Saturday, April 25, 2015

When The SEC Pays Your Lawyer For Informing On You, Is That A Good Thing? - Forbes

As we were discussing...gwc

When The SEC Pays Your Lawyer For Informing On You, Is That A Good Thing? - Forbes

by Daniel Fisher//Forbes
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced it paid a $1 million bounty to a compliance officer who blew the whistle on his employer, the second such case where the agency has paid a company official charged with rooting out misconduct for bringing evidence of it to the SEC instead.

In its news release, the SEC is careful to note it adhered to rules it developed after the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 authorized bounties for employees who bring information about securities law violations to the SEC. To avoid obvious conflicts of interest — not to mention a potential breach of the attorney-client privilege — whistleblowers who work within a company’s compliance division must first report the suspected wrongdoing to a superior, then wait 120 days before determining nothing will be done about it and going to the SEC.

But is that enough? Some lawyers, as well as the influential New York County Lawyers’ Association, think not. By paying the very people whose job it is to make sure a company is complying with the law for information suggesting it’s breaking it, the government is giving them a strong incentive to sit back, wait 120 days, and try to cash in.

When the SEC was developing the rules for whistleblowers, “a lot of comment revolved around `we can’t have a system that allows in-house counsel and compliance officials, who are tasked to be at the epicenter of problems and solve those problems, to be incentivized to end-run their employer and go to the SEC,’” said Gregory Keating, a shareholder with Littler Mendelson and management representative on the Congressional Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee.

The special rules for compliance officials, most of whom are lawyers, are designed to prevent unethical behavior like allowing a problem to fester so the potential bounty is larger. Compliance officials can only turn over confidential information to the SEC if they suspect the company or investors are in danger of imminent financial harm, for example.

“I would submit that’s a malleable standard,” said Keating, as is the requirement that compliance officers first notify their superiors of the situation. “What is giving them information?” he said. “A lot of times the recipient of the information will say `you’re simply doing your job,’” which is to investigate wrongdoing, report it to superiors, and then come up with a solution.

The New York County Lawyers Association took a look at the issue and, in a 2013 opinion, held that there would be a conflict of interest in “the overwhelming majority of cases,” if a lawyer effectively went to work for the government under Dodd-Frank by turning over confidential information in search of a bounty. There are well-established exceptions to the attorney-client privilege when a lawyer learns his client is engaged in fraud, say, or supplied false information that corrupted a filing with the court. The lawyer doesn’t collect a payment for alerting the government or a judge to those situations, however.

“Even when disclosure is permitted under the New York Rules, for example, when clear corporate wrongdoing rising to the level of crime or fraud has been perpetrated through the use of the lawyer’s services, preventing wrongdoing is not the same as collecting a bounty,” the New York County association said.

Judge Rakoff's New Securities Law Focus: Re-Defining Insider Trading | Compliance Week

Judge Rakoff's New Securities Law Focus: Re-Defining Insider Trading | Compliance Week

by Bruce Carton | April 24, 2015

Having already left his mark on how the SEC handles settlements, U.S Judge Jed Rakoff now appears to be focused on another key securities enforcement issue: the definition of insider trading.
In U.S. v. Newman, the Second Circuit dramatically limited the ability of the SEC and the DOJ to pursue certain insider trading cases. The December 2014 opinion in Newman, which has already led Congress to introduce no fewer than three pieces of legislationseeking to define insider trading, has also prompted some interesting responses from Judge Rakoff.
On April 6, 2015, Judge Rakoff became one of the first district court judges in the Second Circuit to rule in an insider trading case post-Newman in SEC v. Payton. In that case, the judge denied a motion to dismiss an SEC lawsuit filed by two former brokers, Daryl Payton and Benjamin Durant, who argued that the case should be dismissed based on the holding in Newman.
In denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Rakoff emphasized the difference between a criminal case brought by the DOJ and a civil case brought by the SEC:
Specifically, while a person is guilty of criminal insider trading only if that person committed the offense "willfully," i.e., knowingly and purposely, a person may be civilly liable if that person committed the offense recklessly, that is, in heedless disregard of the probable consequences. With respect to the motion here pending, that distinction arguably makes a difference. 
In this case, Judge Rakoff found, the SEC had sufficiently met the lower standard of alleging that the defendants had at least "recklessly disregarded" that the tipper in their case had breached a duty of trust and confidence to the owner of the inside information. Accordingly, the court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss.
The next week, Judge Rakoff revisited this issue in an April 17 speech he delivered at an event hosted by the New York University School of Law. According to Law360, Judge Rakoff suggested that
 ... it might make more sense to have two definitions, or even two laws — one on the criminal side narrowly and specifically defining core criminal insider trading and the other on the civil side broadly defining insider trading in a way that leaves room for future development.... This would prevent criminal prosecution of those who lacked fair notice of their transgressions, while allowing the SEC to step in and halt new, innovative forms of insider trading at the outset.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

