November 23 - 30, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES: Ahead for Obama: How to Define Terror
November 29, 2008
BYLINE: Jonathan Mahler
“Early last Tuesday morning, a military charter plane left the airstrip at Guantánamo Bay for Sana, Yemen, carrying Osama bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Hamdan. … ‘The war-against-Al-Qaeda paradigm put us in a position where our legal authorities to detain and interrogate didn’t match up with those of our allies, so we ended up building a system that’s often rejected as strategically unsound and legally suspect by even our closest allies,’ says Matthew Waxman, a law professor at Columbia who worked on detainee issues in the Bush administration.”

NEWSWEEK: Why Barriers Don’t Matter
November 29, 2008 (Issue of December 8, 2008)
BYLINE: Barrett Sheridan
“A clear majority of global leaders, pundits and economists think more free trade is part of the solution to the global crisis. … Jagdish Bhagwati, a prominent economist at Columbia University and ardent supporter of more free-trade deals, scoffs at such numbers. The World Bank study and its ilk are ‘ridiculous,’ he says. ‘They've got gigantic models. If somebody changes an assumption or two out of the 300 you have to make, you can get what you want, almost. These are pseudo-numbers.’ … The Doha negotiations aim to make some headway on freeing up services, but even if that's successful it won't be enough, says Bhagwati. ‘I don't think our task will be done until another three rounds of negotiations,’ he says.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Google’s Gatekeepers
November 28, 2008
BYLINE: Jeffrey Rosen
“In 2006, Thailand announced it was blocking access to YouTube for anyone with a Thai I.P address, and then identified 20 offensive videos for Google to remove as a condition of unblocking the site. … ‘To love Google, you have to be a little bit of a monarchist, you have to have faith in the way people traditionally felt about the king,’ Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor and a former scholar in residence at Google, told me recently. ‘One reason they’re good at the moment is they live and die on trust, and as soon as you lose trust in Google, it’s over for them.’ … ‘Right now, we’re trusting Google because it’s good, but of course, we run the risk that the day will come when Google goes bad,’ Wu told me. In his view, that day might come when Google allowed its automated Web crawlers, or search bots, to be used for law-enforcement and national-security purposes. ‘Under pressure to fight terrorism or to pacify repressive governments, Google could track everything we’ve searched for, everything we’re writing on gmail, everything we’re writing on Google docs, to figure out who we are and what we do,’ he said. ‘It would make the Internet a much scarier place for free expression.’ ”

SHANGHAI DAILY: Pondering FDI in crisis: Investment could drop or it just might rise
November 28, 2008
BYLINE: Karl P. Sauvant
“WITH US$1.8 trillion, world foreign direct investment (FDI) flows reached an all-time high last year.
All major regions benefited from increased flows. But that was then.
What is, and will be, the impact of the financial crisis and the recession on FDI flows this year and next?
Several forces are at work, best discussed in terms of the three sets of FDI determinants: economic conditions, the regulatory framework and investment promotion. … The author is executive director of Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, research scholar and lecturer in law at Columbia Law School.”

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Tell Me More: Will Obama's Presidency Change Perceptions Among Blacks?
November 26, 2008
HOST: Korva Coleman
“In the latest installment of the series, What Now?, which explores the impact of the nation's first-elected black president, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist William Raspberry, Spelman College professor William Jelani Cobb and Columbia University Law Professor Patricia Williams discuss how Barack Obama empowers African-American communities.”

REUTERS: BCE faces tough battle against insolvency opinion
November 26, 2008
BYLINE: Jessica Hall
“The floundering C$34.8 billion (US$28.2 billion) leveraged buyout of BCE Inc…faces its toughest challenge yet as it struggles to reverse an accounting opinion on its financial health, legal experts said on Wednesday. … ‘Even in the face of litigation, KPMG will just say “I'm the neutral messenger,” ’ Columbia University Law School Professor John Coffee.”

FOX NEWS: Automakers' Jobs Bank Program Pays Laid-Off Workers to Do Nothing
November 25, 2008
BYLINE: Maxim Lott
“Thousands of laid-off auto workers get paid $31 an hour to sit around and do nothing all year under a controversial program that could continue even if American taxpayers bail out the American auto industry. … ‘Subject to some limits, management could find itself in a position to terminate the program,’ said Edward R. Morrison, a professor at Columbia Law School and a bankruptcy law expert. ‘The [laid off] employees may become “creditors” with claims against the company -- they would be in the same position as bond holders and other creditors.’ ”

NEW YORK TIMES: Judge Dismisses Three of 15 Counts Against Bonds
November 24, 2008
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt
“A federal judge dismissed three counts from the indictment against Barry Bonds which alleges baseball’s career home-run leader made false statements under oath about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. … At the trial, the jury will be instructed to reach a verdict on each count. ‘In a high profile perjury case like this, all the government needs to do to declare victory is get a single conviction,’ said Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor. ‘The government has simply lost three opportunities to get a guilty verdict but generally these cases break one way or the other based on the jury’s overall impression of the defendant’s truthfulness.’ ”

