The rapid decline of free speech in England accelerated further this month with a ruling of the British high court banning The Sun newspaper from naming celebrities involved in a sordid sex story despite the fact that all three names are widely known and discussed on the Internet and non-British newspapers. Indeed, papers like the Toronto Star have running virtually mocking accounts of Elton John, his Toronto-born husband David Furnish, and British businessman Daniel Laurence. Elton John is obviously the quintessential public figure who has participated in a wide range of stories and programs on his family life with Furnish and their children. It is a chilling example of England’s rollback on basic free speech and free press protections.
We have another example of how copyright and trademark laws are being using to bully and stifle individuals or small businesses. In Beulah, Michigan, locals enjoy their Blue Caribou Cafe and its quirky dishes like Hypocrite Omelet (a vegetarian omelet with your choice of meat.) However, if Caribou Coffee Company has the final say, Blue Caribou may no more. You guessed it. Caribou Coffee appears to believe that it owns Caribou-themed restaurants.
A 48-year-old taxi driver in England was facing a long prison sentence after Claire Emma Carr, 20, accused him of sexual assaulting her. The driver however turned out to have a camera system or he could have been convicted based solely on the testimony of Carr. While she was prepared to send him away for years and ruin his life and the lives of his family, she will be jailed for only 12 weeks.
We have been discussing the bizarre situation of the two major parties nominating the two candidates with not just the highest, but unprecedented, negative numbers with voters. The presumptive nomination of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have renewed calls for reforms to challenge the control of a duopoly of power in the country. This week there are new polls showing not only that Trump and Clinton are roughly equal in the high rejection of the majority of the voters, but 58 percent say that they are considering voting for someone other than Trump and Clinton. That could be a huge boast to the Libertarian and Green candidates this election. It also may reflect the dangerous gamble of the establishment in the Democratic party in securing the nomination for Clinton.
Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Peter Paul Rubens is a painting that has inspired millions in capturing the moment of faith dedicated in the Bible. The same cannot be said about the scene this week in Santiago, Chile where a man stripped naked and jumped into the lion enclosure at the zoo in what is believed to be a bizarre suicide attempt. In order to save the man, the zoo was forced to shoot and kill the two lions. (Warning: disturbing video shot from YouTube below.)
United States District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a remarkable opinion yesterday that found that Justice Department lawyers not only lied to him and opposing counsel but “it is hard to imagine a more serious, more calculated plan of unethical conduct.” What is even more remarkable however is that, after finding such calculated and unethical conduct, Hanen ordered the lawyers to simply take ethics classes rather than refer them to the bar for suspension or disbarment. Many attorneys object that government lawyers routinely escape serious punishment for false or misleading statements. In this case, the judge found that the Justice Department misled him and opposing counsel in a case by Texas and 25 other states that sought to block President Barack Obama’s controversial immigration programs. Hansen blocked the program. Notably, the Justice Department is even opposing ethical classes as a sanction.
There is a bizarre story out of Barcelona where people are engaging in activity called “sex roulette” where people have unprotected sex knowing that one of the group is HIV positive. For some reason, this adds an element of danger for such people in not knowing if they will contract a lethal virus. Putting aside the deeply disturbing psychological element, there could be some interesting legal elements for anyone who wants to sue. Presumably, this is the ultimate case of an assumption of the risk and plaintiff’s conduct as a defense. However, the party organizers could also be viewed as creating a type of ultrahazardous or abnormally dangerous activity. While defenses could still apply, the question would be law suited from family members or third parties.