Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New Weapons in the War on Pollution: China's Environmental Protection Law Amendments | Barbara Finamore's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

New Weapons in the War on Pollution: China's Environmental Protection Law Amendments | Barbara Finamore's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC:
by Barbara Finamore // NRDC

The new amendments to China's bedrock environmental law put powerful new tools into the hands of environmental officials and the public, providing a strong legal foundation to the "war on pollution" declared last month by Premier Li Keqiang. Most notably, the revisions make three critical improvements: 1) they add a new fine penalty system that will continue to accumulate for each day the pollution violations continue (by eliminating the previous one-off fine system); 2) they formalize a much-needed performance assessment system that is based on an official’s environmental protection record rather than solely on economic growth; and 3) they allow for nongovernmental organizations to take legal action against polluters on behalf of the public interest.
'via Blog this'

Self Defense and the Fourteenth Amendment // Concurring Opinions

Self-Defense and the Fourteenth Amendment - Concurring Opinions:
by Robert Tsai

Dance and sing you black creatures of Mother Africa.
Move to the sound of the drums
of your forefathers.
Hold on to your drums and beat
them in defiance of the slavemaster and
let their thundering sound awaken those who sleep.
–Mabel Robinson Williams, Transition (1966)
Mabel Robinson Williams passed away last week. Williams may have been most famous for being married to Robert F. Williams, the controversial former head of the NAACP in Monroe County, NC, but she was an intriguing theorist and fierce activist in her own right. She recalled that her father slept every night with a pearl-handled pistol under his pillow in case the Klan’s night riders attacked. 
As an adult, she served as Secretary of the local NAACP, co-founded a newsletter calledThe Crusader, organized a mutual aid society called CARE, and helped run Radio Free Dixie. Mabel called herself a “co-warrior” and “helpmate” to Robert, even as she served as a nurse’s aid and later operated a day care. When her sons joined a picket against a segregated swimming pool, she sat in the car with guns, keeping one eye out for armed whites. She and other female members of a rifle club trained to protect their families against the Klan. Once, Mabel came out of her house with a shotgun and chased off deputies trying to arrest her husband.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Kerry’s A-bomb makes clear: the apartheid label just won’t go away - West of Eden Israel News | Haaretz

John Kerry's "restatement" of his remark about Israel is masterful:

For more than thirty years in the United States Senate, I didn’t just speak words in support of Israel, I walked the walk when it came time to vote and when it came time to fight. As Secretary of State, I have spent countless hours working with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Justice Minister Livni because I believe in the kind of future that Israel not only wants, but Israel deserves. I want to see a two state solution that results in a secure Jewish state and a prosperous Palestinian state, and I’ve actually worked for it.
I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes, so I want to be crystal clear about what I believe and what I don’t believe.
First, Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that without a shred of doubt.
Second, I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution.
In the long term, a unitary, binational state cannot be the democratic Jewish state that Israel deserves or the prosperous state with full rights that the Palestinian people deserve. That’s what I said, and it’s also what Prime Minister Netanyahu has said. While Justice Minister Livni, former Prime Ministers Barak and Ohlmert have all invoked the specter of apartheid to underscore the dangers of a unitary state for the future, it is a word best left out of the debate here at home.
- Secretary John Kerry, April 28, 2014
Kerry’s A-bomb makes clear: the apartheid label just won’t go away - West of Eden Israel News | Haaretz:
by Chemi Shalev // Haaretz

In a strictly literal sense, the creator of Israel’s policy of apartheid – “separate-hood” in Dutch/Afrikaans - was Yitzhak Rabin. In January 1995, following a roadside suicide bombing near Netanya that killed 19 soldiers, Rabin announced that Israel would henceforth try to “separate” itself from the Palestinians. In his last interview before he was assassinated, Rabin reiterated that such “separate-hood” was the “best solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In Israel, in fact, it is the leftist and centrist supporters of a two-state solution who are the biggest supporters of “separation," a position that often earns them heaps of disingenuous scorn and ridicule from their critics on the hard right and the extreme left. What kind of hypocritical liberals are you, if you support separation from the Palestinians, while we, the annexationists on the right and the one-staters on the left, endorse integration?

Kerry’s warning, as reported by the Daily Beast, referred of course to the future. Without a two-state solution, Israel will inevitably find itself facing a choice between granting voting rights to West Bank Palestinians, and thus threatening the long-term survival of its Jewish character, or denying such a vote and descending into a form of apartheid. It is a scenario that is routinely conjured by Israeli politicians, including both former prime ministers Barak and Olmert, but one that resonates more when it comes from Kerry’s mouth.

