"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Quadcopters and More: Where Can You Fly Your Drone? The Legal Answers are Not Clear

Santa, Santa, what hast thou wrought!? The problems that are coming with the proliferation of cheap and ubiquitous recreational and other drones such as quadcopters are immense while the legal answers for privacy rights are unclear. Annie Sneed discusses the issues at Scientific American So Your Neighbor Got a Drone for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

FAA Drone Registration Website Now Operational

TechCrunch reports that The FAA’s Drone Registration Site Is Now Up And Running. Lots of info there, take a look.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Quadcopter How-To Postings at Gizmag in the Loz Blain Drone School Series

Quadcopters and similar drones have not only legal aspects such as the requirement of FAA registration in the United States, but also require enhanced tech savvy on the part of the user, especially for safety reasons.

Gizmag has a series of "how to" postings on drones by Loz Blain:
We do not know how many "how to" "schools" there will ultimately be.

See also for general information on mandatory registration in the USA:

Friday, December 18, 2015

FAA Requires Modelers and Hobbyists to Make Drone Registration as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Starting December 21, 2015 Also for Drones Already in Possession

As regards our previous posting on drone registration, please now read the official FAA announcement concerning the drone registration requirement, starting December 21, that drones (also those used by modelers and hobbyists) must be registered with the FAA as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). See their FAQ for the definition of UAS.

Anyone who has made, purchased or otherwise obtained a drone prior to that date has 60 days to register. Yes, Christmas gifts and homemade drones also fall under the registration requirement.

When operating a drone, the operator must have his or her drone registration certificate in their possession.

Civil fines for non-registration can reach $27500 and "criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years".

As one sees, the registration requirement must be taken seriously by all.

No drone registration is required for drones below a certain weight (250 gm viz. 0.55 lb. or less) which are regarded to be unmanned aircraft systems viewed in the category of "toys".

Also excluded from the drone registration requirement are "paper airplanes, toy balloons, Frisbees, and similar items" which are not connected to control systems for the unmanned aircraft.

Make sure to check out the FAA Drone Registration FAQ for all the details.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

FAA Announces Mandatory Drone Registration Effective Virtually Immediately ! Get it Done !

We refer here to a very important article by Nick Lavars at Gizmag in

US government announces mandatory drone registration.

This is an urgent posting relating to mandatory drone registration, so that if you get one of these unmanned small flying "aircraft" called DRONES for Christmas, for example, then you are required to register the drone with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before flying it and also to stick a unique identification number on the aircraft. Failure to do so can result in immense fines or even prison sentences, so this is no small potatoes.  If you register the drone prior to January 20, 2016, the FAA waives the registration fee. Get it done!
If you have anything to do with drones, make sure you read that article at Gizmag:

US government announces mandatory drone registration.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Chump Factor at Krugman and the Presidential Candidates: The Inability of People to Admit Their Wrongs and Change Their Minds Accordingly

Once people take a stance on a given issue, they are unlikely to change their minds and admit that they were in the wrong, even if it becomes clear later that they in fact had erred. Wishful thinking and saving face rather than facing reality guides their actions.

We see this particularly in the paradigms of mainstream science and in political, economic, social and religious views and affiliations. People will cling to their previously made allegiances regardless of the actual facts.

Although a certain amount of "loyalty" is surely laudable, blind allegiance is not, although the "Chump Factor" is a widespread human characteristic. Economist Paul Krugman has it right in principle in discussing the U.S. Presidential candidates at http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/the-donald-and-the-chump-factor/?emc=edit_ty_20151215&nl=opinion&nlid=14116646.

As Krugman writes:

"Nobody likes looking like a chump, and most people will go to great lengths to convince themselves that they weren't."

Krugman, however, wrongly points to Donald Trump and his supporters as an example. Regardless of one's political leanings, Trump's supporters have thus far not been proven to be "in the wrong" at all. Trump leads, and he could win.

We say that as a political centrist.

What about all those who support and sponsor a broad field of Republican Party candidates who have no chance of winning? What about all those GOP candidates who lack the common sense to drop out of the race even though they are clearly out of the running? What does it say about a political party when "everyone" out there wants to be President? We call that wishful thinking.

The Democratic Party candidates fare no better under the "Chump Factor" test.

Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State of the USA in the Obama administration from January 2009 to February 2013. That is FOUR years. Wikipedia: "She viewed "smart power" as the strategy for asserting U.S. leadership and values, by combining military power with diplomacy and American capabilities in economics, technology, and other areas." What was the result? The result is a world in chaos. Unchanged thereafter, she has committed herself to an errant foreign policy philosophy based on wishful thinking which has proven wrong.

