masthead-highres

Friday, February 29, 2008

Free Market Health Care in Africa Promoted

From David Almasi:
Project 21 Associate Thompson Ayodele of the Nigeria-based Initiative for Public Policy Analysis recently wrote a spirited commentary on the need for more private health care in Africa that was published in two major Nigerian newspapers: The Nation and The Independent.

Here is a sample of Ayodele's comments from the New Visions Commentary version that Project 21 will soon be distributing to the American media:
In my own Nigeria, for instance, a recent study found that 28 government-run health care centers received no drugs for over two years. Donated drugs such as Vitamin A capsules, Mectizan and Coartem tablets and oral rehydration salt are pilfered and re-sold on the black market. The Global Fund considered suspending two of Nigeria's five-year grants totaling $80 million because of concerns about grant management, transparency of fund allocation and grant implementation and the ability of the Nigerian government to achieve grant goals. Similar grants to Uganda and Chad have already been terminated.

Drug disbursement, however, is just one of dozens of forms of corruption - including mismanagement of funds at the ministry and hospital level, absenteeism, charges for normally free services and abuse of hospital procurement contracts...

It is clear this situation will never improve while health care remains under government control. Except for commitment to one's job, bureaucrats have few incentives to actually deliver care. Any manager of a private company can attest that goodwill alone is useless. Unless there is a significant change in the way the health sector is managed, there will be few improvements no matter how much money donors spend...

The advantages of private control are three-fold. It would reduce corruption. Corruption exists in the private sector, but private enterprises failing to show integrity risk exclusion from future contracts. Secondly, since private businesses care deeply about their reputations, there is pressure to deliver. After all, without a reputation, there are no customers - and therefore no business. Putting private sector bodies into competition also forces them to improve their productivity and patient care. Costs would fall and standards would rise.
Ayodele previously wrote for Project 21 on the health care peril of anti-DDT policies in Africa last July.

New Vision Commentary op-eds by Ayodele and others are available online at the National Center for Public Policy Research website here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:08 PM

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Listing the Polar Bear Under the ESA Could Spell Disaster

From Peyton Knight:
In reaction to the Bush Administration's deliberation over whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act the Natural Resources Defense Council's Andrew Wetzler claims: "There's no reason for them not to finalize that decision now."

There are big reasons, one of which may explain the NRDC's zeal for a rush to judgment.

The polar bear population has doubled since 1965, from 10,000 to 20,000-25,000 today. Even the World Wildlife Fund, which advocates listing the bear, in 2006 said there are "at least 22,000 polar bears worldwide" and "the general status of polar bears is currently stable."

Further, listing the bear could spawn lawsuits and impose economy-crippling restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. Because the ESA makes it a crime to "harm" a listed animal or its habitat, environmentalists could sue any public or private entity that emits CO2, which, they claim, causes global warming and harms the bear. NRDC and others already have successfully sued under the ESA to stop everything from military training to cattle ranching.

Listing the polar bear would benefit environmental activists, but would raise energy costs for consumers and harm our economy, while providing few if any benefits to the bears.
To contact author Peyton Knight directly, write him at [email protected]
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:41 PM

Backdoor Imposition of Fairness Doctrine Opposed

Perhaps because there are so many broadcasters -- and talk radio guests -- among their ranks, Project 21 members have for years taken a keen interest in opposing a restoration of the Fairness Doctrine. This past week, six of them submitted comments (pdf) to the Federal Communications Commission expressing concern that proposed new "local programming" regulations could re-impose a version of the Fairness Doctrine thorugh the back door.

Here's their press release:
Concerned that proposed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations regarding "local programming content and diversity" could lead to a new "Fairness Doctrine," black broadcasting veterans affiliated with Project 21 have submitted comments to the FCC opposing new restrictions on currently-accepted political and social content.

"We've seen an explosion in broadcast content since the FCC set aside the political restrictions of the Fairness Doctrine over 20 years ago," said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli. "To bring about new restrictions now would hurt businesses, political discourse and the diversity these proposed regulations purport to want to foster. All it will do is hurt free expression and free speech."

