Saturday, April 27, 2013

This FAA Sequester Vote Doesn’t Smell Right | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy

Heading to the airport in the morning, bound for China, glad the flight will be on time, but....
This FAA Sequester Vote Doesn’t Smell Right | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy:

× Jobless workers losing unemployment benefits. Sequestration requires every state to cut benefits for the long-term unemployed. So far, roughly 800,000 workers in 19 states have seen their benefits cut by…about $120 a month, on average. When all states implement these cuts, they will affect as many as 3.8 million jobless workers.
× Children losing Head Start. …Already, some Head Start programs are cutting their programs for the current school year — dropping children from the program, ending the school year several weeks early, or cutting services such as bus transportation. These cuts can leave families scrambling to find alternatives for their children. The Associated Press reports, for example:

“At least two Indiana Head Start programs have resorted to a random drawing to determine which three-dozen preschool students will be removed from the education program for low-income families, a move officials said was necessary to limit the impact of mandatory across-the-board federal spending cuts.”

× Seniors losing Meals on Wheels. Some seniors programs in various states are cutting the number of home-delivered meals provided or seniors served. In central Maine, for example, the agency on aging has started a waiting list for seniors and cut the number of weekly visits to seniors receiving meals from two to one.
× Low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities losing housing assistance. CBPP estimates that 140,000 fewer households will receive vouchers to help them afford decent housing.

House Democrat Rick Larsen summed this up well in Politico yesterday: “…no 3- or 4-year-old is going to call my office and say, ‘I’ve been kicked out of Head Start, replace that money.’” 'via Blog this'

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A step forward for immigrants facing deportation

Dolly M. Gee District Judge.jpg
 Judge Dolly M. Gee

We are moving - if fitfully - toward a national determination that we must find an orderly way to deal with the millions of immigrants who came here illegally, overstayed visas, or are subject to deportation as punishment for crime.  We deport hundreds of thousands each year -  a consequence that for many is far more severe than that provided by our criminal laws.  Fifty years ago the Supreme Court in Gideon v. Wainwright mandated counsel for those who are charged with a crime and cannot afford a lawyer.  Today there is wide recognition that there is a crisis of representation due to the unavailability of counsel for huge numbers of aliens facing removal from the country.

A step forward has now been crafted in an important ruling by a federal judge in California’s Central District - a place where the pastures of plenty are often harvested by immigrants.  Though the numbers affected are small, the remedial innovation  is important.  In Franco-Gonzalez v. Holder federal District Judge Holly Gee in 2011 certified a class of “mentally disabled immigrant detainees who are held in custody without counsel”.   She has now held that the Rehabilitation Act [29 USC 794]- which bars discrimination by an Executive Agency - compels the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review [EOIR] to provide class members with a “Qualified Representative” as a reasonable accommodation of disability.  
Judge Gee did not order the provision of counsel.  She defined Qualified Representative as “an attorney,  a law student or law graduate directly supervised by a retained  attorney, or an accredited representative”.  The last is defined as a” representative” of a government-recognized “non-profit religious, charitable, social service, or similar organization ”[8 C.F.R. § 1292.1; 1292.2]  Importantly the government conceded that though Congress has made no budgetary or statutory provision for counsel for immigrants facing removal it has not forbidden such expenditures.
The United States Department of JusticeIn a welcome move the Department of justice  promptly announced that the “EOIR will make available a qualified representative to unrepresented detainees who are deemed mentally incompetent to represent themselves in immigration proceedings. Additionally, detainees who were identified as having a serious mental disorder or condition that may render them mentally incompetent to represent themselves and who have been held in immigration detention for at least six months will also be afforded a bond hearing.”

Beneficiaries will be people like class member José Antonio Franco-Gonzalez, a Mexican immigrant with a cognitive disability who was detained in federal immigration facilities for nearly five years without a hearing or a lawyer.  Another is Ever Francisco Martinez who was found by the  Immigration Judge “not mentally competent to proceed pro se in the removal proceedings” initiated because though lawful resident alien he had been convicted of a serious crime.  The Immigration Judge said  “ Simply put, [he] is unrepresented and is mentally incompetent. ... unable to effectively participate in a coherent manner, to comprehend the nature and consequences of the proceedings, to communicate with the Court in any meaningful dialog, to assert or waive any rights, and to seek various forms of relief.”