The Democratic Party has another puzzling candidate in 74-year old Bernie Sanders looking longingly for an American version of Scandinavia in the States.  A socialist-type system that is effective primarily in the more-or-less homogeneous (uniform, unvarying) countries of northern Europe has no chance of succeeding in the heterogeneous (diverse, non-uniform) USA. It is just is not going to happen. A President can not run a nation based on wishful thinking.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

China Business Investment: Chinese Investors Buying Up the Market in Short Dotcom Domain Names


Some years ago in Domain Names as Collateral, Warren E. Agin in Business Law Today at the ABA Business Law Section wrote that:

"No doubt about it, domain names are big business."

Today that statement is truer than ever, as short dotcom domain names are proving to be a valuable "commodity" viz. "property" viz. "contract right", that can be bought and sold, indeed, in part for enormous sums.

In any case, the shorter the name, the more difficult it is to find a dotcom name that has not already been registered.

Indeed, persons or institutions looking for a short dotcom domain name for their web presence may be out of luck, unless they are willing to invest big bucks to buy such a domain name in a dotcom name market being bought up in China.

Alan Dunn at TechCrunch.com has the story in
China Is Making Domain Name History.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Samsung Struggling in Smartphone Markets in Part Due to a Patent Law System that Promotes Monopolies and Destroys Competition

Samsung Replaces Head of Struggling Smartphone Division is the title of an article at EWeek by Todd R. Weiss.

The magazine CHIP in Germany has a similar piece online at Samsung-Krise: Dieser Mann soll die Galaxys retten.

In its newest 01/2016 print issue, CHIP at p. 17 runs the headline "Wir stecken in der Krise", i.e. "we have a crisis", quoting Samsung's Vice Chairman Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon that an "extraordinary transformation" (außergewöhnliche Transformation) was required in the company to avert the worst, including rumors of plans in the works to release masses of employees and executives if the financial situation of the company does not improve.

Samsung is faced e.g. with monopolistic Apple -- on the one hand -- trying to corner the smartphone high-end high-price market for itself by destroying competition with the aid of an outdated patent law system, while, on the other hand, the lower-price segments of the smartphone market are being increasingly dominated by Chinese companies such as Huawei and Xiaomi.

Patent cases such as the one we refer to in our previous posting have played a decisive role in promoting such monopolies by skewing markets and destroying legitimate competition in various technological market segments.

Samsung May Appeal Patent Infringement Case to the U.S. Supreme Court

Will Samsung appeal the big patent infringement case involving Apple to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Don Reisinger has the story for Fortune at Samsung Will Pay $548M to Apple for Alleged Patent Infringement writing:
"The $548 million in damages was finally decided by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year. In August, Samsung’s petition to the court for a new trial was struck down. The decision left Samsung with two options: pay up and move on or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court."
Take a look at Reisinger's article for more details.

We hope the case is appealed.

Anything that the Federal Circuit has decided has a great likelihood of being flawed to the core, especially in the area of the validity of tech patents.

Moreover, the standards applied for the granting of damages in these kinds of patent-trolling cases are ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Corporate Law Firm of the Year is Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in 2016 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms"

As a former associate in the "Corporate Department" of Paul, Weiss et al.
we were pleased today to read that our former law firm, the international

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison,
headquartered in New York City,

was selected as the
"Law Firm of the Year in Corporate Law"
in the just issued
2016 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" research report
covering more than 12,000 law firms in the United States.

We were of the opinion that it was the best way back THEN (in the 1970's),
and so it has remained, viz. and so it is again.

Quality breeds quality.

Many Paul, Weiss alumni are also "movers"
in diverse fields outside of law practice all over the world.
You can be sure.

See my BigLaw, Big Lawyers, Big Law Firms and Big Statistics: Are there Legal Metrics for Making Partner? Who Knows the Answers?

Monday, November 02, 2015

Startups and The Safe Harbor Ruling in Europe

At TechCrunch, the question of What Startups Need To Know About The Safe Harbor Ruling In Europe is covered by Mary J. Hildebrand.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Changing Nature of Law Practice: Commercial Free Speech ala Citizens United and Law Advertising by the Legal Profession ala Bates

We are often decades ahead of the trend, and this -- again -- is one such case.

