Friday, August 29, 2008

Subjects or Citizens


link
Householders face £70 fines for putting wrong waste in green bins

By Tom Peterkin
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 29/08/2008

The fines, which are more severe than those imposed on many shoplifters, drug users and dangerous drivers, were criticised by campaigners who said they would criminalise ordinary people and be used as an excuse to raise more money from families on the bread line.

Exeter City Council has become the first local authority to start fining, but others are expected to follow suit.

Anyone putting inappropriate waste into a green bin will be sent a fixed-penalty notice to compensate the council for cleaning it.

Those who refuse to pay will be taken to court and prosecuted for non-payment. . . .

West Headnote of the Day


237 Libel and Slander
237I Words and Acts Actionable, and Liability Therefor
237k9 Words Tending to Injure in Profession or Business
237k9(3) k. Attorneys at Law

It is slanderous per se to call a lawyer a knave.
McMillan v. Birch, 1806 WL 1003 (1806)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Can you Make this stuff up?


link
Should Law Students Pay Law Firms for Training?

"If associates get all the benefits of training at my law firm in the first three years, and can't really add much value anyway, why don't they pay us?"

That's the question that Dan Hull asks in this provocative post at What About Clients?.

So, here's the strategy that Hull envisions. Rather than pay new hires those stratospheric salaries that have given law firms buyer's remorse, Hull suggests that associates work for minimal salaries in exchange for the benefit of receiving valuable legal training:

A "trainee": (1) would be paid either very minimal or at most starting paralegal-level salaries--don't laugh, paralegals are often remarkably more valuable and cost-efficient than first-year associates--and perhaps some other benefits; or (2) actually pay the law firm a nominal stipend--a "tuition", in effect--in a flexible apprenticeship arrangement which could be revisited eventually. At a minimum, making the associate bear the risk of the investment . . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

fleecing 'soft' Britain


link
Polish immigrants' guide to fleecing 'soft' Britain
By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent
Last Updated: 9:45am BST 21/08/2008


It shows how to avoid electricity bills and tax, rent flats for free and con insurance companies.

The scams, published in Polish magazine Przeglad, are revealed by Polish workers already living in Britain.

One man, quoted as a Polish criminal expert, said that cheating the system had became a way of life under decades of Communist rule.

"Once you've cheated the Communist government and the Iron Curtain and the Soviet states, running rings around British Gas is child's play," he explained.

A worker called Tomek suggested opening electricity and gas accounts with bogus personal details.

He said: "How can I pay bills that aren't addressed to me? The accounting system in England is based on trust, that's why you can phone and give them data plucked out of thin air."

Another man recommends renting a house in a made-up name, then immediately stopping rent payments because tenancy laws mean it will be months before they are evicted.

In the meantime the property is sublet to dozens of others.

Expensive mobile phones are insured and then reported "stolen".

Once the insurers pay out, the cheats pocket the cash and sell the "stolen" phone back home in Poland for a £100 profit.

Another man tells how he never pays for a television licence, electricity or gas bills - but boasts that he has never been cut off.

"In Poland it would be unheard of - they would have cut everything off long ago," he said. "And you'd have to be an idiot to register the TV."



Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Liars are exposed by blinking


link

By Lucy Cockcroft
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 20/08/2008


The best way to spot a liar is to look them in the eyes, according to scientists who say the number of times a person blinks will show if they are speaking the truth.

Liars blink less frequently than normal during the lie, and then speed up to around eight times faster than usual afterwards.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Non-verbal Behaviour, means that blink rates could soon be used by professionals, such as the police and security forces, to tell when someone is being duplicitous.

Dr Sharon Leal, co-author of the study at Portsmouth University, said: "It is striking what different patterns in eye blinks emerged for liars and truth tellers.

"Such striking differences in behaviour between liars and truth tellers are rarely seen in deception research."

Researchers studied a group of volunteers as they went about their normal business for ten minutes. A second group were asked to steal an exam paper from an office, then to deny having taken it.

The groups were then asked each to recall exactly what they had been doing.

During the interview their blink rates, which had all been the same at the start, were monitored with electrodes placed above and below and at the sides of the eyes to monitor all movements.

Results show that when the questions were being asked and the answers given, the blink rate in the liars went down. In contrast the truthful group's rate went up, though this could have been down to test anxiety.

Afterwards, the blink rate of the liars increased rapidly, while that of the truth tellers remained the same.

Researchers believe the increased effort involved in telling fibs could be the reason why liars do not blink during the act of lying.

Dr Leal said: "Liars must need to make up their stories and must monitor their fabrication so that they are plausible and adhere to everything the observer knows or might find out.

