Posts Tagged ‘Denmark’

Health and safety regulators vs. Danish pastry

Two of my enduring interests — excessive government regulation and the quest for truly scrumptious cinnamon buns — intersect here in a single story from Denmark. [Guardian]:

…scientists have now discovered that too much of the most commonly used type of cinnamon, cassia, can cause liver damage thanks to high levels of coumarin, a natural ingredient found in the spice.

The EU has accordingly decreed that coumarin levels must be kept below 50 mg per kg in “traditional” or “seasonal” foodstuffs eaten only occasionally, and 15 mg per kg in everyday “fine baked goods.”

Last month, the Danish food authority ruled that the nation’s famous cinnamon swirls were neither traditional nor seasonal, thus limiting the quantity of cinnamon that bakers are allowed to use, placing the pastry at risk – and sparking a national outcry that could be dubbed the great Danish bake strop.

The president of the Danish Bakers’ Association, Hardy Christensen, said: “We’ve been making bread and cakes with cinnamon for 200 years. Then suddenly the government says these pastries are not traditional? I have been a baker for 43 years and never come across anything like this – it’s crazy. Using lower amounts of the spice will change the distinctive flavour and produce less tasty pastries. Normally, we do as we’re told by the government and say OK, but now it’s time to take a stand. Enough is enough.”

Meanwhile: Anonymous informant shuts down school bus cookie lady in Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen, Minn. [MPR, AP]

February 17 roundup

  • Federal taxpayers via National Cancer Institute grant dished out more than a million dollars to pay for laughable conspiracy-theory report smearing Tea Party [Hans Bader, more, Jacob Sullum on report from Stanton Glantz, whom we’ve often met before] “Rather than [being] a spontaneous popular phenomenon, opposition to the tea parties was nurtured by the government.” [@RameshPonnuru]
  • Ken on why the relentless overuse of the epithet “bullying” gets on his (and my) nerves [Popehat; Clark at Popehat on New York police chiefs who feel bullied because someone won’t sell them guns]
  • On immigration, advocates of liberty can’t afford to ignore the future-polity angle [Eugene Volokh; Ilya Somin with a response]
  • More on that wretched State of the Union retread, the Paycheck Fairness Act [Hans Bader, Ted Frank, 2009 DoL study, earlier here, here, here, here, here, etc.] Other dud SOTU ideas: federally paid universal preschool [Andrew Coulson, related, more, related on minority kids’ results, yet more, Neal McCluskey on public infant care, Tyler Cowen] minimum wage hike [Chris Edwards, Veronique de Rugy]
  • Woman sues fitness club over “sexually suggestive” exercises [CBS Dallas]
  • Silent witness: undeveloped state of law, police, insurance contribute to widespread Russian use of dashboard cams [WaPo]
  • Would-be assassin came dressed as postman: Danish free-speech advocate Lars Hedegaard interviewed [Spectator]

Free speech roundup

  • “People’s Rights Amendment” paves way for government control of media and trampling of many other rights. Is your Rep a sponsor? [Volokh, more, Somin]
  • Indian skeptic charged with blasphemy for revealing secret behind “miracle” of weeping cross [Doctorow] “Arab world’s most famous comedian” jailed in Egypt on charges of “insulting Islam” [Volokh]
  • “Is the Real Intent of Cyber-Bullying Laws to Eliminate Criticism of Politicians?” [Coyote]
  • Timothy Kincaid: why I oppose the California “don’t say ex-gay” therapy-ban bill [BTB]
  • More on unreasonable IRS demands of tea party groups seeking nonprofit status [Stoll, Anne Sorock/Bill Jacobson, Houston Chronicle, earlier]
  • Denmark Supreme Court, 7-0, strikes down conviction of Lars Hedegaard for criticizing Islam in own home [Mark Steyn] Institute of Public Affairs launches campaign to defend free speech in Australia [Andrew Bolt case earlier] Free speech in Britain looking the worse for wear [Cooke, NRO] Belgian court throws out lawsuit seeking ban on allegedly racist “Tintin” comic book [Volokh] Group files criminal complaint against Swiss magazine over cover story on Roma crime [Spiegel]

August 26 roundup

Quasi-off-topic musing

Inconceivably beyond my frame of reference as an American: self-operated rides in a Denmark amusement park (as part of a larger travelogue on a very strange park, Bon Bon Land). Instructions are provided on signs: customers seat themselves, and the next person on line is supposed to press the appropriate button at the appropriate time to send a customer hurtling down a zip line.

It fascinates me how other cultures tolerate risk and reject idiot-proofing so much differently than the US. I wonder which way the causal arrow goes with the general litigiousness of American culture: are we litigious because we’re risk-averse, or are we risk-averse because we’re litigious? If the former, perhaps the European example actually reflects the moral hazard of social insurance. (Of course, other photos on the travelogue pages demonstrate other important differences between Denmark and the US.)

Related: Subcontinental Drift on zoos in Southeast Asia.

Update: Amusement-park-loving torts prof Bill Childs comments, which is appropriate, because the post was originally just going to be an email to Childs and a handful of other people before I realized there was no reason not to just expand it into a post.