During our law teaching tenure at the University of Trier Law School, our favorite case for inclusion in law school final examinations was Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977), a decision in which the United States Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional right of attorneys to advertise their professional legal services.

We taught that Bates was a more important case than people thought. Indeed, Bates was a forerunner of the "commercial free speech" championed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. For a modern take, see Apt46.net.

As can be read at the American Bar Association in Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation Chapter from Lawyer Advertising at the Crossroads, monopolistically-oriented local State bar associations in past years have had serious difficulties in abiding by the law as set out in Bates.

The controversy centering on "legal advertising" by attorneys is handled by Jacob Gershman at the Wall Street Journal Law Blog in
Need a Lawyer? Legal Ads Are Proliferating, Says New Report

where he refers to an article by Robert Trigaux in the Tampa Bay Times in
Tampa Bay leads the nation in number of lawyer ads on TV

and also to an "On the Case" blog posting by Alison Frankel of Reuters at
In defense of trial lawyers advertising for clients.

This entire matter has a much larger component which points to the changing nature of law practice in general, as discussed by Renee Newman Knake in her Democratizing the Delivery of Legal Services, where she writes in conclusion:
"This Article is the first to identify a jurisprudential thread of cases supporting the corporation’s First Amendment right to deliver legal services through an arrangement involving ownership of or investment in a law practice, notwithstanding bar regulators' historic distaste for such relationships. Proponents of corporate law practice ownership and investment maintain that this will bring affordable representation to the general population and address the well-documented, unmet need for lawyers. Opponents counter that corporate involvement will exacerbate the already poor reputation of lawyers, undermine lawyer independence, and subject lawyers to insurmountable conflicts of interests driven by a profit motive instead of service to the client. Neither side, however, seems to fully appreciate the First Amendment interests at stake in the delivery of legal services."
Given the recent precedent of Citizens United in firmly establishing "commercial free speech" as a constitutional right, many of the special rules and regulations of local State bars that suppress attorney free speech are clearly unconstitutional, regardless of the motives that lie behind them.

Advertising by the legal profession is thus likely to increase in coming years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

People's Confidence in Global Governance Lost - David Brooks at the New York Times Looks at Emerging Outsiders

From one point of view, politics is a branch of "the law" in the broader sense, since it has to do with governance, which always involves commandments, rules, orders, "have to's" and/or systems of law and decision-making.

The erosion of people's confidence in global governance is thus part of the breakdown of existing systems of "law and order".

David Brooks at the New York Times looks at

Enter the Age of the Outsiders

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Google Book Scanning is Fair Use: 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Decision Supports Reasoning Presented on LawPundit 10 Years Ago

It took the legal system 10 years, but they finally got it right.

Book scanning as done by Google Books, formerly Google Print (now part of Alphabet Inc.) is "fair use" in the eyes of the law according to a decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued yesterday (see Reuters), October 16, 2015, in the case Authors Guild, Inc. v., Google, Inc., Docket No. 13-4829-cv.

The Circuit Court judges on the 2nd Circuit panel for the present decision were:
Pierre N. Leval (note: Harvard Law School graduate)
José A. Cabranes (note: Yale Law School graduate)
Barrington D. Parker (note: Yale Law School graduate)
Judge Leval wrote the opinion. These are the kinds of significant and correctly decided judicial cases that result when top legal minds are at work.
The .pdf of the court decision is downloadable here via this link.

This Circuit Court decision ends more than 10 years of litigation, whereby the class certification was rightly rejected in 2013 by the 2nd Circuit and the case remanded for consideration of Google's fair use defense, a defense upheld at the District Court level by Judge Denny Chin (sitting by designation) and now upheld at the Circuit Court level by a 3-judge panel.

See generally for reports covering yesterday's decision:
_________

Our track record in correctly calling the ultimate resolution of important legal issues in the intellectual copyright field is nearly flawless (just look at patents) and, as here, we are usually 10 or more years ahead of actual developments.

That applies not just to legal issues in general but also to our publications about the history of civilization, linguistics, ancient astronomy and archaeology, where our basic conclusions will be substantiated in coming years. We write for the very top echelons, and that is only a handful of people, if they can be found.

