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General Off-Topic Board / Re: Free advice from Andrew
« on: April 13, 2007, 10:27:58 AM »
Andrew, whats up with Scalia's opinion?

This is a very difficult question to answer because it will require such a wide swath of background and understanding to develop properly.  Simply by asking this question, it shows me that we're not on the same page.  So please forgive me as I devlove into a history lesson...

First, it will help to realize that about 23,000 years ago, a small race of extraterrestrial beings voyaged to Earth from their distant planet in orbit around the star Omegadeltagamma-29236.  This isn't related to Scalia in any way, but it's important to know.

Second, the ancient egyptians developed time travel.  Because of this, we can't say when they did it.  Did they develop it in the future and travel back to show their past ancestors how to do it?  Who knows.  The point is that there are ancient egyptians buggering around with spacetime.  This sends ripples backwards, forwards, left and right, in all 11 dimensions.  One of these ripples ran into the sperm that would eventually become Scalia, warping its structure slightly.  Result: Scalia isn't totally human.

Third, because of the proto-scalia sperm's encounter with the ancient egyptian time ripple, the present Scalia possesses uncanny powers to peer into space and time.  He knows the future, you see.  His opinions actually represent the best and brightest course for humanity, and it's his eternal pain that we don't follow his guidance more often.


General Off-Topic Board / Re: Free advice from Andrew
« on: April 13, 2007, 10:15:46 AM »
It burns when I pee. Goalie isn't here today, so I can't ask her. What should I do?

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Free advice from Andrew
« on: April 13, 2007, 10:12:05 AM »
How soon after Christmas do I need to take down decorations?  Does it matter if it's indoor decorations or outdoor decorations?

New Years Day.  Good activity while hung over.  The location doesn't really matter, but the outdoor decorations are more important because innocent observers can witness your transgressions if you fail to remove them.  You can let the removal of the indoor decorations slide for a few days if you don't have many guests or if your guests are possessed of great physical and mental fortitude.


This is a fair question.  It gets to the heart of what I mean when I say "glory" to God.  Is this just religious jargon...Christianese, so to speak...or does this mean something?  Is it really true that God can be glorified by some things we do, and not glorified by others?  In some ways, this is related to the more basic questions of what do "good" and "evil" mean.  I think we may be able to touch on answers to this question as this thread develops and perhaps, as we explore some interesting reads together if you'd like.

Here's the short answer (which will probably not be short, knowing me, but I'm going to try....)

Glory, in the sense that I'm trying to use it, comes from the Greek word doxa and it comes from a word with a base meaning of "the awesome light that radiates from God's presence and is associated with his acts of power, honor, praise, speaking of words of excellence, and assigning highest status to God."  (That's a mouthful of a definition, and I didn't make it up or even have it memorized.  I have a pretty detailed concordance that is helpful for looking up a specific word in the Bible, then going back and comparing it to that exact word as translated from Hebrew/Aramaic in the OT or Greek in NT.) 


Hi nat

Just wondering:  If I understand you correctly, you mean that men are free to do good acts if they so choose and when they do, it serves to glorify god.  So in a limited sense, God himself isn't required for the good acts; the men performing them do them by their own free will.  Men would also be performing bad acts of their own free will.  We're given a choice to sin or to not sin, and we must make that choice on our own.

When you say,

So when God moved on the hearts of enough men and women--black and white, old and young, slave and free, Christians or other faiths--to finally do the right thing and bring justice to an oppressed people

I assume you mean that God moved into their hearts because they did the right thing; not that God moved into their hearts and made them do the right thing.  I might be misinterpreting you completely so please correct me if I am, but this distinction seems vital if we're to maintain free will.

So, again if I'm interpreting correctly, we have:  God is glorified when we do good; and We choose to do good by our own free will.

Today, we clearly see that emancipation was a great good.  But was it so clear 150 years ago?  Certainly some men then were uncomfortable with the practice of owning other men, but not all were.  Some were willing to go to war and die over the issue.  The issue was undecided, and as you say, god moved into the hearts of some men who finally did the right thing.  We see the same in many long-practiced injustices.  Women were eventually given the right to vote, etc.

So how do we know at any given moment that we're doing the good that, in your language, glorifies god?  Might we be doing things today that eventually will require change, require some men to glorify god by doing the right thing by bringing justice to more people?  I have to assume we are.  We are human.  We are fallible.  We can't see the greater scheme of all things.  But we do have free will and we can observe our surroundings to the limits of our minds and senses.  It seems foolish to presume we've seen god's plan to perfection.  It seems wiser to maintain constant vigilance; when we spot an injustice, then, we should glorify god by attempting to right it.

