Source – abcnews.go.com/ By – SARAH DiLORENZO and GEIR MOULSON Category – Matthews Bark
The Grenoble University Hospital Center said the retired racing driver arrived at the clinic in a coma and underwent immediate surgery for a serious head trauma.
It was not clear whether the 44-year-old Schumacher was still in a coma but the hospital statement, which was signed by a neurosurgeon, an anesthesiologist and Marc Penaud, the hospital’s deputy director, said “he remains in a critical condition.”
Schumacher fell while skiing off-piste in Meribel earlier Sunday and hit his head on a rock, according to a statement from the resort. Resort managers said he had been wearing a helmet and was conscious when rescuers first responded to the scene.
Earlier in the day, the Meribel resort said Schumacher had been taken to Grenoble for tests and authorities said his life was not in danger.
But the situation began to appear more serious when the resort said that orthopedic and trauma surgeon Gerard Saillant had traveled from Paris to the hospital in Grenoble to examine Schumacher. German news agency dpa said it was Saillant who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg during a crash at the Silverstone race course in 1999.
In an email to The Associated Press, Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm said the champion German driver was on a private skiing trip and “fell on his head.”
“We ask for understanding that we cannot give running updates on his condition. He wore a helmet and was not alone,” Kehm said. Schumacher’s 14-year-old son was skiing with his father when the accident happened, the resort said.
As news of the accident spread, Formula One drivers used social media to wish Schumacher a quick recovery.
His former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, who recovered from life-threatening injuries sustained at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009, wrote on Instagram: “I am praying for you my brother!! I hope you have a quick recovery!! God bless you Michael.”
The Twitter feed of Germany’s Adrian Sutil, who drives for Sauber, read: “I hope Michael Schumacher will get well soon! All my best to him and his family.” Romain Grosjean of Lotus tweeted: “All our thoughts to Schumi and his family! Hope you will recover soon #legend #Schumi.”
Support also came from leading German sports personalities, ranging from the NBA to soccer. Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki said his thoughts were with Schumacher, while Lukas Podolski, who plays for Arsenal in the English Premier League, tweeted: “Bad news from Switzerland: please get well soon, Michael Schumacher. All the best for you, my friend! #getwellsoon #MichaelSchumacher.”
In addition to the crash at Silverstone, Schumacher was hurt seriously in a motorcycling accident in February 2009 in Spain when he suffered neck and spine injuries. He recovered sufficiently from those injuries to make a comeback in F1.
Schumacher initially retired from F1 in 2006 after winning five straight titles with Ferrari following two earlier ones with Benetton. He returned to the sport in 2010 and drove for three seasons for Mercedes without much success before retiring again last year.
Source – theguardian.com/ By – Jon Henley Category – Matthews Bark
Amiran Natsvlishvili is not complaining about the kidnapping. Nor about the brutal beatings, or the huge ransom his family had to pay for his release. The former managing director of a state car plant in Georgia is not bitter, either, about the accusations of embezzlement and misuse of public funds.
No, as his young lawyer argues in a bright, high-ceiling courtroom in Strasbourg, what Natsvlishvili really objects to is that the state lied to him.
Locked up for more than four months in the same vile cell as the man who kidnapped and beat him as well as a convicted murderer, when the state finally offered him a deal – cop a plea, pay a fine and you’re free – Natsvlishvili was so desperate that he jumped at it. And then he was told he could not appeal.
That is why we are here, says the lawyer to the judges behind the bench at the European court of human rights: this man has plainly been denied the right to a fair trial. Georgia of course denies it, but it is in breach of article 6, paragraph 1 of the European convention on human rights.
Along with the European commission in Brussels, the Strasbourg-based ECHR could reasonably lay claim to being one of the most maligned institutions in Britain. (“Hardly surprising, I suppose,” quips a senior British court official. “Our name contains the words ‘European’ and ‘human rights’. Not exactly a winning combination.”)
Conservative MPs have said it is high time for Britain to “quit the jurisdiction” of a “supranational quango”. The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, is “reviewing Britain’s relationship” with an institution he says has “reached the point where it has lost democratic acceptability”.
