Monthly Archives: May 2012

Federal Court Enjoins Oppressive Florida Rule Designed to Make Voter Registration Difficult

Florida’s GOP war on (minority and Democratic) voters has two parts. First, there is the well-publicized effort to throw tens of thousands of legitimate voters off the rolls in ostensible pursuit of what may be only a handful of noncitizen voters at most.

The second, less-well-known effort, is a new set of Florida state rules that make it very difficult to register new voters, and create severe penalties for anyone who doesn’t precisely comply with them. These rules are so onerous that many groups that formerly routinely ran voter registration drives, like the League of Women Voters, stopped doing it because they found the new rules were impossible to comply with.

Now, thanks to a lawsuit by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, and Rock the Vote, a federal judge in Tallahassee, no hotbed of liberalism, has issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of key parts of the voter-registration-suppression scheme:

The statute and rule impose a harsh and impractical 48-hour deadline for an organization to deliver applications to a voter registration office and effectively prohibit an organization from mailing applications in. And the statute and rule impose burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional even to the extent they do not violate the [National Voting Rights Act].

This is good news, and on a quick read I found the opinion very persuasive, so I have high hopes that it would survive an appeal (although voting law is not my area, so I welcome other views).

Posted in Florida, Law: Constitutional Law, Politics: The Party of Sleaze | 1 Comment

From RA to Internet Mogul

The UM Law alumni magazine has a short profile of Adam Smith JD ’97. Adam was my research assistant when he was in law school, but went on to much bigger and better things, including being the chief legal officer of Terremark Worldwide, the people who run the NAP of the Americas. Terremark then got itself acquired for a bundle by Verizon.

Time moves fast in the Internet world: Shortly after the Alumni Mag went to press Adam resigned from Terremark/Verizon in search of even greener pastures. I gather he has something new and entrepreneurial in the works.

Posted in Internet, Law School | Leave a comment

Better Hurry if You Want to See ‘Time Stands Still’ at the GableStage

One of the nicer things about living where I do is that there is a first-class regional theater less than 10 minutes away. If you live anywhere near Coral Gables and you don’t go regularly to GableStage, housed in an intimate space on the grounds of the Biltmore Hotel, you are missing out. It never ceases to amaze me when there are any empty seats – and it wasn’t quite a sellout at last night’s performance of Time Stands Still, a four-hander by Donald Margulies.

Joseph Adler, the play’s director and the general impresario of GableStage, is the Lebron James of regional theater – he’s so good that we risk getting spoiled. If Lebron scores only 26 points in a win, most fans don’t get excited. And there might be a similar risk with a very fine production like Time Stands Still which doesn’t quite reach the extraordinarily high standard set by this season’s earlier productions such as John Logan’s Red and Stephen Adly Gurgis’s The MotherF**ker with the Hat (which Terry Teachout said was better than Broadway’s version) but remains a very good night out at the theater. The run ends June 3rd so you don’t have many chances left to enjoy it.

This is a very solid production, lit up by a perfectly tuned performance by Betsy Graver as the seemingly gormless Mandy Bloom who, by the end of the play, may be the closest thing it has to a moral center – or maybe just a moral. Deborah Sherman is also very good as she inhabits Sarah Goodwin, the injured war photographer who is the story’s main protagonist. GableStage regular Gregg Weiner gets to play a lower-key role than has been his usual, Sarah’s friend and photo editor Richard Erlich, and as usual makes the most of what he’s got. Steven Garland has in some way the hardest job in this play as James Dodd, Sarah’s long-term boyfriend, and I still can’t decide what it was about him that made me wonder if he was quite right for the part; he has a certain softness that on the one hand works for someone shell-shocked, who wants some calm if not outright escapism, but on the other hand doesn’t seem to fit his backstory as a veteran war reporter. The dramatic engine in the story is the tension between James’s desire to settle down a bit and Sarah’s drive to overcome her injuries and get back on the horse of disaster journalism. We’re teased with hints of one work-related problem of James’s that turns out not to exist, and blindsided with another personal problem that the characters seem to work through, only to be confronted with something harder to compromise.

