Blogging in Berkeley. Notes on news, politics, law, and technology in the US and China. [This blog is inactive. I am now staying busy and having a great time at UVA Law.]
Supreme Court Sides With Inmates on Religion
High Court Sides With Inmates on Religion
"WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court sided with a witch, a Satanist and a racial separatist Tuesday, upholding a federal law requiring state prisons to accommodate the religious affiliations of inmates.
The three Ohio prisoners and others sued under the 2000 federal law, claiming they were denied access to religious literature and ceremonial items and denied time to worship.
The law says states that receive federal money must accommodate prisoners' religious beliefs, with such things as special haircuts or meals, unless wardens can show that the government has a compelling reason not to.
The court's unanimous ruling addressed a narrow issue: whether the law as written is an unconstitutional government promotion of religion. It is not, justices decided, leaving the door open to future legal challenges on other grounds.
'Religion plays a vital role in rehabilitation,' said Derek Gaubatz, director of litigation for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a religious liberty law firm that represents inmates.
Many states have contested the law on grounds that inmate requests could make it harder to manage prisons, and the court appeared concerned as well.
The law 'does not elevate accommodation of religious observances over an institution's need to maintain order and safety,' Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said from the bench in announcing the decision."
Supreme Court Overturns Arthur Andersen Conviction
Court Overturns Arthur Andersen Conviction
"WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court threw out the conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm for destroying Enron Corp.-related documents, ruling unanimously Tuesday that the jury instructions were too broad.
The decision was a defeat for the Bush administration, which had declared prosecution of white-collar criminals a high priority following accounting scandals at major corporations. But it offered only symbolic relief for Andersen, the company whose 2002 conviction put 28,000 employees out of work and left it virtually defunct.
'We pursued an appeal of this case not because we believed Arthur Andersen could be restored to its previous position, but because we had an obligation to set the record straight,' Andersen spokesman Patrick Dorton said. 'We are very pleased with the Supreme Court's decision.'"
Hong Kong Reporter Detained in China
VOA News - Hong Kong Reporter Detained in China
"A Hong Kong-based reporter for Singapore's largest English language daily has been detained in China for allegedly obtaining state secrets.
Ching Cheong, the China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, is said to have been arrested on April 22 in the southern city of Guangzhou.
Mr. Ching's wife, Mary Lau, told Hong Kong journalists that her husband had traveled to Guangzhou to obtain transcripts of secret interviews with former Chinese Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang."
Condoleezza Rice Speech in San Francisco
Protesters at the entrance. The Telegraph Ave. bumper sticker guy attended as well.
The following summary is based solely on notes I took at the event.
Commonwealth Club Speech and Q&A
Davies Symphony Hall
May 27, 2005
There was a high level of security outside of the event; one street next to Davies Hall was blocked off by police. There appeared to be about 40 to 60 protesters, though these protesters seemed especially dedicated; most were far more dedicated than the average Berkeley protester. No cameras were allowed inside the hall. Ushers collected written questions from the audience before and during Secretary Rice’s speech. She was introduced by Rose Guilbault, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Club Board of Governors. Ms. Guilbault delivered a brief opening statement to the audience in the auditorium before they began recording the radio presentation. She reminded the audience that the Commonwealth Club is a non-partisan organization and requested that the speaker be allowed to give her speech without interruption. The broadcast introduction began shortly after, interrupted once by broadcast staff requesting Ms. Guilbault to begin again. In the introduction Rose Guilbault mentioned Secretary Rice’s 2000 Distinguished Citizen award, awarded by the Commonwealth Club of California. She also talked about Secretary Rice’s previous aspirations as a concert pianist, and her time at Stanford University as a professor and as one of Stanford’s “most effective Provost” in the university’s history. Rose Guilbault also outlined Secretary Rice’s previous government service as Special Assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as National Security Advisor. Forbes naming Condoleezza Rice as the “world’s most powerful woman” was the final distinction listed in the introduction before Condoleezza approached the podium to a standing ovation.
The following are notes from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Speech.
She joked that she had previously dreamed of playing Davies Symphony Hall as a pianist. Rice also joked that besides the weather she didn’t miss anything about California except for the culture, the wine, the people, the coast, PAC-10 sports and the bay [not necessarily in that order.]
