Monday, July 12, 2004

German Law Journal in English


German Law Journal in English



For those interested in German law, take a look at the English-language German Law Journal - Current Issue.



Published Online Issues:

Volume 5 (2004)

7 issues - here linked as

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5

No. 6

No. 7



Volume 4 (2003) - go to German Law Journal for the links

12 issues



Volume 3 (2002) - go to German Law Journal for the links

12 issues



Volume 2 (2001) - go to German Law Journal for the links

18 issues



Volume 1 (2000) - go to German Law Journal for the links

4 issues





German Internet Accessibility Law - US Accessibility Issues


German Internet Accessibility Law - US Accessibility Issues

As written at Conet.de:

"Because of the Accessible Information Technology Order (Barrierefreie Informationstechnik-Verordnung, BITV) decreed on 17th July 2002 on the basis of the German Equality of Treatment Law for Handicapped People (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz), all German authorities and administrative bodies have to offer accessible Internet and public intranet sites by the end of 2005. All graphical user interfaces have to be designed in a way that handicapped people are capable of using them easily. New Internet sites have to be designed accessibly from the start. In this regard the BITV follows the guidelines set by W3C in its Content Accessibility Guidelines. According to these, the content of a website must be displayable without graphics and layout while still guaranteeing the full diversity of information and the logical coherence of the site's content. For non-textual elements like graphics and buttons, accessible websites have to provide textual alternatives and allow for navigation with the keyboard only."

Conet touts its you@web Content Manager program for this purpose.

Accessibility is also a big issue in, e.g., the United States.

To get a free accessibility report go to UsableNet (top left column) or request a specific platform demo.

To see approximately what alternative form websites falling under this law will have to offer to the disabled, websites can use the demo free trial version of UsableNet's LIFT Text Transcoder.

The "transcoded" version of the LawPundit main page
can be seen here at the UsableNet set
and looks approximately like this (below without the links, etc.):

"This is a text-only page produced by the demo version of LIFT Text Transcoder: the actual content starts below this notice. For more details go to LIFT Text Transcoder Help Center.
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Monday, July 12, 2004--Andis Kaulins [7/12/2004 03:36:38 PM]
German Internet Accessibility Law - US Accessibility Issues
German Internet Accessibility Law - US Accessibility Issues

As written at Conet.de:

"Because of the Accessible Information Technology Order (Barrierefreie Informationstechnik-Verordnung, BITV) decreed on 17th July 2002 on the basis of the German Equality of Treatment Law for Handicapped People (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz), all German authorities and administrative bodies have to offer accessible Internet and public intranet sites by the end of 2005. All graphical user interfaces have to be designed in a way that handicapped people are capable of using them easily. New Internet sites have to be designed accessibly from the start. In this regard the BITV follows the guidelines set by W3C in its Content Accessibility Guidelines. According to these, the content of a website must be displayable without graphics and layout while still guaranteeing the full diversity of information and the logical coherence of the site's content. For non-textual elements like graphics and buttons, accessible websites have to provide textual alternatives and allow for navigation with the keyboard only."

Conet of course is also touting its you@web Content Manager program for this purpose.

Accessibility is also a big issue in, e.g., the United States.

To get a free accessibility report go to UsableNet (top left column) or request a specific platform demo.

To see approximately what alternative form websites falling under this law will have to offer to the disabled, websites can use the demo free trial version of UsableNet's LIFT Text Transcoder.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 7/12/2004 03:36:38 PM : (0) Comments ::
Wednesday, July 07, 2004--Andis Kaulins [7/7/2004 04:15:13 PM] Vaccination, Autism, Facts, Peer Review, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos
Vaccination, Autism, Facts, Peer Review, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos

What is a true "fact" in science?

As Peter Bowditch, Vice-President of the Australian Skeptics reports in Vaccination Link to Autism Retracted, 10 of 13 authors of a scientific article published in 1998 in the mainstream medical journal The Lancet "issued a statement saying that the paper was not evidence of a connection between MMR vaccine and autism".

