Source – abajournal.com/ By – Martha Neil Category – Matthews Bark
When David Seeley was working as a deputy prosecutor for Clark County, Wash., he happened to handle a number of cases against the son of a woman who said she knew Marlon Brando.
He didn’t believe her when she said the famous actor was interested in her son’s cases. And in 2000, when she called Seeley up shortly after he went into private practice and told him Brando wanted to meet him because she’d been impressed with his work, Seeley thought she was joking. When he had an assistant call the Los Angeles number the woman gave him, however, Brando’s iconic voice was soon on the other end of the line, reports the Seattle Times.
The woman who’d given him the number was a business manager for Brando and Seeley took a flight to Los Angeles the day after the phone call to meet the celebrity who would become his new client. Seeley, now 49, served as Brando’s general counsel for the last four years of the actor’s life and has continued to serve as general counsel for Brando Enterprises following the actor’s death in 2004. A partner of Livengood, Fitzgerald & Alskog, Seeley also handles general litigation, criminal defense and school district matters working in an office decorated with licensed Brando memorabilia.
“Any time the phone rang after 10 p.m. at home, I knew it was Marlon,” says Seeley. “I think to some degree he was lonely and a little isolated late in his life.”
Brando didn’t like Los Angeles lawyers, who he felt charged too much, Seeley says, and, although Brando never discussed acting or his films, he had eclectic business interests.
On Seeley’s first visit to Los Angeles, the lawyer brought with him a Seattle patent attorney, at Brando’s request. The actor, who loved to play bongo and conga drums, had a drumhead-tightening device patented in 2002, the Times recounts. At Brando’s instigation, Seeley also whipped up a contract on short notice for Michael Jackson to pay his client $1 million to introduce him for a television special. The introduction wasn’t used, but Brando still got the $1 million.
An Internet marketing plan to sell signed coconuts from Tetiaroa, an atoll in French Polynesia that Brando purchased after first visiting the island during the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, was less fruitful. Although Seeley said he was present when Brando discussed the idea on speakerphone with Jeff Bezos of Amazon, it never went anywhere.
Nonetheless, the actor left a $26 million estate, and his survivors expect to profit from a 99-year lease that will allow a developer to open a luxury “eco-resort” on Brando’s island next year. It will be air conditioned through a plan Brando envisioned, using piped seawater, the article notes.
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.
So prosecutors thought they had a solid case when they charged a Manatee County woman who failed to tell her female partner that she was HIV-positive. A Tampa appeals court, however, threw out the case, ruling that “sexual intercourse” could take place only with a penis and a vagina — in other words, between a man and a woman. But last month, a South Florida appeals court issued a conflicting opinion, upholding charges against a Key West man whom police had accused of lying about being HIV-positive to his male partner. The ruling more broadly defined intercourse, finding that it did not require opposite genders or specific body parts.The Florida Supreme Court is likely to end up resolving the clashing opinions, which are being closely monitored by gay-rights advocates.
On the one hand, they support legal rulings that convey equal status to same-sex relations — but they also oppose the HIV disclosure law, arguing that the long-controversial statute stigmatizes people infected with the virus. “It’s a progressive ruling, but the law itself is draconian,” said Norm Kent, a South Florida activist and criminal-defense lawyer who publishes the South Florida Gay News. Scott Schoettes, the HIV Project Director for the gay-rights group Lambda Legal, said it was hard to see “a silver lining” in a disclosure law he called unjust.
“It’s nice to have courts recognize relations between two men,” he said. “But it would be nice to recognize granting us our rights in an affirmative sense, not just when it comes to criminalizing our sex lives.” In Florida, it is a third-degree felony — punishable by up to five years in prison — for a person who knows he or she is HIV-positive to have sex with someone else without informing them. The law came into effect as part of the “Control of Sexually Transmissible Disease Act” that Florida lawmakers passed in 1986 as fears about HIV, which can lead to AIDS, were growing nationwide. The disclosure law also covers other sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia — but HIV is the only one that carries a felony charge. Thirty-four U.S. states and territories have passed similar laws. Detractors are widespread. In February, President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS issued a resolution calling criminalization of HIV an “unjust, bad public health policy” that “is fueling the epidemic rather than reducing it.”
The council pushed for states to repeal or revise the laws. Critics say the laws ignore scientific data that show HIV is rarely transmitted through oral sex or digital penetration, and that the risk is often considerably low even in cases of vaginal or anal sex. “All of these laws are just based upon misconceptions about how easy it is to transmit HIV. It’s not that easy,” said Schoettes, a lawyer who believes the laws should be altered to include proving “intent” and that a victim actually contracted the virus.The law came under scrutiny in 2010, when the Second District Court of Appeal in Tampa took up the case of an HIV-positive Manatee County woman charged with having oral and digital-penetration sex with another woman.
