Day: March 14, 2022

Avoid government-run broadband when connecting Michigan residents

Soon, Michigan will be awash with cash to boost broadband coverage.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021, allocates at least $100 million to expand broadband and internet coverage in Michigan. In addition, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office recently announced the state will spend $5.2 million from the federal CARES Act to conduct an audit identifying gaps in high-speed internet access throughout the state.

It is apparent that Michigan residents deserve access to reliable high-speed internet. However, as the state decides how and where to bolster broadband infrastructure, it is critical that they prioritize providing quality broadband service to consumers without wasting taxpayer money through municipal or government-run broadband.

The pandemic has showcased that access to high-speed internet is continuing to become increasingly important as many continue to rely on broadband to stay connected to work, school, telehealth or other crucial facets of daily life.

It’s estimated that 8.9% of Michigan residents live in an area that does not provide acceptable internet speed due to a lack of broadband infrastructure, leaving over $2.5 billion in projected potential economic benefit that is lost among those disconnected from the internet within the state.

To be fair, many small cities across the country are getting the same pitch from biased municipal broadband consultants: If you want faster or more reliable internet, then you should build and operate the network yourself. It might sound promising, but the reality is that these networks have been proven to be expensive and ineffective.

According to a report from the University of Pennsylvania, of the 20 municipal broadband projects in the U.S. they studied, only two earned enough to cover their project costs during the useful life of the networks, with the other 18 being absolute failures.

Existing municipal broadband networks within Michigan are suffering a similar fate. Marshall, for example, launched its own municipal fiber broadband network called FiberNet, which cost $3.1 million in loans from other city accounts. Concerns have been raised about Marshall’s municipal broadband network as the city continuously missed payments on their broadband loans, sparking fear that the network will not be financially viable enough to offset the operating costs, potentially leaving taxpayers on the hook.

For perspective, broadband services from private providers are also available in Marshall. Companies like WOW and AT&T both offer the same speeds as FiberNet, but at lower prices for consumers.

A better solution to close the digital divide in Michigan and help broadband consumers would be to bolster competition. Many private broadband service providers are able to expand or upgrade their services where there is demand, without burdening taxpayers like municipal broadband networks do.

According to a Phoenix Center study, prices in markets with a municipal provider are higher than those in markets without one; therefore having private broadband providers available in an area is even more beneficial for consumers as competition will help keep prices low.

In rural areas or places where demand for broadband services are limited, local regulators could consider issuing vouchers to subsidize service to those who qualify.

Additionally, innovative solutions like Starlink, which aims to provide low-cost satellite broadband internet access across the globe, should be encouraged. This would ensure that all Michigan residents could get connected to reliable internet, without the need for a costly or unreliable municipal broadband network.

As more funding is being allocated to broadband infrastructure, state and local regulators must recognize that municipal broadband networks are generally ineffective and financially irresponsible.

In order to close the digital divide in Michigan and help broadband consumers throughout all parts of the state, we must embrace private competition and only subsidize networks in unserved areas through competitive bidding.

Originally published here

Synthetic Nicotine Regulation Clears House

The House of Representatives approved a $1.5 trillion spending package that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate synthetic nicotine. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Synthetic nicotine—nicotine that is made in a lab rather than derived from tobacco—has long existed in a legal grey area, and many companies started using it after their natural nicotine products were denied market access by the FDA. Public health groups have been warning that synthetic nicotine e-cigarettes, such as Puff Bar, have grown in popularity among teens while skirting FDA oversight.

The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which includes the 2009 Tobacco Control Act, defines a tobacco product as “any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part or accessory of a tobacco product (except for raw materials other than tobacco used in manufacturing a component, part or accessory of a tobacco product).”

Read the full article here

Congress to Give FDA Power to Regulate Synthetic Nicotine

Do you remember the debate and legislation that gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate synthetic nicotine? You’re not alone if you answered ‘no.’ In a surprise move, Congress has included language in the omnibus spending package that will help fund the government through September that would give the FDA the power to regulate any product that contains nicotine not derived from tobacco, including synthetic nicotine.

