scaliaU.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died at the age of 79. He reportedly died in his sleep during a visit to Texas. Here are five facts you should know about one of the leading conservative voices on the nation’s highest court:

1. Antonin Scalia (nicknamed “Nino”) was born on March 11, 1936, in Trenton, N.J.  He attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, a military school run by the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church, and studied History at Georgetown University. After graduating as valedictorian from Georgetown in 1957, he attended Harvard Law School, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. After graduating from Harvard Scalia worked for a law firm in Cleveland, Ohio (1961–67), before moving to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he taught at the University of Virginia Law School (1967–74). While in Virginia, he served the federal government as general counsel to the Office of Telecommunications Policy (1971–72) and as chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States (1972–74). In 1974 Scalia left academia when President Ford nominated him to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, an office in the Department of Justice that assists the Attorney General in his function as legal adviser to the President and all executive branch agencies.
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drug-pricesIf you suffer from acid reflux, your doctor may prescribe Nexium. But at $9 a pill, the price is enough to give you a worse case of heartburn.

That’s the price in the U.S. If you live in Canada, though, you can get the drug for less than a $1 a pill.

This price disparity leads many politicians to think the solution is obvious: Americans should just buy drugs from Canada or other countries where they are cheaper.

Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John McCain (R-Az.) have twice introduced legislation to allow Americans to order up to a 90-day supply of medicines from a licensed Canadian pharmacy. And Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have made importing drugs from Canada part of their platform for reducing the cost of healthcare.

If this seems too easy, it’s because it’s an economically ignorant idea. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Rafi Mohammed explains why this strategy won’t work:
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In Leonard Reed’s famous essay, “I, Pencil,” he marvels over the cooperation and collaboration involved in the assembly of a simple pencil — a complex coordination that is quite miraculously uncoordinated. 

In a short video from economist Alex Tabarrok, the same lesson is applied to Valentine’s Day roses:

“Behind every Valentine’s Day rose, there’s an extensive network of people from all over the world,” says Tabarrok, “from the farmer to the shipper to the auctioneer to the retailer—all cooperating to produce and transport roses from field to hand in a matter of days.”

But though these countless creative partners are surely acting out of some degree of self-interest, and though (in this case) they are working to enable and empower what we presume to be “loving” exchanges, there is something deeper going on throughout the activity. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, February 12, 2016
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Why Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill Will Make Christian History in Cuba Tomorrow
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today

ISIS persecution of Christians prompts first meeting between Catholic and Orthodox primates since 1054.

EPA Goes After Low-Income Farmers In Land Grab
Blake Hurst, The Federalist

The Supreme Court says the Clean Water Act is not a grant of federal control over every stream and depression in the nation. The Environmental Protection Agency says otherwise.

The World Isn’t Less Free Than It Used To Be
Jay Ulfelder, FiveThirtyEight

People on Earth were on average about as free at the start of 2016 as they were a year earlier, and the average global resident remained much freer than at almost any time in modern history.

Most Americans Say Government Doesn’t Do Enough to Help Middle Class
Pew Research

GOP seen as favoring the rich over middle class, poor; mixed views on which class the Democratic Party favors.

francis-and-krill-mugs-duo.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxWhat’s going on?

Tomorrow, for the first time in history, a Roman Catholic pontiff and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet face to face. According to the joint press release of the Holy See and of the Patriarchate of Moscow:

The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12. Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope will make a stop on his way to Mexico, and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit. It will include a personal conversation at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.

The meeting is scheduled to last about two hours. Cuba’s President Raúl Castro will join the two religious leaders during the exchange of gifts.

Why are they meeting? 

According to Vatican Insider, Metropolitan Hilarion said in a recent press conference that the the historic meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and the Pope “had been in the making for about 20 years” but was speeded up by the “Christian genocide” being caused by terrorists. In the face of what is going on and is “causing concern” to both Churches, the two spiritual leaders simply “had to meet.”

Vladimir Legoida, head of the Synodal Department for Church-Society Relations and the Mass Media, said the meeting is called for by the need to exert joint efforts in giving help to Christian communities in the Middle East countries.

Although many problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church remain unresolved, the protection of Christians in the Middle East against the genocide is a challenge that requires urgent united efforts.…The exodus of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa countries is a catastrophe for the whole world.

Why are they meeting in Cuba?
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Previously this week, The Wall Street Journal presented a list of “7 Things Investors Should Be Watching for a 2016 Unfolds.” While there’s much in Michael A. Pollock’s article to recommend it to readers who might’ve missed it, there’s also one significant omission – Number Eight, if you will: A Rise in Proxy Resolutions by Religious Shareholder Activists.

Shortly after reading the WSJ article, your writer received an email from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the “corporate God-flies” who mask an actual leftist political agenda with their supposed faith-based concerns over social issues related to climate change and corporate spending on lobbying and politics. ICCR’s email announces the group’s increased efforts to stymie the best interests of the companies in which they invest in 2016 – without mentioning how their activities also negatively impact fellow shareholders as well as company customers and employees. Yet ICCR is undeterred in its efforts in a year thus far beset upon by great economic uncertainty and volatility:

Shareholder proposals on climate change and corporate lobbying and political spending head the list of 257 resolutions filed by ICCR members at 174 companies in the 2016 proxy season. Over one-third of total proposals this year are climate-related, including those related to corporate lobbying, revealing how climate change is viewed as a major risk for investors and engagements on how companies are mitigating these risks are taking on greater importance.

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Blog author: jsunde
Thursday, February 11, 2016
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beautiful-tree-private-schools-poorOne of the popular targets of foreign aid is education, and understandably so. Yet as with most solutions sprouting from Western planners and do-gooders, the reality on the ground is a bit different than we typically imagine. Likewise, the solutions are often closer than we’re led to believe.

In his book, The Beautiful Tree, James Tooley chronicles his own investigative journey throughout the developing world, seeking to uncover the local realities of educational opportunity. Originally commissioned by the World Bank to investigate private schools in a dozen developing countries, Tooley began with the assumption that such schools were designed for and confined to the middle classes and elite.

What he found, however, was a situation far more rich and varied.

Beginning in the city of Hyderabad, India, Tooley’s targets initially appeared as expected: private schools designed for the prosperous and privileged. One day, however, on a holiday off from his usual research, he ventured into the city’s slums, spontaneously stumbling on a private school created by and for the local community. He soon met the school’s headmaster, who explained the widespread dissatisfaction with public schooling, from over-crowded classrooms to chronically absent teachers to the severe lack of accountability or parental control. (more…)