To the extent there is a fault in this production it is, I think, primarily in the script, which has some issues towards the end – yes, even if it got a Tony nomination on Broadway. While Sarah and Richard are re-working their relationship (against the backdrop of Mandy and Richard’s) the play examines the morality of doing ‘I am a camera’ journalism (rather than disaster relief), with a sideswipe at fluff journalism. Sarah’s flirtation with worry about her role as witness rather than helper seemed to me to be sudden and something out of character, although Ms. Sherman made the best of it that one could. And the very final scene, although completely believable, is nonetheless a bit abrupt.

But never mind. So Lebron didn’t score 40 points. It’s still a great thing to have a theater this good in our back yard.

Posted in Coral Gables, Kultcha | Leave a comment

ProxMate – Work Around Regional Internet Blocks … Or Not?

ProxMate says it is a free plugin for Firefox and Chrome that will allow your to see more of the internet by going around regional content blocks:

– unblocks Youtube Videos!
– unblocks Youtube Channels!
– unblocks Youtube Search!
– unblocks Grooveshark!
– unblocks Hulu (beta!)
– Add your own server!
– No History Tracking!
– On github!
– 100% FREE to use!

I ran into one of those myself not so long ago, but as far as I can tell, adding ProxMate to my browser didn’t fix the problem.

Could it be that the plugin makes it look like you are FROM the US when you are not, but fails to make like like you are not from the US when you are?

Posted in Internet, Software | 5 Comments

Petition White House for Open Access to Taxpayer-Funded Research

Michael Carroll sends this worthy request, for a small piece of activism that anyone (13+ years old)1 reading this can help with:

After years of work on promoting policy change to make federally-funded research available on the Internet, and after winning the battle to implement a public access policy at NIH, it has become clear that being on the right side of the issue is necessary but not sufficient. We’ve had the meetings, done the hearings, replied to the requests for information.

But we’re opposed in our work by a small set of publishers who profit enormously from the existing system, even though there is no evidence that the NIH policy has had any measurable impact on their business models. They can – and do – outspend those of us who have chosen to make a huge part of our daily work the expansion of access to knowledge. This puts the idea of access at a disadvantage. We know there is a serious debate about the extension of public access to taxpayer funded research going on right now in the White House, but we also know that we need more than our current approaches to get that extension made into federal policy.

The best approach that we have yet to try is to make a broad public appeal for support, straight to the people. The Obama Administration has created a web platform to petition the White House directly called We The People. Any petition receiving more than 25,000 digital signatures is placed on the desk of the President’s Chief of Staff and must be integrated into policy and political discussions. But there’s a catch – a petition only has 30 days to gather the required number of signatures to qualify.

We can get 25,000 signatures. And if we not only get 25,000, but an order of magnitude more, we can change the debate happening right now.

Here’s the text of the petition (complying with an 800 word cap):

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Require free, timely access over the Internet to journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.

We believe in the power of the Internet to foster innovation, research, and education. Requiring the published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted on the Internet in human and machine readable form would provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research. Expanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our investment in scientific research.

The highly successful Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health proves that this can be done without disrupting the research process, and we urge President Obama to act now to implement open access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research.

To sign the petition you:

Looks like a good cause to me. The petition will be open for signature for 30 days, but don’t delay — you might forget.


  1. Oddly, the Terms of Participation for the White House’s online petition site say only that you have to be at last 13 years old. They do not say that participation is limited to US citizens and permanent residents. []
Posted in Law: IP, Politics, Science/Medicine | 3 Comments

Quote of the Day

OK, technically yesterday, but even so: Romney: ‘I’m Not Familiar Precisely With Exactly What I Said, But I Stand By What I Said Whatever It Was’.

Posted in 2012 Election | 3 Comments

Vladeck on Hedges v. Obama

I recommend Why Hedges v. Obama is Terribly Perplexing by Steve Vladeck if you want to know more about the decision that I blogged about yesterday.

Posted in National Security | Leave a comment