A federal appeals court Monday dismissed a legal challenge to a California law banning the sale, distribution and possession of shark fins. The legislation does not conflict with a 19th century law that gives federal officials authority to manage shark fishing off the California coast or significantly interfere with interstate commerce, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. The 2-1 ruling upheld a lower court decision tossing the lawsuit brought by the Chinatown Neighborhood Association and Asian Americans for Political Advancement, a political action committee.
The groups had argued that the ban — passed in 2011 — unfairly targeted the Chinese community, which considers shark fin soup a delicacy. Shark finning is the practice of removing the fins from a living shark, leaving the animal to die. Joseph Breall, an attorney for the groups, said they were reviewing their options and had not yet decided whether to appeal. He said he was heartened by the dissenting opinion by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who said the plaintiffs should have been allowed to amend their lawsuit.
The plaintiffs had argued on appeal that the shark fin law conflicted with the federal law intended to manage shark fishing off the California coast. The majority in the 9th Circuit ruling, however, said the federal law has no requirement that a certain number of sharks be harvested, and even if it did, the California law still allowed sharks to be taken for purposes other than obtaining their fins.
The federal law, additionally, envisions a broad role for states in crafting fishery management plans, and, like California’s ban, makes conservation paramount, the court said. The 9th Circuit also rejected the plaintiffs’ claims that the ban illegally interfered with trade in shark fins between California and other states and the flow of shark fins between states through California. “The Shark Fin Law does not interfere with activity that is inherently national or that requires a uniform system of regulation,” Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote. “The purpose of the Shark Fin Law is to conserve state resources, prevent animal cruelty, and protect wildlife and public health. These are legitimate matters of local concern.”
Read More : foxnews.com/leisure/2015/07/27/federal-appeals-court-dismisses-legal-challenge-to-california-shark-fin-ban/
UC San Diego won a major legal battle Friday against USC when a judge ruled that control of a landmark project on Alzheimer’s disease belongs to the La Jolla school. The decision addressed the heart of a lawsuit that has gained international attention since UC San Diego filed it early this month, largely because it’s rare for such disagreements in the academic world to reach the courtroom. The dispute pits UC San Diego, a research powerhouse, against USC, a well-heeled institution seeking to bolster its biomedical research efforts and extend its reach to San Diego. “We never wanted to resort to legal action, but when all reasonable requests to return what is the rightful property of UC San Diego were ignored, there was no alternative,” Dr. David Brenner, vice chancellor for health sciences, said in a statement. “We are pleased with today’s decision and believe it indicates the strength of our overall case.” Left unresolved Friday was UC San Diego’s request for monetary damages based on its accusations that USC, Dr. Paul Aisen and other defendants conspired to illegally transfer the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study to the Los Angeles-based university. Aisen resigned in June from UC San Diego, where he had overseen the study since 2007, to become founding director of an Alzheimer’s institute that USC was establishing in the Sorrento Valley neighborhood. In recent weeks, the two sides have argued about who owns the database for the $100-million nationwide project UC San Diego, which has overseen the study for nearly a quarter of a century, said it still retains the government funding — an assertion backed by the National Institutes of Health. Aisen and USC officials have countered that it’s academic tradition for departing faculty members to transfer their research to their new employer. They presented supporting statements from several researchers taking part in the Alzheimer’s project. After Friday’s hearing, USC attorney Glenn Dassoff told journalists that USC and Aisen’s interest in the study “is real, genuine, and unfortunately was not addressed today. This is not over.” In an email Friday night, Aisen wrote: “We all lose here. Science and public health lose when research is torn from the investigators with the passion, knowledge and skill to assure its success.”
