And wants recompense from the fruit canner, in New Zealand. [Stuff.co.nz]
For quite a while I’ve been getting complaints that readers in other countries — Australia, in particular — are locked out of Overlawyered with a “403 — you don’t have permission to access the server” error message. (Similarly, see these bulletin board discussions from New Zealand and Germany). Reader Stephen Mepham from Australia wrote to alert me when he encountered this problem on switching to a new cable provider, and helpfully included his IP number (the 718.104.22.1687 thing). That allowed me to track down what had happened: in response to a series of spam and denial-of-service attacks, our hosting providers over the years have taken aggressive measures to exclude various large blocks of IP numbers (as well as country domains associated with spam and DOS attacks). I’ve now taken a few gingerly steps to relax these controls, which I hope should let more Australian readers access the site in particular. Should the attacks resume, of course, we’ll need to go back to tougher blocking.
If you’re a reader who’s encountered this problem or knows someone who has, give it a try again, and feel free to email me with a message along the lines of “Yes, now it works again” or “No, I still get blocked” — and try to include your IP address if convenient, which you can identify here.
We continue to hear reports, scattered and so far unexplained, from readers around the world who get an “unavailable” or “forbidden” message when they call up http://www.overlawyered.com in their browser. Thus some readers in Australia have no problem with access to the site, while others have reported that they are blocked; and we got a similarly inconsistent report the other day from New Zealand.
The Australian lawyer who writes the interesting blog Stumblng Tumblr writes to say that
I have outflanked the problem. I only regret that it took me so long to think of it. I use Bloglines and it permits me to choose how much of a feed I want to see in Bloglines itself. It finally occurred to me to change the setting for Overlawyered to show the full post in Bloglines in every case, rather than just a summary. That means that I don’t have to go to your site. I just read it all in Bloglines.
I’m very happy to be able to read Overlawyered again!
I was on Marcus Lush’s Radio Live talk show out of Auckland this morning, discussing American employment law. My book The Excuse Factory: How Employment Law Is Paralyzing the American Workplace is available on Amazon.
Since 1979 nineteen countries led by Sweden have banned corporal punishment by parents of kids in the home. A bill scheduled for debate today before the Massachusetts legislature would make that state the first to join the trend. (Laurel Sweet, “Bay State’s going slap-happy”, Boston Herald, Nov. 27; “Anti-spanking bill is folly” (editorial), Nov. 28; Stephen Bainbridge, Nov. 22 (New Zealand)). Earlier: Apr. 19, 2004 (U.K.); Feb. 14 and Feb. 24, 2007 (proposal in California).
More: such laws in both Sweden and New Zealand have been softened (i.e., made more lenient toward parents) by the interpolation of reasonableness standards, per Kiwi website Big News (via QuizLaw).
At least not unless she loses some weight (Paul Chapman and Graeme Baker, “New Zealand bars British man’s ‘fat’ wife”, Daily Telegraph, Nov. 21; Zycher, Medical Progress Today, Nov. 21). Australia “last year refused citizenship to a healthy British woman who wasn’t heavy enough.” (Aida Edemarian, “Are you too fat to emigrate?”, Guardian, Nov. 20).
Defamation-suit Hall of Fame: a New Zealand prisoner serving a life sentence for the notoriously brutal murder of a 17-year-old girl has won cash compensation from newspapers which described him as a rapist. “Andrew Ronald MacMillan was granted legal aid – a government- funded scheme which allows people who cannot afford legal representation to get a lawyer – to sue Fairfax Media, publishers of New Zealand newspapers The Press and Dominion Post, for defamation and punitive damages.” The victim, whose body was discovered nearly naked, had suffered violence in intimate places, but authorities never charged MacMillan with rape in the case. (“Murderer gets compensation from paper over rape allegation”, DPA/MonstersAndCritics.com, Apr. 10). Two and a half years ago MacMillan won $1200 for hurt feelings and humiliation because the Corrections Department had not shown him the text of a letter accusing him of misbehavior while on prison furlough. (Bridget Carter, “‘Hurt feelings’ win killer $1200 compensation”, New Zealand Herald, Aug. 23, 2004).