Bloomberg was first to obtain a document showing the congressional move to regulate synthetic nicotine which has become popular as many vapor and e-cigarette manufacturers have sought out ways to stay on the market while avoiding FDA regulations [read more here]. This effort was led by a bi-partisan group of senators that include Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

Read the full article here

EU Green Policies Back On The Table

Europe’s Green Deal is supposed to revolutionize energy and agriculture. Now, the continent can’t afford it.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has shaken every political consensus in Europe. Within weeks, Germany’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline deal with Moscow was cancelled, and the principle of not sending weapons to war zones went out the window. Just three years ago, French President Emmanuel Macron called NATO “braindead.” Now, nobody in Europe is echoing this view. The same will happen with the European Green Deal, the mothership of Europe’s environmental ambitions.

The Green Deal encompasses all the regulatory measures the E.U. envisages to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. It has been spearheaded by France and Germany, the latter already having started its energy transition (Energiewende) in 2011. Since Berlin’s radical decision to phase out nuclear power, Germany has experienced the highest electricity prices in the developed world, reduced competitiveness, and higher carbon-dioxide emissions as a result of increased reliance on coal and natural gas—from Russia. Now that Moscow has plunged European diplomacy into chaos, its hand hovering over the gas lever, Germany is scrambling to find alternatives.

Germany’s economy minister Robert Habeck—incidentally a Green Party official—did not rule out a delay to the phase-out of coal power and a halt to the phase-out of the three remaining nuclear power plants in Germany. Frans Timmermans, E.U. Commissioner in charge of the Green Deal, has also accepted that coal will remain an energy source for longer than Brussels initially anticipated. What is so striking about the European conversation is that practically nobody is talking about wind mills or solar panels, but instead countries are attempting to import more LNG (liquified natural gas) from Canada and the United States, max out the natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan, or (in the case of the U.K.) argue to put a halt to bans on fracking.

Meanwhile, Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio has travelled to Algeria and Qatar to help ramp up alternative natural gas imports to the one Rome currently gets from Russia. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had said in a recent statement that he regretted the choices that were made in the past, as Italy is one of the countries most dependent on Russian gas imports. Algeria, which currently supplies 11 percent of Europe’s gas needs (a third of which goes to Italy), has said that it’s ready to increase output by 30 percent in the short term. Tunisia and Libya in Northern Africa are also strategic partners for Europe to ramp up natural gas imports, as are Nigeria, Egypt, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Ghana for LNG shipments. LNG terminals in Europe were running at 45 percent capacity last year, with most of the infrastructure in Europe located in Spain. Europe would need significant investment, which will take time, to even get close to what it needs to substitute Russian natural gas.

Europe also faces considerable challenges in agriculture. The European Commission’s “Farm to Fork” strategy seeks to reduce pesticides by 50 percent, devote 25 percent of agricultural land use to organic farming, and reduce fertilizers by 20 percent. Farming representatives have heavily criticized these plans, as they would tighten food supplies and increase dependence on imports. With sanctions on Russia severely disrupting the international food trade in fertilizers, can Europe afford plans to reduce agricultural output? Banking on organic food, which is notoriously under-productive, is unlikely to guarantee European food security. On Tuesday, that recognition came from the European Parliament’s leading parliamentary group, the center-right European People’s Party, calling for a moratorium on green agriculture policies.

USDA study on the “Farm to Fork” plans found that the targets will lead to a reduction in productivity for wheat and oilseeds, as well as a reduction in E.U. exports. The strategy would also lead to a decline in agricultural production in Europe between 7-12 percent. Meanwhile, the E.U.’s decline in GDP would represent 76 percent of the decline in the worldwide GDP. Adding to that, the situation of food security and food commodity prices deteriorates significantly under a worldwide adoption scenario, as USDA researchers have found. The outlook of agricultural prices soars between 20 and 53 percent due to the package. The legislation should entice none of the lawmakers in Brussels—and it appears that now it could be killed altogether.