"In addition, liars must remember their earlier statements, so that they appear consistent when re-telling their story, and know what they told to whom. Liars will be more inclined than truth tellers to monitor and control their demeanour so they will appear honest.

"The reasons why there is a flurry of blinks after the lie is not really clear. It may be that this flurry is a kind of safety valve, like a release of energy after the tension of lying."



Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright


Well this study was done among "normal" students. I doubt if the results could be so clear with "professional" members of the criminal class, lawyers, and sociopaths. --Ed

Should You Invest in the Long Tail?


link

Anita Elberse.
Anita Elberse (aelberse@hbs.edu) is an associate professor of business administration in the marketing unit at Harvard Business School. Her article "How Markets Help Marketers" appeared in the September 2005 issue of HBR.

-- HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW , July 2008 - August 2008

In a typical year, Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books) goes to market with 275 to 300 book titles spread across two catalogs, its fall and winter lists. For each list the company identifies the handful of books it believes have the greatest sales potential and gives them the full benefit of its marketing capabilities. Of those, it spotlights just two "make" books, one fiction and one nonfiction, for which the company's publisher is willing, in her words, to "pull out all the stops." In the fall of 2007 those books were David Baldacci's Stone Cold and Stephen Colbert's I Am America (and So Can You!). The effects of this strategy show up in sales figures and profits. Whereas the 61 hardcover titles Grand Central put on its 2006 front list, on average, incurred costs of $650,000 and earned gross profits of just under $100,000, a wide range of numbers contributed to those averages. Grand Central's most heavily marketed title incurred costs of $7 million and achieved net sales of just under $12 million, for a gross profit of nearly $5 million, 50 times the average.

Grand Central is pursuing what is known as a blockbuster strategy, a time-honored approach, particularly in the media and entertainment sector. With limited space on store shelves and in traditional distribution channels, and with retailers and distributors seeking to maximize their returns, producers have tended to focus their marketing resources on a small number of likely best sellers. Although such an approach involves substantial risk, they expect that the occasional hit's huge pay-off will cover the losses of many misses, and that a few big sellers will bring in the lion's share of revenues and profits. In 2006 just 20% of Grand Central's titles accounted for roughly 80% of its sales and an even larger share of its profits.

Much has changed in commerce, however, in the decades since the blockbuster strategy first took hold. Today we live in a world of ubiquitous information and communication technology, where retailers have virtually infinite shelf space and consumers can search through innumerable options. When books, movies, and music are digitized and therefore cheap to replicate, the question arises: Is a blockbuster strategy still effective?

One school of thought says yes. Well represented by the economists Robert Frank and Philip Cook, in their 1995 book The Winner-Take-All Society, that school argues that broad, fast communication and easy replication create dynamics whereby popular products become disproportionately profitable for suppliers, and customers become even likelier to converge in their tastes and buying habits. The . . .

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lasting Impressions


link

Once upon a time, a nasty tabloid story or unflattering newspaper profile would fade into practical obscurity. But today, the concept of "practical obscurity" has been rendered practically obsolete by tools like Google and the Wayback Machine, which forever memorialize our past deeds in the Internet's easily accessible and often unforgiving cache.

Seattle lawyer Shakespear Feyissa is the latest, but by no means last, casualty of this development. As reported by the Seattle Times, Feyissa wants a decade-old article that discusses his never-prosecuted arrest for attempted sexual assault and ensuing suspension removed from his college newspaper's online archives. The college newspaper editors refused, claiming that compulsory removal was tantamount to censorship.

Today, bloggers have been weighing in on this story, which after all, has implications for law bloggers as well. At Above the Law, Kashmir Hill empathizes with Feyissa's plight, but questions whether going after his alma mater was the best approach -- or merely resulted in elevating Feyissa's past to the top of the search engine rankings. Ultimately, Hill sides with the newspaper, writing that:

'the online availability of archived articles can be unfortunate for some people, but it is perhaps an unavoidable consequence of living in the information age. It would not be feasible (or consistent with free speech values) to give people the right to force newspapers -- or, say, gossip blogs -- to erase non-defamatory content about themselves, simply because it paints them in a less-than-positive light..'

For Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice the First Amendment "journalistic principles" aren't as clear-cut, particularly where a guy's reputation is ruined and the newspaper itself presented only part of the story by failing to note that all charges against Feyissa were dismissed. Greenfield concludes that:

'The public is not served by perpetuating undeserved harm. Figure out a way that Feyissa won't have to suffer the taint of student ethical bravado for the rest of his life.'

