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OpenMarket: March 2013

  • How the Government Could Save Move-And Protect Workers

    March 30, 2013 10:44 PM

    By Trey Kovacs and Alex Habighorst, Townhall.comROCUNITEDlogo-2db2df-150px

    In this era of sequestration, why is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) awarding millions in grants to an organization under Congressional investigation?

    The group in question is the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), a union-backed "nonprofit" organization that bills itself as providing a path towards upward mobility and a better life for restaurant workers. Yet it is under investigation over charges of alleged multiple health violations, and is notorious for exploiting vulnerable members of society and intimidating restaurant owners.

    Initially ROC's purpose was to help the displaced restaurant workers from the World Trade Center. However, since then, it has transformed into a highly political and aggressive front group for UNITE-HERE set on "organizing the more than 160,000 restaurant workers" in New York City.

    http://townhall.com/columnists/treykovacs/2013/03/30

  • CEI Podcast For March 28, 2013: The TSA's Illegal Body Scanners

    March 28, 2013 2:32 PM

    Despite a court order, the TSA is still dragging its feet on complying with the law. Fellow in Land-use and Transportation Studies Marc Scribner has the latest developments in the case.

  • Texas appellate victory for CCAF

    March 28, 2013 12:58 PM

    We won the case of Kazman v. Frontier Oil, knocking out 100% of the attorneys' fees in a $0 shareholder derivative suit that made shareholders worse off because it was brought solely for the benefit of the attorneys. Details at Point of Law.

  • White House Immigration Bill Will Be A Disaster Without Accessible Work Visas

    March 27, 2013 3:08 PM

    Obama RacinePresident Obama’s recently leaked immigration bill left off the most important component of an immigration bill: the immigration part. Given the fact that the Chamber of Commerce and the big unions -- the AFL-CIO and the SEIU -- were still locked in vain negotiations over a potential guest work program, the president clearly did not want to leak a version that would step on the toes of his two biggest backers. Unfortunately, without a robust work visa system, the White House bill will be a disaster.

    The bill contains 95 pages on “worksite enforcement,” that is, conscripting employers to police their workforce for unauthorized immigrants. Under the scheme proposed by President Obama, within four years, all employers with five or more employees would have to enroll into E-Verify, an internet based, national identification system. This provision would require employers would force employers to check employee Form I-9 information against an internet database that contains every American worker. Employers who fail to do so can face 10 year prison sentences and large civil fines.

    Here’s the catch: employers would still have to hire, train, and pay employees who are found not to be in the database for the three weeks after the employer notifies them of the mismatch. During this period of time they have the right to contest the “further action notice” to update any missing information at Social Security Administration offices. At current error rates of a third of a percent, 171,000 authorized workers would receive “further action notices,” costing them $250 per error in lost wages and other expenses -- almost a half a billion dollars to resolve over the next decade.

  • Education Department Joins EPA In Touting Communist Killers

    March 27, 2013 1:44 PM

    The Department of Education featured a quote from mass-murdering dictator Mao Zedong on its website. Mao, the longtime Communist dictator of China, killed up to 60 million people through executions, torture, and the government-created famines of the abortive "Great Leap Forward."

    As law professor Jonathan Turley notes,

    In one of the truly moronic acts from a government official, the Department of Education posted a mangled quote of Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong on its website as the saying of the day for children. It is clear that whoever approved it had no idea who Mao was or the atrocities that he committed, particularly during the Cultural Revolution when intellectuals were massacred. . . The quote appeared on the “Kids’ Zone” website of the National Center for Education Statistics. The quote stated “Our attitude towards ourselves should be ‘to be satiable [sic] in learning’ and towards others ‘to be tireless in teaching.’” That was the webpage’s “Quote of the Day” section. . . It is highly unnerving that a DOE employee clearly had no idea who Mao was. I consider the quote to be akin to a Hitler quote on the need for living space to achieve true happiness. Mao destroyed the intellectual and academic community in China in the cultural revolution and spoke of reeducation to mouth the Communist dogma of the time. It is not reeducation that is needed at the Education Department but simple education on history.

  • More on Citigroup Securities

    March 26, 2013 2:19 PM

    I discuss continuing developments in the Citigroup Securities fee objection at Point of Law. Our objections (December, March) have attracted a lot of press coverage.

  • The Red Tape Challenge

    March 25, 2013 10:53 AM

    Over at the Daily Caller, Christian Rice and I take a look at a successful regulatory reform model in the UK: the Red Tape Challenge:

  • When The Nanny State Kills

    March 25, 2013 10:52 AM

    The government told people to switch from saturated animal fats to unsaturated vegetable fats. But that advice may have killed a lot of people. As David Oliver notes, a recent study "in the British Medical Journal" shows that "those who heeded the advice" from public-health officials "to switch from saturated fats to polyunsaturated vegetable oils dramatically reduced their odds of living to see 2013," incurring up to a "60% increase in risk of death by switching from animal fats to vegetable oils." This possibly deadly medical advice has a long history:

    Fifty years ago the medical community did an about-face . . . and instead went all in on polyunsaturated fats. It reasoned that since (a) cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease and (b) polyunsaturated fats reduce serum cholesterol levels, it inescapably followed that (c) changing people's diet from saturated fats to polyunsaturated fats would save a lot of lives. In 1984 Uncle Sam got involved - Time magazine reported on it in "Hold the Eggs and Butter" - and he made a big push for citizens to swap out animal fat in their diet for the vegetable variety and a great experiment on the American people was begun.

    As Oliver, an expert on mass torts, points out, it is hard to "think of any mass tort, or combination of mass torts, that has produced as much harm as the advice to change to a plant oil-based diet" may have done.

  • The Cancer Clusters That Weren't

    March 25, 2013 10:50 AM

    e_brockovichA recent post in ACSH Dispatch examines an interesting question: How likely is it that some U.S. communities have elevated cancer rates, a.k.a, "cancer clusters," because of chemical pollution? The answer: not very.

    ACSH points to an enlightening article published in Slate by George Johnson, who notes:

    Time after time, the clusters have turned out to be statistical illusions—artifacts of chance. … The Erin Brockovich incident, one of the most famous, is among the many that have been debunked. Hexavalent chromium in the water supply of a small California town was blamed for causing cancer, resulting in a $333 million legal settlement and a movie starring Julia Roberts. But an epidemiological study ultimately showed that the cancer rate was no greater than that of the general population. The rate was actually slightly less.

    Johnson also discusses the alleged cancer cluster in Toms River, N.J., which is the subject of a new book: Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, by Dan Fagin. But contrary to Fagin's book, Johnson concludes: "... no matter how hard I squinted at the numbers, I found it hard to be convinced that there had been a cancer problem in Toms River."

    It is true that chemicals cause cancers where people are exposed for long periods of time to very high levels. For example, populations in Taiwan whose drinking water was contaminated with extremely high levels of arsenic for many decades experienced elevated rates of skin cancer. Is that a cluster? Surely it is. Does it convey information about the risks to populations exposed to much lower concentrations? Not particularly.

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week In Regulation

    March 25, 2013 10:46 AM

    59 new regulations, from patent fees to pork export reports.

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