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  • AEI panel discussion about FTAs in the aftermath of the bipartisan deal

    June 28, 2007
    In the aftermath of the bipartisan deal between the Democrats and the Bush Administration, the question is whether the new enforceable environmental and ILO labor standards that are included in FTAs are the tipping point where they are overstretching into domestic affairs. Yesterday, AEI held an interesting panel discussion about this called “The Bipartisan Trade Bargain: Is the Deal Worth It?” According to Jack K. Veroneau, deputy United States trade representative, the answer is no. We had the same discussion when the Jordan FTA was negotiated in which both the US and Jordan committed themselves to enforce domestic laws. This was not the end of the world as many conservative commentators contended, and so will these provisions not be a problem. We need the labor provisions to offset disruptive effects of...
  • Racist School Policies Get the Supreme Smackdown

    June 28, 2007
    The Associated Press is reporting on the latest SCOTUS opinion from this morning, and as it turns out it's one on which we filed an amicus brief (PDF link). In its decision on Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, the justices struck down the use of race by public school districts when admitting/assigning students to their various institutions. I'm sure legal maestro Hans will have much more to say later today (UPDATE: he has), but here's the quick take for now:
    The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected school diversity plans that take account of students' race in two major public...
  • A Plea for the Victims of Malaria

    June 28, 2007
    Today on CEI's blog, Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute (New Delhi, India) makes a plea for greater awareness about malaria's victims and the need for DDT. His comments are compelling and worth repeating here:
    It is good news that the demand for DDT to fight malaria is on the rise. Last year, India's government exported their first consignment of DDT in almost 20 years to Eritrea and Mozambique. This year they doubled their shipments from last year and expect orders from more African countries soon. The competition in the international market—China being the sole exporter in the past decade—has already brought the price down by almost a half. U.S. funds to fight malaria are being used by some of the African countries to explore the DDT option. Yet, DDT's life...
  • Oxus Gold's Dirty Little Secret

    June 28, 2007

    Lira Tantebeyava works for the women of Kyrgyzstan. Every day, she plots and executes strategies to bring equal rights to one half the people of that beautiful, mountainous country on the opposite side of the globe. She brooks sexism from no one in a society where it is cultural permissible for a man to kidnap a woman of his choosing to become his bride. Lira Tantebeyave is one tough hombre.

    Lira is also a loving mother of five: 1 young woman, 3 girls, and a baby daughter. She is the devoted wife of Sayakbai, a gentleman giant, man enough to respect his wife as an equal.

    Lira Tantebeyava was imprisoned in Talas City, Talas Oblast by authorities in the back pocket of the Jerooy gold mining company, a Kyrgyz subsidiary of Oxus Gold, a British multinational mining company. Lira had organized a rally against the mine, which the people of Talas, discreetly animist, despise...

  • Reid Removed Limit on Welfare for Amnestied Illegal Aliens

    June 27, 2007
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) omitted a limit on welfare for amnestied illegal aliens previously adopted by the Senate when he revived the Senate immigration bill supported by Ted Kennedy and George Bush. In reviving the bill, Reid included a "clay pigeon" amendment that supposedly included all the amendments passed by the Senate to the original version of the immigration bill. But although Sen. Reid included all the anti-business amendments to the bill, such as limits on guest-worker programs and high-skilled immigrants, he left out an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that would have protected taxpayers. The Sessions amendment, agreed to by a majority of the Senate, would have prevented those who were once illegal aliens from receiving the earned-income...
  • Next: Mandatory equal air time for rock and disco

    June 27, 2007
    Isn't it comforting that Dick Durbin is watching out for Americans' impressionable minds? He recently told The Hill, “It's time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine...I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they're in a better position to make a decision.” Durbin's attitude is old-fashioned alright, in two ways. It betrays an old-fashioned paternalistic distrust of the public being easily manipulated by the media. And it's also old-fashioned in its willful ignorance of new media. Remember that when the Federal Communications Commission dropped the Fairness Doctrine in the 1980s, cable TV was young and the Web did not exist. This idiocy would be surprising from anyone other than a politician. What other class of people would...
  • Gouged by the Government

    June 27, 2007
    Here's what (state) regulators can do for you: fine a gas station owner for giving a two-cent a gallon discount to senior citizens. That's the story - grandma and grandpa are getting slightly cheaper gasoline, and officials from the Wisconsin state government are there to put an end to it. The agency in charge of confiscating candy from small children must have the week off. Here are the details, from the Associated Press' Ryan J. Foley:
    [Raj] Bhandari, who owns Center City BP in Merrill, Wis., about 150 miles north of Madison, stopped offering discounts of 2 cents per gallon to senior citizens and 3 cents per gallon for donors to a youth hockey league after being warned by state regulators in April the programs may violate the law. Gasoline sales dropped by about 20...
  • Radio Frequency Your Way to Good Health

    June 27, 2007
    AFP reports on a new study by the American Medical Association recommending the implantation of RFID tags to carry medical information in case of an emergency. This, of course, is an excellent idea, especially for people with particular allergies or medical conditions which could complicate emergency care. There are some practical questions to work out - such as how you keep something the size of a grain of rice from moving around under your skin - but in general, the technology is ready to be deployed widely and start saving lives. Naturally some patients have privacy concerns, especially about "active" versus "passive" tags, but these also need to be put into perspective. Particularly if you are contemplating a stripped-down version of a medical RFID tag with, say,...
  • Supreme Court Denies Property Owners Relief from Harrassment

    June 27, 2007
    On Monday, the Supreme Court weakened property owners' protection against government harassment in Wilkie v. Robbins.  Law Professor Ilya Somin explains why the decision was wrongly decided here. Plaintiff Harvey Robbins described an extended campaign of harrassment and intimidation against him by government officials seeking to obtain an easement across his land. But in a 7-2 decision on Monday, the Supreme Court held that he could not obtain relief either under the Fifth Amendment (through a so-called Bivens action) or under RICO, the federal racketeering statute. Robbins ran a private cattle and commercial guest ranch in Wyoming.   His ranch extends for 40 miles, occasionally interspersed with property owned by the federal government....
  • Shining a Spotlight on Anti-DDT Activists

    June 27, 2007
    A story in today's Mail and Guardian, an online African newspaper, highlights First Lady Laura Bush's trip to Africa, where she is "shining a spotlight on malaria and aids." The story offers great insights into the malaria crisis and the dire impacts of activist campaigns that prevent DDT spraying. Some sections are worth quoting:
    'We need DDT because there is no other insecticide which is as effective and can be used so successfully to control malaria,' said Pierre Guillet, of the WHO's anti-malaria campaign in Geneva The WHO long promoted insecticide treated nets as the main preventive weapon against malaria. But the stubbornly high death toll—and the success of DDT-spraying in countries such as South Africa and Swaziland in virtually eradicating the...


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