At the Industry Standard, Cyndy Aleo-Carreira notes that journalists are in fact reconsidering whether editors should pull online content, especially when a situation has changed or charges have been dropped. She also notes that in Japan, for example, crime-related stories are removed within a year of publication.

Feyissa's situation is somewhat unique -- it involves a decade-old story that would have faded into obscurity but for the Internet. The college paper gains nothing from keeping a stale story online, and indeed, loses some credibility by insisting on doing so without at least offering an update. But at the same time, I can understand Hill's point -- that making an allowance for Feyissa could potentially make it easier for the next person (say a faculty member) to demand immediate removal of an unflattering story in the student paper.


Ultimately, we're dealing with a huge a gray area when it comes to online archives. There aren't any simple solutions as far as I can tell. All we can do is to proceed case by case until we develop some lasting rules about the best way to deal with these kinds of lasting impressions.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 18, 2008 at 01:54 PM |


Censorship, revisionist history, is out of the question nevertheless some provision for Correction, Retraction, and Rebuttal ought to be made available, especially since electronic technology makes it so possible.

The Credit Unions must by law offer a consumer the right to include a "short statement" rebutting, clarifying or correcting an entry in the consumer's credit report. Unfortunately, unfairly, and probably illegally they refuse to show a URL in that short statement. Thus the consumer can only place a few choice words in the statement and is not able to point to a more complete presentation including copies of correspondence and documents. It is like giving the prosecutor unlimited space and time but the defense is restricted to 20 words or less. Hardly equitable.

Online pubs ought to offer (voluntarily I would prefer) the opportunity to rebut by hyperlink. We have Comments, but the subject of an item ought to have a more elevated or featured spot.

Posted by: oldfox | August 19, 2008 at 09:27 AM

Monday, August 18, 2008

Westlaw Edge


link
Unclaimed property: Now it won't go unnoticed

Unclaimed property (unpaid wages, dividends, refunds, or other personal property considered lost or abandoned after a specific period of time) can affect many areas of the law, including probate, tax, bankruptcy, and corporate acquisitions. Unclaimed property records can also reveal connections between specific companies and individuals.

Unclaimed property records are now available on Westlaw from the following states: Alaska, California, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. To search unclaimed property records in all available states, access the Unclaimed Property Combined database (UNCLAIMED-ALL). You can also search unclaimed property records from an individual state using the database identifier UNCLAIMED-XX, where XX is the state's two-letter postal abbreviation. The user-friendly search template allows you to search by owner name (e.g., john smith; you don't need to use connectors), street address, asset holder, asset type, and other criteria.

A record typically includes the name and known address of the property owner, a description and value of the property, and the name of the entity holding the property. (Caveat: Some property may be unclaimed because the address on file is incorrect.)

Class warfare is just not classy


link

By Jenny McCartney
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 17/08/2008

Although it is still August, there has been a distinctly chilly feeling in the air, particularly when the Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, warned last week of an economic period of "painful adjustment".

Mr King explained that the adjustment would involve an unpleasant stretch of stagnating incomes, falling house prices and rising unemployment.

The "rising unemployment" bit caught my eye. For more than a decade, we became used to the notion that jobs were generally available to anyone who wanted one. Now, the possibility of involuntary unemployment is everywhere, stalking shopkeepers and City workers alike.

advertisementBut something fundamental happened to our thinking during the boom years: because work was plentiful, it became respectable to sneer at those who didn't work.

The absence of regular, paid work in a citizen's life was linked to a host of other problems, from alcoholism and drug addiction to a state-dependent mindset and a lack of educational achievement in their children.

To some extent, of course, this was true. And because the term "working class" couldn't be applied to a group whose defining trait was that they didn't work, the term "underclass" became popular. It became accepted wisdom that Britain had an "underclass" which was the feral, unpredictable source of all our ills.

We all know what we mean by "underclass", but the trouble is we all mean slightly different things.

When I say "underclass", I suppose I mean those who have become dangerously disconnected from the foundation stones of work and social co-operation upon which the working-class communities traditionally thrived.

The defining characteristic of its members would be a notable lack of any educational or other aspiration, coupled with defensive aggression. It's the bloke who threatens to punch you for asking him to take his feet off the train seat, and the teenage girl who brags about her sexual exploits in a mobile phone conversation that the whole bus can hear.

It's been a useful shorthand, I suppose, but now I'm thinking of ditching the word entirely.

One reason is that the notion appears to have been co-opted, with increasing vitriol, by commentators who are simply incensed by anyone who doesn't share their aesthetic values.

Jeremy Clarkson, the presenter of Top Gear, wrote last week of his experiences driving the new Rolls-Royce coupé around town: "It's been a genuinely alarming insight into the bitterness of Britain's obese and stupid underclass."