N.F.L. Concussion Settlement Is Given Final Approval -

Brain tissue -healthy and with CTE

Count me among the skeptics. I recognize the need to compromise when facts and law are in doubt - and injured plaintiffs need help now.  But as recent reports indicate scientists are making progress in identifying chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the living.  The settlement only compensates those who died and were diagnosed by autopsy.  What about those still living who can later document the condition but do not develop ALS or Parkinsonism or other recognized illness?  To my knowledge there is no provision for such developments. - gwc
N.F.L. Concussion Settlement Is Given Final Approval -

by Ken Belson

: "A federal district court judge on Wednesday gave her final approval to the settlement brought by more than 5,000 former players who accused the N.F.L. of hiding from them the dangers of concussions, a major hurdle in ending one of the most contentious legal battles in league history. [court documents]

 The NFL Concussion Settlement is designed to provide payments of up to $5 million to players who have one of a handful of severe neurological disorders, medical monitoring of all players to determine when or if they may qualify for a payment and $10 million for education about concussions.

 The landmark deal, which many players criticized, was originally reached in August 2013, but Judge Anita B. Brody twice asked the two sides to revise their agreement, first to uncap the amount of damages that can be paid for diagnosable conditions and then to remove the limit on how much can be spent on medical monitoring.    As part of the deal, the N.F.L. insisted that all retired players — not just the 5,000 or so who sued the league — be covered by the settlement as a way to fend off lawsuits in the future. But about 200 players opted out of the settlement to preserve their right to continue fighting the league."

Read more

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The Gulf, Still at Risk -

The Gulf, Still at Risk -

by The Editorial Board

 "In the run-up to the fifth anniversary on Monday of one of the worst environmental disasters in American history, the 2010 BP oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the country has heard happy talk from the company most responsible for it. Using phrases like “returning to pre-spill” or “baseline” conditions, and by emphasizing a rebound in fishing and tourism, BP has been suggesting in its reports and advertising that recovery of the entire ecosystem is just around the corner.

It is not.

While much of the oil has evaporated, been consumed by bacteria or widely dispersed, its poisons linger in marshes and wetlands, deep-sea corals are visibly damaged, and scientists have estimated that millions of gallons settled in roughly 1,200 square miles of the ocean floor, with untold consequences for the health of bottom-dwelling organisms.

An official federal-state natural resource assessment, mandated by the Oil Pollution Act, is still far from complete. In the meantime, it is impossible to say what the long-term effects will be on individual species like bluefin tuna, dolphins and pelicans. As the officials in charge of that study have said, “The environmental effects of this spill are likely to last for generations.”"

Read more

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Monday, April 20, 2015

John Oliver Takes On The Trolls That 'Sue The Living Sh*t' Out Of People (VIDEO)

John Oliver Takes On The Trolls That 'Sue The Living Sh*t' Out Of People 

"Last Week: Tonight" host John Oliver on Sunday explored the dark, duplicitous and costly world of patents, particularly the types of companies that try to take a cut on inventions they have no role in producing.

They go by the name, "patent trolls."

"Most of these companies don't produce anything, they just shake down anyone who does," Oliver began.

"So calling them 'trolls' is a little misleading — at least trolls actually do something. They control bridge access for goats and ask people fun riddles," he said. "Patent trolls just threaten to sue the living shit out of people."

Of the 4,700 patent lawsuits filed in 2012, 3,000 were the work of the trolls, according to Bloomberg.

One example is Uniloc, a company saying it has a claim on every Android app in existence.

"That techinically means they could show up at the headquarters of Tinder and demand a cut of everything Tinder has created," Oliver said, referencing the popular dating app.

"Which, I assume, would be a pile of STDs, sad orgasms, and shards of human self-esteem," he said.

