Archive for August, 2011

If you are going to Utah, you may be seeing the return of the restaurant equivalent of a beer burka. Legislators in the heavily Mormon state have reinstated the required use of Zion curtains to separate diners from bartenders. In beer-only restaurants, bartenders will now have to be shielded from public eye.
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Aaron Tobey attained a degree of fame in carrying out a rather novel form of protest for civil liberties at an airport security point. Tobey stripped down and used a black marker to display a quote from of the Fourth Amendment on his bare chest reading “The right of the people to be secure … against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.” He was arrested for his conduct, but now federal District Judge Henry Hudson had ruled that part of his lawsuit against the TSA can go forward to trial.
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Pastor Mike Stahl is the head of an “internet church” called the Church of the Living Water and has drawn national attention due to a proposal he made a year ago: a national registry for atheists. We have seen religious and political leaders in the last year attacking atheists and even comparing them to terrorists. Stahl’s proposed national registry is the natural outgrowth of such demagoguery.
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While Edwin Tobergta, 32, may not be the first man to grow attached to an inflatable friend, he may be the first to develop such an amorous relationship with an inflatable pool raft. Tobergta was arrested after being spotted naked and having sex with the raft. This was not the first inflatable vixen that led Togergta astray.
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D.C. police officer Kenneth Furr was recently arrested having shot transgender citizens in a drunken rage. It now appears that the D.C. Metropolitan Police was aware of prior alcohol-related incidents by Furr. We previously followed a detective who brandished his gun to threaten people who hit his private Hummer with a snowball. In that incident, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham told the media that the gun in his hand (and clearly shown on videotape) was really just a cellphone.
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Exactly when does this get embarrassing for Russians? The latest installment of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s attempt to morph into a Russian action hero occurred with the start of the election campaign for United Russia Pary when he drove a Harley through the street. I hear the bike actually runs on his own excreted testosterone, which his Russian handlers insist is 100 times more powerful than that of a professional wrestler half is age and 10 times greater than a grizzly bear.

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The Ninth Circuit has handed down a major ruling that a firefighter can sue detectives who accused him falsely of creating two child-pornography websites. The Ninth Circuit panel ruled in an opinion written by Judge Richard Paez that Washington State Police officers Rachel Gardner and John Sager had shown a “reckless disregard for the truth” when they arrested Spokane firefighter Todd Chism in 2008.

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Now this is a bizarre potential tort case out of Britain. A 26-year-old woman’s gel breast implant exploded when hit by a paintball traveling at 190mph. The question is whether Paintzone Park near Croydon, or the paintball gun manufacturers, should be liable under a strict liability or negligence theory.
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The Florida Highway Patrol is the defendant in an interesting class action by Eric Campbell, who was ticketed for warning other drivers of a speed trap. Drivers will sometimes flash their lights to warn approaching cars in the opposite lane of the speed trap. However, the Florida Highway Patrol insists that that is illegal and gave Campbell a ticket for improper use of high beams.
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A goodwill dinner planned for Ramadan at the Catholic Mother of Mercy High School in Cincinnati has been cancelled after an outcry from parents. The wonderful interfaith gesture to the Muslim community ended in sectarian prejudices as parents objected it was too close to the 9-11 anniversary and “sent the wrong message.” My favorite quote came from one parent who said “I’m glad it’s canceled; it wasn’t a good thing . . . It would have really given Mercy a bad name.” Yes, Mercy now stands for something entirely different.
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A Colorado jury has rendered a rare award to the family of a burglar killed in the course of a crime. Verdicts like this one are likely to be used by advocates of Castle Doctrine or “Make-My-Day laws — laws designed to protect citizens from criminal liability in the protection of their homes, or in some cases, their businesses. The El Paso jury awarded roughly $300,000 to the family of Robert Johnson Fox, who was shot in the course of an attempted burglary of a car lot.
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A study by the Mailman School of Public Health in Columbia University in New York estimates that half of both men and women in the U.S. will be obese by 2030 if current trends continue. Currently, 32 percent of men and 35 per cent of women are obese. Our cousins in England will not be far behind — with rates of obesity of 41-48 percent for men and 35-43 percent for women by 2030.
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If you are really trying to get away from it all, Russia appears to have the answer. The Russians are planning a space hotel to orbit 200 miles above Earth by 2016. The four-room Hotel in the Heavens can handle up to seven guests. Of course, Russian hotels are already known for a rather stripped down sense of accommodation. Yet, tourists might be a bit uneasy after the recent explosion of the Russian supply ship to the space station.
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Many people have been concerned about the Obama Administration’s intervention into the Libyan Civil War with little knowledge of the character of the emerging new government, including indications of strong influences of religious extremists. The concern is that, as in Afghanistan with Al Qaeda, we are supporting the ascension of potentially more dangerous elements. That concern was heightened this week when the new Libyan government flatly rejected any possible extradition of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi — the terrorist mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. In the meantime in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s party has already announced sweeping proposed changes to structure society under Sharia law, including limits on tourists, banning bikinis and sunbathing. Other Islamic parties are calling for the removal of art and artifacts as non-Islamic.
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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