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Large N.J. Firms Sluggish in Revenue, Profits | New Jersey Law Journal

The 20 largest law firms in New Jersey showed almost no growth last year. - gwc
Large N.J. Firms Sluggish in Revenue, Profits | New Jersey Law Journal:
by Ron Fleury

"New Jersey's bellwether firms continued in 2013 the retrenchment that began a year earlier, as revenues stayed virtually flat while profits abated slightly. Firms held back on new hires and kept equity partnership ranks tight, in some cases thinning the herd. In so doing, they guarded against higher overhead and stretched profits but also made a decision—perhaps a calculated one—not to grow. It was the second straight year that New Jersey's top-grossing firms drew back from the rebound they had enjoyed after the doldrums of the 2008-09 recession."
Last year was the third straight period of lack of lawyer growth. As in 2012, 12 firms saw decreases in attorney ranks. McElroy Deutsch was down by 14 lawyers, Day Pitney by 12, Gibbons by nine and Wilentz by eight.
Perhaps even more telling was that lawyers showed a net increase at only four firms and there only in handfuls, with Lowenstein's seven the most. Four other firms kept their numbers flat.
Equity partner attrition was also fairly distributed across the field. Nine firms saw a net loss and seven kept the books closed. Only four firms showed growth—scant at that. Connell Foley added five, Cole Schotz two and Drinker Biddle & Reath and Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus one each.
Nonequity partner growth was the one positive. Eleven firms added NEPs, six lost and three stayed flat. The biggest gains were six NEPs each at Cole Schotz, Gibbons and Sills Cummis. The largest losses were six at Drinker Biddle and five at Norris McLaughlin.

Read more: http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202652772496/Large-N.J.-Firms-Sluggish-in-Revenue%2C-Profits#ixzz30DKlsznJ

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The ACA saved his life. Its subsidies saved his finances. Its enemies almost killed him | xpostfactoid

Political odd couple: Dean Angstadt (left) opposed Obamacare until his friend Bob Leinhauser persuaded him to sign up just in time for life-saving heart surgery.
Dean Angstadt, a 57 year old self-employed logger, opposed "Obamacare: until his friend Bob Leinhauser
persuaded him to sign up.  No preexisting condition blocked him from getting life-saving heart repair surgery.
"Better dead than red" is a line from the fifties - better to fight to the death than succumb to tyranny.  It was hyperbole then. But the rhetorical style lives in the campaign against the Affordable Care Act - which actually accomplishes what its name promises - for millions of people.  Regardless of how they vote.  Its  a right of citizenship now.  gwc
The ACA saved his life. Its subsidies saved his finances. Its enemies almost killed him | xpostfactoid:
by Andrew Sprung
"The Philadelphia Inquirer's Robert Calandra has a great story about a death's-door ACA conversion experience for a certain Dean Angstadt"
That's only after the ideological blinders came off, though, by the grace of a loyal friend who urged him repeatedly to get covered and sat with him through the signup process.  Which raises the question: how many Dean Angstadts are dead because morally bankrupt and intellectually corrupt public officials relentlessly demonized the law, abstained from helping their constituents understand the benefits the law entitled them to, and even actively obstructed the process by which navigators could get certified?  How many heeded billionaires' active urgings to "burn your Obamacare draft card"? And who will ever be held responsible -- or liable -- for inducing the gullible and the ignorant to forgo coverage?
'via Blog this'

Friday, April 25, 2014

China's legislature adopts revised Environmental Protection Law_China National People's Congress

China's legislature adopts revised Environmental Protection Law_China National People's Congress:
BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, on Thursday voted to adopt revisions to the Environmental Protection Law.
    With 70 articles compared with 47 in the original law, the revised Environmental Protection Law, the first change to the legislation in 25 years, sets environmental protection as the country's basic policy.
    The new law says that economic and social development should be coordinated with environmental protection and encourages studies on the impact environmental quality causes on public health, urging prevention and control of pollution-related diseases.
    It says that the country should establish and improve an environment and health monitoring, survey and risk assessment mechanism.
    The law gives harsher punishments to environmental wrongdoing, and has specific articles and provisions on tackling smog, making citizen's more aware of environmental protection and protecting whistleblowers.
    It says citizens should adopt a low-carbon and frugal lifestyle and perform environmental protection duties, and nominates June 5 as Environment Day.
    The public is encouraged to observe environmental protection laws and make their own efforts in this regard, including sorting their garbage for recycling.
    The revised law will go into effect from Jan. 1, 2015.

'via Blog this'

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Harry Reid Slams Bundy As 'Hateful Racist' And Hypocritical Moocher

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Harry Reid was a boxer when he was young.  He still knows how to hit hard.  This Cliven Bundy high noon drama on the desert is a dilemma the GOP has created for itself.  They are wedded to the meme that government aid makes you lazy.  They so habitually identify black and Latin citizens as prime recipients of such aid that the "blacks are lazy" notion comes to characterize their thinking, with a host of superficially neutral rationalizations - the nanny state liberals ruined "them".  But the inevitable product is "they are lazy" - the old racist saw.  So conservatives are constantly denouncing liberals who accuses conservatives of being racists because, well, you know...if it quacks like a duck... - gwc
Harry Reid Slams Bundy As 'Hateful Racist' And Hypocritical Moocher:

"I used to live in North Las Vegas and it is home to some of the hardest-working people I have ever met - men and women who embody the American dream by working hard every day to build a better life for themselves and their families. By contrast, Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers. Today, Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist. But by denigrating people who work hard and play by the rules while he mooches off public land he also revealed himself to be a hypocrite.