The litigation patent trolls thrive on has reportedly cost $500,000,000,000, or half a trillion dollars, since 1990.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

BP oil spill settlement: Patrick Juneau pays over $5bn to claimants

BP oil spill settlement: Patrick Juneau pays over $5bn to claimants:

International Business Times (UK)

"Patrick Juneau, the administrator managing a fund to compensate people and businesses claiming to have suffered economic losses from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has said that more than $5bn (£3.4bn, €4.7bn) has been paid out from the fund.

As of now, a total of $5.037bn has been paid to 62,162 claimants, Juneau said in a news release.

The announcement comes five days ahead of the Deepwater Horizon disaster's fifth anniversary.

The fund was set up under a 2012 settlement, and Juneau was appointed to manage it.

However, BP later accused Juneau of improperly awarding payouts, including to those who did not suffer any harm in the disaster. It also filed a court compliant to remove him, but the court decided to keep him in the post.

The oil giant later changed its stance after conducting a review of payout procedures, and withdrew its appeal against the court's decision. It said its review found improvements in the procedure, including the addition of "scores" of fraud investigators.

 "We appreciate the work that has been done to develop and implement improved processes to, among other things, detect and prevent the payment of fraudulent claims. We share with Mr Juneau and the claims facility the goal of compensating the people and businesses of the Gulf under the terms of the settlement agreement," BP America President John Mingé said earlier."

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Most GM Ignition Key Claims Barred

Image result for GM ignition key
General Motors Wins Ruling Shielding It From Most Claims Over Ignition Flaw

Despite the "Valukas Report" which established see no evil  stance of GM and its General Counsel which actively sought to know less rather than more about liability actions, victims of injuries due to the defective GM ignition key system have been barred from pursuing their actions because GM's debts were discharged in bankruptcy and the new company that emerged after reorganization did not carry that burden.

"New GM" - aware that it is in fact the same company - has hired the ADR icon Kenneth Feinberg to pay the claims on terms the company sets.

MAaryland will vote to raise damages cap on claims against government //TortsProf Blog

TortsProf Blog:

Late last month, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the cap on damages for claims against local governments.  The current cap is $200,000 per claim, with a maximum of $500,000 for any number of claims stemming from a single incident.  The House passed a bill raising those limits to $300,000 and $600,000.  Last week a Senate committee proposed raising the limits to $500,000 and $1,000,000.  The full Senate will vote on Friday.  Cecil Whig has the story.

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Are Event Studies in Securities Litigation Reliable? | The D&O Diary

Are Event Studies in Securities Litigation Reliable? | The D&O Diary

by Kevin LaCroix

"In its June 2014 opinion in the Halliburton case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that securities lawsuit defendants may introduce evidence at the class certification stage to try to show that the alleged misrepresentation on which the plaintiffs rely did not impact the defendant company’s share price. To show the absence of price impact, defendants typically will rely on “event study” methodology to analyze factors affecting a company’s share price.

The event study methodology has a well-established academic pedigree. But in a recent paper, two authors raise the question ask the question “Are event studies in securities litigation reliable?”


In their March 19, 2015 paper, “Event Studies in Securities Litigation: Low Power, Confounding Effects, and Bias” (here), Duke Business School Professor Alon Brav and J.B. Heaton of the Bartlit, Beck, Herman, Palanchar, & Scott law firm identify several problems in the way event studies are used in securities litigation. Their longer academic paper is summarized in a shorter April 14, 2015 post on the CLS Blue Sky Blog (here).


Event studies are used in securities litigation to try to answer two questions: First, was an alleged misrepresentation or corrective disclosure associated with a price impact? Second, if there was a price impact, how much of it was caused by the alleged misrepresentation or corrective disclosure as opposed to other, unrelated factors?"

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Despite the Negativity, Revised Patent Laws Improve the System //National Law Journal

Op-Ed: Despite the Negativity, Revised Patent Laws Improve the System:

by PeterC.Pappas //National Law Journal

 "When the America Invents Act was enacted in 2011, stakeholders cheered this major reform of the patent system. Negotiated and drafted with extensive involvement from patent holders and patent lawyers, the act established postgrant review proceedings to be conducted by expert administrative judges within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These three new proceedings were touted as more cost-effective and quicker alternatives to litigation — making it easier to challenge, and invalidate, certain low-quality patents.

Improperly issued patents are often used abusively by patent trolls against startups and others, and the America Invents Act created mechanisms for taking bad patents out of circulation.
But things have changed. These post­issuance proceedings are now under attack, often by the same entities that helped create them. The main target of criticism has been inter partes review, which allows an issued patent to be challenged, but only on the ground that it is not novel or nonobvious — in short, that it was not truly inventive.
These popular and effective proceedings have been labeled "death squads" of patent rights, and accused of bias against patent holders.