Rice used San Francisco’s historic role in international politics to segue into a discussion of foreign policy, identifying two events that occurred in San Francisco:
· The signing of the United Nations charter 60 years ago.
· George Schultz outlining a vision of “democracy sweeping the world” that would later be call the “Reagan Doctrine.” Four years later the Berlin Wall fell.
The Soviet implosion changed the world fundamentally, and according to Rice it was glorious for some and for others it was shattering. Among the examples of nations that were shattered by the Soviet fall, Rice named Afghanistan. She went on to say that the events that occurred on 9/11 exposed the nature of this new world and “showed us our international interdependence.”
Bush set a new course after 9/11 of the “highest ideals” that Rice associated with the bold ambition of Roosevelt and Reagan. It was at this point that Secretary Rice came to what would be the theoretical foundation of her speech:
“The best hope for the security of the United States is the spread of freedom.”
It was also about at this point two people in the audience cloaked in black with pointed hoods stood on their chairs performing the “Abu Ghraib” pose. Rice continued speaking as a few audience members shouted for them to “sit down” and a rank of police officers filed down the aisle toward the protesters. The protesters did not resist their removal by police, though they began chanting as soon as police made physical contact with them:
“Stop the war! Stop the killing! U.S. out of Iraq!”
[update] C&L has a video clip from CNN of this protest.
Several audience members clapped when the protesters began chanting. As the first two were being led out a similar disturbance occurred on the other side of the hall, none of the protesters deviated from the scripted slogan:
“Stop the war! Stop the killing! U.S. out of Iraq!”
Moments after the second disturbance began the audience spontaneously gave a standing ovation to Rice until the protesters were removed, apparently to drown out their slogan. Protesters could be heard shouting the slogan intermittently throughout the speech in the lobby outside of the auditorium.
After underscoring her view that “freedom and democracy is the only answer for U.S. security” once again, Rice went on to speak about what seemed to be the featured administration policy of her appearance: the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
According to Rice, CAFTA is “a top priority” for the administration. CAFTA will promote freedom and help Latin American nations to “dig out” of an economically troubled past. Rice addressed the value of free trade generally; “[free trade policies] liberate the entrepreneurial spirit of society.” Ultimately free trade holds the promise of “democratic stability” to participating nation, which makes the U.S. safer.
A 2000 Bush administration initiative called the Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) was an additional policy that Rice described in her speech. She singled out Honduras and Nicaragua as two Latin American nations benefiting from the MCA, and Rice stated that the MCA is “helping the march of freedom in Africa” as well. According to Rice 18 African nations are eligible for MCA aid and Madagascar will be receiving $110 million in aid this year. In the last four years U.S. aid to Africa has tripled, but Rice pointed out that there are limitations to value of foreign aid to U.S. foreign policy: “aid cannot transform a nation.” The African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) is an additional African aid initiative named by Rice as a tool in encouraging economic growth and freedom. Rice measured the success of AGOA in terms of trade with the U.S. The countries benefiting from AGOA produced $26 billion in exports to the U.S. last year, 90% of the implementation of AGOA.
Asia was the third region Rice discussed. She believes that Asia is being positively transformed through global trade, and that pessimistic estimates of Asia’s political future were based on false assumptions. Rice stated that analogies between Europe in the early 20th century and Asia in the 21st century are not valid. “There is no reason that Europe’s past will equal Asia’s future.” Rice sees “openness” as the factor which makes Asia’s political prospects unique. She believes Asia is largely democratic, “with one very big exception,” that being China. [editorial note: Laos and Vietnam are not democratic; Burma is one of the worst regimes on the planet; if Cambodia is a democracy then I’ll take dictatorship; Singapore is a stable, city-state ruled by one party in a one-party system that does not tolerate political opposition. She must have meant East Asia, but China--the “very big exception”--governs one out of every three people on the planet and the vast majority of East Asia's population, and North Korea could not be any less democratic.] Rice anticipates that the leaders of China will realize that openness is politically necessary. Although China will shape Asia, “Asia will also shape China.”
In the closing remarks Rice again emphasized freedom. “We reject the premise of ‘imposing democracy’…because unlike tyranny, democracy need not be imposed.” People want freedom, and Rice named Afghanistan and Iraq as examples where the universal human desire for freedom can be observed. Rice quoted Thomas Jefferson in justifying her conviction that all humans have a right to freedom: “the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” She followed that quote by pointing out that Jefferson was a slaveholder, but that the people of the U.S. have nonetheless been able to move forward through history closer to fulfilling the ideals of the Founders.
