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OpenMarket: March 2012

  • Today's Links: March 6, 2012

    March 6, 2012
    OPINION JOHN VILLASENOR: "Can the Government Force Suspects to Decrypt Incriminating Files?" "What happens when the government’s desire to access a suspect’s encrypted electronic documents runs up against the Fifth Amendment? As with so many of today’s technology-related constitutional questions, the answers are complex, evolving, and sometimes contradictory. However, across the relatively small set of court rulings that have directly addressed this issue, a few key things stand out." SUSAN CRABTREE: "Coal Heats Up as Campaign Issue for Obama" "As gasoline prices continue to rise...
  • Corporate Welfare for Farmers

    March 6, 2012
    In a recent blog post, I describe the Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) Beef Promotion and Research "checkoff" program as corporate welfare. The agency’s Public Affairs Director disagrees. In an email, he asked me to issue a correction. I would, but the facts won’t allow it. Still, some clarification would be helpful. He claims that “Zero appropriations are used” in AMS’s research and promotion activities. Note the use of the word “appropriations” instead of “taxes.” This is a sneaky use of language. It doesn’t matter if Congress appropriates AMS money or not. The relevant question is whether AMS uses tax dollars to advertise for private businesses. It does. Under federal law, farmers producing certain foods (beef, pork, milk, honey, various crops, etc.) are assessed fees. The AMS uses...
  • Human Achievement of the Day: A Cure for Every Virus

    March 6, 2012
    A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory has created a treatment for viral infections that could effectively treat all viruses and prevent a doomsday pandemic scenario a la Contagion. The drug form, known as DRACO (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers), when introduced in the human body identifies cells that have a protein only produced in animal bodies when a virus is replicating and spreading. While the virus would normally appropriate cells in order to replicate itself, the DRACOs attach to those proteins and instruct the cells to commit “suicide,” preventing the spread of the virus. The drug leaves healthy cells alone and appears to be nontoxic to animals....
  • European Union Pushes Discriminatory Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards

    March 5, 2012
    The European Union (EU) could not keep member states like Greece from cheating on EU budget rules, resulting in Greece's fiscal collapse and the current European financial crisis. But now, the EU government, which cannot manage itself effectively, wants to micromanage private companies in the EU by dictating that they use gender quotas on their corporate boards -- a discriminatory, economically-destructive demand that would be illegal if imposed on U.S. companies. As Bloomberg News recently noted, Greece was able to enter the Euro Zone "after claiming its deficit was less than 1 percent of gross domestic product, well within the bloc’s 3-percent threshold. European Commission reports have since revealed Greece’s budget hasn’t been within the 3-percent limit a...
  • Today's Links: March 5, 2012

    March 5, 2012
    OPINION ERIN GLORIA RYAN: "Unbelievably Stupid Law Would Declare Single Parenthood Child Abuse" "Senate Bill 507 is sponsored by Republican Senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend. If passed into law, SB507 would formally consider single parenthood a contributing factor to child abuse." AMY CHUA: "Four Female Tycoons in China" "China now has more self-made female billionaires than any other country in the world. This is not only because China has more...
  • Pension Funds are For-Profit

    March 5, 2012
    Openmarket.org California’s Constitution clearly states the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s (CalPERS) singular motive is to make profits. I point this out in “Mixing Pensions with Politics” in The Orange County Register: “California’s constitution entrusts the pension board members with “sole and exclusive fiduciary responsibility over the assets of the public pension,” and stipulates, “Assets shall be held for the exclusive purposes of providing benefits to participants in the pension.” However, CalPERS board members are not content to merely try to maximize profits. Instead, CalPERS board orders account managers to deviate from the profit system in favor of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) principles. Below is how CalPERS...
  • Human Achievement of the Day: Robot Learns to Sculpt

    March 5, 2012
    If you thought all robots were good for is mass producing Coke and zippers, think again. The KUKA robot, an industrial German robot arm typically used for manufacturing, has broadened its horizons to sculpting. Wax sculpting, to be specific. Product designer Hermann Weizenegger, Studio NAND, and MADE in Berlin developed this interesting project, called Valse Automatique, as a way to integrate multiple disciplines in an innovative way. The best part is, the KUKA robot designs his (her?) sculptures to the sound of classical music. How it works: violinist Mihalj "Miki" Kekenj plays an original waltz while the KUKA robot listens, analyzes the sound, and creates a sculpture out of a blank shape of wax. Each creation is unique and brings out the machine’s interpretation of that music’s “...
  • Pension Funds are For-Profit

    March 5, 2012
    California’s Constitution clearly states the California Public Employees' Retirement System's (CalPERS) singular motive is to make profits. I point this out in “Mixing Pensions with Politics” in The Orange County Register: “California's constitution entrusts the pension board members with "sole and exclusive fiduciary responsibility over the assets of the public pension," and stipulates, "Assets shall be held for the exclusive purposes of providing benefits to participants in the pension." However, CalPERS board members are not content to merely try to maximize profits. Instead, CalPERS board orders account managers to deviate from the profit system in favor of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) principles. Below is how CalPERS circumvents their fiduciary duties to...
  • Trey Kovacs: Mixing pensions with politics

    March 5, 2012
    Labor Policy Analyst Trey Kovacs Featured in The Orange County Register Who here is better to run a business? In 2011, Apple recorded a net profit of $6.62 billion and its highest September earnings ever. The California Public Employees' Retirement System ended 2011 with some sources estimating unfunded pension liabilities up to $240 billion and paltry 1.1 percent earnings on investments. Yet, CalPERS is using their 2.8 million Apple shares to influence Apple to reform its board election rules. For two decades, overseers of California's state employee pension funds have placed ideological agendas ahead of investment returns. This has cost...
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    March 5, 2012
    Just another week in the world of regulation:

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