September 30, 2007
Yahoo... catch us if you can!
Texas public universities are immune from suit for breach of settlement agreements with their ex-employees, says the Lone Star State's Supreme Court.Supreme Court Decision
Thank heaven this guy wasn't another Cho
A freshman has been arrested in the Delaware State shooting of two other students, one of whom is in a coma and on life support. State police contradicted a university claim that the accused was under surveillance after his parents returned him to the campus recently. The suspect was questioned for three hours follwing the incident, then released.Newsday
Duke's Preident apologised yesterday...
... for not showing more support to the LaCrosse players falsely accused of rape. Now stay tuned for the law suits and the best sellers.Fox News
September 29, 2007
Lessons learned from the K-12 cases
The American Council on Education recently issued a paper outlinng lessons we higher ed lawyers can learn from the Supremes' decisions on affirmative action in the K-12 environment.ACE white paper
For what it's worth, this week's Attorney at Large
No, Virginia, There Is No Santa Claus
September 29th, 2007 by castagnera
No newspaper columnist or commentator — whether as humble as yours truly or as famous as Andy Rooney — fails to admire Francis Pharcellus Church. On September 21, 1897, the New York Sun published an editorial under the headline “Is there a Santa Claus?” Church’s piece, responding to an inquiry by a little girl, began unforgettably, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” If you are too young to have encountered the column, you can read it, and all about it, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes,_Virginia,_There_is_a_Santa_Claus, which also offers a 1974 animated-cartoon version and an interview with the girl/woman who inspired Church.
Suffice to say, when I still believed in Santa, his home was the North Pole. Such modern classics as Chris Van Allsburgh’s The Polar Express, which became a Tom Hanks movie in 2004, agree with my geography. No matter: Santa had better plan to confine himself to Macy’s department store from now on. The North Pole is up for grabs and the land (ice?) rush is in full fettle.
According to a Time Magazine cover story, entitled “Fight for the Top of the World,” last week, “As global warming melts the Arctic ice, dreams of a short sea passage to Asia — and riches beneath the surface — have been revived.” Asks the news magazine, “With Russia planting a flag on the ocean floor at the North Pole, Canada talking tough and Washington wanting to be a player, who will win the world’s new Great Game?”
If not Santa, who does own the North Pole? We Yanks have a claim. In 1909 American explorer Robert Peary, accompanied by four Inuit, planted the Stars and Stripes at the spot he believed to be the geographic pole. On April 7th, or perhaps later when preparing his expedition journal for publication, he penned, “The Pole at last!!! The prize of 3 centuries, my dream and ambition for 23 years. Mine at last.…” All the same, many scientists, historians and geographers now dispute Peary’s accomplishment.
By contrast, Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s 1912 claim of success is much more strongly supported by scientific measurements. Still, should planting a national flag entitle a single nation to the whole enchilada? This was once the way of it. The great Western powers — England, France, and Spain, even tiny Holland and Belgium, and later Germany and the U.S. — built vast empires in Africa, Asia and South America, not to mention Australia and the South Pacific. They all started with explorers planting their country’s flags on far-off beaches and mountaintops.
Those days are long gone, together with those European empires. Their chapter in World History 101 was slammed decisively shut the moment the last helicopter left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1974. The few remaining tin-pot protectorates and island colonies hanging on today aren’t worthy of a mention here.
So how in the heck can anybody claim a floating mass of ice and snow at the top of the world? This seems to me to be as bad as the patenting of human DNA. Although such patenting proceeds apace, as does the scramble for the North Pole, opposition is building beside it. According to the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics, “For example, from 1993 to 1994, more than thirty organizations representing indigenous peoples approved formal declarations objecting to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) bid to patent viral DNA taken from subjects in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.” In 1995, 180 religious leaders led by Jeremy Rifkin held a Washington press conference opposing the practice. More recently the European Commission indicated it likely will oppose patents on human DNA.
At a time when Free Market Capitalism rules godlike over globalization, privatization, and outsourcing, everything seems up for sale. But, pendulums, Virginia, have a way of swinging. If Santa can’t have the North Pole all to himself, then perhaps it ought to be held in trust by the United Nations or some such international entity for the benefit of all of us. Maybe even the polar bears, which I hear are having a hard time of it as the ice cap shrinks, deserve our collective consideration.
Journalist Church — who wrote of Santa, “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.” — would probably approve.
