Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 5th, 2009

Job losses accumulate

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Justin Fox has updated his graph:

Here, updated with this morning’s non-farm payroll data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the latest edition of my comparing-the-recessions chart:


Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2009 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Free scriptwriting software

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Check out this post. Useful information and links.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2009 at 12:11 pm

Differences between a person and a human embryo

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One of my commenters suggested that an embryo is a person. I tactfully pointed out that he was wrong: an embryo is no more a person than an acorn is an oak tree. But I thought I should spell out the point in more detail.

Person Embryo
Has memories Has no memories
Has a brain Has no brain
Recognizable as an individual Unrecognizable as an individual
Has a heart Has no heart
Interacts with people Doesn’t interact with people

The point is clear, I think: an embryo is potentially a person, but that potential must be fulfilled before personhood exists. The tiny dots of the embryos that are used for research are by no means people. And discarding the embryos, instead of using them for medical research to find cures and treatments for diseases that afflict millions of people, seems to be disrespectful of their potential. I don’t know why the “discard” option so appeals to fundamentalists.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2009 at 11:14 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

The opinion in the Iowa gay-marriage decision

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From Peterr [sic] at Firedoglake:

If you are deciding a Very Big Case, your judicial opinion is going to get a lot of attention and it behooves you to write it well.

If you want to know what a very well-written opinion looks like, let me point you to the work of Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady in Varnum v Brien [pdf], which struck down Iowa’s prohibition on same-sex marriage (internal citations omitted and emphasis added):

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes poignantly said, “It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past.” This concept is evident in our past cases.

In the first reported case of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Iowa, In re Ralph, we refused to treat a human being as property to enforce a contract for slavery and held our laws must extend equal protection to persons of all races and conditions. This decision was seventeen years before the United States Supreme Court infamously decided Dred Scott v. Sandford, which upheld the rights of a slave owner to treat a person as property. Similarly, in Clark v. Board of Directors, and Coger v. North West. Union Packet Co., we struck blows to the concept of segregation long before the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Iowa was also the first state in the nation to admit a woman to the practice of law, doing so in 1869. Her admission occurred three years before the United States Supreme Court affirmed the State of Illinois decision to deny women admission to the practice of law, see Bradwell v. Illinois, and twenty five years before the United States Supreme Court affirmed the refusal of the Commonwealth of Virginia to admit women into the practice of law, see Ex parte Lockwood. In each of those instances, our state approached a fork in the road toward fulfillment of our constitution’s ideals and reaffirmed the absolute equality of all” persons before the law as “the very foundation principle of our government.” See Coger.

So, today, this court again faces an important issue that hinges on our definition of equal protection. This issue comes to us with the same importance as our landmark cases of the past. The same-sex-marriage debate waged in this case is part of a strong national dialogue centered on a fundamental, deep-seated, traditional institution that has excluded, by state action, a particular class of Iowans. This class of people asks a simple and direct question: How can a state premised on the constitutional principle of equal protection justify exclusion of a class of Iowans from civil marriage?

Some judicial opinions are impenetrable, even to other judges. This is not one of those opinions. By the end of it, the answer to that question above is inescapable: it can’t:

Iowa Code section 595.2 is unconstitutional because …

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Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2009 at 9:33 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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The dismissal of the Stevens case

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John Terzano of The Justice Project has a good post exploring the ramifications of the dismissal of the case against Ted Stevens. It begins:

This week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dismissed the case against former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. Citing prosecutorial misconduct as the primary reason, the Justice Department determined that the fairness of the trial had been too damaged by government misconduct to proceed further. Holder stated that, "[a]fter careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial," and that "it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial." Holder’s decision represents a critical first step in addressing a growing nationwide problem of prosecutors abusing their power in order to secure convictions.

The Stevens case had been marred by prosecutorial misconduct from the outset.  Judge Emmett Sullivan repeatedly criticized prosecutors for failing to follow orders to provide evidence to the defense. In addition, prosecutorial misconduct at trial led Judge Sullivan to hold one of the prosecutors in contempt, and at one point instruct the jury to disregard some evidence presented by the prosecution. Delays in the case persisted in order to allow the court to deal with additional allegations of misconduct. In February, after replacing the original trial team, new prosecutors discovered even more evidence that should have been turned over to the defense. That prompted Holder to dismiss the charges against Stevens and order an internal review of the offending prosecutors.

The proper role of a prosecutor is not to simply seek convictions, but to see that justice is done. In pursuing a conviction against Stevens, prosecutors ignored their constitutional and ethical obligations to ensure a fair trial process. Holder rightly recognizes that there can be no justice when the fairness of a criminal proceeding is interrupted by government misconduct. The convictions against Stevens were obtained through the abuse of prosecutorial power and the wrongful suppression of evidence.  Mr. Holder had no choice but to dismiss the indictment against Stevens.

Unfortunately, the kind of prosecutorial misconduct that occurred in Steven’s case is pervasive in our criminal justice system, at both the state and federal level…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2009 at 9:31 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

In case you need a break

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This kid can’t get over how witty his father is.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2009 at 9:12 am

Posted in Daily life

More CEO firings?

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Interesting report in the Guardian:

Elizabeth Warren, chief watchdog of America’s $700bn (£472bn) bank bailout plan, will this week call for the removal of top executives from Citigroup, AIG and other institutions that have received government funds in a damning report that will question the administration’s approach to saving the financial system from collapse.

Warren, a Harvard law professor and chair of the congressional oversight committee monitoring the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (Tarp), is also set to call for shareholders in those institutions to be "wiped out". "It is crucial for these things to happen," she said. "Japan tried to avoid them and just offered subsidy with little or no consequences for management or equity investors, and this is why Japan suffered a lost decade." She declined to give more detail but confirmed that she would refer to insurance group AIG, which has received $173bn in bailout money, and banking giant Citigroup, which has had $45bn in funds and more than $316bn of loan guarantees.

Warren also believes there are "dangers inherent" in the approach taken by treasury secretary Tim Geithner, who she says has offered "open-ended subsidies" to some of the world’s biggest financial institutions without adequately weighing potential pitfalls. "We want to ensure that the treasury gives the public an alternative approach," she said, adding that she was worried that banks would not recover while they were being fed subsidies. "When are they going to say, enough?" she said…

Continue reading. I wonder whether this call will be heeded. The financial establishment is well represented in the Obama administration.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2009 at 9:10 am

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