As regards the Artists Guild vs. Google, we wrote more than ten years ago in various LawPundit postings as follows:

In Author's Guild v. Google Print (GooglePrint) we quoted Larry Lessig:
"Lawrence Lessig at Lessig Blog comments:

"So too should common sense revolt at the claims of this law suit. I’m an academic, so this is a bit biased, but: Google Print could be the most important contribution to the spread of knowledge since Jefferson dreamed of national libraries. It is an astonishing opportunity to revive our cultural past, and make it accessible."
In Google Print or Library – Who is the "Copier" according to Law?
we wrote inter alia:
"We remain convinced that what Google is doing - or planning to do, by offering snippets of an existing database for its search engine, is permissible transformative use - and thus fair use under § 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act.
In Transformative Use Justifies GooglePrint Scans of Entire Books as Fair Use we concluded inter alia:
"[I]f the judges find against Google Print [now "Google Books"], they basically have to invalidate the entire process of search engine servers storing masses of online copyrighted material, the corpus of which they access in order to provide useful search results in “snippet” form. A decision for the Author’s Guild would simply lead to internet search chaos, and that is not the role of the courts. They have to apply the law sensibly. Hence, we think Google Print will win."
Of course, that is not all. One should read the above postings in full for a complete picture of the applicable legal arguments.

See also our Twenty Key Questions for Author’s Guild v. Google way back when.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Offshore Tax Havens of Fortune 500 Companies and American Corporate Untaxed Profits as Gifts to Corporations by Congress

America has increasingly become a class-structured society divided into rich and poor and much of the problem derives from law-based viz. legislatively imposed tax inequality, which has generated a great number of tax myths.

Via the alumni newsletter of Law@Stanford we were led to the YouTube video on American corporate offshore untaxed profits, as Stanford's Joseph Bankman (Ralph M. Parsons Professor of Law and Business) is interviewed at KQED News. Law@Stanford writes:
"Professor Joseph Bankman discusses the practice by some American companies of holding an estimated total of 2.1 trillion dollars in profits offshore to avoid paying taxes."
The interview points to the Bay area companies  Apple, Cisco, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Chevron, and Intel, but the scope of the problem is much larger, as a study of Fortune 500 companies proves.

The organization Citizens for Task Justice has recent financial figures at the .pdf Offshore Shell Games 2015: The Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies, October, 2015. The recommendations made there are by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice. The Executive Summary provides inter alia as follows:
"U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to the tax code. Rather than paying their fair share, many multinational corporations use accounting tricks to pretend for tax purposes that a substantial portion of their profits are generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox. Multinational corporations’ use of tax havens allows them to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year.

Congress, by failing to take action to end this tax avoidance, forces ordinary Americans to make up the difference. Every dollar in taxes that corporations avoid by using tax havens must be balanced by higher taxes on individuals, cuts to public investments and public services, or increased federal debt.

This study examines the use of tax havens Fortune 500 companies in 2014. It reveals that tax haven use is ubiquitous among America’s largest companies and that a narrow set of companies benefits disproportionately.

Most of America’s largest corporations maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. At least 358 companies, nearly 72 percent of the Fortune 500, operate subsidiaries in tax haven jurisdictions as of the end of 2014."
What are the individuals in the current group of Presidential election candidates going to do about this problem and why is this matter of tax inequality not a central question directed to them during the televized debates?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

So-Called "Legal Scholars" Inciting Disobedience of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Appear Not to Understand the Fundamentals of "The Law"

America currently has numerous serious problems, not the least of which are people in the legal profession who appear not to understand "the law".

Our statement above reacts to an article at cnsnews.com headlined Legal Scholars Urge Officeholders: Refuse to Accept Same-Sex Marriage Opinion as Binding Precedent.

To our great astonishment so-called "legal scholars" urge government officials in the United States to ignore U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

The entire basis of "law and order" in the civilized world, especially for people conservatively minded, is that law court decisions must be obeyed, even if they involve minor transgressions such as illegal parking or minor traffic violations.

Imagine if U.S. citizens and residents could select which laws to follow and which to ignore. There would be anarchy and chaos everywhere. We already have enough examples worldwide of the consequences of the breakdown of judicially imposed "law and order".

How can people within the legal profession seriously incite government employees to disregard U.S. Supreme Court decisions and thus to feel free to "pick and choose" the laws and court decisions that they choose to obey in the exercise of their paid and sworn duties?

They have a legal option: if government officials disagree strongly with what the laws and court decisions tell them to do, then they should look for another job.

Who has the legal right here -- according to law?

It is the U.S. Supreme Court which possesses Constitutional jurisdiction as the nation's highest court to have the last say on what is constitutional and what is not constitutional as a matter of law.

