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  • Sound Suggestion on Social Security Security

    September 20, 2006

    In what, for now at least, seems like good news, the
    president's Identity
    Theft Task Force
    has recommended that the federal government stop forcing
    citizens to reveal their Social Security numbers to officials and for reasons
    that have nothing to do with their Social Security benefits:

    Under the plan, the task force urges the government to
    review the uses of Social Security numbers as employee identification and
    determine ways in which it can conceal or eliminate their use in agency systems
    and paper and electronic forms.

    […]

    The initial recommendations come as the government has
    struggled with high-profile data breaches. At least 10 agencies in recent
    months have reported incidents, which included the loss of a...

  • There Was a Farmer Who Played a Game...

    September 19, 2006
    The National Indian Gaming Commission has recently been getting hot under the collar over a vital matter of native gambling policy - the display elements and parameters of video bingo consoles. Apparently they want (among other things) for the video screen to look more like traditional bingo cards and for the games to be played more slowly. They're just old fashioned like that. Lest you think, however, that these proposed changes are of little importance, listen to this voice of the Casino-American community, Marjorie Mejia, of California's Pomo Indians: “This is serious. This is people's lives at stake here. … It's really termination for my people.” Vulnerable people threatened with termination? In California? Clearly, the Golden State already has...
  • Best Headline of the Day

    September 19, 2006
    Following up on Fred's post, 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 approved for the second time the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, another in the now lengthy list of bilaterals. 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...
  • Travel Opportunities for Politicians

    September 19, 2006
    Hmm -- the headline of today "Thailand has peaceful coup while PM at UN" suggests that we provide free airfare to the United Nations to as many nations as possible. Add why stop there? Perhaps, we could persuade all members of Congress and the Administration to visit those august quarters too. The thought of changing political leaders on a wholesale basis is one of few encouraging things that's been reported recently.
  • Don't Tax My Timber

    September 19, 2006
    The Canadian government has finally passed a resolution to end the long-festering softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. While it's not a perfect deal, the U.S. is agreeing to scrap its import duties on Canadian lumber for the next seven years. Now maybe we can get back to bulding houses and gazebos instead of arguing over whose timber industry is more worthy of protection.
  • A Taxing Question

    September 18, 2006
    The UK Conservatives, currently mulling over the idea of raising "green taxes" while lowering other tax rates, will be paying careful attention to reaction to the Liberal Democrat Party's similar announcement. The Liberal Democrats, a center-left group with some libertarian inclinations, have decided to increase taxes on SUVs and other vehicles that emit comparably large amounts of carbon dioxide per gallon of gas used. This has prompted the understandable objection that this may lead to a situation where an owner of a large vehicle* who drives it only a small amount around a city may pay more taxes than someone who owns a smaller vehicle but emits more because he uses it more.
    The Sun, arguably the most influential daily newspaper, read by around 4 million people, reacted to the...
  • DDT to the Rescue

    September 18, 2006
    In an extraordinarily good development, the World Health Organization has officially called for greater use of DDT around the world in order to combat malaria, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. CEI people and our friends have written widely on the issue of DDT and malaria over the past several years, and it's a relief to finally see some movement in the right direction. It's never too late to exorcise the ghost of Rachel Carson from...
  • Department of Public Remarks

    September 18, 2006
    The pope is under attack for pointing out that there is an a-religious element in traditional Islam. The pope was condemned and Islamic radicals responded by burning churches and (possibly) killing a nun in Somalia, well that will show the Pope he's wrong!
  • Senators on 9/11 movie – “Public interest” is what makes us look good

    September 14, 2006
    No matter what anyone thought of the ABC's “The Path to 9/11,” the actions of certain senators who objected to the miniseries should give everyone who values the First Amendment a big chill. A letter signed by Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Debbie Stabenow, and Byron Dorgan not-so-implicitly threatened ABC's broadcast license if it aired the drama that was deemed to be critical of the Clinton Administration. The letter they sent to Robert Iger, CEO of ABC parent Disney, stated bluntly that “[p]resenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to this nation.” The letter spent the whole second paragraph explaining to...

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