Finally, Rice linked the ideals of the Founders, the universal rights of all humankind and the present mission of the U.S. in foreign policy. “Freedom is a birthright, we proceed upon this assumption…Freedom is the greatest calling of our time.”
Secretary Rice answered fourteen questions during the Q&A. The following is a summary of the questions and highlights of her responses.
· The Bolton nomination
o Rice supports Bolton
o UN needs reform
· Vacant Ambassadorships
o Appointment process takes too long
o “We are working on it”
· King Fahd’s health and Saudi relations
o Great relationship with Crown Prince Abdullah
o Saudis aggressively seeking terrorists
o Administration expects further political reform
· Conflicts between freedom mission and national security
o Freedom and security inextricably linked
o Long-term there is no conflict
· The Millennium Challenge Act
o Basic description of MCA
· Progress in Iraq
o Standard articulation of the administration's current position with one interesting point on Iraqi progress: “to date they have not made any tragic compromises [in establishing the new government and constitution] like we made in 1789 that established my ancestors as 3/5 of a man.”
· The timeline for withdrawal from Iraq
o “Timeline for success” not a timeline for departure
o Gave self-sacrifice anecdote of “Sabrina,” a heroic Iraqi security force member who lost a limb protecting an official
· Human rights in Egypt and China
o Human rights for all their citizens without condition (Rice mentioned sexual orientation among the “without conditions”)
o U.S. concentrating on human rights in talks with Egypt, China
o Annual Human Rights reports
· The role of the Secretary of State in individual human rights cases
o “I do raise individual cases”
o Stanford Professor being held in China
o Cases are important
· France, Great Britain and the EU Constitution
o U.S. favors strong, united EU
o Rice was cautious; did not want to be “perceived as trying to influence the elections”
· Immigration, Enforcement, Mexico and Minutemen
o Immigration policy needs reform
o U.S. must enforce the border
o Enforcement is the job of the U.S. government alone
o Must recognize economic realities
o Policies must be humane
o Temporary worker policy
o “Smart Border Initiative”
· The Non-Proliferation Treaty
o Reprocessing and enrichment capabilities must not be widespread
o Proliferation Security Initiative
o Must secure materials and resources
o AQ Kahn network shut down
o Some violators may need to be brought to international community for judgment
· What to do in the case of a nuclear Iran
o “Enormously dangerous if it happens”
o Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism
o “We will do everything we can to prevent a nuclear Iranian state”
· What Secretary Rice would like to have as her legacy
o Democratic Middle East
Future of Chinese Corporate Law
law.com - Article
: "The takeover of China's Harbin Brewery Group last summer was filled with nail-biting excitement worthy of any M&A deal on Wall Street. In May 2004 Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., acquired 29 percent of the Hong Kong-listed company's shares. In turn, London-based SABMiller, which already owned over 29 percent of Harbin, launched a hostile takeover of the Chinese company three days later. But Harbin's management sided with Anheuser-Busch, and SABMiller withdrew its bid. In July 2004 St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch bought the brewery for a cool $739 million.
That battle was more than just high drama. In many ways, it signaled the future of Chinese business. Not only did it rank as the first-ever contested takeover of a public Chinese corporation, but also the deal would never have happened just a few years ago because very few Chinese companies listed shares abroad, says Michael Moser, whose law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, represented Anheuser-Busch. He says that the transaction also looked much like any U.S. deal. The lawyers dealt with many of the same issues: due diligence, documentation, representations and warranties. Chinese businesses are famous for their creative accounting, but like those of any corporation that borrows from an international bank, Harbin's books resembled a U.S. company's. "China is becoming much more sophisticated and international," says Moser, who is Freshfields's China managing partner and heads the firm's China Business Group."
Abortion at the Supreme Court
My Way News
: "WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court, re-entering the abortion debate amid burgeoning speculation about Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's retirement, agreed Monday to hear an appeal of a decision striking down a state parental notification law.
Justices will review a lower court ruling that struck down such a law in New Hampshire. The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the 2003 law was unconstitutional because it didn't provide an exception to protect the minor's health in the event of a medical emergency."
