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OpenMarket: March 2012

  • Alcohol Regulation Roundup: March 13, 2012

    March 13, 2012
    Apparently, "March Madness" has stricken our state legislators who are in high gear introducing and considering proposed alcohol laws. There's so much going on, in fact, that the below is just a sampling of some of the best, most interesting, or odd alcohol-related news stories for the February/March roundup. If you're interested, a more comprehensive study of alcohol taxes and/or laws can be found at the Brewers Association and The American Beverage Institute websites, among other places. Alabama: On Tuesday, February 21, SB 294 was narrowly passed by the Alabama Senate with a vote of 14 to 13. It has been coined the "Gourmet...
  • IRS Sued for Unfair Labor Practices

    March 13, 2012
    A new IRS proposal to require licensing all tax preparers would put a lot of people out of work. So the Institute for Justice is suing.
  • Student Loans: America's Next Debt Bomb

    March 13, 2012
    I understated things earlier when I wrote that the student loan bubble "may" explode in taxpayers' faces, as law professor Glenn Reynolds pointed out. An explosion seems increasingly likely. The Washington Post recently concluded that student loans could be America's next "debt bomb”: "Bankruptcy lawyers have a frightening message for America: They’re seeing the telltale signs of a student loan debt bubble," notes the Post...
  • School Choice Can Temper Climate Curriculum Dogma

    March 13, 2012
    John Stuart Mill once wrote, “There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation.” Sticking to the latter, American public schools are not heeding his wise words. Next month, the consortium of groups that set national science curriculum standards will release new instruction on teaching climate change, according to The Wall Street Journal. It won’t be balanced. And parents won’t have much choice. While both parents and teachers alike have voiced their preference to have both sides of the climate change debate taught in schools, institutions like the National Research Council (NRC) -- that are...
  • Today's Links: March 13, 2012

    March 13, 2012
    OPINION CATHY YOUNG: "A Pox on Both Houses in the Contraception Controversy" "Sometimes, I catch a lot of flak for taking a 'pox on both your houses' stance in political conflicts. But given the way so many political conflicts unfold, what else is one to do? Take the firestorm over Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke's congressional testimony about health insurance coverage for contraception and talk show king Rush Limbaugh's rants calling her a slut. There are good reasons to question Fluke's image as a courageous Everywoman—just as there are good arguments against the contraceptive coverage mandate, particularly for faith-based institutions (such as Georgetown, a Jesuit university). But now, we're all discussing Limbaugh's...
  • Human Achievement of the Day: Earthquake Airbag for Homes

    March 13, 2012
    If fears of The Big One have kept you from moving to seismically overactive areas like California and Japan, today’s human achievement might provide a way for you to live on top of a fault line in relative safety. Japanese inventor Shoichi Sakamoto has created a system that automatically raises and isolates entire homes when it detects an earthquake. According to Air Danshin, the company with which...
  • If PBGC Cannot Go On Taking Over Pensions, It Will Stop

    March 12, 2012
    Herbert Stein's law -- "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop" -- is being proven right once again. This time, what cannot go on is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) taking on responsibility for more bankrupt companies' defined benefit pension funds. Ford Motor Co. has announced that it will offer lump-sum pension buyouts to salaried employees beginning in July. This comes on the heels of American Airlines' announcement last week that it would freeze pensions for flight attendants and ground workers, rather than turn them over to the PBGC -- a move the...
  • Today's Links: March 12, 2012

    March 12, 2012
    OPINION LAWRENCE HUNTER: "Justice Antonin Scalia: Man on the Obamacare Margin" "Hayek explained why conservatives are so lame at protecting individual rights: Despite conservative rhetoric extolling 'limited government' and 'freedom,' the animating forces behind conservative ideology are authority, control and coercion, not liberty. [...] This pretty much sums up the predicament America finds itself in when it relies on conservatives to limit grasping and overweening government to protect individual rights and prevent the state from tyrannizing the people. Specifically, it reveals the difficulty conservative justices such as Antonin Scalia will have bringing themselves to overturn ObamaCare." MATTHEW...
  • Summer Plans? Apply for IHS Summer Seminars on Liberty

    March 12, 2012
    Students looking for summer plans should consider applying to the Institute for Humane Studies summer seminar series on liberty. Explore ideas that helped end slavery, introduced religious freedom, and inspired the women’s suffrage movement. More than 10 weeklong seminars apply classical liberal ideas, such as individual rights and free markets, to topics in history, economics, journalism, policy, and more. From breakfast until the evening reception, it's a unique opportunity to debate and discuss the ideas of liberty with enthusiastic professors and peers from around the world. IHS  covers meals and program costs; participants only pay for travel. Undergraduates, graduate students, and recent graduates are eligible to apply. Just three weeks left to apply, though, so hurry! Learn more: www.TheIHS.org/CEI
  • Human Achievement of the Day: "Cheetah" Breaks Legged-Robot Speed Record

    March 12, 2012
    Boston Dynamics, a defense technology research company, has created a cheetah-lookalike robot which recently broke a long standing record for fastest running speed achieved by a robot. Inspired by its feline namesake, the Cheetah robot has four legs and a flexible spine, plus the ability to flex its back as it moves, like a real cat. As for its speed: the previous record dated back to 1989, when an MIT robot reached 13.1 mph. The Cheetah clocks in at a respectable 18 mph, setting the new world record. The project was funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which funds research and technology development to aid the U.S. military. This is not the company’s...

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