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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 6, Issue 2: January 12, 2004

  1. Prosecutors Cast Net Widely for “Law-breaking” Americans
  2. U.S. Leaders Silent on Abuses by “Friendly” Mideast Despots
  3. “Confessions of a Media Maverick” featuring John Stossel -- Independent Policy Forum (1/30/04)

1) Prosecutors Cast Net Widely for “Law-breaking” Americans

Commit any crimes lately? No? Well, you might be guilty of breaking laws you didn’t know were on the books. Such seemed to be the case for three Americans who were sentenced recently to eight years in prison for importing smallish lobster tails in plastic bags.

Although no U.S. law expressly forbids plastic bags or specifies the minimize size of lobster tails, federal prosecutors argued that the defendants broke the laws of Honduras (the country of export), which are binding against Americans under the Lacey Act (a law forbidding Americans from violating fish or wildlife laws of other countries).

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” many would argue. But there’s more to it than that: Honduran officials who testified for the defense insisted at the trial that the defendants broke no such Honduran law because there isn’t one, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Paul Craig Roberts in a recent syndicated column.

“Naive Americans tend to regards miscarriages of justice, such as the lobster import case, as rare examples of legal idiocy that somehow will be corrected by the legal system,” writes Roberts.

“However, such cases are routine and are seldom if ever corrected. In America today, law enforcement boils down to the exercise of power by unaccountable prosecutors.”

See “Jailing the Innocent,” by Paul Craig Roberts (1/7/04)

Also see:

THE TYRANNY OF GOOD INTENTIONS: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice, by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton

More on crime and the courts


2) U.S. Leaders Silent on Abuses by “Friendly” Mideast Despots
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan didn’t make President Bush’s “axis of evil” list, but that omission says more about the inconsistency of U.S. foreign policy than it says about the state of freedom in those countries. Not only is each of these countries a member of the “axis of dependency” in U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world, each poses a danger to peace in their respective regions.

“Pakistan, a U.S. ‘friend,’ may be the most dangerous country on the planet,” writes Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute. “It is believed to have between 24 and 48 nuclear weapons -- as opposed to North Korea’s estimated handful -- that could easily fall into the hands of radical Islamists if the unstable government of Pervez Musharraf falls.”

Saudi Arabia and Egypt, of course, are the home countries of al-Qaeda’s leaders; they are also corrupt “tyrannies that likely have unconventional weapons programs, commit gross human rights abuses against their people and have therefore spawned radical Islamist terrorists.” Yet the Bush administration stays silent about these major faults.

Concludes Eland: “The Bush administration’s rhetorical justifications for invading Iraq (after the threat from Iraq’s unconventional weapons was debunked) were to end a brutal regime and set an example to inspire the ‘democratization’ of the Middle East. But continued Bush administration support for equally brutal, but ‘friendly,’ regimes reveals the hypocrisy of those justifications and the emptiness of the administration’s goal of spreading democracy.”

See “With Friends Like These, U.S. Enemies Don’t Seem As Bad,” by Ivan Eland (1/7/04)

Center on Peace & Liberty

War on Terrorism -- Middle East policy


3) “Confessions of a Media Maverick” featuring John Stossel -- Independent Policy Forum (1/30/04)

When pioneering television journalist John Stossel joined ABC-TV’s “20/20” in 1981, his peers and an admiring public hailed him as a crusading consumer reporter. His hard-hitting, in-your-face exposés of con artists, liars and crooks won him 19 Emmy Awards and an avid following. But, could the use of government power and the Nanny State be the biggest scam of all?

In his new book, GIVE ME A BREAK, Stossel takes on a herd of sacred cows and examines how in the name of the “public interest,” ambitious politicians and bureaucrats, intellectually lazy and opportunistic reporters, scaremongers, and predatory lawyers make life worse, especially for those most disadvantaged.

Please join us as John Stossel explains how his investigations of government waste, fraud and abuse, welfare for the rich, victimless crimes, self-serving interest groups, and sensationalist-media hyping (while ignoring real risks) reveal the crucial need to protect the civil and economic liberties of all people.

John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC’s “20/20.” He also hosts ABC’s “John Stossel Specials” for ABC television and radio, and In addition to having received 19 Emmy Awards, he has been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club. He is also a recipient of the George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting and the George Foster Peabody Award.

Friday, January 30, 2004
Reception and book signing: 6:30 p.m.
Program: 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

The Independent Institute Conference Center
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
Map and directions

Special Admission includes a copy of GIVE ME A BREAK (20% discount
off retail price): $35 per person ($30 for Independent Institute

Admission without a book: $15 per person (or $10 for Independent
Institute Members).

Reserve tickets by calling (510) 632-1366 or email to [email protected].


“Stossel is that rare creature, a TV commentator who understands
economics, in all its subtlety. Read this fascinating book to learn
-- by example after example -- how the indirect, unseen effects of
government policies often dominate the direct, seen effects. Again
and again, policies have effects the opposite of those intended.”
-- MILTON FRIEDMAN, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science

“John Stossel is the most consistently thought-provoking TV reporter
of our time.”

“There’s nothing matter-of-fact about John Stossel’s fact-finding. He
seeks the truths that destroy truisms, wields reason against all
that’s unreasonable, and uses and upholds the ideals that puncture
sanctimonious idealism. He loves liberty in a way that goes far
beyond liberalism. He makes the maddening mad. And Stossel’s tales of
the outrageous are outrageously amusing.”
-- P. J. O’ROURKE, best-selling author of EAT THE RICH and

“John Stossel has the gift for entertaining while saying something profound.”

“John Stossel is a breath of fresh air in a world of stodgy,
conformist, knee-jerk journalism.”
-- BERNARD GOLDBERG, Emmy Award-winning CBS reporter and
best-selling author of BIAS and ARROGANCE

More information


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