Jim Castagnera, formerly of Jim Thorpe, is the Associate Provost and Associate Counsel at Rider University and a 2007-08 Fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
... and speaking of privatizing,
this from the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
September 28, 2007
Private Admissions Consultants Are Popular With the Middle Class, Not Just the Rich
Austin, Tex. — Independent college consultants have become more popular among parents who want to give their high-school students extra help in the college-admissions process. Although it’s commonly assumed that wealthy families are the main clients of admissions consultants, middle-class families actually hire such consultants much more frequently, according to research conducted by Mark Sklarow, executive of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. During a presentation Mr. Sklarow gave here at the National Association for College Admission Counseling conference, or Nacac, he explained why families with annual incomes from $75,000 to $100,000 were flocking to independent counselors.
“It’s not the superrich who are seeking us out, it’s the professional class in the suburbs whose children attend large public high schools,” Mr. Sklarow said. “Those families are concerned because the counselors at their children’s high schools don’t have the resources or time to provide them individual advice and attention.”
Mr. Sklarow also described how the independent consulting field has gained more respect among college-admission professionals — he cited his organization’s recent cobranding partnership with Nacac, and the more welcoming attitude admissions deans take now when communicating with independent counselors.
Despite those positive developments, Mr. Sklarow said consultants still face a major challenge because they are often sought out by helicopter parents, who are often delusional about their children’s prospects for admission at competitive colleges. The educational and child-rearing philosophy that every child is special and should be celebrated has also had some damaging consequences, he said.
“This is all coming back to haunt us as these students look at colleges,” said Mr. Sklarow. “We’ve raised a generation of kids who are afraid to take risks and fear rejection more than ever before. That makes it hard for us to do our job in college advising because there is no guarantee that they will be admitted by every school.” —Elizabeth F. Farrell
Brits abandon boycott on advice of counsel
A major British faculty union is abandoning its boycott of Israeli universities and faculty on advice of counsel that the boycott violates anti-discrimination laws, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The boycott first came to my attention when I was in Israel as a 2007-08 fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracy. Below is one of my newspaper columns, reporting on some of what I saw there:
The Size of the Dog in the Fight
All dogs are a single species. More precisely, I’m told, dogs are the domestic subspecies of wolves. You can almost get that out of the Latin name, even if you aren’t a former alter boy or an ex-nun. Canis lupus familiaris: Canis sounds like canine. Every fan of vampire movies knows that lupus means wolf. And familiaris seems pretty obvious to me.
A single subspecies they may be, but all dogs are not created equal. Our bichon, despite his name (Spike), is a 15-pound fluff ball who’s usually afraid of almost every other canine he encounters. The Westminster Dog Show places bichons in the “non-sporting” category, just one notch above the “toys,” e.g., the toy poodle. He’s cuddly, clingy, and far from fierce.
By contrast, while traveling in Israel on a Foundation for Defense of Democracies fellowship two weeks ago, I attended a demonstration of the guard dogs employed by the army units tasked with moving terrorists and criminals from police station to courtroom to jail. The demo took place on a large lawn. One guy, probably the last man to punch in that day, donned the brown prison coveralls issued to all inmates. He pretended to be running for freedom. The dog, which looked like a German police dog on steroids, ran him down and knocked him to he ground. Then the beast went for the guy’s throat. (Of course, the brute was muzzled for the exercise.)
I raised my hand. “Does the dog only hold onto the throat or does he…”
The officer smiled. “He’s not there to negotiate,” he replied. The rest was left to my imagination.
Subsequent demonstrations proved the dogs to be as brave as they are fierce. Faced with firearms and hand grenades, they charged into melees without a second’s hesitation. No time was wasted on negotiations… that’s for sure.
Arriving home, I decided to discover whether Spike had any semblance of the Israeli dogs’ wolfish qualities buried beneath his white, wooly exterior. One thing I’d noted on walks with our four-footed fuzz-ball: He’s braver on his own block than anywhere else in the neighborhood. With this in mind, my experiment went like this.
I waited until the guy on the corner let his dog into the back yard. This dog is a big boy. My best guess is that we’re talking about a retriever-setter mix of some sort. This fellow is 90 pounds if he’s an ounce. He always bellows his basso bark when Spike and I walk up the opposite side of the street. Spike usually ignores him. However, once in awhile my tiny pooch has uncharacteristically barked back.
This time we strutted our stuff right on up the big guy’s side of the street. As we approached the fence, the monster roared his low-pitched bark. Spike dragged me toward the fence. I couldn’t resist. I let go the leash. Spike charged right up to the fence, yapping like Peewee Herman on a caffeine high.