When politicians frame the debate on taxes, higher income taxes on the wealthy are always preceded by the descriptor “job-crushing” and lower capital gains taxes “encourage investment.” Investment is often used as the justification for a tax rate of 15% on capital gains, monies from the sale of stock, and dividends, which are now included in the 15% bracket. For the wealthy, those making $379,150 and above, ordinary income is taxed at 35%.

Is this “investment” justification backed by the data?

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SmartBird

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

 

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Walking In The Rain

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Today we have The Ronettes in glorious STEREO!

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My brother sent me this mocking picture making the rounds on the Internet. I thought it was àpropos in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The coverage in Washington of the hurricane-that-wasn’t has been absolutely bizarre. It is good to see that this city does not just panic with an inch of snow. We panic with any weather above a flurry or a misting. Folks in parts of North Carolina and other coastal areas have had legitimate concerns (including New York, Vermont and other areas) and Irene’s flooding and power outages were expected to take quite a toll in those hardest hit areas. However, the D.C. coverage was comically ridiculous. I watched one story of how Irene had began “its trail of misery and destruction” toward Washington. General Sherman’s March To the Sea had less dire reviews. I am only talking about Northern Virginia and Washington where the coverage continued in sharp contrast with the actual forecasted weather for our area.
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Sunday in Paris With Eric

Here is our picture of the week from our erstwhile colleague in the City of Light, Eric Tenin.

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Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Bogger

 

It is a big deal when you read that New York City is shutting down their transit system and ordering evacuations due to the impending hurricane that is making its way up the Eastern coast.  It also concerned me because my daughter is now in NYC and is unable to get out before Monday.  I can only imagine the devastation that will occur all the way from the Carolinas up to the Northeast due to Hurricane Irene.   When you read the stories and see the pictures of the havoc and sometimes death that is the result of these kind of natural disasters, it is hard to understand why some politicians are clamoring that the government should not pay for relief unless there are corresponding spending cuts! (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

 In the years, I’ve spent commenting here at Professor Turley’s blog, I have presented myself as an honest person, sensible and with humane beliefs. Many regulars think of me as sort of a blog “elder statesman” and one who has a rational view of the world. There are of course others, fewer in number I assert, who think me a fool and a knave, which shows you can’t please everyone. Professor Turley himself has expressed fondness related to my tendency to be honest and open about myself personally.

 Yet through all of these years here, I have harbored a secret belief that I’ve avoided mentioning for fear that the esteem in which I’m held, will disappear in an avalanche of ridicule and disappointment. I have to admit that to a retired old guy on the wrong side of sixty years, my place here has provided comfort to my self-esteem and certainly the feeling that I can still find things in life to accomplish. To those who haven’t realized the obvious yet from my writings, I have my vanities and indeed my insecurities, so being a guest blogger has stroked those needy aspects of my ego. Since I’ve received much gratification from this, I have been loath to be completely honest about one of my more deeply held beliefs. I came across an article that impels me to break my silence and reveal this belief here and now. While in the eyes of some reading this blog, it might lower their opinion of me and expose me to ridicule, I must finally admit to you my dirty little secret.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Governor Rick Scott (R-Florida) imagines that welfare recipients were likely drug addicts so he signed a law that mandates drug testing before they can receive cash benefits from the state. “The goal of this is to make sure we don’t waste taxpayers’ money,” Scott said. How’s that working out? About 2 percent have tested positive and ninety-six percent proved to be drug free — leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests.

Financially, Florida taxpayers may save a whopping $40,800-$98,400 for a program that has been predicted to cost $178 million. That’s before the legal costs from a threatened ACLU challenge to the law’s constitutionality.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Goshen College in Indiana, a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, has banned The Star Spangled Banner at all sporting events. The main value with which the college seeks to be identified with is: Christ-centered.