“To advance his extreme, hateful views, Bundy has endangered the lives of innocent women and children. This is not a game. It is the height of irresponsibility for any individual or entity in a position of power or influence to glorify or romanticize such a dangerous individual, and anyone who has done so should come to their senses and immediately condemn Bundy. For their part, national Republican leaders could help show a united front against this kind of hateful, dangerous extremism by publicly condemning Bundy."

'via Blog this'

Southern Whites’ Loyalty to G.O.P. Nearing That of Blacks to Democrats - NYTimes.com

Yellow areas - 90% of whites voted for Romney
The way to stop discriminating by race is stop acting like race matters is John Roberts view, I guess. See Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. - gwc
Southern Whites’ Loyalty to G.O.P. Nearing That of Blacks to Democrats - NYTimes.com:
by David Leonhardt 
"While white Southerners have been voting Republican for decades, the hugeness of the gap was new. Mr. Obama often lost more than 40 percent of Al Gore’s support among white voters south of the historically significant line of the Missouri Compromise. Two centuries later, Southern politics are deeply polarized along racial lines. It is no exaggeration to suggest that in these states the Democrats have become the party of African Americans and that the Republicans are the party of whites."

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Donald Grody - actor, lawyer, singer, writer

Donald Grody
Donald Grody
Don Grody gave me my first job as a lawyer.  He hired me as a Business Rep doing arbitrations and contract review at Actors Equity-AFL-CIO for a year in 1976.  I just learned of his death in 2011 from Gannon McHale - like Don a baritone and mariner. The picture captures Don's warm, wry smile.  He was an actor who became a very good lawyer, who returned returned to the boards.  I had been a volunteer intern for him when he was GC of District 65 -  a union with roots in the pushcart workers of the garment district.  We sued Nixon to enforce the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1946.   We lost.  - GWC

Donald Grody, Actor and Equity Exec, Dies at 83 - Playbill.com

Donald Grody, an actor who served as executive director of Actors' Equity Association from 1973 to 1980, died at his home in Manhattan on July 13. He was 83.
As Equity's executive director, Mr. Grody led the actors union's collective bargaining negotiations for Broadway as well as regional theatres throughout the country. He also spearheaded the effort to fund and create permanent rent-subsidized housing for actors at Manhattan Plaza on West 43rd Street.

Mr. Grody journeyed to London in 1949 to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Upon his return to the United States, according to Equity, he appeared on Broadway inWonderful Town, Bells Are Ringing, Happy Hunting, Kismet, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. A gifted baritone, his vocal training enabled him to hit the back row of any Broadway house.

While pursing his acting career, he returned to school, going to New York Law School. He graduated in 1955 and subsequently passed the New York State bar exam. Mr. Grody took leave from the theatre to work for the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC, followed by a stint working for the NYC garment workers (District 65). A few years later, he returned to Washington with the National Labor Relations Board, followed by a return to New York in 1973 to lead Actors' Equity.

Mr. Grody returned to the theatre at age 64 in an Off-Broadway production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. This was followed by appearances in the national tour of Guys and Dolls, Parade, Broadway's Jekyll and Hyde (originating the role of Poole), and as a standby for Broadway's Caroline or Change and Grey Gardens. He made many appearances at regional and Off-Broadway houses, including a production of Copenhagen and two productions of King Lear, one of which he adapted to great critical acclaim. His musical play,Ira! The African Roscius, celebrated the life of 19th-century African American actor, Ira Aldridge.

Donald Peter Grody is survived by his wife, Judith Anderson; sons Dion, Gordon, James, Jeremy and Patrick and granddaughters Jess, Jo and Cecily. A celebration of his life and career will be scheduled in the near future. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to The Actors Fund of America or Career Transition For Dancers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Republicans Say `No' to CDC Gun Violence Research

Like other religions Second Amendmentism rests on faith, not facts. - gwc

Republicans Say No To CDC Gun Violence Research:

by Pro Publica

"Put guns on the table, also put video games on the table, put mental health on the table," he said less than a week after the Newtown shootings. He told a local TV station that he wanted to see more research done to understand mass shootings. "Let's let the data lead rather than our political opinions."

For nearly 20 years, Congress has pushed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to steer clear of firearms violence research. As chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that traditionally sets CDC funding, Kingston has been in a position to change that. Soon after Sandy Hook, Kingston said he had spoken to the head of the agency. "I think we can find some common ground," Kingston said.

More than a year later, as Kingston competes in a crowded Republican primary race for a U.S. Senate seat, the congressman is no longer talking about common ground.