The FCC released a report in late January on the topic of "broadcast localism" that ostensibly seeks "to ensure that broadcasters are appropriately addressing the needs of their local communities." Some of the report's proposals include "increase[ing] local content and diversity in programming," "establish[ment of] permanent advisory boards... to consult periodically on community needs and issues" and new licensing guidelines to "ensure that all broadcasters provide some locally-oriented programming."

Project 21 members and other critics of new regulation of accepted broadcast content contend this would set the stage for a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. This defunct FCC rule, requiring broadcasters to present contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues, was abolished in 1987. Between the 1980s and today, talk radio grew from 75 stations nationwide to around 1,800. It is feared that a return of content restrictions would return broadcasting to what former NBC "Meet the Press" host Bill Monroe called "timid, don't-rock-the-boat coverage."

It is also noted that technological innovations such as the Internet - with services such as blogs, YouTube and other web sites - and 24-hour broadcast news outlets now offers an environment in which access to all views is readily available.

"Media is a business driven by success and profit. While this FCC report proposes regulations with a veneer of promoting balance and fairness, a closer examination shows they will likely blunt today's most successful models of discourse," said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie, a former talk radio host. "Any government interference in content that draws views or listeners and does not violate accepted standards of decency should be viewed hyper-critically."

Project 21 members submitting comments against the FCC's Report on Broadcast Localism and the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (MB Docket No. 04-233) include Chairman Mychal Massie, Fellow Deneen Borelli, and National Advisory Council members Kevin Martin, Bob Parks, the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson and Elder Doctor Levon Yuille. All have been involved in radio and television broadcasting.

The comments submitted by Project 21 members can be downloaded at http://www.nationalcenter.org/FCC-Broadcast-Comments-0208.pdf...
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:39 PM

Another Ethanol Problem: Fire

From Chris Blank of the Associated Press:
The nation's drive to use more alternative fuel carries a danger many communities have been slow to recognize: Ethanol fires are harder to put out than gasoline ones and require a special type of firefighting foam.

Many fire departments around the country don't have the foam, don't have enough of it, or are not well-trained in how to apply it, firefighting experts say. It is also more expensive than conventional foam.

"It is not unusual to find a fire department that is still just prepared to deal with traditional flammable liquids," said Ed Plaugher, director of national programs for the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

The problem is that water doesn't put out ethanol fires, and the foam that has been used since the 1960s to smother ordinary gasoline blazes doesn't work well against the grain-alcohol fuel.

Wrecks involving ordinary cars and trucks are not the major concern. They carry modest amounts of fuel, and it is typically a low-concentration, 10 percent blend of ethanol and gasoline. A large amount of conventional foam can usually extinguish such fires.

Instead, the real danger involves the many tanker trucks and railcars that are rolling out of the Corn Belt with huge quantities of 85 or 95 percent ethanol and carrying it to parts of the country unaccustomed to dealing with it...
Read the rest here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:51 PM

Pro-Military Rally Trumps Leftist Hooligans in DC





As noted the other day, Project 21 member Kevin Martin led the D.C. Chapter of Free Republic in a rally of support for armed forces recruiters in Washington, D.C. Monday.

The rally was in response to an anti-war rally at the same location by some hooligans who described their activities this way:
... After many previous protests had found the 14th st recruiter "closed" at 5PM, Funk the War found them open, and the door unlocked at nearer to 6Pm and promptly exploited the situation by demonstrating to them first hand how an occupying force behaves.

After a loud commotion inside while outnumbered cops watched, recruiters finally managed to get protesters to leave-but not before literature and full-body length cardboard displays in the street window area were destroyed. In addition, hundreds more "Funk the War" stickers were plastered all over just about everything that would take them. By the time everyone was out it looked like a tornado had swept through the lobby.

One recruiter tried to grab an activist but found himself overpowered by SDS's superior strength and numbers and had no choice but to give up!
There is more of that juvenile nonsense here.

