Tar Heel Pundits - Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred
Tar Heel Pundits
"[A] prolific linker and thinker." - Ed Cone
North Carolina Bar Association's Website of the Week, September 18, 2002
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email: tarheelpundit @ gmail.com

Wednesday, July 31, 2002



Another way technology is changing daily lives

There is an interesting Washington Post article on Smart Mobs - where people communicate instantly by cell phone (I suppose you could put Instant Messenger or ICQ in this category as well since they are instantaneous) and "swarm" to a location to see each other. The technique has also been used by protesters to "swarm" to a protest, and is being examined for use by the military.

Found via Frank Boosman...


posted by John Branch @ 12:25 PM




Is there another kind of matter that scientists have not discovered yet?


posted by John Branch @ 10:44 AM




Another reason I miss Chapel Hill

I can't believe I missed this, but Silflay Hiraka says my blog smells like "Cider and a Lasagna in the cave at the Rat," though I would contend that it's a bottle of cold beer, preferably Shiner Bock, rather than Cider. Bigwig has great intuition considering I can't wait to get back to Chapel Hill and get some lasagna at the Rat, or maybe even a Double Gambler...


posted by John Branch @ 10:41 AM




Howard Kurtz writes about weblogs today...


posted by John Branch @ 9:55 AM




Iraq Update

Andrew Sullivan, in a post titled "Stopping the War," addresses the doves who are trying to dissuade the U.S. from going to war with Iraq, and concludes
The opposition is determined and organized, and they are passionately opposed to using American power to defeat the forces of state terror. What if the U.N. opposes it or doesn't endorse it? Many visceral doves in Washington will rally. If they can isolate the administration from the allies and the Congress, then there's a good chance appeasement will gain even more momentum.
N.Z. Bear contends that rather than titling his post "Stopping the War," Sullivan should have called it "Surrender the War."


posted by John Branch @ 9:53 AM




Buy a bunker

PontifexExMachina posts his Paranoid Libertarian's To-Do List in response to N.Z. Bear's 2014 post...


posted by John Branch @ 9:37 AM




Sail Away

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and an avid sailor who has won many races, is going to take a shot at winning the America's Cup in 2003. New Zealand currently holds the cup, and the race will take place in Auckland, New Zealand, from Feb. 15 through March 1.


posted by John Branch @ 9:19 AM




Moderate Arabs Pushing Against Bush Doctrine

Steven Den Beste discusses a statement by Jordan's King Abdullah that, "Arab trust of U.S. influence remains rather low." King Abdullah is going to meet with President Bush on Thursday, and will push for a Palestinian state, international monitors for the area which could become Palestine, and will ask President Bush to speed up his timetable for turning over Israeli-held land to the Palestinians to establish a state. President Bush's timetable, outlined in his speech a couple of weeks ago, begins with improved security in the area to stop terror attacks against Israelis, democratic change within the Palestinian Authority and removal of Yasser Arafat as its head. A U.S. official said Monday that remains American policy.


posted by John Branch @ 9:15 AM




StrategyPage is reporting that Israel's plans to ease its restrictions on Palestinians have been put on hold after today's suicide bombing...


posted by John Branch @ 9:00 AM




Two men were beaten to death by a mob in Chicago after they lost control of their van and hit three ladies sitting on their porch...


posted by John Branch @ 8:52 AM




Powell meets with minister from North Korea

Colin Powell held talks with the foreign minister of North Korea Wednesday in Brunei, which is the first contact between the two countries since President Bush labeled the communist nation part of an "axis of evil." The United States and North Korea are looking to revive high-level talks for the first time since late in the Clinton administration when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright traveled to Pyongyang for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.



posted by John Branch @ 8:50 AM




Another suicide bombing in Israel

A suicide bomber blew himself up in a Hebrew university cafeteria, killing at least six people and wounding at least 30. A Hamas statement said that the group took credit for the attack in response to Israel’s killing of its leader Salah Shehada in an air strike in Gaza last week.


posted by John Branch @ 8:42 AM




Strike News

The baseball players and owners are still $70 million apart, at best, on the negotiations about revenue-sharing, adn that is just one issue on the table. A [suicidal] strike this year is looking more and more likely...

I can't wait for football season, even if neither the Heels nor the Panthers will be any good.


posted by John Branch @ 7:46 AM




How to cure a curse

The Boston Red Sox got Cliff Floyd, arguably the best hitter on the market, from Montreal in return for pitching prospects Sun Woo Kim and Seung Song, plus a player to named later.

I'm all for the Bo Sox breaking the curse of the Bambino, at least until they play the Braves...


posted by John Branch @ 7:41 AM




Lisa Leslie made the WNBA's first slam dunk last night...

Well, at least she kinda sorta dunked it...


posted by John Branch @ 7:37 AM


Tuesday, July 30, 2002



Summer in the South

It's incredibly hot here in eastern North Carolina today. The high was 99 with a heat index right now of 100. I'm hoping for an evening thunderstorm, but I don't think it's going to happen tonight. One of the things I love about my family's house is the side porch with the porch swing. Several times this summer I have sat out there with a glass of wine and watched a thunderstorm roll in while I caught up with friends over the phone. There is something clean and refreshing about a thunderstorm, something that relaxes me, and seems to wash away a lot of the daily stress of life...


posted by John Branch @ 7:51 PM




Site Upgrade

As ought to be pretty obvious to anyone who has been to my site before, it underwent some major changes this afternoon. I've never been real happy with the old template, mainly because I thought the font size was too small. After I saw Denise Howell's site I realized I found a template I liked, and proceeded to get the code from Blogskins and Bag and Baggage (I really hope she doesn't mind that I have taken her template). After some tweaking (I like my links on the left, I wanted a box around the header for the page, and of course there had to be the option of making the page Carolina Blue), mostly done by trial and error because of my rudimentary html skills, I have published the new and improved version of TarheelPundit. There are probably bugs, and if you find one please let me know. I'd like to figure out how to change the font, but I reckon that update is for another day. Ya'll have a good evening...


posted by John Branch @ 5:18 PM




Can he shoot better freethrows than Shaq?

Via LGF...


posted by John Branch @ 3:56 PM




Boeing is trying to invent a gravity shield...


posted by John Branch @ 3:01 PM




Victor Davis Hanson at the National Review Online examines the reasons for the ideological divide between Europeans and Americans...


posted by John Branch @ 2:48 PM




Are we going back to the moon?


posted by John Branch @ 2:42 PM




40 Hall of Fame baseball players have penned an open letter asking the players not to strike...


posted by John Branch @ 2:25 PM




Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, located about 90 miles west-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, will be the base for 11 F/A - 18 Super Hornet squadrons along with Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The ten active-duty squadrons include 130 planes. One "fleet replacement squadron" involved includes 32 planes and will be based at Oceana.


posted by John Branch @ 2:21 PM




Stuart Buck posts an abstract of an article written by Vanderbilt law professor Christopher Yoo titled The Rise and Demise of the Technology-Specific Approach to the First Amendment. "This article examines how analytical, technological, and doctrinal developments are forcing the courts to reconsider their media-specific approach to assessing the constitutionality of media regulation. In particular, it offers a comprehensive reevaluation of the continuing validity of the Broadcast Model of regulation, which contains features, such as licensing and direct content regulation, that normally would be considered paradigmatic violations of the First Amendment." Sounds like a very interesting article about a logical inconsistency in the way the courts have dealt with free speech and recent technological development, including blogs...


posted by John Branch @ 2:14 PM




President Bush has signed a bill "cracking down" on corporate irresponsibility....


posted by John Branch @ 2:03 PM




James Traficant was sentenced to 8 years in prison today, a longer sentence than the minimum 7¼ years prosecutors had requested because the judge said that he had no respect for the government and that he used lies to distract attention from the charges against him.


posted by John Branch @ 2:00 PM




Today I found a new blog by a prospective law student named Rebecca Terhune who is stressing about getting into the law school at the University of Louisville. I can completely relate. I was waitlisted at UNC Law, and waiting to hear from the law school and then the time I spent on the waitlist was the one of the most nerveracking experiences I have had in my life (at least until first semester exams). I wish her all the luck in the world, and pray she gets in soon...


posted by John Branch @ 11:50 AM




Steve MacLaughlin has a good post examining AOL and its attempted move to broadband and why it's not succeeding...


posted by John Branch @ 9:38 AM




The Tokyo stock market is up and the dollar is trading higher against the yen...Still, the dollar fell against other European currencies and the price of gold is rising...


posted by John Branch @ 9:32 AM




A Palestinian suicide bomber apparently triggered his explosives early in an attempt to attack a food stand popular with Israeli police. Four people were injured in the attack. Also, two Israeli settlers were killed when they were entering a Palestinian village...


posted by John Branch @ 9:30 AM




President Bush is pushing his plan to cut power plant pollution today, saying it "will eliminate 35 million more tons of pollution than the current Clean Air Act, bringing cleaner air to millions of Americans."
His proposal uses a cap-and-trade system. It would establish a ceiling, or cap, on the amount of emissions from power plants that are major sources of two kinds of dirty air: nitrogen oxide, which causes smog, and sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain. It also would create the first controls on their releases of mercury.