Europe’s green ambitions have met the harsh realities of geopolitics and the feasibilities of their environmentalist ideologies. Had it listened to partners on the heavy reliance on Russian gas, Europe could have prepared by reading the IPCC report and banking on nuclear power as part of the energy mix by allowing for modern agricultural practices to take root. This should serve as a wake-up call for those in the United States, who for years have applauded the European decarbonization and agricultural policy model as an example to follow for Washington.

Originally published here

La Chambre votera sur le projet de loi budgétaire, la nicotine synthétique aujourd’hui

La Chambre des représentants des États-Unis devrait voter aujourd’hui sur un projet de loi de crédits omnibus (page 1 870) qui comprend un libellé qui donnerait à la Food and Drug Administration des États-Unis le pouvoir de réglementer la nicotine synthétique. Les législateurs ont déclaré que certains ajouts avaient déjà été convenus, tels qu’un ensemble de dispositions en matière de soins de santé comprenant des extensions du programme Medicare et l’élimination de l’échappatoire à la nicotine synthétique.

La Chambre prévoit de voter aujourd’hui avant de se rendre à Philadelphie pour sa conférence annuelle sur les enjeux. Le projet de loi doit être approuvé par le Sénat avant l’expiration du financement provisoire à minuit vendredi. Les objections du GOP à un accord de consentement unanime pour accélérer l’examen au Sénat pourraient retarder le passage final au week-end, ont averti les législateurs, mais les deux parties s’attendent à ce que le processus soit terminé à temps pour éviter une fermeture partielle du gouvernement lorsque les agences fédérales ouvriront lundi.

Read the full article here


Voilà l’alcool de nouveau attaqué pour ses effets sur la santé. Cette fois-ci par une commission du Parlement européen, qui le lie à un grand nombre de cancers. Les propositions pour limiter les choix des consommateurs se multiplient en réponse…

Au sein de la « Commission pour battre le cancer » (BECA) du Parlement européen, des législateurs sont chargés de préparer des rapports qui seront intégrés dans le « Plan européen pour vaincre le cancer » de la Commission européenne. En substance, le but de l’Union Européenne (UE) est de lutter contre les maladies dites non transmissibles, c’est-à-dire les diagnostics de cancer qui auraient pu être évités grâce à un mode de vie plus sain.

Leur première cible ? L’alcool.

En effet, selon un premier rapport réalisé par la députée européenne Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (La République En Marche), l’alcool est responsable de 10% des cancers chez les hommes et de 3% chez les femmes. Ses conclusions et recommandations soutiennent donc les objectifs de la Commission visant à réduire la consommation d’alcool de 10% d’ici 2025.

S’attaquer à l’abus d’alcool ou à la simple consommation ?

Certaines des mesures proposées ont cependant été repoussées par le Parti populaire européen (PPE, centre-droit) au Parlement européen. La position du parti majoritaire est que l’UE ne devrait pas stigmatiser la consommation d’alcool en général, mais plutôt mettre l’accent sur l’abus d’alcool.

« Si la consommation excessive d’alcool est, bien sûr, un risque pour la santé, des mesures appropriées et proportionnées doivent être prises sans stigmatiser ce secteur économique important qui fait partie de notre mode de vie », a ainsi expliqué Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé, eurodéputée PPE (Les Centristes) et vice-présidente de la commission BECA.

L’une des mesures proposées par le Parlement européen consiste à apposer des étiquettes d’avertissement sur les bouteilles de vin, qui avaient jusqu’à présent été épargnées par les étiquettes semblables à celles des paquets de cigarettes.

Cela pourrait bientôt changer, car les législateurs discutent déjà du libellé de l’étiquette, et non pas de la simple nécessité d’une étiquette d’avertissement en soi. L’étiquette dira-t-elle « toute consommation d’alcool peut entraîner un cancer » ou « l’abus d’alcool peut entraîner un cancer » ? Sera-t-elle illustrée par une photo de foie endommagé ? Peu importe, l’ancienne tradition des étiquettes de vin sera alors mutilée.

