Free The Primate One!
The bankruptcy of an animal sanctuary might have left Heisl, a 26-year-old chimp, homeless and destined for vivisection if it weren't for the intervention of a businessman who donated £3,400 for his care and feeding. Alas, an inconceivably stupid Catch-22 may prevent the donation from saving the chimp: Heisl needs a guardian to manage the money but, under Austrian law, a guardian can only be appointed to a person. And so we end up with a well-intentioned lawsuit bound for a crushing defeat:
A group of world leading primatologists argue that ... Hiasl, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, deserves to be treated like a human. In a test case in Austria, campaigners are seeking to ditch the 'species barrier' and have taken Hiasl's case to court.
The lawsuit rests on the genetic similarity between chimps and humans and recent research that demonstrates higher-order behaviors such as use of tools and peacemaking. It does not appear to reconcile this with the not-insignificant possibility that the plaintiff may fling poo at the judge even if the case is going reasonably well.
So a case will go forward to establish that chimps are entitled to fundamental human rights. Which inevitably means that Alberto Gonzales will file an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the United States to argue that even if the chimps are entitled to human rights, the government has the right to set the terms of detention or execution without intervention from the courts.
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thai inmate Samson Sor Siriporn boosted her chances of freedom by beating Japan's Ayaka Miyano to win the vacant women's WBC light flyweight title at the notorious "Bangkok Hilton" prison on Tuesday.
An inmate drug dealer fought a championship bout that was staged in prison, and, by winning, has improved her chances of parole. For real. In other words, now that a felon has shown herself to be not only violent but skillfully violent, she is ready for reintroduction to society.
That ringing you just heard was the phone in FOX's reality TV programming office. Mark Burnett is in talks with the Mississippi Department of Parole to produce Fight For Freedom. (If my guess is wrong, then that idea is © Charles Star, 2007.)
Murderers, Bank Robbers and... Xbox Modders?
Jason Jones, 35, used to run the Acme Game Store out here in Los Angeles. It was next door to Gallery 1988, which hosts the annual 8-Bit Show that Stay Free's Jason Torchinsky mentioned last year. When Acme closed, I assumed it was because Jason simply wasn't pushing enough games to afford his lavish space. But no. As this post on LAist.com explains, Jason was arrested by federal agents for allegedly selling "modded" Xbox consoles. He is now serving time in a halfway house with decidedly more violent offenders. That's your Digital Millennium Copyright Act at work, folks!
MPAA: You Are All Enemy Combatants
In the wake of the Hewlett-Packard pretexting scandal (not to mention the furor over warrantless wiretapping), people seem to be thinking a lot more about privacy. So it seemed like a no-brainer that California would pass a strong bill protecting people from having their personal information given away under false pretenses.
Alas, Wired reports that the MPAA used all of its lobbying muscle to shoot down the pretexting bill. They were opposed because, according to an aide to the bill's sponsor ""The MPAA told some members the bill would interfere with piracy investigations."
I can already predict Wired's scoop for next month:
MPAA Opposes Anti-Torture Legislation
"The parents always say that they don't download," said an MPAA spokesman, "They say that their kids are using the computer. But the only way to get a parent to testify truthfully against their kid is with advanced deprivation techniques and sustained beatings."
Kelo Killed in Columbus
On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court found that eminent domain cannot be used solely for economic development, limiting (in Ohio) the U.S. Supreme Court's catastrophic decision in Kelo v. New London. The OSC decision in City of Norwood v. Horney further ruled that tagging an area "deteriorating" (as opposed to "blighted") is insufficient to make an area subject to eminent domain because the standard is too vague and susceptible of abuse.
Directly, this means nothing to the Atlantic Yards project. The decision was based on the Ohio Constitution and applies only in that state. Indirectly it provides a glimmer of hope that courts are paying attention to the abuse of eminent domain by local governments. I don't expect the New York Court of Appeals to jump on the anti-Kelo bandwagon, but I have my fingers crossed anyway.
Ironically, Bruce Ratner is himself from Ohio; if he tried to pull this crap in his hometown he couldn't do it anymore.
Nothing is offsides
I always assumed that you had two choices in the face of rampant corruption: dig in your heels and fight it or shrug your shoulders and deal. Then I realized that there is a middle ground: whistle past the graveyard.
The Nigerian Football Association has announced a new rule: referees can accept bribes, but they can't do anything in exchange for them. I was horrified until I realized that they based their new policy on our campaign finance system. So I just went back to whistling.
My last name is Rosoft
Most people give up when caught red-handed. Others engage in embarrassing hair-splitting sophistry to excuse their actions. New Bergerber Man: Domain Defenses from the WIPO Archives is concerned with the latter; the site catalogs the horrible defenses used by domain-name squatters.
Respondent [claims that] without any prior knowledge of Complainant’s trademark [("Neuberger Berman"), he] invented the name New Bergerber Man in a story he wrote with hopes of turning it into a movie. He contends he plans to use the domain name for the movie.
These staggering examples of chutzpah are sorted by defense type and amusing as hell.
(Via Daniel Radosh)
Prison stripes scan in as $19.99
I hope anyone who read our previous post about how easy it is to fake barcodes didn't take it as an endorsement to steal. It is the kind of thing that can get you in a lot of trouble. Just ask Jonathan Baldino, who was arrested in Boulder for using a $4.99 barcode to buy a pair of $150 iPod speakers at Target. You might want to laugh about getting busted for something so stupid, but I ask that you don't.
Instead, save your laughter for his written confession.
(Story and image via The Smoking Gun)
Sleeping with the enemy
The eminent domain question still looms large over Ratner's Atlantic Yards development for the Nets' arena. Curiously, while the strongest opposition to Kelo, the Supreme Court's recent pro-eminent domain decision comes from the right, opposition in Brooklyn is largely from the left.
Immediately after the decision, the otherwise wacky Senator John Cornyn (R - TX) proposed legislation that would prevent local governments from receiving any federal money if they use eminent domain to seize property for use in a private development. While I was slow to notice it, his bill passed the House last month. The House vote follows legislation in Alabama and Texas that forbid the use of eminent domain for private development. There are similar laws in the pipeline all over the country.
The separate motivations of the opposition have led to strange bedfellows in the opposition to Kelo. Conservative opposition stems from a combination of private property fetish and preference for limited governemnt. Liberals aren't as concerned with a proactive government or progressive redistribution, but they have a strong distrust of government collusion with private corporations. In fact, those who favor Kelo-type solutions tend to come from the left. When eminent domain is used to seize land from a corporation that is letting it sit fallow (or worse, into objective disrepair) for, say, public housing, the left is much less likely to complain.
I hate to say it, but I think the folks opposing Kelo are going to have to cast their lot with the conservatives.
C'mon, touch that kid like a man!
Ohio has proposed mandating that serial sex offenders and pedophiles use pink license plates.
On Wednesday, Cuyahoga Falls Republican Kevin Coughlin introduced legislation in the state Senate that would require the [pink] plates. He says it would be a good method for warning parents and children.
A warning of what? That a sex offender wants to pass you on the highway? Or is somewhere in the vicinity of the Parmatown Mall? I guess you would have to take the bus to interview for childcare jobs.
What bothers me about this isn't the light-Scarlet-Letter vibe, but the assumption that calling sexual predators feminine is more of an insult to pedophiles than it is to, say, women or the terminally fabulous.
(Via Broadsheet at Salon)