Grayling said last week the ECHR did not “make this country a better place”. David Cameron has said the court risks becoming a glorified “small claims court” buried under a mountain of “trivial” claims , and suggested Britain could withdraw from the convention to “keep our country safe”. The home secretary, Theresa May, has pledged the party’s next manifesto will promise to scrap the Human Rights Act, which makes the convention enforceable in Britain.
Former lord chief justice Lord Judge and three other senior British judges have recently backed this stance in high-profile lectures, arguing that by treating the convention as a “living instrument” the ECHR is “undermining democracy”. Its judges, rather than parliament, are now making British law, they allege, and parliamentary sovereignty should not be ceded to “a foreign court”. But another leading supreme court judge, Lord Mance, last week forcefully defended the ECHR’s contribution to British law.
Parts of the press have been more outspoken, railing against “meddling, unelected European judges” who are “wrecking British law” and demanding the government “draw a line in the sand to defend British sovereignty” by “defying Europe … and ignoring the rulings of this foreign court”.
That’s not how they see things in Strasbourg. In the 60 years of its existence, the ECHR has reached well over 10,000 judgments in cases such as that brought by Natsvlishvili, prompting changes to national laws and procedures in nearly 50 countries that have now signed the convention.
In the past decade, the court has required Bulgaria to care properly for people with mental and physical disabilities, and Austria to allow same-sex couples to adopt each other’s children. It has forced Cyprus to take action against sex trafficking and Moldova to halt state censorship of TV. Its judgments have compelled improvements in Russian prisons, and more effective punishment of domestic violence in Turkey.
In France, laws have been passed to protect domestic servants from forced labour, while illegitimate children now have equal rights to inheritance.
Britain has been obliged to take greater care of vulnerable prisoners, regulate the monitoring of employees’ communications, protect the anonymity of journalists’ sources, bring the age of consent for gay people in line with that for heterosexuals and force local councils to observe proper safeguards in evictions.
“It isn’t just about the human rights of individuals,” says Paul Mahoney, the court’s veteran British judge, “it’s about the functioning of the rule of law – of democratic institutions – in countries not all of which have, like the UK, enjoyed 300-odd years of democracy and freedom.
At the end of the day, it’s possible for somebody from a tiny village to come here, take their government to court and get the law changed. That really is a small miracle.”
Deputy registrar Michael O’Boyle is equally forthright. “For six decades,” he says, “this institution has radiated a highly impressive body of case law out to the legal systems of a large number of countries – 47 today. It’s an advance in civilisation.”
Earlier this week, we mentioned the ridiculous argument from a University of Tennessee law professor, Lucy Jewel, that law degrees confer non-economic benefits like “cultural cachet,” which make the deal valuable to people who risk financial ruin to get it.
Professor Jewel writes: “Every graduation, when I see the beaming smiles from my students’ family members, I do not think about the fact that they are getting a degree from a so-called fourth-tier toilet law school; I see people who have achieved a dream (albeit at great financial expense) and obtained a credential that signifies membership in a powerful profession.”
Guys… I just can’t. I can’t keep beating back every stupid argument that any law professor can come up with to defend the systemic price-gouging of American law students. I am just one man and they are many. I have never in my life confronted a group of educated people so eager to justify the precise manner in which they economically take advantage of students — kids, really — too stupid to know any better. At this point, if a law professor took candy from a baby she’d say she did it to help the kid save on dental bills.
You want talk about the non-economic benefits of going to law school? FINE! Let’s talk about the social and cultural “cachet” you’ll get, and see if it’s worth all the CASH you won’t ever be seeing again…
1. You’ll Be A Lot Of Fun At Parties.
Has anybody ever said: “You know, Brad was a prick before he went to law school, but now that he thinks he can justify everything by telling me to Google a statute, he’s really mellowed.” Wait, that’s never been said? What about: “Jane was also such a sweet and open-minded girl, and now that she’s in law school and can passionately argue out of both sides of her mouth for every position, her new mix of equivocating judgmentalism is really quite fetching.”
Oh, that’s right, nobody’s ever said that, because law school turns nice people into pricks and pricks into Super Villains.
But hey, you’ll always have something to say! A law degree means never having to STFU ever again!
