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OpenMarket: Risk and Consumer Freedom

  • The Newest Cell Phone Accessory: Lead Underpants

    October 24, 2006
    A new study out of the UK suggests that mobile phone radiation may be responsible for increased infertility in men. This observed decline in sperm count and motility, of course, has also been linked to obesity, smoking, stress, pollution and endocrine disrupting chemicals, but that needn't stand in the way of roping in yet another culprit. This latest round of worry over the health effects of mobile devices reminds one of Steve Milloy's recent round-up of the top ten junk science stories from the past ten years, including #2, the terrifying phantom risk of cell phone brain cancer.
  • Small Government Hate Speech?

    October 19, 2006
    Craig Bannister of CNSNews just passed on a story out of Marquette University in which graduate student Stuart Distler was banned from displaying the following Dave Barry quote on his office door: "As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." Lots to agree with there if you're a fan of smaller government. The chairman of his department disagreed, however, and removed the quote from Distler's office door, saying that the quote was "patently offensive," and that "hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.'" One wonders where on Marquette's campus one can express one's ideas freely. Perhaps, like some modern airports do with smoking, there will be...
  • Europe Takes a Stab at the Multimedia Revolution

    October 17, 2006
    Sometimes, a regulatory idea comes along that is so stupid and offensive, one assumes it couldn't actually be real. "Who could possibly think this is a good idea?" one asks. This morning it's deja vu all over again with news that the EU wants to force anyone posting video online to be licensed as if they were a television broadcast network. That means that CNN International and your favorite video blogger are now looking at the same regulatory compliance burden. Taking video clips with your cell phone and putting them on YouTube or MySpace, by this defintion, makes you an "online broadcaster." Fortunately, for the moment, only Slovakia has stepped forward to officially embrace this proposal. On that note, Slovakian video bloggers beware. Let's just make sure no one tells the FCC about this. They may not go this far...
  • Update: Foley to Move to Amsterdam, Run for Parliament

    October 6, 2006
    News out of the Netherlands this week is bearing an odd parallel to DC's most talked about scandal involving a now-former Congressman from a certain peninsular state. In what must be a not entirely unexpected setback, a political party founded earlier this year by Dutch pedophiles looks as though it has insufficient support to compete for seats in the parliamentary general election next month. Children's rights groups sued to have the party banned outright, but a Dutch court ruled that the nation's freedom of expression guarantees extended even to the euphamistically-named "Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity party (PNVD)." Maybe this two-party...
  • Rachel Carson Lied, Millions Died

    September 22, 2006
    We were all happy to see the World Health Organization finally take steps to embrace wider anti-malarial deployment of DDT, but our friend Steve Milloy reminds us it's hardly a moment to break out the champagne: Overlooked in all the hoopla over the announcement, however, is the terrible toll in human lives (tens of millions dead — mostly pregnant women and children under the age of 5), illness (billions sickened) and poverty (more than $1 trillion dollars in lost GDP in sub-Saharan Africa alone) caused by the tragic, decades-long ban. Much of this human catastrophe was preventable, so why did it happen? Who is responsible? Should the individuals and activist groups who caused the DDT ban be held accountable in some way? Yes, Steve,...
  • Lockyer: SUVs Don't Kill People, Car Companies Kill People

    September 21, 2006
    California's attorney general has sued carmakers DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Ford and subsidiaries of Honda, Nissan and Toyota for global warming impacts on the state. Interesting that the state isn't trying to hold individual car owners — the ones who actually drive and produce the emissions at issue — liable for the alleged damage. This suit seems rather reminiscent of the lawsuits first filed by U.S. cities against gun manufacturers in the late 1990s. Critics at the time pointed out, of course, that it's the people who actually shoot the guns who should be held liable for any damage caused by them. Congress was sufficiently alarmed by the prospects, however, to pass the...
  • DDT to the Rescue

    September 18, 2006
    In an extraordinarily good development, the World Health Organization has officially called for greater use of DDT around the world in order to combat malaria, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. CEI people and our friends have written widely on the issue of DDT and malaria over the past several years, and it's a relief to finally see some movement in the right direction. It's never too late to exorcise the ghost of Rachel Carson from...
  • Senators on 9/11 movie – “Public interest” is what makes us look good

    September 14, 2006
    No matter what anyone thought of the ABC's “The Path to 9/11,” the actions of certain senators who objected to the miniseries should give everyone who values the First Amendment a big chill. A letter signed by Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Debbie Stabenow, and Byron Dorgan not-so-implicitly threatened ABC's broadcast license if it aired the drama that was deemed to be critical of the Clinton Administration. The letter they sent to Robert Iger, CEO of ABC parent Disney, stated bluntly that “[p]resenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to this nation.” The letter spent the whole second paragraph explaining to...

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