In this issue:
General Motors, Renault, and Nissan. What could Carnac the Magnificent do with a set up like that? A tri-merger or alliance among the three global carmakers might be GM's last gasp at remaining GM, but that might not make sense for the other players, Nissan especially.
Nissan has just now begun to right itself after years of aimlessness, and has done so by doing exactly what GM refuses to try: Cut down its model line to some manageable number. It also could get along with Renault's cranky demands because Nissan had nothing much going on in Europe. Not so GM, whose Opel brand is all over the continent.
Besides, GM seems to be looking at the alliance as a way to placate its unions, which are set for contract talks next year. The brass seems to think that holding out the promise of shifting workers to Nissan's U.S. plants will somehow lessen opposition to closing some of GM's own underused plants. Don't bet on that one.
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2. Far East Follies
Hands up, everyone who thought that North Korea's missile misadventures would have Japan talking pre-emptive strike? That has to be the foreign policy shocker of the year, and it underscores just how jittery Japan is about Kim Jong-Il's actions. A deliberate attack, or even some future botched test, would leave Japan with virtually no time to respond.
Tokyo wants the North Korean missile play to stop and wants that enforced with UN sanctions if need be. China and Russia are anxious about the sanctions idea, as it sets the precedent that certain kinds of profitable technology trade will be nixed by the international community. The US just seems thrilled that someone else is playing the heavy.
But the central fact remains that North Korea is negotiating with the rest of the world via missile tests. That can't be a good thing.
3. The Dietary Knowledge Problem
One of the basic, and most annoying, tenets of public health hectoring on diets and food is that people just do not know what they are doing. If people just knew, if they could be told by public health professionals what and how much to eat, they would eat differently.
Well, now comes a poll which finds that people do seem to have a good understanding of what they are eating, thank you very much. Some 80 percent of those responding to an AP-Ipsos poll said they read food labels in grocery stores. And they pretty much eat whatever they want anyway.
That news has public health types scrambling to say people must not understand the labels, that the serving size data forces them to do math and, well, all is lost when people do math. But it might just be that many people know exactly what they are eating and they actually like what they eat.
4. Quick Hits
Quote of the Week
"Eventually we want to capitalize on the barbecue thing."—Rocky Mount (N.C.) Parks and Recreation director Pete Armstrong on plans to use public money to build a BBQ Park on the site of the state's first pork barbecue restaurant.
Chechen Terror Chief Dead
Shamil Basayev was taken out by a Russian special ops team in Ingushetia. Officials claimed Basayev was preparing a strike on the Group of Eight meeting in St. Petersburg.
Anglos to the Orchards!
Florida citrus growers say they do not have enough migrant labor to pick the state's oranges. The crop is exacted to be the smallest since 1992 as a result.
More trouble for Sony's copy-protection schemes. Turns out that building a macro around the print-screen key is an effective hack of the blu-ray disc's copyright control mechanism.
5. New at Reason Online
A Bigger Bang
The odd obsession with topping 9/11. Jeff A. Taylor
Imagine No Gasoline
A bold energy solution for President Bush. Jonathan Rauch
The Portland Plank Massacre of 2006
What really happened at the Libertarian Party convention? Brian Doherty
And much more!
6. News and Events
Reason in Amsterdam, 2006
The Grand Amsterdam Hotel August 23-26, 2006.
With Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the hit show South Park, Time magazine's Andrew Sullivan, Reason magazine Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie, and Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, among others.
Join Reason in Amsterdam for a three-day conference on the contemporary struggle for freedom in Europe.
After a kick-off dinner on Wednesday, August 23, attendees will enjoy two days of formal sessions on everything from tax harmonization and Dutch social policy to the threat of radical Islam (the preliminary schedule is here). On Saturday, August 26, attendees will have the option of participating in a wide range of group activities, including tours of the Anne Frank House, the van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandthuis, where Rembrandt van Rijn's 400th birthday will be commemorated this year by four major exhibitions of the celebrated artist's work.
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