2. Cops LOVE Hearing About Your Rights.
Having a law degree means YOU have the power to turn any ordinary stop and encounter with the police into an arrest and a court date. Just think of the fun you’ll have antagonizing and pissing off law enforcement officials with all your fancy law-talkin’. Turning a “warning” into a thousand-dollar citation is really cool when you are (almost totally) sure that you’ll prevail in court. And if you are a minority, telling Officer Racist that he doesn’t have probable cause to make you stop and talk to him will feel really empowering when you are sitting at the station with a plunger up your ass and no witness to all the scary ways you “resisted” arrest.
3. But At Least You’ll Be Able To Understand When Your Rights Are Taken Away.
4. Reading Fine Print Is Fun.
A normal person doesn’t even see the fine print. Can you believe it? They just gloss over that stuff and move on with their lives. But not you, J.D. holder. You always notice it; you can’t help noticing it. Warning labels too. And privacy agreements, man, you could redline the terms and conditions on your new iPad in your sleep if you had to. There’s a whole world of absolutely meaningless boilerplate language out there just waiting for somebody to read it.
(As for Judge Richard Posner, he’s too smart to bother with fine print.)
5. Arguing With People Is A Great Way To Make Friends And Get Laid.
Obviously, lawyers are much better at getting sex than musicians, artists, or the very wealthy. If Jay-Z wants to woo Beyonce, he has to sing and dance, lavish her with gifts, and seem like an awesome and cool person. But if a lawyer wants to get with the prettiest girl at the party, all he has to do is go up to her and explain it to her. Logically. Perhaps with a reference to her past precedent with men. “Look Barbara, I know you like good-looking guys who are fit and have no more than one chin. But where has that gotten you? You are 32, still unmarried, and starting to show signs of age. Don’t you think it’s time that you settled? My offer will stand for the next two hours or until the bar closes.”
And we’ve recently discussed how lawyers make great roommates. You never have to worry about a lawyer/friend bending the spirit of an agreement beyond all recognition solely for their personal benefit.
6. People Will Ask You For Legal Advice, For Free, All The Time.
Nothing says “I am respected within my community” like friends and family demanding that you perform tasks for them for no remuneration. Like, if your friend asks you to help him move, he might throw you a couple of bucks or a case of beer. But if he wants you to “figure out if this will makes sense,” well… he respects you so much that he expects you can do it quickly and for no money.
7. Mommy and Daddy Will Be Really Proud.
Sure, you might spend the rest of your career trying to conceal the fact that your law degree doesn’t confer the ECONOMIC benefits that Mommy and Daddy thinks that it does (or would if you just tried harder), but they’ll be really freaking proud of their child, “the lawyer.”
(Unless you have a sibling who is a doctor. If that’s the case, you should just skip this point.)
8. You’ll Just Love Law School, Almost Inexplicably, Because…
9. You’ll Never Be Wrong Again.
Do you realize that lawyers get to say things like “I totally believe blah blah blah, but IN THE ALTERNATIVE…. everything I just said is wrong but everything I’m saying now is right, so either way I’m right and always have been.” It’s a goddamn super power. I had an argument last winter with a lawyer friend (which are the only kinds that I have left, see #5, supra) ABOUT WHETHER SNOW WAS COLD. He was arguing that it wasn’t (on some kind of cosmic, Kelvin-scale), and I was arguing that it was. And we were both right. And in support of my argument, I said that treating snow as “not cold” was (wait for it) RACIST because it didn’t take into account cultural differences among disparate people… and instead of just laughing or punching me in the face, he engaged with my point!
Getting a law degree is like getting a ticket into BS Nirvana. You know, if you are into that kind of thing.
10. You Get To Read Above the Law.
In a way, ATL is just like law school. You get to sit here and be told that the way you used to think was wrong and intellectually weak. All around there are people doing much worse than you, and some people doing much better than you, which just kind of makes you feel bad about yourself. You leave, stronger and more informed, but in a sad, bitter way. And all that knowledge doesn’t help you one goddamn bit when it comes time to GET A JOB.
Really, if we charged you $30,000 a year to read, and then talked about the “social cachet” you received from wasting your money, we’d get ABA accreditation.
Social media mogul Facebook has even been tracking what their users don’t type. It’s a pretty sure bet that nearly every Facebook user has typed out a comment or a status update, and then had second thoughts only to delete it before hitting Enter or Post. Well it turns out that Facebook knows about it and tracked it.
