August 24 - 31, 2008

BARRON’S: An Auction-Rate Coziness Probe
August 30, 2008
BYLINE: Tom Sullivan
“The auction-rate securities fiasco took yet another turn last week, with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office confirming it's investigating whether Goldman Sachs gave Fidelity Investments extra incentives to sell these now-toxic debt instruments to investors. Cuomo has become ‘a second SEC,’ or Securities and Exchange Commission, says Columbia Law professor John Coffee, ‘in cases in which the SEC has been strangely slow.’ … The investment banks' clients are being made whole, or given their investment back. But people who bought the securities through places like Fidelity are ‘stuck on the 20th floor with nothing below,’ says Coffee.”

NOW ON PBS: Attacking Affirmative Action
August 29, 2008
HOST: David Brancaccio
“BRANCACCIO: When Barack Obama walked into that stadium back there and accepted his party's nomination for president, so many had cause to celebrate this milestone in American democracy. … Kimberle Crenshaw is a professor of law at both Columbia University and UCLA. … Do you see that what some people regard as the dawn of the post-racial America? CRENSHAW: The very fact that you have to ask that question tells us it's not post-racial. On one hand, it will be a milestone. I think people will be celebrating it. On the other hand, the very fact that we are debating whether race is over just because someone who happens to be the President is black tells us that race is not over.”

AMERICAN PUBLIC MEDIA: Marketplace: Feds adjust rules on corporate probes
August 28, 2008
REPORTER: Janet Babin
“A federal appeals court gave the Justice Department a slap on the wrist today. … Companies, like KPMG, were penalized for paying workers' legal fees. The practice was unfair, says Columbia Law Professor John Coffee. JOHN COFFEE: That was a way of trying to force the defendant into a plea of guilty, because he couldn't personally pay his own counsel.”

NEW YORK SUN: DOJ Introduces New Guidelines Curbing Prosecutors
August 28, 2008
BYLINE: Joseph Goldstein
“New Justice Department guidelines will prevent federal prosecutors from outright pressuring companies to fire employees who are accused of wrongdoing. … A Columbia Law School professor, John Coffee, said that in one respect he believed the guidelines went too far in restraining prosecutors. Under the new guidelines, Mr. Coffee said that prosecutors weighing whether to indict a company ought to be able to consider whether the same executives responsible for the alleged wrongdoing were still in charge. ‘I do think there are times when the government should say, as the price of reduced punishment, you have to replace someone who corrupted the organization,’ he said. … Professor Coffee, of Columbia Law, said that he expected prosecutors to continue handing over such documents. ‘A funny dance will occur,’ Professor Coffee said. ‘Corporations will remain under pressure to do anything the government wants even though the government can't officially ask for it.’ ”

OUT-LAW.COM: Excessive IP protection causes economic gridlock, says expert
August 28, 2008
BYLINE: Matthew Magee
“Michael Heller is an academic at Columbia University in New York and told technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio that intellectual property laws are being used to stop new products and services being made. ‘I discovered a paradox in the free market and it is this: usually private ownership creates wealth, but too much ownership has the opposite effect, it creates gridlock,’ he said. ‘When too many owners control a single resource – it can be a patent, a copyright, land – when too many people control a single resource, co-operation breaks down and wealth disappears, everybody ends up losing.’ ”

WILL PUBLIC MEDIA: Focus 580: The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, And Costs Lives
(clip begins at 1:44)
August 28, 2008
HOST: David Inge
“Michael Heller, the Lawrence A. Wien Professor of Real Estate Law in the School of Law at Columbia University”

BBC NEWS: The most trusted man in America?