Kudos to Kevin and the members of Free Republic who didn't let the hooligans have the last word.

Addendum: Free Republic reports on the rally here; more pictures of the event can be found here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:28 AM

DarkStar's "Race Hustling" Response

DarkStar has responded to my comments about the letters in the Washington Post by four presidents of historically-black colleges and universities and by Project 21's Mychal Massie, and the Wall Street Journal op-ed by Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom.

You can read what DarkStar said here.

My response:

1) There does not appear to be a consensus on the definition of the term "race hustling." Based on comments I'm getting, some folks think "exploiting racial divisions" is enough to qualify the term; others think the person doing it must do so with a profit motive of some sort. Possibly, the term simply needs to evolve until a consensus forms. With luck, by the time it does, the word "archiac" will apply.

2) If I read him correctly, DarkStar still believes the Thernstroms were attacking historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) because they began their Wall Street Journal op-ed with questions including: "Half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, should we still support an institution of higher education that is less than 1% white?" and "If all educational doors are so wide open to black students and professors, should we really hope that schools such as Fisk survive?" I still contend that asking those questions, but resolving by the end of their op-ed that HBCUs are valuable, means the Thernstroms' piece was not an attack on HCBUs. People can decide for themselves here.

3) DarkStar wishes Mychal Massie had addressed more issues in his letter to the Post. For what it is worth, the letter the Post published from the four HCBU presidents was 579 words as published. The Post told Mychal his letter in response would have to be 200 words or less to be considered.

4) DarkStar finds "revolting" my reference to all-male universities historically being the first examples of institutions of higher learning to practice inequity. Of this, he said:
I find the total lack of taking history into account to be revolting. Why must Black history be destroyed at the expense of integration? Especially since this part of "Black History" is actually American history? Let's keep the HBCUs around and remove the HWCUs.
I had in mind the 1636 founding of Harvard and its early successors when I wrote that; these schools not only were all-male, but had other restrictions. I don't believe referring to this "destroys black history"; more provocatively (though it does not seem to be hard to provoke DarkStar), I don't think the admission of females destroyed male history, or that closing HCBUs (not that I've seen anyone quoted in any of these posts and articles call for that) would "destroy black history."

Finally, DarkStar seems (to me) to be offended by expressions of support for the integration of HBCUs. I remind him that integration has for some generations now been taught in our schools and throughout our society as a positive value at the very center of our civil moral code. As such, no one should be surprised to find members of the integration generations puzzled at continued support for institutions that appear on the surface to reject this value. It would be more surprising if it were not so.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:24 AM

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Project 21’s Massie Responds to Black College Presidents in Washington Post

From David Almasi:
Last Sunday, the Washington Post published a letter to the editor from four presidents of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Maryland, who took issue with Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom asking, in a Wall Street Journal essay, "are historically-black colleges good for blacks?"

Why they chose the Washington Post to air their grievances and not the Journal is unknown, but here is a portion of what the four contended:
Such mistaken interpretations of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the landmark 1992 Fordice Supreme Court case do a great injustice to historically black institutions and the students they serve. Most unfortunately, they threaten to open old wounds related to race and poverty.
In a rebuttal published in today’s Post, Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie responded:
Asserting that U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom failed "to understand that a main object of the civil rights movement was to enhance educational opportunities for [blacks] by eliminating the vestiges of segregation and enhancing their educational institutions" is nothing short of revisionism.

The 1992 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Fordice did not hurt historically black colleges and universities. It upheld Title IV, on desegregation of public education, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There is no debate that historically black institutions have been permitted to escape adherence to Title IV specifically because they are black. What's more, they have escaped penalty while their proponents viciously castigate other institutions for lacking diversity.
To read all of Mychal’s letter, click here.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]


Addendum from Amy: The DarkStar Spouts Off blog has published a long critique (attack?) on Mychal's letter. I found it odd in a couple of respects:
1) DarkStar/Ed Brown refers to Mychal's "race hustling ways." I've been unable to find a definition anywhere for the slang term "race hustling," but I thought it referred to the exploitation of racial divisions for personal profit. If I am right (I invite readers to write to tell me they disagree), I don't think the term applies to someone who advocates the elimination of racial divisions in an uncompensated letter to the Washington Post written on his free time.