NPR: Tell Me More: Obama Presidency Signals End Of Guantanamo
November 24, 2008
HOST: Korva Coleman
“President-elect Obama has pledged to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison. Since Sept. 11, terrorism suspects have been held there for years without charges. Legal experts Matthew Waxman and Glenn Sulmasy discuss the repercussions of closing Guantanamo.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: Academic Publishers Debate The Digital Future
November 24, 2008
BYLINE: Sarah F. Gold
“The tension between the digital world and the world of the printed book was highlighted during ‘Why Books Still Matter,’ a one-day symposium on scholarly publishing held November 14 at Yale University. … The protechnology view was represented by speakers at the day's first panel, ‘The Digital Future of Scholarly Publishing.’ Yochai Benkler, a professor of entrepreneurial legal studies at Harvard, and Michael Heller, an expert on property theory at Columbia Law School, challenged the current publishing business model, emphasizing that all forms of culture today, from music to news, involve assembling information from various sources. Digital publishing easily allows the compilation of content from a wide variety of sources, and Heller emphasized that ‘universities should be supporting the cutting edge of cultural production. Today, that cutting edge is all about assembly of multiple bits of information. In the classroom, it's course readers and online sharing.’ But rather than making such assembly less costly, Heller said, universities and their presses ‘shrink fair use, clamp down on copyright “pirates,” monetize every shard of an idea. I'm all for the survival of university presses, but let's not fund them by crushing the leading edge of art and science.’ ”
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November 16 - 22, 2008

FOREIGN POLICY: Seven Questions: How to Close Gitmo
November 2008
“As soon as Barack Obama was elected president two weeks ago, the calls starting piling in: Close the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay. … To sort out the issues, Foreign Policy’s Elizabeth Dickinson spoke with Matthew Waxman, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs. … Matthew Waxman is associate professor at Columbia Law School and adjunct senior fellow for law and foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.”

CNET NEWS: The key to innovation: Privately owned fiber?
November 21, 2008
BYLINE: Stephanie Condon
“The United States through its history has been the world's leading innovator thanks to a few hobbyists tinkering in their garages. If the U.S. wants to maintain its dominance in the world market, some argue, its policies should encourage innovation through broadband deployment. … In their paper Homes with Tails (PDF), Columbia Law School professor and NAF Fellow Tim Wu and Google Policy Analyst Derek Slater lay out a proposal in which a community would establish a collectively-owned fiber trunk cable that would lead to individually-owned lines into people's homes.”

Issue of November 20, 2008
BYLINE: Michael Wood
“Franz Kafka: The Office Writings edited by Stanley Corngold, Jack Greenberg and Benno Wagner, translated by Eric Patton and Ruth Hein … In an afterword to The Office Writings, Jack Greenberg, a lawyer on the case, recalls the 1954 US Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board of Education, which instructed school administrators to desegregate with ‘all deliberate speed’, that is, either as quickly as possible or as slowly as possible, take your pick. He also mentions a more recent district court opinion regarding the phrase ‘no longer enemy combatants’, used of people who may never have been enemy combatants at all. The opinion itself in this case uses the word ‘Kafkaesque’.”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Missing in Action? Meltdown Raises Doubts About SEC Regulation
November 20, 2008
BYLINE: John C. Coffee, Jr.
“Sometime in the next decade, an economic historian will write the definitive account of the 2008 credit crisis. Possessing better data and greater distance from the still current turmoil, this author will do a far better job than anyone can hope to do today. A critical issue that such a history must face will be the extent to which there was a regulatory failure. Indeed, this issue is sufficiently pressing that even at this early point columnists need to address it. Little doubt exists that there were private market failures, as some CEOs (O'Neal at Merrill, Lynch, Cayne at Bear Stearns, and Fuld at Lehman) recklessly increased leverage and concentrated their firm's assets in illiquid real estate investments. But what responsibility does the SEC bear for not resisting the steady slide of the major investment banks into insolvency? … John C. Coffee, Jr. is the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School and director of its Center on Corporate Governance.”

WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT: Gitmo Prisoners Pose Thorny Problem for Obama
November 20, 2008
BYLINE: Daphne Eviatar
“When word leaked last week that advisers to President-elect Barack Obama were suggesting he create special national-security courts to try high-level Guantanamo detainees, a firestorm erupted among civil-rights advocates and lawyers who’ve represented prisoners there. … ‘I’m very much in favor of using the civilian system—regular federal courts based on criminal charges,’ said George Fletcher, an expert in international criminal law at Columbia Law School. It would be dangerous in my view to create a whole new court.’ … What’s more, any new commission would likely be attacked in the courts. ‘No matter what you do in a military commission there’s going to be a fight,’ said Fletcher, of Columbia Law School, who assisted the Hamdan defense team during the military commission trial. ‘A clever lawyer can always defeat the government in a military commission case’ by raising procedural objections, said Fletcher.”