Utilities that exceeded the limits could purchase credits from other energy producers whose emissions are lower and who choose to sell their ability to pollute - the unused pollution allowances - within the cap. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set national standards and states to implement clean-up plans.

Critics say the plan ignores the ability of some of the dirtiest power plants to avoid emission reductions by buying credits.

"This would be an attempt to undermine enforcement and substitute an industry-friendly emission trading scheme, which we think would actually encourage corporate irresponsibility and be a giant step backward in air pollution control," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, an environmental group.
It is unlikely that the proposal will win support in Congress this year.


posted by John Branch @ 9:26 AM




The United Nations is accusing the United States of covering up evidence of exactly what happened with the airstrike that killed more than 50 Afghan civillians earlier this month...


posted by John Branch @ 9:06 AM




The Senate is delaying voting on a bill which would create the Department of Homeland Defense until after Labor Day. Even though the department won't likely be in place for the one year anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks, President Bush's plan, announced June 6, to merge all or parts of 22 federal agencies into a single department remains on an accelerated schedule.Lined up ahead of the legislation to create the department are bills to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, defense and other appropriations measures, and a House-Senate compromise on legislation to expand the president's trade negotiating authority. Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and others are trying to delay action on the bill for further study.


posted by John Branch @ 8:58 AM




The Washington Post takes another hard look at Enron, Arthur Andersen and conflicts of interest...


posted by John Branch @ 8:52 AM




The NBA has approved instant-replay for last second shots...


posted by John Branch @ 7:51 AM




The Cleveland Cavaliers have traded point guard Andre Miller and forward Bryant Stith to the L.A. Clippers for forwards Darius Miles and Harold Jamison in a deal that will be finalized Tuesday morning. David Aldridge writes that the Clippers got the better of this deal, but I wonder how good Darius Miles will be in the future...


posted by John Branch @ 7:47 AM




The last-place Philadelphia Phillies dealt unhappy third-baseman Scott Rolen along with minor league pitcher Doug Nickle and cash to the first-place St. Louis Cardinals for third baseman Placido Polanco, pitcher Bud Smith and reliever Mike Timlin.


posted by John Branch @ 7:41 AM




Len Pasquarelli writes on ESPN.com that the Dallas Cowboy's huge offensive line will probably let Emmitt Smith break Walter Payton's career rushing mark this year, and if combined with a good season from Quarterback Quincy Carter will once again make the Cowboys a contender...


posted by John Branch @ 7:39 AM


Monday, July 29, 2002



P.J. O'Rourke examines the upside of the current bear market and the corporate scandals for the Weekly Standard...


posted by John Branch @ 11:01 PM




Jonah Goldberg explains why he does not particularly care for former Vice President Al Gore...


posted by John Branch @ 10:58 PM




The Oakland Raiders signed former UNC quarterback Ronald Curry, who was their seventh round draft pick, last Friday. Curry is a class act, and someone with whom I am proud to say I went to school. He will represent the school well as an alumni, and it is a tragedy that his injuries did so much damage to his sports career. Give 'em hell Ron.


posted by John Branch @ 10:54 PM




I wonder how many times something like this happened during the Cold War...


posted by John Branch @ 4:43 PM




Another day, another conspiracy theory

More on the possible connection between the Sept. 11th bombers, Iraq, and the Oklahoma City bombing from the L.A. Weekly...

From Stuart Buck...


posted by John Branch @ 4:33 PM




Charles Hurt of the Charlotte Observer examines who is giving money to Sen. John Edwards...


posted by John Branch @ 4:21 PM




This article on StrategyPage titled Smallpox Apocalypse scares the shit out of me...I read it for the first time last night (after reading N.Z. Bear's post on 2014) and ended up discussing it and some of the worse case scenarios with respect to the war with my Dad for an hour or so, and went to bed very troubled...There really is the potential for the war to spiral out of control, and I hope President Bush is doing everything he can to prevent what N.Z. wrote about from happening... I do know one thing though...I have my annual physical on August 6th and I am definitely asking my doctor if I can get a smallpox vaccination...


posted by John Branch @ 3:10 PM




An article in The New Republic takes a historical look at the red/blue divide and contends that it means the Democrats are on the edge of dominance if they can find their Teddy Roosevelt...


posted by John Branch @ 2:24 PM




Jane Galt jumps on Time Magazine for its snotty, condescending portrayal or President Bush in its most recent issue...


posted by John Branch @ 2:10 PM




Howard Kurtz writes that the corporate accounting scandals combined with the fall of the stockmarket may have scratched the "teflon" of President Bush. "'Both sides believe accumulating economic bad news may be reaching critical mass, creating a public disenchantment that could stick to the Bush administration and congressional Republicans in November,' The Washington Post reported." Not a good picture for the Republicans if you believe what you read, but I'm not sure it won't be a moot point in a month. I think the NASDAQ will continue its downward spiral, but I think the Dow has reached the bottom. It may touch it again, but by September it ought to be climbing. From what I have read and seen, Price to Earning ratios are much more in line and corporate profits are rising. Then again, I'm a student with no real money in the market, so clearly this is not an area of expertise. Still, when Ben Stein is buying (according to a special on Fox News last night) I feel confident about where the market will go soon. What do ya'll think? Let me know through the comments link...


posted by John Branch @ 9:00 AM




Update on the Middle East

Israel is reportedly going to start handing over tax revenue that to the PLO that it has been withholding for much of the past 22 months of fighting. Israel is handing over $15 million as the first of three installments of the tax revenue, but it is a small fraction of the estimated $600 million in taxes and customs revenues that Israel has collected on behalf of the Palestinians. While Israel was demanding international supervision of the money before it handed it over, it agreed to place the cash under the responsibility of the new Palestinian finance minister, Salam Fayed.
In another move aimed at reducing hostilities, Ben-Eliezer said he would meet this week with Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razek Yehiyeh to discuss security issues based on proposals by President Bush.

"We are ready to move, and we see on the other side some initial signs of willingness to take part in this plan. They at least submitted some sort of plans," Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio.

Also, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon ordered the army and security services to ease some restrictions on Palestinian civilians. The moves including shortening curfews, lifting some roadblocks, and raising the number of Palestinians allowed to enter Israel for work to 12,000, a statement from Sharon's office said.

Previously, the government had said it would issue 7,000 work permits, although it said the number could reach 70,000. Before the conflict, some 125,000 Palestinians crossed into Israel daily for work.

Israel said it is up to the Palestinian Authority to combat militant groups if more restrictions are to be lifted.

"When they do that, we will be immediately ready to leave the territories and ease any restrictions," said Mark Sofer, a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
I wonder how long this pseudo-truce will last. The militant Palestinians want revenge for the Hamas leader who was killed by the Israelis roughly a week ago. If the past can be used as an indicator, Hamas et. al. will try to respond by hitting a major Israeli population center with suicide bombers. Unless the Israeli Army is able to intercept every suicide bomber (which I pray they are able to do) there will be another large loss of life on the Israeli side and most likely a renewal of the curfews and occupation and hostilities that have typically occurred in the past few months after a suicide bombing.

UPDATE: Colin Powell said he would meet with a delegation of Palestinian officials in Washington next week.


posted by John Branch @ 8:46 AM




The third-place finisher in the Tour de France, Raimondas Rumsas from Lithuania, was suspended from his cycling team because his wife was detained with drugs...

This shows how unbelieveable Lance Armstrong's feat of four straight Tour de Frances is, especially considering he has never been caught using the drugs that have tainted the cycling community in recent years...


posted by John Branch @ 8:31 AM




More Creative Accounting

Qwest Communications has admitted to incorrectly booking $1.16 billion in sales from 1999 until 2001. It has withdrawn its 2002 forecast of $18 to $18.4 billion in sales, and will restate some of its earnings from past years...


posted by John Branch @ 7:21 AM


Sunday, July 28, 2002



Quote of the Evening: UNC offensive guard Jeb Terry on the Carolina - N.C. State football rivalry: "They [N.C. State fans] think it’s a rivalry, but they beat us one out of the last nine years. That’s not a rivalry to me.”


posted by John Branch @ 9:24 PM


Friday, July 26, 2002



I think this is it for the next day or so...I have to get some work done this afternoon, and I'm moving back up to Chapel Hill this weekend, so the next few days will be spent transporting furniture and hoping my cable internet connection works (going the summer without broadband has been HELL)...Ya'll have a good weekend...


posted by John Branch @ 12:15 PM




Duke could set the all-time record for consecutive losses this year...If they lose every game until their finale against Carolina, they would tie Northwestern at 34 consecutive losseswhich would mean that the Heels would get the honor of making Duke set the record (basketball hasn't been too good to Heels fans recently so I have to celebrate something)...


posted by John Branch @ 9:35 AM




This is a really cool animation showing where we are in the universe (zooming in from waaaay out in the universe by powers of 10)...


posted by John Branch @ 9:30 AM




Some moron is arguing that Lance Armstrong isn't an athlete...


posted by John Branch @ 9:26 AM




UNC Chancellor James Moeser is not backing down on requiring incoming freshmen to read Approaching the Qur'n: The Early Revelations over the summer, even though a lawsuit has been filed fighting the requirement...


posted by John Branch @ 9:08 AM




Sen. Robert Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat, is being investigated by a Senate ethics panel for allegedly accepting gifts from David Chang, and, in return, helped Chang with business dealings overseas. A conclusion from the panel, made up of three Democrats and three Republicans, could come next week, before the Senate breaks for its August recess. The committee's options include disciplining Torricelli or closing the case with no action.
NewsChannel 4's Jonathan Dienst reported Thursday evening that WNBC-TV had found an invoice indicating a $1,695 big screen television that was purchased by Chang at a store in Englewood, N.J., was delivered to Torricelli's home in 1998.

