Category Archives: International

A Toxic Shroud: "China is choking on its own success” and endangering neighbors and American cities

 

Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley of the New York Times, on August 26th, produced an excellent story on China’s industrial success/toxic pollution nexus. The situation is dire, and China’s difficulties overcoming the Victorian England-like pollution troubles in order to host an Olympics palpable to the rest of the world are well known, and have been covered recently in similar excellent coverage in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a brief section of the NYT report:

…it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.

Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life.

China is choking on its own success

And this is not merely a problem for the Chinese. Acid rain containing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from Chinese coal-fired power plants falls on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo. The Journal of Geophysical Research reports that much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China.

The World Health Organization and World Bank independently found that total deaths in China due to pollution have reached 750,000 a year. Chinese experts interviewed claimed that the Western estimates “probably understate the problems.” The World Bank told the NYT that China’s environmental agency asked them to remove this number from the Spring 2007 final report, claiming the numbers could detrimentally impact “social stability.”

The question, of course, is who has the credibility and sway to either guide China toward responsible environmental policies, or model a path forward by example.

Lime

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Filed under Business, Environment, International, Science

AltLaw Beta: Free Boolean-searches of SCOTUS/Federal Courts of Appeal Decisions

AltLaw

AltLaw, the newest and one of the more promising internet legal resources to hit the scene, is now up and running and available for free public advanced searches of case law.

It’s a sort of Google for Supreme Court and Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal decisions, and clearly holds promise to democratize the availability of relevant and useful case law in the States. LEXIS and Westlaw, of course, have long monopolized the availability of such information in any searchable or useful form, and have charged a pretty penny to those that want to easily search case or other resources (via “Natural Language” or the far more powerful, but underused, advanced/Boolean search engines). AltLaw now makes Boolean searching entirely free.

The catch: at startup, AltLaw’s coverage of SCOTUS case law extends fully only back to May 1991, and the Federal Courts of Appeals in a more irregular spread–the 7th Circuit back only to October 1999, and at best, the 1st Circuit back to 1992. Complete details about AltLaw’s initial coverage are posted HERE.

AltLaw is a joint project of Columbia Law School and the University of Colorado Law School. The site touts, amazingly, advanced searching options akin to LEXIS and Westlaw, including proximity searching, Boolean searches, concentration searches, wildcard searches (my fave), among others. The site also intimates that West Reporter Citations will be added.

Yet another step in making U.S. case law readily available to the citizenry, along the lines of what Cornell’s indispensible Legal Information Institute has done, for example, in making the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations, among LII’s many other items, very quickly searchible and accessible for free.

Thanks to fellow appellate litigator Greg May at The California Blog of Appeal, and Harvard’s Info/Law for the story.

Lime

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Filed under Appellate Law, Criminal Law, Education, International, Law, Supreme Court, Tech

Haditha Update: SJA Recuses Himself After Criticizing LtCol Ware

The Staff Judge Advocate, SJA, – the senior legal adviser, roughly equivalent to in-house counsel for a business – for LtGen Mattis removed himself form the case of LCpl Tatum. The SJA, LtCol Bill Riggs, contacted LtCol Ware and criticized him for holding the government to too high of a standard when evaluating the charges against LCpl Tatum. LtCol Ware replied, via e-mail, “I viewed Lt. Col. Riggs’ comments as inappropriate and imprudent. … I was … offended and surprised by this conversation.”

LtCol Ware was the investigating officer for LCpl Sharratt. LtCol Ware unrecommended no charges against the Marines, and LtGen Mattis concurred with this recommendation and dismissed all charges against both LCpl Sharratt and Capt Stone. LtCol Ware will also be the Investigating Officer for SSgt Frank Wuterich.

yojoe out

More on Haditha

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Filed under Criminal Law, Haditha, International, Iraq, Law, Military Justice, Military Law

Haditha Update: LCpl Tatum’s Article 32 the Final Day

In the final day of the Article 32 investigation into LCpl Tatum’s role in the action in Haditha, Iraq, both the prosecution and defense gave their respective summations of the case. The defense emphasized that,

You can’t sit back in an air-conditioned room at Camp Pendleton and second-guess these men. It’s 20/20 hindsight.

While the prosecution maintained its mantra of retribution and a rush to use force,

In an effort to avoid unnecessary suffering of innocents, you are not permitted to go straight to deadly force.

LtCol Ware will likely submit his report within the next ten days.
yojoe

Previous posts: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5. Days 6 and 7

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Filed under Criminal Law, Haditha, International, Iraq, Military Justice, Military Law

Quote of the Day

From the BBC:

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: “We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.”

Though I think it would have been better if he had said: “Badgers? We don’t need no stinking badgers!”

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Haditha Update: LCp Tatum’s Article 32 Days 6 and 7

LCpl Tatum testified that he did not “know that there was women and children in that house until later . . . otherwise, I would have physically stopped everyone in that room from shooting.” This testimony came during his unsworn statement during an Article 32 investigation in his actions in Haditha, Iraq. The prosecution has maintained that the Marines killed civilians in retaliation for an explosion that killed a fellow Marine. The Marines maintain that they were following the rules of engagement while in pursuit of their attackers.

LCpl Tatum explained that the visibility was very poor during the battle, making it very difficult to identify targets, as anything more than that, targets. He explained that only later did he learn that the targets were women and children. He entered the first house after his squad leader told him the house was “hostile” and continued to the second house because he heard the sound of an AK-47 Continue reading

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UPDATE: Court of Military Commissions and Review Rules available

The Pentagon has freshly updated and made available to the public a cartload of Military Commissions materials. Earlier this month we noted that the site hadn’t been updated for several months. That’s been remedied. On the site are:

  • Rules of Practice for the Court of Military Commission and Review
    • After a very quick perusal, I notice nothing too remarkable here–they look like, as we were led to suspect, a typical Court of Criminal Appeals’ rules, modified for the Commissions context. Many rules are footnoted “taken from ACCA (Army Court) rule” this or “Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Rule” that. I will note that Rule 30 states that “The Clerk of Court is authorized to release unclassified filings with the CMCR and CMCR decisions. Filings and decisions will be available at: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/commissions.html.” That openness is certainly welcome, hopefully the link will be continually and timely updated.
    • Admission to practice requirements (as if you’d want to): “to be eligible for admission to the Bar of the CMCR, an attorney must be a member in good standing of the Bar of the highest court of a state, territory, commonwealth, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, or of the Bar of a Federal Court.” Proof of good standing is required. Foreign attorneys may gain honorary membership.
  • Approval and Promulgation of Rules of Practice
  • Multiple recent documents from the Khadr Commissions case that AO has reported on, inter alia, HERE (Khadr and Hamdan dismissal), HERE (reconsideration denial), and HERE (Khadr appeal), including: Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Appellate Law, International, Law, Military Justice, Military Law, Supreme Court