Sunday, December 4, 2016

Eric Foner reviews ‘American Revolutions’ by Alan Taylor · LRB 6 October 2016

Eric Foner reviews ‘American Revolutions’ by Alan Taylor · LRB 6 October 2016

  • American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804by Alan Taylor
    Norton, 704 pp, £30.00, November, ISBN 978 0 393 08281 4
The racism, xenophobia and violence of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is widely seen as an aberration, as if reasoned debate had been the default mode of American politics. But precursors to Trump do exist, candidates who struck electoral gold by appealing to exaggerated fears, real grievances and visceral prejudices. Among Trump’s predecessors are the anti-immigrant Know-Nothings of the 1850s, white supremacist politicians of the Jim Crow era, and more recent hucksters and demagogues including Joe McCarthy and George Wallace. Not to mention more respectable types such as Richard Nixon, whose ‘Southern strategy’ offered a blueprint for mobilising white resentment over the gains of the Civil Rights movement. (That ‘respectable’ and ‘Nixon’ can be included in the same sentence illustrates how far our political standards have evolved since the 1970s.) Violence isn’t unknown in American political history. The 19th century saw fistfights in Congress and riots at election time in major American cities. Until well into the 20th century, Southern blacks who wanted to exercise the right to vote faced violent retribution from the Ku Klux Klan and kindred groups.
Where does all this originate? In American Revolutions, Alan Taylor offers a surprising answer: the struggle for independence itself. Racism, violence, scurrilous attacks on opponents: all, he argues, were part of American political culture from the outset. Taylor breaks decisively with a trope of Cold War propaganda which has worked its way into historical scholarship: the idea that unlike the ‘bad’ French and Russian Revolutions, which degenerated into violent class conflict, a united American people rebelled against British overlords with restraint and decorum. In fact, as he makes clear, the American Revolution was a bitter, multi-sided conflict that pitted Loyalists against Patriots and white Americans against blacks and Indians. Hence the plural in his title.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

BREAKING: 3rd J&J Hip Implant Bellwether Delivers $1B Verdict - Law360

BREAKING: 3rd J&J Hip Implant Bellwether Delivers $1B Verdict - Law360

by Jess Krochtengel

Law360, Dallas (December 1, 2016, 5:14 PM EST) -- A Texas federal jury on Thursday found Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. unit liable for more than $1.04 billion in a six-plaintiff bellwether trial targeting metal-shedding artificial hips that are part of its Pinnacle line, dwarfing the $150 million verdict J&J is on the hook for after a previous bellwether.

After a two-month trial that closed Nov. 30, jurors deliberated for less than a day before finding J&J and DePuy had negligently designed the hip implant, failed to warn surgeons about dangerous conditions related to the implant and concealed the implant’s risks. The verdict includes between $4 million and $6 million per plaintiff in damages for physical injuries and pain and suffering, $1 million each to four spouses for loss of consortium and more than $504 million against each of DePuy and J&J in punitive damages, after the jury found the companies had acted with malice or fraud.

DePuy and J&J were each found liable for negligent design defect, negligent failure to warn, strict liability failure to warn, failure to recall, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. J&J was also found liable for aiding and abetting DePuy in each of the seven causes of action. The jury found J&J did not conspire with DePuy on the design defect claim, but did find J&J liable for conspiracy on the other six claims.

Because the six plaintiffs are from California, they are not [would not have been] subject to the same punitive damages cap that slashed by more than two-thirds the $502 million verdictfrom the second bellwether trial, which involved Texas plaintiffs. J&J previously won the first bellwether trial, which involved one plaintiff from Montana.

Before the third bellwether got underway, J&J complained it was being hit with unfair pretrial rulings, and during the trial, J&J continued to raise objections to perceived advantages for the plaintiffs. The case involved six plaintiffs from California, who each had to undergo “revision surgeries” after being fitted with metal-on-metal artificial hip systems made by DePuy, known as the Pinnacle hip system’s Ultamet variety.

At the MDL’s heart are allegations that friction between the device’s metal socket and metal ball head rubs away billions of microscopic particles with every step, polluting the bloodstream and surrounding tissue with “wear debris” over time. The plaintiffs alleged J&J knew the device was riskier than others available but still pushed it aggressively, even paying kickbacks to amenable surgeons.