Individual citizens, also as government employees, are free of course to have their own "opinions" about U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the legal, political, economic and societal issues to which those decisions may relate, but they have ZERO jurisdiction to decide what is constitutional as a matter of law and what is not constitutional in any particular government-related matter.

In the government offices which they hold, government officials are sworn to uphold the nation's laws, and what those laws require is decided by the nation's highest court, and not by individual government employees either in their private or employment capacities.

One can be sure that the present ultra-conservative U.S. Supreme Court has issued many more decisions which are repugnant to liberal views than the decisions they have made which are opposed by those who oppose the Supreme Court's decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

Picking out one case that did not go their way as a case for disobedience is ludicrous. If what the "alleged" legal scholars write were true, then we could all just ignore any Supreme Court decision we chose. Just do as we please. LOL.

We say "so-called" and "alleged" legal scholars because the label "legal scholar" generally derives from some kind of authority of position granted to an individual by some organization or institution which is recognized as having the jurisdiction to grant that authority of position in contemporary American society.

But why give ANY credence to the decisions of those lesser institutions, including the titles they have granted, if the dictates of the much higher institution, the U.S. Supreme Court, are incited to be ignored?

What do we care what "title" some group has granted to ANYONE?

Thankfully, civilized society is governed by the sane consent of the governed to the main rules and orders of civilized life in a democratic nation such as the United States.

If that were not so, then people would feel free to challenge anyone and any institution, including the so-called "legal scholars" and the institutions who pay their salaries, to which the average U.S. citizen or resident has no "privity", i.e. they mean nothing to them, either in law or in fact.

Judge Learned Hand commented on "the spirit of liberty" as follows [formatted]:
"What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty?

I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts.

These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes.

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."
If the dictates of the highest court of law of the nation are not to be observed, then government and academic positions are equally non-sacrosanct from challenge and can be alleged to mean "nothing". Who says you are who you are? What is the authority? And why should we recognize THAT?

Those who choose to attack the pillars of society must recognize that in doing so, they also destroy the foundation upon which they themselves are sitting.

It reminds us of James Clerk Maxwell's poem (Maxwell was the founder of electromagnetism and one of the greats of modern science) which he wrote as his "notes" regarding the President's Address at the British Association, 1874. His comments on "petty promotion[s] in nebulous kingdoms of mist" are instructive: 

"In the very beginnings of science,
the parsons, who managed things then,
Being handy with hammer and chisel,
made gods in the likeness of men;

Till Commerce arose, and at length
some men of exceptional power
Supplanted both demons and gods by the atoms,
which last to this hour.

Yet they did not abolish the gods,
but they sent them well out of the way,
With the rarest of nectar to drink,
and blue-fields of nothing to sway.

From nothing comes nothing, they told us
naught happens by chance, but by fate;
There is nothing but atoms and void,
all else is mere whims out of date!

Then why should a man curry favour
with beings who cannot exist,
To compass some petty promotion
in nebulous kingdoms of mist?

But not by the rays of the sun,
nor the glittering shafts of the day,
Must the fear of the gods be dispelled,
but by words, and their wonderful play.

So treading a path all untrod,
the poet-philosopher sings
Of the seeds of the mighty world
the first-beginnings of things;

How freely he scatters his atoms
before the beginning of years;
How he clothes them with force as a garment,
those small incompressible spheres!

Nor yet does he leave them hard-hearted
he dowers them with love and with hate,
Like spherical small British A[...]
in infinitesimal state;

Till just as that living Plato,
whom foreigners nickname Plateau,
Drops oil in his whisky-and-water
(for foreigners sweeten it so);

Each drop keeps apart from the other,
enclosed in a flexible skin,
Till touched by the gentle emotion
evolved by the prick of a pin:

Thus in atoms a simple collision
excites a sensational thrill,
Evolved through all sorts of emotion,
as sense, understanding, and will

(For by laying their heads all together,
the atoms, as councillors do,
May combine to express an opinion
to every one of them new).

There is nobody here, I should say,
has felt true indignation at all,
Till an indignation meeting
is held in the Ulster Hall;

Then gathers the wave of emotion,
then noble feelings arise,
Till you all pass a resolution
which takes every man by surprise.

Thus the pure elementary atom,
the unit of mass and of thought,
By force of mere juxtaposition
to life and sensation is brought;

So, down through untold generations,
transmission of structureless germs
Enables our race to inherit the thoughts
of beasts, fishes, and worms.

We honour our fathers and mothers,
grandfathers and grandmothers too;
But how shall we honour the vista
of ancestors now in our view?