Read On…

“Danish court rejects cartoons lawsuit”

“A Danish court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Muslim groups against the newspaper that first published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that triggered protests across the world this year.” (, Oct. 27; Volokh, Oct. 26). Syrian legislator Mohammed Habash, who heads the Islamic Studies Center in Damascus and is apparently deaf to ironic overtones, charged the Danish court with “[wanting] to impose their way of thinking on all other nations.” (“Arab dismay at cartoons verdict”, Irish Examiner, Oct. 26). Earlier: Mar. 19, Mar. 31, etc. SupportDenmarkSmall3EN.png

Update: Danish Muslim groups to sue over cartoons

27 Muslim groups in Denmark have announced their intent to sue the newspaper Jyllands-Posten for defamation in a Danish court, and also plan to “report Denmark to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights for failing to prosecute the newspaper that first published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad”. (Jenny Booth and news agencies, “Danish Muslims sue over Muhammad cartoons”, The Times (U.K.), Mar. 17). Earlier coverage: Mar. 4, Feb. 14 (Muslims in Calgary, Alberta plan to sue), Feb. 10, etc.

Why they aren’t running the cartoons

The Boston Phoenix (“World of Pain”, Feb. 9) tells readers that “frankly, the primary reason” it isn’t going to run the Danish Muhammed cartoons:

Out of fear of retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do. …Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and as deeply as we believe in the principles of free speech and a free press, we could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy. As we feel forced, literally, to bend to maniacal pressure, this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year publishing history.

Somewhere there’s probably an issue of vicarious/employer liability lurking in here — if printing the cartoons did lead to violence, the Phoenix’s owners might well end up having to pay. But of course the venerable alt-weekly’s stance is practically a profile in courage compared with that of editors, publishers, governments and university officials in many other places, including South Africa (bans publication of images), Sweden (reported to have shut down website carrying them), Canada’s Prince Edward Island (university confiscates student newspaper, edict forbids weblog comments) and so on (Michelle Malkin roundup, Feb. 9). Commentaries worth reading: Krauthammer, Kinsley, and, from a different perspective, a commenter at Andrew Sullivan’s. (More on the cartoons here and here.)

Update: U.K. Commons revolt on bill curbing religious speech

Civil libertarians take a stand in Britain: by single-vote margins, the House of Commons has surprisingly voted to water down significantly the bill introduced by the Blair government to attach legal penalties to various types of speech critical of religion. In particular, the bill “was stripped of measures to outlaw ‘abusive and insulting’ language and behaviour as well as the crime of ‘recklessness’ in actions that incite religious hatred.” Earlier, the House of Lords had heeded protests from free-speech advocates including comedian Rowan Atkinson by lending its support to amendments to the bill. “In a humiliating blow to Mr Blair, who has a 65-seat Commons majority, 21 Labour rebels voted with Opposition MPs while at least 40 more were absent or abstained.” (David Charter, “Religious hate Bill lost after Blair fails to vote”, The Times, Feb. 1; Greg Hurst and David Charter, “Racial hatred Bill threatens our civil liberties, say rebels”, Feb. 1; Greg Hurst and Ruth Gledhill , “How comic’s supporters kept their heads down and used their cunning”, Feb. 2). Earlier coverage: Jul. 16, 2004; Jun. 11, Jun. 27, Aug. 17, Oct. 19, and Oct. 29, 2005.

The Blair government’s primary motivation for the bill is considered to be to cater to the sensitivities of British Muslims, and many commentators (such as Charles Moore) make the obvious connection with the situation in Denmark (see Feb. 1). Meanwhile, violent threats continue against Danes, cartoonists, and liberal-minded Europeans generally. And some 500 lawyers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, are supporting a project “to take legal action against” those who insult or demean the founder of their religion with one goal being “to enact laws that would incriminate abuse of religions and prophets in all countries,” as a spokesman puts it. (P.K. Abdul Ghafour & Abdul Maqsood Mirza, “Lawyers Vow Legal Action in Cartoons Row”, Arab News, Feb. 4). Michelle Malkin has much, much more (plus this).

Vaccines, cont’d

Britain’s legal-aid commission invested ?15 million in assisting claimants who wanted to sue makers over the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, but finally decided to call a halt: “After taking expert advice, the LSC acknowledged that, given the failure of research to establish a link between MMR and autism, the litigation was ‘very likely to fail'”. Michael Fitzpatrick, writing for the UK’s Spiked Online, explores what he calls the “enormous waste of public funds” on the litigation. (“Medicine on trial”, Dec. 15). Efforts to pin the blame on the preservative thimerosal have come up short, according to an editorial in today’s WSJ: “Researchers recently examined the health records of all children born in Denmark from 1971 to 2000 for autism diagnoses. Though Denmark eliminated thimerosal from its vaccines in 1992, the researchers found that the incidence of autism continued to increase. A second research team reviewed the records of nearly 500,000 Danes vaccinated for pertussis. They also found that the risk of autism and related disorders didn’t differ between those vaccinated with thimerosal and those without.” (“The Politics of Autism” (editorial), Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29). More on vaccines and liability: Jim Copland (Manhattan Institute), “Liable to Infection”, Dallas Morning News, Dec. 14; Robert Goldberg (also Manhattan Institute), “Vaccinating against disaster”, Washington Times, Dec. 17; and see Dec. 24 and earlier posts. Update Feb. 25: Lancet regrets publication of anti-MMR study; Mar. 4, 2005: another study finds no link.