Please let me know if I'm misinterpreting you completely.


edit to add:

"Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side."
--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Halfie: "It's a pity Miss P didn't kill him when she had the chance.";

Qui: "Pity? It was pity that stayed Miss P's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Halfie? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Breadboy has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Miss P may rule the fate of many.";

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Ideas for Nontraditional Law Careers
« on: April 05, 2007, 02:59:56 PM »
the real 10.  Choose your own Agenda

A presentation by Michael McCarthy

"The ethics of lobbying." What is meant by those simple English words? During the last four years when I have told friends and colleagues about this project, they have usually laughed or looked at me quizzically. To many of them, the title of this conference and of the book on which it is based is either an oxymoron or the description of a quixotic task. I begin with this sad observation because four years of commuting between Vassar College and Georgetown have sharply highlighted the contrasting perspectives of insiders and outsiders on the nation's politics. Most of the insiders we interviewed welcomed our attempt to provide practical guidelines for their profession. Most of the outsiders skeptically wondered whether ethical guidelines for the lobbying profession would make any difference. The outsider's distrust is not only of lobbyists, but of the organized interests that hire them, the public officials they seek to influence, and of the fairness and integrity of the political processes by which we are governed.

Images, Old and New. What is lobbying? It is the deliberate attempt to influence public law, policy, and administration through various forms of political advocacy. The right to lobby is constitutionally guaranteed by specific provisions of the First Amendment, provisions that protect freedom of speech and the petitioning of government for redress of grievances. Our goal in this project was never to challenge that constitutional right, but to distinguish carefully between its responsible exercise and the multiple ways it can be abused or distorted. Although lobbying has become a well-established political practice, it has undergone major changes during the last 40 years. In Washington, D.C., lobbying has become a major growth industry. As the scope and reach of the federal government have expanded, so has the number of professional lobbyists and the political sophistication with which they ply their trade. Popular images of well-heeled lobbyists making lucrative deals with corrupt politicians, the infamous quid pro quo, are in most respects out of date. Explicit bribery will always be with us, but that is a crime very few lobbyists presently commit. The sophistication to which I refer involves carefully orchestrated campaigns to set the nation's political agenda, to influence the votes of public officials, and to slant the coverage given their clients or projects by the communications media. Public relations techniques borrowed from advertising and marketing are deliberately used in lobbying campaigns to shape public opinion on critical issues.

Lobbyists also play an important role in electoral politics as candidates increasingly rely on them for fund raising, direct contributions and tactical advice in the electoral contest. The negative image of lobbyists largely derives from three public criticisms: 1) their established connection to money and power; 2) their reliance on manipulative marketing techniques in the courting of public opinion; and 3) the judgment that they are political "hired guns" at the service of the highest bidder. To what extent this disreputable image is deserved is a matter of heated debate.

What is ethics? Although most people strive to be good and to live responsibly, they find it difficult to say what ethics is. There is a parallel with time. Almost all adults can tell time, but even philosophers are perplexed about what time really is. Ethics is a form of practical inquiry about the most important human concerns: about the type of persons we should become, the type of communities we should create, what we should do and avoid doing; the interdependence of rights and obligation, and about which goods are more important and which evils more threatening than others.

American culture has been marked from the beginning by a strong individualism. This individualism is clearly reflected in the way most Americans think about ethics. They are reasonably confident in their judgments about personal ethics, about their obligations and responsibilities as parents, spouses, and friends. They are much less confident in thinking about public ethics, about their obligations as citizens, the public responsibilities of corporations and other organized interests, and institutional injustice and systemic or structural inequities.

Applying the Ethical Scissors. Public ethics, if it is to be practical, if it is to make a significant difference, needs to exhibit a three-part structure. The first part is based on factual knowledge. How do things actually stand, how do they presently work, how do people typically conduct themselves in the field under investigation, in this case lobbying the government? To answer these questions, we interviewed numerous people directly engaged in the lobbying process. We asked for their candid assessments about current practice and the ethical challenges it raised, and we followed these confidential interviews with a series of group discussions among people with opposing views of American lobbying. We supplemented these personal accounts of practitioners with scholarly studies of lobbying and lobbyists by journalists and respected academics. By combining these two sources of knowledge, we tried to meet the ethical requirement of realism, of actually knowing what we were talking about.