Officials: Suspect unarmed when arrested in boat

This is a god example of why you can't trust the press, the cops, or eyewitnesses who claimed there was a 45 minute gun battle while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding out in a covered boat.  The account was not corroborated by the infrared video released which showed the fugitive lying on the deck of the boat, with no gun.  But that didn't stop the Boston Police Commissioner or the press from telling the gun-battle story.

Officials: Suspect unarmed when arrested in boat
"WASHINGTON (AP) — Two U.S. officials say the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings was unarmed when police captured him hiding inside a boat in a neighborhood back yard. Authorities originally said they had exchanged gunfire with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-KHAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv) for more than one hour Friday evening before they were able to subdue him. 
 The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation, say investigators recovered a 9 mm handgun believed to have been used by Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, from the site of a gun battle Thursday night, which injured a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer. Dzhokhar was believed to have been shot before he escaped. The officials tell The Associated Press that no gun was found in the boat. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said earlier that shots were fired from inside the boat." 

  'via Blog this'

Oyez Project Supreme Court Archive finishes job begun by Peter Irons

NPR reports that Chicago Kent's Oyez project has provided the great service of completing its archives of Supreme Court oral arguments going back to 1955.
As of just a few weeks ago, all of the archived historical audio — which dates back to 1955 — has been digitized, and almost all of those cases can now be heard and explored at an online archive called the Oyez Project.
Oyez Project founder and director Jerry Goldman tells NPR the digital recordings archive began in the early 1990s from a simple idea: to give the public access to unabridged Supreme Court recordings.
Peter Irons
But the account leaves out the groundbreaking work of historian and lawyer Peter Irons whose 1993 May It Please the Court presented the audio tapes of arguments before the court in twenty two landmark cases.  Irons had permission to listen to the tapes but not to copy them, reportedly annoying Justice William Rehnquist.  It was a tiny act of civil disobedience for Irons who was a draft resister who had spent time in federal prison for his defiance of the draft.  He was profiled by psychiatrist Willard Gaylin in his book of profiles of war resisters in prison `In the Service of their Country'.  He found Irons entirely sane, which I recall being the case when he and I were graduate students of Howard Zinn in 1970.  Irons has gone on to prove his mettle as both historian and lawyer - particularly in his important role in efforts to reopen the Fred Korematsu wartime Japanese internment cases.  Irons is retired from the UC San Diego political science department where he founded and directs the Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project.  Irons is nothing if not persistent.  In an effort recently embraced by conservative columnist George Will , Irons is now campaigning to get the United States Supreme Court to repudiate its notorious Korematsu decision upholding the interment of Japanese Americans in WW II.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gavel Grab » Editorial: Pennsylvania Justices ‘Meddling’ with Retirement Clause

Pennsylvania C.J. Ronald Castille, 69
I am sympathetic to raising the mandatory retirement age of 70, now that I am approaching it. The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board - on which I serve - supports the rise, though it would take a constitutional amendment there.  And it's not because I have the bench in mind.  I dn't.  I'm admitted ionly in Jersey but live in new York - an automatic disqualifier. - GWC Gavel Grab » Editorial: Pennsylvania Justices ‘Meddling’ with Retirement Clause: "The Pennsylvania Constitution dictates that state judges must retire at the age of 70. The Supreme Court seems inspired to change this law in the not-so-distant future, a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial suggests. On May 8, the justices will hold arguments on a challenge to the state’s law (see Gavel Grab). Since Chief Justice Ronald Castille (photo), who is 69 years old, plans to run again for retention election this year, it’s easy to see why they are eager to take up the case, states a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial. Besides Castille, three other Pennsylvania justices will be turning 70 over the next five years. This seems to be yet another instance of the state’s high court “moving aggressively” to “meddle” in a case of direct personal interest, the editorial argues. The law may have been established many years ago, but the editorial pushes for changing it through the constitutional amendment process instead. Currently, there is a bill pending in the state House that would raise the retirement age to 75. Another proposed bill in the Senate would end forced retirement of state judges altogether." 'via Blog this'

