Friday, August 31, 2007

Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda

Oh there once was a swagman who camped in the billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he looked at the old billy boiling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
A-waltzing Matilda and leading a waterbag,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed it with glee,
And he sang as he put him away in the tuckerbag,
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

You'll come a waltzing Matilda my darling,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
A-Waltzing Matilda and leading a water bag,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.

Down came the squatter a-riding his thoroughbred,
Down came policemen -- a-one, two, and three.
"Whose is the jumbuck you've got in the tuckerbag?
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

You'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
Waltzing Matilda and leading a water bag,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.

And the swagman he up and he jumped in the waterhole,
Drowning himself by the coolibah tree.
And his ghost may be heard as it sings by the billabong,
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda and leading a water bag,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Literary Warrant [17]

  • beSpacific, $114 Billion Funds Gulf Coast Recovery (August 28, 2007)

    "24 billion went to rebuild the Gulf Coast states and provide survivors with a place to live, repair damaged infrastructure, and build houses and schools in 2007. Of the $114 billion allocated for Gulf Coast recovery, 84 percent has either been disbursed or is awaiting claims. FEMA awarded $8.3 billion in public assistance funding for education, criminal justice, public works, health and hospitals, and historic and cultural resources; education and public works receive $1.3 billion apiece. As of July 2007, over 95,000 households have received aid."—DHS.

  • Joel K. Bourne, Jr., New Orleans: A Perilous Future, National Geographic (August 2007)

    "With seas rising, storms getting stronger, and ground subsiding, another disaster like Katrina seems inevitable. Yet some residents would rather run that risk than leave the place they call home.

    "Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in United States history, was also a warning shot. Right after the tragedy, many people expressed a defiant resolve to rebuild the city. But among engineers and experts, that resolve is giving way to a growing awareness that another such disaster is inevitable, and nothing short of a massive and endless national commitment can prevent it."

  • Center for American Progress, New Orleans by the Numbers: A City Struggles to Rebuild (August 29, 2007)

    "Two years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the city faces challenges as it tries to rebuild: not just those posed by mountains of rubble and the prospect of future hurricanes, but also a rebuilding effort hampered by inaction, mismanagement, and corruption." Related materials include an interactive map for identifying parish-by-parish evidence of progress.

  • Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), Accommodating People With Disabilities In Disasters: A Reference Guide To Federal Law (Release no. HQ-07-169) (August 21, 2007)

    "The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released a new reference guide that outlines existing legal requirements and standards relating to access for people with disabilities. A Reference Guide for Accommodating Individuals with Disabilities in the Provision of Disaster Mass Care, Housing and Human Services is the first of a series of disability-related guidelines to be produced by FEMA for disaster preparedness and response planners and service providers at all levels."—Press release.

  • Michael Grunwald et al., Hurricane Katrina—Two Years Later (Time magazine special report)

    "The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2. The city's defenses should have withstood its surges, and if they had we never would have seen the squalor in the Superdome, the desperation on the rooftops, the shocking tableau of the Mardi Gras city underwater for weeks."

  • Insurance Information Institute, Hurricane Katrina and Insurance: Two Years Later $40.6 Billion in Insurance Claim Dollars Aid Recovery (August 27, 2007)

    "The magnitude of Hurricane Katrina triggered a reexamination of how the United States deals with the financial consequences of natural disasters among insurers, reinsurers and public policymakers, which continues today, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

    "Despite the attention focused on lawsuits filed following this catastrophic storm, the number of claims in litigation accounted for a very small percentage of the total number of claims filed and most of those are no longer in contention. The I.I.I. estimates that fewer than 2 percent of homeowners claims in Louisiana and Mississippi were disputed either through mediation or litigation.

    "Insurance companies have paid an estimated $40.6 billion to policyholders on 1.7 million claims for damage to homes, businesses and vehicles in six states. By contrast, Hurricane Andrew, the previous record holder, resulted in $15.5 billion in losses in 1992 ($22.2 billion in 2006 dollars) and 790,000 claims."—Press release.