Read more : miamiherald.com/2013/11/18/3763310/hiv-disclosure-law-sparks-unique.html#storylink=cpy
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union lawmakers on Monday were set to approve sweeping new data protection rules to strengthen online privacy, and sought to outlaw most data transfers to other countries’ authorities to prevent spying. After Edward Snowden’s leaks about allegedly widespread U.S. online snooping, the draft regulation was beefed up to include even more stringent privacy protection and stiff fines for violations. The legislation is poised to have significant implications for U.S. Internet companies, too.
The rules would for the first time create a strong data protection law for Europe’s 500 million citizens, replacing an outdated patchwork of national rules that only allow for tiny fines in cases of violation. Supporters have hailed the legislation as a milestone toward establishing genuine online privacy rights, while opponents have warned of creating a hugely bureaucratic regulation that will overwhelm businesses and consumers.
The legislation was widely expected to pass a committee vote late Monday. Still, it is likely to be amended later since it also requires approval by Parliament’s plenary and the EU’s 28 member states. Lawmakers hope to conclude the process before the end of their term in May. The legislation, among other things, aims at enabling users to ask companies to fully erase their personal data, handing them a so-called right to be forgotten. It would also limit user profiling, require companies to explain their use of personal data in detail to customers, and mandate that companies seek prior consent. In addition, most businesses would have to designate or hire data protection officers to ensure the regulation is properly applied. Grave compliance failures could be subject to a fine worth up to 5% of a company’s annual turnover — which could be hundreds of millions of dollars, or even a few billion dollars for Internet giants such as Google. “Those companies are making billions from European citizens’ data. So if you want them to comply, you have to give them the right incentives,” said Giacomo Luchetta of the Center for European Policy Studies.
All companies offering services to EU citizens, regardless of where they’re based, would have to comply with the new rules, he added. In response to revelations of the National Security Agency’s online spying activities, lawmakers also toughened the initial draft regulation, prepared by the European Commission, to make sure companies no longer share European citizens’ data with authorities of a third country, unless explicitly allowed by EU law or an international treaty. That means a U.S. tech company handing over data to U.S. authorities, including information on its European customers, might be violating EU law. In practice, the provision would protect European citizens from seeing their data transferred for commercial purposes, but there are practical hurdles and loopholes that, among others, would still allow cooperation on national security matters, said Luchetta.
“If an American company gets a court order to hand over data, they have to comply,” he said. “The U.S. court doesn’t care whether you may be violating EU laws, and at the same time the EU has no power over U.S. court decisions.” Overall, the legislation has been subject to fierce lobbying over the past 18 months, and there are a record-breaking 4,000 proposed amendments to it. If Monday’s vote is delayed, lawmakers will resume their deliberations on Thursday. In a move welcomed by consumer groups and businesses, the regulation also introduces a so-called one-stop-shop approach, meaning companies would only have to deal with the national data protection authority where they are based in the EU, not with 28 national watchdogs.
Consumers, in turn, would be able to file complaints with their national authority, regardless of where the targeted service provider is based. For example that would make it easier for an Austrian consumer to complain about a social media site such as Facebook, which has its EU headquarters in Ireland. Meanwhile, the National Security Agency leaks continued to stir unrest among European policy makers. French leaders appeared angry on Monday upon learning that NSA allegedly recorded 70.3 million French telephone records within a month, and called for a swift implementation of tough privacy rules to govern the tech sector. “It is an important industry, but you cannot develop this industry if there is no personal data protection,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Luxembourg.
Ever since Obamacare’s stormy passage in early 2011, Democrats have been waiting anxiously for the program to go into effect and hoping that a dose of reality would calm the partisan battles over the health insurance plan. Once everything was up and running, they hoped, skeptical Americans would see that Obamacare was a good idea all along — and reward the party that brought it to them. That’s looking unlikely, at least in the short run. Last week’s glitch-filled rollout of Obamacare’s health exchange websites, combined with Republicans’ furious refusal to accept the program as what President Obama calls “settled law,” confirmed something political strategists in both parties had already predicted: The war over Obamacare is far from over.
“It’s unlikely that the Affordable Care Act will be widely popular until people have real experience with it — until it becomes the new normal,” a leading Democratic strategist told me. “We’re talking about years, not weeks or months.” Nobody expected the launch of a fleet of balky websites to make an immediate difference to perceptions of the health insurance plan, not even with endorsements from icons like Lady Gaga, who managed to get the main website address wrong in her promotional tweet. Still, the opening-day problems and the slow pace of applications for health insurance were not encouraging signs. More important, in the long run, was the Republican Party’s reaffirmation — spurred by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other tea party legislators — that repealing, defunding or dismantling the program remains one of its top goals.