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Jailhouse Rock

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


In memory of the recent passing of Jerry Leiber, half of the Leiber/Stoller songwriting duo, we present Elvis Presley in glorious STEREO!

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With Rick Perry taking the lead in the Republican primary, tort reform is expected to be, again, a major campaign issue. I have long been a critic of efforts to cap damages and I have seen firsthand how these caps often lead to families being unable to secure counsel in fights with big companies. Now, Perry is claiming that his “reforms” have led to 21,000 more doctors coming to Texas. The article below shows how this claim is entirely unsupported.
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Since the start of this blog, we have used WordPress as a publishing platform. Recently, however, WordPress appears to be working to drive off bloggers by imposing insular charges for every little thing. Indeed, they routinely charge you more if you are one of their more successful blogs beyond the annual fee for the blog (which is quite reasonable). Thus, they will now put advertising on your blog without your consent unless you pay them not to. Once again, if you are a successful blog, they zero in on your blog for such placement. Now, with no warning, WordPress has changed the basic tool for embedding videos by requiring bloggers to pay $60 a year for a video feature.
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You might want to dump those De Beers shares. Scientists have discovered a plant that may be basically a giant diamond. The planet circles around pulsar J1719-1438. Sure, it is 4,000 light years away, but isn’t she worth it?
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State Rep. Phil Hinkle , R-Indianapolis, is in a rather curious position. He admits that he paid a young man $80 to come to his hotel room for a good time but insists that he is neither gay nor guilty of any criminal act. He has refused to resign after being stripped of his committee chairmanships. Hinkle is viewed as an anti-homosexual legislator and has been outspoken in his opposition to same-sex marriage.

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This is one of the photos released today by the Park Police showing the cracks in the Washington monument. Below is another picture.
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This week, I was milking sympathy after being stung twice by bees on two successive days walking our dog, Molly, through our nearby forest. The sympathy then came to an end when I saw this story about an elderly man in Redondo Beach, California.

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There is an interesting torts case of consent out of Shelbyville, Kentucky where truck driver Phillip Seaton, 64, sued after a doctor amputated part of his penis in what was supposed to be a simple circumcision operation. Dr. John Patterson insists that, upon examination, he found the penis to be infused with cancer and took the step in the best interests of the patient. A jury agreed and ruled for Patterson.
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The University of Pittsburgh School of Law is being sued for age discrimination by tax professor William J. Brown. Brown, 73, first began at Pitt in 1968 and earned tenure at that institution. After 30 years, he left to accept a post as director of the Graduate Tax Program at Duquesne’s business school. When he returned in 2006, he alleged was blocked to returning as a full-time faculty member by a decision of the law school to seek younger faculty members.
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I was honored recently to be selected as the Appellate Lawyer of the Week featured in the National Law Journal. Here is the interview. The interview was a chance to speak with one of the great legal journalists, Tony Mauro, whom I have long admired.

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We previously followed the case of Madera (Ca.) officer Marcy Noriega, who shot and killed a handcuffed suspect, Everardo Torres, in the back of a cruiser — after mistaking her semiautomatic pistol for her Taser. Now, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that Torres’ family can bring a lawsuit against the officer. Previously, Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii ruled that the officer had complete immunity from lawsuit in such a circumstance.
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The last few years have been replete with stories of fraudulent and possibly criminal acts for banks in the mortgage crisis. Thousands have lost their homes and faced financial ruin. The Administration is yielding to demands from lobbyists for the banks and particularly targeting Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, in demanding support for a deal that would offer just civil fines rather than criminal penalties.

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The epicenter was Mineral Virginia in the district of Republican Congressman Eric Cantor. You may recall Cantor’s effort to slash the budget of the United States Geological Service (USGS).

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We have another rather bizarre infringement action based on a fairly common symbol. The State Bar of Wisconsin has sued LexisNexis over its use of an online logo that looks like its own symbol. Once again, as with prior lawsuits by Apple and other organizations, I fail to understand the tightening stranglehold of infringement actions over the use of common symbols and terms. The column is a standard symbol for lawyers and schools. In my view, the Wisconsin Bar is showing poor judgment in litigating such an issue — particularly when there is little danger of confusion for observers.
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Former McDermott Will & Emery partner Bruce Paul Golden is facing disbarment in Illinois after officials learned that he had allegedly lied about his income on a financial aid form for a private school. The school is Francis W. Parker, one of the most affluent schools in Chicago. I graduated from Parker’s traditional rival, Latin School of Chicago. Both are ridiculously expensive, but Golden is accused of actually altering his tax forms to establish a base for support.