En 2023, la Commission européenne présentera également des propositions visant à réduire l’accessibilité financière et la disponibilité de l’alcool, ce qui signifie que les taxes sur la bière et les spiritueux seront probablement beaucoup plus élevées.

En outre, l’UE présentera des propositions visant à interdire la publicité pour l’alcool lors des manifestations sportives. Cette proposition a ensuite été édulcorée pour devenir « le parrainage d’événements sportifs destinés aux mineurs ». Une expression très vague… Tous les sports qui attirent les mineurs (lesquels ne le font pas ?) pourraient entrer dans cette catégorie.

En particulier, les sports qui dépendent fortement des parrainages, comme le football, pourraient être durement touchés par une telle interdiction. Les parlementaires bruxellois de gauche et les écologistes se sont opposés à toute modification des propositions existantes, arguant qu’il n’existe pas de consommation d’alcool sans danger.

Un prix unique… et plus élevé

Une suggestion susceptible d’être introduite au niveau de l’Union européenne, notamment parce qu’elle existe déjà dans des endroits comme l’Écosse et l’Irlande, est celle d’un prix minimum de l’alcool. En substance, ce modèle fixe un prix minimum par unité d’alcool et augmente les prix d’alcool en général.

Le fait que même les autorités sanitaires du gouvernement écossais, après avoir analysé la mesure, ont constaté qu’elle n’avait aucun effet sur les décès ou les maladies liés à l’alcool, n’impressionnera probablement personne à Bruxelles. L’agence Public Health Scotland indique également dans sa conclusion que les crimes non liés à l’alcool sont soupçonnés d’avoir été affectés par le prix minimum de l’alcool, car les gangs profitent de la baisse du prix de l’alcool pour vendre des boissons illicites.

En fait, permettez-moi de faire une prédiction audacieuse : non seulement l’Union européenne introduira un prix minimum pour l’alcool, mais elle l’augmentera aussi progressivement au fil du temps. Pourquoi ? Chaque fois qu’une étude montrera que la mesure ne fonctionne pas, un bureaucrate malin à Bruxelles conclura que le problème n’était pas l’inefficacité de la mesure, mais que les prix n’étaient tout simplement pas assez élevés.

En plus de la réglementation sur l’alcool qu’elle devrait dévoiler l’année prochaine, l’UE va publier des objectifs contraignants pour la réduction globale de la consommation d’alcool. Cela signifie que les États membres devront trouver des mesures supplémentaires pour réduire la consommation d’alcool, sous peine de se voir reprocher par la Commission européenne de ne pas en faire assez.

La France a été la reine des mauvaises idées à cet égard. Il pourrait s’agir d’interdire les happy hours, de restreindre les heures d’ouverture des bars, de relever l’âge limite de vente d’alcool, voire de créer des magasins vendant de l’alcool appartenant à l’Etat et contrôlés par lui, comme il en existe déjà en Europe du Nord.

Toutes ces mesures vont exciter les criminels de type Al Capone. Ce que nous faisons actuellement en Europe, c’est créer une quasi-prohibition de l’alcool, où les personnes à faibles revenus ne pourront plus acquérir de l’alcool légalement. Par conséquent, ils pourraient passer au système D et fabriquer leurs propres boissons alcoolisées, ou les obtenir par toutes sortes de moyens illégaux, avec tous les effets secondaires que cela peut entraîner.

Il semble que nous soyons condamnés à répéter les erreurs du passé en matière de réglementation du mode de vie. C’est si déprimant que… cela donnerait envie de boire.

Originally published here

Legislation would ban flavored tobacco and vapes in Illinois

A consumer advocacy group says a measure which would ban flavored tobacco products in Illinois, including vapes, could do more harm than good. State Sen. Julie Morrison has a bill filed that impacts flavored tobacco products she says are being targeted toward children. But Elizabeth Hicks from the Consumer Choice Center says a trend of fewer Illinoisans smoking cigarettes would reverse if the bill is passed.