Employees at Facebook have dubbed this “self-censorship,” and they have just conducted a study of this personal filtering method. Facebook summer software engineer and Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student, Sauvik Das, along with Facebook data scientist, Adam Kramer, have been conducting a study on this “self-censorship.”
The two project leaders studied data collected in July 2012 from 5 million English-speaking users over a 17-day period. The study found that 71 percent of the users censored their own posts. The users that held back did so on an average of 4.52 status updates and an average of 3.2 comments.
The censored data is collected when a user enters text it triggers code to be sent to the web browser from Facebook. This code sent from Facebook then analyzes what was typed and sends the metadata back to Facebook. Experts have compared this method to how an email program creates a draft of an email message, but the difference is that a user knows that the draft is being created, unlike the Facebook tracking method.
If a user has a Facebook account, it means that they have agreed to the Facebook’s Data Use Policy. Most users are aware that agreeing to the policy means Facebook collects information that users choose to share. However, the policy goes even deeper. Facebook’s policy also covers tracking what users choose to type but do not share.
The study did say that Facebook was not tracking what users actually did say, and they only tracked if users censored their comment or status post. However, both Das and Kramer have stated in the study’s conclusion that they are looking to expand their study to see what was actually being censored. Facebook says that the more they know about why and how their users are self-censoring their posts, the more they can help to minimize it.
The study found five common reasons why people were possibly filtering their posts.
User will censor posts to stop an argument or to avoid instigating one.
People will also think twice about posting a comment if they fear they may offend someone.
Users may fear that they will bore their friends with the comment.
People may have a fear of being inconsistent with their own self-representations.
The user may be stopped by technical reasons.
The study also gathered demographics from the Facebook users with some behavioral features as well. In addition to these, Facebook also tracked the average number of friends, and their political ideology in relation to their friends’ beliefs. This information was used to cross reference the data gathered from their friends. Those cross sections were:
The user’s political stance compared to their friends views.
The user’s political ideology compared to how homogenous their friends are.
How gender-diverse their network is, in relation to their own gender.
Facebook has had much interest in how their users think and how they react with their site. There may be plans in future to track a user’s mouse movement over the Facebook page to further understand the user’s habits. So it should really come as no surprise when they are even tracking what users don’t type.
The law firm of Herzfeld, Rubin, Meyer & Rose Limited (HRMR) announced itself as the first 100% American owned law firm in Myanmar on July 29, 2013. While the United States has reduced the number of sanctions it has against the former nation of Burma in the past year, there are many U.S. sanctions still on the books that make it more difficult for American companies to do business in Myanmar than companies of any other country. I had a series of conversations with Eric Rose of HRMR about his parent law firm’s global brand, its specialty in emerging and frontier markets and why it has chosen Romania and Myanmar as its two outposts in these markets.
In the interview below, Mr. Rose candidly speaks about the opportunities and risks in Myanmar where he expects GDP to at least triple in the coming 20 years. While representing his law firm, his answers provide a clear view of investing opportunities, business prospects, sanction situations, Myanmar’s history, current stability and international relations. Jon Springer: During your legal career, you have done a lot of work in emerging and frontier markets both in private practice and as an in-house lawyer for corporations. When did you first work in Myanmar? Eric Rose: I set up the strategy for American Standard, the kitchen and bath goods manufacturer, in Myanmar in the mid-1990s. At that time, U.S. sanctions were limited. Major sanctions came in 2003. JS: Was this experience part of why HRMR decided to open an office in Myanmar?
ER: Our firm specializes in emerging and frontier markets. We chose both Romania and Myanmar for similar reasons. Both countries at the time we arrived were newly open to American business. They both have large, literate populations. In both cases they were or are countries starting with a low GDP basis, a high need for infrastructure development, an incredible wealth of natural resources and a strong relatively cheap workforce. JS: When you say your firm specializes in emerging and frontier markets, what is the range of countries your firm’s attorneys have worked in and range of services provided?