2) DarkStar castigates Mychal for not addressing a litany of other, related issues, but letters to major newspapers intended for publication nearly always must be short and succinct to have any hope of being published. Writers can't address everything they might wish to.

3) DarkStar ends with:
Here is the bottom line to all of this, besides the disgust I'm feeling towards Massie's letter. Why is it that people like [Abigail] Thernstrom and Massie say close down HBCUs because of their segregated history, instead of saying close down HWCUs, because of THEIR segregated history?

Close down the HWCUs, transfer the money and facilities to the HBCUs, and then let's see what happens.
Mychal's letter didn't call for closing down historically-black colleges; he exposed the hypocrisy inherent in calling for integration while promoting segregation.

In their letter's lead sentence, the four HCBU presidents called for "eliminating the vestiges of segregation and enhancing [black] educational institutions..."

The four HBCU presidents opposed and supported segregation in the same sentence.

As to Thernstrom: Although you'd be hard-pressed to tell from the college presidents' and DarkStar's attack on her views, she expressed support for the continuation of historically-black institutions. Her essay concludes:
"[Historically-black colleges and universities] do seem to meet a real need, serving their students well in important respects. In a free society, many private and public institutions will have a distinctive profile. Group clustering is not necessarily unhealthy; indeed, it's an inescapable feature of a multiethnic nation. No one worries that there are 'too many' Jews at Yeshiva and Brandeis, 'too many' Catholics at Notre Dame and Holy Cross, 'too many' Mormons at Brigham Young. And so it should be with Howard, Fisk and Mississippi Valley State. That's what democratic pluralism means."
Hardly a call for the "closing down" of HBCUs, as DarkStar alleges.

4) The college presidents and DarkStar attacked Abigail Thernstrom, yet Abigail Thernstrom's essay was jointly written with her husband, Stephan Thernstrom. Isn't the man's input as worthy of note as the female's?

Possibly this anti-male inequity could be addressed by establishing and supporting all-male universities...

...or perhaps it is that kind of thinking that got all this higher education inequity started in the first place.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:13 PM

Friday, February 22, 2008

Project 21 Member to Lead D.C. Demonstration Monday Supporting Armed Forces Recruiters

From David Almasi:
On February 15, anti-war protestors affiliated with the rejuvenated Students for a Democratic Society marched through Washington, D.C.'s evening rush hour. When they found the local armed forces recruiting station open, the protestors stormed the office and trashed it. The D.C. Police chose not to intervene.

This coming Monday, Project 21 Kevin Martin and members of the D.C. chapter of Free Republic are holding their own demonstration outside of the recruiting office in support of the armed forces and all they do to protect our freedom here and abroad.

Here are the details for those who would like to attend:
Monday, February 25
3pm-6pm
1099 14th Street NW (at L Street NW)
Washington, D.C.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:24 PM

Connerly Reprints Borelli

From Deneen Borelli:
Following last year's U.S. Supreme Court rejection of racial preferences in public school admissions, I wrote a New Visions Commentary for Project 21 titled "Diversity Doesn't Need To Be Forced." Ward Connerly, President of the American Civil Rights Institute - a national civil rights organization created to educate the public on the harms of racial and gender preferences - published the commentary on the cover of his newsletter The Egalitarian. Here is a portion:
In American classrooms, however, the outdated quest for proportional diversity distracts the public and educators from providing our children with the best education available. Denying a child the school he needs in order to meet a quota or forcing him to travel long distances to supplement a school's diversity is a betrayal of our commitment to our kids. Color-coded classrooms and preferential treatment doesn't teach children about the importance of confidence, hard work, perseverance or self-esteem. An educated child taught to appreciate the differences of the cultural backgrounds of others is a sound way to diminish racial bias.
You can read the commentary in its entirety on ACRI's website.
To contact author Deneen Borelli,
write her at [email protected]
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:20 PM

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sour Green Grapes

David's comments, posted here last week on the primary election loss of Green Republican Representative Wayne Gilchest of Maryland, have been expanded upon and have now been published in a column on TownHall.com:
It seems that Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) had a bad case of sour grapes – sour green grapes.

