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Current Law Students / Australian fires toll passes 100 ?
« on: February 12, 2009, 11:00:15 AM »

2. No one really agrees on his theory of fire, some co-opted it for their own use

Go Mina Go!

Speaking of fire, are you guys following the horrific Australian fires story?

The death toll from fires in southern Australia has reached at least 108, the worst in the country's history. Thousands of firefighters, aided by the army, are battling several major bush fires, and the number of dead is expected to rise as fires are put out. Arsonists responsible for lighting the fires could be charged with murder, police have said. Entire towns in Victoria state were destroyed as fires were fanned by extreme temperatures and wind. Temperatures are dropping now, but officials fear they will not be able to get the fires under control until there is substantial rain. "We could still have a lot worse," said Sharon Smee of Victoria's Country Fire Authority. "There's still hot spots out there and there's a lot of people who are really exhausted and tired."

'Absolutely horrific'

Firefighters have been battling against what are described as the worst conditions in Victoria's history. Witnesses described seeing walls of flames four storeys high, trees exploding and the skies raining ash, as fires tore across 30,000 hectares (115 sq miles) of forests, farmland and towns. John Coleridge from the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne said most of those rescued from the fires had suffered burns. "They range from minor, just the soles of their feet running away through embers, to people who've got major, life-threatening burns," he said. "And unfortunately there are some people who will not survive." The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney said police suspect that in at least one case fires have been restarted by arsonists after being extinguished by firefighters. New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees said arsonists faced a maximum 25 years' jail. "We will throw the book at you if you are caught," he was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. "Some of these fires have started in localities that could only be by hand, it could not be natural causes," Victoria state Police Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe was quoted as saying by AFP. He said there would be a "full, thorough investigation".

At least 700 homes have been destroyed in Victoria and about 14,000 homes are without power. Most of the people who died came from a cluster of small towns to the north of Melbourne. The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney said many charred bodies had been found in cars. It is thought they were trying to escape the fires but were overtaken by their "sheer speed and ferocity". Some cars appeared to have crashed into one another as people tried to flee the flames. Victoria Country Fire Authority said the death toll had risen to 108. At least 18 people were reported to have died in the town of Kinglake, four at Wandong, four at St Andrews and three at Strathewen. One Strathewen resident told ABC local radio how people had witnessed "absolutely horrific" scenes as they had helped battle the flames. "The school's gone, the hall's gone... some people left it too late. We've lost friends, and we're just waiting for more - children, loved ones," she said.

The town of Marysville, with about 500 residents, was said to have been burned to the ground, though most residents managed to shelter from the blaze in a local park. In Kinglake, where witnesses said most of the town was destroyed, one woman quoted by the Melbourne Age described the arrival of a badly burnt man and his daughter seeking shelter on a patch of open ground. "He had skin hanging off him everywhere and his little girl was burnt, but not as badly as her dad, and he just came down and he said 'Look, I've lost my wife, I've lost my other kid, I just need you to save [my daughter],'" she said.


[...] people who cannot take antidepressants due to problems of health or lack of response and pregnant women who suffer from depression or mania. [...]

Wouldn't ECT hurt the baby in the case of pregnant women?

Current Law Students / Unlicensed travel to Cuba court cases
« on: February 12, 2009, 10:57:13 AM »

Instant Travel Agents

Instant travel agents are non-professionals who purchase travel agent credentials. Travel agent ID cards along with some training are sold by 50 different companies for prices ranging from $485.00 to $7,995.00.6 Some of these companies are involved in illegal pyramid schemes, educational frauds, violating State security laws and State travel seller statutes. The number of instant travel agents is staggering. The International Airlines Travel Agent Network ["IATAN"] reported that its 1995 membership stood at 237,405 of which 24,383 ID cards were in the possession of non-professional independent contractors. InteleTravel International reported that its 1995 membership stood at 35,000 card holders who generated annual sales of $100 million.

Some of the companies in the business of selling travel agent ID cards may be illegal pyramid schemes. On the surface multilevel marketing companies recruit non-professionals to retail products and services from their homes. In reality, what is being sold is the opportunity to recruit new participants and earn a commission from the new recruit's sales and future recruiting efforts. Such schemes are inherently deceptive, misleading and illegal in many States.

The bottom line is that you need to be careful about the various companies and/or agencies that you may consider joining. If the pitch is centered around the fabulous travel benefits you are going to get by presenting a photo ID card, you may want to be cautious, if your intent is to actually sell travel. The failure rate of these companies is extremely high and they rarely end up refunding monies paid into the scheme. Using the common business sense that "If it sounds to good to be true"  is really the best way to approach the issue.

Become a travel agent. This is a scam that is running rampant now. Once you pay a fee to a company, it will issue "credentials" allowing you access to travel agent freebies and discounts and commissions on selling travel. First off, the days of freebies and discounts are done they are few and far between. Secondly, in order to sell travel and be recognized by a supplier, you need to be affiliated with either a travel agency or be registered as an independent seller of travel with either the Cruise Lines International Association or the Airlines Reporting Corporation. Again, this is a perfect example of the old axiom, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Here it is an article from Havana Journal:

Travelocity sells tickets to Cuba

Tue June 28, 2005

Hearings before administrative law judges (ALJ) for alleged unlicensed travel to Cuba continue. This week, Judge Irwin Schroeder, an administrative law judge (ALJ) who is commissioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to hear Cuba travel cases, heard testimony in two cases of individuals who allegedly traveled to Cuba without a license.  In the first case, the defendant, Jennifer Kennelly, purchased a ticket for travel to Cuba through Travelocity, an online travel provider. Consistent with OFAC guidelines, travel agencies must obtain a license to provide travel services to Cuba; Travelocity did not have such a license. According to Michael Neufeld of OFAC, Travelocity and American Airlines had glitches in their systems that allowed individuals to purchase tickets to Cuba.

As Craig Ostrem, a Cuba traveler who had a hearing for alleged unlicensed travel in October 2004, testified, one relies on a travel agency in good faith to make travel arrangements in the same manner one does not confirm a plane is properly equipped before taking flight. Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) argued Kennelly lost the ability to sue Travelocity for negligence, and her first lawyers for malpractice, because the three-year statute of limitations had passed while OFAC inexcusably waited to appoint judges. He also argued for mitigation due to serious medical conditions that have prevented her from working for the last three years. In another case, also heard by judge Schroeder, the defendant, David Heslop, allegedly traveled to Cuba from Charlotte, North Carolina via Cancun. On his return, he was stopped by U.S. Customs at the Charlotte airport under suspicion of travel to Cuba. Heslop was referred for a secondary inspection and was pressured to complete a document detailing his travel to Cuba including information regarding money spent.

During the hearing we learned from the former U.S. Customs Agent who testified in this case, that compliance in completing the form during the inspection is not required. Prior to Heslop's fulfillment with the Customs Agent's request, the only information the government had about his trip was suspicion of travel based on stamps in his passport that resembled entrance stamps used by Cuban officials. Both Heslop and Kennelly were represented by Kadidal of the CCR. CCR recommends individuals under investigation for travel to Cuba should assert their 5th Amendment right to remain silent.

Here's the actual report if anyone's curious.

The most revealing charts start at around page 20.  It's really quite... blood-boiling, I think is the correct term.

Indeed blood-boling!

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