Read more here

Menguak 5 Fakta Nikotin yang Selama Ini Dianggap Masalah Kesehatan dari Rokok

Nikotin kerap dianggap sebagai penyebab utama munculnya berbagai masalah kesehatan yang berkaitan dengan merokok.
Lantaran opini tersebut berkembang luas, penggunaan produk tembakau alternatif seperti produk tembakau yang dipanaskan, rokok elektrik, maupun kantung tembakau, seringkali disamakan memiliki risiko yang sama dengan rokok karena mengandung nikotin. Padahal, berdasarkan hasil kajian ilmiah produk tersebut memiliki risiko yang lebih rendah daripada rokok.

Read the full article here

Legislation would ban flavored tobacco and vapes in Illinois

A consumer advocacy group says a measure that would ban flavored tobacco products in Illinois, including vapes, could do more harm than good.

State Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, has been a steadfast supporter of banning flavored tobacco products, which she said are intentionally targeted to children with candy-like names. She has introduced Senate Bill 3854, which would prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The measure remains in a Senate committee.

Elizabeth Hicks, U.S. Affairs analyst with the Consumer Choice Center, said enacting a flavor ban for vaping products will push adult consumers to switch back to smoking combustible tobacco at a time when smoking cigarettes has been trending down in Illinois.

“About 12% of adults in 2020 reported smoking, however, if this bill passes, we can certainly expect that number to increase,” Hicks said.

Read the full article here

EU Parliament Risks ‘Forever Stalling’ Digital Innovation If It Accepts Environmental Scrutiny on Proof-of-Work Mining, Bitcoin, and the Crypto Economy

BRUSSELS, BE – The European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs will vote today on a comprehensive regulatory proposal called MiCA (Market in Crypto-Assets). This proposal has been in the works for months, however, last-minute several amendments have been added to the proposal, which if accepted could effectively ban Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining in the European Union, pushing thousands of innovators out of Europe.

“By effectively prohibiting the issuance or offering for exchange of crypto-assets that rely on proof-of-work protocols under environmental, social, and governance guidelines, the European Union would make a disastrous move that would obliterate not just the nascent crypto industry but also hurt consumers and once again cede technological leadership in innovation to the United States,” said Aleksandar Kokotović, crypto fellow at Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

“If these amendments are adopted, EU regulators will strike a devastating blow to the crypto industry in member states. Not only will Bitcoin mining face immediate scrutiny, but the entire Defi space based on Ethereum, the rising NFT industry, and hundreds of companies will be forced to close, move or ban EU citizens from using their services. By not letting individuals and companies choose technologies they prefer, EU regulators are going against the principles of technological neutrality and are setting a very dangerous and harmful precedent.

“If the EU wants to completely stifle innovation and financial sovereignty of its citizens, this is the way to go. If it wants to lose millions of jobs, talent, and value that come with innovation, then this is a good plan for that. Otherwise, these amendments must not pass,” said Kokotović.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, said such a vote risks “forever stalling” digital innovation in the bloc on flawed environmental goals, especially in light of the war in Ukraine.

“The Russian war in Ukraine has demonstrated that Europe has been too comfortable in using lofty environmental goals and ideology to mollify its energy policy and risk its security. By using similar environmental metrics based on ESG to halt innovation for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining, the European Union risks forever stalling digital innovation and pushing billions in assets and entrepreneurship off the continent,” said Ossowski.

“Pushing the cryptocurrency industry outside of the EU will encourage citizens to circumvent the law and use more loosely regulated platforms and services, all the while depriving Europeans of their consumer choice.

“Bitcoin and other proof-of-work cryptocurrencies represent a revolution in digital money, especially because proof-of-work is a uniquely strong and fair way to settle the creation of digital property when compared to our fiat money system. The incentives to seek cleaner and greener energy exist because of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, not in spite of them,” added Ossowski.

“We hope EU parliamentarians recognize the significant folly they’re due to introduce if they deny the voices of consumers and vote for amendments ALT A and ALT G to the Markets in Crypto Assets Proposal that would effectively kneecap proof-of-work currencies in the EU,” said Ossowski.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Washington, Ottawa, Brussels, Geneva, and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Scroll to top