ER: A law firm is only as good as the attorneys it has. Our attorneys have lead transactions in over fifty countries on five continents, the majority of which were then, and some still are, emerging or frontier markets. For example, in the early 1990s, I guided companies like John Deere and Tyco Toys in countries of the former Soviet Union, South Africa and China. In the middle ’90s, I lead American Standard’s and Trane’s entrance in Vietnam, Burma, Egypt and Eastern Europe. Later, I helped Wabco Automotive and Diasorin penetrate India and China. More recently, I steered Cybertel and Perry Equipment transactions in Latin America and Eastern Europe. The firm has over 200 practitioners in six affiliated offices on three continents, and offers a full range of legal services to its clients, which range from individuals to Fortune 500 companies the world over. JS: Specifically looking at Myanmar, it has been touted as early as 1885 as the greatest place to invest in the world in Archibald Colquhoun’s Burma and the Burmans: Or, “The best unopened market in the world”. What is different now?
ER: In the first half of the 20th century, Burma was the richest country in Southeast Asia, the largest producer of rice in the world and the number one producer of beans and pulses. Rangoon, at the time, had the best universities and was the hub airport for travel throughout Asia and beyond. Today, Myanmar is the poorest country in Southeast Asia, 75% of its population does not have access to electricity, and only 10% have access to cell phones. What has changed is that, for the first time since Myanmar’s independence, all of its citizens from all ethnic groups, as well as the government and the army, are sharing the same goals. JS: Thus, the case is that the communism and dictatorship the country experienced after British colonial rule ended in 1948 led to the current malaise and the country is now democratic and primed for capitalist success?
ER: Not quite! Myanmar has experienced civil war since its inception. It is now on the threshold of nationwide peace, it had free by-elections last year, it has freed almost all of its political prisoners, has adopted freedom of the press and association legislation and ended press censorship and it has passed a number of laws and regulations which have opened up most of the country to foreign investment. At the same time, much of industry is still controlled by companies associated with the military and cronies of the former government, land rights are in doubt or disputed, rule of law is still in its infancy, and the country is still rated very low on the corruption index of Transparency International. The effect of the sanctions can still be felt everywhere. For example, in 2002, the Myanmar garment industry exported 75% of its product to the United States. After 2003, when the major U.S. sanctions began, 300 factories closed and 80,000 people were laid off. Assuming on average that those factory workers, most of whom were women and the breadwinners for the average family of 5, the sanctions in that industry alone directly impacted 400,000 people. Now that the U.S. has lifted import restrictions, being able to export garments to the U.S. will, by itself, substantially help grow the economy. For example, in nearby Cambodia, once restrictions were lifted in 1997, exports of garments grew from $175 million to over $2.5 billion during the next dozen years. The same applies to the U.S., once again, granting Myanmar the GSP status, which it lost in 1989. GSP would cover a large percentage of agricultural products, minerals, plastics and rubber products, as well as wood products. All other developed countries have granted GSP to Myanmar, it is the U.S. alone which has not. Generally speaking, the U.S. today – while the GSP program has lapsed – is collecting $2 million/day in duties from the poorest countries on earth, Myanmar included [The U.S. Congress did not renew GSP legislation prior to its expiration July 31, 2013. The legislation to renew it is still pending]. In the first six months since the U.S. import ban against Myanmar has been lifted earlier this year, Myanmar’s exports to the U.S. amounted to only $14 million. Yet, over $8 million were GSP-eligible products, with an average duty of 4.2% when they would be paying zero under GSP.
JS: Could you briefly elucidate the U.S. sanctions currently in place and what is needed to remove them? ER: Currently, the U.S. sanctions regime against Myanmar is still in place, five laws and at least five executive orders. Most of the sanctions have been suspended by the president, but can be re-instated on short notice. No other country continues to have sanctions against Myanmar, except as to its military. By itself, the simple existence of such laws and executive orders hampers the ability of American business to invest in Myanmar, with little, if any, discernable current positive effect on the people of Myanmar. In addition to the bar on deals with the Tatmadaw (the Myanmar military), or its controlled business entities, there continues to be a bar on transactions with Myanmar entities and individuals listed on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals list, and on the importation of certain jewels. Furthermore, American companies and individuals alone have to annually report on their investments exceeding $500,000, certain payments to the government, dealings with the national oil and gas company, and a plethora of other requirements. Although large corporations are well equipped to deal with these reporting requirements, small and medium and enterprises (SMEs) are not. Thus, these reporting requirements put a disproportionate burden on SMEs investing in Myanmar.