August 27, 2008
BYLINE: Chris Bowlby
“The US presidential election is a deadly serious business, as the party conventions amply illustrate. Which might make it surprising that satire is playing a more and more influential role in the way the US media covers politics. … Shows like this may have much less appeal to older generations, those with more highbrow tastes like Philip Bobbitt, a veteran political commentator and academic. But after observing Stewart’s popularity amongst his students, he’s become more of a fan. ‘What really impressed me was how much you had to know to get the jokes. You really had to be fairly current with public affairs to be able to see what’s funny. … I think he feels he has a constituency of young people to whom he has some responsibility, and I think he’s trying to present issues in a satirical way but in a fairly robust and affirmative way. He gets lots of facts in. I think he is as informative as he is witty.’ ”

NEW YORK TIMES: Prosecutors Had Jones Ready to Testify in Balco Trial
August 26, 2008 (August 27, 2008 print edition)
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt
“Marion Jones was moved quietly from a Texas penitentiary to the San Francisco Bay Area in May by federal prosecutors who feared that her former track coach, who was on trial for making false statements in connection with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative investigation, would take the stand in his own defense, according to a person briefed on the matter. … Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University and a former assistant United States attorney, said that prosecutors always wanted to be prepared for the rare circumstance in which a defendant decided to testify. ‘In an effort to rebut a defendant’s testimony, the government will often consider calling someone with the kind of baggage that Marion Jones brings to the stand in a last-ditch effort to attack the credibility of the defendant,’ Richman said. ‘The government may also have brought her to the Bay Area just to try and deter Graham from taking the stand.’ ”

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: Fast cuts could lead to regrets
Issue of August 25, 2008
BYLINE: Leigh Jones
“While many law firms during the economic slowdown have pulled back on associate recruitment or culled their lower ranks of attorneys, a lesson in recent history shows that any drastic moves could well lead to hiring headaches once business improves. … ‘Firms are really struggling with what their numbers need to be,’ said Ellen Wayne, dean of career services at Columbia Law School. Although the number of firms participating in on-campus interviews is the same at Columbia this year, she said, firms are taking longer to extend summer employment offers.”

FINANCIAL WEEK: ARS deals snub corporate buyers
August 25, 2008
BYLINE: Hilary Johnson
“Recent regulatory settlements by Citigroup and other big banks have set the tone for what corporate investors can expect out of the auction-rate securities mess. … It stands to reason, given the impetus, one securities lawyer said. ‘Remember that attorneys general are elected by voters, not corporations,’ said Columbia University professor John Coffee, referring to New York's Andrew Cuomo, who has been investigating the collapse of the ARS market. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating the failure of the ARS market. … When it comes to negotiations, companies may have the upper hand, given the amount of business they do with their brokers, Mr. Coffee said. ‘Often a company will have a strong economic relationship with the broker-dealer. They have a lot more negotiating leverage.’ ”


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August 17 - 23, 2008

GLOBE AND MAIL: What ails the economy? Too much ownership, author says
August 23, 2008
BYLINE: John Allemang
“If wealth is what you seek in life - and who among us would really prefer nothing to something? - then it's easy to believe that private ownership is a good thing. … Life-saving drugs aren't being made, new technologies are smothered at birth, cities suffer from neglect, cultural artifacts aren't being created - and all because, says legal theorist Michael Heller, we are dubiously blessed with an overabundance of private ownership. … ‘Usually private ownership creates wealth,’ he says from New York, where he teaches real-estate law at Columbia University. ‘But too much ownership has the opposite effect: It creates gridlock. And that is the paradox of free markets. If too many owners control a resource, co-operation breaks down, wealth disappears and everybody loses.’ ”

NEW YORK SUN: Doha: The Last Mile
August 21, 2008
BYLINE: Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya
“The director general of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, minding the Doha Round negotiations that collapsed in Geneva on July 29, was in India last week and is in Washington this week.
“A marathon runner who goes the distance in a 26-mile run, Mr. Lamy is not giving up when he is at the last mile. There are good reasons to predict that he will cross the finishing line. … Mr. Bhagwati, an economics professor at Columbia University, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.”

CHARLESTON CITY PAPER: Unscripted: The paradox of free-market economy
August 21, 2008
BYLINE: John Stoehr
“This is Michael Heller talking about his new book, called The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives.”
This blog is one of several to link to Michael Heller’s July 18 talk for Authors@Google.

