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Reason Alert: Tragedy in Japan

Reason's Rand Paul interview and Ayn Rand movie review

March 18, 2011

- Tragedy in Japan and the Future of Nuclear Power
- Interviews Sen. Rand Paul
- Atlas Shrugged Movie Review
- Never-Ending Drug War
- Ensuring Fairness and Reforming the Forensics System
- New at Reason  

Tragedy in Japan and the Future of Nuclear Power
Today, officials raised the severity level of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to level 5 on the 7-level international scale. In the U.S., people are asking how safe is nuclear power and can a similar disaster happen here? Reason magazine Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey delves into these questions and writes: "One hopeful possibility is that the Japanese crisis will spark the development and deployment of new and even safer nuclear power plants. Already, the Westinghouse division of Toshiba has developed and sold its passively safe AP1000 pressurized water reactor. The reactor is designed with safety systems that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for human intervention and operate using natural forces like gravity instead of relying on diesel generators and electric pumps. Until the recent events in Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was expected to give final approval to the design by this fall despite opposition by some anti-nuclear groups...The main problem with energy supply systems is that for the last 100 years, governments have insisted on meddling with them, using subsidies, setting rates, and picking technologies. Consequently, entrepreneurs, consumers, and especially policymakers have no idea which power supply technologies actually provide the best balance between cost-effectiveness and safety."
Jesse Walker: Resilient Japan and Three lessons From the Disasters
Jacob Sullum: The Dim Bulbs in Congress

Reason Interviews Sen. Rand Paul Editor Nick Gillespie and Reason magazine Editor Matt Welch sit down with Sen. Rand Paul to discuss spending cuts, the Tea Party's role in politics, corporate welfare, libertarians and more.
Related: Is The Tea Party Killing Real Budget Reform? Or Just the GOP?
Video: Nick Gillespie Talks Budget Cuts on Judge Napolitano's Freedom Watch
Video: Nick Gillespie, Rep. Jeff Flake and John Stossel Discuss Government Waste
Video: Nick Gillespie on Fox's Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld Matt Welch: The Latest Fiscal Denialist: E.J. Dionne
Because "America is Not Broke" Today, We Can Keep Spending Like There's No Tomorrow

Atlas Shrugged Movie Review
Reason magazine's Brian Doherty offers a detailed review of the Atlas Shrugged movie: "...the film's qualities-both good and bad-came through. Anyone with a passionate interest in Ayn Rand and her opus will want to see, and will surely appreciate on many levels, this film version of a third of the novel. Early word is encouraging for the film's producers, John Aglialoro (CEO of the Cybex exercise equipment company and sole financier of this independently-produced film) and Harmon Kaslow. The world of Objectivist fans, those with a passionate attachment to their own vision of the book, seem likely unsatisfiable by anything that doesn't spring directly from their imaginations to the theater of their minds. But the early reactions from Randians has been positive, with adulation from Rand's closest friends and disciples during the years she wrote Atlas, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, who were both blown away, and love from the Atlas Society's philosophical linchpin David Kelley (who advised Aglialoro in every step of the process, to ensure the resulting script passed Objectivist muster). By the same token, some people who don't care for Rand have also hated the film. When I interviewed him for a forthcoming May feature story in Reason, producer Kaslow told me that they knew expectations were low for the movie because of its relatively small budget and rushed production schedule (reported frequently as $5 million, though the shoot ended up costing $10 million). Indeed, some reviewers based their admiration for the finished product somewhat on their hideous fears about it based on early reports. The end result is definitely better than merely 'not a disaster.'...I expect this movie's fate will be to be mostly admired with caveats by Rand fans, mostly hated and condemned by her enemies (one of whom declared the film socially dangerous before it was made), and probably just a thin emotional experience for those who have no opinion or knowledge of the novel either way."
Brian Doherty, Tim Cavanaugh and Instapundit Glenn Reynolds Talk Atlas Shrugged and Libertarians On the Set of Atlas Shrugged

Never-Ending Drug War
John Stossel: End the Drug War, Save Black America
DEA Raids Medical Marijuana Facilities in Montana
Video: DEA Raids Hollywood Dispensaries This Week

Ensuring Fairness and Reforming the Forensics System
Reason magazine's Radley Balko writes that crimes labs are riddled with perverse incentives that can crush innocent people: "There is always pressure, blatant or implied, to deliver results the state needs to win a prosecution. That does not mean all or most or even a significant percentage of medical examiners are corrupt. But having a medical examiner and his staff ultimately report to the head of a law enforcement agency introduces subtle pressures that can influence even the most conscientious doctors. The pressures can be even greater for serologists, ballistics experts, fingerprint analysts, and other nonmedical forensic experts, many of whom are actually sworn law enforcement officers...The best way to begin mending the problems with the forensics system is to fix the incentives, aligning them so analysts are rewarded only for sound, scientifically supported work and punished for allowing their work to be influenced by bias, intentional or not. Koppl makes several specific recommendations in his paper for the Reason Foundation, which he and I summarized in a 2008 Slate article. The most important changes are taking state crime labs and medical examiner officers out from under the control of state law enforcement agencies and introducing a system of 'rivalrous redundancy' for forensic analysis."  

New at Reason  

Friday Funnies: NPR Caught on Tape
Greg Beato: Is the Enclosed Shopping Mall Poised for a Comeback?
Kurt Loder Reviews Limitless and Win Win
California Gov. Jerry Brown's Plan Is Fiscally Smart, Morally Right, and Probably Doomed
How Are Americans Enjoying Health Care Reform?
Does the Supreme Court Have a Pro-Corporate Bias?
Reason's Shikha Dalmia Discusses Immigration at 2011 Students for Liberty International Conference
Mortgage Regulation Proposals Good For Regulators, Bad For Homeowners
Reason magazine Nominated for Seven Western Publishing Association "Maggie" Awards
"Reason Saves Cleveland with Drew Carey" a Finalist for a Digital National Magazine Award

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