A Seoul court rejected Samsung’s claim that iPhone and iPad models violated three of its patents, another setback for the South Korean electronics giant in a global battle with Apple over rights to technologies that power smartphones and tablets. A Seoul Central District Court judge ruled Thursday that Apple did not violate Samsung’s intellectual property rights. The technology in two of Samsung’s patents could easily be independently developed by others, Judge Shim Woo-yong said, making it unlikely they were copied. He said one patent was not used in the iPad.
“We are glad the Korean court joined others around the world in standing up for real innovation and rejecting Samsung’s ridiculous claims,” Apple Inc. spokesman Steve Park said. Samsung Electronics Co. sued Apple in March 2012, accusing the iPhone maker of illegally using three patented technologies related to short message services in smartphones and tablet computers. The maker of Galaxy smartphones sought 100 million won ($95,000) in initial compensation and a ban on sales of six iPhone and iPad models, which included models still available in the market, such as those with Retina display.
The judge said Samsung’s patent for a multitasking technology that prevents incomplete messages being lost when switching to another application was not violated by the existence of a similar technology. Another technology that enables users to touch a notification box to access a message can be invented easily, he said. A third Samsung patent for how mobile devices display short messages from the same sender together was not used in Apple’s iPad, which instead has Apple’s iMessage application, Shim said. The ruling is the latest legal blow to Samsung, which owes Apple $930 million from two jury verdicts in Silicon Valley. Samsung is seeking to appeal both. The world’s top two smartphone makers have waged legal battles over mobile devices since 2011. Samsung said it was disappointed by the ruling and will decide whether to appeal this decision after a thorough review. “As Apple has continued to infringe our patented mobile technologies, we will continue to take the measures necessary to protect our intellectual property rights,” it said in a statement. So far, two verdicts in Silicon Valley have been the most damaging to the South Korean company. Last month, a Silicon Valley jury added another $290 million to the damages Samsung Electronics owes Apple. A previous jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion, which was later reduced by a judge to $640 million.
But the size of the award is small compared with the size of Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of mobile devices, TVs and memory chips. The South Korean firm reported it had $47 billion in cash at the end of September and $247.5 billion in 2012 revenue.
A week after he entered Washburn University’s School of Law in August 2011, Bryan Alkire nearly quit. He wasn’t sure if he would fit in with the other students or be able to meet the challenges of its rigorous curriculum. His doubts proved to be unfounded. This coming Friday, Alkire, who is partially blind and partially deaf, will graduate with his law degree. “I’m hoping to go into a small-town general practice, handling all kinds of cases,” Alkire, 33, of Topeka, said during a recent email interview. “My plans are to take the Missouri bar exam in July 2014 and while studying for the bar exam, I’ll be looking for a job in Missouri, preferably in a small town.” Alkire, a native of Lexington, Mo., was born with a partially paralyzed right arm, hand, and fingers and a severe hearing loss. After graduating from Lexington High School in 1999, he went to Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., where he graduated in May 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. About six weeks before his college graduation, he began losing his vision because of complications related to surgeries to treat a detached retina and acute angle glaucoma. He lost most of the vision in his left eye, and the vision in his right eye was reduced to light, some color and some motion.
After attending the Helen Keller National Center in Sands Point, N.Y., and the Lions World Services for the Blind in Little Rock, Ark., he completed a job training program for the Internal Revenue Service. He moved to Kansas City in October 2007 to work for the IRS, but within a few months his vision had declined so much he had to resign. In April 2010, Alkire spent a couple of months at Alphapointe Association for the Blind to ready himself to return to an academic setting. Tell me about the most challenging aspects of law school and getting your law degree.
The most challenging aspect of law school is keeping up with the material over the course of the semester. Often there’s 50 or more pages to read every day, and the material isn’t the easiest to read. Then, of course, there’s the finals. I’d say keeping mentally focused and not letting the stress and lack of sleep and physical ailments, like colds, become overwhelming is the most challenging aspect mentally. Tell me about the most rewarding aspect of your law school experience.
Without a doubt, meeting people at Washburn Law that I never would have met otherwise. I’ve met some very special people in my time here. When I’ve left a place and moved on, I tend to remember the people more than the classes or work itself. Early on, you didn’t have a study group, and socializing with peers was difficult. Did that ever change or get better? Yes and no. I never did study with others, but I did socialize a bit more with peers as I got to know more people at school.