The nine-term Congressman has yet to make the customary concession call to Andy Harris, who defeated him in the February 12 GOP primary balloting.

It seems that Congressman Gilchrest is irked about a post-primary election statement by an aide to Harris, who acknowledged the Congressman’s courageous service during the Vietnam war, but noted that the voters of Maryland’s traditionally conservative First District booted Gilchrest because they wanted a true conservative to represent them.

The aide is right – that’s exactly what they did want. What they didn’t want was an environmental radical representing them...
More on the kerfluffle David writes of on the nonexistent concession call here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:43 AM

Ethanol Subsidies, Mandates May Be Vulnerable

David's op-ed on the many problems with ethanol continues to be picked up by newspapers (since the nine newspapers I mentioned Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Oakland Tribune, the Alameda Times-Star and the Argus in California have run it), and is generating an unsually high amount of comment emails -- all opposed to ethanol subsidies -- to the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Here's a sample of the letters we're getting:
My husband has been on this bandwagon for years. Ethanol makes no sense in any way.

Our ultra liberal daughter acted as if everybody knew how stupid this whole ethanol aberration was.

We were shocked to find one issue we could agree on.

Yet our congress rolls on mightily filling ADM's pockets and others with cash for destroying food crops and further increasing the worlds hunger problem.

As a right wing Jesus freak, I would like to add it is a sin to burn food when people are starving.

Sharon Milton
Norphlet, Ar
Public interest in ethanol -- or, more precisely, public interest in ending ethanol subsidies and mandates -- appears to be greater than I had at first supposed. It won't happen overnight, but perhaps this is an issue on which we can win.

P.S. A bunch more have run it now, but I'll stop listing them all.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:53 AM

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fan Mail

Our Peyton Knight was featured on BBC's Planet Earth video series. I just ran across this recent email sent to the National Center for Public Policy Research general email box from one of his fans:
Mr Knight -

I had the chance to listen to your comments offered during the BBC's Planet Earth video series. Disgusting.

Your arrogance and insolence are exceeded only by your stupidity.

It's quite unfathomable that someone so obtuse and out of touch was given the opportunity to speak at such length. It shames me because you personify the attitude of superiority and ignorance that characterizes so much of the way Americans view and act towards the world.

Our only hope is that people like you keep your heads buried in the sand long enough to suffocate. May that day be soon in coming.

Bill Mangham
Golden, CO
Open-minded fellow, isn't he?
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:15 PM

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Green Congressman Finds Himself a Soon-to-Be Ex-Congressman

Husband David Ridenour has thoughts on incumbent Congressman Wayne Gilchrest's loss in Tuesday's Maryland primary election:
Wayne Gilchrest Finds It's Not Easy Being Green

Statement by David A. Ridenour, Vice President
The National Center for Public Policy Research


Politicians who have been cowering ever since Rep. Richard Pombo's narrow loss at the polls two years ago at the hands of environmental activists now have a new reason to cower...

...Rep. Wayne Gilchrest's landslide loss at the hands of conservatives.

In 2006, a half dozen self-described "environmentalist" organizations poured more than $3 million into a campaign to defeat Congressman Richard Pombo, then chairman of the House Resources Committee, in his re-election bid. They succeeded in ousting Pombo, largely through advertisements focusing on government ethics.

Since then, greens have been using the successful effort against Pombo to intimidate some of the more freedom-oriented members of Congress, warning them that they could be Pombo-ed if they are too aggressive in defending property rights and individual liberty.

