PresObamaUS-CourtOfAppeals-2ndCircuit-SealWhile President Obama ran on a pledge to be the most transparent presidency in history, critics have charged that — as with promises to protect civil liberties and international law — Obama has done precisely the opposite of what he promised. His Administration has radically expanded the national security state while fighting every effort in court to challenge unchecked executive powers, including his successful effort to get Congress to dismiss dozens of public interest lawsuits over surveillance, torture, etc. The latest effort of the Obama Administration was to refuse to release even redacted version of legal memoranda on Obama’s use of drones to kill U.S. citizens. I have previously written about Obama Kill list policy in columns and blog posts. What is interesting is that the Obama Administration shows utter contempt for the federal courts in first claiming that any release of redacted classified legal arguments would endanger national security and then, after the district court yielded to the government, proceeding to discuss the very same information in public when it suited the Administration. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit finally said enough. The problem is that the district court did not exercise its authority to reject the clearly excessive claims of the government. It is only because the government contradicted itself — not the facially overboard claims made before the district court. The case is New York Times v. United States Department of Justice, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 7387. The case highlights the extreme hostility shown by the Obama Administration to both transparency and the media.

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As part of our series of posts on the perils of the press, this one is truly a keeper.

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21,000,000

We only recently passed the 20,000,000 mark last February but we just hit 21,000,000, according to WordPress. Congratulations everyone. This has been a banner year for the site with a continuing increase in traffic, links on other sites, and new voices on the blog. These milestones are coming faster and they give us a chance to look at the spread of our regular readers and commentators. As always, I want to offer special thanks for our weekend contributors: Mark Esposito, Eliane Magliaro, Mike Appleton, Larry Rafferty, Charlton Stanley and Darren Smith. The increasing traffic on the site is gratifying and reaffirms that there are many people looking for mature and civil debate. Even among the top ten sites, I believe that we offer a unique forum of different views and backgrounds in the discussion of law and politics (and a few quirky items).

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220px-Phil_Ivey_Profile220px-Baccara_PaletteThere is an unfolding scandal involving one of the best known gamblers in the world, Phillip Ivey, Jr. who has been accused of card-cheating in baccarat to the tune of $9.6 million. What is striking to me is how such allegations are treated as civil rather than criminal matters, particularly given the allegations by Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa filed in its federal lawsuit against Ivey in using effectively marked cards. The casino reads like a new script for Ocean’s Thirteen with the use of flawed dice created at a Mexican factory. I could find no reference to the lawsuit (or another lawsuit by the Golden Nugget) on Ivey’s website.

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This is a rather bizarre video that I saw on Reddit. As part of Easter, I had to post it.

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200px-Harland_Sanders220px-KFC_Original_Recipe_chicken_in_bucketColonel Sanders was accused in a book of a culinary court-martial with the release of William Poundstone’s “Big Secrets.” Poundstone looked at the claim regarding KFC’s secret ingredients (as well as claims from other companies regarding secret recipes). In the case of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), he did not find “eleven secret herbs and spices.” Indeed, he did not find eleven herbs and spices at all. Just four: flour, salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and black pepper. The allegation raises interesting questions over either consumer protection or product disparagement in torts. While it was first published in 2009, I thought (since we just covered this in class) it would be interesting to post.

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dogwithballsThe French National Assembly have moved toward changing part of the Napoleonic Code and finally recognize that pets are not simply “movable goods” but “living beings capable of feelings.” The new law would allow owners to sue over pain and suffering caused by negligence or wrongful killings. That leads to a rather interesting potential conflict with U.S. law.

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