Those records, which are now in the hands of the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee, show that Chang paid for the television on Nov. 4, 1998 - and that the expensive TV was delivered to the then-home of Sen. Robert Torricelli, the records show.

However, Torricelli insists he never took any gifts from Chang. In a statement, Torricelli said: "We have said from the beginning that when this concludes it will answer these questions and we remain confident that this is the case... We will not respond to unfounded and irresponsible leaks and rumors."

The ethics committee also has financial records and witness testimony suggesting Chang gave Torricelli cash to pay for a $3,816 Scottish grandfather clock, NewsChannel 4 also reported.

Torricelli denies taking anything from Chang and says the assistance he gave Chang was within the normal boundaries of what a lawmaker does for a constituent.
Found via Drudge...


posted by John Branch @ 9:06 AM




The Washington Post has an article pointing out that the fact that corporate profits are rising again has been lost in the panic over the fall in the stock market...


posted by John Branch @ 9:00 AM




Al Gore is blasting President Bush's economic policy, and says that his whole economic team ought to be fired...


posted by John Branch @ 8:57 AM




Moussaoui has withdrawn his guilty plea...


posted by John Branch @ 8:56 AM


Thursday, July 25, 2002



North Carolina Politics and BBQ

I just went to a fundraising lunch for Erskine Bowles (the Democratic frontrunner for Senator in NC) with a partner in the firm where I am working, and I was very impressed with him. Of course, like all political fundraisers in North Carolina, this was held at a BBQ restaurant, Wilbur's BBQ, where the BBQ was fantastic. Mr. Bowles is a very good candidate. He comes off as kind of a geek in his TV ads since he is skinny and has thick glasses but he is clearly very intelligent and has the ability to connect with people one-on-one as well as the ability to speak to a small crowd. The geek image is good because he does not have the slickness that North Carolinians associate with former President Clinton, and this state wants nothing to do with Clinton. For those of you that don't remember, Bowles was President Clinton's Chief of Staff for four years. When Bowles talked today, he pointed to a lot of the successes that occured under the Clinton administration - low unemployment, high stock market, welfare reform, etc. Still, the only time he mentioned President Clinton by name was when he criticized the administration for the treatment of the military. All other references to his time spent in Washington were made by talking about "my time in the other administration," or "the old Democratic administration," or "when I worked up there before this administration." He avoided association with President Clinton like the plague. He pointed out several times that he had lived in North Carolina for practically his whole life, unlike Ms. Dole. His main talking points seemed to be (in order of priority)

1.) Health Care and Prescription Drug Benefits

2.) The Economy - basically, he was responsible for it doing well under Clinton and the Republicans have screwed the economy up as well as blaming the corporate scandals on the Republicans

3.) Social Security - the Republicans are raiding the Social Security trust fund and if you elect him he will protect it

One thing with which I was surprised was that Bowles only addressed the upcoming primary election in one sentence, remarking that he liked his two opponents and would not say anything negative about them. The primaries are to be held on September 10th, and from the discussion at my table before Mr. Bowles spoke, it seems he has a real risk of losing the primary. I have not seen any of his TV ads in recent weeks, and if I had to guess I would say he is hoping to win the primary with what he has already done, and then spend his money on the general election. However, a win by Bowles in the primary is not a foregone conclusion. North Carolina's electorate has been know to vote for candidates who are not supposed to win in primaries, as evidenced by the 1996 Republican gubernatorial primary where the electorate picked a very conservative Robin Hayes instead of moderately conservative former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot to run against Governor Jim Hunt. If Bowles wins the primary, he will give Elizabeth Dole a run for her money, but I am not positive that he will win the primary.

All in all, I think he is a much better campaigner than Elizabeth Dole. He comes across as very honest and earnest, and I get the feeling that he really does want to serve his state (and his party) in Washington. Unlike some of the local candidates that were there, he didn't come off as just another slick politican. While I may not agree with some of his views on the issues, he seemed like a man I could respect and a man who would care about serving the citizens of North Carolina, which means a lot to me. While his political persuasions are opposite, the things he said about serving the state of North Carolina sounded very similar to what Sen. Jesse Helms, the current holder of this seat, has said.


posted by John Branch @ 2:52 PM




Tony Blair refused to say he would promise to consult Parliament before a military strike on Iraq...


posted by John Branch @ 11:23 AM




Mike Tremoulet contends that blogchalking is not working...

I just did a google search of "blogchalk chapel hill" and "blogchalk raleigh" and neither returned any results...


posted by John Branch @ 10:23 AM




Howard Bashman has successfully managed to quote Ice-T in his discussion of a decision from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania...I definitely didn't see that one coming, but I do support any and all references to Ice-T...


posted by John Branch @ 9:36 AM




A group of American venture capitalists have bought Burger King for $2.26 billion from British-based Diageo Plc...


posted by John Branch @ 9:17 AM




The Washington Post is reporting that President Bush is visiting High Point, NC today to show his support and raise money for Republican Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Dole. In his speech, he will argue for a cap on malpractice awards to injured patients in hopes of tackling the soaring insurance costs that are forcing many doctors out of certain communities and high-risk practices. According to President Bush, reigning in medical malpractice litigation would make health care safer, as well as more affordable and available for all. Legislation in Congress would limit the pain and suffering portion of malpractice awards to $250,000 and punitive damages to either the same amount or twice the patient's actual financial loss. The bill, intended to override state laws, also would curtail lawyers' fees and patients' ability to file suit over old cases. Trial lawyers are opposed to caps, citing surveys showing juries rule in favor of doctors in two-thirds of all malpractice lawsuits. They say doctors and hospitals should focus on reducing mistakes, not jury awards.



posted by John Branch @ 9:15 AM




House and Senate leaders agreed yesterday on broad outlines for a bill which would furthur regulate corporate finances and provide stiffer penalties for accounting abuses. The legislation is intended to make it harder for investors to be decieved by company executives, and came from six days of talks between House and Senate conferees. "Traditionally our markets have been the fairest, most efficient and the most transparent in the world," said Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.), chief architect of the legislation. "We intend to see that they once again merit that reputation." The vast majority of Senators and Representatives are expected to vote for the legislation, and it seems to be viewed that the Republicans gave in to the Democrats and adopted most of the Senate's version of the bill.


posted by John Branch @ 9:11 AM




A Senate committee has taken away some of the powers of the new Department of Homeland Security. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee removed provisions by a voice vote that senators and aides feared would give the department unprecedented power over key intelligence functions now handled by the CIA, FBI and others. The committee was expected to approval the overall legislation Wednesday or Thursday. The House was to begin debate on its version Thursday as lawmakers rush to create by fall a 170,000-employee Cabinet agency dedicated to safeguarding Americans at home.


posted by John Branch @ 7:38 AM




Ivan Maisel says that Florida State is once again the team to beat in the ACC. This should not come as a surprise to anyone that follows ACC football since the vast majority of FSU's players last year (when they were defeated by Carolina and NC State) were freshmen and sophomores. This year they have 17 returning starters, tying with Wake Forest to lead the league...


posted by John Branch @ 7:34 AM




Go figure...the only Congressman to vote against James Traficant's expulsion was Gary Condit...

Via Drudge


posted by John Branch @ 7:28 AM


Wednesday, July 24, 2002



The SEC has opened an investigation into the accounting practices of AOL's online division...


posted by John Branch @ 9:56 PM




Lance Armstrong may have been heckled by Frenchmen on his route yesterday, but Mark Kreidler writes that the jeers are a sign that Armstrong is completely dominating his sport...


posted by John Branch @ 9:49 PM




Rev. Al Sharpton has filed a $1 billion lawsuit (yes, billion with a "b") against HBO Inc., HBO Real Sports, AOL-Time Warner, Inc., reporter Bernard Goldberg and ex-mob captain Michael Franzese. He is seeking $500 million in compensatory damages and $500 in punitive damages for "defamation, libel and slander" because of a video HBO aired which allegedly showed Rev. Sharpton involving himself in a drug deal...


posted by John Branch @ 9:45 PM




When in doubt, ask the Magic Liberal Eightball...