In a statement to ProPublica, Kingston said he would oppose a proposal from President Obama for $10 million in CDC gun research funding. "The President's request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives though the CDC will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill," Kingston said.

The Supreme People’s Court Releases 7 Typical Cases of Judicial Misbehavior | Supreme People's Court Monitor

Touring at public expense
面子”文化 "face culture"  makes shaming a form of legal discipline with particularly Chinese characteristics.  Susan Finder explains how it is being used to scold and discipline judges:
On 15 April, the Supreme People’s Court (Court) issued its latest model (or in this case, (all too typical cases): 7 typical cases of judicial misbehavior.
It is part of the name and shame campaign of the Communist Party’s Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission (CDIC), that appears to have started in September of last year, in which the CDIC releases typical cases of official corruption or other abuses, in violation of the Communist Party’s Eight Point Regulations (aimed at curbing official abuses). As reported in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the CDIC has accelerated the release of cases on its website from weekly to monthly.
The Supreme People’s Court Releases 7 Typical Cases of Judicial Misbehavior | Supreme People's Court Monitor:

1. Touring at public expense (a group from Kunming (Yunnan Province)’s Panlong District Court used RMB 88,000 in public funds to visit the beach resort of Sanya after participating in a training course in Haikou);

2. Using public funds for gifts (a Shandong district court court president arranged for the purchase of RMB 23,000 in gift cards at a local supermarket and obtained reimbursement as “offiice supplies.”)

3.Obtaining reimbursement for foot massages (two Hubei Province Intermediate Court Division heads submitted RMB 2500 in foot massage receipts; they and the Deputy Court President who approved the reimbursement were punished).
4. Wasteful procurement of office equipment (a Shanxi District Court spent over RMB 200,000 on office equipment ).
5. Using government vehicles for private use (a Shaanxi Province local Deputy Court President and two judicial policemen toured a scenic spot on the way back from an enforcement action);
6. Large scale wedding banquets (a Heilongjiang county judge held large wedding banquets for his daughter and accepted RMB 27500 in monetary gifts);
7. Office misbehavior (a Zhanjiang (Guangdong Province) )District Court division head held a meeting with a litigant wearing slippers and was found to be playing a game on his office computer).'via Blog this'

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Deadly Consequences Of Income Inequality (CHARTS) WSJ

The Deadly Consequences Of Income Inequality (CHARTS):
Money may not buy love, but it appears to buy years.
Economist Barry Bosworth at the Brookings Institution crunched the numbers and found that the richer you are, the longer you’ll live. And it’s a gap that is widening, particularly among women.
Data from the University of Michigan Health & Retirement Study

'via Blog this'

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The State Of Law School In One Comprehensive Graphic « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site>>

The State Of Law School In One Comprehensive Graphic « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law Schools, Law Suits, Judges and Courts + Career Resources: "Noodle has a newly launched Law School Search site that, among other things, allows 0Ls to enter their GPA/LSAT or what practice they’re considering and get some instant guidance on their law school selection. They also created this infographic to assist prospective law students in understanding the State of Law School:"

'via Blog this'

ACA: Private Health insurance up to 8 Million

So much for the "train wreck".  8 million singed up for ACA private insurance policies - plus millions more on Medicaid, covered by parents until age 26, insured by employers, covered despite "pre-existing conditions", etc.  See TPM for details

View image on Twitter

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Federalism as the new nationalism - The Yale Law Journal

Surrender at Appomattox by Brendan Wolfe 
The new issue of the Yale Law Journal features a group describing themselves under the rubric "federalism is the new nationalism" .  Generally they try to rescue nationalism from the clutches of federalism as currently celebrated by the right.  People like Antonin Scalia in U.S. v. Arizona declare for state sovereignty as having at its heart the "right to exclude". It's not a long way from there to becoming the Union of Sovereign States of America.  Even Stephen Breyer and Elena kagan folded in the face of state sovereignty concerns by voting to allow states to reject Medicaid expansion - perhaps the cruelest and most consequential of recent "federalist" victories.
The new Yale nationalist federalists look not just to the New Deal but to the ways in which states already have become national instruments.  OK, but I would bury state sovereignty at Appomattox.  Good luck to them anyway.  All contributions to quelling the states rights thrusts are welcome. - gwc
The Yale Law Journal - Print Archive:
Abbe Gluck - intro 
This paper marks the emergence of a nationalist school of federalism. It serves as the introduction to a symposium that brings together the work of five scholars who have made unique contributions to the field. This introduction argues that, taken together, the essays collected in this symposium suggest that federalism is the new nationalism. Shorn of the trappings of sovereignty and separate spheres, detached from the notion that state autonomy matters above all else, attentive to the rise of national power and the importance of national politics, this work offers a descriptive and normative account that is deeply nationalist in character.
Nationalists often pride themselves on taking a clear-eyed view of on-the-ground realities, rebuking federalism’s proponents for not coming to grips with the changes in federal power brought on by the New Deal. But the nationalists are now the ones behind the times, as they have not yet absorbed how much state power has changed in recent years. States now serve demonstrably national ends and, in doing so, maintain their central place in a modern legal landscape. 
This papers identifies the basic tenets of the nationalist school. It is organized around the five features needed for any account of federalism: (1) a tally of the ends served by devolution, (2) an inventory of the governance sites that matter, (3) an account of what gets the system up and running, (4) a description of how the national and local interact, and (5) and “rules of engagement” to guide those interactions. In each instance, the nationalist school of federalism departs from state-centered accounts of federalism and pushes toward a nationalist vision of devolution’s virtues.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