GLOBE AND MAIL: Holder likely to reform Justice Department
November 20, 2008
BYLINE: Siri Agrell
“Eric Holder, the man expected to be named the first African-American attorney-general of the United States, will likely bring swift reform to the Department of Justice, putting an end to practices he has described as ‘needlessly abusive’ and helping close Guantanamo Bay, which he called an ‘international embarrassment.’
‘It's going to be a very different Justice Department under Holder,’ said Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Columbia Law School. ‘He's not a firebrand, but he's someone who can execute the agenda.’ … ‘He needs to be seen as primarily a law-enforcement official, someone who will enforce federal law, particularly in respect to the war on terrorism,’ Mr. Persily said. ‘I think that is going to be his main thrust in establishing credibility with Congress and the American people.’ ”

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Securities lawyers watching SEC's case against Mark Cuban
November 19, 2008
BYLINE: Brendan M. Case
“Securities lawyers are keenly watching the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's case against Dallas billionaire Mark Cuban, who already has laid out at least part of his defense strategy. … ‘What the SEC has to show is that he assumed a duty to maintain the confidentiality of the information,’ said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University in New York. ‘This case hinges on an old phone conversation between the CEO of the company and Mr. Cuban.’ ”

PROPUBLICA: Why Is Cuban Facing a Fine When Martha Faced the Slammer?
November 19, 2008
BYLINE: Ben Protess
“With Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban facing civil insider-trading charges (PDF) from the SEC, we got to wondering what it takes for securities fraud to become a crime. … But silver platters are few and far between in the federal government. The U.S. Justice Department pursued only 24 criminal insider-trading cases in 2006, probably less than a quarter of the civil cases brought by the SEC that year, according to John Coffee, an expert in securities law and a professor at Columbia University Law School. ‘It's unlikely the Department of Justice will go to the time and expense for someone who's a fairly low-level flunky,’ Coffee said. … To prove its case, the SEC has to show that Cuban breached his ‘duty of confidence’ to, said Coffee of Columbia University. But Cuban was not an officer or employee at, making it difficult to prove he had a duty to the company. ‘This is not a slam-dunk case,’ Coffee told us.”

REUTERS: Credit card weakness a vicious cycle for lenders
November 19, 2008
BYLINE: Jonathan Stempel
“Efforts by large U.S. credit card issuers to gird for historically high customer defaults may actually make the global credit crisis worse. … ‘If you want your card to be the top card in the wallet, the day you send that letter tightening the credit line is the day you make that customer unprofitable,’ said Ronald Mann, a Columbia University School of Law professor and card expert. … Still, all may not be lost for card issuers. Mann, the Columbia professor, said the collapse of securitizations may reflect a ‘herd instinct’ among some investors who wrongly liken the risks of card debt to that of mortgage debt. ‘Companies like Citigroup and Capital One are having a bad year in cards,’ he said, ‘but a bad year means profits have fallen, not that losses are threatening their viability.’ ”

RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH: Investor ponders Circuit City deal
November 19, 2008
BYLINE: Louis Llovio
“The owner of Latin America's largest chain of consumer-electronics stores could be in line to buy Circuit City Stores Inc. out of bankruptcy. … Edward Morrison, a professor of law at Columbia University who specializes in bankruptcy law, said by controlling such a large share, Salinas can exert influence over the company and its bankruptcy process, including the possibility of gaining a seat on its board of directors. But by putting himself in that position, Salinas would have a duty to shareholders and creditors that could legally hurt his chances of acquiring the company, Morrison said. ‘I would worry about fiduciary duty once he's gained control,’ he said. ‘The basic rule of corporate law when a company is solvent is to the [shareholder]. But when a company is insolvent, the duty is to both creditors and [shareholders]. And [shareholders] only get paid after creditors have been paid in full.’ ”

DAILY NEWS: Ex-Clinton deputy hailed as 'smart' and 'fair' guy
November 19, 2008
BYLINE: Mike Jaccarino, Carrie Melago and Michael Saul
“Eric Holder's innate sense of fairness and strong moral compass make him an excellent choice for attorney general, friends and family here say. … One of his law professors at Columbia, Hans Smit, said, ‘We're always very proud when people make it into the administration - the more the better.’ ”

CNET NEWS: Noncompete clauses can keep tech in check
November 18, 2008
BYLINE: Tom Krazit
“Apple may have a real fight on its hands if it believes Mark Papermaster is the right man to nurture the iPhone. … Covenants not to compete (generally known as noncompete agreements) are perfectly valid everywhere but California, where they have been outlawed. They are generally regulated, however, to make sure they are ‘reasonably limited to time and space,’ said Robert Scott, a professor at Columbia Law School and director of the Center on Contract and Economic Organization. That means employers can't keep you on the sidelines for 10 years or allow you to work only on the moon. The central question surrounding Papermaster's noncompete--and really any noncompete--is whether his activities at Apple would harm IBM. ‘The court has to find that the noncompete is necessary to protect the interests of the employer,’ Scott said.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Dallas Mavericks owner takes on SEC
November 18, 2008
BYLINE: Kathleen Pender
“Mark Cuban responded to the government's insider trading charges in typical Mark Cuban style: with guns blazing. … John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University, says Cuban is taking a risk by refusing to settle the SEC's civil case, which concerns his sale of stock in (now called Copernic Inc.) in 2004. ‘The No. 1 issue is whether the Department of Justice will follow suit and indict him’ on criminal charges, Coffee says. Cuban ‘is on the path Martha Stewart was on when she did not reach a settlement’ with the SEC.
Stewart was convicted and went to prison for lying to federal investigators about her well-timed sale of stock in Imclone, not for illegal insider trading.
‘Most white-collar criminals get indicted for what they do after the investigation begins,’ Coffee says. That's why ‘most people decide it is wiser to settle’ an SEC case. ‘You look guilty, but you don't create evidence that can be used against you’ in a criminal case.