Via Fark...


posted by John Branch @ 2:52 PM




Ralph Wiley runs down his list of the toughest positions to play in major league baseball...

I want to make one comment on this article. Since I am an Atlanta Braves fan, I get to watch Andruw Jones play on a fairly consistent basis. He regularly leaves me shaking my head at the balls he can get to. He is by far the best center fielder I have ever seen (including Griffey Jr. in his prime), but I agree with Mr. Wiley that he isn't as good as Willie Mays.


posted by John Branch @ 1:42 PM




Lance Armstrong has extended his lead over second-place Joseba Beloki from Spain to five minutes and six seconds in the Tour de France and ought to win, barring illness, injury, or a unprecedented loss of form in Thursday's last mountain stage.


posted by John Branch @ 1:28 PM




Steven Den Beste takes on the new anti-CO2 bill signed by Gov. Gray Davis in California...


posted by John Branch @ 11:04 AM




Fiscal Reality and Political Reality

David S. Broder writes in the Washington Post about the massive spending spree the government has been on since Sept. 11th, and says "It's Time to Face Fiscal Reality." He starts his column (after a couple of completely irrelevant paragraphs about how people don't think President Bush or Vice-President Cheney are telling the truth about their business deals) by quoting former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin's editorial Sunday on how the government should address the spending by increasing taxes on the upper income bracket. He frames his argument by saying,
"But the overriding question -- the one that dwarfs everything else -- is what to do about the huge tax cut that Bush pushed through Congress back when those mythical budget surpluses were still clouding most people's vision."
WRONG. If the column is about "Fiscal Reality," then the overriding concern must be either 1.) cutting spending enough to get spending reasonably in line with tax revenues, or 2.) finding the money to cover Congress's spending bills. Mr. Broder considers the second option as the only solution because that is the action he wants the government to take, but he should have at least discussed cutting the spending binge by Congress and the President.

Unfortunately, neither option may be politically feasible. Government is not a business, especially when it is run from Washington. Political realities dictate actions as often as fiscal realities. This means that President Bush will not roll back his tax cuts. His father made that mistake, and it was a contributing factor in losing in 1992. One thing 43 has made clear is that he will not repeat the mistakes of his father, and therefore he will not water down the tax cuts which were so important to his election. While fiscal reality may indicate a massive budget shortfall this year, political reality dictates that President Bush cannot roll back his tax cuts, and in this case political reality trumps fiscal reality.

Political reality also makes the option of slowing the spending spree for "homeland defense" unrealistic. People expected the federal government to "do something" after Sept. 11th. The government decided to try to solve that problem the same way it has (unsuccessfully) tried to solve many other problems - by throwing money at it and hoping it will go away. Instead of cleaning out the incompetent bureaucratic morons at the FBI, CIA, NSA et. al. who failed to detect even a hint of the terrorist attack, Congress and President Bush decided to give them more money and expand their power. While logically this does not make sense (for example, the FBI and CIA had some bits of intelligence that could have given them hints of the attack, but they did not have enough analysts to sift through the information - naturally, the response by the government is to give them more intelligence so they will be even further behind in analyzing it), politically the decision to give them more money and power makes perfect sense because those actions give the appearance that the President and Congress are "doing something" to combat terrorism. The idea behind the Department of Homeland Defense, better communication between agencies charged with defending the country, is important, but it seems like the implementation of that idea was dictated by politics - i.e. create another bureaucracy so the people will know we are serious about homeland defense. While a better and much less costly solution is probably out there, politics demanded that the federal government take action, and it took action by spending money. Therefore, because of a political reality that is dictating how the government acts, a cut in spending on homeland defense is not likely. Mr. Broder ought not to fight the implementation of the tax cut, and instead fight the politics that prevent a solution to the budgetary problems from being implemented.

UPDATE: Once again, when in doubt, spend more money. The House is ready to pass a 4.1% pay raise for federal civilian employees over objections from the White House.


posted by John Branch @ 10:32 AM




Stock markets worldwide have fallen in response to the Dow's tanking in recent weeks...


posted by John Branch @ 9:46 AM




Middle East Update

Hamas has "vowed revenge" after their leader was killed in an Israeli air strike yesterday. While I think the number of suicide bombings will go up in the short term, I agree with Prime Minister Sharon that this was an important victory for the Israelis. I do not think Shehada's death will cripple Hamas, but I do think it will have an adverse effect on their operations. The strike also sends a message that no leader of a terrorist group is safe, and that individuals will be held responsible for their organizations actions (a message that had been diluted in the past two years by the continuing dialogue with Arafat).


posted by John Branch @ 9:42 AM




Another bump in the difficult road to democracy in Afghanistan

Turmoil caused by warring factions in Afghanistan is on the rise, and President Hamid Karzai has pledged to put an end to it. One of the problems in the past has been the Afghan secret service, who have recently been accused of torturing and killing a 22-year old construction worker who had just returned to Afghanistan after living for years as a refugee in Pakistan. Karzai has pledged to take on the agency, naming a high-level commission this month to recommend broad reforms to the secret service. President Karzai contends that the secret service operates outside the president's authority and control. According to a source close to Karzai, the agency has 30,000 employees and its departments are run by ethnic Tajiks from the Northern Alliance who answer only to Mohammed Fahim, Karzai's defense minister.
Karzai's challenge to the intelligence service is seen here as a contest over who will rule post-Taliban Afghanistan. To the ethnic Pashtun president and his supporters, the unchecked power of the Tajik-run secret service is a key obstacle to Afghan democracy that lies closer to home than either regional warlords who refuse to disarm their men or lurking remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

"For a democratic country, a country that wants to move toward democracy, an institution like this is obviously in contradiction," said Vice President Hedayat Amin Arsala, who is leading the commission.
The task which President Karzai is undertaking is more difficult than it seems. The secret service is a relic from the Cold War Soviet occupation, and has survived by recruiting members loyal to the department. Still, President Karzai's public campaign against the department is enormously popular with the people of Afghanistan and is viewed as a necessary step to establishing real democracy in the country.


posted by John Branch @ 9:37 AM




This should be on Pay-Per-View

The House of Representatives will vote today (6:00 p.m. EDT) on whether to expel Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) since he has been convicted of racketeering, bribery and tax evasion. He will be given the floor for 30 minutes before the vote comes up, and the Congressman is determined to go out with a bang. "I'll probably make my speech on the House floor in some outfit, and being a fashion leader, you can expect anything," said Traficant. He has said he would wear a denim suit and do a "Michael Jackson moonwalk" when his time came to come to the floor. If expelled, Traficant will become only the second member of Congress expelled in the last 150 years.


posted by John Branch @ 9:23 AM




A 7-year old girl from Philadelphia who was kidnapped chewed through her duct tape bindings and smashed through a window to escape her kidnappers. After breaking a window she called to neighborhood kids who came and rescued her and rode a bicycle to get police, and she was reunited with her mother. Police are searching for James Burns, 29, and Edward Johnson, 23, who are considered suspects in the abduction. The men are known to the girl's family and that their names were provided by two witnesses.



posted by John Branch @ 7:50 AM




Jayson Stark has a good article on the baseball strike and the concept of a minimum payroll on ESPN.com...


posted by John Branch @ 7:42 AM




Charlotte is beginning negotiations with the NBA to bring another team to the Queen City...This time, the city is asking for a team with competent owners who don't insult their fans...


posted by John Branch @ 7:32 AM


Tuesday, July 23, 2002



President Bush has finally signed the bill which makes Yucca Mountain in Utah the nation's nuclear waste depository...


posted by John Branch @ 5:30 PM




73 out of 100 counties in North Carolina have been designated agricultural disaster areas due to the region's 5-year long drought...


posted by John Branch @ 5:27 PM




Eugene Volokh takes on "Hostile Work Environment" harassment law, discussing a situation where employees were fired from a community college for looking at "pornographic" materials at work...


posted by John Branch @ 5:26 PM




I am going to make a few changes to the site over the next few days. I have always thought the font size of the text was too small, and I have finally found a template that I really like (considering my very rudimentary knowledge of HTML I did not try to develop my own site). Ya'll please have patience with me, and everything will be back to normal soon.


posted by John Branch @ 3:09 PM




CNN examines the deflationary cycle of Japan and the similarities it has with the current business situation in the U.S...


posted by John Branch @ 11:23 AM




AT&T is reporting a $12.7 billion second-quarter loss...


posted by John Branch @ 9:29 AM




Iran Update

The Bush Administration has shifted its foreign policy on Iran, abandoning its support of President Mohammad Khatami and other reformist allies in the Iranian government, and instead focusing on appealing directly to the democratic ideals of the Iranian people.
A senior administration official said Bush has concluded with his senior foreign policy advisers that Khatami and his supporters in the government "are too weak, ineffective and not serious about delivering on their promises" to transform Iranian society. Instead, the official said, "we have made a conscious decision to associate with the aspirations of Iranian people. We will not play, if you like, the factional politics of reform versus hard-line."