The case is of interest for the LawPundit because of the role played by lawyers in selecting and sending autistic children for "scientific" testing of the alleged causal connection between the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) and autism.

"Facts" can be the Product of Wishful Thinking

As it turns out, it was all a case of wishful thinking. The scientific "facts" were bent to prove "the theory", a theory being propogated by a group of people who were politically anti-vaccination proponents.

Schools of Thought and Established Paradigms

This case may seem to be an exception to the general rule, but we find that there are many similar cases in modern mainstream science, especially in the humanities, where "schools of thought" and "established paradigms" reign supreme over the - often contrary - probative evidence. See Kuhn - Popper - Lakatos. Lakatos is especially known for his idea that the "basic unit" of science is not scientific theory but the " research program", which propagates itself through increased funding over competition and through growing content (i.e. increased publication, which is a direct result of the CONTROLLED peer review publication process).

Peer Review as the Control Mechanism of a Particular Research Program

Some scientific monopolists ignorantly and gullibly continue to sing the praises of peer review, a process one could just as well call "the buddy system among related academic cronies", i.e. in Lakatonian terms, cohorts in the prevailing "research program".

Peer Review as Regulatory Obstructionism

Strangely, in government regulatory agencies, the lack of peer review has allegedly:

"failed to identify a single regulatory action in which the lack of peer review, or inadequate peer review, has produced bad science, poor decision-making by agencies, unlawful regulations, or had other adverse effects on the public."

Rather, peer review is there seen as regulatory obstructionism, something that an economist would call a "barrier to entry", and it is precisely this function which has made peer review popular in academia. It greatly limits the scope of publication about the "true" facts.

Peer Review and the Law

Only in one academic area is there no real "peer review" and that is in American law - where the editors at law reviews and law journals are still law students - and yet, these reviews and journals are probably better than anything found in any other discipline.

Beware of the Prevailing Research Program

So what is the lesson to be learned?

Caveat emptor.

A peer-reviewed article by a Professor may just be selling you the Moon to finance not only HIS research program but also that of the reviewing Professor. After all, by definition, academic peers all sit in the same scientific "research program" boat.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 7/7/2004 04:15:13 PM : (0) Comments ::
Tuesday, July 06, 2004--Andis Kaulins [7/6/2004 08:13:06 PM] European Parliament - Seats by Country - Functions
European Parliament - Seats by Country - Functions

The European Union has an informative page on the number of seats per country in the newly constituted European Parliament as well as the basic functions of the European Parliament.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 7/6/2004 08:13:06 PM : (0) Comments ::
Monday, July 05, 2004--Andis Kaulins [7/5/2004 07:34:46 PM] Media Bias, Blogging, Academia
Media Bias, Blogging, Academia

"The law" consists of both facts and laws.
Laws are often in dispute, and it appears that facts fare no better in the last analysis.

What is a fact? Is it a matter of fact? Or is it a matter of bias?
It appears that the latter is true.

Via Instapundit we are directed to a study entitled A Measure of Media Bias by Tim Groseclose, Department of Political Science, UCLA, and Graduate School of Business, Stanford University and Jeff Milyo Harris, School of Public Policy University of Chicago.

The study shows clearly that the news which media serves up to us is anything but a balanced view of world events and of what is "actually" happenning. Indeed, the study reveals that the news media - the primary reporters of "fact" - are on the average far more left of left than perhaps even the worst media detractors could have imagined.

It is interesting to note that blogging developed as an alternative to counteract this imbalanced news reporting - a skewing of the facts that was and still is rampant in the news industry.

Ponder also how bad things may be by comparison in academia, especially in the humanities, where many faculties are even further left than the imbalanced news media.

The result is that mainstream scholarship is as distantly removed from a balanced presentation of ideas in its biased so-called "peer" representations of science as the news media are in their imbalanced potrayals of daily events.

