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  • Free At Last

    April 16, 2007
    In case you were wondering why tax day isn't until tomorrow, allow me to introduce you to D.C. Emancipation Day. This recently minted holiday marks the day in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act which, according to my good friend Wikipedia (and the DC city website), freed approximately 3,100 men and women from slavery - nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation. ...
  • Attack of the Killer Bee Killers

    April 16, 2007
    We know cell phones don't give you cancer, but according to some people quoted by The Independent in the UK, they are messing with bees:
    The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a...
  • Sallie Mae's suitors are accepted

    April 16, 2007
    Sallie Mae, the student loan marketing giant, will be sold to a group of investors, according to Reuters and other news sources. Currently under attack by several states' attorneys general for alleged kickbacks, the company is also facing increased Congressional scrutiny. The investors' group for the purchase is led by J.C. Flowers and Friedman Fleischer & Lowe and includes the financial institutions Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Sallie Mae was formed in 1972 as a government-sponsored entity or GSE like its sister and brother GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress in 1996 passed legislation allowing Sallie Mae to go private, and the GSE cut its government ties by 2004. In the early 2000s, CEI had...
  • Food prices rising – ethanol push a major culprit

    April 16, 2007
    It's becoming a refrain now — ethanol boom adds to rising food prices. Today the Wall Street Journal focuses (subscription required) on higher food prices spurred by the increased demand for corn for ethanol production. The Journal quotes a variety of food producers — from Tyson Foods to Kellogg Co., and even Wm. Wrigley Jr. and its chewing gums — on the increased costs for corn, as well as high-fructose corn syrup. And it's not likely that the prices represent a temporary spike — principally because of the government programs promoting biofuels. As economist Kenneth Beauchemin is quoted as saying:
    [T]he difference now is that the governments push to promote ethanol, unlike a...
  • One good journalist early on -- on the Duke debacle

    April 16, 2007
    A Washington Post editorial this morning focused on the “The Duke Debacle” and pointed to the failures of the prosecutors, the Duke faculty and administration, as well as  the dismal performance of the media -- with one notable exception:
    News organizations, eager to pursue a "Jocks Gone Wild" story line, aided and abetted his rush to judgment, all but pronouncing the students guilty before the facts were in. A notable early skeptic was Stuart Taylor Jr. of the National Journal, whose precise analysis of the evidence stands as a rebuke to less careful colleagues.
     It's worth reviewing Taylor's articles on the case last year -- on May 1, and...
  • Poorest countries need duty-free, quota-free trade access, say nonprofits

    April 16, 2007

    Late yesterday, CEI and eight other nonprofit organizations filed comments with the U.S. Trade Representative on why the least developed countries in the world could benefit from a World Trade Organization's decision to grant them duty-free, quota-free access to rich countries' markets. The groups noted that the U.S. should open its markets to the poorest countries, without attempting to carve out exceptions for so-called "sensitive products," such as sugar.

  • Fred Talks Executive Compensation on CNBC

    April 13, 2007
    From yesterday afternoon's edition of "Closing Bell"

    Binary Data
  • More on Muir

    April 13, 2007
    John, yes. . .but I mentioned Pinchot because I knew you had good things to say about him. Personally, I would likely be on the opposite side of Muir in most debates—and the opposite side of Pinchot in even more. Many areas of currently public land would be far better off in private hands with no real restrictions on development. But, to the extent that the State owns any land at all beyond what it needs for the actual core business of government, I'd prefer that it make non-economic use of the land. Efforts to "make practical use of" government land is really just economic planning of one sort or another. I realize that, in the short term, it's not practical to privatize as much as either of us would like to. "Worthless" land that belongs to the government by default should also be open to various kinds of development and exploration if someone can find something useful to...
  • A child's idyllic laundry scene

    April 12, 2007
    Richard --

    I enjoyed your laundry post. It's my birthday today — so I'll be indulgent in adding to it.

    When I was a smallish child, my mother did the family's washing with an electric washing machine and a clothes wringer. The sopping wet clothes were pulled through the wringer by turning a handle. It took quite a bit of time and upper-body strength to wash clothes for a family of six.

    After the clothes were wrung out, the heavy basket of clothes was taken out to our back yard, where Mother carefully hung sheets and pillowcases and towels and bedspreads, underwear, blouses, and shirts and skirts on three clotheslines running the width of the yard. Reach up, bend over, reach up, bend over, reach up, bend over until the basket was empty.

    I would follow my mother to grab...

  • Muir's Meanness and Pinchot's practicality

    April 12, 2007
    Eli, I do indeed praise Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt's forestry chief, in Eco-Freaks. I point out, however, that he was at sword's ends with Muir over many issues, including the damming of Hetch Hetchy valley to provide water to San Francisco. (Pinchot supported it, while Muir was staunchly opposed. Even today, the Sierra Club is trying to get it undammed. But San Francisco pols usually allied with them, such as Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, have basically told them to go jump in the dam.") Pinchot and Roosevelt were true conservationists, as am I, whereas Muir was a preservationist. Unfortunately, today's green groups have...

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