Coffee speculates that Cuban might have avoided settling the SEC charges because it would have destroyed his chance of buying the Chicago Cubs.
‘A settlement requires that you neither deny nor confirm your guilt. You can't make a public statement that you were innocent and the charges were without merit,’ Coffee says.
Yet Coffee says his failure to settle will also cost him the Cubs. ‘I think (the charges) would make it extremely difficult for baseball to accept him,’ he says.
Coffee doesn't think they will jeopardize his ownership of the Mavericks - a team which he has revitalized in recent years.”

November 17, 2008
BYLINE: Glyn Moody
“New research has highlighted quite how pervasive open source software (OSS) has become, with 85 per cent of companies currently using OSS and the remaining 15 per cent expecting to in the next 12 months. … One person who does, is Eben Moglen, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, Founding Director of the Software Freedom Law Center, and the legal brains behind the GNU GPLv3 . He's been the main man when it comes to GPL infringements for some time. This is what he told me a few years back about his general approach in these situations: ‘About a dozen times a year,’ Moglen says, ‘somebody does something [that] violates the GPL. Most of the time, they're doing so inadvertently, they haven't thought through what the requirements are. And I call them up and I say, “Look, you're violating the GPL. What you need to do is this. Would you help us?” ’ The answer is invariably yes, he says.”

WORLDFOCUS: From Wall Street to Main Street, leaders address crisis
November 17, 2008
HOST: Martin Savidge
“The G-20 representatives gathered in Washington D.C. this weekend seeking an emergency response to the global economic crisis. The accomplishments of the meeting have been described as ‘decisive change,’ ‘more of the same’ and everything in between. Jagdish Bhagwati, senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, speaks with Martin Savidge about the meeting’s accomplishments.”

ACCOUNTANCY MAGAZINE: IASB and FASB find advisory group chairs
November 17, 2008
BYLINE: Brian Hanney
“The International Accounting Standards Board and US Financial Accounting Standards Board have announced two co-chairmen for the high-level advisory group formed to consider financial reporting issues arising from the global economic crisis. They are Hans Hoogervorst, chairman of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, and Harvey Goldschmid, former commissioner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. … Goldschmid is the Dwight professor of law at Columbia University.”

FINANCIAL TIMES: Goldman rivals urged to cede bonuses
November 17, 2008
BYLINE: Greg Farrell and Francesco Guerrera
“The decision by Goldman Sachs’ top executives to forgo bonuses this year is putting pressure on their competitors to follow suit or risk being demonised in the court of public opinion. … John Coffee of Columbia Law School said he believed Goldman’s decision would put pressure on its longtime rival, Morgan Stanley, to ‘follow suit’.”

RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH: Circuit City aims to win back customers
November 16, 2008
BYLINE: Louis Llovio
“As Circuit City Stores Inc. maneuvers itself through bankruptcy, much of its future success will be closely tied to winning back customer confidence. … Edward R. Morrison, a Columbia University law professor specializing in bankruptcy law and corporate restructuring, said Circuit City still will operate its business as usual, maintaining marketing and advertising campaigns. If the retailer decides to extend or create an ad campaign or establish some poli

NEW YORK TIMES: Seeing Failure as Mother as Factor in Sentencing
November 16, 2008
BYLINE: Kareem Fahim and Karen Zraick
“As the prosecutor asked the judge to impose a long prison sentence, she used the word twice: ‘Mommy.’ … Katherine M. Franke, the director of Columbia Law School’s Program in Gender and Sexuality Law, said Ms. Santiago’s sentence reinforced simple notions of parental roles, with men perceived as more violent and women as saddled with ‘all the obligations and responsibility — and ultimately the punishment — for what happens to their children.’ ”
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November 9 - 15, 2008

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: Economic and cultural gridlock is creating disastrous detours
November 15, 2008
BYLINE: Michael Duffy
“A few years ago a drug company in America thought it had found a cure for Alzheimer's disease. But it couldn't develop the treatment unless it obtained permission to use dozens of patents owned by other biotech companies. … But as ideas and knowledge become increasingly important in all our lives, and increasingly locked up, gridlock is occurring in those spheres, too. Michael Heller, a professor at Columbia Law School, has written a book about this called The Gridlock Economy (Basic Books), from which the Alzheimer's example comes.”

TIME: With Defaults Rising, Is a Credit-Card Crisis Looming?