Legislation has even been introduced to curtail these proceedings — all based on inaccurate and misleading statistics on invalidation rates, faulty inferences and conjecture.
Let's look at the facts. Some have ­complained that the inter partes review proceeding is more widely used than expected. Much has also been made of allegedly too high invalidation rates. It is sometimes wrongly asserted that 80 percent of patents are being invalidated. But the critics of inter partes review fail to point out that these proceedings were ­specifically designed to deter challenges to good patents.

First, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board only institutes proceedings if it has first determined that some of the challenged patents are "more likely than not" to be invalidated. Given this high bar, it should not be surprising that a high percentage of these patents are invalidated. If invalidation rates were low, that would indicate a real problem: It would reflect poorly on the board's decisions to institute proceedings, and would mean that too many good patents were being targeted for challenge.
These proceedings have a provision that discourages the filing of weak challenges. Once an inter partes review is instituted, the challenger is barred from seeking judicial review of any matter that could have been raised in the review. Filing an inter partes review without strong grounds will result in a denial of the petition, which effectively "gold plates" the challenged patent, rendering it very hard to attack in the future. In addition, the proceedings are designed to be costly and front-­loaded, another deterrent to weak challenges.

 Because these proceeding are engineered to take up only strong challenges, one would expect to see relatively high invalidation rates.
But the Patent Office's most recently published statistics do not support the meme of overly high invalidation rates. In reality, just more than 600 petitions (encompassing an aggregate 20,000 or so claims) have been concluded to date. The board has instituted proceedings against 68 percent of patent claims challenged, and declined to institute them against 32 percent. The board has invalidated 36 percent of these claims.

The invalidation rate of total claims challengers have sought to invalidate in these proceedings is even lower — 24 percent. So the board has actually "gold plated" far more patent claims than it has invalidated.

 Lastly, the legal landscape has changed dramatically. Recent court decisions have significantly raised the bar for patentability in key areas, making it easier to invalidate bad patents.
And it is unreasonable to criticize the board for implementing the law. Moreover, as the board's decisions are appealable to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, time will tell whether anything is flawed about these proceedings. But thus far the court has upheld the board's decisions. None of this is to suggest that the inter partes review proceedings are perfect.

From the time the Patent Office was charged with the huge task of implementing the law, Patent Office leadership acknowledged that it would not get everything right the first time. It conducted extensive outreach across the country to gather input from stakeholders, and its implementation of the America Invents Act has been a resounding success."

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

U.S. appeals court deals setback to Florida tobacco plaintiffs | Reuters

U.S. appeals court deals setback to Florida tobacco plaintiffs | Reuters: "(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court ruling on Wednesday could make it more difficult for smokers suing tobacco companies in Florida to prove claims that cigarettes are dangerous and that tobacco companies were negligent.

The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses more than $800,000 in damages from R.J. Reynolds and Altria Group Inc unit Philip Morris USA Inc awarded in 2013 to Earl Graham, whose wife Faye, a longtime smoker, died in 1993 of lung cancer.

More broadly, the court said smokers who, like Graham, were originally part of a massive class action in Florida against the tobacco companies could not rely on findings from the class action trial to prove claims that cigarettes are defective and tobacco companies were negligent."

You can find the surprising opinion here.   The crux of the opinion is the last paragraph:

Cigarette smoking presents one of the most intractable public health
problems our nation has ever faced. It was not so long ago that anyone would walk a mile for a Camel: cigarette smoke once filled movie theaters, college classrooms, and even indoor basketball courts. For fifty years, the States and the federal government have worked to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and to limit smoking’s adverse consequences to the greatest extent possible, all without prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to adult consumers. To that end, the State of
Florida may ordinarily enforce duties on cigarette manufacturers in a bid to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. But it may not enforce a duty, as it has through the Engle jury findings, premised on the theory that all cigarettes are inherently defective and that every cigarette sale is an inherently negligent act. So our holding is narrow indeed: it is only these specific, sweeping bases for state tort liability that we conclude frustrate the full purposes and objectives of Congress.
As a result, Graham’s Engle-progeny strict-liability and negligence claims are preempted, and we must reverse the District Court’s denial of judgment as a matter of law. For these reasons, the judgment of the District Court is REVERSED.