  • Charles Kenny, The World Bank, Sustainable Development Network, Finance, Economics and Urban Division, Infrastructure Governance and Corruption: Where Next? (Policy Research Working Paper 4331) (August 2007)

    "Governance is central to development outcomes in infrastructure, not least because corruption (a symptom of failed governance) can have significantly negative impact on returns to infrastructure investment. This conclusion holds whether infrastructure is in private or public hands. This paper looks at what has been learned about the role of governance in infrastructure, provides some recent examples of reform efforts and project approaches, and suggests an agenda for greater engagement—primarily at the sector level—to improve governance and reduce the development impact of corruption. The discussion covers market structure, regulation, state-owned enterprise reform, planning and budgeting, and project design."—Abstract.

  • Eli Lehrer, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Watery Marauders: How the Federal Government Retarded the Development of Private Flood Insurance (Issue Analysis no. 8) (August 2007)

    "This paper describes how America's National Flood Insurance Program came into existence and seeks to answer the question of why private flood insurance never developed in the United States on a significant scale. It consists of three sections. The first section attempts to provide a brief theoretical framework for thinking about flood insurance. It describes what flood insurance does and presents a theory as to how it ought to work. The second section provides the early history of the flood insurance program. It outlines how the federal government first took on the responsibility of protecting the nation from flooding and how Congress failed in its first effort to offer federal flood insurance. The third section explains how America got the system of flood insurance that it has today. It explains how the Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Geological Survey, and a variety of local governments gathered enough risk data to make federal flood insurance palatable to Congress, how Congress implemented a program, and then stripped it of its risk-based character.

    "The paper reaches a simple conclusion: Flood insurance, in its current form, did not emerge as a result of market failure. While some factors, including the role of state regulation, remain undetermined, the current situation represents an example of what economists call 'government failure.'"—Executive Summary.

  • National Agricultural Law Center, Congressional Research Service Reports

    "The Congressional Research Service is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress and solely serves Congress as a source of nonpartisan, objective analysis and research on all legislative issues. Through the Congress, the National Agricultural Law Center is periodically receiving CRS reports related to agriculture and food issues. New and updated reports will be posted here as they are obtained." Topics include: Renewable Energy, Resources—Conservation, Resources—Wildlife, and Rural Development.

  • National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Hurricane Katrina Report Card (August 2007)

    "Two years after Hurricane Katrina much has become clear. We know that the devastation in New Orleans was less a natural than a man-made disaster. Katrina's surge into New Orleans and surrounding areas was the direct result of poorly constructed levees, an ill-conceived navigation channel, and the destruction of millions of acres of coastal wetlands. Furthermore, the storm's intensity itself was fueled by unusually warm waters in the tropical Atlantic due, in part, to global warming pollution.

    "How have Congress and the Administration responded to these lessons of Katrina and addressed the chief causes of its tragic aftermath? A report card is due on the federal government's response to global warming, reforming the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and restoring the wetlands along the Gulf Coast that act as a natural buffer to storms."

  • Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), Survey: Nuclear Power Plant Neighbors Accept Potential for New Reactor Nearby by Margin of Nearly 3 to 1.

    "Eighty-two percent of Americans living in close proximity to nuclear power plants favor nuclear energy, and 71 percent are willing to see a new reactor built near them, according to a new public opinion survey of more than 1,100 adults across the United States. Source: Bisconti Research, Inc. with Quest Research Group."

  • United Nations, Gateway to the UN System's Work on Climate Change (August 22, 2007)

    "The United Nations launched Gateway to the UN System's work on climate change that provides easier access to climate change information, such as fact sheets, news, calendar of events, and links to the pages describing the work on climate change issues by various UN System organizations and specialized agencies."

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Outlook for Ice & Snow (2007)

    "Ice, snow and climate change are closely linked. The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow investigates those connections, the current situation of ice and snow and the global significance of changes, now and in the years to come. The book was prepared for World Environment Day 2007 to provide an up-to-date assessment on this year's theme: Melting Ice—A Hot Topic? The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow is the second thematic assessment report in UNEP's Global Environment Outlook series."—Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UNEP, Foreword.