Don’t load up on stocks in that newfangled biometric scanner technology just yet. A federal complaint alleges that workers have a religious right not to sign in using handprints; Matthew Heller has the details and the complaint. Canada has required reasonable accommodation of such beliefs, while New Zealand rejects it. American law simply requires beliefs be “sincerely held.”
Yes, it’s the Scientologists again (see Apr. 16, 2004; Mar. 25-26, 2002; Mar. 19-20, 2001; May 3, 2000). This time they’re threatening a New Zealand parody site named ScienTOMogy.info, which is thus named in honor of Scientology adherent Tom Cruise (via Matt Welch, Reason “Hit and Run”, Oct. 19, headline and all). More: Ron Coleman, Likelihood of Confusion, Oct. 22.
Use of the procedure seems to be following the American path, “and could soon hit a record of 32 per cent of deliveries — far higher than in countries such as Britain and New Zealand.” Among the factors:
Andrew Pesce, consultant obstetrician at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, told the conference litigation was a factor in the caesarean rates.
No obstetrician had ever been sued for doing a caesarean, while some of the largest medical negligence payouts — including the $11 million Calandre Simpson case in 2001- – followed claims the doctor should have performed a caesarean section earlier, Dr Pesce said.
(Adam Cresswell, “Midwives left ‘powerless’ by soaring caesar births”, The Australian, Sept. 5). See Nov. 29, 2004; Jul. 18 and Aug. 13, 2003; and Feb. 5, 2001.
The Centers for Disease Control admitted last week that a much-touted estimate of enormous mortality rates resulting from increasing obesity in America was wrong and arose from incorrect methodology; it promises a revised and lower estimate (Gina Kolata, “Data on Deaths From Obesity Is Inflated, U.S. Agency Says”, New York Times, Nov. 24; Radley Balko, Nov. 24; Jacob Sullum, Reason “Hit and Run”, Nov. 24; Jim Copland, PointOfLaw, Nov. 24 and Nov. 30). The National Institutes of Health’s body mass index is also falling into disrepute for overrating the incidence of obesity (Gina Kolata, “Tell the Truth: Does This Index Make Me Look Fat?”, New York Times, Nov. 28)(see Apr. 29-30, 2002).
As for lawsuits, the scary Public Health Advocacy Institute, where trial lawyers meet dietitians, held its second annual conference in September, with opening remarks by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) (Marguerite Higgins, “Anti-obesity group mulls swell in suits”, Washington Times, Sept. 19; “Lawyers see obese U.S. ripe for fat lawsuits”, Sept. 20; Center for Consumer Freedom, “Looking For Lawsuits In All The Wrong Places”, Sept. 24). The food-industry-defense Center for Consumer Freedom (“Don’t Sue the Hand That Feeds You”) has prepared a “Thanksgiving Guest Liability and Indemnification Agreement” (PDF) (via LawfulGal, Nov. 25) and has also (Sept. 27) compiled a list of the “Ten Dumbest Food Cop Ideas” of the year. These include law prof John Banzhaf’s proposals for suing parents of obese children and doctors who fail to warn their obese patients against overeating; Texas officials’ edict against schoolkids’ sharing of snacks; and a proposal by the New Zealand health minister to apply age restrictions, in the manner of carding for alcohol and tobacco purchases, to keep kids from buying hamburgers, pie and candy. A Deloitte consumer opinion survey (“The Weight Debate”, last updated Jul. 14) finds the public overwhelmingly opposed to lawsuits against restaurants.
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“A man jailed for brutally murdering a teenage girl has been awarded [NZ]$1200 compensation for hurt feelings and humiliation while in prison.” (Bridget Carter, New Zealand Herald, Aug. 23). “In a decision that prompted political anger, the Human Rights Review Tribunal said inmate Andrew MacMillan had suffered “injury to his feelings, loss of dignity and humiliation” when he was denied access to [a letter written about him]. MacMillan was jailed in 1988 for raping and killing Jayne McLellan, 17.” (“Convicted NZ murderer compensated for hurt feelings”, ABC News Online, Aug. 23; “Rapist-killer wins cash award for hurt feelings”, Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 23).