Sunday, April 11, 2004


The German Crack in Kyoto's Wall

A new crack has appeared in Kyoto's wall.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Europe should not rush into enforcing targets to curb greenhouse emissions if Russia fails to sign the Kyoto protocol. "We hope that Kyoto will be ratified, for example by Russia," told Schroeder. "But if that doesn't happen, it will distort competition at the expense of European and especially German economy."

In fact, according to DRI/WEFA estimates, under the Kyoto protocol the price of home heating could rise by 28 percent in Germany by 2010; gasoline and diesel prices would rise by 9 percent and 14 percent. GDP would shrink by 2.9 percent below the baseline forecasts, and employment would fall by 1.0 million jobs annually during the 2008-2012 budget period....

Activists Threaten Cancer Research

Animal rights zealots will do anything for attention, even if it means attacking a fundraiser for cancer research. The misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a front group for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is protesting the American Cancer Society's "Cattle Barons' Ball" events. The western-themed galas have raised more than $20 million for cancer research over the past 30 years. But PCRM will do anything to advance its vegetarian-only, animal rights agenda -- even jeopardize the search for a cancer cure and endanger Americans' health....

The Politics of Science

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently issued a report accusing the Bush Administration of suppressing and manipulating scientific evidence on global warming and other issues for the sake of politics.

The mixture of politics and science is nothing new in Presidential administrations. The Clinton administration had its own agenda as well:

---A Princeton University physicist was fired in 1993 because he did not agree with Al Gore's views on ozone depletion in the stratosphere.
---President Clinton withheld funding on the implications of human embryo use for genetic research after the National Institutes of Health reported that it was unethical to create human embryos simply for the purpose of such research.
---In 1993, the EPA manipulated data and hand-picked from several studies on second-hand smoke in order to validate its theory that second-hand smoke caused lung cancer in adults and respiratory problems in children.

Moreover, the UCS has not cited any instances where science was misused for policies that the organization itself favors.

The UCS recommends stricter standards for scientists on federal review panels, and Congressional guarantees that the public has access to its studies. However, many steps to improve the quality of scientific information are already in place. Congress recently passed the Federal Quality Data Act in 1999 issuing guidelines for quality, objectivity and public access to information.

Source: Ronald Bailey, "Political Science - Why Government Isn't the Best Place to Look For Unbiased Science," Reason Online, March 3, 2004.

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Environmentalists’ Unrealistic Demands Hurt Poor and Minorities

The Bush administration is proposing dramatic reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury from power plants, yet professional environmental advocates are claiming the reductions are not enough.

I am not a scientist. I am, however, somewhat expert in how public policy is made and the unintended impacts it can have on minority and low-income people. I believe this is one such case.

Health and environmental experts at the Mercatus Center, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and other respected think tanks say the reductions promised under the President’s plan already exceed the amounts justified in terms of the health risks and costs involved. By trying to reduce emissions too much, too fast, we risk incurring social costs that far outweigh whatever small and hypothetical health benefits we might be aiming for....

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Set National Wetlands Law Straight

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it will not hear three high-profile cases asking the Court to clarify the constitutional limitations on federal authority to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act. One of the cases the High Court declined to review, Rapanos v. United States, was brought by Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of John Rapanos, a Michigan landowner who will now serve at least 10 months in prison for failing to get a Clean Water Act permit. In addition, the Court rejected petitions for review in Newdunn Associates v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Deaton v. United States, cases that also involve property owners facing federal penalties for federal permit violations.

"Frankly, we're shocked that the Court chose not to hear these important cases," said PLF attorney M. Reed Hopper. "The Supreme Court reversed Mr. Rapanos' conviction nearly three years ago, and we're surprised that they would decline to do so this time around."

"Mr. Rapanos' property is 20 miles from any navigable waterway and has no connection to interstate commerce. How many miles away does your property have to be from any legitimate connection to interstate commerce to be free from federal jurisdiction?" added Hopper....

'PETA Is A Scary Organization'

Last night's season premier of "Penn and Teller: Bullsh*t!" exposed some of the more disturbing, frightening, and lesser-known features of the animal rights movement. The episode, which prominently features the Center for Consumer Freedom, reveals the dark side of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and even moved the silent half of the Penn and Teller comic duo to words. "PETA is a scary organization," says the usually speechless Teller. "People loosely connected with PETA burn down buildings. People whose bank accounts PETA puts money in burn down buildings ... I like animals, too. But not to the extent that I want to block a cure for cancer or AIDS by burning down research laboratories."

Jerry Vlasak, spokesman for PETA's medical front group (the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), had this to say on last night's show: "If someone is killing, on a regular basis, thousands of animals, and if that person can only be stopped in one way by the use of violence, then it is certainly a morally justifiable solution."....

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