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007: AWG 4 and the Dialogue 4 (August 27-31, 2007)

    "Around 1,000 representatives from governments, business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions are gathered this week for the Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007. The talks, held under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aim at setting the stage for the United Nations Bali Conference, next December. More information is available on the Web site, including side event details, submitted papers and webcast links."

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General, Improved Management Practices Needed to Increase Use of Exchange Network (Audit Report No. 2007-P-00030) (August 20, 2007)

    "Although EPA established a partnership with the Exchange Network's governance bodies to assist them with accomplishing Network initiatives, more improvements are needed to ensure Network partners fully utilize the Network. These partners include EPA, States, tribes, territories, and other parties with whom EPA and States exchange information. EPA should improve its methods for selecting and prioritizing which data flows to implement. EPA also needs to take further steps to complete measurements of Network initiatives to ensure investments are delivering expected results. In addition, EPA needs to improve its internal system development practices to ensure EPA offices perform cost benefit analyses for new or upgraded environmental systems. Further, EPA should strengthen its policies to define when offices should utilize the Network for receiving environmental information."—What We Found.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General, Making Better Use of Superfund Special Account Funds for Thermo Chem (Early Warning Report No. 2007-S-00002) (August 20, 2007)

    "We found that Region 5 missed an opportunity to make timely and better use of the funds in the Thermo Chem special account. In 2004, Region 5 staff recommended the reclassification of approximately $2.8 million from the Thermo Chem special account. However, these funds were not reclassified because the site managers were unaware that action was needed or required. In addition, while EPA's guidance states that 'Regions' are responsible for identifying special accounts having balances that are more than anticipated future site needs, it does not specify the title of the regional official responsible for doing so or responsible for processing the reclassification."—What We Found.

  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities (Facts & Trends) (Summary Report) (August 21, 2007)

    "Survey finds green costs overestimated by 300% and a need to foster zero net energy construction. Key players in real estate and construction misjudge the costs and benefits of 'green' buildings, creating a major barrier to more energy efficiency in the building sector...."—Press release.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Monica Wheatley on oral arguments

Just one item from Louisville Law's video archive.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Downfall of Sennacherib
Peter Paul Rubens, The Downfall of Sennacherib (first half of the 17th century)

Lord Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib (1815) ( .mp3 file courtesy of Gil Grantmore and the Jurisdynamics Network)

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

There's Good News & There's Bad News

The bad news:

The Times reports that the levees protecting East St. Louis failed key tests. Hence,
[T]he area will be judged as if it is in an unprotected flood plain, officials said, and that in turn can have a powerful effect on housing costs, economic development and insurance rates.

The assessment of those five levees is part of a nationwide effort to update flood maps, incorporating lessons learned from the flooding brought by Hurricane Katrina, said Terry Reuss Fell, regional chief of FEMA’s floodplain management and insurance branch.
East St. Louis is the Illinois version of the Ninth Ward -- almost a 100% African American, 30% of the population below the poverty line.

The good news

At least if we can trust the Corps' assurances, New Orleans will receive much better flood protection in the future. The Times-Picayune reports:
When the Army Corps of Engineers completes construction of a new flood protection system in 2011, vast areas within the new protection system will see dramatically reduced flooding risks, according to new maps released Wednesday.

The risk maps, which factor in levee and floodgate improvements designed to protect New Orleans from a 100-year hurricane -- about the strength of Hurricane Rita -- show broad swaths of dry land in areas that corps officials believe would flood if a similar storm hit the current levee system. Further, the new projections show the system would hold up well even in a much stronger, 500-year storm, one substantially stronger than Hurricane Katrina.