NYT and the Filibuster
Juan Non-Volokh on NYT and filibusters-
The Volokh Conspiracy - -
"NYT on Filibusters -- Then and Now: Today the NYT editorializes against elimination of the judicial filibuster. According to the Times' editorialists, the filibuster and other modes of obstruction are 'all part of the Senate's time-honored deliberative role and of its protection of minority rights, which Republican leaders would now desecrate in overreaching from their majority perch.'
In 1995, however, the NYT sang a different tune. In a January 1, 1995 editorial (posted on on NRO's Bench Memos here), the NYT hailed Senator Harkin's proposal to limit the filibuster.
[begin NYT 1995 quote] For years Senate filibusters -- when they weren't conjuring up romantic images of Jimmy Stewart as Mr. Smith, passing out from exhaustion on the Senate floor -- consisted mainly of negative feats of endurance. . . .
Once a rarely used tactic reserved for issues on which senators held passionate convictions, the filibuster has become the tool of the sore loser, dooming any measure that cannot command the 60 required votes. [end NYT 1995 quote]
In 1995, the NYT endorsed a proposal for successively lower cloture-vote requirements to allow a determined majority to win the day, while still preserving the minority's right to prolong debate and voice its opposition. Senator Frist's 100-hours-of-debate proposal would produce the same effect, yet the NYT blasted this as a 'No-Compromise Compromise' on May 3.
Senators of both parties have been inconsistent in their views of the filibuster. That's what one expects from politicians. Is it too much to expect greater consistency from the nation's one-time paper of record?
UPDATE: The LA Times, on the other hand, stands on principle and advocates eliminating the judicial filibuster even though it will allow the confirmation of judicial nominees it does not like."
Court Strikes Down Ban on Wine Shipments
ABC News: Court Strikes Down Ban on Wine Shipments
: "Wine lovers may buy directly from out-of-state vineyards, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, striking down laws banning a practice that has flourished because of the Internet and growing popularity of winery tours.
The 5-4 decision overturns laws in New York and Michigan, which supporters said were aimed at protecting local wineries and limiting underage drinkers from purchasing wine without showing proof of age. In all, 24 states have laws barring interstate shipments.
The court said the state bans are discriminatory and anticompetitive."
Cats Fly on China TV
Chinese TV show's cat slinging act draws fire from pet lovers - Yahoo! News
"BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese television channel was reportedly forced to apologize after receiving complaints from pet lovers about a programme in which a cat was thrown out of a four-storey building.
The Travel Channel broadcast a feature on May 4 showing how a cat can safely survive even when dropped from great height, Beijing Times said.
In the programme, a white cat was dropped from a four-storey building while a narrator said: 'Miao Miao (the cat) quickly turns around, adjusts its four limbs, straightens its tail and goes down.
'Let's look at how it's doing ... it is okay!'
Angry pet lovers posted petitions on several websites and lodged complaints with the state broadcasting authorities and the television channel, saying the act could cause bone fractures or damage the animal's internal organs.
The Travel Channel apologised and promised it would not repeat the experiment, the report said.
During the heyday of communist ethics, China banned pets as frivolous and bourgeois but pet ownership has become a new vogue among the country's newly rich amid its robust market economic reforms."
Dartmouth Trustee Election Results
The Dartmouth Online
"Petition candidates Peter Robinson '79 and Todd Zywicki '88 won this year's trustee election, the College announced early Thursday evening, defeating four Alumni Council nominees. Out of over 35,000 votes cast by more than 15,000 alumni, Robinson received 21 percent and Zywicki received 20 percent.
Zywicki and Robinson both expressed satisfaction and surprise with their wins, especially given their outsider status. Zywicki said his victory was an alumni response to an administration that has been increasingly making questionable decisions."
Both candidates ran campaigns deemed "insurgent" that attacked Dartmouth's free speech stance.
"I emphasized it," Robinson said of free speech. "Todd Zywicki emphasized it. I heard enough from undergraduates, recent graduates and other alumni about their concerns for free speech. I don't have any doubt that it was one of the animating issues."
This year's election also saw the use of internet blogs to voice support for the candidates.
"'I think what I found useful during the campaign were the new uses of the blogosphere,' Robinson said. 'I was able to reach fellow alums via my web site in a way that would have been very different even a few years ago.'