November 14, 2008
BYLINE: Kristina Dell
“We're not nearly out from under the subprime mortgage meltdown and already analysts are speculating about the next industry crisis, related to the little plastic cards in your wallet. … ‘I don't think the credit-card industry will implode,’ says Robert [sic] Mann of Columbia Law. Issuers have been taking steps to mitigate risks like scaling back credit lines and closing out accounts for cardholders exhibiting distress. ‘Sure, they're likely to have a bad year,’ he says, ‘but lots of people will in 2009.’ ”

ABC NEWS: Pregnant Man, Other Transgender Parents Face Legal Questions
November 14, 2008
BYLINE: Joneil Adriano
“Thomas Beatie, the transgender man who bore a daughter four months ago, has become the public face of an issue for many other transgender people: having their roles as parents legally recognized. … Suzanne Goldberg, who directs the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia University in New York City, sympathizes with the Beaties' frustrations but says they should not be overly concerned about how they are listed on the birth certificate. ‘It's hard to imagine a birth certificate being used as a basis to challenge a marriage,’ Goldberg said. ‘What matters is that the adults involved are designated as “parent.” It doesn't matter legally whether one adult is called “mother” or “father.” Those are social categories. They don't have legal meaning in this context.’ … ‘When there is a slight question whether the marriage will be upheld by a court if it's challenged, the nonbiological parent will take the step of adopting the child, not because it's always necessary but just to make absolutely sure that the parent-child relationship is legally protected,’ Columbia's Goldberg said.”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Deans, Professors Ponder Reasons For Decline in Minority Enrollment
November 14, 2008
BYLINE: Thomas Adcock
“The controversy surrounding Columbia Law School's documentation of a ‘disturbing’ decline in enrollment of minority students at law campuses around the country has deans and professors in New York state discussing a perceived cultural bias in the LSAT examination, combined with the test's exaggerated importance as an element of the annual rankings of their institutions by U.S. News & World Report.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Novitzky On the Outside Looking In
November 13, 2008
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt
“For the last six years, the federal agent Jeff Novitzky has been at the heart of virtually every major investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs by professional athletes. … ‘What we may have here is a combination of the Washington prosecutors wanting to develop their own case at their own speed and also wanting to protect their own turf,’ Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor, said of the lack of involvement of Novitzky and the Northern California prosecutors. ‘The Washington prosecutors have a whole lot less invested in whether Clemens is charged than the San Francisco prosecutors who entered into the agreement with McNamee, and they may be going about the case slower because of that.’ ”

NEW REPUBLIC: Indefinite Detention Center
November 13, 2008
BYLINE: Joseph Landau
“The Associated Press reported Monday that advisors to President-Elect Barack Obama ‘are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials.’ This likely signals a major policy shift in the detention and trial of ‘enemy combatants’ at Guantanamo Bay. But the AP's conclusion that the proposal ‘would make good on [Obama's] promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison’ is premature. Shutting down Guantanamo won't be so easy. … Joseph Landau, a former New Republic assistant managing editor, is an attorney in New York and an Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Who Reigns in Succession Crisis? Confusion, Perhaps
November 13, 2008
BYLINE: Ashby Jones
“Few Americans at the time knew the name Michael Armacost. But if something violent had happened on the steps of the Capitol at noon on Jan. 20, 1989, he could have become president of the United States. … Advocates of a change say what's needed is a short-term fix for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration and then a long-term strategy that guarantees that a single terrorist strike wouldn't throw the country into a constitutional crisis. ‘It's just irresponsible that we haven't dealt with this,’ says Philip Bobbitt, a constitutional-law scholar at Columbia University. ‘I don't think terrorists can do that much to fundamentally alter us, but there's a lot we can do to ourselves’ by not preparing for this contingency.”

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Morning Edition: Closing Detention Center Easier Said Than Done
November 13, 2008
BYLINE: Jackie Northam
“ARI SHAPIRO: Another long-standing legal issue involving the military is the fate of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. … Professor MATTHEW WAXMAN (Law, Columbia Law School): I think there's going to be widespread political support for shutting Guantanamo down, but I don't think you'll see a lot of Congress members volunteering their home district as the site for al-Qaeda detentions.
NORTHAM: Another idea is to send the detainees to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan where the Pentagon recently acquired another 40 acres of land to build a new $60 million prison for detainees already held there. But Waxman says you'd just be transferring the problems of Guantanamo to Bagram. Waxman says a new administration must address a fundamental issue.
Mr. WAXMAN: To what legal process are terrorist suspects entitled if they're going to be detained long term? And you can close Guantanamo. But if you don't confront that question, you haven't really solved the Guantanamo problem.”

EDGE: Gay Prisoner Sues Massachusetts Parole Board

November 13, 2008
BYLINE: Zachary Violette
“In a case which advocates say exposes the lingering bias against GLBT inmates up for parole, a Federal District Court late last month decided to allow an openly gay Massachusetts man to proceed with a civil rights lawsuit against the Massachusetts Parole Board. … ‘There have been very few, if any, cases challenging sexual orientation in the parole process,’ said Suzanne Goldberg, Director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia University. ‘Yet we believe anti-gay bias sometimes does play a role in parole determinations. It’s critical here to challenge bias as a warning to other parole boards that anti-gay discrimination is not acceptable.’ … ‘All we’re asking for is a fair hearing,’ said Goldberg. ‘Our argument is that [Wilborn] didn’t have a fair hearing. We are not asking for the court to grant him parole. The argument really is that his rights were violated.’ ”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: King family seeks to cash in on MLK-Obama items
November 13, 2008
BYLINE: Errin Haines
“Zealous guardians of his words and his likeness, the family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is demanding a share of the proceeds from the sudden wave of T-shirts, posters and other merchandise depicting the civil rights leader alongside Barack Obama. … ‘They are probably one of the most careful, concerned and on-top-of-it groups of image protectors I've ever met,’ said Philippa Loengard, assistant director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at Columbia University.”