When he drove past a bus queue, he said, he realised that "hate is something you can touch and see and smell."

The "obese and stupid" people at the bus stop hadn't done anything specific, it seemed: presumably they had simply failed to light up with sufficient admiration as Clarkson coasted by in his swanky car.

Still, you don't have to be Karl Marx to reflect that if you were waiting for a bus while fretting about the rising cost of heating the family home, the sudden appearance of Clarkson in a £296,500 vehicle might not fill the heart with unalloyed joy.

In July, the Sunday Times and Spectator columnist Rod Liddle saw a fat woman and her plump children in a supermarket.

She didn't say or do anything discourteous, it appeared, nor did the children, but the mere glimpse of "this hag", her "vile lardy brood" and the contents of her shopping trolley prompted the writer to a bizarre rant which culminated in the fantasy that "I set the fat mother on fire with my Zippo lighter, and on the way out I kicked the smallest fat child hard in the gut."

It is worth pointing out that while both Clarkson and Liddle are normal-looking men, neither would exactly be in line to win the Weight Watchers Slimmer of the Year Award. But then middle-class fat is, for them, texturally different from underclass fat. Good things have poured into middle-class fat, you see: steak, Roquefort, red wine and a heartily robust enjoyment of life. Underclass fat, however, being composed entirely of chicken nuggets, chips and wilful idleness, is a mark of moral degeneracy.

The people who are quickest to sneer at "chavs" and the perceived physical shortcomings of the "underclass" often seem to be those most obsessed with flaunting their own "bling" and extending their unprovoked rudeness to those with far less social and financial clout. Odd, that. It does sometimes leave you wondering, though, just what the term "to behave with class" really means.

Hooray for the people's prince

The heavy ire of the supporters of genetically modified crops descended on Prince Charles last week, following his interview with The Daily Telegraph in which he lambasted GM technology and a vision of a global farming economy controlled by "gigantic corporations".

Johnjoe McFadden, the professor of molecular genetics at the University of Surrey, rather confusedly accused the prince of "telling the poor to eat organic cake while he pours wine into the fuel tank of his sports car", while MPs accused him of being a Luddite who would condemn millions to starvation.

The general idea was to lampoon Charles as some silly old posh buffer, who secretly yearned for the days when forelock-tugging peasants hand-tilled the land.

This characterisation is grossly unfair. Despite the somewhat rarified nature of Charles's life, his organic farming and food businesses do a roaring trade, and he often appears more in touch than his critics with the concerns of ordinary people.

His previous foray into public policy was on architecture. He was pilloried for outspoken criticism of the "carbuncles" created by modern architects. Yet there is little doubt that many more people would like to live on the prince's model Poundbury estate in Dorset - which mixes private and public housing and is built in keeping with the traditional architecture - than the high-rise tower blocks of the 1960s and 1970s or the Barratt homes of the 1980s.

Rather like architecture, science is an area with the power fundamentally to affect the lives of innumerable people, over which the vast majority of us have almost no control.

When the British public has been asked for its view on GM crops, it has repeatedly rejected them. Now there are signs that our Government is softening towards GM crops as a perceived solution to the global food crisis.

But often things that are perceived as handy short-term fixes - such as corn-based biofuels - create huge long-term problems. Science has given mankind many boons, but its assurances are far from infallible: it also gave us thalidomide, BSE and Agent Orange.

If Prince Charles has focused public attention on the real arguments around GM crops, he has done us all a service.

Peaches plays for high stakes in Vegas

The whirlwind wedding of Peaches Geldof, aged 19, to an American musician in a Las Vegas chapel last week was a reminder of the specialised circumstances in which flippancy can operate successfully.

When her parents, Bob Geldof and Paula Yates, got married in a Las Vegas wedding chapel in 1986, they had already been together for 10 years and had a baby.

There was little doubt that they were a committed couple, which was why the style of wedding, with Yates clad in scarlet, seemed fresh and witty and chic.

One can only get away with treating a wedding lightly, however, if the relationship beneath it is intensely serious. The alternative - an instant marriage to a near-stranger in a city famous for gambling - feels obscurely depressing.

Celebrity sightings: Photos and paparazzi snaps
It can't be very easy being Peaches Geldof, a clever girl who has been acting a bit silly in her pursuit of high drama. Yet for many people of my generation, her parents were a source of fascination as much for the apparent stability of their life together as their rebelliousness.

advertisement
They offered an unusual model of a relationship that seemed to be fun as well as enduring: that is partly why so many people who never knew them felt genuinely sorry when it ended.