The blogs that covered the trustee election were mainly conservative ones supporting the two petition candidates, both of whom are well-established political conservatives. But Robinson said that his personal political opinions on national issues are irrelevant when it comes to Dartmouth."
Neb. Senator's Fiberglass Bovine Stolen
"Security cameras caught the caper on tape, but the picture was too grainy to allow identification of the rustlers.
'I think it was definitely an inside job,' Fischer said.
She suspects one of her fellow senators was involved, but she would not name names.
One ransom note, signed by the 'Suburban Rustlers,' demanded that she vote for or against certain bills.
'I had to vote for six bills or against two bills ... or give a large box of Jujyfruits' candy, Fischer said.
One note threatened to turn her Bitty Bull into 'itty, bitty burgers.'
She refused to comply."
Boston- 1675 Indian ban puts convention bid at risk
Boston.com / Business / 1675 Indian ban puts convention bid at risk
"Boston is a finalist for hosting a big convention for minority journalists, but a 1675 law requiring the arrest of Native Americans who enter Boston could prevent the city from winning the bid.
Officials in City Hall and at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority met yesterday with the executive director of Unity: Journalists of Color Inc. to discuss repealing the state law, which has remained on the books despite being widely considered unconstitutional."
Futures of 2 Military Institutes Uncertain
Futures of 2 Military Institutes Uncertain
"The Naval Postgraduate School, which offers the nation's first master's degree in homeland security, is rumored to be on the chopping block, said Monterey deputy city manager Fred Cohn.
The Defense Language Institute also could be closed but is less likely to be on the list because of its unique mission. The world's largest language school gives lessons in 25 languages and several dialects to about 3,500 students."
Beijing by the Bay
law.com - Article
"When the founders of King & Wood -- now the largest law firm in the People's Republic of China -- chose that name 11 years ago, it wasn't about ego.
'Actually, we do not have a Mr. King and a Mr. Wood,' says Wei Zhang, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based partner in the firm. Instead, the firm, hoping to appeal to Western clients, named itself with two Chinese characters that, when pronounced, sound like King and Wood. 'I think maybe there is a famous Western lawyer named Mr. Wood,' adds Zhang.
King & Wood is one of a handful of foreign law firms that have been setting up shop in San Francisco or Silicon Valley as globalizing U.S.-based firms invade their native lands. Though some are more ambitious, most are content to put just a few lawyers on the ground, with the goal of finding and keeping clients and sending some work home. "
Fewer HRs Amid Steroid Crackdown
MLB Sees Fewer HRs Amid Steroid Crackdown
"In the first year of toughened steroid testing, home runs are down in the major leagues for the first time since 2002. Florida Marlins pitcher Todd Jones doesn't think it's a coincidence. He's convinced there's a connection."
Former Nurse Tells of Hitler's Last Days
Former Nurse Tells of Hitler's Last Days | Germany | Deutsche Welle |
"According to the Berlin-based daily Berliner Zeitung, a survivor from Hitler's Berlin stronghold has decided to break her silence over what she saw and heard in the final days of the Third Reich.
Erna Flegel, a 93-year-old from the German capital, claims to have been the Nazi leader's nurse at the end of World War II and to have been in his bunker when Hitler took his own life."
Laura Bush & Red Americans
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Laura Bush Talks Naughty
"The coverage of Mrs. Bush's comic debut may change some minds, but for devout Bush-bashers, it's much easier to stay the course. If you live in a blue-state stronghold, a coastal city where you can go 24 hours without meeting any Republicans, it's consoling to think of the red staters as an alien bunch of strait-laced Bible thumpers.
Otherwise, how do you explain why they're Republican? Or answer the question Democrats asked in astonishment when they saw Mr. Bush's vote totals: Who are these people?
The favorite Democratic explanation is that the red staters are hicks who have been blinded by righteousness, as Thomas Frank argues in 'What's the Matter With Kansas?' He laments that middle-class Kansans are so bamboozled by moral issues like abortion and school prayer that they vote for Republicans even though the Republican tax-cutting policies are against their self-interest.
But middle-class Americans don't simply cast ballots for Republicans. They also vote with their feet, which is why blue states and old Democratic cities are losing population to red states and Republican exurbs. People are moving there precisely because of economic reasons - more jobs, affordable houses and the lower taxes offered by Republican politicians."