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  • 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...
  • All Real Crimes in Hot Springs Now Solved

    June 27, 2007
    Apparently, in Arkansas, skateboarding is a crime. Witness the ridiculous overreaction of one Hot Springs police officer to the threat of youngsters on skateboards. Law enforcement pulls a jerk move, and YouTube is there:

    Binary Data
  • Meet Marc "Brass Knuckles" Morano

    June 26, 2007
    Our good friend Marc Morano, communications director for the minority staff at Senate EPW, is treated to a "Hill People" profile (sub. req'd.) in National Journal this week. In surprising news, who knew he also wrote for The New Republic?
    In his first year on the Hill, Morano has gained attention for strongly criticizing several prominent environmental reporters and for crashing the Senate Web site. "As I like to half-kiddingly say, it's one of the few jobs in Washington where you go to work every day and decide how we can critique and essentially attack the mainstream media," he said. A former reporter for Rush Limbaugh, Morano is pushing committee Republicans to take a "new media" approach to communications, using talk radio, cable news programs, and the Internet to spread...
  • Progressives engage in globalization debate

    June 26, 2007
    The Democratic Leadership Council — home to progressive Democrats -- last week announced a new Global Economy Project, whose mission is —
    . . . to develop progressive national policies designed to help preserve America's role as the global economic leader in the 2010s, and to help workers and families manage the stresses and take advantage of the opportunities created by the rapidly evolving global economy.
    Now, I'm somewhat skeptical of Progressives' history in the U.S. of using government institutions managed by the intellectual elite as their means-to-the-ends of a better, fairer society. (See just one of Fred Smith's many writings on this topic.) However, I'm a bit encouraged by the DLC's new project that seems to challenge...
  • Labor senior groups' gravy train gets lumpy

    June 26, 2007
    Earlier today at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao highlighted some of the Labor Department's accomplishments during her tenure. I found of special note her mention of the competitive bidding of grants for subsidized senior employment under Title V of the Older Americans Act, which, she said, had previously gone to only a handful of groups. Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but this topic is of special interest to me, since in 2001 I documented (with help from my then-colleague Christophery Yablonski and John Samples of the Cato Insitute) how those grants have helped subsidize political activity by the AFL-CIO-backed National Council of Senior Citizens (NCSC), which later became the Alliance for...
  • Mandatory card check checked -- for now

    June 26, 2007
    As expected, cloture for the misleadingly, grotesquely, misleadingly named (hey, I've gotta get these descriptions of this bill's disgustinlgy Orwellian moniker out of my system until the next Congress) Employee Free Choice Act, which would have required the National Labor Relations Board to allow card-check organizing whenever a union requested it, failed today on a party-line vote, 51-48 (with Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania the lone Republican voting for cloture). Under card-check, a union requires only to get over 50 percent of workers to sign union cards -- in public, exposing them to the kind of high-pressure tactics from that a secret ballot protects against...
  • $4 per gallon for Gas and Milk?

    June 26, 2007
    If crossing the threshold of paying $4.00 per gallon of milk feels similar to having paid $50 for a tank of gas, the reasons behind these increases are more closely linked than you know. The reasons are twofold, but ethanol is behind both. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated that 4.7 billion gallons of ethanol be added to the nation's gasoline supply by 2007, which is only a fraction of the 140 billion gallons of gasoline the U.S. currently uses yearly. However, the government also provides tax credits, incentives, and subsidies that add up to roughly $1 per gallon of gas, causing U.S. farmers to decide that they'd rather be a part of the “Fuel Basket” than the “Bread Basket” of the world. As a result, the risk of new investments in refinery capacity for oil companies because of the ethanol production...
  • AMA wants investigation of store-based health clinics

    June 26, 2007
    Yesterday, the American Medical Association said it had adopted recommendations for state and federal agencies to investigate store-based health clinics. At its annual meeting, the AMA announced that it was worried about possible conflicts of interest, patients' welfare, and liability concerns. Here's the directive they issued:
    The nation's physician leaders meeting at the AMA Annual Meeting voted to adopt the following directive instructing the AMA to:
    1. ask the appropriate state and federal agencies to investigate ventures between retail clinics and pharmacy chains with an emphasis on inherent conflicts of interest in such relationships, patients' welfare and risk, and professional liability concerns.
    2. continue to work with interested state and specialty medical...
  • First Amendment Double Standards

    June 26, 2007
    Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued two First Amendment rulings, one expanding First Amendment protection and the other narrowing it. In Morse v. Frederick, the Court ruled 5-to-4 that a high-school student could be disciplined for displaying a cryptical and nonsensical "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner near a school during a parade that passed the school. The Court resolved a split among the lower courts about whether drug-related speech can be censored by schools. (This was a difficult case, and I predicted the court would do this. As I have explained...

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