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  • Court Ensures Painful Death for Terminally Ill

    November 22, 2006
    Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to vacate and rehear its Abigail Alliance v. Von Eschenbach decision, which would have required the FDA to justify why it prevents gravely ill people who would otherwise die from obtaining access to drugs that have passed the first stage of the FDA's lengthy approval process. Decisions are usually reversed when they are reheard by the full court. Apparently, the specter of terminally ill people being able to access experimental drugs that might save their lives was just too scary for many of the D.C. Circuit judges. Perhaps they agreed with the specious arguments of the Washington Post, which editorialized against the D.C. Circuit's original decision in favor of the terminally ill by using the straw-man argument that no one has an affirmative right of access to medical...
  • Stern's Critical Flaws

    November 22, 2006
    The Stern Review on the economics of climate change has come in for more criticism from experts in the field. Following Richard Tol, we now have Yale's William Nordhaus (PDF link), who says:
    The Stern Review is a Prime Minister's dream come true. It provides decisive and compelling answers instead of the dreaded conjectures, contingencies, and qualifications. However, a closer look reveals that there is indeed another hand to these answers. The radical revision of the economics of climate change proposed by the Review does not arise from any new economics, science, or modeling. Rather, it depends decisively on the assumption of a near-zero social discount rate. The Review's unambiguous conclusions about the need for extreme immediate action will not...
  • Keeping an Eye on the CBS Legal Department

    November 21, 2006
    CBS is appealing new FCC indecency regulations (and fines) in court, arguing that the new rules run afoul of the First Amendment. Which, of course, they do. Hopefully the executives at CBS and other broadcast stations will remember this when reporting on other FCC intrusions into what we are allowed to see, hear, download, upload, talk about or even buy online. And just in case you were wondering what depraved indecencies have been getting the FCC's knickers in such a twist over the past few years, check out a pile of them here.
  • Weighty Problem

    November 21, 2006
    As Brooke notes below, obesity has been tied to global warming.  One of the lessons obesity campaigners drew from that study was that losing weight saves you gas money and that the US uses 938 million more gallons of gas a year because of the extra weight gain since 1960.  The often excellent env-econ blog had something to say about that:
    Let's say that a typical new car sold these days weighs about 4000 pounds. A 50 pound increase (one heavier male, one heavier female) is a 1.25 % increase in total weight. If the gasoline savings are about 1%, the elasticity of gas to weight (% change in gasoline divided by the % change in weight) is 0.80. Hmmm. Maybe the estimate ain't so crazy. Extrapolating, if the typical car turns into a typical car sold 25...
  • Fake Boobs and Phony Science

    November 21, 2006
    To follow up on a thread from yesterday, FDA's decision to let silicon gel filled breast implants back on the market is noteworthy for two other reasons not mentioned by my colleagues. The first real breakthrough on this front was back in 1999, when a federal judge in Alabama appointed a National Science Panel pursuant to a Daubert motion to investigate the reliability of the plaintiffs' expert witnesses in the Silicone Gel Breast Implant Products Litigation. The panel examined the epidemiological evidence available as of 1999 and concluded that breast implants were associated with an increase the relative risk of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune and rheumatic conditions by 15 percent (not...
  • Terminal Shortage

    November 17, 2006
    When government controls everything, it necessarily has to ration it, which leads to shortages. It's probably a toss-up at the moment as to which is the most totalitarian government in the world between Zimbabwe and North Korea. But I think this wins it for Zimbabwe - the country has run out of air. Hat tip: Pub Philosopher
  • God is Dead... Legally speaking, that is

    November 17, 2006
    Sir Simon Jenkins has a must-read column today on how the UK's Health and Safety Executive has decided to abolish the idea of an Act of God:
    On New Year's Day 2005, one of Dunham's mighty 260-year-old beeches was hit by a sudden, 67mph gust of wind. It fell on to its neighbour, which in turn toppled and killed an eight-year-old boy. It was an accident, and nobody pretended otherwise. The Health and Safety Executive, in league with the police, arrested and cautioned the property manager for possible manslaughter, but the police dropped the case for lack of evidence after a year.The HSE did not do so. What used to be called an act of God has, since the invention of the HSE, been redefined as an act of man. There is no longer any such thing as an accident, or lawyers would starve....
  • Junk Food Blogging

    November 16, 2006
    Sandy Szwarc, a registered nurse, certified culinary professional, CEI friend, and all around good person, recently started a blog on the science of food -- especially so called "junk food." On her blog, you can read all about "the science that mainstream media doesn't report and how to critically think about the junk they do that's not fit to swallow." You can also read some of the pieces she's written for CEI here and here. Happy blogging, Sandy. http://www.junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/
  • The Logic of Smoking Regulation: Your Apartment Is Now a Public Place

    November 16, 2006
    Dana Yates of the San Mateo, California Daily Journal brings us a bracing look at the future of tobacco regulation - a total ban on public smoking. And yes, that includes apartments and everyplace that isn't a "single-family detached residence." Take it away, Dana:
    Armed with growing evidence that second-hand smoke causes negative health effects, the [Belmont, California town] council chose to pursue the strictest law possible and deal with any legal challenges later. Last month, the council said it wanted to pursue a law similar to ones passed in Dublin and the Southern California city of Calabasas. It took up the cause after a citizen at a senior living facility requested smoke be declared a public nuisance, allowing him to sue neighbors who smoke.
    That's right, cranky senior...
  • Trans-Fatty Criminals

    November 2, 2006
    Elizabeth Whelan of ACSH has a great article on National Review Online today about the stupidity of banning trans-fats, as New York City and Chicago have done:
    …the food industry has turned the fear of [trans-fatty acids] into a brilliant marketing strategy — trumpeting the “No Trans-Fats” claim on labels. Unsuspecting customers will conclude from the absence of TFAs that products are healthier — and maybe even think they are reduced in calories — when in fact there are no health benefits. All fats, saturated or not, contain nine calories per gram. There are no caloric savings from replacing TFAs with other fats. On October 30, Kentucky Fried Chicken decided to cash in on the trans-fat mania, announcing — while the hearings were in process — that it was phasing out all use of...

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