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OpenMarket: Fran Smith

  • Is Mozart anti-Muslim?

    September 27, 2006
    The Deutsche Oper in Berlin on Monday cancelled a production of Mozart's “Idomeneo” because of fears of inciting Muslim protesters to violence. There was a lot of Sturm und Drang as a result. Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germans shouldn't “bow to fears of Islamic violence.”

    If you're puzzled—no, it's not the opera itself that's a perceived problem (whew!). The avant-garde production of the opera includes Idomeneo—the lead character—pulling the bloody heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha from a sack. That's not a scene in the libretto, but was the...
  • Of Mice and Men

    September 27, 2006

    A new study shows that mice that drink moderate amounts of wine everyday suffer from less memory loss and brain cell death. A huge body of evidence has shown that moderate alcohol consumption helps keep people heart-healthy, and CEI had sued for that positive information to appear on alcoholic beverage labels. Now moderate drinking seems to “slow Alzheimer's-like diseases.”

    The happy mice were given Cabernet Sauvignon wine (really!), ethanol, or plain water— their equivalent of two glasses a day. The ones who did best on mazes were the red wine drinkers. Maybe they thought some Zinfandel was at the end of it.

  • Incorrect correction of a correction

    September 26, 2006
    Wouldn't you think that a reader's letter correcting factual
    errors in a newspaper article wouldn't be edited to delete the principal
    correction? Well, that's not necessarily
    the case, as my letter
    today in the Washington Post's
    Health Section shows.

    Seems the Post last week ran Q's
    and A's on the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks
    related to spinach. Unfortunately for consumers, it gave some
    incorrect information, namely:

    “Since 1995, there have been 19 outbreaks of food-borne
    illness caused by E. coli 0157: H7. All have involved lettuce or leafy greens.”

    In correcting that, my original letter said: “According to
    the Centers for Disease Control a major source of...
  • Best Headline of the Day

    September 19, 2006
    Following up on Fred's
    , here's an even better headline: “Thai PM cancels U.N. speech after coup”
    ran the headline in Reuters. It seems that the prime minister of Thailand was in New York at the United Nations, when word came about a coup by the military who took over the government in Bangkok. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra canceled
    his speech scheduled for 7 p.m. before the General Assembly.
  • Oman Trade Agreement and Protectionism

    September 19, 2006
    Today the Senate
    for the second time the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, another in
    the now lengthy list of
    . The Oman treaty also marks further outreach through
    trade with Arabic countries that are considered friendly to the U.S. Earlier FTAs
    were completed with Bahrain, Morocco, and Jordan. Increased trade and investment between the countries could result — and that would be good.

    But already the protectionist veil of “national security”
    interests was being spread by Sen. Byron Dorgan, who said in the floor debate that
    the agreement with...
  • Liberty stands up to Spitzer

    September 14, 2006
    Sometimes — but not often -- some companies hang in there if
    they're convinced they are right. That seems
    to be the case with Liberty Mutual Insurance, which is standing
    to — can it be — New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer, as we
    know, has brought CEOs and boards of Fortune 100 companies to their knees to
    grovel. They have begged to sign huge
    settlements, thrown respected company executives to the jackals at Justice, and
    whispered non-“mea culpas” to the media, only to see their stock prices plummet
    or their companies left in threads.

    Now, Liberty
    , “...
  • A typology for risk assessment?

    September 14, 2006
    New research
    may help to explain why the term “risk” shouldn't automatically be applied to
    new technologies, such as biotechnology. According to a University of Sussex research study, new technologies
    should be evaluated on a continuum of categories — including risk, uncertainty,
    ambiguity, and ignorance.

    The article in Food Navigator about the new study also
    quotes extensively from a
    I gave this summer to the Institute of Food Technologists attacking
    the use of the precautionary principle applied to biotechnology.

    Greg Conko has written extensively on this topic here and here and...
  • The Dwarfs Beat the Justices

    August 15, 2006
    Guess what — a new poll shows that the Seven Dwarfs are better known in the U.S. than the Supreme Court Justices. According to the Reuters article, “Three quarters of Americans can correctly identify two of Show White's seven dwarfs while only a quarter can name two Supreme Court Justices.”

    The poll, conducted by Zogby International, also showed that 57 percent of Americans could name Harry Potter as the hero of J.K. Rowling's novels, but only 50 percent could identify the UK's prime minister as Tony Blair.

    Is this a case of “rational ignorance,” as CEI's president Fred Smith describes it?
    “People have few reasons to spend their time...


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