PRA to Senator Reid: Just Say No to Omnibus!
Friday, December 17, 2010 9:38 am | By Cassandra Baker

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has too much to do in too little time. At least, that’s the excuse he’s giving for possibly keeping the Senate in session through Christmas and ram-rodding multiple omnibus bills.

It is rumored that Senator Reid may consider, among other pieces of potentially controversial legislation, a public lands omnibus that would restrict physical property rights and increase government regulation of private property. Not only will an omnibus surely overstep the bounds of federal power once again, it will be impossible to know exactly what will be in the massive bill.

According to reports, the omnibus could include over 60 public land bills and at least 21 waterways and wildlife bills that would forbid any sort of development on large areas of land in the name of conservation. Also troubling is the inclusion of the Chesapeake Bay restoration bill that would grant the EPA unprecedented control over local land use. PRA's statement against passage of a public lands omnibus can be found here.

The federal government currently has control of over 650 million acres, much of which are in disarray due to maintenance backlogs and the inability for private citizens to regain control of those lands. A public lands omnibus would force American taxpayers to fund the purchase of land that could be better utilized in the private sector and must be opposed.

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Private Solutions to Stop Fake Drugs
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 4:07 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

Yesterday, in a stunning announcement, Google and Microsoft decided to agree on something. What might that be, you ask? Stopping the online sale of counterfeit drugs.

In a White House forum on intellectual property, IP Enforcement Coordinator, Victoria Espinel, announced the creation of an industry-led effort to target rogue sites that specialize in peddling counterfeit pharmaceuticals and stop them from doing business. Besides Microsoft and Google, companies also included in the coalition are Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Yahoo, GoDaddy, Neustar, PayPal, and eNom.

We have often written on this site about the detrimental effects of counterfeiting to the economy, yet often overshadowed is the significant health and safety threat. Tainted pharmaceuticals, substandard airplane parts, and contaminated toothpaste continue to cause serious harm to lives around the world. The trade in counterfeit medicines has skyrocketed in recent years. According to Markmonitor, a firm that works with companies on brand protection, sales of counterfeit goods via the internet will reach $135 billion this year. The WHO estimates that counterfeit drugs constitute up to 25% of the total medicine supply in less developed countries. These medicines could either contain no active ingredients, very little active ingredients that will do nothing to fight the disease and may even make it more resistant to treatment, or in the worst case scenario the counterfeit could contain toxic materials. The International Policy Network estimates that around 700,000 deaths per year from only malaria and tuberculosis are attributable to fake drugs.

It is great to see this broad coalition of businesses coming together to offer private solutions to stop the spread of counterfeits and hopefully we will see more of this kind of collaborative effort in the future to combat intellectual property theft.

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Supreme Court Gives New York the Go Ahead to Continue Eminent Domain Abuse
Monday, December 13, 2010 4:54 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

This morning the US Supreme Court announced it will not hear the appeal challenging New York state's high court ruling that favored Columbia University's expansion into West Harlem under the guise of eminent domain.

The appeal brought on by business owner, Nick Sprayregen, would have been a much needed challenge to the dreadful 2005 Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London which ruled the government may use the power of eminent domain to expropriate property for private to private transfer under the ambiguous title of “economic development." As a result of the 2005 decision, the government’s power of eminent domain has become almost limitless, providing victimized citizens with few means to protect their property.

Several states have independently passed legislation to limit their power to eminent domain, and the Supreme Courts of Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio have barred the practice under their state constitutions. Unfortunately, New York will continue to go unchecked as one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to eminent domain abuse.

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