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EARTHQUAKE!

I was sitting in my office an hour ago when my pictures begin to fall off the walls. It was a rare earthquake in D.C. and it was pretty exciting. I am told that it was a 5.9 quake. Of course, this could lead to Georgetown law reporting their quake as 6.0 and our revising our figures accordingly.
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It is often said that “academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.”[FN1] Some may view the recent dust up between University of Colorado Paul Campos (left) and University of Chicago law professor Brian Leiter as such an example. However, there are some important issues raised in the controversy over the writings of “ScamProf.” Campos recently admitted that he is the anonymous law professor who created such a stir with a criticism of law teaching and law schools. Critics say that Campos only came forward after various bloggers had deduced his identity. However, Leiter and others went further and challenged Campos personally and professionally.
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Roy Lester, 61, has filed a rather novel challenge against the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Lester is a bankruptcy lawyer who has worked as a Long Island lifeguard as a second job. He has filed an age discrimination suit based on the requirement that he wear either a speedo swimsuit or, alternatively, a loose-fitting swimsuit. He insists that he should be allowed to wear swim jammers and that the denial of his choice constitutes age discrimination. Lester is a bankruptcy lawyer and this lawsuit indicates that he is better suited for that field than constitutional and discrimination law.
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South Carolina Dale Richardson has been arrested on charges that he is a serial rapist who kidnapped women and assaulted them in a trailer behind his Freedom Free Will Baptist Church.
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For months, critics have observed that the rebels in Libya contains worrisome elements of religious extremists and that the rebel forces have been accused of war crimes (as have the government forces). The concern is that, like our work in Afghanistan (ultimately helping Al Qaeda and the Taliban), we have little understanding of who we are bringing to power in Libya in our intervention into that civil war. That concern is magnified this week by the release of the draft constitution, which (unless changed) would make Sharia law the governing law of Libya.

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Industry lobbyists and political allies are launching a full court press against the closure of highly polluting coal-fired plants across the United States this month. The effort dovetails with the focus of Republican candidates like Bachmann, Gingrich, and Perry to demonize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and even call for its elimination. However, this move has been delayed too long and is expected to save thousands of lives. The story is the latest example of how industry is able to treat such health risks as abstractions while fighting to keep such plants operating.
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Even wonder how those lobbyists let candidates know where the money is coming from? A camera caught a Bank of America executive quietly assuring Gov. Rick Perry of the support of the Bank of America.

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There was an interesting story out of Germany where researchers have found a highly carcinogenic substance in a flask of lotion believed to have belonged to Queen Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut ruled Egypt 3,500 years ago and was known to have powerful enemies, including her stepson Thutmose III. However, she may have died from poisoning at her own hand.
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This week, Atlantic Magazine ran a story on Rick Perry, Manly Man — a piece exploring how Perry is known to emphasize his manliness — both physically and verbally. The magazine considers how well the macho image will play across the political spectrum. However, that may be the least of the problems for the Perry camp. Word has now reached our shores of the selection of the Scots, not the Americans, as the world’s most manly specimens. Now, I take nothing from the Scots. It takes a lot of guts to wear kilts in a cold, wet climate. However, the world’s manliest? Followed close by the English? I fully expect this to become a major issue in the presidential election: the manliest gap.
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There is an interesting video of Todd Palin out in the last few days that finally admits what many have long argued: Sarah Palin quit the Alaskan governorship to cash in on her celebrity status. When a woman confronted Todd about his wife not finishing her term, he responds “What would you do” with “thousands and thousands of dollars a day?” He notes that the had “all this debt” and made the obvious choice.
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Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty-Guest Blogger

We have heard both sides of the aisle claim that they have the next big idea to bring jobs back to Main Street. Recently President Obama, according to an article from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, has claimed that he will be submitting a Jobs Bill to Congress when they return from their 5 week summer hiatus.  (more…)

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Submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

A recent development in Congress is the creation of the so-called “Super Congress”; a bi-partisan committee tasked with recommending steps to reduce federal budget deficits by at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Like most committees, the Super Congress has to submit its recommendations to the rest of Congress for consideration. Unlike most committees, the Super Congress has a loaded back-end provision that will institute automatic military and domestic (read Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid) spending cuts in 2013 that neither side wants will be triggered. This would seem to give the committee some incentives to find viable solutions. But does it really?

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