Did you require, and did the university offer, any special accommodations because of your hearing and vision impairments? Did you have any special equipment that helped in the classroom? I used an FM system to hear the professor in class. It’s a system where the prof wears a special microphone and I wear a special receiver tuned to a frequency through a setting on my hearing aid. When on, the FM device allows me to hear the prof as though the prof was sitting next to me (and) speaking directly to me. For textbooks, I used PDF copies of my texts, which my computer would read out loud to me. For exams, I took my exams in a room where I would read the exam on my computer and then dictate my answers to a person sitting next to me.
What advice would you give to individuals with disabilities who may have doubts about whether they can succeed in a higher-education setting? First, remember that the school has confidence in you. They accepted you based on your application and test scores, regardless of what challenges you’ve faced. The school wants you to succeed and wants to help you succeed. In order to help you, they need to understand you and what you need to succeed since no one solution works for every disabled person. This means you need to develop a close relationship with the people who handle accommodations so that everyone can figure out what works and what doesn’t. You need to educate them on the things you need to succeed. Educate your fellow students as well so they can help you as needed and get to know you. If you have all the support you need and enjoy the program you’re in, then there’s no reason you can’t succeed. It’s challenging, but remember, it’s challenging for everyone, not just the disabled.
The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to accelerate the move by states to try to capture the taxes due on online purchases made by their residents. Amazon.com Inc. and other online retailers suffered a legal setback on Cyber Monday as the Supreme Court turned away their challenge to a New York law that requires Internet companies to collect sales taxes. Delivered on one of the year’s busiest online shopping days, the court’s decision is expected to accelerate the move by states to try to capture the taxes due on online purchases made by their residents. The court’s refusal to take up the issue also increases pressure on Congress to settle the long-standing dispute between online and conventional bricks-and-mortar retailers and to enact legislation standardizing online sales tax collection.
“We have a patchwork of out-of-date laws,” said David C. Blum, a Chicago tax attorney uninvolved in the case but who has represented online retailers. “They may have made sense in the era before the Internet, but not now.” The pioneering New York statute has become a model for efforts by California and other states to capture tax revenue. Today, 34 states by law or administrative process require at least major online retailers to collect sales taxes. States said they lose more than $23 billion a year in revenue when people buy products online and fail to pay the required sales tax. Conventional retailers complain that they are at a competitive disadvantage because they must collect those taxes on each sale.
Some states have been passing laws that stretch their ability to force online retailers to collect sales taxes. The pressure of those laws helped California and Texas strike deals with major Internet retailers such as Amazon to collect sales taxes so they could locate distribution centers and other facilities there. New York’s 2008 statute requires out-of-state Internet retailers to collect sales taxes if they used affiliates in the state to direct business to their websites, such as a museum website that directed people to Amazon to buy books.
The law treated these Web affiliates as though they were a sales force within the state. The U.S. Constitution always has allowed states to collect taxes from out-of-state companies if they have employees or offices — a nexus — physically located within a state. Amazon and Overstock.com Inc. appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the New York law was unconstitutional. The companies cited a 1992 Supreme Court decision involving mail-order catalogs. In that case, the court said states could collect sales taxes from retailers only when they have a physical presence in the state. Lawyers for Amazon and Overstock had argued that their dealings with other Web affiliates in New York did not constitute having a physical presence there. Citing similar laws in California, Connecticut, Illinois and North Carolina, the companies also said the New York law has “provided a road map for other state legislatures to enact similarly burdensome legislation.”
In Monday’s brief order, the high court turned down the appeals of Amazon and Overstock without comment, a decision that has the effect of upholding New York’s law. “Bricks-and-mortar [stores] won,” said Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Assn. “The court has decided that states have the right to pass what New York passed.” But even if the New York law had been overturned, California’s statute would have remained largely in force, experts said. Like New York, California established nexus for making out-of-state retailers collect sales taxes. But California also created a basis for sales tax collection if a company had even a minor physical presence in the state.