... [cont. in link]

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Ideas for Nontraditional Law Careers
« on: April 05, 2007, 11:39:24 AM »
8. Protect the homeless.

Victory For Homeless Rights

The ACLU of Southern California secured a historic victory for homeless rights in April, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that arresting homeless people using public spaces when no shelter space is available was cruel and unusual punishment.

The decision in Jones v. City of Los Angeles marks the first time in a decade that a court has struck down an ordinance criminalizing the lack of shelter space in the city.

“Anyone who cares about homelessness and finding positive solutions to this serious issue in our community will be delighted and encouraged by this decision,” said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU/SC. “The ACLU has always maintained that police should target serious crime like rape and drug trafficking, and not criminalize people for sleeping on the street when there is nowhere else to go.”

There are at least 88,000 men, woman and children homeless in Los Angeles County, with 8,000 to 10,000 of them located in downtown. The county provides enough beds to serve less than half of the region’s homeless. In lieu of adequate comprehensive services, the county’s jails are routinely used to substitute for mental health facilities.

The 2-1 ruling by the circuit court nulled a city code that’s been used for more than 35 years by police to round up the homeless. The code forbids people from sitting, sleeping or lying on any street, sidewalk or public space. Violators could face a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail. The appellate court ordered the District Court to create a narrow injunction designed to stop the city from enforcing the code at will.

“The Eighth Amendment prohibits the City from punishing involuntary sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks that is an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter in the City of Los Angeles,” wrote Judge Kim M. Wardlaw for the majority opinion.

The ACLU/SC, acting in conjunction with the National Lawyers Guild, originally filed the suit in February, 2003 on behalf of six homeless persons. It was argued in December, 2005.

Mark Rosenbaum, ACLU/SC legal director, called the decision “brave.”

“This decision is the most significant judicial opinion involving homelessness in the history of the nation,” Rosenbaum said. “The decision means it is no longer a crime to be homeless in Los Angeles. For homeless in our community, 1/5 of whom are veterans and nearly a quarter are children, they can no longer be treated as criminals because of involuntary acts like sleeping and sitting where there are not available shelter beds to take them off the mean streets of the city. My hope is that the city will now treat homelessness as a social problem affecting all of us, not as a crime.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the City Attorney’s office stated its plans to appeal the decision to the full appellate court.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Ideas for Nontraditional Law Careers
« on: April 05, 2007, 11:27:08 AM »
6. Fight the system (for green energy)

Friday, December 15, 2006
Cape Wind's Prospects Improve, But Project Still Faces Lengthy Delay in Federal Regulatory Review Process

Renewable Energy Access offers an interesting update on the status of the Cape Wind Project today. As the article notes, the election of democrat Deval Patrick as Governor of Massachusetts this past November has improved chances that the project will eventually be constructed. Unlike his republican predecessor, Mitt Romney, Governor-Elect Patrick supports the project. Cape Wind developers hope that the change in leadership will avoid any additional delays in state regulatory review.

But the change in the governor's office is unlikely to have a significant effect on the federal regulatory process, which has already hit a number of snags. The U.S Army Corps of Engineers originally published the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project several years ago, in late 2004. After reviewing the DEIS, the Environmental Protection Agency filed comments critical of the project, stating that the DEIS was inadequate, and that further study was required. Then, in 2005, The Energy Policy Act of 2005 switched federal jurisdiction over offshore wind farm projects from the Army Corps of Engineers to the U.S. Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS). MMS has jurisdiction over offshore oil and gas leases, and some in Congress believed that MMS's offshore experience made it the more appropriate agency for review of offshore wind farms.

The change in jurisdiction has resulted in significant delays in the review process. MMS released its Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS for the Cape Wind project (PDF) on May 30, 2006, essentially starting the federal regulatory review process over from scratch. According to the Renewable Energy Access article, MMS has wrapped up the scoping process for the project, and expects to complete its review of the project sometime in 2008. If approved, construction likely won't start until 2009 or 2010.

Check out the Renewable Energy Access article for more details. Materials related to the new Cape Wind EIS process are available on the MMS website.

posted by Geoff Hand, Associate Attorney at 10:49 AM | 5 comments

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Ideas for Nontraditional Law Careers
« on: April 05, 2007, 11:18:56 AM »
5.  Access to clean water.