Corps officials also announced that completion of the upgrades, combined with drainage improvements, will require an additional $7.6 billion, most of which the Bush administration plans to seek from Congress
Here's the map, if you're interested:

I have to report, however, that some of my engineering friends are inclined to think that the Corps' risk analysis is too optimistic.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Just a nice sample of Norah Jones on YouTube. Nothing more.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Literary Warrant [16]

  • S. Bricker et al., National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NOAA), Effects of Nutrient Enrichment in the Nation's Estuaries: A Decade of Change (NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series No. 26) (2007)

    "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today released a comprehensive assessment of estuarine eutrophication, or nutrient pollution, that clearly indicates linkages between upstream activities and coastal ecosystem health. The report shows that the majority of U.S. estuaries assessed are highly influenced by human-related activities and points out that eutrophication is a widespread problem globally."—Press release (July 31, 2007)

  • Ceres, Investors Achieve Record Results in 2007 in Spurring Corporate Action on Climate Change (Press release) (August 13, 2007)

    "Investors engaging with US companies on the financial risks and opportunities from climate change had their most successful year ever during the 2007 proxy season. A record 43 climate-related shareholder resolutions were filed with US companies this year, of which 15 led to positive actions by businesses such as ConocoPhillips, Wells Fargo and Hartford Insurance. Shareholders withdrew their resolutions after the companies made their climate-related commitments."

  • Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Trends in Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2004 (August 2007)

    "This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) paper describes the trends in public spending for transportation and water infrastructure since 1956. CBO focuses on spending for highways and roads, mass transit, rail, aviation, water transportation, water resources such as the construction and maintenance of dams and levees, and water supply and wastewater treatment. Those types of infrastructure, which draw heavily on federal resources, share the economic characteristics of being relatively capital intensive and producing services under public management that facilitate private economic activity. They are typically the types examined by studies that attempt to calculate the payoff, in terms of benefits to the economy, from government funding of infrastructure."—Preface.

  • Claudia Copeland, Specialist in Resources and Environmental Policy Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Animal Waste and Water Quality: EPA's Response to the Waterkeeper Alliance Court Decision on Regulation of CAFOs (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL33656) (May 16, 2007)

    "On June 30, 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulations that would revise a 2003 Clean Water Act rule governing waste discharges from large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This proposal was necessitated by a 2005 federal court decision (Waterkeeper Alliance et al. v. EPA, 399 F.3d 486 (2nd Cir. 2005)), resulting from challenges brought by agriculture industry groups and environmental advocacy groups, that vacated parts of the 2003 rule and remanded other parts.

    "The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants from any 'point
    source' to waters of the United States unless authorized under a permit that is issued by EPA or a qualified state, and the act expressly defines CAFOs as point sources. Permits limiting the type and quantity of pollutants that can be discharged are derived from effluent limitation guidelines promulgated by EPA. The 2003 rule, updating rules that had been in place since the 1970s, revised the way in which discharges of manure, wastewater, and other process wastes from CAFOs are regulated, and it modified both the permitting requirements and applicable effluent limitation guidelines. It contained important first-time requirements: all CAFOs must apply for a discharge permit, and all CAFOs that apply such waste on land must develop and implement a nutrient management plan."—Introduction.

  • Adrian Davis, Carolina Valsecchi & Malcolm Fergusson, Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), Unfit for Purpose: How Car Use Fuels Climate Change and Obesity (August 2007)

    "This study assesses the contribution of this growth in car travel to the decline in human energy expenditure and consequently to the parallel growth in obesity in the UK; and at the same time calculates the contribution to climate change through carbon dioxide emissions as car travel has replaced walking. Through this exploration the study has sought to demonstrate that two of the main challenges facing the UK in health and environment have common origins and some common solutions....

    "For the longer term, active travel habits should be reinforced by using the continual redesign of the built environment to create environments positively discriminating in favour of walking (and cycling). This means placing walking at the top of a road user hierarchy in order to influence all significant future changes to the built environment."—Executive Summary.

  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), The Power to Reduce CO2 Emissions: The Full Portfolio (Discussion Paper) (August 2007)

    "This Discussion Paper provides stakeholders with a framework for developing a research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) Action Plan that will enable sustainable and substantial electricity sector CO2 emissions reductions over the coming decades. The technology development pathways and specific research activities discussed in this paper provide a basis for a detailed Action Plan to be published later this year incorporating input from participants in the 2007 EPRI Summer Seminar.

    "The analyses summarized in this paper address the technical feasibility for the sector to achieve large-scale CO2 emissions reductions, the technology development pathways and associated RD&D funding needed to achieve this potential, and the economic impact of realizing emissions reduction targets. Given the 20- to 30-year lead-time needed to fully research, develop, and commercially deploy technologies, it is critical for the industry to define priorities and initiate RD&D activities."—Introduction.

  • Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review (AER) (DOE/EIA-0384(2006)) (June 2007)

    "he Annual Energy Review (AER) is the Energy Information Administration's primary report of historical annual energy statistics. For many series, data begin with the year 1949. Included are data on total energy production, consumption, and trade; overviews of petroleum, natural gas, coal, electricity, nuclear energy, renewable energy, international energy, as well as financial and environmental indicators; and data unit conversion tables."

  • Carol Glover, Information Resources Specialist, Knowledge Services Group & Carl E. Behrens, Specialist in Energy Policy, Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Energy: Selected Facts and Numbers (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL31849) (July 24, 2007)

    "Energy supplies and prices are major economic factors in the United States, and
    energy markets are volatile and unpredictable. Thus, energy policy has been a
    recurring issue for Congress since the first major crisis in the 1970s. As an aid in
    policy making, this report presents a current and historical view of the supply and
    consumption of various forms of energy."—Summary.

  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Annual Report 2006

    "The Annual Report reviews the results of the Agency's programme according to the three 'pillars' of technology, safety and verifi cation. The main part of the report, starting on page 15, generally follows the programme structure as given in The Agency’s Programme and Budget 2006–2007 (GC(49)/2). The introductory chapter, 'Issues and Events in 2006', seeks to provide a thematic analysis, based on the three pillars, of the Agency's activities within the overall context of notable developments during the year. More detailed information can be found in the latest editions of the Agency’s Nuclear Safety Review, Nuclear Technology Review, Technical Cooperation Report and the Safeguards Statement for 2006 and Background to the Safeguards Statement."—Notes. See also for additional information.

  • Renée Johnson, Analyst in Agricultural Economics Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Environmental Services Markets: Farm Bill Proposals (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL34042) (June 12, 2007)

    "Environmental goods and services are the benefits society obtains from the environment and ecosystems, both natural and managed, such as water filtration, flood control, provision of habitat, carbon storage, and many others. Farmer participation in providing these types of goods and services began in earnest in the 1990s with the development of watershed approaches incorporating nutrient credit trading and wetlands mitigation banking, as well as the more recent development of voluntary carbon credit markets. These efforts have triggered further interest in the possibility of developing market and trading opportunities for farmers and landowners as a source of environmental offsets. These services would be in addition to the food and fiber services traditionally supplied by the agriculture and forestry sectors. Congress is expressing growing interest in developing such market-based approaches to complement existing federally supported programs that promote conservation in the farm and forestry sectors, as well as to complement existing and/or emerging environmental regulations or natural resource requirements that may affect the agriculture and forestry sectors.

    "In May 2007, the House Agriculture Committee released its proposal for the conservation title for the 2007 farm bill, which included draft language on market-based approaches to conservation. The Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research held a markup on these and other provisions on May 22, 2007. The committee's proposal would establish an Environmental Services Standards Board, chaired by USDA with the participation of other identified federal partners. This proposal would provide contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants to develop consistent standards and processes for quantifying environmental benefits from the farm and forestry sectors, thus facilitating the further development of private sector markets for environmental services from farmers and landowners. This proposal follows a similar recommendation by the Bush Administration included in its broader 2007 farm bill proposal, which would also establish a Standards Board and develop uniform standards for agriculture- and forestry-based environmental services. This provision is one of the main components of the Administration's overall recommendations for the conservation title of the 2007 farm bill, along with other proposals that seek to enhance conservation programs in the farm bill.

    "Among the possible questions that may emerge as this proposal becomes part of the 2007 farm bill debate are: Can agricultural interests effectively provide environmental services along with traditional food and forestry services? What is the role of the federal Standards Board and the role of the lead federal agency? How would collaboration work between various participating federal agencies? How would the agreed-upon decisions and standards set by the board work within existing regulatory authorities? Would uniform standards be national, regional, local, or site-specific in scope? How would uniform standards address differences within different production areas, types of resources, and ecosystems? Given the wide range in the types of environmental services, how would outcomes or benefits be measured and expressed as standards? What role should federal agencies play in establishing environmental services markets?"—Summary.

