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Russia

Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on February 19, 2013

  • Setting up as a freelance investigative writer? Getting insurance even for your office rental can be tricky [Romenesko]
  • Among many curious Virginia blue laws: “‘any citizen … may institute’ judicial review of any book.” [Barton Hinkle]
  • Whether Rupert Murdoch can buy the L.A. Times shouldn’t depend on which party holds power in Washington [Stoll, Future of Capitalism]
  • “Publisher launches $3,000,000 suit against academic librarian who criticized its books” [BoingBoing, Edwin Mellen Press] “Alternative” cancer treatment entrepreneur threatens to sue dissatisfied patient [Jardin, BB]
  • EU: Let’s regulate journalists [Morrissey] Russia law against pro-gay “propaganda” is part of wider speech crackdown [AP]
  • Twitter’s relatively laissez-faire speech policy has advanced its success [Greg Beato]
  • “Free Speech on Campus Today” [Cato podcast with FIRE's Greg Lukianoff]
  • Forbids writing about him ever again: “Judge says US-based reporter defamed Haiti’s PM” [AP/Gainesville Sun]

February 17 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 17, 2013

  • Federal taxpayers via National Cancer Institute grant dished out more than a million dollars to pay for laughable conspiracy-theory report smearing Tea Party [Hans Bader, more, Jacob Sullum on report from Stanton Glantz, whom we've often met before] “Rather than [being] a spontaneous popular phenomenon, opposition to the tea parties was nurtured by the government.” [@RameshPonnuru]
  • Ken on why the relentless overuse of the epithet “bullying” gets on his (and my) nerves [Popehat; Clark at Popehat on New York police chiefs who feel bullied because someone won't sell them guns]
  • On immigration, advocates of liberty can’t afford to ignore the future-polity angle [Eugene Volokh; Ilya Somin with a response]
  • More on that wretched State of the Union retread, the Paycheck Fairness Act [Hans Bader, Ted Frank, 2009 DoL study, earlier here, here, here, here, here, etc.] Other dud SOTU ideas: federally paid universal preschool [Andrew Coulson, related, more, related on minority kids' results, yet more, Neal McCluskey on public infant care, Tyler Cowen] minimum wage hike [Chris Edwards, Veronique de Rugy]
  • Woman sues fitness club over “sexually suggestive” exercises [CBS Dallas]
  • Silent witness: undeveloped state of law, police, insurance contribute to widespread Russian use of dashboard cams [WaPo]
  • Would-be assassin came dressed as postman: Danish free-speech advocate Lars Hedegaard interviewed [Spectator]

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From Reason.tv, and new to us, at least, if not exactly new, with vignettes on reef reconstruction, ethanol subsidies, and child health insurance (via Hodak Value). And from Mark Perry, “Some Great Examples of Unintended Consequences from Wikipedia’s Listing for ‘Perverse Incentives.’” An example, from an economics text by James Gwartney and Richard Stroup:

In the former Soviet Union, managers and employees of glass plants were at one time rewarded according to the tons of sheet glass produced. Not surprisingly, most plants produced sheet glass so thick that one could hardly see through it. The rules were changed so that the managers were rewarded according to the square meters of glass produced. The results were predictable. Under the new rules, Soviet firms produced glass so thin that it was easily broken.

Don’t miss the rat-farming and dinosaur-bone examples, either.

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October 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 14, 2009

  • Uh-huh: new report from federal Legal Services program calls for gigantic new allocation of tax money to, well, legal services programs [ABA Journal]
  • “Judge: Man’s a ‘vexatious litigator’” [Cincinnati.com]
  • Wisconsin governor signs bill requiring prescription to buy mercury thermometer [Popehat]
  • “Injured by art?” Woman sues Museum of Fine Arts Houston after fall in artist-designed light tunnel [Mary Flood, Houston Chronicle "Legal Trade"]
  • On Carol Browner and the cry of “environmental racism” (a/k/a “green redlining”) [Coyote]
  • New York: “Lawyers implicated in $9 million mortgage fraud” [Business Insider]
  • In Canada, as in the U.S., medical privacy rules hamper police investigations [Calgary Herald]
  • Stalin’s grandson loses lawsuit in Russia against newspaper that supposedly defamed the dictator [WSJ Law Blog, Lowering the Bar, Volokh]

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Sheldon Toplitt (Unruly of Law) and Ron Coleman discuss a legal action recently filed in Russia.