In closing arguments, plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm had asked the jury to impose a stiff enough penalty on Johnson & Johnson that the company would change its behavior with future medical devices. He had suggested a $500 million punitive award would hardly be felt by a company worth $72 billion.

J&J maintains it acted appropriately and responsibly in the development, testing and marketing of the Ultamet product. During its opening, the company questioned whether the patients might have had hypersensitive responses to the implants, and suggested the devices were wrongly positioned in their bodies because of doctor error, which it said would lead to the excessive wear.

In a measured closing argument, defense lawyer Steve Quattlebaum of Quattlebaum Grooms Tull & Burrow PLLC had walked jurors through the 96-page, 33-question jury charge, pointing out what he said were holes in the plaintiffs' case and a failure to present evidence supporting the plaintiffs' claims. 

From the outset, J&J had raised complaints about how the trial was conducted. It launched a mistrial motion immediately after the plaintiffs’ opening statement, arguing plaintiffs’ lawyer Mark Lanier had improperly referred to illegal bribes and kickbacks — the subject of a 2007 deferred-prosecution agreement. Days later, it sought a mistrial after the introduction of what it said were misleading ads that ran in orthopedic journals, and filed another mistrial motion aimed at the suggestion by plaintiffs its metal-on-metal implants could increase patients’ risk of cancer and other systemic injuries.

J&J also complained that it was on the losing end of improper pretrial rulings, saying MDL decisions had undermined the chances for a fair or meaningful result.

It argued Texas federal court was the improper jurisdiction for a trial involving California plaintiffs, said the consolidation of six plaintiffs into one trial prejudiced its ability to present its defense and argued it had wrongly been shut out of the process of selecting plaintiffs for the trial. The company also said the trial court unfairly allowed witnesses to testify remotelywhen no special circumstances demanded it, even making an ultimately unsuccessful request to the Fifth Circuit to stop the practice.

The next bellwether is set to begin in September 2017, with the parties preparing for 10 plaintiffs all from New York. J&J has objected to proceeding with any more trials in the MDL until the appeals from the second bellwether trial have been resolved, and argues the Texas federal court lacks jurisdiction over out-of-state residents.

The patients are represented by W. Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm, Richard Arsenault of Neblett Beard & Arsenault, Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC and Khaldoun Baghdadi of Walkup Melodia Kelly & Schoenberger, among others.

DePuy and Johnson & Johnson are represented by Steve Quattlebaum of Quattlebaum Grooms Tull & Burrow PLLC, John Anderson of Stoel Rives LLP, Dawn Estes of Estes Thorne & Carr, Michael Powell and Seth Roberts of Locke Lord LLP and Stephen J. Harburg, John H. Beisner, Jessica Davidson Miller and Geoffrey M. Wyatt of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP.

The MDL is In re: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:11-md-02244, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

World, Show Trump (and the Kids) the Money!



Trump towers, Trump golf courses, trump steaks would be valueless if separated from DJT.  He, his gaudy bragadoccio are the brand,are the value.  And now as he has said "the brand is hot".  The Trump presidency goes beyond conflict of interest.  It is monetizing the presidency. - gwc

World, Show Trump (and the Kids) the Money!

by Josh Marshall

The point is that there's no way to sell this operation to Larry Stein and have these gaudy monstrosities become Stein Towers. The value disappears or almost entirely disappears once the name goes. The value of this business is inextricably tied to Trump's (or his immediate family members) owning them and using his name. As we speak he's doing precisely the same thing, just with the value of the Trump name turbocharged with the new "President of the United States" brand which generations of Americans have been building up for almost a quarter of a millennium.

Party building

http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/brief/us-presidents-and-challenge-party-building

Sunday, November 27, 2016

How much could Trump’s education secretary damage public schools? Just look at Detroit.

How much could Trump’s education secretary damage public schools? Just look at Detroit.