  • William B. Karesh et al., Implications of Wildlife Trade on the Movement of Avian Influenza and Other Infectious Diseases, Journal of Wildlife Diseases, v.43 (3_Supplement), pp.55-59 (2007)

    "The global trade in wildlife provides disease transmission mechanisms that not only result in human disease outbreaks, but also threaten livestock, international trade, rural livelihoods, native wildlife populations, and the health of ecosystems. Global movement of animals for the pet trade is estimated at some 350 million live animals, worth approximately US$20 billion per year. Approximately one-quarter of this trade is thought to be illegal, hence not inspected or tested. Disease outbreaks resulting from trade in wildlife have caused hundreds of billions of dollars of economic damage globally. Rather than attempting to eradicate pathogens or the wild species that may harbor them, a practical approach would include decreasing the contact rate among species, including humans, at the interface created by wildlife trade. Wild animals are captured, transported, and sold either live or dead and commingled throughout the process in a system of scale-free networks with major hubs rather than random or evenly distributed supply systems. As focal points for distribution and sales, the hubs provide control opportunities to maximize the effects of regulatory efforts as demonstrated with domestic animal trading systems (processing plants and wholesale and retail markets, for example). Focusing efforts at markets to regulate, reduce, or in some cases, eliminate the commercial trade in wildlife could provide a cost-effective approach to decrease the risks for disease in humans, domestic animals, wildlife, and ecosystems."—Abstract.

  • Glenn R. McGregor et al., Environment Agency, Using Science to Create a Better Place: The Social Impacts of Heat Waves (Science Report SC20061/SR6) (August 2007)

    "Heat waves, or periods of anomalous warmth, do not affect everyone; it is the vulnerable individuals or sectors of society who will most experience their effects. The main factors of vulnerability are being elderly, living alone, having a pre-existing disease, being immobile or suffering from mental illness and being economically disadvantaged. The synergistic effects of such factors may prove fatal for some.

    "Adapting to more frequent heat waves should include soft engineering options and, where possible, avoid the widespread use of air conditioning which could prove unsustainable in energy terms. Strategies for coping with heat include changing the way in which urban areas are developed or re-developed, and setting up heat watch warning systems based around weather and seasonal climate forecasting and intervention strategies."—Executive Summary.

  • National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), Fact Sheet: Renewable Fuels Infrastructure

    "'While ethanol is a valuable blendstock for gasoline and its use will undoubtedly continue to grow even without mandates, ethanol also carries a number of disadvantages, including a lower energy content and potential problems with ozone formation,' Drevna told subcommittee members. 'Creating artificial demand for biofuels also places unwarranted strain on other industries that compete for the same feedstocks, thus impacting food and other commodity prices. Projected ethanol demand is likely to further exacerbate the problem and create food and other commodity price increases across the economic spectrum.'"—News release (July 31, 2007)

  • National Public Radio (NPR), Morning Edition, Climate Change Threatens European Landmarks (August 17, 2007)

    "European researchers are now warning that severe damage from desertification and intense rains could pose to a threat to cultural heritage sites such as the Tower of London, the historic center of Prague and the ancient temples of Greece."

  • United Nations, General Assembly, Informal Thematic Debate: Climate Change as a Global Challenge (July 31 & August 1, 2007)

    "The thematic debate aims to build momentum towards translating the current scientific consensus into political consensus for action. The debate will consist of a day of interactive panel discussions and a second day of general discussion by Member States."

  • United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General, Improvements to Information Sharing are Needed to Facilitate Law Enforcement Efforts During Disasters (OIG-07-60) (July 2007)

    "Law enforcement efforts to provide public safety and security, and detect disaster assistance fraud, are complicated by: (1) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) concerns about improperly disclosing Privacy Act-protected information; and (2) the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act, which prevents federal Inspectors General from expeditiously conducting computer matches among recipients of disaster assistance.