Thursday, April 18, 2013

John Snow - Father of Epidemiology - Bicentennial

John Snow
Twenty-two years ago I started working on the problem of presentation of adequate proof of causation of disease.  I was prompted by a question from the New Jersey Supreme Court.  Should we have a different standard of proof of causation in "increased risk cases"?  They ordered briefing and re-argument of a pair of cases in which plaintiffs alleged that their gastro-intestinal cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos.  I wrote a friend of the court brief for the Association of Trial Lawyers  of America - New Jersey chapter.  In the companion case Landrigan v. Celotex (1992) Justice Stewart Pollock wrote for the court that so long as the evidence was relevant and sound methods were used to reach a conclusion scientific opinion testimony should be admitted into evidence.

One year  later the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same conclusion - though the court's use of the term "gatekeeper" emboldened hundreds of Reagan-appointed federal judges to sweep hundreds of cases from the dockets, citing Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (1993).  The question which was presented by the defense in Daubert was whether a scientific theory had to achieve "general acceptance" before it could be admitted into evidence.  That absurd proposition - popularized by ideological conservatives like the propagandist/lawyer Peter Huber in his screed Galileo's Revenge - was rejected by the Supreme Court.

I initiated and co-authored  a friend of the court brief which a group of scientists embraced, including the late great paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould - whose clever columns in Natural History had introduced me to the history of science.  It was, in essence, a recitation of the thesis of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  It recognised that scientific ideas contend, that one "paradigm" replaces another, and that progress is imperfect because no single model explains all.  Kuhn used the example of the slow embrace of the helio-centric Copernican model of astronomy that replaced the geo-centric Ptolemaic theory.  
John Snow, the father of modern epidemiology, presents a different and compelling example.  His pioneering work as anesthesiologist led him to reject the then-prevailing "miasma" theory which asserted that cholera spread via the gases of decomposing organic matter.  
Snow was also a pioneer of mapping - an important tool in epidemiology.  Snow  correctly identified the source of the disease in fecal contamination of the London water supply, famously persuading the City to close the Broad Street pump.  
At his death the great scientist got short shrift from The Lancet, which has on the 200th anniversary of his 1813 birth  published  a new obituary and an article titled The Singular Science of John Snow, an excerpt from which follows.  - GWC
Snow's ether inhaler
"The step to becoming a cholera scientist is not so obvious. Snow had treated cholera as a teenage apprentice, assigned to the coal mines near Newcastle in the epidemic of 1831. But he wrote nothing about cholera until 1849, during the world's second cholera pandemic. Although then occupied intensely in experiments with anaesthetics and the clinical practice of anaesthesia, Snow published that year his theory of the faecal-oral transmission of the cholera agent, and the extension of that transmission when water supplies became contaminated with cholera evacuations.
The connection between the two fields was a negative one. Snow's understanding of how substances in gaseous form affected human physiology made it impossible for him to accept the reigning theory of how epidemic diseases arose and spread through miasmatic gases emanating from decaying animal or vegetable material, assisted by atmospheric changes that led to epidemics. This scepticism is muted in his cholera works, where his emphasis is nearly entirely on argument and evidence for his own theory, but found sharp expression in 1855, when he was called on to give parliamentary evidence in relation to the health risks of the “nuisance trades”, the bone boiling and hide tanning businesses in London. His argument, scathingly dismissed by The Lancet, and met with incredulity by several Members of Parliament, was that these trades, foul though they were, simply did not cause epidemic disease. The effects of gaseous emanations, as he knew well from his anaesthesia work, dropped off by the square of distance from the source. That gases carrying the cholera agent could affect people miles away was to Snow nonsensical."

Gabby Giffords: A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip -

A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip -
by Gabrielle Giffords, former Member of Congress

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.
I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

'via Blog this'

Republican filibuster blocks vote on gun background checks.