WASHINGTON POST: Guantanamo Closure Called Obama Priority
November 12, 2008
BYLINE: Peter Finn
“The Obama administration will launch a review of the classified files of the approximately 250 detainees at Guantanamo Bay immediately after taking office, as part of an intensive effort to close the U.S. prison in Cuba, according to people who advised the campaign on detainee issues. … ‘A great deal of attention has been focused on Guantanamo, as it should be, but Guantanamo is a symptom of a much larger question: Where and how is the U.S. going to detain and interrogate terrorist suspects it continues to pick up in combating al-Qaeda?’ said Matthew Waxman, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs and now a law professor at Columbia University.”

SLATE: Dismantling Guantanamo
November 12, 2008
BYLINE: Jonathan Mahler
“Earlier this week, human rights activists, civil libertarians—and, let's face it, just about every sentient American—got some good news from unnamed sources inside the emerging administration-elect: President Obama is apparently already working on a plan to close Guantanamo Bay. … As Matthew Waxman, a law professor at Columbia who worked on detainee issues in the Defense Department, notes, the federal courts are now much better-equipped to deal with terrorism cases than they were at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. In addition to all the resources we have devoted to our federal anti-terrorism infrastructure in those intervening years, our criminal statutes have been revised to accommodate greater liability for conspiring with terrorist groups, and federal judges are now more experienced at dealing with sensitive information.”

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Battle in Bush administration over interrogation techniques
November 12, 2008
BYLINE: Julian E. Barnes
“Reporting from Washington -- As the clock runs down on the Bush administration, moderates within the government are mounting what may be one last drive to roll back many of the harsh detention and interrogation policies pushed through by Vice President Dick Cheney. … Adopting the standard would show that the U.S. has ‘turned a page’ in how it treats detainees, said Matthew C. Waxman, who worked with Bellinger at the State Department before becoming a Columbia University law professor. ‘The U.S. used to set the gold standard,’ Waxman said. ‘We should strive to get there again by drawing sensible lines and persuading others to use them. And you can't do that if you do not acknowledge the lines exist.’ ”

NEW YORK TIMES: 3 Flat-Screen Makers Plead Guilty to Trying to Keep Prices High
November 12, 2008
BYLINE: Steve Lohr
“Prices for the flat screens in televisions, personal computers and cellphones have plummeted in recent years — but the decline would have been even faster if it hadn’t been for an international price-fixing cartel, the Justice Department said on Wednesday. … But in a settlement, the fine amounts could represent negotiated levels, or less than the total harm to consumers, said C. Scott Hemphill, an antitrust expert at the Columbia University law school. ‘And this settlement only deals with the harm in the United States,’ he said. ‘The global totals may be many times larger.’ ”

PBS: Bill Moyers Journal: American History Lessons
November 11, 2008
HOST: Bill Moyers
“The special signifigance of the 2008 election to a nation that has journeyed from a founding constitution that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person to electing a black president was not lost on even President-elect Obama's political opponents. … Bill Moyers sits down with Columbia University professor Eric Foner, who specializes in political and African-American history, and Patricia J. Williams, a professor of law at Columbia University to discuss the historic implications of electing Barack Obama.

WBAI RADIO: The Language of Race, Class & Gender How Was It Used and How Did It Affect The Voters In Election 2008? (Patricia Williams at 23:40)
November 10, 2008
November 11, 2008
BYLINE: Melissa Klein Aguilar
“Foreign issuers can breathe easier these days, thanks to a recent federal appeals court ruling that threw cold water onto the legal oddity of so-called ‘F-cubed’ lawsuits in U.S. courts. … ‘It’s essentially a chill, but not a death blow, to the F-cubed class action,’ says Columbia law professor John Coffee.”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Newsbriefs: Columbia Professor Seen as Top Contender to Head SEC
November 10, 2008
BYLINE: Kate Fazzini
“Speculation on President-Elect Barack Obama's eventual pick for chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission has centered on a number of prominent legal candidates, including former SEC commissioner Harvey J. Goldschmid. Mr. Goldschmid, a law professor at Columbia University, was named by Legal Times, a Law Journal affiliate, as a top contender for the post. One of his Columbia colleagues, John C. Coffee, Jr. called Mr. Goldschmid ‘very qualified’ for the position. But Mr. Coffee, a Law Journal columnist, added, it is still early in the new administration's planning process to speculate on an SEC appointment because Mr. Obama likely will first focus on naming a secretary of the Treasury and other essential cabinet posts.”

GLOBE AND MAIL: Governance is at the heart of this market mess, law professor says
November 10, 2008
BYLINE: Gordon Pitts
“Well before the financial crisis, there were the corporate governance horror stories. And Columbia University law professor John Coffee was the go-to guy for sage commentary on Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia. Now that the focus has shifted to Wall Street's excesses, Prof. Coffee, a corporate and securities law specialist, doesn't get nearly as many media inquiries about bad board behaviour. Yet he argues that governance is still at the heart of the issue - just the players and sectors have changed. Is governance still relevant?”