Bush signaled the change publicly in a strongly worded presidential statement in which he praised large pro-democracy street demonstrations in Iran. The shift cheered foreign policy experts who had urged a tougher approach toward Tehran and was a setback for the State Department, which had spearheaded efforts to engage the Khatami leadership.

In the statement, Bush said that "uncompromising, destructive policies have persisted" in Iran despite recent presidential and parliamentary elections that have brought reform advocates to power. He accused Iranian leaders and their families of continuing "to obstruct reform while reaping unfair benefits" and demanded that the government listen to the Iranian people, who he said have "no better friend than the United States."
While the speech was largely unnoticed in the U.S., it has been broadcasted over the Voice of America radio and heard by many in Iran. Hasan Rowhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council called President Bush's statement "insulting and impudent, as well as devious. . . . It was also extremely ridiculous and simplistic." Still, the fact that President Bush issued the statement in his own name made a deep impression in Iran.


posted by John Branch @ 9:15 AM




Is Rev. Sharpton friends with Marion Berry

HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" on Tuesday night is airing a 19-year-old FBI surveillance tape of Rev. Al Sharpton discussing a drug deal.
Sharpton said the taped conversation dated to 1983, when self-described mobster Michael Franzese and an undercover FBI agent posing as a Latin American businessman approached him to discuss promoting boxing matches and musical events.

Sharpton, 47, said that during the course of the conversation, the undercover agent began discussing a cocaine deal. The tape shows Sharpton being offered thousands of dollars to arrange the sale of cocaine.

"The guy had come to me. In the middle of conversation he started talking about how he could cut me in on a cocaine deal," Sharpton said. "I didn't know what this guy was on about. I didn't know if he was armed. I was scared so I just nodded my head to everything he said and then he left."
Rev. Sharpton has scheduled a press conference for this morning (Tuesday) to address the tape. I may not agree with his politics, but it is kind of coincidental that this tape came out now, when Rev. Sharpton's run for the presidency is in its infancy...


posted by John Branch @ 9:03 AM




I'm glad he didn't get the death penalty

A man who was wrongfully convicted of a 1985 murder has been released after prosecutors investigated a confession by another prisoner and determined he was the real killer. Angelo Martinez spent 17 years behind bars, serving time for a drug conviction and for the murder. He has filed a $50 million suit against the state of New York, alleging he was unjustly convicted of the murder.


posted by John Branch @ 8:58 AM




Israel kills Hamas leader; at least 14 others reported dead in Gaza

An Israeli warplane fired an air-to-surface missile in Gaza City today, destroying a Hamas leader's apartment building. Hamas said that Salah Shehadeh, the 48-year-old senior commander of Izzadine el-Qassam, the Islamic fundamentalist group's military wing, was killed along with his wife Leileh, their 14-year-old daughter Iman, a bodyguard and at least 11 other people, including eight children. Palestinians say that more than 100 people were injured in the attack.

Hamas is the most active terrorist group in the region, carrying out more terrorist attacks on Israelis and Jewish settlers than other groups. Shehadeh was jailed by either the Palestinians or the Israelis from 1988 to 1999. When he was released, he stayed in Gaza and was responsible for setting Hamas policy for attacks and giving orders to militants to carry out the attacks. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Cabinet ministers, "[T]his operation was in my view one of our biggest successes...[w]e hit perhaps the most senior Hamas figure on the operational side."

UPDATE: Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's daughter, resigned this morning. Her colleagues said that the reason for her resignation was that she was upset that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would not rejoin the peace process.


posted by John Branch @ 8:49 AM




More on UNC and the Quran

The Family Policy Network, a conservative Christian group, and three unnamed UNC incoming freshman, have filed suit in Greensboro to fight the university's requirement for freshmen that they read parts of the Quran. The lawsuit alleges that the university's reading and discussion group requirement would have the effect of endorsing and indoctrinating students in Islam.


posted by John Branch @ 8:39 AM




UPI is reporting that the $34 million earmarked for the United Nations's Population Fund, an organization accused of supporting coercive abortions and involuntary sterilizations in China, has been redirected by President Bush. The money will instead be spent on programs administered by the United States Agency for International Development's Child Survival and Health Program Fund. "While Americans have different views on the issues of abortion, I think all agree that no woman should be forced to have an abortion," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. Thoraya Obaid, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, said that, "[w]omen and children will die because of this decision."


posted by John Branch @ 7:44 AM




"Experts" are saying that the internet is safe from outages caused by the bankruptcy of WorldCom...


posted by John Branch @ 7:38 AM




The New York Times is reporting that senior officials at Citigroup helped Enron officers figure out how to mold deals to get around accounting rules...
"The records and interviews with investigators demonstrate for the first time that bankers intentionally manipulated the written record of their dealings with Enron to allow the company to improperly avoid the requirements of accounting rules and the law, thus keeping $125 million in debt off its books.

In the 1999 deal, the records show, the bankers knew that a secret oral agreement they had reached with Enron required that the accounting for the transaction be changed. Instead, investigators said, Citigroup left that side deal out of the written record and allowed Enron to account for the transaction in a way that the bankers knew was improper. In other words, the full terms of the deal were left out of the paperwork, with the result being that anyone reviewing it would have no idea that the accounting treatment being used by Enron was not proper."


posted by John Branch @ 7:36 AM




Steve Wulf tells everyone to cut Tiger Woods some slack...


posted by John Branch @ 7:31 AM




The Seattle Supersonics traded Vin Baker and Shammond Williams to the Boston Celtics in return for Kenny Anderson, Vitaly Potapenko and Joe Forte...
I still think one of the funniest things I have seen in the NBA was when the Seattle Supersonics listed Shammond Williams at 6 feet 7 inches, where 6 inches of that was his hair...


posted by John Branch @ 7:30 AM


Monday, July 22, 2002



Prosecutors are considering seeking the death penalty for Alejandro Avila, the man arrested for the sexual assault and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion in California...


posted by John Branch @ 2:39 PM




Steven Den Beste discusses government, the principle of the "consent of the governed," and then explains the inherent tyranny of the International Criminal Court...


posted by John Branch @ 1:50 PM




Another potential ripple effect of the fall of WorldCom is the outage of internet services hosted by them...


posted by John Branch @ 10:49 AM




Glenn Reynolds has some good thoughts on the proposals for giving the military law-enforcement powers...


posted by John Branch @ 10:39 AM




Since I have not been following the Tour de France closely, this guy has and tells you all about it more than once...


posted by John Branch @ 10:08 AM




The New York Times reports on the upcoming Judiciary Committee hearing for the nomination of Justice Priscilla Owen of the Texas Supreme Court to United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit...


posted by John Branch @ 9:41 AM




Applications to Triangle area law schools are up 15 to 25 percent this year, largely due to the recession and the tight job market...


posted by John Branch @ 9:28 AM




The Washington Post has an interesting article on Tim Penny, the third party candidate who is running to replace Gov. Jesse Ventura of Minnesota...


posted by John Branch @ 9:25 AM




People are moving out of the Northeast and into other parts of the country, meaning the Northeast has to rely on a substantial number of immigrants for labor...According to a Northeastern University study, more than 2.7 million residents left the six New England states plus New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the 1990s. Many of those residents were young, educated workers heading to the South and West. Meanwhile, 3.1 million foreign-born immigrants moved into the Northeast, the largest surge of immigrants since the first decade of the 20th century. More than three-quarters of the residents who left the Northeast were between ages 18 and 34, and nearly half of these young people had a bachelor's degree or higher.


posted by John Branch @ 9:14 AM




Recent incidents, including President Bush's making North Korea a member of the Axis of Evil and a false alarm of a Chinese missle launch, as well as what is viewed as an increasingly unilateral U.S. foreign policy, have contributed to make South Korea and Japan question their alliance with the United States...


posted by John Branch @ 9:09 AM




There are more tensions between the White House and the House of Representatives over budgetary matters concerning the Office of Homeland Security...


posted by John Branch @ 9:06 AM




Environmentalists win one in California

Gov. Gray Davis of California is going to sign a law today which will for the first time will require automakers to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases coming from the tailpipes of all passenger vehicles sold in the state. The law addresses not the gases that cause smog but rather the invisible, odorless emissions that some scientists say appear to be contributing to the slow heating of the planet. California is the only state that is allowed, under a 1967 law, to set its own, tougher regulations for emissions. The main way to react to this new law would be to create more fuel efficent cars, and since California represents about 10 percent of the U.S. market, the effects of this law would trickle down to other states. "The downside of all the advanced technology (for fuel efficency) we're talking about is that it costs more," said Robert Sawyer, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who studies vehicle emissions and regulatory policy. "There's not a market for fuel efficiency. Gasoline is cheap, so it's no big deal. The auto industry has been putting all its advanced technology into increased power." The auto industry is considering fighting the law in court.