A Clarion Call to Save New Jersey's Judges - WSJ.com

A Clarion Call to Save New Jersey's Judges - WSJ.com: "Leading members of New Jersey's legal community are moving to limit the governor's power to remove a state Supreme Court justice, a restriction they say is needed to help preserve judicial independence amid concerns that the court is being engulfed by partisan politics."

'via Blog this'

The job market: LST Score Reports | National Report

LST Score Reports | National Report:

The jobs story for 2013 law school graduates is not pretty, especially once you fall below the top twenty on the US News totem pole.  For J.D. required jobs the national average is 57% but that is inflated because if you hung out a shingle you are listed as employed full time even if your phone doesn't ring.
For Harvard grads over half get big firm jobs and 17% get federal clerkships.  At Fordham about a third get big firm jobs and only 2.5% get federal clerkships.

'via Blog this'

Murthy for Surgeon General | New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board

Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination is stalled.  Besides the solid Republican south Democrats in thinly populated and rural states like West Virginia and Montana are intimidated by the NRA. Even Maine's moderate Republican Susan Collins is non-committal, saying "some have questioned his experience compared to other Surgeons General".  It is appalling to me that while the slaughter continues candid discussion of the problem remains off the table due to the influence of Second Amendmentism - whether in its right wing version (we must arm ourselves everywhere a la Wayne La Pierre), or left versions like Nicholas Johnson, my Fordham colleague, who invokes the tradition of black self defense in his Negroes and the Gun. - gwc
Murthy for Surgeon General | New Jersey Law Journal:
by the Editorial Board    (c) ALM Media 2014
The massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School stunned the nation. We seemed ready to address seriously both the causes of gun violence and measures to regulate and reduce the ready accessibility of weapons. We are now mourning another mass shooting, this one at Fort Hood by an Iraq vet who was able to buy a gun even though he was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course the larger problem is everyday gun violence, but it gets little attention.
Unfortunately, the reform momentum has waned and the National Rifle Association is determined to draw a line in the sand. Despite the support of President Obama, 10 Democratic senators from rural and southern states have joined in a bipartisan obstruction of the nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy, a physician with the expected stellar credentials, for surgeon general.
The attackers latched onto a tweet that Murthy wrote after Sandy Hook. "Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they're scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue. #debatehealth." He also signed a letter urging Congress to support an assault rifle ban and require mandatory firearm safety training and waiting periods. The NRA says Murthy is unfit for the position because he supports "radical gun control measures." Their campaign appears to have had such an impact that Murthy's confirmation seems unlikely.
Public health physicians have played an important role in reducing the epidemics of automobile injury and death and asbestos-related illness. The surgeon general has led effective campaigns against smoking and to allay early hysteria about AIDS. Murthy says his focus will be obesity and diabetes.
Politics is the art of compromise, but the Murthy nomination is a line that Obama must hold and on which the Republican leaders must yield. The level of gun violence in our country demands recognition as a public health problem of major proportions. Support of moderate gun control measures cannot be a disqualifier to be surgeon general.

Read more: http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202650758374/Murthy-for-Surgeon-General#ixzz2yrMUfhNO

'via Blog this'

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lingering Power of Hostage Crisis Short-Circuits Iranian Nominee - NYTimes.com

The Congress has voted unanimously to deny entry to the United States to Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations.  His sin?  He worked briefly as a translator for the Iranian revolutionaries who held Americans hostage in their Embassy thirty-five years ago.  Not a single member of Congress had the courage to say: we are negotiating with them now.  We shouldn't try to pick their diplomats.  Neither did the Secretary of State nor the President.  Craven capitulation to tribal resentment. Elaine Sciolino tells the story in today's Times. - gwc
Lingering Power of Hostage Crisis Short-Circuits Iranian Nominee - NYTimes.com:

ARIS — When Iranian militants seized the United States Embassy and took dozens of Americans hostage on an overcast Sunday morning in November 1979, I assumed it was just a brief anti-American sit-in. My main concern, I told my editors at Newsweek, was not how dangerous Tehran would be. It was whether it would still be a story by the time I arrived there from Paris the next day.
I sure got that wrong. The “Iran hostage crisis,” as we called it, lasted 444 days. And as demonstrated by the powerful opposition in Washington last week to Iran’s choice for its next United Nations ambassador, it is not over.
During the crisis, President Jimmy Carter froze Iran’s assets, broke diplomatic relations, changed his re-election strategy and ordered a failed military rescue mission that left eight American servicemen dead. The hostage ordeal helped get Ronald Reagan elected as president.
Nearly 35 years later, many Americans do not remember or have never heard of that dark episode in American diplomatic history. It took the 2012 film “Argo,” which dealt with only one chapter of the crisis, to return it to the American consciousness.
But politically, the hostage crisis has not been forgotten. It still has the power to traumatize Washington.
The current diplomatic firestorm is the result of Iran’s nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi, a senior political adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, as ambassador to the United Nations. On paper, he is just about perfect: a fluent French and English speaker with a doctorate in sociology from a prestigious Catholic university in Belgium and a former ambassador to Italy, Australia, Belgium and the European Union.
Mr. Aboutalebi admits that he had a bit part in the hostage drama. He was not part of the takeover of the 27-acre embassy compound or even in town when it happened. But the hostage-takers lacked foreign-language skills, and early in the crisis, he agreed to be an interpreter and translator on a small number of occasions. He was 22 at the time.
In an interview in Iran in mid-March, Mr. Aboutalebi said he had been the interpreter for the Vatican’s special representative when he visited the embassy. He added that “one or two other times” he had done translations into English or French, including interpreting at a news conference two weeks into the hostage crisis when the occupiers decided to release 13 hostages.
“It was based purely on humanitarian motivations,” Mr. Aboutalebi said of his involvement.
There is no evidence that Mr. Aboutalebi served as a regular interpreter or translator or participated in interrogations of the hostages.
During the crisis, President Carter called the hostages “victims of terrorism and anarchy.”
So he could be forgiven for seeking vengeance against Iran today. Instead, Mr. Carter has called on the United States to move on. “Those were college students at that time, and I think that they have matured,” he said on a recent radio program, adding, “It would be inappropriate for the United States to try to block someone that Iran wanted to choose.”
Continue reading the main story
But saying no to Iran over an ambassadorial choice comes at no political cost in Congress, so it was easy for both houses to vote unanimously to prevent Mr. Aboutalebi from entering the United States. And on Friday, the White House said it would not grant Mr. Aboutalebi a visa, effectively scuttling the nomination.
via Blog this'

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jersey Bar Leaders call for constitutional amendment

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's pledge to remake the state's courts has encountered substantial resistance from the bar which seeks to preserve the judiciary's long-established insulation from politics.- gwc

New Jersey State Bar Association - NJSBA resolution urges constitutional amendment to protect judicial independence:

For sixty years no member of the New Jersey Supreme Court was denied nomination for tenure at the conclusion of the justice's seven year initial term.  The Trustees of the New Jesey State Bar Association have endorsed former Associate Justice Gary Stein's proposal for a state constitutional amendment which would embed past practice in the state's charter.  

The proposal would block the unprecedented actions of Gov. Chris Christie who has twice refused to nominate for tenure highly regarded Justices of the State Supreme Court.  Helen Hoens - a reliably conservative voice on a court once noted for marked liberalism - was spurned despite almost twenty years as a judge - the past seven on the high court.  John Wallace was spurned early in the Christie era.  He was a moderate who supported some of the governor's initiatives.

Justice Stein would amend Article VI, Section VI, Paragraph 3 shall to read:

“The Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Superior Court shall hold their offices for initial terms of seven years. They shall be reappointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, unless they have demonstrated unfitness for such reappointment, and upon reappointment shall hold office during good behavior.

The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board - a strong campaigner for judicial independence - has added its voice to the State Bar's saying:
The New Jersey Constitution's reappointment provision (art VI, sec. 6, par. 3) states: "The Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Superior Court shall hold their offices for initial terms of seven years and upon reappointment shall hold their offices during good behavior."
There is no doubt it was intended to deny reappointment only to those whose initial term of service demonstrated they were morally or temperamentally unfit. As one senator observed during the convention, "if they are qualified, they have no fear of not being reappointed."
For more than 65 years, New Jersey governors honored this interpretation of that provision, reappointing 25 justices even in the face of significant political disagreement with their decisions.
Read more: http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202650758479/Toward-Judicial-Independence#ixzz2ygQTEzF3

Friday, April 11, 2014

Torts Today: N.J. Panel Urges Special Handling For Complex Commercial Litigation | New Jersey Law Journal

The New Jersey Supreme Court has released the Report of the Working Group on Business Litigation.  Although it rejects the option of a distinct division, like New York's, it does move toward specialization as Mary Gallagher explains in her report.  When I was a member of the editorial board of the late New Jersey Lawyer weekly we pressed for a commercial division without success.  The idea that judges are generalists is strongly rooted in the state's judiciary.  However the successful management of "mass tort" litigation by specially designated judges has earned New Jersey courts respect for their competence.  Much remains to be done.  Electronic filing for example, lags far behind the federal courts. - GWC