Or to put it in more understandable terms, the treatment of the past is faring no better than the treatment of the present at the hands of the people who make the report and study of the past and the present their professions.

We continue to dissent and continue to offer probative evidence that much in our mainstream view of human history is quite wrong, and is partially at fault for leading to terrible events in our own time, based on historical ACADEMIC errors.

(See our various websites as indexed at the bottom of this page.)


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 7/5/2004 07:34:46 PM : (0) Comments ::
Andis Kaulins [7/5/2004 06:18:58 PM] FreeFind Site Search Added to LawPundit
FreeFind Site Search Added to LawPundit

LawPundit has added the free site search function of FreeFind.com to the LawPundit blog. FreeFind robots update the LawPundit search database once a day.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 7/5/2004 06:18:58 PM : (0) Comments ::
Andis Kaulins [7/5/2004 02:03:20 PM] Blog Trackback Function Explained
Blog Trackback Function Explained

How does "trackback" work? See here at HaloScan for a good FAQ discussion or go to HaloScan's specific Trackback page or go to Movable Type for specific blog platform implementations.

The Trackback Function
permits one trackback enabled blog
to notify a different trackback enabled blog
that the former blog
has referred to the latter blog
in one of its postings.

To get a trackback URL - which is then used to ping ("alert") the blog being referenced - the user clicks the appropriate "trackback" link on the other blog (this is NOT the same as the permalink!).

For example, in the Ancient World Blog Stonehenge we have clicked the "trackback" link
at the permalink page

giving a pop-up with the following trackback URL for that blog entry.

This latter trackback URL is used to "ping" the blog to be notified about the posting.

We then went to the HaloScan "manage trackback" page (for registered members only) and entered the required information for this ping.

After the "ping" is sent, the "Trackback" is now listed.

UPDATE: We see that the Volokh Conspiracy uses a simple method to obtain what they label "Possible Trackbacks" which link the Volokh Conspiracy permalinks to Technorati.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 7/5/2004 02:03:20 PM : (0) Comments ::
Wednesday, June 30, 2004--Andis Kaulins [6/30/2004 08:28:54 PM] Foreign Precedents and the US Supreme Court
Foreign Precedents and the US Supreme Court

With many thanks to Alice Dong of Legal Affairs for the following worthwhile tip:

"I think you might be interested in a forum just published in Legal Affairs magazine between Richard Posner and Vicki Jackson about the Supreme Court and international law.

Here's Posner's piece:
http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/July-August-2004/feature_posner_julaug04.html

Here's Jackson's:
http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/July-August-2004/feature_jackson_julaug04.html".

Indeed, the Legal Affairs pieces referred to by Alice present excellent counterposed analyses of the pros and cons of this increasingly recurring modern jurisprudential question.

Posner identifies the issue as follows:

"THE QUESTION FOR THIS DEBATE is: "Should foreign or international legal decisions ever be considered relevant to United States Supreme Court rulings?" Alternatively but equivalently: "In what circumstances, if any, should the United States Supreme Court cite a decision by an international or other foreign court?"

Jackson writes pro, e.g.:

"Legal education is just beginning to recognize the importance of offering training in understanding foreign and international law."

Posner writes contra, e.g.:

"The problem is not learning from abroad; it is treating foreign judicial decisions as authorities in U.S. cases, as if the world were a single legal community."

The issues discussed are not merely theoretical legal exercises, but reflect the ongoing and surely inevitable globalization of the world. A great read.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/30/2004 08:28:54 PM : (0) Comments ::
Andis Kaulins [6/30/2004 12:57:52 PM] Detainee Cases Decided by US Supreme Court
Detainee Cases Decided by US Supreme Court

See SCOTUSBlog for a discussion of and links to news media reports on the recent US Supreme Court decisions in the detainee cases ( 1, 2 and 3, 4).


