Category: Law

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New Poster Child for the Pro-Choice Lobby

As Halloween approaches, decorations proliferate and some become quite elaborate. This caged kid in a tree had me chuckling, earlier today—for elaborate staging and opportunity for me to be snarky. Disclaimer: My sarcasm is sure to offend somebody. If that’s you, please accept my no apology.

Pro-lifers are giddy as a bear slopping honey from a fallen beehive, following the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v Wade. They aren’t too bothered by stings from swarming Pro-choicers, who are losing their minds over the 6-3 decision. Since they are absolutely crazy—uh, crazed—let’s pretend this shrieking girl is their marketing maven—warning about the horror show progeny that you could produce because you can’t legally have a doctor cut it out.

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A Gift with Grit

What do they say about coincidence? On Oct. 7, 2022, my wife and I watched a live-streamed presentation from the “Save the Nation Conference“, where Leah Hoopes and Gregory Stenstrom detail their investigation into election fraud in Delaware County, Pa. during the 2020 election. What sets their effort apart from others built upon innuendo and supposition: Successful collection of actual evidence.

This afternoon, when returning from a walk, I found a book wrapped in a note on our doorstep. One of my neighbors left a copy of The Parallel Election: A Blueprint for Deception by Hoopes and Stenstrom. Huh? I can’t say who was more surprised: Me, that she left the tome, or her, later learning that I was familiar with the content and authors.

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Don’t Fall In

On June 29, 2006, a sinkhole mysteriously opened in our backyard. We lived nearly 5 kilometers—about 3 miles—outside the Washington Beltway. I wouldn’t want to be too close to the District of Columbia this weekend, in the wake of today’s momentous, or shocking (depending on your politics or values), Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v Wade. States will now individually dictate when, if at all, abortions may be performed.

I use the Featured Image as a metaphor, so to speak, for the sinkhole into which people praising or condemning the decision will fall into. Seems like there is no solid ground under this topic; anyone and everyone opposing your position, whatever that may be, will be pushed in and buried. To some, abortion is murder. To others, it’s a right taken away.

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Jeopardy Answer: In California. Question: Where are Bees Fish?

Yep. Last week a court basically reclassified bumble bees as fish. Where else but California could one thing that is be called something it ain’t. Hehe, it’s the craziest, but not necessarily intentional, twist on identity politics yet. Someone tell me: What’s the appropriate pronoun, so I don’t offend anything that flies or swims?

The problem, if you can call California legislative narrowness anything less, is the definition of protected species used in the 1970 Endangered Species Act. Amphibia. Check. Bird. Check. Mammal. Check. Reptile. Check. But, whoops, somebody overlooked insects. Which is how through one court proceeding and appeal the definition of fish now applies to some bees.

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Fit to Survive

Hard to imagine that a year ago, Californians freaked about rising SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 infections, with Governor Gavin Newsom imposing additional lockdown restrictions that essentially cancelled Christmas. Thanksgiving already was collateral damage.

Some small businesses, like Boulevard Fitness, resisted closure and defied threats of fines—or worse. The city (or county) could pull permits, particularly related to public health. For eateries and pubs, liquor license could be yanked instead or as well.

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‘You Are Being Watched’

Funny how the intention for taking a photo isn’t the reason for publishing it—as is the case with the Featured Image, captured yesterday using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 5:26 p.m. PDT. The crusty, “Criminal Beware” sign struck me as really funny—no deterrent at all—and I planned to wisecrack about how the old, neglected thing would frighten off nobody. Then my wife got into the final frame, and everything changed.

She stopped to check her mileage (from walking), while I fumbled with the camera. I really like the synchronicity of her dipped head and hat with the cloaked villain’s posture. Her presence lends perspective, too—how ridiculously high off the ground is the warning. I have passed by that intersection, at Mississippi and Monroe, hundreds of times and hadn’t before noticed the sign. If a posting doesn’t register with residents, will criminals scouting people and places at eye-level see it—or even care? By the way, newer “Neighborhood Watch” signs are lower.

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A 20-Year-Old Memento

While rummaging around for one of our daughter’s old drawings, my wife pulled out my press pass issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 20 years ago. At the time, Microsoft sought to overturn, or at least diminish, its adverse antitrust ruling and recommended remedy that would break the company into separate applications and operating systems companies. The U.S. Justice Department and 20 states attorneys general filed the initial case in May 1998. One state dropped out almost immediately. If I rightly recall, only 18 states remained by mid-2001.