Voting to strengthen gun buyers background checks that might reduce the chance that a lunatic or person with a history of violence would be able to amass an arsenal seems like the absolute least we could do in response to the maimings and the massacres we suffer.  Not to mention the handgun violence that plagues the poorest areas of our cities.  Today, flanked by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords whose face tells you the story of her shooting, and flanked by parents of Newtown Connecticut whose children were shot in their first grade classrooms, President Obama spoke as angrily as I have ever heard a President speak about a political matter.
 .Calling it a "shameful day in Washington" he bluntly accused the NRA or lying and (mostly) Republican Senators of cowardice.  In response he called on citizens in "you are the change" mode:“Those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate, and as organized, and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe.”

As Andrew Sprung points out in a characteristically acute analysis of presidential rhetoric at xpostfactoid  That is assuming that we collectively will what he wills us to will. Maybe it's that old Obama naivete again. Time will tell whether the appeal to our better angels is the deeper political wisdom."

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent -

A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent - by Jospeh Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize
LEONA HELMSLEY, the hotel chain executive who was convicted of federal tax evasion in 1989, was notorious for, among other things, reportedly having said that “only the little people pay taxes.”
As a statement of principle, the quotation may well have earned Mrs. Helmsley, who died in 2007, the title Queen of Mean. But as a prediction about the fairness of American tax policy, Mrs. Helmsley’s remark might actually have been prescient.

'via Blog this'

Wow. Law School Enrollment Dropoff Causes 20% Catholic U. budget cuts

Wow.  This is what they mean when they say law schools are cash cows!
The Tower : Law School Enrollment Dropoff Causes Departmental Budget Cuts:
Catholic University will cut operational expenditures by 20 percent under a proposal by the Provost, a move that is the result of a decline in revenue from law school enrollment.

'via Blog this'

For the Defense, a Master of Delay -

Douglas Rankin  -"I'm a trial, trial, trial, trial lawyer"
The headline aside, this is actually a pretty favorable portrait of former prosecutor, now defense lawyer Douglas G. Rankin.  He denies using delay as a tactic.  It's a profile that can be the basis for a good discussion of what it means to be a good lawyer. The factual focus in the article regarding delay in Bronx County Supreme is that while felony indictments in the Bronx have decreased 25% in the past decade, the number of cases pending for more than six months has doubled. From my few years as a pool attorney for the Public Defender in Newark, there is no doubt that trials take time, that witnesses move,  grow uncooperative, and are inherently unpredictable.  Cases that appear un-winnable can be won for such reasons. - GWC 

For the Defense, a Master of Delay - by William Glaberson
The grand exhibition hall of dawdlers that is the Bronx courthouse features procrastinating prosecutors, sluggish jailers and unhurried judges. But the true masters of delay are the defense lawyers. For them, muddled memories and lost witnesses — the passage of time itself — are the ingredients for getting clients off.So there was barely a raised eyebrow among those waiting in a Bronx courtroom in June when one gum-chewing, pocket-hankie-wearing lawyer strolled in late for the start of a trial over a grisly stabbing in Co-op City, saying his return flight from a weekend getaway to Puerto Rico had been delayed.Cheerful, with his rolling lawyer’s bag in tow, he exclaimed without apology: “Exhausted!”  Here, if a little late, was Douglas G. Rankin for the defense, the very personification of a justice system tied up in knots.
And then there is St. Expeditus   h/t John Steele
'via Blog this'

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dear S.E.C. Chief - Clock Is Ticking on Mortgage Cases -

Mary Jo White
Times business columnist Gretchen Morgenson identifies cases like that against Sun Trust as opportunities for demonstrations of independence by newly confirmed S.E.C. chair Mary Jo White.  Skepticism is in order.    It is not easy to bite the hand that so recently well-fed you. After stepping down as U.S. Attorney she and her Cravath partner husband John  enriched themselves representing those she is now charged with overseeing, and where appropriate, prosecuting. Among her clients: JP Morgan Chase, UBS, and Microsoft.   She says she will not involve herself in those companies cases.  John White served from 2006 - 2008 as Director of the S.E.C. Division of Corporate Finance.  He says that he will become a non-equity partner, working for a salary.  She has now retired from Debevoise Plimpton, LLP  which paid her over $2.4 million last year, collecting a $42,500/month lifetime pension - which will be prepaid in a lump sum during her tenure at the S.E.C.  Oh what a tangled web even though she does not practice to deceive. 
President Obama's choice of White reveals a dilemma: the competence which she brings has a tail of self-interest that  inevitably poses the question: can she be independent when the firms that continue to reward her and her husband are the servants and advocates of companies she must regulate and perhaps punish? - GWC

p.s. - One issue absent from Morgenson's list is the S.E.C.'s proposed settlement. Judge Jed Rakoff castigated it as a sweetheart deal with Citigroup which bet against its own customers in a synthetic derivatives deal five years ago before the financial collapse. The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board has called on White to relent and agree to answer Rakoff's challenging questions. So far the S.E.C. insists that a judge should just rubberstamp its negotiated settlements. - gwc