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/30/2004 12:57:52 PM : (0) Comments ::
Tuesday, June 29, 2004--Andis Kaulins [6/29/2004 10:58:51 PM] Sentencing Guidelines Struck Down by the Supreme Court
Sentencing Guidelines Struck Down by the Supreme Court

Kate Stith, Professor at Yale Law School and
William Stuntz, Professor at Harvard Law School
have contributed an Op-Ed article entitled "Sense and Sentencing" to the New York Times.

The article discusses the Blakely v. Washington decision just handed down by the US Supreme Court in a case involving sentencing guidlelines and their conflict with the right to jury trial under the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, writing:

"Petitioner Ralph Howard Blakely, Jr., pleaded guilty to the kidnaping of his estranged wife. The facts admitted in his plea, standing alone, supported a maximum sentence of 53 months. Pursuant to state law, the court imposed an “exceptional” sentence of 90 months after making a judicial determination that he had acted with “deliberate cruelty.” App. 40, 49. We consider whether this violated petitioner’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury....

[Petitioner argued that the] sentencing procedure deprived him of his federal constitutional right to have a jury determine beyond a reasonable doubt all facts legally essential to his sentence....

This case requires us to apply the rule we expressed in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 490 (2000): “Other than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” ...

By reversing the judgment below, we are not, as the State would have it, “find[ing] determinate sentencing schemes unconstitutional.” Brief for Respondent 34. This case is not about whether determinate sentencing is constitutional, only about how it can be implemented in a way that respects the Sixth Amendment....

Ultimately, our decision cannot turn on whether or to what degree trial by jury impairs the efficiency or fairness of criminal justice. One can certainly argue that both these values would be better served by leaving justice entirely in the hands of professionals; many nations of the world, particularly those following civil-law traditions, take just that course. There is not one shred of doubt, however, about the Framers’ paradigm for criminal justice: not the civil-law ideal of administrative perfection, but the common-law ideal of limited state power accomplished by strict division of authority between judge and jury. As Apprendi held, every defendant has the right to insist that the prosecutor prove to a jury all facts legally essential to the punishment. Under the dissenters’ alternative, he has no such right. That should be the end of the matter."

We definitely agree with Scalia on this particular decision and particularly with the reasoning found in that last quoted paragraph, which we find to be decisive.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/29/2004 10:58:51 PM : (0) Comments ::
Monday, June 28, 2004--Andis Kaulins [6/28/2004 05:10:18 PM] BlogOn 2004 on July 23 in Berkeley, California
BlogOn 2004 on July 23 in Berkeley, California

This just in from Becky Sniffen at MC2 Communications ...

"A new blogging & social media conference called BlogOn 2004 ... takes place July 23 in Berkeley, CA [at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business]. BlogOn explores the business end of blogging, seeking to marry the inventiveness of blogging companies to the investors and tech leaders who will support the humble blog’s rise to the top of the corporate communications ladder. Prominent technology conference host Chris Shipley, along with speakers from the best-known blogging companies, will illuminate the business stories behind social media: the business models that will succeed and fail, the impact of the blogging phenomenon on tech and business culture, the ways in which new social media technologies will drive the next-generation Web, and how corporations can best use this rising technological toolset to achieve their goals."


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/28/2004 05:10:18 PM : (0) Comments ::
Andis Kaulins [6/28/2004 12:05:52 PM] Crystalballing the Future of the World
Crystalballing the Future of the World

Niall Ferguson

The 20 June 2004 Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com) Opinion Journal has a superb article by Glasgow-born Niall Ferguson, professor of history - NYU, senior fellow - Hoover Institution, author - Colossus: The Price of America's Empire, Penguin, 2004.

American Hegemony or Chaos?

The article is entitled " WHEN EMPIRES WANE : The End of Power : Without American hegemony the world would likely return to the dark ages".

At a time when most of the rest of the world - especially the news media - is focussing on short-sighted short-term political goals and problems, including many issues which are often of minor consequence in the long term, Ferguson looks at the world political situation over the long haul and sees it as a constant struggle for power, writing:

"Power ... is not a natural monopoly; the struggle for mastery is both perennial and universal."