In the courtroom, San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes said she would issue a preliminary injunction early next week that will require USC to surrender custody of the Alzheimer’s project. She told USC not to manipulate data from the study or make any other changes to the database, which involves details of lab research clinical trials from dozens of sites across the country. As the next step, the two universities and their lawyers will negotiate the choice of a “special master” to supervise the process of USC restoring full control of the database to UC San Diego. This phase will involve an independent expert on bioinformatics who can determine whether information in the database has been tampered with. Dan Sharp, an attorney representing UC San Diego on behalf of the University of California Board of Regents, said USC would start returning the data next week. “How long it takes will depend on what we find in terms of what they’ve done with the [computer] system, changes they may have made,” he said. Dassoff, the USC attorney, said that although his party disagrees with Hayes’ findings, “we’ll reflect on the decision and I’m sure that [we’ll] approach any settlement discussions in good faith.” During the hearing, Hayes offered to refer the opposing sides to a settlement judge, with the aim of negotiating an end to the lawsuit instead of proceeding to a jury trial. UC San Diego alleges that Aisen, USC and as many as two dozen other defendants colluded to commit a range of violations, including contract interference, breach of duty of loyalty by an employee, commission of computer crimes, and civil conspiracy. Brenner, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and others at the university have said the defendants have harmed their school’s reputation. Aisen and his new employer have denied any wrongdoing. In the last year, USC has reached out to at least three life-science institutions in San Diego to explore a purchase, merger or other types of collaboration. None of those inquiries has resulted in a partnership. During an interview this month, USC Provost Michael Quick said his university’s envisioned footprint in San Diego could include free-standing institutes, academic consortia and joint ventures with targeted companies. The 20th century was dominated by physics. The 21st will be dominated by biomedical sciences,” Quick said. “We have to be at places where the conversations [in life sciences] are the best, and San Diego is one of those places.”
Read More : latimes.com/local/california/la-me-0725-uc-sandiego-20150725-story.html
China’s draft cybersecurity law requires companies to hold data in China and could make it hard for foreign hardware vendors to do business. When China adopted a new wide-ranging security law early this month that covers everything from politics to the environment, foreign tech companies were concerned that its broad language meant bad news for them to do business in the country. However, a draft proposal of a new cybersecurity law (link is in Chinese) issued this week shines a bit more light on some of the ways China is looking to regulate data inside the country and influence foreign technology companies, especially Internet service providers (ISP) and hardware manufactures.
According to an International Business Times report this Wednesday on the proposed law, the draft says that ISPs and Internet companies will need to store data in China, with Reuters pointing out that this refers to data collected inside of China as opposed to company data collected from countries other than China. This seems similar to Russia’s tough new cybersecurity law that calla for web companies to set up data centers in the country so that any personal data obtained in Russia on its citizens stays in Russia. The problem with that law, according to European market analysts, is that Russia doesn’t distinguish between personal data—like a person’s name and sex—and routine business data like how many ad clicks does a website operating in Russia receive on a typical day. Essentially, all business data, even manufacturing and IT data, can be interpreted as personal data under the Russian law, which a European think tank studying the law said could dampen the desire of foreign companies to work in Russia. China’s proposed law seems vague as to what exactly constitutes the type of data China wants to keep on shore, but the law is still open for modifications until August, so that issue may clear up by then. What is different between this portion of the law and Russia’s is that China will allow outside tech companies to apply for special exemptions that could allow them to hold Chinese data outside of the country.
Internet operators in China are also subject to more scrutiny under the proposed law. They will have to aid the Chinese government when it conducts criminal investigations or issues that officials believe could compromise national security. These companies will also have to allow for annual audits to determine if there are potential security concerns for the Chinese government. As for hardware manufacturers, it should come as no surprise that the proposed law calls for network equipment—like switches and routers—to be approved by the Chinese government before being sold domestically. China has made public its concerns that the United State’s National Security Agency was installing so-called backdoors within Cisco’s hardware for the purpose of spying, and as a result the country has made it much more difficult for foreign hardware companies to do business inside China. Both Cisco and Hewlett Packard have seen their sales in China suffer as the country scrutinizes imported hardware. This is why Cisco said in June that it is investing $10 billion in the country to rebuild relationships and perhaps manufacture more gear inside the country.
HP in May sold off 51% of its server and networking business in China to Tsinghua University, in the hopes of boosting sales in the country as well. It’s these type of deals that Cisco CSCO 1.87% and HP HPQ 0.29% are doing with China that allow them to potentially grow their business while appeasing the Chinese government. China does not seem like it’s going to reach compromises that totally satisfy every foreign tech company that wants to grow in the country, however. China’s official Xinhua News Agency published an editorial this week scolding foreign companies, for their intransigence. In it, Xinhua claimed that the new laws are not designed to thwart foreign companies, and that China will consider “financial input from overseas and expertise in the process.” The editorial stated that foreign companies “should first abandon their victim complex and learn to adapt to the new norms in order to continue to thrive.”