BUSINESS NEWS NETWORK: SqueezePlay: Taking Stock (clip at 18:52)
August 21, 2008
HOST: Amanda Lang
“Private ownership usually creates wealth, but too much ownership has the opposite effect - it creates gridlock. BNN interviews Michael Heller, author, ‘The Gridlock Economy.’ ”

FINANCIAL TIMES: The selfish hegemon must offer a New Deal on trade
August 20, 2008
BYLINE: Jagdish Bhagwati
“In the 1980s, Japan was feared in the US to be a lethal combination of Superman and the evil genius Lex Luthor in a classic case of what I have called the Diminished Giant Syndrome.
“Members of Congress famously smashed a Toshiba radio cassette recorder on the steps of Capitol Hill in protest in 1987. Great Britain at the turn of the 19th century had been marked by similar diffidence, despair and recrimination when Germany and the US were emerging on the world scene. There, Sir Howard Vincent entered parliament festooned with mops, pails and brushes marked ‘Made in Germany’.
“US hegemony survived the exaggerated threat from Japan. But the US is now once again a fearful giant. Many Americans see trade as a peril rather than an opportunity. This has turned the US from what the economist Charles Kindleberger famously called an ‘altruistic’ hegemon into a ‘selfish’ hegemon. … The writer, university professor, economics and law, at Columbia University and senior fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, has just published Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential Agreements Undermine Free Trade.”

NEWTALK: Would "loser pays" eliminate frivolous lawsuits and defenses?
August 19, 2008
Moderator: Rebecca Love Kourlis
“Rebecca Love Kourlis: Welcome to NewTalk’s online discussion of the pros and cons of a loser-pays model for courts. … John Fabian Witt, George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History, Columbia University: In answer to Rebecca's question, the history here is instructive—and it suggests a different answer from the one offered in Victor Schwartz's interesting post. The origin of the so-called American rule lies in the transformation of the legal profession in the Age of Jackson. Lawyers in the first half of the nineteenth century started making side-deals with their clients for fees greater than the court-regulated fees. Some clients were willing to make these deals to get better representation; others no doubt felt they had little choice in the matter. But either way, side deals started getting struck. And some of these fees were contingent on a successful outcome—the now familiar contingency fee….”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: A Better Way to Free Trade
August 18, 2008
BYLINE: L. Gordon Crovitz
“Hong Kong -- This tiny outpost of radical thinking is an excellent vantage point for the recent collapse of the multilateral trade negotiations. … ‘Such ultramodern industries as telecommunications and financial services gained their momentum largely from unilateral openness and deregulation in the U.S.,’ economist Jagdish Bhagwati has explained. ‘A Brussels bureaucrat can argue with a Washington bureaucrat, but he cannot argue with the markets.’ … As Mr. Bhagwati puts it, ‘If we refuse to reduce our trade barriers just because others do not reduce theirs, we lose from our trading partners' barriers and then lose again from our own.’ ”

SLATE: Dispatches From Beijing: An Ode to Weightlifting, My New Favorite Olympic Sport
August 18, 2008
“I've been lucky enough to attend many of the events at the Beijing Olympics. The woman's all-around finals in gymnastics were particularly thrilling, and I wasn't above taking a picture of Michael Phelps in a medley heat. I can even brag that I managed to snag a front-row press-box seat for Usain Bolt's dancing 9.69.
“But none of this, for me, can compare to attending my new favorite Olympic event: weightlifting. … Tim Wu is a professor at Columbia Law School and co-author of Who Controls the Internet?”

