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Subject: Reason Express - November 5, 2002
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 04:41:55 -0800

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Reason Express

Reason's Weekly Dispatch
By Jeff A. Taylor and the Reason staff

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November 5, 2002
Vol. 5, No. 45

In this issue:

1. Settling the Score
2. Zero Discipline   
3. Bean Bags   
4. Quick Hits
5. Machine Gun Delivery - and other highlights from Reason Online
6. From Reason's print edition
7. News and Events

Debunking the Doomsters! Environmental fear mongers have succeeded in spreading their dismal visions of a poisoned, overpopulated, resource-depleted world spiraling down into ecological ruin. In his new book, Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths, Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey assembles some of the most respected researchers in the country to explode the myths behind these doom and gloom scenarios, and expose how the environmental movement uses false science to scare us to death and stymie progress. Buy it now!
Reason Express is made possible by a grant from The DBT Group ( ), manufacturers of affordable, high-performance mainframe systems and productivity software.
1. Settling the Score America's long national nightmare may be at an end. Microsoft's antitrust settlement with the Justice Department has survived a challenge by nine states that claimed it didn't go far enough. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found that the federal settlement sufficed: Loosening up requirements that Microsoft imposed on computer makers, along with making the inner workings of Windows more transparent to outside software developers, addressed the most grievous complaints about the company's business practices. Namely, that it used its market position to strong-arm both computer makers and other software companies into lousy deals. The states basically wanted the company carved up and/or nationalized, with Windows becoming the equivalent of a heavily regulated common-carrier, like a phone company or other utility. The fact that Redmond's competitors want the states to appeal tells you that they will be satisfied with nothing less than the dismemberment of the company. Expect more warnings about Microsoft "controlling" the Internet, a feat that looks more remote by the month. The real threat to consumers using computers as they please is "digital rights management," which guarantees that digital media will never truly be owned by the people who buy them. Microsoft's Palladium initiative could force consumers to give up control over their own machines to distant copyright owners, who could demand payment every time a song or video is accessed or could simply prevent certain files from being used on a computer at all. If millions of consumers find themselves unable to use content they thought they paid for on Windows boxes, those $600 Linux boxes at Wal-Mart are going to start to look awfully attractive. Redmond might be ruthless, but it isn't dumb. Microsoft might now be in a position to side with computer users against the copyright owners it has strung along in recent years. Bill Gates hasn't been able to toss off one of his famous "head feints" in awhile, so the time is ripe. Having repeatedly argued during the course of the antitrust proceedings that it must maintain the "right to innovate," Microsoft could choose to say it is on the side of the future and innovation. It could, but that doesn't mean it will.,1367,56175,00.html
2. Zero Discipline To see what happens when entrenched interests run up against new technology -- not to mention a possible preview of what will happen to American telecom in the near future -- look at Panama. Like many countries around the world, Panama uses long distance phone traffic as a cash cow. Not only that, but over the years many international cable and switching facilities have set up shop in that strategic locale. In sum, telecom is quite the big business in Panama. So when the Internet starts sucking traffic off the old circuit-switched phone network, it gets noticed. Voice-over-Internet protocol services offered by Panamanian Internet providers dodged all the hefty fees and taxes of the old phone system, and as a result were much cheaper. The government responded exactly as you might expect: They effectively banned such services in and out of the country. A decree issued last month ordered that all ISPs block the ports typically used for voice-over-Internet traffic. Local ISPs are upset, but it is unclear what they can do about it other than agree to pay off someone, either under or over the table. A heavily taxed, inefficient circuit-switched system cannot coexist with a tax-free, modern packet-switched system. Sooner or later, the U.S. will face this reality, too.
3. Bean Bags The left coast coffee justice campaign has spread to America's heartland. A proposal to require coffee sold in localities to be politically correct is on the ballot in Berkeley and is the subject of a petition drive in Iowa City. No surprise: Both towns harbor coffee houses, big universities, and fuzzy-thinking college students. The goal is to effectively outlaw coffee that is grown with pesticides and fertilizers, setting a "community standard" for P.C. java. The proposed Iowa City ordinance would require all brewed coffee sold in town to be from beans that are organic, "fair-trade," shade-grown, or some combination of them all. Violators would risk fines of up to $1,000 or three days in jail. Iowa City Mayor Ernie Lehman is not impressed. "In the total scheme of things, I'm a lot more concerned with what will happen in Iraq than with the coffee we drink in the morning," he said.
4. Quick Hits - - Quote of the Week - - "Al Qaeda is a Faith-Based Initiative" --placard from the first-ever Godless Americans March on Washington, which drew about 2,000 people. - - Take Two and Call Me in the Morning - - The newest Next Big Thing is the slim Tablet PC, supposedly ready to supplant the laptop. Newsies dream of using it to offer paperless newspapers.,1282,56130,00.html - - Fat Cop - - George Washington University law prof John Banzhaf says that America's obesity problem compels him to sue the food industry. Not all of his old anti-tobacco cohorts agree. - - Toking the Line - - A former Dallas Cowboy Pro Bowler tackles drug laws. Mark Stepnoski says a little pot never hurt him.
5. New at Reason Online Machine Gun Delivery Government gets in on dope dealing. Tim Cavanaugh 12 Stupid Men Is a pool of fools better than one on the bench? Jacob Sullum When Paranoids Get Lazy Was Paul Wellstone Murdered? Jesse Walker And much more!
6. The Print Edition Get your personal copy of the latest issue of Reason's print edition each month -- before it hits the newsstands and before it's posted on the Web! Subscribe Today!
7. News and Events Buy Reason T-shirts and coffee mugs! **** Click here for the latest on media appearances by Reason writers. **** Want even more Reason? Sign up for Reason Alert to get regular news from Reason Magazine and Reason Public Policy Instiute, as well as advance notice about media appearances and events. ---

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