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Current Topic: Politics and Law

Embarrassment in Seoul: The world won't follow slow-growth, weak-dollar America
Topic: Politics and Law 11:28 pm EST, Nov 13, 2010

Has there ever been a major economic summit where a U.S. President and his Treasury Secretary were as thoroughly rebuffed as they were at this week's G-20 meeting in Seoul? We can't think of one. President Obama failed to achieve any of his main goals while getting pounded by other world leaders for failing U.S. policies and lagging growth.

The root of this embarrassment is political and intellectual: Rather than leading the world from a position of strength, Mr. Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came to Seoul blaming the rest of the world for U.S. economic weakness. America's problem, in their view, is the export and exchange rate policies of the Germans, Chinese or Brazilians. And the U.S. solution is to have the Fed print enough money to devalue the dollar so America can grow by stealing demand from the rest of the world.

Embarrassment in Seoul: The world won't follow slow-growth, weak-dollar America

Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Assn.
Topic: Politics and Law 11:48 pm EST, Nov  8, 2010

JUSTICE KAGAN: Suppose a new study suggested that movies were just as violent. Then presumably, California could regulate movies just as it could regulate video games?

MR. MORAZZINI: Well, Your Honor, there is scientific literature out there regarding the impact of violent media on children. In fact, for decades, the President, Congress, the FTC, parenting groups, have been uniquely concerned with the level of violent media available to minors that they have ready access to.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: I don't think; is that answering Justice Kagan's question? One of the studies, the Anderson study, says that the effect of violence is the same for a Bugs Bunny episode as it is for a violent video. So can the legislature now, because it has that study, say we can outlaw Bugs Bunny?



Do not take away our Bugs Bunny v. Daffy Duck.

Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Assn.

What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?
Topic: Politics and Law 11:22 pm EDT, Oct 24, 2010

The real tragedy here, though, is not whatever happens in midterm elections. It’s the long-term prognosis for America. The obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry has societal consequences graver than even the fundamental economic unfairness. When we reward financial engineers infinitely more than actual engineers, we “lure our most talented graduates to the largely unproductive chase” for Wall Street riches, as the economist Robert H. Frank wrote in The Times last weekend. Worse, Frank added, the continued squeeze on the middle class leads to a wholesale decline in the quality of American life — from more bankruptcy filings and divorces to a collapse in public services, whether road repair or education, that taxpayers will no longer support.

Even as the G.O.P. benefits from unlimited corporate campaign money, it’s pulling off the remarkable feat of persuading a large swath of anxious voters that it will lead a populist charge against the rulers of our economic pyramid — the banks, energy companies, insurance giants and other special interests underwriting its own candidates. Should those forces prevail, an America that still hasn’t remotely recovered from the worst hard times in 70 years will end up handing over even more power to those who greased the skids.

We can blame much of this turn of events on the deep pockets of oil billionaires like the Koch brothers and on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which freed corporations to try to buy any election they choose. But the Obama White House is hardly innocent. Its failure to hold the bust’s malefactors accountable has helped turn what should have been a clear-cut choice on Nov. 2 into a blurry contest between the party of big corporations and the party of business as usual.


Which party do you choose - Party of Big Corporations or Party of Business as Usual?

What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?

Police not violating 4th Amendment by placing GPS on your car when it isn't in your garage?
Topic: Politics and Law 10:14 pm EDT, Aug 30, 2010

Here's the quiz: if police attach a GPS device to your car and track you using that device, without having got a warrant to do so, is the Fourth Amendment violated?

And here's the issue: an Oregonian named Juan Pineda-Moreno had such a thing happen to him and was convicted of growing marijuana after police tracked his car to a suspected growing site. Pineda-Moreno appealed, citing the fact that on two occasions DEA agents placed tracking devices on his car while it was in his driveway – which he considered private, not public, property – and therefore breached his Fourth Amendment rights.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that Pineda-Moreno didn't have any signage or barriers around his property to clearly indicate that it was private property, and since "an individual going up to the house to deliver the newspaper or to visit someone would have to go through the driveway to get to the house," why couldn't the DEA? Further, the court ruled that the underside of his car isn't private because "[t]he undercarriage is part of the car's exterior, and as such, is not afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy."