As a Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen noted in a press statement, "Pombo's defeat... serves as notice that extreme anti-environmental positions can be an extreme liability on the campaign trail."

Lawmakers need no longer be worried about being Pombo-ed. They need to worry about being Gilchrest-ed.

Yesterday, Wayne Gilchrest was denied the opportunity to seek his tenth term in Congress as Maryland’s First Congressional District’s Republican nominee after receiving less than one-third of the primary vote. Endorsements he received from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the Sierra Club, the Council for a Livable World and Newt Gingrich, who touted Gilchrest's environmental credentials, didn't help him.

They hurt him.

Wayne Gilchrest was among the most rabid environmentalists in Congress, with a lifetime LCV score of 63 -- higher than such Democrats as John Murtha (57), William Jefferson (50) and Alan Mollohan (57).

But these numbers don't begin to tell how significant of an ally he was to the environmental movement because they only measure the votes LCV chose to score. Here's what they don't tell you...
* Gilchrest introduced the "Climate Stewardship Act," a bill that would give Washington the power to regulate 85% of the nation's energy (one of the means of production), harming the economy and especially the disadvantaged and restricting American freedom.

* Gilchrest repeatedly voted against providing the U.S. with greater energy independence, voting against environmentally-responsible energy production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf.

* Gilchrest voted to create the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, a designation that would create de facto federal zoning along a 175-mile corridor running from Gettysburg to Charlottesville, violating ownership rights in the process.

* Gilchrest voted against the Private Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006, which would have merely given property owners their day in court when the federal government takes their property for public use.
To borrow from Defenders of Wildlife's Rodger Schlickeisen, Gilchrest's defeat serves as notice that extreme environmentalist positions can be an extreme liability on the campaign trail.
To contact David Ridenour directly with comments,
write him at [email protected]
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:44 PM

TWA 847 Hijacking Mastermind Pays the Price

Turns out that Imad Mughniyeh isn't getting away with murder after all:
A senior Hezbollah military commander, one of the world's most wanted men for his alleged links to a string of bombings, hijackings and kidnappings during the 1980s and 1990s, has been killed, Hezbollah said Wednesday...

...U.S. officials assert that Mughniyeh was behind the bombings in Beirut in 1983. A car bomb at the U.S. Embassy in April that year killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, while a truck bomb in October at a Marine compound killed 241 American troops.

The United States have also asserted Mughniyeh was behind the torture and murder of William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, in 1984; the kidnapping and murder of Lieutenant Colonel William Richard Higgins of the Marines, who was on peacekeeping duty in Lebanon in 1988; and, through the Islamic Jihad Organization, the seizure of Western hostages in Beirut during the 1980s.

Mughniyeh is also wanted for the hijacking in June 1985 of a TWA flight. During the hijacking, an American was killed and 39 Americans were held hostage for 17 days. It is the only terrorist action for which he has been indicted in the United States...
Joe Roche, an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, wrote about Mughniyeh for us back in 2001, saying Mughniyeh at that time had been identified to U.S. authorities by Israel "as one of two who were setting up nearly 200 terrorists inside the U.S. for a major attack."

I wrote about the TWA 847 hijackers and murderers of sailor Robert Stethem getting away scot-free in 2005; it appears that they all haven't gotten away scot-free after all.

Ronald Reagan said in 1985 regarding Robert Stethem's murder and the TWA hijacking: "We will not rest until justice is done." It took 22 years to get Imad Mughniyeh, but Reagan called it right. Whomever got him wasn't resting.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:18 PM

Congressional Love Affair with Ethanol Leaves Others Cold

The red-hot Congressional love affair with the alternative fuel ethanol isn't shared by conservative groups, and a new op-ed by husband David Ridenour shows some environmentalists are skeptical as well.

David's piece says, in part:
..."We are witnessing the beginning of one of the great tragedies of history," said Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of a new report on ethanol and its effect on food prices.