INFORMATIONWEEK: Google Wants The Airwaves
August 18, 2008
BYLINE: Thomas Claburn
“In 1981, the Ramones released a single called We Want the Airwaves, a post-punk call to end corporate control of radio. … Now Google wants the airwaves, to end what it sees as an Internet access bottleneck. … ‘This is one of the crucial issues of our economic future and our information future,’ explained Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor and advocate of telecommunications policy reform, in a video statement. ‘ “White spaces” is a reform designed to break the bottleneck in spectrum and to make the airwaves available for anyone to use, and to make them come to consumers at a much cheaper price than what you see today.’ ”

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August 10 - 16, 2008

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Terrorism's New Structure
August 16, 2008
BYLINE: Martin Amis
“History is accelerating; and so the future becomes more and more unknowable. … The two most stimulating international terrorism-watchers known to me are John Gray and Philip Bobbitt. Professor Gray (‘Straw Dogs,’ ‘Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern’ and ‘Black Mass’) and Professor Bobbitt (‘The Shield of Achilles’ and the masterly ‘Terror and Consent’) are utterly unalike, except in brainpower and literary panache. … [Sidebar] In ‘Terror and Consent’ (Knopf; 672 pages; $35), published in April, Columbia University professor Philip Bobbitt argues that the primary factor behind terrorism is not religion but the market state.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Rivals Differ (a Bit) on Financial Market Rules
August 15, 2008
BYLINE: Jackie Calmes
“Modernizing the nation’s New Deal-era defenses against financial disaster is not high among the priorities that either Barack Obama or John McCain list for the next president. But events could well plop the issue right in the middle of the winner’s plate. … ‘Either way the election goes, you’re going to have a major rethinking of how we’re organized in terms of oversight of financial markets,’ said Harvey J. Goldschmid, a professor at Columbia Law School and a Democratic member of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 2002 to 2005. … Mr. Goldschmid recalls walking through the Capitol in recent years for meetings on securities legislation, and seeing hallways crammed with lobbyists for ‘perhaps a football field in length in every direction,’ all seeking to block changes in the status quo or increase deregulation. Now, he adds, ‘I just don’t think you’re going to be able to hold back healthy change.’ ”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: On the Defensive, China Lashes Out at Critics
August 15, 2008
BYLINE: Jason Dean and Shai Oster
“Frustrations are escalating between the Western media and Chinese officials over the government's handling of the Olympic Games. … ‘The Chinese government's idea of how you impress people is that everything is perfect, even if that means a little bit of deception,’ says Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who focuses on media policy and who is in Beijing for the Games. ‘And that's exactly the thing that drives the Western media crazy, because it seems sneaky.’ ”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Advocacy Programs Stir Controversy
BYLINE: Nathan Koppel and Elizabeth Bernstein
August 15, 2008
“William Bruce suffers from a mental illness, paranoid schizophrenia. … Many psychiatrists like Professor Paul Appelbaum at Columbia University have split opinions about advocacy groups. APPELBAUM: I think the advocacy services work best when the advocates see themselves as able to work with the doctors and the other staff at the hospital to get for the patient what that particular patient needs most. There are advocates who don’t believe that mental disorders are real, who don’t believe that hospitalization has a role for any patient, or that treatments of psychiatric disorders can ever be helpful.”
Full print story available at

PORTFOLIO: New York Law to Russian Claw
August 15, 2008
BYLINE: Kit R. Roane
“More than a decade before he became Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili was just another struggling law student with big plans tooling around Manhattan on his bicycle. … ‘He was ambitious, idealistic, and I think he had something of the American messianic sense that you could use law to change the world,’ recalls professor Lori Damrosch, who taught Saakashvili in a Columbia law seminar entitled International Institutions in Transition. ‘This was at a time of turmoil in the ex-Soviet republics, and he had a lot to say on those topics,’ she adds, noting that students at the law school were ‘imbued with this idealistic spirit’ and that Saakashvili ‘absorbed these values.’ … ‘He clearly knew what he wanted when he was at Columbia, and he chose his courses very carefully and in a conscious way that didn't follow the usual diet, which is corporate and securities law,’ says professor George Bermann, who taught Saakashvili courses in European Union law, and transnational litigation and arbitration.”