N.J. Panel Urges Special Handling For Complex Commercial Litigation | New Jersey Law Journal

by Mary Pat Gallagher // NJLJ
A New Jersey Supreme Court committee has rejected the recurring idea of setting up a specialized business court in the state but suggests other ways to improve the management of commercial litigation.
In a report released Thursday, the Working Group on Business Litigation recommends expanding a pilot program statewide and designating a business-savvy judge in each vicinage for complex commercial cases, which would have a $200,000 threshold.
The 13-member committee chaired by Bergen County Assignment Judge Peter Doyne was created last October to identify and assess the needs of the business community, review the judiciary’s current practices, and suggest ways to address legitimate concerns and streamline the process for handling complex commercial litigation.
Its work included reviewing the case management techniques used to file, track and resolve commercial litigation and to assess two long-running pilot programs.
The group suggest that one of them, which has been operating in Bergen and Essex counties since 1996, should cease being a “pilot” program and be expanded statewide.
 The assignment judge in both of those counties designates a jurist with a business or commercial background to handle all commercial matters from start to finish.
The working group recommends that each vicinage designate a business judge, who is either familiar with complex business issues or willing to develop that expertise.
A protocol should be created to “properly identify” what cases should be classified as complex commercial. Right now, that decision is left up to the lawyers who select a case type code when they file.
Court personnel, in consultation with the working group, should “redefine the complex commercial case type so that the Bar will be notified appropriately of the importance of this case type coding on the Civil Case Information statement,” the working group says.

Read more: http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202650577676/N.J.-Panel-Urges-Special-Handling-For-Complex-Commercial-Litigation#ixzz2ya0rSIeo

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

50 Years Later, Obama Salutes Effects of Civil Rights Act - NYTimes.com

50 Years Later, Obama Salutes Effects of Civil Rights Act - NYTimes.com:
by Peter Baker
"AUSTIN, Tex. — For three days, the veterans of a long-ago movement reunited and drew together their spiritual heirs to explore the legacy of the Civil Rights Act a half-century after it transformed America. And then the legacy walked onstage. President Obama presented himself on Thursday as the living, walking, talking and governing embodiment of the landmark 1964 law that banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. In a speech that stirred an audience of civil rights champions here at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Mr. Obama acknowledged that racism has hardly been erased and that government programs have not always succeeded. But, he added, “I reject such cynicism because I have lived out the promise of L.B.J.’s efforts, because Michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts, because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts.”"'via Blog this'

President Obama on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil rights Act of 1964

Honoring President Lyndon Baines Johnson on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act | The White House:
Today, 50 years after President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, President Obama spoke at the LBJ Presidential Library to honor the work and legacy of our nation’s 36th president.
“As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible,” President Obama said. “We recall the countless unheralded Americans, black and white, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers -- whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change.”
“But we also gather here,” President Obama said, “deep in the heart of the state that shaped him, to recall one giant man’s remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”’

The best evidence we have that Obamacare is working - Vox

The best evidence we have that Obamacare is working - Vox
By Ezra Klein

"On March 13th, House Speaker John Boehner held a press conference. By that point, Obamacare enrollment was beginning to accelerate. But Boehner thought it was an illusion. He wanted to change the narrative. And so he made a startling claim: Obamacare, he said, had led to fewer people having health insurance.",,,,

Boehner was going off of "claims" and guesstimates. He admits as much in his answer: This is what he "believes," not what he knows. But a new report from the Rand Corporation gives us a fuller picture than ever before. And so now we know: John Boehner was wrong.
1) 9.3 million more people have health insurance
Washington has been tracking enrollment in Obamacare's exchanges and, less precisely, in Medicaid. The Rand study uses a nationally representative sample to track vastly more data: They know roughly how many people were buying insurance from their employers, from insurers, and much more. They also know how many people were losing insurance, either through cancellations, or because employers were dropping them, or because they just stopped paying premiums.
Add all the gains and all the losses together and you get Rand's bottom line: 14.5 million people gained coverage, 5.2 million people lost coverage, and so the net change since 2013 was 9.3 million people getting health insurance.
2) An unexpected Obamacare success: More employer coverage,,,

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A Joyous Welcome: The Baptism of Umma Azul - ReligiousLeftLaw.com

Little Umma Azul’s baptism took place in a Catholic church.
The Catholic baptism of Umma Azul,
the daughter of a lesbian couple in Argentina - sanctioned by Rome
The times they are a changin'- gwc
A Joyous Welcome: The Baptism of Umma Azul - ReligiousLeftLaw.com:
by Prof. Charles Reid, St. Thomas Law School (MN)
Welcoming -- the sacrament of Baptism in the Catholic Church is the sacrament of welcoming. The child is presented to the Church, the community of believers, usually by the parents. The priest calls upon the parents, the godparents, and the entire congregation, to assume the solemn obligation of raising the child in the faith. And then the child is baptized, water poured over her head, as the priest pronounces the time-honored formula -- "in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." - See more at: http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/2014/04/a-joyous-welcome-the-baptism-of-umma-azul.html#sthash.ApXDN16H.dpuf

