- New regulations on international movement of rosewood create major hassles and risks for musicians, instrument makers [Robert Benincasa, NPR, earlier on exotic woods]
- “Argentinian geoscientist faces criminal charges over glacier survey” [Jeff Tollefson and Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, Nature]
- “The Progressive Roots of Zoning” [Samuel Staley, Market Urbanism]
- “Water Rights, Water Fights in the American West” [Reed Watson and Caleb Brown, Cato podcast]
- “Los Angeles Wants to Make Housing Affordable by Making it More Expensive” [Christian Britschgi, Reason]
- “Private Property Rights Collide With Invisible Frog” [Chris Bennett, Farm Journal, on cert petition in Markle Interests v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Chamber, earlier]
- “Victory for ‘Caveman’ Blogger in Free Speech Fight – the right to give advice about what to eat” [Institute for Justice, earlier]
- “Is an academic discussion of free speech potentially traumatic?” Given campus trends, it might soon be [Wendy Kaminer]
- Logic of rejecting heckler’s veto points likewise to rejecting its savage cousin, terrorists’ veto [Ronald Collins]
- Someone tried to yank a Minnesota urbanist’s engineering license because of things he wrote on his blog. It didn’t work [Strong Towns; compare first roundup item]
- Departing NPR ombudsman would take free speech law back to ’50s, and that means 1850s not 1950s [Volokh, earlier]
- The last time I saw Paris, it was making a fool of itself in litigation [Mediaite, Huffington Post, earlier on city’s threats to sue Fox]
- Argentina: state uses control over soccer broadcasts to beam propaganda denouncing opposition [David Kopel] “Dissenting voices silenced in Pakistan’s war of the web” [Jon Boone, Guardian]
“If you say anything remotely critical about the Ecuadorian government, you may face a copyright takedown,” wrote Maira Sutton at EFF in May. A Spanish firm that represents the government of Ecuador, Ares Rights, has sent out many such takedown demands, related to media accounts of surveillance, corruption, and the country’s Lago Agrio legal dispute with Chevron. More recently, following growing scrutiny of its own activities, Ares Rights has aimed takedown demands citing supposed copyright infringement against its own critics, including Adam Steinbaugh. Details: Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Ken at Popehat. It has also represented the government of Argentina.
In Argentina, famed for agricultural bounty, government folly leads to shortages of wheat [Bloomberg; original Milton Friedman quote]
On Ralph Lauren’s agreement with prosecutors to settle charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that its agents improperly bribed officials in Argentina to allow goods to move through trade channels: “Disgorge is a curious description. The $593,000 is the amount they paid out in bribes, not the amount they took in. Disgorge usually refers to the fruits of crime, but instead refers here to the perverse perspective of our government in keeping American corporations pure as the driven snow while minor warlords elsewhere demand their piece of the pie. Whether it’s money in or out, gained or lost, or even neither existing nor realized, it’s all money the government demands be disgorged.” [Scott Greenfield] More on the case: Lawrence Cunningham, FCPA Professor.
- David Henderson reviews Roger Donway book on Greg Reyes backdated-options prosecution [Econlog]
- Francis Menton on Argentina vs. creditors [Manhattan Contrarian via FedSoc Blog]
- New book, with co-author Lawrence Cunningham, gives Hank Greenberg’s side of the story on AIG [Concur Op, NY Post]
- Are Wall Street’s expert networks a violation of insider trading laws? [David Zaring, Conglomerate via Bainbridge]
- “A Brief Explanation Of The Economics Of Securities Lawsuits” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes] Related: Alison Frankel, Reuters [history of attempts at reform]
- What, a new bank? Yes, the proposed Bank of Bird-in-Hand [Kevin Funnell]
- Rules-based, low-discretion enforcement of Dodd-Frank? If only [Louise Bennetts (Cato), Jurist]
- Libel law might paradoxically increase job security of ABC’s much-criticized Brian Ross [Mickey Kaus]
- “If you want to publicly criticize Argentina’s government, make sure all your tax filings are in order.” [NYT via Caron]
- Pentagon Papers case, Meyer v. Nebraska included: “Top ten libertarian Supreme Court decisions” [Damon Root, Reason]
- Criticizing Thai royalty? “Lèse Majesté: 16th Century Censorship Meets 21st Century Law” [Marie-Andree Weiss, Citizen Media Law]
- “Government can’t censor book promotion”: Cato files amicus brief in Trudeau diet-book case [Ilya Shapiro and Kathleen Hunker, Cato; related]
- “I was sued for libel under an unjust law” [Nature reporter Quirin Schiermeier, UK, via BoingBoing]
- Florida seen as worst of many states (even worse than Pennsylvania?) at discouraging SLAPP suits [Marc Randazza, Citizen Media Law]
Following a worldwide outcry, Argentina has promised to lift restrictions on the importation of foreign books, which had purportedly been based on fear of dangerous lead content in the ink. According to a report by my Cato colleague Juan Carlos Hidalgo:
“If you put your finger in your mouth after paging through a book, that can be dangerous,” said Juan Carlos Sacco, the vice-president of an industrialist organization that supports the measure.
MercoPress carries reporting in English translation on the original measure and on the promised reversal. Under the rule of President Cristina Fernandez, the Argentine government has taken a number of steps considered hostile to press critics, including controls on the newsprint business, and criminal charges against economists who report that prices are rising faster than the official inflation index.
Where did the Argentine officials get the idea that lead in book inks might be enough of a public health problem to justify drastic government action? Maybe from the U.S. Congress. As I explained in this City Journal piece, the notoriously extreme and poorly drafted 2008 CPSIA law imposed across-the-board requirements for lead testing of older children’s products, with the result that, according to guidance from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it was considered doubtfully lawful to sell or distribute most pre-1985 books for children. That set of restrictions was eventually relaxed, following a massive outcry from dealers, publishers, libraries and lovers of children’s books.
Economic liberty intertwined with civil liberty, part 7,914,886: “The paper used to produce newspapers came under government control in Argentina on Thursday, in a long-sought victory for President Cristina Fernandez in her dispute with the country’s opposition media,” reported AP last month. More from the BBC, and earlier from my Cato colleague Juan Carlos Hidalgo.
Independent papers in the South American republic are quite right to fear for their future, if earlier ventures into government newsprint control are any indication. Dictator Juan Peron used similar methods to muzzle the press, while in Mexico for decades governments of the ruling PRI closely controlled newsprint allocation, a power they were not hesitant to use to bring excessively independent publishers to heel. It came as an important move toward Mexican political liberalization in 1990 when the Salinas government did away with the controls, by allowing free importation of newsprint to any buyers subject to a modest tariff.
Significantly, the measure just signed by Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner inserts the government directly as a prospective owner of the business and contains provisions on newsprint imports as well. Per Impunity Watch:
Clarins newspaper notes that there are a number of disturbing aspects to the bill. First is the passage that allows for the state to unilaterally take a majority share of the company as the newsprint distribution is now classified a national interest. Also of concerns is the portion that would permit the Economy Minister to determine how much newsprint to import, establishing government quotas that have never before existed….
Concurrent with the media bill passage is a new anti-terrorism bill that classifies certain “economic crimes,” including certain actions taken by the media, as terrorist acts. The bill states that “economic terrorist acts” are those done with an intent to terrorize the general population.
Whether relatedly or not, the Argentine government last year launched prosecutions of independent economists who have asserted that the country’s actual inflation rate is higher than that reported by the government (& Coyote).