May It Please The Court

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May It Please The Court
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There are 2034 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 240

How Much for that Hammer?

Somebody's not telling the truth here.

Last March, the U.S. Forest Service told its workers that it was studying privitazing their jobs. The studies were supposed to cost $10 million, but questions have arisen over that number.

It turns out that the studies cost $24 million, according to the same AP writer, Robert Gehrke.

All to eliminate 41 jobs. Gehrke points out that the study determined that the government would actually spend $425,000 a year more to eliminate these jobs.

In a later paragraph, Gehrke quotes Thomas Mills, deputy chief for business operations at the Forest Service. According to Gehrke's quote, Mills "defends the studies and the decision to privatize Vester's team. He [Mills] said competitive sourcing will save the Forest Service $6.1 million a year, meaning the initiative will pay for itself in four years."

Which one is it Mr. Gehrke?

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, November 15, 2003 at 10:19 Comments (0) |

Big Exxon Verdict, Small Dispute

ExxonMobil got hit with an almost $12 billion (yes, with a "B") verdict today. The flap was over royalties for offshore natural gas leases.

ExxonMobil is understandably not happy with the jury's decision. ExxonMobil's press release says:

"ExxonMobil's total capital investment in Alabama currently exceeds $3 billion and the company employs more than 200 people and thousands of contractors, and more than 200 retirees live in the State. Since 1995, ExxonMobil has contributed nearly $3.5 million to charitable, civic and educational organizations throughout Alabama." I'm guessing that well will run dry soon.

The company is no stranger to big awards, though. In fact, maybe it should have stuck with the original, $3.5 billion (yes, still with a "B") verdict in the first case.

On appeal in this first case, the company argued that the actual dispute is relatively small - only $87 million.

Maybe paying this "small" amount that remains in dispute is better than a judgment for $12 bbbbillion dollars. Is there a message here?

But, that's what appeals are for.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, November 14, 2003 at 18:41 Comments (0) |

Solutions for Strip Mines and Scarred Landscapes

What do you do with a hole in the ground? Fill it, says Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. The Schuylkill County landscape in Pennsylvania is full (no pun intended) of these holes. I used to live there, and remember the stink and orange tint of the water from the mine acid.

These holes are the result of strip-mine operations, and are everybit an eyesore. Lehigh Coal wants to fill one hole in Tamaqua (pronounced with all short vowels, "ta-ma-kwa") and restore the contour of the land. These PenWeb  articles shed some light.

Lehigh's request doesn't sit well with local residents, who have formed an opposition group called Army for a Clean Environment. They don't want groundwater polluted or "fly ash" and coal sludge used as fill materials.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is working on using Tamaqua as a sort of "test site" for a workable resolution of this plan. New elections were recently held in Tamaqua, and the new City Council members appear posed to take on this dispute.

Good luck to everyone. I went to high school in this area, and have some sense of it's coal mining history. My ancestors came over from Wales to mine coal here, and there's no ready solution to these legacy problems.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, November 13, 2003 at 14:25 Comments (0) |

Will Rocky Go Down For The Count?

Former boxer Chuck Wepner filed this lawsuit today against Sylvester Stallone, according to Findlaw. Wepner claims that Stallone stole his life story for the Rocky movie, and its four sequels.

Even if I were a boxer, I'm not sure I'd want to make that claim. But, I don't want to hit below the belt.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 at 17:54 Comments (0) |

Write and Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go

As I write this, I'm looking back on articles and quotes that I've written criticizing the government, and am thankful that I can continue to do so from the comfort of my office and home.

Instead of rotting in a jail cell for three years, or even longer.

A dissident in China, 35 year-old Cai Lujun, was recently sentenced to three years in jail for publishing four articles on the internet. The articles are: "The Timetable for Chinese Democracy," "Miserable Second-Rate Citizens," "On the Current Political Monopoly and its Harmfulness" and "Outlines for Building and Governing the Country." I've searched for, but can't find, these articles.

He is one of 39 people in Chinese jails for something called "subverse state power." A number of other dissidents, mainly students have also been arrested.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists is taking up his case, as well as others, even though he's not a journalist - he makes his living selling beer and cigarettes. Another organization, Reporters Without Borders posted the linked article about another dissident that was sentenced to eight years in prison after a five-minute hearing.

All complaining aside, I'm very grateful that I get to write this stuff without fear of imprisonment. Writing with the possibility of jail makes my complaints comparatively inconsequential. I wonder whether I'd have the temerity to write knowing I could go to jail.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 at 08:26 Comments (0) |

What's Your Number? (A Bad Telemarketer Line)

The Tenth Circuit heard oral argument on the national Do Not Call Registry. The FTC, having lost in Colorado, had earlier filed a Notice of Appeal.

The case, entitled: Mainstream Marketing v. FTC resulted in a loss on September 25 when the District Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order. The FTC's Do Not Call Registry went down in flames. Apparently, the First Amendment free speech rights of telemarketers trump my rights to be free of speech.

The FTC got a stay with this set of Ps & As. Thank God.

The District Court decided that the Registry was content-based regulation covering commercial but not non-profit, solicitations, according to the reports on the oral arugment. The problem appears to be that policitians and charities are excluded.

Fine. Let's be non-content based. Make the Registry apply to everyone and get it over with.

Stop the calls, I say.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 at 10:10 Comments (0) |

New York to Enforce Air Laws the USEPA Won't

New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer says he'll pick up where the USEPA left off. Friday's MIPTC article reported that the USEPA will drop some Clean Air Act prosecutions as a consequence of new, less-stringent rules.

"By saying they won't proceed, they're saying, 'Never mind.' They're saying, 'Get out of jail free,'" Eliot Spitzer said in an interview with the Associated Press. "I'm saying, 'We're happy to do your work for you. If you don't wish to bring these cases, we will.' These are good cases. We'll take the cases they've let slide." Spitzer's posted a press release on the topic, too.

The changes to the New Source Review rules take effect in New York, California and several others early next year. A quick check of California Attorney General Bill Lockyear's news website today revealed no similar plans here, however.

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, November 10, 2003 at 08:29 Comments (0) |

The MATRIX Knows All

What is the Matrix, and why should you be so concerned, as the ACLU is? Not the movie, but instead this: the MATRIX, a nine-state information-gathering database, run by a private corporation with government funding.

This FindLaw article on CNN explains it in great detail. As does the ACLU site above (with 138 different articles if you search "Matrix" at the top of the page).

The MATRIX gathers all types of private, government and commercially available information about you. This information could include "credit histories, driver's license photographs, marriage and divorce records, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and the names and addresses of family members, neighbors and business associates."

The standard arguments:
PRO: Why would you mind this, if you don't have anything to hide? Why do you care if you're a suspect, unless you're guilty?

and CON: If you have nothing to hide why would you seek to enforce your privacy rights, or rights against self-incrimination, or right to an attorney? are being made.

Congress previously shut down a similar program called TIA, or Total Information Awareness, and opponents argue that the MATRIX should be shut down too.

If gathering all of this online information in one place is bad, why isn't the gathering of the separate parts of this information online equally insidious?

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, November 09, 2003 at 10:45 Comments (0) |

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