posted by John Branch @ 9:02 AM




WorldCom has officially filed for bankruptcy, making it the largest business ever to file...WorldCom's stock ended trading Friday at 9 cents...


posted by John Branch @ 8:53 AM




The Houston Texans are sending signals that they think that David Carr, the No. 1 draft pick this year, can and will start at QB for them in the first game of the season...Then again, with Mike Quinn and Kent Graham as my other options, I'd probably start Carr too...


posted by John Branch @ 7:47 AM




David Halberstam writes about the "perfect day" he spent covering his hero, Ted Williams...


posted by John Branch @ 7:41 AM




John Clayton of ESPN.com also thinks the Dallas Cowboys could be the surprise team in 2002...


posted by John Branch @ 7:35 AM


Friday, July 19, 2002



I think that is going to be it for the day...Some old friends are in town and we are going out for a drink tonight, and probably going wakeboarding tomorrow...I ought to be back some time Sunday...


posted by John Branch @ 8:19 PM




I'll agree with whatever Mike Hendrix says about this couple, who beat their infant son to death and then burned his corpse in their fireplace...
He can vocalize the mixture of anger, disgust, and despair that I feel when I read about things like the cat story and this.


posted by John Branch @ 3:55 PM




Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold got in a shouting match while discussing campaign finance reform...


posted by John Branch @ 3:32 PM




18 million pounds of contaminated hamburger have been recalled due to an outbreak of E. coli...


posted by John Branch @ 3:30 PM




This is almost unbelieveable...


posted by John Branch @ 3:26 PM




The New York Times (registration required) has an editorial calling New York anti-drug laws "ruinous" and unfair to many of the peope that have been convicted through them...


posted by John Branch @ 12:07 PM




Steven Den Beste posts his thoughts on the Saudi Foreign Minister's calling for the removal of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon...
Hint: He uses the words "blithering idiot"...


posted by John Branch @ 12:00 PM




Technology Executives tell Hollywood to stick it

Technology executives, including Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Dell Computer's Michael Dell and Intel's Craig Barrett, said in an open letter to entertainment industry executives that they would not create technology that limits computer users ability to copy and play digital media. This issue was started in February when the technology executives sent a letter to entertainment executives in an effort to cooperate in creating standards for the safe distribution of digital works.
"In April, the entertainment executives replied, saying they would cooperate if the technology industry reign in what's called "peer-to-peer" - or P-to-P - practices.

P-to-P allows consumer computers to easily share digital content over the Internet. It was the central technology that fueled Napster, the free music file swapping web site the courts shut down for allowing users to engage in wholesale copyright infringement."
P-to-P technology boosted sales for the computer industry, and while it makes it easier for consumers to copy protected material, the technology executives wrote back to Hollywood to say "[p]eer-to-peer technologies constitute a basic functionality of the computing environment today and one that is critical to further advances in productivity in our economy." The debate over P-to-P and copying of protected material will be ongoing.

I have a question for those readers who know a lot more about technology than I do. What effect will Microsoft's Palladium's security system have on this debate? I thought it was designed with this controversy in mind, but I could be wrong...

Link found via Fark...


posted by John Branch @ 10:29 AM




The Fair Housing Act and Disparate Impact racial discrimination

Roger Clegg published an interesting essay in the National Review Online yesterday on whether the federal Fair Housing Act can be violated by someone who does not engage in racial discrimination. He writes that most of the lower federal courts have allowed "disparate impact" claims to be brought under the statute as well as normal racial discrimination claims. The disparate impact claims do not allege, and need not prove, that individuals were treated differently because of their race. Instead, it is enough for the plaintiff to show that a neutral practice has a disproportionate effect — that is, a disparate impact — on some racial group.
"For instance, if a landlord refuses to rent to people who are unemployed, and it turns out that this excludes a higher percentage of whites than Asians, then a white would-be renter could sue. It would not matter that the reason for the landlord's policy was race neutral and had nothing to do with hostility to whites. He would be liable, unless he could show some "necessity" for the policy. This, in turn, would hinge on whether he could convince a judge or jury that the economic reasons for preferring to rent to the gainfully employed were in some way essential. And this, unfortunately, is a roll of the dice."
Mr. Clegg clearly comes out against supporting disparate impact claims because of the way they find that people's actions that are not undertaken for racially discriminatory reasons are nonetheless found to be racially discriminatory because of the "disparate impact" they have on members of another race. He frames the case by stating, "[t]he issue, rather, is whether a policy that is racially neutral by its terms, in its application, and in its intent can nonetheless be treated as illegal discrimination because of racially disproportionate results," and ends the article by asking the Bush Administration to file an amicus brief asking the Court the rule against disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. Clegg's essay is a good piece demonstrating how legislation with good intentions can sometimes spiral out of control.

Found via AppellateBlog...


posted by John Branch @ 9:48 AM




The trade deficit and the dollar

The trade deficit rose to a record $37.6 billion in May. In related news, the value of the dollar has fallen again. A positive side effect of the value of the dollar falling (as many of you know) is that it makes things made in the U.S. cheaper overseas. Cheaper cost equals more sales. More overseas sales equals a smaller trade deficit, especially considering the fact that another effect of the value of the dollar declining is that it makes foreign goods selling in the U.S. more expensive...

Professor De Long's posted (1), (2) on the new parity between the dollar and the euro...


posted by John Branch @ 9:22 AM




It's not just Republicans that like money

Terry Neal of the Washington Post has a story claiming that soft money donated to political parties by big business follows no significant party lines.
As you might expect, the Republicans won the race for cash – but not for a valiant lack of effort from the Democrats.

The fact is, big money has poured into the coffers of both parties, with Republicans taking in $636 million to the Democrats' $449 million, according to figures compiled for Democracy 21 by the Center for Responsive Politics, both non-partisan, Washington-based watchdog groups. The six scandal-tainted companies contributed $7.8 million to Republicans compared to $5.2 million for Democrats.

The dollar figures raise serious questions about whether the Democrats can gain a real advantage over Republicans on the corporate corruption issue in the November midterm election. What will the party's campaign slogan be? Vote for us: We were less successful than the GOP at sucking up to corporate America!
While this could potentially put a damper on the Democrats' attack of the Republicans on this issue in the fall, I don't think it will take much away from it. "But he does it too" is not a good way to defend yourself, and while Vice President Cheney has a good reason for his business transactions (he sold out in the summer of 2000 at the calling of Congressional Democrats), I have not yet heard an understandable, coherent explanation of President Bush's allegedly shady business transactions. This issue has the potential to haunt the Republicans in the fall, especially if more companies go the way of Enron and WorldCom.


posted by John Branch @ 9:07 AM




A man with a knife attempted to hijack a Columbian passenger airliner as it neared the airport in Madrid to land. The hijacker was subdued by security forces, and the plane landed safely at a military base.


posted by John Branch @ 8:59 AM




Score one for the EU

The EU will not send Cuba monetary aid from its multi-billion dollar fund because of its poor record on human rights and its lack of democracy. Cuba is a new member of the African Caribbean Pacific group, or ACP, a group of 63 countries trying to form a single negotiating position ahead of trade talks with Brussels in September.
Central to the talks is a 25-year pact signed by the EU and ACP in 2000, known as the Cotonou agreement, which promises $12.7 billion in aid to ACP states over the next five years if they show efforts to improve human rights and root out corruption.

As a latecomer to the ACP, Cuba has not signed Cotonou.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, who is attending the summit, on Friday rejected overtures from ACP leaders to give Cuba quick access to the agreement, said ACP spokesman Hegel Goutier.

The EU believes Cuba cannot satisfy basic principles of the agreement, especially with respect to democracy and human rights, said Billie Miller, deputy prime minister of Barbados, who heads the Caribbean grouping at the summit.
I'd like to give an a strong "Hell Yeah" to the Europeans on this one. This proves that they can tell the difference between right and wrong if they want. Now, if they only applied this vision to Iraq...


posted by John Branch @ 8:56 AM




The Washington Post has a poll out saying that Al Gore is the clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 (yeah yeah, like no one knew that). If Gore runs and Lieberman decides not to run (which he said in the past he would do but he has been backpedaling recently) Gore gets 50 precent of the votes in the poll. I'm not sure how valuable polls like these are more than two years before the election. I suppose they are made for slow news days, which would definitely not be today.


posted by John Branch @ 8:47 AM




More shady accounting news

AOL gave out awards for creative accounting...

