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New York Times

New York Times columnist Tim Egan takes a swing at Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart swings back.

P.S. Now expanded into a longer post at Cato — don’t miss the (very good!) views of Obama administration chief economist Jason Furman. (& Scott Shackford, Reason)

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For those who freaked out at those headlines Thursday, Daniel Fisher at Forbes has a corrective to the New York Times’ latest story advancing the trial lawyer campaign against arbitration. More: Eric Goldman. Sequel: General Mills quickly withdraws new policy, perhaps reasoning that even when the New York Times is wrong, a consumer marketing company really can’t win trying to argue with it. Yet more: Dave Hoffman with an analysis of whether the language actually creates a contract.

Fifty years ago yesterday the Supreme Court handed down its greatest tort reform decision — just for you. [Related 2003 Baseball Crank post on federalism.]

  • Still money left in that piggy bank: Justice Department shakes $1.7 billion out of J.P. Morgan because its custody wing kept handling a primary Bernie Madoff account while a distant equity desk grew suspicious of him, in what “looks a bit like a tax on bigness and integration” [Matt Levine, Bloomberg; NPR].
  • Legacy of TARP one of cronyism and lawlessness [Mark Calabria, USA Today]
  • NYT assails a couple of academics as mouthpieces for Wall Street, Felix Salmon has a bit to say about that [Reuters, EconBrowser, Bainbridge, Pirrong] Daniel Fisher on a possible tie-in with Times reporter David Kocieniewski’s earlier piece flaying Goldman Sachs over aluminum warehousing [Forbes]
  • “Court Receptive to Overturning SEC’s Conflict Minerals Disclosure Rule” [Fed Soc Blog]
  • “Target Breach — Are Dodd-Frank ‘Swipe Fee’ Price Controls to Blame?” [John Berlau, CEI "Open Market"] “Volcker Rule Overshoots Wall Street to Hit Utah” [same]
  • “CFPB and Disparate Impact” [Hester Peirce, Point of Law]
  • “It might cost you $39K to crowdfund $100K under the SEC’s new rules” [Sherwood Neiss, VentureBeat via @jerrybrito]
  • Here’s a novel proposal for corporate governance: use the rules agreed upon by the original parties to the transaction [Hodak]

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Fifty years ago today…

by Walter Olson on January 7, 2014

…the U.S. Supreme Court heard argument in what was to become one of its most celebrated tort reform decisions. A profitable national manufacturer had been sued in a distant rural state in which it was decidedly unpopular, resulting in a runaway jury verdict which it sought to challenge on appeal. Pointing out the disadvantages of unpredictable and locally variable tort standards, the corporation’s lawyers pushed for a more uniform and modern standard of liability suited to a nationwide market, which the high court agreed unanimously to develop for the occasion and impose on state courts. And ever since 1964, the winning party in the case — that is to say, the New York Times Company — has taken a sympathetic editorial interest in the plight of other national businesses subjected to runaway verdicts in local courts.

Well, OK, maybe not that last sentence. But the rest of it did happen, in the celebrated case of New York Times v. Sullivan.

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In an article today on challenges facing older jobless workers, New York Times reporter Michael Winerip asserts that “Since the Supreme Court ruling [Gross v. FBL Financial Services, a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that made it slightly more difficult to win suits] most lawyers won’t even take age discrimination cases.” Connecticut employment-law blogger Daniel Schwartz wonders where that claim comes from, since the number of EEOC charges in age-bias cases has gone up, not down, since 2009, and since “NELA – the National Employment Lawyers Association — continues to put forward CLE programs discussing how to advance ADEA claims. … So, where did the Times get this assertion from? I’ve hunted for a source but have yet to find one.” [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]

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“Then the lawyers pounced.” [Joe Nocera, "Justice, Louisiana Style," New York Times, earlier]

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June 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 21, 2013

  • What could go wrong? “Moving into F.B.I. turf, local police are assembling databases of DNA records” [NYTimes, earlier here, here, and here]
  • Toyota pays Orange County D.A. $16M to go away: $4M to locally influential attorney Robinson and friends, $8M to… gang prevention?! [NLJ]
  • Mt. Holly: “Supreme Court Takes Up Challenge To Disparate-Impact Discrimination Theory” [housing; Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • UFCW: legalizing private liquor stores to compete with our guys’ state-run Pennsylvania stores would be just like killing people [Malanga]
  • Prattling on about Lochner v. New York decision, Michael Lind appears to lack first clue as to what it actually said [David Bernstein; more on "Where's your country, bub?" anti-libertarian flap, Max Borders (on E.J. Dionne), Will Wilkinson ("Why does Michael Lind keep asking questions that have obvious answers?"), Marlo Lewis/Open Market.]
  • The other day the editorialists of the New York Times sat down and wrote that “there is no persuasive evidence of any significant fraud or abuse” in asbestos claiming. Yes, they actually wrote that. In 2013. Paging Lester Brickman!
  • Supreme Court: feds can’t require beneficiaries of overseas grant programs to sign pledge to oppose legalizing prostitution [Ilya Shapiro] “How Calling Sex Work ‘Human Trafficking’ Hurts Women” [Cathy Reisenwitz, Sex and the State, more]
  • “The utterly frivolous and offensive complaint against the honorable Judge Edith Jones” [@andrewmgrossman on this Andrew Kloster piece, earlier here and here]

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Jacob Sullum does not weary of pointing out the paper’s repeated misreporting about the “Stand Your Ground” principle, misreporting not unrelated to the efforts of campaigners from the Legal Left who have sought to wring ideological advantage from the Martin-Zimmerman case.

