26 June 2003

Supreme Court Dismisses Nike Appeal

The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a Nike Inc. appeal on whether the shoemaker can be sued for false advertising over a publicity campaign to defend itself against accusations that Asian sweatshops made its footwear.

The case will go back to the California courts and the crucial question to be decided is if Nike can legally deceive and lie about how its products are made and that the 1st amendment sanctions this behavoir, even when it occurs in a commercial realm.

Here is an excerpt from a Public Citizen press release on the case.

Despite Nike’s predictions that it will be forced to censor itself until this case is finally resolved in its favor, we doubt that Nike will shut down its public relations office and refrain from commenting on all matters of public controversy. What we do expect is that Nike will be much more careful when it tries to influence consumers by making claims about how it treats its overseas workers – which is what this case is all about. While Nike and its supporters denounced the case for its chilling effect on the speech of corporate America, a broad victory of the kind that Nike sought might put a significant damper on efforts by federal and state regulators to assure that sellers of products and services do not seek to avoid laws on truthful advertising and promotion by claiming that an issue involves important public policies.

22 June 2003

Rob Robb and Patriot Act Rights Outcry Hysteria

Rob Robb penned an AZ Republic column on June 13 calling the civil liberties outcry on the Patriot Act nothing more than "hysterical rhetoric". He argued that the small number of detainees justifies legislative prudence. Eric Gruber sums up the huge fallacy in Robb's argument in a letter to the editor published today.
Under new investigative powers authorized by the federal Patriots Act, five material witnesses were held in custody for more than 90 days (remember these are witnesses - they are not charged with a crime), 14 homes had items removed from them without their owners being notified; 47 other homes were searched without notification to the owner; and 762 people were detained for months at a time without access to legal counsel or release of the information that they were being held at all.

Sorry, Robert, but I was raised in a country where the correct number in each of these categories was zero. If we keep making situational excuses and allow these erosions of our fundamental rights, we will wake up one day and not have any rights at all.

Would Robb be quite as apologetic and sanguine if the attorney general's name were Reno and her boss was named Clinton?

17 June 2003

Senator Hatch Wishes to Destroy Filetrader PCs

The jackass of the day pin goes to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch, who stated that "he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet."
"I'm interested," Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."

The senator, a composer who earned $18,000 last year in song writing royalties, acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, "then destroy their computer."

"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that," Hatch said. "If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize" the seriousness of their actions, he said.

Another conservative who claims to admire limited government but really is just another tool eager to employ coercive power of government to help corporate interests stomp all over the U.S. Constitution. In Hatch's view, large companies should be given free reign to destroy the private property of U.S. citizens they suspect are infringing on their copyrights - without any hint of due process or legal proceedings whatsoever.

Not surprising, Senator Hatch was a sponsor of the DMCA. That action alone should have ended his career. How Republicans can lie and say they represent freedom from government intrusion is beyond me.

CPS Loubriel Case Summary

KTAR David Leibowitz has published a copy of the CPS report (still under investigation) on the Loubriel case. CPS has received nine reports on this family, the earliest dating back to January 1999, the most recent being June 4, 2003 - four days before the police went to the home on June 8 and discovered a malnourished Issac locked in a feces littered, urine stained closet for approximately six months. In the most recent case, the assigned case manager was carrying 16 open cases, one of which was a "high risk sexual abuse" type that warranted priority.

16 June 2003

U.S. prison population largest in world

With 2 million Americans now locked up in jails and prisons, the United States now has a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country.

14 June 2003

Ron Paul on Anti-Internet Gambling Bill

Ron Paul and Barney Frank joining forces in the House to voice their opposition to this Jon Kyl favored legislation to ban internet gambling. Paul is quite clear in his dissent, stating that the federal government has no constitutional authority to ban or even discourage any form of gambling.
Mr. Speaker, HR 2143 limits the ability of individual citizens to use bank instruments, including credit cards or checks, to finance Internet gambling. This legislation should be rejected by Congress since the federal government has no constitutional authority to ban or even discourage any form of gambling.

