Monthly Archives: April 2008

Torture Nation (“Is The US Now A Non-Geneva State?”)

Andrew Sullivan, Is The US Now A Non-Geneva State?:

The manner in which free societies lose their moral compass is always incremental. Step by step by step, certain core values are whittled away. There is rarely a moment at which a government stands up, and asks its people if they wish to abandon such “quaint” notions as the Geneva Conventions, the rule of law, humane interrogation or habeas corpus. These things are abandoned incrementally or secretly, slice by slice, euphemism by euphemism, the chronology always clearer in retrospect than at the time. And each incremental step is always portrayed as a small but essential temporary sacrifice for the sake of security in a time of great and imminent peril.

And so defenders of torture have long argued that is is essential to make torture legal – but only in the ticking time bomb scenario. And yet, such a scenario has not yet happened and the United States has still indisputably abused and dehumanized thousands of prisoners in its custody, “disappeared” and tortured hundreds, and seen more than a dozen die in “interrogation”. We now know, moreover, the following undisputed facts: the president of the United States and his closest advisers devised, orchestrated and monitored interrogation methods banned by the Geneva Conventions at Guantanamo Bay and subsequently in every theater of combat; these techniques were used not only in the extra-legal no-man's land of Guantanamo Bay but also at the prison at Abu Ghraib where photographic evidence of many of the actual techniques explicitly authorized by the president – stress positions, hoods, mock-executions, etc. – was incontrovertible. We now know that those techniques that the president expressed “shock” at were already explicitly authorized for use by other agents by him long before Abu Ghraib was exposed.

Read the rest. It's good.

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Timewaster or a Waste of Time

Although I am often a sucker for online timewasters (and never more than during the exam-writing season!), and although I gather some folks love this thing, I'm having some trouble figuring out the attraction of Pass the Ball, a shockwave object.

Can someone explain?

Posted in Internet | 2 Comments

Belated McCain Bashing

I was busy on Friday, but here's the DNC's anti-McCain ad.

It's a good one.

Hope they run it everywhere and often.

PS. And it's fair, too

Posted in Politics: McCain | 5 Comments

The Edge-of-Campus Mugging that Wasn’t

A week ago I asked, Why Are There TV Crews On the Edge of Campus? and several commentators suggested it was related to a mugging of a student on the other side of campus.

By way of follow-up, I should mention that the Miami Herald reported the other day that police figured out the 'victim' made the whole thing up.

A University of Miami student scratched cuts into herself, ripped her clothing and then lied to police about being attacked by a man while jogging on campus, investigators said Thursday.

Coral Gables detectives noticed holes in the 21-year-old's story about a robbery and attempted sexual assault at knife-point last Friday.

“They determined the tearing on her shirt was from a rip by hand, not by knife like she claimed,” Officer Frank Jackson said.

“We believe this was some sort of mental-health breakdown,” he said.

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More on U. Miami Data Breach

The University of Miami is mostly getting praise for the way it has handled notification of the theft of patient medical information last week. (For more on that, see Shalala's Message on U.Miami Employee Medical Data Privacy Breach.) Here's an example of the positive publicity from a Wall Street Journal blogger, calling the U's response exemplary.

Meanwhile, however, I seem to be one of the 47,000 people whose credit card info was on one of those tapes and have got the boilerplate note suggesting I check my credit history and put fraud warnings on my cards. Recall, though, that both the University and the Secure Information Services group at Terremark say that the data is very hard to read.

Hard to read, perhaps, but maybe not impossible to read. And it seems that the data could have been encrypted, but wasn't.

So should I worry or not? So far, I'm leaning, “not”.

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Maybe Health Care Just Isn’t Funny

Sen. Ron Wyden's office is sending out email touting this video, Senator Ron Wyden | Stand Tall for Health Care Reform.

They offer reviews such as “Ron Wyden Makes Health Care Reform Funny… [a] truly funny and risky political ad” and “The most entertaining political advertisement I've seen in a long time”.

So, judge for yourself.

I didn't like it at all. But I do like the slogan: “Are you ready for universal health care that can never be taken away?”

Posted in Politics: US: Healthcare | Leave a comment

The End, The Beginning

I taught my last class of the semester this afternoon. For several of the students it was their last class of law school, and they were more than a bit giddy with relief — demob happy. But we had a good class anyway, or because of it.

The end today for graduating students is really just a beginning of something bigger and longer and likely more important, which is why we call that ceremony coming up “Commencement”. The end today for me is just a turning of a wheel: I expect to do it all again next year.

But for one of my colleagues today, it was the final turn of this particular wheel. After 56 years on our faculty, here since September, 1951, Minnette Massey taught her last class today. It is very hard for me to imagine our University of Miami School of Law without this indomitable, outspoken, adorable, sometimes irascible, deeply decent, icon and pioneer of the Florida bar—one of the first women to do innumerable things in the Florida legal world. Minnette was Acting Dean for three years in the '60s; I have to suspect sexism kept her from ever being appointed as 'Dean'. She was a mentor to two generations of state legal luminaries, and the go-to person for local federal judges who needed special masters in complex cases, particularly before they had Magistrate Judges to do some of those jobs. Among Minnette's many achievements is decades of work to fully integrate the bar, not least by mentoring students and young professionals. She's not young, but no one who knows her thinks she had to retire. Minnette made it clear, however, that she didn't want to be one of those people who waited until she had to be forced out: her leave-taking, like so much else in her life, would be her own decision on her own time on her own rules.

Everyone has a Minnette story or three. Here's one of my earliest: back when I was in my first year of law teaching, with a full three months under my belt, I attended the AALS winter conference for the first time. I was teaching Civ Pro I in those days, so of course I went the to the meeting of the Civil Procedure Section, which happened to be a joint section meeting with the Admiralty section that year — the big case was Carnival Cruise Line, which was about the enforcement of forum selection clauses on cruise tickets. On the way into the room, I bumped into Minnette. I had planned to lurk in the back. Minnette steered me to the front row, greeting everyone in the room on the way, which left us craning our necks up at a panel on a raised dias. The talk began. The admiralty speaker was, from a civil procedure standpoint, somewhat obvious. And he was not brief. I was thinking how much better off I would have been in the back, but here I was in the front, with a senior colleague I didn't know very well, she had said hello to everyone, we were very visible, there was no escape, we'd just have to look interested. “ISN'T THIS BORING?” Minnette said to me in a stage whisper loud enough to be heard next door. (I later learned that was her regular voice.) I wanted to crawl under my seat. But no one else seemed to mind. I suspect that everyone in the room just knew she was being herself: you always know where you stand with Minnette — she doesn't play games, and no, she won't suffer fools in silence, but you cannot be around her long without seeing how much she cares about people and about justice. Minnette doesn't brag (much), so it takes somewhat longer to learn just how much she has given to others and to our law school. I will miss Minnette enormously — unless we are lucky and she again blazes a new trail, this time in retirement, and makes Emeritus status something that involves greater involvement in the law school community than has commonly been the case in the past.

Several of us snuck in at the end of her class this afternoon to join the standing ovation in Room 109, and formed an impromptu receiving line in the aisle as she left the room. When she came to Charlton Copeland, currently our most junior faculty member, she said, “It's up to you now.”

Posted in Law School, Personal, U.Miami | 1 Comment