Ferguson refers to historical periods marked by dominant powers and other periods marked by declines of hegemonial power - and winds up preferring the former - but emphasizes that global power struggles are a part of life on our planet and always have been.

It is of course preferable, but also unrealistic, historically seen, to prefer or expect peace, since the state of war is simply a given human constant, judging by the track record of our species.

Population and Technology

Ferguson appropriately discusses the great importance of population demographics on the world of tomorrow, but glosses over the perhaps equally important issue of the state of technology advancement for the future political state of the world.

In our view, technological advance is "political system dependent" - and determinative for any professed vision of the future of the planet, since the state of technology is the principal enablement but also limitation in localizing the weapons available to any given military force.

US World Power and Technology

US hegemony, i.e. its predominant stance as the world's greatest power, is not only a historical position of strength which has developed over the last more than 200 years, but this position of might has been catalysed by the fact that the American political and economic system is more conducive to the development of sophisticated technology and weaponry than political and economic systems which are more backward - and those are, frankly, every other state and nation on this planet.

Indeed, the often primitive weapons and methods employed by America's enemies simply serve to prove the massive failure of the political, legal and religious systems of these backward nations. Only when such countries or groups avail themselves of modern technology are they a threat. But by using modern technology, they have already lost the battle that they are trying to win for the sake of a world which once allegedly existed in the past. They have become "modern" combatants professing a world view which is long gone and never to return. The hands on the clock of time can not be turned back.

How the World of Tomorrow will NOT Look

We may not know exactly how the world of the future will look, but we do know some elements of how it will NOT look. As in man's historical past, the primitives will not be leading the men of knowledge - they never have, and never will.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/28/2004 12:05:52 PM : (0) Comments ::
Monday, June 21, 2004--Andis Kaulins [6/21/2004 11:47:50 PM] Supreme Court Decision on the Pledge of Allegiance Case Criticized
Supreme Court Decision on the Pledge of Allegiance Case Criticized

Marci Hamilton has an excellent analysis at Find Law of the US Supreme Court decision in the Pledge of Allegiance Case.

See the LawPundit posting on this topic.

Hamilton - in our opinion correctly - notes that the Supreme Court made a serious error in sticking its nose into local child custody "standing" issues while trying to duck a decision on the proper and nationally significant legal issue of the "standing" of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance under the Establishment Clause.

Hamilton writes:

"The federal courts, and in fact the federal government, simply do not deal with custody issues except in the rarest circumstances. The majority's decision was nothing short of hubris when it decided to reach out to determine what Newdow's rights are with respect to the religious education of his daughter. The folly of this decision could be felt in custody disputes around the nation."

We agree in many particulars with Hamilton's reasoning in her superbly written and - in our opinion - logically analyzed article.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/21/2004 11:47:50 PM : (0) Comments ::
Andis Kaulins [6/21/2004 11:21:05 PM] EU Constitutional Treaty Adopted and Awaits Ratification
EU Constitutional Treaty Adopted and Awaits Ratification

As reported at the EU Presidency 2004 Website, "EU leaders have reached agreement on a new Constitutional Treaty for Europe at the European Council in Brussels."

The Treaty now has to be explained to the citizens of the European Union and ratified by the Member States before the Constitution of the European Union can come into force.

Although some of the European Member States wanted the concept of "under God" to be brought into the text of the Constitution, the adopted version does not include this concept. Especially France insisted on a separation of Church and State.

See the LawPundit posting on the US Pledge of Allegience case and the US Supreme Court.

: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/21/2004 11:21:05 PM : (0) Comments ::
Andis Kaulins [6/21/2004 05:36:26 PM] Putin and Kremlin updated online + other Presidential Websites
Putin and Kremlin updated online + other Presidential Websites

On June 20th, 2004, both the Russian and English-version website pages of the Kremlin and the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia were presented online in a completely renovated fashion.