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why Race Has Been the Real Story of Obama's Presidency All Along -- New York Magazine

Republican Party Platform 1860
The fundamental shift in American partisan politics of the past 50 years is that the Republican party became the party of the white south. That brought not only anti-black sentiment but the cultural heritage of biblical conservatism, scientific skepticism, retributive justice, and militarism. Jonathan Chait marshals the evidence that the stronger slavery was the stronger is anti-black sentiment today. Then he turns the tables and argues that conservatism does not equal racism, contrary to common liberal sentiment.

I don't know that the charge is fair.  I certainly am convinced that racial bias makes it easy to rally people against social welfare spending.  But that opportunistic advantage does not mean that conservative thinking is inherently racist.  In my view there are many more reasons than that for conservatism's ascendancy. (Like conservatives who see liberal triumph I see conservative ascendancy.  Glass half full vs. glass half empty?) 

We are inherently social creatures but there is an inherent tension between self-interest and the interests of others.  We are all more likely to find fault with policies that benefit "the other" however we define "them".  This has many implications for social policy - such as school funding, integration, etc.  As I watch young professional parents sacrifice to send their kids to costly private schools they are certainly not trying to avoid integrated schools.  They are seeking peer education - the typical road to success. And there just aren't so many black or Latin families on that road.  `Why' is the legacy of racism.  Is there a path out?  Certainly there is no easy road to equality.  Anyway read Chait, and read Andrew Sprung's insightful assessment of Chait and a similar piece by Ezra Klein on "confirmation bias". - gwc

Why Race Has Been the Real Story of Obama's Presidency All Along -- New York Magazine:

Optimists hoped Obama would usher in a new age of racial harmony. Pessimists feared a surge in racial strife. Neither was right. But what happened instead has been even more invidious.

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Law Firm That Enabled Child Snatch Liable for Father's Emotional Distress | New Jersey Law Journal

Peter Innes
A New Jersey appellate court has found that aggravated circumstances permit the recovery of emotional distress damages in a legal malpractice case.  The defendant lawyer turned over a child's passport to the mother in violation of a parenting agreement between mother and father.  The child has been separated from her father for ten years, living in Spain with her maternal grandparents who echo the mother's unsubstantiated accusations of child abuse.  The mother is serving a fourteen year sentence for child abduction.  A jury awarded the father nearly $1 million in emotional distress damages.  The Appellate Division upheld the award to the father. Disclosure: I testified that the defendant lawyer breached her fiduciary duty as custodian to a non-client, the plaintiff father. - gwc
Law Firm That Enabled Child Snatch Wins Partial Relief From Damages | New Jersey Law Journal:
by Mary Pat Gallagher
A New Jersey matrimonial lawyer and her firm hit with a $1.4 million malpractice judgment for their role in enabling an international child abduction have prevailed in lowering the damages assessed against them, though the bulk of the judgment remain intact.
A state appeals court on Monday chopped $442,000 from the judgment against Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich and her Hackensack firm, Lesnevich & Marzano-Lesnevich, who a jury found gave a client her daughter’s passport, which had been entrusted to them to prevent the girl’s removal from the U.S.
The panel, in Innes v. Marzano-Lesnevich, reversed the portion of the judgment awarded to the girl, finding no evidence she suffered emotional distress from the abduction.
But the judges left in place the nearly $1 million award for the father, Peter Innes, finding emotional distress caused by separation from his daughter even in the absence of physical injury.
Victoria Solenne Innes was four years old in January 2005 when her mother, Maria Carrascosa, took her to Spain, where she has resided since with her maternal grandparents.
The duty to safeguard Victoria’s passport was based on a parenting agreement signed in October 2004, when West Caldwell solo Mitchell Liebowitz was Carrascosa’s lawyer. Peter Van Aulen of Saddle Brook, represented Innes. 
The agreement forbade either parent from traveling outside the U.S. with Victoria absent the other parent’s written consent and “to that end,” Liebowitz was to hold the girl’s passport in trust. 
On Nov. 23, 2004, Sarah Jacobs an associate of Marzano-Lesnevich, informed Liebowitz the firm had been retained and asked for the file.
Liebowitz’s response was: “As you may know, I am holding her daughter’s United States Passport. I would prefer if you arranged for the original file to be picked up by messenger with the messenger acknowledging receipt of the passport.” 

Read more: http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202650015723/Law-Firm-That-Enabled-Child-Snatch-Wins-Partial-Relief-From-Damages#ixzz2yGX4cMet

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