First, then, let us honour the atom,
so lively, so wise, and so small;
The atomists next let us praise,
Epicurus, Lucretius, and all.

Let us damn with faint praise Bishop Butler,
in whom many atoms combined
To form that remarkable structure,
it pleased him to call his mind.

Last, praise we the noble body
to which, for the time, we belong,
Ere yet the swift whirl of the atoms
has hurried us, ruthless, along,

The British Association
like Leviathan worshipped by Hobbes,
The incarnation of wisdom,
built up of our witless nobs,

Which will carry on endless discussions,
when I, and probably you,
Have melted in infinite azure
in English, till all is blue."


- James Clerk Maxwell,
Notes re the President's Address
at the British Association, 1874

The 11 "Nations" of America: In Which Do YOU Live?

Reid Wilson in GovBeat at the Washington Post asks Which of the 11 American nations do you live in? Curious? Take a look.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Landmark Electronic Communications Privacy Act Signed Into Law in California as the Most Comprehensive Digital Privacy Law in the USA

The landmark Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA viz. CalECPA) in the State of California, USA, has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

CalECPA provides that a warrant is required for a great variety of digital searches and seizures by law enforcement agencies and similar bodies.

Read California Now Has the Nation's Best Digital Privacy Law in an article by Kim Zetter at WIRED, who writes:
"The landmark Electronic Communications Privacy Act bars any state law enforcement agency or other investigative entity from compelling a business to turn over any metadata or digital communications—including emails, texts, documents stored in the cloud—without a warrant. It also requires a warrant to track the location of electronic devices like mobile phones, or to search them.
The legislation, which easily passed the Legislature last month, is the most comprehensive in the country, says the ACLU."
Read the article here.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

EU Court of Justice Invalidates European Union's Blanket "Safe Harbor" Data Transfer Agreement with USA

Tech Crunch has the story at Europe’s Top Court Strikes Down ‘Safe Harbor’ Data-Transfer Agreement With U.S.

This is a landmark data protection case, but it is nevertheless possible that not that much will significantly change in essential practice.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Alphabet Goes Official at Google, er ... Alphabet

Make sure you get OUR book FIRST

Click the link for the print version of
The Syllabic Origins of Writing and the Alphabet



Click the image above
for the Kindle edition for Kindle,
and the Amazon Kindle App for Android, iPad, iPhone


and then look at the later
-- now "going official" --

Google Alphabet.

We are ALWAYS ahead of the pack,
even ahead of Google's Alphabet.

When it comes to the REAL Alphabet,
there is only ONE leader,
and it is not Google.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

SCOTUS: The Nation Magazine Has a Special Issue Marking the 10th Anniversary of the Appointment of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

Today, September 29, 2015, marks the 10th Anniversary of the Appointment of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Caitlin Graf, VP, Communications, The Nation Magazine, has sent out the following newsletter message, and we pass it on here in full noting that the Nation has published a special issue that deals with the performance of the United States Supreme Court over the last decade.

"Tuesday, September 29, marks the tenth anniversary of John Roberts' appointment as Chief Justice of the United States. In anticipation, The Nation is publishing "The Case Against The Roberts Court: A Decade of Justice Undone," a special issue in collaboration with the Alliance for Justice (AFJ).
Why the spotlight? The lead up to the 2016 election marks a cardinal moment for justice in America: with four Supreme Court justices in or entering their 80s during this term, the next president will have the power to define the course of the Court for future generations.
As with The Nation's 2012 special issue on "The One Percent Court," "The Case Against The Roberts Court" exposes the extreme politicization of the purportedly impartial institution -- and reveals the devastating consequences of its decisions for everyday Americans. 

Bringing together ten of the foremost legal scholars, commentators, and practitioners in the US, the collection offers a chronological assessment of the most consequential and controversial conservative decisions -- one per year -- issued by the Court.
"The result," write Nan Aron and Kyle C. Barry in their introduction, "is a wide-angle portrait that thoroughly debunks the myth of Roberts as unbiased umpire. Rather than provide 'equal justice under law,' Roberts has led a narrow conservative majority that consistently favors the privileged and powerful (especially corporations) at the expense of everyone else (especially women, workers, consumers, people of color, and the accused)."
Ultimately, this unrelenting conservatism of the Roberts Court is evident across three sweeping arenas.