There are numerous pages on the authority and duties of the Russian President as well as many pages on the structure of the federal government in Russia, including:

the System of Power
the President Executive Office
the Security Council
the State Council
Presidential Commissions
Presidential Councils
the Government
Appointments
Control Functions of the State

It is interesting to compare Putin's pages to those of US President Bush

or British Prime Minister Tony Blair

or Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

or Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero

or France's President Chirac

or German Chancellor Schroeder.

The absence or prevalence of photographs of the chief executive on the front website page of each country are indicative of the style of each leader:

George Bush - 0 pictures of Bush but photos of others from his administration
Vladimir Putin - 1 small photo and much text leading to links about Russia
Tony Blair - 1 photo with many links to British topics
Silvio Berlusconi - 1 photo with numerous links
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero - 1 large photo of himself and virtually nothing else on the page, a few links
Jacques Chirac - 3 smaller photos and links especially to his speeches
Gerhard Schroeder - 4 larger photos of himself - plus prominent links to his biography and a photo gallery of former Chancellors, with Schroeder in color and the former Chancellors in black and white
(status - all as of June 21, 2004)

George Bush has no pictures of himself on his page, but numerous pictures of persons from his administration. It is quite obvious that a "team" idea of government prevails in which the chief executive is the decisive but not necessarily always visible power in the background. See Team Bush, the "first MBA President". The lack of a Bush photo on the whitehouse.gov page fits in perfectly with this analysis.

Tony Blair has one picture of himself with many links to British culture and history, including the Queen.

Quite surprising might be the fact that the newly redone and excellent Russian pages - with but one small, modest photo of Putin - but strategically placed at the top - are by far the most sober and informative about the actual system of government and the most removed from any cult of persons or personalities. This too reflects Putin's style which has been described by Pundit Magazine as unflappable, steely, cool and methodical, with Putin "waiting before he has enough information to decide upon the best course of action."

Italian Prime Minister (Il Presidente del Consiglio) Silvio Berlusconi has one large picture of himself and various government links.

Zapatero of Spain has only one large picture of himself on his Presidential page and virtually nothing else, only a few links, to his bio and so on. Zapatero is known by the nickname " Bambi" for his innocent idealism in politics.

At the extreme of the personality centered cult of government is German Chancellor Schroeder. The rags-to-riches media-image centered Gerhard Schroeder of Germany has four pictures of himself on his page and in a gallery of the historical chancellors of Germany found on Schroeder's pages, it is only Schroeder who is pictured in color.

Schroeder is in his element in the media and has been known as the "Media Chancellor" for never missing a photo opportunity, but he is losing his touch as his SPD party hits all time lows in the choices of the voters.

Indeed, Schroeder is regarded by some, due to his policy and leadership weaknesses, to be the worst post-WWII Chancellor Germany has ever had:
see, e.g. his political opponent
Edmund Stoiber

Similar opinions are found voiced in:
Davids Medienkritik
Scaruffi
Daily Pundit
and
Oliver Kamm

Little Green Footballs writes about Schroeder's recent political statements:
"Schroeder's either a complete idiot (unlikely) or he wants the US to fail (quite likely)".

As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "how can a man be concealed?"


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/21/2004 05:36:26 PM : (0) Comments ::
Friday, June 18, 2004--Andis Kaulins [6/18/2004 09:11:47 PM] Stanford Law School: Law, Science & Technology News Blog
Stanford Law School: Law, Science & Technology News Blog

The Stanford Law School: Law, Science & Technology News also known as LST has a law, science and technology news blog - powered by Blogger. I had not been aware of this blog, though it has been online since November based on LST Archives.

The Law Pundit is unaware of any other university using the blogging service Blogger in this manner. Are you aware of any other institutions doing something similar, either with Blogger, or through any of the other commercial blogging services?

If so, drop us a comment. Thank you.


: Permalink : Andis Kaulins : 6/18/2004 09:11:47 PM : (1) Comments ::
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