Dear S.E.C. Chief - Clock Is Ticking on Mortgage Cases -

by Gretchen Morgenson

AFTER receiving unanimous support from the United States Senate, Mary Jo White was confirmed last week as the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. At her swearing-in, she  praised S.E.C. officials for “vigorously enforcing the securities laws.”Doubts remain, however, about how potent the S.E.C.’s enforcement has been, especially in the aftermath of the mortgage mania. So Ms. White has some work to do.

'via Blog this'

Payroll Tax Returns, Anyone? - Linda Sugin

Linda Sugin, tax law specialist at Fordham, has an excellent op-ed in today's Times.  She points out the inherently regressive nature of our tax structure which favors passive investment income over income earned from labor. - gwc

Payroll Tax Returns, Anyone? - by Prof. Linda Sugin, Fordham Law School
Because people with high incomes earn a much greater percentage of their total income from investments — and, crucially, because much of that investment income is wealth accumulation that has not been liquidated — tax law favors the rich far more than most people realize. The money that has been gained on investments that have appreciated but have not yet been sold is not taxed and may permanently escape tax under current law.
'via Blog this'

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Don't stop going to Communion" - Bishop Gumbleton to gay marriage supporters.

by Portia Tunzi, National Catholic Reporter 
"Don't stop going to Communion," says Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit. "You're OK."
Gumbleton's remarks are a response to recent comments from Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, who said Catholics who support gay marriage should refrain from receiving Communion. Gumbleton, known for his progressive voice in Detroit's Catholic community, spoke out against Vigneron's statements to the local Fox 2 News.
Fox 2 News Headlines

Politicized Challenges, Depoliticized Responses: Political Monitoring in China's Transitions by Hualing Fu :: SSRN

This really strikes me as on the mark.  I have been looking at the Bohai Bay oil spill compensation scheme.  A large group of fisheries claimants (processors, growers, harvesters) in Shandong and other Bohai Bay fisheries are dissatisfied or excluded from the national government's settlement with Conoco Philips for the June 2011 oil well spill.  Frustrated by Chinese maritime courts failure to accept their cases, some have filed suit in the United States.  Others have petitioned other agencies in China.  These fisheries claimants are  a "non-politicized" group with a grievance whose problem is, I think, the weak institutional development of the PRC courts.
I am often reminded in thinking about China of the Gunnar and Alva Myrdal classic Asian Drama which developed the concept of the "soft state".  China's state is "softer" than most realize.  And that is the source of much of the arbitrariness of decision-making.
Politicized Challenges, Depoliticized Responses: Political Monitoring in China's Transitions by Hualing Fu :: SSRN:
Having experienced a painful process of transition from revolution to modernization over the past 60 years, China now faces the mounting social, economic and political challenges that regularly face transition states. While the Chinese Communist Party-state proves to be resilient and able to adapt, innovate and evolve, it is also well-known that the social and economic transitions in China have produced significant strains on the political system. How does the Chinese state differ from the liberal democracies discussed in this volume in managing social and political risks?This paper examines the evolving strategies of political control in China. It points out the increasingly politicized challenges that the Chinese Communist Party faces and also offers an explanation for the reasons behind the politicization or the mainstreaming of politically motivated challenges. The paper then introduces the paradigmatic shift in the Party’s control strategy from open political repression to an apolitical, less ideological social management in regulating the increasingly politicized challenges.
'via Blog this'

"They deserve a vote" - the President's filibuster busting plea for Newtown families