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on May 21, 2013

New SEC chairman Mary Jo White shows better sense about it than some newspaper editorialists that could be named [Louise Bennetts, Cato]

Ira Stoll catches the New York Times being tendentious again [SmarterTimes]:

…one reason that Texas is at or near the top of the nation in terms of workplace fatalities is that it is at or near the top of the nation in terms of the number of workers and how many hours they work. If you adjust for that, and take the rate of workplace fatalities — that is, the number of fatalities from workplace injuries per 100,000 full-time workers, Texas isn’t worst in the nation, but somewhere in the middle…

Related: Josh Barro, Steven Greenhut (California as comparison).

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on March 11, 2013

  • “Crime to Create a ‘Hostile Environment’ That ‘Substantially Interferes’ with Person’s ‘Psychological Well-Being’ Based on Race, Religion, Sex, Etc.?” [Volokh] “Minnesota Bill to Ban K-12 Speech That Denies Fellow Students a ‘Supportive Environment’” [same]
  • Blogger dropped as defendant in “pink slime” defamation litigation, but suit against ABC and others continues [Bettina Siegel/Lunch Tray] Suit against ABC based in part on state food-disparagement statute occasionally criticized in this space [Reuters] Dearborn residents: are you sure you want to patronize a restaurant that deploys lawyers to suppress criticism? [Paul Alan Levy, earlier]
  • Libya arrests foreigners accused of distributing Christian literature, charge could carry death penalty [Guardian]
  • Sometimes it seems NYT editors are First Amendment absolutists about everything except political speech First Amendment was meant to protect [SmarterTimes]
  • Global Wildlife Center of Folsom, Louisiana sues a satirical website and then menaces Ken of Popehat;
  • Long piece on Naffe/O’Keefe backstory of Kimberlin/Patterico legal/media war [Chris Faraone, Boston Phoenix, earlier]
  • Update: following outcry, publishing company drops suit against Canadian librarian [CBC, earlier] Also from Canada: Nanaimo, British Columbia: “Mayor ensures ‘Koruption’ stickers never seen again” [Beschizza, BoingBoing] Voltaire wept: Bruce Bawer on the Canada Supreme Court’s “hate speech” decision [Front Page mag, earlier]
  • “Donald Trump, paper tiger?” [Paul Alan Levy]

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“That is quite a correction in today’s Times to Mark Bittman’s column the other day about sugar and diabetes,” notes Ira Stoll. Bittman’s column began with the striking opener “Sugar is indeed toxic” and went on to promote a far-reaching regulatory crackdown on sweetened foods. But it soon came under sustained attack from various commentators (more) for misstating recent findings about the health effects of sugar in the diet; it’s true that sugar intake tends to cause obesity and obesity itself causes diabetes, but it’s a separate, unresolved question whether sugar by itself instigates diabetes through some mechanism of action not common to other highly caloric foods.

Here is the correction:

Mark Bittman’s column on Thursday incorrectly described findings from a recent epidemiological study of the relationship of sugar consumption to diabetes. The study found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher rates of diabetes — independent of obesity rates — but stopped short of stating that sugar caused diabetes. It did not find that “obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does.” Obesity is, in fact, a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, as the study noted.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman believes you’re living in a right-wing “intellectual bubble” if you think rising disability claims in the Social Security program reflect anything other than “the real health problems of an aging work force.” Thing is, no less a personage than former Obama budget director Peter Orszag wrote in the New York Times that the “spike in disability insurance applications (and awards) does not reflect a less healthy population,” and Orszag’s view on this matter is commonplace among many other analysts whose views are hardly conservative. [Ira Stoll, who has just relaunched his wonderful SmarterTimes.com, one of the best media-criticism sites since they invented the Internet; everyone should start reading it]

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A. “Buried in the middle of the penultimate paragraph.”

Q. “Where, amid a long rant against the D.C. Circuit’s decision striking down most recess appointments by the President (“A Court Upholds Republican Chicanery”), would you expect the Times to concede that the practice of holding pro forma sessions to stymie such appointments was pioneered under Democratic Senate rule as a way of restraining President George W. Bush?

No prizes, as distinct from amusement value, in demonstrating what the New York Times thought of the practice back then.

More on the Canning v. NLRB decision: Trevor Burrus/Cato, massive link roundup at How Appealing, John Elwood, Point of Law roundtable, Michael Fox/Employer’s Lawyer (implications for NLRB), @markcalabria (implications for Richard Cordray CFPB appointment), Michael Greve, Mike Rappaport.

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My colleague John Samples argues for the venerable instrument of Senate obstruction [Philadelphia Inquirer] And some sort of prize should go to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) who chided “one of the major newspapers in our country” — he probably meant the New York Times — for siding with anti-filibuster Democratic ultras this time around, though it had taken exactly the opposite position when Republicans controlled the Senate. “We’ve got to be consistent.” [Dave Weigel]

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Jacob Sullum: “New York Times Accidentally Admits That Energy Drinks Are Safer Than Coffee.”