1. An abiding suspicion of race-conscious efforts to ameliorate discrimination:
-       Paul Butler reviews how the Court granted police officers extraordinary, unconstitutional power by rendering the "exclusionary rule" toothless;
-       William Yeomans explores how it stymied public school integration in a reversal of decades of equal-protection law;
-       Theodore M. Shaw reports on the gutting of the Voting Rights Act;
-       George H. Kendall questions whether the death penalty is even constitutional.

2. Consistent favoring of capitalism over America's citizenry:
-       Dorothy Samuels reports on the ludicrous and dishonest reading of the Second Amendment in ruling on gun control;
-       Senator Sheldon Whitehouse reflects on the equally implausible argument of Citizens United;
-       Dahlia Lithwick assesses the gross extension of "religious liberty" as an excuse to deny women's rights.

3. A persistent skepticism of the need for judicial redress for victims of state or corporate wrongs:
-       Arthur R. Miller shows how the scales of justice have been tipped against citizen access in favor of corporate interests;
-       Herman Schwartz identifies two concurrent rulings that undermine and obstruct class action rulings;
-       Lily Eskelsen García evaluates rampant union-busting.
Yet with the dissenting opinionNation legal affairs correspondent David Cole opts for a silver lining, writing: "Given the lopsided Republican advantage in appointments over the last half-century, it's not surprising that the Court has reached many conservative results. The surprise, rather, is that the Court has also issued a significant number of liberal decisions in recent decades. . . . On this closely divided Court, outcomes are determined not by the most extreme but by the most centrist justice. Convention dictates that we call it the Roberts Court, but in truth this is the Kennedy Court. And Kennedy has voted with the liberals on issues of speech, sexuality, the death penalty, and the rights of enemy combatants, while siding with the conservatives on issues of racial discrimination, federal power, and access to courts."
Full contents of the special issue are listed and linked below; select contributors available for interview.

Published in partnership with the Alliance for Justice
Available for interview from Washington, DC
In the decade since John Roberts was appointed chief justice, the Supreme Court has favored the powerful at the expense of everyone else.
Available for interview from Washington, DC
A Dissent: The Court's results are mixed, not because of John Roberts's leadership but because of Anthony Kennedy's more balanced commitments.

Available for interview from Washington, DC
Hudson v. Michigan (2006): Thanks to the Roberts Court, there's no penalty for ignoring a key 4th Amendment protection.
Parents Involved v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007): The conservative majority rewrote decades of equal protection law in the name of a fictional color-blind Constitution.
DOROTHY SAMUELS | How the Roberts Court Undermined Sensible Gun Control
Available for interview from New York City

District of Columbia v. Heller (2008): Why did the conservative justices, who seem so devoted to "originalism," upend the well-established meaning of the 2nd Amendment?

Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009): By rewriting the rules for civil complaints, the Supreme Court denied access to poor and middle-class people -- and handed a big gift to corporate interests.
Available for interview from Washington, DC
Citizens United v. FEC (2010): In order to get the ruling they wanted, the conservative justices had to ignore an extensive record on political corruption.

Wal-Mart v. Dukes and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion (2011): Class actions were the weapon of the people-until the Roberts Court made it nearly impossible to file one.
Knox v. SEIU (2012): For decades the Supreme Court supported rules to protect collective bargaining. That era is over.
Shelby County v. Holder (2013): The Supreme Court said that times have changed. So why were 180 restrictive voting laws passed after it gutted the Voting Rights Act?
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014): The ruling has enabled corporations and Christian zealots to claim "religious liberty" as an excuse to deny women's rights and skirt the law.

Glossip v. Gross (2015): Following a controversial ruling over lethal injections, Justice Breyer suggested that capital punishment may violate the 8th Amendment. It's time to bring that case to court.
ABOUT THE NATION
Founded in 1865 and currently celebrating its 150th anniversary, The Nation is America's oldest weekly magazine, serving as a critical, independent voice in American journalism and a platform for investigative reporting and spirited debate on issues of import to the progressive community. Through changing times and fashions, The Nation and TheNation.com offer consistently informed and inspired reporting and analysis of breaking news, politics, social issues and the arts-never faltering in our editorial commitment to what Nation Publisher Emeritus Victor Navasky has called "a dissenting, independent, trouble-making, idea-launching journal of critical opinion."
ABOUT ALLIANCE FOR JUSTICE (AFJ)
Alliance for Justice believes that all Americans have the right to secure justice in the courts and to have their voices heard when government makes decisions that affect their lives. We are a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society.
AFJ works to ensure that the federal judiciary advances core constitutional values, preserves human rights and unfettered access to the courts, and adheres to the even-handed administration of justice for all Americans. It is the leading expert on the legal framework for nonprofit advocacy efforts, providing definitive information, resources, and technical assistance that encourages organizations and their funding partners to fully exercise their right to be active participants in the democratic process.
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.....................
Caitlin Graf
VP, Communications
The Nation Magazine
Instigating Progress Since 1865

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Politics and Population Density: Are the Number of People Per Square Mile the Most Determinative Factor in Political Election Voting?