Amazon, based in Seattle, not only has affiliates in California, but operates a research facility for its Kindle e-reader and has a subsidiary, the Independent Movie Database, located in the Golden State. Since passage of California’s law in 2011, Amazon’s physical presence in California has ballooned as part of an agreement the company made with Gov. Jerry Brown. Amazon now operates three giant distribution centers — in San Bernardino, Tracy and Patterson — and probably will open more facilities as it moves toward same-day delivery service statewide. California tax collectors recently reported that the new law generated $263.4 million in new revenue for the state treasury and local governments for the fiscal year ended June 30. Retailers and state officials now are expected to ramp up efforts to get Congress to adopt a nationwide rule for online sales taxes. The National Conference of State Legislatures said it would send about 200 legislators, in town for an annual forum, to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby for legislation.
Amy Cramer, who finished law school in 2011, was one of the fortunate ones, if you define fortunate as finding a temporary job as an employee benefits consultant for $18 an hour soon after graduation.More than 14 percent of her classmates at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago had not found any job nine months after graduation. Cramer recently joined the ranks of unemployed lawyers when her contract job ended in October.
“I love the law, but being unemployed is very tough on the psyche,” said Cramer, 28. “I don’t know if it’s bad luck or something I’m doing wrong. There’s so much self-doubt in the process.” The job market has been tough for law school graduates for several years. But law schools were slow to react to changing market conditions. They kept growing enrollments, despite fewer jobs. In 2010, a record of more than 52,000 students started law school, according to data compiled by the American Bar Association, which accredits U.S. law schools. Since then, enrollments have fallen nationally amid a dwindling pool of applicants.
Would-be lawyers are thinking twice about spending $40,000 to $50,000 a year in private school tuition to study for a profession that isn’t creating enough new jobs to match the supply of graduates every year. The first to reduce their enrollments were lower-tier schools, according to published reports. But now the pain is spreading up the ranks. National admissions data for the entering Class of 2013 are being compiled by the American Bar Association, but a survey of law schools in Illinois shows sharp declines in enrollment.At Loyola University Chicago, the entering Class of 2013 was one-fourth smaller than the 2012 class. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolled 170 students, which was 28, or 14 percent, fewer than a year ago.
Even elite schools can’t escape the trends. Northwestern University, No. 12 in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings, trimmed its 2013 entering class of three-year law students to 177, or 14.5 percent, from 207 the year before. Unless law schools relax their admissions standards, enrollments may continue to shrink, judging by the numbers of people considering getting a Juris Doctor degree. The Law School Admission Council reported that 33,673 people took the law school entrance exam, known as the LSAT, in October, down nearly 11 percent from the same test month last year. The exam is administered four times a year.
The would-be professionals turning away from law school are not fleeing in any obvious direction. For example, interest in graduate business schools waned after 2009 amid a tepid recovery and uncertain job prospects. Applications for Master of Business Administration programs rebounded this year, but much of the increase came from overseas demand, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.In the face of declining enrollments, the heads of law schools confront financial pressures that many have never dealt with. Schools are forgoing millions of dollars in tuition revenue by shrinking their enrollments. To balance their budgets, some deans have reduced faculty and staff through layoffs and attrition.
At the same time, they are spending limited resources to attract more students and find more jobs for their graduates. They are throwing themselves into curriculum reform and cajoling alums to hire students for either internships or full-time positions.”We’re in a longer-term correction in terms of jobs,” said Harold Krent, dean of the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. “Technology changes, globalization trends, corporate pressures on law firms and tax issues for state governments all have contributed. We have to ensure we continue to be as relevant as we can.”
IIT Chicago-Kent received 2,661 applications for its 2013 entering class, down 31 percent from 2010, when it received 3,854.Law schools face a difficult choice when the applicant pool shrinks. They can keep enrollment steady by loosening admissions standards, but the strategy could endanger their status in the influential rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Or they can preserve their academic credentials, accept fewer students and find ways to make up the revenue shortfall.
In 2012, Krent trimmed IIT Chicago-Kent’s first-year enrollment by 7 percent, from 308 full- and part-time students to 286, and the same number of students matriculated this year. From 2010 to 2013, the school has registered a modest decline in its median LSAT score, to 158 from 161, out of a possible score of 180.Krent said it hasn’t been easy balancing the goals of admitting students who can succeed in law school and pass the bar exam and maintaining revenue. Law school tuition also supports the undergraduate and graduate programs at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “Some people at the university would prefer if we guarantee 300 seats,” Krent said. David Yellen, Loyola’s law dean, said university officials supported his decision to cut the first-year class, agreeing to accept less revenue from the law school.