    "We are recommending that the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

    1. Add specific routine uses to the System of Records Notice that authorizes the disclosure of FEMA disaster recovery assistance files for the purpose of locating registered sex offenders and fugitive felons in the aftermath of a disaster.

    2. Develop and execute agreements with DOJ, the coordinator for Public Safety and Security under the National Response plan, to provide appropriate law enforcement entities direct access to FEMA disaster recovery assistance files for public safety and security efforts, including identifying the whereabouts of registered sex offenders and fugitive felons.

    3. Collaborate with DOJ to develop protocols, procedures, and processes to facilitate the appropriate sharing of information from FEMA disaster recovery assistance files among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies that are responsible for ensuring public safety and security following a disaster."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General, Interim Report—Hurricane Katrina: A Review of Wind Versus Flood Issues (OIG-07-62) (July 2007)

    "Our objective for this interim report was to determine whether NFIP claim records included indications that participating insurance companies attributed wind damage to flooding. We reviewed a sample of flood claim files in Mississippi, analyzed legal opinions, and quality control reports prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on selected claims. In addition, we interviewed officials from FEMA, the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, insurance association representatives, insurance adjusters, WYO officials, and other experts in the field. Our sample revealed no evidence that wind damages were improperly attributed to flooding."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General, ENERGY STAR Program Can Strengthen Controls Protecting the Integrity of the Label (Evaluation Report No. 2007-P-00028) (August 1, 2007)

    "We initiated this review to evaluate how effectively the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is managing the ENERGY STAR® Product Labeling Program.We specifically sought to determine whether EPA ensures that consumer product specifications are sufficient,the extent EPA verifies that products adhere to specifications, and whether EPA adequately ensures that the ENERGY STAR label is properly used."—Why We Did This Report.

  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Aboveground Oil Storage Tanks: Observations on EPA's Economic Analyses of Amendments to the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Rule (Report to the Honorable James M. Inhofe, Ranking Member, Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate, GAO-07-763) (July 2007)

    "Oil in aboveground tanks can leak into soil and nearby water, threatening human health and wildlife. To prevent certain oil spills, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule in 1973. EPA estimated that, in 2005, about 571,000 facilities were regulated under this rule. When finalizing amendments to the rule in 2002 and 2006 to both strengthen the rule and reduce industry burden, EPA analyzed the amendments' potential impacts and concluded that the amendments were economically justified.

    "As requested, GAO assessed the reasonableness of EPA's economic analyses of the 2002 and 2006 SPCC amendments, using Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines for federal agencies in determining regulatory impacts, among other criteria, and discussed EPA's analyses with EPA officials."—Why GAO Did This Study.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Got the Walkin' Jurisdynamic Blues

Not really an encouraging day, in terms of the kinds of nonlinear events that are the particular domain of this blog. In one story, the Times reports on the limitations of the expensive efforts to date to repair the New Orleans flood control system:
Six inches.

After two years and more than a billion dollars spent by the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild New Orleans’s hurricane protection system, that is how much the water level is likely to be reduced if a big 1-in-100 flood hits Leah Pratcher’s Gentilly neighborhood.

Looking over the maps that showed other possible water levels around the city, Ms. Pratcher grew increasingly furious. Her house got four feet of water after Hurricane Katrina, and still stands to get almost as much from a 1-in-100 flood.

By comparison, the wealthier neighborhood to the west, Lakeview, had its flooding risk reduced by nearly five and a half feet.

“If I got my risk reduced by five feet five inches, I’d feel pretty safe,” said Ms. Pratcher, who along with her husband, Henry, warily returned home from Baton Rouge, La. “Six inches is not going to help us out.”

New Orleans was swamped by Hurricane Katrina; now it is awash in data, studied obsessively in homes all over town. And the simple message conveyed by that data is that while parts of the city are substantially safer, others have changed little. New Orleans remains a very risky place to live.
In a second story the AP reports on a striking impact of climate change:
There was less sea ice in the Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.

"Today is a historic day," said Mark Serreze, a senior research scientist at the center. "This is the least sea ice we've ever seen in the satellite record and we have another month left to go in the melt season this year."