The upcoming 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is currently all about personalities and issues, but are those the most determinative items for voting behavior?

What if it turned out that population densities determine the winner of the Presidential election at least as much as any other factor?

The traditional manner of pigeonholing political parties, candidates and platforms into a single point of view about any political issue is not well suited to the actual realities of our world, which, it would seem, require geographic differentiation. The division of the political landscape of the United States into red and blue States is a good example.

Take Nebraska, a red State, where the present writer grew up, for example, which always votes massively for Republican Party candidates in Presidential elections (sometimes giving them the greatest percentage majorities of any U.S. State) and yet at the same time has elected a number of Governors of the State from the Democratic Party. How is that to be explained?

We have several good friends from Nebraska with whom we correspond now and then about political matters and they are divided equally as regards Republican Party and Democratic Party allegiance and we share a lot of their views - on BOTH sides of the political fence! How is that possible?

We think the answers to both questions above are rooted in a politically neutral appreciation of the impact of geographic differentiation, e.g. on the example of population densities.

As Dave Troy at http://davetroy.com/posts/the-real-republican-adversary-population-density wrote about the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election:
"At about 800 people per square mile, people switch from voting primarily Republican to voting primarily Democratic. Put another way, below 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Republican. Above 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Democrat. A 66% preference is a clear, dominant majority." [emphasis added]
Except for its two largest metropolitan areas, Omaha and Lincoln, the State of Nebraska is sparsely populated and subsists primarily as farm or ranch country, with even Omaha, e.g. having the largest stockyards in the nation (at least they were so in my day), famous to most readers indirectly via "Omaha Steaks".

Who is not familiar with the "agrarian-named" Cornhuskers of Lincoln? The cities in Nebraska too have a strong connection to farming and ranching, professions that are predominantly rural, i.e. "conservative" politically.

As I argue to my friends in Nebraska, it is entirely consistent to support  conservative views INSIDE predominantly rural Nebraska because they work demonstrably well there, but, at the same time to argue that those views do not necessarily work demonstrably well in large urban areas, which have many other kinds of problems, and where other solutions may be required.

In other words, one can, without great contradiction, be a conservative in and for Nebraska, but perhaps at the same time support liberal views in and for a heavily urbanized State such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, or even strongly agrarian or ranch-oriented but heavily populated Status such as California or Texas.

To demonstrate the importance of geographic differentiation, let us take as an example  a "relatively non-partisan" if also sometimes very political issue, the building of roads and highways, which is a good example if only because the lady Senator from Nebraska comes from a family with expertise in this area.

How many roads and highways do we need where and in what quality?

In Germany, our domicile in a grape-growing region, even many single-track vineyard roads are paved (against mud and dust) as are virtually all roads in this heavily populated country of ca. 81 million people on ca. 138000 square miles of land -- a population density of ca. 585 persons per square mile.

By contrast, the U.S.A. has ca. 322 million people on ca. 3.8 million square miles of land -- a population density of ca. 85 persons per square mile.

Germany is thus 7 times more populous per square mile than the U.S.A., a demographic fact which has enormous consequences on all kinds of practical political issues including roads and highways.

Nebraska has 77+ thousand square miles of surface, i.e. more than half the size of Germany, but with only ca. 1.9 million people, for a population density of only 24 persons per square mile, so that Nebraska is ca. 24 times less populous per square mile than Germany.

In terms of road building, the U.S.A. has ca. 10 times the length of roads that Germany has but for only ca. 4 times the number of  people -- on ca. 28 times more land. Think of the cost of building roads.

It is thus no wonder that many country roads in the USA are gravel and not paved. Rural areas can live with that. Urban areas can not. It is neither a partisan nor a political issue but one of simple practicality and costs, as determined by population density and the amount of traffic.

A similar analysis will apply to many political issues.

Most Popular Posts of All Time

Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1 :
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
,
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2 :
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    ,
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.

    -----

    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically
    in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."

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