NEW YORK TIMES: City Room: The Georgian Leader’s New York Days
August 15, 2008
BYLINE: Jake Mooney
“Not everyone in the neighborhoods around Columbia University remembers Mikheil Saakashvili — the guard at the front desk of his old condominium building at 110th Street and Central Park West shook her head on Wednesday when shown his picture in a newspaper — but even though the Georgian president spent only about two years in the area, more than a decade ago, he still has some local connections. … ‘I think it was pretty clear to me from the beginning that he had a very strong attraction to politics,’ said Mr. Horton, who first met Mr. Saakashvili when he was teaching at the law school and Mr. Saakashvili was a student. ‘He had a very strong command of language — in fact, a very strong command of many languages.’ ”

NEW YORK TIMES: When the President of Georgia Was a Star Student at Columbia
August 14, 2008 A version of this appeared in print on August 17, 2008
BYLINE: Jake Mooney
“PREDICTING the future of a handful of 20-something law students — even a group of overachievers in an international law seminar at Columbia — is an uncertain and probably pointless exercise. … Still, there was something about Prof. Lori Damrosch’s star student that made an impression. Professor Damrosch, who stayed in touch with Mr. Saakashvili after he graduated, followed his progress through his visits and phone calls. Once, she ran into him in Washington, where he was pursuing another degree. He said he planned to return to Georgia to work in politics under President Eduard Shevardnadze. ‘Oh, my political career is going very well,’ he told her. In another update, he reported that he had become the opposition leader.
‘Then, the next thing I know,” Professor Damrosch said, “is he had overthrown Shevardnadze.’ ”

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Tbilisi on the Hudson
August 14, 2008
BYLINE: David Lat
“Fifteen years before his country was invaded—or, perhaps, reinvaded—by Russia, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili was learning about the American system of law and living on the Upper West Side. He arrived here in 1993, spent a year at Columbia earning a master’s in law, and then worked one year as an associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler before returning to the newly independent former Soviet republic. … ‘He was a very energetic and spirited individual,’ remembers George Bermann, who taught him European Union law and transnational litigation and arbitration. ‘He took the types of classes people who want to change the world took,’ says Lori Damrosch, who led his International Institutions in Transition seminar. … Damrosch isn’t sure how to reconcile the student of peacekeeping with the current wartime leader. ‘The Russians say he triggered it by taunting the Russian bear. That doesn’t cohere with the person I knew. But if it came from a principled position of defending the territorial integrity of his country, that would.’ ”

CNN: American Morning
August 15, 2008
HOST: Randy Kaye
“RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The featured special at Wal-Mart these days is not for its customers, but for its employees. And for some of the 1.5 million workers, the special sounds a lot like ‘vote Republican, stop Obama.’ … This law professor says Wal-Mart walked right up to the line but didn't cross it. Discussing consequences of an election, he says, is not illegal. NATHANIEL PERSILY, COLUMBIA UNIV. LAW PROFESSOR: They have to have crossed an objective threshold into expressly advocating for the election or defeat of a candidate. If they're just talking about legislation, if they're talking about the pros and cons of different candidates' positions, then there's nothing wrong with that.”

POSTGLOBAL: Should We Give China a Break?
August 14, 2008
POSTED BY: John Pomfret
“From the lip-syncing imbroglio, to reports on tween gymnasts and Han Chinese kids posing as ethnic minorities, to coverage that's focused on human rights, pollution and China's challenge to West, one could argue that Beijing is getting kicked in the teeth on a daily basis by the Western press.
Are we being too tough?
Some people, like Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia, think it's a legitimate question to ask.”

IDG NEWS: Open Source Advocates Hail Appeals Court Ruling
August 14, 2008
BYLINE: Jeremy Kirk and Elizabeth Montalbano
“Free software advocates are praising a federal appeals ruling that allows greater protection for open-source software against copyright infringement. … Eben Moglen, [cq] Columbia University law professor and founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center, said the decision will reduce legal uncertainty and increase the ‘attractiveness of free software and open-source distribution models for both software developers and IT vendors.’
‘The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has agreed with the basic legal theory upon which we have relied for years,’ he wrote in an e-mail.”
PC Magazine among other media outlets ran this article.