In addition to being unconstitutional, HR 2143 is likely to prove ineffective at ending Internet gambling. Instead, this bill will ensure that gambling is controlled by organized crime. History, from the failed experiment of prohibition to today's futile "war on drugs," shows that the government cannot eliminate demand for something like Internet gambling simply by passing a law. Instead, HR 2143 will force those who wish to gamble over the Internet to patronize suppliers willing to flaunt the ban. In many cases, providers of services banned by the government will be members of criminal organizations. Even if organized crime does not operate Internet gambling enterprises their competitors are likely to be controlled by organized crime. After all, since the owners and patrons of Internet gambling cannot rely on the police and courts to enforce contracts and resolve other disputes, they will be forced to rely on members of organized crime to perform those functions. Thus, the profits of Internet gambling will flow into organized crime. Furthermore, outlawing an activity will raise the price vendors are able to charge consumers, thus increasing the profits flowing to organized crime from Internet gambling. It is bitterly ironic that a bill masquerading as an attack on crime will actually increase organized crime's ability to control and profit from Internet gambling!

Oh, won't somebody please think of the children!

11 June 2003

What Fate Do Isaac Loubriel's Parents Deserve?

Because his mother didn't like his attitude and thought he was "being bad", Isaac Loubriel was locked in a dark closet, to starve, abandoned, and left there to curl up in a fetal position in feces and urine. A seven year old child, he was malnourished, being fed at times only once a week, when police freed him from his captivity.

The report of this inhumane, vile act committed by the Loubriels is unbelievable. It just boggles the mind - how could anyone treat a any young child in this fashion, let alone your own son? It's like there is a different twisted, bizarre universe than the one I live in - one where there exist people like Melanie and Ricardo Loubriel. I can fathom evil and crime and hate, but this story is as unfathomable to me as the Al Qaeda 9/11 terrorist hijacker suicide assault. For a period of six months they kept their seven year old child locked in a closet!

There's a volcano of rage inside me that wants to take a baseball bat and viciously swing it in their direction. I pray for their souls, but I just can't comprehend the mental composition of somebody that could do such a thing
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9 June 2003

Rehnquist Revival Is Near End

The LA Times reviews the 50-year judicial career of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who, from the start, "defended the 19th century' separate but equal' doctrine," saw civil rights laws as "unneeded" and said that on the issue of church and state separation, "Thomas Jefferson was wrong."

8 June 2003

Saudi Arabia Leading Executioner Says He Leads Normal Life

Yeah, beheading seven people a day with a your sword is how most normal folks spend their typical day.

Saudi Arabia’s leading executioner Muhammad Saad Al-Beshi will behead up to seven people in a day.

“It doesn’t matter to me: Two, four, 10 — As long as I’m doing God’s will, it doesn’t matter how many people I execute,” he told Okaz newspaper in an interview.

An executioner’s life, of course, is not all killing. Sometimes it can be amputation of hands and legs. “I use a special sharp knife, not a sword,” he explains. “When I cut off a hand I cut it from the joint. If it is a leg the authorities specify where it is to be taken off, so I follow that.”

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6 June 2003

Martha Stewart, sacrificial ma'am

At times, Jon Talton, business columnist for the AZ Republic, seems to be lodged in some sort of mythical magical happy funland, where the shield from reality is uber-thick - lending his brain to outpouring myopic business school textbook mantra that bears no substantive relationship to real life economics. But he is a gifted writer and on numerous occasions has delivered a truly insightful column that is dead on the mark. Today's rant on the the Martha Stewart prosecution falls into the latter category.

Somebody's got to take the fall for the worst corporate scandal in modern history.

It couldn't be the chiefs of the major investment banks. They knew where too many bodies, involving both political parties, were buried in Washington. And New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer might need their help if he decides to run for governor.

It couldn't be the brokers, analysts and managers who pushed fraudulent research and lured investors into a bubble about to pop. You'll find enough of them in Bush Justice Department perp walks. But the public isn't totally stupid - the scandal won't be eliminated as a political liability if only the small fry cook.

It couldn't be the corrupt chief executives with their Caligula-level compensation, or the institutional investors that failed to protect their millions of customers, or the lawyers and bankers who drove mergers that killed jobs but brought big fees. These are some of the biggest donors to both parties. Many are among the closest friends of the Bushes and Cheneys - indeed, the vice president worked among their ranks.

So Martha must go down.

In true Orwellian fashion, the federal authorities are using Stewart as a poster girl for all of the corporate malfeasance, while ignoring the need for real reform ...
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