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  • Do Something for Africa: Stop Foreign Aid Now

    October 18, 2006
    This afternoon Marian Tupy of Cato hosted a fascinating discussion on foreign aid and what is has and has not done for developing nations in Africa (podcast/video available here). The star of the day was Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda, who gave a devastating critique of the entire global system of foreign aid. In Mwenda's view, international aid loans and grants have been exactly the problem standing in the way of economic development on the continent. As he pointed out, aid programs allow corrupt and despotic politicians to cement their power and, perhaps even worse, create a fundamental disconnect between rulers and the citizenry. Even a corrupt dictator wants to see economic growth if only because he wants to get his...
  • Hugo Nowhere

    October 18, 2006
    The deadlocked fight between Guatemala and Venezuela over the United Nations Security Council's rotating Latin America seat is being reported as the latest setback for Venezuela's far-left strongman, Hugo Chavez. In several rounds of voting, Guatemala, which has a stable government and good relations with the United States, has come out ahead by a good margin, but has yet to get the two-thirds vote required to join the Security Council. Yet Chavez's bigger problem is brewing not at Turtle Bay, but in the world's oil markets. Oil prices have fallen in recent weeks, and continue to do so, down to $58.73 a barrel for crude this morning. Lower commodity prices are...
  • The Newest/Oldest Lesson: Why Energy Is Bad

    October 17, 2006
    In reference to my previous post about morally righteous (anti-) global warming celebrities, I suggested that those who are horrified by CO2 emissions should curtail al energy-intensive activities until some technology such as cold fusion is perfected. A dedicated reader reminded me, however, that the global warming alarmists aren't so much energy future optimists as they are anti-energy Malthusians. Good call. One of the best examples of this truth is a quote from one of our old sparring partners, Paul Ehrlich. Prof. Ehrlich, a man, by the way, with a worse public gambling record than Bill Bennett, when confronted...
  • It's Tough Out There for a Morally-Consistent Performer

    October 17, 2006
    Tired of loosely-informed celebrities nagging you about global warming? It's beginning to look like the most hard core among them could end up taking themselves out of the fame game of their own accord. The lead singer of Radiohead, Thom Yorke, has suggested that taking a band on tour is immoral because of all the atmosphere-killing CO2 that is emitted in the process - even when the hip kids on the bus have purchased carbon credits to offset their emissions. Clearly, he's on to something here. Anything that uses any energy is evil - taking a rock band on a world tour and flipping on a lightswitch is merely a difference of scale. Thus, performing and making music (or movies, or whatever) is itself essentially immoral. Until the alternative energy crowd brings us the magic technologies that are perenially "just around...
  • Europe Takes a Stab at the Multimedia Revolution

    October 17, 2006
    Sometimes, a regulatory idea comes along that is so stupid and offensive, one assumes it couldn't actually be real. "Who could possibly think this is a good idea?" one asks. This morning it's deja vu all over again with news that the EU wants to force anyone posting video online to be licensed as if they were a television broadcast network. That means that CNN International and your favorite video blogger are now looking at the same regulatory compliance burden. Taking video clips with your cell phone and putting them on YouTube or MySpace, by this defintion, makes you an "online broadcaster." Fortunately, for the moment, only Slovakia has stepped forward to officially embrace this proposal. On that note, Slovakian video bloggers beware. Let's just make sure no one tells the FCC about this. They may not go this far...
  • A Storm of Scientific Controversy on Capitol Hill

    October 17, 2006

    The CEI email server is abuzz this morning with news of an upcoming briefing on global warming and hurricanes being put on by the American Meteorological Society. Will the assembled panel give us real data and empirical observations, or a lot of emotionally-fueled nonsense? Only attendees will know for sure. If you plan on being in the vicinity of the Russell House Office Building this Friday between noon and 2pm, stop in for an unpriced buffet lunch and lots of climate talk.

    For our take on the global warming, hurricanes and the (public policy) aftermath of Katrina, see this, by Marlo and Iain.

  • The Sleeping Pill Ate My Homework

    October 17, 2006

    A couple of months back, US Congressman Patrick Kennedy drove
    his car into a security barricade near the Capitol building early one Thursday
    morning, leading many observers to think this scion of Camelot had been
    throwing back a few too many at the Hawk ‘n' Dove, a Capitol Hill bar where,
    according to the Boston
    Herald
    , he'd been seen drinking earlier that evening. But, “no,” said Paddy. “I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident.” In an excuse reminiscent of ‘the dog ate my
    homework,' Kennedy said it was his
    sleeping pills that did it
    .

  • Great Modern Economists, Podcast Style

    October 16, 2006

    Thanks to Fred for passing along (by way of Don Boudreaux) the link to the EconTalk podcast for this week. Host Russ Roberts interviews Walter Williams about his influences, his intellectual journey and his choice of grocery stores.

  • When Cosmic Rays Attack

    October 16, 2006

    Our friend Steve Milloy has an excellent column on a new global warming study out of Denmark, and the unsurprising reasons it doesn't seem to be getting the coverage every alarmist publication does.

  • Race-Based Student Assignments

    October 16, 2006
    In a case pending before the Supreme Court, the Seattle School District argues that it should be allowed to use race when assigning students to schools. It argues that its decision to use race should receive deference because it knows better than the courts how to run a school system. CEI filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court arguing that the school district shouldn't get any special deference. Our brief points out that the Seattle Schools have made wacky statements, such as claiming that planning ahead is acting white, that “individualism” is a form of “cultural racism,” and that minorities cannot be racist. These statements undercut the school district's claim that it has special insight into race-related educational issues to which the courts should defer. When the government seeks to treat people differently based on their race...

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