Police not violating 4th Amendment by placing GPS on your car when it isn't in your garage?

Obama plans to order closing of Guantánamo on his 1st full day
Topic: Politics and Law 11:05 pm EST, Jan 12, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama plans to issue an executive order on his first full day in office ordering the closing of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, people briefed by Obama transition officials said Monday.

But experts say it is likely to take many months, perhaps as long as a year, to empty the prison that has drawn international criticism since it received its first prisoners seven years ago this week. One transition official said the new administration expected that it would take several months to transfer some of the remaining 248 prisoners to other countries, decide how to try suspects and deal with the many other legal challenges posed by closing the camp.

Obama plans to order closing of Guantánamo on his 1st full day

Obama to pick Genachowski to head FCC: WSJ
Topic: Politics and Law 10:22 pm EST, Jan 12, 2009

The online edition of The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed source, reported that Obama will nominate Genachowski as FCC chairman.
Genachowski, a former Harvard Law School classmate of Obama's, worked at the FCC during the Clinton administration and is a former executive at IAC Interactive Corp. Currently a technology adviser to the president-elect, Genachowski also co-founded Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm, LaunchBox Digital.

Genachowski helped draft Obama's technology plan, which includes support for creating more widespread and affordable Internet access, and more diverse media ownership rules. He was long thought to be on the short list of candidates to head the FCC.

Obama to pick Genachowski to head FCC: WSJ

Colbert Debates Copyright Law with Lawrence Lessig
Topic: Politics and Law 12:19 am EST, Jan 11, 2009

Video Link....

Larry Lessig was on Colbert last night and it was a copyright smackdown. Stephen started the interview off demanding what Lessig means by “hybrid economy” in the title of his new book, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.

The phrase refers to an economy like Flickr: “a free-sharing economy and Flickr makes money on top of that,” Larry said. In other words, it’s like Colbert’s Green Screen Challenges, Stephen noted: “They do all the work and I get all the ad revenue.”

Colbert Debates Copyright Law with Lawrence Lessig

George W Bush could pardon spies involved in torture
Topic: Politics and Law 3:19 pm EST, Nov 16, 2008

Senior intelligence officers are lobbying the outgoing president to look after the men and women who could face charges for following his orders in the war on terrorism.
Most vulnerable are US intelligence officers who took part in intensive interrogations against terrorist suspects, using techniques including water boarding, which many believe crossed the line into torture.
"An effort is under way to get pre-emptive pardons. The White House has indicated that the matter is under consideration."

George W Bush could pardon spies involved in torture

Obama's plans for probing Bush torture
Topic: Politics and Law 6:55 pm EST, Nov 15, 2008

President Bush could pardon officials involved in brutal interrogations -- but he may also face a sweeping investigation under the new president.

Nov. 13, 2008 | WASHINGTON -- With growing talk in Washington that President Bush may be considering an unprecedented "blanket pardon" for people involved in his administration's brutal interrogation policies, advisors to Barack Obama are pressing ahead with plans for a nonpartisan commission to investigate alleged abuses under Bush.

Obama's plans for probing Bush torture

Biden gave average of $369 to charity a year
Topic: Politics and Law 6:57 pm EDT, Sep 14, 2008

WASHINGTON — Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife gave an average of $369 a year to charity during the past decade, his tax records show.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign today released 10 years' worth of tax returns for Biden, a senator from Delaware, and his wife Jill, a community college instructor. The Bidens reported earning $319,853 last year, including $71,000 in royalties for his memoir, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.

The Bidens reported giving $995 in charitable donations last year — about 0.3% of their income and the highest amount in the past decade. The low was $120 in 1999, about 0.1% of yearly income.

Over the decade, the Bidens reported a total of $3,690 in charitable donations, or 0.2% of their income.

Biden gave average of $369 to charity a year

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