I was a staff writer for CNET News.com and remember the court case well. My reporting got lots of attention, particularly analyses of the case and where it would lead—such as prediction that the appeals court would remove the trial judge; it did and upheld eight antitrust offenses. I am unable to find the news piece online because CNET removed the byline from all my stories—presumably purged in a content management system upgrade five years (or so) ago. Even more disturbing: The stories I have found universally have the wrong datelines. For example, my report “New judge assigned in Microsoft trial” has a publication date of July 20, 2002 but should be Aug. 24, 2001. Ugh.

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Europe’s Anti-Google Ruling Stifles Competition

Today the European Union gave Apple a great gift to celebrate iPhone’s 10th anniversary (on June 29th): The ridiculous, record $2.7 billion fine, and associated sanctions, against Google that once again demonstrates the EU’s small-minded oversight that wrongly regulates evolving technologies in a big world. The adverse antitrust ruling finds that the online titan favored its own online shopping services (and paying customers) over rivals.

In February 2010, with the EU Competition Commission’s preliminary investigation starting, I rightly called “Google a dangerous monopoly“. Seven years later, the competitive landscape has dramatically changed, and rapidly evolves. The Commission’s action is too much, too late, and in the short-term can only benefit rivals like Apple that will dominate online activities and commerce as what we knew as traditional web search becomes something else. 

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Fly the Unfriendly Skies

Spanning most of my career, whether working as analyst or journalist, I have repeatedly railed against how U.S. law treats businesses—essentially as people. Reason: Moral dichotomy, where the ethical priorities of publicly-traded companies vastly differ from—and often contradict with—values of the people founding, running, or working for them. Keyword is value, where one usage refers to beliefs and another to money; meaning stock price and proceeds returned to shareholders.

My first, best articulation of this concept came during an April 2006 radio interview—I believe for NPR marketplace—when discussing major U.S. search providers Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo censoring results in China, at the government’s insistence. Behind the action there loomed censorship’s morality, such as restricting search terms like “democracy”. I expressed that there is no moral high ground in business. The high ground is quagmire, because all public companies share a single, moral objective: Make profits for stockholders. Plain, pure, and simple. Sadly, that moral agenda explains why United Airline’s PR week from Hell is Heaven for shareholders. Overbooking means the carrier fills seats; operations are lean and mean (quite literally, the latter). 

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Google, pull the Plug on Europe

Yesterday, Europe’s Competition Commission expanded its legal assault against Alphabet and major subsidiary Google. Four monopolies are under fire: AdSense, Android, search, and shopping services. Trustbusters allege that Google uses anticompetitive tactics to protect its market dominance, which share ranges from 80 percent to 90 percent in each category. Behind the charges is a hoity-toity attitude typical of overly-protectionist EU regulators. What if the information giant gave them what they want?

Imagine this: Google shuts down operations across the entire Euro zone—in a Brexit-like departure, but suddenly with no preparations. Switch it off. Search and other services could remain available in Britain and to all other non-EU countries. The company surely has the means, starting with IP blocking and expanding to other measures. The risk: Confirming just how dominant is Google, because of the incredible negative consequences. But the chaos also would lead to an outcry to restore services, while illuminating how important Big G is to citizens and how greatly businesses benefit, or profit, from the monopolies. 

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Google Runs Aground European Union Antitrust Objections

Alphabet Admirals Sergey Brin and Larry Page had better tell Captain Sundar Pichai to close the watertight doors—lest the search and advertising ship sink in the North Sea, where depths reach 700 meters (2,300). Brrrr. Are the lawyers handing out life preservers? Will paralegals man the water pumps?

Today’s expansion of the European Union Competition Commission’s investigation into Google business practices makes a really bad situation much, much, much worse. Problems are these: Adding advertising to anticompetitive charges; expanding investigation to four monopolies (AdSense, Android, search, shopping services); citing exclusive contracts as violation of the law; and narrowing the applicable market for search shopping competition, thus blowing apart one of Google’s major counter legal arguments. Kaboom! 

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Defending Gawker

What do you say about milk-curdling success? Dilbert-creator Scott Adams liked one of the tweets (posted by another team member) on our Frak That Twitter today. I am less enthused and disagree with Scott’s blog post spotlighting similar topic: Billionaire backing third-party lawsuit against a news organization; Peter Thiel’s previously secret assault on Gawker Media.

“Gawker’s business model is built around destroying the lives of innocent people to attract clicks”, Scott Adams writes. “How awful is Gawker? Imagine if revenge porn and cancer decided to get married and have an ugly baby with fangs. That would be Gawker. Pure evil…I see Thiel’s campaign against Gawker as a public service, and a valuable one”. I couldn’t disagree more