 Clean Water Access Far Short of Millennium Goal

By Haider Rizvi*

Two years after the World Summit on Sustainable Development, progress in access to water and sanitation is alarmingly slow, say experts. It would take double the current expenditures of 16 billion dollars a year to halve the population lacking access to clean water by 2015.

NEW YORK - Governments around the world have failed to keep their promises for providing clean water and appropriate sanitation for poor populations, pledges made two years ago at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in Johannesburg.

The conclusion reached by many officials and experts attending the two-week session of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations headquarters in New York is that many governments have failed to match their words with actions.

"The situation is grim," said Berge Brende, Norway's environment minister, during one of the meetings aimed at assessing how the world has tackled the issues related to water, sanitation, and human settlement since the WSSD, also known as "Rio+10", in 2002.

Brende, who chairs the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, estimates that every year three to five million people die from water-related diseases in poor regions of the world.

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), more than a billion people continue to live and work in abject poverty with no access to clean and safe drinking water.

The Johannesburg Summit had pledged additional resources, transfer of technology and rebuilding of environmental infrastructure for the world's poor nations -- three vital steps for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aim at halving the number of people without access to sanitation and safe water by the year 2015.

U.N. officials say progress towards achieving the MDGs has been alarmingly slow, mainly due to lack of financial resources. "The world needs to more than double its spending if it is to achieve the Millennium targets," says José Antonio Ocampo, U.N. undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs.

Currently, the world is spending about 16 billion dollars on related projects, an amount that experts on sustainable development say is not sufficient to reverse the situation of lack of access to fresh water and to sanitation services.

Noting that most poor nations are short on technological and financial resources to achieve the MDGs on their own, experts attending the Commission sessions insisted that the world's wealthy nations must contribute more towards addressing the water and sanitation issues.

"It's so expensive to provide these services," says Martha Karua, Kenya's minister of water management resources. "We need to encourage development partners to do something."

But recent trends show that most Western nations are not willing to do much. In fact, some of them have already cut their development aid budgets, saying that poor nations are responsible for poverty and environmental degradation because they have failed to root out corruption.

Some in the industrialized world suggest that privatization could lead to effective water management and distribution, a view that many civil society groups and government leaders from the developing world have refused to embrace.

According to a recent 20-nation survey conducted by GlobeScan Research, a Canada-based group, most people have begun to doubt that privatization would lead to better water and sanitation conditions.

GlobeScan says most people in 11 out of 20 countries surveyed wanted less water privatization, adding that Latin Americans were particularly "negative" towards giving up state control of the sector.

"The results are sobering, but not surprising," says Doug Miller, president of GlobeScan. "Mismanaged privatization processes in a number of countries, plus the breach of public trust resulting from recent corporate scandals means the privatization bubble may be running out of support at the very time when the private sector is gearing up for major expansion."

The European Union adopted a proposal to allocate over one billion dollars to improve access to water and sanitation for the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) bloc of 77 countries, former European colonies. Forty of them, which the U.N. has categorized as "least developed nations", are heavily dependent on EU aid.

Skeptical about the proposal, a consortium of civil society groups led by the Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network, is pressing the EU to ensure that its new initiative would not further water privatization in developing countries.

Environmental activists said they welcomed the water initiative, but stressed that the EU must "prioritize capacity building above infrastructure or promoting private investment."

Those opposed to privatization argue that water should not be treated as an economic good and that solutions to the water problems should be sought from the perspective of human rights, and not from the standpoint economic gains

"Access to clean water is a right according to our constitution," Daniel Pascual, Guatemalan agrarian leader told delegates of the U.N. meeting via remote telecast from his country.

"Water is part of mother nature. We are part of it," he said.

GlobeScan's survey shows that Pascual is not alone in his thoughts on the issue of water.

When asked if the access to clean drinking water should be a basic human right, 84 percent of the poll respondents said "Yes," according to Miller.

Those at the forefront of the international efforts for sustainable development recognize there are conflicting views on the distribution and management of water.

"The world needs to move away from ideological position," says Ian Johnson, World Bank vice president for sustainable development. "It's going to be combination of all (private and public). It's a shared responsibility at the end of the day."

* Haider Rizvi is a Tierramérica contributor.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Ideas for Nontraditional Law Careers
« on: April 05, 2007, 10:57:37 AM »
4.  Assisting indigenous peoples secure their intellectual property rights


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