figures

    June 7, 2011
    Mounting evidence shows that the auto bailouts weren't worth it. They have been far more costly, and less successful, than claimed, as even liberal commentators now have admitted. The Washington Post fact-checker criticizes President Obama’s phony accounting on the auto industry bailout: "What we found is one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech. Virtually every claim by the president regarding the auto industry needs an asterisk, just like the fine print in that...
  • Morning Media Summary

    June 7, 2011
    Tech: Russian President Proposes Creative Commons-Style Rules Baked Directly Into Copyright: “Well, this is getting interesting. Last week, we noted that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, alone among the other G8 leaders, questioned today's copyright laws, suggesting that they did not fit with the times, and pointed out that these century-old laws don't seem to fit with today's internet. Glyn Moody now points us to the news that Medvedev appears to be going even further than just condemning today's copyright laws. He's now looking to adjust Russia's copyright laws in the other direction:” Global Warming / Environment / Energy:...
  • BitCoins: Four Objections

    June 6, 2011
    In response to my recent blog post about BitCoins, several commenters offered responses to my objections. Today I will address these considerations as well as others I came across during my research. Objection: My refutation was circular or my refutation was just an assertion that BitCoins are worthless. This isn't the case. I suspect many people interested in BitCoins may have some training in computer science, so I'll use an analogy from that field to briefly restate my argument. If you aren't familiar with computer science, feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph. The value of a currency can be thought of as the result of a recursive algorithm, where the value on day n depends on the value on day n-1, with some...
  • Liberal Economist Peter Diamond Withdraws from Contention for Federal Reserve

    June 6, 2011
    MIT's Peter Diamond has withdrawn his nomination to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. I earlier explained how Diamond's nomination by President Obama benefited from an ideological double-standard, and how his presence on the Board would have violated the regional-balance requirements of Section 10-1 of the Federal Reserve Act. Diamond's supporters note that he is a really smart guy, which is legally irrelevant, and also ignores the fact that Diamond "...
  • Wisconsin Proposal Hurts Craft Beer, Protects Big Brewers

    June 6, 2011
    In the battle between international brewing giants SABMiller and ABInBev, Wisconsin craft brewers could bear the heaviest burden. On May 31, the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee approved a measure to be added to the state’s budget proposal which would prevent brewers from owning distributorships and retail licenses in Wisconsin. This means that if you’re a brewer, you can’t also sell alcoholic beverages to customers or retail shops. The biggest backer of the bill is SABMiller, or as it is known in the US, MillerCoors. They have been pushing the measure, they say, in order to protect the vitality of Wisconsin beer in the face of a hostile invasion from their main national competitor, AB InBev, aka Anheuser-Busch. InBev has reportedly begun a...
  • Regulation of the Day 179: Giving Food to Homeless People

    June 6, 2011
    Last Wednesday, three people were arrested in Orlando for giving food to homeless people.
  • E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Organic Farming ... Again

    June 6, 2011
    Although it's not 100 percent certain at this time, German health officials are becoming increasingly certain that the recent E. coli outbreak there can be traced to an organic farm. According to this article from The Scotsman:
    German-grown bean sprouts are the likely source of the deadliest E coli outbreak in modern history, according to agricultural officials.The outbreak, which has killed 22 people and made more than 2,000 ill across Europe, is thought to have originated at an organic farm in northern Germany. Lower Saxony's agriculture minister, Gert Lindemann, said tests had shown the bean sprouts were the probable cause.
  • Even Liberal Washington Post Casts Doubt on Auto Bailouts

    June 3, 2011
    "Only 16 percent of executives in the auto industry" support the Chrysler bailout, according to the Washington Post’s editorial today. I think the bailout was a bad idea, for the reasons I list in my own commentary at this link, where I also chronicle how the Obama administration has deceived the public about the cost and consequences of the bailouts, and...
  • BitCoins: All Buzz, No Substance

    June 3, 2011
    Recently there has been a bit of buzz surrounding an electronic currency called BitCoin. I was intrigued because BitCoin is based on a combination of technologies -- peer-to-peer networking and public-key cryptography -- which yield a highly resilient, secure, private infrastructure for exchanges. Despite these advantages, there are several fatal flaws with BitCoins that will make them a very poor currency. To explain why, we need to understand something about how something becomes a money. Imagine three of us are stranded on an island. Each of us specializes in producing a different good. I catch shrimp, you harvest coconuts, and the third resident of the island (let's call him George) weaves baskets. Now, I would very much like to trade my shrimp for George's baskets, but there's a problem: George is allergic to shrimp. Am I cursed to forever remain basketless? No. I know that...

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