Lowering the Bar has the curious details.

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June 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 5, 2008

  • “I believe it’s frivolous; I believe it’s ridiculous, and I believe it’s asinine”: Little Rock police union votes lopsidedly not to join federal “don/doff” wage-hour lawsuit asking pay for time spent on uniform changes [Arkansas Democrat Gazette courtesy U.S. Chamber]
  • Must-read Roger Parloff piece on furor over law professors’ selling of ethics opinions [Fortune; background links @ PoL]
  • Too rough on judge-bribing Mississippi lawyers? Like Rep. Conyers at House Judiciary, but maybe not for same reasons, we welcome renewed attention to Paul Minor case [Clarion-Ledger]
  • American Airlines backs off its plan to put Logan skycaps on salary-only following loss in tip litigation [Boston Globe; earlier]
  • U.K.: Infamous Yorkshire Ripper makes legal bid for freedom, civil liberties lawyer says his human rights have been breached [Independent]
  • In long-running campaign to overturn Feres immunity for Army docs, latest claim is that military knowingly withholds needed therapy so as to return soldiers to front faster [New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey on CBS; a different view from Happy Hospitalist via KevinMD]
  • Profs. Alan Dershowitz and Robert Blakey hired to back claim that Russian government can invoke U.S. RICO law in its own courts to sue Bank of New York for $22 billion [WSJ law blog, earlier @ PoL]
  • Minnesota Supreme Court declines to ban spanking by parents [Star-Tribune, Pioneer Press]
  • Following that very odd $112 million award (knocked down from $1 billion) to Louisiana family in Exxon v. Grefer, it’s the oil firm’s turn to offer payouts to local neighbors suffering common ailments [Times-Picayune, UPI]
  • AG Jerry Brown “has been suing, or threatening to sue, just about anyone who doesn’t immediately adhere” to his vision of building California cities up rather than out [Dan Walters/syndicated]
  • Virginia high school principal ruled entitled to disability for his compulsion to sexually harass women [eight years ago on Overlawyered]

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Add the Stony Brook University Hospital cafeteria to the list of servers unsuccessfully sued over burns caused by hot coffee. If you recall, the theory of the McDonald’s coffee case (and repeated by such trial lawyer defenders as congressional candidate Bruce Braley) was that McDonald’s, and only McDonald’s, served coffee so hot as to burn. For some reason, the reporter for the New York Law Journal tries to leave the reader with the impression that the original Stella Liebeck case was justifiable (though that opinion is irrelevant to the article itself) which shows how successful trial lawyer propaganda has been within the legal community and press. (John Caher, “N.Y. Judge Cool to Injury Claims Over Spilled Coffee”, New York Law Journal, Nov. 2). We earlier listed other hot coffee lawsuit defendants.

Speaking of which, you may recall the Russian McDonald’s coffee case litigation that we covered a year ago, with identical allegations from a woman who spilled coffee on herself; the press is reporting that the plaintiff has dropped her case. As in the Stella Liebeck case, the Russian McDonald’s had a warning on the coffee cup that the contents were hot. (“Moscow McDonald’s coffee-spill case closed”, RIA Novosti, 1 Nov.).

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“The fashion to sue fast food enterprises has reached Russia. Thirty-seven-year-old Muscovite Olga Kuznetsova claimed a 100,000 ruble ($3,500) compensation from McDonald’s for the burn that a spilled cup of coffee had left on her body.” (Pravda, Nov. 15; Novosti, Nov. 12). For Ted’s take on the much-discussed Stella Liebeck case, see Dec. 10, 2003, Aug. 3, 2004, and Aug. 4, 2004.

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