UPDATE: Robert Pittman, the Chief Operating Officer and No. 2 man at AOL, resigned yesterday. The top three officers of AOL-Time Warner now have Time Warner roots, with the only AOL influence being Chairman Steve Case.


posted by John Branch @ 8:42 AM




David Fleming says that the Dallas Cowboys will challenge for the NFC East and might make it to the Super Bowl this year...


posted by John Branch @ 7:45 AM




The Washington Times is reporting that the United States has ordered economic sanctions against eight Chinese businesses for selling destabilizing arms and germ-weapons materials to Iran.


posted by John Branch @ 7:42 AM




The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were apparently late in making nearly $1 million in deferred payments to Steve Trachsel and Gerald Williams.
Trachsel, now pitching for the New York Mets, was due $428,571.43 on June 30 under a contract he signed with Tampa Bay two years ago. But the Devil Rays did not direct deposit that amount until Wednesday, according to four management and player sources, who all spoke on the condition they not be identified.

"I don't think it's anybody's business," Trachsel said after the Mets' 2-1 loss Thursday at Montreal. "I'm not going to ask you what deposits are made into your account."

Williams was owed $526,875 by the Devil Rays on June 30. The outfielder's overdue payment was received Tuesday by his agents, two of the sources said.
It really seems like the financial situation in baseball is spiraling out of control...


posted by John Branch @ 7:39 AM


Thursday, July 18, 2002



Zacarias Moussaoui is now trying to plead guilty. He was stopped mid-sentence by the judge when he was announcing his allegiance to Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden and the judge asked him to reconsider his decision for a week. Moussaoui did, hovvever, indicate that he wanted to fight the death penalty that the U.S. is likely to seek...


posted by John Branch @ 3:15 PM




I sometimes get confused by the layout of Amazon.com, so I think this website is pretty damn cool...


posted by John Branch @ 1:55 PM




Al Sharpton has been evicted from the Empire State Building...


posted by John Branch @ 12:28 PM




Scientists have discovered that Mayans used chocolate 2,600 years ago, pushing back the date of the earliest chocolate back 1,000 years...


posted by John Branch @ 12:27 PM




The AP is reporting that a new survey conducted at schools says that teen drug and alcohol use is down to its lowest level since the 1993-1994 school year...The authors of the survey attempt to draw a connection between Sept. 11 and the decline in drug use, but cite no evidence of causation, simply stating that since Sept. 11th and a drop in drug use are correlated, they must be tied together...Also, while the declining drug use shown by this survey seems to be good news, I am not sure if polling kids at school is the best way of testing drug use...Whenever I took surveys like this in high school I would try to write the most outrageous answers possible, and I was not alone...This is another reason why I think the surveys that say something like "95 percent of U.S. high school kids don't know who the president is" are crap because the people being surveyed are not answering the questions honestly...Not that its a bad thing either...I'm sure some of those surveys were very amusing to read...


posted by John Branch @ 12:22 PM




Speaking of dominating a sport

Lance Armstrong has won the yellow jersey in the first mountain stage of the Tour de France...Does anyone think he will relinquish it again in this year's race?


posted by John Branch @ 12:12 PM




A TownHall column by Paul Craig Roberts points out that there are going to be some negative unintended consequences from the government's attempts at regulating big business accounting fraud...
Via WylieBlog...


posted by John Branch @ 10:43 AM




Today's Opinion Journal has three good editorials (or at least two good and one entertaining) arguing:

1.) We don't need the new Department of Homeland Security

2.) We should get our priorities in order and quit worrying about John Lindh the traitor and focus on the very real problem of Iraq

3.) Phil Donahue will not catch Bill O'Reiley as a prime-time talk show host but will probably "kill off" Connie Chung


posted by John Branch @ 10:10 AM




Tiger Woods shot a 1-under 70 today in the first round of the British Open...He apparently was bothered by a "shaky" putter, and was not able to read the speed of the greens well...
This is a typical bad Tiger round, and why he is in a class all by himself right now...When he has a bad round, he does not make mistakes that cost him bogeys. Because of the strength of his mental and physical game, his mistakes almost inevitably end up as pars rather than bogeys, which means he is normally close enough to the leaders to be in contention, even after a bad round...


posted by John Branch @ 9:49 AM




Officer Jeremy Morse, the police officer on the videotape caught hitting a black teenager while he was held down on the hood of a car, has been indicted on assault charges. Morse will plead innocent, and his attorney said that he believed an "impartial jury will find that the use of force was necessary and he will be acquitted." A grand jury also returned an indictment Wednesday afternoon against Morse's partner, Officer Bijan Darvish. He will face a charge of filing a false police report.


posted by John Branch @ 9:43 AM




British scientists have discovered the gene that initiates human life...The gene they found in sperm triggers the crucial process by which an egg starts dividing to form an embryo, later resulting in a person being born...


posted by John Branch @ 9:38 AM




Alec Klein is reporting in a long article in the Washington Post that unconventional transactions boosted sales for AOL...


posted by John Branch @ 9:30 AM




Symantec, the company that owns Norton Anti Virus, will pay $145 million in cash for Riptech Inc., a Virginia based internet security firm. Riptech provides full-time network security monitoring and analysis, services that Norton is planning on integrating into its security business, which was earning virtually no revenue. Just two weeks ago, Symantec spent $20 million acquiring Mountain Wave Inc., a company that sells security management software and services to businesses.


posted by John Branch @ 9:25 AM




Steve Jobs announced at Macworld that Windows users are going to get their own iPod...
This is pretty cool...A friend of mine has an iPod and that thing is incredible...


posted by John Branch @ 9:20 AM




Howard Bashman reports on a case where the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's holding that a confession in an Alcoholics Anonmous meeting was made under New York's cleric-congregant privilege protection...
You can access the ruling here...
Via (as most of my appellate law news is) How Appealing...


posted by John Branch @ 9:18 AM


Wednesday, July 17, 2002



Another suicide attack today in Israel killed at least seven people in Tel Aviv....


posted by John Branch @ 10:39 PM




Time magizine is reporting that Bin Laden was last seen November 17th leaving Jalalabad...


posted by John Branch @ 10:37 PM




If you think baseball is screwed up now, check out what happened in 1902...


posted by John Branch @ 4:54 PM




Benjamin Zycher at Tech Central Station writes an interesting defense for capital punishment...


posted by John Branch @ 3:53 PM




Why not to cheer for Tiger Woods, and other thoughts on the British Open

Ned Barnett of the News and Observer (my old high school political science called it the "News and Disturber") explains why it's hard for him to cheer for Tiger Woods this week at the British Open...

As someone who hacks at the ball with a golf club every so often, I am awed by Tiger's skill and ability. Still, as in other sports, the goal of the athlete is to entertain the audience. It is not entertaining any more for me to watch Tiger run away with a tournament victory. I've already seen it. I am cheering for Phil Mickelson or Sergio Garcia or Neal Lancaster (I wish) to go toe to toe with Tiger, even if they don't come out on top. As much as I like Phil Mickelson, it infuriates me that he can lose to Tiger and seem like he doesn't care. I understand that Phil is successful at pretty much everything he does, but for goodness sake golf is a sport. Sports are competitive. Don't be happy with losing. Be fucking pissed off, and show it. As they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. I'll be cheering for Sergio, Phil and Neal this weekend. While I am not going to be hoping Tiger falters, what I am praying for is someone that has the balls to step up and play their game better than Tiger...
Geez, you can tell I've been reading Mike Hendrix's blog on a consistent basis...I just wish my writing were as good as his...


posted by John Branch @ 12:29 PM




Douglas Turnbull has a very interesting post on The myth of utopia...
He seems to be suffering from the Blogger archive problem so I have linked to the top of his page...


posted by John Branch @ 11:35 AM




Mike Hendrix revisits some priceless Al Bundy quotes...


posted by John Branch @ 10:40 AM




Howard Bashman reported yesterday that Senator Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) is strongly advocating a split of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and will be offering his 9th Circuit split amendment "on every bill until we obtain a vote on this issue." It appears that he would put only California and perhaps Nevada in a new 9th Circuit. This of course would leave Arizona unconnected to the rest of the proposed 12th Circuit. The 9th Circuit is the court where the Pledge decision came from, and this is important news because the 9th Circuit is operating under an astronomical backlog of cases...


posted by John Branch @ 10:34 AM




Why the U.S. is right in its approach to the Middle East

The headline in this Washington Post article is not correct. It says "U.S., Allies Differ On Mideast Goals ." I don't think we do. The Mideast goals for both the U.S. and Europe is peace and prosperity for that region, eventually culminating in a Palestinian state peacefully coexisting side-by-side with Israel. The differences arise in how to reach those goals.

Europe thinks that social and economic changes should be attempted even if Israel and the Palestinians are fighting a war with each other. It does not matter to them that the Palestinians are sending suicide bombers to attack Israeli citizens. It does not make a difference that cafes and shops in Israel have to have an armed guard outside in order to prevent a suicide bomber from entering. It further does not matter that Israel did not create this wave of violence. The U.S. understands that no progress can be made until the violence that has marred the peace process ends.