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Betsy DeVos, a philanthropist and a strong supporter of school choice, as his education secretary. And although DeVos isn’t a household name, she could end up having a big impact on public school students across the country.
For evidence, just take a look at Detroit — a city where DeVos’ influence shows how an expansion of charter schools without the proper oversight can hurt the quality of education for low-income students.
Throughout DeVos’ career as a school choice advocate, she has aggressively pushed for the expansion of charter schools. Although many charter schools across the country benefit low-income families seeking an alternative to public schools, educational equity advocates often raise concerns that a lack of accountability allows less effective charter schools to thrive. And DeVos has been at the forefront of efforts to push against this accountability.
DeVos sits on the board of the Great Lakes Education Project, which advocates for its education reform priorities in the Michigan state legislature. This group is responsible for pushing the legislature to end its plans for a Detroit commission to regulate charter schools.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Why is it so hard to make a sobriety test for marijuana? | Igor Grant | Opinion | The Guardian

Why is it so hard to make a sobriety test for marijuana? | Igor Grant | Opinion | The Guardian

Unlike alcohol, the amount of pot in someone’s blood doesn’t necessarily correlate with the ability to drive safely. We must learn how to assess the risk





On 8 November, voters in CaliforniaMaineMassachusetts and Nevadaapproved ballot measures to legalize recreational cannabis. It is now legal in a total of eight states. This creates potential problems for road safety. How do we determine who’s impaired and who’s not?
The effects of alcohol vary based on a person’s size and weight, metabolic rate, related food intake and the type and amount of beverage consumed. Even so, alcohol consumption produces fairly straightforward results: the more you drink, the worse you drive. Factors like body size and drinking experience can shift the correlation slightly, but the relationship is still pretty linear, enough to be able to confidently develop a blood alcohol content scale for legally determining drunk driving. Not so with marijuana....
But how do you know when you’re too stoned to drive? How can police tell?
My colleagues and I at the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego have received a $1.8m grant from the state of California to gather data about dosages, time and what it takes to impair driving ability – and then create a viable roadside sobriety test for cannabis.
Alcohol and marijuana both affect mental function, which means they can both impair driving ability.
Some elements of cannabis use are similar. Potency of strain affects potency of effect. Marijuana and its active ingredient – THC – alter brain function, affecting processes like attention, perception and coordination, which are necessary for a complex behavior like driving a car.
Regular users tend to become accustomed to the drug, particularly in terms of cognitive disruption or psycho-motor skills. Because they are accustomed to the drug’s effects, this means they may function better relative to naive users....





Friday, November 4, 2016

Fashion's Function in Intellectual Property Law by Christopher Buccafusco, Jeanne C. Fromer :: SSRN

Fashion's Function in Intellectual Property Law by Christopher Buccafusco, Jeanne C. Fromer :: SSRN

Clothing designs can be beautiful. But they are also functional. Fashion’s dual nature sits uneasily in intellectual property law, and its treatment by copyright, trademark, and design patent laws has often been perplexing. Much of this difficulty arises from an unclear understanding of the nature of functionality in fashion design. This Article proposes a novel account of fashion’s function. It argues that aspects of garment designs are functional if they affect the perception of the wearer’s body. Clothes are not designed simply to look good. They are also designed to look good on. This approach clarifies the appropriate treatment of fashion design in intellectual property, and it offers a solution to Varsity Brands Inc. v. Star Athletica, LLC, the copyright case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Friday, October 28, 2016

‘All Eyes Are Upon Us,’ by Jason Sokol - The New York Times

‘All Eyes Are Upon Us,’ by Jason Sokol - The New York Times

Race and politics from Boston to Brooklyn

reviewed by David Levering Lewis [biographer of W.E.B. DeBois]



If, as many believe, America’s experiment in postracialism is over, then “All Eyes Are Upon Us” is a prescient book that offers a great deal to explain a national self-deception of stunning brevity. According to Jason Sokol, whose anecdotally rich first book, “There Goes My Everything,” tracked white Southerners variously coping in the civil rights era, historians have paid insufficient attention to the Janus-faced ­responses of white Northerners to the struggles of black Americans. To be sure, monographs by James Goodman and Thomas Sugrue have explored the dark side of Northern race relations. They found that although the dominant racial philosophies of whites in the North and South were antithetical, opportunity for a majority of black men and women in the North was not very different from what it was in the South.