Reason Express

Vol. 9, No. 30


In this issue:

1. Cease and Desist
2. Trade Pact Fades
3. The New Zune Review
4. Quick Hits
5. New at Reason Online—Polio, Autism, or Neither?
6. News and Events

1. Cease and Desist

President George Bush could make Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's job a whole lot easier by explaining his opposition to a cease fire in Israel's two-week old conflict with Hezbollah in clear terms that even he understands. Maybe a sports metaphor.

The U.S. wants Israel to score a knockout of Hezbollah, not just a TKO. As long as there is a chance Hezbollah can get up off the mat, the thinking goes, then Syria and certainly Iran will not step away from support of Hezbollah. The idea seems to be to present Syria, in particular, with the reality of Hezbollah's destruction and thus convince the Syrians they have nothing to gain by continuing to support a ghost.

Besides, Israel is simply not going to stop until it has removed all the missiles and weapons caches which can threaten its territory. And, in some ways, the introduction of ground troops into Lebanon is something of a de-escalation as it removes the need to conduct the war solely from 30,000 feet via air strikes. Even with precision munitions, Lebanese civilians were at grave risk. In theory, ground troops can be more discriminating, but the situation is still very dangerous and the potential for continued civilian causalities remains high.


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2. Trade Pact Fades

While Lebanon burned, world trade talks crashed. The so-called Doha round collapsed in a bitter finale. Developed countries-the EU, led by France, in particular-are simply unwilling to change agriculture subsidies and tariffs in such a way that poorer countries could sell food to them. So much for the "trade not aid" slogan.

The EU finds it easier to continue aid programs than to slog down the hard road of reforming its ag policies into some kind of conformance with the global market. The reason is that domestic politics make any reform of welfare or social sector subsidy anywhere in Europe a complete non-starter.

The French, for example, were absolutely terrified that any concession on ag subsidies in the Doha round would be met by violent street protests by French farmers. As a result, the rest of Europe had even less reason to move and the EU offered no meaningful reform.


3. The New Zune Review

It is the latest urban myth. No one at Microsoft could possibly have uttered the phrase "iPod killer" in conjunction with Redmond's introduction of its own digital music player to challenge Apple. It is not possible to kill the iPod merely by competing with it. And it is not at all clear Microsoft will even be able to do that.

The iPod has been a hit because of simplicity of operation. Yet the Zune, Microsoft's music system, is already heading down a path of added complexity with a WiFi feature. Anyone who has ever configured wireless networks knows how touchy they can be-now further suppose you want your Zune to access your encrypted home network.

There is also the added power consumption a WiFi chip introduces into the device, which leads you right back to having to plug the device into something. Maybe Microsoft has dazzling fixes for these issues, and more competition is surely always better than less, but Zune's tune already sounds a little off-key.


4. Quick Hits

Quote of the Week

"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign." -William F. Buckley on President Bush's Iraq campaign.


Deep in the Heart of Texas

Amazon bazillionaire Jeff Bezos is planning a vertical takeoff and landing spacecraft. It would operate out of a space port in rural West Texas with a goal of commercial space flights by 2010.


Power Grab

Queens had a power outage for a few days. This, according to New York pols, is grounds for the declaration of a state of emergency.


Space Rock of the Gods

Geologists think an odd hunk of yellow glass found in a necklace which belonged Tutankhamun was created when a meteor exploded above the Sahara Desert thousands of years ago. The heat immediately fused sand into glass.


5. New at Reason Online

Polio, Autism, or Neither?
The autism/vaccine scandal dissipates. Ronald Bailey

Rah-Rah IDF!
Cheerleading Israel does not an American foreign policy make. Jeff A. Taylor

Straight Talk Is Cheap
How John McCain became the capo of the campaign finance syndicate. Macy Hanson

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.

Register today!

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