The President's weekly radio address (a wonderful anachronism) was delivered this week  by Francine Wheeler, whose six year old son was murdered in his classroom at Sandy Hook School, Newtown, Connecticut. "They deserve a vote" is the President's brilliant rhetorical device that has broken through the years of Republican stonewalling. Their obstructionism has steamrolled the "lamestream media" which has largely accepted as  normal that it "takes 60 vote to pass the Senate".Andrew Sprung's at ex post factoid today is worth reading in full - and worth following the links back to the unveiling of the device in the State of the Union Address in February. Here is his concluding paragraph:

The "they deserve a vote" peroration to Obama's State of the Union address this year was a brilliant rhetorical stroke (and a powerful riff) not just because it was invoked in the name of those who had lost loved ones to gun violence, but because it can serve as a readily-grasped battle cry and antidote to four and a quarter years of relentless, bad-faith obstruction.  It can be raised each time major legislation and major appointments to the bench and federal agencies are blocked.  Filibuster can really only be justified selectively, in response to a palpably extreme appointment or legislation that represents a radical departure (yes, it might have been justifiable if Republicans had the votes against the ACA).  Most of the time, "they deserve a vote" is unanswerable. The trick is making the public recognize what's going on.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fed PD's - citing sequester, seek trial delay for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law -

The sequester - the supposedly inbearable budget cuts -  has begun to bite in the justice system. - gwc
Lawyers for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law, Request Later Trial - by Benjamin Weiser
"Federal public defenders who are representing a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden on terrorism charges urged a judge on Monday not to hold an early trial because automatic government budget cuts were requiring furloughs of lawyers in their office."

'via Blog this'

South Dakota will subsidize rural lawyers - NY Times

South Dakota's C.J. David Gilbertson
The last lawyer in the county
My mother Clare Conk was for 20 years a member of the Board of California Rural Legal Assistance, which Ronald Reagan tried to destroy - because it sided with farm workers against growers, state, and local government.  Only government support will make available the lawyers that most people need.  At least one rural state is starting to appreciate that. - gwc

Sunday, April 7, 2013

N.F.L., Retirees In Court Over Head Trauma Cases -

Professional football players are unionized workers.  Their collective bargaining agreement provides their grievances will be resolved by arbitration with the union as their representative.  Their claims against their employers for work-related injury  are limited to negotiated health and disability benefits, and to workers compensation.  They are employed by their teams, not the league - at least in the conventional view.  But even if they are employees they may avoid the limited recovery under workers compensation if they prove they have been intentionally harmed - as in a fraud case.  In a class action former players allege they relied on assurances of the League and were harmed by its misrepresentations regarding the injuries they now suffer.  Those are among the issues in MDL-2323 IN RE: NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE PLAYERS' CONCUSSION INJURY LITIGATION, Docket No. 2:12-md-02323 (E.D. Pa. Jan 31, 2012), Court Docket (01/31/2012)

N.F.L., Retirees In Court Over Head Trauma Cases -

"The N.F.L. will face off in court Tuesday against thousands of retirees in a case that will help determine the league’s role in caring for players with dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The issue in front of United States District Court Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia is whether to grant the N.F.L.’s request to dismiss more than 200 cases brought by more than 4,000 former players who accused the league of hiding information about the dangers of head trauma. The players are seeking damages for their injuries"
****The players claim that the league knew that concussions and other trauma could lead to long-term health problems and that it committed fraud by misrepresenting the dangers of repeated hits to the head. The case should be heard in court, where a jury could award damages, not in a grievance procedure, they have said.

'via Blog this'

