May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - Looks like we've saved the universe one more time, Mr. Spock.
Cars That Run On Compressed Air Coming To YouRarely does technology come along in such a way that captures attention. Except this idea is not new. It was first invented in the 1880's. Supposedly, a U.S. Patent exists to convert a V-8 engine to air power.
But, Wikipedia credits Guy Negre with the invention, who started his company in 1991.
In 1996, on the other side of the world, Energine Company has been working on the same thing. President Cho Cheol-sung has "appreciated [our] continuous concerning" about his invention. The Research Library has been working on the problem since 1979.
Don't get me wrong here - I'm not trying to contest any inventor's claims, just point out that the idea is nothing new. I may have gone a bit overboard, though (as usual). Instead, I am more excited about the concept that a car that doesn't pollute could make it to our shores.
But, what happened to good old American ingenuity? Right now, it appears to be in France. Beyond the company's website, here's a short explanation on how the car will work.
So far, it appears that we've only been studying it and studying it. It appears that as far as building goes, all we've been able to produce so far is a Lego air engine.
At least it's not a lot of hot air, and looks like it has the potential to change the world. Question is, will the Motor City and Big Oil support it?
Is The Evidence In Yet? Salmon Still SwimmingEarlier this month, you saw it here: farm-raised salmon are high in PCBs. Now, it appears that two someones may file suit.
The Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health filed this Proposition 65 Notice against some 50 salmon farms.
Under Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, companies are required to notify consumers if their products contain hazardous levels of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm.
The lead notice recipient, Atlantic Salmon of Maine, LLC, has been in trouble before for alleged Clean Water Act violations.
ASOM has its own website that is worth perusing. Here's the reaction from the industry, "(Consumers) will be doing themselves and their families a great disservice if they stop eating farmed salmon," said Alex Trent, executive director of the trade group Salmon of the Americas.
He noted that farmed salmon, a source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, is much cheaper than wild salmon and can be purchased year-round. Their press release, however, didn't quite accurately predict the outcome of the study in Science that found high levels of PCBs in farm-raised salmon.
Unlike the prejudging we've done in recent celebrity legal flaps, let's wait until the evidence is in on this one. There's always at least two sides to every story. Check out Riverdale Elementary School's Salmon Page for everything salmon, and check out this take this report from the Free Market Project , arguing that the media has it all wrong. You might learn a few things.
New State Implementation Plan Out for CommentYou're dying to know. The South Coast Air Quality Management District submitted its new SIP (State Implementation Plan) to the USEAP.
First time we've had an update since 1999. 'Bout time.
If you want to read the Plan, click here. IF you want to comment, send them to USEPA, 75 Hawthorne Street (Air-2), San Francisco, CA 94105- 3901, Attn: Eleanor Kaplan or call her at 415-947-4147. Comments must be submitted by February 23, 2004.
Home Buying Just Got a Little TrickierThe courts and juries have been especially tough on homebuilders in recent years, and developers understandably reacted by writing limitations on their warranties into their contracts.
One of those contracts just got upheld, with a little bonus for the developer. In Hicks v. Sup.Ct. (Kaufman & Broad Home Corp.), the Court said that the contract not only was valid to disclaim express warranties, but also the implied warranty of quality.
This implied warranty was a judicially-created warranty, stretching back to 1974. Apparently, it has taken developer's attorneys a long time to figure a way around that doctrine.
But this time, it worked. Kaufman & Broad is understandably happy, and there will likely be a number of insurers who are, too.
Homeowners, on the other hand, have to read their contracts more carefully and understand what they're buying. You can expect this language to creep into all types of contracts now.
Kansas? From South America to the SmithsonianYou're the head of the Smithsonian Institution. You receive an offer to purchase South American headdresses that include feathers from endangered birds. More than likely, you know that such a purchase would violate several laws, including international treaties. What do you do?
If you're Secretary Lawrence M. Small, you seek legal advice (which apparently OK'd the purchase), and then after buying them, you display them at several of the Smithsonian Museums.
Then, you get a tap on the shoulder from the U.S. Attorney in Raleigh, NC. I thought the Smithsonian was in Washington, D.C., just a couple of states North. How did we get this far South, Toto?
Next thing you know, you're pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating a federal law protecting endangered birds. Whoops!
But, thankfully, your employer isn't going to fire you. According to the Smithsonian's Board of Directors, investigation and guilty plea "has not impaired, is not impairing, and will not hereafter impair" Small's ability to run the Smithsonian. Wow! Past, present and future imperfect participles all in one sentence.
Small will continue to run the Smithsonian's 16 museums and galleries, the National Zoo in Washington and research facilities in the United States and abroad.
Apparently, there's a little bit of larceny in everyone. Or maybe just Indiana Jones. Funny, they don't even look alike.
Then again, you could be prosecuted by the likes of Andy Griffith.
Supremes Hand USEPA the HammerFederalism reigns Supreme. Supreme Court that is.
In a riveting, 61-page opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can overrule state courts when ordering anti-pollution measures, even if they entail increased costs.
Well, look at it this way: the USEPA has final authority over the 50 states when it comes to air pollution, even if it means that the cost to implement pollution control devices is expensive. Same thing, different way.
The Clean Air Act gives initial authority to the states to regulate pollution control devices, but allows the USEPA to look over the states' shoulder. When the USEPA thinks the state is being too lenient, it can step in and order that the pollution control devices be installed, without regard to cost.
Big decision, big cost. Not good news for industries, but good news for environmentalists.
What? I Have To Pay For My Electricity?If you live in Italy, you can seek compensation for electrical blackouts.
What a deal! Now just what is the statute of limitations on that one?
Perhaps some enterprising lawyer in California has filed suit against the utilities that sponsor rolling blackouts like they sponsor baseball fields (well, not anymore).
Imagine the possibilities. Instead of my meter running backwards, my bank account would run forward.
But, like the Ohio power blackout late last year, our blackouts would be solved if we could just get Ronco products off the air.
Is Your Chocolate Heavy?Is there more than just naturally occurring lead and cadmium in your candy bar? One group wants us to think that the question is still up in the air. Maybe it was never a problem in the first place.
According to Prop 65 News, the nation's major candy companies settled a Proposition 65 warning lawsuit with American Environmental Safety Institute for just $20,000. Prop 65 is a California creation, designed to require warnings to consumers when levels of toxic chemicals might cause cancer or reproductive harm.
According to this article, the allegations were very serious, and AESI alleged that lead was "clearly" in the chocolate. When all was said and done though, Prop 65 News reported, "No penalties or attorney fees were awarded and the deal, which was the result of the defendantsí "offer to compromise," did not require the companies to warn customers of lead or cadmium exposures."
Maybe the allegations were all a mistake. Or maybe they were just designed to get money. You be the judge.
You can look at AESI's chocolate page, and the candy association's response.
The California Attorney General had this to say: AESI's claims "lack merit."