Read More : Fortune.com/2015/07/08/chinas-proposed-cybersecurity-law-impact-tech-companies/
Australia is keen to include legal services in the free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated with India despite the fact that the sector, at present, is closed to foreign players and New Delhi’s plans of partially opening it up are still tentative. There are two attorney generals in a team of about 24 Australian officials that is in India for the eighth round of negotiations on the FTA, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), a government official told BusinessLine. Negotiations began on Wednesday and will go on till Friday.
“The Australians want the legal sector to be included in the pact, although there is no clarity yet on the commitments they want. We are hesitant as legal services are not open to foreigners at the moment and we cannot take on any commitments based on what might happen in the future,” the official said. Both sides are looking at signing the CECA, which would result in lower tariffs on trade in goods and more opening up of the services sector by the end of this year.
While India does not want to allow foreign lawyers in litigation, the government is looking at the possibility of opening up non-litigious services and international arbitration. “A committee of secretaries, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, is giving finishing touches to a note on phased opening up of the sector and a Cabinet note is likely to be drafted by the legal services department based on that,” another official said.
There is a possibility that the Australians might want an in-built mechanism that would ensure that once the sector is opened up, the provisions become part of CECA commitments. “India is likely to oppose such a mechanism. All that we may be ready for is an agreement to hold negotiations on the sector once it is opened up,” the official added.
The CECA holds potential as annual bilateral trade between India and Australia is around $15 billion, while China-Australia trade is at $160 billion. New Delhi wants greater access for professionals, textiles, pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, leather and automobile parts, while Australia wants collaboration in the dairy sector and commitments in services sectors such as insurance, e-commerce and legal.
Read More : thehindubusinessline.com/economy/australia-wants-legal-services-included-in-trade-pact/article7375412.ece
Police would be armed with mobile fingerprint scanners and drug detectors in a Baird government cash splash on law and order, fulfilling its pledge to get tough on crime. As promised before the election, the “Policing for Tomorrow” fund allocates $100 million over four years to give police the latest technology. Police would bid for equipment such as tablet computers so frontline officers can access police data in the field, or hand-held machines that scan for narcotics. The fingerprint scanner would enable instant identification of offenders. Police minister and Deputy Premier Troy Grant, a former country cop, said the fund would “future-proof” the force and ensure police have access to the latest crime-fighting technology, “freeing them up to spend more time on the beat, protecting the community”.
A separate $3.65 million will continue the rollout of body-worn cameras for frontline officers.
Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said although the government has cut public sector wages growth, it was boosting frontline staff including police. The government will appoint 310 new police officers by 2018, including 250 specialist police and 15 specialist civilian staff. By the end of 2018, police numbers are expected to reach 16,795, up from 15,806 in 2011 when the government came to power. Of $69.6 billion total government spending on services next financial year, about 10 per cent will be devoted to public order and safety. Acknowledging the key role police play in combating family violence, the government will appoint 24 domestic violence specialist police. Spending on police expenses totals $3.3 billion. Over four years, $17.1 million will be used to support injured police. As part of a separate $178 capital works budget – the largest on record – police stations will be built or refurbished in Deniliquin, Gunnedah, Bay and Basin, Liverpool, Moss Vale, Tweed Heads, Lake Macquarie, Riverstone and Walgett.
The government has already announced an extra 1000 beds will be added to the state’s prison system, including a new private jail at Grafton and expansion of the Parklea Correctional Centre. NSW prisons are presently bursting at the seams due to tougher bail laws and law enforcement. The government has also allocated $4 million over two years to counter violent extremism through early itervention programs. NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton promised to make access to justice faster and easier by investing in courts and expanding technology use in the justice system, saying “justice delayed is justice denied”. More than $227 million will be granted to the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, after the federal government cut legal assistance to the vulnerable.
Almost $32 million will be spent over four years building a new Coroner’s Court, in a joint project with NSW Health. Court buildings will be upgraded in Newcastle and Wagga Wagga, costing $31.6 million. Fire fighters and emergency services will receive $1.14 billion next financial year. Fire and Rescue NSW is allocated almost $700 million, plus funding to refurbish fire stations and the replacement of vehicles. The Rural Fire Service’s power to fight remote bushfires will be boosted by $9.8 million for large air tankers, plus funds for fire trails and volunteer training centres.