RIGHTSIDE ADVISORS: Why Too Much Ownership Can Backfire
August 14, 2008
BYLINE: Judy Alster
“And on the off-chance you too are wondering why wind power isn't taking off faster or why certain drugs are not getting developed, a new book, The Gridlock Economy, by Columbia law professor Michael Heller, should clear things up, although not make you feel any better.”
Michael Heller’s book also received recent coverage on blogs BoingBoing, HRMToday and The Austrian Economists, among others.

SPECTATOR: Russia’s aggression in Georgia is a portent of perils to come
August 13, 2008
BYLINE: Philip Bobbitt
“Georgia, which was admitted to the UN in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, was beset from the outset by the fatal conundrum at the heart of the national self-determination of the nation state: when is a nation — an ethnic, linguistic, historic-cultural idea — entitled to its own state? … Philip Bobbitt is Herbert Wechsler Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia, Senior Fellow at the Robert Strauss Centre for International Security and Law at the University of Texas, and a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law at Stanford.”

THE DEAL: Doubt cast on short-sale limits
August 13, 2008
BYLINE: Donna Block and Ron Orol
“An emergency order that went into effect July 21 made it more difficult to bet against 19 of the largest financial stocks trading in the U.S., but there are divergent views on the order's effectiveness and whether it is to blame for Wednesday, Aug. 13's stock drop. … John Coffee, a Columbia Law School professor, said he doesn't believe the rule would make a major contribution to fighting inside traders. Nevertheless, he predicted it would be a small step forward because other participating stock exchanges would have the benefit of proprietary computers owned by the NYSE and Finra that are programmed to identify insider trading trends. ‘The computer monitors trading data, and it kicks out an alarm if it identifies insider trading trends,’ Coffee said. ‘But I don't expect that you can expect that much expertise or commitment from the relatively small regional exchanges.’ … Coffee said if the SEC extends the temporary short-selling rule to the broader market it would drive short sellers to migrate to other trading strategies that could also drive a company stock down, including single stock futures, the options market and cash settled equity securities, also known as total return swaps. ‘I'm not saying it's a complete substitution but people who want to avoid preborrowing stock might be able to achieve these things through these other means.’ ”

THE NATION: Tested, Tried, Untrue
August 13, 2008 (September 1, 2008 edition)        
BYLINE: Patricia J. Williams
“Senator Joseph Lieberman almost became the Vice President of the United States in what would have been a Democratic administration. Now an independent, he speaks on behalf of John McCain, who has voted in lockstep with the Bush Administration 95 percent of the time. … Obama's campaign has been bookended by astonishingly contradictory stereotypes. In the beginning, Senator Joe Biden framed him as surprisingly clean, articulate and unsaddled with racial baggage. As we come to the finish line, Obama is being assaulted by an inventive hybridity of prejudices: he's under-qualified yet overeducated; he's holier-than-thou but wallows in the mud of slinging the race card; he's effete and effeminate but simultaneously an angry black hate-ah who swears secret allegiance to a separatist Afrocentric Nation; he's a liberation-theology Christian who prays to a Muslim God; he ‘dictates’ from on high while having no clear positions, ‘allowing others to define him.’ … Patricia J. Williams, a professor of law at Columbia University and a member of the State Bar of California, writes The Nation column ‘Diary of a Mad Law Professor.’ ”

SLATE: Dispatches From Beijing: Are the Media Being too Mean to China?
August 11, 2008
“To say Beijing is eager to welcome foreign guests to the Olympics may be the understatement of the century. The new airport terminal features a welcome robot, there are ‘welcome booths’ on just about every downtown street, the names of the Olympic mascots spell ‘Welcome to Beijing’ in Chinese. If you're not careful, you may be walking down a normal street only to find yourself surrounded by eager volunteers clad in blue shirts who point out everything you ever wanted to know about Beijing and plenty more you didn't. In the Olympic Village, where the athletes live, friends say that the enthusiasm and attentiveness of the volunteers borders on harassment. … Tim Wu is a professor at Columbia Law School and co-author of Who Controls the Internet?