In the ’62 Cuban missal crisis, when word reached the Oval Office that the Russian ships had turned back at the American blockade line, Secretary of State Dean Rusk remarked, “We were eyeball to eyeball and I think the other fellow just blinked.” I held my breath, hoping Spike wouldn’t be the dog that blinked.
Far from it, he pushed his muzzle between two slats in the fence. Then, just as quickly, he backed away, turned around and started for home, me double-timing behind him. He didn’t stop until we reached the front door. Checking him over, I found three long lacerations on his little black nose.
They say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Having seen the Israeli guard dogs in action, and having completed my Spike-experiment, I can report that this saying is baloney. Where dogs are concerned, size matters.
All the same, Spike sports his dueling scars… but we keep to our side of the street.
This, I presume is emblematic of what the Brit academics deem despicable about Israel. But, then, England hasn't been in a situation similar to Israel's since 1940.
Maverick AG Cuomo Privatizes Law Enforcent
Andrew Cuomo, the ambitious NY AG --- terror of student loand and study aborad personnel in higher education --- has revealed a plan to outsorce the policing of kiddie porn to a private company. A blogger on Law.composted this information yesterday:
N.Y. AG's Porn Plan Raises Eyebrows
Leaked e-mails revealing the New York attorney general's plan to outsource evidence gathering for child-porn prosecutions are raising eyebrows among bloggers and causing defense lawyers to cringe, according to a report published yesterday in Wired. Some 700MB of internal e-mails from the controversial anti-piracy company MediaDefender were leaked two weeks ago via the file-sharing network BitTorrent.
As Ars Technica reported then and Wired wrote about yesterday, the e-mails showed that the office of N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo had undertaken a project to have MediaDefender gather data about peer-to-peer users who access pornographic content. In one e-mail, an intelligence analyst in the AG's office explained how it would work:
"On your end, the peer-to-peer crawler will be identifying files matching the established search criteria from various hosts. This data will then be collected, filtered for New York resident ip addresses (to the accuracy limits imposed by geo-query tech). The data will then be transferred to us where; on our end, a separate piece of software will use that data to connect into the network and download the file from a host and store it on our servers for evidence retention and further analysis."
Ars Technica says that the e-mails are not sufficient to describe the full scope of the project. But, as Wired makes clear, whatever its scope, defense lawyers don't like it. As one lawyer told Wired:
"Generally it is not looked upon favorably when a prosecutor engages a private company to collect evidence in a case or to ... partner with in a criminal case. This raises grave ethical concerns regarding the propriety of that relationship between the prosecuting authority and the private company, and it also could potentially show favoritism toward that company in the future."
Wired said it was unsuccessful in its attempts to obtain comments on the e-mails from either the AG's office or MediaDefender. But MediaDefender is nonetheless on the defensive: Ars Technica reports that it has retained lawyers from the firm Sheppard Mullin to send take-down notices to Web sites that publish the leaked e-mails.
September 28, 2007
What is plagiarism? Deux
From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
September 28, 2007
Petition Seeks Resignation of Southern Illinois U. President Over Alleged Plagiarism
A philosophy professor at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville who has publicly voiced concern about the plagiarism charges leveled against the university’s president, Glenn Poshard, and the Board of Trustees’ handling of the matter is asking faculty members to sign a petition that could further embarrass Mr. Poshard.
The professor, Robert Bruce Ware, began distributing today a petition demanding that Mr. Poshard resign or that a panel unaffiliated with the university investigate the plagiarism accusations. He is circulating the petition on a faculty e-mail list. He says that after a few days of collecting signatures, he will try to publish the petition in various newspapers.
Mr. Ware has criticized university offcials for allowing a group of faculty members on the Carbondale campus to look into the plagiarism allegations. He says the panel cannot be impartial because Mr. Poshard has some authority over them. —Andrea L. Foster
President Signs College Cost Reduction and Access Act
Sept. 28, 2007
President Bush yesterday signed The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669), which both the House and Senate passed earlier this month by overwhelming margins. The legislation cuts subsidies to lenders who participate in the federal student loan program and uses the savings to boost Pell Grants, cut the interest rate on student loans and expand repayment options for students.
This bill makes the largest changes to the FFEL program since its establishment as the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL) program in 1965. Subsidy cuts have been made in the past, but those were much smaller than what will be put in place under this bill. Despite the funding increase, the legislation contains a number of provisions—such as the PLUS loan auction—that will require continued close scrutiny.