Satellite measurements showed 2.02 million square miles of ice in the Arctic, falling below the Sept. 21, 2005, record minimum of 2.05 million square miles, the agency said.
Put those two together, and things don't look so good, for the world in general or New Orleans in particular. The world is changing, and we're not protecting adequately against current hazards, let alone future increases in risk.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mehr Musik!

GoetheOkay, so Goethe might not have said "Mehr Licht!" on his deathbed. (Alles wird auf dieser deutschsprechenden Webseite für die Neugierigen erklärt.) But on all the days between birth and death, "Mehr Musik!" is the worthier sentiment. If you're ever forced to choose between sight and hearing, do the smart thing: Donate your corneas, and keep your eardrums intact. As it happens, I'm in the mood for a concert.

I'm also making up for lost time. Paul Horwitz posted an item on the Dixie Chicks, and it took me six months to notice. Ye gods.

Paul ultimately pans the Chicks' most recent album, Taking the Long Way. "The righteousness and angry defiance," he concludes, "wear thin pretty quickly over the course of the album."

FaulknerAlthough I do like Taking the Long Way, I sympathize with Paul. What Faulkner said of literature applies with equal force to music: The "problems of the human heart in conflict with itself . . . alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat."

In other words, dump the politics and write or sing about human passions. "Ich bin lieber Dichter als Richter" summarizes, again in German, the wisdom I've derived from intensely hating the Mets. Not that I am any closer to being a poet than a judge, but the message is clear. Laws die; Lieder, never.

Wide Open SpacesThis is admittedly a huge windup for what is ultimately a very simple blog post. Sometimes you gotta dance, and sometimes you just want to listen to music that speaks to you. For me, right now, I could use some vintage Dixie Chicks. Herewith two videos sandwiched around a sound clip from the Chicks' breakthrough album, Wide Open Spaces:
  1. There's Your Trouble:

  2. Am I the Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way?):

  3. The Dixie Chicks cover Maria McKee's "Am I the Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way)?" (.mp3 file available via Chicks Rock! Chicks Rule!)

  4. Wide Open Spaces:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Mixed Report on New Orleans

The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program has published a second-anniversary reporton the statute of New Orleans. Here is the most disquieting finding:
Housing repairs and construction continued over the last year, but repairs to essential infrastructure have largely stalled and public services are still limited. The pace of demolitions and new housing construction approvals has increased, while residential repairs have slowed as the Road Home program has awarded checks to only one-quarter of applicants. Basic services -- including schools, libraries, public transportation, and childcare -- remain at less than half of the original capacity in New Orleans, and only two-thirds of all licensed hospitals are open in the region. Further, lack of repairs to public facilities is undermining police effectiveness.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Meteorology on a planetary scale

Tim DowlingProfessor Timothy Dowling, director of the University of Louisville's Comparative Planetology Laboratory, makes a persuasive case for watching the weather . . . on other planets:

Be sure also to read about Professor Dowling and "Cosmic Wonders."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

All hail the all-time home run king

Hank Aaron

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Beyond Food and Evil

This is lecture of mine published at 56 Duke L.J. 1581 (2007), and posted on SSRN at
Flavr SavrThe mass marketing of foods derived from organisms modified through recombinant DNA technology has put extreme pressure on the interpretation and implementation of the United States' basic food safety law, the venerable Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. In its classic form, the FD&CA reflects its Progressive and New Deal roots. It vests enormous trust in a specialized agency, the Food and Drug Administration, which is presumed to have nonpareil expertise over food safety. The political reality of GM foods, however, has placed the FD&CA and its implementation by the FDA in severe tension with the Organic Foods Production Act and with commercial speech doctrine.

Fear about food is one of the most deeply seated forms of behavioral protection against the natural world. It is precisely here, where food comes into contact with notions of good and evil, that the classic regulatory state must take its stand. The FDA's regulation of foods using rDNA technology upholds the best of the Progressive regulatory tradition and deserves to survive the challenge posed by the OFPA, the revived commercial speech doctrine, and contemporary consumer distrust of governmentally supervised review of science and safety.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Twelve days. Five countries. Five languages. Two conferences. One final destination.

Louisville sunset

It's good to be home.
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