NEW YORKER: Financial Page: The Permission Problem
Issue of August 11, 2008
BYLINE: James Surowiecki
“In the second decade of the twentieth century, it was almost impossible to build an airplane in the United States. … The situation that grounded the U.S. aircraft industry is an example of what the Columbia law professor Michael Heller, in his new book, ‘The Gridlock Economy,’ calls the ‘anticommons.’”


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August 1 - 9, 2008

ASBURY PARK PRESS: Environmental groups hope to join lawsuit
August 8, 2008
BYLINE: Keith Ruscitti
“Members of two environmental groups say they hope to join township officials as part of a state Supreme Court case involving a Jackson tree removal ordinance from 2003 invalidated by two lower courts. … Edward Lloyd of The Columbia Law School Environmental Law Clinic, who wrote the amicus brief, said typically a court in such cases asks the complainant to validate its claim. However, in this case, the roles appeared to be reversed, according to Lloyd. ‘It looks like the court asked Jackson to validate it's ordinance, instead of the other way around,’ he said. Lloyd also said he expects to hear a decision from the high court regarding the filing by the end of this month.”

THIS DAY: Nigeria, S’Africa to Boost Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP – Report
August 8, 2008
BYLINE: Ayodele Aminu
“Nigeria and South Africa have been predicted to boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in sub-Saharan Africa as they continue to dominate the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows in the region, a report by The Economist has revealed. … The aggregate figures -5 per cent GDP - according to the report, which was written with the Columbia Programme on International Investment, ‘are dominated by South Africa and Nigeria, which together with many other smaller countries are benefiting from the still high level of commodity prices.’ ”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Bin Laden Ex-Driver Is Convicted
August 7, 2008
BYLINE: Jess Bravin
“A military commission convicted Osama bin Laden's former driver of supporting terrorism, the first verdict delivered here since President George W. Bush announced plans in November 2001 to try accused foreign terrorists in a separate system of offshore military courts. … While the conviction was ‘important,’ the use of a system ‘widely regarded as unfairly tilted against defendants is likely to harden perceptions that Guantanamo exists to keep detainees beyond the full reach of the law,’ said Matthew Waxman, a Columbia Law School professor who was the Defense Department's first detainee-affairs chief under Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.”

CNNMONEY.COM: Banks' settlements: Rare good deal for investors
August 7, 2008
BYLINE: Tami Luhby
“If your bank contacts you about a bond-like investment you made some time ago, don't ignore it. … It's likely superior to what the auction-rate securities holders would have received had they won a class-action suit, said John Coffee, securities law professor at Columbia Law School.”

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Court defied critics in Medellin ruling
August 7, 2008
BYLINE: Rosanna Ruiz
“In its rejection of Jose Ernesto Medellin's appeal, the Supreme Court made clear its refusal to bow to international pressure and its unwillingness to await related legislation that had not progressed beyond the ‘bare introduction of a bill.’ … Legislation requires more time, and it only became apparent when the High Court ruled in March that such action was necessary to mandate hearings in the death row cases, said Sarah Cleveland, a Columbia Law School professor. … ‘The majority opinion reads as if there wasn't any expectation that the U.S. would comply with the ICJ's judgment,’ Cleveland said. ‘It doesn't put the U.S. in a good light, particularly because the executive branch tried to convey the opposite message.’ ”

FORBES: U.S. Consumer Debt Spikes In June
August 7, 2008
BYLINE: Maurna Desmond
“Americans are filling their pockets with IOUs instead of shopping receipts. … ‘A 7.0% increase isn’t a surprise because this year we’re in a tough economic environment, said Ronald J. Mann, a professor at Columbia Law School. ‘It does suggest a new phase in this cycle where people are being forced to rely on credit cards to fund their cash flow needs.’ ”