Case: 13-14590 Date Filed: 04/08/2015 Page: 50 of 50

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Prosecutor's RPC3.8 Duty Broader than Brady //D.C.Appeals CourtWhite Collar Crime Prof Blog

White Collar Crime Prof Blog

By Solomon Wisenberg

Rule 3.8(e) of the DC Rules of Professional Conduct states in pertinent part that: "The prosecutor in a criminal case shall not . . . intentionally fail to disclose to the defense, upon request and at a time when use by the defense is reasonably feasible, any evidence or information that the prosecutor knows or reasonably should know tends to negate the guilt of the accused...except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by protective order of the tribunal."
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals upheld the position of D.C. Bar Counsel and the Board that Rule 3.8(e) is not synonymous with Brady v. Maryland. The Court declined to import Brady's materiality test into Rule 3.8(e), making it clear that at the pre-trial and trial stages  of a case, no prosecutor is fit to make a speculative materiality analysis. The rule is now clear. Any evidence that tends to negate the guilt of the defendant must be disclosed under the D.C. Rules of Professional Responsibility.
from the Appeals Court decision

This matter comes before us upon the Report and Recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility (“the Board”). The Board recommended that a 30-day suspension be given to Andrew J. Kline (“Kline”) after finding that Kline violated Rule 3.8 (e) of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct (“Rule 3.8 (e)”). Rule 3.8 (e) prohibits a prosecutor in a criminal case from intentionally failing to disclose to the defense any evidence or information that the prosecutor knows or reasonably should know tends to negate the guilt of the accused. Bar Counsel takes no exception to the Report and Recommendation of the Board. Kline argued, inter alia, that he did not violate Rule 3.8 (e) because his ethical duties are coextensive with the duties imposed under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). Specifically, Kline relies on the “material-to-outcome” standard recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Brady’s progeny to argue that a prosecutor cannot violate Rule 3.8 (e) unless there is a reasonable probability that the information or evidence withheld made a difference in the outcome of the trial. We hold that Kline’s interpretation of Rule 3.8 (e), which incorporates a retrospective materiality analysis, is not the appropriate test for determining whether a prosecutor has violated Rule 3.8 (e). We also hold that Bar Counsel proved by clear and convincing evidence that Kline intentionally failed to disclose information in violation of the rule. However, we conclude that given the confusion regarding the correct interpretation of a prosecutor’s obligations under the rule, sanctioning Kline would be unwarranted.

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Bellwether Bone Loss Drug Case Settles

Bellwether Bone Loss Drug Case Settles

by Mary Pat Gallagher

 "One of only two cases to go to trial in New Jersey in litigation involving the bone loss drug Zometa has been settled on unknown terms just before a state appeals court was scheduled to issue a ruling.
The three-judge Appellate Division panel that had been expected to decide on April 9 whether to affirm or reverse the no-cause verdict won by Novartis against plaintiff Beverly Meng instead announced that day that “the issues in the dispute have been amicably resolved.”

Attorneys on both sides declined to discuss the settlement terms in Meng v. Novartis, or the fate of the 119 Zometa/Aredia cases that remained in New Jersey as of April 1.
The suits were designated as a mass tort in January 2008 and centralized in Middlesex County Superior Court.
Prior to that, in April 2006, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation had consolidated federal actions around the country in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

The plaintiffs claim that the bisphosphonate drugs Aredia and Zometa, made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., of East Hanover, which are used to treat osteoporosis, caused osteonecrosis of the jaw, or “bone death,” according to court documents. They allege pain and disfigurement as a result, from loss of teeth and the jaw bone itself, which in some cases has to be surgically removed and a metal plate or rod inserted.

Similar allegations have been made about another bisphosphonate, Fosamax, which is manufactured by Merck. New Jersey’s Fosamax litigation—comprising 3,158 cases as of April 6—is also centralized in Middlesex County, before the same judge handling the Zometa/Aredia litigation, Jessica Mayer.
In the recently settled Zometa case, Meng sued in 2007, alleging that, except for about six months in mid-2006, she had monthly intravenous infusions of Zometa from July 2002 until November 2006, according to court documents.
It was prescribed to control bone metastases from breast cancer that had spread to her spine, court documents said. She stopped the Zometa in November 2006 around the time her dentist noticed exposed bone in her mouth. Osteonecrosis was diagnosed in February 2007.