INDEPENDENT: Philip Bobbitt: The flag-waving is over. This is how the president can change the world
November 9, 2008
BYLINE: Philip Bobbitt
“Americans have always been a little flag-crazy, and I am no exception. Shortly after 9/11, I happened to arrive at JFK - the same airport runway from which I had watched the Trade Towers explode - and saw through the airplane porthole an airport worker waving the plane to its berth. … The first phase of the wars on terror is over. The US has conquered its fear of the unknown - for a time, as there will surely be new and justified fears to face down. By electing a figure largely unknown a year ago, an African-American who has had to live by his wits, whose middle name is Hussein and whose father was a Muslim, the US has decisively rejected offshore penal colonies, deceptive rationalizations for warfare, secret torture chambers, and contempt for the constitutional and international law that would forbid such activities. Indeed by selecting a former law professor, the country has thoroughly dismissed the notion that law is an obstacle rather than a guide to achieving security.
We know what security policies Obama is against. What are some of the international programs he should be for? … Philip Bobbitt is professor of jurisprudence at Columbia University and a former senior adviser at the White House.”
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November 1 - 8, 2008

GUARDIAN: Bank, technology and university staff top list of Obama donors
November 7, 2008
BYLINE: Andrew Clark
“The newly elected US president owes Wall Street bankers a debt of gratitude for generous campaign donations as he ponders how to cope with a financial crisis that poses tough challenges over government aid and regulation for the banking industry. … Richard Briffault, a political finance expert at Columbia Law School, said: ‘There's been a general increase in the number of well educated, affluent people who gave to the Democrats this year.’ He suggested that Obama seemed ‘more attentive to their concerns, more understanding of the financial situation’ than Democrats in previous elections.”

NEWSWEEK: The Gitmo Dilemma
November 7, 2008
BYLINE: Dan Ephron
“The detention center at Guantanamo Bay and the flawed justice system created to try terrorist suspects held there are among the most complicated legacies of the Bush administration. … ‘In my mind, Guantanamo is a symptom of a larger problem,’ says Matthew Waxman, a law professor at Columbia University who has held senior positions in the State Department and the Pentagon. ‘We're going to continue capturing and detaining Al Qaeda members. We need a durable system for handling them.’ ”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: SEC Exodus May Soon Accelerate
November 7, 2008
BYLINE: Kara Scannell
“A senior Securities and Exchange Commission official is leaving the agency, in what is likely to be one of many departures at the SEC. … SEC Chairman Christopher Cox has said he plans to leave after the end of the Bush administration, and a new chairman could be named soon. One candidate is Harvey Goldschmid, a Columbia University law professor and former SEC commissioner.”

REUTERS: U.S. regulation tilting toward shareholders
November 6, 2008
BYLINE: Rachelle Younglai
“The U.S. regulatory landscape is tilting toward shareholders on issues such as curbing executive compensation under a Barack Obama presidency and enlarged majorities in the Democrat-controlled Congress. … ‘The response to this crisis may be to give shareholders greater rights with regards to issues like executive compensation,’ said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School.”
November 6, 2008
BYLINE: Mark Hamblett
“The philosophical makeup of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is unlikely to undergo meaningful change with Barack Obama's elevation to the White House. … John C. Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School and a columnist for the Law Journal, is a close observer of the Second Circuit's rulings in securities cases and one who sees the court as less ideological than some of the other 12 circuits.
‘I think the Second Circuit in most decisions has been very much following the middle course,’ he said. ‘They have made it marginally more difficult to either certify a class or bring a securities class action but that is against a national backdrop where other circuits have strongly discouraged them.’
Mr. Coffee also noted that it is common to see appointees from opposite parties agree on the law or the facts or both.
‘I don't think they can be pigeonholed,’ he said.”

ABC NEWS: Will Obama Let bin Laden's Driver Go Free?
November 6, 2008
BYLINE: Emma Schwartz
“He has been tried, convicted and sentenced. But when Salim Hamdan finishes his time at Guantanamo this December, he may not immediately walk free. … ‘There is this focus on closing Guantanamo as if it's the beginning and end of the issue,’ said Matthew Waxman, a Columbia University law professor and former Defense Department official handling Guantanamo policy. ‘Guantanamo is the symptom of a much large problem: that is what the United States is going to do with suspected terrorists it picks up in the continued fight against terrorism.’ ”

