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  • 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...
  • So the Government Dictating Broadcast Content is 'Fair'?

    November 2, 2006
    Fans of free expression should hit up a piece in Human Events, by our very own John Berlau, on those misguided souls who are intent on bringing back the “Fairness Doctrine” to broadcast TV and radio. For anyone who wasn't following FCC regulations before 1987 (when it was eliminated), here are the basics:
    The Fairness Doctrine, initiated by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949, mandated that radio and television stations “provide a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints” on “vitally important controversial issues.” But since there are contrasting views as to what's “fair,” broadcast stations were left with a few unpleasant options. They could a) provide equal time to overtly liberal and overtly conservative...
  • Taking Tobacco to Court

    November 1, 2006
    In case you missed it, the Supremes are tackling a major tobacco/tort reform liability case this week. AP's Mark Sherman has the story:
    The Supreme Court grappled Tuesday with whether to allow a $79.5 million verdict against a cigarette company, a case that business groups are pointing to in asking the justices to clamp down on large damage awards. Mayola Williams was in the crowded courtroom to hear the justices discuss the judgment that an Oregon jury imposed against Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA in connection with the death of her husband, Jesse. A two-pack-a-day smoker of Marlboros for 45 years, Jesse Williams died of lung cancer nine years ago. Mayola Williams followed through on a promise she said she made to her husband and sued Philip Morris, which makes Marlboros,...
  • Turning Free Speech Upside Down

    October 31, 2006
    Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” A similar principle is rooted in the First Amendment, which generally prohibits the government from forcing people to pay for speech with which they disagree. Federal law nevertheless permits states to impose “agency shop” arrangements under which every employee in a unionized workplace, even though not a union member, must pay to the union, as a condition of employment, a compulsory service charge equal in amount to union dues. The Supreme Court rejected non-union employees' challenges to such coerced charges on freedom of association grounds in Railway Employees v. Hanson (1956). But it softened that harsh result by ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), that such compelled charges cannot be used over an...
  • The Sweetest Urban Legend of All

    October 31, 2006
    Keeping the holiday theme going, we now turn to the perennial Halloween boogieman, the anonymous candy poisoner. For decades, parents have been warned to check their kids' candy carefully, lest a cyanide-laced Sugar Daddy make in into junior's mouth. As Iain has taught us, however, the record books are mighty slim when it comes to any children actually being harmed by psychos intent on taking advantage of the candy-giving season:
    Every year, newspapers and television programs warn parents about the "threat' [from poisoning trick-or-treat candy, along] with grave reminders to check apples for razor blades and needles. This year [2003], the Food and Drug Administration has joined in the tale-telling, warning parents to...
  • Kazman vs. Cupcake

    October 30, 2006
    CEI's Sam Kazman had the quote of the day. It happened during a debate on CNBC's Morning Call over whether NYC should ban restaurants from using artificial trans-fats. His opponent showed a 25-year-old cupcake as proof that trans-fats are bad for us. Sam's classic response? Press play to find out!

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