Author: Ethan Hunt

If They Build It, Who Will Come?

  While much of the world continues to languish in a starting and stopping economic recovery, China’s impressive development and economic growth have proceeded with only the slightest of pauses.  Its 30-year track record and ability to maintain full speed ahead during the recent downturn have only solidified many observers’ opinions that China provides an example of effective government control and is destined to surpass the United States on the world stage in the coming decades—with its economy eclipsing America’s as early as 2016. Despite the unbelievable success of the PRC’s initiatives, several problems still loom large for the East Asian giant.  Currently of great concern to Beijing is the rising inflation rate that has some investors starting to doubt the sure bet of the Chinese market. Inflation has become a serious worry for many in China. In March inflation stood at 5.4 percent compared to the same time last year. This was driven in large part by soaring food and housing prices.  The first two months of 2011 saw food prices climb by 11 percent and housing costs jump by over 6 percent compared to 2010, according to the Chinese government.  This is terrible for a developing country desperately trying to be more consumer-driven because as these basic living expenses go up, people have increasingly less free income to purchase nonessential items. Underlying the skyrocketing cost of homes...

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The “Little Emperor”

A word of praise is in order for the Nobel Peace Prize committee.  Two weeks ago they awarded the honor to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident currently serving an 11-year prison term for having the audacity to think that China should afford its citizenry basic human rights and freedoms.  Some say this year’s recipient is a reminder of what the award is designed to represent after what they see as a few dubious selections over the past several years. Whether that is true or not, Mr. Liu certainly espouses the ideals of the prize.  He has been a tireless advocate of political participation and public expression, with a history going back to the Tiananmen protest of 1989 when he tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the ordeal.  His efforts greatly mitigated the human toll when the tanks eventually rolled in.  He is now serving his third prison sentence for championing the rights of Chinese people. The committee deserves praise, however, not for the recipient they chose, but for the interference they overcame — no, ignored — in awarding it.  Ten days before the committee was to make its final decision the Chinese government sent a letter of warning to the Oslo committee.  In the letter, China argued that bestowing the Nobel on such a criminal as Mr. Liu would defile the intent of the award.  Furthermore, and this...

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Herd Immunity: The United States and Its War For and Against Vaccines

The Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in a very interesting case concerning health care on Tuesday.  This case has nothing to do with President Obama’s new health care plan, but is nonetheless important.  The case centers on the very specific question of whether a 1986 law establishing a no-fault compensation system for injuries resulting from vaccines limits the avenues of litigation for such claims; the implications, however, reach far beyond and could have a drastic impact on the health of the nation. The parents of Hannah Bruesewitz brought the case before the court.  The now 18-year-old Hannah suffered seizures and subsequent developmental issues beginning shortly after receiving the DTP vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, when she was six months old.  Her parents believe the seizures were complications from the vaccine and that the vaccine manufacturer was aware of the dangers but kept a safer version of the vaccine off the market to increase profitability.  Their claim was first brought before the so-called Vaccine Court, the body established under the 1986 federal law, where it was dismissed.  The Bruesewitz family brought the case before lower courts which also dismissed the case, all of them ruling that Congress set forth a specific means for litigating vaccine injuries cases through the Vaccine Court. In arguments that were presented and then tested by the justices, a...

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