Before Meng’s case went to trial in the spring of 2013 on a claim of failure to provide an adequate warning, Mayer dismissed other counts—for strict liability, design defect, breach of express warranty and consumer fraud—on a motion for summary judgment.
Mayer applied the law of Mississippi, where Meng lived while taking Zometa.
In allowing the failure-to-warn claim to proceed, Mayer discussed the warnings provided by Novartis regarding the bone death risk.
The first mention was a September 2003 package insert stating that there had been reports of osteonecrosis but the condition had “other well-documented multiple risk factors” and it was not possible to determine if it was connected to Zometa, court documents said.

A February 2004 revision of the warning added that most of the osteonecroses reported were in cancer patients who had other risk factors such as chemotherapy, corticosteroids, anemia and infection. It described those cases as “attendant to a dental procedure” and concluded “it is prudent to avoid dental surgery.”
An August 2004 update mentioned that the majority of instances were associated with tooth extraction and many people had signs of local infection, according to court documents.

The warning recommended having a dental examination before taking the drug and avoiding invasive dental procedures while on it.
That warning was the one in effect when Meng had the dental procedure that allegedly triggered osteonecrosis, according to Mayer’s summary judgment opinion.
Mayer found Meng’s evidence sufficient to raise an issue of fact as to adequacy.
Meng’s labeling expert, Dr. Suzanne Parisian, criticized the warning as “‘misleading’” because of the associations it drew to other risk factors, according to Mayer.

In addition, Meng’s doctor, Louis Puneky, testified that if he had better understood the risks, he would have prescribed the Zometa differently, according to Mayer. He said he would not have kept Meng on Zometa for four years and probably after two years would have “‘backed down on the dosage to maybe every three months.’”"

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Appomattox: How did Ulysses S. Grant become an embarrassment of history and Robert E. Lee a role model?

Appomattox: How did Ulysses S. Grant become an embarrassment of history and Robert E. Lee a role model?

by Jamelle Bouie

"One hundred fifty years ago, at the courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia, Ulysses S. Grant won the Civil War. His chief opponent, Gen. Robert E. Lee of the Confederate States, had surrendered, all but ending the rebellion that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives but freed millions more.

But this was just the beginning of Grant’s career. Three years later, after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the terrible tenure of Andrew Johnson, he was elected president and served two terms, leaving office as a celebrated statesman. Afterward, he would manage a bank, lose his wealth, and die from cancer, although not before penning the greatest memoir of any former president. But this isn’t the end of his story; Grant would die a second death of sorts, as opponents reduced his life to its worst qualities: His bloody tactics came to the forefront, as did his drinking and the corruption in his administration. There are few monuments to Grant, and they are mostly ignored."

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BP says the Gulf is A.O.K.—this shrimper begs to differ

Sarah Craig

BP says the Gulf is A.O.K.—this shrimper begs to differ

by Sarah Craig and Rocky Kistner

"In 2010, NRDC partnered with StoryCorps and Bridge the Gulf to tell stories of people living through the Deepwater Horizon disaster. As the five-year mark approaches, onEarth revisited Gulf residents for an update. First of four parts.

Acy Cooper is tough as nails. He's a third-generation shrimper, born in the small fishing town of Venice, found about 80 miles south of New Orleans. As vice president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, Cooper has his finger on the pulse of the bayou’s lucrative fishing industry. The harvest, however, hasn’t been so bountiful since BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, releasing as much as 200 million gallons or so of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, five years later, Cooper and his family, consisting of three kids and nine grandchildren, are struggling to make ends meet. BP’s massive PR campaign touting the region’s return to normalcy does not play well in these parts. Cooper says fishing catches are down by a third, and several of his fellow fishermen complain of inadequate compensation from the oil company—many took quick cash payments after their claims became bogged down with paperwork. Now they have little financial support if business conditions don’t take a turn for the better soon.

The signs aren’t encouraging. As his friends lose their homes and shrimp come in with massive tumors, black gills, and no eyes, Cooper worries the community will continue to deteriorate if fishing doesn’t return to normal—for real."

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Kansas: Senate plan provides judiciary more funding, but only if courts rule against pending lawsuit Gavel to Gavel | A review of state legislation affecting the courts

Kansas: Senate plan provides judiciary more funding, but only if courts rule against pending lawsuit Gavel to Gavel | A review of state legislation affecting the courts: "For the second year in a row Kansas legislators appear poised to give the courts more money on the condition they do not strike down certain laws as unconstitutional.