The increased amount of acreage devoted to growing corn for ethanol, he observed, means the U.S. will ultimately export less grain - further harming poor nations that rely heavily on food imports for their basic sustenance.

Brown projected that the 800-million human beings current living in hunger will rise to 1.2 billion by 2025.

"The United States, in a misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity by converting grain into fuel for cars, is generating global food insecurity on a scale never seen before," he said.

"As a result, the world is facing the most severe food price inflation in history as grain and soybean prices climb to all-time highs," Brown said, noting that wheat trading on the Chicago Board of Trade on December 17th pushed past the $10 per bushel for the first time ever, while a bushel of soybeans traded at a historic high of $13.42 on January 11.

The rising commodity prices are driven by hefty federal subsidies for U.S. produced ethanol and huge tariffs of some $1.50 per gallon on cheaper ethanol imports from Brazil.

The subsidies and tariffs have triggered a rush to invest in America's new biofuel industry. Dozens of new ethanol plants are popping up across the agricultural states of the Midwest like mushrooms after a spring rain.

A region that once produced much of American's food and sent its surpluses to feed the world's hungry now is producing grain for automotive fuel - the beneficiary of earmarks from the Capitol Hill friends of prairie farmers...
Newspaper editors may be equally skeptical of ethanol. David's op-ed has only recently been circulated, yet the following papers, among others, have already run it: The Raleigh News & Observer, the Sacramento Bee, the Fresno Bee, the Billings Gazette, the Washington Tri-City Herald, the Press of Atlantic City, the Bellingham Herald, the Anchorage Daily News, and Hilton Head Island Packet.

Read the full piece yourself at any of the links above.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:09 AM

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mom & Pop Pay When Corporations Play Green

Senior Fellow Tom Borelli has had a new op-ed published in which he looks at the benefits "enjoyed" by major corporations after they join left-wing environmental coalitions.

A hint: They end up being hurt by the very policies they help the lefties aadvocate.

In a sense, there's justice in that, but it is not at all fair to stockholders. It is even less fair to Mom & Pop customers, who pay the price for corporate folly in price increases. In one example Tom provides, projected price increases of 53 percent.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:47 PM

Monday, February 04, 2008

Earthjustice's Clean Water Poll Comes Up Short

Peyton Knight takes a close look at Earthjustice polling on the Clean Water Act:
Last month, the environmental activists at Earthjustice breathlessly released the results of a poll the group had commissioned that supposedly reveals rural voters' feelings on the Clean Water Act. The purpose of this classic push poll is to give the impression that rural voting districts support a vast expansion of the Clean Water Act, and therefore, would support the Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421 and S. 1870), a bill designed to bring federal regulatory authority to every field drainage ditch, pond and prairie pothole in the nation.

However, a look at the actual polling data reveals a different story than the group presents in its press release.

For example, in its press release, Earthjustice claims: "Results from the survey of 300 randomly selected rural voters in each of three congressional districts in Illinois (15th), Ohio (18th) and Tennessee (4th), polled in mid-December, show that more than three-fourths of those polled indicated they were very concerned about pollution of lakes, rivers and streams."

This simply is not true. The poll results clearly show that an average of only 55 percent of those polled responded that they were "very concerned" about "pollution of lakes, rivers and streams." Thus, Earthjustice inflated the poll's actual results by over 20 percent.

In addition, the results show that a clear majority of those polled (roughly 63 percent) do not have ANY concerns about drinking water straight from the tap. This bit of inconvenient truth failed to make it into the Earthjustice press release.

Christine Matthews, president of the firm that conducted the poll for Earthjustice, states in the press release: "The notion that farmers might view environmental regulations as excessive was absolutely not in evidence here."

This may be true, however, only because Matthews' company didn't bother to ask many farmers. The polling data shows that a whopping 77 percent of those polled do not "currently own, operate, or work on a farm."