No one, I think, would ever have denied that Maurice Bessinger was a man of faith. And he wasn’t particularly a “still, small voice” man either; he wanted everybody in earshot to know that slavery had been God’s will, that desegregation was Satan’s work, and the federal government was the Antichrist. God wanted only whites to eat at Bessinger’s six Piggie Park barbecue joints; so His servant Maurice took that fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1968 decided that his religious freedom argument was “patently frivolous.” Until the day he died, however, Bessinger insisted that he and God were right. His last fight was to preserve the Confederate flag as a symbol of South Carolina. “I want to be known as a hard-working, Christian man that loves God and wants to further (God’s) work throughout the world as I have been doing throughout the last 25 years,” he told his hometown newspaper in 2000. Growing up in the pre-civil-rights South, I knew a lot of folks like Maurice Bessinger. I didn’t like them much, but I didn’t doubt their sincerity. Why wouldn’t they believe racism was God’s will? We white Southerners heard that message on weekends from the pulpit, on school days from our segregated schools, and every day from our governments. When Richard and Mildred Loving left Virginia to be married, a state trial judge convicted them of violating the Racial Integrity Act. That judge wrote that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents … The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
That’s a good background against which to measure the uproar about the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence last week. I don’t question the religious sincerity of anyone involved in drafting and passing this law. But sincere and faithful people, when they feel the imprimatur of both the law and the Lord, can do very ugly things. There’s a factual dispute about the new Indiana law. It is called a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993.* Thus a number of its defenders have claimed it is really the same law. Here, for example, is the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack: “Is there any difference between Indiana’s law and the federal law? Nothing significant.” I am not sure what McCormack was thinking; but even my old employer, The Washington Post, seems to believe that if a law has a similar title as another law, they must be identical. “Indiana is actually soon to be just one of 20 states with a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA,” the Post’s Hunter Schwarz wrote, linking to this map created by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The problem with this statement is that, well, it’s false. That becomes clear when you read and compare those tedious state statutes. If you do that, you will find that the Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA—and most state RFRAs—do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs.
The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language. What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has “free exercise” rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Court’s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees’ statutory right to contraceptive coverage. Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. Willock. In that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply “because the government is not a party.” Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision. Democrats also offered the Republican legislative majority a chance to amend the new act to say that it did not permit businesses to discriminate; they voted that amendment down. So, let’s review the evidence: by the Weekly Standard’s definition, there’s “nothing significant” about this law that differs from the federal one, and other state ones—except that it has been carefully written to make clear that 1) businesses can use it against 2) civil-rights suits brought by individuals. Of all the state “religious freedom” laws I have read, this new statute hints most strongly that it is there to be used as a means of excluding gays and same-sex couples from accessing employment, housing, and public accommodations on the same terms as other people. True, there is no actual language that says, All businesses wishing to discriminate in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, please check this “religious objection” box. But, as Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.” So—is the fuss over the Indiana law overblown? The statute shows every sign of having been carefully designed to put new obstacles in the path of equality; and it has been publicly sold with deceptive claims that it is “nothing new.” Being required to serve those we dislike is a painful price to pay for the privilege of running a business; but the pain exclusion inflicts on its victims, and on society, are far worse than the discomfort the faithful may suffer at having to open their businesses to all. As the story of Maurice Bessinger shows us, even dressed in liturgical garments, hateful discrimination is still a pig.
Link : theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/what-makes-indianas-religious-freedom-law-different/388997/
A federal appeals court has rejected Mississippi’s attempt to scrap a controversial Obama administration program shielding young immigrants without legal status from deportation. The ruling is significant because it came from the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that will hear arguments this month over whether the sweeping executive actions on immigration President Barack Obama announced last year will stand. In a 17-page order issued Tuesday, the appeals court upheld a decision from a lower court against Mississippi and a group of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and deportation officers. The appeals court said the plaintiffs had not “demonstrated the concrete and particularized injury required to give them standing to maintain this suit.”
At issued is the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program applies to young immigrants who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children, who attend school here and who do not have felony convictions. Those accepted into the program are granted temporary reprieves from deportation and permits to work legally in the U.S. As of December, 19,883 people living in Georgia have been accepted into the program. Mississippi officials have argued DACA has caused additional immigrants without legal status to remain in their state, resulting in additional costs for social services. The ICE agents said federal law requires them to detain and seek to deport all immigrants living illegally in the U.S. They worry that if they enforce the law and ignore DACA they will be subject to employment sanctions.
Link : ajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/appeals-court-rejects-legal-case-against-deportati/nkpWr/