The tea party caucus has succeeded in making resistance to Obamacare a litmus test for Republicans, and as a result, it’s likely that next year’s congressional election will be fought in large part over the health insurance program. The fate of Obamacare may hang in the balance. “The 2014 election will be the Gettysburg of this struggle — the deciding battle, one way or the other,” predicted Robert J. Blendon of Harvard’s School of Public Health. In the current Congress, the Senate’s Democratic majority has stopped the Republican-led House of Representatives from defunding or delaying Obamacare’s implementation. But if Republicans take control of the Senate next year — a prospect currently rated as a tossup — only Obama’s veto will stand in their way.
And even by election day in 2016, Obamacare may still be a work in progress. “If you give it three, four, five years, every experience we have is that public support will be there,” Blendon said. “But you have to give it that much time.” Meanwhile, Republicans will have every incentive to attack the program’s shortcomings. “The real problem here is not managerial; many programs take years to roll out,” he said. “The real issue is political. Programs don’t do well if one party doesn’t support it and public opinion isn’t for it.” As for Obamacare, public opinion has settled into skepticism. A Fox News poll released last week, after the websites’ rollout, found that 54% of voters favor repealing all or part of the law, while 41% want to preserve or expand it — not much different from earlier findings.
The poll found that only 30% of voters want to repeal the entire law — but among Republicans, that number swells to 53%, and among tea party supporters, 71%. That helps explain GOP legislators’ opposition. What could change public attitudes? “There could be movement either way, depending on whether people think the program turns out better or worse than they expected,” Blendon said. If more employers drop retirees and spouses from insurance coverage because Obamacare is available, for example, “you could see a huge backlash,” he said. Republicans may have a built-in advantage in that debate: They can blame any bad news about healthcare on Obamacare, whether the program is at fault or not. “If rates are going up, Republicans will say that’s because of Obamacare, even though it’s not true,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster. “If companies are cutting back, Republicans will say that’s because of Obamacare.”
But it will also matter what remedy Republicans propose. In last week’s Fox News poll, most voters said they opposed defunding Obamacare — although two-thirds of GOP voters said they supported the idea. A one-year delay in implementing Obamacare, on the other hand, is a broadly popular idea, supported by 57% of all voters, including 80% of Republicans. So don’t expect the war over Obamacare to be over any time soon. Instead, expect Republicans of every stripe to continue their guerrilla campaign against the program through the 2014 congressional election, and perhaps the 2016 presidential election as well.
Expect more furious, partisan debate over every step of implementation, with dueling experts from each side. Expect smart Republicans to focus on demands to delay or cancel the penalties on individuals for failing to sign up, the law’s least popular provision. That might sound like a minor change, but it could undermine the program fatally. The president will continue to insist that Obamacare is “settled law.” But a law is only fully settled once both parties accept its permanence, and Obamacare is a long way from there.
Robert De Niro has been hired to replace James Gandolfini in a new HBO mini-series Criminal Justice, following the death of The Sopranos star in June. De Niro will play a New York lawyer in the show, which Gandolfini had been developing based on the 2008 BBC series by Peter Moffat. Following the actor’s sudden death in Rome, it initially appeared as though HBO had put the project on the backburner, though, according to Deadline.com, the team were keen to continue in Gandolfini’s honor.
Deadline Hollywood’s TV Editor Nellie Andreeva said the network wanted “a great actor whom Gandolfini would have wanted for the role and who would honour Gandolfini’s memory with his performance,” adding, “I hear their list consisted of one name only, Robert De Niro, who responded and came on board.” Still one of the finest actors in the world with the right material, De Niro has been wasted on poor scripts and throwaway comedies in recent years, though with television now the primary location for high quality scripted drama, the 65-year-old could thrive at HBO.
In the seven hour mini-series, his character Jack Stone takes on a case of a Pakistani (played by British star Riz Ahmed) who is accused of murdering a girl on New York’s Upper West Side. The original series saw each episode tracking a separate case, though the U.S. team appear to be wisely drawing out the story to develop character and plot. It should be brilliant. We can already imagine the opening shot of De Niro, clad in a heavy winter coat, trotting up the stairs of some grand courthouse in Manhattan as the snow falls on the sidewalk. He gets inside, dusts of the flakes…and, ok, you get the picture. Steven Zaillian, who has been working on the project for some time, will direct the first hour.
2014 is shaping up to be a powerful year for HBO, with True Detectives also set to premiere in January. The series stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two detectives who for a serial killer in Louisiana across seventeen years. Another show, The Leftovers, from Damon Lindelof and starring Justin Theroux, takes place in the wake of a global Rapture and centers on the people who didn’t make the cut and are left behind in a suburban community. Niro is the perfect replacement for James Gandolfini on HBO’s ‘Criminal Justice.’