 In 2014 the legislature enacted HB 2338 as amended. The bill, as detailed here and here, gave $2 million to the state’s judiciary on the condition that the courts not strike down other provisions in HB 2338 stripping the supreme court of administrative power, including how local chief judges are elected (currently the Supreme Court picks; HB 2338 would let local judges pick their own chief). HB 2338 contained a non-severability clause: if the Kansas courts strike down the stripping of the supreme courts authority or any other portion the entire bill/law falls including the additional funding.

 In February 2015 a lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of HB 2338 in light of the conflicting law (HB 2338: local judges pick the chief judges) and Supreme Court rule directing the Supreme Court pick. Moreover, the state’s constitution provides “The supreme court shall have general administrative authority over all courts in this state.” That lawsuit is pending a copy is located here.

Now in April 2015 a new funding bill has been introduced (HB 2005, as amended) to give additional funding for the Kansas courts. Under the new plan (HB 2005 as amended by the Senate) the judiciary will get funding for the upcoming year provided it does not rule in favor of the pending lawsuit and find that HB 2338 of 2014 is unconstitutional.

The provisions of this act are not severable, nor are they severable from the provisions of 2014 Senate Substitute for House Bill No. 2338, chapter 82 of the 2014 Session Laws of Kansas. If any provision of this act or of 2014 Senate Substitute for House Bill No. 2338, chapter 82 of the 2014 Session Laws of Kansas, is stayed or is held to be invalid or unconstitutional, it shall be presumed conclusively that the legislature would not have enacted the remainder of this act without such stayed, invalid or unconstitutional provision and the provisions of this act are hereby declared to be null and void and shall have no force and effect.

 HB 2005 of 2015 is currently pending in was approved by the Senate Ways & Means Committee 3/25/15."

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Bosch is first to compete with Saw Stop for safe table saw market

The Bosch REAXX (list $1500) is a job-site portable thats about the same size as the DeWalt 744, the SawStop Jobsite, and the Ridgid R4513. It has an explosive cartridge that forces the spinning blade beneath the table when its touched. Unlike with SawStops model, the blade is not destroyed.Click To Enlarge

Bosch's Finger Saving Saw
by Patrick McCombe - Fine Homebuilding

Unlike SawStop's system, which brakes the blade by launching an aluminum block into the spinning blade, the Bosch system doesn't attempt to stop the blade to prevent injury. Instead, it rapidly forces the blade below the table while it's spinning. It uses a cartridge that the company claims is similar to the mechanism used for triggering automotive air bags.
According to Bosch, the benefit of this method is that the saw trunnion and transmission don't have to absorb all the energy associated with bringing the blade to a stop in a fraction of a second. The cartridge can be replaced and the saw returned to operating condition in a few minutes. Moreover, the blade is undamaged--unlike on the SawStop, which destroys the blade.
The new saw, dubbed REAXX, looks to be based on and to share accessories (such as the Gravity Rise Stand) with the Bosch 4100, which is Bosch's larger portable. The saw is supposed to be available in the fall with a list price of $1500. I'm heading to JLC Live tomorrow to check it out, and I'll report back on Monday with details on its operation and safety system

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Harvard Research: Conservative Media Distorts National Conversation On Guns || Media Matters for America


Crackpot realism is one way to describe the sentimental attachment to gun rights.  The gross numbers - the rarity of gun violence in England and Australia, for example - fails to dislodge the attachment of many to "Second Amendment rights".  But the right to own a gun does not establish the wisdom of actually having one.  - gwc

New Harvard Research Reveals How Conservative Media Infects The National Conversation On Guns | Research | Media Matters for America

An ongoing monthly  survey of firearms researchers conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that Guns are rarely used for self defense, that possession of a gun increases the likelihood of death by homicide, suicide, and domestic violence.
Anyone familiar with the gun debate has heard the talking points of the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates: "Carrying a gun for self-defense makes you safer." Or: "If only more ordinary citizens were armed, they could stop mass shootings." As we've shown in our reporting, these arguments don't stand up to scrutiny. After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, commented on another long-running assertion from the gun lobby: "There is no evidence that having more guns reduces crime," he told the New York Times.
Yet, Hemenway says that some in the media have continued to treat such assertions as legitimate points of debate. That leaves the public thinking, "Okay, so there's disagreement on this," he says. [Mother Jones4/2/15]

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