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OpenMarket: April 2014

  • Administration’s Lack of Transparency Extends to States; The Independence Institute Reports New Findings

    April 9, 2014
    Obama RacineAlthough President Obama occasionally clings to the claim that his administration is the “most transparent” in history, with more and more revelations, this gets farther and farther from the truth. Clearly, we have an epidemic on our hands. Over the past couple years, I have uncovered case after case of federal government officials, particularly those at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), knowingly and willingly moving select correspondence "off-line", away from required, official email accounts. We have even found senior appointees at EPA, Department of Energy, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy using email accounts controlled by environmental pressure groups. Regardless of...
  • Threatening Free Speech, New Jersey Court Allows Parents to Be Sued for Children's Facebook Posts

    April 9, 2014
    Earlier, we wrote about a Wisconsin town whose ordinance holds parents liable for bullying by their children, including certain speech. We and law professor Eugene Volokh noted that this raised serious First Amendment issues. Now, a New Jersey judge has done the same thing by judicial construction, by allowing New Jersey school districts to...
  • CEI Podcast for April 9, 2014: A Consumer's Guide to Chemical Risk

    April 9, 2014
    Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini talks about her new Consumer's Guide to Chemical Risk.
  • Opening brief in Pearson v. NBTY, Inc., No. 14-1198 (7th Cir.)

    April 9, 2014
    In a settlement of several class actions over the labeling of glucosamine supplements, class counsel settled for a claims process that paid the class under $900,000, and token injunctive relief that tweaked the labels, while leaving much of the supposedly fraudulent labeling language in place (and precluding class members from ever suing on that language again). For this, class counsel asked for $4.5 million, claiming that the settlement was really worth tens of millions because 4.7 million class members could have made $3 claims. (In reality, the postcards mailed to ascertainable class members failed to inform them that they were actually class members, and the claims process demanded they provide receipts or other information already in the defendants' possession. Little wonder no money was actually distributed to the class.) Defendant NBTY was really only on the hook for $2...
  • Professional Licensing: A Risk to the Free Markets and Freedom of Speech

    April 7, 2014
    From physicians to dentists to lawyers, the licensing requirements of many professions are well known—but for bloggers? A recent case in North Carolina demonstrates the dangers that mandatory occupational licensing poses to liberty and how established interests use such requirements to protect their bottom line. North Carolina resident Steve Cooksey was ill, obese, and struggling with type 2 diabetes. In 2009, after being rushed to the hospital, nearly in a coma, he decided to do everything in his power to get healthy. By following a low-carbohydrate diet, Cooksey claims he was able to drop 45 pounds and get off insulin and drugs. He documented his story on his personal blog, where he provided advice to others practicing the “paleo” diet that he believes saved his life. That sounds like a win-win situation, but not...
  • Food Policy Fight: Junk Study on Vegetarian Diet

    April 7, 2014
    Log on to Twitter and you might read: "A vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health, a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life." Here we have junk science going viral! And its fanning the flames between meat-eating and vegetarian advocates. But it shouldn't. You can't really blame the person pushing out this tweet too much, however, because her source is a study published in a PLOS One research paper. It highlights some of the pitfalls associated with paying too much attention to isolated studies that rely on questionable methodology and overblown claims. This study is another example of how junk science adversely impacts public policy debates, which is why I recently developed...
  • CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    April 7, 2014
    79 new regulations, from whistleblowers to watermelon promotion.
  • In re Apple MagSafe Power Adapter Litigation oral argument in the Ninth Circuit Tuesday

    April 7, 2014
    Class counsel collected $3.1 million in the Apple MagSafe Power Adapter Litigation, but their putative clients received less than $900,000, and perhaps even less than $500,000—the district court never bothered to make findings. The settlement was structured to pay the attorneys double their lodestar but make it difficult for class members to make claims, and few of them did. We represent objector Marie Newhouse, who received $0 under the settlement, and appeals the approval of the self-dealing settlement and the district court's imposition of a punitive appeal bond. We've also moved for sanctions in response to class counsel Mehri & Skalet's Rule 28(j) letter that claimed Newhouse had never made an argument that was in her first issue presented.

  • Is High-Frequency Trading a Form of Front-Running?

    April 4, 2014
    On 60 Minutes, Michael Lewis accused high-frequency traders of front-running. Apparently it’s become necessary to remind critics of high-frequency trading of the definition of “front-running.” Front-running  - n. “The practice by market makers of dealing on advance information provided by their brokers and investment analysts, before their clients have been given the information.”  -- Oxford English Dictionary There is room for reasonable debate about the merits of HFT. And there is room for multiple exchanges catering to multiple types of investors.  But one thing critics should be wary of is distorting the terms of debate. Many, if not most, HFT firms are ”prop...
  • CEI Podcast for April 3, 2014: Clean Air Act Costs and Benefits

    April 3, 2014
    Senior Fellow William Yeatman is skeptical of an EPA report claiming the Clean Air Act will have nearly $2 trillion in annual benefits by 2020.

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