While there is an enormous humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian people, Arafat and the rest of their leadership chose a long time ago to sacrifice economic prosperity in order to continue the Intifada. They should not be rewarded for that choice with aid from anyone. Rather, they should have to suffer the consequences of that decision so they learn to never make the same decision again. The Palestinian people have to understand that the war that is being waged against Israel is not in their best interests. If they realize that, they ought to stop fighting that war. Then, after the violence stops (and it will stop then, since all of Israel’s steps in the way have been in reaction to suicide bombings) the social and economic development that the Europeans contend is needed can begin. Rewarding the Palestinians for choosing violence and war against Israel runs completely counter to the goal of promoting peace. Pressuring Israel to cave to Palestinian demands would be rewarding the Palestinians for their violence. This is why the U.S. opposes anyone making any more concessions to the Palestinians until the violence stops for good. After the violence stops, real steps can be taken toward peace, but the first step has to be an end to the bombings and gunfights. That can only be accomplished when the Palestinians choose to stop fighting against Israel and instead choose to work with it and the rest of the world to fashion a lasting peace.


UPDATE: Steven Den Beste has two good posts on the Middle East today…


posted by John Branch @ 9:52 AM




More violence in Kashmir...


posted by John Branch @ 9:48 AM




Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit agreed Tuesday to hold elections Nov. 3 in an attempt to avoid a possible ouster and end months of political uncertainty that has shaken market confidence and imperiled Turkey's economic recovery. While this article is talking about the effect of the decision on the Turkish stock markets, I wonder what effect this decision will have on the way we go after Iraq...


posted by John Branch @ 9:47 AM




Ford reported a $570 million profit in the second quarter, beating expectations and making a profit this year in stark contrast to last year when they lost $752 million...


posted by John Branch @ 9:44 AM




Saddam has "vowed to defeat any U.S. attack on Iraq." In a TV address to the nation, he said, "Iraq will be victorious, victorious, victorious. ... All the foreign roaring you are hearing will be withered away by the wind, because the enemy is a greedy oppressor and enemy of God." Saddam is a good warrior, but he also is a poor soldier. He can stand there and jump up and down and scream and yell and get people whipped up in a frenzy, but his skills as an actual soldier were proved in the First Gulf War. When the bombs start dropping I'd put my money on soldiers before warriors...


posted by John Branch @ 9:14 AM




The Washington Post has an article that points out that in the recent wave of accounting scandals, shareholder lawsuits alleging financial improprieties normally predated revelations by the company of accounting problems and fraud.
"In WorldCom's case, shareholders filed suit last summer alleging a variety of fraudulent accounting practices, including failure to write off accounts that were unlikely to ever be paid and deliberately understating expenses overall. The suit was dismissed in March. Last month, the company announced that it had improperly reclassified $3.9 billion in operating expenses as capital expenditures, enabling the firm to bolster its bottom line by spreading costs over several years. One person familiar with the matter said that when the suit was raised at a WorldCom board meeting, it was not clearly presented as being focused on accounting issues.
Shareholder's lawsuits are often viewed by management as a frivilous lawsuit filed by predatory plaintiffs' attorneys, and while that view probably should not change, the filing of a shareholder's lawsuit might serve as a good "red flag" for companies investigating accounting fraud. Still, I think this determines on how many lawsuits of this kind are filed against a company. If they have to deal with them every year, they serve no purpose other than to harass the business. If they are filed only when it appears there has been fraud, then they could serve as teh "red flag" the article is talking about.


posted by John Branch @ 9:05 AM




Senators John Edwards and John Kerry have both surged ahead in the fundraising race for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, but are going about the fundraising in different ways. While Sen. Kerry is travelling the country seeking hard money donations, Sen. Edwards is raising as much soft money (banned Nov. 6) as he can (almost $2 million so far) and then giving it to the New Hampshire and Iowa state Democratic parties...


posted by John Branch @ 8:57 AM




I'm for Neal Lancaster in the British Open...He is the only player ever to shoot 29 on 9 holes in a U.S. Open, but hasn't won in a long time...Still, you have to support the people from your hometown...
My money, like everyone else's, would be on Tiger, though I think that the British Open is the major he has the best chance to lose since the course is shorter and more players are in contention, as well as the style of play being links golf rather than U.S. Open-type golf...


posted by John Branch @ 7:51 AM


Tuesday, July 16, 2002



I really would like to thank the people that have linked to TarheelPundit over the last couple of days. I got my first mention via Stephen Green a couple of weeks ago, but recently Jeff Cooper, Doc Searls, Tony Hooker, Denise Howell, and Ed Cone have all posted links to this site and have also said nice things about it...I appreciate it ya'll...As I have said before, it is nice to know people want to read what I have to say here, especially when one of the reasons I'm blogging is to try and improve my writing...Thanks again...


posted by John Branch @ 10:42 PM




Sporting News has a good story on Phillip Rivers and the NC State football team...
I may be a Heels fan, but you still have to know your enemies...


posted by John Branch @ 5:13 PM




This is a satellite image of Typhoon Halong, with winds of 132 mph (Category 4) located east of Taiwan...As recently as July 12th the winds were measured at 155 mph...
Having lived through four hurricanes (Bob, Bob Jr., Fran, and Floyd), pictures like this both facinate and scare me...


posted by John Branch @ 4:23 PM




I agree with Howard Bashman that Newt Gingrich's calling for the impeachment of the two Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges who held that the Pledge was unconstitutional is "the most idiotic reaction to that ruling that I have yet heard seriously proposed." I wonder, though, if Gingrich wrote this article in order to get this kind of reaction and thereby gain an appearance on Donahue or O'Reiley...


posted by John Branch @ 3:24 PM




I just found out I'm still having the archive problems that everyone else is having...I'm going to republish my archives when I post so if anyone wants to link to a post the links ought to work now, and if they don't would you please let me know? Thanks...


posted by John Branch @ 2:40 PM




UPI points to growing doubts about Hamid Karzai being the President of Afghanistan...


posted by John Branch @ 2:12 PM




Another day, another indictment

A federal grand jury indicted Zacarias Moussaoui a third time for his actions in connection with the September 11th attacks. Prosecutors returned to the grand jury because the Supreme Court ruled last month that juries, not judges, must make the crucial decisions on life or death, and the Bush Administration is said to be seeking the death penalty for Moussaoui if he is convicted.


posted by John Branch @ 1:49 PM




Greenspan Speaks

Alan Greenspan spoke to Congress this morning, and indicated that barring any "significant further adverse shocks" the economy is on the road to recovery. He indicated that the Fed will leave interest rates where they are now in order to encourage consumer spending. Greenspan also addressed the recent wave of corporate accounting scandals, saying that the checks and balances on corporate governance that worked well in the past might have been hurt by the go-go mentality of the 1990s that "arguably engendered an outsized increase in opportunities for avarice." Greenspan also reemphasized his support for companies to treat lucrative stock options for top executives as a business expense, but he indicated that should be left to the private sector and should not be forced upon companies by Congress.


posted by John Branch @ 1:45 PM




New WTC plans are going to be released Tuesday...
UPDATE: The plans have been released...


posted by John Branch @ 12:38 PM




Joe Katzman at Winds of Change has decided to move to an Instapundit-like linker blog for now because of the Blogger problems with linking to posts...


posted by John Branch @ 10:53 AM




Jane Galt at Live from the WTC has a good post on why Congress won't change the rules regarding stock options in reforming business accounting (hint: it's because of campaign finance reform)...


posted by John Branch @ 10:51 AM




Allen Iverson turned himself in today on assault and other charges stemming from an incident a week ago whree he forced himself into his cousin's apartment, threatened two men and demanded that they tell him where he could find his wife...


posted by John Branch @ 9:33 AM




Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz met with Turkish leaders Tuesday to gather support for possible military action against Iraq...


posted by John Branch @ 9:31 AM




More information on Palladium and the Trusted Computer Platform Alliance, by Ross Anderson of the University of Cambridge...
Link via Cold Fury...


posted by John Branch @ 9:26 AM




John Feinstein writes that while Tiger Woods is good for golf, his complete dominance of the sport may cause problems if the other players on tour don't step up and challenge him...


posted by John Branch @ 9:14 AM




Yahoo! has agreed to censor its Chinese web portal at the direction of the Communist Chinese government.
The "Public Pledge on Self-discipline for China Internet Industry" has attracted more than 300 signatories since its launch March 16, said a spokeswoman for the Internet Society of China, who identified herself only as Miss Sun...
Those who sign the pledge must refrain from "producing, posting or disseminating pernicious information that may jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability." The prohibition also covers information that breaks laws and spreads "superstition and obscenity." Members must remove material deemed offensive or face expulsion from the group. Signers also pledge to monitor content of foreign-based Web sites and block those containing unspecified harmful information.

A special police force monitors Web sites and sifts e-mail searching for messages promoting causes such as greater political openness, the banned Falun Gong ( news - web sites) spiritual movement and independence for minority regions. Web sites of human rights groups and Western and Taiwanese media are frequently blocked.





posted by John Branch @ 9:09 AM