Abraham Lincoln: African Americans secured their own liberation | xpostfactoid

Andrew Sprung posted this today.  Why was George McClellan - the 1864 Democratic candidate - a disaster trying to happen as Richard Slotkin shows in The Long Road to Antietam?  Not just because reversing the emancipation proclamation would undermine the slaves flight from their masters which W.E.B. duBois called "the general strike" in Black Reconstruction.  But also because there were not enough white soldiers to defeat the south as Lincoln points out below.  - GWC  Abraham Lincoln: African Americans secured their own liberation | xpostfactoid:
"But, Mr. President," his friend objected, "General McClellan is in favor of crushing out this rebellion by force. He will be the Chicago candidate." "Sir, the slightest knowledge of arithmetic will prove to any man that the rebel armies cannot be destroyed by Democratic strategy. It would sacrifice all the white men of the North to do it. There are now in the service of the United States nearly one hundred and fifty thousand able-bodied colored men, most of them under arms, defending and acquiring Union territory. The Democratic strategy demands that these forces be disbanded, and that the masters be conciliated by restoring them to slavery.... You cannot conciliate the South if you guarantee to them ultimate success; and the experience of the present war proves their successes inevitable if you fling the compulsory labor of millions of black men into their side of the scale.... Abandon all the posts now garrisoned by black men, take one hundred and fifty thousand men from our side and put them in the battle-field or corn-field against us, and we would be compelled to abandon the war in three weeks.... My enemies pretend I am now carrying on this war for the sole purpose of abolition. So long as I am President it shall be carried on for the sole purpose of restoring the Union. But no human power can subdue this rebellion without the use of the emancipation policy and every other policy calculated to weaken the moral and physical forces of the rebellion.... Let my enemies prove to the country that the destruction of slavery is not necessary to a restoration of the Union. I will abide the issue."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The mortgage interest deduction - top-heavy, as usual

This chart - from the Center for Budget Priorities - shows that the "untouchable" mortgage interest deduction does very little for the great bulk of the country's wage earners.  Almost all the benefits are skewed upwards, subsidizing expensive houses for high earners and doing almost nothing for the typical wage earner. - GWC

Robert F. Kennedy consoling Mrs. King

Forty five years ago Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis.  Robert Kennedy chartered the plane that brought his remains home for burial.  In this photo (tweeted by presidential historian Michael Beschloss) Robert and his wife Ethel are seen in a consolation visit with Mrs. Coretta Scott King.  Eight weeks later Robert Kennedy himself would be assassinated.  It was 1968 - the year from hell.  It began with the Tet offensive and ended with the election of Richard M. Nixon whose "southern strategy"transformed the Republican Party from racially tolerant conservatism - Lincoln's Party - to a new home for the white backlash - which it remains to this day. - GWC

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Eric Posner: The real problem with law schools: Too many lawyers. - Slate Magazine

I rarely agree with Eric Posner, but on this issue he makes some good points.  The current law school crisis is the product of the collapsed economic bubble, technological change, and bad policy: too few lawyers for those who need representation, too little support for public law schools, and law schools' unrealistic expectations of endless prosperity. - gwc
The real problem with law schools: Too many lawyers. - Slate Magazine:
by Eric Posner
The only realistic way to help lawyers today is to increase the demand for legal services—somehow convincing governments, for example, to pay for adequate representation of indigent defendants—but in the long term, greater demand will create the expectation of yet more job growth, and that could lead to another bust. The critics seem to think the legal profession can escape the logic of the market. It can’t.

'via Blog this'

Exonerations Registry: 178 added in 2012

Samuel Gross. the Michigan law professor who maintains the National Registry of Exonerations, reports in Update 2012 that 178 exonerations were added to the registry during the year.  Among hopeful signs is that police and prosecutors are becoming more cooperative, more willing to acknowledge error.  A prime example the registry reports is David Ranta who  was "convicted in 1991 of the attempted robbery of a diamond courier and the murder of a rabbi in Brooklyn, New York. The Kings County District Attorney's Office Conviction Integrity Unit re-investigated the case and determined that police had coached witness identifications, and that authorities had provided favors and made deals with numerous witnesses who lied to implicate Ranta. The District Attorney's Office dismissed the case on March 21, 2013."

Monday, April 1, 2013

On Being Catholic - Gary Gutting -

On Being Catholic -
by Gary Gutting, University of Notre Dame

An old friend and mentor of mine, Ernan McMullin, was a philosopher of science widely respected in his discipline.  He was also a Catholic priest.  I don’t know how many times fellow philosophers at professional meetings drew me aside and asked, “Does Ernan really believe that stuff?”  (He did.) Amid all the serious and generally respectful coverage of the papal resignation and the election of a new pope, I often detect an undertone of this same puzzlement.  Can reflective and honest intellectuals actually believe that stuff?Here I sketch my reasons for answering “yes.” ...

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