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  • Trans-Fatty Criminals

    November 2, 2006
    Elizabeth Whelan of ACSH has a great article on National Review Online today about the stupidity of banning trans-fats, as New York City and Chicago have done:
    …the food industry has turned the fear of [trans-fatty acids] into a brilliant marketing strategy — trumpeting the “No Trans-Fats” claim on labels. Unsuspecting customers will conclude from the absence of TFAs that products are healthier — and maybe even think they are reduced in calories — when in fact there are no health benefits. All fats, saturated or not, contain nine calories per gram. There are no caloric savings from replacing TFAs with other fats. On October 30, Kentucky Fried Chicken decided to cash in on the trans-fat mania, announcing — while the hearings were in process — that it was phasing out all use of...
  • So the Government Dictating Broadcast Content is 'Fair'?

    November 2, 2006
    Fans of free expression should hit up a piece in Human Events, by our very own John Berlau, on those misguided souls who are intent on bringing back the “Fairness Doctrine” to broadcast TV and radio. For anyone who wasn't following FCC regulations before 1987 (when it was eliminated), here are the basics:
    The Fairness Doctrine, initiated by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949, mandated that radio and television stations “provide a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints” on “vitally important controversial issues.” But since there are contrasting views as to what's “fair,” broadcast stations were left with a few unpleasant options. They could a) provide equal time to overtly liberal and overtly conservative...
  • The Future: Filthy Rich or Stinking Rich?

    November 1, 2006
    The New York Sun has an editorial on the Stern review on the economics of global warming which includes a mention of our very own Iain Murray:
    Given Britons's clime it's easy to see why they would take a dour view of the weather, but even by that standard the Stern Report on global warming is something else. The book-length analysis of the economic ramifications of climate change, prepared by a panel led by a former World Bank economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, is as bleak as any overcast winter day in London. It's only a matter of time before some start trying to use the report as another excuse to criticize the Bush administration for its supposedly insufficient zeal for changing the weather. The marquee conclusion reckons we can devote a total of about 1% of the global economy to cutting greenhouse gas emissions now...
  • The ADA Meets Cyberspace

    November 1, 2006
    BNA is covering the recent district court ruling that Target can be sued if its website is inaccessible to the blind:
    In this class action suit—brought by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)—the Court rejected Target's argument that only physical stores were covered by anti-discrimination laws, ruling instead that certain aspects of Target's virtual space—target.com— are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California state law. NFB and University of California Berkeley blind student Bruce Sexton brought the lawsuit, contending that Target's website violates the ADA as well as California anti-discrimination laws by failing to include, among other things, “alt-text”—which screen readers use to vocalize a description of an image to a blind computer user. The plaintiffs allege that...
  • Taking Tobacco to Court

    November 1, 2006
    In case you missed it, the Supremes are tackling a major tobacco/tort reform liability case this week. AP's Mark Sherman has the story:
    The Supreme Court grappled Tuesday with whether to allow a $79.5 million verdict against a cigarette company, a case that business groups are pointing to in asking the justices to clamp down on large damage awards. Mayola Williams was in the crowded courtroom to hear the justices discuss the judgment that an Oregon jury imposed against Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA in connection with the death of her husband, Jesse. A two-pack-a-day smoker of Marlboros for 45 years, Jesse Williams died of lung cancer nine years ago. Mayola Williams followed through on a promise she said she made to her husband and sued Philip Morris, which makes Marlboros,...
  • Turning Free Speech Upside Down

    October 31, 2006
    Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” A similar principle is rooted in the First Amendment, which generally prohibits the government from forcing people to pay for speech with which they disagree. Federal law nevertheless permits states to impose “agency shop” arrangements under which every employee in a unionized workplace, even though not a union member, must pay to the union, as a condition of employment, a compulsory service charge equal in amount to union dues. The Supreme Court rejected non-union employees' challenges to such coerced charges on freedom of association grounds in Railway Employees v. Hanson (1956). But it softened that harsh result by ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), that such compelled charges cannot be used over an...
  • The Sweetest Urban Legend of All

    October 31, 2006
    Keeping the holiday theme going, we now turn to the perennial Halloween boogieman, the anonymous candy poisoner. For decades, parents have been warned to check their kids' candy carefully, lest a cyanide-laced Sugar Daddy make in into junior's mouth. As Iain has taught us, however, the record books are mighty slim when it comes to any children actually being harmed by psychos intent on taking advantage of the candy-giving season:
    Every year, newspapers and television programs warn parents about the "threat' [from poisoning trick-or-treat candy, along] with grave reminders to check apples for razor blades and needles. This year [2003], the Food and Drug Administration has joined in the tale-telling, warning parents to...
  • What Is All the Hyperventilating About?

    October 31, 2006
    If you haven't read it already, treat yourself to a radically reasonable op-ed by Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT on why global warming is the last thing that you should be scared of this Halloween season:
    Yes, there does appear to be warming, but the amount is hardly certain or indisputable. And the amount found does not appear that alarming. The alarm, I would suppose, comes from the notoriously inadequate climate models. As the primary "consensus" document, the Scientific Assessment of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes, modellers at the United Kingdom's Hadley Centre had to cancel two-thirds of the model warming in order to simulate the observed warming. So the warming alarm is based on models that overestimate the observed warming by a factor of three or more, and have to cancel most of the...
  • Better Halloween Through Science

    October 31, 2006
    It turns out that Monsanto, the occasionally controversial biotech company, is hard at work on more than just wheat and maize. They're also experimenting with how to improve other crops like...pumpkins:
    [Monsanto scientist Bill] Johnson said customers want deep orange colors and dark green stems that don't snap off when you use them to carry the pumpkin. His job is to breed varieties with those qualities with other strains that are resistant to certain viruses or the dreaded powdery mildew. Monsanto has thousands of breeding lines of pumpkin stock, Johnson said. Most [of] the work is done in California and Florida greenhouses using traditional breeding techniques of mating the best plants with one another over generations. We don't always realize it, but even as we go about our day-to-...
  • What balance?

    October 30, 2006
    When a journalist publicly declares he doesn't believe in balance on a particular issue, you know things are really bad. When I was a journalist, I had it beat into me to get both or however many sides of the story there might be. Well, ABC News' Bill Blakemore (a network reporter!) told an audience at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists conference that he doesn't “like the word ‘balance' much at all” in global warming coverage. Blakemore was debating Senate Environment and Public Works communications director, Marc Morano, who reported on the dialogue in today's Majority Fact of the Day. Seems to me that Blakemore has been hoodwinked by the liberal enviros and he doesn't even realize it. Correction: Blakemore made the...

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