Monthly Archives: September 2003

Our Terrorism-Fighting Tax Dollars At Work

The folks at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) sure have been busy. The BBC reports that US spies monitor whisky plant:

'They said they had been monitoring our webcams because the process of making something very innocuous and pleasant is close to making weapons of mass destruction, apparently.'

There's of course nothing legally or morally wrong with this government or anyone else watching a webcam feed made freely available over the Internet. But given the DTRA's mission…

'The Defense Threat Reduction Agency safeguards America's interests from weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosives) by controlling and reducing the threat and providing quality tools and services for the warfighter.'

…haven't they anything more productive to do?

Posted in Politics: US | Leave a comment

Spot The Weird Detail

For today's enjoyment, we present a fairly typical Florida news item, Large lizards confiscated from trucker. Can you spot the odd and unusual fact?

A Connecticut truck driver was charged Wednesday with three misdemeanor offenses for traveling with his pets – a 3-foot alligator and a 5-foot caiman.

“He had a dog harness and a leash to walk the caiman with,” said Lt. Joy Hill, spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which levied the charges. “They are not really very warm and cuddly.”

Avery said the crocodilians were his pets and that he had the caiman about 10 years and the alligator for about a year. It is illegal to have an alligator for a pet in Florida, and one must have a Class II permit to have a caiman. Avery had no permit.

Is the odd fact that,

  • A trucker kept good-sized crocs as pets?
  • That he walked the crocs on a dog leash?
  • That he didn't have a croc license?
  • That he was a New Englander who brought his weirdness down to Florida?

No, all of those are the sort of things a good denezin of South Florida must learn to take without blinking. The weird thing about this story is that there's an applicable law and it was enforced

Posted in Completely Different | Leave a comment

Irony Distinguished From Chutzpah

Chutzpah, classically, is killing your parents and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court because you are an orphan. Irony is John Ashcroft's Justice Department investigating this in light of this new policy.

A further irony (can it be a mere coincidence?) is that Bush's WMD scandal (like UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's scandal) is not, as a primary matter, going to be about whether he lied to the nation about whether its national survival was threatend by tons of Iraq anthrax, chemical weapons, and nuclear bombs ready to strike us on a moment's notice, but rather about leaking the name of a confidential government employee for political gain.

Update: Digby points out some connections between the Bush spin operation and the Blair spinner-in-chief Alastair Campbell, he of the 'dodgy dossier'. Maybe it's not a further irony, but just 'what goes around comes around'?

Posted in Politics: US | 1 Comment

The Year That Anything Can Happen

If the Cubs can win the division title, then anything is possible (except Washington DC getting a team…). So please don't tell me the Democrats can't win a majority in the Senate. If the Cubs win the World Series, can Democrats dream of a two-house sweep, even despite the DeLay anti-hispanic redistricting in Texas?

Seriously, if senior Bush aides really outed a CIA agent for petty political pique, and the President didn't lift a finger to investigate the matter for months, this will resonate in the heartland. Add in the constant drip, drip of casualties, plus reservists serving longer tours than anyone expected without much feeling of achievement, not to mention respected commentators saying Bush is destroying the Army, and economists nearly unaninimous that Bush is destroying the economy, it is now possible to imagine an electoral dynamic in which Republican congresspeople run away from the Bush White House. And in which their opponents make hay by tying them to Bush policies.

It is no more inevitable than the Cubs winning. But never say never.

Posted in Politics: US | 1 Comment

My Lawyer Can Beat Up Your Lawyer

Via IPKat, a nice English blog devoted to intellectual property, comes a pointer to a New Scientist article reproducing an unusually agressive online warning against misappropriation of text and images: “My intellectual property attorney is a scary-smart guy. He was the youngest person to ever pass the bar exam in his state. Plus he put himself through law school by working as a professional wrestler. I am not making this up.”

It reminds me of when I was in private practice. I spent most of my relatively short career in the London office of a US firm, serving European clients. After a while, I began to understand why certain ones of them liked taking a US lawyer to meetings. To them, it was a way of signalling to their European counterparts, 'See my legal pitbull. Be nice, or I'll sic him on you.'

Posted in Blogs | 1 Comment

First Robin of Spring?

Methaphorically, anyway: | Republicans in Texas revolt against Bush

Posted in Politics: US | Leave a comment

I’ll Go Out On A Limb Here: SCO’s Motion to Dismiss Will Fail

Predicting the outcome of lawsuits is a risky game. But I'm going to predict that this motion by SCO seeking to dismiss the declaratory judgment complaint filed against it by Red Hat will fail. Miserably. Unless of course SCO's lawyers were to promise the court that they would never bring a copyright infringement claim against Red Hat or any of its customers. That's highly unlikely, but it would certainly moot the case.

SCO is the company that has been running around claiming that Linux violates its intellectual property rights. While trumpeting this claim, and offering purported licenses to users of Linux, SCO has been unwilling to make public a single convincing example of infringing code. It seems pretty obvious that SCO's own actions create a live controversy sufficient to satisfy the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 UCS § 2201. Furthermore, the suggestion that the case is somehow precluded by a related action involving SCO and IBM is not at all persuasive, especially as many of the issues in that case involve a contract to which only IBM was a party. SCO is represented by David Boise's firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner. So far, the paper in SCO's case and the client's general behavior are not making the Boise firm look good (yes, yes, I know some clients are beyond their lawyers' control….). Usually top-quality firms have aces up their sleeves before filing stuff like this motion, something that over time gives them credibility with judges, but right now I just can't see where an ace might be hiding.

There has also been recent action in the SCO-IBM case: IBM filed an elegant and reasonable-sounding counter-claim. It's an interesting document because it wraps IBM's case in the flag of open source and the GPL. IBM is represented by Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

Meanwhile SCO insiders have been selling stock at a decent clip .

The whole SCO-Linux thing is too big to summarize here. If you're just coming in at the middle, the places to go for more info are Slashdot and especially a great blog called Groklaw. Worryingly, Groklaw—imprisoned by the responsibilities of success—is about to have a bit of an identity crisis.

Posted in Law: Internet Law | 1 Comment