Earthjustice also trumpets that 55 percent of those polled agreed with the poll interviewer that "the government has not gone far enough with laws to protect the environment and to keep our water free from pollution." But considering the usual one-sided nature of push polls, this particular poll's 5.6 percent margin of error and the fact that those likely to be most affected by federal clean water regulations (i.e., farmers) weren't truly represented, this number is hardly impressive. In fact, nearly half of those questioned either responded that "the government has gone too far with laws regulating environmental protection which has hurt businesses and landowners," or didn't care enough to have an opinion.
To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:33 PM

Global Warming Alarmists Question the Value of Liberal Democracy

Ms Borelli

I thought your article "Global Warming Statists Threaten Our Liberty" was a satire, at first. I chuckled at the insistent defense of your unalienable right to CHOOSE an SUV rather than think of the welfare of the world. Risable, really, as was the rest of the article. Alas, it is an earnest, albeit astonishingly misguided, attempt to justify continued selfishness. I've come across much contentious material online, but never felt compelled to respond to any author's opinions. It's crushingly disappointing to know that since you are part of a bigger "project", there are others who think similarly and come to the same absurd conclusions. Enjoy your Expedition whilst you can.

An Appalled Scientist,
E Casner
Critics of Deneen Borelli's New Visions Commentary (which said "critics of the global warming agenda are motivated... by a love of freedom and civil liberties") like the writer above remind me of a Prometheus blog post I saw last week about a new environmentalist call for a replacement of our liberal democratic form of government with a more authoritarian one.

Writes Roger Pielke, Jr. on Prometheus, in part:
Have you ever heard anyone make the argument that we must take a certain course of action because the experts tell us we must? The issue might be the threat of another country or an environmental risk, but increasingly we see appeals to authority used as the basis for arguing for this or that action.

In a new book, David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith take the appeal to experts somewhat further and argue that in order to deal with climate change we need to replace liberal democracy with an authoritarianism of scientific expertise. They write in a recent op-ed:
Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens...

There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties...

We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions.
On their book page they write:
[T]he authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power.
(Read the rest of Roger Pielke's post and comments to it here.)

Do global warming statists threaten our liberty, as Deneen believes?

Apparently they not only do, some of them are saying so in plain English.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:04 PM

If Visiting CPAC...

From Executive Director David Almasi:
If you are attending this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, please be sure to say hello to Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli and National Center Senior Fellow Tom Borelli at the DemandDebate table in the CPAC exhibit hall. They will have National Center for Public Policy Research and Project 21 publications available, including free copies of the latest edition of Shattered Dreams.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:45 PM

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Government Health Care Threatens Burgers and Fries?

Three Mississippi state lawmakers have introduced legislation to ban Mississippi restaurants from serving food to obese people.

We've written before how government bans on tobacco use in bars and resturants have reduced customer traffic in those establishments (here and here, for example). One can only imagine how few customers restaurants would have if they had to do height and weight checks on all patrons at the door.

As reported in the Junkfood Science blog, the bill's lead author, Republican W. T. Mayhall, Jr., says one of the reasons he wrote the bill is to "call attention to the serious problem of obesity and what it is costing the Medicare system."

I'm well aware of the way government health care systems deny people access to health care through waiting lines, cancelled operations, rationing of expensive drugs, etc. (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here for some examples), but this is perhaps the first case of it threatening access to burgers and fries.

Doggone government health care fanatics not only want to end our lives early, they want to cut out half the fun of what life we'll have left!

But perhaps I fret needlessly. The bill bans serving food to obese people, but says nothing about serving alcohol.

Hat tip: Q and O.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 AM

Reducing Waiting Lists by Kicking Patients Off the List

Don Surber is on the case of a plastic surgeon in Great Britain who sent a letter to one of his patients reading:
"I am afraid I am writing to inform you of some bad news.

"I have been instructed by hospital management to remove your name from my waiting list. The prime reason for this decision relates to the 18-week target for patient treatment which is now in enforcement.

"I currently have a significant number of patients in breach of this and the simple solution by management is to reduce my waiting lists by removing patients’ names."
Read the story here.

Hat tip: Instapundit.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:00 AM

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