LEGAL TIMES: An Early Line on Legal Slots in Obama Administration
November 6, 2008
BYLINE: Marisa McQuilken and Brian Katkin
“Barack Obama has been president-elect for less than 48 hours, but Washington, D.C., lawyers are already in the throes of one of their favorite guessing games: Who'll get key jobs in the new administration? … SEC Chairman: … But the name that appears near the top of everyone's list is Columbia Law School professor Harvey Goldschmid. A former SEC official says that selecting Goldschmid, an SEC commissioner from 2002 until 2005, might be a long shot considering he only donated $2,300 to Obama. The official says that big fundraisers with SEC and Wall Street experience are typically the ones to get tapped as SEC chairman. But others, including Arnold & Porter partner and former Commodity Futures Trading Commission general counsel Daniel Waldman, aren't so sure that campaign money will hold back Goldschmid.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Small-Business Owners Lobby to Cut Credit Card Fees
November 5, 2008
BYLINE: Jane Birnbaum
“Small merchants have long chafed at the fees they must pay banks every time a customer swipes a debit or credit card. … Ronald Mann, a law professor at Columbia University and a credit specialist, said he expected that there would be ‘a tremendous push in Congress in 2009 to adopt important credit card reforms’ because of the increased sensitivity to banks’ lending practices. But, he added, ‘Merchants’ card problems — even though especially pressing for small ones — do not top most legislators’ agendas.’ ”
November 5, 2008
BYLINE: Michael Erman
“As Apollo Management's options dwindle in its struggle over the acquisition of Huntsman Corp, the private equity firm would benefit from a strategy to reduce its substantial legal risk from the deal. … If Apollo loses its lawsuit against the banks and can't close the deal, it could face damages beyond its $325 million break-up fee in the Delaware court. Hexion could have potential liability in the billions in that case, said Columbia Law School professor John Coffee. … ‘This litigation started with Hexion saying, “This is an impossible transaction because it's overly leveraged and it will be insolvent.” The banks only have to cite them,’ said Coffee, the law professor.
The task becomes especially difficult in the current environment. Chemical companies have lost an average of about 40 percent of their value since June and face a difficult recession.
Coffee said the Texas lawsuit, which seeks more than $3 billion in damages from Apollo and its partners, could be especially treacherous for the private equity firm, citing the mid-1980s court struggle between Texaco Inc and Pennzoil Co.
In that case, a jury found Texaco illegally enticed Getty Oil Co out of a merger with Pennzoil, ultimately saddling Texaco with $10 billion in damages.
‘The threat is that a Texas jury will sit there and look at the principals of Apollo and say, “Those guys cheated,” ’ Coffee said.
He said Apollo should look at putting in more equity to entice the banks back into funding the deal.”

PHNOM PENH POST: The danger of trade agreements

November 5, 2008
BYLINE: Christopher Shay
“Jagdish Bhagwati
is one of the world's foremost trade experts. The author and professor at Columbia University is a free-trade proponent and former advisor to the World Trade Organisation.”
November 3, 2008
BYLINE: Mark Fass
“A woman who spent as much as five extra years in jail after a court clerk accidentally added a felony assault conviction to her record may pursue a negligence claim against the state, an appellate panel has ruled. … After the parole board rejected her application, Ms. Lapidus sent letters about her case to numerous pro bono agencies, including Columbia Law School's Prisoners and Families Clinic, where two students, Alison Wilkey and Michelle S. Maloney, investigated her claim that she had never, in fact, been convicted of assault.”
November 2, 2008
BYLINE: Patricia Williams
“Given the drama of our last two presidential elections, most of us Americans are much too cautious to prognosticate prematurely. Nevertheless, I can't stifle a fizzy little hiccup of joy at the prospect of something like our own Nelson Mandela moment.

By this, I do not mean to say that the election of Barack Obama would launch us into some sort of 'post-race' utopia - it is naïve to think that the urgently worrisome accumulations of racial inequality, ghetto isolation, horrendous rates of incarceration, or economic disparity will evaporate overnight.

As one marker of progress, however, the election of Obama would be hugely significant. It would surely count as something like a toehold on the proverbial mountaintop for which Martin Luther King so longed. … Patricia Williams is a professor of law at Columbia University, New York.”

ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS: When is a conviction a conviction?
November 1, 2008
BYLINE: Kyle Hopkins
“After weeks of standing trial on criminal charges in Washington D.C., Sen. Ted Stevens was back in Alaska on Thursday night for his first, and only, live TV debate before Tuesday's election. … Columbia law professor Daniel Richman was at the gym Friday morning when he heard Stevens had said he isn't convicted yet. ‘I actually smiled, because he's right,’ Richman said.”

MCCLATCHY: Bailout funds being spent in ways Congress never foresaw
October 30, 2008
BYLINE: Kevin G. Hall
“After a bruising battle to get it through a doubting Congress, the Bush administration's $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan to purchase distressed mortgages and other bad assets has morphed into something else entirely. … John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University in New York and adviser to Wall Street regulators, said the government missed an opportunity by taking equity stakes in banks without attaching requirements that they use the bailout funds for new loans to spur the economy.

‘If we could do this all over again . . . you could have conditioned the loan (plan) on how the proceeds could be used,’ he said. ‘Some banks are still hoarding the money . . . and others simply are not interested in lending in areas where they classically lent, like construction lending, because they see a major recession coming. . . .

‘Before this is over that we're going to have casinos in Las Vegas reconstituting themselves as bank holding companies’ and applying for government loans, Coffee warned.”

FOR THE FACULTY: While we conduct frequent automated and manual news searches, this report does not capture every hit. We invite you to send your clips or notice of events you’d like publicized to Hpublicaffairs@law.columbia.eduH

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