SPECTATOR: 10 years after the US embassy attacks, al Qaeda is winning
August 7, 2008
BYLINE: Matthew d'Ancona
“Nothing on God's Earth would persuade me to wish al Qaeda a ‘Happy Anniversary’, ten years to the day since its simultaneous attacks on US Embassies in the East African capital cities of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, at the cost of more than 200 lives, most of them African civilians. … For a corrective, the first indispensable book of this conflict, and a manual for our times, read Philip Bobbitt's Terror and Consent, which I reviewed earlier this year.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Editorial: Listen to the 56,000
August 6, 2008
“When the Federal Reserve asked for comments on its proposed rules on abusive credit card practices, an astonishing 56,000 poured in. … Ronald Mann, a Columbia Law School professor, has argued that the law creates a ‘sweat box of credit card debt.’ As borrowers become ‘distressed,’ the credit card issuer has more time to pile on interest charges and fees until the client actually goes bankrupt.”

August 6, 2008
BYLINE: Steven E. Landsburg
“Once upon a time, a typical computer user got an operating system from Microsoft and a Web browser from Netscape. Then Microsoft created Internet Explorer and gobbled up 90% of Netscape's market share. The Justice Department, compiling an antitrust case against Microsoft, seemed to think that this arrangement was bad for consumers. … In ‘The Gridlock Economy,’ Michael Heller finds a common thread in these examples: too much ownership. Too many trolls, too many monopolists, too many fishermen, too many landowners. Mr. Heller sets out his argument and then devotes most of his book to telling illustrative true stories.”

DAILY PRESS: Head of CW to take place on W & M's Board of Visitors
August 5, 2008
BYLINE: A.J. Plunkett
“Colin G. Campbell, president and CEO of Colonial Williamsburg, is among three men appointed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine as new members of the College of William and Mary's governing board. Kaine's office announced the appointments of Campbell as well as Timothy P. Dunn, senior vice president of Capital Research Global Investors and a 1983 William and Mary graduate, and Robert E. Scott, a law professor at Columbia University who earned his law degree from the W&M School of Law in 1968.”

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Medellin set to die Tuesday for Ertman-Peña killings
August 4, 2008
BYLINE: Allan Turner
“ ‘Texas. It's like a whole other country.’ … ‘Outside of Texas this is a huge diplomatic misstep,’ said Columbia Law School professor Sarah Cleveland. ‘ ... Unfortunately, I doubt that the international community is likely to brush this off as simply the actions of Texas. In the international community (and under all U.S. treaty obligations) the United States is responsible for Texas' actions.’ If the United States fails to observe its treaty commitments, said Cleveland, co-director of the Human Rights Institute, other nations might be inclined to disregard agreements when they become inconvenient.”

August 3, 2008
BYLINE: Alan Brinkley
“Within hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Dick Cheney in effect took command of the national security operations of the federal government. … Among the most courageous opponents of the use of torture was a small group of lawyers working within the Bush administration — conservative men, loyal Republicans, who in the face of enormous pressure to go along attempted to use the law to stop what they considered a series of policies that were both illegal and immoral: Alberto Mora…Jack Goldsmith…and Matthew Waxman, a Defense Department lawyer overseeing detainee issues, who sought ways to stop what he believed to be illegal and dangerous policies. Waxman summoned a meeting of high-ranking military officers and Defense Department officials (including the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force), all of whom supported the restoration of Geneva Convention protections. Waxman was quickly hauled up before Addington and told that his efforts constituted ‘an abomination.’ ”

BLOOMBERG: New York to Sue Citigroup Over Auction-Rate Sales
August 1, 2008
BYLINE: Karen Freifeld
“New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo plans to sue Citigroup Inc., the largest U.S. bank by assets, after accusing it of ‘fraudulent’ tactics in selling auction-rate securities as safe, money market-like investments. … John Coffee, professor of securities law at Columbia Law School in New York, said that Citigroup broke a cardinal rule. ‘Rule number one in all white-collar representations is, “Don't destroy any documents,” ’ Coffee said. ‘You put yourself in a very dark hole the moment you have to admit documents sought or potentially desired by the government have been destroyed by you. This is a public relations nightmare, and it may be a kind of legal problem that overshadows the merits of the case.’ ”

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