For teenagers, impermanence has its own glamour, although it might be wiser not to mix it up with Las Vegas chapels. It is only when you get older that you realise that impermanence is so tragically easy to achieve.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Modern City, Modern Concert



Aug 8, 2008 8:42 PM, By Steven Battaglia
Part 1

Last month I spent a week in Manchester—England’s second city. A Mancunian friend of mine describes the city as one that “embraces modernism but still clings to its industrial heritage.” A fitting description for a city full of juxtaposition. Newly constructed glass and steel buildings sit next to classic Victorian architecture and former cotton mills. The beautiful, blossoming, bustling city was my home for a week, and it was also the home of Kylie Minogue’s KYLIEX2008 tour during a six-night residency at the Manchester Evening News Arena. With the Australian singer’s last three tours and now, including KYLIEX2008, Kylie has performed 23 dates at the Manchester Arena. The show, which supports her 10th studio album X, sold out the arena all six nights, had the crowds cheering from the rafters, and left fans screaming for more.

I was fortunate enough to see four of the six concerts in Manchester and I had the pleasure to meet with Nick Whitehouse, the show’s LD, and tour backstage. The concept for the show’s design, a giant “light box”, came from Kylie’s creative director, William Baker. The set comprises a rectangular, raked main stage and two band risers stage left and stage right of this. The main stage has three independently controlled lifts, lined up in a row stage left to right. Essentially, the stage is an enormous video screen, or, more precisely, lots of different video elements put together.

The deck for all three platforms is made up of thousands of Barco’s MiStrip modules and the stage is flanked upstage by layers of video curtains that are cleverly used as reveals and entrances throughout the show. Whitehouse’s lighting rig (including some X-shaped truss supporting the tour’s X manifesto) compliments the video-heavy show and his rig consists mostly of Vari-Lite VL3000 and VL3500 Spots, VL3500 Washes, and VL500 Washes. The rig is rounded out with equipment from SGM, Martin Atomic strobes, Lycian truss-mounted spots, Color Blasts, Showtech Sunstrips, Molefays, and other units. Touring with the show, Whitehouse acts as board operator, controlling his extensive rig with an Avolites Diamond 4 Vision console.

Standing onstage while the crew performed their video checks was a fantastic, yet, dizzying experience. During the song “Wow” the video floor flashes fervently in fluorescent blues, pinks, and neon greens. I chuckled to myself and wondered, “How do they perform complicated choreography on this raked TV screen that’s constantly pulsing under their feet?” I don’t know how they do it, but, even in heels, Kylie and the dancers perform without falter and shine throughout the 29-song set list.

Part 2 will appear online next week.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Is Your Food Safe?


link
See the CRS report to Congress.

Hotel owner prosecuted for smoking on her own premises


link


Hotel owner prosecuted for smoking on her own premises
By Chris Irvine
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 08/08/2008


Patricia Coupeland was given a 12 month conditional discharge by Blackpool magistrates after she admitted smoking on a smoke-free premises.

Ms Coupeland, 50, of the Cheers Hotel in Blackpool, told a court the hotel was closed at the time and not taking in guests.

She said: "I was in the dining room doing my paperwork and having a cigarette. It was closed as a hotel at the time and was therefore my private home. There were no guests. I only had a friend stay. The health officer came across as vicious and a person with attitude."

advertisementVictoria Cartmell, prosecuting for Blackpool Council, told the court that on February 1 environmental health officer Alan Taylor arrived at the hotel to carry out a hygiene inspection.

She said: "The defendant returned from the kitchen with a cigarette which she continued to smoke in the bar area.

"The defendant confirmed it was a smoke-free hotel, but said it was her own home and she was free to smoke in her own home.

"The officer said smoking in her private quarters was okay, but not in the bar."

Ms Coupeland was issued a £50 on the spot fine, which would have been reduced to £30 had it been paid in 15 days, although the penalty was not paid.

Last month, a painter and decorator was left "dumbfounded" after receiving a £30 fine for smoking a cigarette in his own van.

Gordon Williams, 58, of Llanafan, Aberystwyth, says he had popped to the shops when he was pulled over by Ceredigion council officials.

He said: "I am dumbfounded - the van is only insured for private use and to get me to and from work.

"It's not my place of work - I decorate houses not vans."

Rules defining when a vehicle can be treated as a place of work are complex.

While company cars in which passengers are carried are classed as one, there is confusion over private vehicles depending on whether thay are mainly used for work.

Last year, the Rolling Stones were not prosecuted despite repeatedly flouting the smoking ban when performing at the O2 Arena in London - Greenwich borough council said nothing could be done because fans at the venue had not objected.



Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright